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Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Report

What a crazy day! I still can’t believe that the Mountains to Beach Marathon went so perfectly and am in shock! Let’s begin with pre-race activities. I spent the day before the race at CIF Finals for our Track team where we had a few athletes running. I tried to stay sitting for the most part except when cheering :) Unfortunately, our season ended there. I drove up to Ventura to meet up with Mary Kate. I was spending the night with her before the race and she was nice enough to pick up my bib for me while I was coaching.

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race RecapOnce I doubled checked that I brought everything I needed, we walked around Target for a bit and then went to Yard House for dinner where I had a beer sampler, as I did before the Santa Clarita Marathon (the last faster race I’ve run in a LONG time) and had sliders for dinner. I laid out all my clothes and was as prepared as I was going to be!

That night we went to bed at 10 pm and I knew the alarm going off at 3 am would be way too early. Of course, when it went off the first thing that went through my mind was… NOOOOOOOO!!!! But instead of letting myself get super anxious, which is what normally happens before I race, I just reminded myself to relax over and over. I took a lot of deep breaths and kept myself calm. We were dropped off at the shuttle area and loaded up on a bus to head off towards the start line. The entire time I tried to keep myself calm. God made the weather absolutely perfect and gave us a great day to run, which I took full advantage of. We did a quick portapotty stop and then sat down under a little overhang for about half an hour until they said ’10 minutes to the start’ over the loudspeaker. I felt my anxiety level rising but I just reminded myself to calm down and not to think about it. Finally, we were off!

Mountains to Beach Marathon Race Recap - The Starting LineI thought that this could be a good race to see where I was at because I was toying with the idea of planning on trying to qualify for Boston at Long Beach in October {See that post here}. I knew I would have more time to train for Long Beach, it’s one of my favorite races, and I would be running faster with a whole summer of running with the cross country team I coach under my belt. I had thought that maybe I would qualify at Mountains 2 Beach, but I just didn’t feel totally prepared. I told myself to push as hard as I could, for as long as I could and that was my goal and I really imagined myself finishing around 3:45. We started two minutes behind the faster pack and the first mile was an out and back, so it was fun to see the leaders and pace groups in front of us. Over and over I told myself that I could run fast, I needed to breathe and to just keep running hard. I listen to Pandora when I run and I was nervous what the first few songs would be, because they are usually in a good pattern or bad pattern. The day kicked off with I’m the Man, which I love, and the next song was Turn Down for What and from there I knew it was going to be a great day music wise.

Mountains to Beach Marathon Elevation Chart and Race Recap

Mountains to Beach Marathon Race Recap and Boston Qualifying Marathon

Every time the mile splits came through my headphones, I was happy with how things were going. And, my stomach was cooperating, which is rare for me! The first 9 miles were a loop and at mile 6 and 7 we ran up the only big ‘uphill’ that the course had. It was a pretty long uphill but I just put my head down and ran. At mile 6, I ate a piece of my Bonk Breaker Bar and a Hi-Chew. I somehow turned off my watch at mile 6, but turned it back on when we passed mile 8, so it was off by two miles, but I mainly just used it to see what pace I was running. The elevation chart was pretty true to the website and the downhill was awesome and very gradual so it didn’t hurt my knees. I took water at mile 6, because I got worried that I hadn’t had anything to drink yet. I kept catching up to different pace groups and was surprised that I kept passing so many of them.

At mile 8, I caught up to the 3:35 pace group. I had my eyes on the little sign the pacer was carrying for a while and when I caught them rather easily, I was worried I was going to explode at the half marathon point. I just reminded myself to relax and just run my race. I pretty quickly passed the group after asking the pacer if he was FOR SURE going to get to the finish in under 3:35 and made him promise. I kept moving forward and I got into a groove and things just clicked. My Pandora was playing great music and I didn’t have to skip any songs. I reminded myself that every step was one closer to the finish. The miles were blurring together and that is always a great sign. I took another piece of bonk breaker bar, 2 salt pills and another hi-chew at mile 12. I also grabbed some water at mile 10 and again at mile 12.

