My good friend Jessica and I signed up for the Mountains to Beach (formerly “Ojai to Ocean”) Marathon a while back. While I was hesitant to commit to 26.2 miles of running, the lower-than-average entry fee, convenient location near home, and the idea of running with my buddy during her first marathon were enough to convince me. Despite signing up months in advance, and receiving multiple invitations to join in on Jessica’s long training runs, I did my best to ignore the fact that running 26.2 miles without training up to the distance can wreak havoc on unprepared muscles, tendons, ligaments, and egos. I did run a 15-miler (my longest run in years) on the course a few weeks out with Jessica, and am so glad that I did! Even so, my legs were not pleased with the 11 “bonus” miles on race day…
The alarm clock: 4am
The pre-race breakfast and hydration: 2 eggs cooked in the microwave, wheat toast with butter, salsa, jasmine green tea with almond milk, coffee, lemonade nuun tablet with water.
The pre-race bathroom situation: Pretty sketchy. This tends to be a common issue, as runners all have to go within a 30-minute period before the race. Bringing in sufficient port-a-potties is not only costly and difficult, but impractical, as they will only be used during a short amount of time and then forgotten. We got to the start at about 5:30 am, but the lines for potties were approximately the length of a football field.
The bag check: Amy and I were a bit confused by this. This is a point to point race, meaning that the start and finish are in completely different areas. It is not a bad thing, but can be tricky when considering logistics such as pre-race clothing/water bottles/other necessities and how to stash them without needing to run the marathon in reverse in order to retrieve them. We were under the impression that bags would be provided for us to pack our things in for transport (in big vans) to the finish. However, we found out that there were no bags and we were expected to bring our own. Sad face! …But then I saw my pal Uzma. She rescued us by giving us her prized plastic grocery bag to use. It was a marathon miracle. Thanks, Uzma!
The race shoes: I race in Pearl Izumi E:Motion shoes…the same as my trainers, but I reserve a “special” pair for racing only.
The race uni: Tri Running singlet (breathes well, keeps me cool, looks snazzy). Asics 3-in-1 shorts complete with detachable neon pink spandex briefs which are perfect for post-race ocean ice bathing.
The co-conspirator: Amy, a new friend, who I had the pleasure of camping with at Wildflower triathlon. She is extremely speedy, and ended up running a 3:06!
The support team: My wonderful parents, who shuttled Amy and I to the start in Ojai at 5am, cheered us on at the finish in Ventura, and drove us home. Jessica, who cheered at the start, finish, and multiple places in between, saved my thirsty body with fancy, cold, Fuji water bottles when I needed them desperately, and even gave me delicious homemade M&M-peanut butter cookies at the finish!! What a pal 🙂
My marathon must-haves: Carmex (or other waxy anti-chaffing product) in whichever place you are most likely to chaff (between the thighs for me). Toe Sox, to prevent between-toe blisters. A pocket in your shorts/top/belt, for emergency calories (gels, jelly beans, small energy bar) or tissues (in case of runny nose, bugs on your face, or emergency bathroom trips).
The weather: Ideal for me. Not too warm, not too cold. No wind (mild breeze near the end).
The start: Slightly delayed. Some people were getting antsy and cold, but I felt okay, and races aren’t quite renowned for starting on time.
The course: A scenic course, with some hills during the first 6-mile loop in Ojai, a gradual downhill over 14 miles along the bike path down to Ventura, and a lovely (but brutal!) 6.2 miles along the promenade, including a long out and back (which lasts forever), with a beachside finish near the Ventura pier. Two thumbs up high.
The vibes: This is the smallest-scale marathon that I have ever done (my other three with San Diego RockNRoll, Boston, and San Francisco), and I enjoyed the friendly compactness. The narrow trails did make it a bit less spread-out, which assured that I was never running by my lonesome. Also, spectators did a good job of spreading out, so that we received encouragement on the regular. Much appreciated!
The during-race fuel: 1 gel, 1 mini Bonk Breaker (pb&j), fluid, water. Thanks to all of the volunteers for fueling us!
The last 5.2 miles: felt like 5.2 years. I was able to stay right in front of the 3:25 pace group through mile 20, and then kept running until I stopped for a bathroom/stretch/snack break at mile 21 (thank you to the kind stranger who let me cut in front of her to use the bathroom!). That’s about where my body started crying hysterically and throwing a temper tantrum. I expected this, but decided to keep going at a slowed pace, with some walk breaks, and an occasional groan. I felt like I had slowed down so much that I would barely make it across the finish line in 3’40” (my first marathon time in San Diego, 2007). But, somehow, I crossed in 3:30:30 (ish).
The post-race shenanigans: Went like this: Receive celebratory cookies from Jessica. Eat all of the cookies. Water, banana, oranges, water. Hi Mom and Dad! 7 minute Ocean ice bath with Amy in our skivvies/spandex. Home. Shower. Peanut butter-chocolate-yogurt-banana-cinnamon milkshake. Cookie. Dinner. Appointment with my Personal Masseuse (Brice).
The lessons learned:
1) Training is important! Ideally, run at least 18-20 miles during training before running a marathon. Otherwise, injury is much more likely!
2) Start out at a pace that is much slower than you feel like you should go. I tend to tell myself this and then ignore my own warnings. But, the few times when I’ve gone out controlled and easy, I have finished so much stronger! Probably should have stayed more relaxed on this one.
3) Make sleep a priority! I have been letting sleep hours get cut into, and I have noticed loss of quality in my energy, health, mood, eating, and alertness. So, I am making it a main goal to get good sleep regularly so that I can be at my best every day.
The Visuals: Well, I sadly do not have any photos to commemorate this race, but I do have a pic of these miracle-workers:
|First marathon without blisters!! Toe Sox.|
So impressed that you finished Britt! I am no where near signing up for a marathon. You go! Lots of icing and massages for the next few days 🙂
You looked so calm when you finished! It looked like you just came back from a run around the block! Great job 🙂 So glad I could be there!!