Oct 16, 2013

10/13/13: The Long Beach Marathon (Take Two)

Where should I start? I am finally over the "what if's" had this race gone better than it did. I know I ran a strong race and that I am capable of more than I sometimes want to give myself credit for. This marathon included the strongest 21 miles that I have ever ran in a marathon. Everything seemed to be aligning including the weather. It was cooler than I thought it would be so I think that may be a reason why I felt so great those first 21 miles of the race!
I only slept four hours because I was so nervous. Marathons will always make me nervous no matter how many I run make but this time I was super nervous. I laid out all of my race stuff the night before so I would be ready to go when my alarm went off at 4:15am. I had such a low bib number so lots of runners kept asking me if I was an elite runner! Too funny....if only they knew how non-elite I really am!!
My friend who lost her husband came with us to the race to support me. I was excited that I was able to get her out of the house and we had a good time. We laughed like the old times before her husband took his life so it was nice to see her smile again. We had dinner together and she was so grateful that I invited her to come along since her house really depresses her at times with all of memories it holds of her late husband. She has kind of lost her running mojo lately so I was excited when she signed up for a half marathon at the Expo. Progress is a big thing for her right now! I decided to dedicate my fourth marathon to her husband because he was always so supportive and encouraged me to reach for my dreams.

The Race:
The race was delayed by almost a half hour due to safety clearance or something like that but safety first, right? I was a little bummed because I was hoping to finish without having to spend too much time in the sun. That did not happen but it was still cool enough to run a decent race.
I started right with the four hour pacer and spotted Nicole and her brother Joe, who was running his first marathon, and wished them good luck. I kept thinking that if the weather stays cool I just might be able to run this course in under 4 hours. I was off and running and I don't think I ever ran with the 4 hour group or saw them on the course again. I can usually tell by the first three miles of a marathon how my race is going to turn out. I was feeling great the first three miles and just kind of went with it but reminded myself to be smart.

Mile 1: 8:32
Mile 2:8:22
Mile 3:8:20

I did not want my Garmin to distract me from my race by staring at it the entire time because that makes me feel very nervous! I continued to run by how I felt, occasionally glancing at my watch to make sure that I was not going too fast. 

Mile 4: 8:27
Mile 5: 8:27 (GU)
Mile 6: 8:22
Mile 7: 8:26
Mile 8: 8:21

Before I knew it I was closing in on the 3:45 pacer but I just kept a safe distance. I was not feeling confident enough to run a 3:45 on this particular course. It was at this point in the race that I was thinking that I would continue at this pace and hang on until it started to get tough. Things continued to go well and by the way I did end up wearing my hydration belt like I said I wouldn't. I didn't use my handheld water bottle because I forgot the little clips to my iFitness belt that holds my bib on and I needed it to carry my phone and GU's. I was just too nervous to rely on the water on the course even though there was plenty of it.

Mile 9: 8:26
Mile 10: 8:26 (GU)
Mile 11: 8:25
Mile 12: 8:31
Mile 13: 8:26

I was still feeling pretty good at the half way point and it was at this point that I decided that maybe I could meet my most optimistic goal of all which was to PR! I also knew that the most difficult miles of the course were coming up soon and I was going to see my pace drop significantly.

Mile 14: 8:26
Mile 15: 8:33 (Gu)
Mile 16: 8:26

Miles 17-20 are the toughest miles of the course for me. The course takes you into Cal State Long Beach and it is nothing but hills in there! It was pretty tough so I slowed it down on the uphill and tried to gain some time back when the course flattened out. I did much better this year and I didn't die or hit the wall!

Mile 17: 8:27
Mile 18: 8:56
Mile 19:8:25
Mile 20:8:50(GU)

Around Mile 19ish my race took a different turn. I ran through some water on the course with what felt like sand and I almost slipped and over extended my right leg and felt a pain in the back of my leg. Little by little the pain became worse to the point where I had to slow down considerably. I stopped and stretched it out around Mile 22 per the instructions of Monica who happened to run past me as I was hobbling along in pain. By Mile 23 I could not run for long at all without it hurting or tightening up so it was a run/walk effort from Mile 23-25 but I did not give up! 

