Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Temecula Half Marathon - Race Report

Waaaaay back at the end of October I was able to participate in the Temecula Half Marathon & 5k held in Murrieta, CA - a local race for me as it is about 20 minutes from my home.

Just a couple of notes about this race before I get into the nitty gritty. I did the Half Marathon, this was my first time participating in this race, and this was the first time the race was held on this particular course. Previous years it was held in an entirely different location. My friend, Sally, ran the race the previous year and had warned me that it was one of the HARDEST races she had ever done as it was extremely hilly. Well, new course this year so I figured it was going to be a little less challenging, right?!? And maybe it was...I will never know as I hadn't done the previous course. I was doing this race to support a co-worker that was doing it as his very FIRST half marathon!! When he decided to do one, he reached out to the rest of us that he knew to be runners, and three of us said we'd be willing to jump in on the half marathon with him. His wife (Rebecca in the picture below) did the 5k along with her sister-in-law and my daughter. So with that out of the way, let's get to it, shall we?

We were greeted with an absolutely GORGEOUS sunrise!!

The cost of registration was about $80, I believe. I got in before it stepped up in price, however, this race had a registration fee that I couldn't get out off (i.e. It wasn't through Active which I have an Active Advantage membership that waives registration fees on many races). I had a discount code so it brought the total back to what it was originally before the registration fee. If I remember right...I do remember being peeved about the "fee". I really find those quite annoying especially when they are more than just a couple dollars. (Side note: race fees sure are getting EXPENSIVE, no?) The good part is they offered race-day packet pick-up so that's always great. As far as getting all checked-in at the event that was fairly easy to do. It was a little confusing to me as you don't pick up your race bag until AFTER the race, so I kind of felt like I was missing a step before I realized that you didn't get those until later.

From L-R: Me, Co-Worker Jennifer, Co-Worker Rebecca, and my daughter Michelle (the Selfie Queen operating the camera thankfully because I am truly HORRIBLE at it! LOL)

Expo and Venue
The race was held at a sports park in downtown Murrieta and was easy to get to (freeway access about a mile from venue) and had plenty of free parking nearby. They had quite a few vendors that I don't see at a lot of other local races such as Krave jerky, The Kombucha, Larabar, and others. They also had a wine garden with several different vendors. Each racer received two free tickets and more were available for purchase. They had a pretty good set-up and as far as small, local race expos go it was not too shabby. Not the best, but not the worst either.

This race doesn't automatically include a participant shirt but does offer them for a reasonable price for purchase. What you DO get is a wine glass. I am going to note that I expected the wine glass to be included in the race bag that you get after the race...kind of makes sense, right? So when the race was over and my daughter handed me my bag, I just assumed the glass was in there. Wrong. You had to actually pick up the glass when you got your drink tickets. Well, since I could care less about the drink tickets, I never even went over to that table and completely missed out on the glass. I was fairly disappointed about this. Also, during packet pick-up nothing was ever said to me or my daughter about race bags being available after the race or that wine glasses needed to be picked up at the wine garden. I know they are volunteers, but it would be helpful to provide that info to racers so we aren't left wondering where to go next or what we can expect at the end.

See the pretty wine glasses? They are actually very nice and I'm glad my daughter got one at least! Posted to the event's Facebook page - click on picture to go there.

The course, as mentioned above, was new this year. The course, as mentioned above, was known previously as being VERY challenging. The course this year? Super duper challenging in its own right!! Seriously, after doing the Avocado Half Marathon in Fallbrook back in May I didn't really want to ever run another hilly half. Well, too bad, so sad because this was NOT a flat half marathon. Now, mind you, they never billed it as being flat either. I was just wishful thinking. HA! Let's look at just a few pictures of the course:

That doesn't look so bad, right?

Almost to the top of the hill...I think my face says it all...I was not happy.

Oh yeah - that looks like *fun*. :-|
So. Many. Hills! The course began on relatively flat land and remained so for about the first mile before going into gently rolling hills that I think were there for the simple act of lulling you into a false sense of security. About three miles in is where the fun begins! The road began to climb and then turned into a dirt road that was very difficult to run on. The dirt was hard packed and highly cambered with some rockiness that you had to be careful for. In addition, the road was NOT closed so vehicles could still travel it and I really felt for the group of runners that had a truck go by on the dirt road as it kicked up a lot of dust (this is one of those times that it really paid that I was in the mid-pack of the race!). Hope nobody was asthmatic or had breathing issues because that would seriously hinder their ability to get air. The dirt eventually returned to road, and hills, and kept going. I will say that there were portions of this course that were extremely beautiful!! One of my favorite sections was through a tree-lined area that was mostly flat to boot! Check it out:

So nice through here! Take note of the gal in the red tank and skirt and the other in the orange shirt next to her...we'll talk about this some more in a moment.
After that really nice, really pretty section, we headed into a golf course for a short bit. It was also very pretty and was on a dirt trail and towards the end had a vineyard on one side, and golf course on the other. There were people out golfing as it was a Sunday morning so that was kind of a nice distraction. And then another hill came and this was one of the worst! Here's a pic from the top looking down:

Not a great picture, but you can kind of get an idea of this massive hill. Most people were walking it or doing a slow jog at the most.
We encountered a lot of traffic in this section as people were leaving and entering the golf course. They did have a police escort so it was very smooth and didn't cause any problems outside of the sheer amount of exhaust and fumes. The course eventually looped back around and met with sections we had come out on, so we got to do them in reverse. Here's the elevation profile from my Garmin activity:

You get the idea? Hills, hills and more hills...LOL
All in all, the course was challenging, but not bad as it had a lot of scenic portions and was an out-and-back so especially at the end you had a good idea of what to expect since you were on the same part as you were at the beginning. I do wish that traffic had been blocked on the dirt portion at the very least to minimize the amount of dust kicked up into the air, but the course did feel safe even though it was an open course and had traffic throughout. There were port-a-johns at several points along the course with fairly short lines, they had pacers for a variety of finish times, they had plenty of on-course water, but no electrolytes until almost the end of the race, they had some fabulous volunteers out working the aid stations, but they had minimal spectating or cheer sections. But that's okay as it wasn't something that was part of the race package.

