I Managed!

This morning I ran the Surf City USA Marathon in Huntington Beach, California. I ran the marathon in 3:39:42 and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with Elizabeth Corkum, who for the second time in as many attempts qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Here are my unofficial Garmin results:

This was a pretty decent race. The weather was basically a non-factor, somewhere in the upper 40s or maybe low 50s at the start. It started at 6:30am with a little bit of darkness in the air, and a nice amount of fog lingering in the air. Earlier this week I was thinking I would downgrade and do the half-marathon, given that I’d had next to no training for this race. I’m glad I didn’t. Finishing under 3:40 was pretty impressive to me, which beat my first two marathons I ever ran, and for which I’d actually trained!

I strategized this race as basically a long training run. I told myself to start out very slow. I kept my promise and hovered around the 8-minute mile mark, plus or minus 15 seconds. I even hit the toilet at the first mile, which I would never even consider doing in a race where I wanted to set a PR! (My feeling is that if the toilet is available and you really need it, go for it, because that loss and complementary rest will allow you to make up the lost time, especially if you go early in the race.).

As my race went on, I actually started to pick up speed. For several of the miles up to 14 miles, I ran about 7:40s. Gradually, then, was when my speed started to diminish despite what seemed like the same effort. I think around the 12-mile mark I saw Elizabeth, who was ahead of me running back from a turnaround, and by my measurement was about 2 minutes ahead of me. I figured she’d start to slow down, and sure enough she had slowed when I saw her again at another turnaround around the 16th mile–then she was about a minute and a half behind me. Eventually I got within a minute of her and then saw her walking. I didn’t catch her her first time walking, but instead her second time. She definitely had more energy than me, but I didn’t stop to walk (the whole race!), and we decided to stick together for the rest of the race. As you can see from the photos (see the Photos page on the right), we finished hand-in-hand!

I felt like HELL after I finished. My thighs, calves, and lower back were really hating me. I wasn’t dizzy but felt as if I could fall because I felt unsteady on my feet. Both of us hurt. Elizabeth was disappointed with her time, mainly because she averaged a really fast pace over the half-marathon but lost a lot of speed in the second half. Myself, I was really happy. To run a sub-3:40 with little training was a message to me that I was generally a better runner than I was in my 20s.

While I have photographic evidence of my finish, apparently my D-tag didn’t register most of my race. It measured my first 3 miles as 24:12 (8:04s), but after then, nothing else registered. I had to email that I finished with Elizabeth for them to post my finish time. To date, no additional splits have posted and tech support suggested they wouldn’t post, but they haven’t told me why. While I’m not terribly disappointed, it is a disappointment not to have these stats but also not to have an explanation why I don’t have these stats. It definitely would be nice to know why they didn’t register!

The course for the Surf City USA Marathon was pretty decent. You might divvy the marathon into 3 parts: The Pacific Coast Highway plus Huntington Beach Central Park, the Pacific Coast Highway, and the beach walkway along the Pacific Coast Highway. The first third was great: I loved the winding and the hills the course offered, and Central Park was fun to run in despite being so narrow. The second third was alright, but it was a very long out and back. The third part was downright blech, being another out and back, but this time being a much longer out and back. For much of the final third, it was just a matter of persevering the distance.

When I was close to the finish, it looked as if we were going to come in cleanly below 3:40. However, as we got closer and closer, we realized that it was going to be really close. The 3:40 pacer was creeping up just behind us and finally met us. He was cheering his group on, and by default, us. I was in a dilemma: Elizabeth was faster than me and 3:40 would have qualified her again for Boston (well, 3:40:59). She was just ahead of the pacer by a stride, and I was just a stride behind the pacer, trying to keep up. I think actually I was trying to conserve energy for a sprint to the end. When we hit the lane to the finish, we both bolted hand-in-hand. It was joyous to do that, and it brought tears to my eyes to be able to do that. We busted out what felt like a pretty fast finish (you can see the video on the Photos page). And we got in just below 3:40.

Other than really sore quads, I escaped with bad chafing under my left arm near the armpit, a couple of foot blisters (including a blood one), and nothing much else. I weathered the race pretty well! Garmin was pretty solid and helpful, and I enjoyed running a marathon without much of a time goal. It was a great time doing the Surf City USA Marathon. Next up? The Boston Marathon in April!

One thought on “I Managed!”

  1. Running the finish with you was incredibly special. I’m sorry if I never clearly voiced that to you. It was great, and the photos are fantastic and capture our celebration.

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