Wednesday, June 10, 2015

San Diego Race Weekend

As reluctant as I was to leave my family, even if only for a day and a night, I said my goodbyes to Christina and Mimi after a leisurely, late breakfast on Saturday and drove into downtown San Diego to the Courtyard Marriott.  Once there, I grabbed my little carry-on bag and turned the keys to my rental Mustang Convertible over to the parking valet and went inside to the check-in desk in hopes they'd let me get into my room early.   Hooray!  They did let me check in!

View of the Gaslamp Quarter as I walked down 5th Ave toward the
convention center.

My friend Sandy was taking the train down from Los Angeles and estimated her arrival at around 1:00 PM, so my timing was good.  I walked the few blocks - about a mile - to the convention center, and then went inside the Race Expo to pick up my race packet and to browse the vendors.  I visited the vendor booths a bit as I waited to hear from Sandy, and then walked out to the atrium area and ordered a Starbucks cappuccino.

Being happy at the Brooks Happy Island!
My favorite brand of running shoe!

The Cali Combo mascot.  Run two or more California R'n' R
races in a year and earn this extra medal!

Just as I was waiting for my Starbucks drink to come up, Sandy texted me to say she had arrived at the convention center.  I spotted her as she walked in the door, so cappuccino in hand, I joined her.
We finally meet up in Cali!  

We went back inside, got her race packet and then browsed the vendors together.  It was the largest Rock 'n' Roll expo I've been to so far.  Not as big as Chevron Houston or Flying Pig, and a few others though.  Word on the street is that they charge the vendors too much to exhibit, so not many sign up to exhibit.  But this one had quite a few vendors, with a wide variety of goods for sale, races to promote, nutrition products to sample and taste.

Giant screen in R'n' R booth

When we got to the Rock 'n' Roll Races booth - an enormous island booth with all sorts of multimedia going on - Sandy immediately stepped up to one of the computer stations and signed up for next year's San Diego race.  She couldn't resist the low, low on-site early registration fee of $50 (normally well over $100) and the free t-shirt.  As she waited for the guy to bring her the shirt, I relented and signed up as well.  It didn't take too much convincing on her part ("you can run with me, your son lives here, you can visit family, the weather is perfect," etc) to get me to cave in.

Waiting while Sandy (behind me at computer station) registers for next year's race.
I ultimately signed up, too, peer pressure being what it is.

Expo visit now complete, we walked along the harbor to a Cheesecake Factory for early dinner.  We scored an excellent outdoor table, let our waiter know we were in no hurry, and then had a wonderful, leisurely dinner, starting with glasses of wine and guacamole dip, then our entrees (miso salmon, brown rice, snow peas for me), then a slice of toasted s'mores cheese cake to share.

It was nice and relaxing, and so was the leisurely stroll back to the hotel.  Sandy walked part way with me before she headed toward her hotel.  We made plans to meet at the start line the next morning, both of us agreeing not to get there too early.  Once back at my hotel, I laid out my running things, set my alarm for 5:00 AM and then watched some TV before trying to get to sleep.

I had no problem awakening the next morning, since my body was still on CDT.  I got dressed, ate my breakfast of Cheerios and a banana, then departed the hotel at about 6:45 for the long walk to the start line.  The race start time was 6:50 AM for the half marathon runners, but I was assigned corral #25, though I had planned to scoot into a lower number corral.  It was about a 1.2 mile walk to the start, so I figured this would be just about right, given the 1 to 1.5 minute intervals between release of the corrals.

The walk seemed to take forever!  I crested the hill alongside Balboa Park but still couldn't see the start line ahead.  Another couple of blocks and it began to come into view.  Whew!  I began to worry that I'd cut this way too close.  My cell phone chirped at me, telling me I had a text message.  It was from Sandy. "Where are you?"  I didn't want to slow down enough to respond but also didn't want her to be concerned about me, so I let her know I was just a block or so away.  She texted back to tell me she was in corral #18 on the left side and to look for her.

So I walked up the left side of the corral barriers until I got to the #18 sign, but didn't see her.  I also couldn't find an opening in the barrier fence to get in.  Corral #18 was within two or so corrals from being released across the start line and I began to panic that there would be no place for me to enter the corrals this close to the start line.  So I backtracked to the first opening, which turned out to be at corral #20 and then texted her to let her know where I was.  She responded to say that she would be walking along the left edge of the course, and to look for her.

Well, after 3 or 4 miles, I never did find her, so quit worrying and slowed my pace a bit.  I eased into a comfortable rhythm and began to look forward to mile 6, where Christina and Mimi planned to wait for me.  When I got to mile 5 I texted her to let her know I was a mile away.

