Monday, June 7, 2010

RnR 1/2 Race Report (Geez. You'd Think She Ran A Full...)

Let's see if I can do a full RnR race report in one post, because unlike Irene who so graciously saved you all hours of time, I am not nearly so inclined, and as my good friend SuperHero will attest, once I have the microphone, there may be no stopping me.

But before I begin, one short explanation. In last night's this morning's post I remarked that I was unhappy with my PR 2:27 finish...and that wasn't entirely accurate. I am very happy with the PR, what I am disappointed in, is myself, because I know I could have done better.

But don't we all do that? Just wait, when I get to that part, you'll me.

So, settle in and get a cup of coffee. I, for one, will be here awhile.

The Expo 
Mik, Kat, Elsie and I went to the Expo on Friday to avoid the crowds (ha ha ha), although from other reports I think we did avoid the ridiculous crowd attending the Expo on Saturday and endured only the regular crowd attending the Expo on Sunday...not much to report. Mik bought socks. We lost each other a few times, but found each other at the MGD64 stand.

Me, Mik, Elsie and Kat going into the Expo
Elise, indicated her opinion about writing in her birthday as her predicted finish time...10 hours to finish a 1/2? She was decidedly faster than that. We did a corral change and ended up in corral 20 (predicted 2:20 finish).
This just cracked me up...the fitting rooms for the RnR-gear section was a PortaPotty...I do have to wonder if that discouraged people from trying on clothes
Our friend Elizabeth, who was the 4:30 pacer. We waved at her like idiots for several minutes before she noticed us...
On what may have been my first error of the weekend, that night I went to a retirement dinner/party for the principal of the High School where I used to teach. I'll admit, that I probably SHOULDN'T have had that last glass of wine (or two), but it was two nights before the what would the harm be?

On Saturday, I ran some errands, hung around the house, texted and tweeted with Penny about when she was getting into town...then Saturday night I went to Turbo and Walter's Little League Team Party...Carb loaded on some pizza and beer (only 1 1/2 beers...I really did behave myself).

Good carb loading?
All my race clothes...all laid out and ready for me to jump into them. 4am would come early enough...
The next morning, I woke at 3:30...I don't even know why I set my alarm on race mornings. It's not like I sleep very well anyway. Had some coffee and some toast, got dressed and had plenty of time since I was (for once) so darn organized. BBJ and another friend showed up at 4:45, then with Walter driving, we took off to Mik's house for the rest of the herd, which included Mik, Kat, Edith, and Elsie. All 8 of us packed into my Pilot and we were off.

First, a word to local peeps and props to Walter. I didn't really know that Walter was planning on dropping us off on the east side of Balboa Park by the Natural History Museum, but this was GENIUS!  There was almost NOBODY on Park Avenue. In fact, I worried that we had the wrong park, or the wrong place, or maybe the walk across the bridge was farther than I thought it was (maybe 1/4 wasn't). For non-local peeps who ran the race...while dark, this picture should look familiar because we ran right through here. Unlike lots of peeps who had loads of morning traffic woes when trying to get to the west side of the park, we had absolutely none. It was awesome!

Nothing like front door service!
We walked and jogged a little through the park and across the bridge where I ran into Glenn (who cleverly took a picture, but I was still in "what should I do now" mode and missed that photo op. It was my first, but not my only missed photo opportunity of the day). Glenn told me that they were already out of water! I had finished a bottle in the car, so I wasn't too worried about it, but I could tell there were just a ton of people in the park. I'm guessing that next year Coach Paul will have us do the warm up at 5:00 and not 5:30...just wait. When it happens, I called it first!

Track club - stretching 
Irene and I are not quite awake, but ready to run. Irene gets best outfit award! Awesomely cute running skirt!
Our before shot! One should note that we are wearing tank-tops and it is 5:30. It was already THAT warm.
From the stretch and warmup, we went to check in our excess gear and get into a porta potty line. By this time it was a little before 6am. I figured that we had 20 minutes to the official start, and even a little beyond that when corral 20 would start.

I was wrong.

I expect the PP lines to be long in a big race like this, but THIS was INSANE. When we got in line, Elizabeth (remember the 4:30 timer) was with us and after 10 minutes was just GOING NUTS because the line hadn't moved at all, and she didn't want to leave the people who were counting on her without their pacer...seriously, she was just genuinely concerned, and because she is such a sweet, considerate person, she didn't want to go to the front of the line. Finally, Elsie and I convinced her that it was just the right thing to do.

