Surf City Half Marathon 2016

Surf City Half Marathon

February 7, 2016

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I arrived in Huntington Beach on Saturday afternoon, checked into my hotel, the Waterfront Beach Resort, and went to the Expo to pick up my race packet. My room was on the sixth floor, overlooking the pool, with this view from the balcony of the ocean off to the left.

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Race day! All set to go.

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The hotel was right on the starting line. I took this photo from the front steps, with the sunrise over the ocean, as the full marathoners started off.

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The half marathon started at 7:45 AM, but since they were using a wave start and I was way at the back of the pack, I didn’t cross the starting line until around 8:20 AM. The weather was pleasant, sunny but not too hot. I was chilly earlier, but knew I’d be fine once the race started, so I didn’t wear a jacket. I was glad to be wearing short sleeves as the day wore on!

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Mile 1! The half marathon course started out the same as the full marathon course, running up the Pacific Coast Highway, so both Mile 1 markers were in the same place. The surfboard markers were for the full marathon, the highway sign markers were for the half.

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A cheerful drummer played for us as we passed. On the other side of the street, the fastest of the full marathoners, who started at 6 AM, were already coming back from the other direction towards the finish line.

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The road was lined with palm trees, and the lovely blue ocean sparkled off to the west.

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Just before Mile 3, we turned up Seapoint to run past some beautiful homes.

At some of the water stations, they were giving away Clif Shot Bloks. I’d brought GU with me, but I really like gummy snacks, and I was already hungry when I started, so I was happy to have some extra fuel to keep me going. I picked up three packs of Bloks along the way at various stations.

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Only 10.1 miles to go!

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We ran along tree-lined boulevards.

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At the top of the Bluffs, the half marathoners turned the corner to go back, while the full marathoners continued on to run an extra four miles or so.

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On the way back, we ran along the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, which were dotted with oil wells.

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On our inland side were these fancy homes with views of the wetlands.

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Then it was back to the Pacific Coast Highway.

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The wetlands were off to our right. There were herons on this bridge, but the photo is too small to see them very well.

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Mile 6! Nearly halfway there!

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Just after Mile 8, we turned around and headed back the other way. We ran through this Clif Shot Energy Zone, but all the Clif Shots had already been given away, so we slower runners didn’t get any. I should have eaten a GU at this point, but I was hoping for more Clif Shot Bloks and kept waiting for the next water station to see if there would be any more. I was starting to fade from low blood sugar by Mile 10, when I finally realized I’d better eat some GU.

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Mile 11! Getting close! I’d eaten a GU about half a mile before, and was feeling perkier again.

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The full marathoners turned off the PCH at around the half marathoners’ 12-mile mark, and ran another loop along a beach trail. They had over 10 more miles to go, but we half marathoners were nearly done.

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The finish line is in sight!

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The band Cosmic Reaction played in the Expo area past the finish line. I hung around for a bit, had a few snacks and some water, and enjoyed the sun before heading back to the hotel.

Here I am with my finisher’s medal! My time was 3:30:17. I slowed down a lot at the end, mostly due to forgetting to eat after the Shot Bloks ran out, so my time wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was certainly better than Long Beach! Now, on to the OC Marathon, to complete the Beach Cities Challenge.