This past weekend I ran the third and final race in the California Dreamin series! This series consists of the Surf City Marathon, the San Francisco Marathon, and the Long Beach Marathon. Several years ago I ran the Long Beach full marathon, and remembered liking the course because it was mostly flat, it went along the beach for the majority of the course, and the start and finish areas were really accessible from the freeway and nearby hotels.
Racing for Schwag
I have to admit, I do enjoy race schwag. I have a pretty nice collection of finisher's medals and shirts, and really enjoy getting extra special medals that you can only get for completing multiple races in a series. My first extra medal was the 39.3 medal from the Rock N Roll Heavy Medal series. My second extra medal came this weekend, when I completed the California Dreamin series. In addition to the medal I also got a cool race jacket from Green Layer. Score!
California Dreamin Jacket & Medal
Meeting a Gladiator
They gave me the race jacket at the marathon expo the day before the race, and after picking up my race number, reusable goodie bag, and technical race shirt, I had about 30 minutes to wander around the expo before I had to meet back up with my dad and head to our hotel to get ready for my cousin's wedding. I zipped up and down the expo aisles resisting the urge to stop and buy anything, and then I turned down the final aisle and saw someone that looked familiar.
Side story: About a month ago I received a comment on my blog about being mistaken for an American Gladiator .. from a real life American Gladiator! Nitro (Dan Clark) had come across my blog somehow and had sent me a message about a race he is putting on - the Gladiator Rock N Run. We've emailed a few times and he's graciously agreed to donate two entries to his race to Girls on the Run .. with the condition that I do the race too! I'm sure you all know what a prissy girly girl I am. I find sitting on grass to be adventurous. Running through mud? Um yeah, no thanks. I sent an email out to some friends to see if someone might be interested in joining me, and what do you know, Kathryn our executive director of GOTRSD agreed to do the race. So we signed up! And the second I got the confirmation email I thought "what have I gotten myself into?" Since registering several other friends registered as well and also chose the wave that I will be in - 10am! If I'm going to slosh through mud and climb over obstacles, I should at least get the joy of leaving some friends in my mud tracks right? :o)
Anyways, I saw Dan/Nitro at the expo with a booth promoting his race. It was cool to meet in person after emailing back and forth for a while. Its an interesting testament to the power of the internet and its ability to connect people. We chatted for a bit and he showed me the Gladiator Rock N Run finishers gift .... an inflatable joust stick! OMG so excited! The joust was my favorite event on the show! Its not too late to sign up for the race and if you're interested in being in my wave and trying to beat me, sign up for the 10am wave here.
Carbo Loading Wedding Style
After leaving the expo, my dad and I headed off to my cousin Jennifer's wedding in Huntington Beach. The wedding was at the Hyatt right across from the beach ,and the ceremony and reception were beautiful! I had a chance to catch up with some family that I hadn't seen in years, and my dad got to see some of my mom's family that he hadn't seen in almost 20 years!
The wedding meal was an unconventional way for me to carbo load (or at least to attempt to), and I have to say its one of the nicest pre-race meals I've ever had. The main course was surf and turf (steak and lobster), and the dessert was berries and cream. Yummy! Another cousin of mine said that she was going to blog about the wedding meal on her food blog "Overworked. Underfed." Unfortunately she hasn't posted it yet so I can't link to it. Maybe once she posts it I'll go back and update this post.
On raceday morning Christina and I got up at 5:00am, had breakfast, left the hotel at 6:10am, and parked by 6:30am. Smooth! I loved how the race allowed you to pre-pay for parking online to avoid the confusion and stress of trying to find parking on race day. We parked a couple blocks from the start and finish line of the race, and walked over with just enough time to check our bags and hit the portapotties. The lines for the bathroom were long but not ridiculous like they are in some races.
Getting Ready to Race
I was scheduled to start in Wave 2 but ended up starting with Wave 5. I passed people for almost the entire race which was good and bad. It felt good to pass people and feel the illusion of being "faster" than many others, but it also meant that I was away from the pack that was running at my ideal race pace. I had to constantly check my pace on my watch to make sure I was running close to a 8:30 mile. My goal for the race was 1:52. I was on track to finish at 1:52 for the first few miles, but slipped down to 1:58 by the race end. I was getting tired towards the end and took a couple short walk breaks after mile 10. Boo.
Long Beach Half Marathon - Check!
I was a bit bummed out about my non-PR finish time until I looked up my race stats on the official results website. Compared to others in the race, I did pretty well! I usually finish in the top 10-15% of women and my division, and in this race I finished in the top 9% of women and 10% of my division. Not too shabby! Putting my performance into perspective by comparing it to others helped me shake away the blues a bit.
I've read articles before pointing out that the marathon is one of the only sports where you can run alongside, and in the footsteps of Olympic and world record athletes. Although I knew this was true, it didn't really hit me until this race how amazing this is. Somewhere between mile 12 and 13 I suddenly heard the chirps of police cars. Two CHP motorcycles passed me on the left and I realized that the marathon winner must be coming by! Following the cops was a Prius promotional car, and then after that came a truck with a camera crew. And then .... the marathon winner flew past me just a few feet away.... finishing up the full marathon faster than I was going to finish the half marathon! WOW! (Granted, I started about 20 minutes after the gun went off so he was finishing about 20 minutes on top of my half finish time.) Still, it was totally amazing.
Sporting My "Cape"
After the race I headed over to the bag check to get my bag and check on Christina. I was excited to see that by the time I got my bag and cell phone, she had just crossed the finish line! She had a new PR of 2:13, a great improvement over her time of 2:25 in San Diego. Go Christina!!
Playing upon my addition for 'special medals', I recently signed up for the Carlsbad Half Marathon, which is the first in a three race series called the Triple Crown. This series includes the Carlsbad Half Marathon, the La Jolla Half Marathon, and the America's Finest City Half Marathon. The race isn't until January of next year so I have a little time away from long runs. In the mean time, I will be focusing my energy over these next two weeks on preparing for my first triathlon!
I'll be competing in the Fearless Triathlon on October 30th here in San Diego. So far I have a couple months of pool swimming under my belt, two open water swims, one short bike ride, and plenty of running. Hopefully this race will be the start of my new triathloning career. Wish me luck!