The only problem? I didn’t race it!
For us OC’ers, this past Sunday was our local race – the Orange County Marathon and Half Marathon. About 13,000 folks lined up for the “privilege” of running the streets and trails of Coastal Orange County. The day dawned bright and beautiful (sorry Penny!). The temperature at the start was in the low to mid 50’s - a perfect day to show off the beauty of Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.
Have I mentioned this race was literally in my back yard? These are many of the trails that I train on daily. The thought of running with the pain and pressure of racing wasn’t exactly appealing. But – I figured I could at least offer my support to my pals running the race. And there were a ton of them! So, I packed up the gummy bears and pretzels, filled up my hydration pack, got on my bike, and left the door at 5:50 AM.
To show how close the start line is to my house, I was there by 6:00 AM. And that included a stop for a red light. My first order of business was finding people. This race was a *lot* bigger than when I ran it back in 2008. People stretched for about a half mile from the start line:
It wasn’t very long before I ran into our fellow blogger Slomohusky! Just like he told me, he was dressed in my school’s colors (yea cardinal and gold) ! It was soooo cool to finally put a face to a name:
Kudos to him for being there despite all his little tweaks and niggles the past few weeks.
This was the first time I had met Jason! We chewed the fat for a few minutes and then I let them go as the start was near. For a change, the race actually started on time! I caught the excitement as a spectator this time:
My plan was to pedal around and catch the runners at about three or four points on the Half Marathon course. Even though *they* were running 13.1, I could catch them at the start, three different places on the course, and then ride the last mile in for about 7 miles or so on my bike. So, I took off from the start and pedaled over to mile 6 1/2:
I got there just in time to see the lead runners pass. Man! These guys were booking!
While I was here, a ton of pals ran by. Wadiasoft stopped and shook my hand, then continued oh his superhuman effort (sub 4:00 PR in the full). Billy came by with his purported shuffle (yeah right – he was ahead of the 1:50 group) . Billy’s friend Lori came scooting by head down and all business. Next up was Jason, Penny, and a ton of my fellow runners from Cal Coast!
Knowing that these folks now had a little over three miles to scoot to my next vantage point, I climbed back on my bike and pedaled the hills over to mile 10, where the runners would be coming up the only sizeable hill on the course. I got over there, situated myself as a spectator, and got out the gummy bears to feed the runners finishing the “climb”:
From there I hopscotched another half mile by bike to mile 12 on the course. I tried to offer my moral and verbal support from the seat of my bike as I went back and forth the last mile with the runners. This can be a tough part of the HM course, as the runners can see the finish area from a mile away. I tried to remind them that Chuck Norris never ran one of these!
Next up, the runners entered the Orange County Fairgrounds for the finish. Normally being on the other side of the barriers, I could completely empathize with these folks – especially when “that” sign showed up. I tried to offer as much cheering as I could – but I was actually getting hoarse!
Just in case you haven’t had enough, here’s a little video scripted to one of Orange County’s house bands, Social Distortion:
I loitered a bit at the finish line where I ran into Slomohusky again, this time with Mrs. Slomohusky and the Slomohusky kids. What a delightful family! I’ll be looking you up for coffee the next time I’m in your town!
One thing for sure – all this cycling around sure worked up an appetite! And since I still had a 7 mile ride back home, I opted for breakfast with Penny and another blogger/tweep that I finally got to meet Yas (and “the bean” and she lovingly refers to him)!
All in all, this was *as much fun* as I’ve *ever* had at a race. It was so rewarding to see the pain turn to smiles and thank you’s – especially that last mile when there was a lot of pain to be had. Will I do this again? Absolutely! But not too often. I need to set some PRs this year….