A year as a Marathoner

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.

The view of downtown from by the Queen Mary

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 😉