This race weekend took me to lovely, lovely San Diego! It’s so hard not to love this sun-drenched city.
This was the first city where I actually got to enjoy my Hall of Fame status!
Coming to San Diego, I feel strangely sad that I am not doing the Hall of Fame this year. It’s actually now just sinking in, six months into the year. Every once in awhile I do a few calculations to see how much effort it would take to get to 15…and then I work backwards to 10. Technically I have 8 on the books for this year, and at 10 you get a hoodie, so maybe it’s worth adding a few more tour stops?
At the expo, I had the chance to meet Des Linden! She was really nice. It’s too bad that I am too slow to keep up with her and Meb for the pacing group. Maybe one day 🙂
Race day got started at around 4am. We feasted in the days before, enjoying pasta and donuts (obviously the most healthy fare that San Diego had to offer!). At 4am, we stumbled around and got ourselves ready. We should’ve left a little earlier but since we were veterans of this race, we thought we had it under control. However, there had been a few changes to the road closures and every single side road we anticipated using had been closed for the course! On top of that, the road closures were not submitted to Google Maps, so we were being routed right into the heart of the road closures. It was very frustrating. By the time we got a half mile to the start, Erik had to bail (he is on the hook for the Hall of Fame this year). My friend and I were lucky enough to find parking in a residential side street, and we dashed off to the start line. She was running the full and I was running the half. No group selfie this time around!
I met up with my friends who host the podcast ‘Not Real Runners’. If you haven’t listened to their show, you definitely should!
The three of us started in corral 33, which is not only the last corral but also the VIP corral! It felt kind of like a DLS challenge (dead-last start), but except for charity this was really just for kicks and we weren’t really keeping score. (So, okay, not DLS at all…) If you want to see just how fierce these last few corrals are, here you go:
Yes – the few, the proud, the misfits of corral 30-33!
Along with the last corral, you also get wonderful scenery like this:
Who needs a band when you get the gentle humming of the sweeper vans and trucks?
Many moons ago, when I got my wisdom teeth extracted, my oral surgeon okayed me walking the Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon, but only if I walked as slowly as possible without raising my heart rate or blood pressure. This meant that I had to walk right next to the sweepers the entire time. So, this experience was not completely new or foreign to me. Also, at Rock n Roll San Antonio, I practically finished near the sweepers during the marathon so yeah…lots of experience with this one.
The key is to embrace it and to make it your own.
The race start was pretty tame, once you got to corral 33. I suppose the host was getting pretty exhausted. I think she’s also pregnant, so I don’t blame her one bit.
My friends and I chit-chatted during the 13.1 jaunt through the city. San Diego seemed to warm up quite a bit. When coupled with hills, it ended up being a tougher course than I anticipated! A lot of the course seemed familiar, too.
I really love course support along the Rock n Roll San Diego race. It’s one of the few towns where everyone truly gets into the spirit of the race. This is the 21st year they’ve hosted this marathon, so it’s wonderful to see how everyone gets into the spirit of it.
There was plenty of cheer stations along the main thoroughfares. Here, we had a group of dancers and aerialists out to cheer us on!
As we weaved our way from the city streets into the neighborhoods, we were met with the 4.5 mile bar. This was on par with the one I came across last year! Tons of drinks were poured out, and lots of snacks were for the taking. The neighborhood was alive and hopefully the runners were too, after all the reveling. There was a woman making huge bubbles, a pitbull petting station, an AVON lady who wasn’t giving samples but trying to sell things to runners…just an eclectic mix of folks through an interesting part of down dubbed ‘Normal Heights.’
We kept winding through the neighborhood and eventually popped back through into downtown. We ran underneath San Diego City College. I could begin seeing the ocean peek through, which meant that the end was near. I tried not to gun it to the end but I couldn’t help myself. There was just so much air at sea level!
After the finish, it was so hot that all I wanted to do was see Erik and then go find some shade to cool off. I didn’t even get my usual finish line picture with my medal! I guess I’m really off my game. Either way, we got a quick group picture and then Erik and I headed off to the finisher area to wait for Arlene to finish.
That’s when things got interesting. You see that police officer in the background? I didn’t think much of it at the time, but apparently the entire area was swarming with police activity. The race announcer suddenly took the stage a few minutes after this picture was snapped to say that there had been an incident, and that the police were on it and that they would appreciate it if we were to stay put in the finisher zone. (AKA: finisher zone lockdown)
A quick search on Facebook and Google showed that there was an active shooter near the marathon course. Arlene was still out there. We were worried sick. We called her but no answer. The course tracker still showed her out on the course, and that she wasn’t pulled, but it doesn’t give live GPS coordinates. All we could do was wait.
She eventually finished and we were thrilled to see her. We would later learn that the race was stopped for nearly 30 minutes, and that some runners would end up cutting their race short because of the incident.
However, Arlene was done with her marathon and she was safe, and that was all that mattered to us! We headed out to lunch at the same spot from last year — Claim Jumper at the Wyndham — and shared our stories from the race. She was clearly upset about what happened, and having it happen in her own hometown.
Overall, I was thankful that nothing serious happened to any of the runners on the course. I finished moments before the police altercation near the finish line, and I was safe. Erik had finished well before any of this, but he had been hanging out in the finishers area for all of us to finish. It makes me wonder if we should rethink our plans from now on.
We’ve signed up for next year. I’ll be back for another full marathon. This should give me a year to get tuned up for another PR hopefully!