Apparently, I have an ego. And it was humbled last Sunday at the Rock and Roll Marathon San Diego.
I seem to be having a bit of a hard time accepting that I am no longer the runner that I was eight years ago. Oh, I had big plans (remember that 4:15?). I guess what I forgot is that insufficient training +
older age maturity does not equal a great time in a marathon, no matter what one used to run.
All of this is silly, of course. We had a great time! I ran with my husband the whole way, we took pictures, we talked to people, we cheered for the bands. We walked when we needed to (which was quite a bit, especially in the second half). We even sat down once (not a good idea because not only was it hard to get back up, it somehow tweaked Alan’s back). I did make my standard, mile 25 nausea stop, where I stick my finger down my throat in the hopes I’ll feel better (I did!).
The race started at 6:15 on Sunday morning (here is my pre-race recap, which takes us up to the starting line). As I mentioned before, we had been told that there would not be waves for the marathon. Therefore we were surprised when they held each corral up for a minute before letting them start. I don’t know, that sounds like a wave start to me. So we actually started at 6:21.
It always takes me a couple miles to get into a rhythm in any long race, and this marathon was no different. I had a hard time getting my breathing under control, which always worries me because of my exercise-induced asthma. And my stomach felt like a rock! It didn’t hurt, but it felt full and uncomfortable for the entire race.
After less than a mile of a slight uphill, the course turns right onto University Avenue (and runs by within a couple blocks of where my Aunt Lois used to live). It is pretty flat through that section, then takes a turn back toward the city again, which is basically downhill as you head toward the San Diego Harbor.
That was pretty much the last downhill we’d enjoy until the last few miles of the race. I was feeling good at this point, except my stomach. I stopped once to use the porta-potty, then a couple miles later, Alan did the same (and I did again, just in case). That put us a little behind our pace, but we caught it up a little on that downhill into the city.
At five miles, when we were almost at the harbor, we took a turn and ran right through Petco Park, home of the Padres baseball team. Of course, we had to stop for a couple pictures.
And of course, the requisite selfie.
We still kept plugging along. At mile six I grabbed a little vasoline from the medical tent (because I’d forgotten my body glide in my gear bag). As we ran out of downtown San Diego, we ran through Little Italy, then Old Town. I loved running through the neighborhoods of San Diego. At mile eight, we ran through the first of two tunnels. While it was pretty short, maybe a quarter of a mile, the band was playing, and they had set up a light show. It was cool. The second tunnel, at mile 25 was similar, and briefly energized Alan and me. Briefly.
After Old Town, we turned onto Morena Blvd. I love and hate Morena Blvd. I love it because it is the name of our beloved bloodhound, who we lost in 2009. Hate it because it is boring and hot. But at least it is flat.
We finally turned toward Mission Bay, approaching the halfway point. While we welcomed the cool breeze, it was just about then that the sun started to peek out. Within a couple miles, the clouds had cleared completely, and it definitely warmed up.
We had a few struggles as we ran past Mission Bay. We walked
multiple several times, and that was where we took the ill-fated sit-down break. I had a few deja vu moments though, as I recognized portions of previous races that I’ve run along Mission Bay, including Ragnar (that was Carrie’s leg), the Fearless 5k, and a few others. We also saw an old friend cheering on the runners at mile 13. It’s always fun to see a friendly face.
From there it just got harder. We fell farther and farther behind
my our goal pace, walked more, especially up any hills. At mile 15, that hill was a bridge over the I5 freeway. We were walking alongside another gal, who said something to the effect this was nothing compared to the hill at mile 20. Uh oh.
The sun was fully out now, and it was warming up. As we ran into a residential area, we were happy to see so many residents out there with their water hoses helping to cool the runners down. Drought be damned. And they handed out cold, wet sponges at a couple locations, which I held onto so I could continue to use it to cool myself down (a choice I regretted later as I apparently washed off all my sunscreen).
We kept moving though. Alan would run ahead, I would catch up when he took a walk break. We were feeling it by then. Alan’s back had bothered him since our one sit down break, but he kept moving along. And I did too.
When we were finally approaching mile 20, which is where we turn off Friars Road onto the 163 freeway, I was actually looking forward to it. I was remembering the race from years before, when we ran along 163 in the opposite direction early in the race. I remembered it as being mostly uphill, so I expected that we would be running in the opposite direction, so it would be downhill, right?
Not so much.
One of my facebook friends characterized miles 20-22 as the hill by which all other hills will be forever measured (my words, but her sentiment). They called it the Mile of Music, but, I think of it as two miles of hell. Yeah, there were a couple speakers along the road playing some music but even Jump couldn’t get me going at that point. But then they played Happy!
If you follow my blog you know that I have a special place in my heart for this song, even since Ragnar when it was played over and over during the event. Yes, annoying to a point, but in retrospect, the song has come to represent and remind me of the good times that we had. Now when I hear it, it makes me, well, happy! I even managed a little (painful) dance up that hill.
Alan and I were both so happy when we finally got off that freeway! We were even happy to hear a man say, right before the mile 22 marker, “less than five more miles!” The next section was through another neighborhood, with kids cheering us, and a few more men with hoses. Love them.
And then there were the TseTse Flies.
We kept moving, albeit slowly. Run a little, walk a little, repeat.
We finally reached that last downhill portion of the race. At one point, Coach Paul Greer, who’s been coaching and cheering runners for many years in San Diego and manages to appear all over the course during the race, was standing at the side yelling, “use the downhill!” I had to laugh, because by then even the downhill felt like an uphill.
At mile 25, after my “barf break,” we got it going a little bit, determined to roll into the finish with some dignity. I think we managed. What do you think?
It took us 5:36:09, which is where my humbled ego comes in. This is more than an hour slower than my previous “worst” time, and more than two hours slower than my best time. I had
wished hoped planned for 4:15. It didn’t work out that way. We had a great time, we ran together, had fun, survived 26.2 miles on insufficient training. I’ll get over it, I know. Heck, Alan isn’t bothered by it at all, and he’s a lot faster than I am.
Actually, as it turns out, Alan finished 10th in his division, and I was 32 out of 75. So I guess we did pretty good for our age after all!
We grabbed some water, a banana, stopped for a photo,
trudged hustled over to pick up our gear bags, then headed back to the car. We had brought along a cooler with two bottles of our Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator, which was cold and delicious and helped get us on the road to recovery. We also took one more selfie to show off the hardware.
I slipped on my compression sleeves as soon as we got back to the room. I credit them with helping me recover more quickly. By the next morning, I felt amazingly good. We walked to the beach, and I had very little soreness in my legs.
As I mentioned, I used those sponges to keep me cool during the race. The downside was a terrible sunburn on my chest and shoulders. My face wasn’t too bad, but I’m still mad at myself for allowing this to happen. I also have a blister on my toe, unusual for me, but probably something to do with running for over five and a half hours.
As I write this it is three days after the race. I am finally coming to an agreement with my ego, and simply appreciating my accomplishment for what it was. I (we) kicked ass! We did everything we wanted to do, and had a good time doing it. I am enjoying my recovery. I took a short run on Wednesday, and my legs felt surprisingly good.
I have learned something about myself (a common denominator for everyone who runs a marathon, I think). I like running “fast,” though that is relative these days. If I’m going to do this again, I want to train properly. I want to see what I can do again, at my age.
What winter race do you think I should do? I’m thinking around mid-December. Hmmm, something tropical maybe?