MEXICO  -  Tijuana Marathon
Country #2
Finish time:  5:07:29
I heard about this marathon
several months ago from a
Marathon Maniac friend.  It
obviously doesn't fit into my 50
state goal, but it does count
towards 'stars' in Marathon
Maniacs, and I was one race
short of obtaining another star
by the end of October.  However,
I was very hesitant because it
has a 5 hour cut-off.  I've never
been able to run a marathon in
under 5 hours.  My best time is
5:08 from Tacoma this spring.  
When I heard about it, I really
thought I would have some sub 5
marathons between then and
now.  But...  for whatever reason,
that didn't happen.  
In fact, my marathon times have been getting worse all summer.  My last run, Kona, was 5:51:33.  Not exactly encouraging for a 5 hour finish.  I had
basically given up on the idea.  I was already signed up - but this marathon was FREE - so I really wasn't losing any money by not going. Then I read
some posts about using the Galloway method and running a faster marathon because of it.  I had been telling Richard to use Galloway for his
training, but I had never tried it.  So Tuesday I went out and ran 5 miles using a 3 minute run, 1 minute walk.  It appeared to work.  If I can keep that
up for 26.2 miles, I'll finish under 5.  Okay, fine, might as well give it a try.  I guess we're going to Mexico.  I had seen that the guy who told me about
the race wasn't going to be able to run it because they weren't offering race-day bib/chip pick-up, so I offered to get his for him on Saturday.  Since
we had to go in on Saturday, we booked a hotel, even though it is only about 10 miles from where we are staying in Chula Vista, because we heard
crossing back into the US is a big hassle.  
Thursday I ran 3 more miles using this 3-1 method.  Still looks good, but I'm terrified that it won't be enough.  If I don't finish under 5 hours, they may
not give me an official time, and this race won't count!!  
Saturday we headed in early, around 10:00.  I was picking up 3 race bibs in addition to my own, and had no idea how long that might take, so I
wanted to be sure to have lots of time.  It was a piece of cake, and we were checked into our lovely hotel by about 11:00.  We checked out the pool,
but it was full of kids and we were too lazy to put our suits on and fight for pool chairs.  We took a short walk around and found the marathon start,
then took a nap before hitting Domino's for dinner.  
We were going to eat in the hotel
restaurant, but there was a huge
wedding party taking pictures in front
of it, blocking all access.  After
Domino's we sat on our balcony
overlooking the town and watched all
the brides get their photos taken in
front of the hotel fountain.  
Although I was super stressed about
my marathon, I slept surprisingly well.  
The three Maniacs whose bibs I picked
up met me in the hotel lobby at 6,
pinned on their bibs, and then we took
our photos in front of the fountain
(which they had turned off... for the
marathon??)  Not as lovely as the
bridal photos, so on we went and took
this one at the start line.  
I was terribly nervous, but the weather
was forecast to be 70 degrees and
cloudy until 10:00.  That should make
this doable.  I had ciphered the course
over and over.  Not only in miles, but
also in kilometers since that is how this
course would be marked.   I had taped
my goal time for every 5 kilometers on
my watch.  I had eaten a good
breakfast, had my gels and salt tablets
and Aleve and Advil in my pouch.  I
even had some pesos in case I had to
stop and buy some Gatorade.  I was as
prepared as I could be.  It wasn't
helping my nerves at all.  What if I
couldn't do it.  What if they closed the
course before I finished.  Ack!!

You can see the stress in my face as I
cross the start line.  Not my usual
smiling self...
It had been very difficult to get information on this marathon.  It was put on by the Tijuana government, so it
didn't have a dedicated website like most marathons.  I had found a course map, on their facebook page, but it
was low quality so I couldn't zoom in far enough to tell anything (same map above).  There also wasn't any
course elevation, so I was very surprised to hit a lot of hills in the first half.  Of course, I always seemed to hit
the hills during my 3 minutes of running, rather than my one minute of walking.  That one minute walk always
happened on a nice easy downhill.  Oh well.  I was cruising, the weather was cooperating, I was 5 minutes
ahead of my time at my first check point of 10 KM.  But, like my luck always runs, the sun started peeking out.  I
managed to hit the 20KM mark 10 minutes ahead of schedule, but fell back to just a 5 minute lead by the 25
mark, and I just kept losing time from then on.  We were running in the full sun, on major highway, no shade
available.  No ice either.  Dang.  I couldn't stick to 3 minutes of running.  It was turning into 1 minute run, 1.5 or
2 minute walk.  Finally, by KM 35 I was a minute behind schedule.  So depressing!  A few blocks later I saw a
guy selling ice cream bars from a little push cart.  I passed him up at first, but I wasn't going fast.  I looked back,
he was slowly pushing the cart towards me.  I looked back again, and he was gaining on my slow walk.  Damn, I
need a popsicle.  I bought a nice strawberry one and walked for several minutes while I ate it.   It definitely
helped.  I knew I couldn't make 5 hours, but I still thought I could get close.  I had heard that they recorded times
until 5:03 last year, so I was still trying to push it.  I at least wanted a PR out of this.  Nothing hurt, but the heat
was kicking my ass.  I could finally see the finish line, and the timing mat was still down!  I was so worried that
they would start rolling it up while I was on my way in.  Here is my "please don't roll that mat up before I get my
worn-out ass over the line" look.  It must have worked because I got over the line with the mat still down, and
they still had a medal and t-shirt for me.  
After a quick shower and checking out of the hotel, we met the Marathon Maniac gang for a big fancy brunch,
then we all shared a cab to the border where we stood in a slow-moving but orderly line for an hour and a half
(NO EXAGGERATION!!) before we were back in the US.  
So, even though I didn't break 5 hours, I think the Galloway method definitely worked.  A run like this, in heat of
the full sun, would have normally resulted in a time of +/- 5:50, and instead I set a PR.  I can't wait to see how
well I do using this method in a cooler marathon!