Wow… Last weekend seemed so long ago that it almost feels like it was all just a dream. Thankfully, I have pictures to prove that it happened!
Race weekend in San Diego was an epic way to kick off my summer vacation! After we dropped the kids and the dog off at my parents house, we made our way to the Expo where I finally got to meet some of my social media friends in person.
After a PR on Saturday’s Live Well 5K, I had high hopes for a strong finish on Sunday’s half marathon. My previous half marathon, earlier in the month, resulted in a 2:10 finish. I have to admit that I felt a little underprepared going into this race because I didn’t really train as much as I should have. Between recovering from a bruised foot, FCT treatment, and end of the school year craziness, I only managed to squeeze in two training runs. But I was here and I was going to do my best. I was hoping to at least finish under 2:05 but part of me was thinking, “Hey, I could run a sub 2-hour race.”
As usual, I had a difficult time sleeping the night before. I woke up at about 1:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I finally got out of bed around 2:30 and got ready. I made it to the parking structure at 3:30 am and relaxed in the car for about 30 minutes before making my way to the shuttle.
Amidst the prerace excitement, we had a #WeRunSocial meet-up at Corral 2 before both the Full and Half Marathon. Lots of pictures were taken!
I enjoyed the course. It was pretty cool to run through a lot of the streets that I used to drive down when I was a social worker in my previous life. My goal was to maintain about a 9 min/mile pace throughout the course. However, I didn’t expect there to be so many elevation changes– especially the rolling hills in the latter half of the course. When I reached mile 7, I looked at my watch and I realized that I could actually finish in less than 2 hours!
After mile 7 or 8, I mentally started to find people I could pace with to try to keep my time goal. I kept finding myself near, right before, or right behind the female runner in blue (pictured above). At around mile 9, my right hamstring started to cramp up so I had to stop and stretch. I felt my hopes of a sub-2 finish going away. After stretching, I tried to make up some time and look for my “pacer” up ahead. I caught up to her eventually. Unfortunately, in trying to get caught up and make up the time I lost, I used up a lot of my energy. I almost ready to settle for a PR that didn’t involve a sub 2-hour finish.
Then somewhere around mile 10 or 11, Samantha tapped me on the shoulder and said that she’d been trailing me for a few miles and asked if we could run together. We high fived to seal the deal. Unbeknownst to me, she had been pacing with me, too.
She was like a running angel!
Samantha gave me that extra push I needed to keep going. We hit one more hill… it almost killed me, but she sprinted up ahead forcing me to catch up to her. I finally caught up to her and she slowed down… almost to a walk… and she told me “Go get yours!” and with her blessing I took off ahead.
That last mile was hard work. It was a race against the clock. And to make things worse, my Garmin said 13.1 before I reached the finish line so I was like… “CRAP! Where is the finish?!!!” So I pushed even harder because I wanted to make sure that I crossed before that 2-hour mark.
But yes, I crossed the finish line in less than 2 hours! A new PR and a huge milestone for me as a runner. After I picked up my medal, I waited for Samantha to arrive at the finish. I was so happy to see her that I gave her a hug. I asked her if she had PR’d but she didn’t. However, she was still very happy with her race. It turns out she was just recovering from a recent foot injury and hadn’t really been training for a PR. She was very excited to have had such a strong finish. I am thankful that she was there to encourage me during those last few miles.
Samantha also has a healthy lifestyle blog: healthyhuggyhappy.com
After saying our goodbyes, I grabbed some snacks, and called my wife to give her the good news. I also went to get my medal engraved… a first for me. But that is when I found out my official time: 1:58.48. Funny story, the engraver misspelled my name so I received an extra medal! I wish Starbucks worked that way… haha!
After the finish, I was exhausted and hungry. The snacks at the finish line were not enough. All I could think about were WAFFLES!!! Thankfully, Sol Cal Cafe was only a couple of blocks away! The staff was very cool and didn’t mind my sweaty self coming into their shop. In fact, they celebrated with me and even complimented me on my No Meat Athlete top! #vegansunited
After brunch, I made my way back to the car. After sitting down behind the wheel, I unexpectedly started to well up and broke down in tears, overwhelmed with emotion. I composed myself and sang along to India Arie’s “It’s a Beautiful Day” on repeat all the way back to my parents’ house.
After an epson salt bath and a nap, it was time for the #WeRunSocial After Party hosted by Procompression. It was nice to hear other people’s race stories and celebrate with them.
This was such an amazing weekend! Everything was great… the people, the food, the races, the PRs!!! San Diego, thank you for being so good to your prodigal son… You will always be my hometown!