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I’ve gotten all emotional on you…

So, I told you I wanted to post about how I really felt after San Diego and how I felt after Long Beach. There were some pretty drastic differences after both races for pretty apparent reasons. I’ll start it off with my first marathon, San Diego.

I had some high expectations for San Diego before the gun even went off, but for some odd reason I knew it wasn’t going to be this amazing, great race that I had visualized in my head. When I woke up that morning of the race, I wasn’t excited and I felt vastly unprepared. I realized looking back on my training for San Diego, I was on a six day plan and was running a pretty hardcore workout regiment. It includes a lot of different workouts including speed workouts, hill workouts, cross training, long runs and the such. Looking back now, I have come to realize that before the race even started I was so burnt out, I wanted nothing to do with running. I had literally run myself into the ground. I remember the few weeks leading up to San Diego my blog posts weren’t much about running at all, because I hated running. Every long run it seemed that I got sick, and I felt like maybe magically, on race day, that wouldn’t happen. I was exhausted all the time, beat up and sore from running so much, and I felt like I had no life besides waking up, working, running and sleeping. I may not be the most social bug around, but I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends when I wanted and not be sore every morning and every night. I was seriously miserable. I trained and trained my butt off and I still felt like I was going to suck come race day. I had a secret goal for San Diego. It was to qualify for Boston. I NEVER verbalized that, because I felt like it was so ludicrous, but I also thought that maybe, maybe come race day I would be able to pull out some kind of miracle. I couldn’t have been farther from the qualifying time. But I thought SURELY I would be able to break four hours. I mean, even on a bad day. Wrong again.

Then it was race day. Race day didn’t go as planned. AT ALL. If you missed the race recap you can read it here, but the quick and dirty, no pun intended, was that I got really sick, made eight different stops at porta-potties and was graced with a visit from Aunt Flo at mile 8, which I was also unprepared for. My body hurt from being sick and my mind was not in the right place to run a marathon. I was exhausted, sad and felt like a failure. All I could think about was how horrible it was. Around mile 13 I seriously thought about quitting. My whole body was already aching and it just wasn’t my day. I realized that when my whole body was hurting and it was only mile 13, I had a long way to go. I felt defeated and horrible and that feeling never left me throughout the race. I didn’t want to walk during the race and when I began to walk off and on starting and mile 18, I felt horrible. I felt like I was a failure because I had NEVER walked. I felt like crying the entire race and was not happy with anything going on around me. It seemed like every step I was on the verge of tears. I sniffled as I passed all the other cheerers along the course, and wanted to just curl up in a ball on the side of the road and die.

I remember being in the porta-potties along the course and thinking I might have to throw up. I remember thinking about my hands being on the floor of the porta-pottie and I wanted to cry even more. I remember thinking about not ever even coming out of the porta-potties and just crawling off the course the next night. I remember there was an out and back section, and literally, at that point, I thought about if anyone would see me if I went under the tape and just started running again. I thought about cheating?! What the heck was wrong with me. I know it was just a mess. Then when I finally got to the finish line, I felt nothing. No sense of accomplishment, no joyous “I just finished a marathon!”, and no pride. I felt like I sucked at life. I felt like all my training was for nothing, and I swore as soon as I crossed the finish line I would NEVER run another marathon. EVER. They were stupid, and pointless, and worthless. All that training, all that time, all that exhaustion and dedication for a medal? I was never going to win a marathon. I wasn’t going to go to the Olympics, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to waste my time again. No thank you. I remember driving home and just thinking about how stupid I was for thinking I could possibly qualify for Boston. I finished in 4:28. I walked a lot of the course towards the end.  I was exhausted, sick, and horrified at what had just happened.

The San Diego marathon was on May 31st. After the marathon I wanted nothing to do with running. I was disappointed in myself and my “performance.” The whole month of June, I ran 21 miles. I was averaging around 40 miles a week before that. I didn’t run at all really, and that was fine with me. After the muscles started to heal, and I could walk again, and not death grip the wall while going to the bathroom and stairs were my friend again, a little thought crept into my head. The pain I had experienced at San Diego slowly faded. The hatred I had for 26.2 was residing in my heart, but I started to think that maybe if I did things a little differently for my training plan and didn’t train for 18 weeks before the race and wasn’t so burnt out come race day, maybe, just maybe, I would do better. I started to realize that the reason I got sick on every training run was because me + GU = disastrous. I did everything to try out different ways and I tried numerous different kinds, but my body and GU just don’t get along. That’s when peanut butter and jellies began.