I knew if I hit the 13 mile marker at 1:44, I was well ahead of schedule so I was shocked when I hit it at 1:40, which apparently pumped me up to run Mile 14 at 7:17. My half PR is 1:46, so I was surprised I was consistently running fast splits. I thought about my training and got a little nervous because on all my training runs, I had stop lights that I would stop at, catch my breath, or I’d go into Taco Bell and get a water, stop and go to the bathroom, there would just be a lot of stops… which made me start to wonder if I could keep going without stopping, but I just told myself that I was strong and I could do this. I repeated Philippians 4:13 in my head about a million times.

Around mile 15 I caught up to and passed the 3:30 pace group, which made me really nervous. I talked with the pacer for a bit and he told me this was the fastest course he’s ever run and everyone told me that I looked great. There weren’t many spectators out along the course, but the ones I did see were supportive and refreshing to see. I tried talking to a few people, but most were not interested. The scenery around was really great. Very green, lots of trees and a very nice bike path to run along. It wasn’t too crowded either. After mile 8 it seemed that all the runners were spread out. I saw a ton of signs about Boston and people wearing Boston clothes and it kind of clicked with me. I started to believe it could happen, I could qualify here! Every time I thought about it I almost started to get choked up so I tried not to think about it. After Mile 14, I continued to be more consistent in the mid 7’s and then at mile 17 I took one last piece of bonk bar and tried to eat another hi-chew, which I unfortunately almost choked on and spit out. No more hi-chews for a while…

Mountains to Beach Marathon Race RecapMile 19 was when the wheels started to slowly fall off, as you can see in the graphic display of the ‘hitting the wall’ above. At least it was a gradual explosion instead of an all of a sudden one! I started to feel tired and my toes were really starting to hurt. I knew I had to get to mile 20 and then I only had 2 5Ks left to run. I kept thinking about the time I was ‘ahead’ of a possible BQ and started to get excited. I just had to struggle through the last 6 miles! I tried my hardest to keep running as fast as I could, but my feet were really hurting and my right quad was really tight. I told myself I couldn’t stop, I just needed to keep moving forward with a fast walk, then run, then fast walk, then run. Every single inspirational quote on Pinterest was probably repeated in my head during these last few miles. I thought a lot about the team I coach and I pictured them lined up along the course yelling for me just like how I yell at them during the race. I thought about how exciting it would be to PR and even qualify for Boston, when I wasn’t even thinking that was a real possibility before starting this race. I thought about how I would regret if I finished in 3:36 or 3:38, knowing that I was SO close and would analyze on how if I didn’t walk, or if I didn’t stop for that short moment.

Miles 22 – 24 were ROUGH. This is where I told myself BE TOUGH, Danica. You’re going to have to push if you want this. Mile 23 was right by the finish line and then it was a long out and back to the finish line. I saw MK’s boyfriend and he told me to Be Tough just like I told him to yell at me and I just tried to keep running. Right after I passed Mile 23, the 3:30 pace group caught up to me and I thought oh no… this isn’t happening now! My legs were sore, my feet hurt and I felt like I was running on fumes. The out part of the run seemed SO far away from the finish line. I kept looking over my shoulder, terrified of the 3:35 pace group swallowing me up.

