Last weekend my family and I made a 9 hour road trip to Ventura, Ca mostly so I could run the Mountains 2 Beach marathon, but also to get a little beach vacation in while we were there. We headed out early on Friday morning so we could get to Ventura early. The car ride there went smoothly, if you don’t count the 4 hours of LA bumper to bumper traffic. Remind me to never complain about Phoenix traffic again. So we arrived at our hotel about 4pm, and walked down to the beach. The weather was much colder than I was expecting, upper 60’s. I was freezing. We decided to have an early dinner, and then turned into our hotel for the night.
Saturday morning we slept in and then headed out to the expo at 10 am. The expo was small but easy to navigate. I got my bib and race shirt, and then bought a tank and hat. I probably spent about half an hour there which I’m ok with because I didn’t want to waste a ton of energy walking around the day before the race. After the expo we headed up to Ojai, Ca to see the start line of the marathon. I wanted to check out where the race was going to start, and try and navigate some of the course. It was much warmer away from the coast which was great because it was freezing again at the beach. I was bummed we couldn’t enjoy the beach while we were in Cali for the weekend. After lunch in Ojai we came back to our hotel. I got all my race gear laid out and organized, and then rested for a little while. Around 6pm we headed out for an early pasta dinner with friends, and then turned in for the night.
Sunday morning I was up early, 3:45 to be exact, getting ready for the race. I had an instant oatmeal I was planning on eating because I had forgetten to get a bagel the night before. I made my oatmeal with hot water from the coffee pot only to realize I had no spoon or fork or any utensil to eat the oatmeal. Out of desperation I resorted to plan C and ate a mini hostess donut. My ride to the start line picked me up at 4:45 and we were heading up to Ojai. The race start was 6 am, and we got up there around 5:15. It was perfect timing because we had time to do a port a potty stop and then finish getting ready and drop our bags. Before I knew it the race was about to start. I wasn’t feeling nervous or overly emotional. I was ready to get started. I had a very specific goal in my head and I was ready. I had heard so many great things about this race and I had set expectations in my mind. I knew I wanted to start slow because the first 6 miles actually had a net incline of 350 feet. But being unfamiliar with the course I wasn’t really sure if there were a few hills or if it was a gradual incline.
Once I crossed the start line and was off I was feeling pretty good. I wasn’t super pumped but I wasn’t feeling bad. I didn’t know at this point how the race was going to go but I did have a feeling that my legs might start giving out early. I was nervous that I should have eaten more before the race, but I really didn’t have a lot of options and I didn’t want to risk getting an upset stomach.
Miles 1-4 Splits (8:13, 8:17, 8:37, 7:49)
I didn’t have a plan going into the race as to where I wanted my pace to be. Looking back this was a mistake, but because this was going to be mostly a downhill race I thought my pace would naturally be faster. There ended up being a lot of uphill / downhill thru out the course and it took at toll on my legs. As you can see my pace was all over the place and not steady like I would have liked.
Miles 5-8 Splits (7:46, 7:51, 8:07, 7:58)
Here I was running at a pace that was slightly pushing it but not terribly uncomfortable because the downhill was pretty significant. I think in my head I figured I could bank time here for when I started to crash. Not the best strategy!!!!!
Miles 9-12 Splits (8:17, 8:03, 8:19, 8:13)
Still holding onto my pace, this is where I should have kept my pace the entire first part of the race, low 8 min miles. I was still feeling good at this point, but I think my legs were starting to get heavy because my pace is definitely slowing and evening out.
Miles 13-16 Splits (8:01, 8:06, 8:30, 8:28)
I remember thinking the first half went by fast. Which was good! But you can see at mile 15 I started to hit the wall. Pace jumped up to 8:30’s and I never recovered. I hit the wall early. Not knowing the course was a big disadvantage. I was constantly thinking about where the next hill was going to be or if there was going to be more downhill. It was taxing mentally to be running in an unfamiliar area. I was trying to still push it mentally even though my legs were starting to really hurt.
Miles 17-20 Splits (8:44, 8:37, 8:30, 8:51)
I think by this point I was hitting the mental wall. I was giving in to the goal I had originally set and just trying to get through the race and finish. I kept trying to tell myself to relax and enjoy it and it doesn’t matter what my time is, even though I knew I would be disappointed. At times I wanted to quit because I knew the BQ wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t carry my cell phone with me, which is probably a good thing because I remember thinking if I had it I would have called my husband crying to pick me up from the course. I really wanted to quit.
Miles 21-24 Splits (9:01, 9:03, 9:19, 9:26)
During these miles I had to walk at the water stations. I would make myself run and only allow a small walk break thru the station and then pick it back up again to the next one. This helped me to stay in the race mentally. Once I hit the last few miles I just wanted to finish the race.
Mile 25 (9:35)
The slowest mile ever. There was a hill during this mile. It was not pretty.
Miles 26 (9:03)
A race to the finish. Official time of 3:42:19. A huge disappointment. The most upset I’ve been after a race. I think because I expected to come out of this race with such a different experience. I was really crushed to not PR at this race with all the hype of it being a fast course, but as with every race nothing ventured nothing gained.