Sunday, February 05, 2006

Pacific Shoreline Half Marathon

Well, it wasn't exactly a good morning.

The Parking Nazis at the expo instilled the Fear of God in me regardng road closings, telling me I needed to get there extra early, so I arrived down in Huntington Beach at 5:30 am for a 7:00 race start. Way too early in the morning for me. It was cold and extremely foggy- it was hard to see where the parking spots were, although it was early enough that there were plenty.

This part has Too Much Information: skip to the next paragraph. At the expo on Saturday, vendors were selling all sorts of cute running crap. One booth was selling t-shirts with clever sayings like "Don't pass me- I'm not in your age group." (I'm not even sure how that's funny, but it is.) Another shirt said "I got the runs" which is funny of course because all bodily functions are funny. Well, let's just say I didn't think the shirt was so funny around 6:00 am. I don't know what I did wrong, maybe I was still sick from last week, but I watched an ocean sunrise through the translucent skylight of a port-a-potty in a beach parking lot. Not a real dignified way to kick off a race.

We lined up in the starting corral, and it was literally 6:59 when I realized - oh crap - I didn't have my timing chip. If you don't have the chip, they have no record of you even running the race. With 10,000 runners, it can take 5-10 minutes for people just to get to starting line once the race officially begins, so I figured I had a few minutes to find my chip. I ran to the bag-check tent to get my duffle bag back but it wasn't in there. It must be back in the car, about 1/2 mile away. I started running back to my car, but after 2 minutes I just figured that since the only thing I was carrying when I left home this morning was the bag, so if the chip wasn't there it must be back home. So then I had to run back to the starting line. By this time of course the race had already started and I got caught behind all the people who were there just to walk the distance. It's stressful having to navigate through the dense crowd to find your own pace group.

The run itself was not too bad. I was worried that I might try to beat my Orange County Half Marathon time; yeah, fat chance of that happening. I came in about 10 minutes slower (not that there's any official record of it) which was actually pretty close to the training pace I wanted to do. So that part turned out OK.

As far as the event itself is concerned: All the brochures rave about how this is one of the most beautiful courses in all of California, right along the Pacific Shoreline (hence the name.) They lie. I only saw the ocean for about 1 mile at the end. Most of the time, things were too foggy to see much of anything. And when the fog cleared up, we were treated to beautiful views of beach parking lots on our left, and oil drilling on our right. Or whatever those big ugly pump things are. I would hardly call it a "scenic course". At the finish line, there was no clear path back to the exhibit area. People were climbing (and sliding down) dirt embankments to get up to a parking lot, which we had to cross before we came close to anything that resembled water. Then it was a bit farther to the food. It just seemed poorly laid out. Even the finisher medals were disappointing: In previous years most of them have been shaped like surfboards. For the 10th anniversary, they switched to a circle.

My own personal problems aside, the Orange County Half just seemed like an overall better event.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are scaring me....

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to California, now go home.

If you are from here, stop bithcin' you know it sucks. If only we could get all the "visitors" to realize it before they came here... Smog, traffic, way too many people, ack.

Kidding, have a nice day. And good luck with the running, if I run to the back of the store to beat somebody to the last 12er of Newcastle it's too much for me ;)

12:46 AM  
Anonymous John said...

I did the marathon myself and loved it. Yes they ask to arrive early because too many people are planning on arriving at only 30 minutes before start time. Doing so, you end up jammed in a big traffic congestion which took me for ever last year to read the parking lot. This year I arrived at 6am and loved the fact that I could relax listening to some music.

I think that joke you read on the t-shirt is funny. You just need to understand it.

About not seeing the ocean, most of the course is along side the ocean and many miles are on the bike path itself.

Maybe running is not your thing. I ran 30 marathons so far and loved each and everyone of them, even with their imperfections. You just need to look at life with a positive attitude.

Try boxing. You have lots of anger to let go.

1:07 PM  

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