Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Long Beach Marathon 2011 Race Report

Long beach is my home away from home.

It started way back in 1997 fresh out of high school I was looking for somthing constructive to do with my time.
Perhaps get a corperate job?
No silly!

Play Disc golf.  A hobby quickly became a passion and nearly every spare moment of my time I dedicated to the sport.  
Where was my home  course?
If you guessed Long Beach you get a a Gold star.
(El Dorado to be exact)

Fast foward a few years.
I farted my way through Junior College and it was now time to find a University to move to.  Logically I picked the institution that was closest to the disc golf course.

What University did I choose?
If you guessed CSULB (California State Univercity at Long Beach)  You my friend have earned another gold star. Three semesters later I had my degree but still kept coming back to the city  at least twice a week.

A few years past and then in 2005 after 5 years touring playing disc golf.  I decided to start running again.
With 1 month of Half-Assed training I signed up for the 

Long Beach Marathon

Look at that young heel striker in his Big 5 Saucony specials.

At the time I was  pleased with my result and thought that 3:10 was pretty fast lol. 
Did this race spawn a passion for running?
Nope not yet,

But I did return the next year, this time with zero training.
Big Mistake!
Rookie mistake
I ran hard and was on pace to break three hours for the first time. When at about mile 20 I cramped up.  I can still remember the pain, first the right calf then the hamstring, with in minutes my other leg had also seized up.  I needed to replenish with electrolyres but when I reached out for a drink my arm spasimed coiling back becoming so disabled I couldn't grab water for the final six miles of the race.  Eventually I came to a complete stand still. At the time it was the worst pain I have ever endured. I was hobbling so slow a peg legged pirate could of beat me.  As I approached the final  mile some guy yelped out to me with a very con concerned look.  "Dude Are you okay?"
"Not really." I thought. W which point I looked down at my shirt and saw it covered in blood. (I had no clue).  Eventually I finished the race I wobbled to my car  flicking off my shoes before getting in.  My cramped up body still limited my range of motion and it took me about 10 minutes to contort my body far enough to reach the ground.  
That day really sucked!
However I would learn from my mistakes and soon after running became an integral part of my life.
Blah, Blah, Blah... Enough with the life story.
Last year I was able to garnish free entry to the event but with the injury suffered at the Manhattan 10k the week before I couldn't walk without significant pain.  Desperate to make it happen I even got cortisone shot to see if that could buy me some relief but I didn't.
I would not race (Doh!)
This Year

Well drunk in the beer garden after the MB 10k  I told a bunch of people I would be running Long Beach this year. (I wasn't signed up! My drunk ass was making claims sober Pat would have to back up.)

I made a few calls early in the week to see if I could once again get in for free. It didn't look like it was gonna happen.  I went about my usual routine of running hard each day on the sand. The race was on Sunday the week went by quickly and Friday night I made one last attempt to get in. I really did not think is was gonna happen and I was okay with that. 
Saturday afternoon  I was about to concede my chances of running in the race.  I had just put on my running shorts to go hit the beach for run when I got call telling me if I could make it down to the registration to pick up a bib I was in.
I went and watched my nephews soccer game and then zipped down to the Long Beach convention center to get registered. I was told to find some woman named Leslie.  It turns out she was one one the race directors.
She was a very sweet cute girl that went out of her way to help me out. I am very thankful for her help and impressed with how calm and collected she was the day before her race.

Well as soon as I signed up for the race my left foot began to throb for no apparent reason. (doubt can be very powerful).  What the heck is going on? All of sudden I was hyper aware of everything going on in body.  Did I make the right decision to be running this race?  On October 22nd I will be running in the 100 mile Endurance Challenge that was my real priority. Would I be jeopardizing my health by running Long Beach?

My game plan for the race was simply to listen to my body and if it takes a 4 hour marathon to stay healthy so be it.  This was only my second marathon of the year, with the other being  the L.A fiasco in the rain.  My time at L.A. was pretty lousy yet I had to use as my qualifier for Boston (which I will be running next year).   In order  to get in the front coral I needed to post a time better than 2:55 between now and February and this may be my only opportunity. to do so.
Even though I claim I'm gonna listen to my body. My hearing isn't very good.

The starting line for the race is on about 20 miles from my home I knew traffic would be a pain in the butt.  I left my house at 5 a.m. for a 7 a.m. race start.  I thought I was being pretty safe giving myself 2 hours, I had a  10 minutes to spare when I got to the starting line
I snuck up to the front as far as I could go I had forgot to try and get a little sticker allowing me into the elite coral. (lol oh well)

About 15,000 people were packed in with maybe 11,000 running the 1/2 marathon and about 4,000 doing the full.  So what if 20 halfer's and a hand full of real runners start in front of me
 (like my low blow to the lazy dude's doing 13.1)
I even saw a few familiar faces including Natalie Higley (winner of the Mb10k the prior week)and an Ultra running friend Fabrice Hardel (the shirtless dude on the far right of the picture below).

