June 4, 2012

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Recap ('12)

Yesterday I ran in my second Rock 'n 'Roll San Diego Half Marathon; last year was my first time (race recap here). Actually, it was my third time doing the San Diego event, because I did the full marathon back in 2003 (my first, and only, full marathon). Yesterday's race was very emotional for me, because I finally, FINALLY, reached my goal of running a sub 2:30 half marathon. Yesterday was the day.

But what's a recap without starting at the beginning? I need to back up.

I had to go to the expo on Friday. My son, D, was running the ING KiDS ROCK 1 mile race the next morning, so I needed to pick up his bib as well. I didn't arrive at the expo until about 5:30 p.m., which was great since it wasn't too crowded. I got my bib, goody bag and shirt, and started to wander the aisles. An announcer said that at 6:00 there would be a Q&A panel with Olympic marathoners Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay for the panel, as I needed to get home to help put the kids to bed (family first!) so I just browsed. I treated myself to 5 new RazzyRoo headbands (my favorites, I wear them all.the.time) and spontaneously signed up for the inaugural New Year's Race: Los Angeles At Night Half Marathon, which will run through the streets of L.A. at night! It was $20 off if you signed up at the expo. (By the way, this will make 3 half marathons I'll be running in January. Oy!)

When I walked by the area where the panel would be speaking. I was excited to see Deena Kastor at a table signing autographs! Now, what I haven't told you is that I have a personal connection to Deena. I am friends with her cousin, whom I have known since the early 90's (my ex-boyfriend was roommates with her now-husband). My friend was always talking about her runner cousin, Deena, but at the time I wasn't into running and didn't really get it. Both Deena and I were at my friend's wedding, back in 1999, but again, I didn't really get who she was. I was barely into running myself (I was training for my first half marathon) and Deena had yet to get to her first Olympics (she represented the United States in the marathon in the Olympics in 2000, 2004 AND 2008....and she just missed going to London in 2012.)

Anyhow, I stood in line to meet her. She signed a picture of herself, and I asked her to also sign my race bib. I told her our personal connection, and we actually had a real conversation! We talked about my friend/her cousin, their wedding, and how I knew her. She asked me if I ran alone or with a running club; when I told her I ran alone she seemed somewhat shocked! We only spoke for a few minutes, as there was still a long line behind me, but I was delighted to have gotten to speak to one of my running heroes. I left the expo on a real high!

Me and my new BFF, Deena!

Really wish I could have met Meb, too!

Saturday was busy...I took a 3 mile walk with a neighbor (something I wouldn't ordinarily do the day before a race but I wanted to catch up with her), had lunch with my step-mother who was in town to run the half marathon, and then my family had our first ever photo shoot. My son ran his mile race in a speedy 7:24! After a carb-filled dinner at Claim Jumper, I went to bed early....I had a 3:00 wake-up call, as I was being picked up at 3:45 in order to meet my carpool at 4:00. Yes, Rock' n' Roll starts early!

As usual the night before a race, I had a hard time sleeping. I fell asleep pretty easily but woke up almost every hour, paranoid I was going to miss my alarm. I was up for good at 2:00, and finally got out of bed at 2:30. I went downstairs and got ready for my race. Usually at this time of morning I can't eat anything (I was unable to eat anything before either the Hollywood or OC Half marathons....food made me feel nauseous) but I felt great and munched on a Luna Bar as I got dressed. My friend picked me up, and we met 3 other friends (including Andrea and Steve) so we could all carpool down together. We went in together on a Fast Pass, which was great! Last year the pass cost $100 (!!!) but this year it was $35, and then $2 for each additional person. This was a bargain at only $9 per person! We drove down, parked at Sea World, used the clean, unused Port-o-Potties, then got on a shuttle to the start line in Balboa Park.

The race started at 6:15, but of course my corral (slated to be corral 25) wouldn't start until much later. I checked my gear, took pictures with my friends, and we waited a loooooong time for the Port-o-Potties. I even had another snack, a Honey Stinger Waffle. Two of my friends and I decided to move to corral 21, and soon enough (6:46 to be exact) we were crossing the start line.

Now, I've been worried about 4 different injuries. 1) My plantar fasciitis, which flares up when I least expect it, 2) sciatic nerve pain in my left glute, which has been plaguing me since November, 3) sciatic nerve pain at the top of my left hamstring, which is a new pain I've been feeling for the past few weeks, and 4) foot pain from when I injured it in April. My goal for this race was simple: finish it. I was NOT concerned about a time goal. I truly just wanted to finish as pain-free as possible. In fact, after I finished the OC Half Marathon last month, I was in so much pain after that I was thinking of not running Rock 'n' Roll. But I decided to do it, even if it meant me walking the whole darned thing. As it turns out, I had 3 out of the 4 pains occur during the race. My foot injury from April never happened again (thank goodness....it had hurt in the same spot during last month's OC Half) but the other 3 pains happened on-and off. My plan--which I stuck to---was to keep my mid-foot strike, run nice and easy, and walk when I had to.

The race started in Hillcrest, which I love, as I used to live there and run that very route. It brought back some great running memories. We turned onto University Avenue, and I was excited because my college boyfriend, who lives there, said he would be on that street cheering me on. I was so happy to see him, and he took this great picture!  By way, I wore a running skirt for the first time, which I LOVED (adored the roomy pockets on the sides!) and a new Texas flag running bra that my sister bought for me at a running store while on vacation in Dallas this winter. This was awesome because I got a lot of spectators shouting "Go Texas!" for me!

