My first race of 2016 was this past Saturday, the Citrus Heritage Run half marathon. It was in a city I grew up next door to my whole life, Riverside California. Like most of the Inland Empire and Orange County of Southern California, we were once known for our lush citrus groves and produce. Sadly, many of the classic groves and livestock are now gone due to housing developments, businesses, and things of that nature. What was so lovely is that this race is in the heart of Riverside where the California Citrus State Historic Park is!
This is a smaller local race, but certainly had a big turn out which I was excited to see with about 415 participants. I arrived on race morning excited to again run with Sarah and Megan and even Richard! We have become somewhat of a squad. Megan was pacing the 2:00 group, we all thought that was a great pace for the day so that is what we did.
The Citrus Heritage Half Marathon Recap by Sharpie!
The weather was pretty good, overcast mid 50s, clean air from all the rain we had. This made for some spectacular views of snow capped Mt. Baldy. This course rocks and rolls gently the entire time so pacing is important. But what I love most about this race is that you are literally surrounded by citrus trees for the entire 13.1 miles. The start line has orange trees, the homes you pass ALL have citrus, when you enter the state park yup citrus. You can’t pick the fruit because it IS protected (don’t worry they had plenty at the finish line) but the views are amazing.
What other race do you know allows you to literally run in between citrus trees in the grove? That was pretty neat! I really enjoy races that give your joints a break from the asphalt when they let you run on the dirt. And since we had 2 days of rain, the dirt was soft and not muddy. It was great! No dust in your face as you ran, just had to watch your step so you didn’t twist you ankle in an unexpected hole.
The smell of orange and lemon essential oil and blossoms is so intoxicating. There was even some grapefruit out there as well if that’s your jam. When you pair it with fresh air it really is such a treat. I didn’t expect this level of amazing from this race. None of the views sucked. None of them!
All of us did great. Richard and Megan came in at 2:00 on the nose, while I was one minute behind them with an official finish time of 2:01:32. I needed a walk break because my hip decided it didn’t want to play anymore. Sarah was right behind me. So we all finished relatively around the same time. We hung out, we had some oranges, took medal photos and got outta there, because breakfast.
So how did I feel?
Overall, I felt great. Endurance level wise, I got it down. I didn’t feel out of breath on this course which rolls and dips. It’s not the easiest of courses, but it isn’t the hardest either. It is certainly a great workout and made for a great distance run for my training. I did find my hips gave me some drama around mile 11.5 to the finish. I attribute this to the increase of training miles I am putting on them especially on the treadmill. So, I’ll be focusing my cross training there to help strengthen those areas. I went to yoga on Sunday morning and that did wonders for my lower body. Overall, I felt pretty good. I am confident. I feel the speed work actually working, although I have a long way to go so I can’t slack. Sticking to that plan for sure. For a first race of the year, this was pretty great. Looking forward to what the rest of the year brings.
Do I Recommend This Race?
100% YES! This quickly became a top 5 favorite for me. It is so unique and so much fun. Local race, high quality, great volunteers, spectacular views. The medal is also SO adorable. They also have a 5K option and a kids fun run so there is something for everyone. I will certainly be back next year! I hope you consider supporting this race, because it was FANTASTIC! As a native Californian, I know that citrus is so important to our history, so this race hits a special spot especially since I grew up around this my whole life. Come learn more about California agriculture and run a great race while you’re at it. It’s January in Southern California…which means it’s perfect.