I love where I live, and I love where I run, which is why I will always and forever run the Ventura Marathon. It doesn’t hurt that Ventura is run by super speedster and presumably type-A race director Josh Spiker.
The Ventura Marathon is actually the culminating event of a weekend-long beach party that includes a high school cross country meet, road cycling events, an open-water swim clinic, and races for all ages and distances!
My weekend began on Saturday after the husband came home from work and after I laid down a good, easy-feeling 4 mile marathon pace jog around town. We drove up to the expo in the morning because Mini Me and Blondie wanted desperately to run one of the kids’ races (there were three different options ranging from a little kid dash to a mile sand run).
As usual, Blondie and I had to use the potties, which were lined up in artistic fashion.
I’m not sure what the port potty sitch was the morning of the race, but I can testify right now that they worked really well! Blondie, however, was shocked and appalled after she made the mistake of looking INTO the toilet after I told her not to.
They were clean. I promise.
Packet pickup was a snap, and the volunteers were amazingly friendly and efficient!
I was surprised that there weren’t that many people at the expo by 11! The sun was completely out in true September-November-in-Ventura fashion and the temps were in the high 70s, so it was the absolute perfect day to hang out at the beach!
I forgot completely to register the girls for their races, but we were able to quickly buy their bibs at the registration table.
They were number 1!!!!!
Yes, my people wear dresses. All the time. They both have some super cute running clothes from Target, but Mini Me claims that she runs faster in a dress. Can’t fault her for that! It’s a point of contention with her P.E. teacher.
The kids’ races took place on the sand and ran under the pier.
The winner of the sand mile was a girl! Just sayin’…
And then there were my babies!
I cannot even begin to count the reasons why I love that girl so much!
And then Blondie and Daddy HCR came through.
Obviously my photog skills need work, but is this not just the most adorable?!?!?!?!
The girls were both so stinking proud of running their race! To commemorate the moment, I forced them to stare into the sun.
A lot of the times, races have kids’ runs that are only 1 mile. That’s LONG for littles like Blondie! The goal is to get them to love running, right? Not to resent the distance? The half-mile sand race was just the right distance for Mini Me to push herself and keep the smile on her face and for Blondie to finish while still holding hands with Daddy! And they both got medals!
After the girls’ race, we went up to the expo along the promenade (you can read more about it on TSA’s post! <–He is a super rad Hawaiian who currently resides in AZ, and he thought the weather was cool!!! He’s crazy! He needs to move to CA!) where I accosted my all time favorite recovery drink makers!
I cannot tell you how much I am obsessed with Fluid. It’s a local company from San Luis Obispo, and I swear up and down that the recovery drink is what has kept me training well for the past year! Also, their performance bev. is my go-to on 10-14 milers. It’s not too sweet and gives me an extra magical boost AND it’s gentle on my ultra-sensitive tim tim. On every marathon where it’s feasible, I have had my husband meet me at mile 21 with a fresh handheld of Fluid performance because it’s magical and gives me quick energy without causing my sensitive stomach to throw a fit!
Of course, I bought two recovery tubs and two performance tubs!
I am a fan of all of the performance flavors, but the Chocolate Wave recover flavor has my heart. I drink it with either water or almond milk after my runs. It’s pretty much amazing.
Then, the most amazing thing happened! I ran into TSA in real life!!!!! I am sure that he was creeped out by my awkwardness, but he was nice enough to take a gazillion pictures with me!
He is seriously the nicest dude in the world! I plan on running many more races with him just so I can absorb his aloha spirit!
We checked out some more of the vendors (I signed up for Surf City again–new goal-setting happening now) and came across the BEST FREEBIES!!!!!
Anyone who has a bit of radness in them knows that there is no such thing as too much cowbell!
Although I was tempted to buy up all the ProCompression socks that I currently don’t own as we passed them (only limited to their new runner low socks), I promised the girls I would let them do one more fun thing before we left, so we found the Macaroni Kid booth and made some noodle necklaces!
After blowing all of my cash at the expo and sending the girls into a hunger fit, the fam and I agreed to carb load at The Counter in Westlake, where I ordered my standard sweet potato fries, homemade veggie patty with roasted mushrooms, house-made dried cranberries, and gruyere with a pretzel roll bun and a glass of Firestone (a localish brewery) Union Jack IPA!
Man, I love that place!
