We will begin this post by dubbing this race as the one where I got BALLED in my race photos…
ALAS, Surf City Half Marathon 2020 was also the race where I scored a half marathon personal record (PR) I’d been gunning for over a time span of 8 years. So, I call that a win-win?
Getting to Surf City
We decided to drive into Huntington Beach the day before the race (February 1) to make life easier to navigate getting to and from the race venue (which happened to be our hotel – the Hilton Waterfront Hotel.) Once there, we jumped at the chance to head over to the beach which was where the expo was being held. (G always gets hit fill for beach time when we trek over to the California coast, and when he’s happy, life is much brighter.)
After having an early pasta dinner upon nabbing our bibs, I crashed around 7:45 pm with the kiddo since we both hadn’t had a nap all day. She’s not the kid who will sleep in the car, so road trips usually mean that there’s also no rest in the day except sitting down.
Wakeup was somewhere between 5 and 5:30 am … I can’t even remember! Staying at the host hotel, which is also where the start line is, always makes for an easier time to gather one’s self before a race. I met my cousin in the lobby and also Linz who I hadn’t seen in MANY moons. We hung out in the front of the hotel and did a mini warm-up before the corrals were released onto the course.
Before I knew it, we were out and off onto the course which took us up the Pacific Coast Highway and over onto one of the side roads (Edwards) and then back up and down the same PCH route. I know that the marathoners took another route that repeated some of the half marathon course.
Going into this race, I knew that I was ready for a Personal Record. When I ran the Hoover Dam Half Marathon in December, I wasn’t prepared for the terrain of that course and didn’t hit my goal time for that race. I stretched out my training to maintain my base aerobically with intermittent speed to keep up my paces for the half marathon distance.
Throughout the course, I maintained my desired pace goal of around 8:45/mile. I smiled as I listened to Kevin Hart’s newest audible book, per the recommendation of my cousin. I’d been working on keeping my anxiety and heart rate down, while maintaining a higher speed output. Comedic laughter in the middle of a race did the trick! I saw many Kobe Bryant tribute jerseys and colors; this was no surprise due to his unfortunate and recent passing before race day. I tried to channel as much of his Mamba Mentality as I could, even praying for his family throughout the course.
Around Miles 4-5 I noticed someone dribbling a basketball with a Kobe jersey on. Much props to him, as I could barely chew gum and walk these days. His focus was admirable and put a smile on everyone’s face as they put one foot in front of the other on the course. We see now the humor of that moment in my race photos. You’re welcome.
I felt like I was cruising through the halfway point and into the bend where we would head back down the PCH. I made sure to fuel every 45-50 minutes of the race alternating Huma gels and Clif (Raspberry and Vanilla) gel packs. I had Nuun and water in my handheld water bottle, which I feel naked without even if there is on-course fuel and hydration provided. It was a particularly humid day, so I finished it by mile 9 and then depended on water along the course.
It was a quickie
I feel like the race took all of 15 minutes before it was over. That’s not to say that around mile 10 I wasn’t wishing I was ON the beach sipping a fruity drink. My consistent pacing and calm demeanor kept me ready to head in for a speedy finish upon the 12 mile mark as I headed down the beach coastline back to the Hilton.
This course was FLAT and FAST per all of the recaps I’ve read and reviews of the race I’d seen. I would definitely concur.
My legs were SHOT as I finished and met up with my family in the meet-up area. I knew I’d accomplished something I’d wanted for so long. Taking years off of running meant that I had to build up my form again, which is particularly challenging post-baby. Yet, having my little watch me train and run alongside me gives me the determination to keep upping the ante on my goals. I look forward to tackling longer distances again and embracing where my body can now take me to at this stage of my life.
What was the happy ending?
I secured a time of 1:53:55 when my previous PR for the half marathon distance was 1:58:57. I had an initial goal of beating 1:55, which is what I trained for. We all know that race day can bring different feels and vibes, so I just went with it for this day. YAHOO!
With the LA Marathon coming up in a month after this race, I knew I had to get back into the game with my training plan to continue logging miles with an even bigger bear up ahead.