Renegade Santa Run 10k: Race Review

6.2 Miles
44:36
Santa Strides

Some days, you just wake up with a bad ‘tude dudes, no?

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With a wakeup like this, you shouldn’t be shocked when I ran up to some dude dressed at mile 5 at the Renegade Race Series Santa Run and I asked, “Would it be bad for me to tell you to go elf yourself?” 

Maybe it was the fact I was wearing a costume for the first time, or more likely the bow I tied to my head (who am I?) was cutting off circulation to my brain only leaving the crabby parts exposed, but it was not my day for good running.

Logistics:  Since UPS isn’t the one one concerned about handling logistics, I have to give Renegade a super shout out for nailing all of the finer points – solid registration process, on-time race start, great parking (right down the street even 30 minutes before the race started), good amount of port-a-potties, etc.

The one thing they couldn’t control was the weather.  As we were walking to the starting area we kept asking, “Is there a heater somewhere?” then realized it was actually crazy hot Santa Ana winds kicking up.

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In retrospect, the long sleeve shirt was TOTAL and complete overkill…why yes, that is my swimsuit with a fuzzy boa hand sewn on and a “For that Special Someone” tag to go with Buddy the Elf

Race:  The race itself takes place on the local running trails.  It got pretty crowded in pockets (particularly the beginning), but for the most part it was fairly smooths sailing.  *A word for those really trying to PR, get to the front of the starting corral because the first half mile can be really crowded.*  I had to ditch strawberry about .2 mile in because it was too hard to play Frogger through the crowds together…it was best for each of us to go solo.

For the 10k there are a lot of out and backs and turn arounds which make the race pretty interesting.  You can see everyone hustling along (including the guy who won the 10k, easily beating out many of the 5ker’s in the process…who runs that fast?!?!)  In addition, there was a lot of water, which was a fabulous thing given that it was hot and windy.

As far as my personal racing went – ehhh….so-so.  I went out too fast (surprising absolutely no one) to get out of the crowds, and then settled in a slightly uncomfortable “I’m out of shape” pace.  Then around mile 5, I just flat out tanked.  It was uphill, into the wind and I kind of just wanted to be in bed reading a book right about then, which is not my typical 5-mile in run attitude.  Eventually I realized I missed the 5-mile marker and was all disoriented as to how far I had left to go (I didn’t wear a watch or Garmin).  2 women passed me and I told them to have fun….then looked up to 5 seconds later to see the 6 mile marker.

Stupid…stupid…stupid…Sheila….

I felt like a total jerk wad, but I ended up sprinting right there at that moment to catch up and pass them at the end (I might not be PRing, but do like to compete) on my way to the kids and some cool shade.

Vanilla’s age wasn’t recorded correctly in the registration (oops, my bad!) or he would have placed 2nd in his age group – so kuddos to him on a fun, fabulous finish! Chocolate ran the Kid’s Run and took home a 3rd place finish making his little elf feet very happy.

Strawberry was bummed he didn’t PR (he still ran a 24), but he did have fun no less – I mean how could you not in that custom made Buddy the Elf costume?  We had other costumes in the group including the Grinch and Max the Dog and a DJing elf.  Apparently I can be very crafty and sew, paint and design costumes like a champ, who knew?

The Grinch and Max the Dog

The Grinch and Max the Dog

I totally stole this pic from Heather since mine all kept turning out blurry.

I totally stole this pic from Heather since mine all kept turning out blurry.

Post-Race Fun:  As soon as everyone finished the race (and I mean everyone) you got a super cute Santa medal.  After the race was a great costume contest and lots of things to do/see (snacks, a photo booth, pictures with Santa, etc.).  We cruised around for a bit waiting for the kids race (which was a long time to wait).  We didn’t win any of the costume contests, but Strawberry was thrilled to have a large captive audience to watch him do the worm while they were voting for him.

Overall, the family gives this race a 5 out of 5 candy canes on the Christmas race scale.  The crowds were big enough to make it exciting – very family friendly and well-run.  I think it will be on the list again for next year!

The Impromptu 5k

Since one wedding isn’t nearly enough fun, my sweet li’l sissy decided to get married 5 days after me, meaning I got to high tail it on a red eye from LA to Chicago on Thursday night.

Isn't she the cutest?  And her hubz isn't too shabby either!

