The La Jolla Half Marathon. Back in 2010 this was my first half marathon ever. I thought it was kind of a one-and-done type of thing. Not even this race specifically, just half marathons in general. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon — 6 years, 4 La Jolla’s and 20 half marathons later…here we are.
The race started at 7:30am at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. I thought I was being smart coming from the north and exiting on Lomas Santa Fe to Stevens Ave. However, instead of being able to cross over Via de la Valle to the Del Mar Fairgrounds parking lot, cars were forced to turn left and head east. I ended up flipping a U and parking in the surrounding neighborhood. I ate a little more of my oatmeal, lubed up with body glide, fastened by bib and walked over to the start. I had to go to the bathroom so I easily slid into the Del Mar Surfside Race Place hall where I waited in a short line of 4 people. I exited the bathroom and had a brisk jog to the start. I popped into wave 2 and waited 2-3 minutes before the race officially began.
It was already hot and I knew by the time I hit the first aid station I’d be taking water. I didn’t bring a water pack but I probably should’ve. I mean, I carried my fanny pack last week on a 6 mile trail run in the lagoon (and even though I felt like an absolute kook it was completely necessary). I didn’t have a playlist prepared so I ended up just listening to my NYC Marathon playlist (and I forgot, it’s actually a good one!). I didn’t pay much attention to my pace, I knew I just needed to listen to my body since I haven’t run over 10 miles since my last ultra in the beginning of February…
This course I pretty much know like the back of my hand (but probably even better than that). From working in Del Mar for the past 4 years, to attending UCSD the 4 years prior, these are all streets and routes I’m very familiar with. The race traces the coast from Del Mar, through Torrey Pines State Park Natural Reserve, past UCSD, down La Jolla Shores, and into La Jolla Cove.
The hardest thing for me was the heat. I should’ve worn a hat to 1. catch some of my sweat that started mixing with my sunscreen and dripping into my eyes and 2. for some sun protection because my face felt burnt and completely dried out by the end.
One of the best parts was coming from Stratford Court before 4th Street in Del Mar. I encountered Dallas from Run North County Monday Night Runs. I trekked the short but steep hill up 4th Street and saw Bartley (from Run North County too), then Susan and Marc from Seaside Striders. Just seeing everyone gave me a little pep in my step. After this brief incline we were rewarded with a downhill before we came to Torrey Pines and I started to feel a literal runner’s high. But to the point where my body felt no connection to my brain and I might actually pass out.
So for the first time while running this race, I walked (most) of Torrey Pines. While everyone else continued to run around me, I kind of had to tell myself “who cares what everyone else is doing.” Because I knew if I tried to run the whole mountain, I would have died. I channeled my “ultra” mentality and power walked most of the hill, with quick and smooth bursts of running, in which I actually passed people who continued to run while I took my walking breaks.
After exiting Torrey Pines State Park, the course transitions into the rolling hills on Torrey Pines Rd. Usually this road can seem arduous and long, but I don’t even remember where my head was. Maybe texting people (lol)… because I found myself pulling off to the side to semi-walk and text. Someone ran up next to me and gave me words of encouragement to continue, and I just thought YOU DON’T KNOW ME. Let me text my friends!!! (Just kidding…kinda ?? )
Right after I grabbed water at the top of La Jolla Shores (around mile 10) I heard someone yell my name and it was Evan (who’s opening up the really cool Tasting Room Del Mar next month). We ended up running together until the last-ish hill(s) that goes Spindrift to Princess and finally Torrey Pines (and then I pulled ahead…muaha). I thought I was going to walk at least part of this section, but I knew the end was just so close. And once I hit Prospect it would be all downhill. Luckily my watch/GPS was hitting close to the mile markers so I knew it would be pretty spot on (and not something like .5 longer than 13.1). Overall it was a hot and challenging day, but I think all in all I’ve become a stronger runner, and learned that when I don’t care too much, good things can still happen (even a course PR…4th times the charm!).
Mile splits recorded by my Garmin (1:45:32):
1 – 7:27
2 – 7:41
3 – 7:56
4 – 8:17
5 – 7:24
6 – 10:13
7 – 8:33
8 – 8:14
9 – 7:49
10 – 7:56
11 – 6:56
12 – 7:44
13 – 8:05
Last .21 – 1:12