Ninth Circuit: Team Liam San Diego Half Marathon Race Report
|Hanging out at the Expo with Liam|
Back to perfection. This was a "BIG WEEKEND" for Team Hoyt San Diego who's kindly adopted this landlubber into the "cool club" that is Team Hoyt San Diego. The chapter "leads" in San Diego (Jim, Cory, and Tania) are absolutely amazing and unselfish in their contributions to the local chapter.
The "BIG" part was that Dick Hoyt was expected at their annual charity dinner, but unfortunately his son Rick was quite sick so he was unable to make the trip. Team Hoyt Boston was represented as were other chapters from Arizona, Nevada and Northern California. I felt quite welcome as the story of Liam's ascent to runner and triathlete traveled and many were excited to meet Liam and the man lucky enough to push him. There were a couple of new duos racing for the first time on Sunday and there were over THIRTY frickin' blades out there on Sunday.
|Two run legends, Meb and Liam|
The bonus on Friday night was a keynote speech by local Meb Keflezighi. I'd met Meb before a couple of times and reviewed his previous book on my blog HERE. Many of you have perhaps met Meb and know that while he seems diminutive in stature and a bit soft-spoken, he's a GIANT in distance running in the US and tells an amazing story of his immigration and ascent to the best male distance runner in the U.S in the last thirty years winning both New York City and Boston Marathon's. Sharing stories and laughs with the Hoyt team was a lot of fun on Friday night at the San Diego Padres' Petco Park.
While my fave Aunt lives in San Diego and I normally stay with her, we spent Friday and Saturday night downtown at the Marriott Courtyard Gas Lamp district which provided a nice "nightcap" on Friday night after the event.
Saturday was not quite as "stressed" as the day before a marathon, or perhaps that I have learned how to relax before a race, I was able to visit my brother, his wife, and kids up north over lunch before heading back downtown to catch the small expo. I'd started the day with a short two mile "shake out" run down near the convention center. We had a great dinner with Liam, his mom, dad and my wife before in the "old Italy" part of San Diego that was quite vibrant on a Saturday night. I reminded myself I had a race to tend to in the morning and got in bed at a reasonable hour.
I knew the hotel was close to the start line, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the Team Hoyt San Diego meeting spot (and handicapped parking) was literally outside my front door. While a free bed would have been nice at Auntie Margie's place in Point Loma, I'd gained 30 minutes (at least) of extra sleep by staying close to the race start.
|Getting ready to rock San Diego|
Once again, prior to the race, I felt relaxed and reasonably ready (trained) for a half. I was somewhat familiar with the course as I ran portions of it over many years and more recently the day Liam got his blade from Maggie from RunFreeRun.com. The only portion I had mild angst over was one bridge underpass and the dreaded Washington St uphill climb of nearly a mile. With quite a few blades and knowing where my training was at I had no issue or ego getting help from the local November Project team who was at the bottom of the hill planning to help running chair duos. They provided a solid "assist" getting that blade up the hill. While I used a "modified" Furman FIRST plan for our first marathon together (and possibly last) at Sacramento, I had a solid base (considering that was only a couple months prior, and used a "modified" Hal Higdon Intermediate to Advance Half Marathon plan for the San Diego race.
Ironically, I used Hal Higdon's marathon plan for my first two marathons; both San Diego Rock n' Roll. I wanted to go out around a mid eight minute per mile pace and pick it up after a couple of miles which I did. I was feeling quite strong when I rolled through Liberty Station and was able to see my (visiting) Mom and Aunt Marge. It's tough for my mom to get out to races anymore at her age, but getting in and out of that area was close and quite convenient. My mom's smile and perhaps a couple tears of pride helped fuel Liam and I for the tough aforementioned hills ahead.
It was somewhere also around Liberty that Jim Pathman started to pass me and joked, "Ty, make a mental note of this, we are passing you." I laughed and made some crude mention of my manhood shrinking back into my body. That's candidly the part I love about this group. They are inclusive (in every way) of all runners, but do it with a giant splash of fun and humor.
|Flying into downtown San Diego|
After getting through the Washington Street hill, I knew it was (cliche) "all downhill from there." With help from November Project, I wanted to regain my "man card" and finish strong. Liam's mom jokes that he doesn't like to race with Mom and Dad, he loves to go FAST. I was not going to disappoint. I felt strong and picked up the pace. I seemed to be flying and another woman from Team Hoyt Boston (Julie) who helped me along the race started to lag behind us a bit. The last two miles, I was "flying" in the closed confines of downtown San Diego leading into Petco park for the Jumbotron finish. My last mile was my fastest running a sub-eight minute mile pace. For once, I didn't cry but leaned over and kissed and congratulated the champion that is Liam.
My only regret in all of this is simply wishing I could do more for Liam. It's tough as we live 1000 miles apart and with jobs, owning a business, having a kid in college and trying to manage life balance, I simply can't race with Liam as often as I'd like. With the current tax laws, unfortunately Liam's parents are apparently NOT average Americans and are hit with a hefty tax bill this year so their travel budget is tight as retired Veterans (now working in the private sector.) The half marathon reinforced that my body can still handle halfs and triathlons, but my body overall has been quite sore since Sacramento so my "mary" days are likely over given the cartilage issue in my knees. With that, Liam's manager (mom Joan) and I have been working with his agent (my wife) on what races are next. While I'd love to, we will not make the Carlsbad 5000 this year but want to take on at least two more (semi)major races together this year.
What California and Colorado races would you recommend we target?
Footnote: Sorry to Liam's mom Joan to have to witness my corral trick of garbage bag and Gatorade bottle. If you don't know that that is, Google it...on second thought, there are some things you shouldn't Google.