Distance Totals

Monday, February 7, 2011

Surf City Marathon 2011 Race Report

I originally signed up for Surf City last summer as my target race for the beginning of 2011. However things did not go smoothly in terms of training. Around Thanksgiving (week 2 of the 12 week cycle) I got hit with a throat abscess, with a visit to the ER and treatment with antibiotics and antiinflammatories, which limited my training and resulted in overall weakness for 10 days . I also went for a 1week snowboarding vacation in early january, which limited my training that week to about 39 miles. So I decided to switch my target race to Napa Valley, one month later, and to use Surf City as a long supported training run. I decided to run it around 1 minute per mile slower than my target pace for Napa, so around 8:30 min/mi, which should bring me home in 3:40-3:45.

It was nice to come back to Surf City after I ran my first marathon there in 2008. We decided to make it a mini-vacation and stayed at the Hyatt close to the start line. We hit the expo early and they had a display of all the miles markers before the entrance:

At the expo, the kids had fun pretending to surf on the wave. We did not stick around very long, just time to pick up bib and shirt, but it was already crowded at 9:30 am.

Antoine and Jeremy on the virtual surfs....

Back at the hotel, I ran into Stevie Ray Lopez from the forum and we briefly chatted. In the afternoon, we met friends in Newport Beach, and then went back to the hotel for dinner. In bed early and woke up at 4am - managed to get a decent 6h of sleep.

I was down in the start area at 6am and first ran into Sam (261to26.2). Then we met Matt (Grapevinerunner), and at the pacers tent CharliePro, RiP, HikerGirl, and PonyExpress. It was fun to finally meet so many people from the forum.

Emil(Pony), Sam(262to26.2), Louis(RiP), Charlie(Pro), Matt(Grape), and I. Photo courtesy of HikerGirl.

We got started on time, and I let the 3:40 pace group go in front. At mile 3 I caught up with Stevie Ray Lopez and we chatted for about a mile. However he was running a tad too fast for my planned pace, so I let him go at mile 4. Between Mile 5 and 8 we ran in the park around the HB library. I actually did not like that part too much because of the constant turning around and small bumps. I got passed by many people there. I think I would have had issues with pacing in that section, had I tried to maintain an actual marathon pace in this area. Around mile 9 we were back on the PCH. I met Ale (Dark Ale) who introduced himself and his DW who was running the marathon. He ran with me for a few minutes. I liked that segment on the PCH because you could see all the fast runners coming back from the turnaround. I shouted-out to Matt (Grape) who was with the 3:10 pacing group and looked strong.

Between miles 5 and 15, I was running with "Elastic maniac". Basically he was wearing a MM shirt and would run relatively fast (7:30 pace ?) but then would stop and take walking breaks every 3-4 minutes. I ended up passing him for good after mile 16.

After the turnaround on PCH, I saw Ale again, who shouted out at me (Go France !), and  a little bit later saw the 3:10 group who had turned around and was already on the bike path.  Grape still looked great. At mile 16, we turned into the bike path. This section going north on the bikepath was longer than I thought, because they modified the course compared to when I ran it in 2008, with the turnaround only at mile 21. Again, it was great to see the leaders, and the 3:10 pace group. I shouted out to Matt again, then to Howard (WadiaSoft), who looked very strong and seemed like he was getting closer to the 3:10 group, but I don't think he recognized me. Stevie Ray Lopez who was a few minutes ahead of me also gave me the thumbs up there. Turnaround was at mile 21, and after that I started recognizing other runners behind me. I saw Pasadena Runner and gave him the thumbs up, and also recognized Anaheim Runner but too late. Finally I shouted out at Roccco, right before I exited the bike path as he was entering it with his 5:00 pace group. 

Feeling good on the beach bike path - mile 18-22 ?

I picked it up a little bit on these last few miles but decided not to run any miles at marathon pace for the sake of recovery. I passed many runners there, and got passed by 2-3 people. Here are my splits for the run:


The last mile and finish were sort of anti-climatic, because you merge with all the half-marathoners, and even though half and full runners have their separate finish line, the finish chute is a zoo with so many half runners. I decided not to stick around because there were too many people around, found Catherine and the kids, and after lunch at BJ's we drove back home for the Superbowl. Overall a great run, I sticked to my strategy of running a minute slower than marathon pace, and was in good shape afterwards, such that resuming training should not be too hard.