October 18, 2010

Long Beach Half Marathon (Race Report)

My trip down to Long Beach was as whirlwind a trip as expected. My flight landed around 3pm Saturday and I immediately caught a cab to the expo at the LB Convention Center. The weather, however, was quite unexpected - cool and cloudy, with threats of rain! The expo was pretty typical and crowded so I tried to get in and out. I picked up my bib/race packet and then my CA Dreamin' jacket. I browsed some of the booths, grabbed some yummy samples then just as things started to feel slightly claustrophobic I got the heck out of dodge. I had some time to kill before my friend could pick me up so I headed to the nearby Borders, bought a pumpkin latte (mmmm fall!) and a fantastic book (The Devil in the White City) and was quite comfortable as I waited! Finally got some quick dinner at a little Mexican restaurant before getting picked up by my friend, Alyssa. The rest of the evening was quite relaxed. We chatted for a bit and caught up, made plans for the next morning, I laid out all my stuff, then I read my book in bed til I fell asleep : )
the view from the convention center
Being wary of the traffic that comes with 25,000 people going to the same place, we gave ourselves a little over an hour to cover the usually 20 minutes to the start and man was I glad we did! We hit traffic as soon as we got close to downtown, but luckily it kept moving, albeit slowly. The first wave of the race started at 7am and based on my planned finish time I belonged in wave 3 at 7:10am. Well that time came and went and we were still in traffic, but I wasn't too worried as long as a made it by the final wave at 7:30am. We actually managed to get pretty close to the start to drop me off and as soon as I was out I was running to the start line! I made it in time for wave 5 and as a result I was dodging slower runners (and walkers) the rest of the race. Oh well, I guess I should've got there earlier!
the crowd waiting to start
The weather from the previous day had lingered giving us a wonderful cloud cover and cool temps, perfect for running. The course started on Shoreline Drive, then passed the new Pike at Shoreline Village with a couple short out-and-backs. I was able to keep up a sub 9:30 pace for the first 5k, but then I decided that I would rather stick to my plan and take it a little easier for my hips' sake and just enjoy the race. Next we crossed the Queensway Bridge and headed toward the Port of Long Beach, home to the famous Queen Mary (the ship, not the woman!).
 starting out along shoreline drive
 heading to the port of long beach
 one of the only "hills", the Queensway Bridge
the Queen Mary (and a less-cool cruise ship)

Then we circled back around the Aquarium of the Pacific, passing the Lighthouse at Rainbow Harbor and Pierpoint Landing before heading back by Shoreline Village and down to the beach. We hit the 10k mark right as we were passing the start area for the final out-and-back. I had set my Garmin to a 9:45 pace at the start and decided to just stay as close to that as I could for the remainder of the race. I was carrying my camera and taking lots of pics and enjoying myself. My only big complaint was how many people I had to dodge throughout the race. I know it's partly my fault for starting further back, but many of he people were also just totally oblivious! Anyway, the next few miles were run on a bike path that wound through the sand and was quite narrow, making the crowding even worse. This stretch was a little monotonous and boring, but finally ended just before the 10 mile mark.
 the lighthouse!
 rainbow harbor
 pierpoint landing
 a cool boat (not the Queen Mary)
back to shoreline village
on the bike path
The full marathoners split from us at the 10.5 mark and I couldn't help but think that I was glad I was only doing the half : ) The last few miles were straight back to the start on Ocean Blvd. so I picked up the pace a tad. When I finally reached mile 12 I stepped on the gas and clocked a sub-9 split for the last mile. The course was a tad long per usual (about .15) and I sprinted those last tenths of a mile at sub-8 pace. I crossed the finish line along with a crowd of others, with an official time of 2:07:59.
 the split
 heading back along ocean blvd.
the home stretch!

I definitely think I could've run faster and possibly PR'ed, but I'll admit it was nice to take it a bit easier and not be so focused on pace and checking my Garmin every 5 seconds. Plus my hips were nagging me early on and I didn't want to risk it. I still accomplished my goal of a sub 2:10 race, and it was actually my second best half time yet. I enjoyed the race and had fun, too, so it was definitely a win-win. Immediately after I made my way into the crowded finish area (I think crowded was the theme at LB) and grabbed a goodie bag, chocolate milk, and a space blanket. I didn't have a whole lot of time so I quickly found the CA Dreamin' tent to pick up my huge medal. On my way out I stopped to take a quick pic in front of the awesome sand sculpture carved into the race logo. Alyssa was already downtown so I walked a little ways to meet her and then we headed straight to the airport (I told you it was a quick trip!). I freshened up as much as possible on the way, but thankfully since it was only an hour long flight I don't think I offended too many people : )
the awesome sand sculpture

Definitely happy I did this race, and not just to complete the CA Dreamin' Series. It was well organized and the course was great. I somehow was given today off work so I'm getting some much needed rest and relaxation. I actually passed out on the couch last night at 8:30pm!
another half in the books!
CA Dreamin' finally complete!


  1. Jealous of your cool medals. Was already considering Surf City for the surfboard alone but now the series looks like a cool 'someday' goal, maybe once the kiddies are a bit older.

    A couple of our AIM teammates were doing the series as well and were also stoked about the extra medal & the jacket. Ah, it's the little things that motivate us :)

    Excellent book choice by the way! It's a great read.

  2. Sounds like a fun race! I would be stressing out big time if I missed my wave. Luckily you were still able to start with a slower group. Thank goodness!! :) It's nice to just run and enjoy rather than monitor your pace the entire time. And look, you still had your 2nd best time.

    big congrats to you!

  3. Glad you had fun out there and you got some awesome pictures! :) Hope you enjoyed your day off!

  4. I love my California Dreamin’ Series jacket. In fact, I wore it during my rainy run on Sunday.

    Congratulations on another half marathon and a nice finish time.

    All the best,


  5. Nice medals. Congrats on the series

  6. Congrats on your half finish and so glad to hear you like LB. I can't wait to do it next year!