San Diego Half Marathon: Two Thumbs Up

(I’m posting from my phone in the car somewhere in Arizona, so I hope the format isn’t screwy.)

It’s pretty much the best feeling ever when you think back on a race and can’t help but smile. I feel SO good about yesterday’s San Diego Half Marathon (my fourth half). Going into it, I had no idea what to expect. I haven’t run much the past month, and my knee issues are not 100% gone. I decided I was going to take it easy and not put any pressure on myself, which I’m happy to report I did exactly that, and it made for such an enjoyable experience.

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Since I had zero expectations (and sort of thought I might have to walk the whole thing), I wasn’t nervous at all. Instead, I just enjoyed all aspects of it, from the packet pick up to the post-race snacks.

I ventured down to the San Diego piers for the expo on Saturday with Jeremy and my grandma. There were tons of people, but it was a beautiful day and location, and I didn’t have to wait in any lines to get my shirt and bib. Since I ran this race last year too, I got a special race shirt that says Legacy on the sleeve with two stars. If I run next year (which I’m hoping to do), I’ll get a special jacket. I forgot to take a picture of the shirt and now it’s packed away in my suitcase in the trunk, so it’s a lost cause. It’s really great, and I can definitely see myself wearing it in the future. It’s an improvement from last year’s, along with many things that were improved. This was only the third year for the race, and they really paid attention to comments from last year and I’m sure every year will just get better and better. I’m so impressed with the organization and can’t wait to see what’s in store for it. I even had to make a correction to my registration and they responded to my email within a day and immediately resolved the issue, and were so nice. I appreciate things like that to no end.

At the expo, I decided to look for something to aid in my knee pain. I spoke to a guy working at a running store station, and he helped me decide on getting a compression band that helps with pain in the back of the knee. My issues aren’t always just in the back, but I took a chance and it actually paid off.

The Course
I really love this course, as it goes through many different areas of San Diego, so there’s always something to look at. It went by incredibly fast (as opposed to last month’s Mermaid Series half, which dragged on seemingly forever because it just went around a bay and was pretty boring now that I think about it). There wasn’t much elevation change the first 8 miles, then mile 9 was an almost-mile-long hill up to the Hillcrest area of downtown SD. It’s not too bad though, especially knowing that once you get to the top, it’s essentially just three more downhill miles to the finish line.

At the start, I was thinking about going back a few corrals since I knew I’d be running more slowly than originally planned. It worked out though, after I realized that when I registered for this race, my PR was still 2:15. It made a big difference to be able to run at an easy pace with everyone else, instead of being passed by a bunch of speedy people (which would have made me speed up, knowing my competitive nature).

To sum things up, I felt great the entire race. I never hit a wall (hallelujah) and my legs never felt super heavy. Because I was taking it easy, I was able to pick up the pace the last three miles, which I have to admit was fun, darting past people and sprinting to the finish line, passing runners left and right.

I did allow myself to walk if I felt like it, and that was a first for me. I ended up walking a bit uphill at mile 9 to eat a gel, then a little of mile 11 to drink some electrolyte drink. At the bottom of the hill, there was a man on the ground and someone was giving him CPR. There was a crowd of people around him, and everybody running by stopped to walk and it really was a shock to the system. People were crying or holding back tears (including me), and it took a while to breathe normally again. Ambulances and fire engines were screaming down the hill, and all I can do is hope that he is okay. I asked the race’s Twitter account if there was an update on him, but haven’t heard back yet (edit: they wrote me back  and said he is okay! I’m so relieved). I honestly thought I was going to cry the entire way to the finish line, it was that scary. I immediately thought the worst, but after the race, Jeremy convinced me to think positively and hope for the best.

Fuel
Jeremy and I stayed in a hotel downtown this year (so much better than leaving an hour earlier to find parking like last year), and I had all my gear ready to go the night before. I ended up forgetting my gel in the room, though, so that was unfortunate. Luckily they handed out Clif gels at mile 8 and I grabbed a mocha one with caffeine in it, which I had had before on a long run. I also held a Nathan water bottle (that leaked the entirety of the bottle all
over the rug in my car overnight) that I just bought so I had water with me the whole race. Two of the drink stops weren’t prepared for the amount of people coming through, and I was unable to get any electrolyte drink until mile 11. I also grabbed a salt packet at the same mile as a spur of the moment decision. I’ve never had one before, but I have to say, my stomach issues ceased and it felt great the rest of the day! I think I may have discovered something great for my body. It was a hot day, but the amount
of water I drank seemed perfect, and I had no major issues.

