The Rose Bowl Half Marathon is my fastest half marathon on an honest course in recent times. I say honest because while the Revel Big Bear Half Marathon was faster (by 5 minutes!), it also dropped 3000 feet. Weirdly enough my last mile of the Revel Big Bear Half Marathon was the same pace as the Rose Bowl Half Marathon. Despite falling on my head in November, I am fitter than when I ran Revel Big Bear. I digress. Where to begin?
Running the last several months has not really gone well. After getting the flu in May, I struggled to breathe during harder and longer efforts. The two half-marathons following that, Wineshine and RnR San Jose, were two of my worst half-marathons to date. I could barely breathe, had to stop and walk to lower my heart rate, and running felt hard. Not in the normal “hard way.” This led me to go to the doctor for lingering flu issues. I never tested positive for COVID during my flu stint, but even six months later, I didn’t feel like myself. My doctor informed me “long flu” was an actual thing. I feel like a broken record always talking about the flu, but it’s really played a role in almost everything in my life in the last six months, especially running.
This led me to seek some motivation elsewhere that wasn’t just me running. So I decided to raise money for the Mccourt Foundation and neurological diseases. To my surprise, I raised over $1000. I couldn’t believe it.
Before the Rose Bowl Half Marathon:
I had a doctor’s appointment in Pasadena on Friday. I thought about just staying two nights out there, but with the rain and traffic, it wasn’t much different to go back home. Plus, I could run on my treadmill if I wanted the day before. Pasadena and North LA is usually a fairly easy drive, but it’s still 110 miles away. Luckily, I also got to see Rich from VFE, and he worked on my hamstrings. Friday night was uneventful. I stopped at one of my favorite pasta restaurants and went to bed early.
On Saturday morning, I went back to LAX to pick up my husband from the airport. The drive wasn’t my favorite. It was pouring rain and there were multiple accidents across Los Angeles. Rain was the theme of the day but better Saturday than Sunday. We went to Santa Monica to pick up my bib and then just relaxed in the hotel. I would have loved to walk around Pasadena but not in the torrential rain. I wondered how flooded the course would be.
I woke up for the Rose Bowl Half Marathon race morning at 4 and arrived to the Rose Bowl stadium at 5. The information said there would be a lot of traffic (there was) and flooding. I never saw any flooding, but the single road in made for a lot of traffic.
Before the Rose Bowl Half Marathon, I warmed up about 1 mile. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve warmed up for a half marathon (and out of 70, it’s less than 5). I wanted to get 17 in that day and didn’t want to run four after that race. For some reason, 3 felt more manageable. I ran about 10:30 pace and headed back to the car.
The start of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon was chaotic. They told me I needed to enter the corrals at the back and go all the way up. In a sea of nearly 8000 people, I knew that was impossible. I started and didn’t make it far before exiting the corrals and hopping in towards the front. Even then, I only made it to around the 1:40 pacer and couldn’t move up any further. While I knew I wanted to run faster than 1:40, I didn’t count that as “easy” since nothing about half marathons has been easy, and I’ve surprised myself (in the very much wrong direction lately).
Anyway, thankfully the Rose Bowl Half Marathon started a few minutes late and I was able to start relatively upfront.
Rose Bowl Half Marathon Race:
Almost 650 words in, and I finally start the actual race recap. Before the race, I thought the Rose Bowl Half Marathon was flat. It’s not. I quickly learned that by the first mile and we climbed almost 100 feet. My goal was to start very easy, which wasn’t too hard because I was jam-packed around people. I could see the 1:35 pacer ahead and think, it would be cool if I ran a 1:35 today. But from the previous halves recently, I didn’t think that was in my wheelhouse. I hit the first mile in 7:20 and was fairly pleased with that. I would be happy if I kept that pace.
Major goals for the Rose Bowl Half Marathon were as followed:
- Not fly and die. Meaning starting at a 6:50 pace and finishing at an 8:15 pace. Or as normal people say “major positive splits”.
- Faster than the 1:39 I ran at RnR San Jose.
- Under 1:35
- Not have to walk (largely dependent on how my lungs would feel)
Mile 2 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon climbs even more, and I was just surprised. I wasn’t expecting so much climbing. I just kept myself relaxed and enjoyed the views of Pasadena. I hit the second mile of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in 7:23, and with the even bigger hills, I was pleased. I’ve been doing a lot of my workouts on hills lately. They’ve been slower, but I’ve tried to get stronger at hills again.
Mile 3 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon went without much note. The race was finally spreading out. I ran a 7:22. I felt fairly smooth with no major issues. I thought: I feel good, 7:20ish average is fine.
Around mile 4 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon, we went downhill a bit, and I ran a 7:09. I was excited! I saw the 1:35 pacer up ahead and calculated I was about 1 minute behind them. A 1:36 would be fine, as it’s still my fastest half-marathon in a little while.
Around mile 5 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon, I felt myself picking it up. I ran a 7:01 and thought I should be catching the 1:35 pacer now. I once again calculated and they were now 70 seconds in front of me. What the heck??? (We had a lot of small out and backs on the course which made it easy to calculate how far ahead people were).
I lost sight of it, and just continued along. I started seeing sub-1:30 runners going the opposite direction. I imagined myself in a previous fitness doing that. I could see they were going back uphill and I mentally prepped myself for that.
Miles 7-9 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon were kind of blur. Minus, the Rose Bowl Half Marathon was giving out Electrolit, something I’ve never had before. At mile 9, I got a coconut flavor. I was really not expecting coconut and it was extremely strong and thick. It was fine, just not what I was expecting. I do think the Rose Bowl Half Marathon had some of the better aid stations of California races I’ve done recently.
Between miles 9 and 10 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon, we went up a bridge and then back down. I wondered: is this it? Are we going downhill for the rest of the race? At mile 10 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon, I saw the actual Rose Bowl. It was below us. Maybe we were done going uphill. I also saw my husband at mile 10. It was a fun surprise. I wrongly assumed the rest of the race would be either downhill or flat.
We hit the Rose Bowl loop around 10.5. Mile 10-12 was hard for me. You can basically see the finish line. It just feels hard. I felt like I was going slower and slower and running felt harder and harder. What I didn’t realize (similar to the Santa Monica Classic 10k was we were also running a gradual uphill. In about a mile, we gained another 100 feet. It wasn’t until we turned around mile 12 that I realized that we started a nice gradual downhill.
At mile 12 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon, I just pushed it. I knew I was close to 1:35 and I felt like maybe I could catch him. I was pushing as hard as my legs would move. The person I was running with was also pushing and it kept me motivated to keep going. The 1:35 pacer was getting closer and closer.
I passed the 1:35 pacer around 12.9 and just pushed it in. I hit mile 13 of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in 6:41. My fastest mile of the day. Then we ran under the Rose Bowl stadium and into the field. I crossed the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in 1:34.55.
Rose Bowl Half Marathon Conclusion:
I’m happy with this. Not just because it’s my fastest half in a while, but because I finished strong. After the flu, I’ve had weird breathing issues during long moderate efforts (like half marathons). I’ve had to stop and walk in recent halves because my breathing just hasn’t felt normal (and not in an I’m pushing it too hard type of way). So it was nice to have a normal half, that felt good, and that I finished strong.
I’m still trying to make up my mind about thoughts of the Rose Bowl Half Marathon. Once we were on the course, it was fine but the chaos of the morning and saying the parking lots were flooded (when they weren’t) was strange to me. In all, it was a good day.
You can see Strava here and more race recaps here.
Questions for you:
Have you run the Rose Bowl Half Marathon?
What is your favorite half marathon?