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Rock n Roll Marathon San Diego Race Recap

I ran a marathon!

And it's not the marathon I posted about my training for. The one I had such big goals and was so proud of all the work I put in for. That didn't go as planned. And I will one day write a blog post about it, but I struggled for a long time to put into words all the things.

So before so much time goes by, I want to write about the redemption race that I DID finish two months almost to the day of my DNF at the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon.

Decision to Race after a DNF

At the beginning of May I began to feel like I just needed to finish a marathon. I went back and forth about which race and when and how and all the logistics. I opted for something local, something logistically easy, and something soon. Rock and Roll San Diego fit the bill. The fact that I had run it before and knew what to expect was a bonus. I had low-key started training again as I threw the option out there to my coach, but didn't fully commit until a few weeks before the race.

Without further ado, let's get into the marathon race recap!

Getting to the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon

This race starts early start at 6:15, so my husband who was running the half and I left at 4am to get parking, figure out all the things, bathroom, you know the drill! It was about a mile walk from our parking structure to the start (annoying, but not too bad for such a big race). 

As we got to the start area in Balboa park, we stopped at the first bathrooms. While I waited for my husband to come out of the bathroom, I started to have a panic attack. I don’t get them often, but it’s happened a handful of times in my life. This is the the very reason why I wanted to run a marathon. I didn’t want to let the DNF from my April race become this huge “monkey on my back” so to speak. But here it was, happening with an hour or so before the race started. I had all the feelings: hot, nauseous, couldn’t catch my breath. When my husband got out of the bathroom, I  told him that I regretted signing up and had made a terrible mistake. I considered going to the Rock and Roll tent to see if I could drop to the half marathon instead. 

He tried to help to varying degrees of success. I did a lot of mental work in those few minutes. I reminded myself everything I had told myself on other hard runs. I had run a 50k, this was just another long run, there was no pressure on it. We went to find friends, including one of my best friends that we were meeting at the start and it was a great distraction that finally got me out of it. 

Before the Rock and Roll San Diego Marathon
Tired early morning pre-race pic!

Marathon Recap Rock n Roll San Diego

The plan for the race was to chunk it into fourths until ¾ of the way and then split the last 6.55 into 2 sections – getting up the hill at 163 and finishing strong. The first fourth was all about easy effort that I knew I could sustain. So I put my watch to the clock rather than gps so I couldn’t see splits or pace or distance and just cruised. Around mile 4.5 I was getting in my head about what my pace might be, how far I had to still run, if I could do it. So I put on a podcast to distract me until mile 6.55, when I was going to put in effort.

6.55 hit, I put on music and did what I did on so many training runs. I planned to hold this effort through the half, which I did. I continued to not look at pace or distance, just have a general clock. I knew about how long I’d been running and could see mile markers, but that was about it. At some point in here I did start to get in my head about my pace and goals. I knew I wasn’t going to get close to my dream sub 4 goal. And I had to have a talk with myself about how this race was not a goal race. This race was to get to the finish regardless of how long it took, so just fucking do it. And taking that pressure off helped a ton.

I felt really good through this whole section, which felt great because back when I ran it in 2022, I thought I was going to have to drop out at mile 14, so to cruise through feeling decent was awesome. I will say, when I ran it in 2022, I remember not having much to say about this section and just sort of blacking out. And after running it again, it’s because it’s a very uneventful part of the course. You’re running on ugly trails around Mission Bay and it’s generally just a blah part of the course. One of the girls from my run group was going to try and cheer around this section with her family, so looking for her during this section was a great mental distraction (even if I never saw her!). 

Rock and Roll Marathon Course Map with Elevation
Course map - the incline at mile 19-20 is much more than it looks here. And of course the hill at mile 21.5!

I did forget about a pretty significant long incline before the true hill of this race around mile 19, so that slowed me down a bit. And then the true climb up 163 started. At mile 22. I ran over half of this giant hill and I did it about 2 minutes faster than 2 years ago. I felt start and so excited that it was not the untamable beast it was two years ago. 

Top of the 163 hill at the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon
Top of the 163 hill at the San Diego RnR Marathon - I was so excited I had to jump and ring the bell!

After you crest the hill, it’s almost all a nice decline into the finish. I started really cruising until my stomach told me that it was not prepared to run 8:30’s at that point in the race. So I slowed down a bit and finished as strong as I could.

Now, let’s go back to get to the finish…

After DNF-ing my goal race back in April, I did a lot of soul searching. Why did it go so bad? Where were my mistakes? What was out of my control? I’ve learned a lot.

It was in that learning and searching and self reflection that I knew I wanted to run a marathon soon and without any of the self-imposed pressure I had from April. 

So going into this race, the goal was to get to the finish. Yes, I knew I was exceptionally more fit than Chicago in October. So I wanted a PR, but I knew I wasn’t going to go out for my ultimate big scary goal. I wanted to execute well and finish. And I knew if I did that, there would be a PR.

Back to the race recap…

Coming down the hill from 163 legs we’re ready to go, stomach not so much. I knew I should have taken in more fuel, but also wasn’t feeling like I hit a wall (thank you carb load!). So I slowed and kept running. I remember walk/running this portion last time and really struggling and now I knew there was less than 2 miles so I just kept running. At this point, I was still feeling pretty strong and passing people, which is such an empowering feeling at the end of a marathon! 

At mile 25.9 there is a hill that reminds me of Mt. Roosevelt in Chicago except a little less steep and about twice as long. Last time a woman saw me walk and tried to get me to rally. I couldn’t do it. This time, I had told my friend Nicole that I wanted to run the finish. So when I wanted to stop, I just reminded myself of what I told her and pushed through.

I turned left to the finish and ran my heart out that last 0.2 of a mile.

I felt so strong. And proud. And so freaking happy to get to a finish line. To celebrate.

The pictures do it far more justice than any words possibly could.

So I’ll just let them explain the pure JOY I felt in that moment.

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