Last month, I ran Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego for my EIGHTH year! What’s even more amazing (to me) is that I’ve managed to run faster and faster each year.
When Liv came down with the stomach flu less than two weeks before the race, and I got sick soon after, I thought my race potential flew out the window (… or down the toilet? Ugh…). But the stars aligned and I pulled off a new best!
- 2009 – 26.2 miles, 4:28:33 (10:15/mile) – 1st full marathon!
- 2010 – 26.2 miles, 4:13:20 (9:40/mile) – 4 months after getting married
- 2011 – 26.2 miles, 4:10:05 (9:32/mile)
- 2012 – 13.1 miles, 1:53:04 (8:38/mile) – 4 weeks pregnant
- 2013 – 13.1 miles, 1:49:17 (8:21/mile) – 4 months after baby
- 2014 – 13.1 miles, 1:45:29 (8:03/mile)
- 2015 – 13.1 miles, 1:44:11 (7:58/mile)
- 2016 – 13.1 miles, 1:40:57 (7:43/mile)
For starters, the race fell on my brother’s birthday, which should’ve been my first clue that it was going to be a great day…
As always, race morning started painfully early. My alarm went off at 4-something AM. Oy… I gave Jared countless opportunities to back out, but he wanted to be there with Liv to cheer me on! I know it’s silly, but driving/parking at these huge events stresses me out far more than the races themselves, so I’m always extra grateful to have Jared handle that part for me — not to mention that unbeatable motivation of seeing them along the course!
Jared and Liv dropped me off with just enough time to hit the porta-potty and check my gear after sending a few texts to my brother, mom, and running friends, who were somewhere amidst the 33+ thousand(!!!!) runners in the start area — it was such a zoo! I lined up in my Corral, where I usually put in my earbuds and get my “game face” on, but at that point, I had low expectations for myself. I chatted with a couple runners around me, saying my goal was to: “Just enjoy — there’s no way I’ll beat 1:44…”
Mile 1 felt rusty — like I was dusting off the cobwebs. But it was hard not to feel emotionally charged recalling the last seven years of memorable races — Jared’s and my first full marathon in 2009, running days after finding out I was pregnant in 2012, and a few short months after giving birth to Liv in 2013.
By Mile 2, I was feeling warmed up and energized. I started pushing myself — but just a bit.
- Mile #1 – 8:20
- Mile #2 – 8:01
- Mile #3 – 7:55
Mile 3, I was beyond excited to spot Jared and Liv for the first time.
Fired up after seeing my biggest fans, I picked up the pace even more. I knew if I could stay under 8:00-per-mile, I could beat 1:45, maaaybe even squeak out a PR. I was cautiously hopeful, but felt so surprisingly good.
- Mile #4 – 7:45
- Mile #5 – 7:38
- Mile #6 – 7:28
Somewhere in there, I started thinking of a quote my mom had torn from a magazine for me during a rough time 13 years ago. I’d taped it to the back of my bedroom door, where it still hangs: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
By Mile 7, I was cruising along, with the mantra: “Never give up,” ringing in my ears. I spotted my paparazzi, again. I was feeling great — like I was flying, unstoppable…
I knew I wouldn’t see my spectators again until the finish, so I ran on, finally daring to push for a PR. “Just go for it,” I thought, visualizing a 1:43 finish.
- Mile #7 – 7:41
- Mile #8 – 7:27
- Mile #9 – 7:31
- Mile #10 – 7:21
With over 33,000 runners, an abundance of “cheer squads,” bands, DJs, and my favorite: taiko drums, this race always feels like a giant, fast-moving party!
This year’s course seemed to have more twists and turns than I remember from previous years, but overall, it’s a downhill, PR-friendly course. “Just let your legs fly,” I thought.
In those final miles, I was gutting it out — starting to suffer, but that’s how it’s supposed to be, I reminded myself. This is giving it all you’ve got, I thought. (*In retrospect, I was running on fumes. I had a gel in my pocket that I forgot to take mid-race. Plus, I hadn’t eaten much in the week and a half prior to the race due to the flu. Duh, Meg…)
- Mile #11 – 7:33
- Mile #12 – 7:22
- Mile #13 – 7:23
Depleted and ready to be done, the final stretch was a blur. I didn’t have it in me to soak it in like normal — to pull out my earbuds, or to scan the crowds for my spectators, or even raise my hands overhead as I crossed the final timing mat. I simply floated over the finish line and stopped my Garmin with a small, exhausted smile.
Official Finish – 1:40:47 @ 7:43/mile. I never gave up.
I hustled towards the family meetup area, my arms filled with as many snacks, drinks, and goodies as I could hold, because I knew Liv would be far more excited about the tiny carton of chocolate milk, than my 3+ minute PR! Just like the start, the finish area was also bonkers, with thousands of people milling around. Eventually, I found Jared and Liv, and we decided to head home before the post-race party got even crazier.
As stoked as I was about my race, my favorite part of the day, by far, was the walk back to our car. Liv hopped out of her stroller and held my hand as she excitedly told me all about cheering for our friends Amanda, and Eve (who both ROCKED their races!), and yelling: “Go, mommy, go!!” from high atop daddy’s shoulders… It melted my heart.
I am proud of many things in this life, but nothing beats being a mom…
Back home by 10am, we enjoyed a family brunch of cheesy eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit, before (Jared and Liv) took naps, and we headed to the pool for the first swim of summer!
The day after the race, I was extra exhausted, but Jared had to work, and there’s no time for rest days with a three year old! So I loaded Liv (and a ton of snacks) into the stroller for (what I thought would be) an easy, one-mile walk to the movie theater, and a nice, relaxing mommy-daughter movie date…
We saw Angry Birds, which was cute enough (Josh Gad as Chuck was our favorite!), but Liv was restless. We made countless trips to the restroom, and after the movie, Liv begged for “more adventure!” We walked to a nearby shopping center, where we visited the pets at Pet Smart, stopped for frozen yogurt, and picked up a few groceries, before Liv demanded to lay down for a “snoozer.” The kid rarely naps for me anymore, so I was shocked when she immediately zonked out.
By the time we got home, I’d walked over four miles, was beyond pooped, and Liv was all rested and energized for more fun, haha… More proof that momming is harder than running and racing!
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon 2016 – Rundown:
- Finish Time: 1:40:57 (7:43/mile)
- Lifetime Half: #35
- Spectators: 2 = Jared & Liv
- Fuel: (Pre-race) blueberry muffin Larabar & (during) grape Nuun
- Post-Race Treat: frozen yogurt at Menchie’s
- Favorite Mantra: “Never give up.”
- Favorite Song: Try Everything by Shakira
“I wanna try everything / I wanna try even though I could fail / I won’t give up, no I won’t give in / ‘Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again”