In my pursuit of the Cali Combo medal from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Limited Edition medals, I headed to San Diego for a double-header weekend. Running both Saturday and Sunday was also going to earn me the Remix medal.

Race Expo

This was my first time doing the Remix Challenge so I didn’t know I would have to fill out a waiver for each race before I could pick up my bibs for the 5k and ½ marathon. Lucky for me, the first person I approached for my first bib informed me I would need a waiver for my second bib.

After picking up my bibs I made my way through the rest of the expo including picking up the T-shirts for the 5k and ½ marathon, then onto the merchandise. I didn’t need to buy anything so I just made my way through to the exit.

Race Morning 1 – 5k

I was staying in an AirBnB on the Eastern side of Balboa Park and the race started and ended on the Western side. So I thought it would be a great way to warm-up for the race by walking to the race start. However, it was a 2.5 mi walk, with hills. I would have been fine but my dad joined me and was not a fan of the hills. Lucky for us, we handled the hills and made it to the start area.

Rock n Roll San Diego 5k course map

My dad stayed a little ways up the course from the start line so he could take photos and record video of me running because the 5k started by running North, making a U-turn, then running back South towards the start line before continuing for the remaining ~2 mi. After making it back past the start line, we were met with a long straight away and then a hill.

I thought I was in decent shape so I was aiming for roughly 9:00/mi at best, but I was running closer to 8:20/mi on the descent of the hill and that would come back to bite me. A little way down the hill was the turnaround point and I made it only part of the way back up before I needed to walk. There happened to be the one and only drink station just around the corner on the way back up the hill and I chose to start running right before I saw the drinks.

This drink station was about halfway up a small hill that led to another descent before reaching a quick left-hand turn that led to the finish which was, you guessed it, uphill! But this time the uphill climb to the 5k finish was gradual and hardly noticeable.

My official finish time was 33:42 placing me 1413/3338 Overall and 740/1306 for Men.

Race Morning 2 – ½ Marathon

Another day, another race to get to. I didn’t want to walk another 2.5mi to the race start so I requested a Lyft, but of course everyone was looking for one, and everyone was on the road so getting around the road closures made the Lyft difficult.

Eventually I made it to the start area, found my friend Lauren, and we dropped our gear off. I still needed to use a port-a-potty so I got in line even though the race was starting. Why was I okay and not nervous doing this? There were 20,000 people running the ½ and full marathons so it was taking a long time to get through all the corrals of runners. I was going to meet up with another friend who was also late getting to the race start, so Lauren and I decided to wait in the last corral. We ended up starting in corral 37 and every corral before ours was still packed like it was the 1st corral.

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Rock n Roll San Diego marathon and half marathon course map

As for the race, we started along the same street heading in the same direction as the 5k, but of course we continued on past the U-turn point from the 5k. The marathon and ½ follow the same route until about 7.5mi in giving my friend and me plenty of time to run together, the first time we’ve done this so far!

This wasn’t as flat as I expected, but I also thought we would be running through the Downtown area more. Instead, we (those of us running the ½) spent most of our time running through the North Park and Normal Heights areas which is actually where my AirBnB was. The race turned south to make its way towards Balboa Park around mile 8.5 which meant there were less than 5 miles left in the race.

Around mile 9.5 was a series of steep downhills leading into Balboa Park and towards mile 10 where a big inflatable rocker playing a double guitar advertising for Brooks running shoes.

Brooks advertisement from RnR SD half

Passing through the legs of the rockers led us to a short valley along the route, with a hill following shortly afterwards with a group playing large drums as we continued through Balboa Park. There was more uphill and downhill running as we made our way to mile 12 and into Downtown.

Finally into Downtown, I was feeling pretty good and thought it would be a good idea to all but sprint the last mile, so my pace went from 11:00 or 12:00/mi to 8:00/mi.

Needless to say, I “ran out of fuel” short of the finish line so I had to walk a little. I still finished strong and ran a decent pace into the finish line, but I need more practice with pacing my races and finishes.

My goal was to finish in 2:30 and I was very close at 2:32:04. This put me at 8555/15372 Overall, 252/328 for my Division and 4243/6204 for Men.

Like the start line, the finish line was packed when I finished even though the marathon finishers were still only trickling in.

Final Thoughts

I may have been far off on my desired time for the 5k (although right on pace for what I was aiming for in the ½) but I missed my desired time for the ½ marathon by just 2 minutes and I was happy with my performance. Coming into the race with more knowledge of the course profile may have helped my performance, but now I know what to expect if I return to run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego again.

The weather wasn’t perfect on Saturday for the 5k, but Sunday was pretty good. Another highlight of this race was my lack of forethought meant I didn’t have gels along the race which ended up being beneficial because I didn’t need to take bathroom breaks every couple miles like I did during the California International Marathon (CIM) in December.

Would I do this race again? Definitely, because it’s flatter than San Francisco but not as flat as a pancake like San Jose will be in October. Plus, the weather and area (Downtown, North Park, and Normal Heights) has a lot to see and explore.

I have uploaded to YouTube a video shot on my GoPro Hero4 Black throughout the race. You can find it here if you want to check it out.

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