2014 Puerto Rico Half Marathon

Yesterday, I paced hubby at the 2014 Puerto Rico Half Marathon. If you remember, I ran the inaugural marathon last year and had a blast, even though the heat index was 100F and the dewpoint was 80F.  Since they moved the race to March this year, I registered myself for the marathon and hubby for the half and we hoped for better weather.

Then, I chose my surgery date and I had to let at least three races and lost the registrations on those.  Having said that, now that I went through the surgery, I wonder why didn't I just do it in January and fuck all the races I didn't want to lose my registration on.  But, you live, you learn.

I initially requested to defer the race and we expected not to go at all.  My husband had been dealing with shin splints since his last half marathon in December and there was no way I could run a marathon five weeks post surgery.  But, since I started running earlier than expected and running has been going great, well, really, it's been fucking great, hubby said: let's go visit the family, and recommended I asked whether I could do the half marathon.  This conversation happened last weekend.  So, with only a 7 miler post surgery, I asked and they said yes.  And off we went!

We flew Friday night and JetBlue was delayed, so we arrived in San Juan at 2am on Saturday morning.  Went to bed at 3am and woke up at 8am.  Awesome sleep, not.  We had breakfast at our favorite typical Puerto Rican bakery and headed to the expo.  They switched me to the half marathon, gave me everything I needed, and I went shopping at the expo.  It's a very small expo but they always have great visors and headbands, which I use 24/7.  After the expo, we drove around Old San Juan and drove the new race route, which was harder than last year.  One positive, though: for the first time in probably forever, Puerto Rico's weather was milder than Miami, so we were only getting a high of 88F and a dewpoint of 70F with a start in 75F and a dewpoint of 75F.  Much better than last year and better than what Miami has been getting so we felt we didn't have much to worry.

After our drive, we met my inlaws for lunch at one of the typical restaurants in Old San Juan.  We had a blast.  After our goodbyes, we headed to the pool for some relaxation and later met my dad for dinner at our favorite pizza place.  We went to bed at 10am and woke up at 3:30am for the race, as the last shuttle left the parking area at 4:30am.  We barely made it with the traffic (even though we were 2 miles away--this is typical Puerto Rican traffic).

The race started late due to an activity at the Convention Center which was still ongoing (Puerto Rico does know how to party) and they couldn't close the road until those people had left the Center.  Start time was 5am, we started at 5:21am.  Not bad except the Blondie was coming out soon and we wanted to be well ahead of the Blondie by the time it became a race in the surface of the sun.  We were not successful, ha.

If it was hilly last year, it was harder now.  The route starts at El Escambron and run on a slight uphill towards Old San Juan.  We pass the Capitol which is gorgeous at night:


We go up one of the worst hills in Old San Juan (they measure it at more than 18% but this picture does not do it justice), the uphill near the Fort San Cristobal, pictured here (not my pictures).  Of course, being Mile 2 of the race, we walked this:



Then, we head to El Morro and La Puerta de San Juan (also not my pictures):



But before we headed towards El Morro, we turned left and headed towards La Puerta de San Juan.  Sad that all this was in the dark.  Although Old San Juan is also gorgeous at night, running during the day would have been great as well.

We ran on the path circling the old wall protecting San Juan from pirates and other dangers and entered back into Old San Juan to head back towards downtown San Juan:


After we headed towards Downtown San Juan, also hilly but manageable, we started remembering places we used to go out, study, work, etc.  When we reached the Calle San Diego, where our hotel was, we went on a huge downhill and I lost my husband.  He smoked me there (I was more conservative going down the huge hill).  We met at the water station and headed towards Isla Verde and Condado to return to Old San Juan for the last stretch.

This is the Convention Center at night, we ran by it during the day, but still gorgeous (my picture):



After Condado, which is one of the main tourist hotel areas in San Juan, we crossed the Puente Dos Hermanos and headed back to the Capitol area and Old San Juan. The bridge looks better today but this is the only picture I was able to find and it's probably 20 years old since there are only a bunch of hotels there instead of 100.


 We crossed the bridge at around Mile 10 and started the uphill towards the back of the Capitol, when we hear the police coming in.  The marathon winners were coming to pass us.  The three elite males looked like they were going out for a nice stroll.

This is them crossing the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge (it's close to 3 miles long) which is part of the marathon course but not of the half.

We applauded them and they soon disappeared from our view.  The last two miles are uphill (gradual 4%) to a downhill towards the Sixto Escobar Park where the finish line was located.  We headed there, got our names mentioned as we headed towards the finish and finished.

Hubby was afraid his shins would act up because he has been suffering from shin splints on and off for the last two months but he did the race without issue.  Me?  I didn't even feel a thing.  I have noticed that since removing what needed to be removed, I have not had issues with my leg mechanics at my husband's pace.  I should know more when I start racing at my pace.

We had a blast.  I don't think I'll do this marathon often.  After all, we saw the marathoners pass us by the hotel when it was already 90F and super sunny and humid and instead of jealousy I felt glad I was not doing it.  I will run this race every year with hubby and keep it as a family visit, with me doing the marathon when I feel I need my fix of a marathon that will make me miss Miami weather.

Today was my last surgery follow up.  I have been cleared for everything and basically my recovery has ended.  The doctor is not surprised I ran a half marathon yesterday since, as he puts it, this surgery's recovery is speedy.

I am glad to be back!

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