San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon

“oh god, that hurt .. i’m never doing another marathon again!  Geez, who wants to go through that much pain!  I really don’t think I’m made to run a marathon .. Oh cripes, that hurts .. ow ow ow!!!!”

Oh c’mon now .. you’ve said those exact words before .. ok, maybe not those EXACT words but the sentiment’s the same.

It’s a marathon!  They hurt!!  And why do I forget so easily?  Is it like childbirth .. when they say that you forget the pain and then want to do it again?  I suspect so but the pain is different.  Running a marathon is not like having a child tear through your insides to come out.  A bit too graphic?  Sorry.  🙂

Oh .. Sunny San Diego .. what can i say?  

This trip was a little more than just a marathon for me .. the race ended up being a metaphor for certain things that were going on in my life – a weekend of healing, release, pain, and a new beginning.

I have to say that I was really fortunate to have Jeanne with me.  We had a ton of fun – shopping, eating, enjoying the sunshine.  The people are friendly, the city was fun, and the sun was shining (so much so that i brought home a little bit of a sun burn) – it’s not a surprise that Jeanne and I had many fleeting moments of moving there during our 4 day stay.

Before the sun even rose on Thursday morning, I was out of bed, packing my last few things before grabbing Jeanne to head to the airport.. it was a cold and sleepy morning.  A few naps and one connecting flight, we arrived in San Diego .. the sun beamed down on us as we breathed in a city lined with majestic palm trees and beautiful purple flowers.

So what do we do?

1. Go to the hotel
2. Drop off our luggage
3. Go to the outlets and shop shop shop!

And let me tell you .. shop we did.  🙂  6 hours later, with sore feet and hands full of shopping bags, we fell into our hotel room and succumbed to the sweet comforts of our beds .. but not until we laid all of our successes on the bed and sat back to bask in the glow of a good shopping day.

Friday, we started off the day with a quick tour through Seaport Village and then went straight to the Race Expo .. 3 hours later, a quick visit and photo op with Bart Yasso and Frank Shorter, and a few more bags in our hands, we fall out of the Convention Centre and make our way to the Gaslamp Quarter for a late lunch, a quick shop around, and then back to the hotel to drop off another round of bags.  

That night, we headed back to the Gaslamp Quarter and had dinner on the patio of a nice Italian restaurant .. did I mention before that San Diego has fun people?!  Next thing we know, about 150 people, both men and women, run by all dressed in red dresses, screaming, cheering, making lots of noise .. in groups, big and small!  

Then, as this is going on, swarms of bicycles flooded the street .. and then we hear the chimes and tunes of the Hare Krishna make their way through the streets.  

Saturday, our last day to relax before the big day, we decide to go for a quick run in the morning to turn our legs over and then headed to the San Diego Zoo … lions, giraffes, pandas, and cheetahs!  Fun fun fun in the sun.. and i come home with a burn on my shoulder.  😦  

We have a late lunch/early dinner then retreat back to our hotel room and pack it in for an early night.

Noises in the hallway throughout the night made for a restless sleep – 3am we were awake.  Drifting in and out of consciousness, we finally roll out of bed at 430am.  All geared up in our Lions Gate singlets and to the streets we go!

We walked a mile to the start area, dropped off our bags, made a last pit stop .. (in the bushes, no less..!) and then stood in the start carrall.  Why people don’t seed themselves properly, I’ll never understand but that’s beside the point .. 

Jeanne and I had decided early on to run together and she would help pace me in for my goal time .. we’d start somewhat conservative, which would leave us with a bit extra in our legs for the back half.  In the event that we got split up, we had a plan:

1. if either of us needs to make a pitstop, the other runs to the far left so we can find each other and regroup.
2. if we split up, first place to meet is by the photographers at the finish line
3. if the photographers aren’t there, then we’ll meet at the gear check under my last name

Good plan, right?  mm .. execution had a few flaws.

