Sunday, June 8, 2008

I Rocked 'n Rolled In San Diego!

I did it! I ran a marathon!!!! "What an experience!!".

The adventure started on Thursday May 29th. The flights to San Diego were great. Primarily because I flew first class; gotta love those frequent flyer miles!! I figured my legs would be tired/sore on the return flight and would "deserve" the extra legroom!

Friday was expo day. My sister's friend Elisa and her 9 month-old daughter Brody joined us for the trip to the Expo. Brody was so cute, a blondie and a "chunky monkey" just like Lauren was at that age. Anyways, we started by getting our bibs and t-shirts. The t-shirt was surprisingly nice; usually I give them away but I think I might actually wear this one. We stopped at the Marines' booth where they had a chin-up bar challenge. I held myself up there for 50 seconds. The girl before me did 70 seconds! Wow! But, my time was good enough for a t-shirt that said "Pain is Fear leaving the body", I like that!

The expo was a good size. There were lots of booths hawking new clothes, drinks, energy goos, trinkets, souveniers, etc. But not so many that one would tire out their legs 2 days before the race. After the expo, we dropped off Elisa and Brody, then headed out to meet some of Yvonne's fellow teachers for happy hour. Beer does qualify as carbo loading!!! We had to get going because my nephew Kevin was playing trombone in the 5th grade band concert that evening.

Saturday was designated as "rest" day. I spent most of the morning in bed, on the laptop catching up on some work. Yvonne was at her high school for the annual boat "test". Students are given pieces of wood and have to build a pool-worthy boat, that can hold a student. David and the kids and I went to watch the "test". It was great! The kids had to have a theme for their boat. My favorite was the kid who dressed up in a suit and his boat was the "The Science Guy, Bill Nye". He made it across the pool. The "Luck of the Irish" didn't have much luck and sank immediately. What a great event!

Saturday night, we carbo loaded with lots of baked ziti. Then Yvonne and I got all our race stuff ready and went to bed around 10pm.

Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 3:30am. I got up, got ready and had my racing usual breakfast of a bagel. We left the house around quarter of 5am, hit the highway and as we got close to the airport exit, we came to a dead halt. Too many cars trying to get off at 1 exit. I was surprisingly calm; normally I would be freaking out. But, I wasn't driving. I know Yvonne felt terrible. I don't think she expected as much traffic. After waiting what seemed like an hour; no, actually, it was an hour, we finally made it to the parking area and got on the shuttle bus. It was now 6:15am; the race started at 6:30.

The shuttle bus dropped us off at the back end of the starting line with less than 5 minutes till the start of the race. I did a quick sun screen spray, put on my hydration belt and then we took off running to the UPS gear check spot. Next, we ran to the porta-potty and waited in line. After Yvonne and I got out of the PP, we gave each other a quick hug, wished each other good luck, then headed for our separate starting corrals.

Before I made it to my corral, the race started. So I just jumped into a corral and then realized it was #22. I was supposed to be in #14 so I was quite a bit "behind". So, I jumped out of #22 and ran up the sidelines to find a "faster" corral. Each corral holds 1,000 runners, so when I jumped back in, I had only gotten up to #19. I stayed, but kept getting stuck behind people who talking, taking picture, having a really good social event. But I was ready to RUN!!! I stayed cool and eventually we made it to the starting line; 12 minutes after the race began. Thank goodness for timing chips!

Being in a slower corral should have kept me from going out too fast. But it didn't. As usual, the adrenaline of the race, the people and the music amped me up! The "selling point" of the Rock 'n Roll marathon is that there are bands everywhere. They are at the beginning, the end and spaced out almost every mile on the course. And there are bands covering all types of music styles.

The first miles were in downtown San Diego. It was pretty flat, the weather was in the mod-60's and the marine layer was in place keeping the skies overcast. Yes, perfect running weather! I was doing mid-10 minute miles. While this may sound slow (and really it is!), my intention was to run the first half of the race at an 11:30 pace and pick up on the back half. Well, what do they say about good intentions?

Just past mile 8, we moved out of downtown San Diego to the 163 highway. Here we were greated with hills and cambers. The elevations weren't too steep, just rolling up and down, up and down. I did my best to run on the flattest portion of the 163 and avoid the incline, especially since I had experienced some ITB pain in my left leg. My pace slowed down a bit; I was running mid-11's

Around mile 12, we finished the highway portion and got back onto "city" roads. A couple of things happened. First, the marine layer wore off and the sun emerged, shining brightly. Second, I finally caught up with the 5:00 pace group (since they started in a corral ahead of me). I hit the 1/2 way point of 13.1 miles in 2:28. At this point I realized my #3 goal of 4:30 was pretty much out of the question; but goal #2 of 5:00 was still well within my reach.

