Yesterday I ran the Mountains 2 Beach half marathon! My time was 1:46:25 , my fastest half marathon since getting pregnant with my twins 6 years ago. Here’s how I trained for this half marathon, how the race went and how I feel about my results.
Why I Chose Mountains 2 Beach Half Marathon
Mountains 2 Beach was my first race in over 6 months, since I ran my first Boston Qualifying time (in my new age group) at Revel Big Bear in November. I chose Mountains 2 Beach because I wanted a late spring half marathon that had a fast course. Last year I ran San Diego Rock n’ Roll half as my goal race and while I do love that race, it’s not the fastest course and it usually is a pretty hot day!
When I mentioned it to my friend and fellow BODi Partner Jen, she said she was thinking about do it too since one our Team Run the World athletes that she 1:1 coaches, Marian, was going to be attempting to qualify for Boston there.
Shortly after deciding to race it, I convinced my friend and our teammate Kelley to do the full as well to try to qualify for Boston so we could travel to the 2024 Boston Marathon together. She had qualified at her first and only marathon, but didn’t go. Once she signed up, we had quite the crew!
Training for the Mountains 2 Beach Half Marathon
I spent January and February focusing on base building, strength training and nutrition. I did the 4 Week Gut Protocol with the new BODi program Sure Thing. I lost the 5 pounds I’d gained over the holidays. Then, I was asked to be part of the filming of the new 21 Day Fix Super Block and I completed that program while running about 25-30 miles per week.
In March, I started to focus specifically on half marathon training. I wrapped up filming of the 21 Day Fix BODi Block and then went to Cancun for our BODi reward trip. When I got back ,I did 21 Day Fix again with our group. I felt it was a GREAT program for combining with running. In March my mileage increased to the 30ish range a week and then in April I was running closer to 35-40 miles per week, with 2-3 strength sessions per week.
I ran several long runs over 12 miles and 4 long runs with a good portion with pace work that were big confidence boosters. I had several speed sessions as well where I felt very strong and fast.
During peak training, I felt incredibly fit and could tell that I was really pushing my. body to its limits in the final 2 weeks of training. It felt great and also exhausting! Which means it’s working!
I started the taper feeling confident and then alllll my kids got sick. They were home all week the week before last. And just when I thought I had dodged their illness, WHAM, I got it. I spent Mother’s Day afternoon and the next 2 days in bed. I had a sore throat, fever and felt like total crap. I did my best to drink a lot of water, rest and had no desire to work out at all. I kept joking it was a “super taper.”
By the time the race rolled around, I was mostly feeling good, though my throat was still a bit sore when I yawned and I felt tired as I hadn’t slept well.
Mountains 2 Beach Race Expo & Prep
Jen, Kelley and I left at 9 AM Saturday morning to drive to Ventura from Encinitas (North County San Diego). The drive should have taken 2.5 hours but it took 5 thanks to LA traffic and our bathroom and food breaks.
We went straight to the expo, got our bibs, took photos and relaxed at the hotel (Pierpont was one of the only hotels that didn’t have a 2 night minimum stay. The price was 4x what it is normally). The expo was held at the finish line area and had a lot of places for photo opps. It was all outdoors and really well organized! Mountains 2 Beach has 2 bus pick up spots and you must pick your pick up spot and time when registering. Jen and I had selected the 4:40 AM downtown bus, but Kelley chose the other location at 5 AM. They told her she could come back at the end of the expo to trade if there were spots left (there were).
Before dinner, we met up with Marian, who is a runner who joined the Team Run the World virtual training club with a couple years ago and now works 1:1 with Jen for coaching. She was going after a BQ at the race. She is so sweet and gave both Jen and I beautiful necklaces and thank you cards!
As always, we ate at an Italian restaurant the night before. The bread was SO good that I couldn’t stop eating it! I also had pasta with a plain bolognese sauce. We were back in the room and lights were off by 9 PM for our 3:45 wake up call.
Mountains 2 Beach – The Race
We woke up, got dressed and made (super weak) coffee in the room. I made a peanut butter banana sandwich and ate half the banana and half a sandwich while getting ready & the rest on the bus.
It was a super short drive (3/4 mile) to the parking for the bus. There was no lot but plenty of street parking. There were no lines – we just got on the bus and it left shortly after.
On the bus ride to the start, I found myself feeling kind of apathetic about the race. I think getting sick and getting out the groove and not being sure how I’d feel on race day (as of Saturday my throat still hurt when I yawned) threw me off mentally. But, I told Jen on the way over that I had to give it my best because we came all this way – I trained hard, I left Mike with the kids, I paid my entry fee and took time to get to the start. I HAD to give it my all (and encouraged her to do the same).
The ride to the start went very quickly too and before we knew it were were getting off. It was only 5 AM and we had an hour to kill. I do not normally have Energize (BODi’s pre workout) before a race, but since the coffee was SO weak, I did, mixed with Hydrate (electrolytes). Since I normally have a really strong coffee before a run, I knew it would be worse to NOT have energize than to have it even though I normally don’t.
The sun had not yet risen yet and it was dark and kind of cold (mid 50s), but not too bad since it was humid. I wore a jacket that I would check. Jen and I went to the bathroom, sat on a curb and chatted and went to the bathroom again. About 10 minutes before the race, I took a Gu and got in place in Wave 2, right behind the 1:45 pacer. I felt a little nervous but was ready to try my best. My A goal was to run sub 1:45, which would be my fastest race since becoming a mom. My B goal was to run sub 1:48, my fastest race since having the twins. C goal was to give it my best based on what the day gave me. I hate finishing knowing I gave up or could have given more.
