Thursday, June 5, 2008

The View from the Back of the Pack, Part 1

Well - I'm back and still resting my wounds. The Rock n Roll Marathon is complete. I'm sitting here a few days later still trying process my emotions - very happy that I was able to accomplish the goal, but also very disappointed at the results.

This was my first marathon, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was excited to say the least! I actually slept well Saturday night and was up with my alarm at 4:15 AM to start marathon day! My hotel (Omni) had a shuttle, so I was downstairs by 4:45. A nice touch - the hotel had coffee, bagels and bananas waiting for us in the lobby! Just like clockwork, the bus showed up at 5 and off to the start we went.

I've never been involved in a run of this size, so I was anxious about what I would find at the start. What I found was a very orderly start area. Lines for the porta potties were long, but I still don't think I waited more than 20 minutes.

By this time it was about 45 minutes until start. I went through my gear bag and got the last few things I would need for the day - sunglasses, hat, etc. I lubed up with the body glide and dropped off my bag at the gear check. That's when it hit me. At this point I was committed. I couldn't go back now. Up to that point it never really struck me what I was committing to. For the first time I started feeling butterflies and some nervousness. I grabbed some coffee, a banana, half a bagel, and some water. I made my way over to my Corral (#12) and found my 4:30 pace group. About 15 minutes later, the start gun went off and and the mass of humanity started moving forward. We all shuffled forward and about 5 minutes later we crossed the start line and were off!

The weather was perfect! Overcast skies, no wind, temperature in the low 60's. This is what I came for! The first couple of miles were great! I was running with my pace group and really enjoying myself. By mile 4 though, I encountered my first problem. Shall I say that I found out I was well hydrated? I left my pace group and found a convenient bush in Balboa Park to relieve myself. That was the last I would see of that pace group. I joined back in and got back into the swing of things. Soon, I ran past mile 5 - the Omni. I was excited to see my family out on the sidewalk cheering me on! Within a few seconds I was past them and back on my morning run.

Next up was the part of the course that I had heard horror stories about. Miles 6 through 10. Uphill. Sloped pavement. Injured IT bands. I found neither to be real tough. In fact, I had found that the uneven pavement and botz dots in downtown to be more troublesome. About this time I had to make another pit stop. Lines for the porta potties were still loooong, so I found a bridge abutment that I could hide behind. I felt good! I was also enjoying the bands and cheer squads on the course. It sure beat listening to an iPod. Soon we at the top of the grade, and cheered on by the Team in Training cheerleaders, we started down the hill toward Friars Road.

This is where my day started falling apart. Actually I was feeling good. I was soaking in the sights and experiences. What I wasn't paying attention to was pace. As we hit the off ramp I looked at my watch. 9:00 per mile. Oh no.... I have no idea how long I had been running at this pace. I remembered by experience at the OC Half at the beginning of the year.

I hung in there and slowed my pace to around a 10:45. We were running on Friars Road at this point - rolling hills. My family was planning on meeting me at the 13.4 mile mark and I was looking forward to it. I pressed forward. I passed the half. Looked down at my watch - 2:24. A few minutes off the 4:30 pace, but still good for my first time. I walked through Margaritaville and downed another gel pack and some water. Then back to the grind.

I got to the 13.4 mile point and started looking for my family. They were no where to be seen. Well, since they were trying to learn the trolley system in San Diego, I chalked it up to a missed trolley, so I hunkered down and moved on.

Continued in Part 2.....

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