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Photo courtesy of California Candids

It is hard to believe 10 years have past since the events of 9/11.  I remember the day so clearly, from what I was wearing to the looks on my co-workers faces as we watched the events unfold on the internet.    Late last year I knew I wanted to do something special to remember that day, the people who passed, and their families whose lives have forever been changed.  I looked up races for the weekend of 9/11/11 and found the perfect one, Camp Pendleton’s Heartbreak Ridge Half Marathon held the day prior to the 10 year anniversary date.

I thought I would be doing the race solo, but ended up convincing Glam Runner partner Monika to sign up.  Then days before, I got my husband to join in on the fun as well.  Fellow Carmel Valley Girls On The Run coach Lisa turned out to be a last minute decision and was so glad she ended up running.  She slowed herself down to run with me and it was like having my own cheer squad the entire race (especially helpful up hills).

Patriotic Lisa sporting the "Miss American Pie" Glam Runner tutu

This year (knocking on wood), I’ve been blessed with perfect running weather race days.  The Heartbreak Ridge Half marathon was no exception.  The week prior had been the hottest of the year and the system broke right on time.  The day was cool and overcast, perfect for a tank, shorts and of course a tutu.   I asked for suggestions on what colors I should wear on the Facebook Glam Runner page and picked one from a US soldier (Thanks Pete) currently stationed in Kuwait.

Marine Corps race called for a Marine Corps colored tutu!

Being on base, there were naturally many enlisted men and women signed up for the race. It was inspiring and a honor to be running along side of those protecting our freedom. I almost felt unworthy of being there.  Runners were body marked with their age on their calf.  Many were just 8 or 9 at the time of 9/11 and will be spending the last of their teenage years fighting for our freedom.  They are growing up with worries and fears I never had to think about at their age.  That gave me plenty to reflect upon.

Photo courtesy of California Candids

The out and back course primarily consisted of fire roads.  Lisa commented how eerily quiet it was.  The surroundings were peaceful and beautiful, really unlike any race I have ever done before.  The course did get a little crowded as people hit the turn around point, but was completely manageable.

Who said running can't be fun?

The hills were challenging and I found myself being pretty conservative in the speed department.  My run turned to a crawl after the turn around point making very evident my need to incorporate more hill training.

After mile 10, Lisa and I were alarmed by a man yelling “Watch out!  Spider!”  There on the path was the largest tarantula I’ve ever seen in my life.  Sadly, I was in shock and didn’t stop to take a photo.  The man who saved us from the spider, (or maybe saved the spider since we were awfully close to squishing it) ended up running the last part of the race with us.  Which brings me to another observation, people were really friendly at this race!  It may have been the tutus, but many people seemed willing to strike up a converstation.

If dirt, dust and hairy spiders bother you, pass on this race.  If you don’t mind finding dirt in places you didn’t think it could reach or don’t mind the sight of hairy bugs, add this course to your must do wish list!  It was challenging in a way races should be challenging.  An easy run never really does give me any satisfaction and I felt plenty satisfied after this race.

I finished smack dab in the middle of my age group with a chip time of 2:09:42.  Not my best showing, but considering the hills I’m not going to beat myself up about it.  On the FUN factor alone, this race is definitely one I would consider doing again.  I’m also giving it extra points for the low $45 entry fee and no bathroom lines!  Some negatives were the traffic once on base and no finishers medal.  Most of us runners love our bling (even though mine end up thrown in a bin in my closet)!

Pre Jump pic... PAIN

Side Note: Ben is 6′ tall with a fantastic build (hubba, hubba). He naturally hovers around 200lbs. In the sport of triathlon there is a division called “Clydesdale,” meant for men 200lbs and heavier.  He often compares his times to that of the winners of the division and figures he would medal. Now it has become a running joke he’ll sign up for the division just to get a podium spot. When I registered him for the race I saw there was a Clydesdale division and had to sign him up! He ended up placing 8th out of 43 despite being really tired that morning!
A race would not be complete without the post-race beer which we enjoyed at Pizza Port in Carlsbad.  Although a drive for us normally, we gladly make stops here if we are already in the area.  Lisa joined us and we shared a pitcher of 547 Haight, Pizza Port’s Imperial Red.  It’s named for the original Toronado up in San Francisco, a great bar Ben and I just had the chance to visit during our half marathon there in July.  This was the first time having this beer and I’d definitely like to have it again… soon.

547 Haight- Yummitastic!

Overall two thumbs up on the race and two thumbs up on the 547 Haight!