“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the La Jolla Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
Last weekend I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon and it was quite…
humbling beautiful! No really, La Jolla itself is a coastal town in San Diego and I encourage anyone who comes for a San Diego visit to make a stop in La Jolla. You won’t regret it. So I decided about two weeks out from the race that I would go ahead and participate (stay tuned for a future blog post called, “How NOT to train for a half marathon”) because I love La Jolla and I love running so why not combine the two?! Did I mention this is only my third half marathon? Anywho, let’s see how this story unfolds…
The Expo: The Expo was held at the Hilton across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds/Racetrack and there was plenty of free parking available. I attended Friday afternoon and it was actually pretty busy. Inside there was a horse prop and photo booth along with some refreshing water and merchandise kiosk.
There were also plenty of volunteers to direct foot traffic which I fully appreciated because I hate not knowing where to go. I grabbed by bib and tshirt with no problems and then walked around the expo to check out the vendors. I snagged a free headband from Xracewear, a tasty acai bowl from Sambazon, and a couple of samples from Ultima. I also purchased a couple of Clif bars and Honey Stingers since I was already there.
Parking – There were two options for parking: Either park at the start line in Del Mar and then shuttle back after the race OR park at the finish line in La Jolla and shuttle back before the race. Either way the shuttle was free. I chose to park at the start line because I like to sleep. 😉 I was really nervous about getting stuck in traffic the morning of the race since I heard parking can be kind of difficult, but I was actually parked and ready to go by 6:30 am so it wasn’t too bad. I did notice traffic starting to back-up once I had parked so I imagine anyone arriving closer to 7am may have had a more difficult time.
Pre-race – The parking lot was only a short walk from the start line and there was a water station as well as a coffee cart on location. There were plenty of porta-potties so I didn’t have to wait in line very long and the line for bag check was also pretty short so really the morning went pretty smoothly. I took a quick picture with my fellow Stroller Warriors and hopped in my wave. I was in wave #5 out of 6 and I was happy to see the waves moving pretty quickly. I think the clock was at about 12 minutes when I crossed the start line. Then we were off!
Miles 1-5 – The weather was great! High 60’s with the right amount of sun and clouds and not much humidity. The first 5 miles traveled through the quaint town of Del Mar so there wasn’t a whole lot to see as far as scenery. The elevation wasn’t too bad at this point and then there was a big drop right before entering into Torrey Pines State Reserve otherwise known as “The Big Torrey Pines Hill”. This is the hill people warn you about when you mention that you will be running the La Jolla Half Marathon.
Miles 6 (THE hill) – I was doing pretty well and keeping the pace I wanted until the Torrey Pines Hill came along. I’ve hiked trails in Torrey Pines before but never walked or run up the big hill before…because there’s a parking lot at the top so why would I torture myself? Well here we are, mile 6 and I’m thinking back on all those times that I should have run the stupid hill in preparation for this race… But I only had 2 weeks to prep, remember? Yeah, that’s my excuse. So my morale pretty much dropped around this time and I gave myself a good pep talk to keep it going and not give up. I did run a portion of it, but ultimately decided to walk the rest since I still had half a race to go. Also to note, there are no water stations in the Reserve so I made sure that I had enough water to get me through the most difficult part of the race. There were, however, some really sweet rangers and volunteers holding signs and encouraging us throughout the hill torture. Although I think we have different definitions of “You’re almost to the top.”
Miles 7-10 – After the infamous hill, there are more rolling hills (yay) through UTC and other parts of La Jolla. Luckily my solemate, @thehungryrunner_ was at mile 9 to cheer me on and give me a little morale boost!
Miles 11-13 – Wow, the race directors really make you work for those views. Because around mile 11.5-12, they decide to throw in ANOTHER hill! Not as crazy as Torrey Pines, but still a legit hill and at the worst possible location. Apparently many people refer to this as the “F U Hill” and I can see why. There’s also a lot of downhill and big dips during this mileage too so I saw quite a bit of people walking this portion. I felt okay enough to run during the downhill parts, but if you have bad knees or hips I would imagine you would want to take it easy during this section. BUT…the views are absolutely breathtaking!
Finish Line – I finally crossed the finish line and received my medal, food bag, and chocolate milk. The finish line area was pretty congested, but the volunteers kept the flow moving. Then I headed over to the beer garden. Once I got to the beer garden I grabbed my IPA beer (we were allowed 2) and collapsed. Not literally, but almost. Never in my life have I chugged a chocolate milk and a beer within a 5 minute period. This event was just full of firsts for me. Then I picked up my bag from gear check, which was a cinch (pun intended) and checked out the vendors.
Course Support – Lots of volunteers and plenty of Race Guards on hand. Also plenty of water, Ultima, and Vaseline stations. There was even a lady handing out baby wipes around mile 8, which for some reason made my day. There weren’t a ton of spectators at this race, there were people sprinkled along the course cheering and holding signs…but not as many as I’ve seen in other races. Also, there weren’t any mile markers until the 8th mile so if you plan to run this and like knowing your times then you will definitely need a watch.
Post-race: I didn’t hang out for too long after the race because it got windy and I was getting cold so I hobbled over to the bus line to head back to my car. I only had to wait about five minutes before getting on the bus and the busses were nice and air conditioned. It was also kind of nice not having to drive out of La Jolla since the streets are so narrow and traffic is pretty crazy on the weekends. I even had a nice chat with a lady on the bus who told me that this was her 6th time running La Jolla. She explained how she didn’t make her goal time but still enjoyed the views as always. I explained how I didn’t make my goal time either but still had a good time. Then we both agreed that running is great because you get what you put into it. If you don’t train to PR, you won’t PR. Profound moments on a bus…which is why I love the running community!
So what was the SWAG?!
Lots of yummy goodies! Not pictured: my acai bowl and chocolate milk. I also received a free session at CycleBar in Hillcrest once they open. Also, the tshirt is way better in person. I love the fabric, color, and design!
And I love the medal! It displays the unique scenery of La Jolla!
Overall, I really fell in love with this race…hills and all! I’ve talked to a few others that have run this and everyone pretty much has the same two reactions. Either they absolutely love this race and would totally do it again OR they absolutely hate this race and never want to talk about it ever again. I, personally, would do this race again in a heartbeat! 1. I always love a good challenge. 2. The views are incredible! 3. I would like redemption and to improve my time.
Also, La Jolla is part of the Triple Crown Series so if you want that extra bling then running this is mandatory! I recommend doing some hill training and don’t get too stressed about the elevation, the views are all worth it!!!
And I didn’t forget about my BIBRAVE buddies! There were a few other Bibrave Pros out there running, too! I got to meet up with Mai (check her blog link below for photo proof), but missed Jeremy and Justin (next time, guys!). You can also check out their thoughts on the La Jolla Half Marathon here: @once_upon_a_run, @runner_blogger_az
See you at the next event! 🙂