You probably already read my last post about the entire weekend recap (wait, what?! You haven’t read it yet? Go read my last couple blog posts to get the full effect before reading this one!), but I wanted a special post just for the Women’s Running Series 1/2 marathon San Diego race. Since I had hurt my foot 2.5 days before the race, and mid-January was the last time I had run over 4 miles (and not successfully. It was an immensely painful race and I was hobbling for days afterwards), I went into it not even knowing if I could finish it. I wanted to see how far I could get, and anticipated walking the second half the race, if at all.
I woke up at 4am and left the hotel at 430am. I had set everything out the night before, per usual, and quickly (and quietly) dressed and got my stuff together, as to not wake anyone else in the hotel room. The weather was forecasted to be pretty decent, so I opted for a tank and shorts (something I haven’t been able to race in for a LONG time in San Francisco). Getting to Liberty Station was a breeze that early in the morning, and there is so much parking in that area that it took me 5 seconds to pull into a spot. It was pretty chilly and still early, so I stayed in the car for awhile before heading to the start area.
I walked around for a bit checking out where everything was situated, stood next to the gear check table as long as I could before having to give up my longsleeve shirt (haha) and then headed to the port-o-pottie lines (even that didn’t take long!). I headed to the start line, said hello to one of my previous Team in Training mentees, and then lined up with the 2:30 pacer. My goal was to not get too behind the 2:30 pacer and to try to finish the race as much as I can. I knew my roommate from freshman year of college would be around mile 7 and my family at mile 8, so I really wanted to at least make it that far.
I started off at a regular steady pace, and listened to how my body felt instead of constantly checking my watch. One great thing about smaller races like this is even if you’re a bit slower, you’re not waiting to cross the start line for 40 minutes. I started in corral 2, with the 2:30 pacer (so there were 3 pace groups ahead of us) and still crossed the start line 1 minute 30 seconds after the gun went off. AWESOME! I made up my mind at the start to not use my watch very much. In case I was hurting and going really slow, I didn’t want to know it! I just listened to my legs and lungs and slowed down when I needed to and sped up when I thought I could.
Everything seemed to be going ok when I hit the 5k mark. With every step I took, I was waiting for pain to shoot through my right foot or my knee to start feeling stiff, but it was feeling ok at that time. I kept telling myself “if you go faster now, that’s less time for something to start hurting” (what a genius plan, Sheena). Since I wasn’t looking at my watch, I didn’t really pay attention to what my pace was, but by mile 4 when I looked at the clock under the mile 4 sign, I saw I was doing decently well. I’m sure running in beautiful San Diego helped, too! By mile 5, I felt like I had hit a really nice groove. At the mile 6 marker, I had to pull over and try to fix my hair because it was falling out of the bun and no one wants tangled mufasa hair during a race. I used that time to call my cousin to see if they were at mile 8, because I was only 2 miles away. They were still looking for parking, eep!
My college roommate Kat was right in front of the mile 7 marker and as soon as I saw her I yelled “KKKKKAAAATTTTTTT!!!” since she was talking to the other people standing there. She had made a sign and everything! I stopped to take a picture with her, fix my hair more securely this time, ask her if she wanted to come to breakfast with us after the race and then I was off again. We are both injured, so she completely understood how nervous I was about the race, but we promised each other we’d finish our upcoming races (my race that morning and hers in San Francisco in April)… even if we had to crawl.
After I left her and turned the corner, I started to get close to Shelter Island Drive and look for my family on both sides of the street. I finally saw them, but before the mile 8 marker and still walking towards it on the opposite side of the street. I was ahead of schedule and they were behind schedule. I just yelled “CROSS THE STREET, I’LL COME BACK AROUND!” to them as I ran by. I was a little bummed at that, but kept on going. I ran around Shelter Island and at mile 8 looked at my watch. When it looked around, I saw that at some point I had passed the 2:30 pacer because they were on the opposite side of the loop. I realized at that pace, if I kept at it and hit mile 10.5 by 1:55, I could beat my previous PR of 2:21:21 and possibly even the 2:20 that I’ve been after for so long!
