After last year, I was excited to run the Conquer the Bridge Race over the Vincent Thomas Bridge. The race is hilly and has about 500 feet of elevation gain. But it also loses that. Last year I surprised myself and was fourth woman overall. I had spent the year prior in Napa running hills. This year was much hotter, and I haven’t been running hills.
Before the Conquer the Bridge Race:
Since San Pedro is about 2 hours away, we decided to stay the night before. We usually draw the line with “does the race take more than 90 minutes to get to”. Plus, you had to pick up your packet the day before since there is no race day packet pickup unless you sign up on race day. This year we stayed in Long Beach, which I regret since it’s harder to get to San Pedro than staying in Torrance.
Live and learn, and next year, we will probably stay back in Torrance. The night before was uneventful, and I went to bed early. That meant 4:30 didn’t feel too bad. Getting to the race was more eventful since the Vincent Thomas Bridge was obviously closed and we had to go the long way around. But we made it, and I got a two-mile warmup before Conquer the Bridge. As if the news hasn’t been telling me California is going through a heat wave, immediately when warming up I knew it was going to be hot. I was soaked through my clothing during 2 miles of warmup, and it was only getting hotter and more exposed to the sun.
Conquer the Bridge Race:
Conquer the Bridge went off relatively on time. The first half mile is flat, and then you up on the Vincent Thomas Bridge. People were flying by me. Honestly, I didn’t care as much that people were passing me left and right because that bridge is steep, and it was hot. I didn’t want to “get caught in the action” and have the last couple of miles be miserable. I just ran my own race.
After about .7 into Conquer the Bridge we started climbing. It’s not as steep at first so it doesn’t feel too bad. I hit the first mile in 7:06. I was happy with my effort. The next mile continued climbing over the Vincent Thomas Bridge. I consider myself a decent hill runner and I began passing people. Around 1.8 we started going downhill and I told myself to just start pushing it. I didn’t pass anyone flying down but I was moving at around 6:30 pace. I hit mile 2 in 7:17 which seemed good with the amount of uphill we had.
Mile 3 of Conquer the Bridge is tricky. You are off the bridge so you think it will be flat. It is not. There are so small rolling hills that you go up and back down. You turn around at about 2.65 and head towards the start. We hit our first water stop ta mile 3. With the heat, I found Conquer the Bridge really lacked in the water stations. Having the first water station at mile 3 is rough because for some people they’ve already been out in the hot sun for an hour. I wish they had moved it to the other side of the turnaround. I also think they should have some sort of electrolyte because of the weather. It just seemed weird not to. Anyway, I grabbed water and threw it on myself before heading back over the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
As we climbed back up, I began passing a few more people. I ran side by side with another woman, I said we’ve got this. This sucks for everyone. She ran with me for a bit and then started fading. Finally, around mile 4 we reached the top. I hit mile 4 of Conquer the Bridge in 8:23 and it was pretty much all climbing but I was both tired and hot. Then it was the moment I was waiting for. An all downhill and flat mile! And the last mile.
I told myself to just push it as hard as I could go. I passed a few more men on the downhill. My legs were tired. Finally around 4.6 we exited the bridge and we just had the flat part remaining. I tried to muster up the kick I have been working on. It didn’t come but I kept with a few men I was running side by side with. I crossed mile 5 of Conquer the Bridge in 6:41 and I finished the final .3 at 6:55 pace.
Conquer the Bridge Thoughts:
I finally crossed the Conquer the Bridge Race finish line in 38:57 and as 8th woman overall. Last yea I was 2 minutes faster, in better shape, and it was cooler. I’m happy with my effort for the day. After the race I actually had to sit down for a few minutes and just rehydrate because it was so hot. I think the Conquer the Bridge Run might have been one of the hottest races I’ve ever done. I hope Conquer the Bridge adds electrolytes to their aid stations because in the heat, it makes more sense. Or moves them so they aren’t at mile 3 and mile 4.8 of a 5.3 mile race.
You can see more race recaps here and new Strava here.
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Questions for you:
Have you run Conquer the Bridge?
Do you like bridge races?