Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego’

A tale of two races

A year ago, I swore off the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. I ran my second 26.2 on a warm, balmy day in America’s Finest City with bad shoes and an attitude in need of much adjustment.

I’m admitting it: The trip, despite the destination, didn’t include any of my finest moments. At the end, I collapse to the ground, threw off my running shoes and cried. It wasn’t even a pretty cry. It was an ugly cry, with an ugly cry face. I hated every minute of it. On the way home, I told my running buddy Sam, who did the half marathon, that I would never do it again.


It’s amazing what changes in a year. I ended 2012 and began 2013 going through the worst moments of my life. I was convinced 2013 would be the worst full year of my life.


And you know what?

It actually hasn’t been too bad. That’s one of the reasons Sam convinced me, during our February trip to Southern California for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon, to sign up for San Diego. Not the marathon, though. At that point, I was already registered for the San Francisco Marathon (which I’m running on Sunday and crossing my fingers I’ll be able to finish with the IT band issues that have flared up lately), so there was no way I’d run two marathons in a three week period.

I did run two half marathons in a two-week period, which makes me think I qualify for the Half Fanatics, which I’d gladly join if I didn’t have such an aversion to groups.

Still, so much has changed. Last year, I realized something was very wrong with me. Within a month, I was on anti-depression and anxiety medication, trying to keep my more-fragile-than-I-ever-imagined self together. That didn’t end well.


In the months leading into San Diego, I became a PR machine. I ran a half marathon five-weeks post surgery in February and knocked twenty minutes off my time from last year. In March, I ran my first ever 2:20 half marathon. In May, I PRed again at Portland with a 2:19.

In San Diego, the place where I had the worst marathon experience of my life (we’ll see about this weekend and this dumb IT band), I found something in myself to push me into a runner a year ago I didn’t think existed in me. I ran a 2:16:41 half marathon. And I know exactly how I did it, which made it all that much better.

Mile 1: 10:08 — We get started at 7:08 a.m. I think I finally found my footing in the 2:20 corral. That’s my pace at the start and, usually consistently. I feel good. But right before the mile mark, I also realize I’m really, really warm.

Mile 2: 10:37 — That feeling of “warm” kind of stayed with me. I figured this wouldn’t be the best day to race. Plus, this Rock ‘n’ Roll race welcomes a ton of people … so at the first aid station, I felt like I was pushing my way through people to get to the water.

Mile 3: 10:07 — We start making our way into the University Heights neighborhood. The support here was AMAZING. These people were yelling and cheering for all the runners. A real boost.

Mile 4: 10:53 — Water stop to slow me down again. Vanilla Bean Gu.

Mile 5: 10:06 — I’m starting to feel the Gu as we get to the “top” of the half marathon route.

Mile 6: 9:53 — Now the Gu is really kicking in. And I’m getting excited as we move past the relay exchange point. There’s no “mini marathon” option in this race, but the half course is split in two so that people who aren’t quite ready to go the full 13.1 can test out their skills on six-mile and 7.1 mile routes.

Mile 7: 10:43 — A much-needed downhill. But not a complete downhill mile. Despite what this race boasted, it was not “flat and fast.” Nope. Not even close.

Mile 8: 10:05  — Some up and down here. I grab another Gu. I was running so fast (for me), that when I grabbed my Gu it literally felt like it was taking forever. I felt like I was clumsy and couldn’t really control my iFitness band really well.

Mile 9: 11:00 — Rolling hills. NOT A FLAT COURSE.

Mile 10: 10:45 —The combination of an aid station AND the hill right at the beginning of this mile dropped me here. Plus, I was getting tired.

Mile 11: 11:17 — I nearly lost it this mile. This is when we started heading into Balboa Park. The course narrowed here, with half marathoners on one side and marathoners on another. The problem with that is this the half marathoners, which there are more of, were right on top of each other. I took an elbow to the chest at the aid station here. Then I walked for a bit to recover from that. Then, I swear, another hill popped up.

Mile 12: 10:01 — Gu. I’m finishing this thing. Downhills in sight. Let’s go. Right at the mile 12 beep on the Garmin, the 2:15 pacer passed me. First thought: I RAN 12 MILES WITHOUT BEING PASSED BY THE 2:15 PACER! Second thought: CHASE. HIM. NOW.

