Sunday, June 03, 2007

2007 San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon

San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon Medal

Time: 3:49:44 ***PERSONAL BEST***
Pace: 8:46/mile
Overall: 1937/15958 runners
Gender: 1501/7729 men
Division: 263/1348 (M 30-34)

What did you do this weekend?

I hopped in my car and drove down to San Diego on Saturday, ponied up $120 and signed up for the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon taking place the next day. I've been planning on doing it for a while and was set to do it after LA. However, a long layoff due to my knee injury caused me to reconsider running it. By the time I was well enough to start running, I had six weeks left before the marathon--enough for me to get back into running shape but hardly enough time to train for a marathon. I decided to go ahead with the training and see how I progressed while all the while feeling out my knee to make sure it was OK. I managed to regain my running fitness quickly and bumped up my mileage quickly, so that with three weeks left until the marathon I managed to run 20 miles. While I was able to get some long distances in, they were far from promising runs. Each long run was tough and filled me with worry that I was in no shape to run San Diego. I had the option of running it just to run it and not worrying about time. In the end, the deciding factor was that I had told so many folks that I might run it that it became a reality. So on Saturday I made it so.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. Before the race I made peace with the fact that I won't PR and this will be the first half marathon or marathon that did not show an improvement from the previous race. My goal was to finish under four hours, if possible, or at least close to it. I was set on running the race with FJ and FJ's friend, Mich. And for the first eight miles we did. We were on a slightly above nine minute pace early on, which put is in good shape for a sub four marathon. I had never run a marathon straight through with another person, so this was going to be the first one. Or so I thought. At mile six or seven, my left calf showed signs of stiffening. It worried me. It meant that I was going to start cramping up very early. I reverted to my LA game plan and picked up the pace hoping to make up enough time so I can hold on at the end. I picked up the pace and ran ahead of FJ and Mich intending to take a walk break at the mile marker and wait for them to catch up. It worked for mile eight but after that I missed the next mile marker. When I realized I had missed the marker, I just kept going. I was on my own now.

I maintained a strong pace the rest of the way, between 8 and 9 minutes per mile, with a couple of sub-8's on the downhill portions. The course is quite scenic, especially the run along Highway 163. The weather was excellent, too. Overcast and in the 60s. What was bad were the cambered roads. It was rough on my right hip, which I've been having issues with since the 20 miler. I managed to cope but my calves were still stiffening up. I varied my gait, but there was no use. I simply waited for it to give way.

Apart from the calves, I felt really good. My heart rate and breathing remained stable and I wasn't fatigued. Walk breaks were taken at the mile markers and I took in water every couple of miles. I avoided the Accelerade sports drink after taking a sip of it and not liking the flavor. Rather than risk getting sick from a sports drink I had never used before, I just avoided it all together. The Clif Shots ought to be enough to replenish my electrolytes.

I felt quite good up until mile 22. Sonia ran with me at mile 21, but after she left me I began to unravel. I didn't hit the wall but I did get more sluggish and more defeatist. I told myself I would skip the walk breaks and pick up the pace, but my brain wouldn't let me. I was doubting my own capabilties. I couldn't psyche myself out with promises that the end is near. Looking back now I really didn't slow down a lot from 22-26, but I probably could have pushed harder than I did. It wasn't until mile 26 when I entered the Marince Corps Depot that I picked up the pace and my to my surprise, my legs were moving fast. I had it in me after all. By mile 22 I knew I was going to PR, so I made it my goal instead to finish under 3:50. I tried not to look at the watch and focused on running a strong pace. I snuck one peak near the end, which assured me that I was in good shape. When I crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch: 3:49:46 (officially 3:49:44). Close but I'll take it.

It's only a five minute PR, but considering that I thought I wouldn't even finish under four hours in the beginning, it's a welcome result. A PR is a PR and I'm happy. Even more impressive is how sore-free I am and how I never cramped up. Yes, my calves were stiff, but they never cramped--the first marathon I've done where I had no cramps. Success! My quads which are usually very sore after a race feel great right now. It's like I never even used them during the race. My calves are sore but not unbearablly so. While I'm glad to be in good shape after a marathon, I'm sad that I'm not so sore. How else would people know that I just ran a marathon?

Also, while at the Expo, I signed myself up for the San Jose Half Marathon in October. I plunked down quite a lot of money this weekend for things that are akin to self-torture.

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