Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Race Report: Mermaid Series Half Marathon - San Diego

February 13, 2016 | San Diego, CA

I was fortunate enough to be able to join Beast Pacing for this event - and even got to run with another Beast pacer from out of state, which was awesome - and had a freaking blast. What a wonderful race that I will definitely be coming back to!

The Mermaid race offers a 5K, 10K and half at the San Diego location. Packet pick up is available starting even Thursday evening (!), Friday evening, and race day. Since Doug and I didn't head down until late Friday night, we rolled into packet pick up early Saturday morning to get it all together before meeting the rest of the Beast team for go-time. The 10K starts first, followed by the half, then the 5K, so we had a bit of time to get ourselves together, talked about who was running LA the next day, and catching up with pacer friends! Always a great way to start the morning.

I kind of forget that the coastal cover doesn't burn off in San Diego quite as quick as it does in LA, and that it was quite cold at the start, but I knew I'd be warm enough that I'd be fine in short sleeves and could just deal.

This course is awesome and follows along the inlet of Mission Bay and then all the way around the outisde. Save for about a half-mile near the turn-around (15K mark or so), you see water the entire way. Mission Bay was one of my favorite places while I lived in San Diego, so this was a good little fun run to just enjoy the scenery and the (what turned out to be) gorgeous morning in San Diego. Because, you know... 80 degrees in February. Sorry, east coast friends.

There were quite a few women in my group (note that a handful of men run this race, too! Though targeted towards women, men are welcome. Instead of 'Mermaid' shirts, theirs say 'Merman'!), some who were trying to PR, one who was running her first half and is running her first full in June (!), and a woman who's a multi-Ironman and just runs casually now, a few races a year. I loved being able to chat the entire way, especially encouraging those first-timers or PR-bound people!

Mile 6. Courtesy Vanessa
Pacing Team 2:15 was a comfortable shift. After Surf City, I was feeling a little down and out, and actually was really nervous about taking on another half right after, even though a 2:15 is beyond a comfy pace for me. I felt amazing on Saturday and not once questioned how I was feeling or that I was capable. I mean, no pressure while you're pacing, right? ;)

We cruised in for a 2:13:38 finish. Suzie (my first-timer) bolted at mile 10 and breezed in to a 2;10 finish (not bad for a first half!) and I ran the last two miles almost totally solo, though I know a few folks were on my tail trying to stick close, which is always fun. Honestly, one of my favorite things about pacing is someone coming up to you afterward because they followed you the whole race, just wanting to keep you in sight, to help them PR or stay strong after coming back from ______ (insert whatever challenge it was here). At least a handful of folks did that on Saturday morning and it always makes me so giddy!

The Mermaid signature bling in years past was a necklace, and this year they even added a medal to go with it too! I appreciate that all participants (all races) got both, as the necklace is super cute but one I probably wouldn't wear on the regular.

My favorite is the back of the medal that reads (and matches the back of the women's shirts):

 * Be fearless, beautiful, strong. Be free.  *

A beautiful race, a beautiful morning, and not much more I could ask for in feeling strong than I had just six days prior. Hooray for bouncing back! 

Race Pros
- Flat and fast
- Gorgeous scenery the whole way through
- Medal and necklace for finishers' bling
- Fantastic volunteer support from UCSD Cheer and Alpha Phi Omega (thanks y'all!)

Race Cons
- Honestly, none. 

Do you like races that do necklaces for finishers "medals"?

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