Yesterday I ran for a beach towel. That’s because I couldn’t seem to figure out as I ran the first half of the Malibu Half Marathon yesterday any other real reason I was running.
I suppose it was as good a reason as any other, since we are getting low on beach towels around here as the boys tend to leave the good ones at friends’ houses.
Saturday night (after a day of family quarreling because the children were not on board to help us quickly clean our house from top to bottom so that my in-laws won’t be faced with the sad fact that their son made a terrible choice in a marriage partner), I laid out my racing outfit.
“You aren’t going to wear your ‘Rebecca’ shirt?” asked MFP.
“No. It felt really narcissistic during the last race. I didn’t enjoy the attention that much.”
“Racing itself is pretty narcissistic.”
And with that pleasant thought, I put myself to bed early and waited for my alarm to go off at 3 a.m.
I rose early and had a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter because I hate oatmeal and all of the attention it gets on food blogs. You see, this race was all about rebellion, and if I had eaten a bagel, I might have actually run to my full potential.
But since I was only trying to earn my family another beach towel to lose on our next camping trip, I decided to try something new.
On top of that, I didn’t really taper, and I didn’t carbo-load for the days leading up to the race. In fact, for lunch the day before I had two big bowls of lentil soup, and for dinner I had broccoli, tofu and naan.
“You are playing with fire my little love,” MFP said. “You are not eating pre-race-day foods.”
“Well, we’ll see how it turns out. If I get the scoots, I get the scoots.”
The reason I was feeling rebellious is because I am getting tired of reading about fueling and tapering. I am tired of spending money on running and spending all of my time reading about it. In this race, I just wanted to run by feel and have a good time.
When we arrived in Malibu, it was still dark and everyone was huddled in their cars waiting for the buses that would shuttle us down the PCH to the start line.
On Friday I drove the second half of the course with the boys.
Oldest said, “You mean a bus drives you 13 miles up the PCH, drops you off, and you have to run back? And you pay to do this?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
“It sounds more like a punishment to me.”
The shuttles ran smoothly and dropped us off at the start with plenty of time to spare.
The weather was perfect and the smell of the Pacific was intoxicating.
While the scenery was spectacular, the people were remarkable as well. All fit, all dressed in expensive high-tech running gear.
“It is Malibu, Rebecca. What did you expect?” said MFP as I described the scene for him later.
Next year I am going to take MFP with me because he will shock everyone as he passes them wearing a do rag, worn-out Nike Frees and cotton running clothes purchased circa 1992.
Overall, though, the race was perfect for a socially inept person like myself. I didn’t have to worry too much about getting trampled by a bunch of women wearing water holsters with steaks and bagels stuffed in their fanny packs. The Malibu Marathon was the perfect-sized race with a very casual vibe.
Nikki (left), Sherry (middle) and I (the Nike Women’s Marathon crew) prepared to line up for the start, but not before we had several conversations that kept ending with the same refrain:
“Why are we doing this?”
I didn’t tell them that I was running for the beach towel, but maybe they figured it out later.
In all honestly, I was really excited to run my first race naked. Meaning, of course, that I didn’t wear an iPod, or a Garmin, and I hadn’t brought along my camera or phone. (Gear check rules when it works out.)
And because this race was small, all of the miles were not marked and there were no mile splits given at all.
The first three miles of the race were extremely uncomfortable for me. I felt like I was empty and tired. I did not let myself weave, so I just put my head down and waited to feel better.
Generally I start off slow on every single run. MFP says it takes me 10 miles to warm up, but it’s probably more like 5 or 6.
When we hit the first mile marker I remember (the first mile was not marked), at mile 2, my watch read 15:36. That’s the last time I looked at my watch.
I felt a bit anxious during this part of the race, because I suddenly regretted all of my rebellious non-preparation and I just wanted to sit down on the side of the road and take in the beautiful ocean scenery instead.
“I hate running. I hate running. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this?”
Mile three was the worst, because I felt terrible and started getting passed by a bunch of Lulu lemon-clad women. Nothing irritates me more than people with enough disposable income to spend $130 on a pair of running tights. I was seething.
I also began regretting not wearing my iPod, because I easily tire of hearing men wearing huge Camelbaks flounce passed me breathing like a bunch of raging asthmatics.
At this point a gentleman passed me and said, “Good morning. It’s a nice day for a run, isn’t it?” as he pulled away. As if.
I pulled out a GU and carried it in my hand after I made the executive decision that sugar was needed right away. As soon as I saw a water stop on the horizon I would slurp it.
The difference was night and day. I wasn’t feeling like an Olympic marathoner or anything, but after my first GU I felt a million times better than I did on the first three miles. Note to self: if you don’t carbo-load for a race make sure to slurp a GU at the starting line!
Even though my feelings of annoyance didn’t subside for another two miles, I started to feel better and better the longer I ran.
By the time I hit mile 8 I started passing all of the Lulu lemon women that had passed me before.
And when I hit mile 9 I thought, (sorry for this) “Hot damn! This is a half. Only four more miles!”
That’s when I started to pass the Camelbak asthmatic dudes.
But I wasn’t going to stop with them. Oh no.
I was on the hunt for the gentleman who had said “Good morning. You are a loser and I am passing you right now.” Or something like that.
I found him around mile 10 and I passed him with a smile on my face. I took another GU at this point because we were in the hilliest part of the race and I was afraid I would run out of steam.
I drank water a few times as well, but this race was small and there wasn’t a lot to offer in the way of services. In fact, if I do this race again I will no doubt carry my own water. Especially if the weather is hot.
By mile 11 I felt like I was sprinting. I felt so good, and frankly, happy that the race would soon be over.
Malibu is a hilly race. Very hilly. I don’t remember a single flat part, but since I always seem to choose these kinds of races, I didn’t lose too much sleep over it. In fact, since I train in hills, it didn’t seem that difficult to me.
The finish was exhilarating because I was able to (somewhat) sprint. I realized that I had run a P.R.: 1:41:47.
I walked over to the beach and stretched while I waited for my friends.
But not before I told my Saucony Kinvara’s “thank you for keeping my feet comfortable and letting my legs fly.” I don’t think anyone heard me. There were a lot of French people at this race; they probably either didn’t quite understand me or thought, “those Americans sure love their material things.”
The finisher’s area was well-stocked with food and drinks, and I finally got my beach towel.
The gentleman that I had passed approached me and said, “Good race. You really pulled it out at the end.”
I smiled shyly and said, “thank you.”
My racing buddies and I decided that if we do this race next year we will bring our families and have a picnic on the beach afterward.
But since we didn’t have kids with us yesterday we took full advantage of the situation and went for Bloody Mary’s instead.
And big plates of greasy food.
A veggie burger never tasted so sweet.
Official time: 1:41:47, 4th in age group, 23rd female, 77th overall.