my first marathon.

7 Jun

So, it’s true. I finally put on my big girl pants and ran a full marathon!

It was last Sunday, and I have LOTS to say about it. (TL;DR version? Finished (barely) in 3:49).  For those nerdy enough to read on, here’s the play-by-play:


My Dad and I trekked down on Saturday to hit up the Expo at the San Diego Convention Center.  We sat in some gnarly traffic, but it was nice to have the time to chat with my Dad (mostly about law and journalism, surprise surprise).

We got to the expo and I picked up my bib (which was surprisingly a process – finding and then forgetting my number, filling out a waiver, etc).  Of course I had to take a photo for posterity purposes.


My Dad also told me I needed to buy myself an #RnRSD shirt because “you only get one first marathon.”  Funny, normally parents are the ones talking you out of wasting money.  But I’m glad I bought it.  I also am now officially one of “those” people who drive around with a 26.2 sticker on their car.

We checked out some of the booths, I took a picture for an Arrowhead campaign, and I tried to find SkinnyRunner but didn’t see her. Sad day.


After the expo, my Dad and I grabbed lunch in the Gaslamp district at an Italian place whose name I can’t remember but I’d go to again.  We then paid my grandparents a visit in Chula Vista, and then went back to our hotel downtown so I could chill, organize my life, and make the all-important playlist.  We had dinner at a great place in Little Italy called Craft & Commerce.  It was super trendy but also delicious.  My arugula salad also had fresh strawberries and and a strawberry and cinnamon flavored ricotta cheese. Nom.

My mom had to work Saturday, but she took the train into San Diego from DTLA and met up with us late Saturday night.  I called it a night early to prepare for my 4:50 alarm. But first I obviously had to wind down with whatever 48 Hours Mystery: Obsession (or whatever those shows are called). This one was about some psychotic killer.  Those are the best.

We stayed at the Doubletree downtown which was convenient (walkable to the start) but it wasn’t anything to write home about, and had terrible parking.

Race Day

I stuck to my mantra of nothing new on race day.  I had gluten free oatmeal before my 20 miler with half a banana and a cup of coffee, so that’s what I had on race day.  I also wore the same outfit, down to the hat, socks, and sports bra.

pre-marathon selfie. because...

pre-marathon selfie. because…

My parents were willing to walk with me to the start which was great – it kept my mind off of the task I was about to do, and it was nice to chat.  We said goodbye maybe 20 minutes before the start, and I headed to my corral (#2). 

I never claimed to be a looker.

I never claimed to be a looker.

I met a really nice fellow first marathoner in the corral, Erin, and we chatted.  We had similar time goals but I knew I would be stupid if I tried to actually run with anyone that early.

We sang the national anthem, had a touching moment of silence for the victims of Boston, and then we were off!

The Race

I had a few different goals for the race.  My original “first timer” goal was to break 4:00, and I thought that would be pretty easy.  My second goal was to break 3:45.  My third, long-shot goal was to qualify for Boston  (3:34:59).

My first few miles were great – I kept telling myself to slow down, but I kept running 8 minute miles, but they felt slow, easy, and comfortable.  I saw my parents at mile 6, downtown near our hotel which was great.  I listened to music, took in the sights, and enjoyed it.

feeling great at mile 6.

feeling great at mile 6.

The first 10 miles were pretty scenic – we ran through downtown, Little Italy, Old Town, and over to Mission Bay. Once we got to Mission Bay, we ran for 3-4 miles along a bike path near the water which was great. I still felt great – loved my music – and hit the half at 1:44.  I realize now that this was a little fast, but honestly it felt conservative at the time.  I kept thinking “wow, I could run the second half in 2:00 and still beat 3:45, and there’s no way I’ll slow down THAT much.” Wrong, my friend.

I broke up the run mentally into sections. The first 6 were easy – I’ll see my parents at mile 6.  And then it was “get to 10 miles.”  From 10, I broke up the next segment to the half, and then to 15. I thought of miles 15-18 as a unit because those were the miles I ran with my Dad when he did the LA Marathon, so I tried to envision that I had his support through those miles.  Next, I broke up miles 18-22.  At 22, my friend Hannes would meet me after having completed the half, and we’d run the last 4 together.

During mile 17, I started getting a little bit fatigued.  The course wasn’t as exciting/pretty, and my pace slowed. I was now in the high 8s.  I saw my parents at mile 18 near Fashion Valley, and when they asked how I was doing, I replied “I’m Dying.”  I did appreciate their “Get ‘Er Done” sign, though.



