A week ago, I celebrated Super Bowl Sunday the traditional way—chips, dip, fried food and beer. However before that, I decided to run the Surf City Half Marathon.
A mere seconds before the race started, I made a conscious decision not to look at my pace the entire race. Until mid-January, I hadn’t run regularly in almost three months, so my focus in the three weeks before the race was to get my body used to daily, organized and less sporadic running again. In order to get in the miles, I was averaging a pace of 10 minutes per mile during most of my runs—for me this was frustrating, but I knew I needed to gradually work up to a faster pace. My goal for the race was simply to run at this pace and finish strong.
It was a beautiful morning in Huntington Beach. The air was crisp and the sky was blue with only a smattering of dilapidated clouds. The crowd of runners conveyed a jittery excitement, and I was ready. Eventually, I crossed the start line and began running.
Even if I lived a world where I was psychotic and didn’t like running, I might race just for the characters that participate in half and full marathons. A mile in I passed two girls jotting along at runwalk pace, wearing neon tutus and “Go Around” signs on their backs. A while later I saw the data runner—you know that guy, that guy with two watches, a heart rate monitor, a Fitbit, a smartphone and more? This particular data runner also had sports tape strategically and (in my opinion) excessively placed all up, down and around both well-defined twiggy legs. Sometime later I saw a kid, maybe 12 years old, dragging his feet, mouth hanging wide open to one side, staring up at the women next to him with eyes that said “I can’t believe you fucking made me do this Mom.”
Many spectators had “clever” timely signs that simply said Omaha.
I’d been running for a while—remember, I wasn’t looking at my watch—when I saw a “10 MILES” sign. Had it really been 10 miles? Approximately 30 seconds later I passed a “6 MILES-HALF MARATHON” sign. Dammit. The first sign had been intended for the full marathon.
Still, almost half way through the race and I was feeling superb. I was running steadily faster than the wave I started with, which resulted in me passing a good portion of the runners. I’ll admit it—that gave me confidence.
The race went up the coast about three miles, had a small loop inland for a bit, then continued up the coast until around mile eight, where we turned around and ran the last five miles down the coast to the finish. I planned to kick it up a notch at the turn. I rounded the turn and a headwind smacked me in the face.
Again, dammit. Despite this unfortunate headwind, I tucked in behind other runners and attempted to pick up the pace. With three miles left in the race, I finally glanced at my watch and realized a sub-2 hour half marathon was possible!
Exhausted and elated, I pulled my shoulders back, fixed my form and powered through the last 26 minutes. Final time was around 1:55!
Overall, it was a enjoyable race and it gave me confidence to pick up the pace in my training runs moving forward. ‘Til next year Surf City, ’til next year.