One year ago I ran my first marathon in Long Beach California. I didn’t have the blog going yet so I thought the anniversary would be a good time to talk about it. It was truly an incredible experience for me and I wanted to share a piece of that with you.
Let’s start with the setting, beautiful LBC. I intentionally chose this marathon for its location. I lived in Long Beach for about 2 years in my early 20s. That was an interesting time in life as I recently graduated from college and was starting my career, and I was with my ex at the time. But I have a lot of great memories from that area and always loved the city. There is something special about living by the beach, I took for granted being able to walk in the moonlight with the crashing waves. It meant a lot to me to be able to go run there and capture a piece of that back.
Another bonus of this race was the people. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with one of my close friends from college who lives in Huntington Beach with her family. She had her daughter just 3 months before the race and she ran the half! She is such an inspiration, when I grow up I want to be just like her ❤️
I also got the pleasure to run with another friend from college Megan. We were really more acquaintances back at SDSU, but we were friends on Facebook and I followed (eh.. stalked) her taking up running over the years. I saw her start from just running a couple of miles to tackling marathons and becoming a pacer. I hadn’t seen her in years but stayed connected with her online and we planned to meet up at the race. I was so excited to start off the run with her and we stayed together for about the first 8 miles, I got to tell her about how seeing her journey helped start my own.
Goal wise I was really trying to go in with the mentality that I was just trying to finish, but deep down I was kind of hoping for under 5 hours. So after training throughout the summer in Texas, race day was here and before I knew it the gun went off to start. I was on a bit of a high from being there and being with Megan that we started out a bit too fast. For about the first 8 miles I think our pace was around a 9 minute mile. In those miles we ran by the Queen Mary and along the coast in downtown and through Belmont Shores.
At mile 10 one of my favorite parts was a bunch of kids with donut holes out on the street for all the runners. I’m pretty sure that was the best donut hole I’ve ever had in my life. I kept trucking along with a pretty good pace and met up with my parents and one of our dear family friends just after the half way mark. It was nice to have a little cheering squad to break up the distance and they brought me a spare shirt because it was a bit warm and by that time I was already soaked.
I remember it was around 2:20 minutes that I saw them and I was thinking how I might be able to finish under 5 hours! Just a little while later I realized that was not going to happen. Around mile 17 the course took us through CSULB and by that time I was really starting to struggle. My legs would just not move. There was also a nice little hill on campus, but it was cool to see the marching band at the Pyramid cheering on all the runners!
By mile 20 I was barely running at all. I was so upset with myself that I was crying a bit and one of the other runners asked me if I was ok, I was perfectly fine I was just so mad at my legs for not cooperating. But I kept trying and even if I ran a quarter mile at a time I was going to finish that damn race.
The last couple of miles went right through downtown and there were quite a few people in the crowd cheering. This really does help push me, it’s like I can’t handle the embarrassment of other people seeing me walk so I kept trying to run as much as I could. Finally the end was in sight, and I knew my parents were there at the finish line waiting for me which meant more to me than I can describe.
I passed the finish line with tears of joy that I had made it despite how hard it was, collected my medal, and collapsed into my father’s arms. I think this will be my favorite picture of us for the rest of my life.
I finished that race just under 5:24, no where near where I had hoped to be. But I finished. I then started the tradition that every marathon is followed by a steak. A few months later I beat that 5 hour goal in New Orleans, and now a year later I am 6 weeks out from marathon #3 in Tulsa.
So today I ran in the same outfit I wore as I passed that finish line, and I had a great 18 mile run around White Rock Lake with a better pace then I think I’ve ever seen for anything over a half. Promptly followed by an amazing cronut and a very long nap.
But there are a lot of runners today that completed the Long Beach Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Portland Marathon, and I’m sure many others around the country. Congratulations to all of them and I hope to go to one of those events next year!
I just love that quote. The sense of accomplishment you feel after running your first marathon is something I will never forget. This race made me a marathoner, something I will strive to be every year for as long as I can.
On a side note, just before Long Beach I joined eHarmony and B and I first messaged the day before the race. So next weekend is another special anniversary of when we started dating ❤️
So of course I’m leaving Saturday for St. Louis to run a Half Marathon 😉