I didn’t tell my mom that we were doing a half marathon when I talked to her the day before, because I knew she would think we were crazy. And I would have agreed with her - it was probably going to rain, and we hadn’t been running enough. But I was actually glad that Mark and our friends wanted to do the race regardless of the weather. I like the half marathon distance – you can relax your pace because it’s not a short one, but you don’t have to train for months.
Last year, the Chesebro Half Marathon (Great Race of Agoura) was awesome – mostly on trails in the pretty green hills of Agoura Hills. It was my first half marathon, and afterwards I thought for the first time that a full marathon was something I could actually do. Of all the races I’ve done, this is one of the nicest in terms of portapotties. They bring in “Powder Rooms” used for movie shoots, with little sinks inside. Very chi-chi.
Mark and I started out slowly, losing our friend John shortly after the start. It was really cold, misting a little, and it felt good to get moving. At one of the water stops they were giving out Clif Shots, and I grabbed one, but my fingers were so stiff, I couldn’t open it. Then I dropped it and had trouble picking it up. Mark opened it for me. This year because of rain the course was mostly on pavement, and the parts that were on trails reminded me of the Mud Run at Camp Pendleton. You could feel the lumpy caked-on mud under your shoes, the weight of it pulling your shoes off your feet. In places the mud was slippery.
We stayed together until we hit a steep dirt trail. You could see people at the bottom of the hill were still running, but when they looked up and saw people ahead of them walking, they all started walking. I have a mental block about walking, even up a steep hill, and just slowed my pace, weaving around the walkers. It’s hard when you don’t know how long the hill is, but I felt comfortable and just kept going, looking forward to the downhill. I was feeling good, in spite of the mud and the cold.
The race finishes with a ¾ lap around Agoura Hills High School track. We found our friends afterwards and stuck around for the “after party”, which is supposed to be really good. It was like last year – lots of free food, including burritos, coffee, ice cream, and pizza. We had left our bags in the car, so we got cold quickly and had to leave before the drawing for an unknown prize. We agreed to make the race an annual tradition. It’s one of my favorites. I hope it’s not raining next year, though!