Long Beach Marathon Recap

Alternate Titles – 5 Seconds Saved Me (instead of last year’s Four Minutes Away title) Or

 Monica’s Last Marathon

Early this morning I woke up and did my pre-race thing – clothes, bathroom, food. Then, I woke up Ben and Matt (my lil’ bro who’s staying with me this weekend) and we headed to Long Beach.

They dropped me off near the start and went to go have breakfast. I went to the porta potties and then to run 26.2 miles. <- One of these options is a lot more attractive and it’s not what I did.IMG_0338 (800x533)

Si Se Puede! IMG_0339 (800x533)

I started off way too fast (like always!!!) and really really tried to slow myself down. I even used my whole name to scold myself in my inner dialogue. I kept looking at my Garmin and trying to get it to around my goal pace of 8:59, but had a hard time.

The boys met me at mile 12 where it loops around. I planned on handing Ben my water bottle for a refill and coming back around for it. IMG_0343 (800x533)

When I saw Ben I was still booking it and he said I was in front of the 3:45 pacer. <- If you’re a runner you might realize this is a HUGE mistake. Going out too fast NEVER banks time it only shreds your legs and ends in regret (at least for me).IMG_0344 (800x533)

I planned on taking a gel every 5 miles, but the warm day and chocolate flavored gels stored against my sweaty body made for gross mouthfuls. Plus, I normally take gels every 6 miles in training so this difference made me feel bloated and nauseas. IMG_0361 (800x533)

But, my big butt kept going. (Thanks for that shot Ben, I appreciate having to look at it as much as the people behind me in the race did. No wonder I kept getting passed…)IMG_0364 (800x533)

I held a sub 9 minute per mile pace easily until mile 17. Then, I slammed into THE WALL. Hard. IMG_0370 (800x533)

I knew about the hill around mile 17. This is where I fell apart last year.  Mentally and physically I couldn’t keep pushing.

And it happened again.

I went from 8:45 minute/miles to 10:30s and couldn’t get it back. The nausea didn’t go away so I started to worry that I was over-hydrated or under fueled or slowly dying a torturous death in front of thousands of people. One of those.

My knees started to hurt and I got that same weird pain I got last year. It was a Charlie Horse right above the knee, but it’s only happened before in a race?! I walked up a hill at Mile 22 and that was a bad choice. My knees locked up even more and started to cramp to the point I thought they must be bulging out of my skin. I stopped at the medical tent to get sprayed with some pain relief stuff and tried to run again.

I tossed my water bottle on the side of the road at Mile 23 and pumped my arms so my legs would keep going. Thank God they did. I decided to run it in and try to keep it below 10 minute miles.

I had my Garmin on the pace screen and refused to change it to the elapsed time. I knew that if I confirmed I wasn’t going to sub-4 I’d just stop and walk it in. I decided that either way I was going to try and keep running so I kept going without any idea if I was going to make goal.

Ben saw me at Mile 26 and got a few pictures. I did not see or hear them. I’m pretty sure I was seeing things a la the movie Gladiator when he’s dying and seeing flashes of his family in Heaven. IMG_0371 (800x533)

IMG_0372 (800x533)

IMG_0373 (800x533)

I ran it in past the finish line. Then, I stopped my Garmin and switched it to the total time screen – 3:59:54!!!!! I did it! I seriously didn’t know until that second!long beach marathon results

I stumbled to find Ben and check my time on the computers to make sure it was real. I felt like absolute crap so I need to apologize to the 2 readers who spotted me past the finish line – sorry if I just kinda nodded like a zombie. IMG_0376 (800x533)

We headed straight for the car because I needed to sit! I was still nauseous and couldn’t drink or eat anything (that’s how you know something is wrong with me).