Mile 13: 9:42 — So I literally chased the 2:15 pacer. I lost site of him as we got back into downtown, but I already knew I was on a good pace. There was no way I couldn’t PR now. I HAD THIS.

Mile .18: 1:28 (8:15 average) — Right downhill into the finish chute.

Official time: 2:16:41





This time though, I wasn’t stunned. I didn’t cry. I held it together pretty well. I found a curb. I sat and waited for Sam, who was leading her sister into a sub-three finish. I was really proud of Sam. She helped her sister take an hour off her previous half marathon time. And Sam ran a pretty great race herself for “just getting back into it.”

I hate to say “I wasn’t surprised.” But this time, I figured out WHY I ran well, which had been alluding me in previous races.

1) I took care of the jitters, for the most part, before hand.


That includes the required visit to the portable toilets. But it also includes having a more “set” schedule and plan for race morning. I now do a Gu about 45 minutes before the start. I also eat a Luna Bar for breakfast. Nothing too fancy or extreme for my stomach. I also plan and pack everything the night before.

2. I found my comfort zone early, then backed off that pace a little.

It’s hard not to speed up. I’m really bad at that. But, for the most part, I’ve gotten that under control. I find a pace I can reasonably sustain for 10 miles, then I ease up. That way, I get to mile 12 still feeling good. I’ve finished my last three half marathons feeling amazing. That’s a huge change from feeling like I was dying before in nearly all of them.

3. I paid less attention to my Garmin.

Really now. I know that’s hard to believe. But I am spending less time staring at it between miles and more time just running. I’m doing more “in the moment” running.

4. I’m having fun.


I used to feel like these races were “make or break.” It had everything to do with the fact I was carrying the stress of my bad days, and bad life there for awhile, with me into them. I ran so well in 2011. I improved my times. I ran my first marathon. But 2012 turned into a bad year for my racing, until I took a vacation from my full-time work in August 2012. That’s the week I ran my best half marathon, a 2:22.

That should have told me something. (Everyone, including my grandmother, has since told me that.) Proof of that fun? I’m able to joke around now before races (see above? It is unpleasant to be towed…ha!). I’m just much looser than before.

5. I’m fueling well.

The Gu pattern is becoming just that, a pattern. I’ve started to “figure out” this half marathon thing. I’m carrying just enough to make it in to the finish, taking it when I need it and not dwelling on it too much.

6. I’m training better.

I’m sure that’s telling in itself. I do incline treadmill training now. I’m also running outside more when my IT band is allowing it. Unfortunately lately my IT band has been really angry. I do one long run a week, two mid-length runs (7-8) and two tempo runs (4-6). I feel better about my training. And it’s “just enough” to push me where I need to be.

That said, I don’t necessarily have more time. I don’t. Right now I’m back to averaging 10-hour days while my boss is on vacation. I’m just glad to have the “itch” to run back. My self-imposed “no run” rule this week to help my leg get better is annoying me more than this sort of thing ever did before.

7. I know now what I didn’t know then.

I didn’t realize how much “healing” I had to do after January, both mentally (from all depression and anxiety) and physically (from emergency gallbladder surgery), until I really got away from what I felt was making me “sick.” Part of me thought everything would get better overnight. In many ways, it did. In others, it didn’t. I had to heal. I had to grow. And much like I literally regained my “stride” in running last year, the running this year has played a huge part in that.

I’m better because I run.


Half marathoners are just better now. Running is just better now. I’m better now. And believe me when I say I know I have further to go down that road to feel “whole” again. A 2:16 half marathon though moves me closer to that goal.

Last year, I walked away from San Diego feeling the lowest I had ever felt. I was miserable. I hated my life. I wasted time on people I thought were my friends. I couldn’t imagine that it could get much worse. Then it did.

This year, I came to San Diego with a completely renewed purpose. I came into it a more whole person. I came into it happier. And also with better shoes. But, most importantly, I came into this race knowing that I had that faster race in me. That made the biggest difference. Everything else was just complementary.

