Monday, May 5, 2014

OC Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday I ran the 10th Annual OC Half Marathon.


Okay, so for those of you who follow my blog regularly, I'm sure you are asking yourself, "Wait, didn't she just run her first trail 10K race the day before?" And the answer would be YES, yes I DID run a HILLY and HOT trail 10K the prior morning.

Normally I don't sign up for multiple races on the same weekend (unless it is a runDisney challenge of course), but Ryan and I had already signed up for the Cinco de Mayo Trail 10K when I WON a FREE ENTRY to the OC Half Marathon from a blogger {THANKS AGAIN Cookies on the Run}. With the price of races these days (and being unable to turn down FREE things), I knew I HAD to do it!

This was my FIRST race going SOLO. Isn't that crazy?! Every other race my hubby has either run it with me, or at least come to spectate (and sometimes even our pup comes along for the ride). Because we had done the Cinco de Mayo Trail 10K the morning before I told him he could take the day off and sleep in (I actually slept in our guest bedroom as to not wake him when I got up). {Warning - this means the recap will be limited on pictures... SORRY} PS I realize I am EXTREMELY LUCKY to have such an AWESOME husband who is willing to get out of bed BEFORE the butt-crack of dawn just to watch me run by him for maybe 30 seconds :)

One of the hardest part of races (at least in my opinion) are the EARLY wake up calls. This race was NO exception! Since the course was a point-to-point (meaning the start and finish are at different places, hence running from one point to another point), they offered shuttles you could take from the parking lot at the finish line to the start - which was AWESOME. The issue is that because they had to account for 22,000+ runners (between the half and full marathon), they needed to assign shuttle times and had to start them EXTRA early to make sure everyone got to the starting line. My shuttle time was at 4:35am, which meant I left our house around 3:20am {and actually got out of bed around 2:15am after looking at the time and realizing I probably wouldn't get any more "sleep" at that point}.

Gotta make sure to lay out everything the night before so you don't forget anything in your sleepless stupor

With no traffic at three in the morning, I made it up to the OC Fairgrounds with no issues. I sat in the car for a few minutes, making sure I had everything I needed, hit up the "real" bathrooms, and then went to find an open school bus. OF COURSE the one I got on didn't know how to get to the starting line... Yup, WE GOT LOST! I was sitting next to a super sweet lady on the bus and we were talking about the course and racing. She said she had run this race a few times in the past (she was from Huntington, so it was local for her) and mentioned "Every time the buses seem to take a different way there". Probably 3 minutes later the bus driver turns on his hazards, pulls over, and makes an announcement saying that it seemed as though his directions were incomplete and he would need to reference his map. {Thankfully I am normally EARLY everywhere I go, so we had some time to spare and I wasn't too panicky} We were all very relieved when there was a guy on the bus that was from around the area and knew how to direct the driver back towards the start line... CRISIS AVERTED!

The full marathon started at 5:30am (the half starting at 6:15am), so we were able to watch them take off before filling the corrals for the half marathon. I hit the port-a-potties one last time (I swear, at races, you should probably just stand in line for the bathroom even if you don't have to go, since the lines get so long and by the time you get to the front you probably will have to go) and then headed over to Corral 1. I was slightly bummed that they didn't have anyone really "patrolling" the corrals. We received an email letting us know which corral we were "assigned" to, but other than that it was just on the honor system. When races don't police the corrals, it tends to be more of a free-for-all which causes LOTS of weaving and crowding for the first few miles. Rudy, the race announcer, even had to call out a few people he "knew" were in the wrong corral. I saw a BIG wipe out not even a quarter mile into the race because someone was trying to get around another runner. Not only is proper seeding helpful for crowd control, it also helps to keep people SAFE!

My plan for the race was to try to stay with the 1:50 pacers (technically I wanted to stay slightly ahead of them because I would have LOVED to PR the race with something like a 1:49 {my current half marathon PR is 1:50:45}). My first full marathon is in two weeks, so I decided if I was struggling to stick with the pacers, I told myself I wouldn't push it and would make the race more of a training run.

The first few miles seemed to be a steady downhill, which was great! Also, we were heading towards the ocean, so had some amazing views. Around mile four I could feel my legs remembered we had done an intense 10K trail race the day before because my quads were already feeling a little tight. I was still holding a great pace (my 5K split was 26:13) and I figured I would try to hold on as long as I could. {My PRO Compression socks helped keep my calves nice and loose the entire race weekend}

I think it was around mile 6 when I started feeling a little fatigued and started to drop slightly behind the 1:50 pacers. Nothing hurt or felt wonky, but I could just tell I was a bit tired and I didn't want to push it with my first marathon so close. Not to mention, we were having a heat wave this past week in Southern California, so the longer the race went on, the HOTTER it was getting. By mile three I was pretty soggy and by mile five my hair was starting to get soaked from the sweat on my shoulders and back... As the race went on my pace slowed down, but I did my best to stay strong!

The course was lovely though, even going on this fun little trail around mile eight. There was a ton of community support, especially for a lot of the course going through neighborhoods. Folks were out on the porches or lawns cheering on the runners. Some even were handing out fruit, water, and I even saw a couple signs offering free beer!


God sent an angel around mile eleven - a sweet spectator handing out OTTER POPS! I knew I wasn't going to PR, so figured why not?! I looked at her, said "Otter Pops?! FRICK YEAH!" and she handed me a green one! I would have to say, green is my least favorite flavor (blue and pink are my faves), but it may have been one of the best tasting otter pop I have ever had :) That icy cold sugar in the middle of the race was like heaven on my tongue! THANK YOU DEAR STRANGER!

Although the course is an overall net drop in elevation (meaning there are more downhills than uphills), it seemed like the last few miles were the hilliest of the race. Nothing too crazy, but with the temperatures rising, I would have loved some flat, fast roads. But hey, beggars can't be choosers!

I was able to finish the race with an official time of 1:52:39, which isn't too shabby. A little under two minutes slower than my current PR. With the warm weather and my first full marathon being only two weeks away, I would consider it an extremely successful race (not to mention IT WAS FREE FOR ME).

As you can see from the extra .18 miles, we did a bit of weaving around folks...

Yup, just as I suspected, consistently slowed down throughout the race...

One great thing about early race start times, I was able to be home, showered, and ready to tackle the rest of the day by 10am :) Now to hang my new bling with the rest of my medals!!


Jennifer K. said...

It was definitely a warm weekend for a run. I did a 5K on Saturday and I was glad I wasn't doing OC on Sunday. I did that one last year, and I found just getting out of the parking lot the worst part. I live about two miles from the fairgrounds and if I do it again, I think I'll just bike over in the dark. The race route surrounding the parking lot is the dumbest planning ever. Congrats on finishing in the heat!

EB said...

Congrats on the great race even in the heat! I had no idea this race was so big (I'm an east coast girl)!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed you ran such a great race the day after a trail 10k. Awesome!

Ariana said...

Great job on such a strong run after a trail run AND so close to your first marathon! Good luck!!!

Heather said...

Wow, you did amazing! You're such a strong runner, being able to finish in that time AFTER a tough trail run the day before and what sounds like some pretty awful heat. You're an inspiration. Way to go :)

Danielle said...

Great job! I have to say I don't think I've ever seen anyone look so happy while they are running!