I don’t really like to to “big” crowded races. I decided to face my fears head on and signed up for the Beach Cities Challenge half-marathon races (Long Beach, Surf City and the OC), three notoriously BIG races with lots of participants. Long Beach half was first up and was my first big race since the LA Marathon two years prior, and I’d heard lots of rumors that it was a poorly managed, crowded mess of a race…to say I was nervous was an understatement.
The packet pick up/expo was fairly straight forward. I came bearing money and wanted to spend, but was a little disappointed by the quantity/quality of vendors. Getting to and from the expo area and parking was kind of a pain in the butt, but only minimally, so all told I’d say B for pre-race.
Race day I showed up STUPID early, because every runner I knew said that it filled up and crowded up early. Works for me, got there 2 hours before the event and spent quality time in the car updating facebook and eating my pre-race nutrition, then finding a bathroom at a relaxed pace. To the start-line!
The corrals were all over the place, there was lots of pushing and general foolishness, but I always move to the side and just go my pace and hope for the best. Once the “fasties” got ahead of me, the rest was a BREEZE. Gorgeous course, beautiful views all the way through. There was one loooong stretch down the beach bike path that seemed to go on forEVER, very hot and lots of people complaining about overheating…that was probably the most difficult part. The entire course is nearly 100% flat, and the sun and heat were the only real challenges. Perfect for any beginner, and if you’re slow like me you don’t have to worry too much about weaving and crowds.
I bypassed the post-race for the most part; there were no snacks and the coconut water being offered had sugar added so I just took myself right to my car for my post-race nutrition. The medal was lovely, the tech T was also quite nice (though very see-through, so I haven’t worn it much). All in all, my pre-race jitters were totally unfounded. The race was great, weather was perfect. I’ll totally participate again!