Monday, February 9, 2015

San Diego Mermaid Series Half Marathon Race Recap

[EDIT: This is the first race I've ever received FREE race pictures, so I have gone back and added some of them to this post. PS Free Race Pictures ROCK MY SOCKS!]

Saturday morning I ran the San Diego Mermaid Series Half Marathon. Last year I volunteered at their packet pick-up and was given a free entry to one of their races (or a discount on a triathlon) so decided to redeem it for this year's race.

Flat Carlee included: Brooks PureConnect 2 (this link is for the 3's, but I have the older model), Midnight Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Gold SparklySoulInc Headband, Yellow and Black PRO Compression Marathon socks (#TwoPairDontCare), Wake Up and Be Awesome tank from Run With Perseverance, Garmin Forerunner 110, and Black Handful sports bra.

I registered for this race back in September, but for some reason I put it in my phone as February 15th... THE RACE WAS ACTUALLY FEBRUARY 7TH!

I got an email Wednesday with race day preparation and thought to myself "Wow, that is silly, they sent it out over a week early"... That was until I looked back at all of my registration stuff and race info and I WAS WRONG (which NEVER happens, hehe). The issue with this was NOT that I had the wrong date, but that I actually had registered Ryan and I for ANOTHER race on Saturday as well! OOPSY! Thankfully I was able to change our start time for the second race (the Insane Inflatable 5K, which the recap will be up tomorrow) so I would be able to participate in both races!

Anywho, on to the race!

The race was set to start at 7am. The main parking lot was supposed to close at 6:30am due to road closures, so I wanted to shoot to be there around 6:15. I left the house around 5:30am and ended up getting to the South Shores parking lot around 6:05. I ended up staying in the car until about 6:40 since it was a bit chilly and pretty foggy. While in the car I ate one of my yummy Clif bars (White Chocolate Macadamia Nut FOR THE WIN!) and drank a little water.

Staying warm in the car

About 20 minutes before the race started I made my way into the elements {and by "elements" I mean 54*, HA!} and towards the port-o-potties. (I actually used the Dollar Store socks which I turned into "arm warmers" that I had worn during the WDW 10K and WDW Half for this race as well, so I think I got my moneys worth!)

Perfect running weather!

There were pretty long lines, but I still jumped in to wait (better safe than sorry). When I came out of potty I heard someone calling my name. It was SMITHA! YAY! She had already run 7 miles that morning (this was her last 20 mile training run before the Phoenix Marathon) and was in line for the bathrooms as well. I went over and chatted with her a bit while she waited and then we grabbed a quick picture before I made my way to the start.

Grabbed the photo from Smitha - THANKS GIRL!

After our quick photo, I went to the starting line. Due to the long potty lines and chatting with Smitha, by the time I got to the start there was only about 2 minutes until the start of the race. I turned on my Garmin, found the 2:00 pacer, and got ready to rock and roll.

Heading towards the Start Line

My goal for the race was to take it easy. It was technically supposed to be a "long run" of 13 miles for me, so it worked out perfectly {if I already had to run I might as well get a FREE BANANA at the end}. I figured I would try to stop to take a couple pictures, walk through the water stops, high five as many spectators and volunteers as possible, and try to keep my pace slower (my long run pace is supposed to be around 9:42/mile).

There weren't really corrals for the race, but they did have pacers throughout the starting area (and they were actually lined up chronologically, which is better than they were at the San Diego Holiday Half - HA). Normally with self seeding races there are a lot folks that line up improperly, but it seemed like most of the runners lined up correctly (or at least there was enough space to weave around people).

Ready to get running!

But first let me grab a picture of the sunrise!

Oh yeah, and a picture of my mismatched socks!


The fog was starting to dissipate and the sun was coming up. About a half mile in I thought it was just so pretty so I stopped to grab a quick picture (hey, my plan of taking it slow was working!).

A picture of the sun coming up on Sea World Drive

Around Mile 1 we were out on Fiesta Island (if I was being completely honest it felt like we were out here forever, but I have no complaints - it is stunning scenery). I stopped around mile 3 to grab another picture of the fog hung up across the bay.

The fog was still sitting on the coastline a bit

Like I mentioned, the sun was out, so the temps were starting to rise. Around mile 4.5 or so I ended up taking off the Dollar Tree socks off my arms and throwing them away. Shoot doggy - 3 races, I think I got my dollar's worth ;)

Still had my socks because we were in the shade

We were on Fiesta Island for a while (about Mile 1 - 5.5), but even when we left it we were still hanging close to the rim of Mission Bay. This meant some nice breezes, beautiful views, and fairly flat course.