Mile 21: 8:42
Mile 22: 9:26
Mile 23: 10:04 (GU)
Mile 24: 10:26
Mile 25: 10:17

It was at this point that I knew that my race was headed in another direction. I wasn't sure what was the best thing to do. I thought about quitting or just walking to the Finish but I just could not let myself do it. I completely fell apart at this point because I was not sure what was going on with my leg and what might happen if I kept on going. At Mile 25, I saw my friend Meg who I have known for a while through the blog world! She came up to me and we started talking and she ran with me for about a mile. I felt better just seeing a familiar face and I was able to brave through it and make it to the Finish. THANK YOU MEG! YOU SAVED ME!
Mile 26: 9:31
.48=8:48 (I guess I did not do very well running the tangents either!)

My goals for this race were to beat my 2011 course time of 4:05:35 (CHECK.). I actually beat my course time by 13 minutes and 20 seconds! My second and more optimistic goal was to finish the race in under 4 hours (CHECK.) This was not a PR for me but this is just one of those courses that will probably never get me a PR or a BQ! It just doesn't love me!
I finished Marathon #4 in 3:52:15 and finally earned my Beach Cities Challenge medal! Sarah was handing out the BCC medals and it was nice to see her out there volunteering. I can remember when I thought that I would never be able to run a sub-four marathon so I have convinced myself that 3:52 is a decent time for me considering that it did do lots of walking! I told Long Beach that I would be back to get revenge and my sub-four finish and I know I ran a much stronger race than I did two years ago. No excuses for a bad race so I will just suck this one up and pay attention to where I am running in the future and accept the fact that not every race is going to be a perfect one and realize that CACA HAPPENS!
This makes race #12 of my quest to run 13 races in 2013 and my second best marathon time. I have been taking it easy because I was hurting everywhere and I am also hoping that my hamstring pain is just a temporary thing that rest will take care of. I am not ready to use the dreaded "I" word yet! I am hoping to get a run in at the end of the week if I am able. Until then, I will be doing lots of icing and this....

 Next up...Ragnar Las Vegas, sponsored by Nuun and Pro Compression, with my friend Caroline and 10 other ladies that I cannot wait to meet!


  1. Fabulous showing Sandy! What a great time and grit to get to that finish :) You WILL get to Boston. It's going to happen. And this is proof as you continue to chip away at that time.

    Hope you're recovering well!!!

    1. Thank you Lisa! I haven't tried to run yet as much as I want to test out the hamstring. It feels better than it did on Monday so I am hoping that it will get better with rest and ice.

  2. Anonymous10/16/2013

    This is great! I love that your pace was so steady almost the entire time. Great job!

    1. Thank you Missy! I felt great and wish it would have lasted the entire race. I will keep trying!

  3. Congratulations Sandy! You're so speedy! I know you must be proud to have run such a strong race.

    1. Thank you Suz! It started out to be a great race but you never know what race day will bring. I am not giving up yet!

  4. Congrats!!. A 3:52 is nothing to be down about! You did awesome!! Pat yourself in the back cause you earned that medal!! Way to go!

    1. Thank you so much Jose! I will be back for more!

  5. Congrats Sandy! You did awesome in spite of those tough, painful last miles. You are running so well. Can't wait to see what the future holds for you!

    1. Thank you Marcia! The last 5 miles were tough but I felt much stronger than I did two years ago! I feel like I am getting closer and closer to my goal.

  6. Sandy you did great!!!! You were cruising along there for so long!!! I'm so impressed how well you still did even though you were battling!! Way to go speedy!!!

    1. Thank you Nancy! I had a disappointing finish but I am over it and it's time to start thinking ahead :)

  7. I'm so happy that you were able to finish the race even though you had that terrible pain! Congrats on beating your 2011 course time!

    1. Thank you Tina! I am grateful to have finished and to have accomplished my goals.

  8. Anonymous11/08/2013

    Great race report! Congrats on shattering your previous course time! Our finish times were seconds apart -- I was 3:52:42!

    1. Thank you! Congratulations on your PR! Long Beach is not an easy course.