Half Marathon Canceled Due to Weather

America’s Best Cities Half Marathon was canceled due to a completely unprecedented weather event in California. This is what I ran instead…

I signed up to run the America’s Best Cities Half Marathon in San Diego, California this weekend. I was excited for a few reasons, including: half marathons are my favorite distance, there aren’t many half marathons in the summer, I was staying in San Diego, and I had a ton of fun plans for before and after the race. But none of that happened because the race was CANCELED AT THE LAST MINUTE.

Let’s take a few steps back to the days before the race…

I think on Wednesday someone mentioned that there was a hurricane off the coast of western Mexico and that it was headed toward Southern California. My response was something like “No. Hurricane? Ha!” I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life (aside from that nice year in Maryland). Hurricanes don’t exist here. It doesn’t actually rain here in August. The average precipitation in August is 0.0 inches. ZERO.

So I thought it might rain, but I didn’t think a real hurricane was going to hit San Diego.

Thursday morning I heard the local news talking about it and it hit me: we’re not in Kansas (or anywhere else without hurricanes) anymore. At the time it was a pretty big hurricane and they weren’t sure how fast it would move or how much it would change in size. The weather forecast for the weekend estimated that a tropical storm would hit the San Diego area overnight Saturday into race time Sunday morning.

Naturally, I took to Instagram to share this race weekend update and asked runners familiar with hurricanes and tropical storms to share their thoughts. Since I’m not familiar with this type of weather, I wanted to know if this is the kind of thing you hear before a race is canceled. Many runners messaged me saying the weather would be TOUGH, potentially dangerous, and many were surprised it had already been cancelled.

The thing is…if you’re not familiar with hurricanes (like me and I assume the race organizers), it’s hard to believe that there will suddenly be super wild weather when the weather is currently wonderful.

Plus, runners talk a lot about mental strength and one of our favorite brain exercises is called “Denial.” We often do several repetitions of “Denial” when we don’t feel 100% but still want to run. You might see runners doing “Denial” exercise in the summer when the humidity is 100% and they are dressed all in black and doing a long run at noon.

My point is that no one wants to skip a race or a race. And race organizers definitely don’t want to cancel a race unless the government forces them to (see: 2020).

Luckily, I have the BEST fans in the world and many of you messaged me saying it would be unsafe and/or the race would be cancelled. And you were several steps ahead of the race organizers!

Friday morning runners received a confirmation email that the race was ON. On Saturday morning, America’s Finest City’s Instagram was posting videos of runners coming to pick up their race day packets.

That was giving me FOMO because I had already decided that I wasn’t going to drive to San Diego for the race. Traffic from Orange County to San Diego is always JACKED. I didn’t want to get stuck in that traffic during a bad storm on the way back from the race.

Plus, I was having flashbacks to the Christmas half marathon I ran in December during a torrential downpour. I considered taking a DNS and going home because I was frozen waiting for the race to start after being delayed several times. I stayed and ran the race, but I promised myself I would never force myself to run a race in a storm again. And this was starting to look like the AFC Half Marathon was going to be even worse.

This is the Instagram update that race organizers posted at 7 pm Saturday the night before the race:

Half marathon race canceled in 2023

What I did when my half marathon was canceled

I still wanted to run a half marathon this weekend even if the race was cancelled. On Saturday morning I went out for a 13.1 mile solo long run.

Pre-race fuel included oatmeal, banana, and coffee:

The half marathon of the best cities in the United States canceled

What I heard in my career:

I saved the end of my audiobook for running (this is one of my favorite long-form tricks to beat boredom). Listen ‘For better and for worse’ by Margot Hunt and then I played music. The last few books I’ve listened to have been good (after a series of ‘meh’ books) and that makes me very happy. I also recommend ‘None of This is True’ by Lisa Jewell. And I think one is better as an audiobook since there are different narrators and part of the plot involves a podcast. I have a audible monthly subscription and I think I discovered Jewell at one of their subscriber sales.

Half Marathon Training Audiobooks

Long term summary:

I tried a new route as my usual long distance routes have become boring and tedious. It was great! I found an amazing new walking path that had just the right amount of activity. I passed by a store that I heard actually had Sriracha (but I didn’t go check it out because she was so sweaty). I saw a water fountain towards the beginning of my run, but I didn’t need it at the time (my bottle was still full). I know there have to be more water sources along the route, but I must have been in the area and didn’t see any more after the first one. I ended up running out of water, which is a reminder to better plan long-term hydration next time!

When it was time to turn around, I decided to keep running and would just call Ben to pick me up wherever I was. In my previous life I used to do this all the time, but I haven’t done it in years. So, I kept running and running until I reached mile 12. I planned to ask him to pick me up about a mile from my current location to reach 13.1 miles total.

But, overnight, aliens kidnapped him and replaced him with a Ben lookalike because… he was out for a walk with a friend??! Ummmm… it sounds like a lie, but it’s okay.

At that point, he had to walk a long walk back to his car plus a 30 minute drive to get to me. I was NOT happy about it, but it was 1000% my fault for not planning this. I was about to start crying, but I realized I was already dehydrated and couldn’t afford to lose the water from my tears. So I recovered and ran again.

I ended up running 15 miles total. I hadn’t run that long in a while, so I was secretly happy that my plan to get transportation hadn’t worked out. I needed this reminder that I can run here. 16 miles used to be my preferred distance for long runs just to keep me within a few weeks of marathon shape. I missed that runner’s feeling of great accomplishment and exhaustion. (Do you know what I mean? Please say yes…)

Half Marathon Training Audiobooks

I started this post talking about the cancellation of the America’s Best Cities Half Marathon due to Hurricane Hilary… but I digressed from my recap of the long race. Oh good. Let’s cool down.

Reminders for runners facing race day challenges

It’s sad when your career is cancelled. It sucks when the weather on race day is too hot, cold or stormy. It’s frustrating when something out of your control impairs your ability to run your best on race day. You have the right to feel everything when life gives you a lemon instead of a banana on race morning. But after crying for five minutes, shake it off and focus on what YOU CAN DO.

Let go of the things you can’t control. Do your best with the things you can control.

I didn’t focus on the grim weather forecast or how much money I would have left if I decided not to run the race at the last minute or if the race organizers would cancel or postpone it or anything like that. I can’t control any of those things.

I focused on what I could control. I was able to control what I did the day before the storm hit. I was sad that I didn’t run the race, but I could still do a good long run. And I did it.

I realize this is a unique situation and doesn’t apply to runners’ setbacks like injuries… but whenever possible, it helps to focus on what you can do (not what you can’t).

YOU GOT IT.

Don't let what you can't do get in the way of what you can do.

Resources for runners from this post:

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