Tuesday, June 10, 2014

39 Hour Count Down - Rock 'n' Roll San Diego 2014

Ever wonder how Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics can do so many races in a single year? We captured the timeline for our quick two-day turnaround trip to RnR San Diego. Stay tuned next year for more exciting coverage of multi-state, multi-race turnarounds as we work on checking off more states on our 50 state half marathon quest!

Sunny California did not disappoint and we were able to see a lot of people and do most everything we wanted to within a short 39 hour time span.

Fri. May 30 
7:05 am Check in for Southwest flight. Actually, if you're A-list or have automatic check in, you don't have to worry too much about checking in 24 hours in advance of your flight. Finish packing, print and fill out your race registration check in sheet, wrap up work stuff, and get to bed early 'cause tomorrow and the next are going to be two very long days.

Sat. May 31 
5:00 am Depart for the airport. It's early on a Saturday morning so fortunately you usually don't have to worry about traffic at that hour unless they're doing road construction. It never hurts to leave a little bit early just in case. Arrive at the airport, park the car, wait for the shuttle to the airport.

5:30 am Go through security (again, it helps to be A-list on Southwest) although there aren't that many people in line at that early hour. Head to the gate and see who we know shows up at the gate - in this instance, we met up with two other racing couples in the Oakland airport.

Mitchel, Jennifer, Susan, Ron, Chris, Carol

6:00 am While making small talk and catching up on each other's races, Jennifer mentioned that she was planning to renew her CPR/AED/First Aid training the following weekend. Susan jumped at the chance to renew her certification and was extremely pleased with the Healthcare Provider's class taught at Pulse Check CPR in Hayward. Jeremy not only told the class what to do but also took the time to explain why it worked. Susan learned more in this American Heart Association class than any other class taught by the Red Cross or online. 

7:05 am Typical of Southwest, the plane departed on time and we were well on our way to starting our race weekend. 

8:30 am We land in San Diego where the weather is perfect and catch a cab to our hotel. Drop off bags with the concierge and head to the race expo at the San Diego Convention Center Halls G-H. Competitor group offered a perk to TourPass holders this time around and let them into the expo a half an hour early. We didn't get there in time to enjoy this benefit. Maybe next time!

9:00 am We just took a photo with the course map and haven't even stepped into the expo yet when our next set of friends from RnR Saint Louis call out to us. We befriended them last year when we stopped and asked for directions which turned into drinks at the hotel, meet and greet at the race start, Facebook friends, and the rest is history. 

Ron, Rick, Rhonda, Susan

Let the Expo adventures begin! First stop, the Competitor RnR gear where Susan picks up yet another pink shirt to add to her growing collection (She doth protest: "But this one says, 'California' on it!") Yeah, right. Out trip just wouldn't be complete without saying high to Darlene and Grace. (Yes, Susan shops that much that we now know the Competitor group employees by first name!) 

   Ron, Darlene, Susan, Grace

Look who we bumped into! It's Al and Kamika!

Another requisite expo stop, the PowerCrunch booth to see Wendy and stock up on supplies.

There are 94 legacy racers who have done RnR San Diego 17 years in a row! We know they're not all runners because TNT Walk Coach Tisha Gallardo is on the list! Way to go Tisha!

10:30 am Expo guest speaker Shayne with John Bingham presenting, "Gu and the Gumocracy" vote through social media where Salted Watermelon was voted the Official Gu flavor of the Rock n Roll Marathon Series.

We thought Shayne held her own well against an onslaught of tangential questions. 

11:00 am Expo guest speaker editor Nicki Miller meets up on stage with John Bingham for keen insights into the print vs. online publishing world.

1:30 pm Time for a late lunch with Kevin, Sylvia, Ron, Susan, and Al. 

2:30 pm We finally check into our hotel. Check out the amazing view from the Bayfront Hilton!

4:30 pm We get a personal visit from Stephanie and Lily at our hotel room. For more pictures of Lily helping Susan foam roll, check out Stephanie's Facebook page. It's one of the 1,000's of photos she took that race :-) She even took photos of us during the race! Snapping photos of cool stuff is like breathing for Stephanie. She loves to share with the rest of us who don't even bother to look up from the person in front of us during the race. If you want to see what was really going on during the race, just check with Stephanie. She catches things the rest of us totally miss. We love you Stephanie! Even if you'll never PR with that camera in your hand!!

5:30 pm It's dinner time at Amici's! We're all smiling because we're busy planning for another race together (Double Live Tour Part Deux in November 2014) before we've even completed this race. You know you're a Half Fanatic when...

8:00 pm Goodness. It got dark out while we were at dinner. We better hurry back to the hotel and get to sleep. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow!

8:30 pm Race Tradition:  Lay out ALL your race clothes the night before. If you've ever forgotten something, you'll swear by this race tradition to ensure that you never forget anything ever again. 

6:15 am Half Fanatic photo shoot. We're getting close to the start of the race now! Only 30 minutes to go until the gun goes off. Back in Corral 16, it will take us another 25 minutes before we actually cross the start line. 

