Since I have been relatively busy with travels and such from right after the marathon, I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and write a thorough recap.
Anywho, here it goes:
On Saturday, I left rather late for the marathon expo. That was kind of scary because there was a bit of traffic and I was cuttin’ it close to the closing time of the expo. If you are not there by 7:00 p.m., they can sell your bib to other people who want to buy one (since it was sold out).
The expo was held at Ventura High School and the first thing I did was go pee for like 2 minutes straight. Why? 5.5 hour drive with no stops (I really didn’t want anyone getting my bib. Sorry bladder).
BUT no one got to buy my bib, haha:
Right after I picked up the bib, I went and tried some samples of the Clifbar products. They were the main sponsor this year, and I guess it’s the first time that has happened. That’s kind of cool.
After the expo (and seeing some RA’s come in right at 7:00 p.m.!), I went to pick up a cheap dinner and watched Running Man at the hotel until about 11:00pm? Or 10-something… anyways, it didn’t really matter. I was only going to get around 4 to 5 hours of sleep. Like usuals.
Sunday morning, I woke up before the alarm around 3:40 a.m. I think some of the other hotel guests (Best Western Plus, Ventura) were also getting ready for the marathon.
I got up, made some coffee, did the magical thing that coffee makes you do in the morning (if you’re a racer, it really is kind of awesome), got dressed, and walked 0.6 mile to the bus pick-up. I thought it would be scary considering how I was walking by myself and the sun still wasn’t up, but the streets were well-lit. Oh, and I know kung fu.
The organization for getting on the buses was a little weird… and some people were getting really upset about that. I said, “As long as we all get on a bus and make it to the start, then it’s no problem.” And we all made it to the start.
There was a little miscalculation with the number of porta-johns available at the start line. Waaaay too few. The lines were really long, but I guess the runners were all trying to hurry their business while they were in there because I made it in with about 9 minutes to spare.
Actually, the race started about 9 minutes late because the lines for the porta-potties were still long. I wasn’t going to complain. I know it could have been me waiting in line and I wouldn’t have wanted everyone to start without me. Oh, but they had wave starts… every two minutes, depending on the time you projected to finish.
I ran with Tammy for like 1.5 minutes before she took off. After about a mile, I ran into Marie from the Running Addicts! She is a strong runner, who runs with such ease (and does trail running and ultras and other coolness like that). It was really great to see how she thanked every volunteer (aid station, course marshals, etc.). She made me aware of the fact that even though I am out there for my own personal goal, those volunteers are out there simply to support us and make this race possible.
I got to stick with her until about mile 14 or 15 when the juice in my tank ALREADY started to falter. OH, CRAP.
[BTW, Marie went on to keep the strong pace and finish 1:30:xx. INCREDIBLE! It was a huge PR and also a BQ!]
Miles 1 to around 3 were downhill, then a little uphill from 3 to 5-ish, and then when it looped back to the school where we started, it went on the bike path down to the beach (from mile 20).
Miles 1-6: 8:10, 8:03, 8:07, 8:24, 8:18, 8:02.
The first several miles on the downhill bike path were awesome. I was running waaaay faster than the time I needed, but I think I started to have the whole “bank some time” idea… which would later be a bad choice for me.
Miles 7-13: 7:56, 8:00, 7:58, 7:54, 7:45, 7:54, 8:08.
I don’t think I’ve ever run so many sub-8:00’s (IF ANY) in a full marathon before. Those numbers are kind of inflated because the course was seriously a nice subtle downhill during that stretch.
We hit the half marathon mark around 1:45? If I was going to break 3:40, I was way ahead of schedule. If I was going to break 3:35, then I was still in it.
Around this time, I legs already started to feel kind of worn out. “Darnsit. I must not have been smart about my eating or workouts during the week…” <— I realized that my mind quickly becomes judgmental of my own actions and choices, instead of just keeping positive thoughts. Gotta work on that.
Miles 14-20: 8:05, 8:08, 8:20, 8:31, 8:29, 8:56, 8:44.
As you can see, I really started slowing down. Now it was a mental mind game kind of thing. “Just make it to the next aid station, walk through it while drinking water/electrolyte, then run again.”
Around mile 20 is when I spotted Tammy!!! It was actually pretty cool that we got to run the last 10K together. I would sometimes be her rabbit, but for the most part, she was my rabbit. Good gosh, it is hard to keep up with that woman!
My plan to keep my legs moving… one foot after the other… walk through the aid stations… I think it worked. I was so tempted to give up and just walk for a whole minute during the last 10K. I knew if I just kept up the jogging pace, I could possibly break 3:40 (that 3:35 goal flew out the window several miles back).
Trying to calculate splits and crap while being dead tired was really hard, but it kind of took my mind off of the running. Once in a while, I would zone in and make sure my shoulders weren’t hunched, that I wasn’t aggressively heel striking, and that my arms weren’t swinging side to side. I tried to make my cadence faster, with shorter stride length, which eased the feel of the pavement on my legs.