Elsie and I in the Porta Potty lines...This photo is time stamped 6:19...the race had started and we had been in line for about 20 minutes...I think we were in line for about 15 to 20 more after this...
FINALLY...we took care of our business (and I could do a WHOLE GD post about the lack of porta potties before the race, the time it took, the lack of TP, what people do when the PP they are in line for does NOT have TP, but they know the one next to it does, and so they hold up THAT whole line until the person in the PP with TP get's out so they can grab a handful of TP for themselves AND their friend in line behind them and how THAT slows down not one, but two or even three WHOLE GD lines...) 

On the other hand, major props to Elsie for carrying "personal wipes" and for giving me one.

We were in the PP line for almost 40 minutes.

Anyway, by the time we got OUT of the PP lines, it was about 6:35 and we walked as far toward the start as we could and melded in with the Corral 25 peeps...and we were off....

Miles 1-5 - Balboa Park
First, a word about the wave start. For me, it worked out really well. I know there are some complaining about people being in the wrong corral and that was certainly true. I mean, there were people walking from the start in Corral 25 (2:30 1/2 Mary and 5 hr full pace). WTF? But I think this is an even bigger problem in the lower number corrals. Somehow slower people want to start farther up so that they'll finish earlier perhaps? I don't know. On a day like Sunday, starting in an earlier corral would have certainly helped with the sun, and lord knows I coulda used an extra 30 minutes of overcast...but still...

That being said, it was a great start. I did very little jogging in and out of people. I always felt like I had plenty of room to run my pace, even when we headed into Balboa Park and there were lots of turns, and while I did have to slow down, it wasn't ridiculously slow...just a little slower, and to be honest, for me that worked. I wanted to run a slow, easy, pace for the first four or five miles anyway.

The first miles were easy. It was humid, but still overcast. We ran around and through the park. Bands played. People cheered. I was sweating (a lot more than I thought I I would later figure out). Elsie and I stuck together and I was completely enjoying myself. Coach Paul was there with his bullhorn telling everyone that they make a difference. Elsie and I shouted "WE LOVE YOU PAUL!" 
This is one of only two pictures I took during the race. We are on the 163 exit ramp getting on the freeway. Below us were the marathoners, coming out of downtown. 
Miles 5-11 - The 163 and Friars
So we entered the freeway. Some people don't like this stretch of the race because it is an uphill climb for about two miles, but I actually enjoy this part of the run. It was amazingly neat to see the marathoners come out of downtown, and I'd read enough of the race directions to know that I was supposed to stay to the left and marathoners had the right. As we merged, however, I could see that this was going to be somewhat problematic later in the day.

As it was, our group (roughly 10:30 and 11 mm pace) were running with people who were aiming for a sub 4 hour marathon (quite frankly, I don't even know how fast that is, but I know it's faster than me). But here's the first part of the problem. One of the challenges of running on the freeway is that there's a fair amount of cant in the road, and for some, the goal is to stay to the side where it is more level. Luckily for the 1/2 marathoners, this was the left side of the road, but I could see that there were some faster runners who were also trying to run there and were dodging in and out of us. I can't blame them, running on a road with a 30 degree cant for 2 miles is painful and I didn't mind (I mean, I wasn't the one doing the dodging)

But, from what I heard later from BBJ was that by the time he got to the 163, the 1/2 marathoners on the road included a lot of walkers who DID NOT stay on the left side, they veered onto the right side...which was the marathoners side and even more curious, the side of the road with the most cant.  Frustrating, to say the least.

On the other hand, it was never very clearly labeled that the left side was for 1/2 marathoners and the right for marathon until we got to the exit. The race organizers may want to rethink that for next time (that and the porta potties).

Anyway, back to my and Elsie's story. While I was making my way up the 163, I caught up with Elsie, who had been anywhere from 10 to 40 feet in front of me and we ran together although we didn't talk much. This is when I knew Elsie wasn't having much fun because she ALWAYS chats when we run. By the way, I learned that Elsie swears. She told me she hated the f-ing freeway...which floored me because, unlike me and Betty, both of whom have been known to drop the occasional F-bomb, Elsie does not swear.

Gotta love the Marines manning an aide station. Like they don't do enough for us already!

