I had a fun weekend in Malibu for the Half Marathon, one of the most scenic courses I can imagine. My friend, Ann, joined me for the half, and my husband, Kevin, ran the full marathon. We all felt the course was much more challenging than we anticipated from the elevation chart but we enjoyed it none-the-less. My time was 2:20:29, similar to my NWM half finishing time, and I can be happy enough with that.
The race expo was on Zuma Beach in the sand and was small but nice. They had full size samples of sport drinks, merchandise for sale, and a few information booths. This race has beach towels at the finish instead of t-shirts, so we bought cute and super soft cotton shirts. The best part was taking a nice walk along the beach.
The race started out along the beach a little north of Malibu, and we took school bus shuttles to get to the start. Buses ran from the finish line too, but we stayed at the host hotel and took the shuttle directly from there. This was a big time saver and gave us some much needed extra sleep. One of the buses (not ours!) broke down so they delayed the start for both races by 15 minutes; I was glad for this because the porta-potty line was lengthy. The gear check was convenient and easy for drop off and pick up, and there was good space for some pre-race stretching on the beach.
This was a fairly small event, about 2200 people for both distances, so there were no start corrals. This worked out fine for me. After the start we made a weird loop around the parking area and then went out to the road. The funniest part of the start was a woman who was walking with trekking poles trying to go the wrong direction across the start line to find her group of walker friends. It was so annoying that I couldn't be anything but amused. The course itself didn't feel crowded and I wasn't constantly having to dodge people, thank goodness.
The course followed the PCH the whole time, winding around curves and over the rolling hills along the coast. I watched seals, birds, surfers and cyclists along the way. We had beautiful sunny weather and some humidity (at least more than I've been running in lately.) There weren't many spectators along PCH and no 'official' course entertainment, but I'm a scenery person so that didn't bother me at all. Plus the spectators at the end were very happy and motivational. The hills were significant but more long and slow than steep. Water stations were slow and they didn't all keep up with the flow of runners, but this is true of most small events because they have less volunteers available. I've volunteered for a water station at a race this size, so I totally get how hard it can be and appreciate having the volunteers there. They served water and Accelerade and I got what I needed to stay hydrated.
The race became interesting for me because some charging mishap resulted in my Garmin battery dying at mile 5. I really had no solid idea about pace and time, but there were clear mile markers to follow the course. I stuck with what my body wanted to do and still came out at about the same finish time - guess I'm a good pacer! It's funny how attached I've gotten to gadgets and it was rather nice to run without thinking about stats.
We finished at Zuma Beach where the race expo had been held and were rewarded with finisher beach towels and really nice medals. The finish line food was abundant and tasty - Clif Crunch bars, mini Clif bars, Zico Coconut Water recovery shakes, fruit, fruit cups, water, Endurox. The finish line wasn't crowded and everyone could easily get to what they needed. Small races can be really refreshing for this reason.
But the best part of the whole race? Taking my beach towel near the water and hanging out after the race! I went in the ocean up to my knees for a nice ice bath and then stretched in paradise. We ended the day with dinner at Paradise Cove and a few fun pics with medals on the beach.
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