Race Recap: Long Beach Marathon!December 11, 2018 / byrunningwhilevegan / Categories : Cycling, Race Recap, Review, Running
One of my favorite, local, SoCal races, is the Jet Blue Long Beach Marathon! There are a few different race options available during this race weekend, including the half marathon distance, 5k, 20 mile bike ride, and 20 mile bike ride/half marathon combo! The last two years, I’ve run the marathon, which is definitely not their most popular distance, and gets a lot of flack from runners for being boring. Honestly, when compared to Los Angeles Marathon (which it is) most races are going to fall short! I don’t mind a boring course most of the time, after all, I’m there to run! I appreciate Long Beach because it’s close to home, the course is mostly flat, the beach path is beautiful, I love the early start time, it’s a super chill race and the price is pretty decent. Another factor I enjoy about this race is that the marathoners start an hour before the half marathoners, so you have the beginning of the race to focus, and towards the last few miles, everyone mergers together, which boosts my morale and energy big time when I’m trying to get it done!
Last year I PR’ed this race, with a 4:58. I was really hurting at the end, but I was determined for a sub 5. The only 26.2 I’ve PR’ed since is the San Francisco Marathon, which was only by two minutes, but SF was a more challenging course and I wasn’t fighting nearly as hard to get to the finish line. With the recent SFM PR, I was hoping Long Beach was in the bag. I did need to take into consideration that I had a pretty busy summer with SFM, Bulldog 25k, the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, and the Santa Monica Classic 10k. I woke up the Monday after the Santa Monica Classic, my legs heavy, Long Beach Marathon a month out, and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. Working at a gym, and then working out most days after my shift and cycling to work, was helping my stamina and endurance immensely. The weekend of LBM I had a feeling it’d take a miracle for a PR, but I was still holding out that I might surprise myself. Before SFM, my body felt different and I knew, I knew, I could PR. I did not have those feelings this time around.
I missed the expo, but because I’ve gone to so many expos this year, that was fine by me. By the time I’d get to Long Beach Friday after work it would be too late for bib pick-up, and I wanted Saturday all to myself. Mike would be heading on Friday with his coworkers, as it was walking distance from their office, and fortunately LBM lets friends and family pick your bib up for you! He was able to pick it up for me seamlessly.
On Saturday, Mike and I had tentative plans to hit up a Vegan Oktoberfest going on in Hawthorne, but first we needed to visit a leasing office in Huntington Beach, and the opposite direction of the fest. We were staying in Long Beach for the weekend to make things easier, as Mike works in Long Beach and the commute to and from the Inland Empire was getting to him. It was a couple less drives for him, and some privacy for us as we were living with his parents at the time. Long story short, we got caught up in Huntington Beach (worth it, as we ended up getting the apartment a few weeks later!) and made a day out of it! We drove around the neighborhood, Mike introduced me to Lee’s Sandwiches, we checked out the dog beach, went to Mother’s Market for some celebratory treats, and got dinner in Westminster. Once we got back to our hotel, it was getting to be that time to unwind and get ready for the race, but we wanted to go out. Conveniently, our hotel had a bar and we got a round of non-alcoholic beers, admired the view, talked about the very real possibility of living in the OC, and got excited for race day. My nerves were starting to get to me. Mike was doing the half marathon distance, and would be hanging out with his coworkers before and after the race, and I’m not sure he was getting nervous.
Our hotel room at the Holiday Inn Long Beach Airport was so peaceful and roomy, it made getting ready for the race a breeze. I was sad to pack everything up to check out before the race, but c’est la vie! (This isn’t a sponsored post, Mike found it on Priceline through an Express Deal. I do recommend it if you are in the area!) We were a short drive to the start line, Mike dropped me off and then went to park at his office and hang out with his coworkers before the half. Since the marathon distance is not the most popular of the races, the start line is super chill. I walked up about 10 minutes before we were off; it was open corral. And then we were starting! This race starts at 6am, when it’s still dark out. I love watching the sunrise during a race; I super appreciate an early start time! The first few miles were a blur, and then we were on the bike path, which gets a lot of flack from runners for seemingly never-ending (especially with the half marathon distance) but I think it’s just so beautiful calming. I’ll take it over the segment where we run through Cal State Long Beach, now that feels never-ending!
I started to lose steam around the halfway mark, at 13 miles. I knew I’d be fine to finish, but shortly after hitting the half marathon point, I was walking more than I liked. I prefer not to walk at all (which hasn’t happened yet) but definitely not until mile 18. I was in good spirits regardless. The weather was perfect and I just wasn’t upset about not hitting an arbitrary goal I had set for myself with no training and a lot of races, plus a recent marathon PR.
Everything was fine, and I finished strong at 5:24. For me, that’s actually pretty average, especially for falling apart halfway through. The last time the wheels came off halfway through was San Antonio, where I ran a miserable 6:14; things got real dark for me on that course. During Long Beach I texted Mike, made jokes, waved at cheer squads, and generally ran pretty happy. I’d accomplished a lot in a short few months – SFM, my first 25k trail run, and my first triathlon. Here I was, about to complete my 7th marathon, and in only about two months since my last one. I was proud of myself for showing up and getting it done! I took all the steam I had left and ran through the finish line with a smile on my face! It was done, I had survived, and there was a cold beer and boyfriend waiting for me on the other side of the finisher’s chute!
This year the course seemed hillier to me, perhaps I had built it up in my mind as so flat and comfy that the elevation took me by surprise. It also seemed like there was less course support, so I was very relieved to meet up with the half marathoners during the last few miles — I needed the boost! I haven’t been running with run groups in LA, like I had been only a year prior, so I recognized a lot less people on the course. Long Beach Marathon does take place the same weekend as Chicago Marathon and Rock’n Roll San Jose (which I was bummed we couldn’t use our tourpasses for and take a trip to the Bay, but Mike hardly gets amped about races and he was disappointed at the prospect of not running Long Beach, as his company was one of the sponsors and the race would be a company affair. This way I could also work towards my legacy status with Long Beach!)
While I do like completing the 26.2 mile race, next year I am considering the duathlon, that is, the 20 mile bike ride/half marathon combo! Not too long ago I was terrified to get on a bike, so it feels very empowering to enjoy cycling and race on a bike!
Have you run Long Beach? What do you think?
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