Monday, May 27, 2013

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

EVENT: Mountains 2 Beach Marathon
DATE: Sunday, May 26, 2013
LOCATION: Ojai/Ventura, CA
RACE BEGAN: 6:10 am
FINISH TIME: 04:42:30

The short version:
I came in pretty much exactly 20 minutes slower than last year (the race used to be called "Ojai 2 Ocean" but was renamed this year.

The long version:

I signed up for this race because "The Ukrainian" wanted to, and I did fairly well last year.  However, after LA Marathon two months ago, I've run a handful of times, maybe five.  One was a 5-miler -- I was tired but consistent.  Then, a 12-miler, which was tough due to heat, and I spent the last two miles feeling like I was needlessly torturing myself.  A week later, I attempted to repeat this 12-miler, but halfway into it, I decided that I was suddenly "done" with running and that there is no reason for me to keep wasting my time and money on something I no longer enjoyed.  "The Ukrainian" and I walked the rest of the way home.

Race day kind of crept up on us.  My stomach was still kind of iffy from some food I had the Friday before.  I only ate a third of this stuff, and although it was delicious, I remembered the reason I don't eat heavy curries.

I spent most of Saturday resting.  By the time we headed to Ventura to pick up our bibs, traffic became horrendous, so by the time we settled, it was nearing dinnertime -- at least, the ideal time to dine for people who need to wake up at 3:00 AM the next morning.

The expo was small but bigger than last year's.  Clif was the title sponsor of the race, which is pretty unheard of, and they even had a sample booth (albeit a truncated version) at the expo.

For dinner, we went to The Habit grill, which is pretty much a fast-food joint.  The veggie burger that I got was pretty huge, but down the hatch it went, along with about a third of those fries.

In the morning, we walked to our shuttle, which was supposed to depart at 4:00 AM, but the buses were actually quite bustling by 3:45, so we were on our way even sooner.  We waited nearly two hours at the high school, and I crouched on a curb after using the port-a-potty while the crowds were still thin. My lower back was quite unhappy with that.  See, my lower back is starting to feel the effects of me no longer being 21, so lately, any deviation from normal posture sets it off.

#BostonStrong headband from my sister.
About five minutes before the race began, my stomach suddenly rebelled, but it was too late.  We started about ten minutes late to accommodate those still waiting in line for the restrooms.  A few minutes in, my Garmin reset itself due to being "full," so I had to delete and restart it while running.  I was using my Garmin to utilize my "run 8/walk 1" Galloway-esque strategy, the same one I used the year before and in two other marathons was decent results (i.e., lack of pulling muscles).

The course is a gradual downhill, so up until Mile 14 or so, I wasn't even feeling tired nor ache-y.  I kept thinking to myself that if I could just keep this up, this marathon that I did not train for wouldn't be so bad after all.  Somewhere between Mile 15-16 or so, it felt like a whole different race -- suddenly, I felt tired and ache-y, even though I was fueling -- and about a mile past a course restroom, my stomach decided to, um, feel a terrible sense of urgency.  It was so bad that I started walking and was trying to scope an area... and by that, I mean a bush.  But being without toilet paper deterred me from the idea, and maybe 6 minutes later, I was able to shuffle around again.

Meanwhile, there had pretty much been no cloud cover that morning, so the heat was starting to become a real issue, which is why I was being careful with my hydration and electrolytes.  But frankly, the lack of training was kicking me in the butt.  I was being very conservative, backing off each time my legs got tight so I wouldn't cramp/twitch, which would inevitably result in pulling a muscle.

Those last few miles were as long as I remember from last year.  I had no idea how much time had elapsed, assuming I was close to 5 hours, even.  Once I reached the final turn-around, I started running, passing people who had passed me maybe 6 miles ago.  I saw the 4:40 pacer and was surprised, so I kept going until I saw "The Ukrainian" cheering from the side during that last quarter of a mile.  I kept going, passed the 4:40 pacer, and at the very least, had a satisfying finish because I wasn't limping or walking.

My final time was 4:42 (the 4:40 pacer had started in a wave behind me, apparently), which is sadly better than my LA Marathon time when I had actually trained.

As for the aftermath, I don't think I've ever been as hurt/sore after a marathon before, and if you're keeping track, this was my 14th one.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose a toenail or two, and I definitely worry about running around between train stops tomorrow.

I'm not really signed up for anything else this year, besides a 5K that was supposed to take place in February but was postponed until July.  Part of the reason is that we're going on a big trip at the end of the year, hoping to buy a home, etc., so race fees and miscellaneous travel expenses need to be cut.  Also, I am kind of having this "been there, done that" feeling when it comes to local races.  I'm hoping to do #15 early next year -- just so that if I do end up taking a break from marathoning (I will still sign up for shorter distances), I will be able to say I've done 15 instead of 14.  Maybe if I take a break, I will start missing it and will come back stronger than ever.

One can hope.

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