Long Beach Marathon (SUB4ORDIE) : Part 2

Race Eve/Morning/Frantic Sprint To The Start

(picking right up where we left off)



Once I started running it was like my brain overheated from the race morning drama and just shut down. The only thing registering in my head were the numbers on Garmin every time I hit a mile marker.

Beep beep.  Beep beep.  Beep beep.


No excitement, no nervousness, no anger towards weaving runners cutting me off and almost tripping me… just, ‘on-pace, keep it up’ or ‘too fast, slow down

I remember getting to mile 9 and still feeling numb and void of any thoughts.  You know like an out-of-body experience except less spiritual and more sweaty.


Brightroom Realization : the face of “sweaty out-of-body experience” is NOT cute :


What am I doing on the right??? Yawning? Hocking a loogie?

Anyways we split from the half around 11.5 and I waited for my “AH-HA!” moment where I would finally come-to and get into the game.  This has been a big boost for me in past marathons – you know, feeling all badass that they’re heading in to finish and you’re ALMOST halfway done.

Or crazy.  Badass or crazy.  You decide.

Instead I rounded the bend and was welcomed by a man smoking a cigarette. RIGHT NEXT TO THE COURSE! A CIGARETTE!!

me, still running : ‘kind of ironic, isn’t it? you smoking on a MARATHON COURSE?!’

Rude random lung cancer dude : (takes a big drag) ‘…huh??’

me, under my breath : ‘you’vegottobefuckingkiddingmeisthatguyseriousCOUGHCOUGHwhatanassholewhywouldyouseriouslybethatinconsi…’

Spent the next few miles reconfiguring my plan to mass-eliminate all the overly stupid humans in the world.  It’s a work in progress.

At this point I was just focused on getting to Brian at mile 15. I still felt good and was holding my pace, but the sun was now out in full-force and shade on the course was getting impossible hard to come by.


I was still in front of the 4:00 pace group when I got to him. He smiled and asked if I had it in me, and I told him I wasn’t sure.  I was fading fast and couldn’t dig out my mental game.

I saw a flash of concern as he told me I looked good and to keep it up, and got very déjà vu’y to the half/full split at Nike Women’s last year.


There was a pretty steep downhill right after 15, and I spent the next hour thinking about NOTHING but how badly it was going to suck climbing back up it at mile 21.

A lot of runners raved about the next part of the course through CSU Long Beach. There were a ton of students and groups out cheering, but I just didn’t feed off the energy.

The 4:00 pace group passed me somewhere after mile 18, and that’s when I lost it. I could feel the very little fight I had left slipping away as the red and white balloons got further and further away.


‘keep them in shooting distance. you can fight through this! just maintain this pace. stay on pace.

SARAH! this isn’t on-pace. they’re getting further away! speed it up!

you DO have enough! keep pushing! 7 more miles isn’t THAT far, c’mon. maintain for 4 and race the last 3.1. COME ON.

…ok fine. we can walk.’

While I slowed to my first walk of the race I thought back to that wonderful 21 miler – how it was so easy, I was so happy to be running, so proud of what I was doing.

What had changed? Was it the pressure of having a goal time? Did I start out too fast? Was I being a pussy about the sun or was it really draining me like it felt??

I started running again and made a (feeble) effort at kicking myself in the mental ass…

‘this is it, Sarah. remember when you registered for this race? – before the training, the honeymoon, the wedding, the move? – it’s finally here. you don’t get to try again tomorrow. it’s now or some other race in the future that you’re going to have to go through all that hard work for again. you don’t want to start over. do it now.’


This went on for a few miles.  Get moving again a little faster than goal pace, fight with myself, walk.  Pep talk.  Run, die, walk.  Repeat.

Reader Colleen found me in the middle of one of these pity-party walk breaks.  She got me running again and the distraction was welcome.  I didn’t want to hold her back so I sent her on her merry way while I slowed to yet another walk, totally beat up and 100% mentally checked out of the race.


(thanks for that respectable mile 19 split, Colleen!)

Brian was waiting for me at the top of that fucking mile 21 hill with ibuprofen and an unmistakable face of concern.  The 4:00 pace group must have passed him ages ago – I’m sure he was just seconds from checking the local bus lines (in case I took a play from this guy)  ((thanks for the link, Mary))

Distracted myself with Harvard-worthy math problems the next few miles :

You’ve still got 40 seconds banked.  Walk a bit further, then run in at goal pace.

Bank time is gone.  You’ll get a little back in the last mile but you gotta go now.

