I DID IT! I’m a marathon finisher! It’s hard to find the exact words to describe how happy I felt when crossing that finish line, but let me try to capture the moment and take you on a journey of my first 26.2…Read on for my story and results!
3:30am – My alarm went off. After a night of tossing and turning, I couldn’t believe the time had finally come. I was feeling sleepy and very anxious at the same time.
4:40am – Jeremy and I got in my car and headed to the marathon. Luckily he drove because we immediately hit traffic, and I started freaking out! After about 20 minutes of grid lock traffic on the 5 South (never go that way from Pacific Beach), we turned around and took a nice shortcut through some local roads. Much quicker!
5:20am – Parked in VIP parking right next to the start. (Thank you, Mike, for the VIP hook up!) Made a quick porta-potty stop (VIP lines are much shorter) and headed to meet up with our running group (Vavi) for a group pic. Notice how sunny it already is in the picture below, and it’s barely 5:45. We didn’t get spared on race day. The sun was out the entire time which added an additional challenge to the marathon. (Like we needed another challenge!)
6:00am – Gear check and final porta-potty pit stop. National anthem. I didn’t take off my hat, but I had my hand over my heart, and was trying to take deep breaths to stay calm. All I kept think was that this was REALLY HAPPENING. Final group shot before we split up into two separate corrals.
6:15am – Official race start! Corral 1 (the elites) was off and running. I kissed Jeremy goodbye and saw him off to his corral (5). Then, my 4 running buddies and I waited to jump into our corral (10 – but we somehow ended up in 9). There were at least 42 corrals with about 26,571 total participants!
6:21am – I’m off and running! I quickly poured a salt pack on my tongue and jumped into the back of corral 9 with my 4 running girls. Next thing I know, I’m crossing the start line! I was off to a somewhat shaky start. Honestly, I felt very overwhelmed, and I didn’t even notice our guests at the starting line – Ali and Roberto from the Bachelorette! After a couple of minutes, I thought I was having trouble breathing and I felt all the blood rush to my head. I momentarily felt light-headed but told myself to calm down. I knew it was just nerves! I started chatting with Jen and told her I was kind of freaking out. I was on the verge of a panic attack. Talking to her about the course kept my mind busy and my anxiety went away. I was feeling really steady after the 5k split.
Miles 3-8 – Nice and easy run through downtown San Diego. My friend snapped a pick of me at the aid station around mile 7. I didn’t even see him. Sorry, Alex! Guess I was really paying attention to my hydration!
Miles 8-11.5 – Running got slightly tougher on the 163 Freeway. There was about 2 miles of steady uphill (very low incline) but the road is not even. It’s quite slanted, and this surfaced my foot pain. The top of my right foot started hurting which worried me a little bit, but it definitely didn’t slow me down. Pain is temporary. Pride is forever. My inner mantra begins.
Miles 11.5-15 – I am feeling pumped! I charged up the freeway off-ramp hill and past hundreds of cheering fans onto Friars Road. I felt great, and hitting the halfway mark – a HALF marathon – almost felt, dare I say it, “easy.” Every time we passed large crowds of cheering fans, I’d get emotional and feel a great sense of pride an accomplishment. I think the endorphins were getting to me! Those feelings definitely kept me running. The pic below shows me sometime after the halfway mark. The runners on the far right side of the pic on the other side of the cone are the half marathoners. Part of the course only kept the full and half marathoners apart by cones. At times it was a little confusing, especially when you’ve been running for so long and are far into the zone.
Miles 16-19 – It’s getting much harder. We passed 1 of our group of 5 girls and unfortunately left her behind. She wasn’t feeling too great, but we knew she’d finish not too far behind us. We never did catch up to Jen. I grabbed a watermelon slice from a young boy standing on the street with his family handing out fresh fruit. I couldn’t eat the entire slice, but it kept me distracted for about 1 minute.
Miles 20 – 21 – I spotted a group of friends at mile 20 and their cheering gave me a significant boost! It felt great to have support on the course, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Our pace picked up to a sub 9 minute/mile …
Mile 22-23.5 – …until the aid station around mile 22. The 3 of us walked through it slower than we had gone through any other aid station. We started running again, but apparently our pace slowed to 9+ minute miles again. I was just happy to keep moving at that point, and since we were still passing a lot of people, it didn’t feel like we had slowed down that much. This was the hardest part of the marathon for me. I think I hit a “mini wall.” I was able to joke through it and try to make light of it by saying things like “What would you be tweeting right now? I’d say I’m breaking through the wall!” and “It could be worse. We could be running this marathon at the end of an Ironman!”
Allison was our cheerleader. She was feeling stronger than me, but she stayed with Nicole and me, encouraging us every step of the way. Every stride hurt my hips, but there was glory in pushing through that pain. I kept repeating my mantra “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” I had to say it a lot to keep me going.
Around mile 22 or 23, Running Skirts was handing out Otter Pops. The cold felt good on my fingers, lips, and throat since it was definitely heating up outside (and inside my body!), but I wasn’t able to finish it. I was nauseous at this point, but again, I definitely appreciated the thought of the Otter Pops, and it helped keep me going. The group was excited to see me in my Running Skirt and snapped a couple of pics of my outfit.
Miles 23.5 – 25.5 – The dreaded Fiesta Island. I was counting down each mile at this point. Less than 3 miles to go. I can DO this. As we approached the entry point of the 2 mile desert-like loop, a man was shouting words of advice and encouragement over a mega phone. “Don’t forget to relax your shoulders!” Good point. I made sure to shake my arms out as we entered Fiesta Island, the San Diego Rock n Roll course nightmare. All you want to do is run off the course and jump into the water. It is hot, there are hardly any spectators, and there is no shade in sight.
Miles 25.6 – 26.2 – The final stretch! We were finally off Fiesta Island and I pushed with every ounce of energy I had left to have a strong finish. I’m not sure how fast we were running, but I felt like I couldn’t keep the pace up much longer. I relied on the power of the massive cheering crowd to carry me to the finish line. Just before we crossed, Allison, Nicole, and I grabbed hands. We raised them as we crossed the finish line together. Teary-eyed, we all hugged after the we were on the other side. It felt amazing. WE DID IT!! I can’t wait to do it again!
Pace: 9:14 5km: 29:06 10k: 57:24 Half: 2:00:40 20 miles: 3:04:21 26.2 miles: 4:01:59
My Division: 146 out of 1,029!
Females: 541 out of 4,012!
Overall: 1,767 out of 8,267!