Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surf City Half - All the Gory Details

If you're in a hurry, I present you my version of the 2010 Surf City Half Marathon in 3 and a half minutes:

Now for all the gory details....

In my humble opinion, this race can be summed up in one word. People. Make that 20,000 times that one word. I live less than 10 miles away, so my plan was to steal a few extra minutes of sleep in my nice warm bed. The Half was scheduled to start at 7:45, so figured I was safe leaving home at 6:30 for the short dive. Luckily I left at 6:00 AM. 10 minutes to park. 10 minutes waiting for the shuttle. 15 minutes riding the shuttle. 10 minutes getting everything together and getting into the bag drop line. 20 minutes in bag drop line. 20 minutes in porta potty line. Start time? 7:45AM. When did I make it to the start line? 7:50!! I wanted to get in with wave 4 (2:00 to 2:10) but here was absolutely no way that was going to happen. Talk about being a stress puppy! I got as far up as I could, and snuck with the 2:30 wave.

As it was, no big deal anyways. Wave after wave after wave was called to the start. We didn't budge. Finally at 8:05, Wave 11 was called. We inched to the start and with the sound of the holy compressed air horn we were off. Start time? 8:08 AM.

How late did we start? Before I hit mile 2 the 3:30 marathon pace group, being led by Sam from Operation Jack passed us going the other direction:

I worked my way through the mass of humanity. I felt like Muhammad Ali - bobbing and weaving. In no time, I found myself at the front of the wave, an within a few minutes hit the back of the previous wave(s). I started running into some of my Twitter and Bloggy pals.

JT and Allison:


Afterwards I found out that akaAlice was trying to catch up with Penny and me. Sorry Alice!

I had race strategy in my head, so I was trying to hold back just a bit.

  • Mile 1: 8:57
  • Mile 2: 9:20
  • Mile 3: 9:22

This course is pretty flat, but it's impossible on the coast of Huntington Beach to be flat like a pancake. Miles 4 through 6 had us looping through a residential neighborhood and some rolling hills. I was desperately trying to find a group of runners to glomp on to, but everyone was going just a bit too slow for me to meet my goal time. In retrospect, maybe they weren't:

  • Mile 4: 9:43 (uphill)
  • Mile 5: 8:55 (downhill)
  • Mile 6: 9:05

At mile 7 we were back on Pacific Coast Highway moving north. I realized that we were going downhill, which meant that there was going to be a little push at mile 10 or so. I was still looking for people to latch onto, but everytime I thought I found someone who was moving at a comfortable pace, it was too slow. By mile 8 a full bladder was starting to create a problem. I hopped into a porta potty at mile 8 (no lines!) and got back on the course. It was a stunningly beautiful day (yes - that's snow on those mountains in the distance):

  • Mile 7: 9:38
  • Mile 8: 10:49 (potty stop)
  • Mile 9: 9:32

I was at mile 10 now. Here's where the race was supposed to begin. Back up the hill that I had run down at mile 7. In reality, it wasn't even much of a hill, but it was enough. I was physically tiring. In the morning I had thrown on a long sleeved underarmor shirt, and I was now baking in the sun. I was trying to push, but i was just going flat. Somewhere in here I saw Kathleen on the other side of the road. Sorry it took me so long to recognize you! Things were becoming a bit of a blur. I slowed down and quaffed my last set of Endurolytes and Hammer Gel a little prematurely to try to get some energy. I was draining:

  • Mile 10: 9:51
  • Mile 11: 10:49 (ugh)
  • Mile 12: 9:59

I sucked it up and tried to muster all I could for mile 13, but I was pretty much dust by then. Whose idea was it run this GD race? Jeeezus! My heart rate was pretty much in the 170s at this point and 2:00 was out the door. I started feeling pretty despondent and actually slowed down. WHAT A WIMP! Luckily I came to my senses because a PR was still in he cards. Seeing 12.85 on my Gamin I got a last little shot of adrenaline for the finish. I must have gained 10 places in the last 400 yards:

  • Mile 13: 10:09
  • Mile 13.1: 1:24 (8:09 pace)

Bottom line - 13.1 miles (13.17 on the Garmin) in 2:07:38 (officially) for a 1:29 PR. Not bad. Not great. On the one hand, I PR'd, so I didn't have to visit the med tent. But I was a little disappointed that mile 10 was once again my downfall.

Will 2:00 ever be in my future? Probably. Maybe I just need to mellow out. I'm not one to make excuses, but the reality is this was *not* my goal race. It was on my training schedule as a 13 mile tempo run (which I *was* able to accomplish). I was stressed at the start and overheated on the course. I seemed to be constantly speeding up and slowing down to try to hit my pace. While the slowing down helped, I'm not so sure on the speeding up did. But, the real eye opener was when I got back and put the video together. I couldn't help but notice how easily I was talking in both bits. At the time it sure seemed like I was working real hard, but the pictures don't lie. I'm not even huffing and puffing. At the same time though, I was slowing down. Mental block? Anyone have any ideas? All I know is success does no occur from complacency. And I was reminded of some valuable things for my adventure through the streets of Los Angeles in 6 weeks!

On tap tomorrow - why we should all really run these mega races, or hello to all my running buddies!