Ok if you sub-9 the next 4 you have a chance if you really kick at the end

Finally I realized it was over.  My hopes at a Sub4 were gone, and it was like you killed all my kittens, told me Santa Claus was a child molester, and that I suddenly became allergic to beer.

Except I killed the kittens, was Santa’s accomplice, and self-inflicted the beer allergy.  Nobody to blame but myself and my stupid head.


Not 30 seconds later a woman sees my bib and yells,

crazy soul-sucker cheer lady : “Sub 4! You gonna get it, girl?!”



And then, just when I was talking myself off the Marathon Fail Ledge, a middle-aged man in a neon yellow shirt comes up behind me, pats my arm, and says,

jerk man not knowing he’s contributing to suicidal thoughts : “you were making it look so easy earlier!”

me, glowering, looking for sharp things : “YEAH AND LOOK AT ME NOW. SHUT UP.”

I know he didn’t mean to totally call out my bonk, but that was the only way I could see it.  I was SO down, SO pissed, and SO COMPLETELY DISAPPOINTED in myself.  When had I become so damn weak?


Emily was waiting for me at mile 24, and I busied myself until then dreaming up a magical story of how she came from behind (literally), rallied from our disastrous start, and PR’d the shit out of her race.

Turns outttt… not.  The similarities in our anticlimactic let-down race stories are eerily similar.  (read hers here)


Ok, if you know Emily at all (internet or IRL) you know that’s not at all how it went.  There was a lot of cursing.  Lots of anger.  Lots of WHERE THE F IS THE FINISH LINE and talk about how we would self-medicate after…


There was more walking.  I couldn’t even bring myself to push my stupid body for the final 2 miles of a damn race.  At that point I was so beyond caring I would have sat down right on the 26 mile marker and never crossed the finish if somehow I could still get all my alcohol delivered to me there.


There was nothing funny or happy, so I’m assuming that face is the aftermath of what the Brightroom cameraman failed to capture.  Luckily Sweaty Emily is a pro race photographer :

Miles 24-26 were easily the longest of my life – no really, I don’t think I’ve ever traveled two miles that slowly – rush hour on the 405 moves faster than 11:30/mi.


The finish line finally came into sight and Emily peeled off to let me save some face with a strong finish through the chute.  Glaring the whole way!  Angry sprint!  Marathons are so fun!

(I did manage a  measley smile for Heather and Elisabeth – 2 Ragnar teammates – thanks for yelling, girls I swear I still like you)




Yeah.  That mental part about running?  Kind of important.

Long Beach Marathon, 10.9.11 – 4:10.08


51 thoughts on “Long Beach Marathon (SUB4ORDIE) : Part 2

  1. OMG… I know that place! That “die all you motherfuckers and your motherfucking race too… get outta my fuckin’ way and bring me a goddamn beer” place. But you put out a hell of a race report. So there’s that! Do ya wanna shoot me now?

    I am going to try Avenue of the Giants next May. Cool, redwood trees, mellow hippie country, not as many people… might be a nice change from the Long Beach Nightmare :)

    Cheers, Sarah… hope to meet you one day :)


  2. I had mental problems on Sunday too. Well, if you ask J I have mental problems every day. But real bad on Sunday.

    Find another race next weekend. You’re trained and you probably didn’t overdo it (with the walking…at least that’s my approach). I’m racing again next Sunday; we can channel each other’s newfound positive energy.


      • Maybe if you go to the Marathon Maniac’s site you can find a cheap local full this weekend or next. How are you soreness wise? I say if you can find one why not bust it out. Even if it’s not sub 4 you would qualify as a maniac =) CIM is still an option….hint hint, I need someone to bitch to the whole 26 miles, but I promise to pump you up the last .2, deal?!


  3. The mental part is so important. It has messed up a ton of my races. You definitely have the ability and I am sure next time you will get your goal! On a positive note I love your pictures and commentary. Hilarious! :)


  4. You have purged out your pissed-off-at-yourselfness – should start feeling better soon. You’ve run 4 marathons and this is your second-best time. Perspective chickie. If you need another perspective reminder, google for that pic of the guy who crapped himself while running. Does being that dedicated to a goal look good? I’m thinking, no.


  5. Girrrrrl…….I think I love you for this post. This was word for word my last race, expletives included and possibly multiplied. Thank you for your honesty. This has happened to all of us yet it is easy to feel like the only one.


