My second marathon is in the books and after a few days since running it, I’m ready to recap it!
I ran the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon June 5th. I chose this course because it is a net downhill and it was relatively local to where we live. I was hoping to chase down a sub 2:50 time. While I was a few minutes off from this goal, I’m still super proud of this race and all the work that went into making it happen.
I ran a 2:56:47 (6:38 average pace) and I was the 2nd female by just 34 seconds and overall placed 27th in race. The course was also longer than 26.2 miles because the lead pack was led in the wrong direction within the first few miles. It was about .4 longer. So if we are getting precise here, my time at 26.2 miles was 2:54:02. I like the sound of that better so I’m going to go with that time. Update: the race did adjust times based on pace, so my new adjusted time is 2:54:21.
For me and I think a lot of people who choose to run marathons, the race is always much more than just a marathon. And in this case, the race was literally more than a marathon. Time and place of course matter to me, but I think what I’ll remember more about this race are the small details. The quiet moments by myself where I pushed. The small decisions to let people pass and run my own race. The beat of the drums where I got a boost of energy around 22 miles. The focus, confidence, and strength I possessed for these 26 miles is something I’ll carry with me.
I love the process of marathon running. It gives me something. It reminds me of a former self, yet gives me the room to be my present self in the midst of motherhood. In the middle of raising boys, nursing, and running on broken sleep, I can be right in the pack of men and compete.
I actually have quite a lot to say about this race. A small percentage is how the race actually went (pace, time, place). The larger picture of this race is really something that cannot be measured my numbers. It’s so personal, so internal. It’s hard to even find the words, but I’ll do my best.
The Day Before the Race
Okay so a big takeaway from the whole race weekend is how traveling with kids for a race is tough. For the SF marathon, Lance and I traveled solo and it was actually a really nice and relaxing weekend (minus the whole marathon part). The day before the race, we slept in, went to the movies and had the time to really focus on the upcoming race. This time around, Lance and I had our two boys and things were not quite as relaxing. We went to the Expo and even got to drive the course; however, the majority of the day involved a lot of easing tantrums and nursing our sweet 1-year old that is more attached to me than ever.
Lance was amazing and did SO much to make this weekend about me and my race, yet it still was tough to fully focus on it when the whole family is along for the ride. And while Lance and I had a couple moments of regretting making this a whole family ordeal, I am very thankful the boys were with me. This is the type of balance I have been longing for since college running. In college, I struggled with everything being about running + racing. Now, things are very much not all about running. It is a small percentage of my life, but a very good part of it. It feels balanced.
For dinner, we got takeout from an Italian place and ate with our friends on the tennis courts outside our hotel room. Our kids ran around, threw rocks (and spaghetti) everywhere, and then we called it a night. I tried to go to sleep with the boys at 7:30 pm, but it was too early and I was too nervous. I just laid there and eventually fell asleep around 9:30.
Morning of Race
Alarm went off at 3am and I pretty quickly popped out of bed. My general rule is that I want to be up 3 hours before a race. Race started at 6am, so 3am alarm. We also needed to be at shuttle at 4am.
I quickly got dressed and heated up my Whole Foods coffee that Lance picked up the night before. My pre-race breakfast is always a bowl of oatmeal, peanut butter and sliced banana. I packed this in a container and brought it with me to eat on the shuttle.
The last thing I needed to do before we left was nurse Thatcher. Since I’m still regularly nursing him, I knew that I would need to nurse him at 3:30, right before I left. It did feel strange to have “nurse the sleeping baby” on my pre-race checklist, but hey, things are different now.
My amazing mom came over to our room to be with boys and Lance drove Jack (our friend) and I over to downtown Ventura where we hopped into a school bus heading to Ojai.
The rest of the morning went smoothly. I was pretty nervous so struggled getting breakfast down. I took small bites most of the morning until about an hour and a half before the race. Unfortunately at the start line I started feeling hungry again. Race also started about 15 minutes late which did not help.
While I was a little cold and a little hungry, I mostly felt pretty calm standing on the start line. I got to see all of my family. Lance was AMAZING for getting the boys up and everyone at the start line before 6am. It was so special to have them and my parents and sister all there.
I was ready!
[6:26, 6:36, 6:45, 6:40, 5:48, 6:15]
This was definitely my fastest part of the race. I really tried to not get too excited and stay patient, but these first six miles I was the first female. It was hard to not get carried away with everyone cheering “first female!!!” and “You go, girl!!!” I soaked up all the energy and somehow ran a 5:48 in the 5th mile. I wish I held back a little in this section because I could tell that the uneven splits and faster paces tired me out early on. I felt fine, but it was a bit too fast, too early. I do not fully regret it, these were some fun miles and it felt really great to be so cheered on. I found a small pack of guys and stuck with them for a couple miles. It was around the 5 mile mark that in that group we talked about how distance was already off.
I took my first Maurten gel right at the 5-mile mark. I also should have planned a better way to carry all 4 of my gels + package of salt sticks. I ended up carrying all the gels in my hands because it was too much in my sports bra.
[6:19, 6:33, 6:32, 6:48, 6:20, 6:47]
It was around mile 8 or 9 that a woman passed me and took the lead. She was running faster and I did not feel like it was smart for my race to go with her. I let her go, told her “good job!” and kept focusing on my race. These miles I stayed super positive and present. I was enjoying the race. I felt at home in my stride. Things quite honestly were already not feeling perfect. I was already a bit tired from the faster paces from the beginning. My left foot was beginning to get uncomfortable and I could feel a blister coming on. Even my hips were feeling wonky. With that said, I really did feel like I could roll with these minor discomforts and run calm and focused on my own race.
