Race Recap: La Jolla Half Marathon

I have to admit part of me dreaded this course when I initially registered for the race. I’m working on completing the Triple Crown: Carlsbad, La Jolla and America’s Finest Cities, and since I ran Carlsbad in January the next step was La Jolla.

Don’t get me wrong: La Jolla is a gorgeous area of San Diego, and I feel very lucky to be able to run there. But the course is HILLY! As in almost 1,000 feet of elevation change over the 13.1 miles. And for anyone who is familiar with North County, it includes ascending the Torrey Pines trail hill, which can be a beast when you’re just out for a Saturday morning hike.

I recently joined a local running group (more to come on that in a subsequent post), and we carpooled to the race start with a woman in the group, and her husband whom G runs ultras with. G did not race this time – he’s saving his energy for the upcoming PCT 50, and it was so nice to know he would be at the end waiting for me. I planned to really give the race my all.

The start line was at the Del Mar Racetrack, and from there we made our way around the outer perimeter of the track and onto Highway 101 that runs along the Pacific Ocean. I know, I know: It sounds like a horrible view. It was so great to see G just a little before Mile 3 – the last half of Mile 1 was uphill and I was already panicking a little knowing what larger hills were yet to come.

photo 3
Just a little before Mile 3 and I see G and his friend!

From there, I took off toward Torrey Pines and enjoyed the downhill ocean view to round out Mile 4. Looming over the Mile 5 marker was the start of Torrey Pines and I was determined to run as much of it as possible. I still hadn’t seen a friend whom I usually end up finding and running with during local races since we run a similar pace. Around Mile 5.5, she found me and it was nice to have company as we tackled the hill. We ended up running together or near each other for the rest of the race.

After we exited Torrey Pines, we thought “after this it’s pretty flat until we hit the downhill stretch.” HA! When you’re driving, you often don’t notice rolling hills. Miles 6-9 were nothing but that, and to my tired legs the inclines felt like mountains, but the weather was perfect and I kept pushing.

Miles 9.5-11 were what everyone was waiting for after the hills, and the sharp descent behind Scripps Aquarium offered a gorgeous, cloud-free view of La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. Home stretch time!

Mile 11.5-12.5 was probably the toughest for me overall. I had really put in the effort at Torrey Pines, and I was starting to feel the soreness in my quads from the downhill portion. As I climbed the final hill and dropped down into the Cove toward the finish line, I was all-smiles when I saw G waiting for me on the left side of the chute. I can honestly say I’ve never felt stronger during a race finish. My time was a 2:21 – about 15 minutes slower than my fastest half marathon, but a time I’m extremely proud of because of how I tackled the hills and how good I felt throughout the race.

Coming into the finish line!
Coming into the finish line!

I would absolutely run this race again – hills and all!

We have a few fun posts coming soon, so stay tuned,


How about you? What’s the one race that was a challenge, but that you would definitely run again?


19 thoughts on “Race Recap: La Jolla Half Marathon

  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! I loved reading your race recap! You pushed through those hills like a TROOPER! And, with a beautiful smile on your face!! You won! Awesome!


  2. Great job, C! I ran that race a few years ago and I still remember that final small incline at the end and how that final stretch to the finish line felt like an eternity! I felt your pain in reading this lol 😉


  3. Congrats! Finishing strong is a great feeling. That’s great that you are working on the Triple Crown. When is the final race?


    1. Thanks, Jen! The final race is Aug. 17. We both ran that one last year, and that final hill was a struggle for me. I’m hoping to be much more prepared for it this year.


  4. Hey, super well done! I just love that you are smiling in all those pictures, that’s the main thing. Well done for sticking it out on a tough course! Good luck with completing the hat trick!


  5. Nice job! Looks like a beautiful place to run! I ran the Flying Pirate Half in OBX, NC last year. I hadn’t done any hill work cause they said it was at sea level and perfectly flat. Well, the last three miles went through a hilly nature preserve. It cost my my PR, but I still had an absolute blast running it!


    1. Love OBX! I haven’t been in years, but that is a gorgeous place … a race there would be a blast! So glad you were able to find joy in a tough course. Keep it up!


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