Since I'm trying to complete a half marathon in every state, I had planned on doing this race as part of a road trip vacation to California! We took a week off and drove through Death Valley Nat'l Park and headed up to Sequoia Nat'l Park where we camped for a night. We then continued our trip through Kings Canyon Nat'l Park and then headed north to spend a few nights camping in Yosemite! Our final destination (and end of the trip) was South Lake Tahoe, where I would run the Emerald Bay Half Marathon (as part of the Lake Tahoe Marathon Race Series Weekend in October) prior to beginning our drive back to Colorado. The expo for this race was really great! They had some awesome (and pretty inexpensive logo gear)- I ended up getting a hat & 1/4 zip tech shirt for under $50. It was pretty small, but very well organized and had everything I would have wanted (without too much walking). The shirts that we got were SO beautiful, but they were white (which isn't my favorite color) and mine started to unravel a few weeks after I got it... :( After the expo, we got dinner and went to bed pretty early to prep for race day!
I had trained for a PR in this race and knew that it was almost all downhill (spoiler alert: I did end up PR'ing, but more on that later), but I made the mistake of planning for a vacation prior to my race (rather than race then vacation). I will never make this mistake ever again! While I was able to fit in a few runs throughout the week, my nutrition wasn't the best, and sleep was all over the place (hey, a girls' gotta splurge right?). Needless to say, that while we were being bused up to the start of the race (at the Emerald Bay State Park) I didn't have many expectations and just wanted it to be done!
We had to walk for about a half mile to the start of the race and it was extremely casual- maybe this is how everything is done on the west coast (or maybe they were just super relaxed as this was the last race of their busy race series weekend)? After walking too far to the start (it was also pretty cold up at the higher elevation- we were supposed to camp this weekend, but 30 degrees in a tent was too cold for us and we ended up booking a hotel instead), we were off and the beginning is SUPER downhill. It was really hard to not go out too fast on this part (which I ended up doing). By the time the race flattened out, the sun was starting to beat down on us (the race didn't start until mid-morning) and I was already feeling pretty defeated. My legs were shot and I was exhausted. I basically felt like I shuffled/ sprinted in portions for the last 5-6 miles of the race just so I could be done.
At the finish line, we got some really cute medals & license plate holders- bonus! I ended up PR'ing by :50 seconds (and 13th in my age group), but I had trained for a PR by several minutes. Overall, I feel like I could've done really well at this race had it not been at the end of my vacation and we didn't drive over 1,000 miles prior to the race! The scenery was unmatched (possibly the most scenic race I've ever done) and I loved finishing on the South Shore beach. We stayed at a hotel within a 1/2 mile of the finish line and was totally worth it. However, if you do this race note that many hotels don't allow late check-outs (which is a bummer when the race doesn't start until 10am and you finish at noon). We actually had to pay $20 for us to check-out at 1pm instead- we were driving in a car for over 8 hours that afternoon and I did NOT want to be sweaty and smelly for that long.
Definitely recommend the race and make sure to prep for the downhills/ later race start. Enjoy! :)