Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Half Marathon Race Recap

A couple weeks ago the hubby and I ran the 2021 Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Half Marathon (let's just say life has been a little chaotic lately, so you'll just have to excuse the delay in recaps...). This was actually my SEVENTH time running Rock 'N' Roll San Diego. I have run the half marathon distance in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019, along with the full marathon in 2017 (plus, a few of those years, I ran the 5K race the day before for good measure {and extra bling}). 


Due to COVID-19, the June 2020 event was postponed, so this was the rescheduled event. I'll be honest, I was nervous about this one. Sure, we ran an in-person race before this one (the Balboa Park 8-Miler), but that capacity was very minimal compared to the Rock 'N' Roll events. In fact, I had reached out to Rock 'N' Roll to see if we could postpone our entries until 2022, but we were told we would have to pay a transfer fee (if I remember correctly it would've been upwards of $45 per person). After much deliberation, we decided we'd do our best to take all possible precautions and run it.


If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a bit, you may remember that the hubby, pup and I are in the middle of moving. We sold our condo and bought a house (everything became official at the end of September) and now are in the middle of renovating the new place (it was built in the 70s and we are only the third owners, so to say there are A LOT of necessary updates would be quite an understatement). Seeing as the hubby and I both work full time during the week, the weekends are when we are able to do a bulk of the house stuff, so the timing of the race was a bit inconvenient (we had about five weeks between closing on the house and having to be out of the condo where we could be doing renovations and not living in the construction zone, so we were trying to do as much as possible before having to move in). Our game plan was to try and do as much house stuff as possible on Saturday morning before driving down to San Diego for the Health & Fitness Expo (we normally don't spend a ton of time at Expos, unless there is a meet-up with friends, so we figured we'd get shoot to get there 30 minutes before close, grab our bibs and skit-skat-skaboodle). 

Selling a place / buying a place / renovating a place / moving... it's all a bit overwhelming and stressful!

We live about 45-60 minutes north of San Diego (depending on SoCal traffic), so the original idea was to leave by 3:30pm, get down there by 4:30pm and have bibs in hand, ready to grab some dinner by 5pm (I know, I know, some folks laugh at how early we eat, but I promise you race morning alarms come quick, so the sooner we can eat, the sooner we can be in bed, the more sleep we can attempt to get!). Since the number of participants made this a "Mega-Event," all attendees needed to adhere to the State of California's policies. One such requirement was that we needed to either have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours prior to attending the Health & Fitness Expo. With that said, Ryan and I got our COVID tests first thing Thursday morning, expecting the results within 48 hours (which would be prior to us arriving at the Expo). Well, let's just say the clinic we went to forgot to tell us the results could take 3-4 days so we were in a pickle. Thankfully Rock 'N' Roll made an adjustment this year and allowed someone else to pick up your bib on your behalf (in years past this was NOT an option, but they only allowed you to pick up ONE additional bib, so we actually had to ask two friends). BIG THANKS to Lisa and Richard for being ROCKSTARS and grabbing our goodies for us! 


Oh yeah, and our {negative} COVID results were emailed to us at 5:09pm on Saturday... The expo closed at 5pm... 

Once we had locked in two amazing friends willing to pick up our bibs and participant tees for us, we realized we didn't have to be to San Diego for the Expo, which meant we could use more of the day to do house projects. #GlassHalfFull Thankfully we were able to get a decent amount done before dropping off the pup and jumping in the car to head south. 


On the way to our hotel (normally I have a hard time justifying spending money on a hotel within an hour of where we live, but due to COVID cancelled trips, we had a free night that we needed to redeem on before the end of the year or it would expire, so decided to take advantage of it so we wouldn't have to leave the house before the buttcrack of dawn on race morning), we were able to swing by where Lisa and Richard were eating dinner so we could grab our goodies. 


Seeing as we had X amount to spend on a hotel room, we went "big" and got one right near the finish line of the race (again, normally I'm very frugal when it comes to accommodations, but it was "free" money, so why not?!). The view was the San Diego Bay, which was awesome (even if we arrived when it was already dark). There was quite a bit of commotion outside, until about 10pm, but thankfully it eventually died down and we were able to get some decent sleep. 

The Star of India was literally right outside our window.

As I'm sure you can imagine, living out of boxes and suitcases isn't super convenient, especially when it comes to having to get ready for a race, but thankfully I was able to track down enough gear to throw together a decent race-day kit ;)

PS When I was running at home on Saturday morning there was a chill in the air and it was pretty soggy out, so to be
safe I packed a long sleeve, but come race day I ended up rocking a tank top because the weather was near perfection.

Like I had mentioned, the alarms would start EARLY on race day. (#RealTalk - Now that I am working full time, I actually have my alarm set for 3:33am most weekdays so I can run before work, so this was technically sleeping in for me ;))

As always, my body woke me up way before my alarms started...

The race was set to start at 6:45am and we were about a mile and a half away from starting line (Google maps said it'd take about 35 minutes to walk), so our plan was to leave the hotel by 6:00am, which would give us enough time to walk over, hit up the port-o-potties and then snap a couple quick photos with friends before we would have to jump into the corrals. (Normally this race weekend is a HUGE meet-up for PRO Compression Ambassadors/ #WeRunSocial/ friends from all over the country, but with the pandemic, many friends pushed back their entry to 2022. While we were bummed we didn't get to see everyone we usually did, it was still awesome to see some of our friends in real life, face-to-face!)

The sunrise wasn't too shabby!

A smaller crew than normal, but still awesome to see friends in person!

