November 10, 2013
Time: 2:12:19 Pace: 10:06
Age Group: F25-29, 74/232
Southern California is my happy place so why not spend part of my birthday in my happy place? So we did. Last year when I was looking up half marathon destinations I came across the Malibu half marathon and instantly registered. It’s 9 days before my 30th birthday – perfect. I didn’t need a drunkfest for my 30th. I simply needed my husband, Southern Cali, and a half marathon. After I registered, I told Bryan we were spending my 30th in Cali so he registered as well. Finally a year later it was time to head West for a long weekend and sunshine.
A month after the Chicago Marathon, I thought I would have been fully recovered and ready for another race and another PR. I had Bryan come up with a mini crash training plan for the few weeks leading up to Malibu. I took a full week off after Chicago – no running, no CrossFit, and no yoga (maybe I went to hot yoga once, I don’t remember). The second week after, I went to L.A. Fitness after work for an easy 5 miler to get my legs warmed up. I ended up doing a progression run from 10:00 min/mile descending to 8:30. My legs felt a little heavy but I was excited to be running again after a week off. The following day I was to do 8 X 800m intervals. These were the hardest intervals I’ve ever done. I only got through 4 of them. I’ve never not finished my intervals. I texted Bryan after 4 and told him I couldn’t do it. Is this normal? Am I not recovered? What should I do? Then I called Bryan during the middle of my workout…again something I’ve never done. He told me, it’s okay and to just finish out the mileage at an easy pace to at least get the mileage on my legs. So I ended up doing 5 miles total. That weekend I was supposed to run 13 miles – that didn’t happen. Still feeling not fully recovered from Chicago, I decided to skip the long run so I wouldn’t get injured. So I biked for an hour on my tri bike on the trainer and went to hot yoga. The following week. Bryan and I ran an easy 3.64 miler together. I was supposed to get three more runs in, none of which happened because I was in Atlanta for a long weekend. One of my best friends was getting married and I was a bridesmaid. I was busy hanging out with my sister who lives in Georgia, wedding festivities Thursday to Saturday, and driving home on Sunday. I was exhausted by the time we returned to Indy. So this brings me up to the week of the half marathon. That week Bryan and I were getting caught up on work and life after being in Atlanta, so again no running was accomplished.
So to say that I was feeling very unprepared for Malibu was an understatement. Bryan kept telling me I would be fine. “You ran a marathon Melissa. 13.1 should seem like nothing.” But I had only ran a total of 13.64 miles since the Chicago Marathon four weeks prior. I usually plan out my race attire ahead of time so I don’t have to worry about it come race day. I always get myself a new racing tank or shirt. I like having a new shirt for race day. It makes me feel fresh and is a nice reward for all my training. Well, I didn’t have enough time to get a new race tank so I just threw a bunch of my usual gear in my suitcase and called it a day.
Once in Cali, we stayed with our dear friends Sean and Kelly. They are the best hosts and we always look forward to our time with them in Cali. We started off our weekend with a 5 mile hike in “the hills” of L.A, followed by my favorite…In-N-Out Burger!!! I have to get this every time we come to L.A. It’s my Cali staple. After my food coma, it was time for a mini night out in Hollywood to have dinner at Sur Restaurant (I couldn’t resist being that I’m a Vanderpump Rules fan) and drinks at The Abbey.
Saturday Bryan and I drove from Sherman Oaks to Malibu for packet pick up. Neither of us have been to Malibu before so we were excited for the adventure. The drive took us through the Santa Monica Mountains. Gorgeous. Stunning. Breathtaking. Packet pickup was at Zuma Beach. Literally on the beach. It wasn’t much of a health and fitness expo. Just a handful of vendors but the beach and views well made up for it. And I was starting to get excited for our race the next day. I can do this. I can run an 8:30 pace for 13.1 miles. How could I not? I’m in my element.
After packet pickup we stopped at Moonshadows restaurant in Malibu for lunch. We sat outside and took it all in over beer and tuna tartare. It was perfect. I could get used to Cali life. Following lunch we drove the Pacific Coast Highway back to L.A. It was exhilarating driving along the coast with the top down in our friend’s convertible. We decided to stop at Santa Monica Pier for some fun: roller coaster, ferris wheel, funnel cake….yes please! And not to mention watching the sunset on the pier.
That evening we got Italian carry out of spaghetti, foccia bread, garlic knots, and caeser salad. I probably overloaded on carbs too much, but I was starving after our adventures all day. We went to bed around 9:00pm but had to be awake by 3:30am to get to the shuttle in Malibu in time. The temperature for the start of the race was 55 degrees, so I put on my running shorts and running tank with a throw away zip up. I’m known for over dressing and getting too hot after a few miles so I knew I needed to listen to Bryan on what to run in. I still packed my long sleeved running shirt just in case. I ate my oatmeal in the car. True to form it was hard for me to eat it that early in the morning. I was starting to get nervous and my stomach was rumbly.
Upon arrival at Zuma Beach, the winds picked up to 15mph and that ocean breeze chilled my bones. I was freezing. I panicked. At the last minute I changed out of my tank into my long sleeve running shirt. Bryan told me not to do it but I didn’t listen. I was cold, I was tired, I was cranky, and I wanted to be comfortable at that moment, not thinking about how I would feel during the race. Rookie mistake. Come on Melissa, how can you wear a tank during the Chicago Marathon when it was 46 degrees at the start and now I have on a long sleeve shirt in Southern Cali? You would think I had never ran a race before.
