Tuesday, May 8, 2018

OC Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning was the OC Marathon and Half Marathon! I was lucky enough to work with the race to help promote the event and was comped an entry to the half marathon in exchange for a few social shares. (FYI: I had the option to run either race distance, but seeing as in the three weeks prior to the race I ran the Boston Marathon, Rim2Rim2Rim at the Grand Canyon and a trail 10K the morning before the event I decided I should opt for the half.) Hopefully by now you all know that I gotta #KeepItReal, so even though they covered the cost of my bib I will absolutely be as honest as possible.

This is actually the second time I ran this event (I won an entry from a fellow blogger in 2014). I'll be honest, since then I've run thirty half marathons, seventeen full marathons and numerous other races so I don't remember a ton about it - but that's why I write race recaps, right?! My 2014 recap actually came in rather handy when prepping for the race.

When the OC Marathon reached out to me a couple months back to help out, one of my stipulations was I wouldn't be forced to go to the Expo the day before the race to pick up my bib. Seeing as Orange County is about 45 minutes north (on a perfect day with zero traffic), I knew having to go there and back on a super hectic Saturday to grab my bib and then again on Sunday for the race wouldn't be an option for me. Thankfully they agreed to my caveat, but I did want to mention that this option is NOT available for the public. Runners are either required to go to the OC Lifestyle & Fitness Expo themselves or have a friend/ family member go on their behalf (with a copy of the runner's ID and a signed waiver). Side note: I realize larger races have to hold their expos at larger venues... venues that normally charge for parking... but I'll be the first to admit, after the cost of most races, having to pay for parking at an expo or the race itself is a bit disheartening.

Navy dot PRO Compression socks, white Handful bra, turquoise Sparkle Athletic skirt, tank from TJ Maxx, white and blue QALO silicone
wedding bands, blue and gray Momentum Jewelry wraps, elite RoadID, Nathan handheld, #teamsparkle hat (from a couple Ragnar's ago),
my Garmin Fenix 5S, and Brooks Ghost 10 (with blue Shwings).

This is a point-to-point race (meaning the start and finish lines are in two separate places). With that said, the race offers shuttles to help with transportation. You can either park at the finish line and take a shuttle to the start (which is always my choice because I prefer having my car at the end so I can leave once I'm done) or you can park at the start line and take a shuttle back from the finish. With the Marathon starting at 5:30am and the Half Marathon starting at 6:15am, runners are assigned specific shuttle times - mine was set for 4:45am. Seeing as I didn't go to the Expo on Saturday, I needed to grab my bib from the Solutions Tent. My goal was to get to the OC Fairgrounds (which is where the finish line festival and parking was located) by 4:30am to give myself a buffer. Well, let's just say that required an EARLY morning wake up call!

Thankfully the roads are pretty empty at 3:30am so I was able to make it to the OC Fairgrounds with zero issues. I pulled in around 4:20am (after paying my $10 for parking...) and sat in the car for a few minutes. I double checked to make sure I had everything I needed and then jumped out to get in line for the buses (which were moving super quickly and efficiently thanks to all of the volunteers). Maybe it's because I had the recent ride to Hopkinton in my mind, but this one flew by. I was expecting it to be longer so when we pulled up to the curb near the Marriott I was surprised we were already there.


I walked over and grabbed my bib, used the port-o-potties before the lines got out of control and then made my way over to the Marriott. I had a ton of friends running but hadn't made any specific plans to meet up with anyone. Lucky me, as soon as I walked inside the hotel I ran into Pam, Sandy, Linzie and Megan. We chatted for a bit and then decided to give our legs a rest so found a place to pop a squat. It was great getting to catch up with everyone before the race. Not to mention, it was awesome having a place to congregate that wasn't outside in the thick of everything. (BIG PROPS to Marriott for opening your doors to the hoards of runners who took over your ground floor for a couple hours!)

The weather was already a little warmer than I would have liked (hovering right around 60 degrees when I got out of the car), but apparently last year it had rained for this race so I was glad we weren't having to fight those conditions. Around 6am the crew decided it was probably time to get this show on the road and made our way to the start line.

Some of the PRO Compression folks pre-race!

Although runners are assigned to different corrals, I'd say it was a bit of a cluster at the beginning. Don't get me wrong, we rolled up to the start line fairly close to race time, so I understand not being able to get into the corral, but with no one monitoring the corrals (we didn't even have our corrals printed on our bibs) it was a little cray-cray. We ended up waiting in the median until the majority of the first corral had started so we could get through the gate opening and start the race.

Excuse the blur... apparently I was too gittery about starting and couldn't keep my phone still!

Once we were able to get onto the pavement and start moving towards the start line it was finally go time. #RunTheOC

We were able to cross the starting line just a few moments before they started walking the second corral up to the front.

