So Friday I drove down to San Diego to pick up all my race stuff and got to spend the day with my cousin Mike, his wife Magdalene, and their daughter Emma. Mike ran the full and Meg ran the half with me. It was an eye opening day of vendors selling shirts with slogans like, "If you see me pass out please turn off my Garmin" and "In my dreams I'm Kenyan". I also saw every possible protein bar and GU flavor imaginable. I got to meet the famous Josh Cox, a runner whom I'd only learned about a week earlier.
The real treat of the day was having lunch at the Stone Brewery in Escondido. Lunch was delicious with tofu stir-fry and jalapeno hummus, the beer was even better of course. I got the Stone IPA and it was amazing. Even got a souvenir t-shirt!
Saturday was the day of burritos! I have to say one of my favorite parts of running is now carbo loading... I had one burrito from Taco Factory for lunch and another from Chipotle on my way down to San Diego after I picked up my friend Carly from Riverside. Carly and I were staying with her sister Morgan and Morgan's boyfriend Sergio. Both Morgan and Sergio are elite runners and over the weekend I got an introduction into their world. The ride down to SD included a warning session from Carly on what to expect. The most memorable sentence was, " oh and they sleep in a tent so there's a slight hum from the generator". Huh??? Apparently, some elite athletes utilize an oxygen tent to simulate the effects of living in a high altitude environment. Morgan says, "Yeah, all I had to do was sell my car." This was just the beginning of the crazy. They're room is also covered in at least 50 pairs of running shoes in every color imaginable... good thing they work in a running shoe store huh?
Sunday morning we "woke up" at around 4 am. I never actually fell asleep so waking up at that god awful hour wasn't all that difficult. Sergio drove us to the race, with Morgan blasting European techno from the passenger seat. I'm not sure this was motivational but it made us laugh and took my mind off my worries and doubts. The perks of knowing elite runners is you get the VIP treatment, especially if your driver is last years half marathon winner. So we got to avoid having to find a place to park and needing to take shuttles to the starting line. I also got to hang out in the VIP area before the race... that's right... VIP access to the porta-potties. After that I went to find Meg so we could find our corral where we waited for our turn to start, in a race of over 32,000 you can't all start at once.
When we finally got started I actually felt really good and was able to run for about three miles before needing to walk. It was awesome to have so many people cheering on the side of the road and there was bands playing every mile or so. Plus I had Megan next to me who somehow had the ability to talk, sing, dance, and yell while still running. We had to split up around mile 5 for a bathroom break and after that I was alone. I had a few brief conversations with those around me, a lady in her 60's was worried she wasn't gonna make it but she was giving it all she had. Around mile 6 my foot that I'd injured two weeks earlier really started to ache and I started praying that it wouldn't get any worse. Luckily I came upon a Medical tent not too long after that and got some Tylenol. What a godsend! I have to say I actually teared up when I finally saw that 12 mile marker and then out of no where I spot Carly in the crowd and she jumps off the curb to run the last mile with me. We came across Magdalene shortly after that whose knee had locked up a mile back and had been walking. We toughed it out and ran the last .1 mile and crossed the finish line with our hands raised and smiles on our faces in 2:48.
After the race was more VIP treatment, and meeting up with Mike who finished the full in 4:20 and then it was time for a shower, yet another burrito (this time a Jamaican veggie burrito from Mozy's in Enscinitas) and then 3 hours laying on a beautiful beach with Carly doing nothing but getting burnt and trying erase the lovely sports bra and capri tan I acquired that morning. It was truly an amazing weekend and I'm so glad I decided to run it. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to Mike, Meg, Carly, Morgan and Sergio for all the help and motivation over the past few weeks. I'm sure this will not be my last race and i'm looking forward to future half marathons and maybe even a full some day but I know I'll never forget how special this first one was.