October was a busy month for all of us. Whether you did the Long Beach Marathon, Half, 5K, Bike Tour or another race altogether that weekend, it was eventful! We had another fun pasta and awards party on the Friday before, the race and then post-marathon parties thereafter. Best of all, we continue to define ourselves as a running club that not only runs but knows how to have fun! Read on to see why! - Tam
It’s All About Me - Okay, okay I know you have definitely heard that phrase before and having two young kids sometimes I have to remind them that the world doesn’t always revolve around them. But I do have to tell you that my decision to train & complete my first marathon, at age 38, was a selfish one. It was…..all about me. I wanted to do it to empower myself because I believed I could, knew that I would and I did! It was a personal self-empowerment goal of mine that I hold very privately in my heart.
I realized that if there was any time in my life that I could actually accomplish this that 2008 would be it! I literally woke up on January 1st, 2008 and opened my eyes and my first thought to myself was “Day One”. I kid you not! I knew that this just had to be my year. Some recent years past have thrown me with some challenges, but somehow I was determined that this year would be one of the finest. And so far I have not disappointed.
I joined AREC, the best running club in the world by the way, on my birthday (January 30th). Yep, I showed up for my first run, knew no one and stayed after for a beer. It was a nice way to spend my birthday, meeting all kinds of new people who welcomed me so easily. What I have come to learn is that this club is all about the support, the friendships and the camaraderie much more than just the running. (oh yeah and the beer too!)
As I trained week after week my two boys, ages 7 & 10, tracked my mileage on what we called the “Mommy Marathon Chart” and to be honest they were kinda of sick of it only weeks after I started and would say in unison….”yeah Mom....we know....you ran today.”
It was not easy, although I could not have imagined how much of a toll it would take on my body! From broken fingers, swollen toes, aching legs, ice baths, falls, bruises and now an injury!
I suffered a muscle pull injury a week before the race. Tried to get it to heal completely and then come race day it flared up in mile 2! I ran for 24.2 miles in sheer pain and took Vicodin along the way to try to curb it but to no avail. Those last couple miles I hobbled, limped but still kept going. Telling myself not to stop. I didn’t and finished in 4:15:51. Unbelievable to me now that I did it feeling as hurt as I was. I do want to thank everyone who has been so kind, for being so supportive and caring. I especially want to thank Matt, the best “coach” ever, who has been so supportive & motivating even when he doesn’t think he’s doing anything (shush urself!). Being there for me on race day meant the world to me and I honestly don’t believe I would have made it without youJ I also want to thank all my new (now old!) friends at AREC for being so inspirational to me…Amy, Kristen, Ara, Steven, Mark, Tara, Kevin, Susana, Rae, Nadine, Dave K, Todd, Emmett, Sterling and so many others. I think I have shared my experience with everyone in my life and those that have come into it maybe also to hold myself accountable for actually doing it! – Tristan Kieva
I was jazzed by all of the support on the course from AREC members and friends who came out to cheer us on. At various points I saw Matt Simpson, Bernard, Tom Mc Bride, Mike, Tawnya, Nancy Deprez, Zack Menke and the entire "Team ARA" cheering section of Susana, Keith, Ellen and whoever else I missed as I was 'speeding' by. It was great to run with Ara through CSULB as he is an alumnus and his energy and excitement as we ran through the campus pulled me along. I'll also remember how great it felt to see all of the yellow AREC singlets around me--that way I could easily see where the other AREC runners like Karen, Mistii, Nadine and others were so I could keep pace with them. Everyone was looking good! I really enjoyed getting to know all of the people during the marathon training program. Only wished I could have been around to see the half marathoners come in. – Dave Kuntz
This was my first Long Beach Half Marathon, and only my second half marathon ever. Though it started out a bit chilly that morning it warmed up very quickly. And the Long Beach scenery is incredible. With so many people out there running, it created such an exciting atmosphere which added extra energy to my performance. Though I found running this half marathon a wonderful experience, I find I had a hard time completing the race. For some reason the whole course was more challenging to me and I nearly ran out of energy just before the 11th mile. However, I persevered and with some walk/run combo in the 12th mile, I successfully completed the race.
Now the best part to my story is the reason I believe I had somewhat of a hard time is that my pace was much faster then I normally run. I completed the race in 2 hours 8.5 mins. This is 8.5 minutes faster then my first half marathon at Disneyland last September in which I completed in 2 hours & 17 mins.
I've only been with AREC for 4 months now and I truly believe that joining this group has really helped me improve my performance, stamina and time. There's no way I could have trained for this on my own and spending hundreds of dollars on other clubs would not have had any better results. Thanks to all the members of AREC for making this happen and the fun that ultimately follows. – Jon Paul Valdez
I would like to share an awesome experience I had during the marathon on Sunday. I was privileged to be behind and to the side of Steve Mills when he did the most spectacular somersault mid-stride! Down he went, did a perfect roll and popped back up and never missed a step. I am not exaggerating when I say it stunned me and everyone around him!! I will cherish that memory forever! – Dona McBride
Running on Scotch - First, I've competed in 13 full marathons and about the same number of half marathons since joining AREC 3 years ago. By now I have my race routine down pat. I sometimes don't taper if a race is leading up to another target race. I got the carbo load routine, my pre-race day routine, my race day routine, and finally a post-race routine. Routines are good. However, sometimes situations and life events come up to disrupt the routine.
