Griffith Park Half Marathon Race Recap

I gave a review of the Griffith Park Half Marathon the other day…but this race deserves a recap of it’s own.

Being married to a soccer ref can have it’s perks – including getting to stay in a swank hotel at the foot of the Getty Museum the night before a race….

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Morning view ain’t too shabby….

I tend to be a lot like Santa with my race prep- making a list and checking it twice, but Saturday was not that day.  I showed up disheveled, confused and ill-prepared.  My body was achy, sore and tired (sharing a full-bed with a squirmtastic child the night before probably didn’t help).  I checked in with the race staff fully prepared to add the “DNF” notch to my lipstick case with the goal of just running 30 minutes.

View of the San Fernando Valley...in the background was the first snow in the San Gabriel's

View of the San Fernando Valley…in the background was the first snow in the San Gabriel’s

The first 4 miles didn’t start out so well – 2 untied shoes, a stop to take off my long-sleeve shirt, my hair tie committing suicide by jumping out of my ponytail and off the side of a cliff (thank goodness I had a hat on but I was annoyed no less).

But by mile 5, things were clipping along.  Slow and steady I went trying not to aggravate any injuries or fall down the side of a mountain…you know, priorities.

The perks of trail running - WALKING up big hills.  Thanks John Carlisle for sending this!

The perks of trail running – WALKING up big hills. Thanks John Carlisle for sending this!

I felt good until about mile 9 when I decided I was kind of done with the whole thing….as I was going up a giant hill.  Funny how giant climbs make you go crazy.

Then I spied with my little eye a dude in a kilt and made it my goal to just beat him.  I don’t usually run with music, but plugging in a little C&C Music Factory will make anyone sweat and shuffle their feet a little faster.

Bat caves anyone?

Bat caves anyone?

In my mind everyone was sweating and dancing now, and my little tweaky joints had all but disappeared and I rounded out mile 10ish to find my babies.

Ahhh….my babies!

The not-so-overly dramatic wait for Mom to slog her butt to the 10 mile mark.  Check out the LA skyline in the background....

The not-so-overly dramatic wait for Mom to slog her butt to the 10 mile mark. Check out the LA skyline in the background….

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Is that my shadow?

Strawberry jumped in to pace me for 0.2 miles and then proceeded to accidentally body check Kilt Dude (KD) which allowed me to start up a conversation with him apologizing for the little bit of chaos.  We ran together(isn) for about 2 miles until we hit the big downhill at the end.

By then, I knew any hopes of a mug (curse you, my coffee will never be the same again), were out of reach and the competitive side of me kicked in…but I wanted to race, to compete, to do something to get my endorphin jollies on.  So for the last mile I gave myself permission to just take off and made it a 1 mile race.

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I had 3 kills in the last mile beating Kilt Dude and two others I had snuck up on as I literally sprinted my way to the finish.

2:02:20  finish (8 min slower than last year)
6th place woman (dropped from 3rd last year)
#nomuginsight

Are you a fun, casual runner or does your competitive side get you?

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever run for?

I busted my butt in a 5k this summer to win a mason jar.  Don’t ask.  And yes I lost it about 27 hours later. 

2013 Griffith Park Half Marathon Race Review

13.1 Miles
2:02:xx
Didn’t DNF Strides

Saturday morning I woke up at the near buttcrack of dawn in a fabulous hotel in LA to run one of my favoritest favorite races – the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon.  It was a part of the Hollywood Rock Star Challenge which I did last year, but this year, my legs and life schedule could only make the half marathon happen.

Since it was a trail race, I was sure to sneak out some TP from the hotel in case of a trail emergency….

Doin' the Charmin bear proud :)

Doin’ the Charmin bear proud :)

You can read my recaps from last year (here and here).  Last year’s race was not a fluke, and this race lived up to my exceedingly high expectations…yet again….

Starting line....

Starting line….

As a sign of hyper-organization I got dropped off at the start line about 40 minutes before the race started with a bag of random crap.  #waytoplanahead

Within 5 minutes I had my race packet and I sat there wondering if this would be my first DNF.  My body was playing some funny games with me from my head to my legs.

I love trail races because the atmosphere is so laid back.  I went to go check my bag in at the “bag check” (we will use that term loosely as it’s a trail race) and found the line backed up.  I quickly grabbed the duct tape to help the resident checker help the process and finished with about 45 seconds to jump into the starting line/corral which was approximately 43 seconds more than I needed.

I’ll recap my personal experience with the 13.1 miles in the near future.  But the highlights of the race itself:

-The People.  You just can’t beat the people at these smaller (there were 400 or so) races.  To see smiling faces from last year, serious competitors, and “I’m just going to be happy to walk it in 5 hours!” alike happily lined up at the start was so much fun.

