Rock N Roll San Diego – The Double Header Weekend

In my pursuit of the Cali Combo medal from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Limited Edition medals, I headed to San Diego for a double-header weekend. Running both Saturday and Sunday was also going to earn me the Remix medal.

Race Expo

This was my first time doing the Remix Challenge so I didn’t know I would have to fill out a waiver for each race before I could pick up my bibs for the 5k and ½ marathon. Lucky for me, the first person I approached for my first bib informed me I would need a waiver for my second bib.

After picking up my bibs I made my way through the rest of the expo including picking up the T-shirts for the 5k and ½ marathon, then onto the merchandise. I didn’t need to buy anything so I just made my way through to the exit.

Race Morning 1 – 5k

I was staying in an AirBnB on the Eastern side of Balboa Park and the race started and ended on the Western side. So I thought it would be a great way to warm-up for the race by walking to the race start. However, it was a 2.5 mi walk, with hills. I would have been fine but my dad joined me and was not a fan of the hills. Lucky for us, we handled the hills and made it to the start area.

Rock n Roll San Diego 5k course map

My dad stayed a little ways up the course from the start line so he could take photos and record video of me running because the 5k started by running North, making a U-turn, then running back South towards the start line before continuing for the remaining ~2 mi. After making it back past the start line, we were met with a long straight away and then a hill.

I thought I was in decent shape so I was aiming for roughly 9:00/mi at best, but I was running closer to 8:20/mi on the descent of the hill and that would come back to bite me. A little way down the hill was the turnaround point and I made it only part of the way back up before I needed to walk. There happened to be the one and only drink station just around the corner on the way back up the hill and I chose to start running right before I saw the drinks.

This drink station was about halfway up a small hill that led to another descent before reaching a quick left-hand turn that led to the finish which was, you guessed it, uphill! But this time the uphill climb to the 5k finish was gradual and hardly noticeable.

My official finish time was 33:42 placing me 1413/3338 Overall and 740/1306 for Men.

Race Morning 2 – ½ Marathon

Another day, another race to get to. I didn’t want to walk another 2.5mi to the race start so I requested a Lyft, but of course everyone was looking for one, and everyone was on the road so getting around the road closures made the Lyft difficult.

Eventually I made it to the start area, found my friend Lauren, and we dropped our gear off. I still needed to use a port-a-potty so I got in line even though the race was starting. Why was I okay and not nervous doing this? There were 20,000 people running the ½ and full marathons so it was taking a long time to get through all the corrals of runners. I was going to meet up with another friend who was also late getting to the race start, so Lauren and I decided to wait in the last corral. We ended up starting in corral 37 and every corral before ours was still packed like it was the 1st corral.

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Rock n Roll San Diego marathon and half marathon course map

As for the race, we started along the same street heading in the same direction as the 5k, but of course we continued on past the U-turn point from the 5k. The marathon and ½ follow the same route until about 7.5mi in giving my friend and me plenty of time to run together, the first time we’ve done this so far!

This wasn’t as flat as I expected, but I also thought we would be running through the Downtown area more. Instead, we (those of us running the ½) spent most of our time running through the North Park and Normal Heights areas which is actually where my AirBnB was. The race turned south to make its way towards Balboa Park around mile 8.5 which meant there were less than 5 miles left in the race.

Around mile 9.5 was a series of steep downhills leading into Balboa Park and towards mile 10 where a big inflatable rocker playing a double guitar advertising for Brooks running shoes.

Brooks advertisement from RnR SD half

Passing through the legs of the rockers led us to a short valley along the route, with a hill following shortly afterwards with a group playing large drums as we continued through Balboa Park. There was more uphill and downhill running as we made our way to mile 12 and into Downtown.

Finally into Downtown, I was feeling pretty good and thought it would be a good idea to all but sprint the last mile, so my pace went from 11:00 or 12:00/mi to 8:00/mi.

Needless to say, I “ran out of fuel” short of the finish line so I had to walk a little. I still finished strong and ran a decent pace into the finish line, but I need more practice with pacing my races and finishes.

My goal was to finish in 2:30 and I was very close at 2:32:04. This put me at 8555/15372 Overall, 252/328 for my Division and 4243/6204 for Men.

Like the start line, the finish line was packed when I finished even though the marathon finishers were still only trickling in.

Final Thoughts

I may have been far off on my desired time for the 5k (although right on pace for what I was aiming for in the ½) but I missed my desired time for the ½ marathon by just 2 minutes and I was happy with my performance. Coming into the race with more knowledge of the course profile may have helped my performance, but now I know what to expect if I return to run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego again.

The weather wasn’t perfect on Saturday for the 5k, but Sunday was pretty good. Another highlight of this race was my lack of forethought meant I didn’t have gels along the race which ended up being beneficial because I didn’t need to take bathroom breaks every couple miles like I did during the California International Marathon (CIM) in December.

