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Surf City Marathon

February 2, 2009
Start of the race

Leggers! Jessica, Neal, Larry, Me

Leggers! Jessica, Neal, Larry, Me

051

Where's Waldo?

Where's Waldo?

FINISH!

FINISH!

Surf Board Medal

Surf Board Medal

Race Results

Overall: 384 out of 1947
Women: 94 out of 841
F 18-24: 8 out of 85
Age/Grade: 59.18% Place: 430
Finish: 3:48:51 Pace: 8:44
Tag Time: 3:48:51
Gun Time: 3:49:21

Split Times

3 Mile: 24:23 Pace: 8:08
6 Mile: 48:40 Pace: 8:07
12.2 Mile: 1:41:45 Pace: 8:21
20 Mile: 2:48:57 Pace: 8:27

Well, I did it! It was a definitely more physically challenging than I thought it would be. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I had done some 20 milers and 24 milers fine, but I guess in the “marathon setting”, a lot of things change. The day started off at 2:53am when I decided to get up and eat breakfast. I had pretty much slept restlessly the entire night, as expected and listening to the Chinese TV playing in the room next to me ( I slept at the parents house) didn’t really help. My breakfast of oatmeal, banana, and Cliff bar held me over surprisingly well, or maybe it was all the carbs I had eaten the day before, but I am glad to be back on my normal diet. After some last minute direction checking and forum reading, I headed out at 4am. Of course, all I had to do was stay on one freeway, but I still managed to get lost. I had somehow turned off the original freeway and saw a END FREEWAY sign that led me to Long Beach. Trying not to freak out too much, I drove aimlessly around Long Beach for 15 minutes until I finally asked for directions that led me back on the freeway successfully. After that little mishap, I arrived around 5:15 and just waited in my car until it was time to go. I walked into a big tent they had set up for all the runners and stretched out before heading to the starting line. I saw a fellow Legger which was a pleasant surprise and we talked through our pre-race nervousness. The Leggers had a tent set up at the starting line where I left my keys and sweatshirt and met up with 4 people from my Saturday pace group. We were all very excited that the day had finally come after our intensive training. Heading to the starting line was an obstacle in itself, but we all managed to push our way through to the below 4 hour group. The setting was filled with excitement and nervousness from all the runners and we all fed off each other’s vibes to start out strong.

There was a 3:40 pace group with a couple leaders to help people get through the marathon in 3:40 time for Boston. My friend Larry and I started off with this group, slowly pacing ourselves to avoid burn out in the end. The weather was overcast and cool, perfect running weather. I started off the first couple miles pretty strong, Larry made sure I didn’t go out too fast and pulled me back when I was speeding up past the pace group. Around mile 3, we started ascending up a pretty visible incline. The hill completely took me off guard because I thought it was a pretty flat course, but I knew I had to push through it because the race had just started and I had a long ways to go. The hill lasted probably half a mile until we turned the corner, and headed up another hill. I was pretty pissed at this point for all the advertising they had done for this “flat course”. Thankfully, I managed to keep my head down and stay low to the ground and got through all the hills. One of the best part about running hills is that you know you will eventually go downhill, but that never happened and I was disappointed again. Instead it leveled out and we started our route through the park. The park was probably the best part of the course, we ran all over the park and there were tons of volunteers and kids volunteers who were screaming and holding out their hand to high five you. I was running pretty good time and keeping a steady pace and thought I was way ahead of the 3:40 pace group. I actually purposely tried not to look at the mile markers they had because I wanted to be “surprised” when I did see one. My bad vision helped a lot in trying to avoid the mile posts. I made sure to run through all the water stations and tried to grab what looked like a sports drink. I needed all the extra help I could get to get me through to the end. A funny story about trying to drink something while running. Usually when I go for the water, half of it spills out, and I usually choke on the other half, but this time I went for the sports drink which I really didn’t want to spill on myself because it was sticky and sweet. Unfortunately, out of the 15 water stops I took, I managed to spill it on myself every time and a couple times, the sports drink ended up all over my face so my eyes were sticky and almost glued shut. I must have looked pretty ridiculous. The drinks that I did manage to get down seemed to help hydrate me and keep my muscles from cramping. A couple times, I took some of the chews they were offering along the course, at that moment, I didn’t even care what they were giving me. I think I had a couple swedish fish and some other candy. I just needed the sugar rush fast.

