RunAllTheRaces: San Diego Half Marathon

San Diego Half Marathon, my favorite San Diego race. It’s fast, it’s mostly flat, it’s typically pretty cool out and they have great race swag.

This is my 3rd year running San Diego Half.  I signed up on the day registration opened.  They have a legacy program that is pretty nice, you can start at any time and I hit 3 years this year, which meant I got a 2nd race shirt.  For year 4 you get a 1/4 zip and year 5 a nice looking jacket.

If you want to read my recaps from 2016 & 2017 you can do so here and here.

This year, well, it’s been going pretty good, outside my 2 weeks of the sickness in February so I wanted to try for a sub 2 hour time. I even thought I had a change to PR, the majority of the race is pretty flat; but we’ll get to that later.

The expo like in other years was at the Broadway Pier.  I went over on Friday early afternoon to meet up with Smitha (@runningwithSD) to take a walk & to get our packets.  Unfortunately I didn’t look at the times and we got to the expo 2 hours too early, lol.  We chatted with another friend for a little bit, took some photos and then I headed back to work.

The next day, Sean & I headed back over to the expo to get our packets.  It ended up being a very rainy, ugly day, which worried me because I am not a fan of running in the rain, especially starting in the rain.  But we got our packets & got some lunch at the Loving Hut and then headed home to just relax and stay out of the rain.

The expo, isn’t anything too special, there are vendors but nothing too major.  This year because we were finishing in Petco & the park had rules about what could be distributed after the race.  They gave us some snacks in our drop bags before the race and did explain this in an email/race info before the race as well.

San Diego Half always is the weekend the time change, like last year they sent those of us who signed up for text alerts a message to make sure we changed our clocks to spring forward.

Since the start isn’t too far from our house we were able to sleep in just a touch, leaving the house at 6:00am.  We managed to find some street parking, YAY for not having to pay to park! We chilled out in the car for a bit because the race didn’t start until 7:30a and we were there about 6:20a.  We finally made our way down to the start area around 6:45a.

There were a few changes to this years race.  The start line was still in the same place, but the finish line moved back to Petco Park, where I guess it was the first year. In both 2016 & 17 the finish line was in Gas Lamp.  They moved the drop bag location to accommodate for that.

We saw where the drop bags were and then bee-lined it to the porta potties over by the start.  Everyone was waiting in a huge line by the drop bags while there were no lines by the start.  We saw a few friends and then headed back to drop off my finish line bag.

Side note: I am a huge proponent of having a finish line bag at a road race (except NYC Marathon, where the ponchos are awesome). Why?  I sweat a lot, it’s super  and I hate wearing super wet, sweaty clothes after I finish running the race. So I always put the race shirt, a new sports bra & a new pair of shorts into my bag, along with a sweatshirt/jacket and a pair of track pants if it’s cold.

Anyways, it wasn’t nearly as cold as it was the week before, when we ran Encinitas Half Marathon. I was fine in a tank top & shorts.

I ran into a few friends as we walked to the start line. I was in wave 4 and Sean in wave 1.  Last year we ran together but this year we were both running our own races.  Sean to see how his injured foot was going to hold up and me just doing my thing.  The 2 hour pace group was in my wave, the 1:55 was in the wave ahead of me.

Unlike at Encinitas, there was about a 5 minute break between waves here at San Diego.  I was at the front of my wave and because we were about 5 minutes after the prior wave, when I started I felt like I was in the lead of the race, haha.  It was kind of exciting, but my legs were also telling me don’t go too fast at the start, you still have 13 miles to go.

I’ve talked about this before, but it was very evident this time because I was in the front of my wave, people jump into waves that they don’t belong because the race doesn’t really keep track of who is running in what wave.  Now, I have nothing against walking, I walk in almost every race myself, but not in the first mile.  After about a 1/2 mile, my wave was catching up with wave 3 and passing walkers, and again, I have nothing against walkers, my problem in this instance was that when the course narrowed they were walking 3 across or some people even stopped right in the middle of the road.

As a Galloway runner, I have always tried to stay to the side when I needed to walk & I try to look around if I need to walk in an area that seemed congested.  If it’s too congested, I’ll try to keep pushing until I get to an area where there is more space so I’m not in anyone’s way when I walk.

