Long Beach Half Marathon
Long Beach, CA | October 11, 2015
So after booking back from Brooklyn, I got to LAX about 7, to my car and down to the hotel in Long Beach where Doug was just about 8. After last year's parking debacle, I knew it wasn't going to be worth going home and driving down to LB in the morning, so we paid up for a hotel to save some stress on race morning. Worth every penny. We went and grabbed dinner and got our stuff ready for the morning - Doug worked on some grading and watched some last bits of the games on that night, but I was passed out well before 10:30.
The full marathon starts at 6:00 am and the half at 7:30. With the heat warnings and advisories, though, they were giving halfers the option to start with the full and try to beat the heat. I, frankly, wanted the extra hour of sleep and figured that after running LA this year, I could handle the heat for half the time. Doug figured he'd be okay too, given that he's out in the sun all summer and every single day during the week for football.
We opted to sleep in and got to the IERC tent to meet up with some folks at 6:45. It was warm, but not unbearably so, so we got settled and ready to get in for the 13.1 long haul. We heard that nearly 7,000 half marathoners had started at 6 am with the full marathoners, so I figured the 7:30 am wave would be fairly small.
There were still several thousand in for the late start, so I didn't feel so terrible or that this was a bad idea. I was really more worried about how my body would feel rather than how how it was getting. I was going to be pacing Jill from my pace group at club. Jill is coming back from an injury, so she just wanted to run a solid 9:30 pace throughout the race (which is what our pace is at the club) and finish with a strong 2:05-2:10 finish.
I walked the incline of the bridge - the worst 'hill' there is at Long Beach just to get my calves stretched out - they were definitely tired. We ran to the 5K mark where I walked again and knew I'd have trouble today - Jill asked if this was going to happen again and when I said "Probably," she said "Well then I'm going to get going!" And I agreed and told her that if she felt good, I wanted her to go - GO! That way I wouldn't feel bad, but already feel like I had let her down as her pacer. But at least I knew my limits?
I ended up adopting 4-1 intervals from miles 3-10. I haven't run intervals in a race in nearly 3 years, so at first that got to me pretty bad mentally. I felt like I had totally reverted to my old running self, not a confidence, faster one that I've become. I lost.
The beach path is the worst part because it's out in the sand, hot, with not an ounce of shade and little to no course support because it's off the road. I was definitely struggling here and tried to bargain with myself - if I walked an extra minute, I had to run an extra minute to even itself out and keep time fairly on track (I was aiming for at least a 2:15 up until mile 8 or so). At some point, I realized that wasn't happening anyway, so I just continued to truck along, cheering on others and telling others that "we've got this!" even if I didn't think I did.
I could down to the donut holes at mile 10. Counted down to the 11-mile mark and where the street fills up with people again for the last 2 mile stretch to the finish. Almost there, almost there. I had made friends with two girls as we leap-frogged each other from mile 9 on, so when they were off on the curb with their spectator friends drinking a beer, I stopped for a few sips too. I tell you, I never ever go to post-race beer gardens, but this Coors was cold. And delightful. And then I knew I just needed to get done.
Done and done. That's how I really felt at the finish, after slushing in to a 2:27 finish. Sometimes it's aboutu the finish line and not the finish time. With a temp of nearly 100 by the time we finished, it got nasty. I honestly don't feel like the heat got to me until mile 10 (just off the beach path), but it was the tired and how trashed my legs felt.
I'll take the finish - I waited around for Doug, greeted Jacky and learned that after a full swim on Friday, century bike ride on Saturday, this girl had just run her first sub-4 on Sunday. Ironman doesn't know what's coming for her!
Doug finished at a 2:40something, disappointed but satisfied and he's now 2/3 of the way done with his Beach Cities Challenge! Next up: Surf City, baby! (Wanna run with us? Use code SCMJOHNSTON10 for 10% off your Surf City registration!)
We hung out at the IERC tent for a little bit, tried getting a late check out and waddled our way back to the hotel to rinse off and pack before we headed home. Number 31, done and done. Back-to-back, bi-coastal? Done and done. That was a dumb idea. ;)
Have you ever done a double half marathon weekend?