The LB Half is the middle leg of 3 Half marathons in 3 weeks. I just missed a PR at the Rock and Roll San Jose by a minute. I was initially planning on setting a PR at Long Beach and finally enjoying the "scenery" at the SF Nike Women's Half Marathon the following week. Ultimately, I am hoping to set a PR at the Rock and Roll San Antonio Marathon next month (my target race).
A few months ago I learned that a close work colleague and friend was transferring to another hospital. We had shared the same office for a number of years when I first joined Kaiser. When I transferred to my current hospital about 3 years ago, my colleagues threw a big farewell bash for me. Now it was my friend's turn to have a farewell bash. I learned a week before the Long Beach race that the party was on the night before the race. I couldn't miss the party, so I planned on skipping the steak dinner and just making an appearance for drinks afterwards.
I prepared all my race gear prior to heading out late Saturday night. Apparently another colleague who went back to Iran about 3 years ago was in town and was at the dinner. So I ended up eating a steak and seafood dinner at 9pm. Then it was "boys' night out". I finally returned home to bed at 2am after one too many glasses of 12 year old Scotch.
At 5:15 am, I got up feeling light headed and dehydrated. I had a bad headache. I took 2 Tylenols (samples from the EXPO) and then some Powerade. I woke up too late to eat breakfast. So it was a quick pit-stop, shower, and lube. I dressed and drove to Long Beach. After parking, it was another pit-stop, then off to the AREC tent. I talked to Todd, who gave me motivation, "some of my best races were run after a night out, because there is no pressure..." I decided I will let my body dictate the pace, and go with the flow. I took two GUs with some water, and I was off to the start. The corrals were already packed and I could not make it to Corral A. I could only advance to the back of Corral C, but that's OK... No pressure. When the race started, I had to dodge some walkers and very slow joggers. Not being able to extend my stride was a little frustrating. I slowly made my way through the crowd. My first 2 miles were 10 min/ miles. I felt relaxed, as if the race had not even started yet. I started running closer to my marathon pace over the next 3 to 4 miles, and I still felt relaxed and my running felt easy (except for dodging slower runners ahead.) I thought about what Todd had said regarding running some of his best races after a night out. I decided to go for it and shift from relaxed, no pressure mode to PR mode. So at the half-way point, I started running and passing lots and lots of people. I greeted fellow ARECers as I passed them. I tried to encourage them as I went by. At the marathon split, I was glad to be running the half. I knew I had enough to finish strong. The last 2 miles went by fast and before long I was sprinting down to the finish line. Although I missed a PR this time by about 3 minutes, I was quite satisfied with my effort.
I enjoyed relaxing at the AREC tent for a little while and hanging out with Todd, then it was off to the beer garden! Cheers.
Here is an addendum to my story on LB Half:
This past Sunday [October 19th], I enjoyed running in the Nike Women's Half Marathon. The 20 gals:1 guy ratio was great. San Francisco always has great scenery. This Sunday that was even better, especially at the front of the pack. I ran my last leg of 3 half marathons in 3 weeks. This was my fastest time of the three; although I missed a PR by less than a minute. – Alexander Chin
After aggravating my preexisting injured inner right ankle at 4.5 miles, I managed to limp/hobble the rest of the 8.6 miles of the half-marathon. I had a real Rolaids moment at the end – how do you spell relief? F-I-N-I-S-H-L-I-N-E – Noel Delaspenas
The 2008 Long Beach Half Marathon was my first half, actually my first race. After riding the Bike Tour in 2007 with my boyfriend, Scott, I must have gotten caught up in all the race excitement and thought if all these people are running the half maybe that’s something I could do. Even though I had been hashing for 3 years at the time I had never continuously run more than 5 miles before. I knew about AREC through others in the hash and their training/race experiences and knew that if I ever did decide to sign up for the half I’d join the group. I guess the clincher that finally got me motivated to do it and sign up with AREC was a phone conversation with my dad and step-mom who live in Tennessee. I joked with them that they should bring their bikes out and we could all ride the bike tour. Well my step-mom, Lynn, one upped me and said she’d run the half if I ran it with her. I was speechless, although I had briefly thought about running the half now I had to really commit to doing it. I told her maybe and that I’d get back to her on that. I think she was just as surprised and speechless when I said I’d do it.
I finally started running with AREC in the beginning of March. Good timing since it was the first night K.C. Branaghan’s opened. Once the training runs started I tried to follow the schedule as much as possible. It was great to have that kind of guidance otherwise I wouldn’t have a clue of how to train for a half marathon. I was always amazed each week after the long runs that I had been able to do them with out stopping; I just kept a slow and steady pace. Jessica & Lynn
Lynn became on honorary AREC member since I would send her Todd’s weekly emails to keep her motivated. I thought it might help since she was training for this on her own. She and my dad had always run on a regular basis, even running marathons, but it had been a number of years since she trained for a specific race. We kept each other updated on our running progress and problems… blisters, aches and pains.
