Monday, June 11, 2007

RR Catchup!

Well, it's been over a week, but I figured I should at least make some effort to put up a San Diego Race report, since it was a pretty big weekend. Hopefully with the time distance, it won't be the novel of my other reports :D

Well, the weekend shaped up quite differently than I thought it would, much in part because of my becoming a temporary member of the Orange County Trail Runners the week before. I had been mentally preparing myself to enjoy a solo trip to San Diego, as none of my family would be able to attend the race, and had decided to just enjoy some alone time, bring a book, and not shoot for a PR.

Instead, I met a great group of people the week before the race, many of whom were going down for the event as well! Skip, one of the club members, even had a condo down in San Diego where most of the club members were staying and I was invited to hang with all of them Saturday, turning my solo day into a group event.

I met up with Skip and Wendy a little after 9am at the expo to get the bib and, more importantly, shop! In the past I've always gone to expos with very goal-centric, no frills, individuals, and shopping was always a half-hearted rushed event where little was actually purchased. Not so with Wendy around. We spent a leisurely 5 hours (!) at the expo shopping and shopping and shopping some more.

(The shopping crew, courtesy of Wendy Garcia)

Under her encouragement I actually bought things, though I did still feel a bit guilty. My favorite purchase, which I probably wouldn't have gotten on my own, was a short sleeved official marathon shirt, that's super comfy, tech material, and has a small zip pocket on the side for a key. I also got a running skirt, but the verdict is still out on whether or not I'll wear it. All in all though, a fun shopping day!

(Myself, Abbie, and Wendy enjoying the view from Skip's condo complex)

Afterwards we went back to Skip's condo and hung out until other OCTR folk arrived. Around 6 or so we all headed out to this great Italian place just walking distance from Skips and enjoyed a lovely dinner.

(all of us at the restaurant, courtesy of Wendy Garcia)

Jessica joined us part way through dinner, having come up not to run but, rather, to be part of the awesome cheering section on the course.

After dinner, it was getting late, so I headed to my hotel to finally check in. I had printed directions and was feeling optimistic about getting to my room and relaxing a bit before I went to sleep. However, I discovered the horrible confusing that is "Hotel Circle Drive" I must have spent at least 20 minutes driving up and down this street, attempting to find the Seven Seas Best Western to no avail. Starting to get stressed and frustrated, I finally called the hotel and was able to get there just a few minutes later. Thank Goodness.

Upon arrival, the man at the front desk looked me up and then told me, "ah, you're the lucky one that got upgraded to the suite! Now, when you go in, you won't see a bed, but don't worry. That's just because you have multiple rooms in the suite. You'll enter into the living room" Those are the words every stressed marathoner wants to hear :) Stress turned to happiness knowing that I had the best room in the house, and I hurried over to see it for myself.

Unfortunately, at this point my camera was dying so I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the king sized bed (you cna sort of see it in the mirror of the picture on the right) or the two plasma flatscreen tvs, but they were all there and they were lovely. I only wished I had more time to enjoy the room!

After getting organized and laying out my race day outfit, it was after 10 and I was tired. Still, I didn't want to got to sleep without appreciating the bed fully, so I stayed up for 1/2 an our reading My Life in France by Julia Child (really great read for any food lover!) and then finally turned in.

At 3:30am my phone rang with my wake-up call, and I was up and ready to get going. My shuttle was leaving the hotel at 5, and I planned to check out before, which meant I wanted to leave the room by 4:45 at the latest. Getting ready was quick enough, and before I knew it I was on the way to the start. The starting area was as crowded as I had remembered, but I felt less lost this year. I decided to go with the gear check this year so that I could wear a sweatshirt at the beginning and have nice flip flops waiting at the end (good idea!) so after dealing with that and numerous porta-potty stops I used up the extra hour nicely and before I knew it it was just about 6:30.

I filed into the coral and found the 4:30 pacing group. I approached someone standing with them and asked, "Just what is the pace exactly to get a 4:30 time?" "10:15" he replied. I smiled, laughed a bit, and then moved back. No way was I going to try to hold a pace like that!

I met a lovely girl standing by me (who's name, I think, was Lauren) who was doing the TNT half marathon, and we decided to run together for the first half. She was aiming for a 2:20 half, which would fit nicely with my 4:45 goal. (picture to the left shows us chatting, and is due to the wonderful kindness of Phil, who painstakingly copied and cut out all my marathon pictures for me so that I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for them. Thanks Phil!!!)

