Marathon #23. State #14. Long Beach Marathon. Long Beach, California.
The Long Beach Marathon was expecting close to 20,000 participants and record high temps. The story was all about the weather and staying safe. Unfortunately, I have a bit of experience in the heat, in fact every marathon I’ve ran this year (6 to date) has had temps above 85 degrees at the finish. But that doesn’t mean I like running in the heat and it doesn’t make it easier and I’m not getting used to it.
In fact, I may be getting a little grumpy. But the views around Huntington, Seal & Long Beaches made the heat tolerable.
What Long Beach served up
besides temps near or at 100 degrees was a beautiful location, a large expo and nicely ran race with multiple distance options. There was a Kids Mile, 5K, Half Marathon, 20 Mile Bike and the Marathon. The expo was large with almost 90 vendors. Packet pickup was smooth, easy & they even offered a shirt exchange option, if by chance you needed a different size shirt.
Race morning, the roads surrounding the race all closed at 5am. There were a lot of parking areas, some of which could be pre-paid prior to race day. Lots of potties and a stream of people heading toward the start. The 20 Mile Bike, Wheelchairs & Marathoners were scheduled to start at 6am; however, due to the heat, race officials also gave the half marathoners the option to start at 6am (instead of 7:30a). So we had an additional 10,000 people opt to start running at 6am. This resulted in total chaos. There were no start corrals. Just bodies of people waiting to start running.
We started running about 6:15am, along with everyone around us. Without start corrals, runners were not ordered according to pace and we all know the walkers want to start as close to the front as possible. So the first few miles were slow and we spent a lot of time weaving around other runners without trying to expend too much energy since we knew it was going to be a tough day. I immediately felt warm. Like too warm. So I was very focused on not pushing and staying as comfortable as possible. At every aid station, I made sure to drink Nuun (if offered), water and dump water on my head and body. I knew I needed to keep my body as cool as possible in order to squeak out a finish. The first 6 miles were good. It was dark, the sun was coming up, we were protected from the sun. Around mile 6, we ran around Rainbow Harbor and had an amazing view of the Queen Mary.
Then we ran past the aquarium & start area, and into the sun as we headed toward Alamitos Beach and a long straightaway with beach views and full sun.
Things were still good around Alamitos Beach but I could feel my body slowing. Involuntarily. We weren’t running fast but too fast for me and the dance with the sun. Alamitos Beach turned to Junipero Beach, then we passed the Belmont Pier and the Belmont Pool which is famous for holding the 1968 and 1976 Olympic Trials and because it was used as a training pool for the 1984 Olympics in LA. But things were still good. We were still smiling. We were still together. Lara, Me & Julie.
After the Belmont area, we turned out onto Ocean Boulevard and away from the sun, said farewell to the Half Marathoners and headed east into the surrounding neighborhoods. That’s pretty much when the fun ended. Miles 10.5 to approximately 23.75 were thru neighborhoods, on busy roads. The highlights were the Marine Stadium and California State University Long Beach. The University campus offered up a few hills but also some much needed shade. Coolest thing I saw in these rough miles was this fun pyramid building on the CSU campus, which we passed 2x.
The race was well staffed, had plenty of water & Nuun. Three stations for Honey Stinger gels. Two stations for ice. Two stations with misting fans. One beer station. Lots of port-o-potties, which were clean. Volunteers and police were very supportive. Residents were supportive offering cold bottles of water, pretzels, donut holes and oranges from their own homes. But I’m not going to lie, it was hot and my tummy was super upset from the heat and the extra fluids I needed to survive the heat. It was really quite miserable. Julie, Lara & I split. It was all about survival. And we did survive but that was about it. This is one race where I think I’d recommend the half over the full. I don’t feel like I saw anything exceptional after we split from the half. If you are in it for the beach views, you’ll see them all before mile 10. Then it’s just more pounding of the city streets.
Finish was downhill. Thank freaking goodness. Cool medal. Cool shirt. And California is officially checked off the list. Huge shout out to my friends Lara & Nels who shuttled us around, fed us, and housed us during out brief visit to the Golden State.
What’s next? Hopefully at least some cooler weather and maybe just one decent marathon time for 2015? Race wise, look for me at: Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (11/7), Route 66 Marathon + Detour (11/22), Huff 50K (12/19), and then we will be picking up our deferred races (due to injury) from last January for the Mississippi Blues Marathon (1/9/16) & First Light Marathon (1/10/16). Yes, a double marathon weekend. Sounds fun, right?!?
Lots of races ahead. I took most of the summer off for TRI training and we’ve spent a ton of time
and $$ fixing up the IL house over the last month or so. The IL house will be on the market at the end of this week and we are ready to get back to business as usual. Let’s do this!!!
** Run Happy and Safe ** Amanda – TooTallFritz