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  • Jen Vickery

Rock and Roll San Diego Marathon Recap

Updated: Jun 20

I still can’t believe it’s been over a week.


I don’t think I’ve ever done such a good job at celebrating a race—really sitting in it and realizing how freaking awesome it is.


After running around 2 dozen half marathons and talking about marathons with running friends and coaching athletes through them, I think running one myself, in theory, seemed not as hard or challenging. Especially the fourth time around.


But nope. It’s more than twice as hard as a half marathon. The marathon truly is a challenge unlike any other. It’s physical endurance, but also mental. This last weekend I was telling myself that I didn’t expect to feel so mentally drained for days afterward. But I totally and completely could not mentally get my head in the game. But more on that later. For now, race day…


I knew going into this race unless something awful happened, I would PR. The question was by how much.


Getting Ready for Rock and Roll San Diego


I started to truly feel excited in the days before the race. On Friday, my husband and I had a date night in Downtown and stopped by the Expo first to grab my bib and all the fun stuff.


On Saturday, one of my best friends surprised me and flew into town for the race. My husband answered the door and she was there and I screamed. My daughters thought I was crazy. It was the best.


We spent the day hanging out, making a playlist, foam rolling – you know, all the pre-race things.



Marathon Day Prep

I was carpooling with a friend, so woke up at 3:15, had my favorite Prager Brother’s sourdough toast, some coffee, checked all my bags one more time, and headed to her house around 3:50 so we could leave at 4.


Getting there was very easy. She had VIP parking but I couldn’t get onto the bus, so she dropped me off in Balboa Park around 4:45 and headed to park. I sat in the park for the next hour and soaked up the people arriving and the sunrise. Thankfully it was staying cloudy! I also re-listened to the Ali on the Run Live Show from before the Boston Marathon, which I highly recommend as a pre-listen before any big race!


My girlfriend and I met up again. We did the porta-potty thing (I still hadn’t gone, which was making me nervous!), checked our bags, and went to the start line.



Rock and Roll San Diego Race Recap

The spectators for the first section of the course was awesome. There were a ton of “bars” in front of people’s houses and it was a good time. After the split for the half, it got pretty quiet. I will also say, knowing the course elevation beforehand was so helpful. I knew when the big hills were and was prepared for them (there were a lot!).


Miles 1-3 felt good, but not as easy as I wanted the pace to feel. I gave myself a 10 second per mile wiggle room and kept going to see how I’d feel after a few more miles. 26.2 miles is a long way.


By mile 5, I knew it wasn’t my day for my “A” pace goal. But I also knew that when I decided to run another marathon, I wanted to have fun with it. I didn’t want to show up at mile 20 stumbling around and hating what I was doing. I still wanted to love the run after.


So I shifted. I’d hang where I was pace wise and I would find the joy. I had so much fun. I took in the crowds, the sights of the city I didn’t know, the fact that after 2020 I was running in a crowd with thousands of other people!


Around mile 9, the outside of my vision got a little blurry. I had never had that happen—on a run or otherwise. So I drank some more watered down tailwind (what was in my bottle), adjusted my visor, and kept going. By mile 11, I was feeling a little lightheaded and nauseous.


At the half mark, it wasn’t going away so I texted my coach, took a bathroom break and tried to regroup. My coach thought it might be too much sugar, so I stopped taking in fuel and did water at the next few fuel stations. Around mile 14, I was scared I would have to pull out and DNF as I was still feeling light headed and a little unsure on my feet. I was a few minutes away from finding somewhere to sit and figure out the next step. At this point in the course, we were on a bit of a sketchy trail with homeless people sleeping (definitely a drawback), so I kept going.


By mile 15, things slowly started to feel better. I had definitely lost my pace, but the lightheaded feeling went away and I felt ok enough to keep going.


From there to about mile 22, the miles passed quickly. I could tell you very little about that section of the race other than I hit some timing mats, the sun came out (with a vengeance, I’m still nursing the sunburn!), and I did a lot of mental math about my current pace to maintain a PR and how much that PR would be.


At mile 22, we started to climb the hwy 163 hill. At this part of the course, they literally close the highway, which is pretty cool, but it is a steep climb that is almost a mile and a half long. I knew it was coming and felt prepared. I climbed. I did switch to a walk run at this point, 8 minutes run to 2 minutes walk so I could lower my heart rate in the heat. By this point, it was full sun on blacktop, 72 degrees and 75% humidity.


Once you hit the top of the hill, it’s a nice decline back to the finish line…


Except at around mile 25.9. You have one more hill up. This was the only hill of the course that surprised me and I was so mad about it. By this point I was so exhausted, both physically and mentally.


At the finish, I knew my friend who had run the half marathon, my husband, friend, and daughters would be there, so I kept looking the last 0.1 mi in to the finish for them. I could hear my husband but couldn’t find them.


Crossing that finish was such a great feeling. I felt so accomplished and proud. And hot. And tired.


32 minute PR. 40 minute postpartum PR.


I always figured once I had a good marathon, I would hang up my marathon shoes and stick to shorter distances. But that’s the thing about the marathon right, you have a good one and want to do it again. You have a bad one and want redemption.


This training cycle just went so well and felt so good, especially compared to training cycles in the past.


I’m not sure what’s next as of yet, but I will start running again today!

Learn more about me and marathon or half marathon training:



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