There has been so much anticipation of this race and in the last few weeks, I became very nervous that I was putting too much pressure on myself and expecting too much. I trained so hard and gave every workout my all, so while I should have been confident in my abilities, a part of me was scared that I would not live up to my or others' (those who knew my goal) expectations. Basically, I got into my head too much. So it was a nice relief to travel down to San Diego with my mother who puts no pressure on me and of course thinks however I do it fantastic. Sometimes you need those cheerleaders.
Two weeks prior to the race I did an 18 miler on Saturday and ran 10 miles of the Ohlone Wilderness course to work an aid station on Sunday. The combination of these two killed my calves, then doing 'Memorial Day Murph' on the Monday before race weekend (and setting PR), my lower body needed a lot of rolling out. It's hard to say for sure if this all was too much, but I felt pretty good by race day, so I don't think I made any mistakes.
The Broken Yolk. I had a large omelet filled with veggies and meat and it was de-lish! I intended to take a photo, but was so hungry I scarfed it down before I was able. Paleo success!
The rest of the day was spent reading, rolling out my legs, driving some of the course and an early dinner at none other than The Counter in Del Mar. By the evening, I felt good and ready. It was almost textbook.
6:15am start sounds good in theory. Finish early. Cool weather. All until you work back to figure out what time to wake. I decided on 4:40am, with enough time to get ready and jog the 2 miles to the start. When I woke, however, I saw massive amounts of people boarding buses out front. Those are the people that follow the suggestions to arrive at the start AN HOUR EARLY! They were also the thousands in line for the bathrooms at the start.
|It took an hour for later corrals to cross the start line!|
Upon exiting the south side of the park, the half marathon turns right and heads up the freeway while the marathon continues towards downtown. It was around this time I finally looked at my pace and realized I had been running well under my goal pace for the entire first 3 miles. I was feeling great, but a part of me wondered if I was blowing it. I could not in that moment estimate if the pace was sustainable or if slowing down would be a better option. I continued to hold a sub-7 min pace through mile 7 when the course makes its way up towards the freeway mentioned earlier. I became a little nervous. I wasn't feeling so great, I was a little warm despite the cool temps and already my legs were a little tired. In fact, I was close to panicking because I was only 7 miles in! Once we entered the freeway (on the opposite side as the half marathoners) and headed north, I just put my head down and tried to focus on my steps. It was uphill and while my pace slowed, I was still able to stay close to or under race pace, but it was painful. I felt alone because it seemed my optimistic voice had left the premise. I worked my way up to mile 10, where there was some steep downhill. While very thankful for the relief, I realized at the bottom that my legs were really hurting now and at mile 11, I was not even halfway through the race. Additionally, this is when you enter a long, very long section of just slight uphill (or at least it feels that way). Running alongside the half marathoners was also very distracting. Breaking off from them around 14 miles was a huge relief.
From 14-19 miles, the marathon course runs alongside I-5 with a long uphill, a U-turn, some downhill and then a freeway overpass. I was feeling awful and the worst part was that I could not get the demons out of my head. Here I was still on my goal pace, but every voice inside me was saying that it would not last and I was done. All I could do was put my head down, ignore everything except putting each foot in front of the other. Once we crossed over I-5 to Mission Bay I knew there were only 6-7 miles to go. While this is still a fair distance, I pictured my daily run around Stanford and told myself I could do it. Just one mile at a time. My mile times were a bit off goal pace, so I was praying I had banked enough time at the beginning that it would pay off. This is not a good way to run a race, but it was all I had. I just pushed as much as I could. I truly gave it all I had.
It seemed the last few miles, while not entirely fast, I was speeding up slightly and passing people. You can see the finish area for a long time before you get there, so I had a good idea my time would be close to my goal time. The minutes clicked by as I approached the Sea World parking lot. I must have glanced at my watch a dozen times hoping I could cross that line and be proud. As I entered the final chute, I saw my watch click over to 3:20 and I gave it everything I had left in my body to cross that finish line before the next minute passed. After the fact, my mother said she was at the finish and called out to me but could see I was SO focused I didn't even look up. All I wanted was to be done.
Disappointed? Maybe, a little. I pushed way too hard at the beginning, and while it did not feel like a push at the time because I was feeling so fresh, my watch was definitely warning me that the pace was not sustainable. I think somewhere in my head I wanted to belief I could magically pull off a super duper fast race so I went with it. Maybe that was a bad move, but in truth, I really don't even know that. I could have run slower at the beginning and still been hurting midway... Mostly I am just frustrated at how I let my mind travel to all sorts of dark places instead of staying positive. I need to work on this before the next one.
The Good: Final time was 3:20:36. My goal was 3:20 and I made it. So I am very happy with that. On top of that I was the 29th woman overall and 3rd in my age group. That ain't bad. Most of the women I was running with during my bad patches I eventually left behind, so maybe lots of people had a rough day out there. This time is 7 minutes faster than my last race only 6 months ago. I don't expect to continue this degree of progress, but I do think I can get faster by December in time for Cal International!
This race was a tough one filled with good and bad, but in the end I am so thankful to have the opportunity to run like I do. I am so blessed with a support network that cheers me on. Without them, this weekend would not have been possible.