Friday, June 5, 2015

A Record Weekend - Rock n Roll San Diego 5K and Half Marathon 2015

We've been lucky to see some amazing things. Sometimes, it's just that we happen to be in the right place at the right time. I like to think that some of it is because we continue to have passion for racing, keeping ourselves healthy and being fortunate enough to have the means to travel to the events. Working hard breeds its own luck.

We always look forward to the Suja Rock n Roll San Diego weekend. It's a quick flight to a beautiful city during our peak training period of the year. This year, they added a 5K on Saturday to the half and full marathons on Sunday. The Remix bonus medal is a nice perk and I'm sure the city appreciated the tourists coming in a day early. San Diego is also the headquarters for Competitor Group Inc., and in its 18th year, it's the oldest race on the Rock n Roll circuit. It's also where either Susan or I set a personal best in each of the last three years.

Susan and two of the legacy runners for Rock n Roll San Diego. An amazing run of 18 years!
We made a point of getting there for the pre-race press conference. Team in Training participant Harriet Thompson would be running for a world record as the oldest woman to complete a marathon at 92. She started running when she was 76. Never believe people when they say it's too late to start! I would have liked to have seen her at the Inspiration Dinner where John Bingham hosted his final function with Team in Training.

Harriet and Meb share the stage with the Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer.
We cut our usual visit to the expo short so we could stay off our feet. We didn't want a repeat of the dead legs in Portland a few weeks ago. We had enough time to catch our favorite CGI staff.  Grace (Far left) will be representing the USA in Senior Dragon Boat racing in August against Team Canada.

In retrospect, I should have waited until Darlene put the sports bra back
We congratulated Amy on her graduation from business school. Ryan has been on the road for the last four weekends, something we can relate to. Al had to head back to work so Susan and I found a light dinner near the hotel.

Race day #1. 5K at Balboa Park
The inaugural RNR San Diego 5K drew about 3000 participants. We had a chance to catch up with Ann Wessling who had been reliving her father's book about working on the railroads in the mountain states. She, her dad and husband were driving the route while she read the book aloud. With her voice, I think that would make an amazing documentary. Kevin showed up to cheer us on.

We also found Sherry, Don and Andrew at the start. Gypsy beacon activated!

The course was a great shake out and prepped us for some of the rolling hills we'd see on the half on Sunday. I actually went to bed the night before thinking that this might be the year where neither of us set a new PR given the so-so performances at Crown Point and Portland. But something about the Remix combo really gets me revved up to push the shorter distance. With Al and Andrew dragging me up the last 400 yards, I ended up trimming 30 seconds off my previous 5K best. Probably the best part about the race for me was that Al didn't get to the start line at the gun because he was holding a Deco bike parking space for Caryn. He had to throw down a few 8 minute miles to catch up to me.

Finish line appearance by Dave Mari. He lost his voice cheering while running with Deena and Meb.
Susan and I had to get back to the hotel to be presentable for brunch. We had been to San Diego 6 times but never got the chance to visit my cousins and goddaughter. Thank you guys, for making the trip south!

Our extended family has only a few blondes. Darcy and Susan really stand out in most family pictures. 
I took a quick trip to the expo to exchange Susan's 5K shirt (ran a little small) and Susan took a short nap. I was able to catch up to my friend Kassi. We met on a flight to Rock n Roll Seattle a few years back and this was her first race in a year or so. Her parents came down to cheer her on.

We met up with Caryn at Tratorria Fantastica at the bottom of the Little Italy sign. Given the visitors for race day, we'll likely head elsewhere next year. Parking and traffic are a bear. Al was about an hour late dealing with tech support issues. Fortunately we had enough time to chat. 

Al pointed out something I hadn't processed before. I was using way too much of my calf muscles when my form breaks down which explained a lot about late race calf cramps. I gave that some thought since that's the 'hike' style of race walking that I fall back on when I get tired. I know he's been pushing me to strengthen my glutes this year and it all started falling into place. Back to the hotel for an early bed time and a 3:30 AM wake up call to catch the shuttle to the start. 

We figured it was better to walk a little less than a mile to the shuttle on level ground to Petco Park than two miles up a hill to the start. Uber was unavailable and bikes just didn't seem like a good idea in the dark. The line moved pretty quickly though. I sat behind a group of firemen who were doing the full marathon in full turnouts. They were raising money for one of the company's sons who was diagnosed with leukemia.

Just like last year, we spent about an hour just resting in Caryn's car staying cozy warm. We got out enough to stretch, warm up and check gear bags. We didn't get out in time to catch Joe, Kevin, David and Tricia in the VIP area. Al did a quick run to the far side of the starting line where we usually find Kamika. He'd flown in late the night before from Boise where he crossed off the 42nd state for his half marathon quest.

This is where race brain just took over. I'd done this race three times already so I knew the turns pretty well. Except for 2014 when my back was tweaked after Mustang, I'd logged a PR every year. About 2 miles in, I started rotating muscle groups, 'going light' using more hamstring and glutes to save my calf muscles.

Damn. It worked. I started knocking mile times at PR pace without spiking my heart rate at all. I stuck to the plan to hold that pace and relax on the few sharp uphills in miles 7 - 9. Kassi passed me near the end of mile 10 on her way to a solid race and we gave each other some much needed encouragement to finish. Once I hit the last 2 miles, I'd take advantage of the downhills and see what I had left. 

Turns out, it was quite a bit. My last 5K of the half was even faster than my 5K PR the day before. Even my Garmin data gave me an indication that I had even more left. I usually peg the Training Effect at 5.0 but finished with a medium-high exertion reading of 3.8. I passed Ann at the finish line, gave her a high five, pointed at the clock and yelled out "PR by two minutes!"  Turns out it was a little less than that, but I'm not one to complain. I've got more work to do.

As I crossed through the finish area, I saw Laurie from CGI, who was one of the leads for this event. She said several of her friends came by with PR performances.  Meb won his first Master's title at 1:02:29, just two seconds behind the overall winner. Harriet Thompson became the oldest woman  to finish a marathon at 92 years and 93 days old. She finished in 7 hours and 24 minutes.

And us? We come away with our 8th Rock n Roll and a seriously heavy 8-Track Heavy Medal. We're over half way to the Hall of Fame for 2015 and loving every mile.

Note to self: We need to get a picture WITH Amy and Ryan next time.
We've been lucky to see some amazing things. We plan to keep working hard to keep that luck flowing.


In its 18th year, Rock n Roll San Diego had about 21000 finishers. There were 13,702 in the half marathon, 4,307 in the marathon, 390 in the marathon relay and 2,987 finishers in the 5K. 88 Legacy Runners even have their own results page. This year we were blessed with temps in the low 60's and a cloud cover that lasted for the first 6 hours of the race. If you're looking for a fast course, this is the place to be for a half marathon. 

Joe Harris extended his lifetime Rock n Roll race total to 106. Kevin Gonzalez crushed his PR by walking a 2:16:59 in his 85th RNR, wearing Jake Zeman's bib for Team Trust. I think we have identified the top 9 lifetime RNR totals including Al, Sherry, Kamika, Ron, Susan, Juan and David DeNeire. This is the first race where in some time where all of us participated. If anyone else has over 60 RNR half and fulls, let me know. It'd be cool to take a picture with the top 10!

We'll be in Chicago this weekend for a race walk clinic with Tim Seaman. I'll be really excited to see anything I can learn to get more efficient and faster. After all, Kevin is starting to nip at my heels on age grade results and I need to stay a step ahead!

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