Surf City 1/2 Merrython: The Most Expensive Shower I’ve Ever Taken!

8 02 2008

“Water’s Rising – Rain’s still comin’ down.A river five feet deep running down Main Street …”~ Billy Nershi, String Cheese Incident, 100 Year Flood 

I was quite a sight leaving Denver 31 January – dragging my luggage around snow encrusted Denver.  I arrived slightly overdressed in Los Angeles – jeans and Uggs with heavy North Face jacket tucked into the loop of my race bag … it was a relative heat wave for me … something like 60 degrees! 

The drive from Los Angeles to Huntington Beach along the 405 freeway made me thankful for my rented Mazda 6 Tank: comfortable seats, 6 change CD player and this funky GPS thing that I didn’t have to pay for.  Forever using my time as wisely as possible (and easily bored in traffic), I taught myself how to play with the GPS.  I found not only my hotel, but the race site and the nearest Duke’s restaurant … mmmm Duke’s.  The traffic delayed drive also gave me enough time to start to get nervous about my lack of training due to wonky stomach.  It’d been behaving itself while up at my friends’ in LA, but this was the first long event since Disney.  Friday morning I took off to do a three miler around Eric’s house.  I didn’t want to wake anyone up, so I tried to slip out the back door.  Of course, we are in LA, and Er alarms the house at night – So much for not waking anyone up. I got to the back gate when I was told to stop.  My 2.5 year old niece wanted to say “GOOD MORNING LIS!”  I got about ½ a mile around the corner before I started crying because I was so touched!  I promptly got my act together in the sunshine and scared people in a tank top and red shusshy skirt … they were bundled up … ‘come on folks – it’s like 50!  What’s your problem?  I did promptly get lost and had to call for directions.  As I came around a corner to the straight-away to Casa de Burns, there was JuJu and her Dad on the front lawn.  I think I scared her with doing a speed interval right up to her … it is kind of scary having the 5’10” me flying at ya’ in a skirt when you’re only knee high!               

“Get your head spiked on straight, Shep!” I thought while listening to some awesome tunes.  A life long surfer, Er is great with weather sites.  Instead of finally getting to see my bud surf in person, we were watching the storm come in. As I was leaving on Saturday my ever smiling old friend said:  “Lizzy – uh … it’s not gonna rain, it’s … uh … gonna dump!”  Gotta love your best friends, hu?The event is held against the Pacific Ocean where parking is a potential nightmare.  I wanted to have the situation figured out in the daylight, and realized the hardest thing for me was going to be the wide turning radius of my Tank.  The lot lost about ¼ of it’s front slots due to race stuff: VIP parking, the expo tents and small bank of Blue Palaces.                   

When I registered for the event in September, I didn’t think I’d ever get faster than a 3:15:30 ½ marathon.  Well, I’ve been sub-3 for the last couple of 1/2s and even was below that in Disney with sour insides.  Wind was blowing the tent system, but the expo was relatively nice.  There were a lot of folks in bright green shirts from a walkers group in the area and, of course, a boatload of folks from Team In Training.  The gal who has walker stickers and charms was there but there was a smaller jewelry/t-shirt guy who is VERY walker friendly: Eric at Endorphin Warrior (I’ve linked him in this blog).  I was bummed that the black warrior bracelets didn’t fit, but I’ve got big hands.  I picked up a few things – especially a necklace with “Peace …. Love …. Endorphins” written on a square tag.  Peace and Love I love silver … and after this weekend – I’d have to say the necklace is perfect for me!       

I drove back up Beach Street to my funky Motel 8 … not bad actually!  4 A.M. was going to come along rather quickly and I knew I needed to get some reading done.  Yeah – right.  I was going to be getting back to the lot by 5:30 latest as there were several events happening and all were sold out.  If everyone showed, there would be a ‘cast of thousands’ there for the kid’s run, 5K, ½ and Full Marathons.  My event was the last to take off … and I wanted good parking.  Of course, the sky opened up at around midnight and a lot of folks stayed home.  I only know the sky opened up at that time because I awoke from a nightmare at precisely the same moment.  Right before I left, my beloved niece JuJu had been helping me pack my race bag and we’d been working on a new concept “share”.  She’d been running around in my Uggs (which came up past her knees) which were ‘hers’ and had picked up one set of my Brooks SST’s saying “MINE!?”  I said that I would share them with her, but I had to take them to the race.  In my nightmare, my rather helpful JuJu decided we would share them.  My half would be the right shoes and hers would be the lefts!  I flew over to the chest where I’d laid out my race clothes checking that I indeed had a match set of shoes!  Wanting to check the weather, I stepped out to the railing and promptly into a puddle.  Oh poop!                 

It’s always interesting what song is playing when you get into a car.  Sometimes it’s really telling about how your day is going to go.  I got into my Tank to the beginning notes of 100 Year Flood by Colorado’s String Cheese Incident.  Much more apt tune than something like BJ Thomas’ Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.  It was a sloppy mess, but here we were!  I walked around to get my bearings and all I could think of was “It’s mental, Shep!”  NO NOT “You’re Mental, Shep!”  The waves crashing, wind whipping about, rain soaking through the layers of clothing I was in.  This was going to be a … special … event.               