Clumsiness
I don’t know what was going on with me yesterday (could have been sleep deprivation), but I felt like a klutz. Aside from forgetting my gel, I dropped my Chapstick cap at mile 11 and had to chase it without tripping anyone in the process. A runner stopped and picked it up for me, and I was so grateful. As I was bending down to try to grab it, I inadvertently squeezed a bunch of my gel all over my hand. It was a chocolate mocha gel, and you can just imagine what it looked like…

After that, I somehow got my headphones wrapped around my shirt (I put the cord under my shirt and sports bra to hold it in place), and it ended up getting so tangled that it lifted my shirt all the way just about to my bra, and I couldn’t get it back down! I was so flustered and unplugged my headphones and tried to play it off cool, but with my luck there will be pictures of it. I also stumbled in front of a large crowd and scared everyone because it looked like
I was about to eat it. Luckily I didn’t.

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Firsts
I broke the cardinal rule of racing yesterday not three, but four times.

- I had only worn my Mizunos a few times, and never for more than four miles.

- I wore a compression band on my knee for the first time.

- I ate a salt packet for the first time.

- I had never used my hand-held water bottle before.

I feel very fortunate because nothing bad came from any of these decisions, and the whole thing went so smoothly (except for my moments of clumsiness)! Including running the whole thing pain-free, which makes me want to cry of happiness. I’m more pumped than ever to run another one now, and break two hours someday soon.

Overall, I’m really proud of myself for not pushing my body to the point of exhaustion, or worse, injury, and not putting any pressure on myself. I’m so competitive and every race I want to PR, but now I realize that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t, and there’s no shame in taking it easy. The San Diego Half is so great, and I would highly recommend it!

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Road trip update: We entered Arizona not long ago, and are planning on making it to El Paso for dinner!

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24 comments

  1. Glad you enjoyed the race so much! Sometimes we runners put way too much pressure on ourselves to perform a certain way and just forget to enjoy the run. You went in to the race with such a great attitude! I love San Diego, definitely on my list of places to race :)

    1. Thanks so much! Yeah, it was a really nice change. All I can talk about today is how I can’t wait for the next race. After my last two races, I was kind of turned off by them for a few days afterward.

  2. Haha so have I convinced you to post from your phone during long car rides? The format was beautiful. And congrats on running your race! I unfortunately did not run the 5k I was scheduled for yesterday…but now thanks to the time change, I am looking forward to starting training again and running outside!

    1. Hah I still can’t believe you do all your posts from your phone! I was getting kind of frustrated with the limitations, but I just must not know the full extent of what it can do. And I knew if I didn’t do it soon I’d forget everything I was going to say! I’m so glad it’s warming up over there, it has sure seemed like a long winter for you guys.

  3. This was a wonderful update. You sounded super happy about it, and that is what was REALLY cool about this post :)

    (Well, the clumsy part was aieee … but also a little funny … hope you don’t mind that I chuckled a bit.)

    What was uber cool (besides the cool shirt you got [without picture] … and the cool finishers medal [with picture]) was the photo of you and ??? One is your grandma I know … the other? At any rate … THAT was a great photo!

    1. Wow thank you! I couldn’t figure out how to add captions to pictures from this app on my phone, but that’s a picture of me and my mom and grandma. I’m so glad they were able to be there!!

  4. Sounds like you took some ‘new things on race day’ risks that really paid off! I ran in shorts for my race Saturday; first time I wore shorts in a LONG time. Was worried I would be cold but ended up really glad I wasn’t in capris.

  5. Sounds like you took some ‘new things on race day’ risks that really paid off! I ran in shorts for my race Saturday; first time I wore shorts in a LONG time. Was worried I would be cold but ended up really glad I wasn’t in capris.

  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed your race! You did really well and huzzah for the knee holding up! I keep banging on about how “having fun” is so much more important than a particular time. After a race, what I remember the most are the sights, funny experiences and people that I meet. I don’t even know the times I’ve run in most of my races, I’d honestly have to look them up! Your trip looks so amazing, you’re making me so incredibly jealous…

    1. Thank you! It was really wonderful to realize that I didn’t need to PR, and I just can’t believe how pleasant the whole experience was! I didn’t check my time till yesterday, and it turns out they added an hour onto my finish time and I had to contact them, but it actually didn’t bother me one bit.

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