I apologize for the exceptional delay between Part 1 of the San Diego Marathon Race Report and this post, but race reports tend to get a little long, and homegirl only has so much time.
I woke up on Sunday morning really really ridiculously early and ready to Rock ‘N Roll (ha!). I want to say we had to be on the buses by like 4:30 or something else equally obscene? Of course, we needed time to get dressed, take group photo shots, etc.
I love how you can pick me out in every picture because I’m so awkwardly pale as to be literally glowing. UGH.
The bus ride to the starting line seemed long, but I have no concept of how far away it actually was. We arrived at Balboa Park, which is really beautiful. That is to say, I’m sure Balboa Park is really beautiful when every square inch is not filled with porta potties.
Like any other good marathon runners, we all got in line for the porta potties, which are simultaneously a blessing and a curse. I went to the starting line way too early and by the time the race was about to start, my feet hurt from standing too much and I had to pee again. I couldn’t do much about my feet and I figured I’d find a bathroom along the race course, so off we went, with fellow TNTer Ed and I planning to run together for as long as possible, since we both were expecting to run at the same pace.
Being a Rock N Roll marathon, there are bands stationed every couple of miles along the course to entertain the runners and the spectators. San Diego was my first Rock N Roll race, so I didn’t really know what to expect. However, one thing I did NOT expect was the first band we saw, at mile 2 (so about 6:30 in the morning) screaming “SHOW US YOUR BOOBS!” Bro, way too early for that type of thing.
Ed and I stuck together until around Mile 5, when he decided to make a bathroom stop. I didn’t see him again after that, so I was on my own. The course wound through downtown San Diego, which is very scenic. I saw a lot of people running barefoot, which really disturbed me. Literally barefoot, with no foot coverings. For one, homeless people, drunk people, and boys in general pee on the street all the time. Gross. For two, if you’re not a runner, let me clue you in on a little secret. Runners are gross. They spit and snot all over the place. No way I would ever run a marathon with literally nothing on my feet. No.
Miles 7-12 or so were on a closed highway, pretty much entirely uphill. I didn’t think this part of the course was that terrible, partially because I was in awe of how pretty highways in San Diego are. They have bridges with arches, cliffs, and pretty flowers and shit.
At mile 13, we came upon the mall that we had taken the world’s longest public transportation ride to just two days before. That was truly disturbing to me mentally because I knew exactly how far away that mall was from where we started. I guess I could kind of push the whole “13 miles” thing out of my head, but when I thought about how exhausted I was just riding a street car to the place, I was kind of freaked out. Oh well, the show had to go on.
Some of the later miles (let’s say 14-18, for the sake of argument) featured a cruel out and back that was one of the most awful things I had come across in a race until that point. Headed out, you were going uphill into the sun for what seemed like a million miles. Meanwhile, you’re watching everyone else in the whole race (because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re now in last) race down the hill literally right next to you. I thought that turn around would never come. Even more discouraging, you could see the next 8 miles from the race from the turn around spot. Do you know how effing far 8 miles is when you’ve already run 18? You don’t want to know.
Somewhere around mile 18.5, a horrible person was handing out shots of beer. I have a sensitive stomach at the best of times, and a marathon is not even close to the best of times for me. The smell of beer splattered all over the pavement and cooking in the hot sun made me throw up instantly. Only 7.5 more miles to go…
I actually did pretty well until mile 20, when we started running along Mission Bay on this horrible concrete path. I am super sensitive to different types of pavement and concrete is REALLY hard on my legs. I kept going off into the grass to walk for a bit and rest my legs and I was feeling really sorry for myself until I saw an amputee running on his prosthetic leg, keeled over around mile 21 and obviously in pain. My life is not that hard, and it really put things into perspective for me. I was all, “I have no reason to feel bad right now. That guy is running on ONE LEG! I have TWO! Let’s finish strong!” So that worked for like a mile until I couldn’t see prosthetic leg guy anymore and my selfishness took over again, but I’ll never forget him. I think about him in races all the time.
One of the many problems with this part of the course is that you can see all the people who are miles in front of you. I hate that, because there are LOTS of people who are miles in front of me. We could also see a very unfortunate little island that made up miles 23-25, called Fiesta Island. Fiesta Island is basically a giant sand dune in the middle of Mission Bay. There are no spectators, no shade, and no joy. Fiesta Island is not a fiesta at all. It is where fiestas go to die. I was really ready for the race to be over with at this point in the course, so imagine my utter joy when I saw Roddy, my Team in Training coach extraordinaire, standing at Mile 23, just waiting to help! I have never been so excited to see someone in my entire life.
Roddy is a great runner, a great coach, and a great friend, but he is an even better story teller. The man literally could talk the ears off of a wall. It is unbelievable. When I saw him at Mile 23, I asked if he could run with me for awhile and he was happy to. He started asking me questions about how I was feeling, but all I managed to say was “Can’t talk…tell me a story.” That can be dangerous, but at that point I was willing to listen to anything other than the sound of my impending death. Not knowing what to expect, I got “One time, I watched this movie with John Wayne…” which was exactly the type of random thing you can count on Roddy to say. Side note: He loves John Wayne. Roddy ran with me until about half a mile from the finish, where I thanked him profusely and he went back to help get the rest of the team across the finish line.
I crossed the finish line exhausted but excited and in a time of 4:35, which I was thrilled with. As I crossed, I ran into Tabitha and Laura, who had just finished the half marathon. Apparently my sweet ass-taping job on Laura held up, and they managed to finish the race! Interestingly, they stopped to help a man cut off his underwear along the way. Because that’s what Team in Training members do – we help cure cancer and we get too close to strangers’ underwear.
We headed over to the TNT tent, where we collapsed into chairs and found more South Carolina people.
God, the pictures from this race are all terrible. Ugh.
After the race, we headed to the post race TNT party, where I met one of my heroes, John “The Penguin” Bingham. The Penguin wrote a book called “Marathoning for Mortals” that is the reason why I started doing this. He made me believe that normal people can achieve something as seemingly impossible as running 26.2 miles, and they can have fun while doing it, no matter how fast or how slow they might run. His motto is “The miracle isn’t that I finished, it’s that I had the courage to start.” So true. Sometimes we’re terrified of doing things that we think we can’t possibly achieve, but once you get going, you realize that that crazy idea might be possible. The Penguin was at the first half marathon I did and our medal for that race had a giant penguin on it, so meeting him was really awesome. I somewhat accosted him as he walked by our table.
I was adamant about getting margaritas before we left San Diego the next morning, so I dragged everyone out for a drink after the post race party.
Heading back home the next morning, we were all doing the marathon walk. You know, bowlegged, like you just got off a horse after 12 hours but you’ve never ridden one before in your life type of thing. Alex was in search of a Tucker Max book, because despite being one of the nicest guys I know, he really wants people to think he’s an asshole. I just wanted to sit down and never ever move again. We got home late Monday night and I had to be at work the next morning. Overall, we had such an amazing trip. I made friends in San Diego that will last a lifetime, and the bond from putting your hand in someone’s butt crack to help them run better the next day can never be broken. We may not have been a Team when we got to San Diego, but we sure were when we left! (awwwwww…PS I love you all)