We went to my mom’s and I did an “ice bath” in the pool. I put my head down with my legs in the water and Ben brought me some chocolate coconut water from the finish line. I feel like death.IMG_0380 (800x533)

IMG_0386 (800x533)

I’m holding a peace sign, not the middle finger…IMG_0382 (800x533)Last year my rib cage hurt the rest of the day and I figured it was from bad form and a weak core, but I worked on my core more this year and it still hurts to take a deep breath. Boo.

Post-pool dip I took a shower and Ben picked up lunch. I didn’t say I wanted anything, but he knows what I like and brought onion rings and a tuna salad. God Bless that man.IMG_0387 (800x533)

IMG_0389 (800x533)

He’s now sleeping off the day while I blog <3IMG_0399 (800x533)

I’m alive. I ran a marathon in under 4 hours. I am happy and proud. But, a few days ago I was considering running the RnR AZ marathon in January and now I’m thinking I do not want to run another marathon. Ever. IMG_0397 (800x533)

Congratulations to everyone who ran this weekend! Running is hard! Be proud of yourself no matter what.

P.S. Hello to the runners who saw me during the race! Thanks for saying “Hi!”  I really appreciate it Smile 

Question: What was the best thing you did or best thing you ate this weekend?


  1. says

    Congrats on your marathon girl!

    What is this chocolate coconut water you speak of? Is it good?

    Best thing I’ve eaten = hot apple cider doughnuts made at an apple orchard we visited today. We waited 40 minutes to get them, and they didn’t disappoint.

  2. says

    Truthfully I had to skim your recap because just reading it is making me nervous for my marathon. The last race I ran I went out too fast. And if you told me I would be within 5 seconds of goal time, I think I’d freak out even more.
    Oh and I’d bet you’ll sign up for another marathon reasonably soon. they’re addicting like that.

    • says

      Truthfully I’m sure you skim most of my posts, so I’m not mad at ya 😉 You will rock your marathon – I see your tweets about your long runs! You’re doing great!!

  3. Dee says

    Congratulations on your making your goal happen!

    The best thing I did this weekend – I went for a 6 mile hike. The weather was great and it was fabulous to be outside in the sunshine under the trees, walking through the woods.

  4. says

    I am so happy you reached your goal even though it wasn’t an easy race (but what race is ever “really” easy at least it’s not for me!) I’ve been questioning if I want to run more races but I just started :/ Crossing that finish line makes me feel so proud and then I decide I want to run more races… and the cycle begins again. I hope you continue to run marathons (or even just halfs :) ) I love reading your posts on training and race reviews.

    I had my first half today and it wasn’t an easy one for me – I was sick all week and felt sort of out of it when I started to run. The race was very scenic so it kept my mind off worrying if I was going to fall on the ground or vomit on the guy next to me… so I’m just glad I crossed that finish line!

  5. Angie says

    Congrats! Breaking 4 hours is amazing! I barely missed breaking 5 hours by 4 minutes and I’m debating doing another one but I think I want to stick with half marathons. It does feel amazing to cross the finish line and start the cycle again!

  6. says

    Major congrats on your marathon Monica! You rock! Love the “Gladiator” comparison by the way. I had a similar “near-death” experience this weekend. I ran my first ultra during a relay. It hurt like hell, but it felt great when I finished and I’m sure you feel just as awesome after you got your sub-4!

  7. says

    Congrats on the marathon! Glad you pushed through! The best thing I ate all weekend…good old western omelette, hash browns, and rye toast at a Jersey diner with my Mom. It was a good way to kick off my Sunday morning. :)

  8. Kathryn says

    Congratulations on your sub 4 marathon! That’s awesome!

    I made apple crisp this weekend and I’ve eaten 6 or 7 pieces so far. It’s so good and I keep going back to it:)

  9. Carey says

    Congratulations! I am happy you made your goal! I have to admit I checked obsessively (imagine a strikethrough) off and on all day to see if you had posted! I couldn’t wait to see the recap!

  10. says

    Love that – “be proud of yourself no matter what.” So true! Congrats to you!!!

    On Friday night, after work, I took off for my 13 mile training run for NYC Marathon. It was such a treat to get it out of the way early and not have to think about slotting it in through the rest of the weekend.

