Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Race Day - Volume Two

Race Day morning...awake at 4am. We set the alarm, which is silly as I don't think Walter and I have ever actually heard our alarm clock because Walter always wakes up before it goes off (I'm talking about the alarm clock here...)

Since I was packed and ready to go, all I had to do was get dressed, down a little coffee & a Clif Bar (runner's breakfast of Champions), and get over to Betty's to pick up the rest of the crew. Since we'd picked up a stray runner who needed a ride to the start (the night before at Turbo's Little League game, one of his teammates parents asked), we had a full car....7 runners and Walter driving. Jeff, the stray, was already at the house by 4:45.

I tried really hard to not be an obnoxious back seat driver (especially since I was in the third row seat), giving directions to Walter about how to best get to Balboa Park because I know he really knows his way around the city better than anyone. Probably sitting in the third row was a good idea.

Once at Balboa Park (I don't remember it being nearly as dark at the photo makes it appear), we found Paul with his bullhorn, did a quick warm-up run, and stretched. I enjoyed using Alberta's chest as a resting point when I was stretching my quads, but we both agreed that Betty's chest would have been much more, shall we say, cushion-y. Then we went to check in our gear and in search of the shortest porta-potty line we could find.

Luckily, the lines to the porta potties were really long...and so got in line and we waited, and waited, and the wheelchair division of the race started...and then I finally got into the porta potty...and while I'm squatting there, I can hear the race announcer say:

"Runners to their marks, get set, Goooooooooooo"

And the race was off...so I finished my business, pulled up my pants (more about what a challenge that could be later), and stepped out to start the race. I'd already met my first marathon goal which was to pee at the last possible moment before the race started.

The beginning of the race was an amazing scene of running humanity...seeing almost 18,000 runners making their way up 6th avenue was just...well...awesome.

As for the run itself...it's like childbirth I think. You forget the pain and you're left with some pretty incredible, if somewhat blurry memories of what actually took place. For the most part, I think I had fun. I know for MOST of the race, I felt great, strong, like I'd trained well and certainly, many of these photos make it appear that we all were having a great time.

BBJ - Clearly happy to be on the road in downtown SD, somewhere between miles 4 & 5

Alberta, eyes wide open and smiling for the camera. Also near mile 4

Elsie smiles for the camera...a rare instance of Alice not noticing the camera.

Alice doesn't miss a camera twice and shamelessly muggs, nearing mile 5

Edith told us that in Maine, pink and green DO go together.

Betty, also happy to be running the race,
ya gotta admit we are easy to spot in the lime-green shirts.

By mile 12, I was ready to see some family as I knew that Drama Girl, Walter, and my brothers-in-law, Chris and Jesse would be waiting for me...and at that point I felt great. I'd made it up the 163 (Washington Street, the end of the incline, didn't come soon enough!). It was fun to run with Drama Girl down Friars Road. She was wearing her not-really-for-running Vans...my first comment to her was, "you can't run in those shoes." Her response was the obvious, "of course I can mama!" (she was no doubt thinking, "Come-on Mom, I don't need no fancy running shoes to run. I'm 12. I just run!). She took this picture of me (that's me looking over my shoulder saying, "Take the picture, take the picture...I don't want to trip and fall on my face!)

I continued to run the next 5 miles with my fabulous brothers-in-law. I don't think I will ever be able to articulate how much I appreciate that they came down to run awhile with me, even though part of my motivation to run the marathon was because of Jesse and even though Chris drove 6 hours (two ways) to run with me for 45 minutes, which I think is crazy, but I love him for it too. Their presence made all the difference to me. LOTS of people talk about how the run along Friars Road is one of the most difficult parts, but for me, it literally flew by because Chris and Jesse were there to keep me entertained and distracted.

Look at us...at 16 miles, we look like we're still having a great time (well...except for Jesse and Chris, who are sorta looking like they want to get off this crazy ride).

Yes, that's Chris and Jesse, the guys w/o racing bibs, and looking like they want an exit route....rest assured, they didn't take any water on the course, even though they ran with me through 2 water stations...and even though I offered it...also pictured are Edith, Alberta, and yours truly...all of whom were truly happy to have J & C's company.

