Sunday, April 29 started at 4 a.m. and my husband and I were out the door, heading to La Jolla by 4:30. We were participating in the 31st Annual La Jolla Half Marathon. We were looking forward to the event but had already noticed some hiccups and variances in the race's organization. We attended a small expo the Saturday prior to pick up our race packets and shirts. After dealing with the Web site, information telephone lines and the volunteers at the expo, we knew this would be a complicated race, course aside. There seemed to be a lot of rules in place.
One of the most inconvenient parts of the race was the shuttle service. We had opted to take the pre-race shuttle. We parked our car in La Jolla and were then bused to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the race's start. Shuttling started at 5 a.m. and the last runner would be "marked" at 5:30. Runners who came into line after that marked runner were not guaranteed a seat on the shuttle. This gave us a 30 minute window. What made us even more upset and slightly paranoid was knowing we had a two hour wait until the race started.
We had traveled to La Jolla before and knew that the town and encompassing area was hilly. We also knew that the course would be difficult. It included four hills, one being the climb up Torrey Pines which was at mile six of the 13.1 mile race.
Despite powering through the hills as best as we could, a lot of time was added to our final time. You can only run so fast downhill.
At mile 11, however, I experienced one of the worst emotions I had ever felt. My husband was a few paces in front of me and I started to hear him wheeze. It became increasingly louder as we kept running. I knew he had exercise-induced asthma, but in the six years we've known each other, he's never had a flare up. I didn't know what to do aside from keep running. He knodded that he was all right, but the wheezing continued. All I could do was grab his hand and cheer him on.
"You can do it!"
"That's the sound of your lungs singing with happiness!"
"We're so close!"
We crossed mile 13.1 and I walked him over straight to the EMS tent. Within a few minutes of his arrival, his breathing became more regulated and he was allowed to leave the tent. That still didn't stop me from crying.
We waited in line for our medals, which unlike other races where they were put around our necks, we were each handed a bagged medal. It felt impersonal. Food after the race was hard to find due to extreme bottle necking. Restrooms also seemed far and few between. We didn't stay for the post-race festivities; we just wanted to get home.
A few hours after the race, I wanted to check our official times. I went onto the race's Web site and searched my bib number; no runner was found. I then checked my husband's bib number and the numbers for the chip time and clock time were different than what we had, by several minutes. I know using an iTouch may not be the most official way of timing oneself, but he was seconds off our actual time after the Hollywood Race. There was a variance of nearly three minutes. Also, the clock time that I remembered seeing crossing the line did not match the time posted on the Web site. What made matters worse was the fact that my chip had broke leaving me to go off of my husband's times.
Would I run this race again? No, I don't think so. It was a hard course and an interesting experience. I loved the scenic views and running along the ocean, but it is really disheartening spending all that money and time training to not have a finisher's time. I hope other runners out there had a better time and a better overal experience.