Sunday, June 6, 2010

San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning, the plan is to meet LA Leggers in front of our hotel at 4:45am. Graciously, Rosa offered the extra seat in her car to me for a drop off in the morning. I sleep relatively well for a race day (relatively meaning not waking up every 30 minutes!). I get ready, wear my recently purchased at the expo “I know I said I would never do this again” headband , and meet with the other Leggers. There are doubts. Such as: “Do I really want to do this?” “Can I even do this again?” But doubts are drowned out by the morning routine and eventually, excitement. "I will run this marathon." "I have nothing to prove to anyone." "One step at a time!"

We arrive at the start line and proceed to the porta potties – the longest lines I’ve ever seen . I wait with them for about 15 minutes, and decide to save the porta potty stop for later and I leave Rosa, Gary and Patricia, and head to my corral. San Diego Rock N’ Roll is partnered with Team in Training – which raises money for lymphoma and leukemia research and organizes a large-scale training program for participant fundraisers. Let me just say this – Based on my experience at this marathon – Team in Training IS the event. Not only are they here in full force from all over the country and Canada, the crowd cheers are generally directed to them ( “go team!”). It often felt like their event and the rest of us, as Leggers Abby said, are “interlopers”. That being said, it IS nice to have motivated people around you during the race. Even if the TnT folks seemed to only talk to each other. This was a surprisingly quiet marathon.

Anyway back to the corral. I join my corral 29 so I am there by the start time of 6:15am. Somebody started at 6:15am, the gun went off, but it sure as heck wasn’t me. By the time my corral was ready to go (yes, that meant waiting for 28 other corrals in front of us), it was 40 minutes later. By now, I really did need to use a porta potty.

I start out the race relatively slow. We run through city streets downtown, and then head into the Balboa Park area. The most memorable sighting is in this very early mileage is the beautiful outdoor organ, Spreckles Organ Pavillion , with a musician playing for us. It was an awesome sight!

So this is a Rock N’ Roll Marathon, but since the bands are every mile or so, there is a lot of dead air in between the few seconds you pass them by. I can think of three instances where the musical acts weren’t even playing when I looped around. Truth be told the most memorable musical stop was the organ.

The course views takes a downward turn when we run roughly 4 miles on cambered freeway. There is no band, probably because there is no room for it, and the slanting road is annoying. Thank you to Frontrunners Gay & Lesbian running club for hosting the water station on the freeway. They are troopers! Supposedly this is the most scenic freeway in San Diego (fwy 168). I do remember foliage, but I bet you it’s way more scenic a drive than it is a run. And whose heard of a scenic freeway anyway?

Yesterday was overcast. Today is not. Actually, the sun is out by 8:30am. It’s not hot, but it’s not happy either.

I pass by my cousin Alex in front of the mall near our hotel, which is about mile 14. I earlier run into fellow LA Legger Abby a little after mile 13 , which was perfect timing. We are on a slight incline, it is sunny outside, and I am starting to falter on self-motivation. I run with Abby for a bit while we chat and continue until about mile 18. This is when we start to leave land and see water! There is a breeze, and I feel like I have energized with Abby’s help. She is hurting a bit because of the heat and takes it easy, so I head off on my own. I soon run into Gary who is determined to finish under 5 hours (by the way, he does). Mile 18-22 I am feeling really good. I don’t take my walk breaks as much and I enjoy the scenery.

Only problem? The paths around Fiesta Island are narrow and the Team in Training people are walking. THIS is the problem with corrals based on race time expectation (instead of a past race time). My impression is that this is a big first timer race. People guess they can run faster and choose a corral that is too fast for them. I spent a lot of time here zig zagging through walkers and slow runners. There was a lot of grassy area here though which was a fun change.

Around mile 23, we enter into a hot hot part of the island. Honestly, this part looks like a desert. And… things are starting to hurt. At mile 24, I stop taking my walk breaks because I want to get to the end faster. My knee is hurting, but the goal now is to finish. Around this time, I see a water stop manned by Target. Anything distracting helps!

There are a lot of crowds at the very end, and even though I finish 26.2 miles before the official finish (according to my Garmin, my total distance is 26.5), I make it to the finish line in 5:17:20. I get a little teary eyed as I go through the finisher’s section. I very nearly achieved my goal time of 5:15:00! So I am happy. We don’t receive anything to wrap around ourselves since body temperature has shot down, but the food available here is nice. I also have been running with my fuel belt (I like having it, but the fully loaded bottles meant extra bouncing when I ran faster), and I drink my bottle of Pedialyte which I keep for the end. Now it’s time to find Alex, and the finish area does not make it very easy to know where you are going.

So I would like to end my post here. I’m happy with my time, a new PR, and feel like I really pushed myself. I ran most of the marathon by myself and am happy. I want to end on a happy note. So it doesn’t bother me that much that the end was confusing as to where to go to meet your family, I had to sit on the parking lot ground in the sun, or that “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy” had already played and I missed them – since they started on-time and I didn’t cross the start line until 40 minutes later! Or that getting back to the hotel via their shuttle system was a bit agonizing because of the necessary standing (thanks Alex for standing in that one line while I sat!). But all in all, I am happy. I don’t think I will do this race again any time soon, but for what it was, it was a success.

Now taking time off from running and will soon start training again for ING New York Marathon in November!

Happy running!

Here’s a pic of my medal. Alex promises more pics will be coming soon. She’s the one that took them.

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