Say what you will about the Surf City Marathon course being repetitive, tedious and unrelenting (perhaps I am projecting here), but that is one race that knows how to keep runners happy. I mentioned the plethora of volunteers and aid stations in my write-up from last year's pathetic attempt at running a PR, but after this weekend I still find myself in awe of the people an amenities on course.
Firstly, and most importantly because I don't want to be a party pooper (hahah get it?), let's talk about bathrooms. There are those race organizers who seem to think that starting the event in a public park with a couple bathrooms will be sufficient (I'm looking at you, Pleasanton Half Marathon with your one port-a-potty on course and five million port-a-potties at the finish line), and then there is the Surf City Marathon. Not only does the starting line boast the proper flushing toilet restrooms on the sand for the standard beach goers, but they also set up a row of port-a-potties behind the exposition tent and around the finish line festival. J'approve!
After this, the first water station is around mile 1.5, along with the first four port-a-potties, and then there is an entire LINE of the blue boxes around Mile 4. I apologize if I seem to be overly excited about bathrooms right now, but if you had the race I did, you would be just as ecstatic. It seemed like there were bathrooms just about every mile and a half/two miles on course. Love it (as does my stomach)!
As for volunteers and aid stations, this truly is one of the best races if you like that sort of thing (and let's be honest, who doesn't?). The directors intimately understand their course and therefore prepare the aid stations accordingly. To the inexperienced eye, the second half of the course seems a bit ridiculously stacked in terms of aid stations, water and Vitalyte stops, Sharkies, Fig Newtons and bananas (not to mention bathrooms!), but to the experienced runner it is obvious that the directors are more than aware of the open exposed route along PCH and the boardwalk and this heavy handedness of volunteers and aid stations tipping the latter end of the course is on purpose and much appreciated. Major kudos for showing me this was not just a fluke last year, but rather purposeful and organized. While so many events fall behind on sufficient aid stations, the Surf City Marathon is most assuredly does not.
The Central Park portion of the race is probably my favorite- it is shady with varying terrain and has some of the most entertaining cheerleaders and volunteers: returning again was the middle school band playing "Don't Stop Believin'", "Eye of the Tiger" and other inspirational hits of the '70s and '80s by the Huntington Beach Central Library. The cheering Alien was absent this year, only to be replaced by a giant purple Unicorn at Mile 8, and my favorite motivational poster which reads "Motivational Poster" was re-located from Mile 5 to Mile 9, but still wielded by the same grumpy pre-teen. Happiness.
Stack O' Man Hose managed to find me round Mile 8.5 and poured a cup of PBR which carried my legs out to Mile 12 where Kind of a Whore, Jane Fondle, Pillsbury Blow Boy and Sticky Fingers waited with even more PBR, and then it was on out to Mile 16.5 to hit the turn around and head back out towards towards Mile 21, Beer Check #2 and the final leg home. Around Mile 19 I ran up to the Beer and Bacon Station who I had completely passed by the year before. This time, however, there was bacon to be had. So much bacon, mainly because in my excitement I dropped half of what I grabbed on the ground.
After stopping briefly at Beer Check #2, I jogged out to the Mile 21 turn around and began my run into the sun. Picking up the ever bouncy Jane Fondle back by the beer check we worked our way along the coastline at what my Garmin report revealed to be a much faster pace for the last leg of a marathon than I had ever run. I blame the bouncy girl in the tutu. If you have a hard time with that last six miles, I definitely recommend you get yourself a bouncy girl in a tutu to be your pacer.
In the end, my official clocked time recorded by the event is an extremely unimpressive 5:16:00; although I think this might be wrong as I crossed the start closer to 7-10mins after the starting gun was fired, my reasoning for this belief being that I got through "Elephant Gun" and "Mr. Bad Guy" before I crossed the starting line and I pushed play on the iPod nano as the gun was fired; but whatever. When I hit my first stomach issue at Mile 4, I decided that this marathon I was going to play the Garmin Game and get an actual idea of what I am capable of running on an optimal day. So I paused the time on that sucker and became personally acquainted with the first of four different bathrooms on course.
My Garmin clocked the race at 4:42:20 and gosh darnit, that's the time I'm going to take. Maybe for the LA Marathon I will have further figured out what has been going on with my stomach; I think that is a good goal actually- figure out what is making things go bleh, fix it, and run a legitimately clocked marathon of 4:45:00 or under. Hopefully under.
So yes, Surf City Marathon 2013 was a great day. Much better than last year and left me ready to run the course again. Goal for this year's attempt- achieved.