It’s finally time! The Synchrony Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon weekend is upon us! This is my third year in a row running this marathon and I am pumped! Here’s what you can expect throughout the weekend to help you plan ahead and prepare to rock the streets of the city home to the original Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race.
The Health & Fitness Expo
Kick off to the weekend officially begins on Friday at the Health & Fitness Expo from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at the San Diego Convention Center right downtown. Saturday the Expo will be open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. You must pick up your own race bib during this time. Be sure to have your signed waiver and photo ID. The Convention Center is walking distance from most downtown hotels, there is a parking deck next door, and street parking around the area as well. Ride shares or getting dropped off by a friend or family member is another great alternative.
Meet Meb and Des
A big highlight for this year’s race will be this year’s Boston Marathon champion in the women’s division, the first American woman to win in 33 years, Des Linden! There will be a meet and greet with her at 1 p.m. on Friday and she will be at the 5K on Saturday and starting with the 2-hour half marathon runners on Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely fan girling over this opportunity. She is a running legend. Along with Des, the man himself, Meb Keflezighi, will be there as well. His meet and greet will take place at 3 p.m. on Friday. He will also be at the 5K and pacing the 1:30 half-marathon race on Sunday. I had the incredible opportunity to meet and talk with him last year and I can say he is one of the kindest, most humble and supportive men I know. It was an awesome moment I will never forget. I mean, the picture is still on my refrigerator.
A big question when it comes to race weekend is how to dress on race day, especially for someone like me who will be flying cross-country for the race from North Carolina where here it is hot and humid. To me, San Diego is one of the best running cities and this time of the year is a runner’s weather dream. The weather in the morning for your pre-race routine is usually in the mid 50’s and warms up a bit once you start running.
You won’t have to worry about layering, which to me is always a bonus and makes race morning easy. The June gloom makes the race perfect; the sun stays covered by the clouds so humidity and the sun beating down on you isn’t a factor until after the race. Once the clouds clear you can expect a beautiful and sunny day, a perfect way to recover and celebrate by scoping out the beaches, or enjoying a delicious meal and cold brew on a patio of all the delicious restaurants nearby after the race.
Next big question is what will the course look like? I personally love the course. There are definitely some hills, but it’s all through scenic neighborhoods that give you something else to focus on. The miles through Mission Hills, Mission Valley, Sea World Drive and Old Town San Diego are some of my favorite areas. Of course there is nothing like that last mile when you’re coming back into downtown and can feel the finish line in sight, and the crowds packed on both sides giving you all the feels.
No matter if you are participating in the marathon, half marathon or relay, take your moment to appreciate that you just accomplished something special. This will be my 31st marathon so I can say from experience the crowds here in San Diego throughout the race are some of the best and it is always a huge factor that stands out and makes me want to come back every year. There are a lot of different groups (bands playing music, schools groups, clubs etc.) cheering throughout and supplying plenty of water, Gatorade, orange slices, SiS gels, and salt along the way. I have never felt like there weren’t more than enough hydration stations, which is a big deal in any kind of distance race.
Race morning can be a stressful time if you don’t plan ahead. If you are planning on taking the shuttle to the start line you need to purchase a $5 wristband before and pick it up at the expo. There are a lot of street closures (some starting the night before) so if you can get dropped off closer and walk that is a great option. There is parking available for purchase but you need to be there early. You can find all of the specific information on this on the Rock ‘n’ Roll website here.
The first official race of the weekend is the 5K on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. starting at 6th Ave and Palm St. at Balboa Park. The Marathon, Half Marathon and 2-Person Half Marathon Relay is on Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m. starting at 6th Ave & Quince St at Balboa Park. This is a big, open area with plenty of room for stretching and getting in the zone before the race with a lot of port-a-potties, a bag drop area and Solutions Tent if you have any race-related issues on race morning.
After you finish, you definitely won’t want to miss the big party afterwards at the Waterfront Park. This big celebration is always packed with tons of people, everyone congratulating and high fiving you. There is a ton of food, drinks, and space to be with your friends and meet others. There is also a lot of room for kids to run around as well. Be sure to show off your awesome medal you worked so hard for and enjoy the afternoon!
To me, this race is so much more than just another marathon. I lost all of my hair at age 2 due to a condition called Alopecia and it was tough growing up hiding behind a wig, always being bullied and teased. But through running I found this inner strength I had always longed for. I learned to love, accept and embrace my Alopecia and baldhead. This race three years ago was my first “bald” marathon. I had finally gotten comfortable in who I was and having no hair. The people in this city were amazing and made it the most memorable and special moment to me. The amount of support I received, from the good luck head rubs, to people screaming and patting me on the back throughout the race, was so special to me and touched my heart. I had never gotten so many huge hugs from random strangers afterwards and I loved it! The people of San Diego’s support for the runners and this race is truly remarkable and will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Can’t wait to see you all out there and rock the streets of San Diego with you all! I am pumped to be taking on the Remix Challenge by running the 5K and marathon this year. Let’s do it!