Finally at mile 24.75 they caught me. I ran with them to 25 and asked them their overall time. They were 2 minutes ahead of 3:35 pace and had started 2 and a half minutes before me, So I had a 4 and a half minute cushion behind them to finish under 3:35. I ran with them for about 2 minutes but I couldn’t keep up with them and they slowly kept getting farther and farther away. It was hard watching them go, but I just kept pushing myself and knew I was on track if I just finished strong. FINALLY, the finish line was in view and I saw the crowds. I realized I was going to not only PR but I was going to make it! I was going to qualify for Boston! I started tearing up and then almost hyperventilated, so I took a few deep breaths to calm myself back down. I texted B, who unfortunately had to work, that I was going to qualify! Then got really nervous that I wasn’t going to make it and I had just jinxed myself so I really gave it everything I had that last .2. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I felt tears streaming down my cheeks and my throat closing up and I reminded myself to breathe. I was screaming and so excited, even the announcer said, “Whoa! That girl has way too much energy, go run another lap!” I saw MK’s BF and gave him a huge High 5 and said, “I did it!” I also saw the 3:35 pacer and he gave me a huge high 5 and I told him thank you. He said that I looked great the entire time and he was glad he could help. I couldn’t believe it! I finally had a race that was like Long Beach, over 4 years ago. I pushed myself and did something I never thought I was ready to do!

Mountains to Beach Marathon - Boston Qualifying Race Recap

Mountains to Beach Marathon Race RecapIt was also extra special because Mary Kate PR’ed by 13 minutes and finally broke 4 hours too! We waited for her at the finish and yelled so loud for her! It was so great to be able to have her there and to both be so excited for each other. Could you ask for a better finish line than on the beach? It was so pretty and the weather was perfect the entire time. We wanted to go in the ocean for our ice bath, but it was really rocky and I knew getting back up would be really hard for my messed up feet.

Mountains to Beach Marathon Finish LineMy last PR was 3:55:57 and from October 2009. I haven’t come anywhere close to that time in over 4 years! I’m proud to say my new official PR is: Mountains to Beach Marathon Race RecapApparently, I really like ending my run in 57 seconds. To everyone who commented on my twitter, facebook and instagram with such encouraging words and congratulations this weekend, I truly appreciate it. I read them all again this morning and they are all so kind and mean so much to me. As I was driving home after the race, I cried because I was so happy with this unexpected surprise.

I can’t believe my first BIG marathon is going to be the BOSTON MARATHON because I actually qualified for it!!!!


P.S. In case you’re wondering, Here is the training plan I used for Mountains 2 Beach

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  • Reply Mary

    Huge well done. It sounds like you had a fantastic race! How exciting qualifying for Boston! :-)

    May 27, 2014 at 12:13 am
  • Reply 2 Cups 'N Run

    What a great time! Congratulations, how exciting to get a BQ!
    Loved the recap and the pictures.

    May 27, 2014 at 2:20 am
  • Reply meghan

    AMAZING! i think i’ve caught the marathon bug again after reading your incredible story :) i ran my first full in austin back in february and barely made it in 4:30… you’ve inspired me to keep working on getting faster. congratulations!! hope you celebrated this weekend :)

    May 27, 2014 at 5:06 am
  • Reply EB @ Running on E

    Congrats! That is awesome! Way to kill it!

    May 27, 2014 at 5:42 am
  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles

    Incredible job, you OWNED that race! So happy for you!

    May 27, 2014 at 6:16 am
  • Reply Heather


    May 27, 2014 at 6:25 am
  • Reply Sokphal @ Life as a Classroom

    Agggh! So happy for you Danica! AMAZING!!!! You are a beast! Relish in the Runner’s High! See you in Boston! :)

    May 27, 2014 at 7:12 am
  • Reply Natalie @ Twenty-Something Talk

    I know you’ve heard it a million times by now, but hot damn you deserve to hear it again – CONGRATS! It’s been so cool to watch you progress the last few months and it is CRAZY ENCOURAGING to all of us!

    May 27, 2014 at 7:23 am
  • Reply Tantra

    Congrats! I qualified too! I followed your plan and I will def see you in BOSTON next year! Great job doll! glad to see that all of your hard work paid off!

    May 27, 2014 at 7:55 am
  • Reply Meredith

    Congratulations Danica!!! Great race!

