Long Beach Marathon 2012 Recap

Yesterday morning I woke up and did the usual pre-race rituals: change, bathroom, sunblock, eat.

I had laid out my stuff the night before so I wouldn’t forget anything.IMG_8156 (800x600)

I ate PB toast and cinnamon sugar toast with salt.  Salt was key in this race.IMG_8158 (800x600)

I have run the Long Beach half or full something like 5 times now. So, getting to the start was familiar and nice. This feels like my home town race Smile

My goal for the Long Beach Marathon this year:

1. Run a SMART race.

This meant:

Don’t be an a-hole (aka don’t go out too fast).

Fuel every 5 miles.

Have fun! <- This is was very very important because I did not want to go to the New York Marathon hating marathons!!! After last year’s LB race I was 99% sure I was done with marathons forever. Only after receiving the offer from ING to be an ambassador did I consider signing up for another! I needed this race more for my head than my body.

I jokingly told Ben my strategy for this race was, “Don’t be an a-hole and pray.”

I’m notorious for going out way too fast and bonking. So, I was determined to go out at 4 hour marathon pace and see if I could do a few negative splits. Remember, I didn’t taper at all for this race so I was open to the possibility that it would be very tough to have a good race – that’s where the praying comes in.

I fueled every 5 miles and used the new Margarita Clif shot blocks with 3x the sodium of the originals at Mile 5 and 15. The last 2 years I did LB I got the worst cramps in my quads (it feels like my whole muscle was having a spasm!). That did not happen this year! I think the extra salt (from salting my toast, sipping Nuun and the blocks) helped prevent this.

I thought I was still going out a bit too fast at 8:50s the first few miles, but I kept checking in with myself. My goal for the first half was “energy preservation”. I wanted to use up as little energy as possible and save it for the second half.

I saw Ben at mile 12 and he refilled my water bottles (I wore my fuel belt with 2 bottles). He is the best!!!IMG_8161 (800x600)

Since this was the third time doing this course I knew I fall apart at mile 17 near Cal State Long Beach because it’s hilly. Last year I SLAMMED into the wall right there and it was horrible. This year I knew it was coming, fueled and stayed positive. I ran in and out of the campus and stayed focused on ‘up and over’ the hills.

Then, I finally turned on my music. I was ‘saving’ it for the last 6 miles or so. (<- in hindsight I think turning it on early would have made me go out too fast, having no music in the early miles kept me more self aware.)

After CSULB there is a slight incline and you head back to the beach/Finish. I kept waiting for my quad cramps to come and even had one of the aid stations spray my legs with that magic muscle spray (I did this last year too and the cramps still came).

No cramps.

I waited to SLAM into the wall. I saw people around me walk up the hills. I saw their form break down. I waited for it to happen to me.

No wall.

I never hit the wall on this race! I credit luck, fueling and having a good day.

At mile 24 I ran by the Sole Runners booth and one of their runners was just coming out to finish. We ran together from Mile 24-25 and it was something like 8:34?! We both thought the other person was trying to go fast. Talk about a negative split! That was my fastest mile of the entire race!

Unfortunately, we lost each other at an aid station around 25, but seeing that I just ran such a fast mile I kept pushing. I knew I was going to PR at this point and figured I should run (not stumble) it in. IMG_8178 (800x600)IMG_8188 (800x600)

As someone who is not a natural runner my race performance depends largely on how my body feels on race day. My half and full PRs have been when I was just having a good day – not necessarily after weeks of crazy training for a PR. But, I did run smarter not harder and that was more than half the battle. IMG_8181 (800x600)

My official Marathon PR time is 3:55:03 Average Pace: 8:58IMG_8194 (800x600)

I went to tell Steve “Hi!” at the finish line festival:IMG_8183 (600x800)

IMG_8184 (800x600)

I was exhausted after and we headed straight to my mom’s. Instead of an ice bath I took a dip in the chilly pool SmileIMG_8196 (800x600)

It was cold, but not exactly ice bath torture.IMG_8198 (800x600)

And enjoyed some of Ben’s fries. We drove though a place on the way over, but I wasn’t hungry at all. I just felt wrecked more than anything.IMG_8202 (800x600)

