Thursday, November 11, 2010

Long Beach Half Marathon...A Humbling Experience!

The moment I crossed the finish line at the Disneyland Half Marathon, I knew it! I was hooked! I wanted to feel this moment again! I wanted to put myself through another arduous 13.1 miles just to feel that rush at the end. It’s an indescribable feeling that can only be summed up as moment of pure joy in an “OMG did I really just run 13 miles?!” type of way.

The next local event was the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon and Half. I knew I wasn’t in any way ready for a full so I decided to register for the half. With just seven weeks till this event, I figured I’d done all the training and all I really needed was to continue a short 3 to 5 miles during the week and I’d be good…WRONG!

Well they say everyone has a bad run and this was certainly mine. But let’s stray away from the negative here and talk about how great this event was. Having once called Long Beach my second home, I was super excited to be part of this #runLB as it was referred to on Twitter. I met so many great people from all the conversations surrounding this marathon. I found out about cute sparkly skirts from @teamsparkle—a must have for my next run! I also met a fellow Latina runner from South Pasadena, (where I work), @mami2audrey and had just found all-around great support from my running Tweeps. BTW you are all awesome! @Run2SaveLives, @TidbitsofTara, @RunnerLuis, @goingforgoofy, @EndurancePro...and the list go on! Thank you for your tips, encouragement, and advice along the way!

Saturday morning, I made my way to the expo for packet pick up via the metro which was a bit ummm…interesting to say the least. We got to the LB Convention Center where I made a beeline to the packet pick up, grabbed some Clifshots, an awesome Run Long Beach shirt, looked around a bit and left. On our way back to the train stop, we happened to meet the sweetest couple Marianne and Randy from Arizona. Randy had done numerous marathons over the years and his wife started joining him and running halfs. They were the most down to earth people who also happened to be foodies just like Shaun and I. “You have to try this place Gaffey’s in San Pedro,” they said. Shaun and I both looked at each other, “Gaffeys! We love that place!” What a small world! It also turned that Marianne was born in Downey, where Shaun and I are both from. We chatted till it was time for us to get off and left thinking what a pleasant pair those two were.

Race day was here and I felt more ready than ever. I wasn’t at all nervous this time which kind of worried me. My mom and stepdad refused to let me take the train as I’d done the day before at such an early hour. My stepdad dropped me off at 6:30 and said, “Please walk with other people so you’re not walking alone.” Yes, my parents still worry about me. You have to be grateful for that.

As I got closer to the start line, I thought I’d better get to a Port-o-potty just in case. On my way there, I ran into the friends we’d made the day before, Marianne and Randy! With so many people there and I had happened to spot them! We gave each other a big hug and wished each other luck. It was so good to see them…such positive energy!

I quickly proceeded to the start line and got stuck in corral 6. Oh well. I figured I’d make my way up while running; in my mind I was going to break my last PR. I was determined. Shaun had even given me a great incentive, 2:14:30 or under and he’d pay for my next marathon (almost four minutes under my last time). I was ready!

I happened to chat with a few people while we waited. The running community is just so great, full of really good vibes! I loved it. What seemed like hours had passed, and we were off! Mile one went by pretty fast or so I thought. The mile markers for the 5k were still out on the course which had caused a bit of confusion. Mile one was not as close as I thought. When I made my way to the real mile 1, I still felt good. As I got to the end of mile 3, I started to feel really weird. I felt like I had eaten or drank too much. I felt heavy and full. I knew this was not going to be a good run. Mile 4, 5, and 6 seemed like a blur. But every mile after that, I felt in my body and not in a good way. By mile 7 I was spent! If I could drop an EF bomb here, I would! I still have more than 6 miles to go!!!!!!!!!!!! Why is my body doing this? Did I eat wrong? Did I get overconfident in my running? Should I have done more long runs? What was happening!?!? I kept having to tell myself to suck it up! I felt my body just give out completely and there I was at mile 7, WALKING! I felt so disappointed. I wanted to just go home and not finish. Breaking my PR was definitely NOT going to happen.

