Monday, February 7, 2011

Surf City Marathon: Race Recap

Angela and I drove up to Huntington Beach on Saturday after picking up Fiona, the scruffy, lovable pooch I have been walking for the last 2 weeks.  I didn't realize I would be taking care of her on marathon weekend.  Whoops.  Luckily, the Hilton is super dog-friendly and I was able to bring her along.

We went straight to the expo which was pretty chaotic.  It was in a tented structure on the beach and there was a long line just to enter.  Luckily, they offered dog sitting, since no pooches were allowed inside.  We grabbed our garb, I bought some new Brooks shorts and we were off with doggie in tow.

We checked into our room at the Hilton, which is high class for us.  We usually stay in the cheapest hotel/motel possible.  In San Francisco we stayed at a complete dive called La Luna Inn.  I was afraid I would catch a disease if I touched anything.  The Hilton was so accomodating and they let us stay until 3pm on check-out day.  Free. of. charge.  Score!

Sorry to bore you with the details but I like to remember the little things when I look back.  Lets face it, I have the memory of a 90 year old with Alzheimer's so I need to write it down. 

We went to the all-vegan cafe, Native Foods.  I have to tell you, it was the BEST pre-race food I could ask for.   I haven't had any form of nachos since going vegan because typically they're smothered in that funky orange cheese and all sorts of ground up cow.  These were mouth-watering. 

This was actually post-race.
Yes, we ate there again the next day.  Don't judge me. I ran a marathon, okay?
My feet look like grated cheese according to my friend, Rebecca.  I deserve them, damn it!
Angela's "Meat"-Ball Pizza :)

We returned to the hotel that night after a Target run and were in bed before 9:00 pm.  Go us!  I would have slept soundly if Fiona didn't wake us up with her barking.  She was being protective so how could I be upset?

Right before bed, I ate my "Good Luck" cupcake that I got to-go from Native Foods.  That was actual name, so of course I had to have it BEFORE I ran the race or the luck wouldn't work.  I think it was magic. 

Race Day
I had some serious race day jitters that morning.  I popped out of bed, no problem.  I took Fiona for a walk and saw a handful of runners already gathered in the lobby for the shuttle.   This had me worried that we were running behind schedule.  We quickly got our stuff together and found out we missed the first shuttle.  The next one wasn't for 30 whole minutes!  We decided to forgo gear-check and go as-is to make it in time.

The bus ride was excruciatingly slow.  The starting gate felt so far away and we were packed like sardines on a bus full of half-marathoners.  Clearly we were the only slow-pokes that missed the first bus.  Stress. Worry. Anxiety.

Then we arrived.   The skies parted and angels sang.  We ran to the porta-potties, saw our fellow marathoners and sighed with relief.  We had to wait for a total of 5 minutes before the gun went off.  Perfect timing!

I started off with the 3:40 pace group, hoping I could hang.  Before I knew it, I had passed the entire group.  Angela was feeling excellent so she went even further ahead.  I watched her go and was hoping for the best.

Miles 2-8 went quickly through a quiet little park with a pond and plenty of cheering middle-schoolers.  They were cracking me up.  One little rowdy tween was yelling "I woke up at 3:00 this morning to cheer you on!"   I tried to thank every single one but that got tiring and besides, I don't think they really noticed me anyway.

Thanks to Hannah's advice, I kept reminding myself that this is my first marathon and I will never be able to relive it.  I was trying not to wish the miles away.  Instead I soaked in every second of that race.  That helped a ton!

I caught up to Ang around mile 18.  About 30 seconds before I caught her I felt the skin tear on my foot.  It was painful and hard to run.  I contemplated stopping to check it and adjust my sock but I knew that was a bad idea.  If I stopped, I would lose momentum and that was the last thing I wanted.  We ran together for about a mile and then Ang said "have a good race" and patted me on the back. 

I had no idea what had just happened but she signaled for me to go on ahead of her.  We decided early on that we would run our own race and wish eachother the best.  So I went.

The thought of Mile 20 consumed me.  I wanted to get there because it was the turnaround point to the finish line.  It signified so much.  Once I hit 20, I was entering unknown territory.  I had never before gone past this point.  It was terrifying and thrilling at the same time.  I had no idea what to expect and was praying I wouldn't hit "the wall". 

