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Skating My First Inline Marathon

by Frank Hong

I started inline skating Frank Hong in June of 2003 and I've been having a blast ever since. I was having so much fun skating during those first few weeks, I decided to signed up for the Long Beach Inline Marathon in October of 2003, even though that race would take place only four months after I had first started skating. It was going to be my first race, so I was only hoping to have a good time and cross the finish line before they closed down the route.

Questions About Skating a Marathon

Since I had never skated a marathon before, I had quite a few questions:

  • I was hoping to finish the race in about 4 hours. Was that reasonable?

  • What was the course going to be like? How was the road surface?

  • Were there going to be many steep hills? I wanted to wear my 5 wheel skates with no heel brake, but I was not very good at stopping without a brake going down a steep hill. I do have a pair of recreational skates with a heel brake.

  • Should I bring my own drinks (in a fanny pack) or depend on the water stations?

  • The start time was going to be at 7:15 am. When should I get there and where should I park?
Here is some advice I got from Long Beach Marathon Race Director Dan Joyce: Advice from the Race Director.

3 Weeks Before the Race

I have been skating 26 miles on the bike path for the past four Sundays and so far I feel fairly comfortable with my equipment/apparel setup. I also try to get some skating time in after work but thatís not always easy with family commitments. Iím trying to learn the double push technique but I donít know if I can put it to use by race date. I think that I understand the theory and mechanics behind it but I just canít get my body to do it. LOL

I plan to pickup my marathon package on Saturday and also check out the course then. I may even try to skate down those hills just to see how theyíll feel.

The closer the race date the more excited I feel about the race. The entire process of setting the goal to finish and engaging in some type of training and technique improvement has been very rewarding and fun so far.

I did my last long skate before the marathon on Sunday. I managed to skate 40 miles without killing myself. I think that I'm ready.

The last 6 weeks were great. My skating has improved greatly and so has my body. I enjoyed conversing with you all on the forum and thanks for sharing your ideas with me. I'll post my result here after the race.

The Race

I finished the race! It was a blast and I look forward to next year's race. I couldn't break the 2 hours mark but I got close. 2:01 was my offical time.

I met Kathie Fry and other skaters I skated with at various group skates, and I had a chance to social with others before the race.

I wish that I can say the event was smooth sailing for me but it wasn't. I was sick for most of the week and had a 103 fever on Thursday night. When I picked up my package on Saturday morning, I was still running a slight fever. I decided to race at that time regardless because I looked forward to this race for weeks.

On Sunday, I took the same route I did on Saturday, the 110 freeway and cut across the bridges to hit downtown LB. Except the streets were blocked coming into downtown from the Port of Long Beach. I ended up going north on 710 just to loop back around. I kept an eye on the clock and I didn't park the car until 7:05, across from the LB Performance Arts Center. I jumped into my skates and rushed down to the starting line. Luckily, there was a delay so I gained ten minutes to use the restroom and to do some stretching. I was in awe to see the pro and advance skaters zooming around in their skin suit. The mood was very festive with music blasting and the MC making humorous remarks. I was glad the sky was clear and not overcasted like the past few weekends. Soon the pro racers left but I was too far back to get a good look at their departure. I advanced up toward the starting line and I checked my timing chip one last time to make sure it's secured to my boot. When it was time for my group to go, there was a slight confusing about if the rec skaters are suppose to go with the advance skaters. The MC finally said all skaters go and off I went.

I really liked the Long Beach course. It's fairly flat and the hills were very manageable. My legs felt rubbery and weak at first, so I decided to take it easy. Soon, I found this group of girls from LB to draft off on and I ended up skating with them for the entire race.

I think it was at mile 5 or 6, I was going through a parking lot and heading into the beach bike path, and the path started to narrow into the bike path, my skate tangled with another skater's skate and I took a hard fall. I landed on my shoulder and the girl right behind me rolled over my fingers and took a fall too. I was on the ground for a few seconds just to make sure that nothing is broken, but I can see that my hand was bleeding. My shoulder was hurting too but I got up to make sure the girl was fine. She was with the group that I was darfting off on so I guess that I earned the rights to skate with them since one of them ran over me. My glasses frame broke at the hinge during the fall so for the remaining 20+ miles I had to constantly adjust my frame so I can see where I am going. Right after my fall, my entire body ached and I had thoughts of quitting going through my mind. I drafted behind the girls to allow my body to adjust for the pain and just to have companions to keep me going. It wasn't until after the 15 miles mark before my body feel fluid again. The rest of the race was much more enjoyable and I waved and greeted the volunteers whenever I see them. I also give words of encouragements to other skaters when I pass them.

The last mile was fun, the girls and I were like a run away train headed straight for the finish line. We crossed the finish line together and hugged afterwards. I thanked the girls for pulling me through the race. They were the "MF" girls from Long Beach. I stuck around to turn in my timing chip and get some fruits and water, but my road rash started to hurt again so I decide to head home.

On the drive home I thought to myself that I finished my first marathon and I smiled.

Related Links
Frank Hong Bio and Photo
Index to Skaters by Country
2003 Long Beach Marathon

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