Disclaimer: I received free entry to the OC Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
What better way to celebrate graduating with your Masters Degree than running a marathon?! When I discovered that the OC Marathon was the same weekend as my Masters graduation ceremony, I knew I just HAD to make the most of a weekend in Southern California. This is my journey from Masters Degree to Marathon.
After work on Friday, I quickly raced home so that I could finish packing my bags, feed the baby, and head to the airport. While getting things ready, I got a call from my 17 year old bonus daughter that she needed us to drop off a spare car key to her and her brother because she locked her keys in her car. Fortunately, we were able to get to our two teenage kids with enough time to spare to make it to the airport in time.
I was a little nervous about how my five month old baby would do on her first flight, but I’m happy to report that she did so well despite a shaky in-flight experience and very bumpy landing. I’m still breastfeeding my baby, so I nursed her on both the takeoff and landing and she did great! The flight was less than an hour and a half, so that too helped in baby’s success.
Since my alarm goes off at 5am Monday through Friday, baby is use to waking up at 5am. Sadly, this means she wakes up at 5am on the weekend as well. I therefore, woke up at 5am on Saturday, got ready for the day with baby, and then headed downstairs to breakfast in our hotel first with my mom and then again with my hubby (he was able to sleep in a little bit).
After breakfast, we headed out to Concordia University Irvine for the baccalaureate service, a Christian-based service honoring graduating students. Fortunately, it did not last long. After the service, I needed time to get lunch and then head to OC Marathon expo. Before we left Concordia’s campus, I took a quick picture.
After grabbing a quick lunch and dropping hubby dearest off at the hotel, my mom, baby, and I made our way to the OC Marathon expo. This year, I have the privilege of being a California International Marathon ambassador for the third year in a row. As an ambassador, I volunteered to man the CIM booth at the expo for a couple of hours while the main guy took a lunch break. It’s such a pleasure to talk about CIM, promote my discount code (RUNSTRONG10 to save $10), and hear so many share their love of CIM!
Mom, baby, and I made it back to the hotel at about 2:45pm which left exactly one hour until it was time to leave for my Master’s graduation ceremony. I quickly changed and pumped a bottle for baby while ironing my graduation gown. #momlife Before long it was time to leave for the ceremony.
The baccalaureate service that morning was held at Concordia University. The graduation ceremony, however, was held at the University of California Irvine. When we arrived at the university, I was shocked by the line of cars. The ceremony was a lot larger than I was expecting! We parked, I lined up with the graduates, and my mom, hubby, and baby all went to find a seat inside.
I stood outside in heels for an hour with my cap and gown on while waiting for the procession to begin. While standing there, I thought, “I really need to sit down, I have a marathon tomorrow!” Sadly, I continued to stand there.
Eventually, it came time for the procession of graduates to begin. As I entered the Bren Center, I was shocked by not only how large it was, but also how many people were inside. I sat and waited for my turn to walk across the stage for at least another hour. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for had arrived.
I waved up to my mom, husband, and baby as I made my way over to accept my Master’s degree. Before walking across the stage, I realized that it had been 17 years since earning my high school diploma and 11 years since earning my Bachelor’s degree (I never attended the graduation ceremony for my bachelor’s degree). After I saw the few doctoral students walk the stage prior to all of the Master’s students walk the stage, I am now more motivated than ever to earn my Doctorate in Education!
Post ceremony, I was all smiles because 1) I had just walked across the stage to earn my Master’s degree, 2) the ceremony was finally finished 3) I was reunited with my loved ones. We went out for a celebratory dinner post graduation ceremony and then called it a night because I had a marathon the following morning.
My alarm was set for 4am Sunday morning which gave me enough time to pump a bottle for baby and get ready. My mom is always so supportive that she was willing to give me a ride to the start line. We left the hotel at 4:45am.
It took me a few minutes to find the start line after my mom dropped me off and I may or may not have followed a couple of runners into a hotel because I thought they were going to the starting line, but I eventually made it to where I needed to be. Most of the time I do not warm up or stretch before starting a race. I figured the walk/jog to the starting line is sufficient enough.
When I arrived to the starting line, I could tell there were many more half marathon runners than full marathon runners. (There were 6818 half marathoners and 1551 full marathoners.) The full marathon started at 5:30am, whereas the half marathon began at 6:15am. As I made my way to the starting line, many of the half marathoners were deboarding the bus. Many of the marathoners were already lined up at the starting line. Since I knew it was going to be a slow race, I made my way to the back of the pack and found the 5:30 pacers.
I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking as I lined up with the 5:30 pacers… hopeful? delirious? insane? I ran a 6 hour marathon at the California International Marathon in 2017 and to do so I ran intervals of walk two minutes, run one minute. I thought the 5:30 pacers would maybe do intervals as well, but I was mistaken. Within the first few miles, I fell back behind the 5:30 pacers.
This selfie was taken at about mile 5. At this point I was feeling good and hopeful that I could keep up the run/walk interval.
This lady right here was exactly what I needed at mile 10ish. Her cheers felt like they were just for me. I was feeling the burn, but knew I still had 16 miles to go. At this point I began saying to myself, “What in the world were you thinking signing up for a marathon?”
Off and on throughout the race, I texted my mom and husband to update them on my progress. At first, I had told them that I would finish at 11:30am (six hours from the start). At about mile 18, I informed them that I would be finishing closer to noon based upon my pace. I was so happy to see the two of them and my baby at the finish line when I finally finished!
This marathon was the first race in which I had serious thoughts on calling it quits. I was in a lot of pain due to a giant blister on the bottom of my right foot and several blisters forming on my heels (not to mention that nearly every muscle in my body was screaming at me). What made me continue forward was the fear of letting people down. I am not a quitter and didn’t want others to think of me as such. Also, I have never dropped out of a race before and did not want to start now. I was physically able to continue, so step by step I continued on to the finish line.
The second half of a marathon is always hardest for me. You would think that I’d be happy that I am over halfway finished, but that is usually not the case. The excitement of starting the race has diminished and the reality that I still have 10+ miles to go hits me.
The OC Marathon was especially difficult in the second half. The half marathon runners had already split from the group and the course no longer had scenic views. Instead, the second half of the marathon course takes runners through neighborhoods and a river trail.
The race website states, “Marathoners continue into the heart of Orange County, Costa Mesa, passing by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, around South Coast Plaza, and through the campus of Segerstrom High School. One more mile in Santa Ana before turning onto the Santa Ana River Trail for 1.5 miles before exiting at Gisler foot-bridge. Also new this year, runners will go through beautiful Mesa Verde neighborhoods and then the “Bird Streets”, providing you with that much needed support on the home stretch towards the OC Fair & Event Center.” https://ocmarathon.com/sdccu-oc-marathon-orange-county-ca/ Definitely not the scenic or most exciting 13.1 miles (the second half of the course), but I made it through.
At first, I didn’t want to feel proud of my finish. It was so slow. BUT you know what? I AM proud. I completed a marathon, my 17th, just five months after delivering my baby. No matter how slow, I moved 26.2 miles. When I first finished my mom asked, “Are you glad you did the marathon?”
I replied, “Ask me in a couple of days.” I wasn’t ready yet to be glad I had completed the marathon. I was in too much pain. By Wednesday, however, I was running again and ready to sign up for my next race.
Have you ever wanted to call it quits during a particularly difficult race? Do you have any advice on how to prevent blisters? I’d love to hear your stories / advice!
Until next time,
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Note: I don’t have a race recap video for the OC Marathon because I thought my GoPro was charging overnight, but apparently it wasn’t because it died after I shot my first video during the race. 🙁