The day of the race Scott and my dad, Jack, headed out for the bike tour at 5:30 am. Lynn and I left at 6:30 am to walk to the start. Being my first race I had an ideal time in mind but mainly just wanted to finish and enjoy the experience. Lynn and I ran together up until about mile 9 but then I kept falling behind a bit. Once I reached Ocean Blvd. my goal of catching up with Lynn gave way to getting a beer. Priorities! I knew Paul, Jaime and Scott had a beer station set up at Jaime’s place. Thanks guys! So I stopped for a cup of beer and walked a little then continued on. I was passed by the speedy marathon winner at about mile 11. Holy crap! That guy ran 24 miles and I haven’t even done 13! Oh well, just keep running. Scott rode along with me for a little ways making sure I was alright and taking photos. He then rode off to catch up with Lynn (she finished in 2:27). With only ½ mile to go I was rewarded with another beer station courtesy of Tawnya and Carolyn, Thanks! I walked a little while I enjoyed that 2nd beer and crossed the finish line in 2:32. Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better first race experience. I’d definitely do it again. Lynn was already planning the next one for us to do in the spring. We’ll see how things go; maybe I can keep up with her then. – Jessica Alexander
I was training for the 1/2, doing the club runs on Saturday. Just before the 10-miler I was doing 3 around the neighborhood when the left hamstring tightened up like crazy. I had to quit the run, which I have done like twice in 20+ years! I tried icing it, resting it, stretching it, nothing seemed to help. My times went from around 10 minutes/mile to 12+, and my run was reduced to a kind of shuffle. I did the 10-mile training run anyway and survived but after that the muscle just got worse. I could hardly sit still or drive for more than a few minutes without it really starting to ache. I decided to just quit running until the race and hope for the best.
I picked up my race stuff at the Expo on the Saturday before. While there I visited the Protec booth, where they sell a lot of knee and foot support devices. Lo and behold they had a compression wrap for a hamstring pull. It was only $20 so I decided to give it a try.
Tried it a little the night before the race. I thought it felt a little better so put it on the next morning and took off with the pack. Soon I was shuffling again but I felt the wrap helped support the muscle, and by mile 9 I could hardly feel it at all. I tried picking up the pace a little bit but a quick twinge convinced me to go back to the shuffle. I survived the race with a 2:39 and felt okay afterward, in fact better than usual.
It was the first time I have attempted a 1/2 without doing at least 12 or 13 miles two or three weeks before the race, and was pleased with the result even though it was probably my slowest 1/2 ever. It sucks to get old, but at least I am still running! – Rick Sanger
My wife Kathy and I ran the Half Marathon for the 2nd year, and we did great. Kathy did great until the last 3 mile stretch, where she had stomach cramps that literally doubled her over and she was kneeling on the ground. Runners going by were asking what they could do. I was actually looking for some aide attendants, but no one was around. With great perseverance and determination, Kathy recovered (multiple times) and kept pushing through. She made it with great relief, coming in at 2:26:44 (bettering 2:42:48 from last year). Surprisingly, she felt better at the finish line than last year!
Hooyah! – Glenn & Kathy Gaba
My Long Beach 2008 Experience – This was my 5th 26.2 mile race. Why I keep paying for marathons I’ll never quite fully understand. I went in to this particular race with two goals: 1) qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time sub 3:50, and 2) feel totally used up afterwards-having left it all on the course, nothing left at the Finish Line.
Well, one out of two goals is still a great return on my investment of training all summer, so I am not complaining! I started out the day with a “No Excuses” mantra, smiles and eagerness to push until it hurt. I started out with the 3:50 pace group, several training partners with similar goals, a “Boston or Bust” sticker on my back, and a friend documenting my journey with a video camera (can you say paparazzi?). I started out knowing that I had friends and family at mile 12 and mile 16. I started out with the time 3:50 written on my arm in sharpie, as is my tradition to always write my goals before each race. I also started out with the words of my husband echoing in my head, “Whatever happens, we still love you. Have a good race.”
When the Pacer Guy ran off course twice to tinkle before we even hit mile 10, I knew it was going to be interesting to stay with him. Luckily, girlfriends Katherine and Mistii were also with me (in our strikingly bright coordinating AREC singlets), as their pace was more steady than Pacer Guy’s. All was going well until about mile 15, where I realized that perhaps trying to maintain an 8:45 for the whole distance was a little bit unrealistic for me. Right about this time, a new experience occurred: I had to pee, and I mean now! I’ve never had to do this during a race before, so I was a little stressed at how I would handle this new sensation. Nature decided for me and before I could even pull off the road, I, um, you know…..let it go. Not intentionally, mind you, it just happened. Hey, if Paula Radcliffe can pee during a race and still win the London Flora, I am in good company! I have since washed my shoes---twice.
After seeing the family on mile 16 with cowbells, signs, and balloons, we headed down to CSU. As we entered the campus, my quads started twitching… another new experience! Not knowing if this meant that they were coming to a grinding halt or not, I had to come to terms with the situation. I was at peace with my decision to let the other gals go and do my own thing to the Finish. Being great friends and knowing my dream of Boston, they had a hard time leaving me, but I told them my family would still love me and that I’d be okay. I took the “Boston or Bust” sticker from my back, and trudged on. No longer running 8:45’s, I was able to really take in the scenery and support on course. I had to throw in a few walk breaks also. However, every time I thought I would walk, my Paparazzi friend would be there with the video camera on his motorcycle. Crap! I can’t let him see me walk! So I’d run some more until I thought he was gone…but then he’d be on the corner of the next street! Fine, running slow is still running….Besides, at this rate, it was going to be a PR no matter what!
