Who knew I would be so pumped to get up before the sun on a Sunday morning. Just before 5 am last Sunday, Meghan and I jumped out of bed to start hydrating and fueling for the next 5 hours of the day. The day we had been working so hard for over the last 4 months was finally here! We were about to join thousands of people at the starting line of the Jet Blue Long Beach Marathon.
Being my second full marathon, I thought I knew what to expect; but after crossing the finish line I have to say that this was a completely different adventure. Traveling and running in an unknown area was exhilarating, but still made me glow with self-love and happiness.
About 6 miles in we ran along the beach into the rising sun. The sky was illuminated with brilliant oranges and yellows. The air was still cool from the dark morning. I will have to say, if I have to run for 5 hours straight this is definitely the way I want it to start out. At this point the only thought I had was that this was where I needed to be. All that training was worth it.
The days leading up to race day had me a little worried. We flew in to Cali, had our fair share of vacation beverages, visited some tourist attractions, and eaten out almost every meal. Other runners say to avoid 3 of those 4 things until after race day. So you can imagine, the night before I was tossing and turning with nerves while trying to empty my gut and stay hydrated; and when Meghan and I got to the starting corrals, I had no idea what the next 5 hours would be like.
Mile one felt like torcher. I have never been surrounded by so much noise while on a run. Thinking back, it was actually kind of comical. There were the typical “Cali Bros” having an abnormally loud conversation full of filler comments and no substance. Then there were the 3 guys who brought every key they could find and put them in the pocket of their gym shorts. And the pacer we chose to follow who said something with every step – and when he had nothing to say he would say “Breathe in. Breathe out” – the entire run. After a stressful work week and some tourist activities, I didn’t know how I could continue for 5 hours of this.
When we crossed the bridge to run along the boardwalk into the sun, something changed. The conversations slowed, the keys seemed to fade, and the pacer’s words became amusing. I decided this experience was going to be better than I initially expected.
Soon my shoulders eased down my back and I started to take in my surroundings. Meghan and I witnessed followed someone who must have “trusted their fart” which was a surprised to me – how uncomfortable! We ran through an amazingly supportive group of spectators who were handing out “powerballs” or what I like to call doughnut holes – which absolutely saved me. Before I knew it we were passing the “Team Gelbach” support squad, whom I never seem to get pictures of. There were a surprising number of bands playing along the way. And we even got to run through the California State University campus, which was really cool to see on a Sunday morning.
There were times that it was hard and there were times that I wanted to quite. At one point I remember thinking, “Why do I keep signing up for these? I just want this to be over.” But a few miles after the half way point, Meghan and I caught up that chatty pacer again, and my joy came back. I started to have fun again.
It occurred to me, as I picked up my pace during the last mile, that when I let go of my self-doubt and hesitation, I have fun. I am able to be present and in the moment. But most importantly I am able to appreciate all the hard work that got me to that moment when I cross the finish line 12 minutes earlier than expected which a huge gin on my face.
#RunLongBeach #BrightOrangeShoes #RunABetterLife