  6. You are one of my favorite writers and keep me laughing, yet nodding throughout this recap. Pretty freaking good time for 5.46394979507 weeks of training, I’d say!

    My fav pic is the one of you calculating the amount of alcohol you have left at home!

    You’re mentally and physically tough in my books girl!


  7. I am still so impressed by you! My story is similar except for 13.1 miles and waaaaaay slower… the last 2 miles were horrific for me. I think I was probably at like a 16 minute mile at that point. I totally gave up and walked most of the last 2 miles. I’m way disappointed in myself too. I can’t stop thinking about it either!


  8. I love the look of horror on your face when you realize there won’t be enough beer. Seriously, the general consensus is that it was just a sucky day. Maybe we can all pretend it never happened?


  9. Excellent description. We’ve all been there.

    Rest. Regroup. Plan. Destroy. In that order. Or just wing it and see what happens, the next one could be super easy. CIM or Vegas, Honolulu, Carlsbad, plenty of good options coming up.


  10. There is always someone smoking a cigarette at every race I’m at. Even after the race, people that have run are smoking later on. Seriously? They don’t cancel each other out!

    You started out strong. Maybe it had something do with fueling? Although I live on the opposite coast than you, this past weekend ended up being pretty hot (I assume it was in Long Beach too?). Sub4ordie might happen in some cooler weather!


  11. girlfriend. this is God’s way of making you even more (more more more) excited for when you DO break sub-4. it’s gotta be it.

    and at least you had the cutest outfit (and hair) there.

    ..can you teach me how to do that for MY full in three weeks?!


  12. The mental aspect of sports, or anything really, is so true! If you aren’t mentally in it, it will be difficult to accomplish what you set out to do. At least you have realized that and you have learned from this experience, really that’s all you can ask for. If you didn’t feel like you learned anything then it wasn’t worth it!

    Also, what the… why would someone be SMOKING near a marathon? I really dislike smoking and I hate it when we run past someone who is, but near a race? Come on, that’s rude!


  13. Stupid head. It screws us. Booooooo.

    I can’t believe some dude was smoking on the course. Plain RUDE. I should’ve brought my big mouth 4 year-old to the race to spectate. That would have taken care of it. He’s pretty good at yelling our “smoking will kill you.” Nice. I am pretty sure he learned it from the “Truth” commercials.

    Come to Vegas!!! Running, GNR, casino action….


  14. When I was tracking you it said you had crossed 10K in 8:38 pace which immediately had me concerned. Apparently the mats were totally effed up because you only went out slightly faster than goal pace.

    The mind messes everything up. I swear every time I have some race goal I’ve set my heart on, it never works out. It’s the times when I’m I just go run something that seem to workout best.

    And good ‘ol brightroom capturing great pics again. Those still look better than PCRF.


  15. I promise this is not me reveling in your misery, but the entertainment factor of these posts have been the highlight of my recent days. Your writing … girl, quit your day job now and go write for comedies. Seriously. I could read you all day forever and ever on a normal day, but when you’re pissed? Oh man, that’s when your sarcasti-comic genius is in full bloom.

    You rock. Even when you think you suck :-)


  16. I had a bad half last September (my 2nd). It was sunny, clear skies, and it got pretty warm for an endurance event. I can’t imagine 26.2 mi in 80 and humid (and no sunglasses!?). I know a half is nothing like a full, but I hated myself after my bad race, which involved lots of walking. I feel your pain. I would have been pissed about smoking guy too. I get mad when I’m out running and pass this guy who frequently walks his dog while smoking a cigar. I don’t want to smell that while I run!


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  18. Your race recaps are the best I’ve ever read!! You will totally get your sub 4 soon. And thanks for the shoutout….I’m telling you, that bus idea went through my mind around mile 20 as well!!


  19. Training is crucial and though I am a master at holding myself up mentally I simply lacked the amount of physicality needed to finish this race without any sort of injury. I was going to finish the race carefully by setting a good pace for myself the first few miles. Now I definitely have to take a break from my kicks and settle for something different in the ways of sweat or I am going to further injure myself.


  20. Oh my goodness…this is the first time I have read your blog, and my GOSH, your experience was nearly identical to a freaking marathon 2 years ago. Same goal too…I have never, ever walked in a race, ever, and acutually walked a few steps with the finish line in sight! Sucky races just SUCK. There’s no rhyme or reason…some days running feels amazing, and other days, (like my race) I was bonking at mile 15. Not good. But, on the bright side, it made for a good post, and you scored a new reader. Because I’m sure that’s what really matters. ;)


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