Monday, August 9, 2021

Balboa Park 8-Miler Race Recap

This past Saturday was the 67th Annual Balboa Park 8-Miler. It is actually the longest running race in San Diego – pretty cool, right?! This was my third time running it. I did it in 2016, 2018 and then DNS {did not start} in 2019. Originally the hubby and I were registered for the 2020 race but due to COVID-19 and all of the health and safety protocols it was cancelled (eventually made into a virtual race that we opted out of) so we rolled our registrations over to this year’s event.

Three-time finisher... BOOM!

In fact, this was my first in-person race in SEVENTEEN MONTHS! My last “real” race was the Los Angeles Marathon in March of 2020 (just weeks before the world changed as we knew it). I’ll be honest, I was pretty anxious about the idea of an in-person race. Since COVID-19, I have done my best to heed the CDC recommendations, as well as all of the national and local protocols. That means the hubby and I stayed away from our friends and family for months at a time, we only ventured out for essential errands (like groceries or work) and kept our circle very small once things were able to re-open. I think we’ve really only been out to eat a handful of times since everything closed then re-opened then closed again and now is open again (don’t get me wrong, we do our best to support our local businesses, but we do so with take-out so we can eat in the comfort of our own home). I wasn’t sure how I felt with being corralled into confined spaces with hundreds of people, but thankfully the San Diego Running Co. put the health and safety of their runners above everything else and I am happy to report that I felt comfortable the entire time… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My first "real" finish line in almost a year and a half!

As some of you may know, the hubby and I are training for a birthday adventure this fall (I'll be turning 37 on September 10th, so the plan is to run 37 miles from Yosemite to Mammoth). Our training plan worked out PERFECTLY and this week was a cutback week (what that means is we ramp up mileage for three consecutive weeks and then on the fourth week in the cycle we cut it back to give our bodies more time to rest/ recover/ heal). The week before we had a 20-miler on Saturday and a 10-miler on Sunday, but this week we “only” had a 10-miler and 8-miler (so we swapped our Saturday and Sunday runs so that way we didn’t have to get in any extra mileage pre- or post-race). It’s like it was meant to be!


I worked till 7pm Friday, so after the hubby picked me up and I ate dinner, it was time to shower and get ready to hit the hay. Thankfully I had my gear laid out so I didn’t have to stress about forgetting something when the alarms went off.

#FlatCarlee included: tank top from Sarah Marie Design Studio, skirt from Sparkle Athletic, shoes from Brooks Runningsports bra
from Brooks Running
, socks from PRO Compression, handheld from Nathanpersonal ID bracelet from ROADiDwatch from COROS,
silicone wedding rings from QALO, bracelets from MudLOVE and Momentum Jewelry and neck gaiter from #WeRunSocial.

And the alarms started early! The race was set to start at 7am, but because we couldn’t make it down to the bib pick-up earlier in the week due to our work schedules, we needed to check in and grab everything on race morning, which opened at 6am. The game plan was to leave the house by 5:15am so we could get to the parking area by 6 and then have plenty of time to get our bibs and participant tees, hit the potties, take the shirts back to the car and then make it back to the starting line for the race. I know my alarms were set for 2 hours before we were meant to leave, but that’s because I am on a medication that I need to take 30-60 minutes before eating anything… so my 3:13am alarm means I can eat by 3:43am, have 30 minutes to get myself ready, get the hubby and pup’s breakfasts ready and use the restroom before waking up the hubby at 4:15am. He isn’t a morning person, so I need to allot for a little extra time he can use to “fully” wake up, as well as get ready himself and then we also have to walk Walt before heading out. (And after re-reading that I’m sure you care very little about my morning routine and could have just posted a picture of my alarms… oops ;))

By the way, although my first alarm was set for 3:13am, my body woke me up at 2:15am…

The morning went smoothly and we were able to get down to the parking lot with plenty of time to spare. In fact, we got there a few minutes early (thanks to not many people being on the road at 5am) and even parked closer to the start/ finish line than in year's past – SCORE! We hung out in the car for a few minutes and just enjoyed the peace of the morning.

Well, I enjoyed the peace and the hubby played on his phone for a while ;)

Eventually we got our booties into gear and made our way over to the starting area. We used the port-o-potties (to runners, unused port-o-potties are like unicorns… few and far between, but when you find them, they’re absolutely magical ;)), checked in and grabbed our shirts before heading back to the car to max and relax for a few more minutes.

A port-o-potty that hasn't been used before AND has no line?! What did I do to deserve something so great?!

Once it was closer to start time we pinned our bibs to our shirts, grabbed our handhelds (#RealTalk – I don’t currently feel completely comfortable grabbing cups of water from the aid stations, nor do I love how congested those areas can become during a race, so we planned ahead to carry all of our own water and fuel… but were sure to yell “thanks” to all of the volunteers manning the areas as we ran by) and walked the short distance over to the race. While the hubby was stretching I saw a sweet friend so we snapped a picture together before wishing each other a great race.

