Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The OC Half Marathon Race Recap

I can't believe this race was 17 days ago already!  Actually, I've been so busy and so much has happened between then and now that it kind of feels like longer, but I really can't believe I haven't written a single thing since NINETEEN days ago.  Yikes.

Anyway here goes nothing.
Airplane selfie! 
Michelle and I flew out to California on May 3rd for the OC half marathon on May 4th, then we left for a cruise on May 5th.  Needless to say, we had a blast.  I'm not sure how much of the rest of my vacation I'll recap, but if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@ty_runs on both), you've probably seen the highlights already anyway.

Here's the spoiler:
PR baby!!!  Yes, again!!  :D
Overall, I really enjoyed the race.  It was a point to point course with a net downhill.  It was pretty well organized despite being a really large race.  It really reminded me of a rock and roll series race in terms of the size and vibe and amenities offered.

We got into Costa Mesa on Saturday and took a cab to the expo, where we met Lina.  This was the first time Lina and Michelle had met each other, despite them both pacing me at the Ann Arbor Marathon in March!  (Lina ran with me from the start to mile 13, Michelle ran with me from 15 to the finish).  Lina was supposed to do the full marathon, but obviously didn't do it (see pictures below...!)
Crutches and a cast are not favorable for running marathons.  
Me, Lina, Michelle. 
 Some interesting points of the expo:

When I picked up my packet, I had to show ID.  I gave the lady my work ID because I had lost my wallet a couple weeks prior and hadn't gotten my replacement driver's license yet.  She looked at the photo and said, "This isn't you.  There's a picture of a man on this....".   I was like, ummm....WTF lady (in my head). I said "Look at my hair.  Look at my glasses.  It's clearly the same person in that picture that's standing in front of you."  She said "Oh.  Ok.  You look much better in real life."  Uhhh....thanks???

Another random highlight was seeing "Octomom".  Lina started freaking out and pointing.  I can't believe she recognized her.  I never would have.  I kind of forgot she even existed.  Nevertheless, I chased her down to try to get a picture.  I mostly failed, but you can see her sort of in the pic below, behind the young girl in the pink tank top.

Michelle and I convinced Lina's parents to take us back to our hotel, so we didn't have to pay for a cab back.  Also, we got this awesome back-seat-of-the-car 3-way selfie.  Win-win.  Also also: Lina has the coolest parents ever.
Lina, me, Michelle. 
My only complaint about this race was the shuttle set up and communication.  Apparently the city, in conjunction with area hotels, offered shuttles for race participants, but it wasn't well advertised, and you had to sign up in advance, and Michelle and I knew nothing about it.  Michelle ended up begging or sweet-talking or flirting her way into getting us shuttle bracelets from the hotel staff the night before the race.  Yay Michelle! After the race the shuttles back to the hotels were really confusing and disorganized too.  But, we made it there, and we made it back, and the rest of the race was awesome, so I'd still recommend it.

The race had a pretty early start (I think 6:30am?) so we were up and on the shuttle by around 5am.  Luckily, we were east coasters on west coast time, so it felt just fine.  The portajohn lines were of course really long, but they went pretty fast.


 The only problem was that they were all running out of toilet paper.  I haven't had this problem enough to learn to bring my own, but the people that had were certainly glad they did!  One guy found an unopened pack of kleenex on the ground and started handing them out to the ladies in line.  He was definitely the star of the morning!  Me, because I'm classy, I just pooped, wiped with my underwear, and then wore them for the race anyway.  True story.  It wasn't that gross, trust me.  Barely anything there.  If it would have been bad I'd have just thrown my underwear away and gone commando.  TMI?  Par for the course here, folks.


The full marathon started before the half, so we got to see them off.  I got a little video, if you're interested:
Go, marathoners, go! 
We took some more photos and lined up for the half marathon start.  The race was really big, but it was hard to tell because of the way the road curved so you couldn't see all the corrals.
Michelle is wearing the official race shirt in this photo.  I love how we got somebody else's photo op into our photo too, lol! 



Looking forward toward the start line. 

