II thought after 10 full marathons that I was officially in “marathon retirement”. I transitioned to half marathons and Ragnar relays and was happy as a clam. In the back of my mind I had considered doing a 50k someday, but wasn’t sure that would ever happen.
As I watched one of my running besties easily make the leap, I thought “ok, maybe this is a possibility”. Then I realized It would be a cool tie in for me to run my 50k the year I turned 50. As I planned out my training, I thought I should probably cover the marathon distance as part of my training. The Marathons2Beach marathon in Ventura, CA fit the timing and was the easiest for me to get to. So I went to sign up, and it was sold out with a waitlist. I decided to join the waitlist. Less than 2 weeks later, I got an email saying I had gotten in off the waitlist but would have to confirm my very expensive spot within 48 hours or so. I took it as a sign that this was meant to be.
Another reason I chose this race is because it has a net downhill. I needed all the help I could get from gravity! A month or two later, my friend Connie saw me wavering on making this trip by myself and agreed to do the half and join me on the road trip.
We made the 6 ½ hour drive to Ventura on Saturday morning. It was long. We headed straight to packet pickup at the fairgrounds. Small expo. No gear check bags! Say what? We were told you can get them at the start line. After that we walked around, had lunch and checked out the boardwalk and beach.
Because I registered so late, all the later shuttles had been taken, so I was stuck with a 4am shuttle to the start in Ojai. This caused me much stress. Worrying about getting downtown, and finding parking in time for the shuttle. We decided to uber which was great. The alarm was set for 230 am (yikes!) and after heading to dinner, I actually got a decent night of sleep! As I was fairly quiet the night before and lost in my own thoughts, Connie noted “you’re so much different than during a Ragnar”. Well duh! Ragnars are all about fun and no stress. Marathons are serious business, whether it is “just a training run" or not.
We caught our shuttles in plenty of time. Ojai is a very pretty, laid-back town. The temps were low 50’s at the start and would warm up to low 60’s. I ended up with almost 2 hours to kill at the start, but was happy to meet up with my fellow BibRave Pro James for a nice chat
Then it was finally time, after finding real coffee and a real bathroom (yay!), to head to the start. I ditched my throwaway jacket and felt ready.
The first 6-7 miles were a loop around Ojai before heading down the mountain. Very scenic and easy running. First few miles were fast. For the first hour, the 4:10 pacer was behind me. It gave me an unrealistic sense of confidence. I’m like “maybe I could actually PR!” Finally around Mile 10 or so we started heading downhill. For about 5 miles we were on a shaded trail which was great. Around the half way point I felt very fatigued. I clocked the first half at 2:06, but every mile was taking progressively longer.
I alternated between sport beans, my honeystinger waffle, some Ucan, and a gel. During the second half I stopped at every single water stop and took in both water and electrolytes. The breeze was amazing. Plenty of shady parts. It became harder to push forward during the straightaways and I longed for more downhill. I ended up not using music and kind of regret that decision – I could have used the inspiration.
I was taking more and more walking breaks, and that 4:10 pacer long since passed me by. My running turned into an awful shuffle that came in around 11 minute miles. I had a lot of conversations with myself along the way and each mile passed was one mile closer to the beach and finish line. After a long section on roads, we were back on a trail again, but this time fully exposed and through a more industrial area. The last 2-3 miles were through downtown Ventura full-on into the sun and it felt like a death march. I stopped caring about my time.
I rolled in at 4:39, and felt strong at the finish. Connie was there to high five me.
Finish line food was not good. We had some local post race beers that I had pre-purchased, and the breeze from the ocean was great. We ubered back and headed to lunch, then hopped in the car for our 6.5 hour drive home. Ugh.
While I’m glad I got the miles in by doing this race, I’m quite nervous about the 50k in 5 weeks. I won’t have the benefit of a downhill course to help me. I’m happy to have finished with absolutely NO knee pain whatsoever, and happy to know that I can still do this, even at the ripe old age of 50!
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Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!