    May 27, 2014 at 7:57 am
  • Reply The Silent Assassin

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahooooooooooooooooooooooooo! So so good D!. thanks for sharing this one!!! Is it crazy that I’m so vested in this blog?! lol…. But yeah, this one again, I think all of you followers had a feeling you were gonna crush it!

    2 things though. One, I think the beer thing is a THING! I pr’d a race and the night before was the first time I drank beer as part of the pre race “food”. Winner! And two, PLEASE DO CONSIDER doing the Long Beach (even though you did BQ). Do the half! I’ll be there to complete the beach cities challenge. Would be sooooooooooooooooooo awesome to meet you! Just think about it =).

    Again, you’re a badass D!

    May 27, 2014 at 8:15 am
  • Reply Caitlin Lanseer

    I teared up once seeing you IG photos and again reading your post! You are amazing! I adore how down to earth you. Thank you for being an amazing inspiration for me daily. I CAN’T wait to follow your journey to Boston. I hope to make it there one day too!

    May 27, 2014 at 8:22 am
  • Reply Leigh

    Congratulations on an amazing race! You are such an inspiration!

    May 27, 2014 at 9:02 am
  • Reply Britt

    Amazeballs. I would love to read a post on how you chose Bonk Breakers, Hi-Chew, and salt tabs for your race nutrition. I’ve never considered salt tabs before, but I’m thinking that would be better than needing to carry my own electrolyte drink. I’d love to hear how you nailed down your fuel combination.

    May 27, 2014 at 9:10 am
  • Reply Amanda @runtothefinish

    EEEEIIIIIKKKK congrats!!! can I tell you I kind of hate race reports, but was dying to read yours and seriously ate up every bit because well I’m not going to lie I pretty much anticipate thats the mental strength I’m gonna need this fall.

    Congrats!!!! I am so happy for you and glad that all the changes to training and mental strength paid off big!

    May 27, 2014 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Jen

    I am SO inspired by your experience!!! Thank you for sharing and congratulations on an incredible accomplishment! My marathon PR is also 3:55, but I know I have a faster time in me (based on all my other race/training run times), so it really motivates me to see that it IS possible. :)

    May 27, 2014 at 10:56 am
  • Reply Felice @ The Happy Runner

    Congratulations!! What an amazing job!!

    May 27, 2014 at 11:14 am
  • Reply Tia

    So awesome!! I hope to be in your shoes this fall!!!!!

    May 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm
  • Reply Danielle @daniruns

    This is so freakin amazing! You’ve seriously been my running inspiration since I found your blog a few years ago :) Last year Long Beach was my first marathon and I read your LB recap like a million times because I knew that race was like a dream come true for you and it gave me so much inspiration! I am so darn happy that you were able to have another race like that LB one. And not only did you run a totally kick ass race but you qualified for Boston! You really worked super hard, so you should be very proud. Now you can slay the LB marathon in October too ;)

    May 27, 2014 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply Sandy

    What a great race! I love that marathon. The course is great. You are proof that hard work pays off. Congratulations on qualifying for Boston. I was hoping that B was there to see you qualify but hopefully he can make it to Boston with you!

    May 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm
  • Reply Krista

    I am SOOOO happy for you!!!! You are going to kick boston’s ass!!! When I ran it in April I swore I’d watch from the street in 2015 haha, so I will be cheering for you!!!

    May 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Krystin

    So awesome! Great job, I can’t imagine that emotion! I almost hyperventilate when I get excited, nervous, exhausted in races too, its hard to mentally be strong! You did fantastic! Thank you for posting your training plan I was curious!

    May 27, 2014 at 1:46 pm
  • Reply Shannah

    Seriously, so proud of you!

    May 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm
  • Reply Meg

    Congrats on your PR and qualifying for Boston!!! You’re the champ!!!