I've seen Sheri all over recently!

We stayed away from the crowds (although most people were pretty spread out) until the last possible moment. A few minutes before the official start time, the hubby and I walked towards the corrals. This is a self-seeding race with chip time, meaning your time doesn’t start until you cross the starting line timing mat and folks could line up however they would like (hopefully with the faster folks in the front and the slower people towards the back, but inevitably there are always some runners who line up “incorrectly”), so we decided we'd steer clear of the crowds, stay to the far side of the shoot and slowly make our way to go when there was adequate space. I think we ended up going in the sixth or seventh wave (they were releasing groups of a hundred or so every 45-60 seconds to spread everyone out a bit on the course).

We stayed on the sidewalk away from others (and had our face coverings on... I only took it down for the photo)

We did our best to stay at least 6 feet away from folks at all times, but there were points this wasn’t possible, so both the hubby and I wore buffs around our necks that we would use to cover ours mouths and noses when in close proximity to others – the main points were at the starting line and once we crossed the finish line, but there were another couple spots where the course narrowed so we could easily pull up the fabric to give ourselves a little extra protection.


Like I mentioned, this was not our first rodeo, but I always forget how much I enjoy the course. There seems to be a little bit of everything. There are flat straightaways, rolling hills, a couple steep hills and even some trail. Balboa Park isn’t huge, so you do a little looping around to hit the eight miles, but even still I never got bored or felt like it was redundant.

Balboa Park isn't a National Park but I still loved the painted electrical box!

I was so proud of the hubby because there is a fairly gnarly hill in the second half of the race (they call it Zig Zag hill and it's right before mile 6) and normally he tends to walk the hills, but he pushed through the pain and conquered it without a single walking step! HE'S A ROCKSTAR WHO IS GETTING STRONGER AND STRONGER EVERY SINGLE RUN!

This is the only picture I caught of him while he was running, less than a mile from the finish.

When I had originally signed up for this race (we tend to register for the following year once we do the current year because it’s normally the best deal for the registration fee), I was planning on racing it. The previous time I ran it I was just over an hour, so was hoping I could get in some speedwork and rock the race the next go-around… but then COVID and “ultra” training, so this year was all about enjoying time with the hubby on the course. Maybe I’ll get back to ‘fast’ races in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the casual pace and longer distances (PS I always tell the hubby that if he is willing to run with me, I am willing to run his pace with him NO QUESTIONS ASKED. He started to run because I found a passion for it, so running at his speed is the least I can do… even if at times my body finds it physically harder to run slower.).

And, #RealTalk, running slower allows be the chance to stop for photo ops and
still be able to run to catch back up with the hubby before he is too far away ;)

The weather was decent. Overcast and cooler (in the high 60s/ low 70s), but high humidity (83%). We were pretty soggy, but it could always be worse… You’d think we'd be used to running in this humidity since we haven’t had a break from it in the last few months, but no such luck! By the time our bodies DO acclimate to it, the weather will probably change, hehe.

I forgot to snap a 'real time' picture of the weather, so 
this one I took at 2:40am will have to suffice ;)

Eventually we were pulling our buffs back up on our faces and crossing the finish line. I hadn’t looked at my watch the entire time, which, for me, is a sign of a good time… not necessarily a good “finisher time” but a good time had on the course ;). We got in one of our weekend runs, we ripped off the Band-Aid of tackling our first in-person race since the start of COVID and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of San Diego. I think I will consider it a major success!

I'm so lucky he puts up with all of my running craziness!

Seeing as lately the hubby prefers being around 10-11 minutes/mile, I was THRILLED
when I saw we were in the 9 minute range for all of the miles expect the one with the hill!

Saturday was also my manager’s birthday, so I was working at the running store so she could enjoy her day. That meant we didn’t hang around after the race (but, let’s be honest, with my nerves around the crowds, I wasn’t feeling the post-race shindig) and hit the road after snapping a few photos. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you know what comes next, right?! Obviously the hubby fell asleep on the car ride home (he swears the car rocks him to sleep like a baby).

It NEVER fails... No matter if he ran or "just" spectated, if he's in the passenger seat, he'll fall asleep post-race!

Traffic was fine (never quite sure with San Diego weekend traffic) and we made great time. Once we got home I jumped in the shower, rehydrated with some nuun, scarfed down some lunch and then walked my way to work (had traffic been bad the hubby would have driven me to work, but I enjoy my walk commute and had time, so pounded a little more pavement).

Ready for a shift of slingin' running shoes ;)

If you’re in the San Diego area in early August and can make the Balboa Park 8-Miler happen, I’d definitely recommend it. You get a little of everything when it comes to the course/ terrain and maybe we can even get in a few miles together ;)

I know, I know, the Plaza de Panama Fountain on the bling is NOT the
fountain in the background, but this one was closer to the finish line ;)

Have you run any in-person races since the beginning of COVID?

No comments: