The long version: take a seat, this may be a while ;)
Saturday morning, my mom and I hit the road for Southern California at 6am. With very little traffic, we were down there in record time and hitting up the expo after lunch around 12:30. The expo was so-so, they cramped the vendors into a pretty small area that they could have opened more and none of the volunteers knew what was going on. No biggie, I've been through the race experience a zillion times, we'll figure it out in the morning. By 2 we were checked into our hotel and taking a nap ;)
My running buddy and bloggy friend L.B. had asked me earlier in the week if we we wanted to have dinner with him. Of course I did! So, around 5 my mamma, my uncle who lives in the area and I all met Luis at California Pizza Kitchen for a nice pre-race dinner. All of downtown Long Beach was buzzing with runners - it was fun to be out in that atmosphere. Luis had plans of PRing at the half the next day and as we talked race strategy I had that same sinking feeling arise in me that I had pushed down all week and all day: I did not want to run the full. I had been telling myself that I would be fine once I got to the start, but I could not fight the anxiety that had built. I teased Luis that I would join him in the half, but I don't think he believed me. I don't think I believed myself.
By the time my mom and I got to our hotel, I let her know I was not going to run the full. She was actually quite glad, as she was worrying and could see it was eating at me all day. The second I said it out loud and confirmed for myself that it was the new plan, I felt a huge weight come off of me. Sure, I was a bit disappointed in myself, I was a bit sad not to be able to feel that marathon glory tomorrow, but I was okay with my decision. And that for me sealed the deal and reassured me that I was making the right choice for me.
When I woke up the next morning bright and early to get ready, for a split second I thought, "I should suck it up and just run the full." But I knew I wouldn't be happy - and no one wants to be unhappy at mile 15 of a marathon. Your heart has to be in it - and I just knew mine was not. We arrived at the start with plenty of time. I have to say there were a billion porta potties and I had no troubles at all with that aspect of the morning. What was a problem: the race corrals. They had all the races start together, and no defined racing corrals. Everyone just piled into the start area - and this was bad. I pushed my way to the front, just about 3 deep back from the elite. But all around me were people who should NOT have been in the front. By the time I was ready to start, I knew I had made the right choice.
The weather was actually quite humid. Both my mom and I commented on it numerous times during the weekend. We don't get much, if any, humidity where we live. So, when we feel it, WE FEEL IT. The weather temp-wise though, was perfect for running. That made me excited. But because I had been focusing on my race strategy all week for the full, I had not thought about my half. In a split second, I decided to see if could go sub 1:45 and attempt a bit faster pace than my MP (8:00) miles. I felt ready to run fast!
The gun went off and I was immediately glad I was not running the full. I had made the right choice and it felt good. The course has a lot of out and backs and loops, and that was one of the reasons I really didn't want to run the full. The first half there are a few out and backs, but the whole second half, from mile 10.5 and back to the finish is a giant out and back with a small little loop. I'm not good at out and backs mentally, I know this about myself and I had seen that on the course and knew it would be disaster for me.
I was cruising along pretty well early on, all the way through the 6 mile marker. It was so humid and wet out, I was soaked! I don't think I have ever been that soaked on a run before (aside from running in the rain!). By mile 6, I could feel things rubbing me raw - again, a good thing I wasn't running the full!
I was totally cruising through the first 6, it felt soooo good to just run and not think too much. I also wore my iPod, which I haven't done for a race in forever!
mile 1 - 7:42 (feeling pretty good)
mile 2 - 7:41
mile 3 - 7:39
mile 4 - 7:46
mile 5 - 7:36
mile 6 - 7:42 (I.am.so.thirsty.)
mile 7 - 7:59 (need.water.now.)
mile 8 - 7:58 (where is the water stop?)
