As we discussed in the Week Eight recap, I went into this race a little bruised and broken – both literally and figuratively.
A million years ago (March), long before Eugene or Ojai or this CIM cycle, I signed up for the Long Beach Marathon. It was going to pull double duty as 1) Goal BQ Marathon and 2) Fucking Redemption on the Failed 2011 Sub4 Failure.
But then the 3:37 at Huge Eug happened (2min off BQ standard), and I decided last-minute to piggyback Ojai2Ocean onto the training cycle, rationalizing that if in four weeks I showed up in the same shape but tapered I could lock in my spot for Hopkinton 2013.
Yeah, that backfired.
2012 in Ojai not so great either
So here I was, two marathons in, still no BQ, and if I was going to commit a full 16-week plan for Long Beach I’d have to jump right back into training after only a week. And that just wasn’t going to fly. I need time off – physically and mentally – before tackling a big 26.2 goal again.
So I dropped to the half at LB and pushed “Big Goal Marathon” to December (CIM), giving me plenty of time to re-charge. LB Half fit perfectly mid-cycle, an ideal spot for a tune up race, and I was excited to RACE a half marathon for the first time in…
I’ve run a lot of halves (12, to be exact) but hardly any were really trained for. 1) because I never really took running seriously and 2) I had no idea what “tempo” or “yasso” or “HMGP” were anyway so even if I wanted to I wouldn’t know how.
But I went through the half split faster than both of those at Eugene, so obviously I knew I was capable of more.
Half PR mid-marathon – can you count that??
The only question was, how much more?
I was feeling strong leading up to race week, and my confidence and mental game were tracking right along with the increases in my paces. I was ready to push my limits and put it all out there, and finally update my PR resume with a more indicative 13.1 time.
When the tibialis setback hit I was angry and disappointed. Angry because I SO wanted to go out, run like hell, and crush my 1:40 goal on Sunday. Disappointed because I knew I could, but wasn’t going to get the chance. And it was no one’s fault but my own.
I shelved the time goals and replaced them with “smart” goals – I’d DNS/DNF (did not start/finish) if the pain was too bad, and focus on how I felt rather than on time. I wanted a productive race, so if that meant finding victories in fueling, mental strength, or simply being smart about the future, then that’s what I’d take.
Monica DID run the full, and PR’d the crap out of it like whatever 26.2 miles NBD
Also this year Run Racing decided not to do bib transfers at the expo, despite their website saying they would. “Just keep that one (marathon bib) and run the half” Ugh.
To prevent a repeat of 2011 pre-race drama and have company on the early freaking drive up, I rode with Sheila and Kristina. We talked about
race strategy periods, got all hydrated & fueled up, and were at the Portapotty Party in no time.
Bang up good job, team
The Actual Race
After the 3mi test run Saturday went alright, I gave myself the green light to at least start the race. I figured I’d still go out around 1:40 pace (7:37), would adjust accordingly, and hope to finish the last 5k strong.
True to form, I went out a little too fast. Nothing crazy, so I just went with it. “Run on feel” – isn’t that what all you hippie anti-Garmin’ers say??
Eventually I settled in and found a stride I felt comfortable maintaining. I quickly reminded myself “this isn’t about time, it’s about feeling good and racing well” and accepted the slightly slower pace.
Biggest race success? Look at those freaking almost perfectly even splits!!
seriously, isn’t it kind of creepy? I can’t even make that up.
Bri and K’s bf were right before the long stretch of beach path at mile 7 (the first half winds around the Queen Mary and Shoreline Village on service roads) which was a nice distraction.
[ insert husband-commissioned pic he tried to take with his phone screen locked. I told him I’m hiring a race day boyfriend for the next one. He seemed relieved to be exempt from spectating duties? Rude. ]
The perfectly flat beach path and sun straight in our eyes (seriously, wear sunglasses) got monotonous though and I could feel fatigue setting in. My legs were tired of the repetition and I was paying WAY TOO MUCH attention to my shin, just waiting for the pain to hit.
Sorry that’s impossible to read. Rushed editting
I choked down a Gu (turns out? really difficult when you’re actually running hard) and told myself
“YOU’RE IN CONTROL. Keep it up. Just run these next few steady and easy, then we turn it on for the final 5k!”
As soon as I put mile 10 as the “that’s when shit’s gonna get tough” mark, the miles flew. Crap! Plan backfire! Slow down the pain train, I’m not ready for it yet! I clung to those last “easy” miles and did what I could to get pumped for a hard finish.
Unfortunately, that’s when the wheels came off. My tibialis seized and I had to shorten my stride to keep it in check.
Sheila caught me, and I was the worst company in the history of running. I wasn’t thinking about anything but keeping every millimeter of my body in “just right” alignment to keep the pain at bay – 25 minutes of focusing on every footfall, stride, and pebble on the street. SUCKED. STUPID.
At the Half/Full split, just like we knew it would, the director guy yelled and pointed me out, trying to get me and my yellow marathon bib on the other side of the cones.
“NO I’M GOING THIS WAY!!”
Sheila took off for her finish kick, and I dug and dug and tried to find mine, but didn’t have it. That gradual hill at 11 – the kind where your lungs and legs feel it but you can’t really see it – sucked any last energy I had.
After the longest 2 miles of life the finish came into sight. Gah! Finally! I’d been literally counting the steps. I put my head down, made the turn, yelled a surprise hi to Brian and his functioning but slow-shuttered camera, and crossed the finish.
(last .2 – no perfect tangents here – 6:58 pace)
Long Beach Half, 10.7.12 – 1:41.43 (* new PR)
* * * * *
Again, I let my mind dictate the end of this race – the mental toughness is still not there and I know that will be the make/break factor in future races. I need to be ok with that “pain place”, trust that there’s more left in my body than my brain thinks, and just freaking do it.
The good news is, there will be another race. And there’s a lot of room for more PR’ing.
AND and, in the newest test of race success/failure, Sheila and I got our post-race beers out of the first keg. If anything has ever made me feel fast, it’s that.
postscript : Sheila came super close to a PR despite going in thinking it’d be a “training run”, Kristina ran a freaking 1:34.xx on only a few hours of sleep, and Monica PR’d the marathon in her final long training run for NYC. My friends kick ass.
Rogas breaking tape!