Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 1st: Racing and Biking and Beaching, Oh My!

The next morning we all got up early (like, before 5am early), had some breakfast, and hopped in a cab for a quick ride to the race start (or somewhere kind of close, at least)...we had a race to run!

We were all signed up to run the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Jen and Mike seemed pretty excited, Mark seemed somewhat indifferent, and I did my best to hide my dread and panic. Jen and I had originally planned to run the full marathon, but I bumped down to the half after messing up a tendon in my foot a few months earlier on a 10 mile run. I had to take a bit of time off from training to try to not completely wreck my foot, so the longest run I had done within the couple months before this race was only 6.2 miles. I should be ready to run 13.1 miles then, right? Eep.

The cab got us somewhat close to the start area, and we followed all the other random runners purposely walking up a huge hill, figuring they knew where they were going. Jen and Mike stopped at a Starbucks to use their bathroom while Mark and I went to brave the porta potty lines.

We weren't the only ones with the porta potty idea. I think I stood in line for about 45 minutes; by the time it was my turn it was almost time to go line up in the corral to start. Someone had apparently pooped on the seat in one of the porta potties and only a handful of guys were brave enough to use it (Mark included).

I was supposed to start in Corral 16 but the signs seemed to jump right from 14 to 19, so I just picked a spot and wedged my way into the crowd. The announcers did a pretty good job getting the crowd excited, and we all shuffled our way to the front and eventually were off!

I had never run a Rock 'n' Roll race before, and going into this one, I was expecting to be unimpressed. The race entry is very expensive (over $100!), and the Rock 'n' Roll races always sounded so crowded because so many people run them - think tens of thousands of people in each race. I figured it would be an overpriced nightmare.

And I was wrong.

This was a really fun race!

The course snakes through the city, and lots of people come out to cheer on the runners. Just before the start I had bumped my Garmin watch somehow so that it wouldn't read the total distance I had run and would only show the stats on the current mile. While I was mad at first, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I couldn't keep focusing on how much of the race was left in front of me, only how this particular mile was going. And without that distraction I had more time to enjoy the scenery (and silliness) around me.

There were numerous live bands set up along the course, so it started to feel more like you were just running from small concert to small concert. There were lots of cheerleading squads spread out along the course; my favorite one by far was the group of men dressed up as cheerleaders, complete with balloons stuffed in their tops. There was a stretch in the middle of the course that snaked through a residential area; people were sitting in their front yards, playing music, singing, and cheering everyone on as they ran past. They were also handing out anything you could think of - cookies, water bottles, tequila shots, and one guy even had his grill set up and was cooking and handing out bacon. The atmosphere of the race was awesome and it felt like a huge party.

My whole plan for the race was to basically listen to my body, and it went really well. I took walk breaks when I needed them, used my Nuun tablet things to keep my sodium levels in check, and somehow wound up finishing in 2:49:59 - exactly two minutes to the second slower than my previous slowest time, which was the really hilly half I ran in Arkansas a few years ago. Considering how awful my training for this race went, I was really happy with my time! (And now I find myself thinking...just how fast could I run a half if I actually applied myself? Hmm...)

I picked up my finisher's medal, ate my way through the finish area (bananas and chocolate milk and Gatorade), then met up with Jen, Mike, and Mark at the San Diego Track Club tent. They gave me a bag of chips (because you need to replenish salt somehow, right?) and some face wipes, then we walked over to Petco Park to check out the post-race concert.

It was pretty cool - you could sit right on the grass!! Aloe Blacc was the headliner for the concert, and they had one of the Jumbotrons set up with a live feed of the race finish line.

Being a baseball geek, I was almost more excited about actually being out on the field.   :)

Mark was just a little tired. He finished in 1:49:02. We had grabbed some iced coffees in the stadium, so we sat in the grass and drank them.

My legs are still attached! And I wound up with some awesome (or awesomely terrible) tan lines from those compression socks.

We hung out at the stadium for a little while, then eventually met up with Charlie, who took us back to Jen's house. We all inhaled some snacks while talking about the race, then grabbed showers and packed up our bags for the afternoon. Why sit still after running 13 miles when you can bike to the beach? We made our way over to Mission Beach and grabbed some food (and celebratory drinks) at an outdoor restaurant right by the beach. Mike's friend Vanessa eventually showed up; she is (I think) a student pilot that lives a bit further north. She had met Mike online so she drove down to meet him in person.

I meant to take more pictures at the beach but I was still jet-lagged and had just run a half marathon. Oops. Sorry.

We all walked down to the beach after lunch; Charlie and Mike went swimming in the not-so-warm water, then Jen, Mark, and I hung out on the beach while Mike, Charlie, and Vanessa went off to find a sports bar so Vanessa could watch the hockey game (which was only slightly weird...if you specifically want to watch a game at a certain time, why would you agree to meet up with a bunch of people you've never met before at a beach?). We hung out on the beach for a while, caught up on a bunch of stuff, then met up with the rest of the group and biked over to Sunset Cliffs to check out the sunset.

It was very pretty.   :)

Mark and I in front of the sunset. We were both pretty wiped out by this point, I think.

We all had bikes except Vanessa; she had forgotten to bring hers, so she drove and met us there.

The rocks looked really cool as the sun dipped lower in the sky. I have no idea who this biker guy is.

We hung out for a little while to watch the sun go down, then started to bike back as it got colder.

Mike had stuffed his bike in Vanessa's car and drove back to Jen's with her so she wouldn't get lost. Charlie, Jen, Mark, and I started to bike back, but stopped just a couple minutes later as the sun popped out from behind a cloud.

It was a pretty cool sunset.   :)

We biked back to Jen's and met up with Mike and Vanessa. We were all still in eat-all-the-things mode (and between the race and the long bike ride, which as best as I can guess was somewhere between seven and ten miles, can you blame us?), so we made a bunch of snacks. Jen heated up a frozen vegan pizza (which really wasn't bad), and Mark had a vegan burger, which he said tasted like hush puppies. (Charlie cheered when Mark snuck some cheese onto the burger.) We stuffed our faces, then grabbed our bathing suits and went down to the neighborhood's pool and jumped in the hot tub for a while. Jen lives so close to Sea World that we could see the fireworks from the hot tub, so we all watched the fireworks then went back to Jen's and passed out. What a long, but fun, day!

No comments:

Post a Comment