If you’ve been following along with my training recaps, you probably noticed that I was in San Diego this weekend visiting a friend. I don’t want to bore you with the details of my amazing weekend getaway, but I will say that I:
-revisited the hilarity of my college days with one of the best friends I met at Illinois
-saw some amazing bands live, and am most excited about Kongos and Panic! at the Disco (both of which were PHENOMENAL in person – who knew Brendon Urie had such raw talent?)
-spent some time meeting my friend’s co-workers at a typical SoCal cookout and pool party overlooking the Pacific
-soaked up some sun while inspecting tidal pools and playing in the surf at the oceanfront in La Jolla
-had fresh clam chowder on an authentic boardwalk greasy spoon at Ocean Beach
-managed to get in two runs that totally followed my training plan (snaps for me!)
-witnessed history at the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon!
That’s right! Completely unplanned to me (and even a shock to my friend, who got a road closures notice the Thursday of my arrival) was that the Rock n’ Roll Marathon fell the exact Sunday I was in the San Diego area. What was even better? The marathon course literally went within a block of my friend’s place! I hadn’t cheered for marathoners since last year’s Chicago Marathon, so I requested a CVS run to pick up poster-making materials and went to town.
I had been waking up pretty early California time because, yeah, my body remained on Central time for the entirety of my trip, so waking in time to see the elites pass us on mile 15 was a breeze (for me, my friend met me about a half hour after I got myself up and out – no shame, it was EARLY). In fact, as I was researching to see about what time I could expect the runners to hit my cheer spot, I recognized a name on the half marathon’s recent winner’s list and, after some digging found that, um, MEB KEFLEZIGHI IS FROM SAN DIEGO?!
You know, Meb? Meb who finished 2nd and 4th in the past two Olympic Marathons and WON the 2009 NYC and 2014 Boston?! Okay, and while medaling at the Olympics is huge (heck, GETTING to the Olympics is huge…), this guy was the first AMERICAN to win the NYC and Boston Marathons since 1982 and 1983, respectfully. AND PLUS HE WON THE BOSTON MARATHON!! AND HE LIVES IN SAN DIEGO!
SO OF COURSE MEB WAS THERE!!1!
However, Meb’s San Diego Rock n’ Roll thang is the half marathon, so while he WAS present at the start/finish before and after the race, he was a pacer for the half and I did NOT see him. Bummer, but still SO cool!
So that takes us to the race itself, of which I have exactly zero pictures of. You know why? I was way too busy cheering! Like I said, I watched the Chicago Marathon before, but there I was at mile 7 and, compounded with the fact that I suspect the Chicago Marathon is a bigger (participant-wise) race than the San Diego Rock n’ Roll, it was a completely different experience.
In Chicago: my vantage point was completely filled with spectators AND runners. As in, it was lucky John and I got down to the course early and secured a spot on the curb, because sooner than we knew it, the crowd to watch was at least 3 people deep. And once the elite running groups passed, the runners were so dense that you couldn’t cross the street if you tried. Cheering to individuals was almost futile and I really was more of a spectator than a cheerer.
In San Diego: I was one of maybe a dozen people within the block I was cheering at for the entire race. The elite passed in drifts. There was literally about one person every 20-30 seconds for the first few minutes, and then a few clumps of 3s, and then 5s, until a steady(ish) pack finally rounded, with the most dense group being around the 3:30-4:10 paces, and even then you could dart across the street between packs if need be.
The result? San Diego was SO MUCH more personal. My friend and I made two sides to our sign, one funny and one motivational. The funny side got rarely any use because, while I could understand it giving a chuckle to someone in a huge, Chicago-type setting (note: I keeled over after I first saw it!), it was really hard to look someone completing such a feat in the eye holding a sign that read “WORST PARADE EVER” in block-face bold letters. Although, truth be told, we had it up for the more serious/quicker runners and got some good-natured feedback!
Then we got to the people who you could tell needed a little more than a laugh and flip went our sign.
Go the Distance
Coupled with shouts of “Stay strong!” “You’ve GOT this!” “Meb is proud of you!” “Oh, the endurance!” “Just keep moving!”, I fell into a whirlwind of happy encouragement that the hot sun on my already-burnt shoulders and my completely parched throat couldn’t pry me away from. The amount of kind smiles, of grins, of thumbs up, of “Thank you”s both easily cried and burdensomely muttered was phenomenal. We stood at mile 15; physically more than halfway to the finish, mentally just about to hit the wall, these runners not only appreciated the encouragement, but took precious energy they no doubt needed to let us know.
I teared up quite a few times, let me tell you, knowing that it might be our words that, reflected on later, got these runners to their final destination, and realizing that sooner than I know it, I will be in their position, struggling on in my 15th mile, looking for a kind encouragement to keep me moving, remembering a stranger’s face and words to keep me going.
If that wasn’t enough, upon waking up the day after my trip’s end, the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon was ALL over the news- for GOOD reasons! Turns out, I witnessed a world record. Yep, Harriette Thompson broke the world record for her age group on this, her 15th marathon. This phenomenal woman ran 26.2 miles in 7 hours and 7 minutes at NINETY-ONE years old! That means, holy cow, that this two-time cancer survivor started running a marathon a year at age SEVENTY-SIX. And not only did she break the world record, she SMASHED the previously held record by TWO HOURS AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. And, the kicker, get this, HER FARTHEST RUN IN TRAINING WAS ONLY 6 MILES. And, if you read the link above, she seems like the coolest, most down-to-earth chick between the ages of 19 and 91.
Harriette and Meb- my two ChiMarathon inspirations
Guys, guys, guys…. this woman is an inspiration. If she can get herself across the finish line at her age, in that time…. well, shoot, WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!
**My apologies for the GRATUITOUS AMOUNTS OF CAPSLOCK. This kind of thing just really gets me going and, since you can’t see me jumping or hear my squeals over it, internet yelling is my last and most annoying resort.