Several months ago, before we finalized plans to relocate to California, we registered to run the O.C. Marathon on May 5. It served as two things: training motivation during a snowy and cold Midwest winter and a moving deadline.
To be honest, consistent training was tough: the weather was awful, we lived four hours apart and neither of us enjoys treadmill runs over 3-ish miles. That said, we hit as many weekday runs as we could separately and long runs together on weekends knowing once we moved we would be able to train in gorgeous weather for the three weeks leading up to the race.
Before we knew it, race weekend was here – so exciting! Costa Mesa is a quick hour-long drive up the 5 for us, so we headed up mid-morning on Saturday with plans to pick up our race packets and spend some time at the fitness expo. Unfortunately, something sharp in the carpool lane on the 405 caused a bit of a delay.
<To put this into context, Greg went to battle with a rogue family of raccoons checking out the trash can at his house two days before we ran the Chicago Marathon last October, so fun surprises like these may just be the pre-race norm for us now.>
A new wheel and tire (and fours hours) later, we made it to the fitness expo at the OC Fair and Event Center. Packet pickup was quick and then we walked the exhibitor area for a while.
After the expo we checked into our hotel and found a great local Italian restaurant with outdoor seating for our pre-race dinner. Ecco Pizzeria and Bar is tucked inside a shopping/dining area called The Camp in Costa Mesa.
We had the bruschetta special with spicy bacon marmalade, gorgonzola and arugula – a unique combination, but so delicious! We also split the shrimp wood fired pizza with basil pesto, sundried tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella, fontina, and italian parsley. A couple of beverages and the butterscotch budino for dessert (dessert is a must-have in our world), and we were carb loaded for 26.2!
A 5:30 a.m. start time meant waking up at 3:30 to be ready for our shuttle to the start line at 4:30. It’s definitely the earliest we’ve begun a race, but we agreed we loved starting in the dark and watching the sun come up.
The race started at Fashion Island and the first seven or so miles were in Newport Beach along the ocean and inlets lined with beautiful homes, providing a lot of nice scenery to distract the runners. After that the course transitioned into more residential areas and along main roads in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, ending at the OC Fair and Event Center.
Overall, we enjoyed the race! The weather was perfect, and there were plenty of hills to keep us guessing. Free massages by Massage Envy were a perfect end to our first race experience in Southern California.