After about two miles, the freeway crested and we headed back down into Mission Valley. I think it was about this time that I noticed three things:

  1. About an hour into the race, I took my first GU. It was like if my body was just craving whatever was in that thing. I'd never really had that kind of experience with 'effing GU before and figured that I was probably under-fueled. Uh-Oh...
  2. I wasn't really sweating anymore either.  I decided that at the remaining water stations, I'd drink both water and the CytoMax (which I find to be pretty syrupy and sweet anyway). I also noticed that my fingers were feeling kinda swollen...probably another sign of pending dehydration (lots of salt in my system, but not enough fluids?). Not a good thing.
  3. The sun was breaking through as we got off the freeway. Not. A. Good. Thing. At. All.

So, we exited the freeway and headed down Friars Road. Despite the emerging sun, I was still enjoying the run. The sun was at my back and not my face, so it was quite tolerable and there were lots of peeps cheering. I especially loved one guy who had a sign that said "Hello complete stranger! I am proud of you for running today!" I thought that was funny.

Elsie, unfortunately, was not having as much fun. Her friend Jean, dropped in to run a few miles with her, and to my surprise, I pulled away from them.

As I ran along I kept looking for Penny, Velcro and a balloon. We'd exchanged text messages and emails the previous day and she said she'd be on Friars. About Mile 10, I saw Penny, Velcro and Yas...we yelled at each other and I considered running across a bunch of (faster than me) marathoners to give her a sweaty (oh yeah, maybe not since I wasn't sweating anymore), but in a moment of unusual mental clarity, I decided that was NOT a good idea. So I waved and hooted and thanked my lucky stars for the mental boost seeing Penny and Yas gave me.

Miles 11-13 - The Heat..OMFG...The Heat
So...ya wanna know how well I was running for 10.5 miles? Go ahead....look at this.

First 10 miles are a thing of beauty...Even that 11:20 at Mile 6 is understandably at the steepest part of the freeway. 
I don't know what else to say about that except to say that the heat, the humidity, a lack of fluids, and perhaps even a mental wall got the best of me. The 12th mile was, to say the least, brutal. I really had to do some serious talking to myself to keep going. Seeing Irene somewhere in the middle of mile 11 gave me a lift. She was a few minutes in front of me and I sooooo wanted to just leap over the meridian and run with her...but in my second moment of fuzzy mental clarity, I knew that would be wrong.

Worst of all, I was fine (or relatively fine) and then I was not. I'd walk, I'd get all dizzy and I knew that was not a good thing.

Somehow, I got to the next water station (somewhere around 11 miles, I think...I know that we were turning a corner) and there were two women in gold capes and I said to myself that I was NOT going to get beat by gold capes (I'm sure they are very nice people...but you do what you do to get through a race..) and I put my head down to run.

I was partially hoping that I'd see Walter, DramaGirl, and Turbo, who were volunteering at the SDTC water station, which although not on the 1/2 marathon route, was near it and I told them I'd be nearby around 8:45 to 9:00...but they were providing aid to VERY needy marathoners.
Anne sent me this photo of DG and her friend at the water station. DG later told me that she really "sincerely" was glad she volunteered. That's high praise for DG!
By that time, I was a little disappointed in myself already because I know I had a 2:25 finish in my grasp, but like that, it was gone. I do know that I can do it one day. It just wasn't Sunday.

So...2:27:47...I'm happy with it and I'll take it, but I know that I can do 2:25 (and maybe even 2:20) one day. I just know it. It is my next goal!

Me, Elsie, and Mik after the race
Much of the after-race is a blurr to me today. I finished. Someone handed me a medal. Another goddess handed me an ice-cold cloth. I got some water. Elsie finished a little bit behind me and we made our way through the food lines (Breadsticks...YUM and fruit cups...even YUMMIER!) and then to the SDTC tent where I got some chocolate milk, found Mik and Kat, and we decided to get the heck out of there.

I'll probably have some more to say about the finish area in a future post, but I think both Glenn and Irene have excellent recaps about what a Cluster-F it was, which is too bad. I don't know all the ins and outs of race organization, but there has to be a place that a San Diego RnR marathon can end that doesn't make it so difficult for runners to get out of there. BBJ told us that after running for 5 hours, it took him another hour to get on a Shuttle, then even longer to get on the Trolley to get home...NOT GOOD.

We had previously planned to walk to the Marathon Mile 25 aid station to meet up with Walter, but we got out to the road and decided to stop and wait.
It seemed like as good a place as any to stop.
Since Walter, DG, and Turbo had volunteered, they'd parked nearby and so we got out of there pretty easily...which was a godsend.

We piled into the car and headed home for BREAKFAST AND MIMOSAS!

