Hello from California! I’ve known for awhile that I would need to be in San Diego for work during the first week in June, and while I initially wasn’t thrilled about the idea (flying, having to lug my 30 gazillion pound laptop all over creation, etc.), a quick peak at Rock ‘n’ Roll’s website revealed that the iconic Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego weekend–the one that started the entire franchise in the first place–would conveniently take place the Sunday before I had to be in town for work. And since work was paying for the flight anyway… 🙂
I got into town Friday night well after the expo closed, so I made my way there Saturday morning. I stayed in Little Italy for race weekend, and it was a beautiful 1.5 mile walk from my hotel to the convention center with packet pickup. I suppose normally I wouldn’t go out of my way to walk three miles to and from an expo the day before a race, but I went into Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego with zero goals and zero expectations. I only cared about taking advantage of the opportunity to see as much of San Diego as possible, so I was happy to make the walk.
I got to the expo a little after 12:30, which wasn’t an accident. Desi Linden was scheduled to make an appearance in the Brooks merchandise area at 1, and I most definitely wanted to get a picture with her. I got my packet and shirt, then lined up with a bunch of other running nerds to meet Des!
A lot of people had her sign their bibs, but I know how trashed my bibs usually get during a race, so I opted to just have her sign the picture she had available instead. She asked if I was doing the half or the full, and I told her the half, at which point she declared me “the competition.” Ha! I wish. (She was pacing the 2:00 half marathon group.) The one and only time an elite will ever refer to me as the competition 😛
Sunday morning, I boarded a shuttle a couple blocks from my hotel for the quick ride up to the start at Balboa Park. The park was so beautiful! I wish I had had more time to explore. The timing worked out perfectly to give me a chance to visit the portapotties, get sunscreen from the med tent (since I had forgotten mine at the hotel), and get into a corral with plenty of time to spare. (The corrals, in case anyone is curious, were just as unenforced as ever for a Rock ‘n’ Roll race. I wondered to see if that would still be the case now that Ironman owns them, and at least in San Diego, it certainly was.)
It was relatively cool and overcast when the race began, but the clouds cleared quickly and we had nothing but sunny skies for the remaining 12 miles. We wandered through several neighborhoods in northern San Diego–Hillcrest, Normal Heights, North Park, and others I’m sure. There was particularly great crowd support in mile four, where a bunch of people who live in the neighborhood had all sorts of rouge aid stations set up, complete with mimosas, Bloody Marys, donuts, etc. I did not partake in any of the offerings, though I will admit I seriously considered a donut pit stop. I was STARVING for most of the race–I started fueling at mile three instead of mile five like normal because I was so hungry–and a donut did sound delicious. I also saw a house flying a W flag around mile five! That was so exciting that I stopped to take a picture (though the picture didn’t turn out great, so you’ll just have to believe me on that one).
The course was a lot hillier than I’m used to–not that that should come as a surprise to anyone, including me, considering that anything beyond flat is “hillier than I’m used to,” and by mile nine, all of the walking from the day before caught up with me. I hit the wall hard, and decided to walk through an aid station and up a couple of hills. I found a second wind around mile 11, though, and powered through to the end, finishing in 2:23:06. Not my best half marathon by a long shot (like a 21 minute long shot), but my only goal for Sunday was to enjoy myself, so no skin off my nose (well, metaphorically. I got a nasty sunburn on my nose in particular on Saturday, so I’m sure some literal skin will be coming off my nose shortly 😛 ). Despite having a rough mile nine and 10, I’m extremely pleased with how I ran this race. I think this was one of my most evenly paced efforts, and I’m pretty stoked about that. Yay for-fun races!