Happy Global Running Day! Yes, I know it’s over, but I feel that every day should be Running Day! How did you celebrate? Did you (or will you) go for a run? I managed my first run since my half marathon, and I’m celebrating by sharing my Rock and Roll Half Marathon Recap!
Rock and Roll Half Marathon Recap
And now, on to my Rock and Roll Half Marathon Recap!
Saturday: The Expo
I drove down to San Diego on Saturday. As you know, Alan has an injured foot so his training was spotty. He decided that trying to run the race with me would not be a smart idea. So he got to stay home with the dogs and cats and I was on my own!
I’d hoped to get out early to beat some of the crowds at the expo, but that didn’t happen. I wasn’t too late, though, arriving at the San Diego Convention Center around 11:00. I picked up my packet, strolled through the expo, taking a sample here and there (hurray for the Daiya booth and vegan quesadillas!). And I did visit the Nuun booth!
I had my eye out for a purple top to go with my Skirt Sports Sidewinder print that I planned on wearing for the race (yes, I was ready to break one of the cardinal rules of racing). I couldn’t find one that I liked, so I finally left the expo, stopped for lunch (I shared all my vegan eats on the road in Monday’s post), then headed to Road Runner Sports to continue my search. I did find a top and bought it, even though it wasn’t exactly the shade I wanted. On the bright side, though, I had about $15 in rewards cash that I got to use up!
^^Affiliate links in the above paragraph. ^^
Before the race even started, before I arrived at the start line, before I even got to San Diego, I had committed to once more breaking that running rule: nothing new on race day. This one could go way beyond choosing to wear a new top and risk possible chafing. This new thing could actually have prevented me from even getting to the start line. A little dramatic maybe, but these were some of the thoughts that ran through my head when I chose to…take the train!
A little background. The Rock and Roll Marathon is in San Diego. I almost always stay in one of my favorite towns, Encinitas. Depending on traffic, Encinitas is about 30-60 minutes north of the city of San Diego. Actually, early in the morning (the race starts at 6:15), it’s even faster. But, and this is a big but, the traffic involved with getting 30,000 people to the start line of a big race is, to put it mildly, crazy.
The Rock and Roll Marathon has a great plan for parking and other transportation though. You can reserve your parking place before race day, you can park out at Qualcomm Stadium and take the Red Line, you can catch a shuttle to the park, you can even walk if you’re staying in one of the downtown hotels. Or, you can take the Coaster, the small train that runs from North County to San Diego.
I chose to take the Coaster. The plus side is that it is cheap ($11 roundtrip), easy to get to (the station is about a quarter mile from my hotel, and they have free shuttles to take you from the station to the start line. The only downside? I’d never done it before.
Fortunately, I discovered that Sarah, who I’d met at the Carlsbad 5000 All Day 20k, was also planning to take the train, and felt pretty much the same way that I did about it. We decided that it would be much more fun to feel that way together.
Well, we made it. Actually, the timing was just great, though we were a little pressed for time when we arrived at Balboa Park at about 5:30 am. The lines for the portapotties were lllooonnnnggg, and we were supposed to meet up for a Rock and Blog team photo at 6:00. And we needed to drop off our gear. In fact, Sarah chose to skip the potty, but I really had no choice but to stay in line.
In any case, I made it through the line, dropped off my gear, and joined the meet up right at 6:00, in time for the team photo. Then, off to my corral to await the start of the race.
I was in corral 15 (out of 30ish). Although the race starts at 6:15, they release one corral per minute or so, so when I finally started it was closer to 6:35. It is really pretty nice because it cuts down congestion at the start line dramatically.
So finally, we were off.
I should note that the weather, to my mind, was perfect. With overcast skies, lows about 60 and highs forecast for about 68, I couldn’t ask for better weather. It wasn’t even too humid, a race killer (and asthma trigger) for me.
I have to stay that, after 50 or so half marathons, with a PR of 1:33, a more recent 2:00 a few years ago, I had no idea what time I would run. Exercise Induced Asthma is a game changer. It can ruin even the best race, it can make you scared to push too hard, and in spite of my training, which was decent, I felt like I hadn’t done enough to help me overcome it. Plus, I had fallen on the run only a week before the race, landing on my knees, and while they seemed okay, I wasn’t sure how they would feel over the course of 13.1 miles.
I decided to play it by ear. Pick a pace, try to stick with it, and hope for the best. Not exactly racing, but not just playing around either. I settled pretty easily into about a 10:35 pace. Not exactly what I’d been training for, but I was okay with that.
The first part of the race takes you through several San Diego neighborhoods. After running up 6th street for close to a mile, we turn onto University Avenue and head into Hillcrest, an eclectic and fun community. My aunt lived there for several years so I’m a little familiar with the area. There is good crowd support and the course is pretty flat through there. So good memories.
After Hillcrest comes North Park then Normal Heights, which, as I heard another runner say, isn’t normal at all. They celebrate this fact though, and many of the residents are out in front of their houses, in costume, playing music, offering refreshments, including early morning margaritas if one desires.
