race reports running

Pacific Coast Running Festival

Location: Long Beach, Washington
Distance: 5k
Chip(?) Time: 37:32
Garmin Time: 37:08
Pace: 12:05/mi or 11:30/mi

The medal’s a little busy, but it’s still pretty cool.

Well, if you were looking for a race report where it “all went wrong,” this is the one. Let’s just dig in shall we?


Since this was my first real “getaway” race, I had to get all my ducks in a row before I left. I failed at this in a fun way that I’ll explain in a bit. I also had to make sure my cat, Jowers, had enough food for when I was gone. I was a little worried about leaving her but I’m back now and of course she’s fine. It’s almost like nothing changed. I did forget to fill her water dish when I left so she was out of water when I got back, which I am disappointed in myself about.

This race is part of the Pacific Coast Running Festival, which hosts a lot of runs including a “sand marathon,” which is apparently the longest sand marathon in the U.S. and maybe the world? I don’t know. It’s along the coast of Long Beach, which has at least 20 miles of unbroken coastline. There’s gotta be longer coastlines in California though, right? Whatever.

I chose to drive in on Saturday afternoon and leave Sunday morning. I got a hotel room which was WAY too big; I wanted to splurge since it was my birthday weekend, and ended up getting the “family suite,” which was basically a single story room with two beds and a whole kitchen and everything. ENTIRELY too much for me. If anything it made me feel super self-conscious about being there on my own. The city was full of tourists, which were mostly big families, and I felt like the only singular people I saw were locals. I don’t mind getting away on my own for trips and such, but there was something about this trip that made me feel like it would have been better experienced with a significant other.

Also, I splurged on this hotel room which looked nice from a distance but the closer you got, the shittier everything was. Just little aesthetic details, mostly, like the place got built or renovated quick. There was also a door in the kitchen that was locked from the other side, which was unnerving. I suspect it was just full of cleaning supplies, or murdering supplies. Or both!

I walked around and bought stuff, like you do. Kitschy souvenirs and such.

You laugh but I’ve always wanted a Swiss army knife. This one has my name on it!

One crucial thing I forgot to do all Saturday was take in some amount of caffeine. Yeah, I’m not one of those people who is a slave to coffee, but I do have a cup every morning, and not having a cup on Saturday coupled with a long day of driving and looking at stuff gave me a nasty headache while I slept. Awesome!

Swag & Atmosphere

(I didn’t get any photos of the event itself because I didn’t have my phone with me because … of reasons I will explain in the next segment.)

I’m lumping these together because there wasn’t a lot of swag and there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere. T-shirt, sure, and a couple of little things, SmarTea and some hydrating mix powders. Another issue of Vancouver Family Magazine, taunting me for my lack of children.

The morning of was kind of … lacking, in a way. People just kind of showed up, 20 minutes before the gun went off. It was very casual, which is nice! I prefer casual to the juggernaut of stuff like the Shamrock Run. The 10/5k was the last race event though so the event crew was probably ready to wrap it up. Not a lot of 5k runners, just 83. The 10k had 61, the half had 88, and the Sunset Sand 5k (a 5k ran on the beach) had 84. The results site doesn’t have anything for the marathon or any of the bike rides, I guess they didn’t time those? Anyway, doesn’t seem like a lot of people overall, and some of those people probably signed up for more than one event because you get a special “beast” medal if you do.

I will say that they had a “kids dash” right before the 5/10k time and it was so dang cute watching the little kids run to the finish line. One of the last kids (maybe the last) was running as we were setting up at the start line, and a bunch of people made a little path with their arms tented above for her as she passed the finish. It was great.

The Race

Alright so let’s talk about everything that went wrong first.

First: Slept terribly.

Hotel was cool but not that cool and the only AC was a standing fan because it’s the beach and it never gets regularly hot enough for AC. I had a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Also, someone who had rented the room before me set the clock alarm for 4:09am. So I was rudely awoken by that. Just bad sleep all around.

I took ibuprofen the morning of (side note: I am so thankful to remember to take ibuprofen with me) and it subsided pretty much before the race began, but it still sucked.

Second: Forgot my running shorts.

This one makes me so mad. I triple checked all of the gear I was going to take with me the morning of and completely forgot about my running shorts. So I had to run in the shorts I drove in on, which are very definitely not made for running. I clearly looked like “guy who forgot running shorts” too, everyone else was wearing suitable kit but I looked like a dunce. This is like if you were a ballet dancer and forgot your ballet shoes for your opening night of … Ballet Show. I can’t think of a popular ballet right now. Swan Lake? I think Swan Lake.

