Surf City Marathon 2013

surf-city-marathon-2013-expoTo the average person, running a marathon sounds pretty crazy. However a runner knows it is completely insane. This year there were a little over 2,000 crazy people pounding up and down pacific coast highway in Huntington Beach, CA for the Surf City Marathon.

The weather was a comfortable 58ºF at 6:30am for the start, meaning there was no need to sacrifice jackets or any articles of clothing after the first mile. Although there were plenty of shrink wrapped runners wrapped up in their trash bags. It did warm up with the sun rising in the distance, but stayed in the  low to mid 70s. This was no problem at all since everyone was a few hundred feet from the ocean, which provided a refreshing breeze to evaporate the gallons of accumulative sweat off everyone.

Pre Race
The night before the big race, we feasted on large plates of delicious, homemade spaghetti (Yum!). We also took the rare opportunity to justify pigging out on potato chips to help carb-up throughout the day. I also got to partake in a tradition my brother started with his fist marathon, by watching Without Limits while chowing down our pasta. Every runner should watch this movie at least once and strive to be like Steve Prefontaine. Without revealing any spoilers, I can tell you it is very inspiring. It will help remind you to push yourself as hard as you can with every step you make, deliberately placing one painful step in front of the next. It also has a fantastic cast of memorable faces, and some unintentionally humorous moments.

Ira Ray, Irving Ray and Ian Ray

Ira Ray, Irving Ray and Ian Ray

I have been a recreational runner on and off for the better part of my life, and have done several 5k and 10ks. However, this was my first time racing in a Half Marathon. Here I am staying warm at the start of the marathon with my 2 youngest brothers, Ira and Irving Ray. Both have run marathons before, but Ira just recently ran the Chevron Houston Marathon no more than 3 weeks earlier! This was the 7th marathon he has run, and it was Irving’s 3rd. Aside from a few cramping sessions and a bathroom break, they both finished strong and injury free. They did however underestimate the power of the sun in the cool weather, and went back to Texas as a couple of lobsters!

Race Day
Having lived in Huntington Beach for some time, I was thoroughly impressed with the race organizers. They were able to accommodate free parking right by the beach, not too far from the starting line. They could have easily dinged everyone the $10-20 day rate, but made sure it was one less fee to swallow. They also had incredible signage throughout the course for both the path to take and mile markers. I didn’t have to think twice about which one was for the marathon or the half, which allowed me to easily record my lap times on the old timex.

The marathon was separated into 4 waves with a couple pacers strategically placed within each group. In the first row of the first wave was a bare foot runner that was either incredible or regretful at the end of the race (even the crazy marathon runners think they’re crazy, which says a lot!). I always love seeing the costumed characters. Most notable was super man, banana suit, a couple waldos, a purple dinosaur and the most infamous this year, the jester with his sign.

IMG_5474The half marathon was full of just about as many kooky characters with nearly 15,000 people spread out in several waves. This was really impressive to see in the aerial shots they took from the hotels nearby, where there is literally an ocean of people juxtapose to the actual ocean. Here I am coasting towards the finish line with plenty of room to fly around!

I have to give more props to the organizers for the support on the course, including the water stations, port-o-potties, electrolyte fuel and cheering sections. The water stations must have been about every 2 miles. It’s best to avoid drinking too much water when you are standing in a crowd for 30 mins waiting to reach the start line. So it was great having a water station before mile 2 to wet the whistle.

After the initial crowd, there were only a few pockets of cheering squads. The odd thing I noticed was that I was going out of my way to go and high five them cause no one else was doing it. And it was like I was cheering on the cheerleaders so they wouldn’t feel left out! I do regret adhering to the sign I read around mile 9 from the bunny squad that said “hop to it”. Switching from a solid pace to a gangnam style hop that late into the race definitely led to some cramps I had to run off in the next mile. But I would encourage anyone racing to participate in sharing the love if you have the energy.

Race Results
IMG_5539I originally signed up for the full marathon with them in 2012. However, I struggled through an IT band injury for several months when trying to start my training. So I decided to switch to the half. However after discovering how to cure an IT band injury, I quickly bounced back to running strong by race day.

Tag Time: 1:48:34
Avg Pace: 8:17
Overall: 1415 out of 14633
Men: 1014 out of 5880
M 25-29: 115 out of 646

I am very happy with how well I trained, ran and finished, and now have a great baseline for my next half or full marathon. Anyone who pushes themselves to run these kind of races knows you have to thank your friends and family for all the support they provide, whether they know it or not. You’d be surprised how many times or how valuable it is to get advice from hearing their voices in your head!

The best thing I realized during the race is that it is not won in the first or last mile, but between the 2nd and 2nd to last mile.

You can check out the full photo gallery of the 2013 Surf City Marathon weekend on Google+

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