As the years and miles roll beneath my blistered feet, my reflections on "the first" will be bittersweet. If I was bucket-listing, I could put a
Oh, look, three excited marathoners in the airport terminal. Yep, we are looking good.
And here is Chris, exuberant about our post marathon destination. Much to our dismay, it is really only a steakhouse, no strippers. And we never acutally ate there. Double click the pic to see the name of the joint.
We wandered over to the expo to
Our hotel about a mile from the start line was filled with both local and out-of-town marathoners. We were sharing residence with some neighbors from as close as Denver, as local as La Jolla, and as far away as Atlanta. The mood in the lobby was focused. For a different occasion, what could have be a raucous crowd on a Saturday night, the air was filled with quiet anticipation. Those of us that were checking in had business to attend to. Bibs were to fastened and chips to be attached. Final, non-sleep deprived, over obessive organization will save the frustration of searching for the Glide while trying to take the first crap of the morning. Everything was it its right place. Now to concentrate on the final two primary tasks for the next 6 hours. Some sleep mixed the clearing of the colon.
Gun time: 6:15am. Wheels up: 5:00am. Alarm 4:00am.
I am going to tribute this portion of my post-marathon blogpost to Beth at Shutupandrun. BBQ'd Chicken and Tri-Tip, accompanied by au gratin potatoes, followed by two brownies, plus a few beers resulted in one fine display of human defication at about 4:30am. Other than my shoes, I was dressed, Looking Good, and ready to go. Two cups of coffee, a bagel and a powerbar and off we go.
As we briskly walked the 1 mile uphill to the starting line, I wondered if it was smart to keep drinking coffee. I had proudly deposited the remanats of yesterdays late afternoon feast 45 minutes ago, but I am known to need a second sit down, particulary when coffee enters the equation. Chris, a disciple of Hal Higdon and all that is running, was drinking a warm Coke that he had allowed to get flat. Yikkes! That would surely result in this:
I proceeded to ditch the coffee.
We reached the top of the hill and found ourselves almost overwhemed by the sheer number of people on the streets and neighboring park. Here's myself and She Who Knows Fashion, Looking Good, amist 40,000 runners.
After this momentary pause, we set out to find the bag check. After some wandering, we finally located our designated UPS truck, but not before strolling through several tents handing out water, cytomax, and bagels. Good touch, Rock and Roll. Scorecard goes to plus 1. However, all of this was leading to some of the nastist port-o-pottys within a hundred square miles. The olfactory hues emitting from the row of six crappers She Who Knows Fashion had to utilize was enough to send me retching and promply puckering up my asshole for the next few hours. In all honesty, other than some gasous explosions around mile 19, my bowels held steady, so not much else to say about that. Just for you Beth.
We made our way to our coral, #16 of 40, and began to survey the runners around us. She Who Knows Fashion decided at the last minute to buy a new shirt, so she was sporting pink. I opted for the orange, hopefully making me
Look Good easy to spot. Any thought I had to wearing purple was quickly satiated due to the overwhelming number of Team in Training members all wearing the same purple shirts! There were thousands of them. While I am not dismissing the value of their program, fuck that if I am going to look like everyone else, just to represent. In addtion, their "coaches" were all over the course, who seemed to know just about every runner out there in a TIT Shirt, cheering them on by name. My name is Paul, you could offer me some encouragement too. Oh, I see, there is a spot on the shirt to write your name in magic marker. The whole thing got a little annoying by mile 20. Also, it is really not cool to wear the free shirt you got at the expo. Sorry, not my style.
Just for giggles, here's a quick video of the scene
After the gun went off at 6:15, each wave gradually began to move forward in eager anticipation. I strapped on my headphones, kissed She Who Knows Fashion, and pressed ahead, in the front row of our wave. Volunteers, bless their heart, they try hard at their non-paying jobs, but quickly we found the rope being held across the street by two clearly confused and uncordinated inlisted servants on the ground, merging our group with the one ahead. At the same time, their rope had hit the pavement and now we were a massive coral of 3000. This prompted a tongue lashing from the start official to us participants and security physically restraining runners from crossing the line. While necessary, it immediately prompted howls of boos from the now frusterated runners. It really only took about 30 seconds for security to put down their arms and allow us to march on. Rock and Roll scorecard goes back to even.
While Rock and Roll touted "bands at every mile" I could honestly care less. The twenty seconds I would spend troting by a stage with some unknown local band playing a dated cover tune wasn't going to get me through 26 miles. I had a playlist on my iPod. Probably making the most crucial of first marathoners mistakes, I came off the blocks hot. I knew this because the first Phish Jam on my iPod was 22 minutes. I crossed mile 2 at about 18 minutes. Way too fast, but I could not slow down. My left leg felt great and I was cruising! Through mile 8, I was keeping a 9:30 pace. All of this while weaving through more tentative joggers because Rock and Roll chose to coral us by registration order, not time. Minus 1. BTW, I had a woman in front of me wearing a tech-shirt and lacy panties with an ass not designed for her chosen attire. Very distracting, forcing me to run faster in front of her.
Never sucking wind over 8 miles, I was feeling great. The course wound us through a park, along the bay, past PetCo Park, home of the San Diego Padres and over the streets we had explored the day before. Then they put us on the freeway.
Highway 163 in San Diego is a four lane road, winding through the hills separating downtown from the inland community. On paper, this sounded like a great space to hold 40,000 runners.Not so much. According to my Garmin, over the span of three miles, Rock and Roll tortured us with a 400 ft change in elevation on a 13-16% grade, but that wasn't the worst of it. Because the road weaves and curves, it is not remotely flat. In fact, it gave us anywhere from a three to six inch difference in right to left impact. This just killed me. Short striding on my already injured left groin caused my time to begin to significantly fall off. I was able to regroup on the downhill and make up some ground heading into miles 12 and 13. Minus 1. Scorecard Rock and Roll: -2.
As I crossed the 13.1 mile mark, I really felt good. My pace was still intact and my body was responding well. She Who Knows Fashion passed me around this time. Damn! I knew better than to start fast. I made a point to stroll with purpose through the water stations, ensuring I stayed hydrated and the next 7 miles went by pretty easily. But with each passing mile, I could see my pace beginning to steadly slow down. After my average pace got to 10:30, somewhere around mile 20, I knew I was breaking down. My goal became keeping the time under 11:00. But now Rock and Roll put us on an island.