The Surf City 10 Miler Race in Huntington Beach, CA is a fun event for runners looking for a scenic course along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). With a variety of race distances to choose from, including a 10 mile, 10K and 5K race, it’s an event aimed at runners of all levels. In this race recap, we’ll delve into the details of my experience on this scenic ride that provided ocean views and a refreshing breeze with friends…
- Location: Huntington Beach, California
- Race distances: 10 miles, 10 km, 5 km
- Course: A flat 5-mile round trip route along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)
- Departure point: near Huntington Beach Pier
- Event usually scheduled in September.
On race day, the weather in Huntington Beach was cloudy with a touch of humidity in the air. While the sun may have been shy, the ocean breeze kept things comfortable and refreshing for the runners taking on the Surf City 10 Miler. But… if you’re not cold before the start of the race, it will probably be hot. So in the end we were drenched in sweat.
Background: I signed up for this race because Kelly from Sparkle Athletic told me to and I had no good reason to say no. Also, I’m trying to make more friends, so this is me trying…
Seriously, Kelly and Elise from Sparkle Athletic have always been super sweet and welcoming to me at Run Disney races for a long time. We’ve been hanging out a lot more recently and we’re officially good friends. This is important with running buddies because you end up telling them random embarrassing stories while you run. Plus, they’re fun!
The starting line and race strategy:
While waiting in line for the exit, I found myself in good company, chatting with my friend Elise. Unlike some races where I set a specific time goal, this time I was content to enjoy the race with a friend and take it easy. Elise, on the other hand, had a plan in mind: she was aiming for an 8:30 to 9 minute mile pace.
I was happy to run with it until “8:30 to 9 minutes” became “100% 8:30 pace or nothing.” She should have known that she was going to advance to the faster end of that range! (Never trust a fast-running buddy who says he’ll take it easy in a race.)
RUN with a PACE GROUP?
Meeting with the Pace group at 8:30:
As the race began near the iconic pier, Elise and I found ourselves running alongside the 8:30 pace group. They were friendly and before we knew it, they assumed we were aiming for that pace too. While part of me felt like this pace was a little faster than my comfort zone, I also knew I had the fitness to maintain an 8:30 mile pace for the entire 10 miles. It was just a matter of overcoming my mental obstacles.
The Mental Battle in a race:
Running with a pace group can be both motivating and challenging. On the one hand, it’s inspiring to have a group that pushes you forward. On the other hand, you become very aware of your pace and that can sometimes be a mental obstacle. Normally I like to disconnect and let the kilometers pass. However, that day I was constantly thinking about that 8:30 pace, which made it feel harder.
Lately I’ve been running for effort level over pace. I’m not used to talking or thinking about pacing while running. On speed work days I think about the effort level and in races I usually try to maintain a good effort pace. But I felt like my effort level in the first few miles of the race was higher than I could sustain to the finish line.
Pace group leaders are there to run at a set pace, maintain that pace throughout the race, make any necessary adjustments to finish in that goal time, and provide updates to the runners in their group. Basically, your job is to think and talk about the pace we’re going. I 1000% appreciate the pace group leaders because it is NOT easy and the runners really count on them. The 8:30 pace group leaders were very good at keeping the pace, giving us updates, and were fun to talk to. My mental obstacles were entirely because I doubted I could maintain that pace.
I wanted to back off, but I knew I could maintain that pace based on my current fitness level. So I let myself run a few steps behind the group. This way I didn’t feel pressured to stay with them if I really needed to slow down. But it also wouldn’t allow me to back out before I really needed to.
The initial pressure finally disappeared and I became warm and comfortable. In the last two kilometers something interesting happened: I finally accepted that I was perfectly capable of maintaining that pace. It didn’t feel intimidating anymore and I even tried a little harder towards the end. In the end, I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:22:39, achieving a pace of 8:22 per mile, a result I was proud of!
In the end I wasn’t so tired or exhausted. I didn’t even have to give 100% to maintain that pace. I just needed to try a little harder than I had planned. At first I felt uncomfortable and my mind was telling me to slow down. But I did it. And it wasn’t that difficult. Self-doubt would have hurt me for trying my best, but I didn’t listen.
The Surf City 10 Miler race turned out to be a beautiful but challenging experience along the scenic PCH. While running with a pace group brought its own set of mental challenges, it ultimately pushed me to hit a pace I was initially unsure of. The cloudy skies and ocean breezes added charm to this race, making it a memorable event for runners of all levels.
Whether you’re an experienced runner looking to set a new personal best or a beginner looking for a scenic course, Surf City 10 Miler offers a fantastic race day experience. I had a great time in this race and am looking forward to new challenges on the horizon. Until next time, happy racing! #SurfCity10Miler #RaceRecap #RunningGoals
Ben and Diego came out to support. After the race we went to Mama’s on 39th Street, a nice lunch spot in Huntington Beach. They are dog friendly and we got a table on the patio pretty quickly (I think we beat the crowd). And it was a delicious victory lap to celebrate a 10-mile race completed.
In running gear news…I need a new camera that sends text messages (aka…a phone). My phone had the fanciest cameras on the market when I bought it and now I can’t focus to take a clear photo. This has been going on for months and I’ve only been taking video and capturing images if I need a photo. I’m thinking about moving from Android to iPhone. What do you think about this?
WHAT I WORE FOR THE 10 MILE RACE:
Overall, I’m happy I ran the race because I had some quality time with my Sparkle Skirt teammates. And I’m so glad I kept the 8:30 pace group because I physically could do it and it was simply my mindset that was hurting my ability to reach my full potential.