Two races. One year apart. A little rock ‘n’ roll. A world of difference.

A visual tour of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego expo


Since many of the Rock ‘n’ Roll runs have very similar expos, I figured I won’t recap the entire experience. Instead, I figured I’d put together a photo post of the highlights of my hour-plus inside the expo.

My husband dropped my running buddy Sam and I off right when we got into San Diego, after a long eight-hour drive (which included a stop for lunch in Mission Viejo. He decided to take a ride down to, nearly, the California/Mexico border, thereby letting Sam and I spend as much time as we wanted to at the expo.


The Convention Center, as always, was packed. There were more people than could fit inside the crosswalk area streaming out of the expo. There were only two and a half hours left of it…so the expo was kind of winding down.


First stop was the check-in area and into the standard Brooks area. I was excited to see a huge Brooks tent shaped like a pasta bowl. I was hoping, more so, that the Brooks shoe-shaped pasta would be for sale.

Nope. No shoe-shaped pasta, at least not by the time we arrived. Too bad. I’ve been wanting to buy a bag.

We didn’t stick around for the gait analysis or anything. We’d already been there, done that two weeks earlier in Portland. That expo was pretty epic.

So we headed out for the rest of the expo. It was packed. There were more people than my anxiety could handle for a minute.



Sam was good at maneuvering us through the crowds and to her sister, who was waiting in the tape line. It would be Sam’s sisters second half marathon. She met us down in San Diego and, thankfully, picked us up from the expo when my husband wasn’t answering his cell phone. I had fears that he, and our race gear, got stuck in Mexico. That didn’t happen.


Lots of temptations at expos. I’ve actually become so much better at not trying to buy everything.

There’s some stuff, though, that’s just funny too.


For the record, I’d never wear an “I (heart) bacon” headband. I just thought it was funny because there was only one left. Really? That many people bought these headbands? I guess there’s a market for them … just not with me. Sam actually bought a Halo headband. She wore it for most of the race, but the verdict is still out on whether she liked it or not. She ended up taking if off and wearing it around her wrist most the race. That said, it was warm and humid, so I’m not sure she can fairly review it.

As much as I don’t fall into temptation, I decided there were some good deals at the expo.

I scored a box of my favorite Gu for $24.


And I visited the Tiger Tail booth. Last year I bought the Tiger Tail roller, which I love more than my Stick Roller because the Tiger Tail doesn’t pinch me. I tried to convince Sam to buy one. Instead, we both got Tiger Ball Massage-On-A-Rope.


I got it for $24. A nice price for, being that it cost $28 regularly and then you also have to pay for shipping. To be fair, I was on the lookout for this booth because I knew I was going to either get this or the Knot Buster.

I’ve buried the lead a little bit on this one, but as we were walking around something exciting happened: I saw Deena Kastor signing race items. I KNEW I had to get in line, being that my Kara Goucher-signed race bib got me to a PR a couple weeks earlier.

Deena-freaking-Kastor signed my race bib.


I’d like to think that’s what led me to my 2:16:41 half marathon, which is a marathon-distance time for her. You know what? Runners are nice people. Kara was gracious. Deena was super sweet. They were amazingly nice to everyone who stood in line for a little bit of their time.

Before we left, we headed to the main Rock ‘n’ Roll booth where I eyed the “Heavy Medal” series.


This year, I should earn the Grand Slam medal. Last year I earned the “Rock Encore” and “Triple Crown.” That said, I accidentally registered for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego with my maiden name, so I had to send an email asking that my name be changed in the results. I just registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which will be my last Rock ‘n’ Roll Half for the year.

I was considering doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, but instead I think I’ll be staying closer to home and running the just-announced Berkeley Half Marathon on Nov. 24. Sam is going for broke with her Tour Pass, which is ending up to be a good value for her, and trying to earn the medal for six Rock ‘n’ Roll Races in the year.

I was hopeful, but not certain, that I would be able to beat my 2:19 time from Portland … and that would come Sunday in a very amazing run.

So much to write, not enough time to do it


I’m having one of those “I WANT TO JUST LET EVERYTHING IN MY HEAD POUR OUT INTO MY BLOG” days. But I can’t.