A) we didn’t run conservative.  There were a few downhills near the beginning so we.. um .. yah.
B) we thought we would make it up on the uphill as we’d have to slow down .. and we did .. but .. apparently not enough.
C) Jeanne made one pit stop around 8 miles… then she caught up with me around 9 miles cuz i stuck to the far left (good execution!) .. at around 10 miles, there’s a long downhill and she would just let her legs go and meet me at the bottom … so i’m running .. and running .. and i see her get a bit further .. and further .. and i’m running with a nice older fellow at this point and we’re chatting.. and then i turn to him and say .. “I’m going to see if I can catch up to her…”.  He says, “oh really?” .. i’m like “Yup, see u later!” .. so off i go .. and i caught her (bad execution)

Less than another mile together, Jeanne goes for another pit stop and i didn’t know at the time, but that would be the last I see of Jeanne until the finish line.

On the elevation map, the course shows downhill to start, 3 mile uphill, then another downhill, then flat to the finish.  They should really let you zoom in on these elevation maps .. because that flat to the finish – um, NOT so flat.  Actually, LOTS of little ups and down .. LOTS!  

Now the first half of the course, it was overcast .. a bit warm .. a light breeze.  Almost perfect.  Could have been a few degrees cooler but still not too bad.

The back half of the course .. if i was a spectator, fabulous!  But as a participant, i thought i was going to die.  The temperature probably hit about low 20’s .. lots of ups and downs in open areas, not a lot of coverage, and a lot of the roads were quite cambered – most likely the cause of my 4th toenail on BOTH feet being bruised.  😦

So 17 miles, the wheels started coming off.. and fast!  I was so thirsty, I took water at every station and my left hamstring started to tighten up.  

Around 19 miles, my gel flask flew off my fuel belt … lucky i had an emergency gel in my back pocket.  I don’t know what possessed me to bring it that morning – I guess I thought if i needed an extra caffeine hit near the end, I would take it.  

There’s a stretch of road right by the water .. almost feel likes the Richmond Dyke .. long, flat, open .. but also HOT, and no coverage .. it felt like MILES on this stretch .. we checked the route map afterwards – it was about ONE mile.

I stopped at an Accelerade station around 22 miles’ish (i think it was 22 but i was pretty delirious at this point tho ..) .. contemplated stopping .. drank an Accelerade, then two more cups of water .. figured i could just cruise in .. since the 3:40 bunny already passed me and i knew i didn’t have enough steam to catch up .. but when i stopped, my left calf started to tighten up as well .. so running actually felt better – not necessarily on my feet tho.  

I tried to pick up on those last few miles .. but every mile marker felt like it was years .. YEARS(!) .. apart.  The thought of walking crossed my mind frequently but I knew I couldn’t do it.  It wasn’t me.  I didn’t train this hard and this long to walk in.  I had already resolved to the fact that there was no way i was going to qualify but damned if i’m not going to give what i had left .. so one last big push and hobble, stumble, cross the finish line.  i finished.. and it hurt .. ALOT .. so much pain.  I walked (not limped! – yay!) albeit slowly to INHALE a bottle of water, have my chip removed and waited by the photo area for Jeanne.  I thought that she would have finished ahead of me but her stomach issues put her two minutes behind me in crossing the finish line.  Within a few minutes, I saw her looking around for me – we regrouped, got our photo op, grabbed some food, our gear, our space blanket… took our extra strength advil that i had packed in my gear bag .. and took the shuttle and trolley back to the hotel .. then showered, packed, and off to the airport.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t get anywhere near my goal time .. didn’t even qualify for Boston – I’m rational enough to know WHY but still! 

Here are my splits:

10K – 50:20 (8:06/mile pace)
Half – 1:47:27 (8:12/mile pace)
21mi – 2:55:44 (8:23/mile pace)
Finish – 3:42:32 (8:30/mile pace)

Here are Jeanne’s:

10K – 50:20 (8:06/mile pace)
Half – 1:48:01 (8:15/mile pace)
21mi – 2:57:42 (8:28/mile pace)
Finish – 3:44:44 (8:35/mile pace) – Boston Qualifier!!

So what have i learned?

1. San Diego is beautiful!
2. I never want to run that marathon again.
3. I need to change a few things with my training.
4. I need to do a few more tune up races.
5. That marathon is still a beast … 

But, hey, i couldn’t have asked for better company in a gorgeous setting!

Good times.. good times .. here’s to another marathon under the belt, another lesson learned .. onward and upward!

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