I talked to my friend, The Running Laminator, to make me a plan for Long Beach, and I told him I wasn’t going to tell anyone I was going to run Long Beach so that I could possibly take some of the pressure of myself that I put on myself (if you couldn’t tell). I told him I wanted to run 4 days a week, and I didn’t have time to do anything over 10 miles on work days, and only one long run a week, and I wanted to have rest days, where I didn’t do anything. He worked up a great plan for me, and there were NO speed workouts, NO hill workouts, just simple miles. That was it and that plan worked perfectly for me. I ran my miles, some were fast if I wanted to run fast, and some were slow if I was tired. I did my long runs and began to test out different fueling ideas and I started to slowly like running again.

I also had a great race in San Fransisco with some of my favorite girls (aron, tara, maritza) and one boy (billy) that revived my love for racing as well. Talking to them really helped me gain confidence and I’m so grateful for our friendships. For my training plan that Lam made for me, I only did one 20 miler, and though it was tough, but not stopping to go to the bathroom was a huge success for me. I actually was starting to get excited about the race because a lot of my training runs were done along the same route in Long Beach. As training went on, I was getting a little tired, but I didn’t experience the hatred for running I had before. I only trained for about 10 weeks. Granted I already had a pretty decent base but still, that’s not very long for many, but it was more than enough for me.

Around week 7, I got a little burnt out and just wanted to sleep, but once I got through that week I was fine because it was almost taper. The race kept getting closer and closer and I wanted to tell everyone I was running a marathon but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to fail like I had in San Diego. I never posted my goals on here because that would have given away my secret, but I also didn’t run the entire race week. I was tired and caught up on sleep and thought to myself, you know what, I can’t do anything to change things now, might as well just go with it. The day before the race I had my mini-freak out, but even then, I thought to myself, you know what, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Stop freaking out. Some encouraging words were helpful to calm me down too.

Then it was race morning, and I was scared because I was almost as calm as I was during San Diego. I felt okay but I also told myself that it was going to be different and I HAD this. As I said many times in my race report, I was ready to do this and I kept telling myself that throughout the morning. I thought about not running the whole week, and told myself “Welp, there’s nothing I can do about it now.” When I forgot my timing chip, I almost, almost broke down, but said the same thing about having nothing to do about it now. The gun went off and though I was so scared of what was going to happen, I told myself to be happy and to just enjoy it this time. I think that’s what made such a huge difference. I didn’t start off too fast, I didn’t get sick, and once I realized that I felt fine, the only thing I worried about hitting the wall. I enjoyed the race finally. I soaked in the spectators, the signs, the small things that I spent all of San Diego scowling at. I talked to runners around me and cheered for those who started to walk, I focused on MYSELF and running MY RACE. I think that’s what made me the happiest. I wanted redemption for MYSELF, and that’s what finally happened. I spent the entire race enjoying myself and loving to run and having fun. The wall was brief and I made it over easily, but I still can’t believe how happy I was, the entire time I was running.

When I crossed the finish line, I was excited and happy and full of joy. My heart was bursting with all the emotions that had been missing before. I felt like I just kicked some serious butt. I reached my goal of breaking four, I ran my tail off and I felt great and THAT was the feeling I wanted after San Diego. I felt like I did something worthwhile and my training paid off and I was and still am so happy. I know San Diego was my first, but Long Beach was my race that I wanted my first marathon to be like. I’m SO incredibly glad for the 2nd chance that I gave the marathon, and though it took a lot of hard work, and it took me to realize that I needed to give it another chance, I’m glad I did because it was totally worth it to get those feelings and to feel that happiness and like I had accomplished something.

I’ve just come to realize I guess, that through those two events, that not everything will always be perfect, not every run is going to be excellent and not every run is going to be a pr or feel great, but bottom line is the fact that you did it, that means more than any number on a clock, or medal that you got. I really believe that if I didn’t give it another shot, I would have been even more disappointed in myself. Sometimes, as they say it’s all about getting back on the proverbial horse. I’m glad I gave marathoning a second chance because it’s finally nice to have a great marathon story, and something that I know I will always cherish as my favorite race. It’s nice to have worked hard and had it pay off. It’s also nice to say I’ve run marathons. Yup, plural! If you don’t believe I was so happy this weekend, I got the race pictures online and took some, and I might, possibly, save up and buy the $60 dollar CD for myself, because I have never seen myself look so happy before.


