Race day began EARLY! 3:07 a.m. exactly. I was stressed over logistics and decided to leave my house at 4:00 sharp. It is a point-to-point course, and there is no shuttle that takes runners from the finish back to the start, so the logistics are challenging. And throughout the year running races, I heard horror stories from other runners about last year's San Diego Rock N Roll, e.g. not enough parking, waiting in line for over an hour for shuttles, followed by hour-long gridlock in parking lots. (What other races you've run is a popular topic of conversation among runners waiting in port-a-potty lines.)
So I decided to take the Coaster down from Solana Beach Station, and it worked out perfectly. Online ticket sent to iPhone, so no pesky paper ticket to carry around. Plenty of seats on the train, lots of shuttles to the start line. And I even got a parking spot in the station lot by arriving at 4:00 for a 4:32 train. Just sat in the car, drank coffee, and listened to John Mayer's new album for the 100th time.
I had laid out my race gear the night before. Shirt with bib pinned on, shoes with chip tag on, other running, clothes, hat, BYO-TP and hand sanitizer (I always assume both will run out at any race), provisions, fully charged Garmin and iPhone, Vasoline and hair ties, and a bunch of old clothes to wear to stay warm (and then shed and throw away right before the start).
On arriving at the start in Balboa Park at about 5:20, I saw the bathroom lines were super long! So I hopped in one straight away and had to wait over 40 minutes!! But this gave me time to eat my banana, Picky bar (the best protein bar on the market), and drink some more water.
The start time was 6:15, so post-porta, I shed my old clothes, and set off for a half mile warm up. Just to get the blood flowing. And then into corral #3, packed like sardines with the other runners, just in time. It was a smooth journey to the starting line.
And we were off. I had targeted a pace of 7:30 for the first half and 7:15 for the second half. But I ended up taking the first mile pretty fast at 7:07 and felt very good at this pace, which surprised me because I hadn't run faster than 8:00 minute miles in at least 4 weeks!
I kept my pace level in the first few miles, and then lost some speed on a long uphill, just steep enough to make me feel it in my legs. So I decided to make up all my time on the downhills on the course. I ran a very fast (for me) downhill 6:32 minute mile.
Really the rest of the race is a blur. Even though I've lived in San Diego for 6 years, I really don't know where I was running. My higher level brain functioning just completely turned off. I've never quite experienced this level of brain vacancy before. The course was very well marked, and there were just tons of people. So no possibility of being lost --> I let my motor brain function completely take over.
There are only two thoughts I remember. At one point I thought, "These miles are going by fast." And a bit later I thought, "&%$#, mile 11 is taking forever!" The paradoxical thoughts of a runner.
Another running pastime of mine is calculating various split and pace scenarios. So I also tried to calculate various statistics using the timers positioned at each mile marker. But I didn't get very far with my mental math today. I gave up trying to multiply 7:07 by 13. . . pretty weak! Which of course, now I am able to calculate (7x10 + 21 . . . 91 minutes + 91 seconds = 1:32:31). Yes! Brain function has returned . . . but not fully (I am still half way a zombie nearly 12 hours later).
I was running behind the same woman at least half of the race. At mile 12, I set my sights on passing her. She started picking up the pace, and so did I. We ran the last mile at about 7:00. But I didn't have it in me to pass her in the final steps to the finish line. I was OUT of GAS. I finished probably 5 seconds behind her, and consoled myself by venturing that she probably started the race before me. So I likely beat her on the clock. Haha! Who knows?!
So the RESULTS:
I am surprised I ran this fast. It helped that the course had a lot of downhills. But I'll take it. This is almost 9 minutes faster than my finishing time at the Carlsbad 1/2 Marathon in January 2012. There, my average pace was 7:54, which has really become my comfortable base pace these past few months.
The race reignited my desire to run. I have a need for speed. I was becoming very bored in my 15 mile runs in May. But I am going to change it up. I have been training for 1/2 marathons all year. This summer I am going to train to run a very fast 5K. Goal: under 20 minutes.
Bottom line: San Diego Rock N Roll, highly recommended! Many thanks to the wonderful bands, cheerleaders, and poor wet volunteers handing out water cups.