The family should have been around mile 10 so I kept looking for them but never saw them. I pulled over at about mile 10.3, called to see if they had gone straight to the finish, and they said they kept walking and were with Kat at mile 11. So I starter running again and told them I’d be there soon. I saw them coming up, right where the mile 11 sign was, and as always, was running with a huge smile on my face, so happy to have some crowd support. I waved, pulled over, kissed the baby a few times for good luck to finish the race, told Kat “if I don’t die, I can PR!” and she said “What are you doing!? GOOOO!!”
I took off on Harbor Drive and still felt pretty good! I knew I was slowing down, but was still moving at a decent pace. Normally I hit the wall around mile 9, but having that excited feeling of looking forward to having people along the course cheering for me really helped me from hitting that wall. It distracted my mind from focusing on me being tired or things hurting, and helped to focus on something awesome and positive. At mile 11.5 I could see the 2:15 pacer waaayyy ahead of me, and I knew if I could just keep her in my sights (even if it was way off in the distance), I was definitely going to break 2:20, and I was ecstatic! I stopped/slowed down for one more cup of water and to spit a few times (am I the only gross lady out there who salivates profusely while running?) and made the final turn to the finish shoot. I could still her in the distance and estimated to be about 3ish minute behind, so I was super excited about a 2:19 finish!
I ran the last part as strong as I possibly could, crossed the finish line without looking at the clock and stopped my Garmin. I looked at my watch, looked up, looked at it again, and then looked at the 2:15 pacer who was still nearby high-fiving the ladies who ran with her. I went up to her, asked in what time they finished, and then gave her a big hug, thanking her for pacing me in the final couple miles, even though she had no idea. Goal A) finish. Goal B) Finish without being more injured than I started. Goal C) Finish in under 2:45.
I think this might actually be the closest my Garmin has ever been to being accurate haha. I couldn’t believe the time (and still can’t, a week later). Not only did I finally PR my 1/2 marathon time, AND finally break 2:20, if my watch was close to being accurate, I somehow broke 2:15. I BROKE 2:15! Somewhere in the universe, cosmos are aligning.
I walked around the finish shoot, got my medal and found my mentee who had finished just a few seconds behind me, which was awesome! I was looking around for my family, but didn’t see them, so I kept walking to get my water and snacks before grabbing my gear check bag.
They had champagne and cookies at the finish (I skipped this. I have a sensitive stomach, so it really can’t handle alcohol after a half marathon), a massage area (skipped also because the wait was 1.5 hours), and went to the merchandise area. At the expo I had told myself I wouldn’t buy anything because I didn’t even know if I would finish. I was so ready to buy that tank top I saw at the expo now that I had not only finished but freaking PR’d! Totally worth the $40+ I spent on it.
There was also a Freshen Up tent that was pretty awesome. They had 2 tables set up with body spray, aerosol deodorant, hairspray, mirrors, hair ties, face wipes and body wipes. When you put on a ladies only race, they sure how to make up happy! I’ve never seen anything like it at a race before, so it was pretty awesome.
Look how awesome this medal is!! It was bigger than my hand (I have baby hands haha) and comes with a removable hanging charm, so that you can make a finisher’s necklace as well, to show off your accomplishments on a daily basis!
Turns out my family didn’t come to the finish, so I had to walk to my car (no finish area pictures sadly) and drive to where they had parked, so we could head to breakfast. I annihilated a plate and some hot tea at Broken Yolk Cafe and we went back to the hotel to get ready for the rest of the day.
Post race posing with the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the background!
Overall, this race was bomb.com. I would do another Women’s Running Series race in a heartbeat. I’ve done so many HUGE Rock n Roll events in the past and it was so amazingly refreshing to run a smaller race that still had everything you could possibly need and more. Their customer service went above and beyond, were so quick to respond to any questions you had, put on an amazing race and really spoiled us all! It was the perfect race, a fabulous course (running in San Diego and especially in that area NEVER gets old), perfect weather, great course support and obviously the best one I’ve ever run. My previous best 1/2 (judging solely on how I felt), was my previous PR time in April 2013 – another race I went to severely undertrained, and I went into it just knowing I was running it for fun, but not for a time. Funny how those ones work out for you!
Thank you WRS for an amazing race and being part of what will be such a great memory for me – a race I thought I wouldn’t even finish and you helped me to a 7 minute, 9 second PR!!
I was lucky enough to win a Twitter chat with Fitfluential and the Women’s Running Series. My prize was an entry into this race. I wasn’t compensated in any other way, but honestly, this was compensation enough! DO THIS RACE!