Full Report... this is a longer one! :-)
Pre-Race: When I found out 5 days ago that Long Beach had assembled a very competitive field for this race, I adjusted my race strategy from a negative-split race, to just going with the fast guys and seeing what I could do. All along (which actually means since July), my plan had been to qualify for the trials in Philadelphia, so this was just a "bonus" attempt. Equaling my time from Top of Utah was something I really wanted to do... and there were 2 ways of doing that - either a conservative start and negative split, or just run the OTQ pace as long as possible and risk blowing up. I took the chance on the latter, on the chance that I might catch lighting in a bottle and have a magical race. I figured it was worth taking the chance; I'd regret it if I ran 1:05:15 off a conservative start.
We ran from our hotel to the starting area, then did some strides, typical pre-race stuff. Since we were staying so close, we didn't even have to bother using the bathrooms at the starting area. It was nice. This race was HUGE (~25,000 runners). After the wheelchair athletes took off, we lined up at the start. The announcer tried to keep the crowd of people trying to get up to the front of the line off the heels of the "elites", so he yelled out "If you paid for your own your shoes, stay behind the rope!" That was pretty funny to me.
The Race: It was nice and cool at the start, and it was light outside, but the sun wasn't on us yet. When the gun went off, I just felt amazing... I knew it was a fast pace right away, but I told myself I was staying with the pack as long as I could. It was a solid pack of probably 12-14 runners up front, and we were led out by a couple motorcycles, several cars, a truck, and a half dozen guys riding along on Elipti-Gos. I felt like I was in the Tour de France!
The first 6 miles of the course looped around through the waterfront area of Long Beach. Lots of turns, but only one really sharp one. I tucked into the back of the lead pack (probably around 8th-9th place) for most of this time. We were moving... opening mile was 4:56, then 9:46 for the next 2 miles (2nd mile marker was way off so I didn't even click my watch). Miles 4-6 were 4:52, 4:55, 4:54. My 10K split was 30:26. That's 68 seconds faster than I've ever run for 10K, and I'm fairly certain that I equaled (or came very close to) my 5K PR during the some of those early miles.
Once we got past 10K, we started an out & back along the beach. At this point the pack really started to fall apart. I knew the pace was not sustainable, so I settled into a "comfortably hard" pace. Still, a few guys fell off me during these next 2 miles, and I think I moved into 5th place. I missed the mile 7 marker, then hit 8 miles in 10:20 for the last 2 miles. Ouch. I'm paying the pace for the really fast start. Need to re-focus, but its getting hard. I make a goal to catch the guy in front of me, and get him by mile 9, which is 5:01. My 15K split is ~46:17. That's another PR.
At 9.6 miles we turn around, off the beach, and back on the road towards the finish line. I'm closing in on the guy in 3rd place. I really want a podium spot. The 10 mile split was 5:06... too slow, but I actually closed the gap. He was dying worse than me I guess.
I missed the 11 mile mark, so the 2 miles from 10-12 was 10:18. Ugh! Fading. This part of the course has no spectators and it quite lonely. The second place guy is 10-15 seconds in front of me. I tried to muster up a little fight, but only managed 5:03 for the 13th mile, and then 28 seconds for the kick to the finish.
Final time was 1:05:45 for 3rd place. [Update: Don't you hate it when they give you a time (1:05:43) and then 8 hours later they just randomly add 2 seconds to the official results??? Apparently I ran 2 seconds slower. Oh well... same difference I guess]
Post Race: Found my aunts, uncles, and grandmother who had come to watch (they live in the LA area), then we cheered Andrea in. Holy freaking moly... her 1:17:03 was incredibly impressive. She is an absolute superstar. Then we got escorted to the VIP area... but since they weren't giving out awards for quite a while, we cooled down by running back to out hotel, took a shower, then came back to (wait around forever and eventually) get our awards. Went out to a great brunch with my family, then went to the aquarium, walked around the waterfront area, etc. A very fun day. Now we're relaxing in the hotel for a bit and will head back out to watch the sunset on the beach tonight. We're flying back to SLC tomorrow morning.
Quick Analysis: I am proud of myself for taking a chance and going for broke today. I mixed it up with some very accomplished runners and beat most of them. I also paid the price for going out so hard. With more conservative pacing, I think I could have run ~15-20 seconds faster. But that's ok... I am very confident that I can run under 2:19 in November. I'm so excited to get into this last cycle of marathon training!!!
Not that there is anything wrong with aided courses (especially considering the level of competition we have in Utah), but it feels really good to run what I feel is a very honest PR. There's no altitude / downhill conversions for this one... it is what it is, and I like that.
While we were walking around all afternoon, Andrea and I talked about our plan for the next month. We feel very confident... we have an excellent training plan... we'll support each other through this last push towards Philly, we have amazing family who believe in us (I think my parents have already booked their hotel for the Olympic Trials!), and we have the encouragement of this amazing community of runners on the blog, which means an awful lot to us.
Now, lets get ready for Philadelphia!!!
PS - Our Spooky Fast 5K is going to be October 29th. Everyone is invited, and I hope a lot of you will be able to make it. E-mail me for details.
There were about a hundred photographers on the course, so hopefully we'll get some good action shots... here's a few from my camera after the race...
Post race w/ Andrea... we are pretty happy!
Top 3 men
With the extended family after the race
C'mon, you knew this is how we'd refuel!
Long Beach harbor - the course wound all around this area... it was actually quite a scenic course, which we realized when walking around afterwards... during the race I wasn't paying attention to anything other than running.