Isn’t she the cutest? And her hubz isn’t too shabby either!

Since I was in town, I decided to see if there were any local races.  My goal was to do a 10 miler on Sunday and found a local 5k which seemed to fit into the family schedule.  It was raising money for the local youth football league by my old high school, so why not?

Actually there were a lot of reasons why not.  Mainly that this is how I prepared for the race:

  • Extreme sleep deprivation
  • Bourbon laced sweet tea
  • Wedding cake
  • An overflowing candy bar (gummy bears are like crack)
  • More caffeine than should be consumed in 2 days…ever
  • Alfredo Lasagna rollups (yep, you read that right)
  • Poisonous purple peas (why garden snacking can be dangerous)
  • Leftover wedding cake
  • Leftover candy bar
  • Crap ton of allergy pills (we’re talking taking Claritin like breath mints)
  • More sleep deprivation

Oh yeah, and there was also some questionable dancing in cowboy boots for an extended period of time.  Let me give you a little spoiler alert:  This is not the post where I say, OMG I got a HUGE PR despite not trying and abhorrent race conditions.  This is the post where I say, “I learned a LOT of lessons in 3 short little miles.”

This was my getup for the "I'm Too Sexy" song.  I think my father told me I looked homeless by this point in the evening...

This was my getup for the “I’m Too Sexy” song. I think my father told me I looked homeless by this point in the evening…

When race morning rolled around I had no idea what to expect.  I showed up, ran the course once (3.1) as a warmup, raced 3.1, ran another 2 miles catching up with others, and then wrapped up with another 3 to cool down on the way home. Daily Total:  11ish miles

Cloudy & cool start

Cloudy & cool start

Race Logistics:  With about 100 people racing and cruising around my ol’ hood, the small race was comfortable to say the least.  I especially dug the running of the course one time to know what to expect and when to expect it (there was a gnarly wind that morning).  The race was chip timed (I was surprised) and really well organized.  To be honest I felt “wearing a prom dress to McDonalds” overdressed with my neon green ProCompression socks and little Lulu race shorts on (boy I was glad for the socks for the other 8 miles).  #howarunneroverdresses

Race Deets:  From the get go two men bolted out ahead of everyone and I hung with a pack of eager teeny boppin’ boys and a bunch of men.  By half a mile in I wanted to know if I was holding the pace or if they were holding me, so I did a few accelerations and learned that I was, in fact, the pace holder and these dudes would eventually fade away which is exactly what happened.

To be honest I was on pace to PR…and it was not easy.  I was struggling to keep pace- out of control breathing, fatigued legs, and a general hatred for life during those 20 minutes about sum it up.  I wouldn’t look behind me because I didn’t want to know how close any women were/weren’t.  What kept me motivated to not just totally tank were the little cheerleading girls on the sidelines of the race who kept getting so excited that a woman was doing well.  By mile 2.5 I wanted to die, realized I had a very healthy lead and just cruised the rest of the way in happily kissing any hopes of a PR goodbye, but grateful to be catching my breath.

Finish:  20:43, 3rd overall, 1st place woman

To the victor goes the spoils

To the victor goes the spoils

The Loot:  For a small race I was surprised by the loot for the overall winner – a really nice medal, a gift card to a local running store (you’re welcome Mom!) and an entry to win the Jeep pictured above or cash from a 50/50 (yes that means it could be a  pretty profitable win if the “odds may be ever in my favor”).  Scary bright orange Jeep?  Notsomuch – that’s my alma mater and when I laid my eyes on it I believe my exact words were, “I want”.

What I Learned:

-I still hate the 5k and despite it only being 3.1 miles.  I will always and forever respect that race like no other – 26.2 takes a certain mental and physical toughness, 3.1 requires mental toughness and lungs of steel.

-Like I said, no story of crappy preparation and then the bashful, “Oh wow, I almost PRed”.  Nope, the entire race I was watching my paces and realizing that if I can do this in spite of doing every single thing craptastically awful, then perhaps I need to re-evaluate my actual abilities.

-I need to figure out WHAT I want to do.  Sure, I can probably go faster, blah, blah, blah…but do I really want to? After coming off an insanely busy few months, honestly all I want to do is sleep for about 30 days, run when I want to run, and not worry about some crazy goal ahead of me.  While my Type A all the way personality tends to dominate my goals and plans, right now Type ZZzzzzz is taking over in a fast and furious way.

