Last weekend I travelled to San Diego with Team in Training to coach at the RNR San Diego Marathon. We had a great group from WI ready to tackle the full and half marathon races. We got into San Diego before 10am thanks to our 6am flight and a two hour time change. Luckily they let me park my yacht right outside the hotel. It’s right behind that little boat.
After getting checked into the hotel we headed next door to the race expo. After having our fill of plenty of free samples, we found out that Chrissie Wellington was going to be speaking as part of the tour to promote her new book, A Life Without Limits. In case you don’t know, Chrissie is without a doubt the greatest female triathlete in the world. She is undefeated at the Ironman distance, having won 13 times, including 4 times at the world championships in Kona. She also happens to be one of the most smiley and genuinely enthusiastic people I have ever met. That’s right, I met her!
Clearly we are now bff’s. She signed a copy of her book to me, and I cannot wait to read it. She is so inspiring.
Speaking of bff’s, later that day we happened to run into my favorite marathoner Deena Kastor.
Deena will be running at the 10,000 meter Olympic trials in a couple of weeks. She also had a baby just a year ago and is the tiniest person I have ever met. Once I was sufficiently geeked out on spotting incredible endurance athletes (we saw Ryan Hall too but didn’t get a chance to meet him), it was time for dinner.
We decided to eat at one of the restaurants at our hotel to make things easy. My portobello mushroom sandwich was good, but the star of the show was obviously dessert.
That would be Bruce about to dig into a warm brownie baked in it’s own cast iron skillet, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Here is a close up for the full effect.
I think I fell asleep in approximately four seconds once my head hit the pillow on Friday. It was a long day.
Saturday we took it pretty easy to get ready for race day on Sunday. We attended the TNT Inspiration Dinner on Saturday night, which was great. Over 2500 TNT athletes raced on Sunday, raising 7.3 million dollars for blood cancer research. Pretty amazing.
After dinner I decided to do a little bit more fueling at the frozen yogurt shop that was conveniently located right at our hotel.
What? This coaching stuff is hard work!
Sunday started with a 3am wake up call since our team planned to meet in the lobby at 4am on Sunday to catch a shuttle to the race. I was so excited for my WI team to rock the race. We hung out at the start for a while before I wished everyone luck and they headed into the starting corrals.
I met up with another TNT coach from Santa Cruz and together we figured out how to take the trolley to our assigned station at miles 19-23 of the marathon. As we were walking to our position we saw the race leaders fly by mile 22.
They were not even sweating. It wasn’t too long before we saw the female leader with a decent lead.
Once we were at mile 19, it was time to wait for the TNT purple jerseys to start coming through. We didn’t have to wait long, there were some fast people out there. Whenever I saw a purple jersey, I would try to run with them for a bit and see if they needed anything. Some were feeling great, and some were struggling big time at this point. That far into the race, you never know if someone is going to want the company or if they would rather just be alone and get through the thing. Most people were grateful for whatever I could give them, whether it was water, gel, salt, or just words of encouragement.
I couldn’t wait to see my guys come through, and I was careful not to miss them in the loop section that I was in. Pretty soon I saw Mike, who ended up rocking a big PR. I ran with him for a mile or so and then headed back to catch the others. Pretty soon my two other guys were running towards me together. I was so pumped to see them. Colin was feeling good and decided to continue on his own, while Bruce was having some trouble with his leg cramping. I stuck with him and told him to just keep moving forward. I ended up running with him all the way to mile 26 because I couldn’t bear to leave him struggling. He was in so much pain, his back was killing him, and I am so incredibly proud of him for sticking it out and finishing his first marathon.
I ran back to my zone and tried to catch as many purple jerseys as I could. As the 7 hour cutoff neared, the coaches started to gather near the finish line in preparation for the “Sea of Green”. The coaches wear green jerseys, and we all get behind the last TNT finisher and walk them across the finish line. The chant of “Go TEAM, Go TEAM” as we walked gave me goose bumps. From the back:
And the professional view from above:
What a seriously cool experience.
I am guessing I put in somewhere between 20-25 miles between running and walking throughout the day.
There wasn’t much time to rest by the time we got back, so we did the next logical thing, which was meet at the hotel bar. From there it was to the TNT victory party where we got our fill of snacks, and then it was out to walk around a little bit. There was a cool area right by the hotel called the Gaslamp District.
We had a celebratory beer. I am ashamed to say I could not finish my 24 oz mug.
Of course the night would not have been complete without one last stop.
Refueling at its finest right there.
I always knew Team in Training was a great organization (I ran my first marathon with them in Alaska back in 2003), but after being part of such a huge national event where there is inspiration everywhere you turn, I am even more proud to be a part of it.