CMNH · Fitness · Recounting the Race

Balboa Park 8 & 3 – Race Report

It’s been almost two years since my last race. It’s also been that long since I’ve ran more than 6ish miles. True story. I’m not good at maintaining distance when I have nothing to train for… oops.

I just started back at it after signing up for the half marathon, despite the fact that I’d signed up for this 8-miler a couple months ago. I sort of kept my standard gym routine, plus many thousands of steps on vacation, as training. I had every intention to train for this and train to improve my speed as well, but well, the best laid plans… hate hill repeats?

As it turns out, hill repeats were EXACTLY what I should have been doing. But let’s not jump ahead…

So, I’ve been in San Diego for years now and worked in Balboa Park almost as long. Somehow, I didn’t know about this  race until this year. I saw a post on Facebook and managed to talk a couple of coworkers into joining me.

Friday night, I stopped by Milestone Running to pick up my race packet after work. It was so easy and such a relaxed pick-up! There is definitely something to be said for local races and smaller races (even if they happen to sell out like this one did). I popped into the store and got some fuel for the race and a cool new water bottle band before coming home.

I looped my timing chip around my laces and pinned my bib. Putting everything together for the morning so I wouldn’t forget it. I somehow am still missing my favorite water bottle, so I had to use my back up. I need to find that water bottle.

All laid out and ready to go! I should probably employ this method more often.

My alarm went off at the oh so lovely 5:30am. I think I snoozed a couple times before I got up and got ready. It’s a good thing I have practice with 5:30am, even if it still isn’t pleasant. It’s definitely more pleasant than 4am, right? RIGHT.

I had a boiled egg before I left home (I can never eat much before I work out) and then put sunscreen on when I got to the race and secured a parking spot. I also had a couple Clif Shot Bloks while waiting for the race start. I met up with my friends and after a long wait in line at the porta-potties, we headed to the back of the pack.

Here we are in front of the start line. Can I just say that starts when it’s already light out are pretty wonderful? Particularly when the weather cooperates and the cloud cover holds out for the whole race.

The weather was definitely on our side. It wasn’t too hot or humid and the cloud cover held out for the whole race. I ended up leaving my sunglasses on my hat for the whole race. Right, but back to the start. After the national anthem, the elite group was off and just a minute or two later, ours began. We walked from the back to the start line and then I separated from the other two girls. I planned to use this run for my corral placement for the half, so I wanted to give it all I had even though I hadn’t trained as much as I’d originally planned.

Mile 1: Not bad at all. We went down around the Air & Space Museum and came back up the Plaza and then down past the Museum of Man and across the Laurel St. Bridge before heading toward downtown (but staying in the Park). I remember passing the 1st marker and being like, wow, I’m right on track! I was running my Nike Plus on my phone, but I was using my iPod for music, so I didn’t know my actual pace, but knew the playlist well enough to have an idea of how long it had been. According to Nike Plus after the race, I did it in 12:44… so actually a little slower than I would have guessed.

Mile 2: We entered the trails during Mile 2 and I was definitely not ready for them. I’d done a little bit of sand running and walking these last two weeks, but it just wasn’t enough. I could feel the fatigue of the soft surface almost immediately. It was nice when we got onto the hard-packed dirt and then the sharp and fast downhill totally helped my pace. Second mile came in at 12:25 – this was more like it from my training runs.

Mile 3 – 5: So, I remember the Mile 3 marker, but because I totally missed the Mile 4 marker this whole section felt excruciatingly long. I kept thinking “how slow am I going?!” But also, there was a MASSIVE hill or two in there. I walked up them huffing and puffing as fast as I could and even then when it leveled out I was still struggling to catch my breath. Somewhere during all of this, we had crossed the 163, gone up that massive hill and were back on the road. We headed up Upas, up past the Zoo, down and around the San Diego Natural History Museum (hey hey!), and back up towards Upas (the Mile 5 marker was in there somewhere).

