This race has become an annual event for me – it’s a low-key, local, holiday event which I always enjoy. Sure, it’s usually the day after the Mountains 2 Beach marathon, but I try to recover quickly and go into it with no expectations.
I roped Alberto, Thomas, and Lori into running it with me this year, so I was excited for them to enjoy the course. It starts at the Laguna Hills Mall and finishes at the Laguna Hills Community Center.
Alberto and I, having both PR’d at the Mountains 2 Beach marathon the day prior, planned to run this race together and enjoy it. The Laguna Hills Half Marathon course isn’t flat and can be quite challenging for one looking to race it. I was nervous about how tired our legs would be, but we both felt great from the start. I would estimate our pace to have been 8-8:30 for the first 5 or so miles. The toughest section of the course is miles 7-9, when we dip down into Aliso Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and then climb back out. It isn’t a very steep hill, but it feels long. Though tough, it’s also a neat section because we get to see who is leading the race for the men and the women. I spotted Jenni in the lead and cheered for her – she ended up winning for the women! I also saw Rob from ASICS on the course who ended up running well and finishing in 1:31.
I probably started to pick up the pace coming out of this section, right around mile 9. My legs felt good going up the hill and we only had 4 miles left to run, why not run faster? Miles 9-11 were uneventful and we were simply enjoying the day and conversation. Alberto commented that I could smell the finish line, because I really picked it up during the last 1.5 miles or so. We crossed the finish line a few seconds apart in about 1:40. I was surprised to learn that this earned me 2nd in my age division!
We waited for Thomas and then went to the beer garden for some celebratory libations. The beer garden for this event is unique in that there are 6 different types of beer to choose from. We receive 4 tickets and a small cup (about 1/3 the size of a normal red Solo cup) and can either use all of the tickets on one type of beer, or try different types. There is also a DJ inside of the beer garden, food trucks nearby, and it’s not overly crowded. The downside is that the beer and food are not included in registration and cost an additional $10 each. The three of us split two servings of french fries topped with meat and various other forms of deliciousness. Friends, running, good foods, and drinks… such a perfect way to spend a holiday weekend.