Thursday, January 28, 2010

48 hours in San Diego

Forty-six and a half hours, to be precise. I had intended to escape to sunny San Diego for at least 60 hours, but in life and racing, things rarely go according to plan. My original plan was to head straight from the cadaver lab to the airport on Friday, but with California's weather being what it is . . . you know, those classic southern Californian squalls . . . my flight didn't manage to leave on Friday. And that meant that I had to set my alarm clock on Saturday for a gawdawful hour that is the reason I don't do 4:30 am masters practices at the Valley YMCA. Because it's just wrong.
Luckily, I made it to San Diego after a protracted layover in Denver that was a perfect opportunity to study for my anatomy exam on Tuesday. It was also the perfect opportunity to let my stomach settle, as it has apparently decided to start getting violently ill every time I fly. How convenient.

San Diego was just as it should be. Sunny. In fact, it was even better than it should be because the recent rain has made everything green and crisp. A tantalizing glimpse of springtime in January. Considering that I had so few hours to spend in California, I think I made good use of my time. I ate a taco and some sushi, I saw my first ever episode of The Secret Life of an American Teenager (which was awful, sorry Shelby), I won the Carlsbad Marathon, I had a Jamba Juice, I witnessed (but didn't get to play in) some wicked surf, I watched for whales at the Cabrillo monument, I experienced Avatar in 3D, I cooked a scrumptious pot of ribollita, and best of all, I got to hang out with Shelby, my -ator. Hehe.

So before I go on flattering Shelby too much, I should mention that the marathon was the real reason that I traveled all that way for a measly 46.5 hours. Though Shelby's living in the area may have contributed significantly to my having chosen that marathon in the first place . . .

It was a good choice! The weather was perfect. Cool and clear. It was especially cool at 6 am when the starting gun sounded. I was a little miffed to have to start running a marathon at an hour when I am rarely awake, but I'm proud of not having gone back to bed when my alarm went off at 4 am. That's not to say I didn't consider it. My preparation for the event was okay. Originally, I had big dreams, but life and some minor niggles intervened, so I just planned to go enjoy the day and take what it gave me.

The day gave me a lot to be happy with. First of all, it gave me a spectacular sunrise about 4 miles into the race. It was in that early morning light that I noticed how incredibly glassy the surf was. The waves were PERFECT and I couldn't understand why there weren't hoards of surfers out playing. After a short stint rolling along the coast, the marathon headed inland and uphill. In fact, miles 4-9 were all uphill, with the steepest portions being between miles 7-9. It was still early enough in the race that everything felt easy, but I think the subsequent 4 mile downhill took a toll on my quads that I didn't really feel until mile 24.

As a triathlete, my typical marathon m.o. (within the context of an Ironman) is to be ultra conservative, and I adhered to that for the first half of the race. I got dropped by the lead female at the start of the climb and I just let her go, figuring she was either a lot better than me or that I would catch up to her later. My Forerunner 310XT let me monitor my HR and pace and keep it perfectly sustainable. I got a little scared about halfway through the race, as I began to feel the stress of the downhill, but thankfully they were serving GU on course. A Vanilla GU always puts me right. By mile 14 I was ready to roll. At this point we were back along the coast, the sun was out, and the road was straight and rolling. I felt fantastic and could see the leader in the distance, so I decided to go get her. I kept reminding myself that there was still a long way to go, but my legs were feeling frisky and I obliged them. I caught the leader just before the 20 mile marker and felt pretty confident that the win was mine at that point. I had no reason to believe that I would bonk and I doubted that anyone else behind would start running sub-6 minute miles to catch me.
So I let myself relax and enjoy running. It wasn't hard to do, with the beautiful surf, the perfect weather, and the awesome crowds. At mile 24, the inevitable muscular fatigue settled in, but it wasn't insurmountable, just a tad uncomfortable. It didn't help that my GPS said that the race was 26.45 miles long, which probably accounts for my having taken the anti-tangent of every curve. Classic Cooper strategery. Truthfully, I wouldn't have complained if the race were 0.25 miles shorter!
And that was that. Winning is always more fun than not winning, but really, I was just happy to have fun and feel comfortable running 26.45 miles. And an off-season paycheck is ALWAYS welcome. I had a disastrous 1/2 marathon a few months ago, and I had really begun to doubt my health and fitness. While this marathon wasn't smoking fast, it gives me confidence that my off-season fitness is on track. And it was fun!
Shelby and I wasted no time having more fun afterwards - a Naked Cafe breakfast in the VIP tent, whale watching, surf watching (it turns out that there weren't many surfers out because the race had blocked road access. the ones who were out were getting some fantastic rides though!), sight seeing, singing WAY too loudly along with radio, cooking, and an entirely-too-brief get-together with Peven and Dre. In all of this commotion, there were approximately 3 photos taken. Yup. One of my more action-packed weekends in a while, and I took 3 pictures. So there wasn't a lot of editing or culling. Here you go.

Shelby getting gasoline. Riveting, I know.

Still at the gas station. Despite what this looks like, I am not giving the #1 sign with my freakishly long index finger. I was actually explaining to Shelby why your nose stops smelling farts after it starts smelling them. There really is a physiological explanation for this.

And this truck just begged to be photographed. Enough said.


Matt said...

Congrats on the win and a great race, I am jealous that you got to play in the sun...being you know what the weather here is... said...

Just long enough to make me miss you, again. I'm so, so, proud of my pal Coopie! You always make rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn worth it and it always amazes me how many memorable moments we can pack in to such a short amount of time.
You're a phenomenal athlete but you're an even better friend (and cook and singer-well, probably a better athlete than singer but singing is like art and I'm sure someone would pay to hear you sing-until they actually heard you sing, then they may want their money back...)
Love you! said...
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Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on a terrific race Ms Cooper-Scott.

I am glad to read that you made a safe, smooth transition into the new year; as fast and enthused with life as always!

P.S. Someday I would like to hear your thoughtful reasoning on "why your nose stops smelling farts after it starts smelling them." That kind of stuff is important to my well being.

Dee said...

Congratulations!!!! Awesome race and it's great to see pics of Shelby too!!! Are you planning on Cali 70.3?

Charisa said...

There's something for everyone in Carlsbad - even monster trucks I guess :)

Awesome race, glad you won it!

Robyn said...

Congrats Haley! You are living the dream and then some- keep rockin'!

Adrianne said...

So glad the physiology of farts was an important anecdotal piece of this blog post. You never cease to impress me, ms. cooper! love you!

Katya said...

always love catching up, virtually, anyhow. plus, it's nice to have comfort that someone else updates their blog as infrequently as I do! everyone else just leaves me too demoralized; ) hope you're well. good luck with the final WF prep!