-Insanity is contagious.  Despite weddings, travel, and general craziness, apparently my crazy family members have caught onto last minute race scheduling.

IMG_4685Anyone else race over the weekend?

What was your favorite prize you’ve ever won (racing or not)?

 

Tinkerbell Half Marathon Race Review

14 miles total (13.1 & nice warmup through parking garage)
Happiest Strides on Earth

As I told you, on Friday I turned into a Flu-zee.  You know the kind of person who sleeps around [the house] and sports smeared eye makeup all over her face and disheveled hair.

I guess that the echinacea pounding, vitamin C popping, Zinc lozenge sucking week trying to prevent it kept the flu to a minimum because on Saturday I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck, but fever free and just slept all. day. long.  I went to bed unsure if I’d run on Sunday morning.

IMG_2841On Sunday I randomly woke up super early feeling so so and unsure if I should go.  After a quick shower to wash away the last flu-zy remnants I decided to go and take it easy and roll with my body.

Yes, 2:34.  The one downside of Disney races is that they are SUUUUPPPPEEER early to get the race done before the park opens.

IMG_2844While waiting in line for the Port-A-Potty I decided to play a super fun game of I Spy with myself and it went something like this…”I spy with my little eye a red sweatshirt…wait is Skinny Runner under that hood?”

Neither of us were sure what we wanted to run so we just opted to start together and see how it went.  The Run Disney people put together a fabulously organized race.  With around 12,000 people, they got everyone rounded up into 5 corrals that went off in approximately 5 minute intervals.  In fact, we heard them still sending off the last corral around mile 4.5.

Lucky for us we got into Corral A and made our way towards the front.  Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck gave one last cheer and we were off….

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SR and I were just running and chatting and were pretty surprised to have pulled out a 7:35 first mile.  Feeling great we just kept chatting and running around 7-7:30 minute miles.  I didn’t wear a watch or timer, but only know thanks to SR’s Garmin.  Despite it being a lot of people, the pace we ran left us with a very open course – not crowded one bit.

Around mile 5  is where I started asking EVERY Disney employee where the next bathroom was and was told, “Just ahead” (one pointed behind me..uh no thank you).  I’ve never stopped in a race because I had to go #2 so badly, but I should have remembered what Strawberry told me the day after his fever broke “I had diarrhea all morning.”

Eventually I made it to a bathroom and was in there for FOUR flippin’ minutes (to anyone in there I apologize, it was loud, I was panting and catching my breath, it was all shades of ugly and probably sounded like a rabid dog trapped in a bathroom stall trying to get out).

I got back on track right onto the course, but sadly my stomach staged a revolt of sorts the rest of the race.  Every fast food restaurant, gas station and port a potty passed made my stomach lurch and churn longingly for a visit.

Around mile 5.5ish the race course leaves the park you hit the streets of Anaheim.  For those in corral A this meant a VERY long stretch of very dark streets.  Fear not, there were police officers on literally every corner (I was sure to thank as many as possible) and while some found it a little weird and creepy, I actually found it kind of liberating to not know what was ahead and to just run….

Even without a watch I’d usually mentally track my splits, but let’s face it my mind was on one place the last few miles – BATHROOM.  Despite my 4 minute potty break I finished in 1:39:22.  I came in 6th of 1923 in my Age Group.

I literally crossed the finish line as the sun was coming up and snapped a picture with SR and Kristina before grabbing my super fabulous snack box.

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Disney does a great job with the details.  As you finished you got a bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of water, a banana and the box of snacks below (not to mention the super awesome medal which weighs as much as my left leg).IMG_2851

I spent another 20 minutes in a port-a-potty and then stopped to thank some of the ChEAR Squad.  One of the best things about Disney races is the amount of course support – there are tons of cheerleaders, bands, Disney Cast Members, and other social groups cheering on the runners.  One of the best groups was the Red Hat Society.  I stopped to thank them for their support and we ended up having a fabulous photo shoot.  These ladies were great!

2013-01-20Despite my GI issues during the race and the 4 minute potty break, I ran a great time – especially since I had the flu the few days leading up to it.  Sadly, my body was not so happy about my results and I literally spent 4 hours in the bathroom after the race.

