Let me just start off with: This was the best weekend ever! Seriously though, I had such a great time. I was elated from the moment we got on the ferry at Balboa Island, Newport Beach Harbor. On this trip was Nic, his mom Kathy, her friends: Robin, Sharon and Corny (Corinne), and of course me. Kathy, Corny and I were the only ones racing.
The week leading up to this race, I was not excited. Running hasn’t been my jam lately because of injuries and body fatigue, which is why I decided to step back from La Jolla Half Marathon training. My running has been at low mileage while I focus on yoga and fueling my body with the proper nutrition. I am still running, just not as much. I’m pretty confident when it comes to races. I love racing. I am good at racing. I like racing more than I like running. But, with anything you have to practice to perform.
I pretty much made up every excuse in the book not to run much before this race and I was getting to the point where I just wanted to go to Catalina Island and enjoy myself and not race anymore. Straight up I wanted out of running. I didn’t run Monday. I didn’t run Tuesday. I barely made it through 4 miles Wednesday. I didn’t run Thursday and we left Friday morning at 7:15 to catch the ferry. Nic and I ran 3 miles once we got to Catalina on Friday. I did a womping 7 miles going into a 6.2 mile race. My nerves were slightly uneasy, but my approach to life lately is to ENJOY myself no matter the outcome. What’s life if you can’t enjoy it?
I don’t need to prejudge myself. I do these runs because I have fun. I take these trips because I love to have fun. Each run is a new experience no matter what I did going into it. Yes you should practice as to not injure yourself, but hey I’m running for life not for time. At first I was going to wear headphones and bring my phone to take pictures because it was a beautiful course, but decided against it right before the start.
About Catalina Island
Catalina Island is jammed with hills. When Nic and I ran Friday I’m pretty sure we went uphill the majority of the time. Catalina Island is a beautiful, quaint island. It has a cute downtown area filled with restaurants, shops, souvenir stores, a museum, a casino, golfing, grocery markets, a beach, snorkeling and diving, and resorts and spas. The rest of the island is open, preserved land that is great for hiking and camping. It’s basically the best mini vacation spot you can find close to Southern California.
The majority of Catalina real estate is apartments and vacation rentals and of course you have some nice mansions, including the Wrigley Mansion (as in Wrigley Gum). We stayed in a vacation rental in walking distance of everything. Walking through downtown makes you feel like you’re on a movie set in Universal Studios. The buildings are bursting with color and tucked into the mountainside. Each shop, bar or restaurant has it’s own flair and is ran by local families. Everyone gets around on foot, golf carts, scooters or smart car. It’s quite an intriguing, quirky town.
Friday we pretty much just hung out. Nic and I walked around a little bit because we both hadn’t been there since we were kids. Then, we went back for dinner. We made most of our food and brought our own celebration drinks, which saved us a ton of money. I definitely recommend doing that if you’re going to take a trip and have access to a kitchen. Knowing I had to get up relatively early, I went to bed around 9 pm. To make sure I was properly hydrated with the best I put my Replenish electrolyte powder in my water bottle and drank it before I went to bed. I woke feeling the most energized I have ever and my body felt great!
Catalina Island Race Day
Saturday morning I woke at 6:50 am to get in a decent warm up before the race. Nic ran with me, which was great because I almost didn’t warm up – that would have been incredibly stupid because I probably wouldn’t have done that well or pull a hammy. We ran 3 miles and managed to find a flat out and back road, so that was nice. After warming up, I started feeling much better because everyone was so excited. I have said this sooooo many times before, but races get me pumped. When I’m around all the people at the start line and they’re pumped, I’m pumped. We walked down to the start area about 15 minutes before Corny’s 5k went off at 8:15 am. The Catalina Island 10k went off at 8:20.
This race was really low key. There were probably only 150 people in the 10k and about the same for the 5k. I have no idea how many people were in the marathon. Yes, there was a marathon. I think they run the whole island. Crazy people if you ask me. Anyhow I decided to not take my phone because I’m competitive regardless of what shape I’m in, so I wanted to do by best. Nic also encouraged me to do that. He knows me all too well.
The 10k race was the 5k loop twice. We started at middle harbor, ran up a street, made a u-turn and came back down. Then, we made a left turn up a massive hill through the golf country club area. This climbed about a mile and then we made a right into the third (and last) mile which was all downhill – talk about awesome. That downhill did lead into a 1/4 mile uphill, which went straight into loop 2 and also turned left into the finish.
At the start of races, I tend to size people up. I knew this races was small, so Kathy and I waited at the front of the start line. Like with Valentine’s Day 5K, it’s kind of fun being at the front because it gives you that extra boost of confidence. We took some pictures and just had fun until the gun went off. Kathy and I got in our runner’s pose to start off with a bang. Nic always makes fun of me every time for my runner’s pose. I guess it’s just a running thing?
