Monday, January 13, 2014

Race Report: Inaugural Citrus Heritage Half Marathon

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon | Riverside, CA
January 11

First half marathon of 2014 - check! This was certainly a race I was not prepared for, but also knew that when I registered, when I woke up on race morning, and knew that when I was over it at mile 8. All in all, this race was gorgeous, through some beautiful areas that make me really proud to be a Californian and be from this area. < / cheese> 

Race morning wasn't terrible. The race start for the half marathoners was 8 am, but all the pre-race communications suggested being there by 6:30 am for parking. Um... no. Suzanne and I left the house about 6:15 and were still parked by 6:45 not even across the parking lot from packet pick up! I'm glad we didn't get there any earlier - we got our packets (with no line!), back to the car, changed, bathroomed, and still sat in the car for about 20 minutes before we headed outside to brave the chill and wait for the start. 

We got Caroline dressed in her birthday gear (high fives for Sandy for thinking of it!), as it was the day of her 45th birthday and here she was, running half marathon #25! Rockstar. Snapped a few pre-race photos and before we knew it, was 8 am and race start time! Caroline braced us that this race was not flat. While this was the inaugural half marathon, this race series has existed in 5K and 10K forms before (today was the half and the 5K), and Caroline had run the 10K last year, so she knew there were hills up ahead. Little did we know what we were in for! 

Suzanne and I planned to run in intervals - being that I was undertrained and she hasn't done much racing since her full in November. We figured it'd be easy enough to maintain intervals without killing ourselves to complete the race - and heck, maybe even we'd get Suzanne to a PR! I claimed that my only goal was to not feel as terrible as I did at the end of Vegas (spoiler: I felt significantly better).

The course starts off near the Arlington Sports Park and wraps around the neighborhood. All these homes are ranch-like properties, ranch-style homes wrapped in orange groves. It smelled amazing, was so beautiful. The course alternated between roads and paved segments of the service dirt roads up and down the groves. It was kind of awesome. After the neighborhood we headed into the California Citrus State Historic Park that talks about the history of the area, how it came to be and the guy that preserved all the land (nearly 100,000 acres of orange groves!). It was neat running through the park (despite having to run straight up hill into mile 5) and seeing all the history signs. I'm going to have to come back to the park and check it out.

Not dying! Photo cred to Sandy's husband!
After the uphill into mile 5, we literally ran down this crazy super steep hill, through the groves, and back on to the road for some more winding through homes and groves. One of the prettiest courses I've seen, hands down.
Is there anything better to run through? I'd argue no!
Somewhere around mile 8 Suzanne decided that she just need to jog it all the way out, no more intervals. I, on the other hand, needed to keep up with some kind of pattern, as I wasn't feeling all the running (ha!). So we alternated, I'd catch up, then pass, then she'd catch up. It worked for us, as we finished near the end within just a few minutes of each other.
Not dying at the end either!
Final time was 2:32:52. I left my Garmin at home, relied on Suzanne for splits and intervals when we were doing them, and was undertrained. Frankly, it's far from my best, but I'm quite satisfied. It might be the little boost I need to get up and moving (along with some other news, to be shared later this week!). My legs hurt throughout the day, but got to stretch in the hot tub and that certainly helped by the next morning. All in all, not too bad.

One of the highlights of my day was meeting this incredible woman -- the Marathon Goddess, miss Julie Weiss herself. If you've seen Spirit of the Marathon II, or even if you haven't (you should!), you may have heard of her, as she ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks over the past year to fundraise for pancreatic cancer. in SOTM II, her energy and enthusiasm at mile 24 just astounded me -- and she's JUST that way in person. Amazingly energetic, bubbly, full of life. What an inspiration! She let us bother her on her way out (she literally dropped all her things to take a photo) and insisted we do "the pose." I love this woman - seriously.

All in all, a great Saturday! Half marathon #12, done. On to #13 next weekend at RnRAZ!

All in all, for an inaugural race, this was an amazing experience. The course was gorgeous, though tough. The long sleeve tech shirts for half runners is probably one of my best-fitting tech shirts and pretty nice. Let's talk about that medal, as I'm sure you saw on my Instagram. IN LOVE. Great volunteers and a wonderful race. I'd highly recommend this to anyone in the Southern California area - I'm going to be back next year, for sure, as I'll be a legacy runner! Woo hoo!

Have you ever run an inaugural half marathon? What was your experience?

1 comment:

  1. That looks like an absolutely gorgeous race! Love the cute orange medal too.