  1. A PR is great but maybe not as fast as you wanted. I think you know why though, the constant changing of paces and bobbing and weaving at the start. Once you hit a marathon that starts at your desired pace you'll perform better I think.

  2. Hi Glenn,
    I loved your race report and video and pictures...you are so clever!! Also, great music choice!! Congrats again on a fabulous PR:)

  3. Sorry I missed ya Glenn. I looked for someone with a Running Fat Guy on his bib. I had Slomohusky on mine. By the way what are the names of the Mts. with all the snow? I really liked the course and will do this again. Maybe every year. We had a blast!! Also, no issues getting to the shuttle drop off at Hoag Hospital on Beach. The shuttle got us there in perfect time. It was a great morning! Congrats on your PR!

  4. I really need to sign up for this race next year! All my blogger friends did this one, I feel like I missed out! Looks like you had fun. Great race report - I loved the videos. Don't worry, I do see a sub 2:00 in your future. Keep up the training, you'll get there!

  5. Great race report! Congratulations on your PR! You'll get that elusive sub-2 race, I just know it. And when you do...it is the greatest feeling.

    I enjoyed your videos. I hope to see you next race!

  6. Great report Glenn! LOved the video!!!

  7. Congratulations on the PR! Great race report. I loved the video. My favorite part was watching you stream past all of those people in the last few hundred yards. Way to kick it in when your body was rebelling.

  8. Great stuff, Glenn! Loved the report. And congratulations on the PR! Anytime you can PR is a good day, for certain. My goodness, 20,000 people? That is huge. Those big races are fun.

    Nicely done!

  9. That was pretty cool!

    A PR is a PR! I know what you mean though, there's that number you want to surpass. You'll get it!


  10. I have no answer for your question. I only have congratulations for your PR. ;)

  11. Nice job Glenn but I think you answered your own question a couple of times in your post. You know what to do! If you were too comfortable, you're ready for more. Love the video and the picture of Penny, nice!

  12. DUDE GLENN! Totally epic! Why do I look like an anime character in that picture? How did you get so fast? Anyway, awesome seeing you as always can't wait till the 10k!

  13. What a great video. I loved being right there with you as you passed people heading into the finish. Maybe the key to a PR is carrying a camera w/ video!

  14. Thanks for stopping by! I've been meaning to get your blog added to my reader for over a week now. Done and done.

    Nice work on the PR! I totally understand where you are coming from though - sometimes a small PR isn't as nice as what you REALLY wanted.

    As far as not huffing and puffing. Was it a electrolyte/fuel issue? The only thing that would make sense to me is that your body didn't have enough go-juice. It seems like it had enough air?

  15. From my experience these big races can play havoc with your pace; all that standing around along with weaving in the early miles. To that end I am thinking about ditching RNR SD and heading to Newport OR it has an 800 or so runner limit!

    As this was just a training race you did great and picking up a PR is awesome but maybe come your 'A' race leave the camera and all that stuff at home and just run...oh and it's always better to be cold on the start line and warm at the end. It was chilly Sunday morning but it soon warmed up and I was hot in just a singlet and was out there an hour less than you!

    Either way awesome job for just getting out there and putting feet on the street! Inspiring!

  16. Glenn,

    Great race report! I think Stuart is right...big races are too difficult to PR. Small races are ideal for that...my HM PR has been at the Santa Clarita HM the last 2 years. I think you definitely have a sub 2 HM in you. Congrats again!

  17. Congrats on the PR! Potty stops will get ya. They always mess me up, but when you gotta go...

    Again, congrats on a job well done. I look forward to your next post.

  18. Great job on the PR Glenn! You will get that under 2 half and it will be great! Looks like a fun race! That mile 10 can be a killer but you will persevere and next time will be better! You have improved so much in the last few months! I think you will continue to have success!

  19. loved the video glenn. mayyybe if you weren't shooting all the vids you would've whacked more time off ;) i definitely would not be able to run + operate camera (or speak, for that matter).

    hmm i wonder why you typically have a bad mile at #10/11? i'm assuming you took in some 'food' earlier on than what you mentioned around mile 10. your training runs seem to have been going so well it's weird to me that you had a rough mile :-/

    anyway... your goal (other than pr/er) was to get in a long tempo which you did, so don't forget that! i still know the feeling though - while we *say* we just want to run hard, practice tempo, get a little pr... we still have higher unspoken goals we are shooting for.

    all in all, congrats! you definitely deserve it. i saw you passing lots of people at the finish in your vid.

  20. Time to go for some smaller races, or even really small. I found them to be much more fun than being in this giant mass of humanity all caught up in themselves. In the smaller races, strangers talk to each other much more.

  21. Congrats on your PR, that's great!! It's hard not to be disappointed, I've been there so many times, but hang your head high there cuz you really did an awesome job!!! Loved your race report and your pictures!! Congrats to you!!

  22. Great job on the PR Glenn. I know it wasn't the sub 2 you were looking for, but it gives you a good achievable goal for next time right? :)

  23. Glenn, it wasn't the sub two you wanted, but you still did it. It's so easy to be caught up in the time and not realize what an accomplishment you still completed and your new pr! sub 2 is totally in your future, don't even worry! :) now focus on LA!