Mission Accomplished and a New PR

Beach Runners Team Photo

Sunday was quite a day. The Beach Runners were out in force at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon. With over 200 members competing, the Beach Runners were seen all over the course. There were many first timers that by the end of the day had achieved their goal of completing a full or half marathon.

My story started Friday at the LBIM expo. It was a good expo with many informative booths for the runners and their family members. Gary and I gave presentations both Friday and Saturday. We also met many potential new Beach Runners and ChiRunners.

Saturday is usually a day to rest yet I was working the expo. Thanks to Janet and the Beach Runners that volunteered to help work the booth. Those concrete floors can take their toll if you have to stand there for more than a few hours.

It was Saturday night that I realized I wasn’t totally prepared for this race. I had been training primarily with the half marathoners and really hadn’t put in the long miles I would have liked to before a marathon. What I did know was that even with limited specific training, with the MaraYoga training system and ChiRunning® techniques I could finish if I played it smart. That meant expect a slow race.

One principle in the MaraYoga system is “Often, your best efforts come when you least expect them.” This principle is based on the idea of performing with less pressure on yourself. If you had been reading my articles lately you probably noticed how much I talk about “emptying and letting go.” It is all in the same line.

Beach Runners Waiting for the Start

My Sunday started perfectly, all the Beach Runners got together to do the ChiRunning® body looseners. It was beautiful as we warmed up to a magnificent sunrise. After lining up for the start, we passed out hugs and good wishes. I was running with our group and was practicing what I preach, “Go easy the first hour.” It also gave me the opportunity to run with many of our athletes. After about 1 hour I found Mentor Chris and I told her how good I was feeling. She said she was feeling good too. I decided to pick up the pace a little and see if I could catch any other Beach Runners.

This is when I first realized how important my metronome was going to be that day. I played around with a few different cadences and ended up settling in at 85 or 170 strides per minute. Mile after mile I kept it steady and passed hundreds of runners, slowing down to visit with any Beach Runners I found along the way. My next goal was to keep running to mile 20. I figured if I could wake up and run 20 miles pretty much non-stop, that would be a strong performance. I ran with many different people for the next two hours.

When I reached the 20-mile marker I was way ahead of schedule. I looked at my watch and noticed I was on pace for a new PR. I sad to myself, “Run one more mile.” Finally near mile 22 I reached the Clark Ave hill. I took my first walk break. Why work hard on the uphill? At the top it flattened out then went down. Downhill running is always to the ChiRunner’s advantage. I flowed down the next section and decided to keep going since I only had four miles left.

It was at mile 24 I noticed that if I wanted to explore my inner feelings I was getting stronger. I find there are these moments in races, the moments that you can make a choice, to go for it or give-in. I have given-in many times but not this time. I knew I needed to shorten my stride length so I turned my metronome up to 89 and I was flying past people. No one passed me in the last two miles. I was running a sub 8-minute mile pace for the first time that day.

With a quarter mile to go I really kicked it in and with sounds of the crowd and Beach Runners at the finish line I came in at 4:16:16 for a new Personal Record and a negative split. Hey, I never claimed to be the fastest marathoner, just a good coach. Sometimes though it happens and you get that extraordinary performance. I was even happier with that fact that I barely walked during the 26.2 miles race I know there is a sub 4-hour marathon in my future.

The day finished with congratulatory hugs and many tears of joy as Beach Runner after Beach Runner came in. So many first timers inspired me. There are few experiences like completing your first marathon or half marathon. You have to look back at you training, your dedication, your life and it says a lot about who you are.

Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend! Please send me your race report and a picture so I can post it. Email Steve

Focused on Happiness, Steve Mackel – Head Coach, Beach Runners Marathon and Half Marathon Training Program.

Beach Runners and Coaches With Medals


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