This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. California was my 38th state.
While technically not in San Diego, Coronado, the location of the Silver Strand Half Marathon, is a suburb just a short drive from San Diego. I had heard great things about San Diego and wanted to go and see it for myself for years. When I saw this race and realized it fit into my daughter’s school schedule perfectly, I signed up and planned a vacation for my family.
Packet pickup for the race was Friday and Saturday at Roadrunner Sports before the race on Sunday (Veteran’s Day weekend). It was well-organized and efficient. We received our shirts, technical tank tops for women and technical short-sleeve for men, bibs, and a few coupons and samples. There were plenty of volunteers so everything went quickly and efficiently.
Other than a half marathon, the race also included a 5k, 10 miler, and half marathon for skaters, handcyclers, and wheelchair racers. The 5k started at Imperial Beach but the rest of the races started at Sunset Park and finished at Imperial Beach. There were over 3500 runners in the half marathon alone, so this was not a small race. Roadrunner Sports Pacing Team was also on the course.
When the race began at 7:30, it was 63 degrees and partly cloudy. Within 30 minutes, the sun was out in full force and it was quickly heating up. The course was crowded and I had to constantly jockey for a spot for the first mile, while I got bumped by others and tried to avoid bumping others. By San Diego standards, Coronado is flat, and I was glad I didn’t have to run hills on top of the heat. My quads took a pounding, however because of the flat terrain. The race is mainly along Silver Strand Boulevard and is a point-to-point course.
I stayed at my goal pace for the first 5 miles or so but then the heat really started to get to me. Despite drinking fluids and dumping ice cold water over my head, I just couldn’t keep cool. I slowed about 15 to 20 seconds per mile for the next 6 miles. The last 2 miles were my slowest of the race. There was a hill at 11 miles that I had heard locals talking about and I was a bit concerned. It wasn’t a steep hill but it seemed to go on forever especially given my tired quads. At this point all time goals went out the window and the goal was just to finish without walking.
There were 5 bands on the course, all of which were really good. Because most of the course was on a road that was closed off to traffic for the race, there were almost no spectators until we got to the Imperial Beach area. There were aid stations every 2 miles with ice cold water and Gatorade. There were also volunteers handing out gummy bears along the course in a couple of places.
At the finish there was the usual: orange slices, bagels, a variety of mini muffins but sadly no chocolate milk, only water. There was a beer garden supporting the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the finish. They were asking for donations from runners. There were several vendors giving out free samples such as protein drinks, aloe water, Naked juice, water bottles, and more. The medals were cute and pretty hefty.
Parking was a challenge since the only parking was off-street, which was limited and difficult to find. I stayed in Coronado the night before the race less than a mile from the start (at Cherokee Lodge Bed & Breakfast) so I just walked to the start but my husband had to park several blocks from the finish. Since it was a point-to-point race, I couldn’t just walk back to my room. It felt like a very long walk to the car because I was so tired and dehydrated after the race.
All in all, this was a scenic race and pretty well-organized but I have mixed feelings about it and am not sure if I would recommend it. I’ve heard it’s a bit cooler in June, so maybe that would be a better time of year to run a race in San Diego. But then again it would most likely be hilly, so I guess you have a choice of hot and flat or (a bit) cooler and hills if you’re going to run a race in this area.
From my post-race notes, “Was already hot at the start (63 degrees) so I knew this was going to be a hard race. Was very crowded for the first couple of miles. Ran from one end of Coronado Island to the other. Ran past the ocean for much of the course. Didn’t like the last 3 miles in Imperial Beach area so much. Just ran through regular neighborhoods and wasn’t scenic. Long hill at mile 11 that seemed to go on forever. Had to adjust my goal finish time. By the end was just happy to finish. Left quad felt tired and crampy halfway into the race. Kept pouring ice cold water over my head at water stops but just couldn’t get cooled off. Finished in 2:06:46. Was 22nd out of 108th in my age division.”