Race summary: Well organized, good course spectators and support. Very long slow downhill followed by uphill for the last 4-5 miles. Decent race swag and medal.
In honor of Memorial Day I wanted to post about my first half marathon, which was the City of Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon. I had been running consistently outside since January of 2010 and figured that I had done a handful of 5Ks and 1 10K and the next natural progression was to attempt the half marathon distance. I was staying with my folks in the OC and this race worked out as perfect timing.
Packet pickup was at Road Runner Sports in Laguna Hills. After I moved to San Diego, I discovered their lage facility in the SD area and it became a favorite spot to shop and find shoes. The San Diego location also has their Clearance Store where at the time you could buy new shoes of the previous year’s edition for a lot cheaper (~1/3-1/2 of the original MSRP). From what I recall the packet pickup was straightforward and smooth, no significantly long lines or anything of the sort.
Race morning turned out to be a beautiful one. I had to drive about 30 minutes south of my folk’s place to get to the race and the sun was coming up as I drove down the freeway. The start line was situated between the Saddleback Memorial Medical Center (the key sponsor of the race) and the Laguna Hills Mall, which provided plenty of racer parking for free.
I was definitely nervous as this was my first race at this distance. I felt confident that I would be able to finish as I had done a training run of 12.9 a few weeks before. My biggest concern was still the shin splints.
The race starts out with a short 2 mile run through a small residential neighborhood (I think to ensure they reached the full 13.1) before coming out onto Alicia Parkway (a long stretch of road that was downhill for the first half of the race). My right shin started to burn about 1 mile into the race while in the residential neighborhood and I thought “This is going to be a long day.” I slowed down for a few miiles to see if that would ease some of the pain in my shins.
Miles 3-8 were down Alicia Parkway and this was all downhill. I realized as I reached the turnaround point that I’d have to go uphill for the last half of the race. The sun had come out a few miles into the race and was starting to warm up. There was a good amount of spectators and people cheering, which was definitely helpful to keep pushing. At the turnaround between 8 and 9, we moved onto a bike trail that was paved. My right knee also started aching around this time and I just had to grit my teeth and keep moving forward. The bike/run trail took us along the Aliso Creek and wove through parks and other areas.
Coming up to the finish line and finish area, there were a ton of people there cheering which really helped. Since this was a race close to where my family lives, my parents and sister and her family were out at the finish line. I was really glad seeing them. I crossed the finish line and only really recall getting my medal and maybe a bottle of water (at the time I didn’t really check out the other post-race activities). One neat thing about this race is that you received a 2nd tech shirt after finishing (I had received one at packet pickup as well).
Since my family was there, I didn’t have to take a shuttle back to the mall to get my car.
Final chip time: 2:25:16