When I woke up on marathon morning and it was already pouring rain, I lost every bit of confidence I’d built up the night before. But there was no turning back. We layered up and took off for the start. We bypassed the long line of cars waiting to park in the covered garages at the mall and found an uncovered parking spot a few steps from the start line. We waited in the car until the last minute, then braved the rain for the national anthem (during which, Sully let out an adorable howl, as though he was trying to sing along) and I was off, as Jared hollered: “Own every mile!”
Look, mom! I wore your gloves!
We tried to get a family shot at the start, but Sully was too freaked out by the crowds to stay still.
Honestly, I was pretty miserable running in the rain for the first several miles. I’m not used to running in the cold and it took me several miles to warm up and get in somewhat of a rhythm, but I knew my pace was slower than 4-hour marathon pace and I let go of that goal by deciding not to even look at my Garmin for time or pace.
Just past Mile 4 was the first time I saw Jared & Sully, who let out a long howl as I ran by
At least my shoulders are dry, ha!
Despite the crummy weather, I really can’t say enough great things about this event. I really loved the course, which basically consisted of four loops. First, we did a loop to the southwest, headed north, then southeast, and finished with an out-and-back to the east (which wasn’t so awesome, but those final miles never are). We mostly ran along wide sidewalks and trails–rarely on roads–and I savored every minute of running through the wooded areas, where pine needles blanketed the pathways and trees changing color created tunnels for us to run through. There were sparse, sandy stretches, where we ran out into nothingness with breathtaking views of mountains in the background. Although the rain let up in the first 10 miles, my shoes were waterlogged the entire way as I kept plowing straight into puddles because I had my eyes up the whole way. Again, I loved the course. And even when I got to the really tough, gritty, final miles, I found myself thinking I want to come back next year–AND I think my dad should run with me, because he’d love it too.
Another huge pro for the course–Jared & Sully were able to see me TEN separate times!!!! We printed off some maps of Santa Clarita the night before, but it’s hard to predict what traffic will be like with road closures, so Jared didn’t have a plan and I had no clues as to where I would see him. But because we were running on sidewalks and trails, there were few (if any) complete road closures, so Jared zipped all over Santa Clarita with no problem!
At mile 13, I handed off my long sleeved shirt to Jared and finally got to rock my Maniac tank!
The sun came out for a few miles! Miles 13-18 were some of my favorites because we ran through the woodsiest areas AND because mile 16 in the marathon is a milestone for me. At mile 16, there are only 10 miles to go–and 10 miles is nothing compared to 26. 10 miles, I can do before work. Plus, there was the sunshine, which was a lifesaver!
See? Mile 18 and I'm still smiling in the sunshine!
I’m really proud of the slow-but-steady race I ran up until mile 19, where things started falling apart… big time. Miles 19-23 included a lonely and boring out-and-back stretch. Jared drove in this direction, looking for a place to spectate, but the path was off the main roads, so that’s why there were so few spectators along this stretch. And like I said, it was just plain boring. When I got to mile 20, I was so ready to be done. I was teary and emotional and walked and ran a bit of mile 20 with Jared and Sully before Sully popped a squat in the dirt and I took that as my cue to run on. I hung in there until mile 22, which is the long training run I would’ve done for Vegas in four weeks, so after I hit 22, mentally, I was really and truly done.
I kept telling myself: only four more miles, but those last four were some of the longest, hardest miles of my life. My left calf was aching and painful. I’d only had two gels all day and I couldn’t bear the thought of taking another one, so I kept choking down Gatorade at the aid stations (I really need to figure out what nutrition plan works for me). I saw Jared for the last time at mile 23. I stopped to give him a kiss and rub Sully’s head for good luck. I ran off with tears in my eyes as Jared yelled, “Remember what you’re running for.”
At mile 24, I was so grateful to run into another Maniac and we ran a mile together, chatting about what marathons we’d run (Santa Clarita was his 51st!) and what was up next. Neither of us had the day that we wanted, but with marathons, there are just so many volatile variables (like weather and emotions and glycogen uptake). With less than a mile to go, he told me to run ahead and I kept going, vowing that I would run the entire last mile with absolutely no walking.
The last mile included two paseo bridges over main roads and boy-oh-boy those inclines onto the bridges were BRUTAL. My calf was feeling worse, but the promise of a finish line around the corner propelled me forward. A kids’ fun run was taking place in that final stretch, so three-and-half foot bundles of energy were zipping by me left and right, running their adorable little hearts out, and while I was running on fumes, it gave me such a boost.
And then I saw the clown (or jester?) and then there was Jared and Sully, who stepped out onto the course with me and said, “We’re running with you!” Jared handed me Sully’s leash and although he was freaked out by the cheers and screams of spectators, he ran with me, and Jared fell back, taking a video of the finish. I crossed the finish line and did what I absolutely hate that other runners do: I stopped immediately.
- 5.5 Mile: 52:08 (9:29/mile)
- 15.3 Mile: 2:26:48 (9:36/mile)
- 21.5 Mile: 3:31:00 (9:49/mile)
- Finish: 4:28:14 (10:14/mile)
With my eleventh marathon medal dangling around my very tired neck, Jared guided me to the finisher’s area where they had Clif bars, Larabars, bananas, water, and some other drinks. I hoarded Larabars as we chatted with my Maniac running buddy. A band was playing and families buzzed around, celebrating their finishes, whether it was the kids’ fun run, the 5K (where there were 1193 finishers), the half marathon (1306 finishers) or the full daddy (390 finishers). The sun was gone and although it wasn’t raining, it was windy, and I got really chilly, really fast, so we didn’t linger.
I stretched out at the car with Sully, while Jared ran over to Chipotle to get us lunch and we headed back to the hotel to shower, eat and chill before the two-and-a-half hour drive back to San Diego.
It wasn’t my best performance, but it was a perfect long training run for Vegas. And it was an absolutely perfect day, where I owned every mile–even the really grisly ones… not to mention the fact that I have The Best Hubby in the World!
Marathon #11 = check!