This race was so different, nothing like my first time at all. The big difference this time, Team In Training. I felt so alone this time on the course. Sure there were people there cheering you on which was great but it just did not feel the same like having hundreds of people on the course sporting the same shirt, fighting for the same thing…to end cancer. I will never forget my first race with Team In Training-a truly memorable experience. Thank you...and GO TEAM!

I promised myself I would start running again by mile 8 and I did but I was still bothered by my run. It was horrible but I had to keep going. By mile 9 I was walking again but not for too long. I felt a pat on my back and someone asking, “Hey how are you doing?” It was a woman I had met at the start line. I was honest and told her that I was exhausted and that I’d done horrible. She said, “Don’t worry, at least you’re doing it and that’s all that matters.” Her words gave me a gust of energy and I was running again. Then I got to mile 10 and again still feeling drained. As I passes mile 10, I recall seeing an old woman in a wheelchair handing out water but she was not doing it alone. She was so worn down by her age, she could not hold her hand out. An old man stood beside her helping guide her arm (I assume her husband), extending it out to give to the runners. This moment was so picture-perfect and touching...there I was having my breakdown moment thinking how beautiful love is and all that it endures over time. For those of you who have run a marathon before, they say it is a really emotional experience. For some reason, this moment right here was where I felt it. I passed the couple and smiled as I ran.

The last half mile was the hardest. By the time I saw the finish line, I looked down at my watch in horrible disappointment. I was reaching the 2:30 mark…final time 2:30:58. I didn’t break my PR, nor did I make the time I promised myself I would. But, I learned a great lesson…here it is…IF YOU THINK RUNNING IS EASY, IT’S NOT SO NEVER TAKE YOUR LEGS FOR GRANTED, HIT THE PAVEMENT AND TRY HARDER NEXT TIME!!! When I run, I think of my dad and how he can't walk (struck by polio at age 2). It gives me the strength and motivation to know that I run just because I can, whereas there are others who can't. I love you dad!

After crossing the finish line, I walked over to get my medal. As lovely as it was, I was still disappointed. I beat myself up the next few days after but I’m done crying! Arizona Rock and Roll, you’re mine! Till then, I’m putting down those miles and chalking this up to a great humbling experience! In life and in running, we live, we learn, and move forward…one step at a time.

Oh and that couple I mentioned earlier, Marianne and Randy, hopefully we will get to see them again on our trip to Arizona. We've kept in touch since Long Beach. :)


  1. Great recap!

    Running is a tricky thing. You think you've got it figured out and you get humbled. You think a race is going to be too much to overcome and you set a PR. What a crazy thing, but that's what makes it fun. Never a dull moment.

    The best thing about your medal is that you earned it. Run, walk, crawl, drag, however you get across the finish line, getting across the finish line is what matters.

    With regards to walking, I would say to not think of it as a negative or as a sign of weakness. I ran the LB Half in under two hours and I took about six walk breaks; they were each about 20-40 seconds maybe but it helped. And to compare it to my first 13.1 mile race (when I thought walking meant weakness) I stopped just once, to tie my shoes in the second mile, and I finished that one in 2:14:50. Guess which race I felt like I'd been hit by a freight train afterward? Yeah, the one with no walk breaks. I was sore for days after that race.

    Anyway, just some food for thought.


    (btw I'm @RunnerLuis from twitter in case you were wondering)

  2. Thank you so much for your feedback! I sincerely appreciate it and you're absolutely right about was indeed a humbling experience (I may change the name of this entry now btw). Marathons are a lot of fun and it really is the challenge that makes them so exciting! Again, I thank you!

  3. I am so proud of you Julie! Despite the disappointment, which I know well, you still made it under 3 hours. I loved reading this especially because of my current back injury. I don't know when I'll be able to run again and if I could run an endurance race. I am living vicariously through you. You can do it!

  4. You did it! You finished!

    We all have bad runs. Not many people can say they've run two halfs in the short time you did. Be proud! You are awesome and your next run will definitely be better.

    Thanks for the shout out ( ;