I had so much fun running the Shoreline Half Marathon, that I forgot to jot down the memories made and lessons learned. The event (half marathon, 10K, 5K) took place on July 12 and was held in Ventura. The race actually starts and finishes next to the Ventura pier, which is where Mountains 2 Beach finishes. I discovered the race about a year and a half ago when my dad, sister and I stayed at the hotel right next to the start/finish line for a wedding. A friend drove up from LA to run with me one of the mornings, and we noticed a race was happening right outside. It looked small, but fun, so a year and a half later, when I heard that Team Runner’s High had free entries up for grabs, I entered the raffle and won a free registration. I convinced Leti to come with me and run the half; we were excited for a daycation and to run a new half marathon!
We gave ourselves 3 hours to drive to Ventura (1.5 hour drive), pick our bibs and shirts up, get some breakfast, and prepare for the race. I didn’t sleep well the night before, but felt alert and awake during the drive. Parking and packet pickup went smoothly, and we had extra time to spend chatting with fellow members of Team Runner’s High before the race. I didn’t really have a “race plan,” but it was going to be a very warm and sunny day, so I expected to feel a bit overheated toward the end. I started with Chris, who was the 1:40 pacer, and chatted with him and a nice woman named Leslie for about a mile.
The course starts at Surfer’s Point Park (the race used to be called the Surfer’s Point Half Marathon) and runs north on the beach path. Following the Mountains 2 Beach course backward for 2 miles felt odd, like I was going the wrong way. Runners parallel the 101 freeway, going around the Seaside Wilderness Park, and then run on a path which lies between the 1 freeway and the beach. The dirt path is narrow, with a few short, rolling hills, and somewhat boring. It is one of those just-get-through-it sections – not really exciting, but not unpleasant in any way.
I left Chris and the 1:40 group pretty early, about 1.5 miles in, and settled in for the run out to the turnaround. My effort level was about 5-6/10 between miles 2 and 8 and I was trying to focus on anything other than the increasing temperature and hot sun. The course is designated as a flat and fast one, but there were some inclines between miles 1 and 9. Not extraordinary, but noticeable. We turned around right after mile 5 and I enjoyed cheering for the oncoming runners, plus looking for my friends. Encouraging the other runners always makes the miles go by faster, plus it puts a smile on my face and on theirs. Heading back toward the finish line, I was still feeling good, just sweaty and hot.
The best aspect of passing by the finish line area while heading out for another out and back loop is that spectators and runners (5K and 10K finishers) provide a boost of energy and encouragement. Unfortunately, there is always a sense of “I wish I could stay here!” when passing by. I felt good at mile ~10, but the sun and heat were starting to get to me.
We continued on the bath path, underneath the Ventura pier, and went out toward mile 25 of the M2B course. At this point, I was getting thirsty and starting to feel overheated. I had also started to pick my pace up after mile 10. With less than three miles to go, I knew I would survive, but not without a sunburn and a hard finish. After a tight u-turn, I saw the mile 12 sign and made my way into a headwind toward the finish. Usually I dislike running into wind resistance, but my hot skin loved it and it definitely helped cool me down. I finished the Shoreline Half Marathon in 1:32:53 and was very surprised to see that I ran 7:05 minutes per mile. It certainly didn’t feel like I was running that fast, plus my training included very few runs at sub 7:30 minutes per mile. I was also elated to see that I was the third fastest female! Though Leti also struggled a bit in the heat, she earned a personal best time.
As a runner and race organization professional, I think that not having water for the runners at the finish is a huge no-no. Additionally, the temperatures were in the high 80s later on the morning, when most would finish. The race organizers definitely need to have water on hand at the finish next year. There were a few aspects of this race that I wasn’t overly impressed with, but this one was probably the most significant.
I waited for Dona, Tom, Dave, Chris and Leti to finish, and we sat in the finish area to enjoy our free tacos and beer (all runners received three free tacos and a cup of beer). The tacos were small, but tasty, and the beer was cold. Dona, Dave and I all received awards, so we waited for the awards ceremony. I’ve written about this before, but this is absolutely my favorite part of race days, the post-race excitement and chance to hang out with my running friends! While we’re all high on endorphins and glistening with sweat, we talk about our races and re-live each mile together. There is nothing like those moments. Leti and I hit a ton of traffic on the way back, but jabbered away on the ride home and stopped at Whole Foods for food. It was a fun daycation and mini-road trip, with a race thrown in.
As of late, I’ve been making an effort to run during the hotter parts of the day. Not only will my body’s thermoregulation become more efficient, but I also feel like it strengthens my mental tenacity. I’ve noticed that my heart rate doesn’t increase when running in the heat, either because I am more fit, or because my body is simply learning how to run when it’s very hot. Either way, I am feeling better and more comfortable with running when it’s hot. Bonus: I’m getting some tanning time in