I have finally taken the time to write down everything I could remember from my race. Here it is! Be warned, its long:
I woke up at 3:15. But it wasn’t that hard to wake up. I put on my race clothes and layered a long sleeve shirt and my jacket because I was cold. I had to leave our room at 3:45 to get breakfast and meet the Wisconsin team at 4:20. For some reason I didn’t expect it to be dark outside when I opened the door! There was a balloon and poster on our door. It was exciting for me because I never got that kind of thing in high school because I was never involved in sports.
I went over to where they were having breakfast and I was unhappy to learn it wasn’t free. Luckily I had brought along $5. I was able to get a pack of oatmeal and hot water for it. They didn’t have milk available at all, which is what I usually had on my oatmeal. Surprising that of all breakfast foods, they didn’t have milk.
It wasn’t what I was used to but I had no other option. We had been encouraged to bring what we usually eat. And that I did bring. I brought two packages of oatmeal, but I couldn’t bring milk, obviously. And I didn’t bring a dish or a spoon so I was stuck. The most irritating thing was I wasn’t the only one surprised it wasn’t free. And the lady at the cash register was getting peeved at people who were surprised like me… saying they do it like this every year. Well, fine, but most of us are first timers and didn’t know!
So I ate my oatmeal, feeling quite unsettled, and then I found the Wisconsin team and we took a group picture. I need to see if I can get a copy. I left my camera with Doug so I didn’t get a shot on my camera.
The line for the shuttle was long. I was glad we got there early. The ride was quiet. And before I knew it we were at the starting line!
I stuck with Mary, and we ran together for half the race. We checked our gear bags first. I had to shed my long sleeve shirt and jacket. Luckily it was starting to warm up so I wasn’t terribly cold. The sun still wasn’t up. I forgot to put on my sunscreen before I checked my bag.
After checking our bags, we grabbed some food and hopped in line for the porta potties. It was a long line! By time we got done it was time to go to the corrals. They told us before the race to get in line, and once we were done get in line again. But it was time to go. I wish we had more time to go again before the start because maybe we wouldn’t have had to stop on the course.
When we got to our corral, Jenny, the Milwaukee coach who came with us, met us. She was running the race and starting with the farthest back, which happened to be Mary and I. Luckily Jenny had sunscreen for me to use.
The gun went off at 6:30 and we ended up walking 17 minutes before we got to the start. It was so crowded I couldn’t have started fast if I wanted to; and running with two other people kept me slower too. Looking back, I would have liked to start a little faster, but it all turned out OK.
The crowds were large and noisy for the first three miles or so. Once we got to the Balboa Park area the spectators were fewer. The crowd on the race started opening up a little bit too. It was around this time Mary and I both had to use the bathroom.
We spotted a park bathroom and ran up to it, only to find out it was locked. I suppose it made sense. Those small park bathrooms wouldn’t have stood a chance against 23,000 runners. Many of the people who ran up to that bathroom just went out back in the bushes. But we weren’t going to do that.
We passed a few porta potty stations and came to the conclusion that the line was going to be long no matter where we stopped. We ended up stopping at a porta potty that wasn’t actually part of the course. It was at some school and it was very stinky. We waited 15 minutes to do our business.
Before we left for San Diego, I thought I was very thorough in packing everything I would need for the race. Except that I didn’t bring a dish for my oatmeal, and I also forgot my water belt and gels. I had to buy those at the expo. Luckily I did find my gels and a water belt in the same style as my old one. I also ran with it a little on Saturday to make sure it would work. It did, it seemed.
As we had started running, I was noticing that my new water belt was rubbing on my hip just above my pants. It would have become a real problem, but when I put it back on after my bathroom break, it ended up higher on my hips and that problem was solved. As it was, I had a scab area where it had rubbed for that short time.
Shortly after our bathroom break we started approaching downtown. The crowd on the course was not as heavy by this point, probably because it was all walkers. Mary and I started lengthening the intervals a bit to make up for time we lost waiting for the bathroom.
Running farther into downtown we passed Petco Park, where Doug and I would go Monday night. There was another water station before we turned again onto the road going along the harbor.
When we had gotten into downtown, the spectators increased again. Doug was waiting for me at 6.5.
When I passed Doug at 6.5 he took his pictures and I ran up and gave him a sweaty hug. I knew he hates that, so I did it partly because I could. I noticed right away when I stopped for that hug that I was already a little dizzy and my legs felt a bit like rocks. But I kept going and it was OK.
When we had turned to go away from the bay, Mary had fallen behind me. She was starting to have some foot problems. We separated about mile 7 because I wanted to speed up and she was needing to slow down.
We ran up the road a bit farther and there were still plenty of spectators. At about mile 8.5 we turned to head onto the infamous slanted road highway. It was on this stretch of the course that I found out why they encouraged us to trim our toenails before the race. I had forgotten to do that.
