Happy February, everyone!!! To celebrate the month of love and presidents, I decided to both start and end this month with 26.2s! I kicked off my marathon month with my ninth marathon, running Surf City in Huntington Beach, CA on Super Bowl Sunday. But before I get into the race recap, I think it’s important to explain my training and preparation.
When training for a marathon, I loosely follow Hal Higdon’s intermediate marathon plan, but I add in a mid-week 10-miler at marathon goal pace and run mostly between 10Ks and 8-milers at varying paces (mostly depending on how I feel; usually between 7:45 and 8:06 min/mi.). For Surf City, I had many, many gaps in my training. I completely missed one 16-miler, I ran on average 4-5 days a week, ran my first 20-miler on the road, the second on the treadmill, and the third on both the treadmill and the road. I am not a good treadmill runner. I like to stop. A lot.
I have a ton of excuses. Just ask, and I’ll have one. But the toughest part about training this (school) year has been the transition to working full time. I am finally in the groove of managing my kids, my husband’s schedule, my job, and my hobby, but it wasn’t without growing pains!
Pretty much, I need to suck it up, put my big girl pants on, and get to work if I want to see any improvements in my running.
To compensate from my training fails, I ate a lot of fun carbs like roasted purple sweet potatoes and soft pretzels.
Roasted purple sweet potatoes are so ridiculously tasty!!! Also, when the family and I went over to Ladyface Alehouse for brews and pretzels, they were out of their usual DIPA, so they surprised us with pints of Pliny the Elder!!!! <—That HAD to be a sign of good things to come!
So, compensations aside, I’m going to go ahead and call running Surf City a win for me personally even though it wasn’t a PR or even a personal course record.
For race weekend, my super fabulous mom and stepdad took our kids, which is a huge sacrifice for them that we appreciate sososososo much. (The girls ask to spend every night with Nana, Papa, Ruthie (the lab) and MA (the one-eyed shih tsu).)The husband and I drove down to Huntington Beach on Saturday, arriving with about 20 minutes left before the expo closed.
Thank you, 405 traffic!
I made sure to stop and see my favorites:
The most amazing Suzanne from ProCompression! I’m super pumped to be an ambassador for 2015 for PC! I’ve been wearing their socks since I first started running, and they are the bees’ knees. PLUS, they’re made in the US of A!!!
Last stop was at my most favorite water bottle filler: Nuun!!!
They were so nice and let me fill up my entire Nuun Boston bottle with grape! Staying hydrated is KEY to having a good marathon day!
After that, the husband and I drove the 20 minutes over to our ghetto Pricelined hotel in “Newport.” It was terrible last year, and it was terrible this year.
The folks at Extended Stay America added a new sign at registration:
The husband said that even though the sheets were stained, they still smelled bleached. He added that sometimes hospital sheets are that way.
Good thing I brought my own pillow and blanket!
Side note: I didn’t want to be trying to do a thousand things that evening (I usually try to see how many things I can do the night before a race), so I arrived with painted race nails:
Then the husband and I went to dinner.
We learned last year that if we don’t want to end up at Panera for dinner, we better make reservations early, so we nabbed a 6:30 reservation at Maggiano’s in Costa Mesa. I hadn’t been to Maggiano’s since I was in high school, but, man! If I could eat every pre-race dinner there, I would! It was soooo delicious!!!
We started with brews and bread. I know. Something new and different. =) The bread and olive oil seriously carved out a spot in my heart.
Then we ordered the bruschetta. Holy deliciousness.
Finally, we ordered our entrees. I’m a sucker for fresh angel hair pasta and olive oil. Holy smokes. It was ahhhhh-mazing.
Clearly, we dressed up for the occasion.
Fully carbed and ready to run/surf (we both have our loves), we returned to our hotel where I set out flat HCR:
And I put my feet up the wall:
We turned out the lights around 10, but no sleep was to be had, thanks to the 24-hour 1st floor Uhaul returns, Drunk Dude #1 and Drunk Dude #2 chillin’ in the hallway all night, and, well, have you ever tried sleeping in a bed with “clean” stained sheets?
Oh well. When my alarm went off at 5, I was more thankful than anything. After giving up coffee for the week before the race (I told you I was desperate to compensate for crappy training), I was more than stoked for a cup of the good stuff!
I also made some oatmeal with chia and brown sugar and chugged a small bottle of Powerade with chia seeds that had soaked overnight. Sadly, I failed as a blogger and forgot to take a picture of the Powerade, so I may or may not be telling the truth.
