Here’s a new half marathon race recap for Revel Big Bear. I’ll try to keep it as fast as the race course because I’m a lil out of the habit of writing full length blog posts and it seems like a lot of us are out of the habit of reading full length posts! (Correct me if I’m wrong on this – it’s a topic that long time readers have asked about.)
I stayed with my godparents the night before the race. They live about 15 minutes from packet pick-up and race day parking. This is super helpful because while all race days require an early wake-up call (with the exception of evening races like Rock N Roll Las Vegas), races that require you to take a bus to the start line area mean you need to get there hours ahead of the actual start time.
But before we talk about race morning… let’s talk about the expo and pre-race dinner!
The expo was small and well organized. The entire Revel Race series seems to be a race put on by runners for runners – so even though it feels like a small race, the swag and post-race set up all have big race vibes. I got my bib, shirt and hat (extra perk because that’s how they do it) and was out of the expo in under 10 minutes. There were cute photo ops, but I was running late for dinner and didn’t stop for any photos or video.
Since I was staying with my Nino and Nina we planned to go out to dinner. They mentioned Chinese food and I was all about it. That’s MY FAVORITE PRE RACE FOOD!!!
After dinner we stopped at Walgreens so I could run in and buy some of those lil hand warmer things because the starting line was going to be FREEZING. I didn’t see any and was about to ask when I thought about those heat wraps that go around your lower back. It’s the same thing as the hand ones, but BIGGER (and I assumed better). So, I bought a lower back heat wrap to wear as a personal heater before the race. I thought it was genius, but it didn’t end up working that well. I thought I’d wear it with the hot part on the front and hold my hands against it, but I couldn’t feel it through my clothes. So it was probably keeping my core warmer, but didn’t help my frozen hands.
Runners doing Revel Big Bear Half or Full Marathon have to take a bus to the starting line. The busses started loading at 4am. For the full marathon you had to be on the bus by 4:30am at the latest and for the half it was 4:45am.
I plan my race day morning around when I have to leave the house or hotel to get to the start. So, for this race I wanted to leave by 3:45am… which meant a 3am alarm (and a 3:12am alarm as a back-up). I didn’t need the second alarm after all as I woke up several times throughout the night worried I’d sleep through it. When I woke up at 2:45am I decided to just get up and start getting ready.
I laid out my Flat Runner the night before with everything I was going to wear and take with me to the race. In addition to my running gear I had ‘throw away’ clothes, which are things like coats or robes you wear before the race and then toss to the side when the race starts. The race organizers gather it up and many donate the clothes to places that collect these things.
TIP: Bring a top layer you’re willing to toss because the starting line is FREEZING.
I don’t expect to get enough sleep before a race, but all the abrupt wake-ups I had through the night made me feel extra tired. Nevertheless she persisted… and made coffee.
I got to the parking area to catch the bus to the start line in good time. There were signs with arrows indicating which buses were for the half marathon and the ones for the full marathon. And the lines to get on the buses moved quickly. I made friends in line and it was nice to chat on the bus ride up to the start line.
Once we got to the start my new friend (Hi Renee!) and I got in the porta potty line. I lost her after that and was looking around when they announced it was last call to leave your drop bag. (You got a bag at the expo to use if you wanted to drop off a bag at the start line and they’d take it to the finish line where you could pick it up.) So, I dropped off my bag and realized we were 5 minutes out from the start!!
I headed to the start… and adjusted the last minute things like getting my playlist ready to start, turning on my watch and saying a prayer.
And just before I crossed the start line I realized I was still wearing the heat wrap thing. I ditched that right away so I wouldn’t get tangled up in it trying to run and take it off.
The start of the race was a little anti-climactic as the National Anthem was a recording and the announcements were minimal (as opposed to a Race MC that’s yelling over the music with last minute instructions and trying to get you hyped up). The runners in front of me started moving and I realized.. The race is starting! So, I started my watch, music and myself (running).
The Revel Big Bear Half Marathon course is almost all downhill – with some parts being more of downhill grade than others. The first few miles feel very downhill and after standing around in freezing temperatures before the start – I couldn’t feel my feet, but it seemed like I was going out very fast. It made me nervous because there are some bumps in the road and I was afraid I’d roll an ankle since I didn’t feel in control of my frozen feet.