The race starts on a bridge over a ravine and with the sun rising it was beautiful! I felt really good during the first mile. since I didn’t do a warm up I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel but they felt pretty good and my breathing was very easy considering my pace was 8:06. I knew mile 2 would be a little slower because it was a net incline and it was, 8:23. I was right on track with my goal. However, I felt ….kind of just TIRED. I knew I needed a caffeinated Huma Gel and took it a little early, at 25 minutes. Mile 3 was 8:00. I didn’t feel great but kept reminding myself that I NEVER feel good in the first 3 miles of a half marathon. EVER. So this was normal.
At mile 4, I tried to drop the pace into my goal of 7:50-7:55. I knew I needed several miles under 8 min/mile to make up for the slower start and for the hill I knew was coming at mile 10. There were more rolling hills and more uphill than expected in this section and I just felt like the pace that felt natural was closer to 8:05 than 7:55. After miles 4, 5, 6 and 7 were 8:01, 8:02, 7:59 and 8:02, I had to make a conscious decision- I HAD to pick up the effort, even though I didn’t feel like it.
Once I started running faster, in the 7:50s, I felt like I was in a new gear. It actually didn’t feel any more uncomfortable – if anything I felt more smooth. I had this ah-ha moment that the way it felt was nearly exactly like race pace feels in my long runs….which was pretty hard. But that I only had 6 miles to go (I did the math wrong, I actually had 7 miles lol) and that I KNEW I could hold this effort for 6 more miles because I did it in training.
This logic worked and I started to pass people. The best way to describe the way I felt in these miles was STRONG and FOCUSED. I felt like I was working hard, but that I was on a mission. I felt confident. Mile 8 was 7:50 and Mile 9 was 7:55. Mile 10 was 7:55. I even said out loud to myself “I’m going to do it!!!!” I knew it would be close since I was behind the mile markers (meaning I”d be running over 13.1 miles) and my overall pace had shifted down to 8:01.
I also knew the next mile had a hill. But it wasn’t the same hill I remembered (I don’t think) from the 2016 course – it was bigger. I was feeling good and i swear when i saw the hill in the distance my body responded. I kept telling myself – “just keep this mile under 8 and then take it home….” I said “You are strong.” “Anything worthwhile is uphill.” Yet that hill was hard. I KNOW hills are my weakness. I got passed by SO MANY PEOPLE up the hill. When my mile clicked off at 8:37, I knew I was going to miss my sub 1:45 goal. I let it go.
Thankfully, we had a nice, steep downhill to recover after the big up hill, but then we turned and did an out and back with a sharp U-turn. I told myself to get to the U-turn then pick it up. I couldn’t seem to keep my pace under 8. Mile 12 was 8:10. It was done.
We were now on a beach path and then we passed the finish line on our left, ocean on our right, and made a big loop around the outer edge of the expo/finish area to finish. It felt like it lasted forever. My breathing felt fine but my glutes and legs felt heavy. I kept telling myself to not check out, to stay focused, but it was hard. Mile 13 was 8:13.
I always have a good final kick…but I got an extra boost from 2 women who came around me quick and passed. I tried to keep up with them. In the end, my final 0.2 of the race was at a 6:50 pace…..which confirms that yes, I had some left in the tank, and no I didn’t leave it ALL out there.
When I looked at my splits…they were impressively consistent!
I finished with mixed feelings. Happy to have run my fastest race. I KNOW I’m making progress. But also feeling like this race didn’t fully represent my fitness level. And knowing that mentally I could have done better.
But…here’s the thing. “Race brain” as I like to call it, is a beast. It will constantly try to tell you to slow down, to stop, that this is silly, you goals don’t matter. We must forgive ourselves for the moments we listen. We are HUMAN! Racing is about mind over matter – and I am proud that for most of the race, I intentionally ran strong and well. Do I think I could have run faster? Yes but probably just a little. I could have also ran much slower too. I’m proud of the effort and consider this a BIG WIN!!! Fastest half marathon in 7 years…YES!
The after party was SO Fun. First I got to cheer Jen in for the half marathon, then ran into a few Instagram friends. Jen and I paid for 15 minutes in the compression boots and I got out right in time to cheer Kelley to the finish in the marathon with a 3:16 and BQ!! Next Marian came through with HER BQ! I’m feeling so excited and optimistic that we’ll be headed to Boston together in 2024!!! We had celebratory beers in the finish area (there’s no beer garden – you can drink beers anywhere in the finish area so even while you’re cheering for the finishers which is so cool!). Then we headed back to the hotel, checked out and got a giant breakfast before heading home (4 hours to get home…ugh).
Final Thoughts & What’s Next
I love running and I love racing! I can’t wait to continue to chip away at goals – to me its a giant puzzle. It has taken me WAY longer than I thought it would to get to these race times and I don’t know how long it’ll take to reach my longer term goals. But I’m here for the ride – I love the process and that’s whats most important!
What’s next? After this week off of running I plan to focus on strength training (still deciding on a BODi program but leaning toward 4 Weeks of the Prep since we’re using that with our Best Run Year Ever training plans) , nutrition (with 2 Mindset) AND start to build a HIGHER mileage base. Mike and I are hiking Rim2Rim of the Grand Canyon for our 10 year wedding anniversary, possibly Revel Big Bear Half in November, and we’re doing the Catalina 50K in January…. and then *fingers crossed* Boston in April 2024….so I’ve got LOTS of miles in my future. I want to experiment with some higher mileage and see how much body responds.
BODi & Half or Full Marathon Training Club: Best Run Year Ever
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