We planned on leaving at 5:45, but when we got into the elevator and met up with Drunk Mumbling Man (something about lasers pointing at him?), we knew something was up.
I can safely say that I’ve never exited a building that was completely surrounded by cops.
They gave us a puzzled look as we exited, but thankfully, a fellow woman in sport/police officer wished me luck in my race, allowing her fellow officers to file us into the “boarders who made a Priceline mistake” rather than the “hourly rate shadies” category.
As usual, we didn’t leave on time, so I ate a banana and sipped some cherry limeade Nuun on the way to the start. The husband dropped me off about a block away from the start, leaving only empty road and a line of empty porta potties between the start line and me!
Of course, I had to pee one last time. Unfortunately, those precious seconds were all it took to separate me from the wave 1 start. This was a slight bummer because I was hoping to run with the 3:30 pace group. On the upside, I had my picture taken… looking SUPER FAST starting with the second wave!
I mean, with pictures like that, I should be winning marathons!!!
Instead, I started out trying to stay around 8-minute miles. I really love the first half of Surf City because the course goes through quiet neighborhoods before winding through a really pretty park FILLED with cheering kids!!! Running 8:00s felt easy for the first half and some of the second half. Until it didn’t. Take a look at my splits:
At mile 15, I tried to take some Sport Legs, but when I put the small baggie in my teeth to rip it open, I lost two capsules on the ground, so I had to stop running to pick them up, but my fingers were sweaty, making the simple act of picking up my Sport Legs near impossible. I was bummed to have to stop, even more bummed to have to bend down, but not as bummed as I would have been if I had lost my Sport Legs.
Then, at mile 20, I got really really hot and the distance on my Garmin started registering off. I’m not sure why, since I was pretty much running decent tangents the whole race and the back half of the course is a series of out-and-backs. It was at that mile where I started calculating complex mathematical equations in my head.
What was the slowest I could run in order to cross the finish line with a BQ?
I think I figured that if I could keep my mile pace under 8:45, I’d be okay, and as soon as I came to that number, it was like my body knew and just shut down to hover around that pace. I probably could have maintained faster splits, but I was done. I also missed the last handoff of the course electrolytes (too few volunteers on the bike path… Don’t get me wrong. I WORSHIP the volunteers along race courses, but when there aren’t enough volunteers towards the end of a marathon, it’s not a pretty sight.), which shanked my mental game.
Exhibit A of Marathon Doneness:
Exhibit B of Marathon Doneness:
Apparently I like to run with my tongue hanging out. Evidence that I am a dog person!
Like always, I put one foot in front of the other and ended up crossing the finish of my ninth marathon in 3:34:14.
Final Thoughts about Surf City
The Surf City 26.2 course is a mental beast. There are two out-and-backs in the wide open sun. I was glad that I was properly hydrated and fueled. I will probably run this race every year because it falls at the beginning of the calendar year, and I like having something to look forward to on Super Bowl weekend.
On the course, I carried cherry-limeade Nuun in my handheld and took a cup of water from every single aid station. I only took a sip from each cup. Towards the end of the race, I took a sip and dumped the rest on my head to cool off. I took a salt capsule at hours 1.25 and 2.5 and Sport Legs one hour before, at the 2-hour mark, and at the finish. I alternated between peanut butter and salted caramel Gus at mile 6.5, 12, 17.5, and 22, sipping each one over between .25 and .5 miles with nuun from my handheld. I wish I had been able to take some course electrolytes in the last two miles just for an extra boost.
Final Thoughts about Training and Family
It’s not easy to train for marathons while working full time, raising two kids, and being married to a dude who spends 24-hour shifts taking care of other people who are sick or hurt. I rely heavily on my mom, who graciously continues to support me in my pursuit of happy running. I am truly blessed to have the greatest support system ever.
I love running so stinking much. Sometimes I wonder what I could accomplish if running and training was my job, but it’s not. I also wonder what kind of runner I’d be if I ran cross country or track in high school, but I didn’t. I will probably always be a mediocre hobby jogger going after lofty-for-me personal goals, and I’m okay with that. The cool thing about running is that everybody has a story. Everybody runs for different reasons under different conditions and circumstances at different paces. Cliche as it is, running is a good metaphor for life.
At the end of the day, we all want to cross the finish line and cheer for each other and celebrate the small and large victories alike.
We’re all different and awesome and inspiring to each other, and that is rad.
We’re also a really weird bunch of kids. (See picture above. cc: @dasilentassassin)
Why do you run?
What is your favorite snack?