But anyways, now that I’m off my soap box.  I started the race feeling like I was working a bit too hard, I tried to back off a little so my breathing was under control.  I was feeling a twinge in my hamstring, but more in the middle of the leg by the IT band.  It was kind of sharp but I figured it might disappear after I warmed up a little.

I just kept moving, around mile 3, I took a few seconds to walk through the aid station and when I started running again my leg felt a little better. By mile 4, near the Sheraton Bay Front, I was telling myself to get to the half way point before I took a walk break.  We made the turn onto Harbor Drive past the airport and I was still wondering about the hamstring pain. We made our way up the overpass to Liberty Station and past the relay station.

I realized as we came out of Liberty Station that I had only taken one sip out of my bottle, which was probably a bit of my issue.  I hadn’t been taking in any calories.  So I took a few sips, put my head down & kept running.   Around mile 7 I started to feel a little off, but I know it was because I was sweating like crazy and not drinking enough.

We made our way up to the first hill & mile 8 when the 2 hour pace group passed me :(, lol. I knew the next 2 miles were going to be rough because they have a few hills in them.  I hiked up the first & steeper hill.  And then jogged, walked, ran up the looong Washington Street hill.  My lack of hill training was really evident during mile 10.  But I did drink a lot more of my Skratch Labs & ate a few chews before starting to run again at the top.

From there I ran into my friends from the Friday morning #run619 group.  They all screamed my name and it really gave me a boost.

I knew I only had about a 5k to go and this section of the race went through Mission Hills into Hill Crest and by Balboa Park, where I saw another #run619 friend.  From there we get a nice downhill and we were almost there!

When I made the turn towards Balboa Park, there was an aid station that said 10.7 miles, I was at 10.88 and the guy next to me said that he was at 10.83 so apparently we were not following the tangents.

I was heading down 6th Ave, moving pretty fast, I saw that there were signs coming out to tell us about the trolley crossing.  I was like NOOOOO! I am going to keep moving and I am not getting stopped by the trolley.

This next part was a little different from what we normally do, we finished on the third baseline of Petco Park. I was moving as fast as I could and I looked at my watch at 13.1 and it was at 1:58 and change, but when I finished, .3 miles later, I was at 2:00:40. So close but yet so far lol.

I know that miles 9 – 10 were my problem and I know next year I really need to concentrate on the hill portion of this race.  I know that I can do the rest of the race, it’s the hills I need to conquer.

Back to the race, I liked the finish in Petco, but I can see that it would get really congested if you were in a section where there were a lot of runners.  Instead of finishing in the middle of the field like we did at Pasadena Half, we finished on the 3rd baseline and they had the field roped off.  The baseline isn’t that wide so it could definitely get full.

I got my medal, it’s the first of 4 in a series.  I actually don’t mind this set, I’m not normally a big fan of race medals that are a set because so many races do a those ridiculous triangles that if you are only able to do 1 race look ridiculous.  These are rectangular and this one show the first 3 miles of the course.  Over the next 3 years, we’ll get the next 10 miles of the course.

I saw Sean waiting for me after I finished, we got a few photos and then got our goodie bags.  There was only some Dole fruit inside, but these SD Half reusable bags are the best!  They are perfect for grocery shopping and carting around all our gear.

We ran into a few ultra friends who had run as well and then I had to get changed, I was soaked from all the humidity, my shorts were dripping down my legs, ugh so gross & uncomfortable.  And exactly why I bring extra clothes for after the race!

After we got changed, we headed over to Cafe Gratitude for breakfast.  I really like the food, we’ve gone before, but it’s sooo expensive and the portions are sooo small.  I got the french toast, which was really yummy but 1 1/2 pieces of toast? Really?  Not going to work after a half marathon.

Back to the race, I’ll definitely be back next year, this was my 3rd year and each year I’ve gotten faster, next year is my year, I will run a sub 2 on this course & conquer the Washington St hill!

MarchRunAllTheRaces: Encinitas Half Marathon

I know, I haven’t blogged in forever! I keep thinking, I’m going to do better but then I get distracted and then it’s been way to long and I feel like I’ve missed my chance :).  I am going to try to do better & at least get my race recaps up.

