Long Beach Half Marathon – Race Recap

As I shared after the race on Sunday, Kyle and I both ran the Long Beach Half-Marathon this past weekend – not the full marathon as I had originally planned.

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This was my 2nd half-marathon – the first being the Monster Dash in the fall of 2011 – and I was definitely much less prepared for this race than my first.

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I steadily trained for the full marathon from May-August but after the move to Chicago, starting a new job and finding out about some health issues, my training basically stopped. I didn’t stop running altogether but I wasn’t running more than 4-5 miles 3 times per week. Definitely not marathon (or half-marathon) training runs!

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Anyways, onto the race recap!

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We woke up bright and early and fueled with bananas and peanut butter before heading over to the race. Our hotel – The Long Beach Courtyard Marriot – was only a few blocks from the race start and finish lines!

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Our race was supposed to start at 7:30am but because of the masses (like 10,000+ – not kidding!) of people running the race, we didn’t actually cross the start line until 8am and we were one of the first groups to start!

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The overall course was gorgeous. We had great views of Long Beach and the Pacific Ocean but man was the course crowded. We were weaving in and out of crowds, trying not to trip ourselves in order to pass other runners throughout the ENTIRE race. I expect this to happen during the first 2-3 miles of every race as people overestimate their pace but passing people for 13.1 miles is a little ridiculous.

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Because of our delayed start time, we made a quick bathroom pit-stop around Mile 3. That 1-minute break was much needed and I was actually happy to be able to focus on running rather than my full bladder!

Since I was following Kyle’s lead throughout the race (This was his 1st half-marathon and since I didn’t really have a training plan/goal, I decided to stick with him as a running buddy.) we made quite a few water stops over the next several miles. I didn’t drink at all of them – I don’t like the way water feels sloshing around my belly while running. He also requested a few walking breaks – one around Miles 7, 8 and 10.

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Once we hit Mile 10, I knew I could not walk again or I’d never be able to start up running and make it across the finish line so I continued on ahead of Kyle.

As a side note, I’ve decided that running buddies are key to long runs and races. Those last 3.1 miles were killer and I hit a major wall that probably would have been much easier to overcome had I been running with someone.

Speaking of hitting a wall – I want to give a shout out and a HUGE thank you to all of the race spectators. Your cheering, funny signs, bite-sized candy and orange slices made those last few miles bearable and also made it possible for me to finish the race! Who knew that a granny telling each runner that they were a sexy beast, a tiny Milky Way and sucking the juice out of an orange slice could fuel me for a few miles??!

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On Mile 11 (or Mile 24 for her…), Monica from Run Eat Repeat zoomed past me! I love her blog and was pretty much in blog-celebrityville for those few moments. You can give me the Creeper McCreeperton award for the race because I snapped a photo of her as she passed by.

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Yep, I’m that creepy.

Anyways, I eventually made it across the finish line and man, why is that last mile always so emotional??! Spectators are cheering, you’re delirious and I always have to focus on breathing in order to not break down into tears, hyperventilate and/or collapse from sheer exhaustion.

My official time was 2:18 – slower than my first half-marathon time of 1:52 but still okay considering that I didn’t train and haven’t ran more then 4-5 miles in the past month.

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Kyle’s official time was 2:23! I was impressed considering that he came to the race after spending a week in Russia, it being his first race of this length and only making it up to a 9-mile run during his training. Yay for Kyle!

After donning my medal (they gave me the full marathon medal since my bib was for the full) and shoving a bag of Cheez-Its, a Rice Krispy Treat, a banana and fruit snacks down my trap, Kyle crossed the finish line. And yes, I was able to eat that much sugary-carby goodness in less than 5 minutes. My body craves some major carbs to replenish its energy stock after a race of that length and I couldn’t chew the food fast enough!

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Once we got our finisher’s photo, we wobbled back to the hotel to clean up before gorging ourselves with pizza and beer. Typical.

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So what are my overall thoughts?

