Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Recap & Review

I will go through a recap of the whole weekend. Long post, but I’ll put plenty of pictures, too.

[Joe and I drove to LA on Friday, ate Korean bbq and went to bed super early, haha].

On Saturday, we woke up relatively early because we went to bed around 10pm, and went to the gym. I did a 3-mile shake-out run. Never did that before, but it felt great to do it. I trusted the training and just did it.

Then we went to eat lunch at Mendocino Farms:

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So good! Then we headed up to Ventura, picked up the bib, and checked into the hotel.

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We stayed at the Best Western, which is just over half a mile from the bus shuttle pick-up area and the finish line. I stayed here last year and it was a great place to stay!

We walked over to Main St. from the hotel and ate at a yummy Thai restaurant called Rice Thai Cuisine. I think we were hungry so the long wait to order and to receive the food was hard to handle (haha, jk. It wasn’t that bad). Plus when the food came out, it was totally worth it!

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If you ever go there, get the pumpkin red curry and the drunken noodles. So very very delicious! The Tilai Thai seafood dish was just okay. A bit too salty.

Then we watched X-men: Days of Future Past. It was quite entertaining :)

Went to bed around 11pm? And I expected to have not-so-restful sleep. It was better than I thought it’d be.

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Sunday morning, the alarm goes off at 3:45am. I got ready and met some running friends at the lobby.

Last year, I had to walk the 0.6 mile to the shuttle pick-up by my lonesome… but it was so much better to have a group of people to walk there with this time around.

The bus shuttle system was pretty efficient when we got there at 5 am. Got on a bus, it filled up quickly, and we were dropped off in the mountains (Ojai?) real quick. Thanks, Tammy, for the picture on the bus!

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We all stood in the line to use the porta-potty, and we were all done with about 10 minutes to spare. Ready to line up at the start! Here is me and Tammy before we lined up (thanks, Michael, for the picture!):

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[If you don't know, Tammy is an incredibly encouraging person and a fantastic athlete. She runs marathons all the time and trains other people with their running, too. We met during this race, and it's always so wonderful to run with her!]… [Also, I'm wearing the same tank as I did then. It's my favorite long-race tank because of the back pockets].

Okay. The race started and I decided to stay with the 3:35 pacer for the first 10 miles.

Miles 1-5: 8:02, 8:05, 8:02, 8:06, 7:54.

During this time, there’s a nice descent, and then it goes up a bit until mile 8, and then it’s all downhill.

Take a look at the course elevation chart (in green):

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^Also, please notice the stuff in blue at the top… my pace was pretty darned consistent the whole time, yeah? And my cadence (purple line near the bottom) was also pretty much the same. WOO HOO!

Okay. Miles 6-10: 8:15, 8:02, 8:03, 7:52, 8:09.

Around this time is when I ran ahead our the 3:35 pacer and was determined to not see him for the rest of the race (it was Joseph from our RunningAddicts group!).

I fell into a nice rhythm with an awesome girl named Lindsey, from Seattle. She was incredibly positive and a great cheerleader for the both of us. Lindsey was also going for a BQ, and we decided to stay together for the race. I was so happy to have her to run with, and we whooshed down the mountain together :)

Miles 11-15: 8:04, 7:43, 7:58, 7:55, 7:54.

Something beautiful was spotted around this time… the 3:30 pacer sign, very far off in the distance. We were slowly gaining on them, and it kept us running strong. We also didn’t stare at our watch much. We just wanted to keep the pacer visible in the distance.

Miles 16-20: 7:59, 7:47, 7:55, 7:56, 7:54.

By mile 18, we had completely caught up to the 3:30 pace group (the pace group leader was Tom from the RunningAddicts! He was keeping a super consistent pace!). Lindsey and I both had our mp3 players, but did not use the music until the end of the race. I busted mine out at mile 22 when the course flattened out.

It was also around mile 22 when Lindsey went for it. She kept a pace slightly faster than the 3:30 pace group and I knew she was going to BQ crazy hard. SO proud of her! For me, I decided to just hang on to the pace that Tom was running. All I had to do was stay with him, and he promised we would finish 3:29:XX if we stick with him.

Miles 21-26.2: 7:58, 8:01, 8:09, 7:55, 8:11, 8:01, (6:51 for last 0.2).

Official time: 3:29:33 (8:00 pace).

Not only is that a PR by over ten minutes, but a Boston-qualifier.

HOORAY! [Thanks for the pictures, Esther!]:

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I kind of did a scream and weird fist-pump thing when I crossed the line and it hit me that I just ran sub 3:30 for a marathon. It was my secret goal to get under 3:30, hahaha. My reasonable goal was 3:32.

Right after finishing, I heard my trail running partner, Jennifer! She rocked the half course and was sweet enough to wait for me at the finish!

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Freaking love this girl. She is so sweet, and I would have been in trouble without her because I needed to call Joe and stuff.

I also ran into a BWTT reader from SF (Melissa!!! She also ran a BQ, running 3:33. Great job, girl!).

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Here’s what went RIGHT for the “stars to align” on race day (first few are applicable to everyone, and the later ones are more personal factors):

1. Weather: around 60’s, which was super lucky. It was originally going to be in the 70’s when we checked 10 days out, but the temperature came down as we drew near to raceday. Also, I did not notice any sort of breeze until the last two miles when we turned around (slight head-wind. Boo). A bit more humid than what we’re used to in San Jose, but not enough to affect the race too much.

2. Fuel: I had three GU’s (around mile 6, 14, and 20). I also had their electrolyte drink whenever it was offered at the aid station. The kicker: salt tablets. I felt a weird ab cramp around mile 15, and I popped the little salt tablet (pill?) and it went away. I bet it kept the cramp from coming back, and I’m so glad I got a sample from Linh and that I brought it with me!