I hit the 20 mile mark and sighed with relief.  I was now in the home stretch.  Almost the entire race was right along the ocean and this portion was no different.  Surfers were now out and about by the dozens doing their usual Sunday things.  They were grilling out at the beach, waxing their boards and blasting music from their cars.  They call it Surf City for a reason.  I felt like I should be hitting the waves, not the pavement.  

I kept moving forward and telling myself not to stop or slow down.  I was so close.  This was it.  This was the day I had been waiting for.  I did long runs in the rain for this very race. 

At Mile 23, I suddenly started thinking about my brother.  I thought about his life of struggle and the hardships he has endured.  It made the marathon seem like a piece of cake.  It made me grateful and most importantly, it kept me moving.  I almost cried, but I didn't.  I don't think I had the energy, to be honest. 

Constistency was my goal so I tried to stay on pace.  I wasn't ready to speed up because I knew I couldn't maintain a faster pace for 3 more miles.  I waited until Mile 25 before I kicked it into high gear.  At that point, it was all guts.  My legs were toast but my mind forced them into motion.  The mind is such a powerful tool.

At this point, there was some substantial crowd support for the first time, which helped a ton.  The cheering and the shouting helped me tremendously to cross that finish line.  I ran it in way faster than I knew was possible to get a time in the 3:35 range.  I like odd numbers (I know, I'm a freak) so I didn't want a finishing time of 3:36.  That would just be wrong.

I crossed the finish line and stopped dead in my tracks.  I grabbed my medal and waited for Ang.  Now I was full of nerves for her.  She came in shortly after me (but it felt like an hour) and she looked beat.  This was her third marathon and her first time hitting the wall.  I know she was mad at herself for going out too fast but she still PRed by 5 minutes.   That is a huge accomplishment in itself. 

Fiona was diggin' my surfboard medal

At this point we were relieved that we didn't check any gear because we were able to hop right on the shuttle and get back to our cozy hotel room.  We napped.  It was awesome.  Then we proceeded to stuff our faces at Native Foods, again. 

Angela wants me to put down my phone so she can dig in.

I was hoping to finish in 3:40 but my ultimate goal was to beat my barista, Nick's, marathon time from RNR San Diego.   I did it.  I beat him.  He was even a good sport about it.  This is my coffee from this morning:

He still kicked my ass in the half-marathon, so we're tied. 

So, I BQed, to my own dismay, by a whole 5 minutes!  I was also 5th in my age-group.  Now of course I want to run Chicago in 3:30.  I think I can do it.  :) 

They called this course flat so I was expecting "Chicago flat".  I realized there is no such thing around here.  If you're from the midwest, be prepared for a few inclines if you run this race.  To these folks out west, it's nothing, but they don't know what flat is.  I can't wait for the truly flat and fast Chicago course. 

The Chicago Marathon is already HALF sold out!  If you're planning on running it, be sure to register soon.  I'll be signing up in the next week or so.  Who's with me!?

By the way, check out the temperature in San Diego right now on my sidebar.  Ahhh, this is the life.

** Apologies for this sickeningly long recap of race day.  I'm not even mad that you probably just looked at the pictures.  I would too.


  1. Congrats on a great race!! I plan on running Chicago this year and just heard that they are half sold out and it's not even a week so I must hustle soon!

  2. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! What a picture-perfect race, and your recap is so well-written and inspiring. I'm just completely in awe that you were able to keep mind & body in the race for all 26.2. Congrats to both you and Ang! :)

  3. Awesome recap! I can't believe you were able to SPEED UP! at the last mile. That is incredible!!! Congrats on your amazing race!

  4. Best race recap ever. You had me tearing up in a few places...when you talked about Ang patting you on the back and telling you to go on (for some reason this makes me kind of cry just typing it) and when you gained strength from thinking of your brother. I thought of my brother....he's also struggled in life. This looks like quite possibly the most beautiful race ever! And your weekend looked race nap in the Hilton with your best friend/significant other followed by a wonderful dinner at a fav restaurant. ahhh! Did you take an ice bath? How are you feeling today?! Congrats to you both! So, will you be at Boston 2012? Maybe I'll qualify again too and we can meet each other. One of these days it would be fun to be roomies with some other blogger runners at a race like that if my husband ever decided he couldn't come along and leave the kids behind.