My husband I got back from Six Flags Magic Mountain, after our trip to San Diego for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this weekend, at about midnight last night. I’m exhausted. But my freelance boss is leaving for vacation later this week.

I’m buried in work until Friday. Then See Jane Run happens on Saturday.

It’s going to be a crazy week.

But at some point I’m going to have to write about my new personal record. I did it again. I ran faster than I did in Portland.

My time for Sunday’s half is 2:16:41. So close, yet so far, to 2:15. It’s so close I can taste it. In fact, I did taste it, for all of one minute, when the 2:15 pacer passed me during the run. For a race I didn’t think would get me to this goal, I’m pretty stoked at how it turned out.

But…more details will have to come later.

Second marathon sophomore slump: Part II

I usually don’t start out posts with the “after” photo, but felt in this case it was necessary. The above photo comes from near the finish line. I’m beyond spent at this point. I don’t even think I can describe how tired I am at this point. My feet are killing me. I’m near tears. I just wanted it to end.

At 4:45 a.m. I woke up to my iPhone alarm. I usually have to set two, but since I didn’t sleep at all I didn’t even need the second one. I rolled out of bed and started getting ready for the 6:15 a.m. wave starts. I was in corral 25, so I’d be heading out later, obviously, than 6:15 a.m., but I still wanted to be down to the start area with enough time to go to the bathroom (necessary, always) and warm up.

I ate an apple in the hotel room and most of a Chocolate Peppermint Luna bar. I also wrapped my feet. My shoes had been giving me a lot of problems, more than my Nikes ever did. I kept thinking I’d break in the Saucony Hurricane 14s before the marathon. By the time I hit the streets of San Diego, I had put about 80 miles on them alone.

Broken in? No. Not at all.

My pinky toes were completely raw. I also kept getting blisters on the inside of my foot. All of this would come back to haunt me during the 26.2. But at 5 a.m. I thought wrapping my feet with moleskin and then doing a once around with tape would make the world better.

Thomas drove us away from the hotel on the less than 10-minute drive to the starting line.

The portable toilet lines were ridiculous. I’ve seriously never seen so many people waiting to use the bathrooms. This was a complete 180 from the Oakland Half Marathon earlier this year where there ALWAYS seem to be ample bathrooms and no lines.

The bathroom wait ended up being about 30+ minutes. That was actually fine, if only because the waves went off every two minutes or so. By the time I was done using the bathroom, there were still six or more waves in front of me. I lined up with Corral 25 and set my Garmin.

Nerves were taking over. I downed a Vanilla Bean Gu before I crossed the start. It didn’t help soothe my stomach.

I figured they would get better once I started running.


But either way, close to 7 a.m., we were off and running.

It started out promising.

Mile 1: 10:59 — I was hoping I wouldn’t start running and suddenly have to go to the bathroom. Thankfully I didn’t. The first mile is downhill straight until a quick turn onto University Avenue. I hit Mile 1 and was feeling OK.

Mile 2: 11:08 — The first water stop comes pretty quickly here. I bypass it because I’m carrying my 20-ounce Amphipod water bottle.

Mile 3: 11:12 — We’re in Balboa Park for parts of miles 2 and 3. It’s beautiful. Nice architecture. I’m still feeling OK. We’re passing the zoo. This is also the point is seemed like every guy on the course seemed to be running off into the bushes to go to the bathroom. The women on the course talked about how they were envious they couldn’t do that.

Mile 4: 10:54 — This is what split the course between the half marathon and the marathon. I suddenly felt so much more comfortable with fewer people around. A little more than 7,000 were running the marathon. There were more than twice that many in the half marathon. I took a Gu, hoping the fatigue I was feeling would level off.

Mile 5: 11:10 — Lots of street, few big sites.

Mile 6: 11:10 — We ran through Petco Park, which was pretty nice in itself. This is also the point where I started to feel tired. The Gu seemed to be working too.

Mile 7: 12:48 — And then, just like that, it wasn’t working anymore. A gradual incline started here. My body wasn’t having it.

