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Surf City USA Half Marathon - Run


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Huntington Beach, California
United States
Kinane Events
50F / 10C
Sunny
Total Time = 1h 20m 20s
Overall Rank = 37/15474
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 2/829
Pre-race routine:

I’m still kind of giddy after this morning’s race. Really surprised myself with how I ran, and super happy about it.

It was pure luck that I was able to do this race. I happened to be in LA for work for a couple of days, and I had been looking for a half marathon as a tune-up race, to gauge how my London Marathon prep is coming along. I noticed that this big race was happening the day before my work gig, and so I was able to extend the trip by a day to add the race. Let’s just say that Huntington Beach at the start of February is not quite the same as it has been in the frigid northeast lately. Training has been going fairly well recently, but I wasn’t sure of my fitness. I’ve been plagued by achilles troubles for the last 18 months, and I had put on rather too many pounds while recovering from that during the fall. But since I restarted training in late November I’d been able to steadily build mileage into the 60s, and miraculously my achilles problems have actually gotten better. I’m guessing that’s due to a combination of my Hoka clown shoes and my religious eccentric heel drop and calf raise exercises.

Event warmup:

Knowing that this was a serious test, I was more nervous about this one than I have been before a race in a while. The hope was to beat my 1:23 PR from a couple of years ago, and I hoped to head out at 6:10-6:15 pace, though I was quite ready to go slower if the HR got too high. I splurged on a night in the resort hotel right by the start, so I was happy to be able to skip the regular bathroom lines and admire the traffic jams as thousands of runners converged on the area. Ran around a little. Got flustered over my inability to squeeze my gear into the teeny gear drop bags that they offered, and then ran a faster half mile or so to get the HR up closer to race effort. I haven’t done a whole lot of running in shorts lately, as so many of my runs have been at temps of ~10 degrees, so it felt pretty neat to be running so unimpeded.

Run
  • 1h 20m 19s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 06m 08s  min/mile
Comments:

Started a few rows back. I didn’t want to get carried away at the start. Beach Boys music blaring as we set off along the Pacific Coast Highway. The route is almost entirely out and back on PCH, except for a 3-mile detour into some neighborhoods. Traffic cleared after just a few hundred yards, and I settled into a comfortable rhythm. Almost right away I was a bit alarmed to see that I was running close to 6:00 pace. That was faster than I wanted, but it did feel pretty good. Took the foot very slightly off the gas, and went through 2 miles right around 12:00. Uh oh.

After starting faster than I had wanted, I was a mix of terrified and excited. I wasn’t supposed to be going this quickly. But it did feel pretty good. I was watching my HR like a hawk. I was confident that in 50-degree weather I would have no trouble if my HR was below 170, and I felt that I was taking a big risk if the HR went over 175 so early. So I just tried to hold it under 175, at least until I was I was close enough to home to do the running equivalent of burning a few matches.

The pace slowed to 6:15 on a somewhat uphill 3rd mile, but then the next couple were faster again as we descended back to the ocean. I was averaging roughly 6:05/mile. After around 4 miles we converged with the marathoners, who had started over an hour ahead of us, and had run 4 miles more than us at that point. That made for a lot of traffic on the road. A benefit of that is that there was no danger at all of getting lonely. The downside was that I had to keep my wits about me to avoid bumping into slower runners. I started taking gulps of water at the aid stations - I’m still no good at drinking while running, so I always had to stop for a couple of seconds to drink. Perhaps I should work more on that.

As I reached half way, I was still going much quicker than expected. A hair under 40 minutes at half way. Still scared. I felt good, and the HR was still in check, but I was still worried that the last few miles would get ugly. By 8 miles I was starting to feel more confident: the legs felt good, and there was only about a half hour to go. And then we rounded the turn-around point, from which it was a straight shot to the finish. And then I realized part of why I had been going so fast. I had been wind-aided up to then, and now we were running into the wind. Uh oh, now I was worried, again. I picked up the effort, and now for the first time let the HR go over 175. By mile 9 it was starting to get harder. And there was a slight but real climb along miles 9-11. I passed 10 miles in 61:00, which itself might be a lifetime PR (… I can’t remember, my previous fastest 10-miler would have been around 1988, pretty much pre-history). Now I was looking forward to the water stops more. Not because I was really thirsty, but because the legs were saying “hey, why don’t you stop right there and get yourself a nice little drink!”. Mile splits were now in the 6:10-6:20 range. I was starting to believe that I could break 1:21. Although sub-1:20 would have been a dream, I wasn’t really seriously considering it, as I figured that I’d need to maintain my average into the headwind, and that wasn’t going to happen. I knew that I was getting more and more tired, as my ability to do the numbers in my head was becoming rather shaky.

The last stretch through the town and past the pier seemed quite long, but I managed to avoid crumbling. I was mostly thinking, “OMG, it’s actually happening that I’m running this fast, I can’t believe this.” Little fist-pump as I passed the finish in 1:20:19. A 3:06 PR. I was just thrilled. So I didn’t feel so tired. I might have expected to be bummed to have missed 1:20 by so little, but since that wasn’t a possibility that I had seriously entertained, I really didn’t care. I was joking with the volunteers, and after retrieving my gear bag I was jogging around the expo tent and then dancing/jogging to the reggae band.

I found that I got 3rd in my AG [update: later corrected to 2nd], so after returning to the hotel for a leisurely shower, I headed back to the race to pick up my cute little surf-board themed award. Normally I wouldn’t much care about the award, but I was pretty stoked about this one.