Smiling....at only mile 1.25!
Soon we entered the Balboa Park area, where there were tons of spectators (including a great group of kids, I think from a local theater, who were all dressed as Dr. Seuss characters). We then split off from the marathoners and headed up the freeway on the 163. This stretch is hard because not only is it about 2 miles uphill (albeit a gentle uphill) but the freeway slants, which is hard on the foot.

It was here that I met some people that really put a smile on my face. I started talking to a man and a woman, who were visiting here from Arizona. It was the man's first half marathon. I congratulated him and told hm it was my 13th. He asked when I first one was, and I told him my first half marathon was in 1999, although I didn't run one again until 2010. He asked how old I was in my first one, and I told him I was 29. "Oh My GOD," he yelled. "You look AMAZING for 41!". I told him I was actually 42, and he was astounded. He is only 26, and he told me I inspired hm to keep running if he could look this good! It TOTALLY made my day! I dropped them at mile 4.5, when I stopped for a walk break and to take my first GU. I also passed an ambulance putting a man on a stretcher. I have no idea what happened; I hope he's ok. It was also here that I started to get some of my pains, but I would slow to a walk and they would go away.

Still on the freeway
We finally got off the freeway and ran past the Fashion Valley mall. Here again were tons of spectators, cheerleaders and great signs. My favorite sign I saw (actually, this might be my favorite sign ever!) said "Rosie, we know you can do it! Mark, we're not so sure". I literally laughed out loud! I was feeling pretty good here....I was taking my GUs every 4 miles as planned, drinking the Gatorade I had brought with me, and between that and the two snacks I had earlier this morning I felt fueled. I passed most water stops, but I did stop at a few for water, not to drink but to pour on myself. Although the weather was amazing (cloudy the entire time; I never even put on my sunglasses!) I was still a bit warm, and I loved pouring water on my arms and down my back.

My signature self-portrait while running
At mile 10 I noticed that I was doing great on time. I knew that this would be the last time this year that I would have the chance to break 2:30. My next half marathon is part of my 70.3 triathlon; I have a feeling that after swimming 1.2 miles and then biking 56 miles it would NOT be my fastest run. And my final half marathon of 2012 will be the Portland Half, which is only a week after my huge triathlon! I think I'll be very sore and tired, so I have no illusions that I will be fast on that one either. So if I didn't meet my goal during Rock 'n' Roll, I'd have to wait until January, which is not the end of the world. But my time at mile 10 was totally within range of meeting the goal. I made a decision then and there to try my hardest to get through any pain and fatigue and just get that goal!

These crazy marathoners dressed as Fred & Wilma--even holding big dinosaur bones the whole way!

Just like last year, I had a surge of energy between miles 10.5 and 12. There is a stretch that we run down on Morena Blvd where you run up and then make a u-turn and run down the other side the street. I LOVE that part! The runners whoop it up, and it's fun to look for friends on the other side. I entered a zen state---looking for my friends, keeping a great pace, and I kept the same song on repeat on my iPod here to keep my zen going. At mile 13, I was so tired....but I knew I only had a little more to go. I saw my friend T on the sidelines, who came to cheer us on, and I shouted at him that I was going to break 2:30. He yelled back to get going and get it! I pushed hard, and crossed the finish line at 2:29 and change.

self-portrait, in tears, immediately after getting my medal
I got my medal, and broke down in tears. I had done it! Not only did I have a shiny new PR but I finally met my goal of crushing 2:30. It had taken me a year and a half and 9 half marathon attempts to do it, but I did it. One of my girlfriends was a minute behind me, so I waited for her and we walked through the finish area together. There was TONS of food to get--bananas, oranges, chocolate milk, yogurt, fruit cups, Marathon Bars--and my hands were full with all of it. Luckily at the end Vons was giving out reusable bags, which I gladly took to put everything in. We met the rest of our friends, walked to the car (which was so close! so happy for the Fast Pass) and got home.

A better, posed, non-tearful post-race picture
I'm not sure what made the difference during this race versus other races. I certainly took a good amount of walk breaks, although I kept them short and my running itself was faster in general. I was also well-fueled, and it wasn't hot, which breaks me in races. Finally, I've been running so much---this was my 3rd half marathon in 3 months--that I guess I was well trained. Even the hills didn't seem hard at all. Whatever it was, I am very proud of myself. I hope to do this time--or better--again in 2013.


  1. AWESOME!!!! Congratulations on that awesome accomplishment and that's so cool you got to really meet Deena :)

  2. So happy you got your sub 2:30. As "T" said, 2:15 is next!

  3. WHAT. A. GREAT. RACE! Congrats on meeting your goal and you look fantastic!

  4. Good job. See lots of great photos at http://rconser.smugmug.com/

  5. Congratulations on a great race, new PR, and breaking sub-2:30!!!

  6. So excited for you! I broke 2:30 for the first time this spring too - and there were definitely tears. It was such a big barrier! Congrats!

  7. whoo hoo!! So awesome to finally PR :) I know the feeling. Enjoy it! I think all of the times you want to PR and dont make finally do it even sweeter :-D


I love to read your comments!