I did sip on a Chocolate Milk from Steve though!image

The rest of the day involved a family BBQ to celebrate something for my brother. We had carne asada, salmon burgers, potato salad, beans, rice and fideo. So good!IMG_8211 (800x600)

That’s why I made the Funfetti cake Saturday. IMG_8217 (800x600)

IMG_8215 (600x800) IMG_8220 (800x600)

And I had a massive Skinny Girl margarita x2 to celebrate! IMG_8206 (800x600)

This morning I am a little sore – mostly my quads and toes, but feeling great overall! Next up is the New York Marathon!! long beach marathon medal

As of right now I still plan on running NY just to enjoy it (not for time) since it is the one time I’ll do that epic race. PR-ing in Long Beach has proved to me that last year’s race was not a fluke and I could sub 4.

I want to really experience and enjoy the NY mary and then decide what’s next. I keep saying I’m going to retire my marathon shoes and stick to halfs, but I’ll make that final decision after Nov 4th.

Yesterday’s marathon was #5 for me and after each of the previous I’ve swore that was the last one. This one felt different, kinda like I didn’t want to lay down and die right after. Hmmm. I feel like I have a lot to think about, but for now I am basking in my Marathon PR Smile

Question: What did you do this weekend?


  1. says

    AWESOME job! You really did stick to your plan and run smart. Especially with the salt and fueling. Good girl.

    It was a PR weekend all around as I smoked my previous 5k PR. I was SO happy with my decision to downgrade from the half to the 5k (just not far enough along in my half training right now).

    The Kidless Kronicles

  2. Maggie says

    Congratulations!! That’s a really great time. And it’s so rewarding when you have FUN on the course. I’ll be running the Nike Women’s marathon this weekend – after having done the full twice, I’m ready for the half. :)

  3. says

    I love reading about how your strategy paid off and you managed to negative split. Congrats again on a great race!

    Yesterday I ran 18 miles (a first for me) in training for the Santa Barbara IM Nov. 10. I look forward to reading your NY marathon report for inspiration right before my race!

  4. says

    Congrats on an awesome PR! I’m loving your posts, especially about running smart.. I’m running my first full at Surf City in February and am reading up on training smart, but also running smart too! You rock!


  5. says

    Congrats on the excellent race and PR! What a great way to head into NY in a few weeks. I am thinking that I will retire from marathons after Nov. 4 and just focus on half marathons. I haven’t made the final decision yet and will wait until after the race to decide. If I do decide to run another full, I have a couple of conditions for myself to meet before I do.

    My weekend consisted of running a 22 mile trail long training run. Successfully hitting it gave me some confidence I was needing!

  6. says

    fantastic job, monica! you are a rockstar :) way to keep your head in the game and push through. it definitely pays off to be positive!

    this weekend i relaxed on saturday, ran a gorgeous half marathon and had thanksgiving dinner (i’m in canada) yesterday. now today we might go to the movies! best weekend :)

  7. Leslie says

    You inspire me to try again. I too have said “I’m just not a runner.” Maybe I should look at that again. Great post!

  8. Ida says

    Congrats on your PR and feeling great the whole race! Executing a race plan is easier said than done, it’s awesome that you stuck to the ‘don’t be an a-hole and pray’:)
    I wouldn’t be surprised if you run even faster in NYC, all that energy on the course is contagious.

  9. says

    awesome job and congrats on the PR!!

    This weekend I ran a 16 mile training run (8:16 pace) since I have a marathon in 2 weeks. I also went to a surprise 40th birthday party.

  10. Jessica J. says

    Congrats on your PR!
    This weekend I celebrated my birthday and my hubby got me a water/fuel belt, Garmin Forerunner 410, and a foam roller! Talk about an awesome birthday.
    And I ran 9 miles (training for my first half marathon in Nov). That’s the farthest I’ve ever run and it was awesome.

  11. says

    Great recap and congratulations. I am thinking of changing my mind-set and running NYC “just to enjoy it” also because I don’t feel like my training has gone well. I finally did my first 20 miler of my training this weekend. I’ve heard NYC is a tough course to PR on, and I really want to enjoy the experience and not feel disappointed afterward, so I think I need to shift my thinking and expectations for the race. Either way, I know it will be amazing!

  12. Barbara says

    WOW, congratulations! Glad you made your PR, and also that it was a great and enjoyable experience for you this year!

