I haven't yet completely closed the book on the Long Beach Marathon. Well, there's one more post that I need to get out of the way - this one. Just wanted to shake out my final thoughts on the race, the event, the course, etc.
- I enjoyed the course. I liked starting on Shoreline Dr and running on a portion of a freeway with traffic shut down. The beach path was enjoyable enough, although it did seem like it went on quite a bit longer than I remembered that stretch in 2010. Once we came on the marathon/half marathon split, the course was still enjoyable enough, and running through Long Beach State was definitely a highlight. The course was mostly flat - there were a few inclines but it was 95 percent flat.
- What I didn't enjoy was the start time. Both the races started at 7 a.m., and that only harms the full marathoners. The sun come out and blaze overhead, and with a lot of marathoners were still on the course at noon it made for tough conditions. What I disliked as well was the finish line atmosphere. It was practically non-existent. I came in at about 12:15 or 12:30, and most of the crowds had cleared and a lot of the stands had already been taken down. It's not that I enjoy crowds but there was little vibe after the race. But that's understandable, since most of the half marathoners had finished their race by 10 a.m. By contrast, only the fast marathoners would have finished by then. A better solution might be to start the full marathon anywhere from 60-90 minutes earlier. Marathoners would probably be better with an earlier start time, accustomed to it anyway, and that way the finish would be much more festive for more runners.
- I was not thrilled with some of the aid stations. The volunteers were helpful enough but the water itself was... sigh. It tasted like tap water. As the sun was hot overhead, tap water was not exactly all that soothing.
- There were quite a few helpful residents/spectators handing out some really great stuff. My favorite - someone had a bowl of cooked potatoes with salt on them. This was at around Mile 25 and, man, did it hit the spot. I actually had passed it by, having tried to grab some but missed, and didn't want to stop, but the guy holding them ran in front of me and I was able to get some anyway. That was pretty awesome.
- Aside from their drinks and food and stuff, the spectators were superb down the stretch and really encouraging. One guy in particular stood out. I'd remembered seeing him early on in the race as he was running shirtless and was covered in tattoos. Combined with a thick beard he stood out. He'd had his shirt on, as well as a medal, and was walking down the middle of the street, probably about a half-mile from the finish. I don't know, just hearing him encourage me and tell me that the worst was over, it just really comforted me and helped give me the boost I needed.
- One funny thing, as Danny had joined me at Mile 20, we did look like an odd couple. Danny was fresh of course and I was a broken-down runner. So when people congratulated us or tried to give us high gives, I welcomed them while he was a bit sheepish. One lady in particular was funny. It was around Mile 22 and she was encouraging runners. She pointed to him and said 'You're looking good!' Um... yeah, it's because he'd only run two miles to my 22.
- Pictures! I have some pictures to share. Dang, so I guess that means I'm not quite done with Long Beach. Ugh. Oh well. I'll put them up later this week.