It was a pretty rough post-race day as my body probably wasn’t ready to handle the stress of a race at that pace, but all in all it was worth it!  I laid around watching football and eating nothing much because every bite seemed to put up a fight with my stomach.  Good news, I’ll probably eat nonstop on Monday and Tuesday.

I know Disney races are pricey, but they really do know how to run a great race – everything is super organized.  If your a newbie or looking for a first race, I’d say it’s worth it to pony up to pay the cash for a great course, great support and to participate in a race that moves like clockwork!

Holly Jolly Half Marathon Race Review

As I wrote about yesterday, on Sunday, the race director of the Holly Jolly Half Marathon gave me the opportunity to run the event.

The event was a smaller race.  There was a 5k, 10k and half marathon which totaled a little over 300 participants.  The half marathon had about 65 total participants.

The Course:
The course was a 2-loop course through mostly residential areas and bike paths.  The loop course also had several loops in it…I guess you could call it a loopty loop course.

Map courtesy of mapmyrun

Map courtesy of MapMyRun

Packet Pick Up:
They provided packet pick up on Saturday, but I was busy and showed up at 7 promptly (the recommended time) to grab my bib and bag.  There were several booths set up and I waited about 2 minutes to grab my goodies and go.

The Start:
It was cold, rainy and I had a warm place to hang about 5 minutes away.  I realized that only one lane of the roads nearby was shut down, not entire roads, so it was a pretty safe bet to head to the warmth until close to race time.

I literally showed up 10 minutes before the race started, got dropped off at the start/finish, did a quick half mile warm up and hopped to the front of the corral just as the race started, but not before I convinced two unsuspecting women to pose for my blog since I’m tired of Striding Mom pics.

Start & Finish Line

Start & Finish Line

There was a great starting and finish line set up.  The race literally started exactly on time (I actually think a minute early) and we were off.  I took off at the front and stayed up there so I didn’t notice any congestion for the first 6 miles.

The Race:
Since the race was run in the slow lane of the roads meaning there was traffic that could be a problem, there were plenty of Camarillo’s finest officers providing smiles and safe crossings through intersections – and most importantly ensuring you never had to stop to wait and always felt safe.

Aid stations and mile markers were everywhere you needed them throughout the course.  The one thing I wished was a little clearer was where to go.  To be fair, the race director did say it was your responsibility to know the course, but when you’re tired, you don’t care and I got a little confused at points (this is not surprising).

If you’re looking for a good race for your friends and family to see you a BUNCH of times, this is it.  My cheering squad followed me around the course passing me in the lane next to where I was running, then parking ahead and waiting for me to run by about 7 times.

The Finish & Loot:
The finish was fun…given it was cold and rainy, most people probably took off and it was pretty quiet.  I had a hard time finding the food and water (though Naked Juice was right there with a Pineapple Coconut juice to drink right as I finished).  It was off to the side and I was pretty cold and delirious when I finished.

I was also trying to explain to my children why I wasn’t actually being MEAN to them when I asked them to go to the finish line and wait, but that mommy was just being focused and tired.  Oh and apologizing for yelling “crap” out loud while they were within ear shot around mile 8, so perhaps I wasn’t super focused on finding the food and it might have been a little easier to spot than I experienced :)

I got my medal and a massage from the most amazing therapist ever (I can’t find her card, but will update it here soon!) and dug deep into a giant stocking to claim my prize (a holly jolly gym bag).

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T-shirt and medal

T-shirt and medal

The Next Day:
One of the coolest perks of this race was the fact that you get a free digital and print photo from the race photographer.  Here’s mine below…I should get the unwatermarked one soon.  And yes, I’m leaping in the air both feet off the ground.

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Yes I look a little more Halloween than Holly Jolly…I have no red and green in my running wardrobe.

Overall:
This was an inaugural race, and for a first time event, things went pretty darn well.  There were a few kinks (some congestion with the 5k walkers at the end, being directed to run further than the course dictated, etc.), but I foresee a growing future for the Holly Jolly Half.

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?

Griffith Park Trail 10k & Hollywood Rock Star Challenge

6.2 miles
Sore, Sorer, Sorest Strides

On Sunday I partook in the 2nd half of the Griffith Park Trail Series Rock Star Challenge by completing the Griffith Park Trail 10k.  You can complete the half marathon and/or 10k, but to be a true Hollywood Rock Star, you do both races with about 20 or so hours in between, no big deal.