Can a dude in Luna Sandals really compete with these guys?

I decided to go at at sub six minute pace per mile and see how long I could keep it up.  My P.R. is at exactly 6 min miles and the topography of this course would be much easier.  The first 10 miles of the race both marathoners and people that can only go halfway run together, because of this I had no idea where I was in regards to my competition.  It seemed like I their were about 20 people in front of me and I figured only a handful of them would be running the whole way.
My foot that was bugging me the day before felt great and the Luna Sandals (original Luna's leather lace) felt perfect on my feet.  I hit the 10 mile mark in just under 58 minutes.  I admit I was probably going a little faster than I should but at this point I felt pretty good. Honestly didn't think I was gonna P.R. today feeling that in best case scenario I would run a 2:45 but I also felt that same way last year when I ended up winning Palos Verdes in 2:37 If I was gonna have to start fast and not let up.
Soon after I took turn off and ditched the Halfer's

I went from being surrounded by runner's to being about 200 yards behind my closet competitor.  At this point the race became a lot more fun spectators who'd been standing around for awhile were excited to see some good runner''s a few of them were also excited to see me.  Out of the crowd someone yelled  Go Pat Go, your in 5th place. (I could live with that).  My speed began to slow a little bit but I was still running hard. Just before the halfway point on a there and back portion of the course I caught side of the people in front.  The leader was about 7 minutes in front of me (on pace for a sub 2:20 finish) 2nd  and 3rd were not far behind but 4th looked with in reach. I hit the 13.1 mark on my watch at 1:16.  I was pleased with the way the race was unfolding but I knew there was a long way to go.

Soon after I moved into 4th place but could not keep this pace up for much longer. As we approached my old College my body wasn't feeling all that great.  Surprisingly I was still in 4th place as I ran downhill during mile 18.  I was striking the ground like I weighed 400 lb's, sure I was going fast but my form was getting sloppy. I've learned from experience that this is when injuries occur.  I wasn't gonna win this race and I had nothing to prove by being reckless. I deffinetly could run faster but at this point it was not worth the risk.  
I decided to dial back on my pace, shorten my stride and ran the pace my body wanted to go.

Am I getting smarter or lazier I'm not sure? 
 Honestly I don't really care, it was the right decision.

Just after passing the the 20 mile mark I relinquished my 4th place position.  I was passed by friend Fabrice and was stoked to see him doing well. A few others passed me and during mile 24 the first place woman came screaming by.  She was real sweet gave  me a few words of encouragement. At this point my pace increased maybe a little bit as I enjoyed the view :) 

 By the time the course met back up with the halfer's  (about 2 miles to go) I was moving at snail's pace. Then a familiar  foe set in . My right leg cramped up(Arg). A stupid cramp wasn't gonna stop me at this point.  The pace slowed even more and I was passed by a couple dude's at the last second as I gimped my way to the finish line.  in 2:46 the10th place male and first in my age division.
I didn't really care about my place or exact finishing time.  I had done what I needed to do to increase my seeding at Boston and more importantly my body was still in one piece and I knew I would be running the next day.   Sure I had gone out a little too fast but that's what it would take if  I wanted a new PR but that will have to wait for another day. 
Giving a 100% would have broken me! I was not gonna let that happen and I am very proud of the way I chose to run "my" race.

Well it was Sunday the sun was shining and I was in Long Beach. Here's your last chance to win another gold star.
Guess what I was doing less than 40 minutes after the race?

I headed straight over to  El Dorado Disc Golf Course since I was already in the area.  A few days earlier I was able to play back to back rounds each in under 11 minutes each. This time I played a little bit slower.

All in all it was a pretty good day.

Next up:


  1. I hope it was the NYC LSD that helped :-)

  2. Great job Pat! I noticed something tied around your arch area on both of your feet, is that just black athletic tape? I have been using the black CEPs since I you wearing them on your blog months ago and love them. I definitely still get foot fatigue running longer than 10 miles in my Unshoe Wokova 4mm sandals (hope you don't mind I wear the competing sandal.. :)

  3. Glad you had a great time and Leslie could help you get your bib :) Hope to see you next year!

  4. So your the one that got first in my age division, I came in second with 2:53:26. 2:46:22 is amazing Congrats. Good luck on your 100 mile run that is real crazy!

  5. We are looking for people to Join the 15th Annual Team Spirit Long Beach 5k and 10K marathon and help put an end to breast and ovarian cancer today!. You can help distribute brochures and yard signs to local stores, offices, and restaurants! Are you a people person? We have many community events where Team Spirit needs a presence. Volunteer to work a table at one of these events to hand out brochures and spread information about Team Spirit, and recruit participants! Already attending the marathon? Then help volunteer the day of the event. We need groups to assist with set up, participant check-in, new registrations, and drive or co-pilot shuttle vans. We will also need people to man water stations, and course monitors to assure participants’ safety and morale.