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  • Morgan Hill Marathon + Half 2012

    Posted on November 1st, 2012 Michele Sun No comments

    A HOT weekend for Morgan Hill Marathon!!

    Sat Oct 27th, Went to the Morgan Hill community center to pick up my bib and pacer stick, though I did not have to come to the Expo but I had a secret mission today. Last year at Morgan Hill Marathon Max ran his very first marathon, after moving to CA for one year and started running for one year. I had come out and done my race support and shared his awesome marathon debut; he ran a very speedy 3:37 at his first marathon, despite the heat and hills. I carried a “Go Max!” sign at the race start and mile 17, and I wish I could do that again this year but can’t due to my pacing responsibility. I wanted to do something for him though, so I bought some jumbo chalk markers and went to the course to write ten “Go Max!” on the ground. I knew the exact course from my training run two weeks ago, so I had mentally chosen which portions of the course to write the message and hope he might spot one of them by any chance. I know how focused he is when it comes to racing. Glad that I drive an all-wheel-drive SUV and thank goodness that I did not get run over by cars.

    Sun Oct 28th, Max came over at 5:50 to pick me up and we headed to Morgan Hill for I needed to be at the Pacer tent before 6:30am. I actually had a nightmare about being late, in my dream I got a text from Max asking “It’s 6:02 and where the hell are you?” It’s dark and cold and I appreciated his getting out so early with me. After couple “good mornings” with other pacers, we went out with Vinh and Ben and did an easy warm-up run as usual. As we walked pass the ceremony stage I saw the plagues,  champagne, and a podium, I told Max that “Today we will see you at that podium!” He said “I will certainly try.” I was confident that he would do well, PR, and hit 3:15.

    I was trying to find Ronan for he would be running his marathon in recent years. The last time we had talked he told me he wanted to come back running and I also learned that he had been a runner since 16; at one point he must he a faster runner than Max. I gave him my free Friend & Family race entry and hoping that would motivate him to run and train again, and get back to the healthy and active lifestyle. I found him in excellent shape and did not believe that he was nervous as he has told me couple days ago. Took an awesome picture with him and Max at the start, and I joked that I was the lucky girl with two cute French that day. I had a 2:10 Half to pace and since it’s my long run weekend, so I planned to run my pacees in first then go out to run additional 7 miles to make it 20ml total. Several runners came up to me and looked at me with expectation at the Start, and I explained to them that I would go slow for the first two miles, and go nature pace afterward– slower on uphill, faster on downhill, walk through each aid-stations and steady on flat. One of the girls asked me “can you deliver the 2:10? I want to run a 2:10” I assured her that I would do one minute within 2:10 and as long as she stick with me I would give her that 2:10.

    I have never run the Half course before, and found the shorter uphill compare to the Full course was less fun, but for my pacees this is a tough course I can tell. There were about 12 of them started with me, but by mile 5 I had about 6 trailing behind me, and before reaching each aid-station, I would remind them there would be water, Gatorade, Gu, snack…etc, and I encouraged them to take proper hydration and nutrition for we would encounter heat once we reach Hale. By the time I was at about mile 9, I have lost every runner but picked up/ inheriteded 5 slower runners from the 2:00 time slot. I encouraged them to keep up with me, and told them to relax their shoulders and don’t forget to breathe. Around mile 12, I had 4 runners still with me and I urged them to speed up from here and make it 2:08. I slowed down intentionally and shuffled my arms pointing toward the Finish line direction, and shouted “Run ahead of me you make 2:08” “Go pass me! Go pass me!” They smiled and charged forward with purpose! By the time I came under the clock, its 2:10 so I think I made it within the one minute margin. Three of the runners that I sent in earlier were standing there and waiting for me with their medals, two came up to shake my hand saying thank you, and I went up to hug the girl who was almost in tears. That 2:08 must mean a great deal to them.

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    I jogged to the Pacer tent and dropped my pacer stick, then went back to the course for my additional 7 miles. No way I could run with a heavy bling on my neck, so I wrapped the ribbon around my left wrist and continued my own training run. As I salmon through the runners, several race crews told me “you are running the wrong way.” After I showed them my medal and telling them I wanted to go back and cheer other runners in, they looked at me in disbelief and amusement. I came up to the aid-station at mile 24 and heard people shouting “Great job Michele”, but I had no idea how they knew my name though. As runners running in and people kept telling me I was running the wrong way, I reached the aid-station at mile 22; stopped for some water, and the volunteers asked me if I needed anything since they thought I was delusional after they saw the medal on my left hand. I told them I was doing my 20 mile long run and the guy said “You deserve a beer!” Ah ha, that offer sounded pretty awesome at that moment actually. I saw Ronan running on sidewalk and looked like the heat was getting him. Taking the pace differences into consideration, I figured Max must have turn left at Main and running over 101 by now. I should turn around and cheer him in as I remembered how that portion of last 6 miles had hit him last year.

    I ran back to that aid-station at mile 24 and stayed with the crew; they asked me why I was running back and forth after finishing my race, so I explained that I was doing my training run and now wanted to wait for a friend. I asked them if I may use their Pom Poms and they cheerfully agreed with huge grins on their faces. I chatted with them while looking for silhouette of Max, and as soon as I saw him running in with two guys (Mike and Nick) besides him I started doing my cheerleader dance as best as I could. They stormed in so fast that I wasn’t sure if he heard my “Go Max!” or saw my jumping up and down cheer dance. On the last left turn uphill they were going so strong that I gave up the idea of running behind them, however I maintained my 8:45 pace and hoping that would make up the 9:44 slower pace earlier. I was feeling really good about this 20 miles run which is the 4th long run of this season. I arrived the finish area in time to see Max with his medal on his neck and we walked around to loosen up his stiff and tired legs; went for some water, fruits, and waiting for the official result.


    Woohoo, not only he PRed by 14 minutes from his SFM, but he placed first in his Age Group. I was so excited that I kept repeating “awesome, you did so great” and that dazzling smile brimmed on his face while we waited for the award ceremony after his calling his parents for the great news.  (Note to myself — need to learn how to congrats people.) I went to the second row of seats and took picture of him accepting that plague and champagne. As I am writing this race recap, I recall the conversation we had on our way back. There are many fast (or faster) runners, but the quality I like about Max is how humble and not show-off he is, even after such great accomplishment. I am grateful, as always, that I got to share so many exciting moments with him each time he PRs or winning a race, and the image of his standing on that podium got imprinted in my memory forever. What a glorious day!

    And that new fitted top Max was wearing for this race is certainly HOT!! I think he should model for Salomon!


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