Recovery Run: 2019 San Diego Half

This is my 4th time running San Diego Half Marathon. It’s a fun & fast race in downtown San Diego.  You can check out my previous recaps here.  2016, 2017, 2018

I signed up back in August of last year & I had high hopes for a big PR here. As we know, that didn’t happen due to the hyperthyroid/Graves diagnosis & the subsequent lack of real  training since Javelina. But that’s ok, I’ll get there.

So I honestly wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. I haven’t run anything over 4 miles in weeks, since Surf City Half so my bigger concern was how would my body handle the jump in miles.

This past week I’ve run more than I have in a week (outside a race) in a long time.  It might not seem like a lot but I ran 9 miles this week before the race.  In February, I ran a total of 49 miles with Surf City Half & about 20 of that pacing Sean at Franklins, which means I “ran” 16 miles the rest of the month.  I also took up riding at Soul Cycle and in the last 2 weeks I’ve racked up 6 rides & plan to continue on with 2 rides a week for the foreseeable future.

Now back to the race. Sean & I picked up our packets on Saturday at the expo.  It’s still in the same place on the harbor.  It was a touch cool & cloudy but no rain.  SD Half does their bibs in order of when you register and since I registered the first day, I had a very low bib number.  I also was surprised to see I was in Wave 2.  I normally am in Wave 4 so I don’t recall what I put as my projected finish time. Maybe 1:50?

We grabbed our race shirts & legacy gifts.  This is our 4th consecutive year of running so we got half zips as our bonus gift.  Unfortunately they were all out of men’s smalls so they told Sean he could get a different size.  Since we know he’ll probably never wear the shirt, we passed & the poor volunteers didn’t know what to do. You are supposed to get 2 shirts lol.

The expo as usual is pretty small so we didn’t really stick around, instead heading to get lunch, some yummy acai bowls from Everbowl.

The race always takes place on the time change weekend so if you enable text messaging they will send you a reminder text to change your clocks to spring forward.  That’s a nice touch.

Race morning! We got up a little later than last year, around 5:30ish, I was already up, but Sean’s alarm hadn’t gone off yet.  We left the house at 6:08a & were downtown by 6:15a which was probably the fastest we’ve ever gotten down there.  Hitting all green lights & having barely any traffic really helps!

We walked down to the starting area.  As per usual they start the race right in front of the convention center.  I needed to meet the Arete ladies for a quick photo & meet-up so we did that first before dropping off our bags & heading to the corrals & port-a-potties.  It was a beautiful morning, no marine layer and we got to see a great sunrise.

It was nice to meet some of the other ladies in the group, since I’ve been off I haven’t gone to many of the meet-ups since I joined the group in January.  Side note, I was so excited to join this group & to really work on my speed & goal to BQ & then I had all these issues pop up just as the group was getting started.

And I’ll be honest, knowing how fast all these ladies are, was really intimidating. I feel like I’m kind of the weak-link in this group even if I wasn’t dealing with medical things.  They all finished within minutes of each other & I was about 30 minutes back.  But I can’t be too hard on myself, I went from barely running to running a half averaging just under 10 min pace with the last 3 miles being the fastest of the whole race. At Surf City, I could barely breath & I averaged 11:45 pace.  Again, I digress.

Sean & I headed back to gear check to drop off our clothes.  I’ve said this before, but I’ll reiterate it, I always bring a set of fresh clothes to change into after the race, I hate being all wet after the race.  And sports bras take forever to dry so I had lots of warm, dry clothes in my drop bag.

We headed back to the start, hit up the port-a-potties.  This year they had it done right so that there weren’t lines on both sides of them.  There was a porto in the middle of each section so that you could only enter from the sidewalk.  Finally!! In the past it was total chaos with people lining up on both sides.

I got a quick selfie of Sean & I and then we headed to our respective corrals. It was shaping up to be a beautiful morning with the sun peaking out & for once, no marine layer!  Normally this race is so humid, but it felt really nice, in the mid 50s.

I was a little nervous before we got started not knowing how I was going to feel but once we got started I got into a grove.  For once I didn’t feel like I started out too fast, I just kind of followed the other runners & didn’t weave in and out too much.

One of my favorite parts of this race is the first 3 miles running by the harbor.  We pass the Midway, there was a Disney Cruise Liner in port that morning.  As we head over to Harbor Island you can see my favorite view of the city & it was spectacular that morning with the sun behind it.

I ran the first 3 miles with no issues, I stopped for water at the mile 3 aid station & then from there I started run/walking.  I ran to mile 4, took a short walk and then tried to do mile repeats with a short walk in between.

We run down to Liberty Station, which I always enjoy as well.  By now it started to get cloudy but it wasn’t humid.  I remember thinking how I was sweating but my shorts weren’t soaked & sticking to me like they normally are, lol.

I made it to the 10k in just over an hour which I was happy about.  From there I just kept chugging along, mile 7 came up fast, then we did a quick climb on mile 8.  I started getting a cramp in my oblique around this point so I walked to stretch it out a little at the mile 8 aid station.

I was getting a little tired by this point,  but I kept moving.  I walked the short steep hill, ran to Washington Street & ran/walked the big hill.  One day I will conquer this hill, this year wasn’t it.

There were a bunch of Milestone Running & November Project people who were running up and down the hill with runners which was so cool.  The only bad part was that they were all running down right where we were running & I like to run on the very far left so I had to keep moving over to let them run back down.

In any case I finally made it to the top, in a lot less time than it seems like I normally take (11:45 for that mile & in the past I think I’ve taken 13/14 minutes).  The next section I have run many times with the #run619 group & I always think about them when we run through this section past the Hillcrest sign down to 6th Ave next to Balboa Park.

The last 3 miles are mostly downhill & I knew that Kari @grrrlrunner was going to be near Balboa so I was looking for her.  She was with her son & got this photo of me running by!  So nice of her to wait to see me!

From there I was starting to get a small cramp in my right quad, a place I’ve never felt any issues before, maybe all the spin? and I was getting hungry.  I didn’t have any CarboPro in my pack so I didn’t really have any calories on this run except one muir energy around mile 11 which was really too late to start eating.  I’m the worst when it comes to fueling, which is why I normally just use carbopro so I can drink my calories.  I drink a lot so it works good for me.

In any case, I had to get to the finish so I powered on. I was getting closer to the spot where they can stop you for the Trolley to pass.  I saw 2 Trolley’s stopped & waiting and was hoping I could run fast enough to miss them.  And phew, I was the last runner they let go by before stopping runners.  I have been lucky, I think I’ve only been stopped once in the 4 years I’ve run this race.

I just kept pushing, and then finally I could see Petco Park .  At this point I was following a lady in a Oiselle team shirt and I wasn’t sure if I could pass her or not.  I followed her down to the turn off into the park.  We went through the tunnel & then I was like time to finish strong & while I expected her to push to the finish, I must have pushed harder because I passed her after we got on to the baseline.

I finished!  It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t super slow either!  24 minutes faster than Surf City & I felt 100x better.  I can only get stronger from here!

So overall, I like this race.  I’ve done it 4 years in a row, it’s pretty fun, it’s fast, it has a cool finish line where you finish inside Petco Park.  They give out nice gift bags at the end, we use our reusable bags year after year.  This year we got a friar bobble-head & a book about one of the Padres players that made to the Hall of Fame.

The medal was really nice this year, a huge softball size medal with the Gaslamp sign on it.  They abandoned the idea to do the 4 part series medal they started last year after hearing that people didn’t like that idea.

We’ll be back, but maybe not next year, I really want to run Antelope Canyon so it might be time to change it up :).

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!