Monday, February 13, 2012

Surf City 2012

·         BACKGROUND
I ran the Surf City Marathon for the first time in 2011 as my first real BQ attempt with fellow Dirt Devil Mike McDaniel.  I had a few issues with my Luna Sandals and ended up finishing in 3:30, quite short of my goal time.  When Oakley announced their deal with Surf City, I immediately signed up and decided I’d give the BQ another shot.  Plus the free pair of shades didn’t hurt none.  Later, Vanessa would sign up in order to join me.
Race day 2012 drew near and, well things happen and I am no longer in BQ shape.  Or maybe I am but just too lazy to exert the effort required.  Still, it’s a chance to go hang out with a few friends and collect some more bling for the office.  Plus collect the free Oakleys.  We also learned that Ken Bob was holding a clinic the day before and so we decided we’d go meet up with him for a few miles, attend the expo, and then go meet Seamus over at Sport Kilt prior to calling it a day and retiring to our hotel room. 
·         WEATHER
Weather forecast called for a low of mid-40 and a high of 70.  A bit on the warm side for running a marathon but the coastal breeze would make it seem a bit cooler than actuality.
·         GEAR/FUEL
I packed a few options to run in but was pretty certain I’d wear my green kilt and green InB shirt.  I had also decided I’d run barefoot as long as possible and then slip on the Vibrams if required.  These I carried in my UltrAspire Spry running vest, also required in order to bring along my running buddy, Stix.
For fuel, I packed some Vega electrolyte mix and once drained, I would use the course fluids which happened to be Gookenaid Vitalyte.
·         PRELUDE
We dropped off Ginger at her favorite pet hotel and then drove up to Huntington Beach, arriving about 10 minutes before the scheduled run with Ken Bob.  He wasn’t that difficult to pick out of the crowd and seeing as we were the only ones to show up, we decided we’d head out and let him choose our destination as well as mileage.  We ended up running on some nice trails navigating around a bird estuary, not too far from where we’d be running the next morning.  Ken Bob was an excellent host, describing the area around us, pointing out landmarks, and chatting it up with us as well as everyone else along the path.  We stopped a few times to take pictures and videos as well as to talk with a few couples walking their dogs.
The time flew by and we decided to head over to his house for an autographed book after he had decided we’d had enough and should leave something in our legs for the race.  There we got to meet his lovely wife and dog.
After saying goodbye to the Saxton family, we drove South a few miles for the bib pickup.  Parking was relatively easy, not really caring about the half mile walk to the tent.  I’m not a big fan of expos, preferring to get in, grab my race stuff, and get the heck out of there.  We loitered a bit this time, saying hi to a RW friend of mine as well as hanging out at the Ink n Burn booth in order to chat with owner Rob.  It’s great seeing how far these guys have come in such a short time and I expect their business to continue to grow.
After Vanessa bought a few items and we said our goodbyes, we headed up North about 20 miles to go meet the owner of Sport Kilt, our favorite sponsor.  Meeting Seamus, the owner, was great.  He introduced us to another athletic couple that he sponsors and we talked for a bit.  They are athletes in the Highland Games which is quite different than what we like to do but fascinating to learn about none the less. 
I wasn’t sure what to expect to see at Sport Kilt but was blown away with the rows upon rows of kilts I saw.  And the model Jolene!  She was the quiet type and was yummy to look at.  Plus I think she was a little excited to meet us.
Seamus took our measurements for a custom hiking kilt that he plans to send our way and then pointed to a row of kilts and told us to take anything we wanted.  Seriously!?  I settled on two buckled versions while Vanessa went all out and snagged about 8 of them.  And as a bonus, we also got some hats, shirts, stickers, and a water bottle to bring home as well.  Sweet!
After saying goodbye and thanking him repeatedly, we said goodbye to Seamus and headed over to the hotel to grab some shuteye.
·         RACE DAY
      The morning came way too early as always.  At least it wasn't like Disney where we had to wake up at 3am to go wait around in the cold.  We were within 10 miles of the race start so we were able to sleep in a bit and still have ample time to get to the free parking before it was all filled up.  We met up with some fellow Marathon Maniacs for a photo op, made our way to the front of the race to say hello to a couple of the pacers that I knew would be there and then waited alongside the course for our wave to catch up to us.
      Our wave start arrived and for once I was ready, having already turned on my Garmin and everything tucked away properly in my running vest.  
      The first three miles or so were along the PCH heading North towards where we were running with Ken Bob the day before.  From there we turned right and headed towards the 405 freeway, looping through the Huntington Beach Central Park.  Most of the route was easy on the feet although there were a few rough patches in the park itself that almost had me jumping off course in order to run on the grass.  We also had a couple of hills to climb at miles 4 and again at mile 9, or rather speedbumps according to some of my ultra friends.  They weren't that difficult but just enough to let you know they were there.
      At mile 10 we connected back to the PCH to run North for a couple miles, pull a u-turn, and then run South to around mile 16.  I'm not a fan of out-n-backs since you are forced to see everyone ahead of you.  Especially sucks when you see a pacer's sign and can do the math to figure out how much longer you'll have to run to get to the point where they are at.  The good news is that there were a lot of people I knew running this as well as a ton of Marathon Maniacs that would give shout outs.  Plus being barefooted and running in a kilt drew a lot of attention and I would get bystanders yelling out at me telling me what a good job I was doing, or how friggin stupid they thought I was for doing this.  And I was happy that my feet were holding up in the warm conditions.
      Right before mile 16 we hopped onto the bicycle path.  This patch would lead us down to the Bolsa Chica State Beach where we would turn around at mile 21 for the final stretch to the finish line.  I was dreading this section due to knowledge from the previous year.  Somewhere around mile 18, the trail is horrendous to bare feet.  I would like to finish the entire race barefoot but this one section gave me doubts.  And sure enough, it proved too much to my feet.  I did manage to get through the section but my feet were so sensitive after that, I knew I would never make it through that section on the return trip.  And so I conceded defeat and put the Vibrams on before hitting the 19 mile marker.  On the plus side, there was a group of people handing out beer and bacon and so Vanessa and I stopped to partake.  I was only interested in the beer and she was only interested in the bacon.
      After the turnaround and shortly after mile 21, we had a Ken Bob sighting.  He had told us he'd be along the course and so we stopped for a second to say hi, and to have him ridicule me for the Vibrams.  Didn't want to stay too long since Vanessa was chasing a PR and so we shook hands and said goodbye.
Upon meeting up with the rough section again, my feet were starting to feel used and abused.  I am not a fan or running with the Classics in warm conditions since the heat goes right through the bottoms and feels as if my feet are on fire.  Not much I could do since my feet were too tender now to finish the race barefoot.  And so I chose to run on the grass or alongside the sidewalk whenever I could.  This helped a little bit but everytime I jumped back onto the sidewalk, my feet would instantly start screaming at me.  I really wanted to walk at this point, or better yet, jump into the ocean that was just a few yards away.  I asked Vanessa a couple times if she needed a walk break, hoping she'd say yes, but she was determined to finish this bitch and get her PR.  Good for her!  And so I sucked it up and kept running alongside.
Somewhere after mile 24 my feet could not take the torture anymore and so I told Vanessa I was going to walk it off and that I'd see her at the finish line.  It sucked seeing her take off without me but I feel it was for the best.  I am not sure how long I walked but as soon as I got off the smooth sidewalk and hit the PCH again, my feet felt a lot better.  I was about 1 mile from the finish line now and so I took off sprinting, hoping to catch sight of Vanessa, and if lucky, I could finish the race by her side.  That wasn't to be though.  I ran my ass off on that final stretch but the walking had taken it's toll and Vanessa was at the finish line waiting for me.  4:21.
·         THE END
We immediately grabbed some food and drinks and then sat down on a curb to talk about the race as well as point out the other runners who seemed to be in far worse shape then us.  We then walked over to the beer tent to enjoy or free beers and then we headed to the ocean to soak our feet.