Mile 8: 14:52 — Things went from bad to worse here. The stable group I was running with was suddenly gone. I was still moving up an incline. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I was lucky that this mile wasn’t longer really. I got lucky and ran into a portable toilet that was behind a performer’s stage. I don’t think we are supposed to do that, but there was no one stopping me. And by the time I ran out of the toilet, there was a line of people waiting to use the bathroom.

Mile 9: 13:15 — We got onto Highway 163 at this point, which is banked for most of the surface. I wasn’t down for the count yet.

In fact I still looked pretty happy despite slowing down again on the inclines. Everyone was starting to look a little fatigued here, but I was still in good company.

Mile 10: 14:12 — I had done a Gu at mile 8, like planned. But my body wasn’t having it. I did another here.

Mile 11: 11:37 — The Gu, with a nice long downhill allowed me some speed here.

Mile 12: 13:58 — But not long enough. By this time, the tape I had secured around the moleskin was wearing into my foot. I’m not talking about a slight wear. It was a painful searing. I didn’t want to stop, though, because I already knew I was quite a bit behind my goal.

Mile 13: 12:07 — The Gu caught up with me, but my half marathon time was somewhere around 2:41. I was spent. Two runners tried to help my spirits, but I wasn’t having any of it

Mile 14: 13:36 — The slowdown continues as we start moving back uphill.

Mile 15: 11:37 — I did another Gu here.

Mile 16: 14:30 — Here we start an excruciating out and back area. By now I can tell my foot has been rubbed raw. I also know my baby toes are completely trashed. This is also the point where I stopped at an aid station and had a woman re-tape my foot. I thought, maybe, it was at mile 19. That’s where I nearly melted down. A nice woman at a medical tent along the way told me that I could give up. But if I did, the sweep crew would be nearly two-hours behind. I had a moment here where I almost did give up.

Mile 17: 13:32 — Gu. This was probably the most depressing part of the run. I was so tired. I didn’t want to go. Every step was painful. I wanted to cry.

Mile 18: 13:17 — More of the same.

Mile 19: 13:07 — I started to feel as if this run would have an end. I did another Gu, before I was supposed to, but I kept going.

Mile 20: 11:42 — The Gu propelled me through a beautiful park area. I couldn’t help but be propelled to move forward.

That’s about the point in the run where I knew that if I put my mind to it and forgot about how much pain my feet were in, I could get through it. That would prove harder than I thought, though. The photos are my purchases from MarathonFoto. And they get better, just wait.

Mile 21: 12:07 — “Keep moving,” I kept telling myself. More Gu. I’m surprised I finished with one Gu left for all I was taking down.

Mile 22: 13:19 — This part was discouraging. We moved from one island, full of support, onto another where it seemed the crowd thinned out so much that we were the only ones there.

Mile 23: 13:43 — Then, I couldn’t do it anymore. My feet were killing me.

Mile 24: 12:56 — The pain took control.

Mile 25: 15:05 — Those photos? Yeah. That happened. I didn’t care who was taking my picture. It hurt. My legs felt fine. But my feet were not having it. Not at all. I was so mad. I was mad at myself. I was mad at my shoes. I was mad at the run itself. I was just hoping to finish at this point. I knew I wouldn’t be breaking any records. I knew I wouldn’t be better than my previous time. I was pissed. I can’t even say how pissed I was. It was depressing. Considering I’d spent more time preparing for this run than the first, I was depressed. I did a Gu.

Mile 26: 12:28 — It’s here, I decided to pick it up again after another Gu. Yep, another. I just kept taking them down.

Mile .2: 3:53 — Pushing it here. Trying to run it in. The finish line seemed so far away.

I ran over a very uneven part of road/sidewalk here. You can see it in the photo on the left. That one little imperfection at the end just added insult to injury. Finally, after all that pain, I crossed the finish line.

Garmin time: 5:34:26

Chip time: 5:34:14

I walked in a daze through the finish area and collected my medal. I had enough energy to smile for the photo at the end, but no more. I was done. It was over. And I hated nearly every minute of it.

So what went wrong? I want to say everything. My training was strong. I went out conservatively.