As we started down the Ocean Blvd corridor, I knew we were close. I started doing the math in my head. My Personal Record for the marathon was a 4:25 just a year earlier in New York. If I took off even 10 minutes, I’d be ecstatic. Wait, I could possibly take off 15! So with this new goal, I set off for my new goal time: sub 4:10. As I turned down Shoreline, I heard Katherine scream my name from the side (she did a 3:48), and the announcer said, “Here comes Nadine Echeverry from Long Beach!” With that, what little bit I had left in the basement came out in a desperate attempt of “end kick” to the Finish: 4:08!!!! Better yet, I felt like I was going to puke, collapse, and my quads were hurting—really, really hurting! I had left it all on the course (literally and figuratively), and felt miserable. No one would tell me that I could have given more, it was obvious I gave it all…and that is a successful race in my book.
More noteworthy, though, are the friendships and memories of a great summer of training. When you meet with people consistently, and spend time with them every week, a beautiful thing happens. I love our sport, because I love the people that share it. That’s a different kind of success, one that outlasts medals and times. – Nadine Echeverry Nadine and Her Gang
Bubba Gump Shrimp 5K – Normally I wouldn’t be so mean but you guys who ran the full and half are really dumb. You should’ve done the 5K instead. I was supposed to do the half but I hadn’t trained for it and had only run up to 8 miles since I’m building up for LA. I made the right move by just doing the 5K. The start of the 5K was fun and rowdy with Forrest Gump himself at the start. There was even a raffle before the race began! You could’ve been the proud winner of motor oil, cleaning spray or my favorite, pork rinds! The course was great and you could see the dummies, I mean, marathoners and half marathoners along the way. At the end, there was plenty of water and goodies, including a lunch! Yes, a lunch! And it was free! I asked, “Is it free?” They said, “Yes! We just have to mark your bib.” The lunch included chicken salad, shrimp ceviche, chips and salsa and shrimp cocktail! And you could relax and eat your lunch while watching the fools, I mean, marathoners and half marathoners go by. I was impressed! The 5K is a fun event and the best part was that I could make my way over to the AREC tent and just hang out to cheer you dummies on! =) – Tam Premsrirath
I actually never really thought about running another marathon again, ran one in 1982, while in college in TX, "Dallas White Rock"....Ran with an experienced girl, we trained in 2 months and didn't know what I was doing...Finished in 4:20, didn't know if it was good or bad...Ran all over the place with paces of 8 min. miles to 12 min. miles, and I didn't know about the .2 part...I thought it was 26 miles so that .2 freaked me out...Needless to say, I just didn't care about spending that much time running again.....
Then I started running with AREC and I just wanted to run to stay fit, really nothing more. Then, I met Claudia, who became a race queen. I would join her on a few, then I met Mo, Karen and Anne. We would run on Saturdays so I would just go with them and run whatever they were doing, because it was becoming so social. Then, they, mostly Mo, convinced me to run LGB Marathon last year 2007, OK, so I decided it would be great to run faster than I did when I was 18. I trained better and finished with negative splits comfortably at 4:07. Ok, now we were talking and I started to get hooked, darn it...Just when I didn't care :)....
So, I continued to run El Moro during the winter or in Huntington Beach with the girls. Every Saturday a long run, "just to stay fit"...Yeah right, signed up for 1/2 marathons and started to push myself and was hitting a lot of PR's, wow, who would have known?...Then a friend that I work with wanted to do San Diego Rock n Roll, last June. I used my summer AREC schedule and trained with her using that, had another PR and BQ'd 3:55....Again, surprised, but felt great!
OK, then Long Beach again this October. I figured I was going to PR, I felt so great at most every race and especially the last two marathons. I was aiming for 3:50, didn't want to talk about it, just do it....I also don't want to put pressure on myself either because relaxing has worked for me....In the past :)
I ran the first mile a little slow, 2nd and 3rd a little fast but was right back on pace at mile 4. I used the timing bracelet this time so I could look at the times, used to use a watch. I was a few tenths of a second off at every mile marker, a little freaky but right on every mile. My legs were a bit stiff but I tried to relax, took a salt pill and moved on. At mile 17 one of the girls I ended up running with got a bad cramp, that hurt to see, we all moved on, then a mile later we started to separate....One girl behind me, one girl ahead of me....I saw the 3:50 pacing balloons bobbing as they started to move ahead...I kept saying "No big deal, I will catch up"...But my legs wouldn't go, I mean they were moving but it's like my brain was saying one thing and my legs were saying another...They just wouldn't pick up the pace....I didn't feel pain, just no speed. Then I dropped a salt pill, bent to pick it up and I felt SO stiff...still continued on but again, no speed...I guess I hit the wall ? I had heard of it but had no idea what it felt like. t was a long way to the finish, the last 6-7 miles. I was kind of bored because it was taking so long, but there was nothing I could do, put my iPOD on for some entertainment, La la la...Kept telling myself it was in my head, but it didn't matter, my legs weren't buying it :) I finished in 4:06, which is kind of funny. I beat my last year’s Long Beach Marathon time by a minute. :)...And I have to say I felt so much better last year.
