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Rock n Roll San Diego - Race Report by Brantly Lutz

2016 has gone pretty well so far. I was excited to turn 40 last year and join the Master's rank, but I was fighting plantar fasciitis and upper hamstring tightness, so my racing was less than spectacular. I had been looking forward to my first master's marathon at the Medtronic Twin Cities marathon, but I only had a few really good weeks of training and it showed on race day. I think that disappointment gave me extra motivation to get it done while I can.

I've been doing a better job of working through those nagging aches and pains and have been fairly healthy this year. I got to run the Master's indoor championships right here in Albuquerque in March and finished 2nd in the 3k. Moving up to the half marathon distance which is more to my liking was the goal for the spring. I was feeling pretty good in training, and got a little carried away in a training session and strained my quad. Other than that small setback things were looking pretty good going into the master's half championship in San Diego on 5 June. My last workout was a 4-mile tempo run with the Dukes the Wednesday before the race, and I felt very good. It always helps to have good training partners to make those feel easy.

With the Dukes' President, Jesse Armijo, at the wheel, we left for California on Friday. Thanks to Arlene and Jesse, I didn't have to worry about how to get around or where to stay in California where they have wonderful family members to open up their homes to us. We went for a run on Saturday morning in the OC and the legs felt great despite 11.5 hours in the car the day before. I tapered quite a bit the last 2 weeks before the race going from 4 weeks of 90 mile average to 2 weeks averaging less than 60 miles, so I think that helped bring the spring back to my old legs.
On the road again!
Race day started early with a 4am alarm before the 6:15am race. I forgot to get my caffeine from Run Gum, and I think it may have cost me a few seconds which may have been enough to pass one more of my competitors, but I didn't really think about it until after the race. Warming up for races is such an old habit even if the details change, I'm able to control my preparation mentally as well as physically from years of practice. I would have liked one more porta-potty stop, but the lines were long as the race neared. Thanks to being in the master's championship, I was able to start at the front with the elites although I tried to give them plenty of space and took my place a few rows back. I intended to start out relaxed and work into it as I didn't feel 100% ready to go. It's a good thing I had 13 miles to get going. However, I went through the first mile feeling very comfortable in 5:30 which was my goal pace for the race, so I didn't need to pick it up at all after that. Despite the quick pace, there were plenty of people ahead of me. They included 4 master's runners, and I intended to catch as many as I could. I think I went through 5k in 17:17 and by 4 miles in 22:10, I was ahead of the young guys I started with and pretty much by myself other than the lone guy about 300m ahead of me. It stayed that way for much of the rest of the race. At 10k in 34:19, I felt myself really wishing I had someone by me to help out with the work of racing and catching the people ahead of me. I focused on running the tangents and slowly closing the gap on the guy ahead of me. I knew I could run faster if I had someone next to me, so I figured I had the ability to run faster all by myself too. Pressing on, I came through 8 miles in under 44 minutes and was ahead of goal pace. I passed Jesse as he was taking pictures and cheering for Arlene and me just before 10, and we went down this steep hill which forced me to put on the brakes to keep from getting out of control on the downhill. That was followed my a similar uphill and then the 10 mile mark. I passed that in about 55:03, so I knew I had to run a little bit faster. Luckily, I view half marathon as 5k races preceded by a 10-mile tempo. I pressed on as there were still people ahead of me to catch, and it looked as though both of the ones I could see were master's runners. I knew I could catch the closest one, and a spectator reaffirmed my belief as he told me I could do it too around the 12-mile mark. I caught him pretty quickly after that but was disappointed to see he wasn't one of my master's competitors. I still had about 1200m to go, and I was running hard but didn't feel like I could go to that last gear yet and waited until we crested the last hill before going into kicking mode. I lost a second or two as I couldn't easily get around a wheelchair athlete working hard up that last hill, but used that energy to try to go even faster in the last 800m. I felt like I was going pretty fast, but it wasn't enough to catch the 4th place master's runner, so I ended up 5th which was good for $100. 1:11:58 chip time was just under my goal time, so I was pretty pleased with the result. However, as runners, we are rarely completely satisfied, and I wondered how I thought about how I could have gained those 9 seconds I needed for 4th place. I guess that'll have to just be my motivation for next time!
Mile 10 - Kicking Butt! 

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