Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon Race Recap

I was super excited to be headed back to Riverside (SoCal/Inland Empire) this past weekend for the Citrus Heritage Run. I ran their inaugural Half Marathon distance last year and was returning for the same again this year even though I was going into it knowing full well that I was totally under-trained and unprepared for a half marathon. But I put my big girl pants on and figured I would do my best. So let's take a look...

Citrus Heritage Half Race Start
COURSE: I absolutely love this course. I stated last year that it just might be my new favorite half marathon race and after returning again this year I think I can still mostly say the same thing. You might be wondering if the course changed and that's why I say mostly, and no, it didn't. It's the exact same course and it was still gorgeous and still meandered through the orange groves and still had amazing vistas; but I will admit that the course was more challenging than I remembered it being. I seem to have had it in my head that there were only a few hills, but it turns out there are a lot of hills. The same amount as last year...I just remember them better this time. HA!

But let me get back to the views - they are absolutely amazing!! You run through the State Historic Citrus Park, through orange groves, through beautiful residential neighborhoods. And those hills I mentioned, well they allow some wonderful views of the valleys below especially through the Citrus Park and just about the midway point. It's a great course that is challenging, but totally reasonable if you are better prepared than I.

AID STATIONS: The local high schools come out to really support this race and they man those aid stations like nobody's business! They are cheerful and motivating even right down to the very last runners. They were well stocked with cold water and Gatorade throughout the race, and I was at the tail end so I can even say that from what I saw the back-of-the-packers were all taken care of as well! The one thing that I noted was that last year they provided GU Gels at the halfway point, this time they didn't have any kind of energy gel available. I had, thankfully, carried my own; however, if I had been relying on them for that mid-race energy gel I would have been in big trouble.

Weather.com Predicted Great Race Day Weather!
WEATHER: The sun was mostly out for the start of the race, but it quickly disappeared behind clouds to give us an overcast sky throughout. It really was perfect racing weather. I was never overly hot and was actually almost cold a few times. I was wearing shorts, compression sleeves, a short-sleeved shirt, and gloves so I wasn't exactly bundled up or anything. I took off one glove a couple miles in and was perfect the rest of the race. You just can't get better than SoCal winter weather for running, in my humble opinion.

Flat Kristen Ready to Run!
PRE/POST RACE: Pre-race check-in was super easy and a better set-up than last year's event. The race starts and ends near the Arlington Sports Park and they utilize the space well. There were several booths set up where you could pick up info from various vendors and I even met a group of Team SunRype (TSR) folks that were there! That was actually my first time meeting other TSR members at a race and since they are all on the 2015 team also I am looking forward to maybe meeting up with them for some events this coming year. Post Race they had plenty of bananas, oranges, and water. They also had a local Boy Scout Troop handing out chili which was a nice bonus! There was also a Sierra Nevada Beer Garden that I didn't partake in, but it looked like a cool place to hang out and each runner got one ticket for a free beer so that was a really cool perk for sure.

Team SunRype representing Riverside County! Yeah-Yeah! Looking forward to meeting up with these fine folks again!
MY RACE: Okay, so let's get to the nitty gritty of my race. It was bad. It was painful. It was ugly. I don't know what else to really say about it. The first 6-7 miles I felt AWESOME!! It was probably one of the best starts I've had in that I took it nice and slow, I didn't have any shin tightening issues from going out too fast, I felt strong and powered up the hills. If the entire race had felt like that I'm sure I would have PR'ed. But the wheels fell off 7 miles in. My knee - yes, THAT knee - started feeling all tweaky. I called my husband to whine about it and he asked what "tweaky" meant and the best I could describe it was like someone was pinching my knee really HARD from the inside. It was a sharp pain that would actually cause me to say "ouch" out loud. And then to top it off my right calf started cramping. I could feel the muscle wind up and then spring loose in a hard cramp just like it did during my marathon last September. The exact same way, in the exact same place. So there's a problem there that needs to be fixed before my next half in May. I'm sure I'll talk more on this later. So I walked a lot of the second half of the race, I finished in under three hours but barely, and I actually had pain in my knee for the rest of Saturday which just terrifies me. I have a lot of thoughts about it and even though I was extremely disappointed in my abilities following this race, my primary goal going into it was to run smart, and in this case, the smartest thing for me to do was to end up walking more than running. That's just how the cookie crumbled...

THE SWAG: The tech shirt (sorry I don't have a picture of it, but you can see the back of it in the picture of the start line I posted up above on the lady to the right) is a really great technical long-sleeve with Half Marathon Finisher in a sunburst design on the back and orange blossoms down one sleeve. It's a beautiful shirt!!! They do run large as I learned last year, so I got a Medium this time and it fits great. And the medal...OH THE MEDAL!!! It is truly gorgeous - on par with what you get at much larger races and for much more money paid in registration fees. And in case you can't tell from the picture, the center section spins! Totally cool...

Taken from the event's Facebook page
Finally, this was the last race in the Run Riverside Challenge series which previously included the Hometown Heroes Honor Run (my recap, event webpage) and the Mission Inn Run (I didn't recap this race, but I completed the 10k). So at the completion of this one I was able to collect up my extra bling...and it is absolutely beautiful, let me tell ya. Or better yet - let me show you!

L-R: Mission Inn (10k), Run Riverside Challenge, Citrus Heritage (13.1), and Hometown Heroes (5k)
OVERALL THOUGHTS: I absolutely love this race and the series! I am planning on doing these for as long as possible. They are all unique enough on their own but have the overlying theme of showcasing Riverside and its rich cultural past AND present. I can highly recommend them all and getting the extra challenge medal is just an added bonus. Even though my race performance seems to have gone downhill with each successive race I can't blame that on anybody but myself. I will be back again in 2015-2016 - hope to see you there!


  1. Great recap. Funny, during the race...powering up the hill leading into the Orange grove, I was telling a guy that I'd totally forgotten that entire section. Must be similar to child birth where you remember the best parts and blank out The rest-lol. Hopefully the knee was just reacting to the hills and getting back to strength training and hill training will make out happy again. I love this series too, but don't see how they'll ever surpass this year's challenge medal! :)

    1. Yes - I have found that the only way to enjoy running is to have that childbirth-like amnesia afterwards where you completely forget most of the pain and only remember the good parts. I guess when they hand you the medal or baby is when that happens! HA ;-)

  2. I'm sorry your knee decided to act up on you. But it's a good evaluation point for the future and what ways that training and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles surrounding it for future races. Cool medal!

    1. Absolutely - back to PT exercises being added in on a regular basis and definitely need to work on strengthening my glute and hamstring muscles. I suspect that is where the greatest imbalances are coming from. :-)

  3. Sorry about your knee, but congrats on your race finish! Post-race chili is a great idea!

    1. Thanks, Tina! The chili was awesome especially with the weather being overcast and somewhat chilly. I'm bound and determined to figure out what is going on with the knee and the calf cramping...so PT exercises and strength training have been moved to the top of the priority list! Thanks for stopping in and commenting!