San Diego Half Marathon Race Recap

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It’s been almost two weeks since I ran the 2013 San Diego Half Marathon. I just love this race! I think I’ve mentioned it before, this is a well-run race from the packet pick-up and expo to the post-race festivities, not to mention the scenic race itself.  I also have a soft spot for this race because it was my first half marathon and the inaugural SD Half. I’ll warn you now, this might be lengthy.

My main concern was crossing the finish line healthy. My first half marathon (SD Half 2012) left me sick and laying on the ground. I think the race recap video had me in the background somewhere, lying in the grass under the shadow of Tony Gwynn’s statue. My second half marathon (AFC 2012) was during one of the most hot and humid days in San Diego. Seriously… it doesn’t get like that too often but it just HAD to land on a race day. I felt fine, stomach-wise but I found myself injured from the lack of training during the summer.

I had 12 weeks (okay, really like 8-ish weeks) of training in temps dipping close to freezing. I logged my runs with details about the temperature, what I ate, how I felt, and if I hurt. It really helped to see patterns in my habits and routes so that I can adjust myself accordingly. I took classes at The Dailey Method in the beginning of training — which really helped to reduce my injuries. Never once did I suffer from shin splints, ankles rolling or having terrible pains in my knee. So gladly, everything in the injury department was pretty uneventful.

My diet was good. I had a regular pre-run meal of 1 Clif Bar, a cup of green tea and then added a tablespoon of chia seeds to the diet about 8 weeks into training. I raved about how amazing chia seeds worked in a previous post and it proved to work during this race, too!

Now on to the race…

The SD Half Marathon prides itself in being “designed by runners for runners.” The organization proves it. The expo was nice – It was at the new cruise ship terminal which was great since it was a bit cool and windy that day. There were many samples handed out and some cool things to try out like a the MostFit suspension strap (you’ve got to try this).  No one was crawling over each other during bib pickup. The signage was clear and they even gave legacy runners a special shirt. I thought it was fitting that my bib number was #2012. I wanted to redeem myself from last year’s races.

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It was a cold morning on race day, but not colder than I was used to. Still, I felt I needed arm warmers. I brought fuel with me this time… while waiting to start I had a “PR Bar” that was given to me at Expo West a few days earlier (I told the bar to work it’s magic). I was in wave 7 and met a nice father-son duo who flew in from Texas. The father has run marathons before and this was his 10-year-old son’s first half marathon. Wow. I was impressed! I thought it was great how he was coaching his son through the process: “They’re going to start in waves… You’re not going to run right away. We’re going to walk first.  Don’t step on people in front of you… watch your feet…” We wished each other luck and I kept tabs on them during the race.

The race itself was fun. There was a “battle of the bands” with high school bands from two local high schools at different points during the race. I LOVE MARCHING BANDS (I did a short stint as a band geek). It really kept the energy up. I eventually got warm and walked a bit to take the arm warmers off, which slowed my pace. All along the way people gave high 5’s and motivating messages. Then came mile 9… uphill. I thought I’d be okay running it since I’ve run steeper and longer hills (I’ve run up a whole freakin’ mountain – 3.5 miles one way). But I started feeling queasy going up Washington Street and had to run/walk it. I think falling back on the chia seeds was deceiving. While I felt that I had energy and had sipped water at every other aid station plus carried my own hydration pack, in reality I was dehydrated.  I realized this as I was at the top and kept drinking more water and Gatorade as I finished the race.

Miles 11-13… downhill! THE. BEST. PART.  I eased up a bit and just let go…

I kept track of my pace and I was averaging 15 seconds better per minute than the last SD Half. But that was tracking all my bobbing and weaving through the crowds (yes, I actually passed some people this time). So I was estimating that I was going faster but not as much as my RunKeeper indicated.

Crossing the finish line was awesome even though it didn’t compare to running into a stadium. But #2012 finished the 2013 race in record time! My time was 2:18 and some odd seconds, which was two minutes faster than my last time (what what?!)! Again, the men and women from our military were there to put medals around our necks… what an honor.

I had prayer intentions for this race, too. One for a friend’s mom who was in the hospital, another for continued healing for some friends, thoughts for my family… It was nice to dedicate miles to other people.

Post-race was a treat. Along with fruit cups, bananas and oranges, they gave out coconut water, bagels w/cream cheese and CHOCOLATE. Not just any chocolate, CHUAO chocolate! (This girl runs for chocolate.) I didn’t take advantage of the post-race massages. There’s something about waiting in line for a massage behind a bunch of sweaty people who have run 13.1 miles that just didn’t seem appealing. Plus, I was sweaty… the thought of getting a massage was a bit icky.

There was a block party after the race with bands and jumpies for the kids. Since my kids had Catechism class and couldn’t be there at the race, I just headed home, showered and relaxed. Dehydration caught up with me and I ended up with a migraine. Lesson learned… keep drinking water.

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So how did that father/son duo do? They finished! Kudos to them! I hope they enjoyed the rest of their vacation in San Diego. It’s been beautiful!

Check out the race highlights! I know you’ll want to join me next year!