    Enjoy your Sunday evening!

  11. SaraRM says

    Wow CONGRATS!!! I didnt know how it was going to end as I was reading! Fabulous job!

    Best thing this weekend- 11 miles and lots of quality time with my husband! It was a pretty dang good one!

  12. says

    Congratulations! What a great accomplishment. You rock for pushing through the wall.

    Best thing I did this weekend – I went for a little run with my husband. I’m 14 weeks pregnant and just coming out of the first trimester fog, so this was my first run in 2 months. Fortunately it felt amazing!

  13. says

    8) I was there too. First marathon- 4:07:33. With a mile to go I told the guy next to me “I feel kind of bad that I don’t feel horrible or like I’m dying.” lol. Of course I went out to fast too. Figured I would though, I went from 7:48 splits to 9:19 by mile 24. I got nauseated only afterwards, there was one moment in the race where I felt like my body was gonna cramp up, but I got to the next station intime to hypdrate and get some electrolytes in me. We should both be proud. ^_^”. I’m home now and feel good enough already, I could do another in a two or three weeks, lol. (lets see if I think that when I wake up in the morning)

  14. says

    I loved living through you! Such an amazing accomplishment! 5 seconds can mean the world! My first marathon is a week from today and I am going to channel your positivity! You did such a wonderful job- you should be so so so proud! WOW!

  15. says

    Congrats! I think the desire to do another will come back. For me, no matter how many times I swear off ultras (of various distances), I always keep coming back for more. I think the ones that don’t go perfect always lead us back because we feel like we can still do more. You should be proud of your sub 4! And I look forward to following your training for the next one :)

  16. says

    Way to go, girl!!!! I am so freaking proud of you! My 3rd full marathon is two weeks from today and reading your gut-it-all-out recap made me even more pumped for it. I believe that even though runs like you felt today totally suck, they make us even prouder when we push through!!

  17. Laura @ Backstage Balance says

    Congratulations! It sounds like this was a tough race, but you were tougher! Congrats on breaking 4 hours. That seems ridiculously fast to me! I finished my marathon last weekend in 5:40ish and can’t wait to drop more time when I run my next one :-)
    A note on fueling – I had a similar thing happen, but opposite of you. I trained on gels and shot bloks this summer, but on race day the cooler temps made the shot bloks darn near impossible to eat – too chewy and tough to consume quickly. Next time around I’m going to have to figure out how to fuel based upon race day conditions, not training conditions.

  18. says

    Congrats! All that matters is that you won that mental battle and you ran it in! You did amazing! Great job!

    I ran a very snowy {yes, snowy, in early October!} 10 mile trail “challenge” on Saturday. I’m insanely proud of myself as I almost stayed in bed!

  19. says

    congratulations on hitting your goal! :) i can’t imagine how tough it must have been to keep going – i’m so impressed!

    the best thing i did this weekend was go apple picking! it’s been on my list of things to do FOREVER and i’m so happy i finally did it.

  20. Erin says

    Congratulations!! I’ve run one marathon and know how hard it is, physically and mentally. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for doing it and achieving your goal time. Go, Monica, go! You rock (for the marathon and this blog and I’m sure lots of other things, too). I hope you have a few rest days and a LOT of food ahead of you :)

  21. says

    Greta job Mon. I’m so proud of you and wish I could have been there to help you at the finish line! You powered through and finished great! I hope you’re feeling better!

    Best thing this weekend? Camping at El Capitan with my old roomie and talking weddings!

  22. says

    Congratulations!!!!! That is such a fabulous time! Good for you!! Bet you’ll forget about the pain soon, and sign up for another one (if you’re anything like me 😉

  23. says

    Congrats! Awesome job! After I ran my last marathon I said the same thing…I never want to run another marathon again! Now I’m thinking I will but it will only be if it’s at the end of an ironman!