So my goal for this was to run about 7 minute pace and drop it below that if I was feeling good. The gun went off and I zoomed ahead. There were about three guys in front me, both young and old. I just settled right into my goal pace and to my surpise very soon I was leading this race. I was expecting there to be a couple of people with me.
Since the 5k race went off right before us, I was quickly passing runners up. It was nice having people around me constantly because it made it so fun. My first mile I was pretty concentrated on my breathing rhythm and how my legs felt. I felt pretty good all things considered. When I made the turn up the hill, I focused on driving my arms. I expected to feel pain, but I felt alright. I was like “Ohkay, this isn’t bad, I got this.” There were so many types of people in these races: young people, kids, parents, bridal parties and older people. It makes so happy to see all the people that running brings together.
I was so excited that every time I passed someone I said, “Good job!” Literally everyone. This little girl was so adorable. She saw me coming so she began to speed up on the uphill. I will admit she was a lot harder to catch than I thought she would be. When we were running next to each other, I told her good job. She looked up at me so excited with a big smile on her face and responded, “Thank you!” My heart literally lit up. I continued up the hill to the downhill telling everyone good job in the process. For the downhill, I just went as fast as I could without falling over. I think someone yelled at me, “Don’t fall forward!” I wanted to make up for my up hill paces. I went from 8:20 min/mile pace uphill to 5:50 min/mile pace downhill.
As I finished the first 5k, I could feel it. The pain was settling in. The moment when you can feel the lactic acid building and your body wants to go into save-itself-mode and your mind has to decide whether or not it’s going to give up or give it all you got. Yeah that moment. Not gonna lie, for a second there I thought I went out to fast. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have just cruised this race.
But you know how it goes, that battle in your head where you won’t let yourself give up because 1. you’re above that shit and 2. there’s a guy coming up on your shoulder and you are not about to lose your lead.
Yes, this guy, who I believe ran in board shorts came up on my shoulder. He was average height, very fit and extremely tan. He had a bandanna on with black and red running sunglasses. He looked pretty intense. When he got right next to me. I did what I had been doing the whole race. I told him, “Good job.” This time with a little bit more breath in my words.
Annnnnddd this is why I love running. He responded with, “good job, we got this” and then proceeded to give me a fist bump. I got a FIST BUMP in the middle of a race. I was stoked. We ran together for the whole fourth mile and then going up the hill he got a little ahead of me, but then I caught him and we ran up the hill a little together. As we were reaching the top I powered ahead. I knew the downhill was coming and I was going to bomb down it into the finish. I got back in lead on the downhill; ran passed Kathy’s friend Robin and said hi! Kept going and rounded the corner to get to the finish… And then I got passed.
Yes, I got passed. John Taylor passed me. Once the ground leveled out I didn’t kick into the finish. I let up after the downhill and well John, he killed it. He sped pass me to beat me by 1 second. Lesson learned: do not think you have it in the bag because you probably don’t. I felt like Molly Huddle in the World Champion 10k on the track where Emily Infeld took the win because Molly let up in the shadow of the finish. Devastation. At least I didn’t have as much on the line.
it’s all good though because that race when waaaaay better than I had anticipated and honestly I am stoked I had him to run the last three miles with because I don’t think I could have done that alone. I don’t think I would have kept pushing myself the way I did without him there. Thank god for that fist bump. 🙂 My overall time ended up being 39:16, but my Garmin had the course slightly off by a 1/4 mile. I’m more proud of my splits being so consistent to be honest: 6:40, 7:10, 6:14, 6:40, 7:20, 6:16. How about that!
After I finished I grabbed a shirt to put over my racing tank and ran backward to find Kathy, so I could run in with her. That is what running is all about. Togetherness.
I met so many wonderful people that weekend. I have never made so many new friends in 24 hours ever. I had these lovely people come up to me and tell me I was the happiest looking runner they’ve ever seen in a race. I was slightly stunned at the compliment. I really looked that happy? When I thought back on it, I totally was. I was totally digging that race. So there you go Joan Rivers, there are people who look happy when they run 😉
Of course there was a beer garden and we definitely took advantage of that. But it wasn’t the beer that I was excited for it was the dozens of conversations I had with various people: young people, old people, couples and my 5 second conversation with Jerry Ferrara from Entourage. Ha!
These are the kind of races I love. The ones that bring people from different backgrounds together because they just happen to have one common interest or goal. Second lesson learned: Talk to everyone and anyone. People are interesting and they are genuine. You never know who you’re going to meet.
Congrats to the lady who did a marathon before her 40th. Congrats to John Taylor for kicking my butt. Congrats to the little kids who are running 5k’s instead of the kid’s 1-mile. Congrats to the couple who ran a road race even though they enjoy trail running. Congrats to the girl who still ran the race even though her boyfriend couldn’t. Congrats to the crew who ran the marathon together and the one who ran the whole thing in a tutu. Congrats to the guy who made his own sandals and ran a marathon in them.
Until next time Catalina….
Here are some pics with some of my new running buddies!