TIP: If you run this race – be aware of the divots in the road especially near the painted lines separating lanes.
I didn’t have a specific time goal for this race since I haven’t been training for a half marathon goal. But, I did want to run it like a race and see what I could do right now.
My other recent half marathon races weren’t a big help in estimating a finish time because I felt off during the Long Beach Half Marathon [2:01:27] and felt a lot better during the Mission Inn Half Marathon [1:53:57]. The weather was a lot warmer and humid at the Long Beach Half, but it wasn’t summer temperatures. The Mission Inn Half was cooler, but also hillier (which usually slows me down more than hot weather).
I didn’t know what pace I should aim for… but definitely didn’t think it would be much faster than 1:49. For whatever reason it went through my head that 5 minutes faster than my last half (where I felt good) made sense.
So, when I was running and saw the 1:50 pacer (Dave – who I met on the bus!) – I thought I should slow down and run with them for a while. I didn’t want to run past them, slam into the wall later in the race and end up walking the last 3 miles. But, I felt like I would’ve had to slow down A LOT and I felt good (of course I did though – we were just a mile in!!). I realized I might regret it later, but I didn’t want to slow my pace yet. I decided not to try and stay with a pace group, just run whatever felt good for right now and slow down if I felt the course flatten out or I felt like I was getting tired.
I didn’t look at my watch at all because I felt like I was running fast and that was getting me pumped up to keep going. If I saw my pace was slower than I thought it would’ve taken the air out of my sails and I’d be a sailboat stuck in the ocean with no wind (except in this case I’d be a runner stuck at mile 7 of a half marathon crying by the side of the road).
Basically, I tried to run as fast as I felt I could maintain for about 10 miles and then I’d reassess. I thought it would flatten out around mile 10 and I’d have to slow down anyway. So, I wanted to take advantage of the downhill while it lasted.
Well, I felt like it lasted until about mile 12!! It was only towards the very last mile when you run into town (no more 2 lane road down) and it flattens out compared to the start. It might be the last 2 miles, but either way – it wasn’t a very abrupt change until the very end. When you’re running a downhill race and get to a flat part of the course – it feels like someone pulled the brake on your body. It feels hard to keep running and very hard to keep running at the fast pace you were doing downhill. But – I didn’t feel that until the last mile. And by that time I thought I’d made such good time I should really try and push myself to finish strong.
I still hadn’t looked at my watch at this point so I didn’t know what my finish time might be. And I was afraid to check in case it was disappointing since that would mess with my confidence to finish strong. (Running really does take so much mental strength too!)
Anyway. I just focused on finishing strong. I knew that if nothing else I’d be proud of myself for doing my best that day and it would be a good picture of where I am in my running fitness right now.
My Revel Big Bear Half Marathon Finish Time: 1:38:45
I’m happy with this finish time. It’s faster than anything I’ve run since I broke my foot (right before the pandy – which added extra obstacles to coming back to running).
And I can run faster. I know it because I didn’t train my butt off to run a fast half marathon. If I did a half marathon training program with speedwork AND had a good day on race day – I’d run faster. You would too. I have to do the work to get faster, but it seems more possible now. HARD WORK – WORKS.
The best part of this half marathon is that it helped my confidence. A few weeks after I broke my foot all the races were cancelled for a year. So, I didn’t have a comeback race to work towards. I didn’t have the accountability or motivation of a race training plan with a goal race at the end. And when in person races started coming back I felt so slow and out of shape it was hard to imagine working towards any time goal – at that point I just wanted to finish the distance! Now I know I can do more than just run 13.1 miles. I can do it faster than before if I do the work. And so can you.
After the race I finally met Heather from @Heatherunz in person. She won 2nd place in the half marathon!! Heather was on the Run Eat Repeat podcast a while back and I want to ask her back for an excuse to chat some more. Then, we hung out with Kelly from Sparkle Athletic. She was wearing the cutest holiday sparkle skirt and visor! Definitely check it out if you love a cute running ‘fit here –> Sparkle Athletic.
I also met a lot of @RunEatRepeat Instagram followers and semi-met a few as I was running and heard the hellos! Love it. Thank you so much for following a long and reading. I really appreciate it.
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