I did it! 5 years after I crossed the finish line of my first marathon in San Diego, I returned for a 13.1 mile victory lap to celebrate 5 years of running marathons, living life, and never taking no for an answer.
What an amazing weekend. The race was just the icing on the cake.
Our ride was set to pick us up at 5:15am race morning, so my alarm was set for 4:45. 30 minutes was plenty of time to get my butt out of bed, get dressed, and head downstairs. Plus, my body was still on east coast time, so really it felt like it was sleeping in.
Ready to rock ‘n’ roll!
Suja was kind enough to hook us up with VIP passes for race day. VIP passes are available at the majority of Rock ‘n’ Roll races for an additional fee. They include access to the pre-race party on Friday night, early admission to race expo, priority parking, and the pre-race and post-race VIP hospitality lounge on race day.
The pre-race VIP tent was located right next to the start line and had private toilets, food, a place to sit, and stretching stations.
I immediately raided the food tent and grabbed coffee, water, an energy bar with peanut butter, and yogurt with granola.
I ended up ditching the energy bar (it was really dry and for some reason I wasn’t really feeling the peanut butter) and just ate the yogurt and granola. It was a big risk since I’d never had yogurt and granola before a run before, but it tasted so good I couldn’t stop myself from eating it. I was pretty sure I was going to regret it later, but it ended up not being a problem.
The VIP tent ended up being a who’s, who of the blogging running world. Check out all the super stars gearing up to race.
The marathon started 30 minutes before the half, so I took advantage of the stretching station while we waited for the corrals to clear.
Talk about being spoiled. Can I have a personal PT stretch me before every race? I walked to the corrals feeling loose, limber, and ready to run!
Since I didn’t have any time goals – and Gina was itching for a sub-1:56 PR – we decided to line up and run the race together (well, as much as we could – the general rule with running with a partner is if the one gunning for a PR is feeling strong and you’re feeling like crap, then you should wave then ahead and tell them to run like hell!).
We made it the corral with a couple of minutes to spare. We cheered on the first corral (the “Meb Corral” as he was pacing the 1:30 pace group), then lined up for our send-off.
3-2-1 – Go time!
The Rock ‘n’ Roll race series does a great job separating runners by corrals. You submit an estimated finish time when you register and a corral is assigned based on that submitted time. Volunteers closely monitor the corral entrances and there’s a 3-minute countdown between each corral send-off. Based off of the lack of bottle necking at the beginning of the race, I’d say the system did its job. We had no problems taking off and immediately hitting our goal pace. So many runners, so much energy!
The first couple of miles were full of adrenaline and speed. Gina was looking strong and I was working hard to keep up with her 8:00 min/miles. My legs felt great, but I knew there was so way I could keep this up for the rest of the race. We hit a steep incline around mile 3 and I told Gina I needed to walk up the hill for a second. I waved her on with a smile and she took off up the hill looking strong. I knew she would have no problem reaching her PR (spoiler alert – she killed it!).
By the way, why does everyone say San Diego is a flat race? Come to Florida, I’ll show you a flat race. San Diego is NOT a flat race. I’d done ZERO training on hills and was so not prepared for either the sharp or gradual inclines. I ended up having to walk up a couple of them to save my legs.
After Gina left I was on my own. I decided to scale back a teeny bit and stick with my initial plan of just running for fun. I had my usual goal of coming in under 2:00 and anything faster than that would just be a bonus. My legs felt strong and I was just happy to be out there.
The course took us on a tour of San Diego neighborhoods, including my new favorite Normal Heights. This was a neighborhood that was full of energy and hometown pride!
Neighbors were tailgating in their front yards, having early morning mimosas and cheering on the runners. One family brought their grill out front and were grilling up something that smelled fabulous. A lot of the families were handing out goodies to the runners, which included everything from donut holes to orange slices to beer. I stuffed my face with orange slices, gummy bears, and Swedish fish. I like to call it the “runner’s buffet.”
There were aid stations about every mile and a half on the course and every other station had Gatorade. I had a cup of water and Gatorade when it was available at each stop.
I hadn’t bothered carrying any fuel with me, as I usually just have what’s ever on the course. I had been on the lookout for the Gu station starting around mile 6 and finally saw it around mile 8. I hugged the right side of the road and grabbed the first Gu packet handed to me. It was Strawberry Banana – crap. I ran to the next person and saw Strawberry Banana again. Double crap. Third time- Strawberry Banana. Gah. All of the volunteers on the right side had Strawberry Banana – the ONE flavor I can’t eat – and I was crap out of luck. No gu for me. Luckily I had all the gummy bears, orange slices, and Swedish fish from the spectators to subside on. I guess the problem with relying on the course’s fuel is you can’t afford to be picky on what flavors you’ll eat.
Heading in to mile 10, the first male for the full marathon distance zoomed past me. Granted he did start the race 30+ minutes before me, but it’s still crazy to think he was running twice the distance in roughly the same time. Craziness.
The clouds disappeared in the last couple of miles and we were blessed with beautiful blue, clear skies for the rest of the race.
The views going towards Downtown San Diego were simply stunning.
With less than half of a mile to go, the finish line finally came into view.
I coasted downhill and finished with a goofy smile on my face.
I was still secretly hoping to go under 1:56, but I’m still happy with my sub-2:00 finish. The hills and heat definitely killed me.
I grabbed my BLING and headed to Petco Park for the killer Rock ‘n’ Roll post-race after party.
I was really impressed with the set-up. The field and stadium were open for participants and spectators to relax and enjoy the post-race concert.
Aloe Blacc was the headliner for the post-race concert. I have to be honest, I had no idea who Aloe Blacc was when they first announced him. I had to do a little googling before discovering he sings I’m the Man and Wake Me Up. There wasn’t a huge crowd around the stage, so I was able to get pretty close during the concert. He was playing a lot of new stuff and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t familiar with Aloe Blacc, there were about 5 people in the very front dancing and singing along to every word and the rest of us who were just swaying, waiting for him to play something we knew.
Unfortunately I got impatient and left after three songs. He’s a great singer and really energetic, but it was hot and I heard a rumor there were mimosas upstairs.
Screw the beer. Every race should end in mimosas. 😉
I also ran into these crazy kids, who both rocked the marathon.
One day I’ll be super fast like Monica and SR. One day…
My flight wasn’t scheduled until Monday, so I had the rest of the afternoon to explore San Diego. It was also a great excuse to see my brother, who drove down from Los Angeles with his girlfriend. (p.s. SO PROUD of my bro – he’s graduating from his residency program next week!)
We had fish tacos.
And margaritas the size of our heads.
Can you believe this was a medium?! Makes me wonder what the large was.
Per my parent’s suggestion, we headed to Point Loma for some gorgeous views of the city and ocean.
Such a beautiful day!
It was the perfect ending to a great weekend.
I can’t thank Suja enough for the amazing opportunity. What a young, inspiring company that’s only going to continue to grow and do incredible things. Congrats on one hell of a race weekend! Time to celebrate with some juice!
What’s your post race routine when traveling? Do you explore or crash hard?