I don’t even know where this was, but again, happy, happy smiles.


This was seriously towards the end of the race and I looked this happy! I was getting closer to the finish and just wanted to be done, but still, I haven’t seen myself smile that big in a long time.


Are there words for these pictures? Seriously.


So second chances, sometimes work out for the best.


This is my favorite picture, hands down.


Speeding my way down to the finish and breaking four hours.

Happy as a little clam I tell you.


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  • Reply Yasmin

    You look like you’re just gliding along!

    Congrats again (:

    October 15, 2009 at 9:21 am
  • Reply Kelly

    I’m soo happy for you and having a great race! You look awesome in all the pics! i’m jealous of your skills.

    October 15, 2009 at 9:34 am
  • Reply kate

    I’ll say it again – you look RIDICULOUSLY happy! I can’t help but smile just looking at these photos! Huge Congrats!

    October 15, 2009 at 9:42 am
  • Reply Shannon

    That’s a great post! I’m so happy that things went right for you this time around! You looked so freaking happy!! And, I too love that picture of you – your feet are OFF THE GROUND!! ha!!! So cool!

    October 15, 2009 at 9:43 am
  • Reply Pete

    great philosophy and outlook!

    coming out of the downz is a beautiful thing, so congratulations on that feat! with a little experience i’ve gained a little more race wisdom, but i always seem to have up’s and down’s.

    keep smiling!

    October 15, 2009 at 9:50 am
  • Reply Punk Rock Runner

    I looked at your race photos and EVERY single one is amazing. Congrats again on an incredible day at the races.

    October 15, 2009 at 9:58 am
  • Reply Jocelyn

    you rock girl! I’m glad that you were able to bounce back from a bad marathon (you still did better than me in SD :D ). you are awesome! Congrats again on the sub 4!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:15 am
  • Reply Amy

    This is a great post. You must be so glad you gave your self a second chance to love the marathon and I’m so glad you had a great race. You just look so happy and proud of yourself in every photo and that’s amazing. Training’s all about finding your sweet spot and you totally did!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:21 am
  • Reply Jenny from Lucky in Love

    Your pics are great! So proud of you :)

    October 15, 2009 at 10:22 am
  • Reply Lisa

    Best post ever! It almost makes me want to run a marathon, well maybe not, but I’m glad you gave the marathon a 2nd chance. AWESOME pics…I would so fork over the $60 for the CD.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:30 am
  • Reply Keri

    Great pictures! I agree with you on a 10 week schedule. 18 is too much and causes burn out too quickly!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:39 am
  • Reply Julia

    Wow, amazing photos. You really do look happy. Look at all those smiles! I’m so glad to hear that this race was everything you were looking for :)

    October 15, 2009 at 10:43 am
  • Reply Amber from Girl with the Red Hair

    I LOVE those pictures. You ARE happy as a clam. I think you’re totally right, you trained too hard and put too much pressure on yourself for your first marathon!

    I plan on doing my first marathon in 2010 and I will be taking your advice on training! Thanks :-)

    October 15, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Marlene

    I like your post race reflections. See, this is how it’s SUPPOSED to be. I remember that let-down after my first one, thinking “I know it’s supposed ot be hard, but is it supposed to suck that much?”

    Anyway, so happy you got your redemption and then some. These photos really tell a thousand words. Totally worth the $60!!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:55 am
  • Reply Jamie Edge

    Congrats — you look AWESOME and SO HAPPY!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 10:56 am
  • Reply Maggie @ It Is Everlasting

    These pictures are just stunning! You look beyond happy and in that last one I would say you can outrun a gazelle! Hahah. I can’t wait to tell you all about this weekend!!! :)

    October 15, 2009 at 11:02 am
  • Reply The Laminator

    In other words, if I should ever google happiness again, I’m expecting your picture to pop up…

    Haha! Seriously, did you pay the photo guy to take that last picture because you look like you were flyin’…I guess metaphorically you were!

    Congrats on your redemption!

    October 15, 2009 at 11:25 am
  • Reply Elisabeth

    I love this post!

    I just finished my first last Saturday (Baltimore), and it was a miserable experience. I’m totally identifying with your first marathon experience, although I would’ve gladly taken your time over mine! lol.

    I injured myself midway into my training, and decided to complete the race anyway. I knew it was going to suck, and I knew I’d be walking most of it, but I didn’t want to quit.