The neighborhood we were passing through between miles 4 and 6 was a really cool little area, filled with craftsman-style homes, most all of which were neat as a pin, some with fun, funky paint schemes, many with just a touch of California Hippie to them.  An older lady in a wheelchair had a big bucket between her feet and was making enormous bubbles with a huge bubble wand.  Another older lady with long flowing gray hair and hippie-style long dress was waving a large incense burner over the runners, blessing us as we went by.  A choral group of older men and women were standing in front of a house singing a Capella, and another group had pulled a fire pit onto the sidewalk in front of their house and were seated in lawn chairs around the pit, chatting, drinking coffee, cheering us on.  The whole neighborhood were mostly all out in their yards and driveways to cheer us on.  They really embraced the event.  I researched this neighborhood once I got back to my son's house, and learned that these houses were built in the very early 1900's and were some of the first residential homes to be built in the then-new city.

It was so wonderful to have family cheering
me on in the San Diego race.  Fun sign they made for me!

As I neared mile 6, the race route had us turning right onto Adams Street.  I spotted Christina first, and began waving my arms.  She didn't see me right away, as she was scanning the runners ahead of me, looking for my familiar face.  But then see did spot me.  I could see Mimi prancing and playing along the edge of the race course.  She didn't see me until I had come to a stop next to Christina.  Then her shyness kicked in and she wouldn't pose for a photo with me.  But that's was probably all a bit overwhelming for her.  I learned afterward that when Christina started marshaling her back to the car, she said she wanted to stay to see me come by again.  Sweet, sweet girl, unclear on the concept.

Sandy at the mile 6.1 relay exchange location.  She did
the relay with a friend.  I stopped long enough for a
selfie with her then I continued on for the second half.
I was buoyed by this meeting for the next few miles!  I got another text from Sandy saying she was at the relay exchange spot, just down the road from where my family had waited for me.  I caught up with Sandy for the obligatory 'selfie' and then continued on alone, since Sandy had done the first leg of the relay and she was now done.

At about mile 8 or 9 I began to have some lower GI issues.  Sometimes I get this at about mile 2 or 3 but it's usually a "one and done" kind of portapotty stop.  This was different.  I was taking an antibiotic and one of the possible side effects was diarrhea.  I'd been on it for 4 days now....could this be the delayed reaction?  Apparently so, as I made portapotty stops nearly every mile for the rest of the race.  It was not fun, and greatly cut into what had, up until that point, been a very good race pace.  After the second stop, I quit caring.  As long as I finished, my time really didn't matter.

The last mile was the hardest.  The portapotty sessions had taken a lot out of me, figuratively and literally.  I was trying to drink water and gatorade at every hydration station to compensate, but I was really dragging in that last mile.  Good thing those last few miles were scenic, if hilly, as they took us through the eastern side of Balboa Park.  It really was gorgeous!

The race route, data from my GPS watch

At one point, a really good drum troupe was pulling us up a very long hill with their rhythmic beats.  I could hear them for a mile.  Then when I finally got up to the top of the hill....there they were!

An incredibly good drum troupe!  If I hadn't been running in a race, I would
have shot a short video of them. 
Finally, across the finish line, medal around my neck, a bottle of chocolate milk, some water, and I was feeling a little better.  I found a place to sit down on the ground, something I never do immediately after a race, and ate a banana and finished my chocolate milk.  I needed to find a portapotty again, and went wandering in search of one.  I found the bank of porta units and, unbelievably, there was a long line!  I've never experienced this at the finish line!  Usually these are totally abandoned and empty!  It was an Argggh moment for me.
Taken by one of the photographers right
after crossing the finish line.  I always feel
worse than I look!

Then I was okay.  I began my long walk back to the hotel.  I'd scouted this walk.  It was very straightforward.  Just up a few blocks on 11th St, left turn onto Market St, across a few blocks to 6th St, then north to the hotel at 6th and Broadway.  And there would be a Starbucks right on my route!  I'd even tucked my Starbucks card into my pocket in anticipation.   So a fully caffeinated Vente cappuccino came back with me to my hotel room.

I laid down on the bed for a bit, ate another banana and a granola bar, sipped my coffee, then started moving toward the shower to get cleaned up, and then checked out of the hotel.  They'd given me a 2:00 PM checkout, thankfully, so I had plenty of time.

Pizza and recovery food!

I was out of the hotel and back on the road toward my son's house by 1:30 PM.  I looked forward to scarfing down a couple slices of leftover pizza that I knew were in their fridge and washing it down with some of my son's home-brewed beer, cold out of the kegorator!

My finisher's medal

Official finisher photograph
 My son and grandson were home from their camping trip, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter were at the beach.  A good time to chill out with son and grandson for a couple of hours and just relax.

Tomorrow, the grandkids are both in school and my son has the day off from work....a great opportunity for the three of us to do something adult-ish.

1 comment:

  1. Great job finishing the race, especially with the GI distress. As someone with Crohn's I really can empathize with you.