If you don’t already know, let me start by saying I made the choice to run Mountain 2 Beach marathon this last Sunday, just 4 weeks before race day. I don’t recommend doing this. In fact, I think it’s a pretty stupid idea, something I have, in my mind critized others for doing. Example: Your at the start of a marathon and some muscle guy is bragging to his friends how “Dude, I stayed up all night last night drinking, and, huh huh, don’t you think it’s cool that I’m running this today?” Me: (in my head) “What a douche bag this guy is,” then I roll eyes, shake my head, and try to inch my way away from his space. My situation was slightly less obnoxious from this senario, as I had a small base of fitness prior to starting my 4 weeks of training. I am going to explain how I ran a Boston Qualifying marathon in such a short training cycle in another post — I just want to make it clear that this is not something I practice on a regular basis.
I ran this race in 2013. This race has a special place in my heart for a few reasons. One, it’s my home town race. Just 45 min to the start line, with a beautiful run from the Ojai Valley to the Pacific Ocean. It is gorgeous. Two, this is my marathon PR race. Last year, just four weeks after running Boston, and the tragedy that followed, I wanted to reclaim my finish line victory and have a joyful finish. I did manage a PR, but what followed was pain and injury. I was trying too hard to control everything after the bombing. I’ve learned so much about letting go in this past year, the hard way, but I’ve learned.
When my friend Tauna texted me asking if I’d like to buy her bib (she was recovering from a back injury), it peaked my interest. But, I thought it was a crazy idea. My friend Genevieve had planned to run this race, and my intention was to be her support person from the sidelines. Then, my friend Keena, who I had been sauntering along at a snails pace on the trails with, said she’d do it, too. OK, I guess I’m in. Keep in mind Keena runs a 1:34 half marathon on any given day (with no training), but she had not run a marathon in 14 years. I knew she was capable, but who was I to think I could pull this off?
Many thoughts helped me make the decision to enter, but one major one was remembering how little I had trained with my friend Alison for this 50K– and how well I had done that day. Alison may have a different approach to training than most, but her advice and wise words have always proven successful for me. I think she would say to me something like this: “a properly recovered body is more efficient than an over trained one.” She may not know this, but she was the little voice in my mind saying, “You can do this.” I’ve run my best races using her techniques and advice. It works for me.
During my last long run before this marathon, my knee and hamstring were on fire, and I was forced to resort to Aquajogging just one week before my race day. I did not run at all during my taper, just ice and aquajogging. I was nervous to say the least. On top of a painful knee and hammy, I was 10 lbs. heavier than I was the year before. I had taken almost 6 months off, but was still eating like a runner. To say I had the odds against me felt like an understatement. I was nervous going into this. I was trying to lower all expectations, but to be honest, it’s tough for me to do that during a race. There was a battle going on in my mind.
I did not want to disapoint or make Genevieve and Keena feel like they needed to stay with me during this race. The pressure was on. ‘Vieve flew in on Friday evening. Saturday, we stayed off our feet as much as possible, hydrated, and ate our pasta dinner and went to bed at 9:00pm to be prepared for our 2:45 wake up call.
Our alarms went off and we were out the door. We drove to pick up Keena and a few other friends from my running club, FutureTrack. We made our way to the starting line in the dark, along with thousands of other runners.
Before we knew it, we were off. The first 9 miles were through the city of Ojai, for the next 10 miles we were on a wooded bike path down to the beach. This section is a subtle downhill, very easy on the legs and lungs.
My pace felt conservative and carefree for 23.5 miles, and then my lack of training showed up in the form of pain, sluggishness, and the occasional bout of walking. Lucky for me, my friend Mallory was there at mile 24 to offer his support and kind words. Not sure I’d have made it if not for him. When we were at 25, I saw a sign that said “FISH restaurant” but I thought it said, “FINISH.” I’m pretty sure I screamed at that sign. I was angry with it for a good 24 hours. The real finish was still 3/4 of a mile away. My finish time was 3:53:25 . For my age group this is a Boston Qualifying time. This is my 4th BQ– For those of you hoping and wishing, keep maintaining your fitness and eventually, with age, the times are more reasonable to reach. Not sure if I’ll go this year, but it sure is nice to have that in case I’d like to hit the streets of Boston one more time.