Then, thanks to my forever wonderful and always helpful mom, I dropped the girls off for the night. I actually gave the girls the choice of coming to watch me race or stay with Nana and Papa, and they didn’t even hesitate for a split second and chose Nana’s! They love her so much!
That night, I checked out the sweet swag (I’ve used the bag a gazillion times in the past 2 weeks!) and painted my nails, a race ritual I will most certainly never give up.
And then I laid out Flat HauteChocolateRunner:
And crafted the best 11-mile playlist thanks to the amazing Kristy! I charged my new little, Elsa-blue iPod…
Had a beer, and then hit the hay.
In the morning, I woke up at 4:00 for some java (I’m not giving it up ever again. I’ve made the executive decision about that one.) and toast.
Yes, that’s whipped cream in my coffee. I can’t stop. It’s just too delicious.
I also ate a banana and drank a mini-bottle of blue some-sort-of-“ade”-drink with soaked chia seeds.
The race started at 6:20, but even waking up at 4, I knew I was still going to be late when the husband started the car at 5:55.
He hauled (safely) up the 101 and dropped me off at California Street so that I could use my super secret potties before hopping into my corral. In classic HCR style, I heard Wave 1 start as I jogged over to the start near the pier, so I knew that I’d have to start with a slower wave, which was kind of annoying because I SWEAR to you I tried my hardest to be on time to this race!
If I remember correctly, the 3:45 pacer was in the front of Wave 2. I was a little bummed because I wanted to try to hang with the 3:25 pacer as long as I could. Oh well. As soon as we started, I wove my way to the wide open roads of Ventura.
Also, can we talk about how awesome FREE race photos are?!?!?!
Also, I’m not really a T-rex.
My first 5ish miles were in the 7:55s, which felt very comfortable. During that time, I felt the first blister beginning to form on the pointer-toe on my left foot. Stupidly, I had trimmed my callouses a couple days earlier to make my feet look prettier in my Birks. You can reserve judgement. Thanks.
I also ran into THE Alex!!! He trains and races all while trying to slay Chronic Leukemia. I’m not even joking. Talk about strength! I was super SUPER excited to finally run into him because we’ve run a lot of the same races, and he is ULTRA inspiring! It pretty much made my day seeing him on the course!
A little while later, I saw a Oiselle singlet and picked up the pace to see who it was! It was Venita!!! I am telling you, seeing people you know/want to know in a race is SUCH a major booster!!! She was so nice!
Then, around the 10K mark, I ran into Monica of RunEatRepeat! She runs a lot of the same races that I do, too, but I have never run into her until that Sunday just as the sun started to break through the fog. I introduced myself and tried not to come off as a creeper. I’m sure she was totally frightened.
Fortunately, the paps were there to capture everything.
In classic HCR style, I started talking her ear off. It’s a lonely road out there. She for sure was rolling her eyes behind her sunnies. I told her to have a great race, and peeled off. She was obviously happy about that choice:I need to practice being less awkward. I’ll add that to my goal list.
As Harbor Blvd. turned into Channel Islands Blvd., I was running straight into the sun. The sun was just at the height where my visor couldn’t block it unless I tucked my chin into my chest, which I tried and decided against. Instead, I ran with my eyes closed until I hit Ventura Road and headed South. No joke. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
The run down to the halfway mark was uneventful. I was working harder to hold an 8-min. mile pace and knew that with the heat, I would soon be in trouble. I passed the 3:35 pacer and caught up to the 3:30 pacer, which was also an indication that I was going to be in trouble. Too fast, as usual.
And then I saw the always inspiring and extra sweet Pam trekking back towards the start! I need to have a long chat with her. She is such a hard trainer, and her recovery is spot on. She also puts her family first, which is a HUGE deal! It’s my goal to steal her secrets!
The course this year was changed so that there was just one hairpin turn in Port Hueneme instead of a loop around the parking lot of Hueneme Beach Park, which was nice.
Running back towards Ventura, I knew I was in trouble. It wasn’t a physical trouble, but more of a mental trouble. The wheels weren’t turning over as fast as I wanted them to, my left pointer-toe was in full-on throb/sting mode, and I could tell that the same toe on my right foot was going to start feeling the same at any moment. I was hot, I was cranky, and I just wanted to go home.
Around mile 16, as I continued running down Channel Islands Blvd. towards the bridge, I gave up.
