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Surf City Half Marathon Race Report

February 10, 2011

Disclaimer: I’m sorry this first post is so long, you can skip to the race about half way down.

Surf City 2010 was my very first half marathon and I have come a long way since. So needless to say I was pretty excited for race day. I finished a monster 13 mile run the Sunday before at 2:06 with hills and about 70% effort. So needless to say the dream PR (sub 2 hour finish) seemed like it was finally in sight. I did a lot of speed workouts and tempo runs. My fastest mile was 7:58 and I definitely was feeling the benefit of pushing so hard on my shorter runs and when the long runs came on the weekend what felt leisurely was actually pretty fast (some 8:30 miles!). I have never been good at tapering. I get so nervous I worry about not running enough and being too tired for race day. This week was an exception because I didn’t have time to run if I wanted to. Monday and Tuesday were packed with community health clinical and then a busy ER clinical day. Wednesday I woke up with a runny nose eek! I packed myself with airborn and then had a tiring mock code day. I was feeling really tired so when I got home I tried to relax and nap a little. When I woke up I started studying because of course next week I have my first test of 4th semester (awesome timing!).

Thursday I felt even more stuffed up. My sinuses felt like they were going to explode. In the past, going for a run has really helped reduce the duration of a cold for me. So I decided to head to the gym and try to do my best. I ended up doing a 2.5 mile run at 8:25 min pace but my lungs actually felt like they were burning. I went home and took a long shower breathing in the steam but nothing was relieving all the pressure I was feeling in my head. That night I had a terrible migrane and was not able to sleep at all. I took 2 doses of my migrane medication before I felt any relief at 4:30am. I finally fell asleep at 5:30 and slept most of the morning on Friday. To say I was worried about the race on Sunday was an understatement. I started to wonder if maybe I was having an allergy attack. The first time I ever had one was last year and it mostly affected my breathing but I was desperate at this point. I picked up a box of Claritin D and Psuedoephedrine. By Friday night I was actually breathing through my nose. I still felt some sinus pressure, but it was much more manageable.

Still concerned but excited nonetheless, I headed to the expo on Saturday morning. I picked up a lovely double pocket Ifitness belt that I will review soon. The Surf City Goodie bag and shirt were really cute this year. The weather was beautiful and my feelings of concern were washed away when I saw all of the beautiful mile markers standing by the expo tent. No matter what state I was in Sunday morning, I couldn’t wait to run this race.























(Notice all the nursing school books underneath the goodie bag)

I studied with my nursing school pals, Neil and Amanda, for a little while and then headed home to study on my own for a while. I was still feeling somewhat clear but not 100%. I really wanted my parents to come to my race in the morning, but they were not into waking up early on a weekend. As a joke my mom suggested I throw on all of my gear and we can take pretend pictures. We had such a good laugh we decided to do it!

Then I headed to Magianno’s with Joe, Jim, and Robin for one of my favorite race day traditions, carb loading! I had a big bowl of Magianno Salad (my favorite) and Gniocchi (also my favorite!). I usually can polish off the whole dish but for some reason I just didn’t have a normal appetite. We headed home and despite some last minute jitters I was able to fall asleep. The alarm went off at 5am on Sunday and I did not want to get up. I slept another 15 minutes when Joe forced me to get up. I felt so nauseous it was uncomfortable to stand up. Somehow I muscled through getting ready and then went downstairs. I managed to drink a cup of tea (I’ve found caffeine helps) but all I could manage to eat was a piece of dry toast (not good!).

So proud of you Robin!!!!

