San Dieguito Half Marathon

A few thoughts on Sunday's race.

This was my fifth time doing this local half marathon, and in the era of triple-crowns, acres of expos, medals the size of Flav's clocks, corrals, races selling out 6 months early, and $100+ entry fees, the San Dieguito Half Marathon is a breath of fresh air. This is one of the oldest running half marathons in the country, and is one of the most beautiful. The race doesn't sell out, there is no mandatory expo, a field of under 2,000 runners (which is small for a 1/2 in San Diego), all while maintaining the grass-roots feel of a race that has been going strong for 43 years. The course winds up and down through Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Sunday was a gorgeous, sunny but cool day, near perfect weather for the Hash House Harrier-sponsored race. If you ever have the chance to do a race put on by the Harriers, do it. Where else can you run through an aid station smelling of cigar smoke and stale beer with shouts of "water on your left, beer on your right," at miles 1 and 12, and a sangria aid station at miles 3 and 10.

It was a tough race for me, the first road race I've done in a year, the last time I ran the San Dieguito 1/2, and I quickly remembered how much it hurts to run on the roads, pushing a steady pace, with none of the hilly breaks of a trail race. I ran with a couple of friends for the majority of the race and we kept about a 7:15 pace for a 1:34 finish, which at this point in the season is pretty good, faster than what I thought I'd run it in, but slower than last year. It's no fun running the same race slower than what I've previously done, but I realize that I'm building back up for peak races later in the year, and that there really isn't a need for me to be setting half marathon PRs in February. It's going to be a slow build.

I'm glad that I had a couple of friends to run this with, the clipped conversation and jokes helped the miles pass. I am pretty sure I wouldn't have kept the pace on my own, the motivation just wasn't there yesterday. In fact, I even thought about breaking out my dusty surfboard and starting a surfing blog, and then I saw someone wearing this shirt. Running does suck. It hurts, and it can be frustrating, and sometimes the stretch of miles between those moments of elation is longer than I want to endure, but I'm a runner, and runners endure. The promise of a Stone Brewery-sponsored beer garden with free beer after the race was the highlight of the day and a key motivation to finishing early, while there's still a spot to sit on the warm grass with a cup of Stone Arrogant Bastard in one hand and a Lost Abbey Lost and Found Ale in the other, tired muscles stretching in the sun.

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