2016 Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Report

You guys I’m a MARATHONER!! It’s three days post marathon and I’m still on a major endorphin high. It all feels like a dream and the pain is already starting to fade (with the help of Advil).

The weekend started out with a joint 1st birthday party for two friend’s boys. T & C had a blast and being out around friends helped ease the pre-race jitters that had been building all week.

boys

Later that day we headed down to Ventura, a 30 minute drive from Santa Barbara, to the race expo. Parking was fairly easy and collecting my bib was even easier which was majorly nice with two toddlers in tow.

expo famexpo

After the expo, we headed to Ventura Spaghetti Company for dinner. We arrived at 5:30pm and the place was already jammed packed, mostly with what looked like groups of runners. It took over 45 minutes for our food to arrive. I don’t think they got the memo that a sold out marathon was happening in their town the next day. After quickly scarfing our pasta down, we headed home and put the boys right to bed. I set out everything I needed for the race and it was lights out around 10:00pm. I was surprised by how calm I felt and feel asleep really easily. So easily, I forgot to set my alarm! Thankfully K had the mind to set his. I was up at 4:00am feeling fresh and ready to race!

flat christina

My MIL arrived at 4:30am to watch the boys while K dropped me off at the start. The race provided shuttles, but K insisted on driving me so he could be there to send me off on my first marathon. We arrived at the runner drop off which was one block from the start line at 5:30am. That’s when it really hit me that I was doing this thing. I’m so glad K was there to talk me out of the car!

early

porta potties

I rarely ever hit the porta-potties before a race (I usually take care of business at home) but I felt a grumble in my stomach and knew I was in for trouble (or at least one non-planned stop during the race) if I didn’t. The line was long (no surprise), but thankfully I got in and was out right as the national anthem was playing. Less than two minutes later I was off and running!

start 2

There was never any doubt at any point during the race that I would finish. That’s not to say I ran a pain free, perfect race.

I started out in the vicinity of the 3:58 pacer. My main goal was obviously to finish the marathon since it was my first and I did not know what to expect, but I had a loose goal time of 3:59 in mind. I don’t usually like running with pacers, so did my best not to focus on where he was on the course.

The first three miles were uphill which I expected after reviewing the course map. I passed the mile 3 marker feeling great with my pace right on target.

After mile 3 it was downhill back to the start. I picked up the pace a bit to an 8:30/avg. At around mile 6 a nasty side stitch came on. I tried not to panic, backed off the pace a bit, walked through the next water station and took my first gel. This did the trick and within minutes the stitch was gone and I was back on pace.

I crossed the halfway point (13.1 miles) at 1:56:00 according to my Garmin (1:57 officially) which put me right on track. I thought I had a good shot at finishing with a sub 4 at that point since I was feeling great and *thought* the entire rest of the course would be all downhill.

Between miles 14 and 18 there were several rolling hills that I was not expecting (guess I didn’t pay close enough attention to that section of the course map) and my pace slowed significantly. Apparently there was a new course this year and although still net downhill, these rollers surprised a lot of people. I put Eminem’s Lose Yourself on repeat and powered though those baby hills. I started to develop a pain in my upper right hamstring up to my sit bones, but did my best to ignore it. It was also at this point that I saw the 3:58 pacer pass me and that was the last time I would see him.

Mountain 2 Beach Marathon

Marathon Start and Road shots

Tears welled up in my eyes as I passed the mile 20 marker and realized I was doing this. I was running a MARATHON and felt good while doing it. I couldn’t get my pace back down to a 9:00/min avg, but I didn’t care because I WAS REALLY DOING IT.

The last 10k was hard, like really, really hard, but I kept pushing forward. I passed a ton of people walking at this point and repeated to myself “keep on keeping on.” I knew if I stopped to walk (other than at water stations, I walked through all those) it would be way more difficult to start up again than it was to just keep on running to the end no matter how slow.

finish

When I hit the 25 mile marker after turning a corner to the final mile stretch along the waterfront to the finish all the emotions bubbled up and I couldn’t hold back the tears. There were so many spectators and people cheering along that final stretch, it gave me all the strength I needed to finish strong. When I rounded the last corner to the home stretch, I was so overcome with emotion the finish line was a total blur.

I found my family after crossing the finish line and collapsed in K’s arms. I bawled for a good couple minutes. A mixture of happiness, pain and relief to be done flooded out.

Official chip time: 4:07:49

finish usme and the boys

medal

The top question people have been asking since the race is “Will you do another one?” Without hesitation my answer is always “Heck yes!”

XO

Christina

Marathon Training: Week 16

Bib numbers are posted for Mountains to Beach Marathon. I’m #785! It’s suddenly getting very real and very exciting that this marathon dream I’ve had for so long is close to becoming a reality! If you are interested in tracking me live during the race, sign up here 🙂

Bib

This last week felt like a roller coaster ride, filled with highs and lows. The week started out with a trip to urgent care on Monday (with T) and then Tuesday (with C) who both have ear infections. Wednesday they were doing better and K was home from his trip, so we headed out for Nite Moves week 2 where I earned a new 5k PR. By Friday I was back at the doctor with T who was put on a new antibiotic. Thankfully the week ended on a high note with an awesome last long run before M2B and a great day at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History with two happy boys on the mend!

training

 

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I think one of the greatest things I’ve taken away from marathon training is that it has taught me I’m so much stronger than I thought I was.  In training and racing there are highs and there are lows, just like in life. We all love riding that high of nailing a workout and meeting our goals, but the real key to finding happiness and success is how we handle ourselves during the lows. Do you fall apart? Or keep pushing forward? There were some definite low points this week in my training and life that made me question why I was doing this. Then I realized the tough things happen to teach us something. To remind us the best things in life don’t usually come easy and without the lows we could not experience the fullness of the highs.

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As my first marathon nears, I’m excited for the challenge that comes with doing a marathon, but more than that I’m excited for the opportunity to learn more about myself. I’m going to do my very best to embrace those lows that are bound to come during the race just as much as the highs.

13 days to go time!

XO

Christina

Marathon Training: Week 13

It was a week of milestones in my training. On Saturday I completed my first 20 mile long run and hit 50 miles total for the week. When I signed up for Mountains 2 Beach marathon last summer, I honestly wasn’t sure I would make it to this point. I consider myself a fairly confident person and I definitely don’t lack the drive. In the five years I have been racing I have never failed to complete a race I have signed up for, even if that means doing it while sick (like recently at the Santa Barbara Half…yeah probably not the smartest idea), yet just before marathon training began a few months ago I came very close to dropping down to the half and it has always been in the back of my mind that could be an option.

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With 5 weeks left to go until race day, I’m still nervous about the race itself, but that little voice of self-doubt that crept in my head is gone. I have a loose time goal, but no matter what the end result is, I’m so incredibly thankful for this journey.

Each week of training I gain more and more respect for my body and it’s abilities. Before running came into my life (and at times after), I struggled with body image issues and definitely didn’t have a whole lot of respect for it. In my 20’s I drowned it in alcohol and junk food. No matter how much I abused it, it never gave up on me. I’m still in no way perfect, but I’ve come to appreciate this great vessel God has given me in a way I never have before. It carried and birthed twins and now it’s carried me through my longest run yet. I think I’m close to truly embodying one of my all time favorite quotes:

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not
to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is
against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”
George Sheehan

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I’m not saying I’ve totally stopped comparing myself to other athletes similar to me or stopped looking (stalking) at their stats on Strava, but I have let go of the thoughts that I can’t do this.

This week is a recovery week (yay!) which means a little reduction in mileage to about 40. No big deal, right? 🙂

Happy training!

XO

Christina