  5. oh, and I didn't just look at the pics..I read every single world and loved it. You're such a great writer...I even felt like I was there running by the beach and seeing the people grilling and surfing. :)

  6. This recap is AWESOME. I love reading about all the little details. You are a rock star. What an awesome race. GREAT JOB!

  7. I enjoyed every single word on this post!! Hannah gave you some great advice by taking in the details. Surf City looks like a beautiful event. As a fellow midwestner, I'll take the ocean any day, thank you!

    I am just so proud of you Kate (and Angela too--you couldn't ask for a better partner!!). Fiona might be a good luck pup too!

    You totally have a 3:30 in Chicago!! Kovas will even be there to cheer you on!!

  8. LOVE the recap! Congrats on the BQ and your first marathon! Such an awesome experience!
    I took my doggie to my first marathon and my family even had him along the course it was so cute. At the end I was holding him and someone asked if I ran with him haha.
    I LOVE your medal its soo cool! The food looks delish and that cupcake looks amazing!

  9. So

    Kate you are freaking great.

    Go get your 3:30 in Chicago!!

    Oh & Angela's "Meat"-Ball Pizza ---- looks insane!

  10. Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic! Wonderful recap, and so endearing reading your words about Angela and your brother. Super congrats on your BQ! You totally rock, woman!

  11. I read and loved every word. You're right, there's nothing like your first marathon! And you rocked it! Congratulations to you both! Chicago will seem like a piece of cake! And Boston! Wow! I don't think it could get better than this!

  12. Awesome! Congrats. You and Chris - so very awesome!

  13. I LOVE this. Gotta love a girl who goes out and soaks it all in with no PR to beat on her first marathon and whips out a 3:35 cause she doesn't like even numbers!! Incredible. Proud of you!!

    OK, the meatball pizza really made me laugh. Very literal. How the hell do you eat that anyway?

  14. Wonderful recap, Kate. :) And I read every last word of it! Congratulations again. :)

    Is it just me, or does it seem funny to call a male a barista. Seems like it should be baristo or something. lol Stupid Spanish rules...

  15. Congrats on your great race! Of course you can run 3:30 in Chicago! You are a good runner and it is a fast course. I took almost an hour off my time over the course of my first few marathons.

    Isn't Native Foods great? It is the only vegan restaurant we have here in the desert, so I'm there a lot.

    Great recap. I did, btw read every word and look at the pictures :-)

  16. Congrats on the PR!! Such an amazing story of your race! I got goosebumps just reading!!

  17. I am so so so so so so so so proud of you and so beyond pumped for you! I am beaming and love living vicariously through you...right now. Enjoy that fire marathon (and BQ!) post-race glow. You deserve it!

    (Going to go about my evening all pumped up for you. So happy for you! Here's to Chicago! Now I wish I was going since you're going!)

  18. Congrats on the race that's awesome! I love this post, its so inspiring. I'm training for my first half in June.

    Good luck training for Chicago, can't wait to read about it!

  19. Ok, you know I am super proud of you and I haven't stopped saying it for 24 hours...but really you HAD to pick that awful pic of me! LOL.

    You are amazing. Such a mentally and physically strong runner :) Looking forward to Chicago with you.

  20. love this recap! very happy for you, you should be proud, I read every words, someone once told me recaps are never too long, she is right!.

  21. also people she is not kidding about the non flat course here. I ran Carlsbad a few weeks ago, they say on the website that is it flat, well it is NOT flat. See my blog I have pictures to prove it! Nothing is flat here. When they say it is flat they lie or they mean less hills then San Francisco!.

  22. The fact that this was your first marathon, made it all the more enjoyable to read about, in part because you didn't know what to expect. You rocked it! It took me 15 marathons to get a 3:35.

  23. I like Hal Higdon because he uses distance not time like J. Galloway. Also more running days and less XT. Motivation for XT is hard to find for me. I used the beginer for my first half and it took me to the finish line but not fast enough. I am a turtle compare to you btw. So now I am trying the intermediate for the 2nd half in May (OC) adding speedwork and more mileage. thanks for the follow!!

