This year was my 8th time doing the Zeitgeist Half Marathon. It’s a great race that keeps me coming back every year. It has a decent amount of runners – about 600 this year. It’s a challenging course with two big hills and one little one. It’s late in the year after things have calmed down from the summer. It has become part of my November routine.
Last year I wasn’t quite prepared for the hills, so since August I had been trying to get at least one good hill in every couple weeks. I don’t live right by a big hill, so this usually means driving to the foothills before work and running trails in the dark. I also got in a good hill run at Hood To Coast this year and another on Catalina Island before FitOne.
Being more prepared for the hills this year, and after some good training in late September and October, I hoped to set a personal best on the Zeitgeist Half Marathon course and to potentially take first place.
The weather was cold this year, and leading up to the race it looked like it would be sub 30F. Luckily it was sunny without too much wind and it was about 32F when the race started. I ran in a t-shirt, shorts, and gloves. I ditched my beanie right before the race started.
I was happy to see that some of the really fast runners in the valley didn’t show up, but there were plenty of runners I didn’t know. Sure enough, there were two guys up front with me during the first mile. I stuck right behind the first guy for most of the first hill (which peaks at 3.1 miles), and the 3rd place guy fell behind a bit. However, after pushing up the hill the #1 runner started leaving me behind and gradually stretched his lead for the rest of the race.
Around mile 5 a volunteer lady asked me, “How tall are you?!” I’d never had a volunteer ask me that before, and I thought it was pretty funny. I wheezed out a reply of “6-4.”
Despite being #2 I still pushed for my course PR, and I was helped by noticing runner #3 close behind me about 6 miles into the half marathon. That kept me running scared and faster than I otherwise might have. I also hoped that #1 would fade or tie his shoe or something. I ended up pushing pretty hard up the final large hill and all the way down. I hit most of my time targets and had a good race. I faded a bit in the final mile, but still felt good about my performance.
I ended up finishing a solid #2 FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW! Oh well. There’s always next year. The good news is that I improved my time a little more than expected. In fact, this could be the best running shape I’ve been in, ever. I hope I can build on it over the winter.
After the race I did a cooldown run with my friend, Chad, who got 6th. We ate the lunch they served and didn’t stick around for awards. (My one complaint about Zeitgeist is they wait until about 4 hours after the race begins to hand out awards and raffle prizes.)
|My first Zeitgeist
|A month after my first marathon in 4 years
|Had some calf issues
|My best 1st place finish ever
|Faster time but worse place 🙁
|Course PR; marathon 2 weeks earlier
|Another course PR, another 2nd place
It’s fun to see improvement over time. I dread the year the trend reverses. It could be next year for all I know. Until then, I’m grateful for the improvement and grateful for another year running the Zeitgeist Half Marathon. I plan on being back in 2020.