Marathon Number 2: Long Beach

With my past two races, I have developed this nasty habit of somehow psyching myself out before the race. And I mean severely psyching myself out – to the point where I can’t fall asleep the night before. I did this for the Disney race and it caused me to sleep in and miss the race. I wasn’t about to let this happen for the Long Beach Marathon.

I had four different alarms set with the earliest set at 3:30 a.m. All week long I had been waking up early and going to sleep early and with waking up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning I thought it would be easy to fall asleep early for the race. WRONG. I tried to go to bed at 7:30 p.m. and tossed and turned until after midnight. Every attempt I made to fall asleep failed. Also, it didn’t help that I probably over hydrated myself and had to pee about every hour.

Fast forward to after midnight, somehow I finally manage to fall asleep. Praise the lord, but I woke up again shortly after two and shortly after three and couldn’t go back to sleep. With less than three hours of sleep, I was going to attempt to run a full marathon.

I arrived at the race sight a tad early, okay, more like an hour early, oh well. I found a nice couple to walk with to the starting line area which was several blocks away. It was both their first time running a half marathon and it was exciting to see them prepare for their first race.

Before the race, I tried desperately to find people from my running group but couldn’t, so I lined up in my corral and hoped for the best. Before the race started, a large group of people broke through the fence separating the starting line from a grassy area. It was like a stampede of people (which turned out to be slower than me) plowing into the starting line in front of me.

As the race started, I walked my way up to the starting line. As I crossed the starting line I turned my Garmin on to help pace me. For this race I had several goals. 1) To break 4 hours and 2) to finish strong. Neither of which I met. Perhaps minimal sleep played into that.

The first couple miles were spent slowly trying to pass people. In the crowd in front of me, I spotted a familiar hat and running stride. It was my friend Mike! I was so glad to see him. Then, minutes later, my pace leader Jose and his friend Alex caught up to us. Until the full/half split, which was the first 10 or 11 miles or so, we ran together. We ran at a pace that would put me right at a sub 4 hour finish. The scenery was beautiful as we ran alongside the mighty Pacific Ocean.

After the half/full split, I made my way away from the Ocean up toward the campus of Cal State University Long Beach. I died early in the L.A. Marathon and was very impressed with myself as I kept strong as I approached miles 16-18. I slowed from a 9:00 minute mile pace to about a 10:00 – 11:00 minute mile pace but I was still happy that the pain was minimal and my energy was high.

All throughout the CSULB campus, clubs and organizations lined the course to cheer participants on. Before the race I had contacted the Tri Delta chapter at CSULB and was excited to hear that they would also be along side the course. As I ran through the campus, dozens of organizations lined the streets; they each had signs and posters saying which club they belonged to. As I started to read Greek letters, I grew excited in anticipation to seeing Tri Deltas. Several minutes later, I saw the warm, familiar, and loving sight of the three deltas on a board. Immediately, I felt re-energized and had a smile on my face. I flashed a Tri Delta sign and shouted out, “it is so good to see you girls.” And it was. Even though I had never met those Deltas before, I felt like I had family cheering me on along the course. It was truly heartwarming.

At mile 20, one of my friends, Melissa, picked me up and ran me in. I was very thankful for this as I was beginning to cramp up and every step became painful. For the last 5 miles Melissa talked my ear off and entertained me with countless stories and we walked and jogged to the homestretch. This made the final stretch much better. Melissa is an awesome athlete. Recently, she completed a half Ironman triathlon in San Jose!

As every minute passed, the pain intensified in my entire lower body. Primarily, my left ankle and both of my hamstrings were in pain. I continued on and pressed through the pain with intermittent walking breaks. Finally, I reached mile 26 and rounded the corner for the final .2 miles. I ran though the finish line, collected my medal and Mylar blanket, and proceeded past the food and refreshment station to a grassy area.

Then, I did exactly what you are not supposed to do. I fell to the ground and just sat. Boy did it feel good. As I sat there, I contemplated taking a nap in the sun. The little sleep I receive the night before had completely caught up to me and the thought of walking several blocks to my car was more than a nightmare. As I sat there contemplating my next move, I heard someone call my name. It was Cynthia my pace leader! I was so happy to see her. She was with two other Pacers, Rob and Kelly, who both PRed this race. We started to walk to the Pacers tent, me with my shoes off as I felt a massive blood blister developing underneath my toe. Slowly, we made it and I sat down again. Sitting had never felt so good.

As I was sitting in the chair, the muscle in my left calf twitched and then cramped up into the tightest and most painful ball I had ever felt before. My heel raised up along with the cramp and I couldn’t flatten my foot. I was screaming in pain as several people at the tent were trying to massage the knot out of my calf. Oh my, that was excruciating. After my calf eased up a bit, Cynthia and her sister, fellow pace leader Tawny, were so generous and offered to help drive me home. Cynthia drove me in my car and her sister followed. I love the Pacers, they are all so nice.

So that is it. That is my recollection of my second marathon. I may not have broken the four hour barrier, and I may have not even PRed, but I ran my second marathon and I am proud of this accomplishment.

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