Races / Running

One Month Away: Half Moon Bay (CA) Half Marathon!

It’s countdown time!   Exactly one (calendar) month from today, I will be running my first real destination race.   And what a destination — gorgeous Half Moon Bay, California.  To make this “first destination race” experience even sweeter, the HMB Half Marathon will be my first race as a new member of the Oiselle Volée Team.  Needless to say, I’m pretty excited.


The Half Moon Bay International Marathon is in its third year, offering runners their choice of 3 distances:  a full 26.2 miles, a 13.1 option (that’s where I’ll be) or a free, family-friendly 5K.   Registration is still open if you are interested in signing up!

Half Moon Bay

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor, stating “[a] mere 45-minute drive from San Francisco lies Half Moon Bay, an idyllic enclave and truly the perfect place to spend some time away from the big city.”   Sounds good to me!

The full and half courses both look absolutely incredible.  From the HMB website:

The Full Marathon’s unique course features approximately 70% paved bike trails and 30% packed-dirt trails, and offers amazing views from bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at various locations. ….New in 2013, the Half Marathon course has been re-designed to eliminate the packed dirt trails and is 100% paved streets or bike trails.

The course is mostly flat with every little elevation change until mile 19 of the course (see chart below) and accordingly offers opportunities for fast times. Leave your climbing legs for the last few miles, as you run up the “Mavericks Hill”!  The course is fully USATF certified and will serve as a Boston qualifier.

More course details here, including an elevation map.

Another exciting feature this year:   Bart Yasso, Runner’s World’s “Chief Running Officer” is the special guest athlete for 2013, and will speak at the packet pickup on Sept. 28, host a pre-race run on the course and even greet runners as they come in to the finish.  Bart’s obviously been there/done that, having run marathons on all seven continents.  His marathons literally total in the hundreds.   Kind of a big deal.   Nonetheless, he is incredibly engaged with the running community, being open to veterans and newbies like me alike.  Earlier this month, I tweeted about HMB’s Yasso announcement and was delighted to see that he acknowledged a number of HMB runners — including me! — to say he was looking forward to the event.

Twitter — connecting people in 140 characters or less since 2006.

While I am generally a competitive person (if not a competitive runner yet, lol), this isn’t my goal race for fall 2013.   I am really fortunate that the timing worked out at all for me; my awesome Hubs is letting me tag along with him and some co-workers for a work conference held in San Francisco every year in September.   Once I found out the dates of the conference, I searched around online for a race in the area the weekend before or the weekend after it (looking to maximize the not-cheap cross-country plane ticket as best I could).  When I saw the pics of Half Moon Bay and found out about the size and course, I knew I found my kickoff race.

My plan for the HMB Half is to treat it like my long training run of the weekend with some pacing to be dictated by Coach based on where I am running a month from now, take in the ocean breezes and foggy morning air, enjoy the beautiful scenery and snap some awesome Pacific coastline pictures for you to enjoy here on the blog.  Oh yeah — and stay injury free; gotta watch my footwork on the bike trails for sure.   I am a klutz when it comes to ankle rolls and tripping over my own feet.  

Not knowing much about the race itself, I searched out some race reviews and found some good insight into HMB from the past two years.  I read a GREAT post from the perspective of a HMB race volunteer here.  Even if you aren’t running HMB this year, these powerful words offer a different take than you might read in a race review as to his impressions of the runners as they came through the aid stations.   Well done!

I also found some great reviews by Scott Dunlap of A Trail Runner’s Blog (he did the full HMB in 2011; took some great on-course photos) and then again in 2012.  Scott’s experience as a speedy marathoner will be a lot different than my middle-of-the-pack half race, but he gave me a good idea of what race day is like and insight into the course and terrain.

By far the most comical of the HMB reviews I found came courtesy of Liz at Run, Fat Chick! Run!   She blew her goal out of the water and PR’d in the 2012 HMB Half; I hope I enjoy the course as much as she did.

I’m excited for the HMB Half because it also kicks off the fall racing season for me, which — fingers crossed to stay healthy and injury free — should be a great learning experience for me, with significant improvements.   I have been putting together my thoughts for a “fall 2013 preview post” that I hope to have finished and up on the blog soon; it will give you a better idea of where the HMB Half fits into my overall plan (i.e., the other races I have signed up for and my training efforts under the watchful and knowledgeable eyes of Coach Mark Hadley).   While I have been keeping up with my training plan (the accountability and wisdom of coaches works wonders — even when they are coaching from a distance), my blogging has frankly taken a back seat to work and life lately.   I intend to do better at finding this balance!

What’s your first race of the fall 2013 season?

Ever been to the San Francisco area?   Half Moon Bay?

Any “can’t miss” spots to eat, drink or be merry you’d care to pass along for our trip?   Hubs and I have our favorites in the Bay Area, but we love trying new spots.

6 thoughts on “One Month Away: Half Moon Bay (CA) Half Marathon!

    • Excellent! Thank you for the recommendation; will be my first time to visit HMB (just drove through before), so I didn’t know the hotspots to try – and from the content of your blog, I can tell you’ve got great taste 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by my blog as well. Love yours!

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