So, now I can adding "Bonking" and "Hitting the Wall" to my list of journeys, and I am so glad I took the risk to do something different, a person doesn't get anywhere without taking a risks. And we aren't going to win everytime, it is humbling and I believe that every race is going to give us different perspectives...Besides, I wanted to run for Fun and Fitness in the first place :)
Thanks for all of you runners...Our time doesn't define us, we are all runners! It's so great that we all do it ! – Mistii Comeau
This year’s Long Beach Marathon was a good day for me. When you get a PR and qualify for Boston, how could it get any better? I was determined to come in under 4 hours. Luckily the weather cooperated.
I won’t talk about the first part of the marathon because it’s the last part that always gets to me! At miles 17-20, while on the campus at Long Beach State, it could easily have gotten difficult, but seeing the students cheering, playing music and acting crazy gave me that extra energy I needed.
Then around 20 miles some of our members were eagerly waiting for someone to take a sip of their ice cold beer. I did a quick stop and that cold brew tasted so good!! With the “energy” drink and the exciting cheers from our members, I knew I could do it!!
Around Blair Field (22 miles), I would have preferred to stop in Starbucks for a Latte, but knew I had to refocus and keep the pace. I kept remembering what I read on someone’s tee shirt “pain is temporary, pride is forever.” Then I’d say to myself “keep going, Karen.”
When I saw my sons at mile 25, I knew I had it. Then seeing my husband at the finish line, as I came in at 3:56, was something I can’t describe. He was so happy for me and I was so happy for me too!!
I’d like to end my write up by thanking Todd, Dave, Emmett, Tam, and all my running girlfriends for making the weekly long training runs fun!! Also, a special thanks to all the volunteers, headed up by Deb, that provided us with water, energy cubes, and best of all …. smiles and words of encouragement.
AREC is an awesome club – it’s because of the people!! – Karen Hester
13.1 Miles Together – It was really good news to hear. Bennett tells me one of his colleagues is going to train with a group to run the Long Beach Half marathon and she asked him to join. I held my breath wondering what I would hear next. My hope has been that we do something like this together. I have wished for the day we could train for an event. The day had arrived.
"I think I'm going to do it," he announces. "I'll do it with you," I chime in, not too enthusiastically. I don't want to scare him with my excitement. Whatever we are entering into, has got to be driven by him. I have plenty of individual drive. Years ago I trained for and completed six full marathons. I wondered if I would ever run another. I wondered if I would ever have the opportunity to train and run one with my husband.
A marathon, half a marathon, the distance didn't matter anymore. What mattered is hearing him make a commitment to a five month training program culminating with a 13.1 mile race.
We get up early on a Saturday morning to meet with the group for the first training run. There were about fifty people standing around. We knew two of them. We paid our money and received our training materials. Bennett and I were both casual runners before this and were not too worried about finishing the 3.5 mile distance.
That afternoon Bennett tapes the five month schedule to the refrigerator door. On it are the weekly miles we will be running until race day. We examine how the distances increase on our Saturday long runs, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. We study the grid and wonder if we will be able to complete all the miles.
And from then on, every day I watch as Bennett gets up and goes out for a training run. We don't run together. I run a little faster and like to run with people. He likes to walk to warm up and prefers to run alone. But I notice that every time I see him head out of the house to do his miles, I feel compelled to do mine. It's like an incentive, and a reminder. It's the same for him in reverse. Our lives now include putting in the miles. Five days a week.
We're out at a Saturday run and we've upped the mileage. I think it's a 6 or an 8 miler, the most either of us had run in a very long time. I finish the training run first and wait for Bennett to finish his. I watch him come in and he has this pained look on his face. I approach him and he tells me. "It was awful. I couldn't breathe. It was a terrible run."
I get afraid and really quiet. I don't think he needs to hear anything from me right now. We drive home and I wait to get a sense of how he's doing. I am afraid he will want to quit. He starts to talk and then he says, "Next week I will give myself permission to walk when it gets too hard." I hear his defiance and his determination. He is not quitting. He is pushing through. I am happy for him, and for us.
For the next 16 weeks we fall into a pattern. We accomplish our training runs during the week, we get up early on Saturday's and run with the group. Every run for Bennett is now successful. We are in this together. It feels like something big. We talk about our bodies, how each run feels, what we are eating, whether to take energy supplements during the run. We have so many conversations about this commitment we have entered into. It brings us closer.
Race day draws near and we plan our days leading up to the race, and our celebration following the run. Bennett plans a party with big food for us and our two running friends. We decide to take public transportation rather than fight with nearly twenty thousand runners, bicyclists, and wheelchair athletes who will be competing on the same day.
We pack our bags the night before, dry clothes to change into, sandals for our feet, water and protein bars. We're up at 5am. We drive to the metro and there on a Sunday morning what would normal be an empty train is full of runners, half asleep runners. My excitement is so big it's hard for me to stay quiet. I am one of the happiest people on the train.
We get to the starting line and determine our positions. Bennett and I position ourselves at different places in the pack, me and my running mate more toward the front, Bennett comfortably a ways back. We pinpoint where to meet after the run and say our goodbyes. My run is challenging. Not in my body, in my head. Me and my running partner converse the whole way. I am grumpy for the first five miles. Maybe it's the crowd, maybe it's my doubt. I don't know but it stays with me until mile six. I begin to feel better. Mile seven is even better. I am starting to feel O.K. We are past ten miles and I know in the next mile I will see my Mother. I am motivated.
