The Long Beach Half has been a race I wanted to run for the last couple of years, and it always worked out that I was working on the day it took place.  This year wasn’t any different, in fact I worked back-to-back 8 hour weddings (I’m a wedding photographer for new readers 😉 on Friday and Saturday.  When I registered for Long Beach I had a wedding scheduled for Sunday also but unfortunately it was cancelled a few months ago.  I don’t love running after weddings because I’m usually exhausted from working but this was my last race of the Beach Cities Challenge and I wanted that sea shell medal, so…. I decided to do it no matter what.  I was training for speed for the last few months and my goal was a sub 2:00 for this race.  I woke up Sunday morning at 4am, with only 4 hours of sleep.  With heat warnings all week the half marathoners were allowed to start an hour and a half early with the full marathoners.  I’m not a big fan of running in the heat so I opted for less sleep and cooler temps and started early at 6:30.  Was I exhausted?  Yes!!  Did my feet hurt from working?  Oh yes!!  But my heart was in the right place, strong and happy, and I was going to give today all I had.  My runner friend Iselda and I headed out to Long Beach and parked with only 10 minutes to go till the start time.  We quickly used the palace of potties (aka the row of porta-potties).  Which, by the way, I never thought I would ever get excited about porta-potties until I became a runner but sometimes they truly are my favorite sight!  We hopped into the starting coral and within a minute we were crossing the start line.  I immediately realized that the decision to start early before the sun rose was the best decision I could have made.  It was HOT and humid!  I started sweating with the first step across the line and the sweat didn’t stop pouring the entire race.  I was feeling great otherwise, and started with a good 9 minute per mile pace.  I love the energy of races and the thrill of passing people, especially the guys (sorry guys, but GIRL POWER)!  By miles 3-5 I was averaging 8-9 minute miles and the sun started coming up along the shore line behind the Queen Mary.  These were my favorite miles because it was just gorgeous and my energy level was great!  Once that sun was above me after mile 7 the heat just sucked the energy right out of me.  My right foot started hurting, which never happens to me, and I really would have loved to pause for a porta-potty break.  My pace slowed way down after mile 7 and once I realized I wasn’t going to hit my goal time my spirits went way down.  Realizing that you’ve been defeated is not a good feeling!  The last few miles were tough but I kept one foot in front of the other and kept going.  Even though I wasn’t going to hit my goal I was still going finish this race strong!  The last .2 of the race were downhill and I sprinted to that finish line and that part felt amazing!  Crossing that finish line, no matter what your time is, is an amazing feeling!  Whether you run, walk or crawl through that line you are still doing something that not many people will ever do.  I was proud to finish and proud to complete the Beach Cities Challenge and it was a great course.  I will absolutely do it again!