-The Clover.  The course is mildly clover shaped meaning you do a lot of out and backs and can see plenty of people along the way.  It’s great to see the people killing it ahead of you and encourage those behind you.

-The Course.  Yes, it’s really hard.  But the best news is it’s really hard.  Maybe there’s something wrong in my head, but as much as I hate it…I have loved finishing both times because I knew it was not a walk in the park kind of course.

GRF_MAP_GoogleEarth_Image

-The Swag.  Yes it’s a trail race, but that doesn’t mean the swag is granola and recycled hemp t-shirts.  Keira (the race director) works with Patagonia and they must have collaborated to put the shirts together.  I received what I believe has to be the NICEST race shirt I’ve ever had.  Vanilla even asked me to wear it on our coffee date the next morning.  A fab water bottle, a bag, the cutest ceramic “medal” and a few snacks rounded out this fabulous swag bag.

Griffith Park Swag

-The Grub.  Before the race, a spread of coffee, OJ, pastries, bagels, etc. was available for runners and after….oh deliciousness.  A spread of sandwiches, kale salad, bananas, oranges, soda, OJ, water, and lots and lots of cookies awaited.  I could hardly contain myself.  This doesn’t even begin to describe the on-course supplies…lots of water/electrolytes and tons of food.  I snagged some ABC cookies from TJ’s and a banana at one of the tables – but there were chips, gel packs, candy, fruit and anything else you might want for fuel.

Check out the awkward gangly girl who's trying to eat the plate instead of the food....

Check out the awkward gangly girl who’s trying to eat the plate instead of the food….

The race in itself, was an….err….well….uhhhh….experience for me…but the logistics were awesome.  Thanks to Keira for giving me a bib to participate.  While I didn’t have the chance to get another Top 5 mug, I did have a blast running the race and was once again impressed by the logistics and fabulous people involved with the race.

To trail or not to trail?  What is your preference?

What’s your favorite post-race food?

True Confession Thursday: Spilled Water

Newsflash:  It’s raining in SoCal.

I snuck in a quick run between rain clouds and Cali-grade downpours (aka heavy drizzle).

I always find it ironic that when our “winters” hit (I’ll use that term loosely), the rest of the country and things get literally dark, gray and cold, we finally get “normal” weather.  Those rare rainy days are warmly welcomed as an excuse to make those recipes you’ve been eyeing for months and the cool, damp rain greens up the typically dry and brittle landscape.  So really, our winter is like most people’s spring/fall.

Rain’s so rare here that the boys were filled with theories about it on the way to school:

-The clouds are crying.
-God spilled his water glass.
-Someone hates me and wanted recess canceled.

Watch out world – I am apparently raising at least one conspiracy theorist.  Our forecast is calling for 3 days of rain…..including Saturday which is the Griffith Park Half Marathon:

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.15.26 PM.pngThis means two things:

1- Fighting over the Rainbow Loom will increase exponentially since being outside (which is approximately 95% of their play) is off limits.

2- While this Saturday’s race is my one of my most favorite races ever….the weather forecast tied with the elevation means….

GRF_MAP_GoogleEarth_Imagerace is looking like cloudy with a chance of falls.

Mud slinging, slip and sliding fun, fun, fun, fun, fuuuuun…(sung to the tune of the Tigger song).  Honestly I think this is the best thing that could happen.   I won’t possibly be able to run too fast and can really just HAVE FUN.

To be honest, things have been all crazy-like in the house with lots of stress, busyness, etc., so I could really use to just open up and have fun.  Last time I was on the hilly trails, I was flying high for days after.  So now it’s time to open ‘er up again….slow, steady, slippery fun.

Do you love running in the rain?
I do…and I still like puddle jumping too.  The boys asked when I stopped doing it the other day and I told them you should never stop.

Any races this weekend?

Just Around the River Bend!

Last week I got 20 miles in…slowly making my way back to normal and by slow, I mean REALLY slow miles.

Meh.

Instead of focusing on the long, slow recovery I’m going to focus on the exciting things around the corner.

This Saturday I have one of my most favorite races EVER:  the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon.  

Source

Photo from last year’s race…

I wrote about it a lot…(I seriously loved it so much) here, here, and here.  The trail, the views, the people, the super organized race…it’s all super amazing and I’m super excited Kiera (the race director) is giving me a chance to run it again.

I do know that this year’s race will not be the same as last year’s – I’m not in the same shape as I was and am still recovering from an injury.  This is not the race to lay it all out on the course.  This is a fabulously fun race with amazing people and I am excited to just finish (someone do me a favor and remind me of this on Saturday morning, okay?).

If you’re itching to get some miles in this weekend on the trail, registration is still open at the moment.  Sign up here.

