Sunday, February 7, 2010

Surf City Half Marathon?

My friend Ron from Las Vegas and his wife, along with a few of their friends ran the Surf City Half Marathon today. I knew he was going to try and run a PR and maybe even break 2 hours so I called him this week and asked if he wanted company and someone to help pace him. He liked the idea so I told him I would meet him at the 3 mile mark and run until about 12.5 miles with him.

I got up this morning to leave at 5:00am and made it to Huntington Beach area by 6:45! I parked at a Ralph's parking lot and ran to the 3 mile mark. It turned out to be a 2 mile warm up. I got there in time to see the lead runners go by. It was a beautiful morning at the beach. Completely different from the down pour yesterday and many of the runners and spectators were commenting on how nice the day was. On the advice of Clay, I bought a Los Angeles Dodgers balloon to help Ron find me through the crowds. We found each other easily and I hopped in with him. I have never been a bandit at a race before but it didn't bother me too much. The marathon and half marathon were sold out at 20,000. I took no fluids and tried to stay straight down the middle at all aid stations. Ok, I did take some "sharkies" but no one else was taking them! Ron started to struggle around mile 10 and we missed the sub 2 hour mark, but he did PR and was under 2:10 for the first time today with a 2:07! Congrats Ron! I got to run the last 10 miles with him. After talking with some of the others in his group from Vegas it sounded like almost everyone ran a PR today! It was a good day to do it. There was virtually no wind, but the sun was fairly intense and temperatures nearly reached 70 degrees.

I liked the course but that out and back on the PCH seemed to go on forever and you couldn't see the turn-around until just at the last minute. I would like to go back to run the whole thing some day.

I said my goodbyes while they waited for a few other finishers and I ran back to my car. I made one right turn when I should have made a left, but discovered my mistake in about a quarter mile and made it back to my car in 4 miles with no map!

Total mileage for today ended at 16!

Total weekend mileage ended at 36!
I think that is my all-time record for total weekend mileage. I ran 34 miles in two days the weekend of my 30 mile birthday run!

Speaking of half marathons, my dad recently sent this picture of me at the finish line of my first half marathon. I was 15 years old and the race was in January of 1995. The race was called the Las Vegas "Mini" Marathon. It started on Las Vegas Blvd and ran down the old Lake Mead Rd which is now St. Rose Pkwy. and finished with a right turn up Water St. into downtown Henderson. Yes, I was running in blue cotton Russell sweatpants and a baseball cap. My official time was 1:32:32. I think my long run was 8 miles before that day and I went out way to fast and struggled in the second half. I ran by myself. I don't remember why I wanted to do the race. I don't think anyone else from my team ran it. Fun memories though. I didn't run another half marathon until 2002 when, in my first year of physical therapy school, I ran the old downhill course Las Vegas Half Marathon with Andi in 1:33:21. I finally broke this PR set in high school in 2003 at the LV Half Marathon with a time of 1:21:09. I lowered it again the next year with a time that still stands as my PR in 1:20:00. I remember being so disappointed that I didn't break 1:20. I ran this course one more time the following year, 2005, on a very windy day in 1:23:49. The only other comparable half marathon time I have was in 2006 at the Santa Clarita Half Marathon where I ran 1:22:42.
Based on number of entrants the Running USA conference showed that the half marathon is the most popular distance in the country. There are many great half marathons in southern California. Many that I would like to try. Running Times Magazine listed the Fontana Days Half Marathon, Rock n' Roll San Jose, and the Bizz Johnson Trail Half Marathon on their list of "fastest half marathons in the country." Los Angeles Sports & Fitness Magazine listed the top 10 half marathons in Californa as Carlsbad, Buffalo Run (Catalina), Chesebro (Great Race of Agoura), Orange County, Palos Verdes, Laguna Hills, Fontana, America's Finest City (San Diego), Disneyland, and Rose Bowl. Of those 10 I have run the Buffalo Run (1:30:30) and Orange County (1:27:22). You can also see a list of half marathons in California here (there are a ton!) and they are listed by city.

What are some of your favorite half marathons?


Dale Lister said...


Nice smaller crowd! nice cool weather! Flat, fast course! Low entry fee! What else could you want? Unless you want the big event crowd!

Long Beach was fun!

I did fontana once! Very steep and fast! The last few are a gradual downhill, but after the steep downhill it seemed uphill! This was my PR course until last year, but I don't think a PR on such a course should count! (now that I beat it)
I also did the very old Santa Clarita course twice - basicly straight down Soledad Canyon. Also a very fast course!

Chuck said...

Wow! That was a Super mileage weekend. Great job! I also ran the Surf City Half Marathon. I started much to fast, based on my recent training. Going up the hill just before the 4th mile I realized that my breathing was very labored and my legs were getting heavy. Once I made the right turn on PCH I decided (I really did not have much choice, given my condition) to just run easy and enjoy the beautiful morning at the beach. After the race I was given a very nice medal for completing all three races in the "California Dreaming Series".

Thank you for sharing the picture. I also ran that race three times. My memories of that race was the freezing cold winds at the start, the long straight run down Lake Mead Road, and the breakfast buffet for the runner's at the Eldorado Casino. One of my favorite half marathon has always been the America's Finest City. I have run that race at least 12 times. It is always right around my birthday. We would always plan a family vacation around the race. When my nephew's were living with us, and then later when our daugther was growing up, we would spend four or five days in San Diego. We would go to Sea World, the Zoo, or a Padre's game (if they were in town). I remember getting lucky a few years ago, the Dodgers were in town at the new Petco Park. It is not a real fast course. Towards the end there is a tough climb to get up to Balboa Park. Another half marathon that I always enjoyed was the old Santa Barbara race that finished on State Street. My wife and I would always look forward to getting away for a few days. We would stay in the downtown area and enjoy the city. Running has given my family and I a lot of reasons to visit many nice places. Hopefully I can continue for many more years!

Karl Stutelberg said...

Dale, I love the idea of two halves make a whole in Bakersfield. Maybe next year I will have to complete that series. It is nice to know that there are still lots of half marathons out there that you can run for less than 50 dollars.
Long Beach also looks like a fast race at a good time of year. I am looking for a good fall half marathon to run low 1:20s again. Long Beach is a possibility or maybe Las Vegas!

Karl Stutelberg said...

Chuck, great stories. I think a marathon is the best way to view a new city. It is funny that you and I were probably in some of the same races in Las Vegas.
There is another half marathon in Santa Barbara that I have always wanted to try. It is called "Pier to Peak" and it has been called "the world's toughest half marathon." The course starts at the pier and runs up to La Cumbra Peak at over 4,000 ft. They give you a bus ride back. The reward is the view from the top! It is on my list of future races.

Daniel said...

I did Carlsbad (almost entirely along the ocean) & Chesebro at the Great Race of Agoura (almost entirely uphill on narrow trails). Both were fun and challenging in their own ways.