Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Recap

This weekend, I ran or rather ran/walked my 6th marathon, Mountains 2 Beach, which runs from Ojai to Ventura Beach. When I signed up for this race, months & months ago (it sells out every year) I fully intended to be running it much faster & of course not in a lot of pain.

Unfortunately, none of this would be the case, but I did finish and in doing so discovered a few things. But I’ll get back to that later.

Sean & I made the 3.5 hour trek up to Ventura Saturday early afternoon so we could pick up our bibs & meet for dinner with some of our friends.

The expo was, in my opinion, a bit of a disaster. This is not a huge race, I think there were only 1,500 participants in the marathon and more of course in the half. They held the expo at Ventura High School in a tiny little courtyard, I’m guessing where they serve lunch? Because there were a few tables interspersed with the booths.

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So many people in such a small space

The line to get your bib was super long and not well organized. There were 3 lines for the marathon at one tiny little table, if you were under number 600 then you got your bib in seconds, if you were in the other 2 lines, it took about 30 mins. We arrived at the expo around 3:15p and it had opened at 2p.

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Once I finally got up to the table, the bibs weren’t very organized, they were in little packets but kinda strewn across the table willy nilly. When I finally was asked my number & they started looking for it, they couldn’t find it & I waited about 5 mins until it finally was found.

I was not impressed. I’ve run a lot of races, mostly large but some big as well and while I’ve waited in line I’ve never seen a set up like that.

After getting my bib, Sean was waiting in line for me so I could get my race shirt, which wasn’t bad, a nice light grey women’s sized shirt with a v-neck and red lettering. I actually like it quite a bit. They handed out packets of KT tape and some sort of protein powder or something, I’m not quite sure.

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After we got our stuff, we headed over to our hotel & needed to get in our shake-out run. Normally, I’d do this in the morning but I figured after a long car ride I’d need to move a bit. I wore a new pair of shoes for the shake-out run & they felt too big so I wasn’t really too pleased with the run it we finished and met up with our friends for dinner.

We wanted to go for pasta/pizza but the place we were close to had a 2.5 hour wait so that wasn’t happening which meant either driving a little ways or going somewhere else close. We choose close & ended up at Duke’s griddle & grill. It wasn’t horrible but I didn’t exactly enjoy my sandwich but the fries were super yummy. We had a mix of sweet potato & regular fries.

We had an early morning so we went back – I took my traditional Flat Jenny pic and then got ready for bed.

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Needless to say I did not sleep that well and could feel the pain in my hamstring/glute pretty much all night. When my alarm went off I really wasn’t sure if I was going to run or not. Sean was like you’ll regret it if you don’t and while I don’t know about that, I did think that this is a sold out race, if I dropped out then someone who could have run missed out.

So I got ready & we headed out to park for the shuttle. From where we were staying it was a quick 5 minute drive to the downtown area. We found parking in a free lot & then walked about 3-4 blocks to where the shuttles were. They had shuttles on one side of the street for the marathon & the half shuttles were on the other side. They had a few people who were telling us which bus to go to. It was nice that they had the shuttles going on a rotating basis so we didn’t have to wait until exactly 5am to take the shuttle up. They had school buses to take us up to the start area. For the most part the bus ride was uneventful, although they had all the windows cracked so it was freezing the whole way up.

I had gotten some oatmeal from McDonalds so I ate that on the way up. I can’t say the last time I’ve been to McDonald’s maybe 2-3 years ago? But the oatmeal, with nothing in it tasted good.

We got up to the starting area & headed immediately for the port-a-potties. We saw our friends, but I was not in the mood to talk to anyone so we continued on. We did our business then huddled up on some stairs with the foil marathon wrap that Sean had brought with him. Thank goodness, it was pretty chilly. And they didn’t give us a drop bag at the expo so I didn’t want to chance bringing extra clothes. There was a bag drop but I didn’t see where it was.

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We got in line a second time and then made it to the start line just as they were singing the national anthem. Sean kissed me for luck and told me he didn’t care how fast I was or when I came in, he’d be waiting for me at the finish. I wished him luck and off he went up to the front. I was so not feeling this race & I really did not want to run. If this had been an out & back I seriously might have dropped out.