6:14 am. While waiting in the corral, I can't help but notice a woman rolling up a thick paperback book into a cotton sweatshirt and wrapping it around her waist. Of course, I had to ask... "So, is that a trick for added back support while you're running?" She responds, "Oh no, I just didn't want to check my stuff and have to come all the way back to the start to pick it up." Turns out she had never done a point-to-point race and didn't know that they use UPS trucks to transport our gear to the finish line for us. Ufda. It was too late to do anything about it now. I wonder how moist those pages were by the time she finished the race. 

6:21 am. These guys are wondering why I'm taking a picture of them but in reality I just wanted to capture the custom MEB corral sign. Meb paced his 1:30 pace group to a 1:29 finish. Great job Meb!

7:10 am We cross the start line and another memorable race has begun. Somewhere along the course, Ron snapped this selfie. He was in front of Susan pretty much the whole race helping pace her to a new personal record (PR). Apparently, we're usually quite chatty on the race course because TNT Coach MaryAnne had to share with us her wardrobe malfunction story (BTW, the shorts ended up being a good choice given how hot it ended up being that day.) Stephanie wanted us to slow down so she could take a picture (Thank you Steph for the words of motivation to help Susan keep up with Ron at that 11:19 pace!) Then we bump into Louie Soriano and Dave Mari and have even more catching up to do. (Louie, thanks for sharing with us that adorable mash up photo of you as a baby and your 4 month old daughter. You both are so cute!) Anyway, back to the race and the PR story...

9:39 am Susan had come close to breaking 2:30 several times. The closest was run-walking 2013 RnR Cleveland at her 50th half marathon with adrenaline on her side that day to finish in 2:30:02 (ouch!). The next closest was run-walking 2014 RnR Portland with perfect race conditions (cool, overcast, cloudy) where she finished 2:30:17 (so close!) Susan never dreamed of breaking 2:30 strictly walking since her half marathon walking PR was over 2:30 by 2.5 minutes just a month ago at American River Parkway. Ron had different plans for Susan in San Diego, however. Based on his own 2013 RnR San Diego PR race experience with Coach Al (pictured above), Ron was able to get Susan to set a new half marathon walking PR at 2:29:30. Comfortably within her goal. So you know what's next... Setting another PR goal perhaps? We'll see!

We're lucky enough to have fast friends who don't mind waiting for us at the finish line.

10:00 am Just enough time to meet up with Bern for a quick photo at the family meet and greet area. Thanks Bern for flying from NYC to San Diego to surprise your family and for making time for us and a quick hug!

10:30 am Back to the hotel for a quick shower and to check out. 

12:00 pm We are escorted by Al and Caryn across the bridge for lunch in Coronado. We spend the afternoon walking along the beach realizing that some people actually live here and can enjoy this every day if they want to!

Susan and Caryn admiring the Pacific ocean view. 

If there is such a thing as "FaceBook jealousy" then we've got it bad. Caryn posts amazing photos of her runs in San Diego every week and we just drool at the scenery. We were treated to a driving tour of San Diego and saw things that we never knew existed in San Diego. While there were many hills involved, we chose to drive them this day. We'll leave running those hills to Caryn and her crazy running group friends! 

6:00 pm Dinner ocean side at Island Prime with Al and Caryn. 

8:25 pm We're back at the airport with Ann Wessling waiting for our Southwest flights ready to head home after this EPIC SUMMER RUN (or EPIC SUMMER WALK in our case).

9:55 pm. Flight, drive home. Sleep in our own beds, ready for work the next day.

Next year and beyond on our 50 state half marathon quest at non-RnR races, we don't expect to know nearly as many people as we saw at RnR San Diego. It's friends who made this 48 hour count down that much more special. 

Otherwise, you're just there to do a half marathon and what fun is that?


Rock 'n' Roll San Diego is the longest running event in the Rock 'n' Roll Series. 2014 marks the 17th year of the race. It originally was only a full marathon, adding a half marathon specifically for Team in Training in the mid 2000's and officially opening the half to general registration a few years later. This year there were 5325 finishers in the Full Marathon (median finish time of 4:43) and 16884 finishers in the half (median finish time 2:21). The half marathon course is one of the fastest in the country. Last year, Bernard Koech set a non-sanctioned record of 58:41.  The elevation drop for the race prevented him from claiming an official record. 

The course had not changed since 2013, starting in Balboa Park and heading northeast through University Heights, Normal Heights and Felton Heights before coming back on El Cajon Boulvevard, Pershing Drive and finally finishing down 13th Street with a long downhill into Petco Park. Weather this year was slightly warmer (60 F to start) with temps climbing into the high 60's by mile 8.

This was Susan's 64th half marathon and her all time PR walking or run/walking. This was Ron's 62nd half marathon and the second time he's walked faster than 2:30 in three consecutive half marathons. Both of us earner our 4th Super Six Heavy Medal to stay on track for Rock Idol this year. We hope to pick that up in our home town at Rock n Roll San Jose along with the brand new Cali Combo medal for doing San Francisco, San DIego and San Jose.

Since we bought the 2015 Tour Pass, we've already signed up signed of for next year's RNR San Diego. This should surprise no one :)