Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirteen miles is a Long Way

An appropriate observation for someone who tries to run a Half Marathon while inadequately trained….

Long Beach Half Marathon 2010 from Glenn Jones on Vimeo.

Now for all the sordid details…..


My adventure started on Saturday afternoon. Expo time! This time one thing was different. My oldest son was joining me on his first Half Marathon. We arrived at the expo a little after 4PM. A tribute to the Run Racing organization – for a major race (25,000 or so participants), the expo was incredibly smooth. We were literally in and out in less than an hour. There were *just* enough of the *right* kind of exhibitors to make the expo interesting. We walked through the aisles, collected some samples, and had a chuckle at the people buying new shoes for Sunday’s race (really).


Next up was the highlight for any Running Fat Guy. Pasta! Long story short – I found out this year that the restaurant that we used for last year’s Long Beach dinner is owned by an old junior High School friend’s husband. So – after a little phone tag, I set up dinner at La Parolaccia Osteria Italiana a couple miles from the expo. Blog pals Running Green Girl and a friend, Penny and her dad, akaAlice along with Walter the the herd, Jay, Mags and twitter friends @ridgeley and @tanyamr and her husband all settled in for an evening of friends and food.


Finally, with a full stomach and a couple of yawns, my son and I hit the sack for a few hours of sleep before the big day.


Race Day

The day dawned early. Not bright. Just stinking early. We were out the door at 4:45 for the 40 minute drive up the freeway to Long Beach. We hit our prepaid parking spot a little after 5:30 AM, geared up and walked the roughly half mile to the start area. We hit the porta potties (there must have been 50 of them) just as the bikes were starting at 6AM. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a big race where there weren’t 20 minute lines for the porta potties an hour before start time!

100_0001_WMV V9_0001

The morning was overcast with a slight drizzle at times and temperatures in the low 60’s. Really a perfect day for a race. My son and I sat for a few minutes on the grass and discussed race strategy. Finally, about 20 minutes before start, he moved up to the front of wave 3 with the 4:00 pace group, while I moved to the back of wave 4 with the 5:00 runners.Who did I run into? No one other than my pal Slomohusky! (By the way – I now know the secret behind the name “Slomohusky”).We had a great time visiting. Then at 7:00 AM the elites started. Fifteen minutes later, Wave 4 got our starting horn. Five minutes later I crossed the start line. We were on our way.

Excitement – Miles 1 through 6

My plan was no secret. Keep it easy. Keep it slow. So it wasn’t long before Slomo left me in his dust. I ran into Jay in the first couple of miles and wished him well. The first three or four miles of the course goes by pretty quickly as we ran several loops through the harbor. At mile 4 we climb the only “hill” on the course as we headed up an overpass and back into Downtown.

100_0010_WMV V9_0001

The next couple of miles run through Downtown and Rainbow Harbor, where the crowd support was outstanding!

100_0015_WMV V9_0001

Throughout this part of the race, I had been watching myself and holding my pace down. I had been averaging around a 10:30 at this point. My knee, which had been the subject of  much consternation the prior weeks, seemed to be behaving with my new knee strap. I was sweating pretty profusely though – something no doubt brought on by lack of conditioning and the near 100% humidity.

Mind Numbing Boredom – Miles 6 through 9

A little past the 10K point on the course, we moved onto the beach path. In my opinion, this is the worst part of the course. For the next three miles we ran, sometimes four abreast, on a beach path to never changing scenery. If you’re not from California I can see how this part of the course might be interesting – after all you are running along the beach. But, to be honest – the water isn’t really the open Pacific, but just the inside of the harbor. So – no crashing waves, no dolphins, just man made islands hiding some oil wells. Oh well. Head down.

100_0017_WMV V9_0001

It was about mile 8 that I first started feeling pretty fatigued. About mile 7 or so I broke out into a brisk walk, and had that sinking feeling in my stomach that the end was near. Sure enough – by mile 9 I was toast. My body was telling me how foolish I was for doing this. Even the soles of my feet hurt from some obviously work out shoes smacking the concrete for almost two hours.

The End is Near – Miles 10 through the Finish

Just as mind numbingly boring as miles 6 through 9 were, miles 10 and beyond are probably the most exciting on the Half  Marathon course. We once again picked up crowd support and the closer I got to the finish, the more electricity there was in the air. Unlike last year where I was on my death march on this part of the course, this year I was walking/jogging and enjoying the sights and sounds. We approached “The Split” past mile 10 where the marathoners hang a right to visit the sights of the rest of Long Beach and us halfers continue to the finish.

