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  • My PR, My First Sub-5, Surf City Marathon

    Posted on March 25th, 2010 Michele Sun No comments

    First of all, hats off to Chris’ finishing his second marathon this month, the Napa Valley Marathon two weeks ago then the L.A. Marathon just this past weekend. When I was browsing and admiring his race photos I noticed he had mentioned race report would come up soon, which reminds me that I have finished two races recently and the only record I had done was posting some race photos on Facebook and two big Recovery Dinners 🙂

    Surf City Marathon, Feb 7, 2010, was my first full marathon in about 3 years. Ever since I relocated to Sol Cal, I had only done couple half marathons and never done any full marathon races or even trained long distance. Moving back to Bay Area last year in March, the first thing that I picked up was running and I am so glad that I have coming back to this. I started from almost scratch — 3 miles at Los Gatos Creek Trail, and wasn’t sure if I was any good still.

    To keep myself disciplined, I started to Tweet about my runs and forced myself by “going public”. I gradually ramped up the miles and did several half marathons toward the end of the year – RnR San Jose and Nike Women in Oct, Santa Barbara in Nov, RnR Las Vegas in Dec, and I felt I was ready to take up a full marathon challenge. So I mapped out a training program for myself — started doing my two 6 miles on weekdays and long runs on weekends, and working on my core strength twice a week at the gym.

    I also realized that although not able to train with a coach or with a team, I was getting faster than 3 years ago despise the fall outs and it’s just possible that I “may” break that 5 hours record. You see, all my full marathons in the past I was doing 5:42, 5:29, 5:43, 5:27…etc.;  I could never break that 5. But this time I actually felt pretty good about myself and a sub-5 race seems to be not too farfetched.

    Weeks before the Surf City, it started to rain like crazy non-stop. The down-pouring rain and thunder had interrupted my weekday runs and my last couple long runs. Mid Jan, I was forced to go out and run in the rain and constantly had to worry about the lightning and thunder above my head. The week before the race, Sol Cal started to rain as well.

    When I landed L.A. on Friday, the rain was so hard that I got soaking wet just standing in line to pick up my bib – the expo tent was on the beach. Friday and Saturday nights I could not sleep because of the pressure and worry, and I was so afraid that I could not do well or the worst – couldn’t finish the race. My friend Linsu asked me when I was sharing this race experience with her and Hsiao, “Why worry? Isn’t that just an event? You were not really racing, right?”

    Well, yes and no. Of course I am not one of those elite runners that race for the top prize, but still each race is important to me, especially this Surf City was like my “coming back” debut and I was getting lots of pressure from myself. I admit that I could be an over-achiever nut and I take running very seriously. I actually went out to the race start the day before the race, just to get an idea how I was going to get there 12 hours later and I memorized turn by turn directions, and even planned alternative routes in my head in case the traffic was bad the next morning.

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    Race day morning, I arrived Huntington Beach in absolute dark and it was so cold and windy at 5:00 in the morning. There were about 2,000 full marathoners vs. 18,000 half marathoners, and our start time was earlier. To everyone’s surprise, our prayers were answered and there was no rain at all. The first 2 miles were pretty straight forward — we ran on the Pacific Coast Highway then weaved through some residential area for the next 7 miles or so, and coming out to the PCH again. 3 more miles on the PCH and I made my first turn and had no idea the frustration ahead of me.

    Between mile 13 to 15, I started seeing half marathoners passing me and they were running pretty strong since finishing line wasn’t too far from them. I cursed in my head and questioned myself why I signed up a full marathon anyway? I had to turn right onto an along-the-beach trail to continue my race, and I felt so lonely on that much less runners’ route. About mile 18, there were RVs parked on the state beach and young men and women sitting on their beach chairs enjoying beers on a relaxing sunny Sunday morning. Me? Running my ass off with glaring sun that was burning my neck and face. My toes and the bottom of my feet hurt and I was panting hard, but I had to continue the slow descending trail toward the mile 20 marker. By this time, I really could not appreciate the ocean on my left at all, but I am sure it must be very breath-takingly beautiful. Only few runners ahead of me after the turn around, and I started hearing the little voice inside my head telling me it’s OK to walk.

    I was debating if I wanted to start walking or taking a short break, but I saw the race cameraman standing on top of the hill between mile 22 and 23, and I really could not allow myself to slow down or look like a wimp, could I? No matter how much pain and suffering I was enduring or how slow I was, I was going to “run” this race from start to finish, till I crossed that finish line.

    Continued on the beach front trail through mile 24, then I came onto PCH again. I knew I wasn’t too far from the finish line when I saw Jay on the road side; he came up and was trying to run with me, but I shut his face with my right palm and a serious glance — “Don’t talk to me.”  All I cared about at that moment were the last 2.2 miles and my sub-5 race; I had visual of the clock at finish line and my sole focus was on crossing that!

    As soon as I heard the “beee” when my strides crossed the finish line, I looked down at my Garmin 405
    and it told me 4:52 — I had made my sub-5 finally and it’s a PR for me! I know, I know… for my speedy runner friends, their PR are like breaking 3:30 or qualify for Boston, but for me this tough and painful 4:52 was my PR, and I felt so good about it that I forgot about all the physical pain and mental suffering. I can’t believe, and YES  I can, that I have actually made it.


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