It was a beautiful course but I just can’t recommend the half to anyone. It was way too crowded to be enjoyable and probably actually quite dangerous at some points because of thousands of runners. I actually overheard a spectator call us a herd of wildebeests. (I’m sorry sir but the only time I’ll respond to the term beast is when the word sexy is in front of it!) I think the full is another story – I’d love to try that one out, maybe next year??!

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I’m not sore in the least. (Pre-publishing edit – I was actually sore 2 days after the race but only my glutes… apparently they can power me through 13.1 miles ;) ) I’m really shocked about this considering my lack of training. It just goes to show that other types of fitness like Body Pump, Yoga and Cardio Kickboxing keep you in damn good shape and are just as important as actual running when preparing for a race!

After being able to finish this race, I think there’s something to be said for under-training. Yes, you need to be able to run and be in great cardiovascular health to run long distances but your muscles should not be fatigued. My muscles were fresh and ready to run and that they did. I also have a little bit more “fluff” right now than I’ve had the past year(s) – moving and stress do a number on the bod – and that probably powered me through the race as well… and don’t worry, I’m workin’ on it… with Body Pump and Cardio Kickboxing on my side, I’m determined to be back into my normal shape by the holidays!

How’s that for a super long post? If you’re still here, I’m glad because I really wanted to share with you my thoughts about the race and running a half-marathon without training!

What are your thoughts on training for long-distance races? What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?

California, here I come!

{Editor’s note: Apparently my United flight (on a brand new plane too for your information…grumble, grumble…) did not have Wi-Fi. Lame. I did actually compose this post on the plane but am posting it from the hotel…}

TGIF!

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I’m just popping in from a bajillion feet above the ground on my way to California. And… the guy in front of me just reclined seat… This 4 hours of blogging shall be fun.

Anyways, is anyone else pumped that it’s Friday??! It’s been a long week as I’ve been semi- sick with a sore throat, body aches and a slight fever and Kyle has been traveling in Russia. I’m sure we’re going to be crazy fun party animals tonight and go to bed around 7pm so that we can be refreshed and ready to go on Saturday!

I’ve had a bunch of you ask me why I’m heading to the state of sunshine and happiness today.

This was the weekend of the marathon and I’m still TBD on what I’m going to do on Sunday. Kyle’s registered for the half so my options are currently…

  1. Run the marathon – NOT happening considering that I haven’t been training and it was highly recommended that I do not run 26.2 miles by my dermatologist. Darn iron issues…
  2. Run the half-marathon with my lover boy – A possibility. I doubt Kyle will be running quickly after traveling so much this past week (and not training that much himself…) and it could be a fun bonding experience. And by fun, I’m sure we’ll have so much fun, we’ll never run another one again ;)
  3. Run the 5K that I just found out is happening on Sunday morning.
  4. Be a cheerleader for the hubs.

I’ll make sure to let you know what I’m doing and Tweet/Facebook my race tracking number in case any of y’all want to follow along!

Well, that’s all for now – Signing out somewhere above the state of Iowa!

What are your plans for the weekend? Anyone else racing?

My Weekend in California – Napa, Part 2

Okay, where did I leave off… Oh yes, Carly and I heading back to the Napa Hilton Garden Inn to get our beauty rest on Thursday night!

I – unlike Carly – slept like a baby on Thursday night. I’m contributing this to the wine and gin that was consumed earlier in the evening.

Anyways, Carly and I woke up bright and early, excited to pick up Katie and to head out for a full day of wine tasting with Platypus Tours! I made a quick run to Starbucks (super close to our hotel, great hotel pick Carly!) and then took my time getting ready for the day while Carly drove to the train station to pick up Katie.

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Once we were all gorgeous, we headed down to the hotel’s lobby to meet our Platypus Tours driver, Scott W. We quickly introduced ourselves (we had wine waiting for us!) and let him know we were expecting a fun day full of wine and cheese. He promised not to disappoint which he definitely did not!

On a side note, the three of us cannot escape men with the name of Scott while traveling with each other… Our driver and one of the sommeliers were named Scott and, let’s be honest, who can forget STH from Blend? ;)

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Okay, back to the wine!

