OC Half Marathon Race Recap

This year’s Orange County Half Marathon Race Recap (the race is officially the OC Marathon). I’ve run the Full Marathon and Half Marathon several times, so I know the course and pre-race logistics pretty well. It’s also my marathon PR race (3:36:25). Which automatically makes it one of my favorite races. So, I’d hate to give it a negative review, but there were a few things about this year’s run that I’ll share in the form of constructive feedback.

First, I shared a funny fail I had at a previous race expo on Instagram –> follow @RunEatRepeat for that and more

After the race expo I ran a few errands. The best part about running a half marathon (as opposed to the full distance) is you can do whatever you usually do the day before and after the race. Or at least that’s the case for me.

 What I did before OC Half Marathon Race Recap RunEatRepeat.com

I woke up before my alarm and decided to just get up.

OC Marathon Half Marathon before the race coffee

What I wore to the OC Half Marathon

I laid out my #FlatRunner the night before. This is one of the best race day hacks. I’ll link to everything I wore to the race below the pic.

What I wore to OC Half Marathon Race Recap

What I wore to the OC Half Marathon (Clockwise from top middle):

Okay… back to the race!

The OC Half Marathon is a point to point course. Runners can either park at the Finish Line, which is at the Orange County Fair grounds – or – park at the Start Line, which is near Fashion Island. There are shuttles from the Finish Line to the Start if you parked there BEFORE the race. And there are shuttles to the Start from the Finish Line AFTER the race.

I’ve always parked at the start and taken a shuttle back after the race. There are a lot of big office buildings around the start area and I’ve easily found parking in one of the lots every year – EXCEPT THIS YEAR.

I was following the cars going towards the race and ended up on a street that was runner drop off only (no parking). There were not signs that said “Runner Drop Off” along the way leading up to this area. So, by the time I saw a small, cardboard “Runner Drop Off” sign – I was already stuck. After that it just pushed me out away from the start line.

There were NOT enough signs and arrows that said “Race Parking” and indicated which direction to go. Truthfully, I saw ZERO signs that said “Race Parking”. I’m sure they existed, but if anyone happened to follow the traffic to the drop-off area on accident (like myself), there was NO way to know how to get to the parking area. There was some info in the race packet – but I can’t read a newspaper and drive safely so it was impossible for me to reference.

OC Half Marathon Race start line parking

Eventually, I followed a few other lost souls into a parking structure. It wasn’t the official race parking, but I saw a bunch of other runners doing this and didn’t know what else to do… so I went for it and prayed for the best. *s I’m writing this I feel the muscles on left shoulder aching because I’m reliving how STRESSED I felt.*

This could’ve been 1000% my mistake, but:

a.) There were a lot of runners driving into structures that said “No Event Parking” – I saw a few and started to follow them, but got scared by the sign and turned around.

b.) Many times while going to a race you have the directions, but ultimately end up following signs and police directing traffic – which is what I thought I was doing.

c.) There should have been plenty of BIG, LIT signs indicating Runner Drop-Off and Race Parking at the start of this medium sized marathon. Some runners are driving by themselves and shouldn’t be looking at their phones or papers to figure out where to go in heavy traffic.

(Yeah, I’m saying it wasn’t my mistake.)

This is a pic of the directions in the race information magazine. Again, I didn’t see any parking signs or attendants.

OC Half Marathon Race start line parking

Okay… back to the race!

The OC Marathon and Half Marathon are a point to point course. This means the start and the finish are at different locations. The race starts in Newport Beach, near Fashion Island (a fancy shopping center) and ends in Costa Mesa new the Orange County Fair grounds (could be considered an un-fancy shopping place?).

Almost 14,000 runners were expected to run the half or full marathon Sunday, so it’s a nice sized race. Since it took me so long to find parking I was still in line for the porta potties when the race started. No big, it happens.

But, that did impact my race because I ran into a few friends before mile 1 and they do Run/Walk intervals. So, I decided to chat with them for a few minutes since I don’t get to see them that often. I was thinking about trying to catch my friend Elise who started ahead of me so I said my goodbyes to the group.

OC Half Marathon Race Start Line recap

Then, I ran into Diana and Sandy and I was so happy to see them – I decided to run with them. Sandy had to miss the last race we were both running due to a family emergency, so I was extra happy to see her. At that point I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch Elise anyways. We ran at a good, but conversational pace for half the race until Diana had to make a pit stop and we lost each other around mile 7 or 8. Basically, I ran the first half of the race at an easy pace and then decided to try and pick it up a bit in the second half since I didn’t have anyone to talk to.

The course has two fairly big hills. The first was no problemo, but the second one was rough.

OC Half Marathon 2023 Finish Time: 1:57:30 (8:58 pace)

Not great, but I wasn’t running for time on this one. After the race Elise found me in the gear check line and we shuttled back to the start together.

OC Half Marathon Race Recap Sparkle Athletic

Overall thoughts on the OC Half Marathon…

What I Loved about the OC Half Marathon
  • The race expo is well organized, easy to find and navigate. There are a lot of vendors.
  • The race tee is great material and has a sleek design. It’s something runners would actually wear to run.
  • There were a lot of porta potties at the start. The lines were RIDIC, but that’s just because there were so many runners doing the half distance.
  • The shuttles from the Finish Line back to the start are easy to find and quick.
What I did NOT LOVE about the OC Half Marathon
  • The Starting Line parking was chaos. There should have been more signs and people directing traffic. (If they don’t want people to park near the start they shouldn’t offer shuttles back to this area.)
  • Not enough electrolytes on course. I only saw 3 aid stations with electrolytes. The other ones only seemed to have water. *I could be wrong about this and may have ran past stations that had electrolytes, but weren’t saying it. I ran past a few aid stations that looked like there was only water in the cups AND the volunteers were saying “Water!”. I didn’t bring any fuel to the race and was just going to use what was on the course. There was 1 place where they were giving out Chargel packets, but I skipped it because the last time they had those at a race – I couldn’t open it. (I think my hands might’ve been too cold?! But maybe they just don’t work while I’m running.) The point is I needed more electrolytes to supplement solid fuel.

OC Half Marathon Race Recap Sparkle Athletic

Final Thoughts:

I’m happy that I got to run with friends. I miss that. Lately, when I’m at a race that a friend is running too, I’d rather run at whatever pace my buddy wants so we can chat. It makes the miles go by fast and it makes the race more fun. But, that might not be the best way to get faster again.

So, I think I need to plan more long runs with friends so I get that interaction in training and can concentrate on increasing my effort during races. (This doesn’t include Disney races, which are 1000% for fun and friendship always and forever.)

OC Marathon Medal Monday #medalmonday

I can’t plan what I’m going to eat after a race because I don’t know what I’ll be craving. All I know is – I must have whatever the craving is or I’ll feel hungry for days. Today I needed a HUGE pile of onion rings. We went to one of those hole-in-the-wall hamburger places near my parents’ house and after this I felt like all was right in the world. The end.

OC Marathon Medal Monday #medalmonday

Did you run a race this weekend? Do a long run?? Sleep for a long time??? Whatever you did – I hope you crushed it!

Next… Follow @RunEatRepeat on Instagram for more



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