  24. says

    Congratulations!!! I am so sorry you felt like poop during your marathon but doesn’t it feel awesome that you finished and reached your goal? Sub 4 hours is amazing!!

  25. says

    You rocked it girl and thanks for being so honest about how hard it was for you. I broke my own sort of record today running a 5 k in moorpark and beating my time from last year by 4 minutes! And you ran your marathon in under 4 hours that is so awesome !Now rest up and eat :)

  26. Pam says

    Great Job Monica!! I was sooo excited for you when I saw you finish under your goal time!! I wanted to jump over the fence and give you a big hug!! “YOU DID IT!!!” :)

    It was nice to meet Ben and your brother! We’ll get together soon!! :)

  27. says

    Yay! I was thinking about your race while I was running at the gym just a few minutes ago. I logged onto my Google reader to see if you’d posted about it and you did! LOL@ the Gladiator reference, :]

    You’re my heroine!

  28. says

    seriously awesome. i’m so so so glad you ran a sub 4, especially where you’ve been shooting for that!! what an accomplishment monica – you totally seriously rock with all your realism and honest bloggage – ty 😀 and really, a huge congrats!

  29. says

    Yeah, every time I do a marathon I say it’ll be my last…and that feeling doesn’t carry over for more than a day (although I usually injure myself so they could well end up being my last!) Either way in your case, be PROUD of your time, and stop making remarks about your butt (which there’s nothing wrong with!) even in a post about your greatest running achievement so far <3

    I had a marathon on Sunday too, and finished looking similarly dead! Taking on 1/2 a 340g jar of smooth PB&Co with a spoon is my version of your tuna and onion rings…hey, I think I dipped a banana, GF bread, apple and grapes in it, so that makes it all better, right 😉



  30. says

    The weather has been the crappiest this weekend so I couldn’t do anything interesting… besides eating my candy, ofc.
    Congrats on the sub 4 Mary – you’re a winner!

  31. says

    I so happy for you, Monica. I can understand why you might never want to run a marathon again. It’s hard. And kinda crazy. Ha! All your hard work this time during training truly paid off and I’m so very happy for you.

  32. Nancy says

    Congratulations Monica, excellent job! As for me, I have been back and forth as to how bad I want to run a marathon. It is not so much the race itself that puts me off but it is in fact the training. Hearing about your progress and training, made me laugh and cry. I hope I will decide one day if I can put a checkmark next to my name as marathoner. Thanks for the inspiration! Nancy

  33. jillian says

    You’re such an inspiration! I’m aiming for a sub 4 marathon in NYC next month — and knowing you did it gives me hope! Treat yourself to some post race relaxation and recovery (and fro yo!) :) you deserve it!!!!

  34. says

    Thank you for the honest race recap. And AWESOME job getting through it. Proves you are mentally tough. All runners that race have experienced any and all of the things you did, but some don’t seem to want to share it. Like it makes them less of a runner. And you know you can’t decide anything about a next race while you are still recovering from this one. You will run again. And RnR Arizona is a good race.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  35. says

    woo hoo congrats!! you did it!! that’s amazing! man marathons are so tough…during them i swear i constantly wonder why the hell i do this..but its such an amazing feeling afterwards…and u get to eat whatever the hell u want! haha congrats!

  36. says

    Congrats on finishing!! I saw you at the start line as you were finding your way up to your corral, it was like 5 minutes before the start so I didn’t want to distract you! My legs are hating me today…I can’t imagine having done the full but I hope to train and get there someday!

  37. Danielle says

    YAYYY! You did the sub four!! Congrats. It was so good to see you during the race! BTW this might be my first and last marathon…I totally understand your title :)

  38. Suzi says

    Hello! Great job this weekend. I was at the race, running the half, not the full. I saw you when I was inline and the porta pottys but didn’t say anything, you looked like you were headed to the start and I didn’t want to stop you. Felt like I saw a famous person, of course had to tell everyone in my group about you. Great job!!