The first winery we visited was Flora Springs – a gorgeous vineyard with amazing views! When we arrived, the “boys” (as they are referred to on the website!) had our wine glasses ready for us to begin our tasting at the early hour of 11am. By the way, drinking wine at this hour in Napa is totally acceptable and I need to move to Napa if only for that reason…

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I was a bad wine taster this trip and didn’t write down any of the wines I tasted at the 4 wineries we visited. Sorry – but not really – I was having too much fun with my girls to bother with all of those silly details! I guess it just means I’ll have to make another trip back to report back on actual wines next time…

Anyways, the first glass of Flora Springs wine was my favorite. It was a Sauvignon Blanc and was much too easy to drink. Thankfully, Travis – our tour guide and wine pourer extraordinaire – kept our glasses nice and full!

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We also got a tour of the winery’s cave where they store their wine. It was SO cool – both figuratively and literally – I had to keep drinking wine as to not get too cold. Seems logical, right? I didn’t drink too much wine however since I do remember learning that each wine barrel holds around 300 bottles of wine!

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We were getting a bit hungry – who am I kidding, we’re always hungry! – after our first wine tasting and luckily, Scott W. offered us a delicious wine and cheese basket. It was amazing and I’m fairly certain I had 12 crackers.

The next stop on our tour was Arger-Martucci Vineyards! Hannah guided us through 7 or 8 (I can’t remember… I didn’t take notes – see above) of some of the best red wines I have ever tasted. She also had some of the best stories about guests that visited their vineyard that had had slightly too much to drink.

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They have a pool on their property and one of the stories involved a fighting couple pushing each other into the water and then, well, er… making up – I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination! Needless to say, we were all laughing hysterically while she was giving us a play-by-play.

If you go to Napa, go here. Arger-Martucci has a super laid back atmosphere and their wine is delicious. I may have purchased a case of 2004 Cabernet Franc for someone’s Christmukah present later this year but you’ll have to wait and see ;) It’s okay, it was on sale and it was the only thing I purchased the entire trip, besides food and wine that is…

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Next on the tour was Rutherford Hill Winery. I honestly don’t have anything great to say about this stop. The owners weren’t friendly or talkative and the pours were basically just enough to smell the wine – not that I need a full glass for a tasting but I’d like to be able to take at least 2 sips so that I can get a feel for the wine… Am I right?

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At least we took a super cute, wine barrel model photo at Rutherford. This gives it some redemption!

At this point in the tour, I asked Scott W. if we were by any chance heading to Silver Oak Winery for our last stop. Silver Oak produces Kyle’s favorite wine and I would have loved to have visited! Sadly, we were not heading to Silver Oak but Scott told me to request it for my next trip and Platypus Tours would make it happen!

Instead of Silver Oak, we headed to Hill Family Estate, a tasting room with wines made from Silver Oak’s grapes!! How lucky did I get?

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Our entire tour group sat around a large table while we learned about and tasted the wines and ate the amazing cheese and cracker platter provided to us. Forget the wines here, the cheese is what stole the show! Seriously, it was the best cheese I had ever tasted. I even took a photo so I could find it on my next Whole Foods trip.

After we were all sufficiently full of wine and cheese, Hill Family Estate’s tasting room kicked us out because I tried to steal the entire wheel of brie.

Just kidding, my purse was too small! If I had brought a larger bag this story might have ended differently…

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The rest of the evening involved dinner at Ristorante Allegria where Katie and I thought it would be a great idea to split a bottle of wine after wine tasting all day. In case you were wondering, in retrospect, this was not a good idea the following day…

As a group, we also shared a big plate of spaghetti and pesto gnocchi. I would share photos but the lighting was romantic (perfect for a girls’ night out date…) so the photos don’t do the scrumptious Italian food justice!

After dinner we enjoyed a few more drinks and then all fell into bed, ready to head to San Francisco the next day.

I would like to add that I am very impressed with myself that I did not end up spilling ANYTHING on my white and navy striped dress. Not even red wine. Kyle would be so proud!

What is your favorite wine to drink? How do you select a bottle of wine from a wine store? Most importantly, do you think Carly, Katie and I have a good chance of becoming wine barrel models? Say yes.

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