Course Map

I took 3 of my strawberry Clif Shot Bloks around mile 6.5 (I normally don't fuel during runs up to about 15 miles, but since I knew I would probably be pushing myself harder than a normal training run I brought some with me). I have to say I MUCH PREFER the Shot Bloks to the gels. I have a texture thing, so these are more like gummies than swallowing snot (sorry for the gross word picture, but that's what gels remind me of...).

Around Mile 7 or so my friend Erika caught up to me. Apparently the port-o-potty lines did NOT die down and she was still waiting when the race started. She ended up crossing the starting line about 6 or so minute late (but thankfully the race was chip timed so her time didn't start until she crossed the starting line). She was a bit flustered when I saw her (mostly because she wanted to stick with the pacer but now she was behind them and wasn't sure if she would catch up). We chatted for a bit, but since this was just a training run for me, I told her to leave me in her dust and power through! (By the way, she ended up CRUSHING the race! If I didn't have to leave right after I finished I would have grabbed a picture with this ROCKSTAR!)

Between Miles 8 and 10.5 it was a bit of an out and back course so you could see runners coming in the opposite direction. I made sure to cheer on as many as I could! This was a female centric race and I LOVE seeing strong women encouraging one another in whatever they are doing! Around Mile 9 or so I saw Erika again, almost overtaking the 1:50 pacer (like I said, SPEED RACER!).

My original plan was to try to keep it slow, but I knew that wasn't happening... The excitement of the race got to me. Don't get me wrong, I still felt great, but I knew I was going faster than if I was just running the roads by my house (SORRY KRISSY, I TRIED ;) ). I was still high giving as many of the volunteers as I could (I was even crossing the street to make sure I got them all) and thanking everyone I saw on the course.

Right out in front of the Hilton

Coming down the home stretch!

Mile 11 or so until the end is right along the bay. It was a bit shaded, which was nice. You also could see (and hear) all of the crew teams practicing in the water - pretty fun! The course actually met up with the 5K and 10K courses again, so there were a couple sections where you had to do a bit more weaving through folks, but it wasn't too terrible.

The view around Mile 12

I'm not lying when I said it was a gorgeous course!

There were more spectators along the last half mile of the course (true for most races), which always helps to spur you on towards the finish. The last few hundred feet of the course was my least favorite part. There was a SHARP turn (around a light pole) with a bunch of people, which made it difficult to navigate, and then it was uphill on the grass. Even though it was less than ideal, I was still able to kick it in and finish strong!

Don't ask... I must have been saying "THANK
YOU" to the spectators... Maybe?!

TWO THUMBS UP for the Mermaid Series

A grass finish!

Kind of hard to NOT smile on a course as amazing as this!

Not too shabby for a "training run"

I saw Erika and her family after I crossed the finish line. She confirmed that she KICKED THE COURSE'S BOOTY! I congratulated her and then had to start moving through the finishing area.

This was actually one of the first times (possibly EVER) that the time on my watch matched my official time EXACTLY! I always end up hitting it too late after I cross the start or forget to hit it as I cross the finish line. Somehow TIME was on my side this race ;)


The finish line was about a mile and a half from the start line (and where I parked), so I grabbed my finishing necklace (they don't do medals, but mermaid necklaces), a water, a wheat bagel, and a juice box and made my way back to the car. I would have LOVED to stay and cheer more runners in, but Ryan and I had a RACE at 11:30am that I had to get back home for (obviously it called for another costume change ;) as well).

A picture across the bay of Fiesta Island

Mission Bay - The tall pole in the center of the picture is Sea World.

Although I didn't pay for the entry (I volunteered the previous year so was given an entry), I would DEFINITELY say I would return to this race again. They could have had more aid stations on the course (the water cups were pretty tiny), and I do like my bling (so would probably prefer a medal to a necklace), but all-in-all it was a beautiful San Diego race celebrating the lives of women (a few mermen did run in the race, but mostly mermaids ;)).

The finisher's necklace

The participant shirt.
(To be honest, it felt more like a rash guard than a tech-tee. Also, it sort of looked
like an iron on. NOT my favorite. It will go in the "turn into a quilt" pile.)

Does the scenery have any effect on you when you are signing up for a race?


Unknown said...

I SO need to move close to you!!!!!!! I love how we say we get free stuff from races like we aren't paying to run in it :). I do it all the about the cool "free" race stuff...until my husband asks what the race entry fee was :). Great job! You are a racing machine!

Lily @ Lily Runs the World said...

I ran this race last year! I totally got there too late and I had to jump out of the car on the freeway onramp and run to the starting line... and I agree, the Fiesta Island portion felt like it went on forever! I PRed though, so that always makes it a good race :)

KookyRunner said...

Great recap! The course looked absolutely beautiful. I've gotta get out to the West coast for a race - you cannot beat that scenery!