She's wearing a big sunhat sitting in a chair holding a big sign. "Go Linda, Go Bennett," it reads. I run over to her and thank her for supporting us. She asks about Bennett. I say he's a little bit behind me. I return to the race and we head to the finish.
We cross feeling strong, high fives for me and my runnin gmate. She leaves to go cheer on her husband who is running the full marathon. I head to the finishing line to watch Bennett arrive.
I am visited by worry. I see a picture of that pained face I witnessed early in our training. I think about him having a hard run. I hope he has a good day. I watch for his black running outfit. And then I see him. He's tall and stands out in the crowd. I watch him approach the finish line looking relaxed and confident. He is passing people. He looks strong.
I am jumping up and down screaming for him. He can't hear me, too many people. I meet up with him after he crosses, hand him a water bottle and ask him how he feels. He says, "I feel good. It felt good." I am so happy to hear his response.
We hydrate together, eat a banana and talk about the run. We stretch our bodies, change into dry clothes, put on our sandals and begin a slow walk toward the metro station. We are holding hands. I ask him to go slow. He does, but it's still too fast for my little legs. I ask him to slow even more. He bends towards me and I see his beautiful, soft face as he says, my slow is still too fast for you. He says this with great love and care. He slows down and we continue to move forward, the two of us, hand in hand. We cross the street and I glimpse a shadow of us on the ground. He is tall and I am a foot shorter. I see the two of us, holding hands and I know this is the image I will remember, the picture of my half marathon with him. This is the picture of us in this big thing together. And this is the vision of us as one.
Later that day he talks to another runner on the phone and announces to him, "I think we'll do it again next year." My heart smiles.– Linda Nusbaum
Nike Women’s Marathon - I read about the Nike Women’s Races in various magazines and they sounded kind of hokey to me. There are stops for “pedi-care” along the course, they give out chocolate bars instead of GU, and men in tuxes at the finish line hand out necklaces instead of medals. Nevertheless, my friend Bonnie L. gave a very enthusiastic recommendation to try out the marathon in San Francisco, so I put my name in the lottery at Active.com. There was no explanation as to how the lottery was conducted, and I believe the half-marathon was the more popular distance, but in any case, my number came up and I was selected for the marathon (as evidenced by the $125 charged to my credit card).
I participated in the AREC Saturday marathon training group runs as much as I could and I’m sure that helped keep me on track with training. I happened to be in Hawaii a few weeks before the race and did a long training run up hills and battling trade winds, which I think also helped in my preparations.
My family and I drove to San Fran on the Friday before the race. We are lucky enough to have relatives to mooch from in the city; otherwise, I definitely think it would be worth it to splurge on a hotel near the race start. The “expotique” was very crowded and held in a tent near the Nike store in Union Square. The race goodie bag was sparse (didn’t even have the toothpaste or the pain gels) and mostly contained coupons for shopping at local stores in Union Square. They handed out wrist bands that were meant to identify which coral to assemble at on the morning of the race. There were stations for manicures and massages, but it looked like only a few lucky early birds got a spot in the queue to get those freebies.
The morning of the race dawned foggy and cold. I got dropped off at Union Square by my sister-in-law (what a great hostess) and made my way to the porta potty lines, which were not bad. I then proceeded to the bag drop to get rid of my fleece sweatshirt. With fairly cold conditions, many people were waiting till the last minute. Bag check was not well organized and I was wishing I had worn something that I wouldn’t mind losing, but too late for that. After checking my stuff (which had to fit in the plastic bag distributed with your race number), I started jogging around the corner to the corals. I made about ten steps and met with a wall of people. It was an absolute scrum at the start. There was no way I could make it to my assigned starting coral. Since I waited till the last minute, there was no time to stress over this – the gun went off and the masses of humanity (almost all women) surged slowly toward the start. It took me four minutes to hit the chip timer and since this was a race of 20,000 people, I thought that was pretty good. I also thought the first mile was better than a lot of races in that I had no trouble getting around people and finding paths through the crowds. Most of the runners were women with some male coaches and a large percentage of Team-in-Training. The route out of the city and toward the coast was slightly downhill, which was a nice way to warm up. We hit the coast and ran toward the Golden Gate Bridge, up and down over numerous small but steep hills. If it had been sunny, it would have been a great view of the bridge around sunrise. It was foggy instead, which made for cool temps (high 50s to low 60s), and the view was still good, but not spectacular. As we headed around the headlands, the hills got steeper and longer. I spotted the 4:00 pacer around mile 9 and hung with her for ten miles. We came down a huge hill and hit the flats along the beach around mile 10. Shortly thereafter the half-marathoners split off toward their finish along the beach. The marathoners continued with more distance along the beach and a long loop through Golden Gate Park, then back to the beach to the finish. The second half of the marathon had some long inclines, but nothing too steep. There were some intermittent breezes, but not too bad and it stayed foggy and cool till early afternoon. Somewhere in the second half I got handed a pair of Nike socks and a Ghirardelli chocolate square, both of which I stuffed in a pocket and forgot about. I left the pacer at mile 19 and pulled out the last of my reserves to finish in 3:53 – the best marathon time I have logged since I became a Masters Runner.
