"The Hills Are Going To Get You"
Mountains 2 Beach is ranked one of the top 10 Boston qualifying races. This race does a loop (or 2 depending on if the bike course is closed) around Ojai, doubling back over the start line and heads down the bike path towards the beach town of Ventura, California. Mile 4 we passed over the start line and I saw my father again. I waved as I heard him say “GO BOSTON!” I smiled; The only other race his work schedule allowed him to attend was my first half marathon, the Princess Half in Disney World. Having him there was such a special treat.
Josh and I had a game plan to keep us and the other runners in our group on pace. We had discovered a company that develops pace bracelets, based on the elevation profile of the specific race course, M2B included. You enter in your goal time and race strategy (negative splits, even splits etc etc) and it produces your splits based on the elevation gain and loses. This course does have a few hills, and rollers towards the back half the course, but the down hill allows racers to make up for that time. Having successfully used this method with the LA marathon, we knew this would get us to the finish line within the 3 hour and 33-minute time. On the uphills we slowed, conserving our energy, and then let the down hill carry us to that faster, predicted split. My husband did a great job as a pacer, having successfully qualified at another race with a 3:01 finish time, this race pace was a “conversational pace” for him, crazy. He talked as we ran, helping keep other runners distracted (I tuned him out with my headphones, I’ve heard all his stories already lol).
The first half of the race is quite enjoyable, with only one hill and an immediate down hill at mile 4, a slight incline at mile 6, and a gradual downhill until mile 14. In most races, there always seem to be a defying moment that weeds out those that went out too fast or didn’t train for hills, Mile 15 is just that. This part of the race turns off the bike path and onto the rolling hills of Santa Ana, a road that winds down the beginning of a beautiful lake, a STRENUOUS bike loop my club loves to ride. We had picked up another pacer at the 13.1 mark and he was going out HOT. Josh and I double checked the pace for this section needed for the 3:33 finish time, 8:05, no need to go sub 8 just yet. We pulled slightly back and encouraged a few others to follow us. We followed the rollers, keeping our cadence steady on the ups, picking up our knees and pushing our hips forward letting gravity take us down. This was going well, for now. By mile 19, I was back in familiar territory, Foster Park bike path, a route into town I have biked and ran MANY, MANY times. It was also a long stretch of flat land. Josh had his duties as the group pacer but I’m not going to lie, I had almost beckoned him as my personal pacer. Unfortunately, while staying on pace, the hills had taken their tole and we had dropped a few of our group. My husband yelled, “take this” while handing me the pacer stick, I saw only the back of his head as he turned to help a runner that was paused on the side of the road with a cramp. Within minutes he was back with the 4 or 5 of us left and shrugged with a shake of his head. There was nothing he could do. we had to keep going. ....
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