October is marathon month this year. 3 marathons in 3 weekends: Long Beach, Denver and finally Marine Corps in Washington DC. All will be with Clif Bar and all will be new marathons for me. I’m also balancing some additional projects at work during the month so I won’t have too much extra time on my hands. The plan was to take Friday of the Long Beach Marathon off from work and we would drive down to LA and then drive back home Sunday, right after the run. So on Thursday night after work, I rode my bike to the Sacramento International Airport to pickup our rental car: a high MPG compact Ford Focus. Friday morning we were on the road by 6:30 AM, took I-5 down to LA and stopped in Valencia at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Pick-Up Stixs, for some lunch. Dylan handled the long drive perfectly. We tried to stop every two hours to give everybody a short break from all the sitting.
I worked the Clif Bar booth on Friday evening, then a bunch of us walked over to the California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Our hotel was right across the street from the beach and we had a fantastic view of the harbor and The Queen Elizabeth. Saturday morning I felt lazy and missed the 6:30 AM run with the rest of the pace team and instead went for a short run around the harbor at 6:45 AM. I took Dylan down to the team breakfast and introduced him to the rest of the Clif Bar Pace Team. After breakfast, Nicole, Dylan and I walked over to Long Beach Aquarium. This was a pleasant surprise as we weren’t expecting to be able to visit an aquarium. They had fish of all types and sizes, including some decent size sharks. It reminded me of Marine World. Dylan could have stayed all day staring at the fish. In the spirit of the day, we walked over to Bubba Gumps and ate lunch. Afternoon equaled nap time for Dylan so I shopped for a wallet (needed to replace the one I had left on top of the Jeep earlier in the week) and then spent more time working at the expo. Our carbo dinner ended up being on The Queen Elizabeth that evening. After our Clif Bar pre-race meeting, I think we were back in the hotel room before 9 PM.
The start of the marathon on Sunday morning was only steps outside the hotel. Could not have asked for a better location or better weather. I probably had about 20 people in the 3:10 group, but maybe only half were running the full marathon and the other rest were running the half marathon. The course took us out and around the harbor then south along the beach towards Seal Beach. Around mile 5, close to the hotel, Nicole and Dylan had found a spot along the course. It’s always good to see them during the marathon. Around mile 8, the course turned inland and we headed towards Cal State Long Beach. There were a couple rollers during the middle miles. I had expected a pancake flat course but pancake flat it was not. No major hills but a few climbs enough to let you know they were there. I had to take a quick rest stop and tie my shoes. My right foot kept sliding as my foot would land and I could see some blood on my shoe. The last thing I needed was a DNF. The Avia shoes didn’t seem to be getting along with my toes. But I laced up and kept moving. However, my group kept shrinking during the middle miles and by the time we reach the college around mile 18, I only had a few runners left. Through the campus, a number of large cheering groups flanked the course. And when we left the college grounds, we were running back along the same route towards the ocean. So we could see a lot of runners still in the middle miles of the marathon. By the time the course took us back to the beach we had only a few miles to go but I think I had only two runners left. Right after mile 26, only a hundred yards from the finish, I spotted Nicole. In another minute, I crossed with a couple other runners just under 3:10. 1 down and 2 more to go.
I hadn’t taken enough fluids along the course so I wasn’t feeling great after the finish. I took off my right shoe to assess the situation and it looked worse than it felt. We walked back to the hotel, packed up and loaded the car. Another meal at the California Pizza Kitchen, then we headed home. We dropped Matt Brereton off at another hotel near LAX then continued north. We missed the I-5 ramp after the Grapevine so we took Highway 99 up to Sacramento. I think we were home around 10 PM.
Here’s my GPS report from the marathon: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6966355