Earlier this year, my friend Caitlin informed me that 1) she wanted to come visit me in San Diego, and 2) she wanted to run a half marathon while she was here. By August, she had already booked her flight and signed up for the race, which left me scrambling to sign up too. So I did.
But then, as it often happens…life got in the way. I threw out my back one Sunday I was going to do a long run (and spent all day laying on the couch on top of a heating pad), I spent two weekends traveling to and from the UK for work, friends and family came to visit…and so my training didn’t really happen. I went into this half marathon completely unsure of how I would do – and also a bit nervous, since I had trained for the La Jolla Half and injured my IT band/struggled on that course.
And so, when Caitlin arrived and told me she hadn’t done any legitimate training either, I felt a little better.
On race morning, as we sat eating our toast with peanut butter, we asked ourselves why we were up at the ass crack of dawn and why we were doing this silly race that would take us way longer than we expected and during which we’d be miserable.
And yet, just a few hours later, and we were smiling ear-to-ear, happy to have completed the race and have run along such a scenic course.
I’ve always heard people say that when they ran X race, the miles “just flew by,” and yet I’ve never actually understood that, because even for races I’ve been extremely well-prepared for, I’ve spent a lot of it asking myself why I was only at a certain mile, or why time was moving so slowly.
During this race, though, I got it. The miles actually did fly by and I’d say it was because 1) I had zero expectations of myself, and therefore didn’t stress out over my pace or effort, and 2) the course was just so beautiful.
Here are some photos from the course, courtesy of Caitlin:
The start line…
From the course…
The finish line…
Here’s what I loved:
- The course. It was absolutely beautiful, taking you through parks, along bike baths, over bridges and by Mission Bay.
- The volunteers, and the resulting number of (very efficient) water stations. The volunteers were awesome – not only were they on top of handing out drinks to everyone (and had what seemed like an endless supply of water and gatorade), but they were very good about specifying which table had which. There were probably water stations every 1.5 miles or so.
- The start/finish. I love when races start and finish in the same location; it makes it easy to plan your morning and post-race transportation. Not only this, but the police (and race organizers) did an amazing job. We had no issues getting to the start of the race (we left at 5:45 am for the 7:00 am start, and had time to hang out on the beach for almost an hour before the start), and leaving was easy and carefree. I’ve never been able to get to or from a race as easily as I did for this race.
Here’s what I didn’t love:
- The out-and-backs. Not ideal, and it seemed like there were a lot of them. The course map confirms this. The one thing I will say about these are that they kept Caitlin and me going when we wanted to take a breather; we knew we’d be passing each other at some point which kept us going so we’d be running past each other. And they also helped because at a couple of different points we were able to cheer each other on, and even high five.
The finish line was on sand, and they announced most people as they came in and cheered everyone on, and the finish line had tons of cold water and gatorade, in addition to bananas, ritz cracker sandwiches, fruit snacks, oranges, and granola bars. There were also a good number of vendors at the finish, but we didn’t stick around to check any of them out because we wanted our much-deserved brunch.
At the end of it all, neither of us were disappointed with our times (we were actually pretty happy about them!), and we were happy to have not died on the course or have fallen in the sand at the finish.
Overall, I’d say it was a win. And even though I know that I don’t have to convince Caitlin to come back to San Diego, running this race next year might be something we’ll do again together and something that’ll make her want to come back out here (because the abundant sunshine, beautiful beaches, and Maeby aren’t enough).