Finally, in my major photo taking FAIL of the day, I neglected to take any photos at breakfast, which was at my house. We had mimosas, pancakes, eggs...Walter (TBHE*) cooked for us and Penny joined us. I can't believe I didn't take a group shot (EPIC FAIL!), but I will leave you with this**...
Penny's excellent signage...I was so flattered. I've never had a sign at a race before!
* The Best Husband EVER!!!

** I'll have some reflections about the event, what I learned, and some other highlights in the next couple of days, but I figure this is LONG ENOUGH FOR ONE POST...EVEN WITH ALL THE PIX!


  1. So was you PR 2:27 or 2:47. The beginning of the blog says 2:47.

    Congrats. You are a machine.
    I wish walkers understood race etiquette.

  2. Part of the reason I didn't do a detailed race report was because my mind is a blur, and was a blur during the entire race.

    I was slow on the uptake with pics, also. I was bummed that I missed Glenn and Penny. I even looked for them!

    I know that ending at Sea World looks good on paper, but we really didn't end at Sea World, which was pretty crappy. We would have been better off ending at Qualcom and having the post race activities in their practice field area, which is all grass and large enough to handle a lot of people. Yeah, it's not as scenic, but at least there's parking.

    Well, it's one for the books nad you have another piece of bling. You'll get your 2:25 half marathon, and you will surpass it. We have plenty more half marathons in us and more PRs, right?

  3. Thanks for catching my Typo's fixed now. The time was 2:27 :-)

  4. I don't know, maybe it's just me. I hate to see you beat yourself up over two minutes. You did great, especially with the heat. Be proud of yourself for completing 13.3 miles that day. Okay? ;)

  5. i'm sorry that you had trouble at the end. i totally understand how you could achieve a pr, yet be disappointed. it's happened to me before- anytime the end of the race doesn't go as planned (for me it's usually injury my knee acting up) it ends up being a disappointment.

    but i still think you did fabulous!!

  6. You completed another 1/2 marathon, and you PR'd!
    Congrats on both those feats.

    I have to wonder if the lady (with the purple shirt and white shorts) in the background of the picture at the expo was in the race or not?!! You finished, I bet she never got off the couch.

  7. great job...the heat will jusct SUCK the life outta you...

    and YES...THAT was awesome carb loading..hahaha

  8. Great report and I LOVE, L.O.V.E, the new Heffer shirts!!

    SD is a tough course when it gets hot and that canter SUUUUUUUCKS on the freeway (although I thought it was kind of fun running on it) I think you should be uber proud.

    The porta potty thing at SD is ridiculous. There are WAY too many women doing that thing for the piss poor (pun unintended, but funny) number of porta potties they have out there!

    I can't wait to meet you all at SF! It will be a blast. I am not much for mimosas, but I can carb load like no other!

    Let me ask you this my wordsmith friend, my word verification is "zygogna" what is that embryonic baloney? Hoo! That cracked me up!

  9. great job, girl! Nice finish time! I am jealous of your speed!

  10. Nice post! you got it ALL in there didn't you? Those PP lines seriously though - that's a nightmare. I don't know why organisers continue to be surprised that people need to do their business before a race AND that they need TP.. Sheesh.

  11. Hi Cindi! I loved your race report. It was almost exactly my feelings and what happened to me too! My mile 12 was my slowest as well. (You can see on my blog.) Totally agree that as soon as the sun came out it was bad news. Awesome race report!

  12. Great race report. Congratulations on your PR. I know how you feel about being happy about it, but knowing you could do better. I had the same feeling on Saturday.

    It was certainly hot this weekend and none of us are acclimated.

    I'm sorry to hear about the organization issues. I really enjoyed MCRD and it sounds like Seaworld parking lot is a sorry alternative.

    Great job pushing through the heat. That sub-2:20 is definitely in your future!

  13. Fun race report, I could just feel your joy and the sense of accomplishment from this half! I love it. I'm just always so interested in reading about your wonderful friendships, too. You are so blessed.

  14. What a great race report Alice. It's pretty apparent that you had a good time out there on the course.

    Yeah - the trolley to Qualcom was a *huge* problem. Of course any local would have gotten on the southbound green line to Old Town, then crossed the track and gotten back on the northbound green line to Qualcom since there was no wait for the southbound trolleys. Sure would have beat the hour wait!

    It was great seeing you in the morning So what's next? I'll be up in SF, and then will definitely be at Shelter Island in October!

  15. excellen work! I have not run a half marathon in years now so I am very envious.