My first marathon: Rock N Roll San Diego Recap

I’ve gone back and forth on how I want to write my marathon recap and have just decided to write whatever comes to my mind and basically throw in ALL the pictures. Hey I paid good money to MarathonFoto for them so might as well use them right… and some of them are so bad it’s funny!

On June 1 I ran the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon. Start time was 6:15 am (so early) at balboa park near the downtown area of SD. I slept pretty well on race eve and woke up at 3:15 to eat my breakfast and start getting ready. Katie came to SD with me and she was so great about making sure I had everything I needed and even drove me to the start. I got there before 5 am to make sure we beat traffic and road closures.

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 Walking up to the race nice and early (and in the dark)

I saved one of those post race blankets from Savannah and brought that to the start to keep me warm and have something to sit on before the race. I actually wasn’t cold (foreshadowing the later half the race) in my race outfit and just used the blanket to sit on. Katie got me a couple blocks from the race start area and my first stop was the brooks VIP bathrooms. Having the VIP bathrooms was great! No lines or very short lines with ac and toilets that flushed. They also had sunscreen (which I had forgotten to apply) so I sprayed on some of that and went to find a seat near to rest. I hung out for a little while before heading to the bathroom one last time and entering my corral. I did some dynamic stretching a few min before the start and was feeling ready to go.

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Before the race in my corral… love the photo bomb from the girl behind me!

The race started in waves (which previously we were told it wouldn’t) so about 10 min after the official start I was on my way. For the first hours the weather was okay, humid but not miserable with cloudy skies. I felt good doing around 12:30-13 min miles and enjoyed winding our way around balboa park and downtown San Diego. There were some hills and a lot of decline during the first 8 miles or so. I got a little nervous around mile 4 when the aid station was out of Gatorade. I’ve had trouble at previous Rock N Roll races where they’re out of water/Gatorade and I end up feeling terrible. Since there wasn’t Gatorade I took a salt/electrolyte tab. This is earlier than I normally would but I knew I needed it.

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I’m assuming this was the first couple miles, super humid before the sun came out

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This is going around Balboa park

Around mile 5 we went through the outfield walkway of Petco Park. I of course tripped (stayed on my feet) and slightly rolled my ankle. Luckily that didn’t bother me, but I was a little worried it would come back to haunt me later.

 

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Going through the outfield area of Petco, 30 sec after the ankle rolling

After going through Petco we winded around the downtown area (I passed Harriet, the 91 y/0 running the race)  through Little Italy (where I knew Katie and I would want to check out for dinner one night) and then worked our way north towards Old Town. I really liked the Old Town area and knew it was another place I would like to go back to check out with Katie. I knew after this area (9 miles-ish) I was getting closer to where Katie would be spectating. I was feeling pretty good at this point and sent out a text or two letting my parents and Katie know I was feeling pretty good and moving along. Katie and I misunderstood the map so I didn’t see KT at the 10.5 mile area and as I was turning into Mission Bay Park she let me know she’d be at the spot where we’d come out of the park.

This is where things got REALLY hard for me for the first time. The sun came out and it was really hot. Around the half way point is where I first started walking. I also stopped at a water fountain along the path and splashed my face with water. I knew it was going to be tough from here. I also stopped at one of the park bathrooms, I’d call it a step up from a port a potty and there wasn’t a line. I made it to the half way mark around 3 hours (better than 2 of my 13.1 times) and knew at this point the slow bus wasn’t going to get me. I kept winding through the park trying to find the shade and not ask the random families for a ride to the finish (I really really really wanted to do that).


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Going through Mission Bay Park

After Mission Bay Park we went back over the interstate and I spotted Katie. She made me a great sign, we chatted quickly and we switched water bottles so I would have a full one. This was SO HELPFUL! She gave me some encouraging words and then ran off to meet a mile or two down the road, using a short cut. After seeing her I hit another aid station that also had cold, wet sponges. I used one of these to cool down and just tried to stay running as long as I could. I saw Katie again, used her energy to boost me a little bit and kept trucking.

The next long stretch of miles (16-22) were just hard. The route was boring and it was just hot. I made sure to grab ice cold towels from the aid stations and accidentally grabbed a gatorade with added salt (tasted so gross) but I think that helped me feel decent the rest of the race. I also went through all the misters the had on the course. I  employed a run the downhills/flats and walk the uphills by this point. I had driven this part of the course the day before with Katie and knew that I needed to use the downhills in this stretch to make up some time before the big uphill on the highway.

