In my last post I talked about the OC Combo Crush that was about to follow. Now, just a couple of days from my next race, seems like a reasonable time to talk about the past.
The OC 5k
This was nothing more than an add-on race for me. Another bib and medal to add to the collection, and since I would typically run 2 or 3 miles a day or two before a half marathon, I figured ‘why not?’. The previous weekend I’d done a kind of simulation, running 2 miles at 5pm on the Saturday and then 10 miles starting at 6am on Sunday. Both felt great, so I was pretty sure that a 5k just 12 hours before a half marathon wouldn’t be much of a bother.
And it wasn’t, really. I did my best to keep my pace slow and low, using it as nothing more than a stretch and a warm up. The course was pretty unexciting; exiting the Costa Mesa fairgrounds to the north, in and around Orange Coast College Campus, and then back through the fairgrounds. Nothing exciting, and nothing terrible, but it narrowed horribly in places and there were one or two douchenozzles who were overly aggressive in passing people, with some pushing and shouting happening. One was complaining about not being able to PR, but this isn’t a PR type course.
Missy ran this one two, and set her own PR, though. That’s quite an accomplishment, since she’s recently struggled with shin splints and has been working hard on being able to run with minimal walk intervals.
Medals in hand, we grabbed our complimentary beer, and I justified it as carbing up for the next morning’s half marathon.
The OC Half Marathon
You know when you’re super excited about something, and you have this idea in your head about how it’s going to go, and then when the occasion rolls around it’s not quite how you thought it would be? Welcome to my OC half marathon.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m super pleased with how I ran it and my overall time (1h 55m 41s), but there was nothing about the race that fit the ideals in my head.
To start with, let’s talk about the weather. This is Orange County, California. It barely rains here. It certainly never rains in May. At worst, it might be overcast and a tad chilly. And so you can probably imagine where my head was as Missy and I were sat in my car at the parking lot near the starting corrals as the rain got heavier and heavier and heavier. This wasn’t the race I wanted. But I kept thinking back to Nashville 2013, when I ran a half marathon that involved torrential rain beginning as I crossed the start line and ended when I crossed the finish line. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, so I figured that this crazy OC weather was just another reason to prove to me and anyone else who cares that I can defeat such elements.
It meant, of course, that my non-waterproof headphones would have to stay in the car…cool, 2 hours of running with no music or audiobook…and the hoodie I was wearing would now become a throw-away hoodie…cool, I didn’t even like this amazing Hobgoblin hoodie anyway. So…fuck it. I’m running this fucking thing no matter what; I might as well have as good an attitude about it as I can.
I stayed in the car until the absolute last possible minute for me to make my start time. I was in corral 2, so I figured 10 minutes was about my minimum. I was right, but so was everybody else. When I got to the corral, already soaked to the bone, everyone else was trying to cram in to the corral as well. So I was more carried over the start line by a moving crowd more than taking broad confident strides as I hit start on my Garmin.
The first 1.5 miles of this course are a gradual incline. I used the time to find some space and find a pace, losing the hoodie after the first half a mile as I warmed up. After cresting that incline, it’s a fast downhill all the way to the ocean for about 3 miles. That felt good, right up until the rain turned to hail and I turned in to the wind. Of all the things I never thought I’d voluntarily take part in, being pelted in the face by jagged little ice balls in a pacific tradewind has got to be towards the top of the list.
The precipitation gradually fizzled out as I turned back inland at mile 6 and contended with the steepest hill of the course, topping out at Newport Back Bay’s overlook. That hill was a real grind. There was a lot of water still on the ground and so wide berths around corners was the safe take. By now, though, the dampness of everything I was wearing was taking a toll. I was wearing a sleeveless top, and the seam started to chafe my inner arm. There was a stone in my left shoe, and I had a blister forming on my right abductor. Around mile 9 I considered taking a short break to try and re-tie my shoes and sort myself out a bit, but by then I figured I could just power through the last 4 miles.
I shot Missy a quick text at mile 10…”At 10, 25 minutes out”, then turned on the gas. Turning at mile 12 for the last neighbourhood portion, there was a crazed, irate lady in her bathrobe yelling that she wanted her neighbourhood back and something about emergency vet access. I almost stopped to yell back, since only one side of the road was closed, but was too busy laughing with those around me.
The finish line appeared soon after, and I crossed with gas left in the tank. The weather was still pretty chilly, though, so I grabbed my medal and made a beeline for Missy, who had a fresh hoodie and a very eager dog who wanted to give out anxious little looks and the occasional lick. Most importantly, though, were the mimosas that Missy made back at the car. Now listen, and listen carefully. I’ve had my fair share of mimosas. I consider myself at least a tertiary expert and connoisseur of such matters. And I can say this with authority: Grapefruit and Brut Cava mimosas have never tasted better than they did at that moment. This needs to become my standard after-race tradition, henceforth.
I’d run this one again, most likely. I’d like to see what kind of time I could put in under better conditions, but the route around Corona Del Mar and up around Newport Back Bay is gorgeous, even under dark grey clouds. So who knows; maybe Combo Crush 2018 will be the re-run. But for now, on to this weekend; the inaugural Beach & Bay Half Marathon in San Diego.
Ciao for now!