Thursday, November 18, 2010

Malibu 1/2 Marathon

A year ago I was supposed to run my first half marathon, Malibu, with my sister. For various reasons (including how sick I was with flu/bronchitis) we didn't participate. I have to say, now, a year later, I'm really glad that wasn't my first race, because it might have been my last. So, now this year I've run 5 1/2 marathons (Surf City, San Diego Rock 'n Roll, San Francisco first 1/2, Disneyland 1/2 and now Malibu 1/2) and 2 full marathons (LA Marathon in March and Nike Women's in Oct).  I'm addicted, obviously.  This race was difficult for me, for a number of reasons. Some were my fault, some were the fault of the marathon organizers, some were no one's fault at all. So, here's my recap of Malibu 1/2, which I will say was one of the hardest races of the year for me.  (Sorry if this is long, first race recap I've ever done.)

itty bitty expo
I registered for Malibu and was ready to conquer it, I was going to run hard and do my best. I was apprehensive as the day rapidly approached as I had injured myself at the Nike Women's marathon in October (I ran/limped the last 4 miles of that race), but I was determined to do it, no matter what, even if I had to crawl across the finish line. Clearly, I'm a little bit stubborn.
Good morning Malibu
The day before Malibu we drove out to the expo to pick up our packets and got a preview of the next day's beautiful view...  and REALLY small expo...  but, it did make for a quick afternoon at packet pickup (although it would've been nice if we could've done race day pickup and avoided the long drive out to Malibu).

Ever hear of spell check?
The next morning, when the alarm went off, and it was still dark, I found myself thinking the thought I have pondered before many races, "why do i do this to myself?"  I realized on the way out to Malibu...  For this race, it was for the amazing view.
So, we got there, got loaded on the buses up to the start line at Point Mugu and waited around for like an hour... entertaining ourselves.  And that's when someone in our little group realized that there was an error on the race bib.  "Internatinal" really?  Have they never heard of spell check?  This should have been a sign.... Or the fact that the start sign was only facing out and not toward the racers as well.... 

At least it was a beautiful view...  and I was loving that it was an 8:30am start, got a little extra sleep time (even if it was still dark when I got up) and a little extra stretch/pre-race time.  (This later start was something I would soon realize was not such a good thing.)

Finally, time to start.  I was excited, feeling good and ready to run hard!  But, unfortunately this day had something different in store for me. 
People taking advantage of photo ops

Can't beat this view!
As we started I realized that this was most definitely going to be the MOST BEAUTIFUL course I had run all year long.  I was ready to enjoy myself.  And, then Malibu came out and kicked my ass.  Besides being the most beautiful course I had run, it was also one of the hardest.  I started taking pictures along the course when I realized that this was going to be a tougher race than I thought and my time goal would probably not be met.  I decided to still run hard, but enjoy it as well.  So, I pulled out my blackberry and got to snapping (taking pictures would be much easier with a real camera).

When I got to the first water station I realized that we were all in for an interesting morning...
A little disorganized... I wasn't at the back of the pack, and there were still full marathoners out there.  There were only a few cups filled, mostly just full jugs of water and there was a 1/2 sleeve of cups that people were frantically grabbing for.  I was grateful to be wearing my fuel belt at this point.  The next water station wasn't even set up, there was a bag of volunteer t-shirts, a folded up table, and boxed up jugs of water, wtf?
the girl in the tye-dye was trying to hand out water to runners, but no one else was...
it was sort of a free for all at the table (the VERY little table)
The view stayed amazing... as you can see. So I focused on where we were... and not the fact that it was rapidly warming up.  I drank my Gatorade that I brought in my fuel belt (cause I knew they were going to be using coconut water for electrolytes and I wasn't sure how I'd feel about that while I was running, more on that in a bit), I took pictures and I tried to enjoy the course. 
Kappa Alpha Thetas

Throughout the course the water stations were hit and miss.  There were a couple of stations being manned by sororities, not sure if they were from Pepperdine or another school, but they seemed to be more together than the others.  They had cups already filled with water and were passing them out to passing runners, so that was better than the ones where it was just grab what you can off a shoddy table.  I appreciated the effort by all of the volunteers, but these girls really tried hard to make it easier for the runners, so thank you.  
Delta Gammas

After a few miles I realized that I was in for a more difficult race than I imagined.  It was rapidly warming up (and I do not do well in the heat) and the course was harder than I realized it would be.  My knee on the other hand was feeling good.  I did have to stop at one point and sit on the guard rail and take off my right shoe and get the pebble out of it that felt like the size of a boulder.

As the miles wore on, and water stations continued to be sloppy, and I started to get warmer and warmer I realized that there was no medical aid along the course.  I started to worry at about mile 8, as I realized that I had stopped sweating, and I was out of Gatorade.  This was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me in a race.  I do tend to overheat easily, but I ALWAYS sweat a ridiculous amount and I know how to recognize the signs of overheating and stop myself.  I had done everything right in preparation, I had hydrated before, and I brought my own liquids.  Unfortunately I still got very hot very fast.  I had noticed earlier on that I hadn't seen any medical aid on the course, but I figured that I would see something, right? Wrong.  I slowed my pace and waited for the next water station, hoping there would be a medical station there too.  I got to the next station and refilled my bottles with water and picked up a Zico coconut water.  They weren't handing out cups of coconut water, they were handing out full bottles.  Who wants to run with that? (I had noticed that at an earlier water station as well, but I thought, wrongly, that they would have it more organized at the next one.)  So annoying.  I took one anyone because I knew I needed it.  But, it was kind of warm.  I drank about 1/2 of it and then put it down on the side of the road. 

