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Rockin’ & Rollin’ in San Diego

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Diego 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!”
Hopefully you’ve already read my recap on the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego race expo and 5k!  So here we go with my 4th half marathon adventure!
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Parking: Parking was pretty complicated.  The race website listed which roads would be closed off and suggested parking plans, but it was a little hard to follow.  I had a friend pre-pay for parking in the finish line parking garage only to arrive early and sit in a parking line for over an hour.  Then she ended up missing her pre-paid shuttle because of the delay and had to run 1.5 miles uphill to the start line and almost missing the race altogether.  We ended up finding street parking near North Park around 5:30am and walking two miles to the start line.  Basically, all of the streets around the race were shut down by 5 am so if you didn’t arrive by then, you were walking at least 1.5 miles.  Overall, the parking situation was a total mess and really needs to be re-evaluated.
Race Morning: The half and full both began at 6:15am from the same location.  It was more “June Gloom” weather which meant is was overcast and in the 60s.  There were close to 40 corrals and I was in corral 32.  The waves were pretty well organized and were released about every two minutes.  This meant my wave was released around 7:20am.  We arrived to the race area around 6am so I had plenty of time to prepare for the race.  There were lots of porta potties and crazy long lines, but I waited until about 7am to find one so the wait wasn’t too bad by then.  Gear check was simple – it was organized by last name and divided up among UPS trucks that transported the bags to the finish line.  Pre-race also included a water station, info area, and medical tent.
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Miles 1-5: The first 5 miles were a little hilly, but nothing too crazy.  I watched a woman throw up on the 2nd mile and another woman trip and fall pretty hard around the 3rd mile.  A few runners stopped and helped her up and it looked like she kept going.  Then apparently their bad luck rubbed off on me because I rolled my ankle (the same ankle I had rolled a week before) on the 4th mile.  I’m not sure which hurt worse, my ankle or my pride because now I knew I couldn’t PR.  Luckily my friend was also running with borderline pneumonia so she wasn’t planning to PR either and ran with me the rest of the race.  The spectators and crowd support were fantastic though and they even had a bar set up at the 4.5 mile mark!
At this point in the race we had seen a couple of small bands, lots of cheer squads, and some clever signs.
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I even saw my old pal, Forrest Gump! This time he was bouncing a ping-pong on a paddle! 😉
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The 5th mile was the Wear Blue mile and it was quite emotional.  American flags lined the streets along with names and photos of fallen service members.  I knew a couple of the ladies volunteering and holding the flags so it was nice to see some familiar faces during this emotionally tough stretch.

Miles 6-10: This part of the course ran through more small districts and some residential areas.  There were a couple of more bands, water/Gatorade stations, spectators, and plenty of cheerleaders.  The terrain was a little rough since this is a heavy-traffic area – so there were lots of cracks and holes in the roads, not to mention slanted streets.  These are all horrible things for running on a sprained ankle. 😦   Also, the full marathon course started to split off sometime around here so things got a little less crowded.

And I always appreciate a good reference to Da’ Dip 😉

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I even got a fun pic with this guy! 🙂

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Miles 11-13: Despite my injury, I think these miles were the most entertaining. There was a stretch of the course where there weren’t many spectators, but then there were fun drums and more fun people!  They even had signs with inspirational quotes from the participants lining a long stretch of the course.

 

Then came the disco tunnel!  Complete with a DJ!  I was sad that the marathoners didn’t get to experience this part of the course.

Then we started making our way through more of downtown and towards the Waterfront Park.

Finish Line: Yay!  I made it! Injured ankle and all! But the finish line was kind of a mess.  They handed us our medals…followed by water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and various snacks.  Notice anything missing from that list?  Bags…there were no bags.  On top of having to carry 20 items, we had to walk a block down a hill, through an intersection to the finish line festival.

Not to mention, it was extremely congested.  It was crowded and confusing and gave me a bit of anxiety.  We finally made it down to the festival near Waterfront Park where we had some more room to breathe.  The festival included a medical tent, photo ops, a beer garden, live band, and medal area.  The medal area is where you could pick up any of the extra bling you may have earned.  Since I completed the 5k the prior day, I picked up my Remix Challenge medal!  All I had to do was show my wristband that I received at the expo and it was all mine!  There was also a marathon jacket table for all of the awesome marathon finishers!

I didn’t stay very long for the concert fun because we were pretty tired and my ankle was hurting. We were also a little chilly and were ready to get warm.  So we caught a Lyft back to the car (super easy and quick) and headed home!

So what was the SWAG?!

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Most of it is pretty much the same stuff I received in my 5k swag bag.  The tech shirt is slightly different and my bib was personalized which was nice.  We also got extra snacks at the finish line.  (not pictured: Gatorade, chocolate milk, and banana)  I also didn’t make it to the beer garden this time, but it was Michelob Ultra again and I saw a lot of people in there so I’m sure it was great!  My gear bag also came apart right before the race, so I was a little disappointed in the quality.

You even get cute little digital badges for reaching certain goals!

And of course the sweet medals!  The half marathon and remix medals spin!  Woo hoo!

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Overall thoughts: Things I really liked about Rock ‘n’ Roll: course support, spectators, hydration stations, medical tents along the course and at the finish line, race swag and medals, quick race photos at a decent price, race expo, beer garden, disco tunnel, photo ops, some of the bands including Naruwan Taiko, Forrest Gump, the Wear Blue mile, and running with @thehungryrunner_.

Things that could be improved: Parking, more upbeat bands – the bands were all great, but it would have been nice to hear more energetic music rather than blues types songs during certain points of the run; better quality gear bags – they were essentially grocery bags with strings; offer bags at the finish line; also offer mylar blankets – even though it’s June it was pretty chilly; a lower participant cap – I really think the event was slightly overcrowded and felt like the experience would have been better if it hadn’t been so congested.  Also, San Diego is such a beautiful city…I think the course route could be slightly altered to include some more scenic spots.

Another interesting fact: This was the first half that I ran without headphones!  I wanted to experience the bands and full essence of the race so I skipped personal music this time.  In doing this, I heard a lot of other people’s music in passing and guess what song I heard the most??  “CALL ME MAYBE”!! I actually forgot about this song so I was surprised to learn that this was a lot of people’s power jam.

Also, my D-tag malfunctioned and my time wasn’t recorded.  I’m not sure if it was a glitch or an error on my part.  Regardless, my time was unfavorable due to my injured ankle so it’s probably better that my finish time isn’t etched into the internet. 😉

Would I run this again?  I’m not sure if I would run the San Diego event again, although that could be my injured ankle talking.  However, I would LOVE to run Rock ‘n’ Roll in other cities!  I think it would be amazing to experience this event all around the world and rack up extra medals!  But I’m happy to say that I Rocked and Rolled (literally) in America’s Finest City. 🙂

What do you think about the Rock ‘n’ Roll series?  Which city is your favorite?!

Well I’m off to add Da’ Dip to my playlist. 😉

~SM

 

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