SMS and I drove down the Central Coast on Saturday. Why?!? I had signed up for the Mountains 2 Beaches marathon to try and qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon. My time at Boston (4:01) was not great but I knew it was mainly due to the heat. I had so much fun in Boston that I wanted to run it again so…Mountains 2 Beach it was. I wanted a marathon that was known for providing BQs (Boston Qualifiers…ack, I’m using the lingo and drinking the Koolaid!) and with a 700 feet net downhill, M2B was it! Also, I didn’t want to do an extended marathon training plan again so I tried to keep my fitness up for a few more weeks. M2B had been sold out but right after Boston, they opened up 200 slots. I signed up for one and kept up my training after the marathon, mostly in the form of long runs and a few interval workouts.
So! On Saturday, we stopped at Papi’s Grill in Pismo Beach and had excellent Mexican food. We had several awesome tacos- butter beef, chorizo, potato, chorizo and veggies, shrimp- and chipotle chorizo french fries. Although the fries were written about in a lot of reviews, the tacos were the winners in my book. SMS thought that I had ordered too much food (truth!) and that chorizo was a bad choice before a marathon (false!) but he went along with it!
We went to the expo which was small and efficient. Parking cost $5, which I was a little annoyed at but hey, parking by the beach is not usually free, I guess. (Tip: Park near the Patagonia store and walk over). I picked up my bib, shuttle ticket and shirt in about 7 minutes. We looked at the vendors but left fairly quickly. We walked over to the original Patagonia store. We poked around for a bit and I got ideas for things I wanted to look for on sale. SMS found a nice pair of board shorts but they didn’t have his size. They directed us Surfboards by Fletcher Chouinard Designs where several Patagonia suits are carried. We found the right size and got a 30% military discount! Yay! [Re-reading this paragraph, I realize like I sound like such a cheap bastard- 3 money-saving tips in one paragraph? I can’t believe I stopped clipping coupons long enough to even type these words!]
We drove South about 25 more minutes to Pt Magu Naval Base where we stayed at the Navy Gateway Inn. It was near the beach and the room was really nice. I would highly recommend the place. I would like to go back later in the Summer to enjoy the beach (and maybe beach camping!?).
For dinner, SMS and I decided to drive a little further South to Malibu. The drive along Rte 1 is really beautiful and there’s a spot where the highway runs between two large rocks that were blasted apart for the road. We decided that it was the gateway between Central Coast and Southern California.
Malibu didn’t seem to be the most walkable place. Most of the restaurants and shops were in scattered small shopping centers rather than one central “Malibu” town. We ate at Ollo, which was really delicious. We shared several dishes- beef shortribs risotto, grilled artichoke, burrata & peach salad and curried lentils. The shortribs were amazing and the grilled artichoke was beautifully charred. The burrata was a bit of a miss- I thought it was going to be more of a baguette & spread rather than salad. The curried lentils were tasty. Afterwards, we drove back to Pt Magu and went to bed. I was pretty tired since I was on East Coast time.
The next morning, I woke up, quickly got dressed and drove to Ventura to catch the shuttle. Parking was pretty easy and fortunately, I parked on the correct side to get to the 101 without having to cross the course later in the morning. There seemed to be a few more people than there were buses but fortunately, I made it on the last bus. We arrived in Ojai about 25 minutes later. I headed straight for the Porta-Potties which, as reported in other write-ups, have fairly long lines. I would think a few more are needed but Ojai doesn’t seem like much of a Porta-potty town so maybe the number is limited.
The start was well-organized and I started about 4 minutes after the official start. I set out with the 3:37 pace group but I realized that I felt really, really good that morning. So after the first mile, I had caught up to the 3:32 group and ran with them for awhile. I didn’t necessarily think that I would finish in 3:32 but I thought that building a time buffer would be a good idea and make the end of the race less stressful.
I felt great for the first 16 miles. I had my headphones in and really got a lot of energy from my music. Nothing great, just pop music with a good beat. At mile 16, I stopped for a quick bathroom break. This is where I lost the 3:32 group because there was no way I was going to sprint after them. I slowed down a fair bit after that but it also corresponded to where the course flattened out and a headwind started to pick up. It wasn’t a terrible headwind (in fact, it was slightly cooling) but it was definitely noticeable.
Around mile 21, my legs really started to hurt. My quads felt so tight and my calves were almost as bad. It progressively got worse through the last 5 miles but I just gutted through. The last mile, I had a pretty hitch-y gait but I knew that as long as I kept running, albeit slowly, I would very likely make my time goal. I thought of SMS and his hard climbs, telling myself that this race was like a 12A climb and “the crux is at the finish,” which means the known hardest move is at the end. I also thought about my friend Jyotsna and how I really did not want to text her bad news about missing my time goal. I tried to find internal motivation thinking that it was important to do it for myself, not just others, but my internal motivation was telling me to walk so I didn’t listen.
The 3:37 pacer passed me shortly after the 25 mile marker. His group numbers had significantly dwindled compared to the start. I kept him in my sights as best I could through the last mile. I had a suspicion that he was running slightly faster than a 3:37 finish since my TomTom sportwatch was pretty spot on with mile markers and pace. I crossed the finish line, fairly confident that I had BQ’d but I didn’t know by how much. I went through the finishers corral where I was given a medal and a delicious snack plate with watermelon, orange slices, peanut M&Ms in addition to a few other things I didn’t eat.
I went to the gong line, which BQ-er’s can hit after the race. In line, a very nice couple from LA was behind me and he looked up my time. 3:37:19. Yay! Not only had I BQ’d but I likely have enough of a time cushion to make the cut-off time as well! A woman joined me in line- I think she was a little out of it since she was completely cutting the line but she was so happy to have BQ’d. She said she had been trying for over 30 years! She was crying and a little snotty (like from the nose, not attitude) so how could I tell her the line started back there (even though I am usually a mega-line enforcer!).
So, yes! It was a great course and I met my goal. My legs have never hurt so much in a marathon but I think it’s a result of low-mileage training. I would not recommend that type of training, but it’s just what happened after recovering from Boston and not running enough. I don’t think the leg soreness was from going out too fast, but I don’t know. Would I have been able to keep up with a steady 3:37 pacer? I don’t think so since I usually slow down a bit at the end of every marathon. I was glad that I built the time cushion up early and I think that a positive split marathon is what works for me. Next up, Boston 2018 (cut-off time allowing)!