Yesterday I did something crazy. After finishing the Ventura Half Marathon in 1:24 a bunch of people asked me if I was shooting for a sub-3 full marathon. I honestly did not think it was possible. I plugged my stats in this race time predictor and it seemed like a stretch. It said 3:02:31. Considering it’s LA and we’re always running races in the heat, MAYBE a 3:05, but 2:xx?! Yeah, it felt too scary to even try, but just for the heck of it I decided to do a little experiment. Part of me wanted to show Brent how insane he was for thinking I could pull it off.
There was absolutely nothing to lose. Long Beach is a 30 minute drive from home. I wasn’t trying to qualify for Boston. I went into yesterday thinking “This is sub-3 attempt #1.” I thought I’d get a good training run in and see how long I could hang. I was fully prepared to DNF if I was hurting. I figured I could maybe recover and try again another time. For that reason I didn’t tell many people I was running the marathon. If people asked, I didn’t lie, but I wasn’t advertising it. Being the goody-goody I am I felt bad not telling Mama and Papa. I tell them everything!
Brent was in Chicago for a wedding, which worked out well because I didn’t want to do much on Saturday besides sit around and eat carbs. Saturday I had oatmeal with almond butter, blueberry jam, and coconut chips for breakfast.
A bunch of snacks at the expo followed by this roast beef bad boy.
And a few tacos for dinner. I think I overdid it with the carbs. Miles 23-26 I felt like I was going to throw up, but I managed to finish with no chunks. Turns out when you are tapering you don’t have to eat like you’re running 50+ miles a week.
I slept from maybe 10-3:30 on Saturday night, which isn’t too shabby for the night before a marathon. I had my morning coffee and could only handle half my bagel PB&J because I was still full from the day before. I sent Brent this selfie and was off to meet Ellen, Peter, and Alaina.
We got to Long Beach and parked in no time. There were absolutely no lines for the bathrooms and I had about 30 minutes to kill before the race. I felt dumb making my way to the front of the starting line. I felt like I didn’t belong there with all the intenso looking guys. At 6:05 we were off. It was still a cool 61 degrees, and I was eager to get started before the sun came out.
Unlike Boston where I didn’t get a good groove much of the race, I quickly fell into a 6:50 pace. It felt hard but smooth. I kept reminding myself to relax my shoulders, and smiled and thanked all the water volunteers as a way to stay calm. At the 5K point I was happy to still be on pace. At 10K I still felt OK. When I reached the half at 1:29 I though, “Hey, even if I drop out now I’ll have run a 1:29 half.” I felt good, but was nervous. The rough teens were approaching.
I started passing more men, and that was motivating. Many of them had started fast and were slowing down. I tried to make friends and chat with the few people around me. Sadly nobody was in the mood to talk 😦 I knew Alaina and my new awesome co-worker Kevin (he lives in the LBC) were going to be at mile 16. They gave me a huge boost of energy before I entered Cal State Long Beach. Kevin even made the sign that said Optimism + Grit = Lowry. (Two of my favorite Equitas Values) Fun fact: I spent 6 weeks at Cal State Long Beach the summer I moved to LA when I was in teacher training for Teach For America. Brent and I also had our first kiss on Long Beach’s campus pretty much on the path up the 18 mile hill on the course. Thinking about Brent and I first meeting powered me up that hill 🙂 At this point (I thought) nobody was around so I started talking to myself. Turns out there was a guy right behind me. I’m hoping he appreciated the pump up talk. I then looped back off campus and saw Alaina and Kevin again at 20 and gave them a thumbs up that I was ok.
At mile 23 my stomach started cramping up. My pace still felt maintainable, my legs were tired but I knew I could hold on, mentally I was feeling strong, but my stomach was not happy. I’d grazed on honey stingers and pretzel nuggets in the early miles, but fuel was sounding absolutely disgusting at this point. I told myself it was just a lazy 3 miler to the finish line, and used all kinds of positive self-talk. At this point the marathon course met back up with the half that had started at 7:30. At my mile 25 I ran into Peter who was finishing up the half. It was so exciting to see him and have someone to finish with. Peter looks a whole lot happier than me!
I dug a little deeper and pumped my arms knowing it was close. We turned left to the finish. It wasn’t until I had less than 800 meters to go that I believed what others had told me they knew was possible. I looked at the clock and saw 2:58. Peter looked surprised and said “You’re going to finish under three!” I tried to soak in the moment, knowing that it was something I’d never forget. 2:58:19.
Gisele (who works for Run Racing and organized the event) surprised me at the finish line and ran up to me and gave me a hug. Alaina was there too. I was in shock and just kept saying “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.”
Ellen finished the half in 1:34 just 2 minutes after I crossed. She reached her goal of sub-1:35! It was an awesome reunion of Alaina, Gisele, Peter, Ellen, and I at the finish. Lucy, a friend from Equitas who lives in Long Beach was there too. I was annoyingly excited.
I called Brent first, then I called Mama and Papa who didn’t even know I was running a marathon and sounded a bit confused.
After eating smoked salmon and drinking a mimosa in the VIP tent (the only things that sounded good) we grabbed coffee at my favorite spot, Recreational Coffee. Things were getting hot at that point.
We drove back up to LA, Marta came over to hang out. We picked Brent up and went to The Tripel, of course. Long Beach, you’ll always have a special place in my heart. Gisele, I can’t thank you enough for all your hard work in organizing such a well-executed event. I’ll never forget crossing the finish line and seeing you and Alaina run up to me with your huge smiles. Thank you for making that experience possible. I am so lucky to have you as a running role model and as a friend.
Also, special shout out to Alaina for waking up at 4 in the morning to come cheer for me. I’m so lucky to have you as a BFF. Seeing you at 16 and 20 was what I needed to make it through the day.
Thinking of running the Long Beach Marathon? You should. During the entire race I kept thinking “Why did it take me so many years to run this marathon!?”
- Early start for the full
- Mostly flat course with lots of variety
- Post-race tents and celebration area was so much fun! Plenty freebies, massages, a huge run club village, beautiful view of the boats and the Queen Mary, lots of palm trees, space to sit outside on the grass.
- Well-organized expo and easy packet pick-up
- Big city race feel without the crowding on the course
- Plenty of water on the course
- NUUN ON THE COURSE! (extra points for this)
- Honey Stingers on the course
- Shirt size swap at the expo
- No porta-potty lines
- Lots of spectators, fun bands, cheerleaders and other course support
- Great snack bags at the end. The bag was awesome. Always annoying when you’re trying to hold your phone, bananas, water, etc.
- Cold towels at the end
- Temps might affect you. I think it was 73 degrees when I finished, but well into the 80s an hour later.
- Didn’t love this year’s shirt, but I do like the official merchandise!