Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Recap
A couple weeks before the marathon the events of marathon weekend started to weigh on me - we were going to disneyland on Friday, driving up to Ventura on Saturday, Running on Sunday and then packing up for a month & driving to Iowa on Tuesday. Not to mention, i was saying goodbye to California that weekend too. So not only would I be dealing with taper crazies, but emotional goodbyes. Oof.
I knew that I hadn’t trained as well as the first time around, and I was okay with that. This wasn’t my season for running, there were too many other things happening to devote as much time, effort, and focus on running. A large part of me regretted signing up for the run when all these other things were happening, so I went into the race with a semi-negative mindset. I knew I could run 26.2 miles, I had run more long runs and had some good workouts throughout the training cycle. I’d earned a new half marathon PR on the way too, so there was really no physical reason I wouldn’t be able to compete come race day.
4:30 AM - Wake up, throw on my race kit, make sure everyone (John, Emily, Colton) are ready to go, grab William and hit the road. We had about a 40 minute drive the start line - Colton, Emily & William would drop us off so we could warm up and they would find their first spot along the course. Of course it was sprinkling and pretty cold. John ditched his long sleeve right away but I kept mine on. We walked around trying to keep warm and about 5:30 we started to jog a little warm up. We ended at the portapotty line and I stood there for 17 minutes before i got a turn. I quickly found John standing with the 3:45 pacer with about 5 minutes to spare.
6:03 AM - Wave 1 had already gone at 6 sharp, we weren’t suppose to go until the 3rd wave, but when we saw the 3:45 pacer going at the end of wave 2 we high tailed it to catch up. Our plan was to stick with the pacer as best we could (but not getting in front of him). Mile 1 went fine, we were right in line with the pacer and our time was 8:37 which was just about perfect. Miles 2 and 3 were uphill and during mile two I had my first thought of ‘wow. I may not be able to finish this thing’. I had a feeling during training that I needed to incorporate more hills, but never made and effort to do it. So during mile 2 when the incline was killing me, I was cussing myself out. John ran ahead of me, attacking the hill, and I just kept my sights on his hat and told myself ‘catch up’. After the third mile we started the downhill, and I felt a billion times better.
6:29 AM - Downhill time. Before the race, I had told John that i did NOT want to start too fast. That had been my downfall the first marathon and I so badly didn’t want to replicate that. He had asked me ‘at what point would you look down and be worried about your mile split?’ I had told him ‘if I see an 8:20 I will be slowing down.’ I wasn’t sure how much affect the downhill would have, but mile 4 came in at 8:14 and a little alarm went ringing through my head and I tried to slow my legs down. The next two miles came in at 8:23 and 8:26. Still a bit fast, but John and I kept saying ‘this feels good’, dang rookie mistake.
7:00 AM - We saw Colton, William & Emily ALOT throughout the race, which was really great. Best cheer squad around. I was feeling content with where I was, running around an 8:30 pace. We were just about halfway done when I felt my left hamstring tighten up. At first I thought, no biggie, it’ll loosen up in no time.
7:54 AM - Halfway. The pacer had been in front of us the entire time, and we had a feeling he was going much too fast. When we crossed halfway at 1:51, and he was easily 400m in front of us, we knew he wasn’t doing the best job. (later Colton told us that he finished with one other runner. Nobody aiming to run a 3:45 could keep up with him). At mile 14, my hamstring felt tighter and I let John go. I pushed with what I had but the pain was more intense with every step. The idea of DNF’ing was big and bold in my mind. I thought about having to tell my coach I didn’t finish the race and that propelled me forward, that was the last thing I wanted to do.
8:50 AM - Roughly 20 miles in, my pace had slowed and I was struggling. I had seen Colton a couple times. The look of determination on his face pushed me forward; ‘you’ve worked too hard to give it anything but your best, Jess’. This stuck with me the last 6 grueling miles. By this point I had thought about walking off the course a billion times, but with only 6 miles left I knew I would finish. Finishing with a PR was no longer a concern, FINISHING became the goal. Around mile 22 I got frustrated with my leg. It was still tight, my pace was slow and my mentality was extremely negative. I saw Colton and tossed him my handheld water bottle.
9:56 AM - I saw Colton, Emily, and William about .3 from the finish line. I remember the pain in my leg and the joy from seeing the finish line. Every step hurt, but there was no way I had come this far to not finish with what I had. I hit my best pace of the marathon (7:04) in the last .2. I finished in 3:54.11 and hobbled my way to John who had finished in 3:51 (a huge PR for him!!).
I texted my coach that with the events of my life, I was okay with this time. It was a PR after all, but I wanted that 3:45. She let me know it was okay to be happy with a PR but not satisfied. That completely explained how I felt. Unsatisfied. I’ll be chasing another marathon dream someday, but I’m ready to take a break from the long runs, at least for a little bit. I need to figure out how to train in a hot summer, at altitude, and with a change in diet before I tackle another 26.2.