Looking behind us at the masses of people!  And palm trees :)  
Michelle had lined up with me and planned to take it easy and run with me, but at the last second the energy of the crowd and the race environment inspired her to move forward and give it a real effort, even though she wasn't trained for a PR performance by any means.  I didn't have any goals for this race so I didn't mind either way.  I had tentatively targeted /estimated an 8:45 pace, just based on what's been "comfortably hard" for me recently, but I wasn't super attached to it.

The race started and I just ran by feel.  I was wearing my Garmin but mostly only use it to keep an eye on my cadence these days.  I will glance at the mile splits when it auto-laps and alerts every mile, but I don't worry too much about it.  

My first mile was pretty good for a warm up mile at 9:05, and my second mile spooked me at 8:08, but when you look at the elevation profile those numbers make perfect sense! 

Mile 2: aka flying downhill!!! 
I definitely could tell that the course was net downhill.  It did have it's fair share of uphills too,  (Michelle called the course "rolling"), but I definitely felt that I ran down more than I ran up.  I would definitely recommend the course for a PR, barring hot weather.  My splits per my garmin are below.

Only the first mile was over a 9 min pace.  Pretty sweet!  
The race had some pretty scenic parts, but after about 7:15am I stopped noticing because it started to get really hot, by my standards.  Ya'll know I am a winter runner, and I don't take well to heat.  But, I felt like with the heat slowing me down and the downhill speeding me up, it was kind of a wash.  

Let me change this song so I can pass all you fools. ;)  
Around mile 10 I was feeling really miserably hot and my shirt was just sticking to me.  I passed a girl not that much skinnier than me running in just a sports bra and decided to do the same!  This is actually a really big deal for me.  In fact, "running in just a sports bra" was kind of one of my "weight loss goals" from years ago.  Turns out it's not so much a weight loss goal as it is a body confidence goal.  Anybody can run in a sports bra.  You just have to not care about flashing your jiggle at everybody you pass.  And at that point, I didn't care.  Kind of a bigger deal than the PR actually!  I guess it probably helped that I didn't know anybody there.  Can't say I'd do it at a team even with my friends necessarily, or even a local race where I know everybody, but, we'll see.  

 Photo evidence!!  

So yes, I ended up getting a huge PR too.  (1:53:40, which is about a 5 minute PR over my first sub 2:00 hr PR that I set in November).  It is also my first half marathon at a sub 9 min/mile average pace!  And my official average pace was 8:41, so basically spot on with the 8:45 I predicted.  Exciting!  Michelle ended up doing better than she expected (no PR), and was glad she "raced" it!

Post race photo, showing off my bling.  
Sunglasses girl, sunglasses!  (They gave us these neat paper jacket things that will be great as throwaways at future races!)  
 After the race, Michelle wanted to hit the free massages, which I had never done before at a race.  I was really glad we did.  My lady was awesome, and gave me possibly the best massage I've ever gotten, I've paid some good money for massages before.
Best. Massage. Ever.  
 After the massages we hung out at the finish line party for a bit. We were there for probably a good 10 minutes before we realized that there were marathon runners running between the stage and the crowd!  So cool!  We moved up to the front and did a lot of cheering and high five-ing the runners for quite a while.  It was really fun.  The band that was playing was called "Flash Back Heart Attack" I think.  They were doing 80's covers.  I actually thought they were pretty entertaining.





The shirts and medals are nice, but I probably won't wear the shirt much because it's a touch short and snug.  I shoulda gone for the men's small instead of the women's M on this one I think. So hard to know!




I would definitely recommend this race.  Fast course, super fun, and great atmosphere.  Just watch out for the heat, and make sure you know how you're getting around with those squirrelly shuttles! After the race we went to the hotel and then walked about 2.5 miles to the beach, got sunburned, and walked the 2.5 miles back.  :)  Kind of an exhausting day, but so fun!

Pale Michigan girls on the beach.  That's a jean skirt on my head.  :)
Just missing the Corona.....
Love this pic! 
Gettin' my burn on.....  (Yes, those are bathroom towels from the hotel.  You gotta do what ya gotta do....)

And subsequent CVS shenanigans....!


All in all, a pretty good Sunday.  There was also dinner in there somewhere.  I think it involved a Bloomin' Onion.  Oh yes.  It definitely did. 


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