The race organizers were great and put out plenty of aid stations along the course (they added additional ones, just in case it got super hot). Getting the fluids I needed and running an excellent race would not have been possible without the volunteers. I think a lot of them were high-schoolers, and I was so grateful for their hard work in handing out everything that was needed :) (Lord knows I would not have woken up that early when I was their age to give out water to a bunch of sweaty runners).

3. Course: Last year, there was a much longer out-and-back at the end of the race. This year, they added an out-and-back in the very beginning of the race, so it was (mentally) much easier at the end of the race. The change was perfect! Also, the course is pretty much designed for a PR, so that’s always helpful.

4. Pacers: I have never been so detached from my Garmin as I was in this race. I just had to stay with/ahead of the pacers to know that I was going to attain my goal. They were consistent, encouraging, and gave enough updates so that I didn’t have to keep looking at my watch. I got to just focus on my form and run (predominantly) by feel.

5. Racer: Lindsey was seriously a HUGE help. Around mile 18, she was 100% confident that we would both BQ. She checked in a couple times to see how I was doing, and she kept the positive energy coming around the tougher miles when I would usually hit the wall. It was so much nicer to have someone to run with instead of running by myself.

6. Training plan: Though I would not have been able to run faster than the 8:00 pace at the end, I felt like I could have run one more mile if I needed to. I didn’t have to walk at ALL, and I never ever hit the wall o__O. The Hansons Marathon Method was perfect for me. It’s a little unorthodox to not run any long runs that are over 20 miles, but I showed up on race-day feeling strong and fresh. In addition, my body was able to handle the high mileage and running 5-6 days per week. It is not the only way to get a big PR and BQ, but it could be one way (if your body is okay with lots of running). I think practicing race pace during all of those tempo miles was excellent. Lastly, I followed what they said and did NOT run other races during the training. I decided against running other races so that I could give it my all in this race.

7. Running group: My training plan was 18 weeks. I did a good amount of running by myself, but I also did so many miles with my awesome running group (the RunningAddicts), and it would not have been so fun without their presence and encouragement! They never doubted me and they believed in my abilities (totally gave me more confidence. I was a little bit afraid to believe that I could do it, just in case I couldn’t attain it… protective mechanism??).

8. Support crew: My boyfriend and his sister were my support for the whole weekend. Thank you Joe and Esther!!! They fed me and drove me around everywhere. I could not have been so well-rested without them!

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9. God: I had to keep praying to God when I felt super tired (during the training and the race). I knew He was the one who blessed me with thunder thighs, and that He could give me the second wind. It’s a silly thing to want so badly, but I’m so glad he gave me the strength I needed to get it. During my journey as a youngster who had zero self-worth and no confidence (and full of self-hatred), I never would have imagined that I would be able to love myself in this way. I am made worthy not because of what I do and say, but because the eyes of the Creator are on me. I also hope that I can bring Him glory through running (He gave me a strong body, so I’m going to run strong… I’m doing what He created me for… right???).

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To celebrate, we ate my favorite Korean dish… dolsot bibimbap (hot stone mixed rice dish) with my younger brother and his girlfriend:

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And maybe we drank some wine while putting together furniture (it makes it pretty fun, hehe. Don’t worry, I wasn’t drunk-hammering any nails or anything dangerous. I was giggling while trying to screw some things together, though):

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OMG, congrats to all of the racers who ran on Sunday!!! Many people PR’d, BQ’d, or ran their first marathon ever! So happy for all of you :D

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Technically, the Hansons Marathon Method plan is not over… I’m supposed to rest for 2 weeks. I will certainly keep it easy for this week and do a lot of cross-training, but I need to do some running next week in order to be ready for the 50K with Jennifer!

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An amazing weekend and a perfect way for 18 weeks of training to culminate into a PR and BQ!

What was the longest training plan you’ve been on? Did you stick with it and did it work for you?

Have you ever tried the Hansons Marathon Method?

Most delicious thing you ate over the weekend?

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27 responses to “Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Recap & Review

  1. AHHHHHHHHHHHH LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!!! CONGRATULATIONS! You are a rock star Michelle!!! I totally knew you would BQ cause you’re a beast haha! So unbelievably happy for you!! I can’t wait to stalk you during your future Boston Marathon ;)

  2. AWESOME recap! I used to live in Ventura and I want to do this marathon SO badly! Congratulations on your PR and your BQ! That’s so exciting!

    • Ventura is SO LOVELY! We thoroughly enjoyed the visit and the beauty of the place!
      Be sure to put down the registration opening date on your calendar! It sold out this year, and I think it is growing really fast because of the perfect PR course :)

  3. Great recap! I’m the Melissa who found you at the finish, BTW – honored that I made it into your post :)! Enjoy your recovery time – hope we can get together for a run soon!

  4. AWESOME!!! :) That is fantastic!!! :) I ran M2B too and probably was running next to you at some point in the first few miles. That 3:30 pacer was a bit quick in the beginning so he and his crowd totally left me.

    • Hehe, I think a lot of the pacers ran out too fast in the first half and needed to pull back the pace in the end. Luckily, by the time we made our way to the 3:30 guy, his pace was even :)
      Hope you enjoyed the race, too!

  5. I’m so proud to call you my friend. So happy for your PR and BQ. And you make it look so easy. Congrats

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  7. Dear Michelle,
    An awesome Job!! I’m extremely happy for your PR and BQ. I always knew and had no doubt that you will BQ. You’re an amazing runner and your love and passion for this sport is an inspiration to others. Congrats and so proud of you Michelle.

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