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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Heartbreak Ridge Half Marathon

According to internet sources, Heartbreak Ridge is a narrow, rocky mountainous area in Korea. The Battle for “Heartbreak Ridge” began on September 13, 1951 and lasted for about a month. 

This battle is known as

“one of heartaches as well as of Heartbreaks [of the Korean War], but even more for the communists than us. The V North Korean Corps had been destroyed and replaced by the 24th CCF Army. The II North Korean Corps had also been decimated. On "Heartbreak Ridge" the 23rd Infantry had captured prisoners from six communist regiments. And all of this was taking place during the period when the truce talks had been suspended. Soon after these successes . . ., the communists agreed to resume the truce talks.” http://www.2id.org/heartbreakridge.htm

The only numbers I could find on casualties during The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge are:  3,700 American and French, and approximately 25,000 North Korean and Chinese.

I ran Camp Pendleton’s Heartbreak Ridge half marathon a couple years ago and had a terrible time of it.  Though I finished the race, I lost the mental battle.  I was miserable and said that I would NEVER return to this up and down, up and down off-road race.

My Activities Heartbreak Ridge Half Marathon - Camp Pendleton 9-10-2011, Elevation - Distance

I should have known better.  One of the few things I’ve learned in life Smile is to never say never.  I am serious.  You can pretty much guarantee that you’ll do whatever it was you said you’d never do.  And you’ll do it relatively quickly too.  For God sake, never say anything like:  “I’ll never do heroin,”  or “I’d never bleach my hair platinum blonde,” or “I’d never have ten kids.”  Just. don’t. do. it.  Fortunately, I haven’t said these things, else I’d be a platinum blonde heroin addict with ten children.    But I did say that I’d NEVER run the Heartbreak Ridge half marathon again.  

So there I was this morning beneath cloudy, thundering skies, mingling with runners in the third wave.  First wave participants were all military men and challenged runners.  Wave 2 runners were civilian men and wave 3 runners were civilian and military women.  I asked a runner next to me about the waves, she looked familiar, but I figured I’d seen her at races before.  She looked at me also with recognition and said, “Are you Lauren?” 

LOL.  The young woman was Rachel, one of my blog readers (& commenters!) who is a blogger herself, not to mention fellow trail runner. 


Wave One ready to go:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Hanging back with Wave 3:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I decided to run this race, not to beat my time, or even make a particular time.  I thought 2:15 would have been nice, but with the pretty much constant climbs, I thought that might not happen.  What I really, really wanted, and why I even registered for this race, was to beat the mental battle!  I wanted to run this race hard, never stopping.  I wanted to run it happily, joyfully.  I wanted to enjoy the beauty of Southern California coastal hills.  I wanted to feel the breeze; I wanted to giggle inside when the young marines said “Excellent job ‘Mam,” as I passed.

I took off on pavement with a “C” written on one calve (“C” for Civilian) and 46 (for my age) on the other.  A “3” was written also in black on my hand to indicate my wave.  After about a mile, we hit dirt and I was on familiar ground.  I didn’t contemplate the long hill approaching.  I just ran.

A little dip in the first 2.5 mile mainly uphill runSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Heading into mile 3:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Down, down, down to the turnaroundSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA


Lucinda going strong (I’ve seen her at every Camp Pendleton race I’ve run, carrying this flag, wearing black and running in boots! One awesome lady)SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I have to say that I ran this race happily, joyfully and that I won the mental battle.  That’s not to say that it didn’t get tough, and that I didn’t slow my pace.  I focused on keeping my cadence high on the up hills.  And in the last few miles, a good ninety percent around me began hiking.  I never hiked.  I ran the entire time.  I’m not sure where I lost my time this year, because I believe it took me seven minutes longer to finish this time.  Perhaps it was during the few flats, as that’s where I noticeably slowed.  I know I ran the up hills and down hills quicker.  I also wore a camelback last time.  This year, I drank mainly from aid stations.  One tiny thing that could have added to the extra time is that I did not take one photograph the last time I ran this race. My time this year:  2:32.  But really, I don’t mind one bit because I did what I came out to accomplish.  Mental battle won:  CHECK

3-way-tie crossing finish lineSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA           SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Miles run this morning:  13.1

After thought:  I have nothing against the hair color platinum blonde.  It’s a gorgeous color, just not for everyone, especially not for me. AND nothing against people with ten children.  I just COULD NOT do it.   Birthing babies took A LOT out of me. : )


  1. Pshah! Those aren't even little humps compared to what you normally tackle in Wood Canyon! Congrats on a great race.

  2. True, true Glenn. But I don't have 1,500 people trying to beat me when I run Wood Canyon. I was looking at the ages written on legs and targeted women in my age group trying to up my stat in my age group. No other race, but a Camp Pendleton race have I had that opportunity.

  3. Hi Lauren. I'm familiar with you from OC Trail Runners posts. I had you on my radar to see at this event; I was there too, but I never saw you...that I know of. :) I had read your RR from that previous time, and you had me nervous. Thankfully, though, I met my goals too, which were pretty much the same as your's. Yay us! ;)