Honestly, the medal was a bit disappointing to me. For being such a challenging race with all those hills, no race shirt, and costing $80, along with the trend for ever bigger and more impressive medals, I was expecting something a little more substantial. Take a look and let me know what you think:

The glitter was a nice touch...

Since I'm holding it you can get a little perspective.
The 5k and Half Marathon had the same size medals, the only thing that was different was the 5k had a white ribbon and the Half Marathon had a black one. Seriously, it's kinda tiny and doesn't have a year engraved on the medal design anywhere and you can see that the necklace portion is a clip on design so I'm guessing they re-use medals that are left over. I can't say for sure, but that's the only reason I can figure they do a clip on necklace (is there an actual name for that part of the medal because if there is it is escaping my brain at the moment! haha). Also, I have to say that even though the race previously was in the Temecula Wine Country, hence the wine bottle medal and grapes in the logo, this year's race had almost nothing to do with wine outside of the fact that you ran very briefly past a few grape vines, and you got a wine glass and free wine at the finish. It wasn't even evident that the race course was in Temecula AT ALL since you start and end in Murrieta. It's possible we may have been in the actual unincorporated area of Temecula for a brief moment, but I couldn't say for sure exactly. I count this race as being in Murrieta. A little misleading, but who cares really. Overall, the medal gets a D grade. They can do better.

My Race
I went into this race totally and completely unprepared (yes, that is a recurring theme in my life...*sigh*) so my plan was to just do the best I could and treat it like a training run. I stuck with the 2:45 pacer for a good portion of the early part. Remember in the picture above where I said take note of the girl in the red tank and black skirt and the girl in the orange shirt beside her? That was the pacer and the other gal that was sticking with her as well. I lost them a few times on hills when I was just dying, but would catch up to them on the downhills usually. I finally lost the pacer for good as I was coming into the golf course and hit that really killer hill. But not long after I crested the killer hill, the gal in the orange shirt (cannot remember her name...sorry!!) had stopped at a porta-pot and then caught back up to me. So we stuck together until the end. All in all, I didn't feel terrible. The weather was absolutely perfect and I ran a lot more of the hills than I did previously. If the gal in the orange shirt hadn't kept me going towards the end though I would have walked a lot more. But we would just pick out a landmark and say "we'll run to there", then we would walk to a new landmark and do the same. It got us to the end, although I will say I wanted to absolutely DIE at the end because as we were getting close to the finish line, and to what my Garmin was saying was close to 13.1 miles, we realized that we were going to run right by the finish line to do one more loop around the park! WAAAAHHHH!!! I seriously was like "this is a cruel, cruel joke you evildoers!!!" The pacer (can't remember her name either...LOL) found us on that final loop and ran us in to the finish. I do know that the course was definitely off and a mistake was made somewhere because my final based off of GPS was 13.32 miles. So just a tad extra, but enough to make a grown woman want to curl up in a ball and just throw a massive temper tantrum. I didn't, but the urge was strong. Here's the stats:

13.32 Miles
Average Pace: 12:42 min/mile
Best Mile: Mile 7 with 10:50 average pace
Worst Mile: Mile 12 with a 14:30 average pace

Post-Race Party
I didn't stick around per the usual so I can't tell you too much. My daughter did visit the wine garden and had a drink, but by the time I rolled back in she was pretty bored and ready to go. I touched base with my co-workers Brian (his first) and Jennifer (her second) and they both had 2:30 or less finishes! Jennifer said she won't do another half for a long time, and Brian said he is done with his running career for forever! I don't really believe that, but this very may well be his only half as he says he prefers the 10k and 5k distances much more and did deal with a lot of knee issues during training. The race did have an awards presentation that I'm sure was awesome.

What I Wore
Skirt Sports Visor in Streak
Skirt Sports 261 Kathrine Tank in Mantra
Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in Tantrum
Saucony Bounce Trouncer Bra
Can't remember which socks I wore
Mizuno Wave Rider 17's
Nathan Intensity Hydration Vest

All the things I wore were great...I did have some chafing on my arm from the vest, but it was fairly minimal.

Parting Thoughts 
I guess the main thing to ask myself is if I would do this race again. Mayyyyybeeeee...it would have to be pretty compelling circumstances for me to do it again. It was easy for me to get to, the location was pretty good, but the course was challenging. If someone was LOOKING for a challenging half, this would be a great one for them as it definitely delivered there. But the scenic route did help offset some of the things I would have been more peeved about like the crummy medal, the wine glass snafu, and the extra added-in distance. Plus, it's just mean to make people run PAST the finish line after running 13+ miles. Just so mean. LOL It's at a great time of year though although it can still be quite warm...we just got lucky that it was perfect running weather this time around. If it had been hot, I would not be as positive about my experience. As far as race organization goes, it was pretty smooth and I don't have any major complaints. I think there is room for improvement, but really there always is. So even though I may not LOOK for this race again next year, if one of my run friends asked me to run it with them I probably would.

And there you have it! Half Marathon #6 is in the books...

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