Last Saturday, I attended a very challenging “fun run.” My friend Mike hosted a small hill repeat workout event in December to celebrate Festivus, but I wasn’t able to make it. A rush of nervousness and excitement hit me when I received the Facebook invitation to the Groundhog Day Repeats. The invitation indicated that there would also be cookies, donuts, beer for the runners. Hills, awesome people and cookies on a Saturday morning – YES.
The nervousness was mainly a result of my healing injury and the possibility of re-injuring myself. I knew the The Elevator was going to be pretty steep – .6 miles long and 15.6% grade. The nervousness was coupled with excitement for a harder workout and all systems were go on Saturday morning. Myself and about ~20-25 others met up in Coastal Peak Park; I only knew one other person in the group, but everyone was really friendly. We completed our 1-mile warm up to the top of The Elevator whilst nervously chatting in anticipation of the challenge. A few runners set up a whiteboard for names and number of repeats completed, signs featuring Bill Murray, and an iPhone playing songs from the movie Groundhog Day on repeat. A sign was also set up at the bottom of the hill to mark the turnaround point. We head one hour to complete as many hill repetitions as possible. My goal, after running/falling down the hill for the first time, was to run at least 3 of them without any walking. This was a trail run, so there were really steep sections and a few rocky sections. This is one aspect of trail running I am growing to like – the element of concentration required to maintain footing and not careen down the hill full speed (unless you’re into that). The uphill was definitely run-able, but it was slow. Another aspect of trail running that I enjoy – settling into the grind of a super long uphill. The sun played peek-a-boo, but we enjoyed cooler temperatures for a majority of the run. I probably said “good job!,” “good work!,” and “you got this!,” about a thousand times to runners as we passed each other. After one hour, I was soaked in sweat and had proudly completed seven full repetitions without a single walk break. Though I did not win the stuffed groundhog, I was pretty happy with the run and the effort. I jogged with Sonia for a cool down and then we all made our way back to the start point for some donuts, cookies and beer. Matt also gifted all of us with a Jamba Juice gift card, thanks Matt! Cookies, donuts and beer were enjoyed and marked the end of a great morning for all of us.
For the most part, runners are a very friendly and amicable group of people. However, I feel like the trail running community is different from the road running community. I noticed the subtle difference when I started to do more trail runs and races. Trail runners, as a group, seem to be more relaxed towards their running and training. They enjoy running in new places, on wildly varying terrain, in any weather, long distances and (again, most trail runners, not all) seem more-open minded. I’ve run with both road and trail groups and it seems like the trail groups are slightly less competitive and maintain an atmosphere of “this is supposed to be fun,” while at the same time putting in the hard work. However, I have noticed that animosity between the two camps seems to be lopsided. Trail runners tend to have a more negative opinion of road runners while the reverse tends toward neutral. Again, this is just my own personal observation.
On Sunday, I completed my fifth Surf City Half Marathon. I call this my “birthday race” since it’s usually on or one day away from my birthday. It takes place in Huntington Beach and runs almost entirely on Pacific Coast Highway, next to the ocean. It hosts close to 20,000 runners with many coming in from other states and countries to enjoy the beautiful views. I always run this race because it’s so close and a ton of my friends run it. Some years I’m in shape and faster, some years I’m out of shape and run it for fun. This was a fun year!
I carpooled with Leti who used this as a training race for her first marathon, the LA Marathon, and Rufus who paced the 1:30 group. Last year, I arrived way too late and parking was atrocious. I barely made it to the last wave as it was leaving. This year, we left at 5:00am and hung out for 1.5+ hours by the beach. It wasn’t too bad and we were able to see the full marathon runners off at 6:30am. At 7:42am (7:45am start), I hurriedly jumped into the corral, literally jumped over the fence, and immediately spotted my friend Wendy. One would think that I would learn how dangerous it is to jump over the fencing when I faceplanted into the corral in 2010. Wendy and I ran together and picked up Frank at mile 4. The three of us had a great time talking, joking and enjoying the day together. This course isn’t my favorite, but I can see the appeal to those who are from out of state. It starts in downtown Huntington Beach next to the ocean, runs along Pacific Coast Highway for most of the half marathon, with a brief detour into a hilly neighborhood. The medal is a wooden surf board with the race logo on it. I picked up an additional set of medals: one for running the OC Marathon + Surf City Half Marathon and one for running the San Francisco Marathon + Surf City Marathon. These events really have become all about the hardware.
Rufus and I enjoyed our two free beers and waited for Leti to join us. I am so proud of her dedication to training, I can’t say it enough. We stopped for coffee and donuts on the way home and I ended the morning/afternoon with a nap and some reading. A trail run, road run, donuts and friends made this a fantastic birthday weekend!