Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh the Humanity!

I think that best describes Sunday morning. Wave after wave after wave of people. All of us with the same goal.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. For me, the morning started out at 3:50. I woke up before either of my alarms went off. Call it pre-race jitters. It was nice and warm under the covers, and since the coffee maker wasn't set to turn on until 4:00, I did the wise thing that my years of experience have taught me and rolled over for a few more moments of bliss. Finally, around 4:15 I yanked myself out of bed and grabbed some coffee. Since everything had been set out the night before, getting ready was easy, even in my groggy state. I found the Body Glide and applied it liberally to all those troublesome places - inner thighs, soles of my feet, and, um, mid chest. I got dressed just like I had practiced the night before. My morning started nice and relaxed, and I was out the door at 4:45.

First stop? Do you folks actually think I'm kidding about my pre-race breakfast? (Gosh - they *do* look like animal turds though):

With apple fritter and coffee in hand, I headed on down the freeway to my pre-paid parking spot. I had about a half mile walk to the festivities, so I gathered by bag, put on my runner's raincoat (to stay warm) and joined the others walking south. I got to the start area just as the cyclists took off at 6 AM.

I was now officially nervous. I put the rest of my gear on and got my bag checked in. I wandered through the gathering crowds and socialized with a few folks that I knew (Ron and Paul whom I had met the night before, Cindy and Kelly from Cal Coast).

Next, I positioned myself near the back of the 4th wave, turned my Garmin on, popped a couple of Endurolytes, and took a seat on the curb and relaxed. I was actually suffering from a mean case of butterflies. To the point that I was wondering if my first dash was going to be back to the porta potties. I tried to take my mind off my situation. I noticed for the first time that it was light out. Overcast and comfortable. Perfect running weather!

It wasn't but 10 minutes later when the starter called the first wave to the line, and the start gun sounded. Each time the gun sounded, we would inch forward in anticipation of the start. Finally at 7:15 it was our turn. Bang! Wave 4 was off. As San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome would be saying, "whether you like it or not!" (inside joke for us Californians). I was committed. Marathon 2 was underway.

The first three miles of the course were out and back and looping and every which way along the streets that the Long Beach Grand Prix runs on. The number of people were amazing. Everywhere I looked all I could see were people.

The highlight at mile 3 was my first gel/Endurolyte pack to be washed down with water from the Hooter's water station. I was so focused that I didn't even realize who was handing me the water! Oh well. Next time I'll have to pay attention.

Mile 1: 10:54
Mile 2: 10:38
Mile 3: 11:06
Avg pace: 10:53. Dead on!

At mile 4 we hit our first "hill" as we crested an overpass to drop back into downtown. There were still people everywhere!
So now, cue up embarassing moment #1. I'm running along sweating like a pig. Next thing I notice, some cutie is running next to me and gives me a big hug! It was Ingrid! I guess she had been following me on her bike for a while. I had basically tuned everything out so in her last ditch effort to say hi she had to hop off her bike! She passed along the news that she would be cheering me on at mile 19 with sandwiches! I guess I was committed now!

The next two miles had us running through Rainbow Harbor and the Pike with it's restaurants and tourist attractions. And it's concrete brick paths. And with waves of humanity. Still.

Somewhere along this stretch I remember hitting a mean headwind. I also remember stepping aside and getting a picture of the old versus the new. Even though it was going to cost me some time, it's not everyday I see this kind of stuff. Man those new cruise ships are gigantic!

Mile 4: 10:38
Mile 5: 10:29
Mile 6: 11:53 (includes potty stop)
Avg pace after 6 miles: 10:57

Eventually we made it out of Rainbow Harbor and onto the boardwalk. To be more accurate, the concrete sidewalk. And more humanity. At this point I was catching up with some of the slower runners. Passing became a real problem due to the crowds on the path. I was being held back, but passing meant being like Joe Frazier and doing the old bob and weave.

Cue up embarassing moment #2 here. I'm running along minding my own business. George Clinton and P-Funk in my ears (by the way B.o.B. and DMZ - this was the *only* music that worked for me on Sunday). I look to my left and see a sign that says something to the effect "Go Danica, Ron, Zach, Shelley, Glenn". I thought to myself - how odd that someone would be cheering for a bunch of folks with names the same as some that I know. Then about half a mile later - DOH!!!!! It was Nina (@ncjack) cheering us on. How rude of me to not even stop and thank them! So thanks Nina!