This is what I saw earlier on in the course (at the first station with coconut water).... lots of discarded Zicos on the side of the road (they lined the whole guard rail), clearly still partially full because it was windy enough that empties would have knocked over...  I don't think this is a bad electrolyte choice, although I'm sure most people would have preferred Gatorade or Powerade, but since the coconut water was kind of warm it didn't taste great.  Cold coconut water is the only way to go.  Also, I know that it's a "greener" choice, but I don't think that when its discarded up and down the side of the road like this it actually counts as being a "green" choice.  The best suggestions I have for this choice of electrolyte in a race: keep it cold and put it in cups!
1st Medical support I witnessed all day.

So, as I was saying I had stopped sweating, and I hadn't seen any medical aid along the course.  I kept going, albeit slower.  I knew that my friends were in front of me and behind me on the course, so I wasn't too worried, I knew that I'd be okay (plus I had my phone on me, so I could call someone if I really needed to).  But, I did find it concerning that I hadn't seen any medical support along the course.  The first medical support I did see wasn't until I reached 11.5 miles (I know this because I looked down at my Garmin when I spotted it).  And, it wasn't an aid station, it was this an ambulance picking up someone (don't know if it was for a runner or for someone in a house along the course - I know its kinda far away in the photo, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, I kept going.  I've been telling myself that if there had been medical support along the course I would've stopped myself and not finished the race.  I really was that worried.  But, I also know myself, and I more than likely would've kept going.  SO not the point though.  There should have been medical support on the course.  This wasn't some easy little race, this was a half AND full marathon, that was hilly and warm. (Even if it wasn't warm there should have been medical support!)

So, I finally finished, in my slowest 1/2 marathon time of the year.  It was slow, but I finished it, and was rewarded with a medal and beach towel.  I like the beach towel instead of finisher's t-shirt.  I have lots of the t-shirts and it was nice to get something different for a change, plus with the finish right at the ocean it was great for people who wanted to cool off.  It was hot and hard and I'm so glad it wasn't the first half marathon I ever did.  But, as fate would have it, it was my last race of this year instead.  And regardless of the problems, my own and with course support, I am really glad I finally got to do this race.

A few more pics I took along the way (this would be WAY easier with a real camera, but all I had was my blackberry, so I improvised).

Now entering LA County... Beautiful views continue ahead.

We're just entering Malibu?  I thought this was the Malibu Marathon? :)  Oh, and that guy in the blue kept trying to stay in front of me... He finished after me.  Not that it matters, but it was annoying that he kept sprinting past me.

More ridiculous water stations... I thought this was supposed to be a "green" marathon... that's a lot of trash and plastic bottles.  Seriously, water stations at this race were kind of a disaster. 

This sign made me laugh... "Stay hydrated"  It would be easier to stay hydrated if the water stations were better organized, oh and if you didn't hand out bottles of coconut water as opposed to cups of it.

Oh, and when I saw this sign I thought to myself, thank god I only have a 5k to go!

Both of these signs made me thankful I didn't have that far to still run.

The end is near! I think... I hope... (I could actually see crowds of people in the distance in the water, and I knew the finish line was near, but it still felt a million miles away.)
The finish line, the water set up at the end... kinda pathetic for the finish of a marathon.  Really, jugs of water? Kinda disastrous.

Can't beat the view at the end... and the medal was pretty big (its actually a little bigger/heavier than my LA Marathon medal), bonus!  (Yes, the medal that I earn makes me happy/excited, don't judge me!)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post there were things about this race and my issues with it that were my fault (just getting over an injury and not running much in the previous month), things that were the organizers fault (poor water stations, no medical support along the course, the 8:30am start - I seriously appreciate a 7am start now) and things that were no one's fault (the heat).  All of these things would determine if I would do this race again.

So, taking all of that into account.... It was hard and hot.  Malibu like my own personal Everest.  I'd love to be able to do it and finish strong.  But, with the problems I mentioned above, I doubt I'd do this race again.  It doesn't seem worth it.  Unless I knew that the water/medical was improved, and an earlier start time was in place, I really doubt I'd do it again.

Final thoughts...

If you are looking for a challenging course I definitely recommend this one.  It is a challenge.  It was also, as I said before, absolutely the most beautiful course I've run all year, right along the ocean the whole way.  I thought nothing would top San Francisco 1/2, running across the Golden Gate was amazing, but this was spectacular views the ENTIRE way.  But, I recommend that you bring your own hydration!  And be prepared for possibly warm weather.  Its a great challenge if that's what you're looking for, but know that it's still not perfect (not that any race is) and definitely has some kinks that need to be worked out - room for improvement.

No comments:

Post a Comment