San Diego Marathon Race Report

First things first.  I failed to qualify for Boston again, but this time I was off by 6 minutes, not 6 seconds like last time.  For some strange reason I’m not totally beaten up by fail #2.  Maybe because I’ve reset my goals so many times during the run that I’ve managed to do much better than what I had finally decided was my goal.  Along the run, my goal went from BQ to ‘just finish’ to ‘must beat NYC times’ to ‘under 4 hours’.  I finally came in at 3:52:22 (much better than under 4), so I’m pretty satisfied.  So what happened?  We’ll get to that, but let’s rewind to the day before.

J and I got to San Diego at around noon Saturday, and headed straight for the expo before grabbing lunch.  The Rock n’ Roll marathon is an entire league of its own.  Compared to the miniscule Tucson marathon, this one is huge.  If you include both the marathon and 1/2 marathon runners at SD (there were more 1/2 marathon runners), the field is about the size of the NYC marathon.  

Packet pick-up.  They required a photo ID and a printed signed confirmation sheet.  No other races in the past required a photo ID.  I guess they’re trying to prevent people from selling their bibs, or having other people run for you.
Scenes at the expo
Way too commercialized…
Porta potty fitting rooms…

I had wanted to sign up with the 3:45 pace group, but they ended up not having one.  They had a pace team for 3:40 and 4:00 and nothing in between.  That was a sign.  Next to their table, I saw that they had pace bands for each race time, so I figured I’d use that instead.  I was under the impression that they were giving it away for free so I asked for the 3:45 pace band, then they asked me for $2.  What was I going to do?  Fling the band back at them?

I ended up coughing up $2 for a band that I used wisely up until mile 19, at which point I gave up tracking my time since I was starting to lag.
Everything about this marathon is better than Tucson: the expo, organization, volunteers, water & gel stations, and medical aid stations.  With that said, I would not run it again because of its size.

The morning of the race (nice and overcast, but HUMID): on the way to the starting line.  It was a mile and half from our hotel.
I’m the ‘short little thing’ in the white cap futzing around with my garmin, and finally concluding that my garmin refused to be ‘customized’, so I turned the ‘pace alert’ to OFF.
Scene at the start line, with marathoners (blue bibs), 1/2 marathoners (yellow bibs), and relay runners (black bib) all grouped together.
And off we go…
I was running a bit under pace, but made sure I slowed down when I was going too fast.  Things were going great even up that hill between miles 7 and 10.5 that I was fretting about pre-race.  I thought to myself, “This is it?”  Apparently, my hill training had paid off.  However, things started to turn for the worse at mile 13 when I felt the first twinge of a calf cramp.  Alarms were going off in my head, “What’s going on?  It’s starting too soon.  I didn’t get my first calf cramp until mile 19 during the Tucson race.”  So I slowed down a bit more to work out the cramps, and it did release a bit from time to time but stuck around till the very end of the race.  This was about the same time the sun came out, and was in full force at mile 16 as I was about to scale a ‘mountain’.  

I saw this little blip (between 16 and 16.5) on the chart, but it never concerned me as much as the earlier hill.  Oh, was I wrong…
Finally, at mile 19 I started to fall behind, and that’s when I started resetting my goal.  I had felt terrible and entertained the thought of dropping out of the race.  As I approached the water stations I decided to do my walk breaks through the stations and then run on.  So it was: run a mile, walk 50 feet for the rest of the race with intermittent stops to stretch out the calves and quads.  The best thing I got from the medical station was a bag of ice, which I ran with for a mile using it to cool me down (putting it on my head, face, chest, and arms).  It was HOT!  From mile 18 on, it was 2 cups of Cytomax, one cup of water, and one cup of water used to pour over my head.  I was soaked from head to toe.  It looked as if I had peed all over myself, but the strategy helped ease the discomfort, and I began to reset my goals ‘up’.  Between miles 21 and 22, I saw an ambulance with a guy in the back and another one being tended to by the paramedics, and I was so tempted to join them and ride the ambulance back, but then I remembered J was waiting for me at the finish.  For the last 1/2 mile, I started to work up to a sprint and actually felt OK sprinting, and questioned myself whether I should have started sprinting earlier.

Finish line

So what did I learn from this experience?
1) Running marathons is akin to going through labor pains.  You’re hating it at the time and swearing that it’ll be the last, but as soon as the race is over, you’re reminiscing and planning your next race.
2) Never run summer races.  Stick to fall and winter races.
3) Run smaller races.  Large crowds mean energy wasted on running around people.
4) Never wear new running shoes for the race, because it gets really dirty with all the water poured down on it.  Luckily, I wore the ones that are about to be ‘retired’.
5) If I want to qualify for boston, I should start running flat courses.
6) I need to change my training plan to include long runs that are longer than 18 miles.
7) I need to figure out what’s causing these cursed leg cramps.
8) And last, but not least, I have the most wonderful and supportive husband in the world.  He followed me along the course, and was exposed to the ‘element’ (we all know how much he hates the sun) for 4 hours to cheer me on.  Later I apologized that he didn’t get to do anything for himself on this trip and you know what he said? “I got to spend time with you.”  What more can a girl ask for…

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8 Responses to San Diego Marathon Race Report

  1. GOOD JOB! You finished it! Awwww to my brother. That's sweet of him. Give him a pat on his back for me. = ) Next time in December you will make it, then I will plan a trip to come back to the States for the Boston Marathon to cheer you on!

  2. L.Y. says:

    Thanks. This was the first race I had doubts about finishing. I don't do well with heat AND humidity.I'm going to hold you to your promise : )

  3. Anonymous says:

    Congrats! And I'm sure you will BQ soon! – S.Y.

  4. L.Y. says:

    Thank you S.Y.

  5. Anonymous says:

    R. was similar for Philly, very supportive though he didn't follow along the course (he went back at the hotel to sleep :)) But he made signs! – S.Y.

  6. L.Y. says:

    LOL! I don't think J would be able to get away with that stunt. He'd be skinned alive after the race…Heard about your awesome time! I'm so envious. Congrats! You plan on running more races?

  7. Anonymous says:

    OMG thank you, I had a blast and couldn't have asked for a better experience! The course was flatish, the weather was awesome and the city was great. I did the 9 and 1 thing to get into NYC next year but other than that, I'm not sure I'll do another one before then. Thanks for sharing all your tips about running, they really helped! Will be rooting for you to BQ at your next race! – S.Y.

  8. L.Y. says:

    Thanks, glad I was of some help. Now I just wish I would listen to some of my own advice…NYC is an entirely different experience. You'll definitely enjoy it.

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