There were a few others that passed me in these miles. It didn’t bother me. I was running with a lot of confidence. I took my second gel at mile 10. It was also nice to see my family at mile 12. It had felt like a bit since I saw them at 10k so this gave me a little energy.
[6:41, 6:30, 6:30, 6:32, 6:43, 6:48, 6:48]
I don’t remember much of how I was feeling in this section. It felt like I was still getting passed by a lot of guys. I could also tell that I was hitting a lot of 6:40s. It was in this section I began to realize I was getting off pace to hit my 2:48 goal. I did not let the pace bother me too much. I got to see my family again at mile 16. They were yelling “Go, Kelli!” from up in the bushes, while I was down on the bike path. At the time, I was running with two others guys. These two guys also started saying “Go, Kelli!” which made me smile. I was definitely tired in this section and beginning to mentally feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of race still left. I tried to stay calm and present. I really wanted to feel good with 10k to go, so I focused on getting to mile 20 with still something to give. I again took my gel at mile 15. I think I took a couple salt stick chews around 16 miles.
[6:48, 6:44, 6:37, 6:48, 6:58, 6:52]
Most of the race I was telling myself to wait until mile 20 to really start “racing.” By the time I did get to mile 20, my legs weren’t able to really switch gears and it was more about maintaining and getting to the finish. I got to see my family one more time at mile 20. It was great seeing them. At this point, I took my fourth and final gel. My hands were finally free from holding anything! Except then, I took the salt sticks from my sports bra and held them the rest of the race. I took another couple of these chews in the remaining miles.
While I don’t remember a lot of clear details from this section, I do remember really feeding off the crowds. There were a couple coaches from a track club towards the end of this section that really helped re-focus me and even give confidence that I was getting closer to catching the first female. At this point in the race, no one was passing me (that I remember!) and I was able to slowly start catching a few guys ahead of me and a few half-marathoners.
In the 24th mile, I was really beginning to feel it. I remember running through downtown Ventura and watching people casually walking to brunch. It made me a little jealous, but I knew I was close! There was a decent hill in this mile too.
Miles 25 and 26
These last two miles were my slowest. At this point, both legs were on fire. They burned but never got to a point where I needed to stop. Like most of the race, I was by myself. I did pass a couple people in these last miles. Despite the leg pain, my lungs and mind still felt strong. I was not falling apart. Mentally, I struggled when I saw 26.2 miles on my Garmin and someone yelled to me, “half a mile to go!” I knew course was going to be longer, but I didn’t think it was going to almost half a mile more. In that moment, I had a choice: jog it in or “roll with it” and kick in strong. I’m always going to choose that strong kick, if I can. Once I saw the finish line, my legs switched gears and I passed a guy that passed me early on around 8 miles.
At the finish line, I chatted with the woman who won the race. She was super sweet. Also a mom and her first time breaking 3-hours! We even connected after the race on Instagram. I love finding other moms that balance motherhood with pursuing running goals.
I was able to quickly find my family! Hudson was melting down and asking for a snow cone. Thatcher began crying right when he saw me and immediately wanted to nurse. And so it goes with little kids. I know one day it will be different and I’ll be greeted with hugs and “awesome job, mom!” but for now, I’m good with this stage.
Lance went to get Hudson a snow cone and I found a chair to nurse Thatcher. My legs were burning and nursing a baby was definitely not my first post-marathon choice of recovery, but my mom hat is always going to trump my runner hat. So there I was post-26.64 miles, sitting on a plastic chair nursing Thatcher. It was a bit much for me, but I think it is probably the perfect picture of the place running has in my life right now. When I’m on the course, I’m going to compete and give it everything, but the moment I cross the finish line, I’m all theirs.
Overall, I’m very proud. If I’m super honest, these past few days since the race, I’ve felt a small amount of disappointment. I really thought a 2:48 was possible. I really shouldn’t be disappointed. I trained super hard, ran the race smart, fueled properly, and at the end of the day I still ran a faster time on a longer course! It is so my personality to not be fully satisfied and quickly move on to dreaming up the next marathon, but I want to use this space to really be proud of this performance. I really am. For running 5 days a week with a maximum weekly mileage of 54 miles, I am really happy with a 2:54. I have a lot of confidence that one day I will run a 2:48 and maybe even faster!
My only major regrets are not getting better socks and not doing a longer run in my vapor flys. I got a pretty bad blood blister. My legs were also intensely painful for 2 full days after race. To the point I had to take Aleve right when we got back to the hotel. I did not experience this intense of pain with my first marathon. It likely is from the downhill course, but I think my legs were not fully used to this type of shoe.
I want to end by sincerely thanking everyone that makes it possible for this mom to run marathons. I mostly want to thank my husband/coach Lance. Every single week he gave me my training. He planned my workouts and biked with me on a handful of them. He printed out the map of the course and a chart of my paces. I feel very, very thankful to have a husband who also cares so deeply about my running. He understands the athlete perspective and gets why marathon running is so important to me. Thank you, Lance!
I am also so thankful for my parents and sister for being there to cheer me on. It meant so much! I’m thankful for all my sweet friends for texting me, for the amazing signs made by our family friend, Amy, and the spicy margaritas made by our friend Joshua to celebrate in our small group the next day. And of course, my two boys! Thank you boys for joining me on so many miles of my training. Pushing you both in the stroller are some of my very favorite miles. I hope I can be an inspiration as you each chase after your own goals.
Like I said at the very beginning of this. Running a marathon is so much more than just a marathon. For me personally, it is a reminder. A reminder of who I am, how God wired me to be, and all the amazing people He has surrounded me with.