  13. says

    Congratulations on your race and your PR!!! That is so awesome! Enjoy your runner’s high today (and tomorrow, and the day after that…), you deserve it!!

  14. says

    Great job on the marathon! Thought of you when I was doing the Run Forrest Run 5k! Due to recent hamstring injury, I had only barely recovered and decided to forego the half marathon. So I did the 5k instead! Though it was awesome watching the half and full marathoners run when I first got to Long Beach (top of parking structure). Congrats on the PR! Hopefully next year I will be well enough to do the half!

  15. says

    Nice job! I still cannot fathom running that fast, I love that you say you aren’t a natural runner but yet you can hold under a 9 minute pace for 26.2 miles, LOL! You came in under 4, great job! I ran my first full marathon yesterday and I got tired but I never hit a wall either :) It felt good because I was afraid of that, I am sure it helped that most of the race was flat. A few hills but nothing dramatic. Good job Monica, you rocked it and you’ll rock NY!

  16. says

    YAY! Congratulations on such a great race! It sounds like you ran smartly, which can be really hard to do with adrenaline. I love the margarita shot blocks too. I used them for my triathlon in August.

  17. says

    Congratulations Monica. You are awesome! Sounds like everything really came together – so amazing when that happens. You will love NY. It’s such a fun course (but beware the hills and bridges!). New York is beautiful in the fall.

  18. Melissa says

    Congrats on the PR and successful run!! I did Long Beach yesterday too (Marathon #2 for me), and fell apart at CSULB and have been feeling meh about it. But you’re inspiring me to work hard to run smarter next time! Though I’m nowhere near as speedy as you.

    The funfetti cake looks delicious!

  19. tiffany says

    congrats, sounds like you had a great race!!! :) i think long beach is my favorite course…BEAUTIFUL and relatively flat. plus, the weather was so nice yesterday! i ran an unexpected pr too, but in the half.

  20. says

    WOO freakin’ HOO!!! That’s awesome Monica…take your time thinking about your decision…never say never. Sounds like a really fun weekend, glad it went well and that you felt decent throughout the race. Thanks for the fuel tips…I kinda screwed myself over (fuel wise) on my first half…hope to be smarter this time around. Over the weekend I volunteered at the Arizona Half with my son, it was TOO fun. I’m probably going to do that more often if I’m not running. Have a great week.

  21. says

    Your post-marathon eats look way delish! Mmm all those desserts and 2 margs! Typical me the first thing I mention in this comment is the food and it’s a marathon recap.
    I’m really impressed that you didn’t hit a wall! I rarely/never see a marathon recap on a blog that doesn’t include some description of a wall being hit. Not pleasant and I’m glad it didn’t happen to you!
    Also can’t believe you say you aren’t a natural runner. I have been reading your blog for a few years now and have always seen you as an amazing runner! And I remember reading your post where you said you might be done with marathons after that bad one. Good for you for coming back – and getting well rewarded!

  22. says

    Great job yesterday! I noticed the first time we ran together that you needed nutritional help and I loved that you didn’t hit a wall yesterday. Proper nutrition is vital to marathon success. You also ran some my back to back runs and followed my track workout schedule. I know it was late in the game but you have a strong base so you could jump into the middle of our program. The chocolate milk right after your hard training efforts helps you recover faster and you eat pretty well. You were primed for success even without any taper. And sometimes it is just “your day.” I think your hard work and a it being “your day” contributed to a fantastic run. I am really proud of your time yesterday in very warm conditions. Let’s go have a fun run in NYC. But first we still have some training to do. I’ll talk to you later about it. Congrats!

  23. Nicole says

    Congrats again on your PR!

    I saw Ben around mile 8-9 (before the out & back along the water) and asked him, “Hey – Are you Monica’s husband? Run Eat Repeat! I’m a fan/follower!” He probably thought I was nuts. He was very nice to my nutty marathon running! I didn’t run very well yesterday, but I know why. Training pattern wasn’t great.

    I followed up the LB full by going to late lunch at Cheesecake Factory. I demolished three pieces of bread, a skinnylicious turkey burger, a hot fudge sundae, and a third of my boyfriend’s Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. Oops – a little much! Didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day!

    Good luck in NYC!

