Wow! I officially conquered a marathon! There was so much training and planning in anticipation of June 5 and it came and went so quickly! I am having a lot of mixed feelings now that my first marathon is over – relief that I finished without injury, pride in completing the race in just over four hours, disappointment that I didn’t finish in under four hours, thankfulness for my great friends Allison and Asia who finished the race with me hand in hand, love for Mike who made training so much easier and enjoyable, heightened admiration for people that run ultra marathons (because believe me 26.2 miles wasn’t easy), and sadness that my first marathon training experience is now complete.
The Expo & Running Club Pasta Dinner
Friday afternoon I left work around 4 p.m. and carpooled with Allison and Mike down to the San Diego Convention Center, where the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon Expo was being held. This expo was bigger and more entertaining than any I had been to before. After we checked in and got our “scwhag bag” (string bag full of coupons and advertisements for races and sports gear) and our t-shirts (I was disappointed that the t-shit was the same for both marathon and half marathon runners and mine was a size too big), we switched our corral numbers. When we signed up for the race originally, we had guessed that we’d finish in 4 hours 30 minutes. Therefore, we were assigned corral 19. Now that we were anticipating closer to a 4 hour marathon, we wanted to makes sure that we could start closer to the front and wouldn’t get bogged down by passing slower runners in the beginning (at big races you are assigned one of many groups. Once the gun goes off, the first group begins and usually there is a wait time between one or more corrals so that everyone doesn’t start at once. You wear a timing chip on your shoe that activates when you cross the start line, so it doesn’t matter that you may start nearly 20 minutes after the gun goes off.) After we had changed our corral to 10, we made our way through the Expo, meeting up with the rest of our friends from our running group and perusing the stalls, eating samples of protein bars and shakes, drinking a beer (they sold $1 beers at the Expo), and talking to vendors.
After the Expo, we headed to the Vavi Running Club carbo-loading dinner, which was held at the Gaslamp Marriot. The first hour of the dinner consisted of drinks on the rooftop lounge called Altitude, which overlooks Petco Park, where the Padres play. After another beer (coach Blake assured us that beer is good carbo-loading), we headed downstairs for a carb-fest with our friends . Blake also had compiled a video that included pictures and video clips from the nearly 8 months of training together. I’m so thankful to have found an incredible group to run with and to have made such great friends in the process.
The Main Event – Marathon Summary
There are too many details to include them all and I doubt anyone really wants to hear them all, so here are the main points:
- Wake Up Time: 3:30 a.m.
- Race Day Breakfast: Peanut butter and banana toast/sandwich and coffee
- Arrival at Race Start: Just before 5 a.m
- Corral Number: 9 (we somehow slipped into 9 instead of 10)
- Race Gun Start Time: 6:15 a.m
- Panic Moment: Trying to get my Garmin watch to work as we walked to the start
- Food Consumed on Course: 5 Vanilla Bean Gus, Otter Pop (mile 22), orange slice (mile 18.5), 2 salt packets (mile 0 and 14), several cups of Cyotmax and water
- # Aid Stations we Drank Water at: 16 (it was hot!)
- Weather: VERY sunny with a high of 72
- Easiest Mile (s): 1-5 (downtown San Diego), 19-21 (picked up the pace and was feeling good)
- Hardest Mile (s): 8-9 (hill on the 163 freeway), 15-17 (boring road with no Ipod), and 21.5-25 (hit a “wall”).
- Sidelines Cheer Teams: Mile 1 – My boss, Mile 6 – Former coworker Nichole, Mile 8 – Current Coworkers Michelle and Lisa, Mile 14 – Jen’s mom and boyfriend, Mile 20 – 4 of Jeremy & Asia’s close friends
- Most Horrific Sight: Woman who had crapped her pants and was running with liquid poo running down her legs.
- Favorite Saying of the Day: Allison repeating “Best day EVER” over and over
- Biggest Disappointment: Not having an Ipod (battery ran out)
- Finish Line Pose: Holding hands over our heads with Allison and Asia
- Finish Time: 4:02:00 (Allison crossed at 4:01:59 somehow even though we were holding hands!)
- Average Pace: 9:14 min/miles
- Overall Finish: 1,769 of 8,267 (21st percentile)
- Division Finish (Females 25-29): 148 out of 1,029 (14th percentile)
- Gender Finish: 543 out of 4,012 (13th percentile)
- Celebrity Spottings: #3 marathon finisher, #1 half marathon finisher (Meb, San Diego local) and actress Chandra Wilson (who plays Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy) – all in the VIP section
- Best Perk of Having VIP (thanks to a friend that works for Competitor): VIP parking at the start line and VIP bathroom
- Post race feast – all you can eat and drink champagne brunch at Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island
I’ve Come a LONG Way
In sixth grade I ran a (timed) mile for the first time. It was a requirement in my P.E. class and at the time, it was the most difficult physical task I’d ever taken on. I was fascinated by the students in class that could actually run the track four times without stopping (I would run the straight always and walk the corners). Needless to say, I wasn’t born to run.
At the end of 2008 when I decided to run my first half marathon, I was so proud of myself the first time that I ran four miles without stopping. Four whole miles with ZERO walking! I remember getting pedicures with a high school friend and her mom that afternoon and my friend bragged, “Nicole ran FOUR miles today! Can you believe it?” The day that I finished the Carlsbad Half Marathon, I told myself I probably wouldn’t run another half marathon, let alone a full marathon. Although the race was fun, training alone and mostly on a treadmill just plain sucked.
A lot happened between my first half and my first full marathon, enough for a blog post in itself. The main reason I’m here today is from my support system: my boyfriend Mike, my good friend Asia and her boyfriend Jeremy, my former coworker Amy, my new coworker Allison, and new friends Miranda and Jen, who I met through the VAVI running group back in October. Without these incredible friends motivating me, I wouldn’t have made it. Now here I am today, a marathon finisher. I crossed the finish line not alone, but holding the hands of two of my closest friends. What an incredible journey!
Now you may be wondering, will I do it again? HECK YES! I plan to do it all over again next year – VAVI Running Club and all. I even have my sights on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It may take a few years, but I think I can do it if I put my mind (and body) to it!
More Info on San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon
Course Tour Video Link (see the course in fast motion!): http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/2011/05/san-diego/dodge-rock-n-roll-san-diego-course-tour-video_13398
Finish Line Video and Professional Pictures Link: http://www.asiorders.com/view_user_event_video.asp?EVENTID=75623&BIB=19449&S=230&PWD=