The weather was cool and overcast, and the start was early (6:45am), and noticeably up a hill from the finish line, which I found encouraging. However, any expectation I had of a flat, easy half marathon with the only hill being the big downhill run from the top of Pershing Drive disappeared fairly quickly. Due to a calf injury I had fewer weeks to train for this half marathon than I had planned. This caused me to modify my training plan. I did fewer runs, ran slower, and stuck mostly to flat long runs to avoid another injury. However I thought I would be OK with this plan, because I thought the course would be flat. I should have looked at an elevation map of the course.
While there were no long or steep uphill stretches like in the previous two half marathons I’ve run in San Deigo, there were plenty of shorter uphill stretches. I definitely felt the lack of training for hills by the 6-8 mile mark. Even the big downhill on Pershing Drive actually started with a shallow (nearly flat) uphill stretch. By that point, mile 11, even a shallow hill was very discouraging. If this was a training run I might not have even considered this an uphill stretch, but it was surprisingly difficult during the race. I think it was mental. Several people who had been running at a good pace moved to the side and walked. I knew the downhill stretch was just around the corner, so I kept going and tried to start picking it up near the top. Although, I did not achieve my early goal of running under 2 hours, I was happy with my time of 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 4 seconds. With an average pace of 9:38 miles I had done better than on my recent 10 mile training runs, even those were on completely flat course near the beach.
This was the third half marathon I’ve done in less than 12 months. I signed up for this half to keep myself focused on running this spring so I would be ready to start training for the Marine Corps Marathon with at least reasonable conditioning. It served that purpose well, but my plan may have been wrong. I’ve been training fairly constantly since January and I’m starting to feel some “over-training” effects. Sore shins and sore achilles tendons are my biggest concerns. I’ll be cross training for a 2-3 weeks after this half marathon and doing very little running to let some of my aches and pains heal up.
The 2013 Rock n Roll Half Marathon was well managed, but set up differently than my previous races. The porta johns were spread out over a large area as you approached the starting area, and it was hard to tell if there were any more until you walked a bit further. As we first walked up it looked like there were only 6 porta johns and one really long line. By the time we got to the starting point I realized there were actually plenty of toilets, but the way they were spread out made things less efficient. We got there about 20 minutes early, but ended up being too late to go in our planned starting group because we waited in such a long porta john line. The last group of toilets only had 4-5 people in each line. Not a very efficient setup. I prefer the way they were set up for the San Diego Half Marathon, and the Americas Finest City Half Marathon – one big group which makes it easier to spread out evenly.
The course was interesting. It ran through several neighborhoods and there were more people out cheering us on than in past half marathons. This must have been the hand raising part of the course. Everyone in front of me did it, so I did too…
The bands “about every mile” were interesting too. I intentionally left my iPod at home. I wanted to hear the bands and experience the uniqueness of the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I’m glad I did, but I like running with my music a little better though. I have some songs on my iPod that help me get going when I slow down. I definitely needed a more consistent stream of “get up and go” music than “a band about once a mile”. I’m still working on my playlist for the Marine Corps Marathon. I’ll post an update to my post 26.2 miles of music! when I finish it.
This is also the first long race I’ve run with my son. We’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon together in October. We did some training together for this race, but ran our “own pace” during the race. I got out a little faster than him, but he was able to maintain his pace better than I did (18 years younger probably helped), and ended up 4 minutes ahead by the finish. It was his 4th half marathon and his best time so far. We both have a lot of training to do over the next 4 months, but we’re at a good starting point.
I don’t plan to keep running several half marathons a year, and I haven’t planned any beyond the Marine Corps Marathon, but I expect I will want to do another half marathon… maybe one a year (or so) after I’ve taken a little break from it. I would consider doing another Rock n Roll half marathon, but it will be more about the timing, location, and course than what organization is running the race.
Here are a couple more pictures.
This was the logo on the ground part of the course. I’m smiling, sort of, because it is near the end of the run!
This is the actual finish. One of my “lessons learned” from past runs was to “smile for the camera”. Still needs a little more work.