I was supposed to meet up with some Runner's World buddies at a nearby place but after the beers and then the romp in the ocean, it was getting late and I had a dog to pick up.  And so we made the trek to the car and headed off to home to reunite with Ginger.
It's pretty hard to run a marathon without shoes on your feet.  Although it kinda sucks running a marathon with shoes on as well.  I ended up running 19 miles before putting on the Vibrams and that is a personal best for me on race day (I've done quite a few 20 mile barefoot training runs).  Even knowing what the road conditions hold in store, its still a rather difficult task and for that, my hat is off to those of you who do this on a regular basis.
I also realize that I have a pretty decent life, and although I may bitch and complain about things, I am surrounded by wonderful people who understand and support my wacky endeavors.  And some of them put my wackiness to shame.  I love you all.

20,000 starters and 17,500 finishers
14,100 half marathon and 2,400 full marathon

Overall:1188 out of 2440
Men:841 out of 1541
M 40-44:162 out of 271
Age/Grade:50.26% Place: 1457
Finish:4:21:06 Pace: 9:58
Tag Time:4:21:06
Gun Time:4:24:31

  Next Up - The Rocky Road 100


omnivorerunner said...

Great report Shacky! It was great to read your adventure along the 26.2. You rock for doing most of it barefoot, I couldn't imagine running that long barefoot.

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pay per head service said...

I didn't know that they do BBQ for those competitions and it is quite nice that you can eat them when you have the chance with so many great runners.