EVENT: Surf City USA Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, February 3, 2008
LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:45 am (wave start)
FINISH TIME: 01:59:31
The Pacific Shoreline Marathon/Half-Marathon/5k in Huntington Beach, CA was renamed to the Surf City USA Marathon/Half-Marathon/5k this year, reversing the course (or so I heard). I wanted to run this race last year, but it never panned out. And since this was "inaugural," I decided last month to hop onboard.
I had just run Carlsbad Half two weeks before and Orange County two weeks before that, both with decent but not PR times. Since this was my last race before LA Marathon, I was hoping to make good of it, since the two half-s scheduled for post-marathon might not go so well.
I got up at 4:45 and was out of the house with my sister in an hour. It had been raining for most of the night and was still doing so as we waited in line on Pacific Coast Hwy for the shuttle to come. The wind kicked up relentlessly as the rain beat down hard on our backs. Ill-prepared in some waterproof shorts, long-sleeve tech shirt, and mylar wrap from another race, I was shivering uncontrollably for half an hour. One of the guys in line shouted, "Aggh, Kelly Clarkson!" (reference from The 40-Year-Old Virgin movie) as a huge gust blew us away.
I chugged about 2/3 of a tiny bottle of Gatorade Rain on the bus. Got to the start at 7:50, 5 minutes too late for the first wave start (the marathoners had taken off at 6:15). Got as close to the front of the next wave as possible and took off. I was a little irked that they were playing summer/beach music at the start, as if they were taunting us, but oh well. My wrap fell off in 2 seconds when a gust came, so I just went on without it. The wave start system worked so well. I didn't have to trip over walkers or become a football player at any time during the race because we were all well dispersed, even if I didn't get into the right wave. In addition, I guess the field was so open that my friend spotted me, and we had a brief conversation. I had also spotted my sister at around mile 8 and ran with her for about a minute before she took off ahead of me.
Mile 3 split was 26:45. Mile 7.75 spilt was around 1:10. I was slightly weirded out by the strangely placed mats. I usually want a 10k split time because I've never done a 10k, but I kept running and running and found no mat until a good while later. Anyway, I think I was so busy braving the wind and avoiding puddles that I didn't bother to look around very much. And anyway, everything was too foggy and grey to really notice anything of beauty. The course was pretty much flat except maybe two small inclines. There was definitely some shore visible for a good stretch of the race, but all I could think about was a warm hug, blankets, or hot chocolate.
I made sure to drink a little bit at some of the water stations, though I was not really thirsty and wound up passing more of them than usual. Admittedly, at a few points when I felt that my mouth was dry, I opened my mouth and tried to drink some of the rain water. The sports beverage was Amino Vital, which tasted a bit weird but did not upset my stomach probably because I did not drink very much. They were also giving out my favorite Clif Shot Bloks, but I did not want to bother with them.
I mostly felt good throughout the race, as good as one can feel with winds blowing against you and rain spattering everywhere, shoes squishy, snot blowing everywhere (residual from a cold I had this week, not that I was getting sick from the rain), etc. The outside of my right thigh was tightening a bit toward the end, but I managed to change my stride a bit to help it. I often imagined that I was swimming or something so that the totally soaked feeling would seem a little less foreign to my body (I have only run in heavy rain once before when I was caught in a flash flood during mile 7 of 10).
The whole time, I felt very sorry for the volunteers and showed my appreciation to them (by enthusiastically pumping fists, etc.) and those who were on the course supporting people. I think it is worse to be standing there than running. Anyway, after a few miles of not really knowing how much I had left, I saw the finish and got a chip time of 1:59:31, a PR by about 6 minutes. More than skill, I think I ran faster just to get out of those conditions.
The medal was VERY cool... a nice surf board. The post-race food was also adequate and good, although we had to walk quite a ways to get it.
I've wanted to run a sub-2 all season, so I definitely feel as though part of my life is complete. Overall, I liked this course and would do it again if I can predict the weather better.