I ran the Surf City Marathon in 2008 as my second marathon and returned this year hoping that my rain-go-away dance would work so that my 10th marathon would not earn the title “Soak City Round 2.” Since I’m now in full “training-to-not-die-in-upcoming-ultras” mode, I changed my goal from earning another BQ (my 1st post-injury-filled 2009) to chilling and running at comfortable pace (aka. finishing in 4+ hours). I had been averaging less than 30 miles per week heading into the marathon and had fewer long runs in recent months than before any of my other marathons, normally a combination that would stress me out. Yet, it was awesome in that I had virtually zero stress about the marathon and got to focus on enjoying time with friends.
Saturday – FE (Forum Encounter)/Operation Jack Dinner
I’d been looking forward to Saturday more than anything because Lucia, a friend from RWOL, was coming in from Truckee for the race and we’d finally get the chance to hangout and share some laughs. I picked her up from the airport and we took advantage of a break in the rain to hit the race expo. Wow. The place was completely packed and that’s when I felt what would really hit home during the race- that the race has outgrown its expo tents and narrow bike paths. Lucia and I wasted no time in getting our bibs, shirts, and hitting the PowerBalance booth so that she could exchange her wristband and I could resist the urge to buy one; I’m still on the fence about it but may cave soon since I’ll need all the help I can get to get through the SD 100. I dropped by the legacy booth to pick up my “special” T-shirt for participating in my 3rd consecutive S.C. event. We decided to hit main street for some grub and drinks and wound up at BJ’s pizza where I got to be one of the first toorder their new strawberry mojito…yummy!!! Unfortunately, the rain returned when it was time to leave so we got to test our puddle jumping skills and BJ’s takeout bags as umbrellas; I give it a thumbs up as it kept my hair from getting drenched.
We eventually made our way to the RWOL FE/Operation Jack fundraising dinner. My friends Sam and Tiffany and Train 4 Autism did an awesome job of getting a place large enough to accomodate all of us and making sure we had enough pasta for carb-loading heaven. I had a blast reuniting with fellow runners I’ve met at other running events and meeting new ones but was not looking forward to waking up at 4am.
After a sleepless night spent tossing and turning and hoping for quiet, I drug my butt out of bed at 4:15am, got dressed, and made my way to Huntington Beach afer a good luck kiss from Alan. I scored a spot as close to the starting line as possible, set my alarm and napped until 5:45 when I awoke and finished getting ready. I decided to violate the “never try something new on race day” rule by wearing new shoes with insoles, a combo I hoped would not give me blisters…thank goodness for Body Glide. I made my way to the starting line around 6:15, stopped by the Train 4 Autism tent and met up with Sam who was getting ready to assume his 3:30 pacing duties. We made our way to the starting line and I eventually saw Emil, who I wanted to hang with for at least part of the race. After a very odd and disorganized “wave” start, I made my way across the starting line and started dodging way too many people, losing Emil in the process. I settled into a groove of a cruising pace and kept checking my Garmin to make sure I was not going too fast; Emil caught me and then took off while I silently repeated, “jog…jog..jog.”
I caught the 3:50 pace group (started before me) around mile 5 and realized I needed to stick with them and slow down. I twisted my already-sprained ankle around mile 6 and hoped that it would not come back to haunt me (whew…it was okay). I really felt the effects of a larger marathon crowd trying to cram onto a narrow bike path through the HB parks and welcomed being back on the wide streets. Emil and I wound up together for a bit and we both agreed that the 3:50 pacer was doing a horrible job at running an even pace; I decided to split from the group and bounded up the last “hill.” I downed my first Gu and took a quick porta-potty stop around mile 10 before turning onto Pacific Coast Highway; then I resisted the urge to push and catch the pace group. Nevertheless, I caught and passed that group and actually considered picking up the pace and going for 3:40; then remembered that I could not jeopardize my legs getting burned out and again backed down. Turning on the bike path around mile 17, I caught another 3:50 pace group (huh?!) and decided to stick with them to help with the boring out/back…that didn’t last too long as I felt I was running in place on the narrow course. I ended up on my own and loved when I saw people I knew along the course…cheered for Sam a couple of times and knew he’d nail that 3:30 pacing gig again. I consumed my second/final Gu around mile 18 and noted that I felt much better than I did at mile 18 of my last marathon.
I was looking forward to seeing Lucia (did the half as a training run) as we had plans for her to meet me at mile 24 and run with me the last couple of miles. Since I was ahead of schedule, that didn’t work out. I decided to walk for 0.1 of mile around 24.5 to see if that would help her find me…no luck so I tried again around 25.1 and 25.4 with no luck. As I turned onto PCH for the final stretch, I heard, “Rachel!” and Lucia joined me for the last few tenths of a mile. Crossing the finish line in 3:47 I was stoked with how good I felt and how easy that pace felt…so, I didn’t give myself too much grief for running faster than “training run” pace.
Unfortunately, Lucia had to leave for the aiport but I grabbed lunch and beer at BJ’s with Billy, who kicked butt in his first race after suffering a stress fracture. As always, the best part about racing weekends is getting to hang with friends before/during/after and this weekend was no exception. Surf City falling on the same day as the SuperBowl makes celebrating all day long a necessity. Since refueling is essential to training, I made sure I consumed tons of scrumptious tacos, chips, cookies/cupcake at a SuperBowl party I attended with Alan. Yesterday was physical therapy and lots of icing, etc. for my ankle and work on all my other nagging muscular issues….but thankfully my body felt no different than before the race. Sweet! I resumed training today sticking to the treadmill and stairmaster with my fingers crossed that the rain goes away so that I can hit the trails this weekend.
Til later…enjoy your day!