"B" is for "BOOYA"!!!
Today I ran the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with high hopes for running my first sub-2:30 race. I wrote earlier this week about my goals....my "A" goal was to crush the 2:30 barrier with a 2:29:59 or less, and my "B" goal was to set a PR (personal record) with anything less than a 2:34. I also had "C" and "D" goals, which I hoped I wouldn't have to face. To end any suspense, I did not make my sub-2:30 goal, but I DID set a new PR, and am very pleased.
My race weekend started on Friday, with a trip to the expo. I love race expos, and I have never seen one as huge as the ones put on by Rock 'n' Roll. What I really wanted to do was spend a lot of time there, browse around, and soak up the atmosphere. However, I had to dash there in between A's therapy appointments and having to take her to school, and had only enough time to pick up my race packet and D's (my son was running the kid's ING Kids Rock 1-mile race the next morning). I had no time to peruse the many booths, which was probably better for my wallet!
The next day, Saturday, D did his race and finished in an 8-minute mile. Where this boy gets his speed, I have no idea! We then had lunch with my step-mother, who had flown in to run the half marathon. That night I had a very special dinner with some friends that I've made on Twitter and dailymile, most of whom I'd never met before. Most were in from out-of-town to run the race, and it was so much fun to meet them, carb-load and talk about all things running and racing with them!
I came home from dinner and was in bed by 8:30, as I had a 3:00 wake-up call. I finally asleep at 9....but unfortunately woke up at 1:00 and was unable to go back to sleep! Finally, at 2:30 I got out of bed and started to get ready. I was exhausted. I had had a migraine on both Thursday and Friday, and that had taken a lot out of me....coupled with such little sleep last night I felt like a zombie! I left the house, and went to meet 3 of my friends to carpool to the race. One of them had sprung for the extra $100 to get the premium parking space at at the finish line at Sea World, and I was so grateful to be able to tag along with her. We bypassed the HUGE line of cars on the freeway waiting to park in the off-site parking, and zipped right into Sea World. A shuttle soon took us to the start line in Balboa Park.
One of my friends, T, is friends with another runner who happens to be a rabbi at a nearby synagogue. The four of us got to go there before the race and USE THE BATHROOM!! For those of you who are runners, you know what a big deal this is. A real bathroom...with no wait! It was positively luxurious! (Later, when we got to the race, the lines for EACH port-a-potty seemed to be at least 20-30 deep, if not longer). Combined with the premium parking, the whole pre-race experience was amazing. While we were still at the synagogue, I turned on my Garmin....to find that for some reason it wasn't charged. It read "low battery" and only had one bar on it. I was surprised, for I thought I had charged it completely yesterday...but apparently something went wrong. I was upset, as I was counting on my Garmin to keep me appraised of my pace and time so that I would meet my goal. My friends convinced me to turn off the GPS and just use the timer as a way to conserve the battery.
The race officially started at 6:15, but since I was in corral 33, I didn't get underway until about 7:05. The crowds lining the streets were amazing. I heard there were 33, 500 runners there, and I believe it! So many people....I hadn't seen that many runners in one place since I did the full marathon here in 2003. Finally, it was my turn to cross the start line. The excitement was palpable....live music playing....spectators lining the street. Unfortunately, almost immediately into my run I got a sharp, stabbing pain in my side, most likely a stitch. I was tried to breathe through it, and it wouldn't go away. I was worried; I was in so much pain, and I had just begun! I had 13 more miles to go! I had to have a talk with myself to HTFU (harden the f*ck up) and power through. Luckily, by about mile 1.5 or so the pain was gone, and it never returned.
I loved the beginning miles of the race. It took us through Hillcrest, a section of San Diego that I used to live in for 10 years, and used to run in. I LOVED running in Hillcrest, and it was fun to be back. We detoured through Balboa Park, another part of the city that I love. I was feeling strong, and according to my stopwatch on my Garmin was exactly on pace to my goal. Right after we exited Balboa Park, the half marathoners split off from the marathoners---they continued downtown---and we went up the on-ramp onto the 163 freeway. I remembered this from my 2003 run as a big hill, but the hill didn't seem all that big to me today. Yay for hill training, I suppose!
Around mile 7 my Garmin completely gave out. I was now running "naked", with no way to judge my time or pace. Yes, there were clocks at every mile marker, but since I had no idea what time I had crossed the start line I had no way of doing the math to determine my own time. I decided to just forget about the time, and concentrate on having the best run I could do.
The rest of the run was pretty non-descript. It was getting hot, as there was not a cloud in the sky. I had brought enough Gatorade on my water belt to hydrate me throughout the race, but I ended up taking 3 water cups at each water station----not to drink but to pour on myself! I'd pour one cup of water down my front, another down my back (dousing my ponytail so that the wetness would be against my back), and the third I would split between pouring it on my head and putting some on my inner arms. Each water station cooled me down, and although I ended up running in soaking wet clothes, it felt good and gave me a burst of energy each time.
I've written before about how much I love being around the the energy of runners at a half marathon. The excitement is contagious: the love for running, the camaraderie, the encouragement. Although I am a solo runner (I don't run in groups, and only rarely run with a friend) I so enjoy the atmosphere of a race. I soaked it up throughout the entire 13.1 miles.
Finally, I hit mile 11. At this point I was feeling very strong, and kicked my running into a bit of a higher gear (at least I think I did; I had no Garmin to show my pace!). I ran as hard as I could to the finish line and crossed it. I was so, so happy. I knew that regardless of my time, I had run a good race, did the best I could (both in training and in the actual race) and had a great time.
Later, the results posted online: I had run it in 2:31 and change. So close to my goal, and yet I didn't quite make it. I think that if I had my Garmin working, I might have made it; I would have seen how close I was, and kicked it into higher gear earlier. But perhaps it wouldn't have made a difference. Regardless, I am proud of myself for getting closer to my sub-2:30 goal, for setting a new personal record, for training hard, and for running a great race.
Next on the race agenda is the San Diego Classic Triathlon in September. My next half marathon will be the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas in December...and I am DETERMINED to reach my goal then....and earn the reward I want to buy myself! I can't wait!