On December 14, the boys and I are heading to Irvine to run the Rengade Race Series Troutman Sanders Santa Run.  Not only are there prizes for running fast, but there are also finisher’s medals (kid’s are thrilled) and costume prizes.  It’s a super family friendly race, and….prepare yourself…I’m actually working to put together costumes with the boys.  I NEVER run in costumes (or if we’re honest even dress up for Halloween), so this is a big deal in the casa.

I was looking up costumes for Vanilla and we found this gem and I almost died:

leglamp1Fear not, I doubt I will be as creative, but we are all working on something!

If you are interested in joining the crew and I for the Santa Run,be sure to register here and use the code SHEILAREP

What is the best running costume you’ve ever seen?

Any ideas for the costume contest?
I had one idea, but I was told it was lame sauce.

Griffith Park Half Marathon Race Review

I promised a race review for the Griffith Park Half Marathon – so here it is.  Disclaimer:  The race director did provide me an entry for the race, but I am writing my honest opinions about the event.

The Course: 
This race is no joke.  If you are not a trail runner, you’ll probably curse the day you were born around mile 7.  If you don’t run hills, you will probably hate your life 300 feet in.  This bad boy has an incline of about 5,100 feet and a very brutal 5,000 foot decline.  It’s not for the weak of heart.  This is the hardest half course I have ever run.  Even the declines were hard, slippery, and I had to borderline walk at spots on the downhill.

The Course

Pre-Race
Can I just give Keira Henninger the hugest shout out for putting together one of the most organized race I’ve seen with less than 1,000 people?  Parking was easy, bathrooms were quick to find and Keira sent out great tips before the race to make things totally seamless.

Race Day Pickup

I opted for race day pickup and had to wait for all of 2 minutes to get my bib despite it being only 45 minutes before the start.

There were a few bathrooms, bagels, muffins, juice, tons of coffee (which then meant lines to the bathroom, but they were reasonable) all waiting for runners.

It was raining as we started to get ready, but most runners were huddled under tents, or didn’t care at all since, let’s face it, trail runners are a *little* more laid back than street runners.

As with any trail race, the bag check in was high quality.  I knew it was rainy so I brought a garbage bag to put my stuff in….

The starting line was the finish line and the race got started right on time.  (And yes, it was a chip timed race)

Course Support:
There were aid stations scattered across the course.  They weren’t overabundant nor too sparse – always seemed to pop up just when I was thinking I really needed a drink of water.  They had energy gels, oranges, electrolytes, water, etc.  Once again, thank you trail racing culture for the excessive food at aid stations.  I love you.

Give the race was through Griffith Park, there was a strict no littering policy.  I think Keira, the race director threatened to lock you up in the LA Zoo if you littered or something.  There were lots of hikers who either looked at you like you were crazy, or cheered you on….oftentimes a mixture of both which was nice.  Plus, the actual race organizers had a slug of people out there keeping you on path, cheering you on and responding to snarky comments tired runners like me yelled their way.

The Views:
The views of the course were amazing.  At the beginning of the race it was so foggy I could only see the guy in the neon orange shirt when he was less than 100 feet in front of me, but the fog slowly lifted (and the rain dissipated which was nice).  You got great views of the city, Hollywood sign, etc.

I’d like to blame my photographic moments on my shift from 2nd to 3rd place, but sadly it was my innate desire to walk when my legs wouldn’t move uphill fast enough.

The Swag:
Everyone got a super cute tote bag and t-shirt of which I did not take a picture of. #fail   Finishers got a totally blinged out medal and those in the top 10 ended up with a fabulous mug.  As I crossed the finish line I got a medal, lots of cheers saying, “Third place female” and then was promptly informed my mug had broken and that I had to wait a few weeks for it to come.  I just remembered that good things come to those who wait.

After the race was over there was a huge array of food:  sandwiches, pasta, kale salad, orzo salad, etc.  I tried to eat, but my stomach was a little whacked out from the mountains…not because the food wasn’t good.  I hardly ever turn down a free lunch.

The Peeps:
I had a great time getting to know new people.  As I mentioned previously, I got to meet Shawn and Reuben who literally kept me not only entertained and encouraged for several brutal miles, but provided some fabulous post-race conversation after.

Overall, I was completely and totally impressed by the race.  Despite the weather that was beyond anyone’s control, the race went off smoothly, showcased the awesomeness of the running community and provided every whim and need of the runners participating.  I’ll give it a #winning

Update:  I found this picture online so you can see the fog.

Source – Geoff Turner - Mile 8 – so happy to see a downhill I’m smiling

Have you ever run a trail race?
What is your favorite “off the beaten path” race you’ve ever done?