At mile 13.1 the pace runners switched out. The new pacer was pretty cool. He told us this was his 1st time pacing and that he normally runs a 3:00 marathon (WOW!). He had us walk through the water stops since we were a bit ahead. But then at mile 15 he saw the time on the race clock of 3:00 and said we were way behind. I don't think he accounted for the time to cross the start line. Anyways, he increased the pace quite a bit and at at mile 16.5 I started falling behind.

By now, my knees really started to hurt. Both of them. Really Badly!! My pace dropped and at mile 18 I had to walk. From mile 18 to 24, I walked/ran; mostly walked, but incorporated short bits of running. This was the pity party time. I was hearing people shout, "Go Runners" and all I could think was that, I wasn't running. They weren't shouting for me. One spectator saw my name on my bib and said, "keep going Dani". I think that made me feel even worse. At one point, one of the Team in Training coaches on the side line asked me if I was okay. Did I look that bad??? I told him I was fine, thank you.

At my worst point, I started questioning whether I would ever do a marathon again. A couple of weeks earlier, due to my pre-race exuberance, I had signed up for the NYC marathon. For runners who don't time qualify (ie. slow runners like me!), there is a lottery to get in. At mile 21-22, I was thinking there's no way in hell that I was doing this again! Hopefully, my name won't get picked for NYC. But then I started thinking, I also said that about childbirth; and I have 2

There was never any doubt that I would finish the marathon. Come hell or high water, I was going to run, walk or crawl. I kept thinking about the mantra from my black belt cycle, "Pain is Temporary, Pride Lasts a Lifetime". I knew the the pride of finishing a marathon was going to feel as good as when I achieved my black belt. And nothing was going to get in my way of achieving that victory! Not even 2 bony, painful, old knees!

When I got to mile 23, my spirits lifted. There was only a 5k to the finish line. Just over 3 miles, no sweat! We were headed to the finish line at the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot. At mile 24 I started running again, albeit slowly. I set my ipod to my "motivating" songs. I got to mile 25 and now there's only 1.2 miles. I could do that in my sleep! Mile 26, only 2/10th of a mile. Cue in the ipod to "Theme from Rocky"; yes it's corny, but it works!!!. I ran fast like I had gotten a new pair of knees. Actually, I wasn't running, I was floating. One more turn, and there it was, the finish line! I crossed in 5:41:02 chip time. I started crying because I was emotionally exhausted/exhillarated......and this tall Marine looked at me and said something, I can't even remember what he said, and I started crying more! I was a wreck!

I had done it. I walked over to the medal area and got my finisher's medal. The "end" was constructed very well. It's designed to keep you busy and walking so that your legs don't cramp up. They gave out wet towels, took pictures with your medals, and had tons of water and food (bagels, bananas, etc.), they also had marathon blankets but I didn't take one. After making it through the maze, I went to the UPS trucks to pick up my gear bag. And there was Yvonne sitting by the truck. She finished in 4:40:39, how awesome!!!

We moved our stiff and aching bodies to the shuttle bus line. After a stop at Jamba Juice, we got home. I wrapped both knees with ice packs, took 800mg of ibuprofen and then took a nap.

Monday was the trip home. The knee pain was gone and I was only a bit sore on the outside of my quads. Getting up and sitting down took a few extra seconds! There were lots of people in the airport wearing some sort of RNR shirt. There were a couple on my flight to Dallas and we chatted briefly. When I landed in Ft. Lauderdale, I met a lady waiting for the shuttle to the parking lot, who also did the RNR. We compared sun burns! My sunscreen application missed a few spots, mostly my shoulders.

So this adventure has come to an end. Or has it? Thursday night I got an email from the NYC marathon. Sure enough, I was picked! Go figure!

till my next blog,

run long


  1. Congratulations, Dani!

    It feels great to be done, doesn't it? I enjoyed reading your race report. You can hear mine on the most recent Fpid episode.

    I'll be running NYC too! I'm so excited.


  2. Congrats on the marathon.. and NY now??????? You are living right!!


  3. Impressive. Great race report. San Diego is an amazing place - and now you too are part of it's history. Well done Blondie. On to the next race! Keep inspiring us.

  4. Congratulations Dani. It's huge to fun a marathon. I'm not sure if the second one is worth it (I stopped at one) but then, I know plenty of people who do a few each year.