Coming out of the park from miles 10-15 was when I started to hit the wall, hard. The 3:40 pace group caught up with me and for a while I was trying to keep ahead of them, but I kept seeing all their shadows behind me which stressed me out and I tried to run faster. But, my legs were completely dead and I couldn’t run any faster. My legs felt like bricks and my whole body was screaming for it to be over. The route was also very uneventful, it was along Pacific Coast Highway and there wasn’t much to see. It was like a long highway where you looked ahead and there were miles and miles ahead of you. It was kind of depressing, and at one point, I had the look of death plastered all over my face. I was hoping there weren’t any photographers nearby, because I was definitely not a sight to see. I let the pace group past me because according to my watch, they were going way faster than 3:40. It felt better after they passed when I wasn’t trying to keep up with them. I just focused on my own pace and tried to keep trucking along. Finally miles 16-20 we hit the beach route. Lots of people were slowly starting to run/walk, but I knew if I even started walking, it would be over for me. No matter what, I had to keep running. I saw a Legger past me by going the opposite direction and I cheered him on from the other side. I thought the U-turn was near, but misjudged how far it was and how fast he must have been running. By this point, I was just counting down the miles. My feet and legs have never felt so painful before, and I could tell my pace was slowing down. At mile 19, the runners around me all let out a cheer of relief, but even at mile 19, I was still thinking there was 7 more miles to go and it wasn’t going to be easy. After the turn-around, I started noticing all these signs stuck in the sand along the course. They were motivational running quotes that helped inspire the runners to keep going. There were some that really stuck to me and definitely helped push me along.

The whole race I was trying to pace myself so I could have the energy at the end to go all out. I thought I was going to make it well before 3:40 from miles15-20, but somehow after the 20 mile mark, time seemed to speed up too fast and when I looked at my watch when I hit the 22 mile mark, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t muster up the energy to run faster and I just focused on completing the marathon. I know I put too much pressure on myself for being the first marathon, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have such an optimistic time goal. My strategy before the race was to hit the 24 mile mark and go all out the last 2 miles, but no matter how much I told myself to run faster, I physically couldn’t do it. My legs weren’t listening and they had enough for the day. I didn’t want to pass out 2 miles before the end by forcing myself too hard, and I knew I gave it my best shot. I didn’t really “hold back”, I just couldn’t go any faster. I was still trying to keep my pace and force through the pain all the way to the end. At the 25 mile mark, I knew I was almost there and just counted the minutes until it was over. I watched my watch strike 3:40 and saw I was only .70 miles away from the finish. I knew I hadn’t made it, but still wanted to finish strong. The half and full marathoners were finishing together, but they had a guy out there directing the marathoners to go to the right and the half’s to go to the left. I saw my family and Brennan at the 26 mile mark cheering me on as I sprinted past them with my arms raised high as I crossed through the finish line. I had done it and it was over. 26.2 grueling miles. It was a definite challenge for me, and a lot harder than I had expected. I finished 8 minutes after my time goal. A little disappointed, but I knew I gave it my best. There was nothing I could have done to make 3:40, no matter how hard I tried. Before the race, I actually found out Boston was closed for this year, so at least I will have the entire year to shave off those 8 minutes and make it for 2010.

Overall, the race was a success in my eyes. Even though I aimed too high, and fell a little short, I felt like I finished strong and it took a lot of positive mentality to keep me going. The end goal was worth it, receiving my medal and knowing all the training and hard work paid off. Next up, Pasadena!

“The only way of knowing your limits is to go beyond them”.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Brennan permalink
    February 2, 2009 4:09 am

    CONGRATULATIONS! I was so happy to be able to see you cross that finish line. You had been running for as long as I’d been awake!

  2. Brennan permalink
    February 2, 2009 6:24 am

    wait…WHAT?! Pasadena?! When’s that? Lots of marathons, no?

  3. Meghan permalink
    February 2, 2009 4:17 pm

    Congratulations! OMG you’re amazing. All I did on Sunday was do laundry and drink margaritas at a superbowl party.

  4. Jim and Kim permalink
    February 3, 2009 2:53 am

    Congratulations, Andee! That’s an amazing accomplishment — thanks for sharing!

  5. February 12, 2009 3:07 am

    OMG I LOVE THIS.

Trackbacks

  1. Going for Boston « A Journey to the Finish Line
  2. Long Beach Marathon « A Journey to the Finish Line
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