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I threw away the wrap & then waited for the start. I started near the middle of the 3rd corral since I knew I was going to be slow & started my watch. I thought there were going to be 3 starts but to my surprise everyone started going at the same time. I guess the announcer made a mistake or something but fortunately I started my Nike plus & then waited for my watch to boot up. It would take 1.69 miles for my Garmin to get a satellite signal.

The first 1.69 miles is a little out & back loop where you go back past the start line. Then we would run a little bit on the road before heading to a bike path that we would take until about mile 5 & then loop around for 5 more miles before heading back to Ventura.

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I was doing ok, although I did feel my hamstring from the first step, until about mile 7. After that it was pretty much over. I started walking & then running when I could but there was a lot more walking or rather limping.

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Around mile 8 as I was practically in tears was like I saw your shorts on Instagram & she knew I was having a rough day but that they were super cute. It made me tear up a bit but it did help getting that little boost. 🙂 especially when I was contemplating dropping at that point.

I just kept chugging along, after the half way point I met 2 runners doing Galloway and ran with them for a short bit before dropping back. They would finish about 15 mins ahead of me.

I would speed walk/run with a lady doing her 47th marathon for a while between 16-19 before she started going too fast for me. Around this time my shorts started feeling really tight around my stomach. I’m still not sure why but I was starting to think I was drinking too much water because it felt kinda bloated & just weird.

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So now I had a pain in my leg and a pain in my lower left abdomen. I was a mess. I finally saw this girl around mile 19/20. I can’t exactly remember but it was about the time when I was starting to walk with my eyes closed which I figured was not a good thing. Lol. I said something to her, what I’m not quite sure but we started talking & ended up run/walking together the rest of the race.

We would start making run goals for ourselves, run to the sign, run to the train tracks, run to that tree, etc. etc. until we were closer & closer. Around mile 22 I got a text from Sean & he met us at mile 23 which is where you pass the finish line before having to go back around. He gave me a kiss, said hi to my new friend Sue Lynn & we kept going.

Around this time I was having a hard time standing up straight, my hips were so tight. We would get to the trail by the beach, still making little goals for ourselves. We finally made it to the Ventura Pier took our last walk break and then we saw the finish. It seemed like the finish line was so far away, but we made the decision to run it in. I’ll tell you, I wanted to walk a hundred times during this stretch, my calves were starting to cramp, I was hungry, etc. etc. but she wasn’t stopping and neither was I. One step in front of the other.

I’d see Sean on the side as we got into the finishing shoot. And as we were finishing the announcer would say my name and we were done! I got a photo with the lovely Sue Lynn from Austin after I got my medal.

We were so happy to be finished, it seriously was a struggle, although considering my training as of late, it’s really no surprise. Since the 50k last month, I haven’t run over 13 miles and even that was super painful.

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After I finished I met up with Sean to see how he did, he didn’t want to tell me at first but in that first mile with the little turn around, as everyone got super slow to turn he stepped on the guy in front of him’s foot & his ankle popped. It’s pretty much double in size. He took about 45 secs to decide what he wanted to do, took a few Advil and soldiered on. He ran with the 3:13 group until about mile 16 and then he slowed down, finishing in just under 3:50.


We went over to get some treats, a little container with 2 slices of watermelon, a sliver of banana, cookies, m&ms and twizzlers. Not that great but better than nothing. The best part of the post run celebration was that we were able to get massages from the massage tent. I guess finishing at the end has some perks as we only had to wait a few minutes before we got to get on the table. The girl did a great job & this is the first time in a while I’ve been able to get a post-race massage.

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We hobbled back to the car, went back to the hotel to get cleaned up, before getting lunch & hitting the beach for a bit of sun.


All in all I’m glad I ran, but I will be focusing more on trail races & half marathon road races for the foreseeable future. Marathoning puts a lot of wear & tear on the body.