As we had turned to run away from the bay the sun had started coming out and it was warming up. It stayed somewhat overcast though and it was still pretty comfortable.
The highway portion was from mile 8.5 to about mile 11. There were a couple uphills but also a nice down hill. I lengthened one of my intervals as I was leaving downtown, but the minute I got to my walk break I knew I wouldn’t do that again.
I was not a fan of the infamous slanted road. In all the reviews I had read that was the most common comment. I was really afraid the road would aggravate my Achilles of my neuroma or both, but it really didn’t seem to. But that doesn’t mean it felt good.
I started getting really tired during the slanted road portion. I weaved from one side of the road to the other passing other runners and walkers and also trying to find a somewhat flat surface. The bands on this stretch weren’t the best. I can’t say I really noticed the bands a lot unless I didn’t like them. There weren’t many spectators along this stretch, but there were a lot on the overpasses.
I was so thrilled when I saw the exit from the highway. It came out right at the Fashion Valley Mall, which was right behind our hotel. I knew I was getting close. It was at mile 11 where we turned, and I was at mile 11 when the sun really came out. Luckily on this road the sun was at my back because I was already feeling like I was going to get burnt.
Mile 11 was also a bit of a downhill so that energized me for the last two miles of the race.
I had skipped a couple water stations because I had been feeling water logged, but I took the last water station and my last gel to get through the finish. I don’t know that it really energized me by that point. My previous two had, but I find that when I get really tired, the gel doesn’t really help. Maybe I needed something else as a pick up by that point.
I ran the next few intervals as planned, more concerned about timing my last interval so I could cross the finish line strong.
At mile 12, my only thought was, in 14 minutes or less, I’ll be there. But then I just got SO tired. The sun was really hot by then. I cut a running interval short and walked a little extra. I wanted to RUN through the finish.
It really seemed like that last half mile or so was way more than that. Up to that point it seemed like the miles passed really quickly. Not the last half mile. I was really tired by this point. I don’t know if it was the heat or what, but I struggled. I didn’t doubt that I would finish, but I wasn’t feeling really great. Not like how I felt when I had run the quarter marathon the week before.
After walking a little extra, I knew the finish was in sight. I started running. I don’t remember if I ran any faster. But as I got closer to the finish I did feel stronger. This was the moment that I had been waiting for. I finished!!
Since this wasn’t an official half marathon, it was just for TNT and we ran the first 13.1 miles, we crossed the timing mat at 13.1 and then exited on this path where there was a photographer waiting to take our picture. I was numb, I couldn’t feel below my hips, but I got the energy to run through that “finish line” for my picture. Its not on the race web site though, which is really disappointing. I need to talk to some people to find out if those photos might be somewhere on the TNT site. That’s the photo I really wanted to buy.
Doug took a great picture of me at the finish. He had been worried since his race pictures thus far weren’t always the best. And a woman jumped out in front of him as he was taking the first one. But the second one was perfect.
After I got my picture I was supposed to check in at the TNT tent. But I decided the line was too long and went straight for the food. Once I had that I sat down to stretch. But I was so exhausted I ended up laying on the ground. It was pretty amusing. Doug had to help me up so I could eat and stretch. Then I started feeling my legs again!
I checked in and got my medal. I wore it all that day and the next. We hung around the finish a little longer and then I saw Mary. She had to stop at a medical station about a mile back. She ended up taking off her shoes and walking the last half mile barefoot. She didn’t end up with an official time because since she was carrying her shoes her chip didn’t register her time.
My official time ended up being 2:55:02 because of that bathroom break. But I timed myself separately and stopped it during the break. So I’m saying my time was 2:40:58, which is actually better than I ran the Lake Monona 20K, which was three quarters of a mile less. It was a minute behind my hopeful predicted time, but four minutes ahead of my realistic predicted time.
I was a little disappointed with my official time at first, mainly because I had neglected to take that bathroom break into account. My brain was pretty mushy by the time it was over. I had a hard time trying to talk to Doug and then I decided to call mom despite this. I had a hard time talking to her too! But I think because of this mushiness, I thought I had finished in 2:41 even including the break. But later I decided it wasn’t a big deal. I’m calling my time 2:41 and I know I can definitely beat 2:55 in my next half! And there will be a next one. I just haven’t picked it yet.
And there it is! I’m still working on writing about the rest of vacation, but I did get this part done.
I have posted all my vacation photos in a web album. You can view it here: http://picasaweb.google.com/jessicad1208. You can also use the link below the slide show.
You’ll notice I have changed the layout and title of this blog. I also added the web album link as well as the slideshow. The slide show is all my race photos, which are also part of my web album. I do plan on posting a few of my favorites here as well, since there are at least 900 photos to go through in the album. I’ll do that later today or tomorrow.
I’m still not sure of my training goals. I’m still organizing and getting back into normal mode. There will be more races though, you can count on that.