Race Recap: Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon

I woke up the morning of the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon and burst into tears.

Let me back up.

For about 3 weeks before the race, my husband and I had been working on moving to our new apartment. This entailed not only packing, which was difficult since I had a new job and a long commute, but also utility logistics and transportation craziness. My training schedule had fallen by the wayside. WAY by the wayside. More like into a very deep ditch. I hadn’t run in about 3 weeks, and I had done maybe 2 days of weight training during that time. About 3 days before the race, I had managed to go on a 5 mile run around our new neighborhood, but that was it.

The day before the race, I’d gotten a call at work saying that my husband had been in a bike accident. Our car had died on the final day of the move, so a coworker drove me across LA to the hospital that he had been taken to in an ambulance. After 2 CT scans and five hours, they determined he had a broken nose, a broken cheek, a concussion, lots of cuts and bruises, and was released. We got a ride home, ordered some takeout and went to bed, where I proceeded to not sleep well between worrying about his concussion, and listening to him snore (you have not heard loud snoring until you’ve heard broken nose snoring…but obviously someone with a broken nose gets a free pass).

So I was not thrilled on race day morning. I immediately thought about getting my first DNS and staying home. I wondered why I should even bother, since I’d probably do awfully anyway. But I knew that if I didn’t even try, I’d feel worse. And Leo woke up and told me that he felt well enough to come hang out at the finish line. So I got up, put on my running clothes, dithered about taking my new and untried hydration vest (which I decided to wear), and called a cab.

When we got to the race start, it was raining pretty hard. My feet were already soaked through by the time I checked in and found a tent to huddle under with some other runners. The race shirts were fabulous, and I was a little more motivated by the idea that if I didn’t finish, I wouldn’t feel quite as cool wearing the shirt.

Before Friday, my goals had been: (A) Run under 3:00.00; (B) Run under 3:15.00; and (C) Finish. In previous training runs of the course, my fastest time had been 3 hours. Now, after 3 hours of sleep, an ER trip the previous day, sketchy pre-race fueling, and almost none of my favorite running fuels? My A goal had become “finish under 4 hours” while my B goal had become “finish at all.” I didn’t even really see a point in having a C goal.

But it was hard not to get excited milling around the starting area with all of the other runners. Keira Henninger, the race director, really knows how to do a race right. There were coffee, pastries, and Naked Juice samples for all of the runners, check-in and porta-potty lines moved quickly, and there were even enough canopies to shelter everyone from the rain. When we started the race, I was in the back 1/3 of the pack, and focused on not killing myself through the first mile, since it’s mostly uphill. And honestly, from then on, I felt great. I really love competing, I really like running, and I really loved this race.

I was able to stick with a relatively good nutrition plan (alternate salty and sweet at aid stations) and take down plenty of water. I had some great conversations with other runners, including Doug Malewicki (who geezered me right at the end!). I hadn’t remembered to bring the Garmin from home, so I was running blind, but I focused on walking all the uphills with small steps, staying upright, and keeping my running form smooth and focused.

As I came down the final descent, I was able to catch a glimpse of the finish line, and decided to run it in hard (thanks, sprint training!). I felt remarkably good at the finish, so good that when Doug snuck up behind me, we sprinted it in together at full speed.

Photo by Brian Cravens Photography – check him out on Facebook!

After I got my medal, Leo found me with the video camera and told me that I had finished unofficially at 2:35…which I didn’t believe until I looked at the clock myself. 2:35! A PR on that course, and almost a half marathon PR. One of my most well executed runs, on a shot to hell plan with bad nutrition. Who knew?

I think this is one of my favorite races, and one of the best run! Aid stations were fully stocked with water, electrolyte drink, and food of all types. Swag was awesome, and not overtaken by advertisements. Weather was perfect. This will definitely stay on my list of races to do every year. And we were so grateful for Jimmy Dean Freeman and his wife Kate, who gave us a ride home (after a detour for an amazing breakfast). Runners are good people to hang out with.

So apparently, I just need to relax a little more about races and I’ll do fine…right?

Official Finish Time: 2:33.58

Place: 13 out of 29 in the F 20-29 age group, 192 out of 349 runners

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7 thoughts on “Race Recap: Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon

  1. Wow, THAT is awesome! Funny what can happen sometimes….and it sounds like fun too, like it was a “no suffering” PR. (I’m sorry about your husband’s accident, though.)

  2. Great way to get it done Jessica, sometimes when it appears darkest we shine the brightest! I met both you and Leo at the GP practice runs. I wish Leo a speedy recovery so he can get back to being his cool photographing, video, minimalist running self!

    Congratulations on a great run!

  3. Congrats on your amazing finish! I was actually running behind you for a while on the course. Seeing your blue shirt and Nathan vest in front of me kept me going on those rough hills. I’m glad your husband was feeling good enough to make it to the race that AM.

  4. Oh I saw you (and your poor hubs!) at the race….I had no idea what happened to him, but every time I saw him on the course that day I kept thinking he should have worn a shirt that said, “You should see the other guy”. Glad you had a great race!

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