  24. says

    Great job Monica!
    I am starting to think that running without music makes the run better. Lately I have been running without music quite a bit and it really gives me time to concentrate on how I am running, my breathing and how I feel. This may be the cure for my next race!

  25. says

    Congrats on a new shiny awesome PR! Woohoo!

    My first marathon is in about 5 weeks. I’m somewhere between terrified and excited, especially since I didn’t really train traditionally to get here (plan was: train for half ironman all year and complete it a week ago, do some long runs in October, taper, and hope I don’t die!).

  26. says

    Congrats on the PR! That is amazing!

    I ran Twin Cities marathon this weekend. Hadn’t put in a long run over 13, so I was just hoping to finish. Since my son is not quite six months old, I wasn’t sure if it was gonna happen. Even though it fell apart in the final half, my boyfriend and I just pushed through so we wouldn’t have to be picked up by The Bus, which happened last year when I was 11 wks pregnant. So while I didn’t PR by any means, at least if I never run another marathon, I’ll know I finished the last one I entered!

  27. Shannon in Tustin says

    Amazing! Hope you’re still basking in glory (and foam rolling 😉 )

    I love fideo (with the angel-hair birds nest pasta)…my mom makes some of the best! I have tried and it never is as good as hers.

    I’d love to hear more about your fuel during the run…

    Congrats, congrats, congrats!!

  28. Hillary says

    GREAT JOB! Seriously, this makes me a little less wary of marathons.

    What did I do? I ran the inaugural Peroni Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon in Hampton, VA!

  29. Rose says

    I worked night shift all weekend, hence why i’m still in my robe at 6pm on Monday evening.
    I grew up in a small town with a large Hispanic population. I miss fideo! Care to share a recipe?

  30. says

    So amazing! Congratulations! But you weren’t JUST having a good day; you’ve also been training hard and smart and you wouldn’t have been able to get through it without all of that, so great job not just on the race but on all the training too.

  31. LJ says

    Wow, a 3:55! Congrats Monica, that’s an amazing time. I’m also basking in marathon PR glory. I ran the Chicago marathon yesterday (an amazing and well organized race with wonderful volunteers and spectators, btw) my second, and put down a 30 minute PR. What a great feeling, eh? Celebrate well, and good luck in NYC.

  32. says

    Congrats on the PR, hope you have a great run in New York! Your posts help keep me motivated for my first marathon (just 5 weeks away now…)!

  33. Amanda says

    Congrats! I bet you surprised yourself with this marathon! You pr’d because you ran a smart race and trained well. Your head was in the game!

  34. Ashley G says

    I saw you pass me during the race, but I until I did a double take a realized it was you it was too late to yell like a fan-girl. I was having a bad race, and I remembered thinking “wow, she’s gonna sub-four, she’s way ahead of the 4 hour pacer!!” (I was on the other side of the cones, going much much much slower) Congrats on the great race. It was a hot day and I envy how smart you ran!

    It’s funny you ran in with Sole Runner Steve; he was with us at the start, and when I finished he was bicycling next to slower sole runners!

      • Ashley G says

        I feel good today. Yesterday was much worse because I had to sit in my car for 5 1/2 hours driving back to Phoenix! Looking forward to getting out and moving around today. :)

  35. says

    Congrats on a smart race! I knew you had this in you somewhere!! :) I love how positive you are in this post too, it seems like you’ve been in a huge funk for the past few months.

  36. says

    Congratulations on a great race. It sounds like the salt was the missing nutrition element. Your commitment to running despite not being a natural, according to you, is inspiring.

  37. Nat says

    I was starstruck or should we call it bloggerstruck when i saw you running at Mile 21. Congrats on your PR and you truly gave me the motivation to keep going. After Sundays full marathon I told myself never again, lol. Reading your blog gives me hope to continue, so thanks! Best of Luck to you in the New York Marathon!!! :-)

  38. Denise P. says

    Awesome! I love reading about days when everything goes right. I heard from a couple friends that did the half that the weather (humidity) was rough on them.

    That’s also really cool that you can now enjoy NY and take in all the sights and sounds that will be present there I’m sure.

    This weekend was pretty good in a “I didn’t schedule a single thing” kind of way. My To Do List included taking a bath, going through boxes in my garage, going for a bike ride, then kickboxing and mani/pedi on Monday. I did everything on my list and even did a little prep for the week by making egg muffins yesterday.

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