I can think of some other things that result in the same amount of pain like – hanging by my toenails, sticking thumbtacks in my abdomen or walking on fire.  I’m mostly kidding.  Yes I’m so stinking sore – as sore as finishing a marathon – but it was also worth every minute.

The Summary (read here if you are intimidated by words):
I ran fast.  My legs felt like lead.  I questioned my sanity in doing back to back races like this.  I finished 5th woman overall and 1st woman who did both races.

They gave mugs to the top 10 overall finishers.

The Overview 
I’ve got a race recap of the half marathon coming up on Tuesday or Wednesday, but let me just say I can echo most of the same information – well run, started exactly on time, great food, great swag, great course support.  #winning

Pre-Race:  
I got there a bit early since I couldn’t sleep.  I tried to vlog, maybe some day I’ll show it, but mostly you’d just run in fear.

You know you’re early when they are setting up the finish line.

I got there about an hour before race time, grabbed my bib, went to my car and was generally crabby since I had slept about 2-3 interrupted hours.  #sociallyawkwardrunner

The Race:
The first thing I asked Keira (the race director) when I saw her was how hilly – she said one major hill and then mostly rolling hills.   I think our definitions of “rolling” are a little different, but not too much.  Right at the midway point there was a decent incline that was brutal, but the rest was mostly doable.

I saw a few really fast looking runners at the start line who said they were going to go about 6 minute miles.  I told them we could meet up and run sometime…like never.  Okay I didn’t say it, but did throw up a little thinking about running a 10k at a 6 minute/mile pace on muddy trails with big hills.

I went from 3rd place to 4th, then 5th and watched a woman pass me near the end at 6th place.  About 150 yards from the finish line I decided I wanted 5th and literally sprinted past her at the end.  Don’t worry I literally apologized as I passed her.  It’s rude to not apologize for passing, right?

Start/Finish Line

Post Race:
In the end I got my overall 5th place finish, I didn’t wear a watch or anything so I have no idea how fast I ran.  One guy pointed out that since I was the top female finisher who completed both races I was the ultimate Chick Hollywood Rock Star.

UPDATE:  Turns out I was the first person to complete both races.  Wahoo.

Me and my bling. The yellow medal was for finishing both races.

There was also some serious grub…egg and cheese sandwiches, Naked Juice stuff, etc.  I honestly could hardly walk and felt so sick to my stomach I really didn’t care too much.  My favorite was the volunteer who walked around with a giant box of powdered donuts asking runners if they wanted a post-race carbo load.  I was just happy to be done with the weekend of racing and started to waddle back to my car after eating a few bites of my sandwich.

But the weekend wouldn’t be replete without a picture with the race director Keira, who has built these races from the ground up and done an amazing job.  The races went so smoothly and literally foresaw any runner’s need.  I am so beyond impressed with this race series.

Keira and I

For a day that started with my legs feeling like bricks and ended with them hardly moving, the weekend was a massive racing success.  Apparently I’m not the snail I thought I was, and I learned a valuable lesson about really digging deep even when I don’t think I have it in me…even if I have to walk up hills from time to time.

Long Beach Half Marathon Recap: Full of Surprises

13.1 miles
Surprising Strides

Long Beach 2012 has come and gone, but will not be forgotten.  Especially since my legs are sore enough to remind me that the race went a little quicker than I anticipated.

First off, let me tell you a story on how NOT to prepare for a race.  Saturday was a day of heat, sun and soccer.  I was not very good about eating (unless you count cupcakes and butternut squash ravioli with a salad) or hydrating.

Such a pretty sunset should have yielded a pretty night. Notsomuch.

My evening was uber stressful as somehow my children managed to break 2 glass plates and a full 1-liter bottle of balsamic vinegar on the kitchen floor.  And of course, they couldn’t happen at the same time, so instead of cooking and eating dinner, I spent 1.5 hours cleaning up glass and mopping up balsamic vinegar off walls, the carpet, garbage can, fridge, etc.

Words were exchanged (mostly me apologizing for totally losing my patience) and we all ended up in a pile of tears on the floor.  And I literally mean every last one of us sobbing in a puddle of emotion. I ate a craptastic “dinner”, couldn’t find my running stuff so I threw whatever I could find in a bag and figured the race would be what it was.

What time is it? Way the truck too early.

I stayed awake from midnight to 2am worrying about work and realized that I was going to have to do this with 2.5 hours of sleep.