So here’s the thing about out and back… I saw those elite runners coming back while I was still on the trail and I thought. I have to do this again?! (This is the benefit and the draw back on only sort of looking at the course map.) I knew I’d have to hit those serious hills again, so I tried to make up for it by not letting myself walk at all while I was on the road. Per Nike, my miles slowed WAY down with those hills. Clocked in at 13:25, 14:20, and 13:08 per Nike.

Mile 6: It started on road and headed back toward the trail. I got to take that steep uphill back down which was slightly more terrifying than the first downhill because my legs were a bit more fatigued at that point. Still, the downhill and start back across the trail to the other side of the 163 was welcome and I’d really found my stride while being back on the road at the start of the mile. I clocked in at 12:42 for Mile 6.

Mile 7: With more hills, I used the walking opportunity to take the Gu I’d brought (right at the start of this mile). I used a walk run method for most of the mile, especially that sharp and fast now UPHILL from Mile 2. Holy hills and hamstrings, Batman. It seriously took me awhile to catch my breath after that. It was also a bit of a mental battle knowing all that I had to wind through to get back to the finish at this point. My goal “last song” on my playlist came on right as I was approaching the marker and I knew that I was behind my goal time. I knew where I was and how much time I had left on my playlist… so I tried to will myself to pick up the pace. Mile 7: 13:30.

Mile 8: We continued back the way we came and headed across the Laurel St. Bridge, down through the International Cottages, and crossed the finish line! According to Nike, I finished Mile 8 in the middle of this mile. I’ve had mixed success with Nike calibration, so I’m assuming it was off. Someone else mentioned their (different) tracker put the course at the same length mine did though, so it may have also been a bit long. Still, I finished with a strong sprint right at the end to cross the line. 13:16.

A peak at the course with the medal… I do love that feature on NikePlus. 🙂

According to Nike, my total time was 1:47:15 for a 13:07 pace (based on a 8.17 course length).
Official chip time (which as I recall matched the clock… so I think all chips started at the same time) was 1:48:37 for a 13:35 pace (based on 8 miles).

Either way, it’s definitely slower than what my big goal and my expected achievable goals were which was disappointing. Given that it was only 7-8 minutes slower than the achievable goal I’d set (100 minutes) and had multiple massive hills, I’m not too disappointed.

Post-race dirt and sweat and more dirt and more sweat. My new shoes are filthy now. It was much easier to clean all the dirt off my legs.

I stretched and tried to keep an eye out for my friends at the finish line while I did so. I missed one of them just barely, but caught the other as she came down at the end.

Looking like a hot mess and somehow giant compared to the other two? Post race photo ops are definitely not my strong suit, haha.

All in all, I have to say this was a really good race. It was super challenging for me and it was good and necessary to have that challenge. I knew I needed to be working hills and I hate it so I don’t. It would have been easier if I had. I also knew I needed to vary my terrain. Another lesson learned. San Diego Track Club definitely does a fantastic job. I’ve considered joining because I know regular running buddies would be helpful in these pursuits. I’m still considering. 🙂

Sweaty selfie! You’re welcome.

I may still submit this for my half marathon corral, but I may also look for another race to improve on my time/corral placement too. Anyone have a good 10k or more coming up? Plus, I really just want to work on my (SLOW) time. My one mile says I should be able to achieve a much faster distance pace based on the standard conversions and I’m hoping that regular training can get me back there.

I spent the rest of the day resting, recovering, and relaxing. So… I have some productivity to make up for now.


As we move on to continued half marathon training, we also continue with half marathon fundraising. What do you say? How about an $8 donation for my 8-miler? What if you make it recurring? 🙂 Did you know two of our SoCal children’s hospitals are tied for 2nd in the nation according to a new report? Way to go Rady and LA! Both of these hospitals are part of the Children’s Miracle Network (psst, so’s the #1 in Cincinnati!).

Alright, it’s off to the gym. I hope my legs work.


3 thoughts on “Balboa Park 8 & 3 – Race Report

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