The last 10K takes you out a bit into some residential area, where you have to loop back to the finish. It’s also completely flat, but I still felt like it was an uphill battle. “Where’s the turnout around, dangit??” And when we finally turned, it felt amazing.
Miles 21 to 23: 8:58, 9:06, 9:02.
I may have slightly flipped when I saw those 9’s… not really. I was too tired to do that, but it definitely made me nervous. I calculated again in my head and found that if I kept a certain pace (which I don’t remember now), I’d still come in under 3:40. This is when I started praying hard and asking the Lord for strength.
Miles 24 to 25: 9:41, 9:24.
My slowest mile was mile 24. At least I didn’t go over 10 minutes, I guess.
When I got to the mile 25 marker, I knew there was only 1.2 miles left. It was right around 3 hours and 29 minutes at this point. “Holy moly, 11 minutes and 1.2 miles to go… that means I have to run a little under 9 minute mile and then a huge kick in the last 0.2… I think… wait…”
I’m pretty sure a good quarter of a mile there was just trying to calculate if it was possible or not. “God, you are with me… so this is freaking possible. Give me strength, Lord.”
Miles 25 was 8:53. The last portion to the finish was at 6:59 pace.
I clicked my Garmin off a little after crossing the finish and it read 3:40:00. I couldn’t believe it… but I was hoping that it meant the official time would be RIGHT under 3:40:00.
… and it was. Official time was 3:39:58.4.
Thank you Tammy for being with me in the last 10K, and congrats to Nghi on her BQ!!!
And of course, congrats to all of the Running Addicts who BQ’d and PR’d!
Let’s do a little recap:
Course: I’m definitely going to be doing this race again. If I can be smart in the first half of it and not get carried away by the downhill, I think I can PR again AND BQ. The course is kind of designed for a BQ and PR:
And the downhill is pretty gradual… it’s not like one of those super steep ones where you have to feel like you’re braking constantly. It’s also mostly on a paved bike path, which is really nice.
Volunteers/Spectators: There were plenty of volunteers at the aid stations and course marshals. The first portion of the race is along a road, so there were probably a lot of friends and family who were able to park and wait next to the bike path to cheer on their loved one (I know someone came to cheer on Marie and she had a different sign up every single time. It was really really awesome!). In the last half mile of the race, there were a lot of people, and the cheering near the finish line was SO LOUD! I love the finish-line crowd! It really gives you a boost at the very end to finish strong.
Organization: The first thing that comes to mind is how they needed more porta-potties at the starting line. I know a lot of people are sticklers about races starting on time (I usually am, but I didn’t care too much this time), so I heard some people being upset about the race starting late to wait for people. Otherwise, it was really easy to run and follow the course, the aid stations were spaced apart pretty well (but I just wish more of the aid stations offered electrolytes. I couldn’t match up my alternating water/electrolyte drinking with what they offered… but that’s probably just me). The bus pick-up was done in a timely manner, with some people being picked up at 4:00 am, and others around 5:00 am.
Weather: It was relatively warm in the early morning. I was able to go out in my shorts and a thin throw-away. On the bike path as we are cruising down the mountain, there were areas with a lot of shade, and certain parts where it was pretty sunny. I think it got into the (high?) 60’s by the time I hit mile 20. It felt really hot because of no shade and the perfectly clear and sunny skies. What a freaking beautiful day to be running. It made me super thirsty.
Post-race: Like I mentioned, the finish line crowd was awesome. The RA’s were waiting there, too and Linh snapped this picture of me and Tammy right after we crossed:
You can run into the ocean right after if you want to. I did not bring my flip flops… but if I did, I would have totally gone in. In the food area, I grabbed a bunch of oranges and drank several cups of water. I just felt super dehydrated for some reason. They also had bagels, electrolyte drink, Clifbar mini’s and bananas. There were a lot of massage tents, but we just chilled on the grass a bit after the race.
To be honest, I didn’t really check out the tents. I’m sure Clifbar was there to give out more samples of their products.
Swag/expo: I think I was too late to really see what the expo offered. They were putting stuff away around the time I got there. There was also no bag or swag. You can see the medal there in the picture above. It is pretty cool, and I heard it’s cooler than the one last year (people didn’t know what the heck it was… until they finally figured out it was a bottle opener. Actually, that’s pretty cool, even if it’s ugly).
What makes this race worth running: THE COURSE! I mean… c’mon. There is pretty much no hill except for that little one in the beginning. It also finishes in a nice area and you can hang out at the beach after the race (“ice bath”?) if you want. I believe this race is only in it’s third year, and I hear there were a lot of improvements from last year, so it looks like it will only get better from here on out!
This concludes my recap of the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. Hope you enjoyed it, and I’ll totally split a room with you if you decide to run it next year, hehe.