Run Sunset Beach Half Marathon 2024: How I Loved & Lost

Sunset Beach Half Marathon

Oh man, guys. Knee injury or no, for a hot second there I thought this was it – I thought I was gonna break sub-2 at the Run Sunset Beach Half Marathon. Alas, it was – predictably – not to be. < William Shatner voice > QUAAAAAAAAAAADS!!!!!! < /wsv >

Things were not particularly promising to start. I slept poorly and felt slightly shaky and dehydrated for the entire 45 minute drive down to the start. I did enjoy parking right next to the staging area, though. I arrived over an hour early, and after grabbing my bib and shirt I was able to return to my car to prepare in comparative comfort.

I finally emerged about 20 minutes before gun time and took up a position in the corrals. They were self-seeding, but I appreciated the suggested time signs on the side in addition to the pace group distribution. After some debate, I decided to move up near the 2-hour pace group. I figured why not shoot for the moon and land among the stars and/or the gutter?

One pre-recorded rendition of the national anthem and wheelchair start, and we were off! Promptly at 6:45am, just as I like it.

Run Sunset Beach Half Marathon


It was pretty nice weather for a race – low 60s with cloud cover and a bit of the breeze. As I began to run, I discovered that I did, indeed, feel pretty good! I left the 2-hour pace group behind even! I was working, but I wasn’t pushing. Was this it? Was I finally going to break the curse and achieve my sub-2 hour half?! (I mean, you already know the answer is no, but that was my headspace at the time, so go with it, okay?)

The course for this one is pretty decent – a lot of straightaways with minimal squiggly bits, and with two important exceptions, not too many hills. In fact, it’s so comparatively simple I can summarize the course in a paragraph. Ready?

Sunset Beach Half Marathon

Okay, first we ran toward the beach for a couple miles before hanging a left and running parallel to it for another mile and change. We took a few turns then through the neighborhood before charging over – crucially – a bridge. Once over the bridge we took a pretty big loop around neighborhood roads before – and this is important – HEADING BACK OVER THE SAME BRIDGE. During MILE 12, which is just INHUMANE. Anyway, from there we ran back from whence we came, with minimal turns taking us back to the finish line. Here’s a map if you want it.

Sunset Beach Half Marathon

And as I said: dang it, for the first 8 miles or so I thought it would happen. Well, for the first three or so I was more like, can it happen??? You know, because of the knee and the undertraining and all that.

But then, y’know, it was happening! I was keeping all my miles under 9 minutes. The first time I encountered the bridge, I ran right up it. Not, like, happily, but I ran! There was a water stop every two miles or so, and briefly walking those served as both a small rest and a reminder to take some of the Honey Stinger waffles I brought for fuel. Up until mile eight I thought this might very well be it.

Running the Run Sunset Beach Half Marathon



The seeds of doom were sown early, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I started feeling some discomfort in my left quad. But it was just discomfort, the kind that crops up and then goes away after a bit. You’ve encountered that kind of mid-run issue, right? My knee still felt fine, and I haven’t encountered quad-centric problems in the past, so I wasn’t necessarily worried.

And in fact it did subside after a mile or two… only to crop up again, in a vague sort of way, before subsiding again. I would notice it, and then forget about it. Until mile eight I thought my sub-2 half marathon was happening. Until mile nine, running the numbers, I thought I still had a shot.

At mile ten, my quads LOCKED. UP.

Fire! Paralysis! The mild but persistent feeling that if I push it I might vomit! It all hit me. Not only did I slow waaay down, I occasionally indulged myself in quick walk breaks. By mile eleven I knew my dream was dead, and so when the bridge reared its ugly head again during mile twelve I said screw it up walked the whole upward incline. Why risk injury for a personal record that couldn’t be?

Sunset Beach Half Marathon

In fact, on the way down, I thought there was a chance my downward motion might exacerbate the very knee injury I had originally sought only to protect, so I couldn’t really enjoy that either. I gingerly inched down the other side of the bridge and minced my way to the finish line. My final time was perfectly respectable… but it wasn’t sub-2. šŸ™

But hey, I was done! I pressed forward and collected my truly MASSIVE medal. Seriously, this thing is huge. When Coastal Race Productions calls it their Big Ass Medal series, they’re not kidding around.

I also received a bottle of water, which was the regular size. There were tabs on my bib for one free beer and some free barbecue, but I was driving and I just don’t fancy barbecue at 9am. I sat on a random chair for a bit (lowering myself carefully because QUADS) and collected myself before making my way back to my car and heading home. Another half marathon on the books.


Obviously I am disappointed that I brushed so close to my sub-2 half marathon only to lose it. Oddly enough, though, I feel heartened by this experience. I was coming off an injury and a period of minimal training – I bet that’s where the sudden muscular distress came from. I proved that I can maintain race pace without a pacer, even when stopping for water and fuel as I like to do. That’s promising.

If you’ll recall, the front half of my Princess Half Marathon sub-2 attempt was the death knell. For this race, it was the back half. If I can just combine those two halves, I’ve got a sub-2 in the bag, right? Brace yourself for Princess Half Marathon 2025, because I have plans… ;D

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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