Right before the big hill I stopped at the aid station for an ice cold towel and refilled my water bottle. I ran the downhill to the uphill and was just so ughhhh about the uphill. I called my mom at this point to have a little entertainment but she was busy and could only talk for a couple minutes. She was encouraging and I just tried to keep moving. The hill is over a mile long on a slanted highway with absolutely NOTHING to look at. They also played music SUPER loud that was terrible (think the music you hated at the roller skating rink as a kid). This felt like an hour and I again ran into Harriet on her world record journey. Towards the top of the hill I asked one of the team in training coaches on the course if we were close to the top. He pointed at the curve ahead that was the end, so I just decided to end my misery and run. I continued running through a downhill stretch that started winding us back towards downtown and turned off towards a residential area.

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So happy to be done with that hill… thinking all the uphills were done

I was told all the uphills were done but that was just not true. After making it into the residential areas and around the 24 mile mark I was just OVER it! Like wanted it to be over, wondering why everyone lied and said it was downhill and where was the slow bus because I wanted a ride. I called my mom again at this point, who was now home with my dad, so I had them both on speaker phone. I pretty much told them I wanted to die and that I wasn’t going to finish and that if there was another uphill I might just die right there… dramatic much? Mentally it was just so hard at this point. I’d been out there over 6 hours, I was hot, sweaty, smelly and probably slightly delirious. My dad said they’d stay on the phone until I finished, but then they went silent and well that just wasn’t going to work for me, I needed my tunes. So I got off the phone with them (rudely too, I’m so mean when I’m cranky, sorry Mom and Dad) and hit a downhill so I ran. I did this off and on with the uphill/downhill and my garmin died around 24.7 miles #slowmarathonrunnerproblems.

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DYING around the 24 mile mark

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This is what miserable looks like

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The camera man asked me to smile, since I was walking I figured why not, it looks pretty good for 6.5 hours into a marathon

Right after my garmin died I stopped to stretch (my back and hips were KILLING starting around the 18 mile mark) and as I was finishing that up, Harriet was coming to stretch in the same spot. That’s when I decided noooo I can’t be beat by a 91 y/o so let’s get moving. I walked a little bit up an uphill and when I hit the 25 mile mark (the slow bus was going by with all that had jumped on) I started running and was pretty determined to run the rest of the way. I went through the 2nd tunnel of terrible dance music with strobe lights (WHY does Rock N Roll do this??) and saw Katie cheering on the other side. I tossed her my water bottle since it was empty and told her I was running the rest of the way. She told me turn that corner and it’s straight downhill to the finish. FINALLY someone that didn’t lie to me, she was right, I turned the corner and headed toward the finish. You can see how happy I was to know I was that close…


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Just passed Katie

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Turning the last corner


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Starting to pick up the speed (you know the speed you have left at 25 miles)


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Not really sure why my arms are up but let’s just go with delirium

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I certainly wasn’t in first place, so we’ll go with yay my first marathon!

765995-1287-0010sSpotted the finish and was focused!

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So so happy



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I did it!

FinishLineOfficially a marathon finisher!

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And had to take one of these… I promise it wasn’t dark when I finished

This was super long with all the pics but since it took almost 2 months to get this done, I think it’s worth it.

Overall I’m proud of myself for finishing in 6:55:43. I know I can do it closer to the 6 hour range but I just didn’t have it all there mentally and the hot weather didn’t help. I’m already thinking about number 2 next spring, but for now will be focusing on PRing the half and hopefully the 5k.

I’m also working on losing some weight to help get the speed back I had in my first marathon. If you’re actually interested in how I’m going about the weight loss I’d be happy to write a post about it.

And I can’t forget to thank the people that helped me along the way: my parents (especially my mom) who listened to me have multiple breakdowns during this process; my running coach, Jesica, who guided me every step of the way and gave me so much support and encouragement (she also featured me on her blog with more about my marathon experience here); my BFF, Katie, thank you for being my inspiration and my cheerleader/sherpa on race day; and all of you who commented/gave me encouragement through social media/texts/in person. I’m so grateful to have such good people in my life.

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4 thoughts on “My first marathon: Rock N Roll San Diego Recap

  1. I loved reading this entire post, great recap! I was cheering for you mentally the entire time! I’m so glad to hear that you’re so proud of yourself for finishing and I hope that I can keep that mentality when I finish my half and not be too focused on my time. Those uphills and the weather in general sound just brutal! So wonderful that you had such a supportive friend there – and that the 91 y/o runner provided some motivation to speed it up 🙂 wherever you can get the motivation, right? So proud of you!

    • Thanks! Definitely don’t worry about time for your first half. It’s great to have goals, but they aren’t everything. So many things can happen on race day that you can’t control 🙂 I’m excited to see how your training turns out! And I’m here if you have any questions.

  2. I’m so, so proud of you. I know this was a hard day and a hard journey and I’m so proud that you kept pushing through despite all the obstacles and challenges. I can’t wait to see what you do in your half later this year and next year. I’m grateful to have been part of this journey with you. xoxoxoxoxo

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