This past Sunday, I headed to Surf City USA (AKA Huntington Beach) for my final long run before the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. It was my first time running along Huntington Beach since the Surf City USA Half Marathon way back in February. I had intended to head here for the 14 miler that was on the calendar before the Disneyland Half Marathon this summer, but it didn’t happen. Usually, my beach runs are at Santa Monica because it’s closer. However, I really wanted to run Huntington Beach again. So, the plan was set to go and I did. This run was a tale of two runs…the first 10 miles and the last 4.
Originally, I intended to run here on Saturday. However, I got rained out. Since I don’t have rain gear, I decided to switch the long run day up and run on Sunday instead. So, at 5:30am (6:30am on the old time), I was up and got ready to head down to the OC. It turned out to be a brilliant day for a run. The picture above is what greeted me when I arrived. I love running at the beach! It was a cool and crisp morning. I couldn’t wait to get going!
I started off with 5 minutes walking to warm up as I approached the Huntington Beach Pier.
Then, it was time to run. Since I’ve run this route before, I know what to expect. The run along Huntington Beach is a little more difficult than the Santa Monica run. There are visible ups and downs along the way. What I love about running Huntington Beach is that you can see the ocean the entire way! As I started, everything felt great. I didn’t take as many pictures as I have previously because I was getting lost in the scenery and in making all of my intervals. Each interval clicked by and I was running really well! What I know about this route is that the back half is harder than the first. So, the first 5 miles went off without any problems whatsoever. There were plenty of people out on the trail as well. So, it felt like I was running with them, even though I was running alone.
Gotta love the palm trees by the ocean!
This is where I have to turn around. When I did my 20 mile attempt, I went beyond this all the way to Seal Beach. However, the main trail ends here at Bolsa Chica Beach. Beyond this point is a nice little path for about another mile or so behind the condos (or apartments) along the beach. However, I turned around…
The second half awaited. I decided to walk for the first 5 minutes on the way back. I was trying this as a mental break from keeping the intervals going. It seemed to work out well. I lost about a minute and a half off my pace for the first 5 miles in the next mile. I was determined not to let this stretch defeat me. Each time I felt tired, I kept telling myself not to let the route beat me. I wanted to win very badly. A little more than 8 miles into this route is a very scenic and beautiful spot. So, I did stop there for a few minutes just because it’s so beautiful. You’ve got to take those moments in while you’re running. From there, I could see the Huntington Beach Pier. I knew I could make it the next two miles. I had to make the next two miles. So, I got into the intervals and pushed myself as much as I could. It was looking like I would finish the 14 mile run in about 3 hours even! I was pretty excited as I kept seeing that as a real possibility.
I’m not gonna lie. The end of the 10th mile was a struggle. I don’t know what it is about this point. I struggled here at the Long Beach Half Marathon. I struggled at this point at the Disneyland Half Marathon. So, I’ve got to find a way to get past this point. It’s mostly mental. I know that. Although I was feeling tired, I had felt tired earlier and kept going. However, when I got back to the pier (a little more than 10 miles in), I cracked. As I said, this was a tale of two runs…the first 10 miles went as well as could be expected.
The last 4 miles were dreadful. I could hardly run. I thought so much about quitting early. As I had slowed to a total walk, that’s when I started remembering those long marathon training runs from a year ago. It was a lonely 4 miles. All I wanted to do was see the watch hit 14 miles so I could stop. My feet were hurting and my mind wouldn’t let me run anymore. I tried a few times. But, my body was like…wait! I thought we were done with this running stuff. What are you doing to me? So, at 12 miles, I just gave up hopes of running and decided to finish out all 14 miles.
I really thought I’d finish the 14th mile right as I got to Ruby’s on the Pier. I ended up having to walk a couple of laps around Ruby’s.
After the 2nd lap, I finally finished! 14 very slow miles, but 14 miles nonetheless.
This is where I finished. It was a pretty cool place to end a run! Don’t you think?
I rewarded myself with lunch at Ruby’s.
I really enjoyed the view from my booth!
I had to take this picture inside. Cool surf board decor!
After lunch, I took some time to snap some pics. It was a brilliant day out. I had to capture a little of it.
By the time I got to taking this picture, I was one happy camper! I knew that the worst of the training for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon was not in the rear view mirror. It was taper time!
I want to close this post out with a few observations…
- On this run, it was painfully obvious how much I need to work on mentally training for these long distances.
- 14 miles is a pretty long distance. However, there are even scarier distances in my future as I get ready for the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon.
- When a training run goes bad, you feel awfully lonely out there. When a training run goes well, you feel like you can conquer the world.
During this taper period before the Avengers Half, I’m going to be taking some time to do some serious planning for the LA Marathon. This is the week for me to do so because next week will be exciting as it’s race week. Between now and the Avengers Half, I need to hit all of my shorter distance runs. I made Tuesday’s run! So, there are 4 more training runs left before Avengers! Bring it on!