Race Recap and Review: San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon


#7 / 13 of the 2013 Half Marathons

It’s been a while since my last post. Since the OC Half Marathon back in May I have been working on strengthening my ankle and making sure I don’t make the same mistake I made in the SF Rock n’ Roll race.

The Competitor Group, which organizes the Rock n’ Roll races, is based in San Diego and pretty much went all out in their marketing to make this event as big as possible. For all of my other Rock n’ Roll race emails I received it also mentioned to “Rock” San Diego as well.

This showed up in my Pasadena, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle emails

This showed up in my Pasadena, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle emails.

Race Weekend

On Friday, May 31st, my coworker Nida sent me to San Jose Airport for my flight down to Los Angeles. The plan was to fly down to LA and take a mini-roadtrip with Erica to San Diego. I’d meet up with my high school friend Sam in San Diego and we’d organize how the logistics of the race was going to go.

On the flight down, I figured I might as well register for Instagram too, since lots of people have been asking me to share photos more frequently. Check it out!

Saturday morning, Erica and I made the drive down from LA to SD. The drive was pretty horrendous south of Disneyland with traffic pretty much spanning from Dana Point to Carlsbad. Could this many people be here just for the Rock n’ Roll race? With all the marketing the Competitor Group has done, I wouldn’t be surprised.

We arrived at La Jolla approximately 2pm and headed to the expo!



After going to the OC Marathon Expo, the Rock n’ Roll expo was almost a welcoming back to the sponsorships and almost perfect organization. The usual suspects were there (Brooks, Geico, Jamba Juice, PowerBar, and Chocolate Milk), as well as some local races. It’s a good balance of local and multi-national corporations.

As usual, it comes with a never-ending amount of swag.


Pre-Race Food

Being pretty much a stone’s throw from Mexico, it would’ve been a shame if I didn’t sample the local Mexican eateries in San Diego. The food theme for this trip, then, was to exclusively eat Mexican food. For dinner (the pre-race meal), Sam, Erica, and I visited Oscar’s Mexican Seafood and had their Surf and Turf Taco, Spicy Shrimp Taco, Torta de Oscar (steak, spicy shrimp, and fish), and a large horchata.


That said, it was more than filling, and probably more than enough carbs for a half marathon the next day.

We then headed to bed at about 10pm and prepared for what would be an extremely eventful day.

Race Morning

As Rock n’ Roll cautioned that there would be “30,000 runners, and 60,000 spectators,” we decided not to chance the idea of arriving late and missing my start time, as it has happened before. At 3:30am, Sam, Erica, and I drove down from La Jolla to Downtown San Diego and parked at the official race parking near Petco Park. At 5am-ish, I took the shuttle from Petco Park (the finish line) to Balboa Park, the starting line.

From there, I pretty much stood around and watched the marathoners start. There were the Elvis impersonators downing a 30-pack of beer at 6am, some dudes dribbling a basketball and intending on dribbling it the entire course, and the juggler.

The Full Marathon start.

The Full Marathon start.

The Full marathon started on time at 6:15am, and the Half Marathon started 5 minutes late at 6:50am. I was in Corral 4 (out of 24).

The Course

The course itself highlights many parts of San Diego, from the good parts to the not-so-good parts. The first two miles go through the Hillcrest and University Heights District, which highly resembled the Castro District in San Francisco. These parts of the race were also as flat as flat can be.

Mile 1: 8:00 / mile
Mile 2: 8:08 / mile

I was also on pace, and felt great and enroute to a PR.

As we turned away from the Castro-lookalike, the course veers into the Normal Heights neighborhood for about 3 miles. This part of the course was slightly hilly, but nothing too unbearable. At this point the bands that usually line the course on every mile were nearly non-existant, so the residences stepped it up and had boom boxes, loud speakers, and many other noisemakers to cheer on the runners. Great job guys!