Yes, there were firemen in tuxes handing out Tiffany boxes with finisher’s pendants, as well as banana suits handing out junior size Jamba smoothies. The finishers T-shirt was definitely tailored for women with a nice design – not sure what the male finishers got instead. They had plenty of food for the finishers and the bag retrieval process went smoothly so I got my fleece back with no problem. Overall I would say it was a good race and worth all the hype. If you like hills, as I do, then you will like this course and probably do well. If you prefer the half-marathon distance and want a challenging course, then this race may also be for you. And if you are a guy and don’t mind hanging with the ladies, or perhaps wantto meet some ladies, there were plenty of skirt racers and the odds are in your favor =) – Sandy Draper
The Legend of Bizz Johnson – Way back in the spring, when AREC announced the Long Beach Marathon training run series, people started talking about their goals and ambitions for a fall marathon. I heard talk of “running my first marathon” and “setting a new PR” and “qualifying for Boston.” It was great to spend time with people with such grand ambitions and goals and drive and energy. Our fearless trail run leader, Mark Fell, was talking about qualifying for Boston, but not at Long Beach. He had found a small race in Northern California that was a trail marathon and its website bragged about it being a “Boston Qualifier”. So he started chatting about it amongst the regulars on the AREC trail runs. By mid-summer, he had convinced 7 brave souls to accompany him to Susanville, CA, to run the Biz Johnson Marathon on the same day as the Long Beach Marathon. This group will forever remember the Legend of Biz Johnson: Claudia Torres, Roberta Bonafacio, Mark Sievert, Steve Lee, Rebecca Reindl, Liz Burger, and Dick Ames (that would be me).
If you went to their website, the run sounded fantastic: great scenery, fast, flat course on groomed trails, higher percentage of finishers qualifying for Boston than at the Chicago Marathon. The elevation profile showed a slight uphill until mile 7 and a slight downhill to the finish. So we trained long and hard through the summer to prepare for our little journey. Motel reservations were made, race registrations were sent in, flight reservations were made. Everything seemed in order, until late summer when Mark Fell announced that he couldn’t do the marathon due to injuries and surgery. Undaunted, the brave 7 soldiered on with promises to keep Mark up to date with frequent phone calls.
The Day Before:
Liz and I drove up, a pleasant, 9 hour drive into the mountains northwest of Reno. We kept driving uphill through lava-strewn high desert into pine-covered hills and it was very scenic. Claudia and Roberta flew to Reno and rented a car. Mark Sievert also flew to Reno and Rebecca picked him up on her drive through Mammoth. Liz and I drove around Lake Almanor and enjoyed the clear air and bright blue sky, but were concerned about how chilly it was. We stopped by a local Thrift Shop and loaded up on sweat pants and hats (wise move on our parts).
We all met for dinner on Saturday night in Susanville and had a great time telling stories and psyching ourselves up for the main event. Half way through dinner, Mark Siemonsma (aka FedEx Mark) showed up and now our merry band of marathoners numbered 8. Steve’s girlfriend had run the Half-Marathon on Saturday and told us stories of the terrain and scenery and trail. She mentioned that it had been “cold”, but I don’t think that it really settled in what she meant. Saturday night was a great time.
The marathon had a 7:30 a.m. start for the “early birds”. There were 162 runners that chose the early start, including Claudia, Roberta, Mark S., Steve and Rebecca. Liz, FedEx Mark and I chose the later start at 9:00 a.m., hoping that it might be a little warmer. As we gathered at the train depot to board the buses, there was frost on the grass and clouds of dense fog leaving everyone’s mouth. I don’t do well in the cold, and I had a bad feeling. We boarded the bus, and it took us 26 miles out of town and dropped us off in a clearing in the middle of the woods.
At 9:00 a.m. it was 27 freaking degrees. We found out later that it was 22 degrees at the 7:30 start. There were about 440 runners huddled around in small groups trying to share body heat and waiting until the very last minute before shedding extra clothes and trash bags. I started the race in tights, 3 layers of shirts, 2 pairs of gloves, a running hat and a ski cap over the top. I was cold, very cold.
Mile 1: I started way too far back in the pack, and am working my way forward, except the “groomed trail” is really two tire tracks with rocks and tree roots and branches, and it’s really tough making any headway. I can’t feel my toes or fingertips. I hit the end of mile 1 right on the pace I needed for Boston Qualifying Time.
Mile 2: still can’t feel my toes or fingers, finally get some clear space to run in and the trail starts going uphill. I hit the end of mile 2 still on pace, but I’m breathing really hard and I realize that the 5000 foot elevation is making 8:35 pace feel like 7:45 pace. I stop to walk and catch my breath and FedEx Mark goes by wearing long pajama pants to keep warm.
Mile 3-4: I hook up with a small group of runners going 8:30 pace, but I’m working pretty hard to keep up. I stop and walk and immediately start shivering, so I start running again to generate some body heat. Near the end of mile 4, I can feel all my toes, but 7 fingertips are still senseless.
Mile 6: Finally, I can feel all my fingertips, and I take off 1 glove on my left hand. Woo Hoo! There are aid stations every 2 miles. I start drinking Gatorade, but there is ice in each cup that I try. We have been running up a slight hill since the start and the thin air is very noticeable.
Mile 8: The fronts of my thighs start to hurt, like someone is beating on them with a baseball bat. I have never felt this type of pain before, and I assume it is due to the cold. We hit the top of the hill at mile 8 and begin a slight downgrade.
