Steve’s Long Beach Marathon Race Report – Part 2

finish line steve
Visualizing a 4:05, I actually saw 4:08, My Adjusted Time 4:06:56

I told the Beach Runners of my intention the day before the race. Now it was out in the open, and everyone had expectations.

Race day was exciting. We did our Body Looseners as a group, left our extra stuff in the Beach Runners VIP area and headed off to the starting line. I gave and received lots of hugs, good luck thoughts and, “I’ll see you out on the course.” At the last minute mentor Vern came up to me and said, “Get up front, your going for a PR.” For some reason that meant a lot to me. I worked my way through the crowd, ended up in corral B, shuffling my way to the starting line.

I had my race plan and my Garmin to keep me in check. As I started the race I couldn’t start the timer on my Garmin but I was getting the two readings I was concerned with, “Pace” and “Heart Rate.” I kept my heart rate under 130 the entire first hour and right around 9 minute miles, right on track. Around mile 8 my heart rate started creeping up into the mid 130s. I was running a little faster and I was a hour into the race so I didn’t worry. Besides the 3 bathroom breaks in the first 14 miles I felt good and I was with the Cliff Bar 4:00 Pace group.

I decided to hang with them as long as I could, which was to mile 18 and that was the last I saw of them. The last 8 miles were all on my own. My heart rate was going up, almost 150 and I was slowing down. The one weird thing was that my legs felt like they were on the verge of cramping. I keep eating and drinking. The only thing I would have done differently would have been taken more electrolytes, and I was carrying them on me. I just figured between the food and drinks I’d be ok.

The last 4 miles were what I expected, hard. I know and coach my runner to get a training run in that is close to/or 26 miles before the race. I had gotten 23 in a training run and I hadn’t trained near this fast overall. At 22.5 I walked one hill. For some reason I thought I needed one on-course walk break and why not on a hill? Looking back, I don’t think it helped me.

Just past mile 24, I got shut down by a cramp in my left hamstring. I mean stopped in my tracks. I let our a few curse words thinking there goes my PR and my 4:05. I had no idea where I was in relationship to my time. I used everything I teach in ChiRunning®. I took baby steps until somehow my legs were moving again. At this point, I had to use every trick I knew. I figured I had some sort of Chi blockage and probably needed additional electrolytes. At the mile 25 aid station I downed my “ProLytes” (electrolytes in liquid drop form). I kept focusing on letting the Chi in my body  flow through my hamstrings. Soon I saw Alethea cheering runners on and I yelled to her, “Run me in.” I wanted some support. We kept it steady as we approached the final down hill stretch.

I came around the final turn and saw the clock, 4:08. My visualization worked. I came very close for not really training to run a 4:05. The Beach Runners VIP area was packed and I was pumped as they cheered me to the finish line. As soon as I finished I saw Gary and Jake. They had both ran sub 4 hours. At that moment Gary said to me, “Finishing in under 4 hours is hard, you can’t really slow down, you can’t make a mistake.” I knew exactly what he was saying. Secretly I was hoping to run a sub 4 hour marathon but I couldn’t do it without the proper training. But hey, a PR is a PR and after the starting line adjustment I ran a 4:06:56.

Now that I am at the end of this long story, 6 months worth, here’s what I learned again:
It is about the journey more than the destination. My weekly runs with the Beach Runners and our Thursday Trail Runs were such an important part of this journey. I love running with other people and every week I ran with some many different people. We talked, learned and enjoyed.

To sum it up I want to quote the cover of the card Alicia gave me after training with MarathonTraining.TV program and running the Chicago Marathon 10 days ago:

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination….For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through.

First, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.” –Souza

Train Focused, Steve Mackel Founder and Happy Camper


3 Responses to “Steve’s Long Beach Marathon Race Report – Part 2”

  1. Matt Sutterfield on October 23rd, 2008

    Nice work Steve! I was really glad to see you on the course… wish now that I would have stayed with you for awhile, but I was kind of out of it (aka “in the zone”) and focusing on my goofy knee, so after a quick chat just kept moving.

    Gotta say I was a bit surprised when I first heard you were going to go for a PR since you’ve been unselfishly running with the 1/2 marathoners most of the season and focusing on teaching rather than training yourself. Really, you did a heck of a job. And thanks for adding that quote on the end… btw, who is Souza?

  2. Gary on October 23rd, 2008

    Nice race report.

    Congratulations on a fabulous PR. Taking close to 20 minutes off your time is a major major accomplishment.

    You’ve go the fitness to go sub four hours.

    It’s the mindset that you can develop further.

    Running a sub four hour marathon is all about business.

    And really sticking to the goal. Anything that distracts you away whether the bathroom, heart rate monitors,
    Beach Runners…whatever…has to be discarded.

    It’s about getting into a rhythm…a pace…and hanging out there.

    Again awesome job brother.

    Next year I’m sure you’ll go sub four.

    I’d be honored to run you in.


  3. lil 1/2 pint on October 23rd, 2008

    Congratulations on a well deserved PR. You worked hard and really pushed to finish in that time.

    Thank you for sacrificing your own personal training to be there for the Beach Runners. I know the time you take to run beside me and give me pointers means a lot to me.

    I am truly looking forward to another season with the Beach Runners.