Monday, August 8, 2016

Balboa Park 8-Miler Race Recap

Let me start off by saying that the guys over at High Performance Movement are AWESOMESAUCE! They put on some of my favorite local events and will often slip me an entry or two whenever they can (which is not the only reason why I love them, but it does help, #RealTalk).


They were helping to organize this year's Balboa Park 8-Miler and gave me two comped entries (one was originally supposed to be for the hubby but since he was going to be out of town hiking the highest peak in the continental US, Mt. Whitney, I did a giveaway for the second registration).

With that said, I hope you have come to realize that comped entry or not, I've gotta #KeepItReal (I was actually talking to one of the guys from HP Movement before the race and he commented on how they love my posts because not only am I energetic, but I also am very comprehensive and give them a great list of ways to improve for future events).

Anywho, now that I've disclosed I didn't pay for my entry but will tell the full truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God, we can get on with the party.

I'm not sure if you were aware (if you follow me on social media you may have been but I didn't mention it on the blog), but my parents were in town this past week (hence the lack of posts - so feel free to blame them if you were missing you some CarleeMcDot ;)). The National UA Convention was being held down in San Diego so it was the perfect excuse to have the 'rents head West and see their favorite (okay, only) daughter.

Mom flew back to Michigan on Wednesday (she had to tend to her wiener dogs), but dad's flight was Saturday morning. I offered to drive him to the airport, since I would be down there for the race and it would have only been like an extra half hour earlier or so. He suggested I come down Friday night, go to the Padres game and then stay at the hotel.

You can take the girl out of Detroit, but you can't take Detroit out of the girl...

Well, carb loading with veggie dogs and staying up way too late watching the Padres lose is probably not the best thing to do the night before a race, but hey, like my mom always says "you can sleep when you're dead". Not to mention, since I had never run an 8 mile race before, this would be an automatic PR no matter what my pace, so I needed to take advantage of family time (the last time I saw my padres was over Christmas).

Padres game with my padre... And apparently the people around us didn't appreciate
our love for Detroit/ Michigan... Or else they were disgusted in the Padres play...

After the firework display, it was back to the hotel to get ready for the morning. Thankfully my dad was staying at the Omni, which is attached to Petco Park by a sky bridge, so our commute was all of a 3 minute walk and elevator ride. Once my dad packed and I was sure my alarms were set, we put on the Opening Ceremonies and drifted off to sleep.

Okay, maybe "drifted off to sleep" is not 100% accurate. I was say I got a 'good' hour and a half of sleep over the four or so hours I was laying in bed. Again, not the best way to prep for a race, but it would have to do ;)

#FlatCarlee consisted of #TwoPairDontCare PRO Compression Socks, a
Handful Sports Bra, a Sparkle Athletic Skirt, a Road ID bracelet, QALO silicon
wedding bands
, Brooks running shoes (complete with Shwings), Skechers Performance
tank and shorts, my Garmin Forerunner 735XT, Momentum Jewelry wrap
and a Sparkly Soul headband.

Saturday morning, bright and early, alarms went off, clothes were thrown on, bags were weighed and everything was loaded up into my car. I ended up getting my dad over to the airport around 5:35am for his flight and then made my way to Balboa Park. I got there a little before 6am, parked and made my way over to the starting area.

Oops... Guess the sign makers didn't get the memo that this was
the 62nd... These 'mistake' signs were ALL OVER!

I love races that offer race day pick-up (especially ones that don't charge a premium for it). I grabbed my bib and tee the day before since I was down in SD with my dad, but had I not been I would have taken advantage of race morning check-in (which looked like it was running smoothly with no lines or delays the entire time we were in the staging area).

After walking around the area for a few minutes I ran into Jenn and we were able to chat until we made our way to the starting line. She was the lucky winner of my race registration giveaway and was also tackling an 8 mile race for the first time (yay for automatic PRs). We didn't grab a picture together (silly bloggers), but it was still great to see a familiar face and talk the time away.

The starting line wasn't anything too fancy, but it got the job done!

About 10 minutes before race time they had the DJ get the crowd warmed up with a few light stretches and then sent us into the "corral". It was one large starting shoot with signs of estimated average pace. I lined up near the 8:00/mile pace sign, which was near the front, and it seemed as though those around me were self seeding properly, but who knows once you moved back further in the crowd.

Ready to get this party started!

As far as a goal, I didn't have one. I had run a decently hard workout the morning before (10 miles - 1 mile warm-up, 2 @ 9:00/mile, 3 @ 8:30/mile, 3 @ 8:00/mile, 1 mile cool-down) and knew this course was supposed to not only have a decent elevation gain on it, but was also partially on trails. I figured I'd shoot for 8 minute miles (but thought I'd be totally happy if I was anywhere between 64 and 72 minutes total), but really was just running for the pure enjoyment of it.

Lots of loops and look at those arrows... But thankfully there were some great directions on the course and I never felt
lost or like I was questioning which way to go the entire race

Although I've run some races that have portions in Balboa Park, I've never run a full race within the park. As you can see from the map above, there were going to be quite a few loops, so I was worried we were going to get dizzy, but thankfully the course was very well laid out and we weren't lapping people or having to merge with other runners. I'm glad that there were volunteers out (though I think it would have been nice if they were wearing 'official' shirts because sometimes it just seemed like they were spectators pointing which way we should go) because I was a little worried about getting lost with all the twists and turns but once I hit the course those fears subsided.

