#6 and #19 A Race to Remember.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” – Marianne Williamson
Three little words: I did it!! It took a whole year’s worth of training, my legs feel like they may never walk again, and my time wasn’t even that great but it doesn’t matter I am just happy to have finished. This is going to be kind of a long post, so if you are just interested in results I will give those to you first. I finished in 5 hrs. 23 mins. and 23 seconds. I was 1228 out of 1375 timed finishers. I was 206 out of 222 in my 30-39 male division.
Prepping For The Race
The race wasn’t perfect, but overall it was good. The weather for the race was perfect weather. I was a little worried because the day before the race it had been raining, but somehow by the night before it had all cleared up. On race day itself there was a slight chill in the air but that was perfect for running conditions. I had eaten a lot of carbohydrates a few days leading up to the race which was good for me because the day before the race I was so nervous. I had trained well having run all my training runs exactly to schedule. Despite this preparation I still found myself not being able to eat much of anything at all. Despite having no appetite I forced myself to drink a lot of water and salty foods. It was kind of funny because at lunch I had some nachos and I put extra salt on them, which kind of made them taste a little off, but I was bound and determined not to have a sodium deficiency during the race (if you salt goes low you can cramp up and then faint). I laid out my clothes the day before which also helped ease some of my anxiety because I knew that all of my gear was ready to go. I tried to go to bed early, but because of the anxiety I had I am not exactly sure how much sleep I got. I got under the covers at 8pm but how long I actually slept I am not sure.
On race day I got up at 4:30 am, the race wasn’t scheduled until 7:30 and our hotel was only 15 mins. away from the drop off point. Needless to say I was at the starting line super early. We got to Los Pueblos High School (the starting line) at 6 am. Luckily, the race organizers had though about crazy people like myself and they allowed us to stay in the gym. Which was nice, because it was cold outside. Not that I minded that it was cold outside, but standing in the cold and running in the cold are two different things. In the gym I met a lot of interesting people. I met the pacers, race organizers, people running their first race, people running there 18th race, people from Santa Barbara, people from Australia, people who thought they could win the race, and even people like me that were just hoping to finish. At about 7:30 am they herded us out of the gym and out to the starting line. They had a big yellow inflatable start line and a big ladder fire truck with a US flag draped over it. As part of the starting ceremonies the mayor of Goleta addressed the crowd from an army jeep (I didn’t see it though because I was way in the back of the crowd, but he said he was in jeep) and they had bagpipers doing a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. I should have been moved, but my anxiety did not let me enjoy the moment too well. Luckily for me I met a family friend that was also running her first marathon. It was good to see someone I actually knew, it helped calm my nerves. As soon as I wished my friend good luck it seemed they were sounding the bugle to start.
The First Half of the Marathon
The start of the race was nice. Physically I was feeling my best ever (100 pounds lighter will do that to you). I weighed in the day before race day at 210 (I think I was a bit bloated from all that water and salt) and feeling ready to go. The taper down plan went exactly the way I wanted it to go and my legs felt like two race horses begging to be let free to run. The first half the race consisted of a big loop that went past UCSB, Isla Vista, and Goleta. It was a bit of nostalgia as I ran past the places of my freshman year of college. The first half of the race felt like it flew by and looking at my GPS it looks like it did go pretty fast. I did the first half of the race at a 10:15 pace.
Looking back at the race that was probably not that best idea to go out that fast, but I got caught up in the moment.
The Second Half of the Marathon
At mile 14 my stomach rumbled really loudly and I knew I had to make a porta-potty break. I wont go into details but I will say it was not good. I didn’t take too long of a break however and was back up and running. Then at about mile 15 things started going worse. It was at about that point that the race went from the streets to a bicycle path. It was also at that point that I found I could no longer run. I tried to break out in spurts of speed, but I was never able to maintain a steady pace for more than a half a mile.
By mile 20 I was in some serious pain. I could feel the blisters forming and it was all I could do to keep going. It was also at mile 20 that I found the husband of my friend who was running the race. I knew why he was there but it was kind of weird seeing someone from home in the middle of the race. I remember saying “Is that you Josh?” He said “Yeah John how you doing?” I said “In a lot pain, but moving. I am sure Crystal is back there somewhere.” It was like kind of surreal, I would have liked to have chatted with him more but given the circumstances that was just not going to happen.
As it turned out miles 20-24 would have a lot more surreal moments. I guess it was bound to happen, 20 miles was the longest distance I had gone in training, so everything was seemed out of the ordinary. Everything kind of just melted together in those last miles. Somewhere around mile 21 I remember thanking a police man for stopping a white suv that decided he wasn’t going to wait for “all those runners.” I remember at mile 22 this marching band drumming away and just when I got to them they stopped, packed up, got in their cars, and went away. At mile 23 there was a big hill that made me wonder why I wasn’t somewhere else.
