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?

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