On the shuttle bus to the start I was frozen. The window in front of us was broken and it was all the way open blowing cool air on us. I huddled close to Bryan to get some body heat for the next 13 miles, as this was a point to point course so we had to get to the start line. Once at the start it started to warm a little while standing in the sun but still breezy and cool in the shade. We had about 40 minutes before the start of the race. So we stretched and took in the beautiful scenery.
The goal for this race was to PR. I had my sights set on 1:52ish, 8:30 pace. Bryan was going to run with me to pace me to my new PR. And besides, it would be fun to run it together. He had only ran a few times since Chicago so he wasn’t looking to PR himself. And it was my birthday run! He tried to convince me to go out at an 8:20 pace, I was very hesitant. I didn’t know if my body would allow it.
At 7:45 a.m we were off! The sun was still rising and it was beauitful. Melissa concentrate, it’s time to get in the zone. Our first mile was an 8:20 pace. Right on target. Bryan gave me a thumbs up. The second mile was 8:40. A little slower but still averaged to 8:30 pace which was my goal. On the third mile I noticed three things. It was starting to get hilly and my miles on my GPS watchwere off by about 0.3 compared to the mile markers along the course. Bryan’s GPS watch was off too. Our watches were beeping before we crossed the mile markers. That’s not good this early in the race. I always usually finish a race 0.2 over but that extra distance adds up over the course of the race from weaving in and out of people and taking wide turns. This was at the beginning. Finally, I was starting to get really hot.
Bryan wasn’t pushing me too hard yet. We both thought I just needed to get warmed up and settled in. For the next few miles (miles 3-5) I stayed just at or under 9:00 min/miles. Then at mile 5 seeing that I would have to make up the extra mileage because we were hitting our miles 0.3 sooner than the markers, my hips were already hurting, and I was too hot, I knew I didn’t have it today. I looked over at Bryan and said it’s not happening today in defeat.
Usually my hips don’t start hurting until mile 10 or 11 in a half marathon at a quicker pace. During Chicago my hips didn’t start hurting until around mile 18 or 19. It was way too early for my hips to be hurting at mile 5. Also, I was pissed that I didn’t listen to Bryan and my gut instinct of racing in my tank. I took off my watch and handed it to Bryan and tore off my shirt and tied it around my waist. Bryan gave me an ‘I told you so.’ This was less than ideal. I hate running with extra stuff on. And not to mention my spray tan was coming off in weird patches so I looked like I had vitiligo all over my stomach, chest, and arms. Yikes. I looked rough. Ugh. By this time mentally, I was done. I wasn’t comfortable and most importantly I wasn’t having fun . I was running in my favorite place with the most beautiful scenery and not even enjoying it.
At that moment, I knew I didn’t have a PR in me that day. Bryan said I could still do it if I really wanted to, but I wouldn’t enjoy it. I would be miserable the entire time and the beautiful course would pass me by. I remember reading an article in Runner’s World that running should be fun. If it’s not fun then you’re doing something wrong. As I slowed my pace climbing a hill, I said let’s just enjoy the beautiful course and take it slow. And so we did. Once we slowed, I put my shirt back on and felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.
The course was very hilly, the hardest course I’ve ever done. So I walked up the biggest hills and water stations while looking out towards the ocean, rocky shores, mountains, and mansions. Bryan would sprint up a hill and then rest at a water station looking at the houses below us on the cliff while waiting for me to catch up. The course had energy gels at every water station. Bryan would take a couple every time. He normally doesn’t take any gels on the course because he’s attempting a PR, so he decided to make up for all those races by taking gels at every station and loading up his pockets. I think by the time we finished, he had 20 gels in his pockets.
It did somewhat suck getting passed by people that I would normally breeze by, but I had to remind myself to stop thinking competitively for this run and to simply have fun. As we were approaching the end of the race, our watches beeped at 13 miles but it seemed that we still had a ways to go. Other runners’ watches were beeping also. This course was definitely off. As we crossed the finish line together, it dawned on me. This was the first time we would have finish line pictures together. Ahhh, how sappy am I?
I was happy that I made the decision to take it slow and enjoy the race together. Who knows when we’ll do this again because Bryan will attempt to PR at his next half marathon in the spring.
Lessons learned from the Malibu Half Marathon:
Apparently it takes me longer than 4 weeks to recover from a marathon.
Listen to Bryan on what to wear during a race!
I will not wear a long sleeve shirt during a race again, regardless of the temperature at the start.
Pick out my race attire before the morning of the race, so I’m prepared and don’t have a meltdown before the start.
Not every race will be a PR.
Enjoy the moments on a beautiful course and the people you are racing with .
Most importantly, always remember to have fun.
After the race, we took another scenic drive through the Santa Monica Mountains back to L.A. The views were breathtaking. We stopped at a lookout point to take pictures because it was so beautiful. I absolutely loved Malibu, and if the timing was right and the opportunity presented itself, we would move there in a heartbeat. Or anywhere in Southern California for that matter. I love Cali and every time we visit, I fall in love more and it makes it that much harder to return home.
We ended our weekend with sushi and sake with our friends in L.A. It was the perfect birthday getaway, and I love my husband to the moon and back for spoiling me and making this my best birthday yet. Obviously I have to leave my 20’s in style.