Mile 7: 10:52
Mile 8: 11:01
Mile 9: 10:43
Avg pace after 9 miles: 10:55. Looks like this might be doable!

In a couple of miles we would be making the big split from the Half Marathoners. I downed a gel and popped a couple of Endurloytes at mile 9 and pushed on along the boardwalk. At mile 10 we made a 180 degree turn and headed back toward downtown. For the first time I was feeling fatigue in my legs. It was really disheartening. All the training and all the miles and here I am no different than I was back in May when I started fatiguing at mile 10. I fought on through as we made our way up the slight incline to "The Split" at Mile 11.

Then an amazing sight. As I am passing the mile 11 mark, here come the leaders going the other direction. Wow. Just wow.

I continued lumbering up the mild incline between miles 11 and 12 when there they were! Our own Runner's World cheering section! This time Ingrd had a rider (Renee) on her cargo bike and our own L.A. Runner was pedalling along! What a site for sore eyes! They were ringing bells, cheering, clapping, holding up signs. What a hoot! Ingrid stopped while Renee jumped off the bike to cheer some other people along - so that was my queue to take a quick sidetrip across the oncoming runners to catch Ingrid for her obligatory photo! (P.S. - This won't be the last you hear about her and Renee).

Mile 10: 11:24
Mile 11: 11:09
Mile 12: 10:57
Avg pace after 12 miles: 10:59

At this point we entered the Long Beach Marine Stadium. A long mile out and back. The pain was starting to be a problem. For the first time since mile 4 we were off the concrete. For the first time I also started doubting. I could feel the 4:45 leaving me. I hit the Half mark at 2:23 and change - about 30 seconds slower than goal. But the pain! The pain! Doubt was setting in.....

Tomorrow - the second half and then some.


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  2. "Oh the Humanity" is right! Now I want to know about the second half! What a cliffhanger, Glenn....

    Still, you completed a marathon, and that is awesome by itself. You rock!

    By the way, those apple fritters DO look like turds! Sorry! It totally made me laugh though. :)
    (And I accidentally deleted my comment, oops)

  3. Apple Fritters looking like turds? Looks like the best tasting turd I could ever eat? What am I saying?:)

    Looks like a fun race.

    How was the humidity?

  4. Glenn- how could you?? You're killing me! I was so absorbed in your story (while munching on gingerbread cookies my husband just made lol) that I was not prepared at all for the TUNE IN TOMMOROW! I don't want to wait. It's not good to make a redhead wait ya know! ; - ) Christine

  5. Sounds like a great first half!! Can't wait for the next part! I can't believe you ate apple fritters before the race!!

  6. See? I would TOTALLY eat an apple fritter and a cup of coffee before a marathon. Awesome!
    Can't wait to hear about the next half. ;)

  7. Very nice running weather! How fun, it reminds me of last year but not as warm. The fritters looked delicious, great pre-race food.

  8. Looking forward to part two! !!! I just ran my first in Chicago on Sunday and miles 15 and 16 were killers for me. It all went so fast! How do you remember all the detail? I ned to try to right my story out before it is all a blur.

  9. You are leaving us hanging! Dang! I can't take the suspense!!!

    very cool that you had so many supporters though. can't wait to read the rest.

    and those fritters do look like animal poop. lol!

  10. To be continued? How do you sleep at night?!?!!?

  11. Felt like we were with you every step of the way. The wave start is something they didn't have when I ran it. Sounds like a good addition.

  12. It's great that you had your own personal cheering section. By the way, apple fritters are some of my favorite pastries. I'm right there with you.

  13. You are SOOOOO Cruel!!!!! I want to read more now! :)

    That is incredibly awesome you had so much support in the first half!!

    You know what I am going to do now? Google Endurolytes!! How do I not know about these things? How did they work?

    I can't wait for tommorow!

  14. If I ate an apple fritter before running, I don't think I'd make it out of the Porta Potty...

  15. lol about pretty much 'missing' all your fans. you were just in the zone! what a healthy breakfast!!

  16. You're right about you said aka alice, I too think that I can't go out of porta-potties if I ate apple fritters or any other that can make me want to go to the restroom