Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Laguna Hills Half Marathon Race Report

Submitted by Heather Stewart @captainstewie

On Monday May 28th, I had the honor in participating in the City of Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon. This race honors the United States Marine Corp Dark Horse Battalion. The City of Laguna Hills adopted the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, of the 1st Marine Division. This infantry battalion, nicknamed “DARKHORSE” is based out of Camp Pendleton, and $3 per race fee went to the 3/5 Support Committee.

A little background for this Battalion: The 3/5 were deployed to Helmand Province in the Fall of 2010. They were sent to the most dangerous place in Afghanistan: Sangin. Their task was to regain the Taliban stronghold, a notorious poppy growing region in a mountainous area north of Marja. The DARKHORSE Battalion lost 25 Marines during this deployment.

I’m addicted to running/racing and wanted to run 10 half marathons in 2012. This particular race made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself yesterday. (Isn’t that kind of what #Run3rd is all about?) Not only was the race for a great cause but it was so well organized by Renegade Racing!  I couldn’t have imagined a better race experience. The course was great too even though it was a little bit challenging!

My running buddies, Sue and Heather (aka “The Other Heather” aka “Ditto”) and I got to the race nice and early. The weather was beautiful—little overcast but warm enough for tank top running (which is awesome because it got HOT).  Immediately we noticed the Marines doing their warm ups. There were people of all ages wearing “DARKHORSE” shirts with the names of fallen soldiers. People were all decked out in red, white and blue. It was pretty awesome.

Here’s how it went:

First, I had to represent! This is how I roll:
My arm as billboard!
The first mile was awesome!  We ran through what I think was a gated retirement community. The folks who lived there were out in full force waving American flags and waving at us. At one point I heard what I thought was a dog barking as an American flag gently brushed my face I realized it was a platoon of Marines running in cadence. I managed to keep up with them for about a quarter of a mile until they were just too fast for me. It was then I realized I had forgotten to turn on my Garmin. This is both good and bad. Bad because I wouldn’t know my estimated time until waaaayyy after the race. Good because I spent a lot of time doing the math of where I was and how far to go and what pace to go at in my head which made time pass faster!

The race had rolling hills and at one point the downhill was particularly long and steep. It was at this moment that the best song came on my iPod shuffle, I was singing and looked down to see I was running under a 9 minute mile! That is HUGE for me! I decided at that moment that I liked races with rolling hills. This course was half bike path, half streets which is a lot like what I train on at home, so although I’d never run it, I felt very comfortable!

I had a really strong run. I felt great and strong through the whole thing. Mile 10-12 seem to be my most difficult, but I pushed through.  I only stopped to use the bathroom once (mile 5.5) and I walked the water stations, skipping the last one at mile 12.2.

The best sign all day was a guy sitting on a fence with an piece of normal  printer-sized paper and in sharpie it said, “Beer in 1.2 Miles.”  I almost hugged him, but I had to keep running!

Sue, me and Ditto with our medals!
I didn't make the cup pyramid, but I contributed to it!
As I ran through the finish line and picked up my AWESOME medal, the clock read 2:46:00. I had a great chance at a PR, but wouldn’t know until later. I got my bag from where it was checked and went to the Beer Garden hosted by BJs Brewhouse to meet Sue and Ditto!

Once we rehydrated with some delicious brews, we headed to the expo where I got to tell the Marines that I #Run3rd for them. They thought it was so cool and let me and Sue take pictures with their firearms. Quote of the day: “Uh, you just got so excited to hold a gun that you jumped up and down!” —Ditto to me.

Can you believe they let me hold it?
Can you believe how happy I look? 

Overall, it was a great race!  I really felt like I supported our troops and the true meaning of Memorial Day. I had a great moment at Mile 10 where I remembered my Nonno, Captain Esmo P. Dal Poggetto – World War 2, and I believe this helped me through this difficult mile. And although I didn’t PR, I was only 30 seconds over my personal best and this was a much harder course!  2:45:05…not too shabby!

It was great to #run3rd for those who have served and continue to protect our country!

I #run3rd for these guys!

Until the next race…
Heather @captainstewie

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