Would I do this race again? Definitely, because it’s flatter than San Francisco but not as flat as a pancake like San Jose will be in October. Plus, the weather and area (Downtown, North Park, and Normal Heights) has a lot to see and explore.

I have uploaded to YouTube a video shot on my GoPro Hero4 Black throughout the race. You can find it here if you want to check it out.

Flight to San Diego #1: SMF – SLC

I chose to run the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego for the first weekend of June. To get to San Diego, I chose to fly on Delta. My chosen route with Delta was Sacramento (SMF) → Salt Lake City (SLC) → San Diego (SAN) so I could check out the Delta Sky Club in SLC.

The Delta credit cards from American Express currently have their highest sign-up bonuses being offered, 60,000 points for the Delta Gold card with the annual fee waived the first year. These points are good for 1 or 2 round trip tickets for longer flights, like SFO – JFK, or roughly 5 or 6 short one-way segments like SFO-LAX.

To the Airport!

The trip to SMF was smooth without any congestion on the drive to the airport. Once at the airport, security was not busy at all so I spent maybe 10 minutes going through TSA. Delta flies out of Terminal A which is also used only by United and American which might account for the speed of security compared to Terminal B which has 7 airlines.

The Airplane

My flight to SLC was on an Airbus 319-100 which seats 126 people and has 2 cabins, First and Comfort+/Economy. Having only 2 cabins meant boarding went quickly, first Pre-boarding, then First Class and Diamond Medallion members, with Sky board followed by Group 1, 2, and 3 to finish things off.

The overhead storage bins were like buckets that came down from the ceiling and we dumped our luggage into them. I recently got a carry-on suitcase with a battery from Away called “The Bigger Carry-On” and it fit just fine in the overhead bin. Seating was 3 on either side of the aisle, so a 3-3 configuration.

 

This airplane felt new because the light and air vent controls looked like a WiFi router, which it might have been since there was an illuminated “WiFi” icon during the flight. The In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) also seemed updated because even though there was a screen in the back of the headrest on each seat, the screens were independent of one another and they were touch screens.

What impressed me was not only the touch and independence of each screen, but the fact there were hours of modern movies (like Moana, Hidden Figures, and Rogue One), TV series, and full albums all for free.

On the underside of the IFE screen was a headphone jack and a USB port. Each of these inputs had a blue light illuminating them but the light would switch off and on without any known reason. I couldn’t tell if my camera was charging or not, so I used the universal power socket that was on the near the floor of the seats in front of me.

Being about 6’ 2”, leg room is of great importance to me. With that said, I chose the window because SMF-SLC is just over an hour.

I didn’t have much to complain about in terms of legroom. My knees were about an inch away from the seat in front of me while my feet were directly below my knees and the seat was upright. Even the tray table was well above my knees when my legs were in the same position.

The short duration of this flight meant I didn’t find using the available GoGo WiFi worthwhile to use, but I did take a water and pretzel snack when the food cart came through. Another consequence of such a short flight was not being able to tell if the seats were comfortable. They weren’t uncomfortable and they looked new, but I couldn’t tell if they would hurt during a 2+ hour flight.

Landing in Salt Lake City went smoothly and I had a 3 hour layover so I headed from Gate D13 to the Delta SkyClub located between the D and C gates. The review of my flight from Salt Lake City to San Diego will be published in a few days, and videos of my flights can be found here.

If you think it’s as awesome as I did to have a battery for charging various things while sitting around with a carry-on suitcase, and you’d like $20 off your order of an Away suitcase, you can use my referral link and I will also get $20.

Action Cameras and YouTube Videos

I am joining the world of action camera videography. With a couple GoPro cameras in hand, I will be cataloging my traveling, races and training on YouTube.

There will be separate channels for travel and races and another for full length recordings of me training.

On the travel and races channel, I have uploaded a time lapse of my recent trip on Amtrak to San Jose. And I have begun uploading my run workouts as I prepare for the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego race weekend.

I already have several videos planned for this summer with the first coming from my weekend of racing in San Diego. The majority of my planned videos will be from my trip to Europe in July. These will include time lapses of the flights going to and coming back from Europe, and train rides throughout Europe.

A couple more videos I will be creating will be a follow up to my blog about my TomTom Spark and a brand new blog post about my newest phone, the OnePlus 3T.

 

Parc 55 San Francisco – a Hilton Hotel

Getting to the Parc 55

San Francisco is about 2 hours away from San Jose whether I took Caltrain directly from SJ -> SF or if I took a bus to Fremont to catch BART. The Parc 55 is immediately across the street from the Powell BART station so I elected to take BART.

Leaving the Powell BART station, most people turned right to go towards the escalators up to Market St. I turned left and saw the Parc 55 hotel calling for me to check-in to my room.

Getting to the street level was easy since I was able to take the stairs near the Parc 55, but someone who needed the escalator would have had to go to the opposite side nearer Market St than the hotel.

