Race Recap: Surf City Half Marathon 2018

For Surf City, I was excited to fly in to So Cal to pace my best friend for her very first half marathon!

The day before, I taught a full-day design bootcamp. It was a full class, so I was on my feet the entire day. Months beforehand, I had registered for the race and opted for mail delivery of my bib. On the floor of my class I had my race gear and food to tide me over until I got to LA. I was distracted by class so I had not eaten enough nor did I drink enough water. In fact, I was dehydrated because I was pounding back so much coffee to keep my energy levels high for class.

After class, I crossed the street and got onto the train to head to the airport. My flight made it on time. I didn’t get in too late — just late enough for a quick bite to eat and then we dashed off to bed.

The next morning, we drove to Huntington Beach. It was a little chilly but much warmer than the 30* I’d been grumbling about in Denver. All I wore was a running tank. The weather reports all said that it’d heat up considerably throughout the day, so I didn’t want to overdress for the weather. Seeing as though I’ve been acclimatized to the colder weather, I’d easily overheat.

The start line was right on Pacific Coast Highway. You could hear the waves crashing in the background. Since we drove in so early, we were able to catch the sunrise on the shuttle ride over. Plenty of other folks were catching some morning pictures and pre-races selfies at lifeguard towers. Others were finding warmth in nearby hotels. My friend and I were darting in and out of places angling to get some good photos before the race started. I have another great friend who decided to sign up for the marathon at the last minute, so she started about an hour and a half before we did.

Although there were plenty of people running the course, it didn’t feel very crowded or pushy. We seeded ourselves towards the back, to ensure that it was a good clip for my friend but also to give us enough room so that we wouldn’t get shoved.

The race was mostly flat, as I would expect from a So Cal beach race. The first 5K or so was right along the Huntington Beach waterfront. Around mile 4 we began to wind around the residential areas, heading up long gradual hills. The fog began to burn off and was being gradually replaced with warmth. It must’ve gone from the 45s-50s to 70s in the span of an hour or so. Nothing to raise a weather advisory, but definitely something for which to dress/hydrate. At the 10K mark it had gotten pretty warm, but I had prepared with ample sunscreen and enough gels for two. I was also carrying my own water because I’m always adamant about doing so. Right before mile 12, you could see the marathoners head out for their victory lap, which was pretty amazing. I would personally find it a bit demoralizing to see the finish line when I have another 10 miles left to go. Their run was on a nice pedestrian path very close to the beach. I couldn’t tell if it were completely closed off to the public, but it did seem like there was plenty of racers on the path to ensure a private course.

Aside from the weather and warmth and sunshine, one thing I really loved about this race were the on-course medics. They had what could essentially be called ‘mobile first aid stations’ running around with the racers on course, which I thought was really neat. Unfortunately, I was about a mile away from the finish when another half marathoner was doing the Casper dance (what I call it when someone begins swaying side to side and looks very pale). He said that he had not taken in any nutrition since the beginning of the race because he couldn’t stomach the on-course gels. Strange…did he not train with anything? Did he not bring them along? Why would he try something new on race day? So many questions. A few times he almost fell forwards and backwards and thankfully I was able to run to find a race official who saw his Casper dance and accompanied him to hopefully the finish or the next aid station.

The finish was great. You never forget a first, and it was great seeing my best friend finish her first half marathon! We met up with another girlfriend after the race and enjoyed some In n Out.

Since Surf City was on presale for a few days afterwards, I signed up for next year’s race. It only takes three years to reach “Longboard Legacy,” so I’m going to aim for it with my bestie! Maybe we can try to hit a goal of improving our times, year over year. I’m also peeking at the Long Beach Marathon, which has a really generous cut-off limit (7 hours 30 minutes). That’ll get me closer to the Beach Cities Challenge for next year!

Overall, it was a fantastic race and it was very well organized. I was a bit bummed that they ran out of my shirt size since I had my bib mailed to me. The men’s shirt is really big on me, unfortunately, so it will probably go straight into the bib quilt box. Either way, I look forward to coming back next year.