Race Pros:
– Cool weather
– Organized shuttles
– Volunteers were super nice & helpful
– Great course
– Post Race massages
– The medal is awesome
– Free Race Photos

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Race Cons:
– The expo was a mess
– This is a very fast race where most people are trying to BQ. If you were like me & not very fast, it’s a very lonely course
– Not many spectators

Would I run this race again? That’s a tough one…Sean likes this race & it has a very gradual downhill which is nice but I think I’d probably run the half next time unless I was very confident in my training for a marathon.

OC Marathon – Half Marathon Recap

I have been so crazy busy lately and I have to say that this race was very last minute so it’s fitting that I would be really late in recapping my experience.

Sean & I decided to run the OC Marathon & Half Marathon at the very last minute, I believe I registered on Wednesday for the Sunday race.  We were very lucky to find a room at one of the host hotels, the Marriott Newport Bayview, which meant that there would be a shuttle to the start and then back from the finish.

We got some things done here in San Diego before heading up to Newport Beach to go pick up our packets and get a little carb-loading in.  It’s a quick drive up, under 2 hours, when you take the 173 which has a $14+ toll road trip.

We got to the expo, which was at the fair grounds, where you have to pay $7 to park.  The expo was a decent size considering the size of the race.  You walk into the expo, thru the official merchandise area to a separate section to pick up your packet.  There were separate sections to pick up the bib for each of the 3 races and the same for the race shirt.

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Since I registered so late, I had a pretty high number on my bib, but if you registered early enough you could have your bib personalized and even mailed to you if you paid a little extra fee (you picked up your shirt after the race).

Once we got our packets we headed inside, there were lots of vendors & some yummy treats.  The finish line was at the same place as where the expo was taking place so they were setting up the finish line area when we were there.

We didn’t stay long, just enough to do a quick pass and get some snacks before heading over to Whole Foods for some snacks for the morning and then checking into the hotel.  I found this awesome premade oatmeal which I decided would be a good thing to try for pre-race.  It was yummy although a bit too big for me.  I didn’t have any issues with nutrition during this race.

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We had dinner at a super yummy Italian place called Mamma D’s and then headed back to watch some TV, get our gear out and then get some sleep.  The shuttle to the start line for the marathon was at 4:15a which meant an early morning.  I got my flat Jenny photo and then relaxed for a bit.

Flat Jenny, OC Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Gear

I wasn’t really sure how my race was going to go since I have been battling a pain in my upper hamstring since we drove back from SF last month.  But really these days, running is just for fun, with the way my leg has been feeling I’m not going to push it and be in any more pain.

One of my “insta”friends, Adrian, @amaur88, posted that he was going to be pacing the 2 hour pace group so I figured, what the heck, I might as well start with them and see what happens.  The worse that would happen is that I would fall back or I might surprise myself.

The morning of the race I got up around 3:15a, I didn’t sleep much at all that night, I got ready and then tried to wake Sean up, his alarm didn’t go off at all while I was getting ready, come to find out he didn’t set his to go off until 3:50!  I was just a little surprised lol.  I finally got him up and we finished getting ready before heading down to catch the shuttle.

When we got downstairs, everyone was complaining that the shuttle was only for 8 people, which I thought was odd since I spoke with someone about it and it seemed like they were going to have buses.  Well come to find out I was right and they had really nice black buses with fancy leather seats.

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We got down to the start area and then had only a short walk to the starting area.  There were tons of port-a-potties and very short lines when we got there.  I of course didn’t have to use them at that time and by the time I did the lines were huge. 🙂 Typical when there are so many more half marathoners vs marathoners.

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Sean & I hung out for a little bit and then I watched him get started before dropping my bag off at the UPS Trucks.  It was pretty warm at the start, I was just wearing a Lululemon Power Y tank and a pair of shorts and I was a little chilly but not too bad, but I knew I was going to have to wait a little while for Sean to finish the marathon so I wanted to have some warm clothes at the finish.

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After hitting the port-a-potties, I headed to find the 2 hour pace group.  They were in the 4th corral I believe.  I’m not sure exactly how many corrals there were but there were 5 mins between corral starts.

