Cloudy overcast with temperatures in the low 60s made for ideal conditions for the 2015 San Diego Rock'n'Roll marathon. Just 9 weeks after completing the Modesto Marathon, I set my sights on the hilly course of San Diego. There much debate over how much time one should take for recovery after a marathon. I've tested the general time frame of 5 weeks and found that after the 2nd week I was developing the urge to start training again. After the 3rd week, I was bored, going crazy, and really itching to get back into intense training. After the Modesto Marathon, I took the following week to recover and did 8 weeks of intense training. I kept a close watch on each training session to be sure I was making progress and not headed towards burning out or injury. Week after week, the data was showing I was improving, getting stronger and faster.
I made the trip down from San Francisco to sunny San Diego. I arrived a few days before the race so I could enjoy the sites, culture, and amazing food. The closer I got to race day, the more I could feel the intensity of the race. I woke up and took some time to meditate and get myself in the zone. Lining up at the start, I had the sense that this was going to be the kind of race where will power is what would get me through the final handful of miles. I couldn't have been more right.
The race started out flat with some nice downhill segments and subtle rolling hills. But as the race progressed, so did the severity of the hills. A good amount of runners increased their pace and passed me having not even reached the halfway mark. At this point, runners are still charged with adrenaline and feel strong and confident. It's tempting to make moves at this point and they might pay off. From my observation, I've seen it cost runners than pay them.
I adjusted strategy and pace to stay on track with my sub 3 hour goal but around mile 20 when I reached the base of the climb going up highway 5 and looked up, I knew this hill was going to cost a lot of energy, and I was willing to accept the fact I'd have to forego the sub 3 hour goal and make a new goal. I climbed with a consistent stride but with a conservative effort, passing up a few runners who had broken postures and heavy breathing. When I reached the top of the hill, I felt it was too risky to chase after the sub 3 hour goal. Instead I chased after my previous best of 03:02:21 from the Modesto Marathon.
The hills put the hurt on and every stride reminded me of it. Running is, in a way, just like mouthwash. If you feel the burn, you know it's working. I took advantage of the downhill sections and was conservative going up the hills, knowing my tank was running near empty and any hard efforts could be costly. The last 5 miles I caught much of the runners that had surged ahead of me before the halfway point. I could see the pain in their face. Two runners I passed pulled off to the side and stopped completely. Coming into the final stretch I could hear the crowd at the finish line and felt recharged by their support for runners. I rounded the last turn to the left and saw it was a downhill finish from here. In the near distance I could see the finish and one runner inching his way to it. I ramped up and gave one final kick, passing him just meters before the finish. Later I had found out that I beat him by a mere 5 seconds. Nonetheless, I was happy that I left everything at the line. My best was given and it was time to enjoy the endorphins and delicious recovery treats.
Overall: 39th out of 4218
Division: 8th out of 394
Gender: 36th out of 2426
Upon reviewing my GPS watch data from the marathon this past Sunday, when I had achieved 26.21 miles, my time was 3hrs 1min 55sec. When I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch, the watch read 26.52 miles with a time of 3hrs 3min 42sec (I ran a few meters past the finish line to slow down before stopping my watch). I expect a margin of error (a few meters give or take), but a margin of 338 meters is too big of a deviation to overlook.
It'll be a few weeks till I they give me their decision. Nonetheless, I'm happy with how I ran and see this as a big accomplishment. I'll enjoy the next few days to recover then hop back into training.
Be well and run on!