Also props go to Drama Girl for taking this photo. I left her my camera to take some running photos...the result? 2 pictures of us running, 20 self-portraits of Drama Girl...

for example...there was lots of this...

and this....
but there was also some of this (Drama Girl with her cousin.
We shall call her Little Drama Girl)

Unfortunately, the good/happy running feeling soon left within two miles of J's & C's exit. In short, I bonked. Hit the wall. A pretty solid brick one too. At about mile 17.6 in front of the PowerGel station. I'm still not quite sure what happened. One moment, I felt OK, the next, everything was closing in on me. I was surprised because I'd been hoping to avoid THE WALL, so I'd been drinking only the Accelerade (nasty stuff...I so prefer Gookinade), and even threw back a package of salt to avoid dehydration. I thought I remembered being extremely disappointed that there was only PowerGel available and not water available at the PowerGel station, and it wasn't until I looked at the course map as I wrote this entry that I realized there WAS water there too, and I probably drank some, but I really don't remember it.

All I know is that I was really, really, really happy that Edith and Alberta were nearby and that I could see their BRIGHT NEON LIME-GREEN SHIRTS slightly ahead of me, so I caught up to them. They really got me going again, as we zigged and zagged through some of the neighborhoods surrounding Crown Point. I don't know what I would have done without them because lots of runners around me were starting to walk, and I might have started walking and never started running again!

The rest of the race remains a blur to me. Parts I remember clearly–like Edith and I running as we got our pictures taken at Mile 21, then walking once we were past the camera, seeing Wilma again at Mile 22...the evil out and back portion on Friars Road, deciding at Mile 23 that I could run 3 MORE MILES (and then the three mile conversation with myself that if I kept running, I'd get to the end faster and then I could stop), being really pissed off when I entered the Marine Corps Base and still had a 1/2 mile to run to the finish.

Other parts are not so clear–most of the 22nd mile along San Diego Riverbed for example.

Wanna see how "Done" I was? Compare these pictures to the earlier "I'm so happy to be running" ones...I, quite frankly, don't know how the rest of the herd looked so happy at this point.

yeah...she's DONE. I think my line to Wilma was "I'm F-ing Dying!"

BBJ looks awesome! Maybe it was the sight of the loving wife.

Alberta told me that she had a near melt-down around mile 13...
but she's clearly recovered here.

More happiness in pink and green...
maybe it was giving some guy a free frontal show in the porta-potty

No worries...

When I crossed the finish line, a race volunteer handed me an ice-cold wet rag. When I put it to my face, I felt the first wave of emotion well up within me. Within a few steps, I saw Edith and we sobbed on each other for a few minutes. Was it the pain in my feet? tears of joy to be finished? a feeling of accomplishment? just happy that I didn't have to run any more? all of the above? Who knows... It's been a pretty emotional week for me. I think the end of the race symbolized a lot of ends for me...the end of the training, the end of a truly ridiculous school year, the end of teaching high school (for now)...I think it was probably all of these. It was a good cry.

I finally made my way through the food line (pretzels, I needed pretzels) and gear pickup and was sitting on the asphalt when Walter found me. What are you doing? he asked.

"Sitting" was my concise answer.

In any event, Walter is a god because one of the first things he did, after bravely giving me a big hug and kiss and telling me how proud he was of me (I'm sure I was a smelly, sweaty, vasciline-y, slimy mess at that point) was get me a cold beer.

I never understood why there were beer gardens at the end of races. But now I understand the true medicinal value of the beer garden. It was a miracle. I don't know if its the instant carbs, calories, salt, barley, hops, yeast, cold, or the combination of all...but I immediately felt better...good enough to walk 3/4 of a mile to the car.

Unbelievable. I ran a marathon. 5 hours 33 minutes...slower than I thought it would be at mile 16, but on pace with my longest training runs. I still have a pretty difficult time wrapping my brain around the idea that I actually did this, but there's photo proof.

* Don't worry, the next post will be funny stories from along the route...and notes from the after-party, but I needed to get this one out of my system.


  1. Ok if you guys are looking for a good laugh you may look at my photos because they are up on the rock n roll website. There is one of me pointing at myself and Becky is pointing at me and I honestly look like I forgot my helmet at home

  2. If you haven't yet seen us crossing the finish line, you can see it here:


    The local news affiliate has put video-clips online of the finish. They're in 10 minute increments, so you'll need to do the math (or BBJ will do it for us).

  3. Fantastic, Alice -- congratulations! I just love your pictures and the lime green shirts are a bold fashion statement, to say the least. What a wonderful accomplishment.