  39. says

    Congrats on the sub-4 marathon! It sounds like pure torture to me, but then running for more than a few minutes at a time sounds like torture to me 😉

    I didn’t do anything nearly as big as that. Although Saturday was both my 5-year wedding anniversary and my 10-year HS reunion. Longest day ever! Woke up early and stayed out waaay too late. Had a blast!

  40. says

    WAHOO! Loved seeing your tweet about dying but making it under 4 hrs and now loved reading this recap! GREAT work, Monica! Whether it’s your last marathon or not, it’s certainly a great note to end on and be proud of. Like Tina said, I like that you showcase how much work it is to train for and complete a marathon – you’re real, honest, you worked hard, and now you can relish in your accomplishment. WAY TO GO! 😀

  41. says

    Congratulations!! I loved reading this. My first marathon is coming up in a few weeks so this helped out. I know about the pacing thing but have a feeling I’ll do the exact same thing come race day. The atmosphere is just so electrifying..running slow while everyone else seems to zoom by is hard!

    You did great, seriously. Way to go!

  42. Chelles says

    Congratulations Monica, excellent job!!! I have to agree with the other comments. Thank you for keeping your blog so honest. Running is 90% mental and your writing style flows through the mental truthfully! I’m very proud of you for hitting your goal of sub-4. Keep up the good work and keep up with after race posts.

  43. says

    This is so awesome!!! Way to push yourself and never give up. I just ran my first marathon yesterday (Chicago) and hit a similar wall around mile 12. It sucked, I still feel like death, but I am happy I finished! And, very antsy to do another one and preform better. :)

  44. says

    YAY! You did it! I love it when people reach their goals at long beach and I remember how bummed you were last year and now you can say you sub-4ed. :) YAY! Congrats again, glad you pushed though and scored that :59!!

  45. says

    I thinks it’s really great that you finished this. But I’ve always wondered – why does anyone want to do this? It’s most definitely not an easy task and probably not quite the most healthy thing you can do. I don’t mean running itself, that undoubtedly is healthy. But running for more than 42 km? I don’t know, maybe that’s just lazy me speaking :D. Anyways, very well done!

  46. says


    Congrats on the sub 4hr marathon! I saw you around Mile 5-6 and DF and I kept a steady pace with you but I didn’t want to say anything (or seem like a creepy crawly!). I thought should I say something? Or should I not? (Although I just met Elise of Hungry Hungry Hippie when she was in my ER of all places!) You didn’t seem like you needed the encouragement b/c you were hauling ass! =)

    Then I saw Ben and knew, maybe I should say hello and congratulate you! So congrats!

    I love LB’s half/full marathon. I’ve done it 3 yrs in a row making me an official ‘Beach Bum’! What’s your next race?

  47. Candy says

    I thought you’d appreciate that I ran the Baltimore Marathon today and got sub-4! It’s my second marathon, missing my time by 2 mins last year. I don’t think it’s in me to run much faster so now I think (hope) I can enjoy my runs more instead of staring at my watch. Like you, I also hate the training, but continue to do it every year. Wish I would have known you when you lived in Maryland. You are one of my fav blogs! Congrats to you as well!

  48. says

    I just saw that the above commenter ran Baltimore and got a sub-4, and so did I! It was the shock of a lifetime on that hilly course – never expected to see a “3” on the clock at the finish! Nice job!

    • Candy says

      Alyssa, congrats!! I was doing pretty good through mile 16, but those last 10 miles kicked my a@@. Same thing happened last year. But I did get a 4+ min PR over last years time. So, I guess next goal is sub-3!! Uh, not.

  49. says

    Clearly I’m behind on blogs, but OMG girl! You did it! There’s nothing wrong with coming in and only a few seconds to spare 😉 we need to race another marathon together and aim for sub 3:59 now

  50. says

    Great job on this race! I’m contemplating this marathon next. May I ask you what the weather is like and what the hills are like? Is it a better course than this year’s RnR’s San Diego? Thank you!

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