Monday, October 13, 2014

Race Report: Long Beach Half Marathon {30th Anniversary}

Long Beach ICB Half Marathon
October 12, 2014 | Long Beach, CA

Just two weeks ago, I was gifted a half registration to the LB Half for my birthday from one of my dearest friends in Texas - I was beyond shocked and so so so excited, and can't ever think Sarah enough for getting me in for this opportunity! Even then, on Wednesday my NYR ambassador + running friend Monica asked what pace I was planning on running at the half. I was gearing up for a sub-2, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and not just on a huge downhill at Fontana. So then this happened:
Monica was aiming for a 2:05 finish, which would be just about a 6-minute PR for her. That sounded pretty comfortable to me, so I quickly jumped on board. Needless to say, if you read the above, I was pretty excited!

Race morning was a little chaotic. Long Beach isn't all that super easy to in/out of anyway, but with the 405/22/605 closing, it was sure to be a cluster. Lucky for me, I don't normally go that way anyway, but the closures seemed to cause major chaos for tons of folks. (Bear in mind there are 15,000 for the half marathon alone, plus the full, 5K and bike tour folks = TONS of people in LB). The expo gives you the opportunity to pre-pay parking and guarantee yourself a spot in one of two garages or a handful of city lots for $10. Mentally, I thought this was a great idea, given that I didn't know what race morning looks like here, so just before I left the expo on Saturday I bought myself a spot. Despite arriving in LB at 6:12 on race morning, I didn't actually park until nearly 6:50 because of all the bottlenecks. Shenanigans.

This girl's gonna PR today!
Despite all that, I had time to get into a pre-race routine, meet with Jessica her bib and shirt, and get down to the start to find Monica + other new friends as we waited. Monica said she'd run what she could with me, but if she started to get too tired, I could go. I told her no way, that I had made myself a 2:05 bracelet and everything and she would PR today. She said if she could hold on until mile 8 or so, she'd be happy.

The waves are a little messy - the first wave is for finishers in times of 1:16-2:09, and the following  waves are in only 20 minute increments. Needless to say, the first wave was HUGE and looked like it kept on going. Lucky for us, we were able to jump in in an opening in the gates and got started. Monica and I talked other races for the years, previous PRs, where she needed to take her Blox, and did she want to push it now or at the end? Talked Avengers registration with two other ladies, scoffed at the bicyclist on the beach path who thought it would be okay to play his bell so WE (yes, 15,000 runners) would get out of his way.

Endless runners. 
The beach path is gorgeous and flat and easy, but it drags on forever. I swear that part would never end, despite telling the guy running next to us that it turned around at the dog beach, which was "just behind that building!"... or three buildings later. Mile 10 brought a cheering station with donut holes (which they're apparently known for), and the last two miles are nearly flooded with people cheering and yelling and cowbelling non stop. It sure makes up for the mostly quietness of the 3-4 miles down the beach path!

Just before mile 1l, Monica said she was over it and she was starting to hurt. At about this point, she had exactly 24 minutes to run just over 2.4 miles, so I knew as long as we'd keep shufflin', she'd be close. She said (somewhere along the course) that 2:05 would be perfect, but she just wanted a PR. I kept pushing, yelling encouraging her from just steps ahead, and got smiles and nods from other runners nearby to push her along as well. I told her I'd drag her if I had to! About a quarter of a mile out, I grabbed her hand and pulled in her for a strong last burst.

"There's the finish!"
"There, around the bend. Follow the fence."
"THAT's the finish?!"
"*screams*" and bolts.
Hands up, locked together, for an epic photo finish. I wish Marathon Foto would get on that already.

Splits (9:34 average)
10:18 (that blasted Mile 11!)
7:26 for .21 miles on my Garmin

2:06:26 and a 4:50 PR for miss Monica! While it wasn't her 2:05 dream, she is beyond stoked with her PR and knows that sub-2 is near in her future (wink).

Stupid humidity and sweat made all these photos blurry. :(
Afterwards, we found Jessica, Michelle and other friends at the IERC table, played around with our new shiny bling (side note: these medals are gorgeous) and wandered around for awhile. Such a great race morning with friends and reminds me how lucky I am to have some really awesome communities out here in LA. Grateful.

Me, Monica, Jessica, Michelle. 
I am so stoked for Monica and her PR and am glad I got to be a part of her LB journey! I am also really excited because despite some tightness after, a 2:06 was super comfortable for me, which tells me a lot about my conditioning lately and that I can totally aim for my sub-2 again at RnR LA in two weeks! Here we go!

Happy race day indeed!

Did you race this weekend? Brag about it here!


  1. Congratulations to both of you! That was really sweet of you to pace Monica to a PR!!

    1. It was a blast - despite not reaching 2:05, I couldn't have asked for anything better than an almost-5 minute PR!