Long Beach Marathon: the sophomore slump

The couple that runs together...

It wasn’t a good day out there in Long Beach, but considering how I’d been feeling in the last few weeks it wasn’t a surprise. All things considered, it wasn’t that bad.

THE GOOD

I finished. Sean found me in the last 0.2 miles and ran in with me. I know he had a tough half marathon, but he still gave me a little boost at the end.

splits

I had a strong start. In hindsight, it might have been too strong. Still, the pace didn’t feel uncomfortable or too fast. I was going by my Garmin, and according to that I did the first 10K closer to 9:20 pace. I slowed down after mile 10, but was still running <10 minute miles. Edited: Those splits up there are off. Official results a few days later showed the 10k split was actually 6 miles, 9:17 pace. That was 10 seconds/mile faster than my goal pace. I hit the half at 2:04:14, a 9:37 pace from miles 6-7. I slowed down a little, but not too much. The 18 and 24 mile splits are accurate.

I ran with Sean for about the first 3 miles or so. Then I lost him.

While it was hot and sunny, the weather didn’t affect me much. I was well hydrated and fueled.

My hamstring didn’t start acting up until a few hours in to the race. I’ll chalk this up to adrenaline, ibuprofen and las ánimas de mi tía Macaria (or: my parents’ and grandparents’ prayers and happy thoughts from friends). In the last few weeks my hamstring has started hurting after about 20 minutes. Two hours is definitely an improvement.

I don’t think I made the hamstring injury any worse.

Despite barely breaking in my replacement pair of Brooks Adrenaline shoes – they had less than 10 miles on them – they didn’t give me any problems.

None of the negative side effects that come with distance running reared their very ugly head (e.g. bloody ankles, lost toenails, chafing that makes you scream out in pain in the shower, emergency bathroom stops, or worse, not making it to the bathroom in time).

Didn't wear a pace band.

I didn’t cry despite feeling pretty upset each time I saw a pace group pass me by or the cramping made me say words I can’t use in the presence of pre-school toys. Sure, I wallowed in self pity, but I didn’t want to let my sister down and begin bawling on the course.

LB Marathon 2011 medal

I really liked the medal. I think it’s my favorite, probably because it was so tough to earn.

We had a few logistical issues last year, but none this year. We avoided the traffic on the 710 by exiting at PCH and driving the few miles to the parking structure. We barely had to wait at the port-a-potties. We checked one bag. Sean says he had no issues picking it up, unlike last year’s baggage check confusion. Getting back to the parking structures was easier too without a single pedestrian bridge over the finisher’s chute.

On course support at the aid stations, medical tents and from spectators was great. All the water stations were well-stocked with great volunteers. I stopped by the medical tents a few times to get sprayed with Kool N’ Fit, it helped. I saw many more spectators this year. I’m sure the great [non-running] weather had something to do with that. My favorite spectator was the one handing out pumpkin bread around mile 24.

Father's Office burger

Post-race meal: Father’s Office burger, sweet potato fries and beer.

THE BAD

I didn’t get my personal best. I’ve raced each of the following distances twice: 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. This is the only time I regressed. Majorly. I shouldn’t feel so bad. The marathon is a whole other beast.

My hamstring started cramping and from mile 15 on I had to take walk breaks. They were initially short but got progressively longer as you can see from my splits above. By the time I finished, I was walking the majority of the way and running 3-5 minutes at a time.

THE UGLY

Even my lunch reminded me I took an L

My overall time, 4:54:28. When it became painfully clear that I wouldn’t be setting a PR, I decided I just wanted to finish in less than 5 hours and did the minimum to get me there.

My sock and capri pants tan line. I wore a hat, so my face was protected during the race. However, after I finished and was relaxing at Shoreline Village I took it off and got a little sunburnt. Summer may be over, but I’m more tanned now than I was in the summer.

Mile 15-finish. If you look at my splits, it looks like I was running two different races. The first half wasn’t bad. I was on pace to make my original B goal (<4:16). Even after I started taking walk breaks at mile 15, I was still comfortably within reach of a personal best at mile 18. As I neared mile 20, I tried to motivate myself to finish strong. I slowly ran miles 20 and 21. From there on I ran about 3-5 minutes and just walked it in.

11 thoughts on “Long Beach Marathon: the sophomore slump

  1. -k-

    Cindy! Slump, schmump. Even if it wasn’t the time you’d wanted, this was a serious win. You did everything you were supposed to do pre-race, and even though your body wasn’t cooperating, you pushed through AND FINISHED A FREAKING MARATHON. (Making it happen with that kind of injury has to be a different kind of personal best, no?) Congrats on this, for real.

    Reply
  2. shelby

    I have so been there. It sounds like you probably went out a little too fast…and I say this as someone who ALWAYS goes out too fast.

    Marathons are really, really hard to race smart. They take a lot of self-control and there’s just way too much time for head games. You still did awesome. Congrats!

    Also: OMG FATHER’S OFFICE OMG. Do they have multiple locations now? When I lived in LA, there was just the one in Santa Monica.

    Reply
  3. Marie

    I agree with the folks above, great job, even though it wasn’t as fast as you’d have liked. I remember the horrible pain around mile 20 and just wanting to be done with it. You kicked ass.

    Reply
  4. PLT

    this might come off as insensitive…we had a guy die yesterday, just a couple yards from the finish line. Marathons are no joke. But you, injuries and all, went out there and did your best, and FINISHED under FIVE! that’s seriously amazing girl!

    If you haven’t already, go see a sports doc, who specializes in runners. They won’t tell you to stop running, they’ll probably prescribe physical therapy to insure you can keep running.

    Proud of you girly!

    Reply
  5. Sesa

    First off: You and Sean are a HOTT couple. Super hot.

    Second: Way to stick with the race, in spite of the hamstring cramps. Brag your way to the bank — you did a stellar job.

    I would run 26.2 miles for sweet potato fries. I wonder if there are any Father’s Office locations in NorCal.

    Reply
  6. cindylu Post author

    K,
    In the days leading up to it, I wondered if maybe I’d start and wouldn’t be able to finish. At least I got that done, and for that I’m glad.

    Shelby,
    Thanks. I like having the Garmin during races, but it really throws me off to either hear it go off well before (.10 mile) or after the mile markers. Maybe I should go back to the regular old stopwatch and a pace band. And yes, there are now to FO locations. The second one is in LA, just north of Culver City and within stumbling — I mean walking — distance from my apartment.

    Bea,
    Thanks for the support. It definitely pushed me through.

    Marie,
    Thank you. I’ve screwed up enough goals to be okay with it after a while.

    PLT,
    First, congrats on kicking ass! Glad you had a great race. I heard about the man passing away. Yikes! I’ve been at the finish line once to see my sister in San Diego and saw a woman come through looking in really bad shape. Some Marines (it ended at the Marine depot) carried her through, one on each arm. I thought of her before and definitely did not want to cross a finish line in such bad shape that I could really hurt myself. The doctor’s appointment is on the agenda.

    Julie,
    I never understood “just finishing” as an accomplishment until today even though that’s my approach to the PhD. I’m unsure about LA. I’d love to do it again and train with SRLA once again. If I do a marathon next year, it’ll likely be LA as a fall marathon is out of the question. Hope the next few weeks of training/taper go well!

    Sesa,
    Thanks! Glad we can pull that off after running 39.3 miles between the two of us.

    hippierunner,
    Thank you. I guess I can’t always improve, but I learned a few things on Sunday.

    Elissa,
    Aw. I’m sure running a marathon isn’t as tough as being a mom.

    Reply

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