There were a few parts where it felt a little chaotic (I don't know how to really describe this, but you had to run through barriers, you know like the big red balls outside of Target to keep the cars from ramming the building?! Well, there were some on the edge of the sidewalk and we were going from the street to the sidewalk so it was like a game of frogger trying to hop around them and not trip fellow runners. Also, we were jumping curbs a bit too much for my liking, but I understand when you have to fit 1,500 runners and 8 miles inside of an urban cultural park), but overall I think they did as best they could to keep runners aware of their surroundings, where they needed to be and what to look out for.

Here's a snapshot of one of the downhills (excuse the trippy
trees, my HDR was stuck on)

Like I mentioned, some of the race was scheduled to be on trails. For some reason I thought I heard it was half trails and half pavement, but in the end there was less than a mile (between mile 5 and 6) on the dirt/ sand/ grass. During that mile my pace took a nose dive (thanks to the 'zig-zag hill'), but I still loved the off-roading portion. It mixed things up and kept it interesting. And like I told one of the volunteers when we were struggling up 'zig-zag hill', "We knew that with the steep downhills we would eventually have to go back up, even if we were all hoping it wouldn't be true." The only part I wasn't too keen on was some of the dirt hills had quite the uneven terrain (rocks, ruts from runoff, etc) and I was worried I might twist an ankle, but if you took it slow and watched your footing you were fine.

A portion of the dirt trail

Minus Mile 6, I was keeping sub-8 minute/mile pace the entire time. There were three aid stations on the course (although one of them you hit twice so technically only two but you were able to get hydration three times). They had water and nuun. When I drink nuun I have to add extra tablets (if I am going to drink something other than water I want to TASTE it, so add more tables to get a stronger flavor) and since that is not the 'norm' I opted for agua the entire time (which is normally what I do in races anyway). A social media friend was manning one of the water stations so it was great to see her smiling, cheering face out there when we needed it the most!

By Mile 7 my legs were spent. They were feeling the prior day's workout, the hill during the previous mile and probably a bit of the sub-par fueling and lack of sleep. I tried telling myself I could do anything for a mile and kept chugging. I gave out as many high fives and thanked as many volunteers and officers as possible (focusing on something outside of myself helps get my mind off the fatigue and general sense of wanting to stop running and lay down for a nap).

Like I said, it was a challenging course, but it didn't seem overly intense 

Once we passed by the Spreckels Organ Pavilion one of the spectators told us it was a downhill finish and we were almost there (I try not to look at my watch unless it beeps for the mile splits so I honestly wasn't sure how much further we had to go - but "almost there" sounded good to me). When we got close enough and I could see the clock I saw that I might be able to finish under 1:04 (which would have been 8 minute miles) so tried to book it in.

I ended up finishing in 1:03:20, which was better than I was expecting (but then again I thought the course was going to be half trails and have a lot more elevation gain)! I came in 9th in my age group (out of 162), 36th female (out of 836) and 150th overall (out of 1,414). MAJOR SUCCESS (even if I didn't win one of the awesome age group awards)!

You can see my slow down prior to the 10K split thanks to Zig-Zag Hill

Look at those awesome awards... Maybe next time (if all the speedsters sleep in)

I grabbed my medal, some water and a quarter of a bagel (the spread looked yummy but I didn't feel like carrying anything, so laziness prevailed and I left empty handed). I wish they would have had bottles of water (the small Dixie cups on the course are okay because you're just taking a few gulps down, but afterward I'd love more to drink), thankfully I had my alex bottle in the car.

Half of bananas, quarters of bagels and a few bags of chips

I was so "out of it" that I forgot about the official backdrop I saw earlier that morning and ended up just taking a selfie by some trees before heading to the car. I am going to blame my lack of post-race excitement on being tired and nothing to do with the race (because honestly I thought this was a super fun race and one of my favorite courses).

I can totally see why this race is one of the longest consecutively run races in San Diego. I don't know how I've been in San Diego for ten years (holy crap, is it really that long?!) and have never heard of it before! But now that I have, I'm pretty sure it'll be one that we try and return to every year. I mean, how often do you get to run an 8-miler?! It's a pretty perfect distance - a little more challenging than a 10K but you are done before the 'wall' of the half marathon hits ya!

I know it's just a 50/50 tee, but I love the V-neck and women's fit - wore it home
after the race (so I could run a few errands) and it's super comfy!

Another BIG THANKS to HP Movement for putting on an AMAZING event and allowing me to join in on the fun! From the bling to the course support to having to earn the finish line - it was a great race and an honor to be a part of the longstanding San Diego Track Club tradition!

Have you ever participated in an 8 mile race before?


SD Mom said...

Next year...maybe!

San said...

Congratulations! That sounds like a fun race and you are so fast! Great recap.

Unknown said...

I did that race YEARS ago and I remember it being REALLY hard! Nice work!!!