Beach Bash 3/4 Marathon

Whoever heard of a 3/4 marathon? This morning I got up at 3:15, left the house at 3:45, made it to the beach in Long Beach by 5:10 to start a race at 5:30. The race was a race put on by Charlie Alewine racing. Charlie puts on races in Long Beach just about every Saturday AND Sunday all year long. (Another group called “A Better World Running” does the same thing in Long Beach and Santa Monica.) So, if you ever want a low key race, or some company (sort of) for a long run, and you are in the LA Basin, you have someplace to go. Of course, Palmdale, where I live is NOT the LA Basin, we are on the inland side of the Angeles Crest Mountains, thus the 1 1/2 hour drive to get there…. my wife thinks I am crazy.

My goal for the morning was just to get in 18 miles or so, but I have a history of late, of bailing out of planned workouts, at the last moment… so the entry fee got me out of bed and down to the beach. I plan on doing several of these between now and Big Cottonwood in September. This is perfect marathon training… get up early, eat, travel, THEN RUN! Also, the beach remains much cooler than the inland and I will need a relatively cool place to train through the summer.

There were only 8 or 9 runners at the start line. And this included a marathon (I don’t think anyone did the marathon today), the 3/4, and a few who were getting an early start on the Half or 10k which are all offered at all of Charlie’s races – the Half, 10k and 5k were set to start at 7am 1 1/2 hours later. Charlie also mentioned that there were 2 men doing the 3/4 who had requested and had been given permission to start earlier – they started at 5.

This was just a long run, so I did no warm up or stretches or anything. I barely had time to use the restroom, put by bib number on and drink a bottle of water. As we started I went out cautiously and a easy 9 min/mile pace. Only 1 guy headed out faster. He remained in sight as the opening miles ticked by.

From the start I had sore quads…… Thursday I did a specially designed downhill training run. I had my wife drop me off at the aqueduct at 70th west. I ran a mile out and back on the aqueduct and then down the streets into west Lancaster. The aqueduct is actually half way up the hillside west and south of the Antelope Valley. It is very flat, typically somewhat windy and has gorgeous views of the cities and the desert. My goal was 5 miles at marathon pace or a little faster – it is downhill after all. My marathon pace at my current weight is 8:43 (click here for explanation of weight and marathon pace posted in an earlier post) – but I tore off down the hill much quicker. The earlier – steeper miles were 7:18 and 7:38. The other 3 were 8:03, 7:53 and 8:12 on the flat 5th mile. I went too fast and my quads are paying for it…

As today’s race/run enfolded, the quads were sore and tight, but they did not seem to worsen as I went along. I just focused on an easy pace as I went along. I passed the 5k turn around which was just about half way to the turn around I was heading to. Shortly thereafter, I passed the two guys who had the half hour head start. The course goes out 1/8 of a marathon and then it turns around. Since I was more than half way to the turn around before meeting them I figured I was gaining on them. I continued to my turnaround and the guy ahead of me was only a minute or so ahead of me. I did not carry any water – but there was a drinking fountain a few meters off the course near the turn around. I stopped and guzzled for a few seconds and was on my way.

Heading back I noticed the ocean breeze. It had been with me going out, but was now in my face. My pace dropped from just under 9 to just over 9…. the coolness of the breeze, however, felt good. Again, I was more than half way back when I saw the two guys. The other guy was still only a minute ahead as I got to the start / turnaround. I paused for a glass of gatorade. I saw that I was just under an hour by a few seconds as I started back out.

On the second lap, I was even farther past the half when the two guys went by. And then I noticed the other guy ahead of me was just a little ahead as we neared the turn around. Again I stopped and guzzled some water. When he saw me coming so close behind at the U-turn I knew he was tired and losing his pace. Shortly after the turn I went by. I could hear him behind me for awhile as we headed back. I focused on maintaining form – keeping my feet from scuffling as I headed back.

I got back to the start at 1:58 and change – slightly faster than the first lap. I guzzled two glasses of Gatorade and headed out. The guy was already a half mile or so behind me. I considered slowing for the 3rd and final lap. But a different 5k had just started down the beach path. The leaders went by and some others. I blended in with them after awhile, before I knew it they were turning around and I was half way out again. The first of the two head start guys came by much later than the previous lap. The second had fallen a few more minutes behind the first. The miles continued to tick by just over 9 minute pace.

As I turned around the last time I decided to just keep going. I chose random runners out on the path and caught them. Some were much slower and easy to catch… One guy made a uturn 30s ahead of me and unbeknownst to him gave me a challenge. After a mile or so I reeled him in. Then I saw the finish out ahead of me and wondered if I were going to make it under 3. I did – 3:59:52

So I beat the two head start guys by about 10 and 20 minutes… And the others who started with me finished well behind me…. so they placed a great big 1st place medal on my neck at the finish! Cool!

More importantly – it was a great training run. I ran 19.75 miles at 9:06 pace. As I said earlier, at my present weight my marathon pace is 8:43 so I was only 22s off of marathon pace! But I am beat….. and tomorrow I am signed up to ride a century ride!! We’ll see how that goes!

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