100_0021_WMV V9_0001

All I know is at this point I was pretty much mentally done as well. At my pace the  finish was 3 miles and 45 minutes away. You’re sooooooo far away from me! But – there wasn’t a whole lot I could do except grin and bear it. So I grinned. Finally in the distance the last left turn into the finish. I remembered that last push into the finish at the end of last year’s full. The feeling of exhilaration as I got my feet moving. This year? Not so much. I broke into a jog and watched my heart rate spike into the nether regions. So – I had to back off again and so gingerly traipse into the finish chute. But hey. I finished. I earned my medal. Bling!

100_0028_WMV V9_0001

Post Mortem

I first started running two and a half years ago. My first marathon was two years ago this January. At that time I was not in shape at all. I had no idea what a training plan was. I went our and ran three or four days a week. And I finished my first Half Marathon in 2:24. This weekend? How does 3:07 grab ya? But, I’m not disappointed because I was able to make sure my #1 goal was achieved – I finished in one piece. Three days later I’m sitting here with a pain free knee. So I think I accomplished what I set out for.

What’s next for me is to take the remainder of this week off. On Monday I’m starting my road back to fitness. Most likely with a rest day (par for the course)….



    AWESOME job on goal setting completion and ROCKING IT.


  2. So glad the knee is holding up Glenn. Good planning on starting with a rest day!

  3. I am so glad that your knee isn't bothering you. It sounds like you're figuring out some ways to manage it. Even though your time wasn't what it was a couple of years ago, you went out and finished a half marathon, which is always an accomplishment. Plus, you say in your profile that you're trying to keep things fun and it seems like you accomplish that even when things don't go your way. I always enjoy reading your recaps and watching your videos (although I couldn't get this one to load in China).

    How did things go for your son?

  4. Congrats on an awesome race, you totally should NOT be disappointed!! The best news is the knee is holding up!

  5. Congrats! A finish is a finish and that is something to be incredibly proud of :) I'm glad to hear that your knee is pain free now too. Woohoo!

  6. Glad to hear the knee is acting normal! I too have embarked on that road. Good luck with the comeback!

  7. congrats on finishing! after all you've been through this summer it's definitely an accomplishment that you were able to start and finish the race. enjoy some much needed downtime and dont be in a rush to jump back into things. seriously, low mileage can be fun too! :) i am personally really enjoying my "30-min/day" rule and the flexibility of doing any workout instead of just mileage. sometimes we just need a change of pace or mindset. hope you can find a system that works for you!

  8. One of the biggest motivators to get our training back on track is a race we aren't very happy about because we know we an do better. I'm glad you knee is doing ok, rest up and you'll get your groove back. Congrats on finishing, I know that wasn't easy and there's something to be said about running that far with so little training. You are incredibly strong!

  9. Great job on the half! And glad the knee is feeling better! I wish mine would shape up soon!

  10. Congrats on finishing Glenn! That is a huge accomplishment and you know it:) Loved the pictures and race report! Take care of that knee and enjoy the weekend!

  11. Very happy that your knee held up. You finished it without messing up knee, which is what counts. Way to go. :)

  12. Nice video!! And you laughed at me when I tweeted you the photo of all those port o'potties.

    Whatever time the cyclists passed the Queen Mary, it was very pretty, barely light out. I was also impressed by the energy of the water stop volunteers. They were great with us cyclists because they had to hand us water much more carefully than if we were running. Peeps on the sidelines cheering, too.

    Sounds like you've had a good rest week, take it easy getting back at the running.

  13. I vividly recall that boring crowded beach section.

    Good job on making it thru!!!

    Take care of yourself.

  14. Now I have that song in my head!!!!

    I love the video. It looks like you enjoyed the journey. :)

  15. I'm impressed with the smart way to handled this!

  16. I would call this race a success!

    LOVED the video!!

  17. Congrats on both finishing the half and also managing to hold the camera relatively level and simultaneously appearing not to break stride.

    What a great idea to put something like that together!

  18. I was wondering why the video featured music from War but you answered that for us. And I agree with the others: you did an admirable job under the circumstances.

  19. Nice memories - thanks for the pics and video - great meeting you in person. :)

  20. Great vid!

    I am a bot like you some of my oldest races have y best times...especially my marathon PR, oh well!

  21. I love the video you enjoying it. Take a rest and comeback soon.
    pearl izumi