Sun rose for our 7:45 wave start.  My buddy Brandon from the Walking Faster group had found a spare long sleeved tech shirt for me and had a spare poncho.  The wind was whipping so insanely, that we tried to tie down the ponchos with shrink wrap belts!  Wondering if I would overheat, die or yak before mile 2, I was ready to go.  I moved up into the sub-3 category and promptly started doing The Swim.                 

Between mile 1 and 2 was a dead pelican.  What a way to start a race!  The mile 3 pads were soaked more than a sponge in the dishwasher.  I was blown about but bound and determined NOT to add nearly a mile to my distance like I did at Disney so my twin goals this race were to work on cutting tangents … and not be blown out to sea!               

Speedy Sneaker friends have to be reminded that those of us closer to the back not only have a lot of people to go around, but people whom are potentially a smidge less competitive or experienced at large format races.  They tend to stop or talk four a breast or whatnot.  This requires trying to let people know I’m coming up at my somewhat stable 11.5 – 13 minute miles and then going around them.  That’s how I keep adding distance.               

Cutting it tight around the corner just after water stop 2, I stepped into a bit of a puddle … my right shoe was completely covered as the water lapped happily around the top of my sock aiming at my shin.  OY!  This was going to be a LONG race … then I just laughed!  At least the potties were still standing and the band was playing right there!               

Surf City is not Flat, Flat, Flat.  Try again.  Flat, Flat, Flat is San José Rock and Roll ½ Marathon.  To make up the mileage, you’re turned onto a side street and up through some ritzy neighborhood.  Glasses were steaming by mile 4 or 5 … off ripped the plastic and long sleeved shirt … screw it.  I’m a Racewalker … therefore not exactly sane!  For some reason, I tied the shirt around my waist and kept going.  The back side of the little residential hill was starting to melt away – dirt and sand streaming down the roadway.  I was taking that inside line and VERY careful not to slip.  I saw my friends on the way back … not used to being in front of anyone, but he’s injured so I’m not sure if that counts.               

Back on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and boy was it ever … special.  Rain, wind, rain and this complaining woman “So much for bands every mile …” Um … as an audio engineer who knows something about electricity and rain … the more distance between me and her the better.  When I double passed her on the way back, you know she was still complaining!  Whatever!  I really was having fun … wet and sloppy fun!  As long as I kept moving I was fine!               

Another dead animal greeted us in the middle of mile 9.  The wind picked up.  Brandon estimates it was in the 30 mph, I’ve got no clue about such things.  I only know that there was a headwind no matter how you looked at it and a side wind from my, usually, beloved Pacific Ocean.  Everything was operating fairly well – my injured left side was lifting pretty well and I’d not slipped in the sea dropped or discarded Cliff Blocks.  The mile marker signs had mostly blown over and no-one was out there but us lunatics.  It’s a mental game – gotta keep yourself going … and get away from the complainers … they’ll just remind me that my hip did hurt and my hamstrings were getting a bit tight … and I really did need to pee (or was that just because I was surrounded by water … literally?).               

Splashing through puddles and watching my form, I got within a 5k to the end.  I had been glancing at my watch, but I knew this wasn’t going to beat my San José time…. but that was on flat-flat in the sunshine!  I just wanted to finish then cheer on my friends.  The wind really started working against me at that point.  I should have been able to see the finish line, but I couldn’t.  The driving rain was making visibility really difficult for this bespectacled walker was slowing down a tad.                

When I finally saw the finish line, it was like someone Upstairs said “Could you stop the faucet for just a moment?”  In my shy manner (“HEY you guys are standing around, could you PLEASE make some noise for us coming down???”) I came in for a landing.  One Wet Baby Kitty Duck  I’d finished the wettest, sloppiest race of my short ‘career’ in 2:49:24 – 12:56 minute mile average.  I was only 1:20 slower than my personal best in San José … and there were still people behind me.  Of the 8405 finishers, I was 6797th.  Quit laughing, I’m proud of it!                 

No rest for the waterlogged … I collected one of those silver blanket things and promptly placed my soggy self at the 13 mile marker … 0.1 for everyone to the finish … and started cheering “NO DAMPENED SPIRITS” promising there WAS a finish line just ahead until my pals finally got there.                 

It was a spectacular drive up to LA on Monday morning.  The exact time where I was slogging through the beginning of a race, I was standing on the beach staring at the surf.  “Might be a good day to learn surfing…” I said to myself as I wiggled my toes in the sand and drank fairly good soy cambric (tea steeped in soy milk).  Maybe next year.               

Next event: Run The Republic as a part of Team COPD+ … 24 February.




2 responses

8 02 2008

Congrats ms Lizzy!
Brandon told me all about that crazy race. He finally got to use all of his rain gear ( or should I say storm gear).

Despite the wind and rain you only missed your PR by less than two minutes? That’s pretty amazing.

Great Job!

13 02 2008

Yes, indeed, the next time I want to be participating in a Very Wet Event….I’ll sign up for a swim meet.

But, oh my goodness, that was FUN! I came in much further back (8274) — still a PR…but this was only my second half.

Probably the funniest part for me was that you could tell that someone was coming up behind you from the flapping! I’ve never seen so many people wearing trash bags, not even my be-prepared (not) Girl Scouts!


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