  24. Oh my gosh as soon as my reader told me you had a new post up I clicked it anxiously and read ever word! I'm so incredibly excited for you! I can't believe you finished your FIRST marathon in 3:35! You are officially my hero! And your post was so well written - a joy to read!

  25. Holy Moly! What a great race. You kicked it, but good!
    So happy for you...
    and I LOVE long race reports!!! This was a superb one :-)

  26. Wow! This is so inspiring! Congratulations, Kate!

  27. Awesome report. Sounds like you ran the race like an old pro! 3:30 is totally within reach for you. On to the next one!

  28. congrats to the two of you! and i read it all. i'm so glad that, not only did you do well, you were able to ENJOY it! soak this up lady.

  29. Girl I read the whole post! I look up to you so much, I can't wait to run my first marathon and then eat a giant pile of vegan nachos! Congratulations to you both, girlie girl! Yous a speeddemon:)

  30. What an awesome post and congrats on the great race!! It sure was a beautiful day for a run. I've run the half at Surf City but you rocked the full! Congrats again!!

  31. I LOVE this race report!! So full of the FUN side of going to a marathon; the food, the hotel, the little coffee story afterwards...just your style. Very little mention of your time or the PAIN. YOU are so great, I just love your style!! BIG hugs, congrats and I WISH I could do Chicago...I just need a few months to decide but it sounds like I won't have time to even think about it!
    Way to go, Kate!!!

  32. What kind of Crazed running junkie BQ's in her first Marathon....... Kate the Vegan runner does!!! OMFG that is so awesome. that time of 3:35 is my BQ time but i am no where near it at this point. I have a very different story on my blog about my first marathon, dry heaving at the 23 mile marker while the 4 hour pace group i thought I could out run passed me by....... Congrats Kate.

  33. I've missed you too!! I have been WAITING for this post!!!!!! SO AMAZING. Chills like 50 times. It's amazing how it is such a roller coaster of highs and lows. I love what you said about your brother, and how it helped you get through the hard part of the race. It really is like a parallel to life! I am glad you had such a good race, and I'm SO DANG PROUD!! You are amazing, and speedy, and that food is making my mouth water. AND..the Hilton...DANG. You deserve it for sure. Love you to pieces you marathon diva, you!!!!! xoxoxo

  34. I am such a proud Mama!! Kate the Great...true to your name!!!!! You've always been amazing and I've always thanked God for giving me such a blessing as you. I love you Honey!!

  35. Well, Mom is a tough act to follow. I so enjoyed reading this Kate. Obviously I can relate because I was there too. I loved having all those awesome kids on the course. I kept asking them, "How am I doing"? There answers were so full of energy. I am going to write the race director telling him/her how amazing this race was. The on course support was superb.

    I will definitely run a 3:30 marathon with you someday. Chicago? Hmmmmmmh, how about SD RnR?

  36. WOW, what a great recap of a PHENOMENAL first marathon! i loved reading it, especially all the little details : ) you should be SO proud of yourself! i hope you celebrated and are now enjoying your recovery. i'm seriously considering chicago...but i'm in the lottery for NY (so, not guaranteed) and can't afford to travel and run both. but knowing that you're doing chicago certainly has me thinking... : )

  37. I had to come by and read your recap! Congratulations!!! You are amazing. Seriously, I can only dream to run that fast :)

  38. Girl this is a GREAT report of an unbelievable race. Weren't you the girl who was sick last week? You went out there to soak it up and got a 3:35? You're INCREDIBLE! Well done to both you and Ang - and tell her to take that PR and hug it. Getting a PR when you've gone out too fast is an incredible achievement in itself.

    You two are amazing. Well done. Oh and I've run Chicago twice. You'll have a ball!

  39. Great race recap! Woo Hoo! I'm beyond impressed and love that you had such a great time!

    Chicago was my first marathon! You'll love it.


  41. I know what you mean about hotels. We usually stay in very budget friendly places. It's fun to stay someplace nice! I love the dog, and it's nice that it worked out for you to take her along. I also tend to write too many details about races so that I can remember them. However, I enjoyed reading every bit of yours! Yummy looking food--don't you LOVE vegan restaurants? Your marathon time is AWEsome!!! I can't believe you were so fast in your first one. Congratulations!

