Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 1,614: Rock'n'Roll San Diego Half Marathon

SAN DIEGO -- When I don't run very much and then find myself before a big race, I always think of the Centralia Half Marathon.

I jumped into that race in Washington state in November 1999 as a way to tune up for the Suzuki Seattle Half Marathon later that month.

My longest training run for it was 4 miles. Basically I did pretty well until mile 10 and then seriously hit the wall and eked out 3 painful miles.

In the 62 days in between the April 3 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in Washington, D.C. and this race, I'd run more than 5 miles on two occasions -- I ran 6 miles on the morning of my wedding on May 7 and I managed a 7.75-mile run on June 1, 4 days before the race.

So I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.

To my surprise, everything was perfect for this race. We stayed at a hotel just two blocks from the start, right across the street from Balboa Park.

The course was pretty gentle, with only a small amount of hills but very generous downhill slopes.

It was cool, about 61 degrees at the start and not humid. It got even better around Mile 4 when we ran on a deserted (closed-off) Highway 163. Later on, on the plane ride back, I heard a woman behind me say she didn't like this part of the race. But it gave me a post-apocalyptic feeling, running on a highway that anytime else you would never want to be here.

Plus being in a valley and shaded, it was even cooler than the start. I could see people's breaths as we ran down the highway.

The music was amazing in this race. In the two Rock'n'Roll races (Chicago, Las Vegas) that we've run in, the music has been forgetful at best. There was at least one band I did a double take thinking they sounded so good I wouldn't be surprised to hear them playing before big stages in the future.

Another nice West Coast element was a Japanese taiko drum group playing near one of the cloverleafs we had to negotiate. That was helpful, since it was easy for me to pace myself to each beat of the drums.

Coming from Atlanta's oppressive humidity, I think I was heat acclimated in ways that would not be possible for locals. I had water just twice, starting at Mile 6 and another around Mile 9. The sunny day did not seem hot to me at all and this June race in many ways reminded me of the ING/Publix half marathon series in Atlanta.

So all in all, with a race both of us thought might be difficult for us, we both did very well in. Like all of the Rock'n'Roll races, it was very well put together and it went even farther to be one of my favorite halfs that I've done.

Time: 6:21 a.m.
Temp: 61 degrees
Gear: Tech T, short (CS yellow), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus 27.

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