Conquer the Bridge (5.3 miles 6:52 pace)
When I found out about Conquer the Bridge at the Los Angeles Harbor, I knew I wanted to do it. I enjoy hills and running up bridges. I think it plays to my strengths, and I respond well. The race has about 430 feet of elevation gain over 5.3 miles, which ends up being two major climbs of about 170 feet and a couple of small climbs throughout. Then the rest is downhill. Anyway, Los Angeles is only 2 hours from me, so I decided to drive down.
After doing a bit of research and getting a good feel of the race, I found out the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia is 135 ft, whereas the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles is 180 ft. The Bay Bridge in Annapolis is 190 ft and the Jordon Bridge in Norfolk is 144 ft. Figuring out the heights of things I’ve already run gave me a good idea of how the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
The night before, and stayed in Torrance. As far as race organization, the Conquer the Bridge leaves a few things to be desired. The parking was hard to figure out, and the last water stop lacked actual water when the runners went by. The race itself was fun.
Since the Conquer the Bridge racecourse was already closed, I could do my warmup on the course itself. It was nice to see the course first hand. It’s hard to miss the Vincent Thomas Bridge, but it’s nice to experience part of it. I jogged about 3 miles and headed to the start.
The Conquer the Bridge race went off right at 7 am. The first half mile is flat as we head towards the bridge. I found myself being passed on the first straightaway. I felt slow despite running at about 6:45 pace. Then you climb and climb and climb. I hit the first mile in about 7:01. My goal was to run under a 7-minute pace, and I wasn’t thrilled to run exactly 7 on one of the flatter miles.
The next mile of the Conquer the Bridge has both uphill and downhill, and I also ran 7 minutes. I thought, well, maybe this will be a 7 minute even split. As we started to descend, several people passed me. Running downhill is not my strongest quality, and I never find a way to run fast and not hold myself back. I later met one of the women who passed me Gisele, which was fun. She cheered for everyone through the race. It kept my mind occupied because I was like, finally, someone else who chats during the races.
The Conquer the Bridge is an out and back and we turned around at 2.65. I saw the leaders coming back and tried to count back places. Much to my surprise I was fifth woman overall. As we turned around, I looked up at the Vincent Thomas Bridge and thought: “man, that is a big bridge.”
I hit the third mile of Conquer the Bridge in 6:41. I was pleasantly surprised and thought, no way I’m running 7 minute pace back up the bridge. I need to average 7:19 this mile to meet my goal.
The fourth mile of Conquer the Bridge was definitely the hardest, and it climbs about 170 feet. I just told myself to keep trucking along. I hit the mile in 7:30. I knew I would need to power through the last mile to make my goal of under 7 minutes. I also knew the last 1.3 would be fast because you are dropping over 160 feet. I focused on just getting down to the bottom. I knew that running downhill was clearly not my strongest suit, and I just wanted to remain as the fourth woman. I tried not to hold myself back as I ran down basically a -10% grade. I ran a 6:12 mile!
Once I was off the bridge, I powered to the end. My goal lately has to finish strong and I tried to run as hard as I could. I ended up averaging 6:26 for the last half mile, which is faster than I’ve been finishing races lately.
I finished Conquer the Bridge in 36:37, which I’m happy with. After not running as I would like at America’s Finest City Half Marathon, it was nice to run well at Conquer the Bridge. I’m hoping I can hold around this pace for the San Francisco Half Marathon in a couple of weeks.
Questions for you:
Have you run Conquer the Bridge?
Have you run up a bridge?