The shoes were the biggest problem. I had blisters everywhere at the end. I could barely stand after I sat down. The bottom line: After nearly a month of trying to break my Saucony Hurricane 14s in, I was getting nowhere in making them work for me. Instead, they put me in excruciating pain the entire way through. My small toes were rubbed raw. I had gnarly blisters. I even had two blood blisters. It was a mess.

Something I wish I knew before the marathon: My shoes weren’t working for me.

I’m a big believer that the bad runs make the good ones all that much better. But this was ridiculous.

My husband tried to reassure me that I should be proud. I ran 26.2 miles. He was proud. Yet, all I feel is defeated. Defeated by a distance that only months earlier I ran 14 minutes quicker.

I contemplated this as I sobbed on a curb. Thomas had forgot my backpack with flip flops in it. I didn’t want to put my shoes back on. So I sobbed while he went and got the backpack. It was kind of like Pink’s “Just Like a Pill” when she says “I haven’t moved from the spot where you left me, this must be a bad trip.”

And it was a bad trip indeed.

Like that, it was over. I waddled to the car. We started on our way home. Nearly eight hours in the car later, and suddenly realizing I had a gnarly leg sunburn, the weekend was over. I’ve never been so thankful in my life to have taken a Monday off.

I wish I could say I learned something from this run about my training structure or what I need to do in the future. But the truth is, nearly a week later, I just want to put it out of my mind.

I’m thinking it will take me awhile to get over the disappointment my second marathon.

Second marathon sophomore slump: Part I

To say I’ve been dreading writing my race recap for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon would be an understatement. Part of me was hoping, maybe I could just not write anything about the race outside of saying that it sucked. It was not fun for me. It made me work every minute. And I was miserable the entire time.

But that wouldn’t be much of a race recap.

I keep having these “I should have known” moments. I don’t do travel races all too well. I proved that during the Big Sur Half Marathon in November and again during the Big Sur 21-miler. (Or maybe I’m just not up to par for Big Sur races?) Somehow I managed to do OK with California International Marathon last year, though.

The plan was that we’d go down to San Diego on Saturday, early and head back after the race on Sunday.

So we ventured down Interstate 5 in the wee hours of the morning. We hit the road around 5:30 a.m. We sped past Los Angeles, which is about five hours south of where I live, before the noon hour. And, after only two stops along the way, we made it to San Diego sometime after the noon hour.

The happy buzz kind of started to end there as we hit traffic along Harbor Boulevard in downtown on our way to the Convention Center where the expo was happening.

I’ve been to three Rock ‘n’ Roll expos so far. This one was the biggest. This was also the biggest of the three races I’d run.

The check in process was simple. I was handed my blue “marathon” bib.

Rock ‘n’ Roll generally has a pretty efficient system. Bib. Shirt. Reusable backpack.

I got lucky this time with the race shirt. It was a female size. And it even fits good. My one from Pasadena seemed to run a little large. It’s also a nice blue color and basic enough for me to want to wear it again. (I should do a post on what makes race shirts wearable, seriously, because I have quite a few I want to send in and have a quilt made from because I don’t wear them.)

The biggest thing I noticed about the expo was that there was a ton of free stuff. Free milk. Free swag. Free Jamba Juice drinks. Free cake. Even free tuna fish.

Speaking of tuna, I even got a photo with Charlie the Tuna, the mascot from StarKist Tuna.

So that’s a pretty awesome photo. I walked around for about an hour, making a purchase of a 26.2 shirt at the Brooks booth and a new roller for my legs.

The new roller was actually on sale. It’s called a TigerTail and it’s somewhat like my Stick roller from another expo. But it has a solid roller in the middle instead of the beads. This is amazing because my Stick roller pinches me every now and then.

That’s what it looks like. I’ve used it multiple times since the marathon. I’ve also taken it to work to roll my legs out when I need to if I am sitting for too long. At $25, I feel like I got a deal on it.

I didn’t spend too much money at the expo. I just didn’t see anything I really needed, outside of the TigerTail, and maybe some items here and there. I should note that I bought a new container of Glide, but not the name brand. I had forgotten my Glide at home and my fat little arm on my right side has been chafing pretty badly. My arms and gut are the first places I gain weight and where it usually stays, so even when my stomach is looking more svelte and my legs are bulked out, my arms are still chubby.

