Davis Moo-nlight. Again. This is the fifth time running this race, and the second time on this course (the course has changed two times in 5 years). See my previous reviews of this race from 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.
Last year, this race my 25th half marathon, and this year it was my 30th half. I had no real goals for this race, other than finish in under 2 hours. I wasn’t worried about my training because I have run at least 13.1 miles every other weekend for the last 6 months. We also got really lucky because the weather was only a high of 86 degrees.
I guess I should point out that Davis Moo-nlight is a night race. It starts at 7pm in Northern California, which, based on the week before, can have highs well in the 100s. The last four years have been at least 10 degrees warmer than this year. It was a fairly pleasant run starting off.
As with the previous three years, Dashing Son was doing the kids race. It is only a half mile, but this year, he decided to run it on his own. No parental guidance. I gave him my usual pointers. Don’t go out too fast, and give it all you got once you turn the last corner. He did not disappoint, he came in about 12th overall, and passed a few kids in the last few meters with his final kick.
The nice thing about the Change of Pace runs (the organization putting on most of the races in Davis) is that they offer participation medals. So, for $5, I got the Dashing Son a nice big fancy medal. The only issue we had was that they were not ready to pass out the medals to the kids after the race. They were still dealing with late registration and issues for the other races. My family was going to have to wait another 45 minutes to get the medal or I would have to run with his bib and pick it up after my race. I won’t say that I got special treatment because I am a HUGE celebrity, but the RD did recognize me two hours earlier, and she got my son a medal. She may have just been an understanding parent and did me a favor.
I think that they should have somebody at the booth to hand out medals for the kids who get the extra medal. Just because these are kids and they need the instant gratification of getting a kick ass medal even more than us adults do.
Anyway, back to my race. I lined up at the start line, and about 30 seconds before the start I realized that even though I was 20 feet back from the start line, I was standing in front of the 1:30 pace group. I wasn’t going to rush to the back, I was going to be that guy. I just moved to the side so that I wasn’t blocking anybody that was super fast.
The gun went off and I started my 30th half marathon. I dialed back my speed to conserve my energy, but was still going too fast. The first mile sent us over the first of two big hills, which were nothing more than a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 80. The hill is runnable, but I decided not to push it and walked half of it.
I was keeping my pace to finish around 1:50, but I started feeling some twinges in my legs. Nothing big, but I was aware of it. After mile 2, we were in mostly shaded areas along street sides and the creek. Things were good until about mile 3.5 when we met up with the 10k runners who started with us, but took a 2 mile detour. I don’t mind running with the 10k folks, but the slower folks need to realize there are a bunch of other runners behind them and to not walk four wide across a trail. Yes, I yelled, “ON YOUR LEFT!” several times.
My pace kept dropping, and the pace groups were passing me as the race progressed. The 1:45 group passed me at mile 5, and the 1:50 group passed me at mile 7. We climbed back over the bridge at mile 6, and I had some serious tummy rumbling going on. Probably the greasy breakfast I had 11 hours earlier.
At about mile 7.4, we ran through a park and there were bathrooms. I went into the ladies room, because it is a single room, and the men’s room was taken. I don’t care what the sign said. And I left the seat down (I also wiped my butt sweat off the seat when I was done). I lost about 90 seconds in the bathroom, and when I came out, I saw the 1:55 pace group about a quarter mile back.
I felt much better and started out a decent pace out of the bathroom. The sun had gone down and the air was starting to become noticeably cooler. I was doing my mental calculations on what I had to do A) keep under 2 hours, and B) how much would I have to push it to get under 1:50. Right around mile 9, I started to feel really good. My overall pace hadn’t dropped that much since leaving the bathroom, but I had made up some ground.
When I hit the 10 mile mark, I realized that if I wanted a sub 1:50 time, I would need to finish with a sub 24 minute 5k. I can do that pretty easily, but it is a lot harder to do after running 10 miles. But I saw the 1:50 group just ahead of me, so I decided to try.
I had been walking through aid stations for at least 30 seconds each time, but I was on a mission now, and I wasn’t going to stop. I would catch glimpses of the 1:50 group whenever I turned a corner, and just kept pushing.
I finally caught that group around mile 12. I cheered that group on, and how they have to catch the pacer and not let him beat them to the finish. Me, however, I was feeling awesome. You know that runner’s high we all talk about? Yeah, I had that. I pushed. I ran the last mile like I run the last mile during my morning 4 milers. I ran it fast. No reason to hold back, it is only 1.1 miles to go.
I was passing people like crazy. I ran mile 13 in under 7:20. While I should only have .1 miles to go, I actually had a 1/3 mile to go because I hadn’t been running my tangents very well. But when I heard the lap alarm go off, and I saw the Mile 6 marker (which meant only 0.2 miles to go for the 10k), I put it to turbo mode. I sprinted the next quarter mile, and then I turned the final corner to the finish and remembered what I told my son.
“When you turn that corner, give it EVERY. THING. YOU. GOT.”
I full on sprinted that last stretch, I had to let out a primal yell and everything, but I did it. My Garmin said I got up to 15mph. I also saw that the clock was getting very close to 1:50, and I didn’t want to miss my goal.
I crossed the line with several seconds to spare, and with my chip time I gained even more time, but it felt great to finish so strong.
After the finish, I grabbed my medal and water, and went to go get some food. But, it was nearly all gone. There was some small bags of trail mix, and some watermelon. I blame the 5k and 10k runners. I feel really sorry for the 600 or so runners behind me that had even less than I did. Luckily, there was some beer left, so I got my free sample of beer, then went home. On the way to my car, the ZICO guy called to me and asked if I got any coconut water. I hadn’t, so he opened a box in the back of the ZICO van and handed my two cartons of chocolate coconut water. That was nice.
Overall, Davis Moonlight Half Marathon was a good race. While the course is good, and the on course support is good, the rest of the race is indicative of what I think is the start of decline of the running industry. They used to have so much more stuff at the end of race, but that has declined. I also think some of the medal quality has gone down a little bit. Previous years had more glitter. It is still a good medal, and much, much better than the first year I ran the half marathon.
I will be back next year. It is a tradition now.