(May 31, 2009, in
San Diego, Calif.) -
What a day it was here at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon, one filled with emotions, laughter, pain, memories and 26.2 miles, as I ultimately finished with my second-best time. That’s now five marathons completed over a 79-week span. Or 553 days, to be exact.
Yep, it was Nov. 25, 2007, when I ran my first marathon, which was one year, six months and six days ago. I still can’t believe I’m a marathon runner.
The morning started with mist in the air and mist in my eyes. As I waited in the starting corral, minutes before the journey started, a locally-based lady from the military spoke to the runners, asking us to think and pray for the soldiers now serving overseas who are giving us the freedom to run the marathon. Yeah, I was wiping away tears as she spoke.
I crossed the starting-line about seven minutes after the gun started the race, the effect of about 20,000 others also prepped for the day, including Ronnie, who I met minutes before the race started. He was the only other person I saw all day also wearing a yellow shirt from the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, and how ironic that we were standing literally 10 feet away from each other as we were starting. I saw him again at about Mile 20, and I think he was shocked when I yelled at him. There also were two fans on the course who I saw holding AIDS Marathon “You Are Heroes” signs, so I ran to my right to give them a High-5. Had to do that.
The weather was ideal: overcast and in the 60s.
About three miles in, I was running behind a guy wearing a Phoenix Suns jersey. On the back, it said NASH, and I laughed. I doubt Kevin Nash, with his bum knees, could run 26.2 yards, let alone 26.2 miles. A few miles later, I saw a sign that said, “Way to go, Kevin.” Again, I laughed.
Shortly after seeing the NASH jersey, I saw the most surprising sign all day. It said: OBAMA SUCKS.
One of the funniest signs I saw said: Cold Corona Only 19.2 Miles Ahead.
Along the course, there were some memorable spots I saw, such as, Fred’s Mexican Café. I’m guessing it isn’t owned by my dad, but… Then there was Dirty Del’s, which made me think of my buddy Dell from Hawaii, himself a fellow marathoner. And as we ran past Petco Park, I thought about my fantasy baseball teams, believe it or not. As we ran past a Baja Fresh on Broadway, I so wanted a Mango Chicken Salad.
I ran most of the race my myself, just me and my iPod. I didn’t talk to many others and not many others talked to me either. I think my favorite iPod song of the day was This Is It from Kenny Loggins. Quite appropriate. Same for Madonna’s Miles Away. Though this was a Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon, I can’t say the bands on the course were great. Sorry. The cheerleaders, though, were plentiful. There were junior high cheerleaders, high school cheerleaders and female-impersonating cheerleaders with balloons in their shirts and many wearing blonde wigs. Ironically, we passed the female-impersonators twice on the course … at least I think it was the same ones. The Hooters cheerleaders were better … sorry, guys.
I ran for about 10 miles near a lady with her name written on the front and back of her shirt. It said MANDY. I thought of Tristar’s own and smiled.
I ran the whole race, surprisingly, behind a guy carrying an American flag. That was motivation, too.
I thought I was going to get my Personal Record at this marathon, and was on pace for it for 18 miles. I didn’t hit The Wall at that point, as they say, but I did start cramping in my calves, particularly my right one, which forced me to slow down. Heck, at one point, the pain was so severe I stopped for about 10 seconds – because I had to.
Another physical woe I endured, at about Mile 15, was wanting/needing to burp. Eventually, I did, and it must have been loud because the lady next to me looked over, smiled and actually said, “It’s better than the other end.”
At the pre-race Health Expo, I met former Olympian Frank Shorter and Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, herself a marathon icon too. I saw Stan from Sugoi, who’s a pretty nice guy, not just the company president. I also spoke with a United Airlines pilot about compression socks; he strongly suggests them for running and flying, and not I’m going to start using them, for both.
Next up: the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 11.
That will be my sixth marathon, but my first at home. I still cannot believe I’ve run one marathon, let alone five, with No. 6 set for Chicago in October and No. 7 possibly a return to Honolulu in December. With so many family and friends in Chicago, that will be a special race, especially since I’m running it to benefit the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. So, will you please consider supporting this worthwhile cause. All donations are appreciated. Click here to donate.
Thanks for the memories, San Diego.