Well, I’ve completed my quota of one marathon per year, see you all next time! The main reason I decided to run this race was that my coworker said he was going to sign up for this race. Initially, I had planned to just run the half, but when I found out he was going to do the full, I couldn’t let him one up me. I was also hoping that if we both signed up, we could do a few long runs together, which never happened. And to make things worse, he actually changed his mind a few weeks before and only ran the half! But he’s planning to run the SF half in July, so hopefully he’ll have more time to prepare. Here are my official results: 4:07:19 (9:26 min/mile), 209/554 AG, 1986/7087 Overall. The time includes my porta-potty break at mile 5-6, a 30-second walk just before mile 16 and spending way too much time at the water stations (to drink more and to walk/recover). It’s the slowest of my 3 marathons, but (I’m tired of saying this over and over again) considering my lack of training, it’s better than I expected.
There were a lot of different parking options this year; I decided to take the Coaster shuttle since there was a station about 10 minutes from my place. That way, I wouldn’t have to deal with the traffic to a lot, and worry about finding a spot, etc. We arrived at the race with enough time for me to drop off my stuff at gear check and wait in line for a porta-potty. As always, I was very ambitious when I registered for the race and put my estimated finish time at my current PR (3:40), which put me at corral 5. But I knew I was nowhere in shape to run that fast, so I decided something like 4:00 would be more reasonable (if not, still too ludicrous). For some reason, I thought I would find the 4:00 pacer at corral 6, so for at least 10 minutes, I just waited. I finally made my way to the later corrals, saw the 3:55 pacer and considered going with him instead. But came to my senses and finally found the 4:00 pacer at corral 10. I think that’s the first time I didn’t start within the first 5 corrals, sad times. So my goal was just to stick with the pacer for as long as my body would let me and if (big if) I felt good, I’d take off on my own. That actually did happen, but only for a moment.
The first ten miles didn’t feel too bad. I was able to stay near the pacer for most of the way and felt comfortable (with the exception of the pee break which I then had to pick up the pace to catch the pacer). Around mile 10, we started running downhill on the freeway. It didn’t feel like I was picking up the pace (maybe I felt the same, but since we were going downhill, the pace was faster), but I unintentionally started to pull away from the pacer. There were a few others who were running with him too that went off on their own and I started running with another person as well. Everything was great, until the pacer caught up to me around mile 15 or so. My pace must have started to slow down once we hit flat and I was probably getting fatigued. I tried running with the group for as long as possible, but their lead got bigger and bigger. To add insult to injury, my body was so exhausted, all it wanted to do was stop. I compromised and planned a 30-second walk to try and recover. It seemed to work because I was able to continue running after that (for the rest of the race, actually)!
There were so many parts of this race I didn’t like! I didn’t like making U-turns or doing complete loops of areas. All it did was show me all of the runners ahead of me that were already done with that part of the race, which is kind of discouraging. Miles 20-23 were along Mission Bay Park, which was basically like a boardwalk. There’s not much to say about it; it was pretty boring with very little crowd support. Fiesta Island was better, but it was so painful because as I entered the island, I was able to see the runners ahead of me exiting the island to the finish! Makes one just want to cut the course and go straight to the finish.
I’m pretty sure if it were possible to map out each person running along the course, the number of people each runner passes or runs with isn’t that high. I actually caught the same runner I was running with at mile 10 when I got to Fiesta Island. I was actually dreading this part of the course, but having someone else to run with really made it easier. Even though our pace was a lot slower than before, at least we were running consistently. I remember 2 years ago when I ran this race, I felt like death at Fiesta Island and my calves were on the verge of cramping up, which made it really hard to run, let alone run fast.
I had planned to finish with the runner but at the very last water stop, she went to get a drink while I skipped it since I felt pretty good. In fact, my breathing was perfectly fine the whole way, it was just my legs that were not cooperating; I think that’s a common issue with most runners. I did my best to slow down to let the other runner catch up, without completely stopping. But at that point, I decided to just go on my own. It was really unexpected, but I was able to really pick up the pace, like full on sprint mode! It was definitely the fastest pace out of the whole race, which I was glad to do then instead of at the beginning and feel like death later on. I was going so fast, I was having trouble weaving through the runners ahead of me. But of course, all things come to an end, too bad it wasn’t timed properly. I was able to see the finish line up ahead, but had run out of steam, so I finished behind a few other runners. But I was very impressed and proud of myself at that finish.
All of the runners at the medical station were icing their knees, but my bigger issues were my calves, they were really sore! I was able to keep moving without cramping up, but now that I’m sitting at home, my knees (as well as my calves, quads and shoulders) are pretty sore. I’ll probably spend the next few days (more likely a week) recovering. Next scheduled race is the yearly 4th of July 10K, which I’ve been running since 2009, I believe. I’m also tentative for a half in Chicago, which should be fun (make a mini-vacation out of it). As far as marathons go…we’ll see!