Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Didn't Come Out Smelling Like Roses, But It Was FUN!

Of all the races I’ll run in 2012, the one that I will remember best will be the Rock’n’Roll Pasadena Half Marathon, held on February 19th. That race was where my youngest son, Jason, made his half-marathon debut in a most spectacular way.
The story started back in December, 2011, when Jason watched an episode of “The Biggest Loser” in which the contestants ran a full marathon.  Jason was impressed enough by their feat that he decided to train for a long distance effort himself.  Up until then, he had run occasional 5k events around town, and his longest run was about 4 miles.  I thought that a large event would be more enjoyable for him, so we decided to sign up for the Rock’n’Roll Pasadena Half Marathon.  My wife, Pam, also signed up for the race.  We are fortunate to have relatives in Southern California who we can stay with, and the drive is reasonable from Tucson, so it was a fairly low-cost trip.
We set up a training log and Jason did a good job working on it for the next couple of months.  He logged over 150 miles training, and gradually increased his long runs with the longest being 11 miles.  His strategy going in to the race was to take walk breaks where necessary, but I thought that if the day went well he might be able to run the whole thing.
We drove out on Thursday night after a busy day of work and school.  My oldest son, Ryan, also came along (to spectate, as he does not run).  On Friday, we went to the Expo to get our race packets.  It was a small expo compared to others that I’ve been to, but we still had fun.

I even found the car of my dreams there – my favorite color!

On Saturday we visited Laguna Beach with our relatives, and had a nice time.

Sunday morning was the typical early race-day start, and I was pleased to discover that we actually got to park right next to the starting line!  It was still dark when we arrived, so I snapped a quick shot of the Rose Bowl sign:

Although the race started and finished at the Rose Bowl, we never actually got to go in the Rose Bowl.  The start line had the normal corral system that Rock’n’Roll events use, and we were all towards the front – Jason in corral 4, Pam in corral 2, and corral 1 for me.  Before we started, I told Jason that he should not worry about time, the main goal was to finish – but I also told him that I thought he was capable of a 2-hour race.
Once we started, it did not take very long for me to think that was not so likely.  I was expecting some slight hills, but this course was really hilly!  There were some steep hills, and four 180-degree turnarounds.  It did not seem like a fast course to me, and I knew that my pace was slower than what I had hoped.  At the 7-mile point, the course doubles back on itself and I was thrilled to see Jason running strong – he even waved and called out “Go Dad”!
Ryan brought his bike and was out taking pictures.  Here is one of Jason running at about 9.5 miles in, still looking strong:

There was some really nice scenery along the course.  One thing I have noticed about California road races is that they often use concrete for paving there, as opposed to the asphalt that I am used to in Tucson.  Unfortunately concrete is harder and on long races I can feel the difference.  The Pasadena course was no exception and I was pushing my pace, so my feet were feeling it.  Here’s a photo that Ryan captured of me on the “Colorado Bridge”, about 9 miles in - you can see the concrete surface:

I finished my race in 1:24:21, which was a new half-marathon PR for me.  I was happy with that although I had hoped for a slightly faster time.  Pam came in next, at 1:45:35, a great time for her considering she has not been training for long distance.  I was so anxious waiting for Jason to come in, and it was so exciting when I finally saw his red shirt approaching!  He was really pushing hard for the last half-mile or so – this picture was about a tenth of a mile from the finish:

He kicked across that line in 1:58:11 !!!!!!!
Needless to say I was one proud papa at that point.  I ran around to greet him at the finisher area and he was smiling big!

So we were all very happy finishers.  Jason smashed out a sub-2 on his first half-marathon attempt, and ran the whole way; Pam was right on her goal time; and I was 44th overall, 4th in my age group, with a new PR.

After the race we hung around for a while soaking up the post-race festivities and celebrating.  Sugar Ray put on a concert and all was well with the world for a little while.

All good things must come to an end (to make room for more good things), so by noon we were packing it up for the drive back to Tucson.  I actually spent some time working during the drive back (when I wasn’t driving of course).  But we all took home this nice bling to help us relive the memories:

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