I’m a Liar: Griffith Park Half Marathon Results

13ish miles 
Somebody Kill Me Strides

Let me first start off by saying that this is just my experience with the Griffith Park Half marathon and I’ll be posting a full recap/review of the race tomorrow.

First of all 8:30 race starts in the winter are brilliant because I could wake up at 6 and have PLENTY of time to get ready.  I even had time to craft a cute little poem for ya’ll before I got going.  (Yes I said ya’ll, this must be post race delirium)

Since my calf was being rough last week, Dr. Scott recommended either putting on a handful of pre-race miles or using a heat wrap.  I chose the heat wrap. #lazybum

Don’t worry, I took it off before the race….rocking the argyle ProCompressions

I got to the race start and really thought this was going to be a training run since I’m not competitive at all (riiiiight).  The plan – 10 good miles, play the last 3.  This was all fun and games except that a mile in I realized I was woman #2.  So I lied.  This ended up so not being a training run but more of a race.

Random Facts About the Race:

Placing:  1:54:50 or somewhere around there and a 3rd place woman overall finish.  Fun times.

Photo Finish: I may or may not have done a switch leap across the finish line.  I’m not even kidding.

Pedestrian:  I was more pedestrian and less runner for about 3/4 of a mile throughout the race when I literally could not run.  I walked.  It was in bursts, it was always at brutal places uphill and everyone else was doing it so there.

Party:  Somewhere along the way I met Shawn and Rueben who pretty much kept me together at the end of the race and then we spent time afterward talking faith, tattoos, and PR’s – you know, typically runner stuff.  I seriously *heart* the running community.

My mile 8-13 BFF’s. They are rock stars!  I on the other hand am way more awkward than rock star.

Potty Mouth:  Uh, pretty sure the climbing of 3 different mountains or whatever caused me to utter pretty much every word not allowed on TV a few times.  Sorry fellow runners, I was a little cranky.

Photos:  I’ll show more pics later, but even as I ran in 2nd place I stopped to take a few photos along the way.

Sneak preview of pics from the course. Note, I run up those switch backs a few minutes later. #notfun

Panties:  Apparently I’m running with the big girls now since most of the women who finished around me typically run 1:32-1:35 half paces.  Honestly, if I hadn’t spent 5,100 some odd feet going uphill and this was a flat course (what if’s right?!), I think this level of effort would have nabbed me a pretty li’l PR.

To summarize the race best…I’ll always remember the Griffith Park Half Marathon as the day I learned that hills are no joke and….

The day I kicked ass in argyle & pigtails.

True Confession Thursday: Getting Down ‘n’ Dirty

I’m not exactly a clean & pristine kind of girl.  Ask anyone who knows me.  Sure I like my house picked up and organized, but I’m not going to lose sleep over the 84 paper airplanes literally sitting on the stair landing at this very moment.  And hygiene, whoops.

Case in point:  I often sneak in a few miles early in the morning and come back to my desk and work while I ice my foot.  I will often not realize I haven’t eaten nor showered until 5 or 6 hours later.

Which leads me to running (wait, this is a running blog?).  For a long time I was a total street runner – keep it clean, simple and if I’m going to race please provide me lots of course support.  kthanksbye.

I got bored.

So I eventually started hitting the trails for longer training runs and really enjoyed it.  The change of pace, the quietness…the dirt.

I did my first trail half last month to kick off the 12 Halfs in 12 Months and really enjoyed it.  It was laid back, the time flew, I loved hopping rocks, jumping creeks and looking out for competitors wild animals.  I was researching races and came across this highly reviewed, “How did I miss this?” race.  And when I received opportunity to participate in this awesome race, I couldn’t turn it down.

Net incline:  5,000ish feet
Net decline:  5,000ish feet

Race course includes caves, hills, dirt, post race food and the Hollywood sign.

Sold!

Even cooler – I learned about the Race Director Kiera Henninger who’s an amazing ultrarunner and cloaked in general all around awesomeness.  Turns out she’s a single mom, ultra runner who built this race from the ground up.

And she’s giving me a chance to check out this race!

So, if you’re around the LA area and are looking for a half, you should join me on Saturday, November 17th bright and early.  Did I mention caves, dirt and running up by the Hollywood sign?

Plus as an added bonus they have a 10K the next day that you can complete to get a 3rd overall medal and call yourself a Hollywood Trail Rock Star.

I’m on the fence about the 10k the next day as I  have to see how the old ankle is holding up, but I’m definitely game to get my dirt and hills on with the half marathon.  So while I might be saying goodbye to my 7 minute ranged miles, I’m welcoming a boatload of fun…and dirt…but mostly fun.

Do you like trail or street races?
Have you ever run a trail race?
Will I die doing that much incline and decline in 13 miles?