On June 3, I became a two-time marathoner. It wasn’t without challenge, chafe or crisis, but it was with pride, power and pep. It wasn’t the race I wanted, but its a race that, at the end of the day, I am proud of.
Since I am a Rock n Blogger for the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, I decided to sign up for the Remix Challenge, which is a 5K one day in addition to the full or half the next day. I told myself I’d walk most of that so as to not put too much stress on my body or risk a freak accident that would stop me from being at my best the next day. But, in true me fashion, I ran the whole way and killed it with a 10 min/mile pace (I’m normally 11:30-12 min/mile). I spent the rest of the day in recovery and relaxation mode, fueling up on carbs, enjoying Porto Vista Hotel’s spool (spa jacuzzi pool) and straight up Netflix-and-chillin’ in my hotel room. I was determined to awake the next morning in a calm and motivated state.
Since I traveled to San Diego for the race, I purchased a VIP pass so I had somewhere to eat breakfast, get coffee, stretch and hydrate pre-Race. While shoving a bagel down my throat, I saw the one and only Boston Marathon winner Des Linden hanging out on the other side of the tent. I tried to finish scarfing down my meal so I could go take a selfie with her, but I sadly missed her by seconds. Still, being in her presence was one of the most motivating feelings I could have pre-race. “Run like Des,” I told myself.
I made my way to Corral 22 hydrated, fed and stretched. Normally I like to jam to some New Found Glory when I’m nervous, but I didn’t want to waste my headphone battery pre-race as I knew I’d need the power-through songs towards the end. Instead, I made a few friends – some returning marathoners, some first-time marathoners. We shared our stories as we waited nearly an hour after the first corral started for our turn. At about 6:56 a.m., I was officially en route on marathon number two.
I vastly underestimated the number of hills that were on the course and they started right from the beginning. What did blow me away was the amount of course support there was from the City of San Diego. Everything from costumed strangers with motivational signs to a full on stretch of bars set up outside of people’s houses. Around mile 4.5 I enjoyed myself a shot of tequila, a swig of beer and a few jolly ranchers (the whiskey leprechaun was sadly on the other side of the street). Little kids were high-fiving everyone who would accept and neighbors thankfully set up their hoses to help runners stay as cool as possible on a wicked hot day. I kept myself occupied just at the sheer curiosity of what would be around the corner on the next stretch of road.
At about mile 10, the crowd thinned as the marathoners and half marathoners split courses. I had spent the latter half of the race headphone-free so I could enjoy the conversations, cheers and live music, but as the course became more and more desolate, I knew it was time for my “26.2 songs to get me through” playlist to be cranked.
During my training, the half-way mark seemed to be where my downfall would begin, no matter what distance I was aiming for and that was no different for this race. My feet were so sore I could feel and count at least three blisters on each foot. It was hot. SO hot. I felt well-fueled, well-fed, well-hydrated, but the heat and hills still took a toll on me. I did everything I could to just enjoy the surroundings, what I was about to achieve and the thought of what was at the finish line. I had great friends and family cheering me on and coaching me as best they could from a distance, my favorite bands were blasting in my ears and I was in beautiful San Diego. Of the many messages replaying in my head throughout the long course, “only half marathons from now on” was definitely one of them.
As I approached mile 22, a police officer was moving a course barricade. He then proceeded to tell us the race was over and the course was being shut down. “What do you mean?? We have two hours left to finish!!” “There’s an active shooter downtown.”
In this day and age, that is my biggest fear. Every concert, festival, special event I go to, I am met with that fear. I blew up in water works and called my family and my boyfriend to let them know that I was in a safe spot. We were being re-routed to the mall and a shuttle would come pick us up. Despite safety, I was mortified by the thought of not finishing. I did not spend six months training for something to be destroyed by this god-forsaken society we are currently living in. By some stupid schmuck. By today’s new norm. Fellow runners saw how distraught I was and comforted me. Thank you, strangers.
Luckily enough, the situation was quickly controlled and unrelated to the Race with no injuries at play. About ten minutes later, we were back on the course and met with the amazing news that we would be able to finish. However, the break was my downfall. I spent so much energy crying and fearing that it completely killed any stride I had left. I knew the last 4-ish miles would be the biggest challenge, especially with the MASSIVE hill that was miles 23-24. Literally all up-hill, at the end of the race, on the freeway, with no shade. It was brutal. I feel like whoever conquered that that day, should get a medal just for beasting that portion. The brightside was that a good majority of the remaining miles was downhill – but at that point, I was so beat-up, blistered, chafed and burnt that mostly-walking was how I kept going and “just keep moving” is all I could tell myself.
As I turned the corner to see the finish line, a little over a quarter of a mile away, I got that final burst of energy and off I went. Six hours and twenty minutes later (including the potential active shooter lull), I was a two-time marathoner. And thanks to the Remix Challenge, I had three medals to celebrate it with. And some pizza, beer and uber-delivered ice cream sandwiches.