Mile 3: 8:00 / mile
5K: 25:12
Mile 4: 8:10 / mile
Mile 5: 8:01 / mile

At this point the course really became just a blur until the course goes across a bridge, veers downhill and  goes underneath the bridge somewhere around mile 9. I was focused on trying to finish, and really don’t remember anything about this part of the course.

Mile 6: 8:10 / mile
10K: 50:21
Mile 7: 8:02 / mile
Mile 8: 8:05 / mile
Mile 9: 8:09 / mile

The marathon course met up somewhere with the half marathon race, and when I finally saw the marathon course I noticed the first place runner passing by and zipping past everyone. The entire time I thought, “Someday! Someday I will run as fast as a Kenyan!”

We then veered into Balboa Park where it was curvy, a steep downhill, and surrounded by golf courses. There was a great view of the Coronado Bridge from here.

Mile 10: 7:49 / mile
Mile 11: 8:10 / mile

The downhill ended somewhere around mile 11, and from there it was a flat course to the finish. Spectators lined the course up for nearly half a mile! This usually doesn’t happen, and it’s possible that this San Diego race is the biggest race I’ve ever done.

From here, I noticed one guy dribbling basketballs and catching up to me. He was dribbling two basketballs, and had done so for the entire half marathon. I decided I couldn’t let someone who was running and dribbling basketballs at the same time beat me in a half marathon, so I picked up the pace.

Mile 12: 7:52 / mile
Mile 13: 7:59 / mile

The course finished right at the Petco Park parking lot!


I finished at 01:46:21, or 8:07 / mile. A new personal record! Looks like all those injuries from two months before are now gone.

Since this was my fifth Rock n’ Roll race this calendar year, I also was finally able to pick up my Heavy Medal at the finish line. They should really do this for all Heavy Medals.


The Post-Race Events

As we tried to head home, Sam realized that his battery in his car was dead since he left his keys in the ignition for about two hours (“Remember what happened in Breaking Bad?”). No biggie, we just had to find someone who had jumper cables and recharge his car. After asking countless people if they had jumper cables, which we realized no one really does anymore, we finally stumbled upon some good samaritans who were able to jump start the car.

But, they reversed the charge and blew out the fuse. Womp womp.

With Sam’s car pretty much dead as confirmed by AAA, we headed to Sam’s friend Pablo’s place near the finish line and waited. Erica’s cousin, Jeremy Lin (no not that Jeremy Lin), was able to come from La Jolla, pick us up, and send us back to Sam’s place while we figured out what to do with Sam’s car, the post-race meal, and other logistics.

At that point, my top priority was to shower since I stank pretty bad.

My post race meal was a local San Diego food chain, Lolita’s Taco Shop in La Jolla. We had a whole order of carne asada fries and three rolled tacos split between Erica and myself. In reality, this meant two rolled chicken tacos and about 70% of the carne asada fries as my post-half-marathon meal. Sam told me usually he splits an order of carne asada fries with someone. Heh 🙂


After figuring out what to do with Sam’s car, which was stuck in a parking structure next to a baseball stadium where a game was about to start, Erica and I drove back up to LA. On the way back, we stopped by Frostbites Crepes & Frozen Delights for some delicious frozen custard.

The Bad Car Mishaps Don’t Stop There!

My pickup at San Jose, Michael, texted me when I landed saying that his tire blew out in San Francisco and wouldn’t be able to make it. As an alternative, I called up my friends Kevin and David to pick me up at San Jose, and prayed to God that nothing would happen to their car on the drive back to Sunnyvale.

Overall, this was a very eventful weekend. From a half marathon PR to a variety of Mexican food and to several car mishaps, I’d say it was definitely a weekend to remember for all of us.

Thanks again to Nida for taking me to the airport, to Michael for intending to pick me up and leading to many mishaps, to Sam for letting me stay at his place in San Diego, to Jeremy for not leaving us stranded in Downtown SD, to Erica for accompanying me alongside my many crazy adventures and supporting me, to Kevin and David for picking me up at the airport at such short notice, and to Rock n’ Roll for once again organizing a great race!



2 thoughts on “Race Recap and Review: San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

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