Finally at mile 9, I came up to a water stop and walked through it. I drank down two cups of water. I had been just cruising along for so long that I didn't pay attention to any drinking or eating. I was enjoying the course (it's always fun to run in a new place), the scenery and just running that I never thought of drinking! I know, I'm an idiot. But when you were once staring down the barrel of a full, and now you're running a half, you think you have this in the bag! Wrong! You still have to be prepared, and not paying attention in the first half of the race cost me dearly.
mile 9 - 8:20 (walked through water stop)
mile 10 - 8:13 (walked through next water stop)
mile 11 - 8:28 (took an orange and a cup of water from a nice family outside cheering)
Also, in between mile 10 and 11 was the split for the full. For a split second (again!) I felt like going right. There was a guy on a ladder standing in the middle of the split directing runners. When I went with the half, he was yelling at me to go to the right! I gave him the cut off sign and kept running. I felt like an idiot. I felt like a failure. I felt deflated. By the time I got to mile 11, even though I had ran pretty well, I didn't want to run anymore. I just wanted to be done with all things Long Beach.
mile 12 - 8:29 (where the hell is the damn finish!)
mile 13 - 7:50
last .2 - 7:25/mi pace
Total time: 1:44:56
div place (F 30-34): 23/946
overall place: 529/9107
When I got to the finish, I think I was one of the first to come through with a full marathon bib and everyone looked perplexed. The young kids handing out medals and blankets did not know what to do with me. It wasn't until I met up with LB at the finish that I saw that they gave me the full marathon medal - not the half :( Oh well, I payed for it and I know how the day went.
Right when I finished I saw my mom. She was so glad I ran the full. And so was I! I was covered in sweat. I was soaking wet and I had chaffed bad, which never happens to me. The weather had cooled a ton and I just wanted to leave. But NOT before I saw LB cross the finish! We finally got to meet up with LB on the other side of the finish area where we shared
The finish area was a bit of a disaster, but nothing that a little patience couldn't cure. By the time I got my bag and got out of there, I was ready to go home. I ran a decent race, I enjoyed the company and the town of Long Beach and crossed off the Long Beach Half as one of the races I need for the California Dreamin Series. I just have to run the Surf City Half in February to get my giant bling!
I learned a lot about myself with this race. I learned that, if your heart isn't in a race, you're not going to enjoy yourself. But on top of that, I also learned that you need to prepare yourself mentally before any race if you want to do well. I may have set myself up to fail from the get-go. I only wanted to run this race to BQ, and nothing else. I was never excited about the race itself, I wasn't excited that my hubbs couldn't join me. I never made the race important. Sure, I trained the hell out of it for it. Sure, I could have gone there and probably gotten the job done in terms of my time goals. But I never gave myself a chance - and that is where I come up short. I'm not ashamed. I'm not upset. I'm actually really proud of myself for recognizing that the full was not the one for me. Again, sure, I could have owned up to it way earlier on. But I was so focused on the task at hand (i.e. BQing again) that I ignored all of my fears. In the end though, I did what was right for me, I ran a race that I enjoyed way more. I was adult enough, and I was a smart enough runner to know: you don't run a race that you don't want to. You don't run a race that your heart is not into. Take that piece of advice from all of this: be committed, or you will surely fail.
I have big plans coming up. Big things I want to do. I am in great shape. I'm totally in BQ form right now and I want to see what I can do. I have some things in the works right now, I'll share it all with you in due time. But right now, I want to continue to run strong and enjoy it. I don't get paid to do this, it's not my job. I'm so excited that I still get to run this week - I'm not sore at all from yesterday. I still have one more goal race left in me for this year and I'm excited about it - no, really I AM!
Thank you to all of you for your support over the last few weeks. You were all in my head and heart yesterday when I made the right decision. I know you would have all told me to do what I did: run what you're going to enjoy - don't force it. So again, thanks for all the encouragement this past week, for believing in me and cheering for me. Don't worry, that 3:30 is in me, it will make it's day debut!
You all did amazing this weekend! I'm off to catch up with all you crazy marathoners! Congrats to Tonia and Marlene, and my girl Tara who is now a fellow Marathon Maniac! Whoo hoo!
I will also post all the fun pics from the race tomorrow, including my fun time with Luis!
Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!