Orange County Half Marathon Race Review

This is my first race review as the Restless Runner! Last night Ellen and I drove to Newport Beach for the OC Half Marathon. The race started at 6:15 AM, so we decided to spend the night in Orange County with Melissa and Gisele. It was also a fun excuse to explore Newport! We both were avid Laguna Beach, The OC and The Hills viewers, so being Orange County always feels a little surreal. After checking into our hotel, Ellen and I drove down to Balboa Island for dinner.

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We ate at The Village Inn. It was nothing spectacular, but we were looking for a relaxed pub feel. Because we had not specifically trained for this half and we were on a mini-vacation in Newport Beach, we decided to fuel up with french fries, beer and famous OC frozen bananas. Probably not the best pre-race meal, but it worked out for us 🙂

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Although I had not specifically trained for this race, I was hoping to PR. I had run a 1:36 at Surf City in February, and was really hoping to run in the 1:35 range. That would mean a 7:15 pace. I didn’t want to be a slave to my watch, but I knew I was capable of holding a 7:15, as scary as it sounded. Ellen was hoping to break 1:45 and Melissa wanted to run her first sub 2 hour half marathon. Gisele was already off running the marathon that started at 5:30 AM.

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I spent the first few miles analyzing how I was feeling, worried because my legs felt a little heavy. I was a little nervous that running a 1:35 was too ambitious. I had run a 1:36 in the peak of marathon training, and my mileage had not been as high since the marathon. I freaked myself out a little, but took Lululemon Run Club leader Kathy and Gisele’s advice and just ran what felt right. When I reached mile ten still smiling, I knew I could push a little harder, so I focused on passing one runner at a time. I was running hard but loving every minute of it. I crossed finish line in 1:33:17 having worked hard but not being completely depleted. Time is never as important to me as enjoying the experience, and I enjoyed the entire race experience.  Ellen crossed the finish line in an incredible 1:43, Melissa completely surpassed her goal with a 1:55 and Gisele finished the marathon in a 3:08, her third marathon in three weeks. It was a great day for all of us!

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Being a Restless Runner, I drove back to LA, ate lunch, went grocery shopping with Brent and was off to pick up students for Girls on the Run practice. We ran two miles on the beach in Playa! My reward for running the half and leading practice was dinner at The Tripel, my favorite restaurant in LA.

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Thinking of running the OC Half Marathon next year? Here are some things to consider…


  • T-shirts fit well and are super cute!
  • Post-Race Massage Envy’s massage center was AMAZING
  • People say the course is boring, but personally I loved the Pacific Ocean views, yachts and expensive homes
  • Enough hills to make the course interesting, but nothing crazy
  • OC Half is a Beach Cities Challenge course. Ellen and I will be earning our medal at Long Beach in the fall!


  • Traffic around town after the race due to road closures. Make a post-race plan!
  • Expo freebies were lacking
  • Didn’t feel like there was enough water available after the race