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We started out running out of the mall area (the race started at Fashion Island).  I was with the pace group for probably 30 seconds before they took off and I was like yeah, that’s not going to happen.  I decided that I needed to just run my own race.  We got to an area where there was a downhill and I actually passed them and had some good times for the first 3 – 4 miles as we went thru a nice residential area and by the beach.  The pace group caught up with me in this area and as we went up a hill around mile 4 I lost them.  My hamstring wasn’t feeling too good going up the hill so I just decided to cruise the rest of the way.  Thank you to Adrian for this awesome GoPro shot of us.  Finally a photo where I look like I’m actually running, lol.

OC Marathon, 2 hour pace group, half marathon, instafriends

I did pretty good thru mile 5.  I was running 9:30 and under during these miles, then I started to run/walk abit and my mile times jumped a bit, especially with a small hill in mile 8.  After that we got to a section of the course that I really liked, it was on a sidewalk trail and went by the water.  It was pretty cool, I enjoyed that section of the race a lot.

I brought my bottle filled half & half with Gatorade & Water and then started drinking water & walking thru the aid stations around mile 7.  The volunteers where super nice and did a great job – there was definitely plenty of hydration.

Mile 12 was heading towards the fairgrounds, it seemed to be really really long, since we could hear the finishers.  Finally you turn in and you can see the finish.  But don’t get too excited because it is still a ways away.  I feel like it was almost a half mile from the time I saw the finish until I did finish.  That was a little disheartening and made it a bit of a challenge to decide when to kick it in.

I decided to just cruise in and finished in a respectable (for me) 2:11.

After I finished, I got my medal (this was half marathon #23 for me), a bottle of water, then made my way thru to get some post race snacks.  And of course got a sweet post race photo :).  I put on the race shirt after the race & I really like it.  It fits great and is a nice color.

OC Marathon, Half Marathon, Medal, Race Shirt, Post Race Photo

They handed us a bag to put our snacks in as we made our way thru.  There was chocolate milk, gatorade, Kind bars, pretzels, bananas, Snappea Crisps and Power Crunch bars.

There was a lot of stuff going on after you get out of the finishers area.  All this time the weather was really cloudy & the marine layer was still down.  It wasn’t until after Sean finished that the sun finally came out.

OC Marathon, Post Race Party

All in all this was a good race, it wasn’t anything super special, but it was fun and considering I wasn’t expecting to run a race that soon after the 50k but it went better than I was expecting.

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Pros: Great Race Shirt
Nice Medal
Awesome Post Race Food

Cons: Parking fee to get into the Expo
No way to watch other runners finish the race
Post race shuttles were a little confusing.  There wasn’t anyone to tell us where to go.  We fortunately found ours quickly but a lot of people were in line at the wrong bus.

It’s Gonna be May… Goals

It’s May 1 and I’ve realized that I haven’t really had any real goals to work towards lately.  Yes, I’ve been running and I’ve been eating & traveling, but I’ve been kind of just doing whatever with no real plan.  So as we start May which is full of races and a lot of traveling, I need a little focus.

Goals for May

Exercise Goals:

*Plank Challenge – Sean & I are already on day 6 and plan to continue on thru May.  My goal isn’t necessarily to get to a certain time, but more to start to incorporate it into my daily routine.

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*Strength Training/Cross Training – As I get closer to a long distance race, I tend to only run, but as my recurring hamstring/glute issue tells me, I need to do other things too. I will be incorporating 2 days of cross training & strength training into my weekly schedule.

*Get in a 20 mile run before my next marathon, Mountains 2 Beach on May 24.  I have only done one 20 mile run this year outside of the LA marathon & my 50k so I’d really like to get one in before I race again.

Health/Eating:

*Meal plan & prep for the week.  I used to do this but since I’ve been working from home, I’ve really gotten lazy.  It’s time to get back on track.

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*Research new long run nutrition.  I’m not sure what kind of experimentation I’ll be able to do with 3 races this month, but I can start researching what I want to try.

*Start 21 Day Fix.  I have had this in for a few weeks now but with the 50k and traveling a bit I haven’t started it yet.  It’s hard for me to do this when I’m out of town a lot but I’ll be doing my best to follow the plan.

It’s time to buckle down and do some relatively simple things (outside of the 20 mile run, that’s not so simple lol) that will help my running goals down the road.

What are your goals for this month?