    After the race, I hated life, and swore that I’d never ever do another marathon for the rest of my life. Now, I’ve seen my PT twice, I’m pretty well healed after less than a week, and I decided that I’ll try again next year.

    My goal between now and next fall is to remind myself how much fun it is to run, and work on the issues that are keeping me injured. So, I’ve learned to never say never!


    October 15, 2009 at 11:32 am
  • Reply Es

    Congratulations! I ran Chicago and it was great! Despite the fact that I had a cold. Can’t wait to run another marathon!

    October 15, 2009 at 11:52 am
  • Reply Madison

    You got some great race photos. I looked mostly sad and tired…hahaha.

    October 15, 2009 at 11:55 am
  • Reply Carolina Girl

    This is a great post!! As a matter of fact, I’m going to read it TWICE to prep for this weekend. You look SO happy!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm
  • Reply Erin @ Living and Loving In L.A.

    I would spring for the disk if I were you. Those pictures are not only abso-freaking-lutely adorable, they represent something a lot bigger than that. My first marathon is Sunday, and I’m hoping it goes half as well as your LB race!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm
  • Reply Felice

    Get the pics — they are just so great.

    October 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm
  • Reply Angielou Harris

    Your happy story and wonderful pics cheer my heart!
    GREAT WORK! You are awesome!!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm
  • Reply Sam Felsenfeld

    Happy for you … I know how much you were seeking out enjoyment more than anything else. You have great smiles in the pictures and it’s obvious you had a magical day.

    I know you like to run and chasing times isn’t always for you. So don’t do it if you don’t want to. If you can’t enjoy your hobby, there’s no point to it, and there’s no point to wrecking something that you like.

    October 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply Nicole

    LOVE all your pics! You look smoking and your flying through 26.2! I love the top you ended up wearing… orange is your lucky color!!! Great job again girl, so proud of you!! xoxo

    October 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm
  • Reply Billy Burger

    Daaaang…those are some sweet ass pictures! (and no, I don’t mean “sweet ass” that way)

    Great job again Danica – yeah, that pic of you “getting down to business” as you run down the finish chute is an awesome contrast to your other “happy-go-lucky” race photos.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Alisa

    You certainly learned from SD and have continued to refine what works and doesn’t work for you.

    Experiencing the occasional burnout and running hatred is to be expected but it’s finding the joy again that is what counts.

    I LOVE all your pictures, I definitely have never looked that happy before. Maybe I will at Nike?

    Also, remembering that these “races” are supposed to be fun. We’re not professional athletes it’s not our job to win–we’re in it for the experience and for the joy of running new courses, with lots of people. Pressuring ourselves to get a certain time/have a certain experience, in my opinion, only hurts your chances for a happy race. Some effort/pressure is needed to complete training plans and finish races but beyond that, rigid expectations only lay the groundwork to fail (at least in my experience). I think if I ever run another marathon, I’ll go into it purely to have fun, no time goals, no pressure.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm
  • Reply Tara

    Seeing you so happy makes me so happy! I have yet to feel the way did during your race and I think it’s what keeps me coming back :) Those days when its YOUR day are amazing!!!!! You worked your butt off and enjoyed every moment of it!

    October 15, 2009 at 3:50 pm
  • Reply Tara

    ps…F$^@ SD :)

    October 15, 2009 at 3:50 pm
  • Reply Pure2Raw Twins

    Great job on not giving up on running. I know it is hard. There are certainly many bad runs for me too, but then they are great ones! Congrats again on her great marathon run!!!

    October 15, 2009 at 3:51 pm
  • Reply Melanie

    I SO know what you mean. There are definitely both good and bad days in running.

    I was like you at my marathon – all smiles! I love those days best!

    How did you get to save your race photos so that they look so good?

    October 15, 2009 at 4:39 pm
  • Reply That Pink Girl

    Great post! You give me hope. I’m not optimistic that I’ll have a good first marathon…but I’m already looking towards my 2nd. Hopefully it will be even half as joyful as yours! Congratulations!

    October 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm
  • Reply ShutupandRun

    I forwarded this to a friend of mine who had the worst marathon experience a few months back. She is getting ready for her second marathon and is really scared. I hope your post gives her some hope!!

    October 15, 2009 at 6:27 pm
  • Reply Jordan

    Thanks! Even though my first experience was good, and it was nice to say “I’ve run a marathon”, I’m glad somebody else knows that feeling of coming up short on race day. Congrats again on your race, and I’m eagerly awaiting this PBJ post!!

