#14in14: Surf City Marathon

The Surf City Marathon weekend started for me on Friday as we (my wife, son and I) took an afternoon flight to Orange County.

waiting for our flight to the OC at SMF

After landing and checking into the hotel, we met up with some of my family for dinner that lives in the Orange County area. The dinner also served as an early birthday celebration with family. It is always nice to have a marathon in an area where family is near by, it provides for not just “race stuff”, but allows for some solid family time and fun.

Friday night dinner. photo cred: my cousin Marou

After a good nights sleep, I woke up and got ready for my morning run which I coordinated with fellow #TSFM2014 Ambassador Keith. Since it was easy to meet up because we were both in the same hotel, we coordinated for a 7:00AM start and would plan to go for 6 miles at conversation pace. Our route was pretty simple as we went out 3 miles along MacArthur Blvd, which was the nearest main road. Then after 3 miles we turned around to complete our out and back. The run allowed Keith and I to chat and talk about other things outside of just running. These types of runs are very enjoyable because it allows us to know one another more than just through the social media world and running personalities.

all smiles, all weekend
photo cred: Keith

#SurfCityTweetUp & Expo
With morning breakfast completed, my wife, son and I loaded the car and we were off to the Surf City Marathon Expo and Tweet-Up. I was pretty excited to get to Huntington Beach to grab my swag, bib, and meet up with some new faces as well as other familiar ones.

The race offered a nice BRIGHTLY colored technical top! I am a fan of brighter colors especially when it comes to running swag.

Working my way around the expo, I found the Nuun Hydration booth, where the 12:00PM tweet-up was scheduled. Shortly before the scheduled time, I ran into Keith as well as another fellow #TSFM2014 Ambassador, Jody. Soon after spotting these folks, the masses started to come by and get some free swag we were handing out to people just for showing up!

Keith showing some #nuunlove

One of those familiar faces that came by to hangout and co-host the tweet-up was superstar @SeeSharpRun himself! He was there to run the half marathon.

With the crowds starting to slowly move past the scheduled tweet-up time, we gave our well wishes to one another and made our separate ways out of the expo.

Saturday night before the 6:30AM marathon start would be fairly low key as we made our way to my cousin’s house for some dinner, as well as allowing my son and her son to get some quality family time together playing. We chowed down on some delicious Thia food while watching Toy Story 3. With our belly’s full and the clock starting to tick away into the evening hours, we made our way back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest.

more family time during the marathon weekend

The following morning would be an early one as Keith and I planned to leave the hotel around 4:45AM to make our way to the start line area. This would give us plenty of time at the start as well as avoid some unnecessary traffic getting into the parking area.

Surf City Marathon

The 4:00AM alarm came pretty quickly and I was up and at it ready to get the day started. I had my typical morning smoothie and cup of coffee, like I normally would do on any training morning. For me routine, is whatever I would do during training. Personally, I think too many people make drastic changes to their routine on race day which can cause for some extra anxiety, taking away from the performance of the run. Yes, it is a marathon, but it is also just running.

As we made our way into Huntington Beach, the parking lots were filling up pretty quickly. The traffic was also getting pretty thick. Luckily, Keith had ran this marathon before and he know which route to take to minimize the amount of back up heading into the various parking lots along the beach.

The expo tent from the day before was already open to runners, this allowed us to stay warm up and meet up with others before the race. Surprisingly, the lines to the port-o-potties were nearly non-existent. I think this was due to the large number of them available as well as the bathrooms normally used for  beach goers were also open at this time.

With start time approaching, we made our way to the bag drop tent and took a final photo before heading to the start line. I was venturing to the 3:20 pace group, since my goal for this race was not to “race” but rather to run easy and consistent. Keith on the other hand made his way towards the 3:05 pace group to start.

pre-race photo w/ Keith

After the completion of the National Anthem, the countdown to the start was now going. Wave 1 runners (which I was part of), crossed the starting mat and we would all now make out journey 26.2 miles through Huntington Beach spending most of our time running on and along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Going into the race, I had to remind myself that there were bigger picture goals when it came to toeing this start-line. It wasn’t about hammering this race, rather it was keeping my goals in tact for this specific race and running at long run pace for 26.2-miles. I didn’t want to do anything in this race, that would leave me unable to continue any sort of speed work or other workout the following week.

