I had to whip my phone out at mile three as we started running ocean-side

Marathon number eight – it’s done, just like that. Much to my surprise, it was quite “flawless.” My husband (Joe) and I flew out to California from Traverse City on the 19th without delays or travel issues (What?!) Historically, I’ve traveled to races the day before the event and dislike doing that. There’s too much that can go wrong – flight delays, cancellations, etc. I like to have a “buffer day” in there, so two days before race day is perfect for me.

As mentioned, I ran this race with my brother (Bryan) and his girlfriend (Lauren) who live in California. This was Lauren’s first marathon and Bryan’s fourth. We hit packet pickup and the race expo on the 20th. We all felt a surge of adrenaline and anxiety at the expo – 4.5 months of training and there was nothing left to do but run the race. There’s nothing quite like people shoving samples of Gu in your face to let you know it’s go-time. The rest of that day was spent jet-skiing and kayaking in the sun (not a bad way to spend the day before a race !)

Now enter race day. I had a 3:50am wake up for a 6:15am start time. I am always excessively early for races. The difficult part was that no one else in my group felt the need to be at the race an hour and a half before the gun went off. We compromised with a 5:30am arrival. For breakfast I had one cup of coffee, half an english muffin, and half an omelette. I consumed one packet of UCAN while at the starting line, about 30 minutes before the race started. Joe came to cheer us off, as did Lauren’s parents.

Around mile two I felt a strange headache creep in. I realized that I had only one cup of coffee that morning. (I have an awful habit of averaging four cups per day.) That was a pretty easy thing to shake off, though. The race started near a shopping plaza, took runners through the adorable Village of Carlsbad, then at mile three, we were rewarded with the amazing view of the Pacific for the entirety of the rest of the race. We ran out with the Pacific on our right until mile 9, then looped back towards the Village with the Pacific on our left until mile 15. We then again turned around and ran out until mile 20, where it was then time to turn around and take it back to the finish line. Due to the looping, I got to see Bryan and Lauren three times on the course – super helpful for a boost of energy and excitement!

My fueling strategy during the race consisted of another UCAN packet in my handheld bottle and two Spring Energy packets. I only tolerate citrus flavored fuel while running. It is my personal opinion that those who consume chocolate flavored fuel while running are complete sociopaths (kidding, kind of). I also brought salt tablets with me. I didn’t count how many I consumed, but I believe it was around 10. My tongue is still raw from that, but they make such a difference in helping me sustain energy. I also utilized the aid stations – grabbing water or electrolytes every few miles.

Around miles 16-17 I felt amazing. Like the super great, too good to be true, kind of amazing. I thought about pushing harder and really quickening my pace for the final 10 miles, but reminded myself of the old quote, “The marathon is split into two halves. The first half is 20 miles. The second half is 6.2 miles.” I also told myself to stay humble. It was too early to expend that much energy. And man, I’m glad my logical side kicked in. Around mile 21 I felt everything – the brain fatigue, stiff legs, and a left knee pain started.

However, around mile 22 I realized that I was likely going to get a significant PR. I ran this race in 2014 and finished in 4:17. My marathon PR before this was 3:59 (Bayshore). But at mile 22, I realized I was going to pretty easily crush both those personal records. I finished in 3:49:19 – a 10 minute PR! This was completely unexpected. I guess I should follow my training plans more often (Ha!) Joe was right at the finish line to cheer me through. I then got to watch Bryan and Lauren finish – there is nothing quite so exciting as watching someone complete their first marathon.

After the race, we went to a delightful place called Pizza Port for some IPAs and food. After my excessive pizza intake, we all took a giant nap (obviously). The day after the race we went for a hike to attempt to loosen up our stiff bodies. The hike’s ascend felt decent, but I definitely felt the weariness in my legs coming down.

It was an amazing trip. I wasn’t expecting a PR and I’m so grateful I was able to run Lauren’s first marathon with her and that Bryan was able to run it too. I am so proud of them both. As always, I’m sad it’s over. I have the ‘post race day depression’ that I’ve mentioned many times in the past. Crazily enough, the only thing I have on my 2020 race calendar now is the Bayshore Half Marathon. What else should I add? I need some more excitement in my future!

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