In my mind, all I could think of was how I failed to follow through with my summer training for a 3:25 finish at Ventura. I thought it would be cool to PR, but once my Garmin beeped at 16 and the 3:30 group passed me, full of BQ hopefuls, I threw in the towel. I figured (at the time) that I had a sub-3:30 BQ time to use for registration for Boston 2015, and, honestly, I just wanted to stop pushing it.
I made a deal with myself: from mile 16 to 26.2, I would give myself a 30-second walk break every mile. I also turned on my music. And you know what? It worked! My mood turned right around, and I was ready to go!
By mile 18 (I think?), the 3:35 group passed me, but I didn’t really mind! I just wanted every single one of those people to get their BQ! Really! I wasn’t beating myself up over my run/walk strategy or anything! I was just happy to be out there, witnessing other runner who trained SODARNHARD push towards their goal!
At the same time, I was SUPER hot! At the start of the race, I dumped one cup of water over my head at every aid station, but by this time, I was double-fisting the water cups!
Finally, at mile 22, I saw my amazing husband. I’m almost tearing up writing this because seeing him was the most wonderful thing in the world. He had spent the morning surfing, hopped on his bike, and was there right where he said he was going to be to deliver my handheld filled with Fluid!
He handed over my drink and immediately pedaled off because last year, I was so focused on BQing that chatting/niceties were just not part of my plan. This year, however, I could have used a buddy to talk to. (I know what you’re thinking… dude can’t catch a break… but know that I am always super appreciative of everything he does for me. He is really the best person for me.)
The fluid did the trick as usual. It made me feel better while I pushed through the last 4 miles. Turning into Pierpont has never felt so good… until I felt the pointer on my right foot go. That’s never a good feeling. Soon, I heard the crowd, and kicked it into gear so that I would at least come in under 3:40.
I was beyond happy to cross that finish line! (Photo courtesy of the husband!)
Marathon #7 done in 3:39:38.9.
I also hunted down Shane to try to convince him that I’m really not as awkward as I came off the day before.
We’re PC lovers and friends for life!
I really do love the marathon distance… just not racing every single one of them. I think that’s the big takeaway from this race. I don’t always have to go for a PR. Right?
The Ventura Marathon was super well-organized, there was a TON of course support (Thank you so much, volunteers), the kids who were volunteering knew how to hold a cup out for runners (this is a HUGE deal!), and everyone was just so nice and supportive! It’s a small race, so the course was relatively quiet, but because it was so well organized and staffed, I will be a repeat customer every year.
After finishing, the husband went to get our shoes to donate, and I ran into Wendy (a super cool chick I met at Future Track last year and then met up with in Boston) and her husband in the beer garden, where we planned a Surf City meet up and toasted with a Firestone IPA! Then we headed home, but not before the requisite selfie!
Once we got back to my mom’s house to pick up the girls, I treated the best lab in the world to a salt lick.
It was so hot that day that salt was caked on my arms and face!
Overall, I really love this race. I need to revamp my goals for each race (not every race needs to be a goal race) and prioritize maybe 1 or 2 marathons a year (I really do love 26.2), though. I’m already signed up for next year, in fact!
I think my nutrition during the race was okay. I ran with a handheld full of Cherry Limeade Nuun at the start, took a PB Gu at mile 6.5, a salted caramel Gu at 12, a PB Gu at 17, and the handheld of Fluid that I sipped on from mile 22-26.2. I might have fared better with the caffeinated salted caramel at 17, but I was concerned that the husband wouldn’t make it to 22, so I was reserving it in case of emergency. I also took a salt cap around 1.5 hours when I felt funky… like I was sweating more than I was drinking. It helped. At every aid station, I threw 1-2 cups of water over my head and sipped on 1.
I didn’t take an ice bath after this race, and I will never make that mistake again. I’ve literally been off running for almost 2 weeks, and I really do believe that’s because I didn’t ice or stretch or feed myself properly afterwards.
Lessons learned, right?
Well, I’m back into training as of today! 10 miles in 82 minutes. Stay tuned to some training and race news!
I’m hoping to add either Long Beach or the RAD race in October, but as of right now, the next race on my schedule is the Lace Up Half Marathon in Ventura in November!
If you want to join me (there’s also a 5K, a 10K, and beer!), use code RunLaceUp9 for 10% off!!!
Well, have a great weekend!
Where is your next race?