Then finally came mile 24. I could smell the ocean, I knew it was close, and then I turned the corner, and it was there!! You would’ve thought by my reaction I had never seen the ocean before in my entire life. I remember passing this little park and someone posted some baloons on a sign.
I think they were having a birthday party at the park, but I pretended in my mind that the baloons were mine and that someone had placed them there just for me (don’t worry I didn’t take them, I just looked at them). I played a lot of mind games with myself like that, anything that helped me keep walking was a good thing.
Finishing The Race
By mile 25 I was running parallel with the ocean. It was a great view, I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but at that point I just wanted to finish. I am not sure how I looked at that point but little kids were giving me strange concerned looks, so it couldn’t have been that great.
At about .5 miles from the finish there was a big line of flags in tribute to our vetrans. I knew at this point it was time to put everything out there and so I mustered up one last sprint to the finish line. I saw Denise at the finish line and was happy I could still smile and wave. I must of caught the race announcer by surprise because I heard “Oh, we have a runner! Who is it? It is 1047, um, it’s John Pedroza from Crestline!”
A bright flash… Oh no, did I just faint (it has been known to happen)?!!
Nope, it was just a photographer, I had crossed the finish line. A nice young lady gave me a medal and I slowly limped my way to the recovery tent to get a well deserved banana.
Post Race Recovery
WARNING: This section contains some descriptions and pictures that are not all that pleasant.
I tried to get some food in me but I knew from past experience that after really long runs I can’t eat solids. I did take two 500 ml bottles of water and downed them in less than 5 seconds. Some volunteers gave me some fritos, but as much as I tried I couldn’t find the strength to chew on them so I gave up after two. I found a chair to sit on and waited until Denise found me.
By the time I had finished the race things were beginning to shutdown and the wind was picking up. As it was I wasn’t really in the mood to hang out for the post race activities. I am sure they were fun, but I didn’t really have any strength left in me. As we tried to walk up the hill to the parking lot I found that I got to a point where my legs got so stiff that I couldn’t walk anymore. Denise left me at a retaining wall and she went on and was able to get the car to me.
By the time we got to State Street (which wasn’t very far at all from the finish line at SBCC stadium) my legs felt like they had rigamortis. Denise again was very kind and went to CVS and got me a big cold chocolate milk. I don’t know why it works, but it works almost every time. Just a few minutes after drinking the chocolate milk I could feel the swelling going down. It was like taking a Motrin, but it tasted 10 times better, didn’t require a prescription, and has no known side effects.
Getting back to the hotel I was able to take a shower and treat my feet. By that night I was able to eat solids again and my hunger came back like a raging lion. Fortunately, we live in a country where finding food is not a problem. We went to a place called Mac’s, a British Fish and Chips restaurant. It was fun ordering whatever I wanted and not worrying about it. From my calculations I burned 3,823 calories in completing my marathon.
After dinner we went to Yogurtland for dessert had all the yogurt and toppings I could handle (it wasn’t a lot, but it wasn’t a little). As of right now I am doing ok, still in a bit of pain but I am getting a better.
A Final Thought
In a way it is kind of ironic because a year ago I was sitting on a couch with sore legs and feeling really bad because I couldn’t walk really far and now I find myself sitting on a couch feeling really bad and I really can’t any more that I did a year ago, but the difference is now I have a medal! And even though I can’t walk very far now I know that tomorrow will be different.
Different from that first run last year I now something that back then I didn’t and that is tomorrow I will be a little stronger than today and the day after that I will get even more stronger. The stronger I become I will be able to do more things and the more things I can do the better I will be and the better I become the better I will be able to help others do the same. I don’t know why you are reading this. Perhaps it is entertaining. If that is the reason great, I hope you are entertained. Better yet I would hope you got this far reading because you too have something you want to do. I don’t know what that is, but you do and if you feel it is important enough to you I hope you go after it. As great as this goal was for me I still have more things to do, we all do. The road doesn’t stop, it just leads us to new things. New things that are all shaped by the things we decide to do (or not do) today.
Amazing, John! Congratulations!!!
Great Write-Up. I enjoyed reading your blog, and I hope you a quick recovery.
I began my running journey in January 2011 when I weighed 220 lbs. As of Saturday, I’ve run 3 marathons and 12 half marathons, and down to 170 lbs. My health has also improved and my doctor removed me from the high blood pressure medication prescribed to me for three years. I’m already registered for 2 marathons and 8 half marathons in the next 10 months. I hope you a great running future. I also hope we can keep in touch via Facebook and share our experiences, and hopefully encourage each other along the way.
Wishing you All the Best. Take Care!
Great post John. Inspiring stuff.
congratulations! and what a great summary. best wishes to you!
A wonderful read, John. Your challenge to do hard things is inspiring.
Hey, that was me, not Denise. She must have used my computer and left her facebook page up. Hm.
Congratulations John! It’s amazing how far (figuratively and literally) you’ve come in a year!
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