Long Beach Marathon Race Review

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.

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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.fullsizerender

A bunch of snacks at the expo followed by this roast beef bad boy.

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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.
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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.

14543703_10154025061725829_8834440773061573493_o.jpgUnlike 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. IMG_5463.JPG

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 šŸ˜¦ 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 šŸ™‚ 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. img_2005.jpg

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!

FullSizeRender.jpgI 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. FullSizeRender_1.jpg

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.”

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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.

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 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.

o.jpgAfter 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. FullSizeRender_2.jpg

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!?”

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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!
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5 thoughts on “Long Beach Marathon Race Review

  1. I think I’m still on spectators high. It was hands down the best race I’ve ever watched. I’m so proud of you and your new PR and I’m glad I got to be there yelling and scream and crying.

  2. Congratulations Cristina, tell us next time that you run a Marathon. Papa and I like to run along with you in our head. You are a FAST runner.

  3. Pingback: Why I’m not an InstaRunner. | The Restless Runner

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