Exercise · Races · Running

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Recap

This race was on May 27, 2018. Unfortunately, I did not write down a draft post right away like I did for the LA Marathon. So this is mostly going to be a short recap and a review of the race overall.

My Mom and sister, Terra, flew in for the weekend. We drove down to Ventura on Friday and did some exploring. On Saturday we did a wildlife boat tour that took us around Anacapa Island which is part of the Channel Islands National Park. That afternoon we walked the beach, well I started out walking… It was such a pretty day and the sand was so well packed that I ended up running 4 miles, barefoot, along the shore. It was great and I have no regrets, even if I probably should have taken it easy. We picked up my race packet on Saturday, too. As far as race expo parking goes it was not too bad; only $5 for parking, which is better than the usual $20 for city races. There was not much to the expo, mostly just advertisements and hardly any cute runner stuff. The Cowtown Marathon still has the best race expo I have ever been to. I did not realize until after we left that they did not hand out gear bags. It was not explained how that would work, but I thought I would get a bag when I picked up my bib (like LA) and then take it with me to the start to drop off. I was not sure if they would pass out bags at the start so I did not bring anything with me. It was not too cold that morning so I did not bring my jacket; I did not want to risk having to dump it at the race start. And I took Terra’s disposable water bottle with me to the start-which she agreed to groggily early race morning, but she later gave me crap about it. 🙂

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The race started at 6 am, so we were up early. Although Terra stayed in bed, the bum! 🙂 Mom dropped me off at the shuttle bus drop off and I boarded the bus that would take me to the race start in Ojai. The shuttle buses were well organized and they were clearly marked. The half marathon start was different from the full marathon start, so you did not want to get on the wrong bus. After my bus filled up we headed out for the short ride to the start line. In typical runner fashion, my fellow runners were chatting about the races they have or have not run. It is always interesting to learn about other races and people’s experiences in those races. I ended up chatting with my seat partner who had run the Mountains 2 Beach (M2B) race several times before. Once we arrived I bid my seat partner good luck and headed off to the port-o-potty line.

I hunkered down a little bit after that (I was cold) before getting in line for the port-o-potties again. I did not have to go at the time, but by the time I would get through the line I knew that I would. And I was right. I will say that there were not enough port-o-potties. Runners were frantically still trying to get through the lines with 5 minutes until race start. I was one of those runners and I had been in line for 35 minutes. Yikes! But I made it.

The starting line was not organized by corral numbers. No one was sure how it was organized until they announced right before the race started that it was by bib color. That was pretty ridiculous as everyone had already packed into the start line. As if everyone was going to reorganize by bib color at the last minute. Well as soon as they shot the gun off for the start, the race organizers must have realized their mistake, because they brought out a rope to section off corrals and make waves that were released every few minutes. I was in wave two.

I decided at the last minute to see how long I could stay with the 3:40 finish group. I was pretty surprised at how well and how long I held that pace. Especially since I did not have much recovery and training time in between the LA Marathon and M2B. The 3:40 group was a good group and the pacers were very friendly. One of the pacers went around and chatted and encouraged everyone that was hanging with the group. He was running his 199th race and was headed to Idaho in June to run his 200th race which was the race where he ran his first marathon; pretty cool! Anyway, I was able to hang on for 18 miles, but my legs hit the wall hard after that. I had it coming given the pace I was holding. It was encouraging that I held it for that long since it was faster than any of my training long runs. If anything it was a good mental boost for my next race where I will be targeting a 3:40 finish.

I started to space out after that. That has never happened to me before during a race. I just remember that I told myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It was getting warm and there was not any shade along the course. I briefly stopped at two water stations and the nice volunteers poured water into my handheld water bottle for me. At some point in my delirium, I stopped my watch for a few seconds (it could have been a minute and a half) and then I looked down and thought, “Oh shit! My watch is paused! How long has it been like that!?”. I was worried that I would not have 26.2 miles on my watch because of that when I crossed the finish line, but it actually worked out perfectly at 26.2, because I had added about 0.1 ish miles by not running the tangent. I know I did not accidentally hit my watch. My best guess is my brain was telling me to stop and rest so I paused it out of instinct, but my legs kept running. Weird.

The last 3 miles seemed to drag on. I kept waiting to turn the corner and see the beach and finally it happened. I saw Mom taking pictures as I ran towards the finish line and I met up with her and Terra soon after. I was so glad to get some water and that I could finally rest. Whew! My official time was 3:52:26; a little slower than LA, but I was not disappointed. I ran a half marathon PR during the race: 1:47:54 and placed 984/1,955 overall; 386/997 females; and 19/47 in my age group.

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Overall I did not really care for the course. Even though it was a net downhill it still seemed more hilly to me than LA. And there were some small hills that seemed larger at the end of the race. This was a smaller race, note that just under 2,000 people finished. In small races there tend to be dead spots during the hardest miles (aka miles 16-25). I liken it to some kind of zombie apocalypse. It is when you see people struggling the most. Slogging on in pain and delirium to reach the finish line. For me, it helps to run larger races because with so many people around it helps keep me motivated versus there only being a few suffering souls around.

This race was run along country-ish roads. We wove through small farms and citrus orchards. There were not very many spectators and people cheering on the runners as a result. I probably would not run this race again, instead opting for a larger race. But many people like this race because of its notoriety for earning Boston qualifying times. 4

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