Apparently the theme of my photos was going to be BLURRRRRRRRRR ;)

I didn't have a game plan coming into the race. I knew my legs were probably pretty fried from all the running I had been doing recently (the Boston MarathonRim2Rim2Rim at the Grand Canyon and a trail 10K the morning before not to mention all the other training runs the hubby and I had been getting in) so I figured I'd just take it easy and enjoy the run.

SoCal mornings definitely do NOT suck! 

I forgot how beautiful this course is. Like I mentioned, I ran it four years ago and remembered there were parts near the water, but I was sort of shocked at how much I loved the course. Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy (although it is net downhill, meaning you lose more elevation than you gain, there are definitely rollers throughout the entire half marathon), but the neighborhoods we ran through were gorgeous and the spectators were awesome! There were even police officers who had their cruisers open and were blaring pump up music (one near Mile 5 had Eye of the Tiger on repeat!).


The first mile or so I held back a bit, but after that I thought I'd try to comfortably push myself. Again, I wasn't trying to go all out by any means, but I was sort of interested to see what I could do. Since running Chicago in October I have done ZERO speed work and have been running the majority of my miles with the hubby (at his pace). Most of our long runs in the past two or three months have been on the trails. With all of those factors I assumed I had lost any speed so was super surprised when I saw my second mile split was under 8 minutes! (I honestly thought maybe my Garmin was malfunctioning since it had been off during our our Grand Canyon run and I figured maybe it had just stayed wonky.)

The views along the course were pretty awesome! 

Even though I was comfortably pushing myself, I still made sure to give out as many high-fives to kids as possible, stop and snap pictures with friends, etc. Unless I'm "race racing" my time doesn't matter to me so I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every step (while at the same time putting in a decent effort to see what my body would be able to accomplish).

Was able to chat with these ladies who were tackling the full!

Around Mile 7 I saw the 1:45 pacer. I figured I probably started a few seconds after him so if I kept him in my sights I could probably finish around that time. The further into the race we went, the better I was feeling (or at least I wasn't feeling any worse, hehe), so I thought I'd hang on to that pace for a while and if I had any gas left in the tank around Mile 11 I'd think about trying to catch him and pass him. Well, around Mile 9 I was gaining on the pace group so I figured I'd just make my move and see what I could do. Again, no hammers were being dropped, but since I felt good I decided to go for it.

I was able to stay in decent shade until about Mile 7. After that the sun was out in full force and the temperatures were creeping up. I carried my handheld (I like carrying my phone and BOLT chews in the pocket) and noticed around Mile 10 it was empty so I had to start taking water from the aid stations. I also grabbed a slice of watermelon from a spectator around that time (I know runners love orange slices, but man, nothing beats a ripe, cold chunk of watermelon!).

Often times I won't fuel during a half, but seeing as the last time I ate was around 3am I was
glad to have some fuel to chomp on around Mile 6. 

Despite the hills, the heat and my tired body I was chugging along at a decent clip. I wasn't looking at my watch much (I'd sneak a peak every few miles when it would beep for a mile split) so hadn't done any math to see what time I may be able to finish at. All I knew was the 1:45 pacer hadn't passed me so I was thinking I'd be faster than that (unless he dropped ;)). So let's just say I was super surprised when I paused my watch after crossing the finish line and saw a time of 1:42!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Look at those negative splits! I NEVER can do that during a race!

I snagged my medal, all of my goodies (I was super thankful they had bags to put everything in - so much more convenient than having to try and balance everything in your sweaty arms), and made my way through the finisher shoot. There was a little stage set up (I'm assuming maybe it was for the awards), so when I walked by I asked a fellow runner if she's snap a quick picture of me since my personal photographer was home in bed ;)


Although I donate my race medals to Medals4Mettle, I thought this one was unique. I noticed there was a hinge on the back and realized it's so you can stand it up on its own if you wanted to put it on your desk or coffee table - AWESOME!

Not sure why the "C" in McClurg isn't capitalized, but it'll have to do ;)

Seeing as I finished so quickly, I was able to get in my car and out of the parking lot without having to fight too much traffic. In fact, I actually pulled into our garage by 9am! I know the early morning wake-up calls can be tough, but having driven 100 miles and ran a half marathon before most people finish their first cup of coffee is a major WIN in my book!

The hubby was cleaning the garage so Walt was waiting for me when I pulled up!

The only downside of my race experience was because I didn't go to the Expo I didn't grab my participant tee. I normally don't wear them, so it's not a huge deal, but still my next Project Repat quilt will definitely be missing it. But in all honesty, I'd totally recommend this race - especially if you are local or could make a little weekend racecation out of it. (For me, it is just close enough that I couldn't justify a hotel room but just far enough away to make the drive a bit of an inconvenience.)

How far do you normally have to drive for "local" races?

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