As crazy as it was, I actually felt frustrated going slowly in the beginning and the whole first half I felt like I was trying to push the pace a bit. Lauren noted that we (or rather I) had sped up, and I was a little nervous about this strategy. However, I reasoned, I had never hit the wall, never had a slow last few miles, and honestly, I wanted to see what would happen if I did push it from the get go. I was worried about it blowing up in my face, but had a bit of morbid curiousity of what it would be like to actually 'hit the wall'.

(Another Phil Photo, of me just cruising along somewhere in the lower miles of the race. Check out my awesome blue and gold outfit, complete with Cal shirt and visor!)

We crossed the halfway mark at 2:16:17, and I immediately felt a bit of a weight lift as I no longer felt like I was being pulled back by Lauren, and could finally run the pace I wanted. Had some faster miles here, which was nice. It was really enjoyable to run this middle section so well, when the same section last year featured me stopping at least every mile to stretch a painfully tight thigh muscle. I was really enjoying wearing my cal outfit and getting the "go bears" comments, to which I always responded in like and with a smile. It was a good pick me up and made me want to run just a bit faster, to respresent those bears well :D

So, the miles ticked on, and I kept pushing, waiting for something to go wrong. Much to my surprise, my stomach started feeling off around 14 or so, which was something I conveniently forgot about that has happened at my last marathons as well. I had had the foresight to bring some ginger, but at that point was too tired to try to find it, so I just dealt the best I could and hoped I could hold it together.

Now, something I need to stop and note here that was just amazing, was the presence of Jessica, Abbie and E-rod, who came down to support the OCTR and who I saw at miles 4, 7, 14, and 22. They were truly amazing and such a welcome sight each time they came into view. My own family never went to that many spots along any of my races and it really just made me feel lighter and happier to see a friendly and encouraging face, especially at 22 when I started getting pretty tired. So Thank you thank you thank you guys!!!! (picture to the left was taken at mile 14 by Jessica as I was getting high fives from the OCTR cheering section :) )

Reaching the hill right before mile 20 was such a high point for me. Now, in the ultra world, this would not be considered a hill. It's merely a freeway overpass and doesn't even last that long. However, last year, this hill killed me. I thought it's ironic placement right before where 'the wall' was supposed to appear was poetic, and, well, cruel. I started walking before I even gave it a chance. This year I powered up it, picking up speed and passing many a walker in the process. It really reminded me of how far I had come.

(Phil photo to the left)

Getting to 20, I began to entertain the possibility that perhaps this wouldn't blow up in my face after all. In fact, I started getting a sneaking suspicion that might finishing time might even have a 3, in it! I began to secretly hope for 4:32:38, which would be exactly one hour faster than my 2006 SD marathon time. I was definitely getting tired, but this was, after all, 20 miles into a marathon, so it made sense to be tired. No reason to let that slow me down though!

At around 23 I started trying to do the math, and realized that it looked really good for my coming in under 4:30. That was just unreal! I kept pushing and pushing, knowing it was almost over, though the finish was a long time coming, and finally we entered into the marine base. Nowe, I had remembered the finish being pretty close to that point, but apparently that wasn't exactly the case. Still I started giving it everything I had, really trying my best. I started getting teary as I realized I was definitely going to break 4:30. I really never thought I could get that fast, especially in just one year. As we neared the finish line, we could hear the announcer calling out finishers. With just the home stretch to go, the announcer stated that just 2 minutes were left to break the clock time of 4:30. People all around me were breaking into sprints. I tried my best, but couldn't manage to go much faster.

Before I knew it, I was under the banner, crossing the mats and was done.

(Thanks again Phil for all the wonderful photos!!!!)

Clock time: 4:29:43
Chip time: 4:23:56

A 32 minute PR and 1 hour and 9 minute course PR

Looking at my splits, my average paces broke down as,
for the first 10k: 10:23
10k to the first half: 10:22
1/2 to 21 miles: 9:50
21 to finish: 9:36
a negative split all the way through :)

Even better, my 2nd half was a new 1/2 marathon PR by 3 minutes. Quite the way to finish :D
Thanks so much to all my running friends both in real life and online who were so encouraging and awesome! I always think of myself as a back of the pack runner, but, perhaps, I'm losing that status a bit now. Never thought I'd finish a race in the top third of the field, and the top 19 percent of my age group.

