Overall: 370 / 6494
Division (M 40-44): 54 / 581
Gender (M): 318 / 3725
I’m pretty satisfied with my time and results today considering I went into the marathon not very motivated. I had no expectations going into the marathon other than to stay within myself and finish with minimal pain and suffering – which I accomplished. I never hit the wall and ran a negative split – 1:45 the first half and 1:41 the second half. I took it out conservatively, staying with the 3:30 pace group to about mile 20. This is normally where I make the decision to either maintain or pick up the pace. Since I was feeling pretty good, I decided I’d pick up the pace a bit and began running ahead of the 3:30 pace group and never saw the again. In hindsight, I probably could have started a little faster, but since my longest training run was only 17 miles this training cycle, I was concerned I would run out of gas early and end up regretting it later with a death march to the finish. I finished strong, running the last 2.5 miles around a 7 minute pace.
Link to San Diego RNR Marathon: http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/san-diego
Organization: The organization for the marathon was good. Everything was pretty flawless. Picking up your number and getting in and out of the Expo was quick and easy. The Expo wasn’t crowded, so you could actually walk around and not feel like a sardine. The parking downtown by Petco Park was awesome, just a short walk to the abundant bus shuttles waiting to take you to the start and a short walk back to your car after the finish. The area around the start was a little puzzling, but I eventually figured it out after walking around a bit. They have a large grassy area in Balboa Park and they provided refreshments as runners waited for the start. Initially, there seemed to be more than enough port-a-potties, but the lines instantly grew long about 45 minutes prior to the start. I had to wait in line about 30 minutes and didn’t get into my corral until 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the race. But it wasn’t a big deal, I was able to slip into my corral no problem. They also had a long line of UPS trucks taking your bags, which seemed to work out well from start to finish. The finish was a bit more chaotic, but again, I walked around a bit and figured it out. Also, the volunteers were awesome, as usual – can’t thank them enough!
Weather: Not bad, but not great. It was cool, little wind and stayed in the 60s with cloud cover the entire time. However, the humidity was a little high (88%) for my liking. Otherwise, no issues on the weather.
Course: The course reminded me of the Boston Marathon course – lots of hills with one monster hill at mile 21. I’m not sure who designed the course this year, but putting a 1.5 mile steep curving hill at this late stage of a marathon is not going to win you a lot of fans. Many runners lost their momentum on this hill and I saw lots of people end up walking it. Fortunately, I was still feeling pretty fresh at this point in the run and motored up it without losing much time. But let me tell you, Heartbreak Hill was a bump in the road compared to this hill. There were some scenic areas of the course — enjoyed running through downtown, older neighborhoods, and Mission Bay, but it had its fair share of ho-hum and barren parts as well. Also, the course roads/pathways were pretty tight, never felt I had any space until the last 6 miles of the marathon. For a marathon with only 7,000 runners, usually it seems to thin out after a few miles, but that thinning out never happened until last portion of the race.
Fan Support: The fan support was good, especially considering that the race starts so early – 6:15 am! It is definitely not on the level of you major marathons like New York, Boston, or Tokyo, but people were out and about cheering and encouraging the runners. There are some dead spots, especially on the freeways.
Entertainment: Given that the title of this race is the San Diego “ROCK-N-ROLL” Marathon, I was expecting at least a rock band every mile – if not more. There were a few out there, but they were not all rock bands (e.g., country, blues, latino music, taiko drums, etc.) and I didn’t recognize many of the songs the bands were playing. This was a bit of a let down, but the organizers did redeem themselves with the headliner Psychedelic Furs entertaining the finishers at Petco Park. Didn’t know they were still around, but they played about an hour set and brought back memories of my days as a teenager in the 1980s.
I’ll probably run this marathon again since it’s my hometown marathon, but will probably only do the half next year. Overall, it was enjoyable experience on a somewhat difficult course.
This marathon wraps up a somewhat disappointing marathon season for me, but there were some good lessons learned along the way which I’ll try and summarize in a future post. Relative to last year, my average marathon times have dropped by over 10 minutes, when I was hoping to at least maintain or continue to improve when the season started. I’m planning to take some time off from the full marathon and focus on half marathons for the remainder of the year. I think the focus on shorter races will do me some good. Not exactly sure yet what my next marathon will be, but right now I’m leaning toward the Los Angeles Marathon in March 2014.