As one approaches the mile five marker, we pass what I think is the hardest yet most emotional part of the race. That’s where we pass the Wear Blue: Run to Remember memorial. This organization honors the sacrifice and commitment of our soldiers by creating a living memorial for our country’s fallen military members. They meet and train for endurance events, with each runner personally honoring a family member or friend, while honoring and remembering all who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
At mile five a memorial to our soldiers is set up, where photographs line the road for nearly a half mile. It is emotional and heartbreaking, even more knowing that there are parents, children, brothers, sisters, and friends of each military member actually participating in the race. I struggled not to cry and wasn’t quite successful.
I had made a commitment to myself not to stop and take photos during the race. Even though I knew that I wasn’t setting any PRs this time around, it adds a huge amount of time over the course of a race. I save the selfies for those races when I’m already having a tough time, figuring it can’t get much worse so I may as well take some pictures to make myself feel better.
That wasn’t this race, so I was not going to give into selfie temptation, in spite of all the encouragement that Rock and Roll provides with selfie stations, the big Rock and Roll guy, and other fun photo ops. Until, at about the halfway point, the temptation became too much for me. This guy lured me away from my mission.
I stayed on track after that though. One of the nice things about the Rock and Roll Half Marathon is that, even though the entire course is relatively flat, the second half is mostly downhill. That, on top of feeling really good throughout the race, allowed me to have a pretty even split. My second half time was almost the same as my first half. I consider that a win thanks both to the course and to the fact that my asthma stayed away for the most part.
After leaving the smaller neighborhoods of San Diego, the course starts working its way back toward downtown. There is less fan support through here, but there is still plenty of music and cheerleaders to keep the runners going. As we head back into the park, we know we’re getting close to the finish.
The course is mostly downhill at this point, will a few short climbs, and a couple steep downhills that I know are responsible for my sore toes and knees on Monday. When we finally hit the tunnel, I know we are close. Just a mile or so from the finish line, the tunnel is a quarter mile long and filled with strobe lights, music, and lots of excitement as the runners get ready to make their last push.
When we come out of the tunnel, we really are downtown, heading downhill toward the finish. I had felt good through the whole race, so I gave it an extra push. Of course, it was then that I came the closest to an asthma attack that I had all morning. I can feel my airway close, I start to feel lightheaded, and I must slow down. It’s like my body isn’t getting any oxygen.
Fortunately, I was able to slow down, focus on my breathing, and get back on track. I went from thinking, “oh no, not now!” to knowing that “I’ve got this!” within a few minutes! I’m happy to report that I ran the whole race without having to use my inhaler, something I’m pretty sure I’ve never done before in 25 years of racing! There is some benefit is letting your body pick your pace.
After working my way through the finish line shuffle, looking for a familiar face and not finding one, I headed down to the post-race celebration. I picked up my gear, thought about sitting on the lawn but decided not to (thinking I might not want to get up for a while!). I looked at my watch and realized that it was pretty close to the time I could catch the train back north. If not then I’d have another hour to wait.
That made it easy, especially since I was alone. With the train station just a few blocks away, I walked on over, where the train was there already. I jumped on, sat down, and within a few minutes I was on my way back to my hotel in Encinitas. Easy, breezy. No traffic, no having to focus on driving when I was tired. Just sit back, relax, and let the Coaster do the work!
By the way, my other “never on race day” fail, my new top, worked out fine! No rubbing or chafing at all!
Oh, and my finish time? My official time was 2:20:14, good enough for 94 (out of 461) in my division (of which I will be aging out in five months). While I was hoping to run a little faster, there is a lot to be said for having a great time, feeling good the whole way, and not having to deal with my exercise induced asthma. And I didn’t get a migraine afterward either, something that happens too frequently.
This was the 20th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Marathon! I was there for the very first one back in 1998! This race was the first of its kind, offering live music along the route and a post-race concert, which had never been done before. It was a great concept then, copied many times by other races, and it continues today in all of the many Rock and Roll events.
I’m happy to represent the Rock and Roll Marathon as a member of the Rock ‘n’ Blog team. As part of the team I received a Global Tour Pass, which allows me to run any race at no cost. My next tour stops will be Los Angeles on October 29 and Las Vegas on November 11-12. I’d love to see you there!
If you’re still with me, I thank you for sticking with this very long post. As you know, I’m quite chatty anyway, so when I have a story to tell…
What kind of adventures did you have last weekend? If you have a link to your story, feel free to share in the comments or link up with the Running Coaches’ Corner!
And Now It’s Time for the Running Coaches’ Corner!
My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!
Meatless Monday with Sarah and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie and Dixya
Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia, Erika, and Patty
Inspire Me Monday with Janice
Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie, Michelle, Jen, and Nicole
The Plant-Based Potluck Party with Deborah
The Running Coaches’ Corner with Rachel, Suz, Lora Marie, and Me!
Giveaway Roundup and Try Out Thursdays with Smitha
The Blogger’s Pit Stop with Kathleen, Janice, Julie, and Menaka
Friday 5 2.0 with Rachel and Lacey and Meranda