Third: I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Okay so the first half of this 5k I was doing really well. I was able to fully run the first half and my pace was even pretty good: my average for mile 1 was 10:44. The race itself was a kind of grueling I can only explain as a warm morning coupled with sand particulates in the air. My mouth felt like the Sahara in more ways than one. This all coupled with my lack of quality sleep and just the whole thing in general made me do a very stupid thing.

So to preface this I need to explain: there is a boardwalk next to the big arch that is the entrance to the beach. It is a big, obvious boardwalk and goes on for some time. It is a walk, made of boards.

Okay so after running on the road path for around 2.5 miles, we are dropped off onto a little section of the street. There is a sign with a left arrow for half marathon runners and a right arrow for 10/5k runners. There is also a man there. The man says, “10k and 5k runners use the boardwalk!” He says this very clearly. However, my brain sees an arrow pointing right and, rather than heading toward the obvious boardwalk, I turn right and start walking up the street. My brain is like, “The boardwalk must be up that way.” I run this for like, well, for as long as the picture above before I’m like, Where is everyone? and then turn around and see all the people I lapped, now lapping me. So I hustle back, wasting precious time and, more importantly, running faster to get there, which I think hurt me in the long run.

Speaking of hurting me…

Fourth: I fuckin’ hurt myself dude.

Everyone sprints towards the finish line and I am no exception. The boardwalk declines a bit to the road and I pick up the pace, literally: my pace goes from about 11:00/mi to under 7. Pretty cool, and Garmin is like “Yeah this is the good stuff” but then as I am running to the finish I feel a sudden pain in my right achilles tendon. Yep, the one that’s been bothering me. I manage to run to the finish but barely, and I’m hobbling for the last few steps.

This felt worse than my usual tendon hurt and will probably lay me up for the next week to heal. I’d rather abandon my Coach Jeff training for a week or two than get seriously injured. Thankfully the pain subsided after I stopped running, so it’s likely not something serious but … it hurts, and I want it to stop.

Also, I’m not 100% on the chip time on this race. The the timing results website says my gun time was 37:32. It doesn’t mention my chip time at all. (Gun time is the start of the race from the moment the guy says “Go,” basically [or when the starter pistol goes off {they get it josh} okay sorry].) Garmin, meanwhile, says my time, which I started as I crossed the start, was 37:08, and I would argue the difference in time as the amount of time it took me to get to the start line from the back of the pack. But our bibs had chip tags on them, so I’m not sure what that’s about.

I checked the other runners and they all have gun times, and I even checked the race timer’s website, which has live results for the half marathon and shows gun time and chip times as the same. I feel like I was shorted some seconds there, and I would complain about GPS but it was literally a clear day at the beach, one of the most open spots around. Obviously GPS isn’t 100% accurate but still, I feel like something is off.


After the race I got to the hotel, showered, got my stuff, and got the hell out of dodge. I didn’t even use my snack or beer ticket. Partially I was worried about Jowers, but moreover I was just annoyed with all the mishaps coupled me just being there on my own, feeling alone among all of these couples and families and whatnot. Makes me feel like I’m an alien or something.

I’m not sure I’ll do this again next year alone.

The drive home was lovely, especially the early bit to Astoria, with the sun glinting off the Columbia River. Also the Megler Bridge is such a cool bridge. I ate a homemade Moon Pie from a candy shop while I drove. It was … too much. Good, but too much. Then when I got home I quickly went to Burgerville for some incredibly disappointing chicken tenders. I just wanted some quick protein! The whole meal was kind of disappointing–they have deep fried asparagus which was kind of gross. Just give me regular asparagus please.

Anyway now I’m here typing this and so thankful that my next race isn’t for three whole weeks and it’s just a fun run.

Until next time…


parkrun #13

No photos because I didn’t bring my phone with me.

Nice warm and sunny morning with a TON of runners, 67, which I think is a new record for Rock Creek Trail. I intentionally ran this one slow, to try and keep my heart rate in Zone 3. My new Forerunner 265, aside from being very cool and shiny, has a Load Focus feature which was telling me that I wasn’t getting enough Low Aerobic runs in, so I focused on that. Did it help? Probably, yeah, in the long run, but at the time I just felt like I was running really slow. I will say, when I finished I felt like I could keep going, which is a good sign. Lots of walking and running mixes.

I’m not sure that I will keep doing weekly logs of parkruns. It feels weird to do it unless I’m getting a PR or a milestone. We’ll see!