    October 15, 2009 at 6:59 pm
  • Reply Astro

    Congratulations. I have yet to run a marathon as happy as you looked (and wrote). I have PR every one I have run, but I have had issues all 4 times. I keep trying because I want to have my perfect race. Some day I will write a happy marathon post and be like you – a happy runner again.

    Glad you got back on the horse and did it again. My only question is — are you running Boston next year now? I take it that 4 or better was your qualifying time.

    October 15, 2009 at 7:22 pm
  • Reply Joy

    Those are the BEST race pics I’ve ever seen!

    I’m so happy for you :)

    October 15, 2009 at 8:59 pm
  • Reply tami

    great job with your marathon, i am running my first marathon on Sunday. I have been hit with a few lower leg injuries but I am going to try and push through, the weather looks horrible, 33 and rain/snow, sounds fun huh?

    October 16, 2009 at 5:38 am
  • Reply Kathy

    Amazing! Your story was so encouraging and touched me because I had a simliar experience at my first Marathon in April (Big Sur). I really commend you, you stuck through, and man, you did it with some flare!! This will be my first time stopping by, and definitely not my last!! Training for the Huntington beach half :)

    These race pics are purely awesome!! SO HAPPY! :D

    can’t wait to read all about the rest!


    October 16, 2009 at 10:12 am
  • Reply rioruns

    It’s amazing how our mindsets influence how we feel about our races. Of course, the physical aspects are important too. Glad you found what works for you and that you found happiness in running again. :)

    October 16, 2009 at 3:11 pm
  • Reply Shannon

    You look like one of those running models in a Runner’s World spread!!! So happy for you and your stellar marathon experience.

    October 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm
  • Reply shinsplint

    Love you walking us through the emotions. I’m so impressed by your persistence. And, my favorite part about the photos? Not just that you are grinning so large but that when you look at the people around you they look miserable. And you are ear to ear. LOVE IT! You’re such an inspiration.

    October 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm
  • Reply Amanda

    Well now you have experienced a really crappy race and a really fabulous race, so I think you’re prepared for anything you might encounter in future races. I’m proud of you for giving the marathon another try. I can’t wait for the day I run my first full, I can only hope to feel half as happy as you look in your pics:)

    October 17, 2009 at 9:14 am
  • Reply Glenn Jones

    That’s so intersting – you and I had almost the *exact* experience on our first marathons (also SD, but 2008). I honestly don’t remember much after mile 19. Other than the cramping. And all I remeber after crossing the finish was relief. I was finally going to be able to get off my feet!

    I am so glad that you had such a great race. When I saw you at mile 16, I was worried becuase you had such a determined look on your face, but you were out in front of the pace group by several hundred yards, so I figured you were safe.

    Congratulations on such a great race and congrats on such a great time! And you know what else was spooky? Your Garmin and my Garmin measured exactly the same distance – 26.55!

    See you at Surf City?

    October 17, 2009 at 11:00 am
  • Reply Mel-2ndchances

    Great pictures! I wish the photographers always caught me with a smile :)

    October 17, 2009 at 3:41 pm
  • Reply Denise

    Seriously, who looks that good while running?? You really look like you were enjoying yourself…and your time shows it, too. congrats on a great race!

    October 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm
  • Reply Es

    Guess who just ran her second marathon one week after Chicago? Yup, I’m crazy but it was so much fun! And my times were within 5 minutes of eachother. My feet and legs feel great, no soreness. I’ve found my new passion :D

    October 19, 2009 at 7:32 am
  • Reply Morgan

    How sweet it is to run a marathon well huh? I bet you’re still basking in the after glow… I know I am! Congrats girl! You are AWESOME!

    October 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Colleen

    Hey, congrats on such an awesome race! My first marathon was miserable too. I ended up getting a stress fracture in my foot. ( ) I would have probably never done another one, but I was already signed up for my ironman so I did the marathon at the end of that and it was SOOOO much better! It’s weird because I know I want to do another Ironman, but doing another marathon makes me think twice. I think I’ll do one next year, though.

    October 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm
  • Reply Adam

    Gosh, you DO look like you are having fun. When I looked at your pictures, I couldn’t help but think of all of the marathon fliers that show smiling people running. I’m always all: “Why aren’t those people grimacing!?” You are one of those people now! :-D

    October 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm
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