When I got the race I finally felt like I was ready to go. After having a hard time parking, Joe and I made it to the start with just 15min to spare. We gave each other a quick hug and kiss goodbye and headed to our waves. I found the 2 hour pacer and took the last 5ish minutes to stretch and take in the crowd. It was a little foggy but the cool air was perfect. The gun went off and my wave leisurely approached the start.
Miles 1-3 were great. I love running down PCH towards the pier. There was a ton of crowd support even at 7:45 in the morning. As we made our way up the largest hill of the race I felt a little tired but my breathing was great. Before I knew it we were back on PCH and at mile 7! Then something happened that has never happened on a race day, my stomach started growling. I’m sure my pacer couldn’t hear it but she looked over and asked if I had had enough to eat and drink. I still couldn’t completely breathe through my nose so I took small sips at the water stops. Moreover I lost my pacer during a crowded water stop once and I didn’t want that to happen again. I was probably long overdue for a gel too.
I opened a gel from my belt and as soon as I put in my mouth I was sure I was going to vomit. So for the next 2 miles I nursed my gel as much as I could. Before I knew it we were at mile 10, the race seemed to be going fast but I was really tired at this point. It was a weird kind of tired, almost like a wave of exhaustion. I told myself to hang on I even thought “I just have a 5k left I have put too much work in to lose it now.” My pacer looked over and asked how I was. I told her I was exhausted and thought I was going to puke. I remember thinking, “that means I am working hard, if this was easy I wouldn’t be running!” She started telling me stories and another guy, Mike, started cheering me on.
I kept at it, I had never been so tired in my life. My legs didn’t hurt, I just felt exhausted.   The fog was still obstructing a lot of the view and I couldn’t wait to see that finish line. I was at mile 12.9 and my pacer looked at me and said, “You’ve got this! We are so close!” I rounded a corner and I could see the finish line and then I blacked out. When I woke up, I was on the ground. I’m not sure why or how but there at the 13 mile marker I had collapsed. The nice man, Mike G, that had been running with my pace group helped me to my feet, I couldn’t get my footing and somehow with two people I made it to the curb. He sat down with me and kept asking if I was ok. He handed me some person’s gatorade, I opened and drank as much and as fast as I could. The people surrounding me started calling for paramedics. I quickly told them not to. I was watching people pass through to the finish, I had come this far and I was finishing this race. I tried to get up and immediately knew I wasn’t ready. I felt so bad that Mike G. had stopped with me. I looked at him and said, “Please go, don’t worry about me.” Without even a note of hesitation he said, “My victory is crossing this finish line with you.”I sat laid back hoping a little circulation to my head would help. I closed my eyes and thought, “Get up and go across as fast as you can”. I turned to Mike G. and told him I was ready. He helped me up and together, we finished the last few steps of the race.

It took everything I had left to stay standing. Mike G. put my medal around my neck and then called for the first aid crew. He told them I had collapsed and he knew I couldn’t walk to the first aid area. A paramedic and Mike helped me into a golf cart. I gave him a big hug and thanked him for everything. What a nice person, I wish I had gotten his email or phone number so I could thank him again for all he did for me. I was amazed by his kindness. When we got to the first aid area they helped me into a bed. I closed my eyes. The golf cart ride had made me nauseated again. My blood pressure was 99/70, which is really low for me. They handed me tons of water and gatorade and kept coaching me to drink. My “nurse” asked me if I had every done this before, “Yes this is my sixth half marathon. I love this sport.” He didn’t say anything. I am sure he thought I was some kind of idiot. If you have never been to a first aid area of a marathon it is quite a show. The runner next to me was hooked up to a defibrillator and then there were people coming in for blisters. Yep, blisters. I had a hard time getting my texts to go through despite full bars. I’m sure it was because a lot of people were using their phones at the finish line. Finally I got through to Robin, Jim, and Joe.

As soon as Joe found me I burst into tears. The loss at the finish line had finally caught up with me and I couldn’t stop crying. Joe looked at me and said, “Listen to me, you did make it. You didn’t stop until you passed out, and you passed out in front of the finish line. How many people can run until they pass out? I can’t. I pulled back today when I got tired. You broke 2 hours no matter what that clock says. I don’t even want you to check your official time. Most people who collapse at races don’t finish, you finished and you never gave up. I am so proud of you and I am glad you are ok.” I have the greatest fiance ever. I pulled myself together and drank some more fluids. Joe wrapped a blanket around me and put his arm around me while I sat up.

Jim and Robin were just as supportive as Joe was and they really made me feel better as we walked to the car. Everyone had had a good day. Jim had finished in 1:32, Joe in 1:36, and Robin in 2:06. I was super excited for all of them. Everyone I told about the race had the same reaction as Joe. Talk about having the best and most supportive people in your life. When we got home I was feeling sick again. I ended up being in bed until 5pm when I finally was able to stomach food. Being dehydrated is really terrible. I wish I had insisted on an IV in the medical tent but I was too out of it.


I was really sore Monday and Tuesday. My tailbone really hurt, that must have been where I hit the ground when I fell. I haven’t checked my official time and I am keeping my promise to Joe not to. There are few opportunities in life where you get to find out what you are really made of. If anything this race has taught me that finish lines are markers and clocks are just numbers. When I decided I wanted to break 2 hours it was really about pushing myself to be a better runner. In my opinion there 3 things good runners do.

1. Leave it all on the Pavement (check!)

2. Don’t give up, no matter how much it hurts (check and ouch!)

3. Don’t forget that you do this because you love it (check, check, check!)

I can’t wait for my next race. I took a few days off to recover and I can’t wait to get back on the road!

Love and Hugs,


One Comment leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    February 21, 2011 3:18 pm

    Congrats on your finishing the race. In my book, you did great. You remind me of Derek Redmond, very inspirational. Best wishes on your next race.

    From a fellow runner.

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