Wednesday, August 18, 2010

America's Finest City Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 25th Edition
720.5 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010

Race: America's Finest City Half Marathon
Place: San Diego, CA
Miles from home: 750 miles
Weather: 50-60s; Overcast and slightly humid

I hear great things about San Diego's weather. I unfortunately, have never really experienced any of them! All of my numerous trips to San Diego have left me with one prevailing thought: boy, is it cloudy and chilly. I know since I go during the notoriously annoying catchphrase months of May Gray and June Gloom that I can't base my opinions on the weather then (as one would not say Minnesota is always cold if they go there in February alone) but it has been what I experienced.  That said, I was happy it remained that way for the AFC Half as it is a race usually run in some of the hottest weather San Diego has to offer.

Prior and completely separate from the race, there were a veritable plethora of things going on that took up a great deal of my time and energy. Unfortunately, close friends I was in touch with in San Diego went through a health roller coaster with one of their relatives until, on Saturday she finally succumbed to illness and passed away. I also had some surprises myself that were very unexpected and sapping of reserves. All told, in spite of the fact that the AFC Half course can produce fast times I knew I would probably not be one of those producing them. In fact, in my 9th half-marathon of the year, I was more or less trying to hang on and have as much fun as I could. Hence the skirt.

Working with the girls at RunningSkirts, who, as twins, both celebrated their birthdays on Friday, I knew this was a good opportunity for me, a person of German and Irish descent, to sport to seemingly Irish Tartan. While the RunningSkirts girls called it the "PR Plaid" for its ability to get fast times, I knew I would just be running and holding on for dear life.

First 5k: 6:16, 6:33, 6:07

I had already started the fun off a few night's before when I went and did my first ever ocean swim.  While I did not properly lube my neck and got chafed, I did not, however, get eaten by either of the great white sharks which were spotted in the same area two days later. I call that a "win." Moments before the race started, where the elite were warming up, I saw what appeared to be the lone wheelchair runner. I approached him (Dave) and we chatted for a bit. It calmed me down a bit and seemed to make him happy to have someone to talk to amongst all the silent hard-core elites. Then the race started.

I had heard about the downhill at the start of this race but there was indeed some up as well. So much that I felt a little labored in my breathing and slowed down my initial pace to get ready for the rest of the downhill sections. One runner cut in front of me immediately after passing me and our legs tangled. Somehow neither of us fell down but when he looked back at me I said: "Yep, all of Newton's laws dealing with objects occupying the same space still are in effect!"

To the Halfway-esque point: 5:40, 6:38, 6:25, 6:42

A beautiful downhill portion appeared and I took advantage of it running a particularly fast mile even though I was holding back some. However, two of the next three miles put me right back into my place. A little out and back section along the bay, one of the few places I had previously run before in San Diego, allowed us to see competitors in front of us- some waaaaaaaay in front of us. However, I felt decent here and was still hoping to get a 1:24 if I could just keep the wheels churning. At least I looked purdy.

To mile 10: 6:32,6:35, 6:46

Even as the course stayed flat, my times slowed. I can't say this was the most scenic place to run (at one point we passed through what appeared to be a rental car parking lot) but it was closed to traffic and felt like it was a race all about giving the road to the runners. The city felt like it was sleep and had no intention of waking up anytime soon, even if there were 7,000 runners surging through the town.

To the finish: 6:46, 7:28, 7:00

Knowing a hill of ~180 feet of rise over the last mile was waiting, another slowish mile beforehand doomed any chance of a 1:24 and I mailed it in. I smiled at spectators, high fived little kids and enjoyed myself, pointing to those who cat-called at my skirt. (Ironically, my shorts show much more legs then the skirt but lots of "Nice legs!" calls emanated from the streets.)

I was happy for the noise as the people were relatively quiet even here where they were gathered in large numbers to cheer on their runners. Someone said that San Diego has so many races that the fans get tired of cheering but I find that hard to believe. As mentioned before, it just seemed like no one ever really woke up. I blame the overcast fogginess for that.

A nice little kick at the end had me catching one runner who had passed me earlier and for a change, while he beat me to the finish, my chip time was better than his. (Usually I start so close to the front that this gets me nipped all the time by those right behind me.) Given all that went on this particular weekend, I was quite pleased to have finished yet another race and have a great time as well. I spent extra time with good friends and met, as always, more than a fair share of nice and friendly runners at the expo and after the race as well.

A 93rd overall placing with a time of 1:26:05 shows you how talented the field was. A woman from my old stomping grounds of Arlington, VA ran a 1:12 - and didn't even win! However, it seemed like most people had a great time and I think, with proper rest, I could have smoked a new PR on this course as well, especially wearing the PR Plaid!

1 comment:

ilovesteaks said...

the crowds along the 6th ave hill and near the finish all woke up by the time I showed up. :)