Mile 10: A long stretch of shade, and it gets cold again. My fingertips start to go numb again.
Mile 12: I decide its time for some of the Gu in my fanny pack, but I can’t get the zipper open with no feeling in my fingers. I stop and take the fanny pack off and open the zipper with my teeth. I can’t hold the Gu packet firmly with gloves on, so I take them off my right hand and rip the Gu packet open with my teeth. My Gu has ice crystals in it. It takes me 3 minutes to swallow frozen Gu and get my gloves and fanny pack back on.
Mile 13: my hamstrings start cramping due to the cold. My left fingers go numb again, but I dropped my second glove back at mile 12. I try running with my left hand stuffed in my tights. It’s pretty awkward and people are giving me strange looks.
Mile 14: my right hamstring tears and shooting pains start jumping up and down the back of my leg. I can jog about 200-300 yards, and then I have to walk for a while. Thankfully, the trail is getting smoother and you can feel a slight downgrade.
Mile 15-26: Jog 200 yards, walk 20 yards, jog 200 yards……This is taking forever. We go through a couple of very dark tunnels, with bright sun on the other side. I’m still not warm enough to take off any more clothes.
Last 0.2 miles: We turn off the former railroad track into a park, along a narrow path through pine trees and with some small hills that hurt like hell. Finally, the finish line chute and the end of the agony. I grab a mylar blanket and find a sunny spot to stand in. It is now 37 degrees. I am still wearing all the clothes I started in (except for the lost glove).
How did we do?
The winning time was 3:00:41. Which tells me that this course is ~45 minutes slower than a course like Long Beach. Boston Qualifier it is not.
Steve Lee made us proud with a 3:44. Missed Boston by 14 minutes, so he probably would have smoked Long Beach.
Mark Siemonsma did 4:02. Missed Boston by 32 minutes. I found him laid out on the ground, still dressed in his pajama pants and FedEx jacket.
Roberta did 4:35. She would have qualified at Long Beach.
Claudia did 4:35. She was hoping for a 4:15, and would have done that easily at Long Beach.
Liz did a 4:48. Missed Boston by 18 minutes, felt disappointed and left early. Found out later she finished first in her age group.
Rebecca did a 4:55. Had a wonderful time and really enjoyed her first marathon (so she says)
Mark S did a 5:07. Ran with Rebecca in the early going, not happy with his time, but would have done a 4:30 or so at Long Beach and would have been ecstatic.
I did a 4:24. Missed Boston by a whopping 39 minutes. Had the most miserable race of my life. But….(see below)
We all met for dinner on Sunday night, to lick our wounds and plan how we were going to punish Mark Fell for getting us into this mess. As the evening wore on, and the pitchers got empty, the mood changed. We all realized that we had just survived a glorious adventure, that we were all safe and warm and no one got seriously hurt, and that we would have stories to tell and a bond that would last for a long time. Sunday night was a great time.
Will we do Biz Johnson again? Hell No!
Is the Biz Johnson Marathon a Boston Qualifier? Hell No!
Is the Biz Johnson website full of exaggeration and bullshit? Hell Yes!
Are we going to get even with Mark Fell? Someday, some how, Hell Yes!
Are we better friends for having shared this experience? Hell Yes! – Dick Ames
241 Down, ??? To Go – After all of the excitement about other AREC members’ recent marathon achievements, I figured that I had better do one too! So I participated in the recent Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on Sunday, 28October2008.
Since I am well known within AREC for my timely and insightful race reports (uh, yeah, right ...) I figured I would once again try my hand at recounting a tale. So without further ado:
The night before the marathon, I gave a seminar on marathon running and coaching. Everyone posed intelligent and thought-provoking questions. I am not sure how intelligent and thought-provoked my answers were, but all the folks left happy. I then went to McDonald's for a pre-race meal of Double Cheeseburgers and a couple McChicken sandwiches -- hey, I had a gift card! Then I watched Penn State beat Ohio State in NCAA football. (Now -- Go Mountaineers!!)
After sleeping with two guys from England, one from Denmark, and two girls from Germany -- oh what a night!! (at the really cool hostel!), I took the tube to the start, hung out a bit, and took a couple pictures.
The race was nice and there were lots of runners and walkers. I saw a few folks I know along the way (and they admitted to knowing me) and had a fun time. My high school friend Jack (we were co-Valedictorians), his son Michael, and Labradoodle Winnie were kind enough to meet up with me at Mile 23. I am rarely very fast, but I asked Jack, who was following my progress with electronic tracking, how I was doing. He said that I was doing well and getting faster with each split. Until I stopped for 25 minutes to visit him, that is!! I figured that if they went through all of that effort to see me, I was not just going to blow by them!!
My twin sister Tina drove from our hometown of Berkeley Springs, West (by God) Virginia - where I had been visiting and returned to afterward - and met me at 25.5. We hung out for a few more minutes then I finished up at the Iwo Jima Memorial. It was cool.
I took it easy throughout the event and had fun visiting with everyone and hanging out. And I still finished before dusk!
So what’s next? There are many great events out there and it will be fun to choose. Maybe I will see you out there?? – Todd Byers Todd at the Marine Corps Finish
I enjoyed seeing all of you out there training for the marathon. Now it’s time to start training for trails and getting ready for whatever race you want to run in 2009! – Emmett Rahl