I started walking through every water station and really just started to feel fatigued.  Miles 18-22 were easily the most difficult.  This stretch was boring – a lot of it was on the freeway, and there was a massive hill during mile 20. I walked way more than I had expected to, to the point where it was truly embarrassing.



Some point in this portion of the race, I spotted Monica of Run Eat Repeat as well as SkinnyRunner.  It took me a few minutes to decide that I would try and meet them, but I ran up to SR and said hi and introduced myself, and was lucky to run with her for a few minutes.  She was so friendly and encouraging, and I tried to keep the “OMG YOU ARE MY ROLE MODEL” shrieks to a minimum.  Due to the insanity of the hill, I wasn’t able to meet Monica, but I am pretty sure there will be a next time.

At mile 22, I met up with Hannes.  I am pretty sure he just had to take one look at me to figure out that at mile 22, at about 3 hours, there was no way a BQ was in the cards.  I said “just get me to the finish.”  Hannes was incredibly helpful keeping me headed in that direction – with plenty of walk breaks – but we got there inch by inch.  By this time, my quads, hips, and knees were all hurting.  Not like injury-pain, just SORE.  Each calf experienced at least 2 charley horses. #FullOnBreakDown.

The last mile was nice – gentle downhill toward Petco Park.  Hannes said “we just have one more lap around a track to go” and I flipped out. REALLY?  We sped up to a 7:30 pace those last few meters.

finishing my first full marathon.

finishing my first full marathon.

I crossed the finish line in 3:49:36.  Not a BQ.  Not sub-3:45.  But proud of my time.  I have a lot of room to improve, and tons of things to fine-tune.


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 9.23.39 PM

(I don’t suggest doing the math on the pace those last 6 miles…it ain’t pretty).

I met up with my parents in the post-race expo.  They literally found me lying down on the asphalt.  My mom had me take a photo with a sign she made, which is oddly perfect for the blog.


I felt terrible, but it was such a great feeling.


I’m a music junky.  I won’t bother sharing my entire playlist (because frankly, who cares), but here are some of my favs from the race:

Daft Punk – Doin’ It Right (I loved this one so much I played it twice in a row).

J.T. – Mirrors (Duh)

Purity Ring – Grammy (Soulja Boy Cover)

Will i am f/ Bieber (ick, i know) – #thatPOWER

Zedd f/ Foxes – Clarity

Post Race

I had trouble walking the rest of the day, but otherwise I had a lot of energy.  I got back to LA and my roommate was super sweet and ordered thai food for us.  Whitney came over with Ben & Jerry’s, sunflowers, and kept me company while I sat in the jacuzzi and iced in the pool.  It was so nice to feel the support of so many people – including tons of friends via social media.


Monday was pretty rough.  I was limping, and getting in and out of chairs was a pretty big struggle.  By Tuesday, I felt like I had run a half marathon.  Wednesday there were just vestiges of soreness, and I felt fine by Thursday.  I haven’t worked out yet since (my goal is to ease back into it this weekend).  I have a tendency to overdo things, so I felt like a full 5 days off was fine.  My firm had a ton of events this week so I ate like a glutton, but whatever.  I just can’t use the “calorie deficit” as a rationale anymore. Boo.

Post-Race Thoughts

Running a marathon was not easy, but it was also awesome.  During the race I told Hannes how I was thinking of maybe running Long Beach in October.  I didn’t appreciate the irony at the time because I was probably walking as I said that, but marathons are so addicting.

Anyway, if you have any questions about the race, marathons, running, etc. let me know! I’d be happy to nerd out on running with you 🙂

Do you have a running goal? A life goal? Get at me! 

10 Responses to “my first marathon.”

  1. Valerie aka Mom June 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    Pretty sure you put on your big girl “skirt.”

    P.S. The grandparents live in Bonita.

    • gillian June 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

      I guess the LA granddaughter should know that.

  2. Valerie aka Mom June 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    I need a “like” button for that reply.

  3. Jessica of HolaYessica June 8, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    Wowww, congratulations! Just reading your post made me tired haha.

  4. leftcoastcontessa June 11, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Major congrats on an amazing first marathon. I shamelessly love #ThatPower too. Very cool that you ran with Skinny Runner!

    • gillian June 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

      Thank you! Can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated your advice and support.


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