I miss running marathons for the fun of it. I typically have a goal now and there is advance planning involved. I spend more time checking my watch than enjoying the beauty of the course. Having said that, I am PSYCHED that I broke through the 3:30 mark. I’m still not even close to qualifying for Boston, but this was a huge personal accomplishment!

And that’s why we all run, right?

I set my previous PR in 2012 at Ojai 2 Ocean. Ojai is a trendy little town in the mountains inland from Ventura. The course starts out with a 10K loop that has some hills, then descends along a bike path for about 14 miles to Ventura, then has 6 flat miles along the coast to finish. The elevation profile looks like this:

Mountains 2 Beach Elevation

I did a 3:38:50 last year and my goal was to break 3:30 this year. I wasn’t sure if that was possible. On the positive side, I’ve been working with a coach for the past 7 weeks. On the negative side, I hadn’t run a marathon since 11/11/2012.

I looked at my splits from last year and put together a little race packet to share with my buddy Benny so that we could strategize. The basic plan was to try to keep the average pace close to 8:00 for the first loop, then do some sub 8:00s for the downhill portion to bank some time, then slow down at the end (I always do, might as well plan for it) and hit 3:30 at the end. Pretty simple.

Before we get into all the details on the masterful execution of this plan, here’s a shot of Benny and I at the expo the day before.

Mountains 2 Beach Expo

Before I forget: Ojai 2 Ocean is now Mountains 2 Beach. I’m sure there is some drama somewhere in the name change, but not really sure what it is. In any event, it is the same course, same organizer, etc.

Benny and I showed up bright and early. Ready to run that PR! But there was a porta potty crisis (for the race, not us) and we wound up starting 8 minutes late. We were undeterred.

The first few miles flew by. Then there was the dreaded uphill bit and a walk break at mile 5. We continued on. Elapsed time at 6.2 miles: 50:03. Only 27 seconds slower than an 8:00 pace.

We descended along the bike path into the Ventura River Basin. The first part of the course was pretty, but heading down into the valley was beautiful. At one point Benny remarked that the view was a 6 on a scale from 1 to 5. I agreed and looked back at my watch 🙂 Our fastest mile in the downhill segment was a 7:22. The slowest (and only one over 8:00) was an 8:10 for mile 16. That’s because we took a walk break just after we passed mile 15.

Somewhere between mile 16 and 17, Benny and I had our Titanic moment and I continued on alone.

The last 6 were tough. They always are. I had almost a 3 minute buffer to keep me under 3:30. I only wound up using a bit of it. My final splits were 8:12, 8:07, 8:12, 8:24, 8:07, and 7:52, followed by a crazy sprint at the very end. Coach Lori said those were “fast man real runner splits.” High praise!

So everything went according to plan, as crazy as that sounds. Here’s a photo of me looking happy after it was over.

Mountains 2 Beach PR

I had an amazing support crew out there. I think Tucker is my number one fan, always. Jerico, Scott, and my parents are not far behind. Thanks for all your support and encouragement leading up to the race and on race day. Benny got me through the first 16 and reminded me to check out the view every once in a while. Thanks for that. I’m going to run the next race and just enjoy the views! Well, maybe…

To summarize: Beautiful course. Fast course. Small, well organized race. Great support. And a big PR!

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