I always sort of thought boston was a somewhat impossible dream for me. But, distance runners peak in their late 20s and early 30s, right? That means great things are yet to come. As Skip encouragingly stated, "Wow Addy, you're going to run a sub 4 someday!" Never thought I'd see the day, and yet, that doesn't seem so far away anymore. I mean, if I can improve this much in just a year, imagine where I'll be in 5!

Thanks again all, and thanks to anyone who made it through this monstrosity! Apparently time doesn't make these things shorter after all :)

And congrats to all the other great SD Finishers out there!!! Congrats to Skip, Wendy and Alexa from OCTR (if any of you are reading this) for completing their first marathons! Check out Phil's report of his great PR at the marathon as well :)


Sensationally Red said...

Absolutely Addy! You are young and just going to get faster and faster. Boston will happen for you. I'm excited for you. What your race pointed out is that it ALWAYS pays off to run the first half conservatively. I did it once, when I was worried about an injury flaring and that turned out to be my one and only negative splits race--and the most enjoyable too! I loved all the pictures too. I need to gather a photo entourage for my next big race. I just realized that you and I will be doing a 50K just one week apart. Thanks for the report. I live for these things, you know. ;-)

Backofpack said...

Great run Addy! That is an awesome PR. Yep, Boston for you...

Gretchen said...

Nice job Addy!! I agree aobut the negative split- every time I have had a negative split in a marathon, I have had a PR. Keep on runnin girl!
Oh yeah, and I've been tagged! Ack! Perfect, that will give me something to write about. Just as soon as I get my finals graded. (Something for you to look forward to in life!)

Jessica Deline said...

great pictures and great hotel room. I didn't know about that! Maybe it's why you crushed your PR by so much :) Seriously you did a great job. It was great to spend time with you at dinner and support you during the race!

Skip said...

Thanks for reading my first marathon recap and it was a pleasure reading yours. Like I said your potential is awesome. I am looking forward to many trailruns with you and especially my first Ultra at Big Basin Redwoods.

mtnrunR said...

great job!!!! negative splits ta boot!!! that is how it is done... very impressive. good luck on your upcoming move!!! new adventures, how fun

Bob Gentile said...

Great Report Addy & Photo's ... WELL DONE & Way to Enjoy it!!! and ye ye on the Hotel Room, pretty sweet!

Josh said...

You did so awesome! Only 43 minutes to cutoff for a BQ, you can do that in a year or two! I know the increased mileage that comes with training for ultras has really helped my marathon times, I'm sure it will do the same for you.

Sarah said...

Great report and AWESOME negative splits. Oh yeah, you are definitely going sub-4:00 some day. You've only just begun! : )

e-rod said...

you looked great out there, addy. i'm not surprised with the neg. split. when we saw you at 22, your pace had picked up and your smile was bigger :)

love that room, by the way. i'm getting a nice hotel room now next time i run a big race--no more prison bunk beds for me.

great job! go boston, go! see ya on the trails.

Addy said...

Thanks so much everyone!!!! I feel like I've posted so much about this run and gotten so many sweet replies. Promise...this is the end of the SD reports!

Red- Photos are always fun. That's partly why I like trail running so much...great photo ops ;)

michelle- Thanks :D

Gretchen- Ack..grading. Not one of the better parts of teaching, to be sure, but a necessity. At least it symbolizes the end of the year!

Jessica- Ah...the hotel room could have been the key!

skip- Big basin will be awesome

Tom- Thanks for the well wishes :) The move is exciting, if a little nervewracking starting all over in a new town

Bob- Thank you!

Josh- good to hear (though I had been seeing I guess in your posts) how the extra mileage = better speed. I'm in no rush to qualify, but it's nice to know it's not too far away

Sarah- thanks for the vote of confidence!

e-rod- haha...yeah, those shadow accomadations looked a little less than optimal. I guess the proximity to the start was nice though!

Anthony said...

That is a great race report. I think you definitely have a Boston qualifying time in you based on how you ran the second half of the race. I look forward to seeing your dream come true.

Loomdog said...

Hey girl INCREDIBLE run at RNR! It was very exciting to read your report. I am super impressed with your pacing. Especially knowing it was a hot one. Congrats and good luck next month at TRT.