    May 27, 2014 at 2:01 pm
  • Reply Sesa

    I was the random woman who congratulated you after the race – it was great seeing you finish! Not a good run for me, but this race report put a smile on my face. Really enjoyed following your training these past few months. :)

    May 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm
  • Reply Tiffany M.

    Wow! What an awesome race for you. Congrats! I could only dream of qualifying for Boston and you actually did it. Very inspiring and it gives me something to work towards. I always appreciate reading about your struggles and triumphs.

    May 27, 2014 at 5:38 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    Way to go! Pretty awesome!

    May 27, 2014 at 7:18 pm
  • Reply Emily

    What a great recap! Huge congrats, girl! And more impressive that you were able to text while running! That’s talent!

    May 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm
  • Reply Maureen

    I haven’t checked your blog in a while, but what an exciting time to tune back in! Congratulations on the amazing PR and BQ!!!!!! I’m so inspired to start running again!

    May 28, 2014 at 8:10 am
  • Reply Krissy @ Shiawase Life

    Thanks for sharing this recap! I could feel all those emotions as I was reading, and am so proud of you!!

    May 28, 2014 at 9:43 am
  • Reply karleen

    omg this is sooooo awesome Danica! I can only picture your reaction when you crossed the finish line! love it:) So proud of you. You’re truly an inspiration and honestly keep me running. I don’t have the heart to ever run a full marathon. I want to keep beating my half marathon times and register for fun, pretty races.
    GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2014 at 10:43 am
  • Reply Sarah @RunFarGirl

    I loved reading your recap and your previous post about being mentally tough for the race. I ran my marathon a week before and also PR’d by 23 minutes and walked away with my first ever BQ. Like you I had big goals and times I wanted to run and realized I wasn’t really doing the training necessary to achieve them. I put so much work into my training this winter and spring that when it all came together on race day was such an amazing and emotional day. I wanted to run a marathon and not feel disappointed and hating running at the end. I made my goal to run and finish feeling “triumphant” and that’s exactly what I did! It was the most amazing feeling to finally have a satisfying marathon experience and a BQ! This is the first time I’ve been to your blog, but I feel so, so proud of you! Hope to see you in Boston 2015!! Congrats! High Fives and Hugs!

    May 30, 2014 at 2:56 am
  • Reply Christine

    Wow, this race report gave me goose bumps!! I’m soo excited for you! You worked so hard and deserve it!! You make me want to qualify for Boston as well :)

    May 30, 2014 at 11:08 am
  • Reply Toronto Girl West

    I can’t tell you how PROUD of you I felt when I saw on Facebook that you qualified! You deserve this Danica – you really do!!! :)

    June 1, 2014 at 10:53 pm
  • Reply Sara

    When I saw you had BQ’d I thought that was your plan all along but how cool that it just kind of happened as the race unfolded. It probably took off a lot of pressure, and made it easier (you know, as “easy” as a marathon can be). CONGRATULATIONS this is such a cool accomplishment!

    June 4, 2014 at 8:42 am
  • Reply Monika

    Congratulations!!! I was thinking you might BQ based on all the fast training runs you have been doing. So exciting!! :)

    June 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm
  • Reply Jodi

    I still can’t believe you did it! I mean, I can, but wow! I totally got choked up reading this. I’m so proud of you and so happy for you!

    June 5, 2014 at 11:32 am
  • Reply C

    This is probably the most motivating blog post I have ever read. My PR is 3:54 from 2011. I really want to beat that time and I know I will soon!! Thank you for posting this and MANY congrats!! You are a rockstar for sure!

    June 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Ventura Marathon – Day 2 of Training | Shoots Kden Aloha

    […]  Go read like maybe the last 5 or 6 blogs. It shows her progression of training up to her BQ at Mountains 2 Beach. It’s an amazing story and one that’s very inspiring. Danica is real peeps, […]

    June 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm
  • Reply Janice

    What an amazing job! Congrats. Lovely recap. You did a great job. I felt like I wa watching you run.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm
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