Monday, December 29, 2014

Race Recap: San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon
December 28, 2014 | San Diego, CA

I've run some fairly impromptu races (re: like a week or maybe a handful of days out), but have hardly registered for a half marathon less than 15 hours before gun time. Adventure is the spice of life, right?

A few weeks back, Doug had contemplated getting tickets to the Holiday Bowl (Nebraska v. USC) on Saturday night, being that they are pretty much his two favorite college teams. I had mentioned that the Holiday Half was the next morning, and I'd love to make New Years Race my half #20, I just wasn't sure I'd squeeze one more in after the Santa Hustle. But we wanted to get through Christmas before he decided to get tickets or not, even with how badly he wanted to go. Finally, on Friday night, he bought tickets and we planned our Saturday adventure down to San Diego. Thankfully, it's not far (90 minutes or so). Not even 20 minutes before we were trying to leave on Saturday, he texted with the suggestion of staying the night and using our Sea World annual passes one more time - okay, cool. Five minutes later, it was also, "Hey, maybe we can get you signed up for that race, too..."

Fun fact: the race was sold out and they were offering 50 bibs at packet pick up, first come, first serve. We left home at 3, and made it down to packet pick up about 4:45 -- with plenty of bibs to spare! Hooray!

I kept quiet because I wasn't really sure I'd make it, but when I Instagrammed this photo, no one should have been that surprised that I was running yet another race in the morning. I mean, that's only my fourth race in December (second half marathon)... I'm not that addicted, swear. 

The race start was at a random Albertsons center parking lot and literally followed Highway 56 the entire distance from the 15 freeway to the beach. The course is minimally on city roads, but for at least 10 miles it, it is on the bike path that parallels the highway. 

The race was set to kick off at 7:30. Doug dropped me off at the start just about 7 am, where I tried to get into the porto lines (to no avail) and jumped into the Albertsons to get a little warmer. I ran into a friend from SDSU, Brittany, who I had also run into during Ragnar Napa. Just before 7:30, I headed out to find Richard and friends... and then we waited... and waited... and finally, just before 7:50, we finally got started! It was cold, mind you, so we were all just ready to get warm already.

Endless skies on the Highway 56 bike path. 
The course is primarily rolling downhill, with one solid hill in the first mile and then some smaller ones as we crossed highways. This leg, or at least the majority of it, is the same as a leg on Ragnar So Cal, with the exact same ending location too.

I had run 8 miles with the IERC on Saturday morning, so I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to truly race this one, but figured I'd make good of a steady downhill course and see what I was made of. I stood behind the 1:55 pacer at the start (mostly because I couldn't make sense of the 'corrals' otherwise) and thought I'd give it a shot. After a little cluster at the start line, the front 1:55 pacer took off and ticked off mile 1 in the 8:30s. Um... no. That's not going to work for 13 miles!

I settled in to continue doing my own thing and see what good I could do. I knew Doug would be at the mile 5 spectator point, so I wanted to push hard through mile 5 and re-assess from there. The course allows for two spectator points along the way (and more, if your spectators get creative) and at the finish line. He planned to be at mile 5 and then to book to the finish and wait for me there.

My 10K mark was just over 55, so just over a 10K PR and I still felt pretty decent at that point. I had walked a bit in mile 6 to take off my long sleeves and get re-settled (I'm glad I wore layers), so I knew that ate up quite a bit of my time. Based on how I felt, I could have chugged along pretty well.

Mile something. 
Somewhere around mile 7, another 1:55 pacer caught up to me. We played tag for a bit, and I asked him about the end of the course because a woman at the start had told me the whole finish was uphill. He confirmed that it wasn't, and if there was, it wasn't any worse than the freeway overpass we were just about to cross. Solid, I can do that. I let him pass me after awhile and continued to just push on. My legs weren't as tired as I thought they should have been, but it was getting warmer than I thought (still only 60 or so).

When I crossed the 10-mile marker just about 1:31, I knew I'd have to push a little harder to stay under a 2-hour goal. If I could get to that on day-before-8-mile-legs, I'd be happy with where I was and what I am doing with marathon training. At the end of mile 11, they send you out on a little arm, so you see everyone double-back by the mile 12 flag, which is just torture. I think it was in mile 10ish that the first 2:00 pacer started to get hot on my heels, and he became my bunny the rest of the race. Even though I knew I started before him, I just had to finish before him and I'd be happy. I walked the u-turn of the arm, and he was such a great cheerleader every time I passed him, he'd say "Good job!" "Almost there!" I appreciate pacers who are there to enjoy it and encourage others just as much as they are to run. Thanks, guy!

I picked it up as much as I could and cruised into the finish, high-fiving Doug before I made it. Richard caught me at the end and got me some great photos with the finish line.

Dude's face in this photo kills me. 
A final finish of 2:00:22, good for 59th in my age group of 181 (holy wow). I'm happy, though now disappointed (like always) that I walked those three times, and could have done even better... maybe even PRed. Overall, my splits were fairly consistent, but you can see where I got the better of myself and backed off a little much or puttered out:

I love when this guy's at the finish line! 
The finish line food area was super crazy and not at all in order, so I grabbed a mylar blanket off the ground before I started shaking any harder. I waited (not so patiently) for the food line to grab a banana and some snacks, and then made my way back to the road where Doug had gone to find the car. 

Overall, I'm glad I made this half #19. There were a few things I'd change, but overall, not too shabby. I wish I had gotten to meet Carlee finally, but you can read her PR-encompassing recap here and all about her speedy self! Way to go girl!

The Good
- Great shirts! Can't wait to wear mine!
- Easy packet pick up
- PR-able course, even with those rolling hills
- Awesome bling 
- Who doesn't love running in San Diego and finishing at the beach?

The Ugly
- Disappointing disorganized start with no communication as to why
- Corrals that didn't really seem to be corrals... again, not organized
- Parking lot chaos (glad I didn't take the bus)

It is only the second year of this race, so I try and bear that in mind. Aside from the start line disorganization, I had a very positive experience and am glad I made it to get one of the last 50 bibs! Thanks SDHH! 

Did you run this race this year? Your thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment