Saturday was our second of those 21 mile runs and we decided to run the same route as the first time. Ironically, the first time we ran this route was 1 year to the day that we moved from Pacific Beach (a college student and beach bum infested neighborhood of San Diego) to Encinitas (a hippy and family infested beachside suburb of San Diego) and ironically, the exact distance from my old apartment in PB (Mike lived 1 block up the street so it works for him too) to Mike and my new apartment in Encinitas was 21.3 miles. Despite the fact that this route was VERY difficult and included a MASSIVE hill in the middle, we thought it would be fun to run from our old house to our new house.
We woke up Saturday morning and drove 30 minutes south to Pacific Beach and left the car there. The temperature was right around 60 but we decided to ditch the jackets and run in tank tops since we knew we’d get hot. As usual, Asia and I ran together and Mike ran ahead since he is MUCH faster (he finished the route over 50 minutes faster than us). The first few miles are through the neighborhoods of North Pacific Beach and then Birdrock, a community within La Jolla. We run through huge beautiful houses and get peaks of the ocean on occasion.
However, at about mile 4, we start getting the good stuff. We ran along the gorgeous ocean for about a mile before reaching La Jolla Cove, which is famous for the sea lions that bask on the rocks nearby (and stink up the place). Thousands of tourists come to the cove each year to snorkel, kayak through the caves, scuba dive or just enjoy the scenery. We stopped her for a bathroom break and our first Gu. We have a new strategy of taking 1 Gu every 40 minutes. It has served us well so far and I plan to use this strategy in the race.
As we left the cove we were officially starting to run the La Jolla Half Marathon (the most difficult half marathon in Southern California) in reverse. We started up a big cobblestone hill that I remember sprinting down at the finish of the La Jolla Half this April and then made our way through the streets of La Jolla until we reached La Jolla Shores, the location of the Tri Club Aquathons that I participated in this summer. After we ran along the beautiful beach there, the real “fun” began as we started to scale the backside of Torrey Pines hill.
Although only the first 2 miles of this hill are steep, it seemed as though we were running at an upward incline for the next 6 miles. We took a Gu just after we finished the steepest section, which was probably good because according to my heart rate monitor my heart rate was up to 185 on the steep section, meaning my body was using about 100% carbohydrate as fuel rather than fat.
I was very thankful to pass by Torrey Pines Golf Course and enter Torrey Pines State Park. We cruised the next 1.5 miles at a very nice decline and once we got to the bottom, we were already 11 miles in. We stopped for the bathroom again to take another Gu and refill our water bottles. However, another pretty significant hill awaited us as we ran into Del Mar. This was the point that we let ourselves have a bit of a pity party and complain that the hills were never-ending. Sometimes the middle part of a long run is the hardest – you arent’ still fresh from the beginning and you feel like you have a LONG way to go. At least mile 20 of a 21 mile run brings hope of the end coming!
Once we reached the top of the hill in Del Mar (we’re about 75% of the way up in the picture above), we were thankful that we had some easy downhill miles to come. We ran through the neighborhoods in Del Mar and then along the coast and then passed the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Dog Beach. Once we hit Via de La Valle, we knew we were 5 miles away from home.
By the time we reached Fletcher Cove, the main beach in Solana Beach, we knew that stopping to refill water bottles and take Gu was a good idea but that our bodies would not appreciate it. We stopped anyway, and getting back to it was hard. Once we made our way out of the neighborhoods in Solana Beach and could see the coast again in an area called Cardiff, we were officially in the “home stretch” with about 3.5 miles to go.