Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Ventura Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. All opinions are my own. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and/or check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
I was SO excited to run this race. Let’s be honest, I was excited to run my first half marathon, but I was also a huge ball of nerves. I could barely eat on race morning. This time, I was ALL excitement and NO nerves. I was excited to go to southern California and I couldn’t wait to run!
The Ventura Half Marathon
Despite me not feeling as solid in my training, (I had some knee issues that turned out to be unhappy muscles) I was so ready for this race. I knew it was gonna be flat and fast, and I couldn’t wait. The Ventura Marathon was a race that had been on my radar since this last winter. I wanted to run the marathon, but I knew I wouldn’t be trained enough in time, so I went with the half marathon, which I was equally excited about.
This was my first race in California and y’all know I don’t need an excuse to go to California! Now that I have run in California once, I want to do it again. The expo at the Ventura Marathon presented me with a LOT of other options. As I was dreaming about running them, Andy reminded me I can’t run all the races. I said “HOLD on, I can run all the races, maybe just not in the same year.” Haha!
The thing about racing is it’s addicting. If you run for fun or competitively, you probably understand this. The race makes all the training totally worth it. You get cool stuff, you get to hang with a bunch of other runners and you can try to out perform your last time. It’s SO much fun.
It’s hard to believe this was only my second half marathon, I feel like I have run more. I guess it is all the training runs 🙂 I realized after this race that I need to run this distance (13.1 miles) more often. I will write more about that later, but in short I need to bite the bullet and run longer distances more often.
The swag is amazing, the course is flat, and it starts and ends at the beach…it is like the dream half marathon.
I also loved the pre-race expo and post race party, but more on that later. It was also great to be in California despite the heat. I loved the beach atmosphere and ALL the good food! When we arrived in California on Friday it was HOT. Saturday was cooler and then Sunday was hot & slightly humid, which is NOT normal conditions for southern California.
The expo was on Saturday and had a lot of vendors. There were other races to run, some were running accessories and others were snacks and a few food trucks. It was fun to be outside for the expo and be able to walk in and out as your pleased. There was a music stage and beer garden available both during the expo and on race day. They had some really cool race gear available for purchase too.
Sunday morning was an early day. The half marathon had a start time of 6:30am, so I got up at 4:45am to eat, do some stretching and get dressed. The start line was super accessible, there was lots of parking and it was so close to downtown Ventura you could walk. When I got to the start line, the pacers were lined up and you could put yourself with the correct time according to your pace. The sun was barely coming up, and it was beautiful!
The course was flat and fun. I started the race VERY strong. I was running an 8:40/mile! While I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain that the whole race, I figured that I would average a solid 8:50/mile which would get me a MEGA-PR on my half marathon time. I was getting so excited.
I was feeling really good and running well until about mile 9.5. All of a sudden I got a side cramp… I NEVER get side cramps, EVER! I tried to shake it off, I tried to take deeper breaths, I even walked for about 30 seconds and nothing was helping. It was really hot by this time. It didn’t really get hot until about and hour into the race, and by this time it was about 1 hour and 20 mins in. I had to slow down quite a bit and lost a lot of the time I had gained. I was disappointed but did as much as I could to finish out the race as strong as I could.
The half marathon course was an out and back course. As I got closer and closer to the finish line, I noticed my mileage was slightly off. This was strange because I know I didn’t take a wrong turn. Others were noticing it too. The course ended up being 13.8 miles instead of 13.1. This made the end of the race much harder mentally.
The people who ran this race were so cool and outgoing, it was like running with your buddies. It wasn’t a HUGE race but you had all the benefits of that big race. There were probably 2500 people running. There was plenty of room on the course and your weren’t falling over people at the start line or at the finish. There were spectators cheering us on along the course and they all felt like family too. They were genuinely cheering you on.
I even saw Andy along the course right when it was starting to get really hard. He ran with me for a split second and it gave me the mojo to push thru to the end.
I have never been so happy to see a finish line! It was so hot by this time, I was ready for some shade. At the finish, people were talking about the course being long he race organizers were VERY apologetic about it. It had never been an issue in the past so I wouldn’t be concerned about it in future years.
The medals were both fun and functional. They were a pair of aviator glasses and they also are a bottle opener! SO COOL! The post race fuel/snacks were some of the best. They had cookies and bagels, but they also had tons of fruit! Pineapple, watermelon and other fruit, which are my favorite kind of carbs. They also had lots of whole water bottles for us to take which was great in the heat.
They also had FREE race photos! I have run other races before that had ‘free photos’, and there was only one photographer and you were lucky if they caught you. At the Ventura half marathon I saw tons of photographers and I got about 20 pics overall. The ones you see here with the Ventura logo on the bottom were the ones they took. Race photos are an awesome memory to have, and I love that they came included.
They have a huge post-race party after the race that goes until 6pm, so you can hang around with friends or just bask in the post-run endorphins. We hung around for a while and met up with one of my friends who ran the marathon. I also tried to meet up with Brie, who was another BibRave Pro running the marathon, but we missed each other 🙁
It was a fun day and while I didn’t get the PR that I went into the race looking for, I am still happy with the outcome. I learned so much about myself and racing. Despite it being over 13.1 miles and being very hot, it was really enjoyable and I would love to run it again next year.
Check out my BibRave review HERE 🙂
I’ll see you all tomorrow!