Tuesday, March 15, 2016

San Diego Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning was the fifth annual San Diego Half Marathon. I ran it back in 2014 (and loved it), so when I had a 13 mile training run scheduled for this weekend and a $100 gift card from my job for Christmas, I just HAD to sign up!

My Flat Carlee was all ready to go! A GSF Race Jersey, Sparkle Athletic Skirt,
Handful Sports Bra, PRO Compression Socks, Sparkly Soul Headband,
QALO Wedding Bands, RoadID Bracelet, Garmin Forerunner 220 and
Skechers Performance Shoes w/ Shwings

In my opinion there are two main "difficult" parts about this race. The first is that it is the morning after Daylight Savings Time... That means not only do races tend to start early (due to logistics, road closures and trying to beat the heat) but with DLS you legitimately lose an hour of sleep the night before... [Oh yeah, and the second difficult part is the hill that comes late in the race, but we will get to that later.]

It's nice that they put a reminder about the time change with your bib

I NEVER sleep great the night before a race, but couple my race nerves with the anxiety I had about the possibility of my phone not automatically updating the time and my sleep seemed pretty non-existent. I did roll over around 3:15am (which was actually like 2:15am) and saw that my phone DID in fact update so felt better about closing my eyes for a few more minutes until I technically got out of bed around 4.

Although the hubby and I live in North San Diego County, the city itself is still a good 45 minutes away. I am FOREVER thankful that the sweet Smitha offered to grab my bib for me (and that the SD Half allows others to pick up your packets on your behalf {they also allow race day pick-up for an extra $20}). Seeing as she was gracious enough to pick up my stuff for me, I wanted to make race morning as easy as possible for her. She said she was shooting to be at the starting line around 6am, so I poked the hubby around 5:10am so he could roll out of bed and into the car to start our trek.

It was smooth sailing down to San Diego at that hour (when 5am feels like 4am no one really wants to be out on the road, right?!). We were able to find some great (and FREE) street parking near the start (and finish) line - HOORAY! Even though it was still dark, the temps were pretty perfect!

After a quick port-o-potty pit stop (I've gotta say, the port-o-potties were set up rather strange at the starting area... Instead of lines of them, they were in little bunches of 6 between the street and sidewalk. We legit saw folks almost get into fights because there were lines coming from both sides and people wanted to throw down over a temporary toilet... Maybe this should be remedied for next year), it was over to find Smitha.

Once I found Smitha and crew (I love seeing these ladies at local races, it is always a great time to catch up on life!), we snapped some pictures before getting into our corrals.

<3 The lovely ladies at the starting line! <3

I know, I didn't get the March SOM from PRO, but the Jailbreaks are my faves! 

I believe there were 10 corrals in all, but I've gotta say, there was no enforcement of the corrals (especially with the bathroom lines technically spilling into them) so it seemed like it was a bit of a free-for-all when people don't follow the honor system. I was in the second wave and tried to line up towards the front near the 1:45 pacer.

You can see the port-o-potties on the right hand side of the runners

Wave 1 went and it was time for us!

Ryan had left the starting area a few minutes before the gun went so he could stake out a good spot. He ended up finding a little patch of grass probably a quarter mile from the start. The nice thing was that he was up on a little hill so he had a great vantage point of the runners coming (as well as there was a fence, which helped barricade Walt the Wiener Dog from wanting to join the runners in the race).

Here come the hoards of runners!

Once I waved good-bye to the hubby I knew I wouldn't see him again till the finish line so decided I should come up with a game plan (better late than never, right?!). Originally I was thinking it would be awesome if I could PR, but being in the middle of three months with three full marathons I knew that distance had been my focus, not speed. I decided that since I was supposed to have a 8 mile pace run last week that got skipped that I'd run the first 8 miles of the race as close to 8 minute miles as possible (while bobbing and weaving all of the people) and then finish the last 5 miles "strong". The "hill" comes between miles 8 and 10, so figured as long as I could dominate the first 8 miles I would be happy with my run.

As you can see, I think I executed my plan pretty perfectly! I finished my 8 "pace" miles at 63:54 and then when I hit the hills I pulled back to run SMART!

Around mile 8.5 I walked through my first water station (I needed some liquids and the course had plastic cups at their aid stations. Now, you may think this isn't a big deal, but the only way I have been able to somewhat perfect running and drinking at the same time is to be able to fold the cups so that you can funnel the hydration into your mouth. With plastic cups, although you can see what is inside of them easier, you can't fold them, which means I decided to walk through the aid station rather than choke and spit up what little water I got into my mouth). I also ended up walking the aid station around mile 10.5 as well, because, well, I had earned it after chugging up the freakin' hill (running the ENTIRE way)!

