March 13, 2013

San Diego Half Marathon Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran the San Diego Half Marathon.  Last year was the inaugural running of this race, but as I had too many other races going on last year, I did not do it.  I heard it was an exceptional race, though, and was very excited to be running it this year.  The only thing I was bummed about was that last year the finish line was in Petco Park, and this year it wasn't.  I love running through baseball stadiums (I ran through Angels Stadium during the Disneyland Half Marathon and Dodgers Stadium during the New Year's Race Los Angeles) but this year it wasn't meant to be for the San Diego stadium.  Oh well.  I also heard that this course was very PR-friendly---that despite there being a huge hill at mile 9, the last few miles were downhill making it easy to negative split (that is, run the second half faster than the first half) and PR. My hopes were up.

The Friday before the race I picked the kids up from school and headed down to the expo.  It was far for me----downtown on the harbor.  I got lost, but finally found the building. I have to say the expo was weird---a long, narrow building, making all the booths seem really claustophobic.  After I got my bib, shirt and goody bag I wandered around a bit.  I stopped by the Run Like A Diva Half Marathon booth, where I got information (and signed up that night!) for their December race.  I also stopped by Jeff Galloway's table.  He was standing by himself, and I got up the courage to talk to him.  If you don't know about Jeff Galloway, he's a hero in the running community.  He's an Olympian (was on the 1972 team) and the founder of the Galloway Method, which is a patented run/walk program.  He has helped thousands of people run, from 5ks to marathons, based on his method.  He speaks at all the runDisney events, and when I heard him speak at the Tinker Bell expo in January he even answered one of my questions.  Anyhow, I spoke to him, thanked him for being such an inspiration, and bought one of his beginner books, which he signed (I'm going to send it to one of my friends who is going to to train for her first half marathon!)  He even gave me kudos because he overhead me talking to my son, D, about our next 5k we're doing together, telling me to keep running with him as it's a good habit to start.  Talking with Jeff made my day!

me and Jeff Galloway

Sunday morning came all too soon.  It was daylight saving's day, which meant I had to get up even earlier than usual. The race (at least the first wave) started at 7:18.  My friend, E, was picking me up at 5:15, which meant I got up at 4:15 (I like to have an hour to get ready) which meant it was really 3:15 my body time.  UGH!!!  But once I got up, I was fine. I got dressed, at a Luna bar, and did my usual several bathroom stops before I was picked up. (I'm only talking about the bathroom stops because it comes into play later).  My friend picked me up, and as her husband works down by the harbor, she had his pass for his parking spot. Sweet!  We parked and walked a few blocks to the Hilton Starbucks, where I was to meet up with my Dailymile and Twitter friend Sara.   While I was waiting I used the restroom in the Hilton.  Then Sara came down; I've only met her once before, in Las Vegas, and it was good to see her again.  After she left, E and I hit the bathrooms one more time. I couldn't believe I still had to pee (I know, TMI, but true) even though I had already gone to the bathroom several times and had nothing yet to drink that morning, not even a sip of water!

view from a bridge of the starting area and Petco Park

start line

The corrals were really well organized.  There were 15 in all, and I was in #10.  I left my friend E, who was in a lower number corral, and while I was waiting I heard my name being called.  I was happy to unexpectedly be in the same corral as several of my running friends from Facebook (we're all in a closed group together). I hung out with them, shivering, until it was our turn. I was glad I had my throw-away jacket and throw-away gloves.....they were worth the few dollars I spent on them, and kept me warm until I discarded them right before the start line.

pre-race....not sure where my other throw-away glove went....

The course was actually pretty nice. We ran up Harbor Drive and up toward Point Loma.  In some ways it was the opposite of the course we run for the America's Finest City Half Marathon. It was nice going in reverse! At about mile 2, however, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. Again.  What? I STILL had had nothing to drink and probably peed about 8 times already that morning! I didn't have to go badly, but it was all I could think about. Right before the 5k mark there were some port-o-potties with only a few people waiting. I made the decision to just stop and go. I know it took some minutes off my time, but it was worth it--I was able to run the next 10 miles without worrying about it or feeling uncomfortable. That's only the 3rd time I've ever had to stop to go to the bathroom in a half marathon--and this was my 19th to run. Go figure.

Around this time I saw my friend Monika, another Twitter and Dailymile friend. She was out cheering, and I passed her on Harbor Island. Seeing her put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step!  It started to get warm, and soon I was actually hot. I was regretting not wearing a tank top. I was wearing my Half Fanatics tech tee, which I love (because I get lots of shout outs from fellow Half Fanatics) but a tank top would have been much cooler. Oh well.  The route was pretty flat until mile 8 or so, when there was a short but steep hill....and then we hit the big hill at mile 9.  Washington Street, the huge hill that winds up into Hillcrest.

I decided to walk up this entire hill, which was about 3/4 of a mile.  It was very steep and very long, and by that point I didn't care about my time. I had already lost minutes in my bathroom stop, and my sciatic nerve pain was acting up (it's always bad on uphills).  Everyone around me was walking I had good company.  Once up the hill (which seemed to take FOREVER) I was on familiar territory. We were in Hillcrest, an area of town that I lived in for 10 years. We ran down streets I have run down a million times, and in fact ran right by my old apartment. 

Finally we turned on 5th Avenue, and headed downtown.  The last few miles were all downhill, which was nice. I definitely picked up some speed then, but not enough to matter. We passed my friend Monika again, who had moved positions to cheer.  The finish line was in sight, as it was a straight shot down the street.  There was a Jumbo-tron showing people crossing, but I forgot to look.  I got my medal (they were being handed out by members of the military, which was very cool) and found my friend E.  We were herded up some stairs where I found bagels, bananas and other fruit.  We rested for a bit, then hit the road to go home.

Although I didn't PR on this race, I still enjoyed it. It was an exceptionally well-organized race. In fact, I can safely say that this was the most organized race I have ever run.  Everything from the expo, the start line, the course and the finish seemed to run smoothly.  I have run in other very well organized races, but here is what set this particular race apart: every time there was a water stop or port-o-potty stop, there was a sign saying how long until the next stop.  "2.2 miles until the next water stop" or "3. 5 miles until the next bathroom stop" or whatever. I loved knowing exactly how long there was between these aid stations.  Although I didn't drink their water (I carry my own Gatorade) I did dump some water on my head since I was so hot, and knowing the distances helped me mentally.  Additionally, there were tons of most stops I saw no line at all. I've NEVER seen that before. 

All in all, a good day. I came in at 2:40, which, considering my bathroom stop and walking almost a mile of it uphill, isn't too bad. It's only a few minutes off of where I wanted to be.  I don't think I'll be doing this race next year, as I will most likely be gearing up for my second half-Ironman around that time, but I do highly recommend this fun San Diego race.