May 28, 2013

5/26/13: Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Recap (Part One)

Marathon #3-DONE! I seriously forgot what 26.2 miles feels like! I don't think this distance will ever be something that gets easier for me but with proper execution and patience it can be a better experience. I was feeling a bit more confident after three consecutive long runs that went better than expected but never really felt 100% ready!  I had a lot of doubts and I was extremely nervous up until the day before race day. I am going to break this recap into two posts since I have so much to say about the race itself and then the details of how I ran it.
The expo was held at Ventura High School and is a pretty small event. There were very few vendors present so most people were just in and out of there picking up their race bibs. Parking was adequate and bib pick up was very easy and organized. The race also offers bib pick up the morning of the race at the Start which is a huge plus for those who do not want to spend the money on a hotel room.
This is a small race and the marathon is capped at 1500 marathon participants which I love!. The half marathon starts in a different location but eventually merges with the marathon but you don't even notice it. I believe this was the third year that this race was held and it is growing by the year. It is well organized but lacks a lot of things the fancy extras that the bigger races offer. I don't need all of the fancy stuff since that just means higher registration fees. There was some security but anybody could jump onto the course to run with someone and nobody would have said anything. I liked it that way since some people need that extra support during those tough miles. I did not see a lot of photographers on the course and medical tents were spread out along the course. Water stops were adequate but I brought my own water along with me and refilled my bottle as needed. I loved the course and the race in general. I would love to add this race to my Race Schedule for 2014.

The traffic was horrible getting to Ventura! We quickly checked into our hotel and then headed to dinner. My dinner consisted of pasta from California Pizza Kitchen which has always been good to me so I figured it was safe. I did skip dessert since it was probably not the best idea. After dinner we walked to the finish line which was really close to our hotel and right near the ocean.
The marathon was a point to point race so the runners were shuttled from Downtown Ventura up to the start in Ojai. The shuttle pick up was a 15 minute walk from our hotel which was really nice and convenient. My shuttle time was at 4:00 a.m. which meant a 3:00 am wake up time! I am so glad that I took the 4:00 am shuttle because those who took the 5:00 am shuttle had a serious wait to use the potty. When we first arrived at the Start, which was at a high school in Ojai, it was a dark parking lot with minimal lighting! There were tons of runners there hanging out but nothing was setup yet and it was pretty much runners and porta potties! I had a lot of time to think, eat my breakfast, hydrate and stretch while waiting for the race to start.

The porta potty lines were really long by 5:30 am!! I usually wait to go right before the start of the race but due to the long lines, I had to relieve myself in the bushes. The long lines also resulted in a 10 minute start time delay. This was the first time that I ever used the bushes but I had to! Sorry..I know that is probably a BIG no no!
The weather was perfect so I knew I had a good chance to beat the warmer temperatures if I finished as close to four hours as possible. The finish was by the beach so I hoped that it would be cooler when I approached the finish.
The race had two corrals at the start: those who planned to finish under 3:45 and then "everyone else."  I lined up with the "everyone else" group and then found the pacer that I felt comfortable with.
The course starts out with a 10K loop which takes you around and back to the start. After the first 6.2 miles you head onto a paved bike trail for the majority of the race. The bike trail is shaded for most of the race and since it was not a huge race it never felt crowded. The course lacks big crowd support and entertainment for the most part but I did see people waiting along the course for their friends and family to pass. They even took the time to say encouraging words and to cheer on the other runners. I pretty much zone out when I run so I never really appreciate the crowd support or entertainment anyway. Shame on me, I know! The runners spot the ocean around Mile 21 but have to pass the Finish Line which can be mentally tough. I know it was for me even though I knew it was going to happen so I was prepared for it. My family and friends were right there waiting for me to distract me so I never actually saw it. I think the hardest part of the course is the out and back from Miles 22-24 since the runners can see all of the runners heading back to the finish. After those tough miles you head back onto the bike path right along the ocean for the final 2.2 miles to the finish. Isn't the Finish Line incredibly beautiful?
Although the course is downhill for the most part, you cannot see the drop nor can you feel it. I had no pain in my knees or quads during the race which I was a little worried about. You know the elevation drop is happening because you can feel yourself moving quicker with less effort. I highly recommend this race to anybody who is looking to BQ or PR! It is a fast course!

Next... Part Two: "How I ran this race and what I did differently to finally get that sub four finish!"


  1. Having been born and raised in Southern California (and having lived there again from college through my early 30's), I'm VERY familiar with the area where you were running......mostly from LONG bike rides. I can't wait to read the rest of your recap, as your experience Sunday was decidedly better than mine! :>)

  2. I would LOVE a finish line at the ocean. I might put this one on my list of "to race" if I can figure out how to get my final long runs in, in the hot AZ April weather.

  3. Congratulations!! You did it! I can't wait to read about part 2!!!

  4. Love to read pre-race reports that ooze excitement :)

  5. Awesome!!! I cannot wait to read part 2.

  6. I like everything you say about this course and race except the long potty lines. Maybe they'll do something about that for future years! Looking forward to hearing about your race execution!