  42. Way to go!! :) You gave a wonderful race recap! You should be super proud of yourself and that amazing time!!

  43. What a great post! I definitely read every word. I'm training for a half marathon - so to even imagine doing twice that length seems just crazy! Way to go on the awesome time!!!

  44. GREAT recap...congrats again!

  45. I read every word of your recap and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for every last detail and you definitely delivered! I still can't believe you pulled out a 3:35 on your first marathon, though after following your training I shouldn't be surprised. You rocked it! Can't wait to see how much ass you kick in Chicago!

  46. Congrats on your first marathon! You did amazing! Loved the recap!

  47. THIS WAS SO FUN TO READ!!! Girl, first off you are seriously so gorgeous! Second, I want to go to that cafe with you! You did get to the starting line in perfect timing...I hate to wait around. You are definitely going to get way under 3:30 in don't give yourself enough credit for you amazingness!! We always stay in crappy hotels too! LOVED reading every second of this and your brother sounds amazing. I always compare running to life and trials etc. You have such an amazing perspective on things!

  48. AwEsOMEnEsS! Fun to read! I will be in Chicago, but only dreaming of a time like that :)!! You go girl!

  49. I love the play by play. Congrats on being 5th in your age-group! That's Ahhh-MAY-ZING! Look out, Chicago!

  50. Ok, I realize this has absolutely nothing to do with your smokin' BQ race, but can I just say that I am insanely jealous of all of the amazing vegan food you eat. It all looks so good!

  51. Way to go BQ-ing on your first try! What a perfect day for running!

  52. Burpees are awful. Some people do them where they do push ups at the bottom. I would have died. But, they are great cardio. My brother and I were totally sweating like pigs from them. I know I'll regret it tomorrow, but I'm kind of glad I did that man. Kind of. hahahah.

  53. Stupid me. Why did I read this at work, I should have known better. Now I'm in tears at my desk and it's YOUR FAULT!

    You are such an inspiration. You ran a marathon faster than I can run a mile but rather than be jealous of your speed, I'm insanely inspired.You totally make me believe I can run a marathon and be just a smidge faster than I am. Just today I realized that I totally blew up at R yesterday because I was JEALOUS that she could fit in a two-a-day run and because I was cranky from NOT running that day. And I thought back to your addiction posts and remember thinking, just like a week ago, that I could never love running that much, it was more of a necessary evil. This morning, I thought...this must be what Kate is talking about. I'm so glad I had this to read today of all days.

    But damn you, I'm still crying!

  54. Congrats on the race! What a great feeling that must be to have finished :) AWESOME JOB! And the frosting on that cupcake is SO intense - LOVE IT!

  55. Awww Kate - I can't even express in words how proud of you I am (and I just met you!!!). I will never forget my first marathon ike 14-years ago, and your race brought up all those emotions I experienced crossing faster than I thought (but holy cow...never as fast as you!). Way to go girl, what a great day! Cannot WAIT to meet you for reals in San Jose in April :).

  56. duuude... i tried to comment when you posted your recap, but it didn't work for some reason. at any rate, i thoroughly enjoyed living vicariously through your first marathon experience! it was an easy and enjoyable read. congrats on the BQ time as well-- you're incredible!

  57. i failed to mention... those nachos look insanely, mouth-watering, heavenly A-MAZ-ING!

  58. That is seriously insane that you Boston Qualified in your first marathon! You must be a natural athlete all along and just got into running longer races, that is incredible. I bet you will continue to improve your time with future marathons! Sounds like you really did run the perfect race. Enjoy the afterglow of a marathon!

  59. Ahhh I loved reading this!! Thank you for sharing your race with us!!

  60. great job, I read every word! I am running my first full in April and can't wait!

  61. Awesome recap! Thanks for sharing. and good job on your time...that's so cool! Hopefully your feet feel better soon.

  62. I love the recap. you're getting so many comments these days it takes forever to get to the bottom! I got chocked up right before you mentioned Rob, and then I couldn't see what I was reading. You write so beautifully, I love you so, so much.

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