In years past, this race has ended up being more of a "party pace", which is how I actually talked the hubby into registering for it (he hadn't run it in any of the six years before with me). We normally fuel with donuts and hydrate with whiskey, stop for a ton of photo ops and just enjoy the sights/ sounds/ neighborhoods around America's Finest City. The hubby's pace is normally a bit slower than mine, so he didn't want to hold me back with my friends, but I told him it would be totally fine (and then some of my running pals that I normally do this one with weren't coming, so it worked out okay in the end). Oh yeah, and let's just say that with all of the house stuff going on, his training has been less than stellar lately, so if we were going to run, he was definitely planning on a more casual pace. Before we knew it, it was time to get ready to go. We put up our masks (any time we were in a congested area we wore them), got into our corral (trying to leave space around us, but that wasn't super easy with the large number of runners) and waited for the final countdown.

Once the corrals started to fill in the masks went up. And Almi surprised me before we started.

The sky looked cotton candy-esk! So pretty!

To try and spread runners out, they had "funnels" that runners would use to get to the start. You would get in line and then they had a red light and green light above the starting line. It would change to green and the first runner in each line would start, then it would quickly change to red. I think there were about 3 or 5 seconds between the red light and green light. It was definitely an interesting idea (they said San Diego did much better than Virginia Beach had the weekend prior). It seemed to help spread folks out a bit, but not sure how it impacted running with a pace group or actually trying to race... 


I started before the hubby, but ran slowly (off to the side as to not trip up any runners behind me) so he could catch up. As I'm sure you could guess, we weren't planning to break any speed records, so fun and easy was the motto for the day.

Taking it slow and steady meant I had an extra few seconds to soak in the amazing sunrise!

It also meant listening to your body and stopping to stretch/ walk whenever was needed.

#RealTalk - The hubby isn't super interested in stopping for photo ops along the route, which is totally fine, so I'd see something, tell the hubby, pull over (watching my surroundings so I didn't cut off anyone around me), snap a picture and then catch back up. It definitely makes my pace a bit more sporadic, but it's all in the name of having a good time ;)

Definitely not as many spectators as normal, but we were grateful for each and every one of them!

And we can't forget my girl Kelly and the Badass Lady Gang!

The hubby may not be big into picture opportunities, he's TOTALLY down for donut stops and friendly neighbors handing out alcohol ;) We OBVIOUSLY had to stop at the Mile 4.5 Bar (if you've run RnRSD before, you know!) - I had Fireball and he had some beer. Then shortly after we saw a "Scottish Sobriety Checkpoint" so popped over for a shot of Jameson ;) 

Get in my belly!

Don't worry, we also actually fueled with PROBAR BOLT Chews around Mile 6.5 to make sure we'd get to the finish line ;)

The hubby and I split a pack of Pink Lemonade - YUM!
There was also a potato aid station. Don't get me wrong, I've seen them at ultras, but it 
seemed a little out of place at a road half marathon. The hubby still grabbed one ;)

Along with the awesome spectators and "refreshments", there was also a ton of fan-freakin'-tastic street art! I pulled over for a few murals, but missed a ton! Maybe the hubby and I should head down to San Diego for an art run or something...


I've gotta say, I was SUPER proud of the hubby. We didn't take nearly as many walk breaks as I was expecting and before we knew it we were heading to the finish line. (Side note: The elevation on the half isn't very noticeable, but it did seem like there were quite a few rolling hills near the end and folks would tell us that THIS was the final hill and it was all downhill from there... only to come to another bump ;) I didn't mind too much, but the hubby was a bit frustrated {like I've mentioned in the past, running isn't his #1 jam, like it is mine, he tends to get roped into these adventures because he loves me, so by this point in the race, when he's tired and "over" running, hearing there are no more hills only to come upon another didn't sit well with him... All that to say, if you are spectating, please make sure your cheers are accurate ;)}.)

A sub 2:15 with minimal training for the hubby?! THAT'S AWESOMESAUCE!

After we crossed the finish line we were able to collect our bling, snap a selfie and then grab all of our finisher goodies. 

We weren't sure how crowded the finisher chute would be, so made sure to have our masks on when we got closer. 

Normally I try and remember a bag of some sort in my Nathan handheld, that way when we go through the food line I can just throw everything in a bag rather than having to figure out how to carry it all in my arms. Well, I forgot this time, but saw an empty box on one of the tables and told the hubby to snatch it up so we could use it to carry all of our goodies (don't worry, we didn't take more than we should have, we just used the box to make it easier to transport everything!). 

Having some sort of carrier makes it SO MUCH EASIER!

Since our hotel was so close to the finish line, we actually dropped off our stuff before checking out the "beer" garden. 

The views from our hotel balcony once the sun was up and shining.

I don't drink beer, so I figured the hubby could partake in his and mine, but we quickly found out the free "adult beverage" was alcohol free (Heineken 0.0). The hubby drank one and then we took the other one with us (since it didn't have alcohol in it you could take it to go as long as it wasn't opened). We didn't hang around long, just long enough to snap a quick picture and head to the room (the hubby wanted to shower and then we were stopping at IKEA on the way back north).

I really liked the design of this medal but was a little surprised at the size.

I'll be honest, I run this race year after year mostly for the my friends. I've sort of had a sour taste in my mouth for Rock 'N' Roll events for the last couple years and I think I'll probably spend my money on other races in the future (we still have entries for the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in February that we've already paid for {originally for the November 2020 race that was postponed due to COVID}, but I think after that we'll probably opt out. You might still see me in town, hanging with friends and showing my support along the course, but I'm not sure I'll be paying to run these any longer.


Do you do the same race(s) year after year or do you like to constantly switch it up?

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