Race Recap: You’re Still First, Even if You’re Last

This entry is also known as the Mermaid Series Sirena18 race recap.

Back in February, I did the crazy thing of registering for the Sirena18 race that was to be held on May 18. (I also registered for the Rave Run, but that’s another story for another time.) I wanted the challenge of running a distance that wasn’t a full marathon, but more than a half marathon. This 18-mile race seemed like a good idea at the time. (Doesn’t it always?) I had a training plan in mind, and really wanted to train somewhat for this race. 

But, of course, life happens to throw curveballs at unexpected times, and training didn’t go as planned. In fact, I barely trained at all for this race. I only had a 9-mile run under my belt. To be honest, though, I’m notorious for going into a race without much training and still managing to finish. Luckily, I am not so injured that I can’t continue training afterwards. 2013 is more about quality training and racing than quantity training and racing. I topped at 15 races in 2012 just because I wanted to do every race possible. So far in 2013, I’ve only done three events and I am OK with that.

Anyways. Saturday, May 18 rolls around. My parents drove me to Quarry Lakes in Fremont, where the race was being held. There were three other distances that runners could participate in if they didn’t want to run the Sirena18; there was also a half marathon, 10k and 5k.

My parents scoped out the little registration area as I got myself ready to go. My mom tossed around the idea of “ghost running” the event or registering day of. She ended up registering last minute, and she got her bib and t-shirt. She was able to join me at the start line, which is always a pleasure.

Start Line of the Mermaid Series Event.

My mom and I at the Start Line

For the Sirena18 event, I believe there were only 141 women who were running it. Very small race, but I think most of the runners were in the half marathon category. At the start of the race, I knew I was going to be at the back of the pack due to my lack of training. It was something I had to come to terms with really early on. I knew whether I was in the middle of the pack or in the back, I was going to cross that finish line regardless.

Waiting for the race to start

The race started promptly at 7:30am and we were sent off by Coach Heidi. My mom and I ran our own races, as we do, and I let her go on her own. I already knew it was going to be the longest 18 miles of my life, and even by the 3rd mile, I was already at the back of the pack. A lot of these women out there were super fast. Crazy!

I saw my mom a couple of times out there, since some of the course featured out-and-back segments. Since I was in the back of the pack, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Coach Gina. We had a great conversation about spectator spots for IRONMAN Arizona, as it’ll be my mom’s first IM and of course, the whole family is going to be there to cheer her on!

Coach Gina bounced back between the last few people on the course. I played leap frog with a couple of runners, and at one point, I was the ultimately last one.

Probably around the halfway mark, or maybe around mile 8, the plantar fasciitis in my right foot started to flare up immensely. It was a type of pain I’d never experienced before, so I slowed down a lot. I did a little run and then I would walk a little bit. While I am not fond of intervals, I knew they had to be done because of my foot. No matter how long it took me to reach 18 miles, I was going to do it.

The atmosphere throughout the entire race was just incredible. Regardless of how fast many of these women were, I felt so empowered by them. What made them even more incredible was how NICE and SUPPORTIVE they were! I’ve had my experience with snobby runners, but on that day, every woman who was on the course (whether they ran in the Sirena or half) cheered for and encouraged me to keep going. Even if they were passing me up, they gave me a simple, “You’re doing awesome,” or “Great job!” It was so awesome.

I’m not sure when my mom had finished, but my dad snapped some photos of my mom coming along towards the finish:

Mom coming up to the finish

Mom is almost there!

Eventually, I had caught up with another runner, and she and I were totally cool just being the last runners out there. We chatted it up, and I got to know her a little bit. Her name was Rebecca, and she was a really nice lady. She was telling me about herself, and oh my goodness, props to her! She is a super, super mom. She works full-time, goes to school full-time, all while raising her young children. Whew. And she was out there running this race. I wish I had the chance to ask her if she had Facebook or something, she’s local and I would love to reconnect with her!

We talked it up the last couple of miles, and Coach Gina, as well as my mom, ran us both into the finish.

Mom, Coach Gina, Rebecca and me coming upon the last turn towards the finish

All four of us approaching

My mom crossed the finish with me, and that was that. Rebecca’s family made it just in time to watch her cross, and her kids even crossed with her! (Cutest thing ever!) After nearly four and a half hours of running, I was done. Even if we were the last ones, we’re still first in my book. We started, and we finished. The whole thing was just a huge accomplishment. Of course, my waterworks started, as they do, once I crossed the finish. It was nice to see my daddy at the end.

My official time: 04:39:49.

Afterwards, I received my charm thingie, and went to grab what was left of some post-race food. I had to grab some and leave as I needed to get ready for my second run that night: The Rave Run. I said good bye to Rebecca and her family. Her kids were so cute; they said, “We helped mommy!” with giant smiles on their faces. (If that’s what I get to look forward to when I eventually decide to have kids, then I’ll take it!)

Mommy and me at the finish!

I conquered 18 miles!


Overall, the event was great! Lots of empowerment, encouragement, and support from all the spectators, volunteers, and runners themselves. (Thank you, thank you!) I am definitely going to do this distance again next year. (Hopefully with proper training!)

Thanks for reading my Sirena18 race recap. Up next will probably be a short recap of San Jose’s Rave Run!


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