American River Parkway Half Marathon

First off, I love this race because it is a fairly fast course, you can wear headphones and it is close to my home so there is little travel time involved.

The last time I did this course in 2008 I managed a 2:06. The fastest half marathon for me at the time. I was also taking tons of steroids so my 2008 finish time was partially due to the superpowers given to me by that prednisone prescription. One of the only pictures of me from that race depicts a bloated tuba-bubba trying to finish a run. No, I won’t post a picture of that.

I got up at 5:15 a.m. had coffee, pb&j, checked email. It looked like it would be nearing 80 degrees for the day so I elected on nike shorts, Hawaii tank top, hat and large waterbottle.

Left the house near 6:00 a.m. I wanted to leave earlier, but somehow I got side tracked. Got to William B. Pond park around 6:20 and found that I barely found a parking spot in the park itself. Sat in the car and watched others drive like maniacs looking for parking.

I felt a little dehydrated, so drank my water while sitting in the car and by 7 a.m. I had to pee. Walked to a nearby bathroom and did the business. I then decided to walk around the course start area. Here's some pics of the start being set up, etc.
Went back to the car. At 7:15 I had to go pee again. At 7:35 I had to go again. I decided to stop drinking so much water and do my warm up run.

Warmed up and did one more pee break. Saw two ladies from my Ophir Milan riding group and we talked for a few minutes. Ate a Chocolate Gu and headed for the start. Placed myself right next to the 9 min/mile marker.

Waited for the start.
Waited a few more minutes.
Waited again.

Finally at 8:15, there was some commotion near the front of the pack. The race director was talking, but the speaker near where I was standing wasn’t working so I couldn’t hear a word he was saying.

A bagpipe band cut through the course and headed for the front. I’m not one for bagpipes necessarily but it was a unique touch to the race.

At 8:20 the race started. (I learned later that the delay was due to traffic congestion from the remote parking location—the race director elected to wait until people could get to the start).

Mile 1-3. Had consistent 8:30ish splits. I felt great—my legs felt fresh and even though it was warm, my water bottle was full of cold tasty goodness. After the first mile I systematically started picking people and passing them. It was an awesome feeling!

Mile 4-6.5. Moved from the shaded bike trail up to the levee. I have often run on the levee with various training groups so it wasn’t a big deal but the relentless sun was a difficult to deal with. I tried to ration my water bottle and began taking fluid from the aid stations to supplement my bottle. Pace was still 8:20-8:37.

Mile 6.5-8. The half way point is a 180 degree turn around—we descend off the levee, turn 180 degrees and proceed back up the main bike trail. I was HOT. The sun was directly in my face and the pavement seemed to irradiate heat through my shoes. I know that it was probably only 70 degrees but it really felt overly warm. I stopped and walked through aid station 7 and ate a gu and drank 4 cups of water. My pace slowed to about 9:10 per mile.

Mile 9-12. These were the toughest miles of the race. The shade trees became sporadic along the trail. Sometimes it was nice and cool, and sometimes I got a frontal assault from the sun. I checked my watch at mile 9 and saw it was 1:18 and realized that I could probably make the Sub 2 hour mark even with my slower pace, this really helped me relax and I just focused on trying to pass people. Up ahead, I saw a lady from my running group. I focused on her blue shirt and trying to stay with her. At Mile 11.5 aid station, she ran through and grabbed a water cup while my volunteer fumbled with pouring some water into a cup for me. By the time I looked up, my “pacer” was gone. Drats!

Mile 12-13.1. I looked at my watch and saw 1:46 and realized that I would definitely be doing a sub 2 and started to smile like a fool as I ran to the finish. As I crossed the line, the official clock said 1:58. I glanced at my Garmin and it reported 1:56. Fkn. Hurray.

After my race, my stomach was just wrecked so I didn’t wait for food. I saw “blue short lady” and we talked for a few minutes. She reported one of the fastest guys in our group did a 1:35 for the half! Holy . Crap.

I was really beat after, walked to my car, drove home got cleaned up and ate two HUGE sandwiches and had a coke. Funny, I am never hungry right after a race, but within an hour and a half I am famished almost to the point of blacking out.

So now that I’ve reached my goal of a sub 2 half, I don’t know what to do next. There aren’t any other half marathons in the Sacramento area over the summer (it’s too hot!); There are quite a few trail runs so I may do those but not sure that my time will get faster after doing those.

Lessons Learned:

  • HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE for days before the race.
  • Be ready for any issue. Several reviewers of the race complained about lack of water, cups, etc. I attempt to be self-sufficient and bring my own water, etc.
  • my knee hurt so I iced for awhile

I have my Auburn Sprint in 2 weeks. I can’t believe I am saying this-- I am ready for the race.


  1. CONGRATS, Karen!!!!

    You've been talking about your knee so much that this PR completely caught me off guard. What a great feeling that must've been to just go out there and nail it. Hope the sprint tri goes well too!

  2. Way to go, congratulations on acheiving a sub 2 hour goal!!!

  3. Awesome race!!! Congrats on the sub 2!

    I love your ice pack.


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