Back to the course. It is pretty gorgeous. I didn't take any pictures during the race, but trust me when I say San Diego is DEFINITELY one of America's Finest Cities! Being able to run along the waterfront is such a treat and seeing the city in the morning light is absolutely beautiful! I tend to say it often when running an SD course, but there are only so many routes and paths you can run (or at least that race directors choose for races to run) that much of the course seemed very familiar (even if some of it was from running the section backwards during another race). I am NOT complaining though, San Diego is pretty perfect 95% of the year!


Like I mentioned at the beginning, the hardest part of the course is "the hill". Don't get me wrong, I like running up hills. I might not be the fastest, but it makes me feel like a stronger runner (maybe it's because I chant "I LOVE HILLS, I LOVE HILLS, THEY MAKE ME A STRONGER RUNNER" every time I run them). This one is difficult because it lasts for what seems like FOR-EV-ER... And it comes late in the race after you've spent some of that extra race day adrenaline. Once I saw the 9+ minute mile at mile 10 I knew any chance for a PR was out the window. Thankfully I had already come to grips with this not being "my race" and was totally fine with however the race ended.

Really though... WHO DOES THIS?!

Thankfully after the Washington Street hill, the majority of the finish is downhill. I knew the hubby was going to be near the finish (but not too close to the crowds because Walt the Wiener Dog gets distracted easily and it is hard for Ryan to try to watch for me, take pictures and wrangle our crazy pup), but I was stoked when I saw other friends out on the course cheering me in!

Coming in to the finish line, and I've always gotta smile!
Blessed to be able to be on the course doing something I LOVE!

Is it just me or do the guys around me look like they are in much more pain?

A friend grabbed this of me right before the finish line.
Looks like I was running 6:30 pace at this point... Too bad I can't
hold that for longer than .16 of a mile ;)

The race definitely gets two thumbs up from me. It's a beautiful course, normally has amazing weather (San Diego in March is just about pure perfection), is extremely well organized, and the challenge of the course makes you earn that finish line! I love that they recognize runners who participate in consecutive years by adding legacy stars to the race bibs. Also, the swag is pretty great too!

I SUPER appreciate when races put your nutrition and goodies in a bag at the finish line! It's so hard to carry everything (not to mention then it is portioned properly and EVERYONE gets their fair share!).

I ended up finishing just 2 minutes slower than my current PR (which I will be gunning for at the Fontana Half in June). And having Rudy Novotny give me a personal shout out (and call out my "million dollar smile") makes EVERY finish line worth it!

Celebrate EVERY starting line and EVERY finish line!

Oh yeah, and the bling isn't too shabby either (it was actually what sealed the deal when I was looking at potentially registering... I mean, isn't it purrrrty?!)! My fingers are placed poorly in the below picture, but there were five "diamonds" to signify the fifth year of the race. BLINGY BLING!

On the way back to Oceanside I made the hubby and pup stop at the beach in Carlsbad to snap a couple quick pictures before heading home. Any race that my guys come to is a great one to me - NO MATTER WHAT my Garmin time says!

My cheerleading squad is better than yours... #SorryNotSorry!

Do you have a preference when it comes to aid station cups?


Sam @ See Sam Run said...

Awesome race and great recap! You are a beast for killing it up that hill! The SD Half sounds like a great race to run some day :)

SD Mom said...

Such a good one! Too bad LA and SD conflict for me next year!

Erica @ Erica Finds said...

Great job and awesome pics from Ryan! That last part looks like LA! I am bummed that I was so close but did not have time to run this one with you!

Christy said...

Nice job! You don't even look tired at the end -- I'm usually running angrily by about that time. lol

Are you running the inaugural Revel Vegas?

Samantha @ believeandrun said...

You are awesome Carlee. I love your love for running - you always make it fun and a good time even if there are hard times and I appreciate that. You are a rockstar and I cannot believe you are 31 - definitely do not look 31!

Unknown said...

Loved reading your race recap! This race was absolutely stunning and I definitely plan on running it again. You did such an awesome job with your pace and running up that hill. I am running the Hot Chocolate 15k this weekend which is another hilly course. I'll have to use your mantra to get me through :)

Amy W said...

Very smart pacing strategy and great overall time, too! That wake-up time would kill me but the race swag would make it worth it :) That t-shirt is really cute!
Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/

*krystyn* said...

Awesome medal and run!! I love your shirt too!!! I need some good race running shirts and that one is perfect!!