This past weekend was one of those personal best weekend’s, yeah another training run / race to prepare for bigger things, but when the legs feel good and everything is moving, why not just go after it … It all went down at the American Spirit Half Marathon, starting in Folsom, CA and finishing up in Sacramento around Lake Natoma.
The race managed and timed by Elemental Running, provides a nice small race environment. In fact this is my 3rd race timed and managed by them this year. I have had nothing but positives to say about them and the product they provide. If you’re looking for the glitz and glamor of race day and expos, this isn’t the event for you, but if you are looking for a race where you can get your packet the morning of the race, well stocked aid stations and a race to run, then check them out.
For me the registration of the race was during the week of the event, I decided to and found this race online as I was looking to fill in some miles for my training run with a race to allow me to test some marathon and half marathon pace running.
When the morning came around of the race, I got up early enough to have a pre-race smoothie and snack, drove the 20 minutes to Folsom and was ready for the race. I parked in a near by shopping center across the street from the start line and about 3 miles away from the finish line. This would allow me to get my added mileage I needed for that day, by running a little warm-up then closing off the run from the finish back to my car.
With race day packet pick-up in hand, I started a little warm-up going back to my car to drop off what I didn’t need from the goodie bag, then ran for about 15 minutes before the race actually started. The field was small like most of their races (maybe 70 runners?), but the smallest I have seen for them since this race only offered one distance.
From the 3-2-1 count down, I was off and running hitting the downhill portion of the course pretty well disciplined rather than just flying down and beating up my legs and hoping I would have something for the final 10+ miles after getting to the bottom of the pretty aggressive downhill stretch.
After about 3 miles into the race, I wasn’t having to look back much as I started to pick-up the pace a tad bit and was able to keep consistent over the rolling portions of the course. I knew there was someone behind me, but it was tough to really gauge how far he really was until I got to the Hazel Ave bridge crossing, where I was able to peak over the bridge as he was approaching the climb up.
With over half of the race completed, it was time to kick in another pace with the goal of running negative. For me I was also fortunate to know this route pretty well since the Lake Natoma loop is a pretty familiar route for training. With about 5.5 miles to go to the finish at the Lake Natoma Inn, I was ready to give this run a go and see what was left in the tank.
With no one in the race nearing me, I had to find people who were training on the route to play a little catch up to and pass. As I crossed the Willow Hills area, I was able to come up behind what I think, were members of the UC Davis Country Team (or Club Team). Their tempo was pretty fast, so I was hoping to keep up and play a little chase with them, and that I did I chased them all the way towards the finish, where I would see them going up towards the continuation of the loop and I would make a final ditch effort to cross the finish line with an official time of 1:22:44, nearly a 2 minute personal best in this distance.
After crossing the finish line first overall, I had “broken the tape” with my first half marathon win. This happening just a few weeks after I won my first ever race at the River Run for Youth 5k in West Sacramento. I collected my medal and 1st place award and headed back up to finish some miles and get to my car.