Before the exit, the videos of the course were playing out.

It was then I had a moment where I realized “I’m running 26.2 miles tomorrow.” And I was nervous. And scared. I’d like to think it doesn’t how many times you do this distance, the  likelihood is that if you are more mortal, less Olympian, you never really full comprehend how long it is when you sign up for it.

It’s a bit of a distance.

We left the expo and headed into the Gaslamp District in San Diego for cupcakes. For me. Because I love cupcakes and I knew specifically where a shop was since I was down in San Diego overnight for an American Society of Newspaper Editors conference in early 2011.

Then we headed back to the hotel. It’s there that a headache started to flair up. But I went and had a pasta dinner, usual fuel, and decided not to head out for a night on the town. Instead, I’d try to tuck in early and see if I could catch up on sleep.

That’s where my experience in San Diego all goes down hill.

I got into bed at 9 p.m. and couldn’t sleep. I turned every which way. I put on the fan for white noise. I was comfortable, but I wasn’t sleeping.

So I laid there. For seven hours. Eyes closed, but never fully falling asleep.

There was nothing I could do about it. My mind kept wandering. Every time I thought “this will be the point I’ll fall asleep” it didn’t happen. I just kept staring at the ceiling.

There was no way I wouldn’t be exhausted running this race. I knew it then. I’d woken up at 4 a.m. the morning before and hadn’t slept the entire night. When my alarm clock went off at 4:45 a.m. I considered not running.

But I’d trained so hard. I’d come so far.

Part of me thought I could pull it together and get it done. And that’s all I thought about as my husband drove me to the start line. My mind wandered. My stomach turned.

It wouldn’t get any better going into the race.


San Diego was beautiful, but painful

Every single one of my worst thoughts came true. But I blame my downfall on a bad case of insomnia. I didn’t sleep the night before the race. At all. I probably shouldn’t have even tried to run 26.2.

But I did. And I hit the wall early. And it got ugly.

A day later my feet are blistered. My legs are sunburned and sore. And I’m overall exhausted.

My finish time: 5:34:14.

That’s 14 minutes slower than California International Marathon. It’s enough to make me rethink my focus, my training and my attitude. My husband says I’m over thinking it. I probably am. But I want to get better. Not worse.

I was exhausted by mile eight. And I just couldn’t pull the magic back. There was not enough Gu in the world to save it.

I nearly quit at mile 19. But a really nice aid station volunteer persuaded me against it. So I pulled it together, got back out there and finished.

I have some bad splits. I was 12 minutes behind the entire way. But I made it.

My husband, who bought me the little bear above, was proud. I finished. And on some days, sometimes that’s what it’s really about.

A full race report to come later.

Am I disappointed? Yes. But I also ran 26.2 miles. And I pretty damn proud of that too.


Psyching myself out

Tonight, I’m packing my bag for our early morning and through the day trip eight hours south for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.

I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m a little scared.

I think I’m most nervous because I’m afraid I’ll be slower than the 5:20:41 I ran for the California International Marathon in December.

They (as in everyone who urges first-time marathoners not to set goals) say that the first time you should aim to finish. The second time? Well, there are no recommendations for goals for a second time.

I’m hoping to run more consistent. I’m hoping to finish (again). And I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into a sufferfest. It could.

I think I’m psyching myself out a little. I kept feeling pain in my legs this week. Then I went for a now-regular massage before I do a long run and suddenly realized my arms were bruised from it (sign of a good massage?).

So I keep thinking to myself: This is going to be all bad.

That’s not helping me at all really. I know that, of course. But I also don’t know what to expect. I don’t know how I’ll feel at mile two. I don’t know how I’ll feel at mile 22.

It’s all still a mystery. And it’s making me very anxious.

Breathe deeply. Breathe deeply. Remember the Gu.

We set off early tomorrow, around 5 a.m. And I’m waking up early the next day to run 26.2.

Again. 26.2 again.


I’m packing my bags. I’m trying to get everything together.

And I’m trying to get it together. And keep it together for the run.