Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Mountains 2 Beach Lowdown

5 days to go!! Up until Sunday morning my hip / TFL was feeling pretty good. Then Sunday evening it started getting whiney again, and as of Tuesday morning it's back to kind of so/so. I am supposed to do a short little track workout tonight but I think I'm going to skip it & hope the extra rest lets it keep healing. (I can't imagine a few fast intervals 5 days before the race is going to make that much of a difference anyway.)

The rest of this post is primarily the result of trying to get my head around things before this weekend, so if you're interested in potentially running this race sometime & curious about all the nitty gritty details of the course, staging, etc., you've come to the right place. (Also, there's the off chance it might cut down on the length of my race report, and I feel like that's something we can all get behind.)


Packet Pickup: Several different options starting on the 18th, with the main two on Friday 5/24 & Saturday 5/25. (5Kers & VIPs can also pickup race morning.) I'm planning to go grab mine Friday afternoon as soon as I'm done with work stuff so I don't have to worry about anything on Saturday & can just enjoy hanging out in beautiful Ventura.

Parking & Shuttles: The course is a point-to-point, with the start at Nadoff High School in Ojai & the finish on the Ventura Pier. (The half is point-to-point as well.) Parking is in downtown Ventura (no longer at the County Fairgrounds as in past years) with free shuttles to the start. Your shuttle time is determined by when you signed up -- 5 am for pre-Jan 1, 4 am for post-Jan 1. (Huzzah, early registration!)

I do love that they mapped out our parking options for us relative to the shuttle pickup.

Generally I am all about free parking & walking a little farther, but I am thinking pretty hard about ponying up the $10 to park in the "preferred" lot...

Bag Check: BOYB to the tent at the start. This will be my first marathon without Don waiting for me at the finish with my bag, but hopefully I've got enough experience under my belt at this point that I can handle it on my own.

For me, the biggest challenge logistics-wise will probably be SLEEP. Yes, I know that the most important night of pre-race sleep is two nights before, but I also know that no matter how well I sleep then, I'm doomed if I don't get at least a little shut-eye the night before the race. (I barely slept at all the night before CIM '12, and I think that contributed to how sluggish & out-of-it I felt from the very beginning.) This probably means I should try to get to bed early on Friday night so I can get lots of sleep without sleeping in too much on Saturday, since too much sleeping in = wicked insomnia Saturday night.

The Course

The full marathon starts at Nadoff High School in Ojai, makes a 10K loop around that area, then heads 20 miles southwest towards the Ventura Oceanfront. The CIM course is all roads, so I'm intrigued by the fact that a good portion of this one is on bike paths.

What will you see on your 26.2 mile trip from Ojai to Ventura???

"Beautiful mountain peaks...

"...the Ventura River Basin...

"...beach-front Pierpont neighborhood...

"...the gorgeous Ventura Promenade...

"...and more!!"

I didn't look at the elevation profile until after I'd already signed up, but I suppose when a race is called "Mountains 2 Beach" you should be able to make certain inferences:

After two years at CIM & now this, I suppose I'll have to make sure my next full is a little more challenging elevation-wise so I don't become known as "that blogger that only runs downhill marathons."

(Also, don't let the thing in the first few miles that looks like a climb fool you -- it "climbs" from 626 ft at mile 2.82 to 792 ft at mile 5.11, which, by my math, works out to less than a 1.4% grade.)

I do like to see the elevation profile ahead of time so I can do a little strategizing around pace. Thinking about those things too far out can be a trap sometimes I think, but the way I see it, one week out I'm in pretty much whatever kind of shape I'm going to be in, so that's a reasonable point at which to do some planning.

Theoretically, a 1:38ish half means it's not unreasonable for me to expect to run a 3:30ish (~8:00ish/mile) marathon if I'm healthy, well-rested, have good weather, etc. To be honest, every time I think about that, it sounds crazy fast to me & not at all like something I am mentally prepared to shoot for, so I'm certainly not planning to push myself to try to run that pace.

On the other hand, a weird thing has been happening to me lately. Even with all the hip drama, my nice, comfortable, easy pace has dropped dramatically in the last few weeks from 8:30-8:50ish to 8:00-8:10ish. Seriously. My first two miles on most runs still usually hover in the 9:00-9:30ish range, but once I'm warmed up, I regularly find myself jogging along at what feels like a pretty casual level of effort & seeing splits in the 7:5x-8:0x-8:1x range. This is not something I'm used to.

Now, I'm still not planning on trying to average an 8:00 pace, but it does give me hope that I could just run at a nice, easy, comfortable pace for most of the race and hit low eights without risking too much, and if I can do that, I'll be beyond thrilled. (And if I get to mile 20 & feel like I can push a little, bonus.)

I've heard that water stops can seem a bit sparse, so I'm planning to run with a disposable bottle of 50/50 water/Gatorade until it runs out. Also the last 5.2 miles are an out-and-back a la Kaiser Permanente Half, so I'm trying to mentally prepare myself to deal with that (and hope the headwind on the Ventura Promenade is sliiiiiightly less insane than on the Great Highway in SF).


We're still a week out so there's plenty time for the forecast to do all kinds of exciting things, but so far, so good:

The other nice thing about this race is the 6 am start, so even if I end up having a terrible race & taking much longer than I expect, a high in the sixties means it should still be pretty comfortable toward the finish.


Any SoCal runners have any additional thoughts to offer? Anyone out there run this race before? (You might not remember even if you have, since it has changed its name about nine times in three years.)


  1. Good luck this weekend! Hopefully all of the weird hip issues go away.

    This race is on my list of "maybes" mostly because the course looks great and of course, because it is downhill and I have no shame in being someone who runs downhill courses! And just sayin...I hear Boston is a cool race and you are dangerously close to qualifying with those training paces...

    1. Thanks!

      Heh....We'll see what happens. I feel like Boston would indeed be a pretty respectable course to tackle next. :)

  2. Does look like cool scenery. As long as your hip doesn't explode with pain, I think you've got 330 to 335. To Boston you go.

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  4. I'm really looking forward to the recap of this race! I hope it goes well. I really think you could pull off a faster marathon than you think you're ready for. I'm pretty amazed by your inexplicable comfort at the (significantly) faster pace. It's so great! I really hope it last through the whole 26.2!

  5. Good luck this weekend! The course looks absolutely beautiful and you will have perfect running weather. I will be thinking about you pretty lady!

  6. Hooray for no monsoon weather predictions! I still think your hip will be OK and that it's currently throwing taper tantrums to make up for the lack of dramatic weather forecasts.

    I agree with the sleeping schedule: Yes, it's good to get enough sleep two nights before, but how about some solid sleep mere hours before a marathon? I think that's at least as important. I always seem to use my own experiences, though I don't mean to sound self-centered and know that everyone is different, but in Pittsburgh I didn't have enough sleep until the night before the race and even slept through the alarm on race morning. As a result, I got that much-needed truly deep sleep.

    As for pace and goals, go for it! What's the worst that could happen? You won't lose money, your body will still have to recover no matter what pace you run, and you might just have a good day. Good luck!!

    1. Lol...I feel like I am now incapable of running a race without *something* to worry about. ;)

      I think it's always helpful to hear about people's personal experiences, because it at least lets you go, "OK, this is normal." I slept well last night so I just have to manage to get myself in bed tonight early enough that the 3:30 alarm doesn't destroy me....

  7. Hi Angela,
    It's Janet (from the Envirosports Napa/Silverado run). I'm glad to hear you're up to tomorrow's run. This post was really helpful, especially because I didn't realize the last 5.2 are an out and back. I'll keep an eye out for your at the start- and your strong finish. :)