What would you do differently?:

I don’t think I would do anything differently. I don’t think I’ve been so happy with a run in around 25 years. Carefully watching the HR worked well for me. Another thing that seems to work well for me is simply getting in the miles. In the past few months I've run exactly 1 mile in training that is faster than my average pace for 13 miles today, and yet I never felt that I was struggling for pace today. It could be that I could eke out a few more seconds by adding speed work into my training, but I seem to always do my best times when I'm simply running lots.

Anyhow, now that this test is behind me, it’s time for a couple of days of easy recovery runs, then to get back into the serious phase of marathon prep. In the 10 weeks between now and London the aim is to (i) put a lot of miles in, and (ii) shed a few more pounds. Oh, and (iii) somehow manage to stay uninjured. We’ll see how well that goes.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

Need to lose a few more of the pounds that I gained in the fall.

Event comments:

Fast course, right along the Pacific. Very smooth organization. The most brightly colored yellow race shirt that I’ve ever seen. And an escape from the arctic weather. What’s not to like. If I didn’t live 2500 miles away, I’d certainly do this one again.




Last updated: 2014-01-25 12:00 AM
Running
01:20:19 | 13.1 miles | 06m 08s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/829
Overall: 37/15474
Performance: Good
Course: Mostly very flat, with some gentle climbs in miles 3-4.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

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2014-02-02 5:45 PM

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Master
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University Park, MD
Subject: Surf City USA Half Marathon


2014-02-03 6:12 AM
in reply to: #4943059

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Expert
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Wilmington, NC
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Wow. Awesome Job Colin. Gotta love starting off the year with a monster PB.
Nothing liking going out hard, being scared but carrying on all the way.
Good luck with training and with London.
2014-02-03 8:31 AM
in reply to: qrkid

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Master
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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Great Job as usual Colin!
2014-02-03 11:16 AM
in reply to: #4943059

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Expert
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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon

Absolutely crushed it, nice work! What are you eyeing for London?

2014-02-03 12:49 PM
in reply to: #4943059

Master
10208
50005000100100
Northern IL
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon

Great job Colin!

2014-02-03 3:59 PM
in reply to: thebigb

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Master
2563
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University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Originally posted by thebigb

Absolutely crushed it, nice work! What are you eyeing for London?




London goals:

#1: racing against my little bro' (who currently has 3 minutes on me, and is 6 years younger
#2: my hope is to get to a place where I can head out at 2:50 pace without that being suicidal; I'll use HR to control pace. We'll see how the next 2 months of training goes before deciding whether that's feasible.


2014-02-05 12:27 AM
in reply to: #4943059

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Master
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Vista, CA
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon

THanks for your comments on my RR. I sauntered over here to yours and WOW! You had an amazing race. It seemed the "stars aligned" for you. But, I think it's more innate ability and serious training that helped you get your PR, even with the headwind after the turnaround. I had forgotten about that. So, really nice work out there. I'm a bit spoiled living here in SoCal that I forget it could be freezing at the start. Best of luck to you in attaining your 3 goals on your way to London. 

Cheers!

Lynn

2014-02-07 11:45 AM
in reply to: lmscozz

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Seattle
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon

Duuuude, nice work Colin!!!

Man, wish I would have known you were going to be there! I was in SoCal and had a couple friends doing this race. I would have come and at least spectated.

Great job. I'm looking forward to seeing how London goes. 

2014-02-07 1:00 PM
in reply to: Asalzwed

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Master
2563
20005002525
University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Originally posted by Asalzwed

Duuuude, nice work Colin!!!

Man, wish I would have known you were going to be there! I was in SoCal and had a couple friends doing this race. I would have come and at least spectated.

Great job. I'm looking forward to seeing how London goes. 




Thanks! I fear that I would have disappointed you with my super-healthy pre-race dinner. But I did think of you when I splurged on the pizza and beer afterwards.

I'm stoked for the next phase of marathon training. Hope your Boston prep is going well.
2014-02-07 4:48 PM
in reply to: colinphillips

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Master
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Overland Park, KS
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Wow, congratulations Colin!

Six minute mile pace for 13 miles, amazing but you were rewarded by your hard work. A HS classmate of mine posted on her FB page a few days before saying they had someone drop out and could replace them with another runner. I would have taken her up on the offer only problem was I live in Kansas City

Well done, good luck in your upcoming training and in London.
2014-02-07 9:31 PM
in reply to: #4943059

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Master
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University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Oh cool - I got "Kip Littoned". Noticed that my AG placing was adjusted to 2nd, and wondered why that was. Luckily, I still had a copy of the original results, and was able to see the name and bib number that had been deleted. Then by entering that number into the race photos database I was able to see the pictures of a 49-year old who finished in 1:14, but did not look remotely like he was running that pace. Big guy, baggy shorts, headphones, and a shuffling gait. Other photos show him starting in a crowd of runners at dawn ... i.e., when the full marathon started. Seems that the guy had started 75 minutes ahead of everybody else, and forgot to complete the full marathon route. Oops.


2014-02-08 10:03 AM
in reply to: colinphillips

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Master
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Bedford, MA
Subject: RE: Surf City USA Half Marathon
Colin, awesome work! It's always amazing when you have that 'how'd I go that fast?' moment. I'm lucky to get one race like that per year. I hope your London training goes well. That's a bucket list race for me - one of these days....
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