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America's Finest City Half Marathon Recap

Earlier in the year I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon and the La Jolla Half Marathon-- both races are part of the Triple Crown race series, so it seemed silly not to run the final race, America's Finest City Half Marathon.  I had never run AFC, but all I'd ever heard about it is that it's hot and there's a hill at mile 11. 

Packet pick-up was either Friday or Saturday before the race-- I took an impromptu trip to Disneyland on Friday, so headed to the expo on Saturday.  (They do offer a race day pick-up for a fee). I didn't spend a lot of time at the expo-- getting the bib and shirt were easy.  They also give you a nice reusable shopping bag which I like.  I took a quick look at the expo-- there was a good representation of vendors and if I had more time, I would have definitely checked out a few of the booths.  

#FlatJenn with all of my favorite things.
This year's race had an earlier start time than previous years-- I'm one of those runners who loves early race starts, so I was happy with this.  The race starts at Cabrillo National Monument and the only way to the start line is via shuttle from Balboa Park (the finish area).  The shuttles were running from 4:00am to 5:30am and I was a little nervous since this was my first time doing this race.  I arrived to the shuttle around 4:15am-- I was suprised that there were several other people who were just as early.  The shuttle took about 30 minutes to get us to the start line.  The start area was in a parking lot-- they had gear check and a water station.  I used the extra time to catch up on social media and read a book.  At 6:00am I was standing in line to use the restroom and all of a sudden we heard the National Anthem.  There was a little bit of "oh no, is it 6:30am already?!" in the line, then we quickly realized that it was just being played/sung early. (I couldn't see the start line platform so I'm not sure if it was a recording or a live person-- either way, it was good rendition).  While in line for the restroom, I met Jerry who is a legacy runner for this race-- he has run AFC for 39 years.  How awesome is that?! After I used the restroom, I headed to the start line area.  We weren't officially put into corrals, but they did have time flags posted and people seemed to be placing themselves accordingly.  Promptly at 6:30am, we heard a horn blow and we were off.  

The course runs down the road leading up to Cabrillo National Monument-- there were a few places that it was so congested with runners, it was almost comical.  We quickly made our race towards Fort Rosecrans National cemetery--I'm a little quirky about cemeteries, but I will say that running by it while the sun was rising in the distance was beautiful! If you are ever in San Diego, both of these places should be on your "visit" list.  

We continued the course down towards Point Loma and I was suprised at the residential area we ran through.  I don't look at course maps so this was a pleasant surprise.  San Diego spectators are awesome and always come out for races-- there were shots of tequila, kids giving out high-fives and people offering us sprays with their hose to help beat the heat.  (And now keeping it honest-- around mile 6, I had to use the restroom again.  I'm not sure if I overhydrated on Saturday or pre-race, but it is what it is.  And I wasn't the only one-- it was about a ten minute wait in line.) After my pit stop, we made our way to Harbor Island (yay for a misting station at mile 8) and towards the Navy Pier.  After I found my way back to the course, I was ready to go.  I run near the Navy Pier quite frequently for #RUNch, but it's always a beautiful run. During this portion of the race, I got dizzy so I slowed down. I don't get dizzy often, so it made me a little nervous.  I'd rather run smart and it really is a beautiful area to run. Seriously, if you're ever in San Diego, run here.

Around mile 10, we made a turn and started into downtown towards Balboa Park.  The group at mile 10 was awesome-- they had a misting station, people spraying us with hoses and grilled hamburgers-- I didn't have one, but they sure smelled good! I had been warned about the upcoming hill and it was a little sneaky.  As you head up Broadway, you think "this is the hill" until you turn onto 6th Avenue. 

I surprised myself and pushed up the hill-- it wasn't steep, but it was long.  I actually enjoyed the challenge and realized I definitely need to add more hill training to my runs.  After the hill, we made our way across into the Prado area of Balboa Park.  The bridge was lined with American Flags and I loved this.  Then a quick turn around the corner and we were finished.  

Race Shirt and Medal
After crossing the finish line and getting my AFC medal, I made my way down the finishers chute which seemed to go on forever, but it was worth it when there was cold chocolate milk waiting for us at the end.  I then found the Triple Crown tent to get my medal and waiting in line to take the Triple Crown picture.  I had planned ahead and brought my medals from the first two races.   The finish area was a lot of fun-- a live band, vendors and just a great buzz of activity.  After taking some pictures and handling out a bit, I headed home. 

Overall, I had a great experience at AFC.  The weather was great. There were some beautiful sections of the course-- epic blogger fail that I didn't get pictures.  There were plenty of water stations and the volunteers were awesome.  Every volunteer I encountered was so supportive- that's not always the case with volunteers so it was definitely appreciated.  I loved seeing local running groups out there too supporting us-- it's nice to see familiar faces out on the race course.  

I loved completing the Triple Crown challenge.  Each race offers something unique and is challenging in it's own way and who doesn't love extra bling?! 

Have you every completed a multi race challenge?

Until next time, happy running.


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