I've been swamped with work this past week so I haven't really had any time to write my race report. The Boy is sleeping in this morning though so I'll take advantage of it.
I woke up at 4am and went down to the lobby to grab my complimentary breakfast. They say not to change what you eat before a marathon, but they did not have any granola. Next time I'll bring some. I ate a bagel with cream cheese and two bananas, which I hoped would give me enough energy and not upset my stomache. I also had a cup of tea, which was gross, but I wanted a bit of caffeine. After breakfast I went about my preparing to run routine. I had to do most of it in the dark as Melissa and Elijah were still sleeping. I had to put sunscreen on, and I was thorough as I did not know if I was going to have to run without my shirt or not. I applied my protective nipple bandages, and smeared some vaseline on some chafey parts. After some stretching I headed back downstairs to catch the shuttle to the start line. The shuttle was small so we crammed as many people into it as we could and headed off, it dropped us off a few blocks from the start and we walked the rest of the way. By this time the water that I had been drinking had made its way south and I wanted to stop at the port-o-potties. Unfortunately so did everyone else. After a few minutes in line I realized that if I waited I would miss the start of the race. I dropped off my gear bag and headed to my corral for the start, resigning myself to the fact that I would have to find a port-o-pottie on the course. At 6:30 the gun went off, and 2 minutes later I crossed the start line and had officially started.
I settled into a pretty easy pace at the beginning, and was pleased that after mile 1 I was right on my 9:00 pace. It was cool and running felt really good so I was enjoying myself. Unfortunately every port-o-pottie I passed seemed to have a line. We looped around Balboa park and headed into downtown. I started keeping an eye out for Melissa, Elijah, Sean, and Jen cheering from the sidelines. I had passed a few water/powerade stations and had been having a small drink of water at each but dumping most of it over my head to keep my core temperature down. I had been skipping the powerade though, which turned out to be a mistake. At mile 5 I finally spotted a port-o-pottie that only had one person waiting in line, so I took advantage of it. This took two minutes off my time though, and it was the last time I was able to see the 4:00 pace balloon. The course continued through the gaslamp area, and out toward the waterfront. I caught sight of Sean as I was running and was able to get his attention. He ran up to where Melissa, Elijah and Jen were cheering so I was able to wave for a picture. We made our way out of downtown, and onto highway 168 which runs right through Balboa park. This was a lonely section of the course, and it was uphill for 4 miles on nasty freeway cement. When we finally left the 168 I was happy to see some people cheering again as we ran past the Fashion Valley mall. Sean picked me out of the crowd just before mile 13 and I was able to see everyone cheering me on for the last time before the finish line. I was starting to get tired as the miles took their toll, but I still crossed the halfway mark at pretty close to 2 hours. I passed a group of people handing out watermelon and I decided not to eat any as I was not sure what it would do to my tummy, but I regretted that decision almost immediately. I was beginning to feel like I had no energy, and the water I had been drinking was just sitting like a lump in my stomache. I started drinking powerade any chance I could, and when I passed the girl with the orange segments I did not hesitate. At mile 15 we started heading around mission bay. It was here that cramps stopped my running for the first time and I had to walk them out for a while. I was desperately trying to get to mile 17 where I knew that there was a Clif Shot station waiting for me. I felt like I had no energy left in my legs at all and it seemed to me that every mile took an eternity. I finally got to 17 and took my energy gel, hoping this would give me a bit of a kick. The miles were going by slower than ever now and I found myself having to stop to stretch my calves out a bit, and walking some of the time. I also had to search out a port-o-pottie as the extra water I had been drinking was weighing heavily on me. I found one just before mile 19. Soon after as the course turned around the outside of mission bay we started going over some pretty hefty overpasses. On one of these I had to stop running as my calves started to seize up. I tried to stretch them out, but when I got up, my quad had a massive charley horse and I could barely move. I didn't panic though and I kept limping along, hoping it would work its way out. Eventually it did and I was able to continue running. Every medical tent I passed seemed to be calling to me to not finish the race. I realized though that they would probably not drive me to the finish line where everyone was waiting, so I decided to push on through the pain. At mile 20 the water station was set up by a huge mural of a brick wall. I passed through the hole in the wall and while I didn't realize it at the time I had broken through my wall as well. I was able to run more of the time, and the powerade I had been drinking was starting to restore my electrolytes. I was able to limit my walking to just the uphill stretches and to short walks after each water station where I was getting cramps. As the miles started getting fewer and fewer I was able to break the distance remaining into shorter stretches that I knew were manageable. I kept plodding away and they seemed to come more quickly, 22, 23, 24. We finally started running alongside the Marine Corps recruitment depot and I knew the end was near. We turned into the depot and I could hear the band playing, then at mile 26 I could see the finish line. It looked like it was so far away! I heard Sean shout from the side of the course and I followed him to where Melissa was waiting. I couldn't believe that I was finally seeing them after all the miles that I had been waiting for that moment. I could barely muster a smile and a wave as I was almost completely focussed on making across the finish line. It seemed like the longest .2 miles I had ever run but soon I was there. As soon as I crossed the finish line I felt a wave of elation wash over me. I couldn't believe that I had finished it. I kept walking through the various stations in the finish area and I grabbed some food along with my medal, free sandals and mylar blanket. I picked up my gear bag and met up with everyone outside. It was over!
We had a long walk to the car which was nice to keep moving, and I tried to do that the rest of the day. By the evening I was even up for a walk along the waterfront with Melissa. It was a great race, I finished it, and I did not get injured. I learned a lot from it and the next one I will run much better.