The first 2 miles had us enjoy the Pacific Coast Highway before starting our way through some neighborhoods in the city. Not until around mile 5 did we start to enjoy more scenery as the route took us through Huntington Beach Central Park. The park was well supported with onlookers and folks cheering us on.

During these miles going through the park is where I started to find my pace, for the most part keeping the 3:20 pacers within conversation distance of myself. I was also able to start chatting with a few other runners at this point, we chatted about goal times, previous races and even family. The 3:20 group would hold pretty strong as we exited the park and made our “climb” from miles 7 through 8. When I say we climbed it was not very long nor very steep. In fact, I personally would equate the climb to a steep overpass.

As we hit mile 10, we made our way back onto the Pacific Coast Highway. This is were the route would allow us to really enjoy the view as well as see runners the entire way to the finish. The last 16.2 miles had runners either running on the Pacific Coast Highway or on the bike pathways parallel to it. The course at this point was essentially a double out and back for the marathons.

This portion of the course was pretty flat with a tailwind giving us some extra kicks on the out, but a slight headwind with our backs. After mile 12, we hit our turnaround on the PCH. Shortly after the turnaround we could cross the half marathon point. According to my watch I was just under the 1:40:00 mark. This is exactly where I wanted to be for this race. I knew the back half would be enjoyable with the scenic views as well as easy to manage as long as I continued to run smart and comfortable.

Just before the 16 mile marker, we would be directed onto the bike pathways parallel to the PCH. As I started on the final 10 miles, I was able to see more of the half marathoners running towards the finish as well as see many of the front runners of the marathon. It was fun seeing Keith making his way towards the finish, as I saw him running in front of the 3:05 pacer. He was actually well ahead of the pacer at this point in the race.

With a tailwind in my favor for the next 5 miles, I knew this is where I could run a little easier and use the wind to my advantage. At this point, I was starting to pull ahead of the 3:20 group and running with a few runners who started with the group, but were also feeling strong and running smart. This portion of the course provided a lot of support as beach goers, supporters, and campers were out in full force providing some encouragement to each runner as they came by.

After my final turnaround, I knew the last 5 miles would be a little more work to the finish for a couple of reasons. First the final miles of a marathon are always work and second, the headwind would be a bit of a challenge. Having run “easier” with effort in the previous 5 miles, I knew I could spare a little more effort to the finish and still run comfortable. Around the 25.5-mile mark, we joined the half marathoners where they would stay to the left of the PCH and marathoners to the right of the highway. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I did give a little extra kick after seeing the Mile 26 sign.

There it went marathon number 19 (#2 in 2014) in the books, I crossed it with an official time of 3:18:54 (7:36/mi pace). I completed this marathon with all of my goals in tact and was very pleased with my finish.

After crossing the finish line, I reconnected with Keith where we made our way into the expo tent to collect our California Dreamin’ medals, for completing both the Surf City Marathon and The San Francisco Marathon.

Keith had plenty to smile about at this marathon as well as he hammered it with his second fastest marathon time finishing in a time of 3:02:xx. He walked away with some extra hardware as well with his 2nd place finish in his Age Group.

Post Race Fun
After crossing the finish, my wife, son and I had a few hours to spare before our flight back to Sacramento. I got back to the hotel got a quick shower and we then headed off to Downtown Disney for lunch and some free time to allow Donovan to run around and enjoy the Disney experience without entering the park.

This hit the spot after running 26.2 🙂

This was my first trip to Downtown Disney, which is located between the Disneyland hotel and the two theme parks (Disneyland and California Adventures). The best part of being in this area is if you don’t have enough time to enter the park and get your monies worth with the cost of tickets etc, this area is FREE! (including the parking). So the only cost to us was the cost to eat and a couple of toys that Donovan wanted while we visited one of the Disney stores.

a little quality family time post marathon

Have you ran a 2014 marathon already? If not how is your marathon training going?

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