The Outstanding Half Marathon Race Recap

We’ve been back from California for about a week and I’m still feeling a little loopy. In the last month, we’ve been on 4 flights (actually doesn’t seem like a lot now that I type it out), but it sure feels like it wrecked havoc on our routine or whatever one I can have with a 9 month old.

We decided the last minute to (re)book the trip to Southern California for the sun and warmth. We were able to get fairly inexpensive flights and found an Airbnb (our first time) in a great location. I had decided to not sign up for another marathon and when I learned about A Better World Running and The Outstanding Half Marathon in Santa Monica, it seemed like a lot of fun. A low-key, really casual race along Santa Monica State Beach – perfect!

The race was the day after we arrived and between tired legs and jet lag, I had serious thoughts about downgrading to the 10K or 15K but am glad I stuck with the half. The start and finish line at Crescent Bay Park was an easy Uber ride from where we were staying (though if I had planned my morning better, I could have easily run the mile there). The race is measured in clock time so in type-A fashion, I was super anxious about making sure I got there in time. Bib pick up was easy and there was also in-person registration available that day. A race that doesn’t sell out months in advance, wow, very different from the NYRR experience at home. I pinned on my bib, dropped my bag off behind the registration table, and stretched out a little all and then we were off. The course goes along the different beach paths on Santa Monica State Beach. There is chalk marking the turns for the 5K, 10K, 15K, and half. The half marathon goes a little over 2 miles north and then turns back around. You run the out and back loop 3 times. I’m not generally a fan of out and backs but this one wasn’t so bad. I enjoyed the flat course, knowing about how much distance I had left before turning around, and seeing others on the course at various points in their race. All of the runners and organizers were super nice. The runners cheered each other on during the course (a benefit of an out and back), which is also very different from what I am used to with the crowded NYC runs.

The water and fuel station was at the start and finish line, so it was only available 2 times for the half. I hadn’t really thought too much about whether this would be an issue for my hydration and as I watched others on the course with their own water bottles, I probably should have carried one as well. The temperatures were in the low 60s at the start but by the time I finished it was well into the 70s. Parts of the course were shaded and there was a nice breeze from the Pacific Ocean but it was still hot (especially in comparison to home) and I was a sweaty mess.

While this race was not a PR (and I wasn’t aiming for one nor am I in shape enough), I ran a very well executed race. The first mile was 9:59 and the 13th mile was the fastest at 9:10. I gradually ran around 10 seconds faster for the first 6 miles and from mile 7 on, ran at a very consistent pace ranging from 9:22 to 9:10. While I was feeling tired and my legs started to cramp a little towards the end, I knew Josh and Charlotte were waiting for me at the finish (thank you Forerunner 35 for the text notifications) so I was motivated to run faster. This was Charlotte’s first time spectating one of my races so it was extra special to see her at the finish. I even ran over to hug her right before the finish — I think she was confused who the sweaty weirdo was wearing a hat and sunglasses. My finish time was 2:04, a little less than a minute slower than my Central Park Half time in February. I have some work to do, if I want to get back to the fitness level I was at pre-baby but I am in no rush and just happy to be able to run these distances.

Overall I had a great time running The Outstanding Half Marathon and really enjoyed my first casual race environment. It’s also of course hard to not enjoy running along the beach and watching the sun rise along the Pacific Ocean. If I lived in the area, I would probably be running one of A Better World Running’s races every weekend! There’s something to be said about the weather and simplicity of a low-key race culture.

And oh, we had a great time eating our way through Santa Monica afterwards. There were a lot of walks along 3rd Street Promenade, Tongva Park, the beach and Santa Monica Pier. With a baby, our vacation was much more low-key but it was exactly what we were looking for.


Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday. It was my second time running this race and despite cursing myself the days leading up to it for signing for up something so close to the London Marathon and all the way in Brooklyn so early in the morning, I think this may be a race I will continue to run for as long as I can.

My alarm went off at 3:28AM on Saturday morning (yes, I like to set my alarm for odd times). I jumped out of bed. I don’t sleep well when I know I have somewhere to be. I had my clothes and race necessities all laid out the night before so all I needed to do was do my morning yoga routine, pack breakfast, and get dressed. By 4:15AM, I woke Josh up to drive me to the train. I have an amazing husband, poor guy couldn’t go back to bed after he got home. He should have just met me in Coney Island!

IMG_3144 I arrived in Brooklyn around 5:40AM and the subway station was right by Wave 1 start, so it was incredibly easy. There weren’t as many runners out yet when I got there, but you can tell off the bat that the organization of bag drop, security, and the corrals (at least in Wave 1) was so much better than last year. I had time to spare before bag drop closed at 6:10AM, so I took my time stretching and taking off my long sleeves. The UPS trucks were clearly labeled with corral numbers. As soon as I dropped off my bag, security was also a piece of cake. I made it through bag drop, security, and into my corral in less than 5 minutes. The porta-potties were located next to the corrals this year, so while waiting I was able to go to the bathroom two times (too much information, sorry). I love it when porta-potties are in the corrals because it really helps manage crowd flow and you can also squeeze in another trip once the corrals start moving.

IMG_3145Right before the start, Peter Ciaccia made a nice tribute to Mary Wittenberg, then the national anthem, and we were off. Well, I didn’t start until 17 minutes later, but you get the idea. I had absolutely no plan or strategy for this race. I ran the London Marathon less than three weeks before and I was unsure of how recovered I was. Also, between tapering and the recovery, there was very little speed work done. Last week, I woke up with upper back pain which led to not a lot of running but also a trip to the chiropractor. As of Wednesday night, I was in so much pain I was unsure of whether I could even run the race. All of this combined made it very easy not to formulate a race strategy.

IMG_3150When I crossed the start line, my goal was to run. I was going to run on feeling and while it is always ideal to negative split a race, I was trying to positive split it. I knew that the first half of the course through Prospect Park would be hillier than the second half, which is essentially flat all the way on Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. I was pushing for a stronger first half so that way when I got tired, which I suspected I would be, it would be on the easier segment of the course. I did exactly that and it worked out well because while the weather was humid the whole time, the rain started in the second half of the race. Also, I was expecting water stations on both sides of the street on Ocean Parkway (I think it was like that last year), so when there wasn’t I had to dash to the other side of the street and adjust for running closer to the side with water. My splits (according to my Garmin) were: 8:58, 8:40, 8:18, 8:29, 9:10, 9:02, 8:27, 8:46, 9:08, 8:51, 9:04, 9:17, 9:01, and 8:09 (for the last 0.23 miles, I didn’t run a perfect tangent). My official time was 1:57:09, which is four seconds faster than last year’s race and less than a minute off my PR.

IMG_3147While the second half of the race was hard and there were times I knew I could have pushed harder but didn’t, I was extremely pleased with the outcome. I know with the mental struggles I’ve gone through recently, and coming from a marathon, plus back pain, and the weather being less than ideal, I ran a really good and somewhat consistent race. I also know that on a different day, I would have had a really good chance at setting a new PR, so for now I will be happy with just a course PR. This was the race I needed to get my running mojo back and it did just that. I also played with a different fueling strategy (more to come on that) this time and it seemed to work better.

IMG_3158After the race, I met up with some of my teammates at MCU Park for the after party and had a great time. Thank you NYRR for a great race and setting the stage for the largest half marathon to date in the United States.


What were your weekend running activities?