The Hotel

A quick crossing of the street led me to the driveway and drop off for valet parking, as well as the doorman and entrance to the hotel.

Driveway doorway of Parc 55

Walking through the ground floor lobby didn’t take long with the stairs just inside and the escalators on the opposite side of the stairs. I made my way past the stairs and onto the escalators to head up to the check-in desk.

Being a member of Hilton Honors, the Hilton rewards program, allows guests to check in and choose a room the day before their stay. I checked in and picked a room on the 12th floor before arriving, but I still headed to the check-in desk in case there were any upgrades since I have Diamond status.

As luck would have it, there were a couple rooms on floors 24, 25 and 27 and the person at the desk gave me a room on the 27th floor. I didn’t know what type of view this would have, but the view ended up being great.

View from the 27th floor of the Parc 55 San Francisco

After checking in, I headed to the elevators and found there were no up/down buttons. There was, instead, a number pad to punch in the desired floor. So I punched in “2” and “7” and the display told me which elevator and points in the direction of the elevator (A and to the left).

The Room

Reaching my room was easy, but opening the door posed another new obstacle. Every other hotel I’ve stayed in required the keycard to be slid into a slot for the magnetic strip to be read. This keycard, however, only needed to be placed against the reader to unlock the door.

Immediately inside the door to the left was the bathroom and to the right was the closet with mirrors on the sliding doors. Directly ahead were the beds, the desk, dresser, arm chairs, and the windows with the view from above.

2 Bed bedroom in Parc 55 San Francisco

My parents were staying with me so I reserved a room with two beds. They had not yet arrived, so I took some time to tour the room.

The desk was large enough to have my laptop and a textbook, if I had brought a textbook, set up for doing homework. Sitting in the chairs was a little weird because the arms were so tall. But the dresser and the TV on top were probably the most interesting things in the room.

A row of digital inputs and outputs were available on the side of the dresser for connecting a laptop or DVD player, or whatever you had. I forgot my HDMI chord in my room so I let myself down by having only my laptop screen to watch Netflix on. The end of the row near the wall had 4 wall adapters and each one was rotated 90 degrees around each other to prevent anything plugged in from getting in the way of another adapter.

TV inputs/outputs in the Parc 55 San Francisco hotel room

Moving on to the windows and the view, venting the room meant not opening the window. Instead, there were little vents at the bottom that lifted up or down.

Here is a clip of the vent opening.

Texts from the Desk?

A few hours after I checked in, and while I was away at dinner, I received a text from the hotel, probably the concierge desk, asking me how everything was in my room. That night and the next morning I received a few more texts, and I asked them a few questions. My most important question I asked them was if I could get a late check-out.

Being a member of the Hilton Honors program also gives you the option for checking out late. Normal check-out time is 11am and I was going to be cutting things close, and not have time for a shower, so I shot a quick text to the desk. Fortunately they extended my check-out time by another hour which gave me enough time to grab some breakfast, shower, and pack before heading down to the check-out desk.

Checking out was smooth, although there were numerous people so it took a few minutes. I paid for my valet, texted the valet to get the car ready, and then headed down the escalators to find my parents already at the car.

Overall experience

I enjoyed my stay. The building looked nice, the room was better than I expected, and the texts from the (concierge) desk was the final piece to convince me to pick the Parc 55 San Francisco if I ever need a hotel in San Francisco again.

Rewards Time

In my post about A (Hypothetical) Weekend in Seattle I go over the rewards earning structure of different hotel programs including Hilton. To keep recap, my American Express Hilton Honors card (with no annual fee) earns 7 points/$1 on Hilton transactions, and from being a member of Hilton Honors I get 10 points, Diamond I get an extra 5 points, and for earning Points + Points I get another 5 points on the room rate. This means the room rate of $220 earned me 20x points (4400 points), and my card earned 7x points on the final price of $256 + $71 for valet parking.

My total earnings from this one night stay with my parents earned me 4400 points for the room, 2289 points from my card, which comes to 6685 points total.

Looking at the breakdown on Hilton’s website, I’m seeing something a little different. I earned 2820 base points and 1410 for each of the Diamond and Points+Points bonuses. Plus, I earned 500 points for booking my stay with an American Express card, and I received a gift of 1000 bonus points as my Diamond benefit from the hotel (I chose points over a water bottle). This brings my actual total points earned to 9429 points.

In the A (Hypothetical) Weekend in Seattle, I mentioned the cheapest rooms available for each of the hotel programs is 5000 points, which means this one night stay was enough to earn a full night at a Tier 1 hotel, and almost 2 nights at a Tier 1 or 1 night at a Tier 2 hotel.

 

If you would like to use my referral link for the American Express Hilton Honors credit card, you will earn 80,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. This is more than enough for a typical 1 night stay at the Parc 55 San Francisco.

Using my link is voluntary and will help support me by me earning 20,000 Honors points which I can use towards another hotel review.