Jimmy, Brian and I booked a hotel room near the start and arrived the day before the race to get our race packet and walk around the expo. We were in and out in no time and I ran into another friend who was running the half marathon while I was there.
I was super nervous in the days leading up to the race and I have to admit that the taper made me more anxious because I felt like I was losing my fitness or something. As the day before the race led into evening, we all went out for a nice carb load dinner at the Cheesecake Factory at Newport Fashion Island. I had a chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato and a plain side salad. I didn't want to risk any stomach upset come race day. After dinner we all headed back to the room and slept early. My worries and nightmares about oversleeping for the race start kept me from getting a full night's sleep so I was up and about at 3:30am munching on a bagel with honey while everyone else slept. My friend and I hopped on the shuttle to race start and got situated in our corral at about 4:30am. Originally when I signed up for the race I had no idea what my finish time would be so I put down 5:30. Based on my prior two half marathons and training runs, I knew I could come closer to 4:30 or 4:45 so I lined up in an earlier corral. The start area was nice and wide and everyone had plenty of room to stretch and there were lots of porta potties. There was a bit of a delay to the 5:30am start, but before I knew my friend and I were running and my nerves seemed to settle a bit because I was so excited to finally be doing this. I was in a sort of fog of disbelief. All these weeks of training and proper eating and hydration were all coming to a crescendo at the marathon. I was so entranced in the run and how pretty the course was that I didn't turn on my iPod until about mile 3 and that's where Brian and I parted ways. He had some stomach issues so I continued ahead. I was so happily surprised at all the spectators out cheering this early in the morning. There was such great crowd support at this event and I found myself muting my iPod so I could hear the cowbells and cheers. I couldn't have asked for more perfect weather either, low 60's and overcast through mile 22.
I was touched when two soldiers who were running with backpacks came upon the Vietnam soldier statue in Castaway Park and stopped to pay their respects as did another runner. So awesome.
I took a GU at mile 10 and another at mile 14 and I think something was wrong with the second GU because it tasted off. It was kinda gritty and I totally gagged but finished the pack anyway. In hindsight, that was probably a big mistake. I had bouts of nausea throughout the rest of the race and didn't eat another GU either. I alternated water and Gatorade at each aid station and I knew it wasn't enough but the thought of ingesting another nasty GU packet completely discouraged me.
I reached the OC Performing Arts complex around mile 16 and knew that my husband would be waiting for me at South Coast Plaza so I picked up the pace a little.
I was so happy to see him out there and yelled, "I'm doing this!" I don't know why, I must have been in a bit of a stupor. He said I looked good and checked his watched and thought I'd kick major butt for the rest of the race. Little did I know that my early speed (half marathon time was 2:04:07) and lack of glycogen would contribute to my struggles later. When I reached mile 21 I was still feeling pretty energized but nauseous. There was a cheer area with the Area 21 aliens that made me laugh.
|Area 21 aliens|
When he asked me how it was I told him it was the hardest thing I'd ever done but I'd do it again. I felt a bit lightheaded but I couldn't eat anything so I laid down for a few minutes on the grass before taking a few bites of a pb&j sandwich. Brian finished a few minutes behind me and he had his own struggles. We reunited and drove home where I took the best shower ever and a two hour nap! I woke up hungry and finally ready to eat!
I finished the marathon in 4:33:53 and was very happy with that even though I wish I never hit the wall. I took this as a learning experience and learned so much about myself in the process.