After being sick most of February and missing out on my big race, Black Canyon 100k, Sean & I decided to pile on all the races for March.  I saw a 20% off code from Lululemon San Diego YAY! and we signed up the week of the race.

We went up to Moonlight State Beach to pick up our packets the day before, there was an option to pick up your packet day of, but it was an additional $15 per person.  They really made sure you were aware of this fee, it was on the website & then put it front & center in every email notice that went out.

Race swag was decent with a nice tech shirt, a bag full of Beanitos, a Kashi bar, a Larabar, Bare Republic sunscreen & a travel size bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap.  The next day we would also get a coffee mug.

We did a quick shake-out run, had a late lunch/early dinner at Veggie Grille with our favorite Pressed Juicery Freezes for dessert & then just headed home to chill.

The race was about 35 minutes from our house and the race started at 7:30a so I think we left the house just after 6am.  We managed to get to a great parking spot, were able to chill for a bit before walking over to the start.

It was cold out when we were getting ready to start and I wasn’t really thinking, I should have taken off my long sleeve or worn my arm sleeves instead but alas I did not.

We got over to the start line, after a surprisingly quick wait for the porta potties.  It was a little confusing at first because they had start on both sides of the banner so it wasn’t clear which side you were supposed to be on until they finally announced that we needed to be on the other side.

The course was interesting, we went down a pretty steep hill right after the start and then we headed down towards Leucadia on Hwy 101.  It nice and flat.  I felt like I was struggling from the get-go.  My nose was running and I just didn’t feel like I could breath right.  I just decided to relax and not worry about any time goals.  After having been sick for a good portion of February, I didn’t really run much so that might have been part of my issue, along with the fact that I probably still had a touch of the cough/cold going on.

We did a turn around at mile 2 and headed back towards the start line – as we headed up a steep hill, I took off my long sleeve and kept chugging along.

Around mile 5 we headed towards the water, I saw a booth with Otter Pops so I grabbed one, I love otter pops at ultras! Ok, so it wasn’t quite warm enough to merit a Popsicle but they are always nice!  But, and this cracked me up, they forgot to open them!  So it took me a few moments to get mine open.

The best part about this race is the view during this stretch.  We had 7ish miles of ocean views.  There were a few minor hills but nothing like Carlsbad.

Since it was an out and back, I spent the time looking for Sean & some of my other friends.  That took my mind off the fact that I couldn’t walk on the flat areas 😉 and that my nose was still dripping like crazy.

I finally got to the second turn around at mile 9ish, at Solana Beach.  I remember some of the shops from the time we had run with a few friends from Fletcher Cove.

As I was heading into mile 12, one of my running buddies from the #run619 group said Hi as he passed me.  And like all these races, there are always hills at the end of the race, lol.   After getting up that last hill, I ran into fellow Altra & OM ambassador Steve who was working as a race guard at the race.  He got this photo of us while I was heading into the last .1 of the race.

I finally saw the finish line and tried to move as fast as I could, my legs felt dead but I was almost there!  I honestly didn’t check my watch at all after about mile 3 so I had no idea what my time was.  Even though I didn’t feel amazing, I managed a 2:04 and change.  For me this is actually quite good.  And I did all but 2 miles under 10mins/mi.

Paces were 8:51, 8:42, 8:58, 9:15, 9:46 (I took off my long sleeve during this mile), 9:35, 9:01, 9:36, 10:09, 9:15, 9:55, 10:03, 9:48.

I got my medal, saw my friend Jenn, got some water, they had that Boxed Water, got a few texts from Sean congratulating me, grabbed my coffee cup and a packet of Barney butter almond butter and headed out to meet Sean.

We got a few photos before heading back to the car so I could change and we could get breakfast.  We went to the super yummy Eve Encinitas, a vegan place I’d been wanting to try.

Overall, even though my body didn’t cooperate fully, I really enjoyed this race and would go back.  I liked this race more than Carlsbad ;).

Pros: Good race swag, beautiful course, the run-through photo booth

Now for the cons: Photos took forever to be finished, over a week, and they are expensive! The run-through photo booth photos, they told me when I ran through they would be at the finish line, but they were in the beer garden/post party.  I didn’t have my ID with me so I couldn’t get mine, they did put it up on line, but it would have been nice to get it at the finish line.  I guess all my cons are related to photos, haha.