I am so happy I was able to run this race. It was a beautiful course and I really do prefer smaller races. This race is capped at 2,000 participants, and I'm not even sure it sold out this year.
I was so lucky to have Jesus pick up my bib for me the day before. I can't speak to the expo, but they give you a towel instead of a shirt, which is unique and fitting since this is a race on the beach. Or next to the beach.
I met up with Jesus around 6:30 am at the CSU Channel Islands campus. It was about an hour and 15 minute drive from my parent's house where I stayed the night before. I was super sleepy the entire time driving. Once I got there, I put my bib on and Jesus and I jumped on the bus. Jesus is a pacer for Beast Pacing and he helped me sign up with them. I hope to be able to start pacing some races in 2016! We spent a majority of the ride talking about pacing and Jesus provided some pointers on how to motivate your pace group and ensure they finish in the appropriate time.
We were dropped off on a large turnout on Pacific Coast Highway where they had set up the start and finish line festival. I went into this race thinking it was a point to point course, but it was actually an out and back. I guess that shows how much research I did! It was freezing at the start (CA freezing = 50° and windy). I went to the bathroom a few times and finally made my way into the small group that had gathered at the start. Jesus was with his 2:20 pace group and I joined them for a bit to see his motivating pep talk - his group loved his energy!
I finally parted ways about 2 minutes before go time and moved up near the front. I was confused going into this race. I wanted to place - last year's first female came in at 1:29, and I'm hoping to hit 1:30 at the half distance. I knew that was a bad idea given the fact that CIM is just 3 weeks away. I reached out to my friend Mark (RunnerMarx to the running community) for advice on how to approach this race and continue making progress in my training. He told me to do some speed training. First 3 miles at 8:25 pace, next 7 at marathon goal pace (7:25) and the last 3 miles back to easy at 8:25. Putting a solo training run into practice in a race setting sounds easier than it is.
I started out slower, but not the 8:25 pace I should've been at. Tons of people were passing me and I started getting anxious. I kept saying, "Only 2 more easy miles and then you can take off. Only 1 more now." Finally I hit 3 miles and it was like my legs were released from chains! I jammed it on the next 7 miles, taking some at around 7:20 pace, and a few much faster. I thought the wind would be an issue, but it was perfect.
Slowing down once I was at mile 10 was also a challenge. I clocked my last 3 miles at an almost perfect 8:08, 8:09, 8:09. It helped that we started going uphill just after mile 10, allowing me to slow on the incline. Crossing the finish line, I heard the announcer say that I had crossed in a time that was good enough for top 10 slot. I was the 9th overall female, and came in first in my age group. Quite a surprise given that I held back and didn't go all out.
I saw quite a few familiar faces along the course and I wish I could've stuck around for a bit but I was so exhausted I left shortly after I finished.
The finish line festival was not like a normal finish line. They had tables with bananas, juice, water, bagels, fruit cups etc., and you could take whatever you wanted. Just after the tables there were a few vendors who were offering their products - a juice company and a lo cal popcorn company. I made my way back to the bus. I didn't even realize I had placed in my age group, so I didn't get my certificate. It will be nice to get it in a few weeks in the mail. Overall, a great race. It was well organized, beautiful course, and they give you FREE race photos! Not a lot of races do that. I'd love to come back and race this one again.