Luckily I met up with some fab ladies at 5am.  Sarah, Kristina and I carpooled up to Long Beach listening to the aptly named “Wake the Shizzle Up” playlist.

After waiting in line for the bathrooms repeatedly (not kidding I went 3 times) we happened to bump into this little lady.  That super sneaky Monica was doing a surprise marathon.  She looked a little nervous, but totally killed it and got a new PR.

We eventually hopped the fence into the first corral and took super awkward photos.    I’m sure no one was annoyed at all by us doing either of those things.

Sarah and I. I’m pretty sure I took a better picture than this after giving birth.

I took off with the intentions of running 8-8:15 minute miles.  After the first 7:40ish I realized I need to pull back, but apparently didn’t.  I don’t know.  Remember when I said I couldn’t find anything.  That meant my watch.

 I had no idea how idea how fast I was really running most of the race.  I just followed my body’s lead and around mile 8 I was feeling like hot stuff and turned up the heat.  Around mile 9.75 I met up with Sarah and we kicked it for a few miles.

At mile 11 I realized I could pull a PR out of my butt if I ran 7:30 miles for the last two.  Turns out, that I could run one 7:30 minute mile and I coasted through the last one finishing with a time of 1:41:01.  1 second slower than my previous PR.  You can imagine how happy I am about that 1 second.  I’m still pretty surprised by the pace – I was really expecting that “listening to my body” would put me around a 1:50ish pace.

1st tapped keg PR!  Between that and the ProCompression socks we were well on our way to recovering.

Kristina ran her 2nd fastest race ever with a super speedy 1:34 something and Sarah busted out a 1:41:41 shattering her PR.

After the race Sarah and I found out we both reached a new type of PR when we went to the beer area and got beer from the first tapped keg.  I mean, if you run fast enough to get your beverage out of the first keg then, hey, you know you must’ve hauled it.  This the PR that matters.

Speaking of beer, kids, let’s learn a little lesson here…don’t mix yogurt and beer.  Why I thought this was a good idea post-race is beyond me.  My stomach hated me for the rest of the day.

Fun times.

As I’ve said before, Long Beach is my favorite local race.  I just love the course.  From miles 2-4 I couldn’t hear anyone talk, but was surrounded by the sound of pounding feet like a herd of angry elephants taking the Port of Long Beach by storm.  It was darned near breath taking.

A well staffed, stocked and supported course along the beach is just fine by me :)

Tell me about your races this weekend.
Any PRs?

SheRuns Half Marathon Race Review

 A few months ago I was making my list of races and stumbled upon the SheRuns event series of half marathons & 5k’s.  I was on the fence about doing it, but then found a Groupon that cost me $30 for the race so I figured I was game.

Race packet pickup was from 6-6:30 and I planned to arrive at 6 so I could stretch, get 2-3 miles in and not be rushed.  Instead I took a wrong turn and ended up rushing to get 2.5 miles in before the race start.

I cruised in from my warmup (9-ish minute miles) with about 30 seconds to spare and snap this picture as the race horn blew.

Update:  I’m a terrible estimator and apparently really bad at counting.  There were 94 runners and I came in 7th, not 9th.

It was a small race with probably about 40 women.  This is a VERY GOOD thing because it was not only a trail race with some very narrow passes, but it was also an out and back race, so congestion would have been awful if there had been a lot of participants.

The race information claimed it was a “very challenging” course that spent a lot of time on the trails.  And that was no lie.  I have never done a run over 5 miles on trails before and I have to say I really enjoyed it.  I spent most of my time looking at my feet trying not to trip over rocks, hopping over creeks and dodging mountain bicyclists, but it made the time go pretty fast.

I swore to myself that I would run this in 9-ish minute miles.  But it was a major struggle both physically and mentally to keep this pace.   I came out of the gate way too fast with an 8:30.  I pulled back the rest of the race to 8:45-9:10 minute miles.  The initial pull back around mile 1 meant getting passed by about 6 women which was so super fun and I loved a lot.  You know, like I love being tortured or yelling at my kids.  This was mentally tougher on me than ANYTHING.  I am much better at mentally competing and pushing myself than holding back. #learnsomethingneweveryday

The view during my pre-race run on the same trail

My biggest concern was the heat…and given your advice from earlier this week I knew that  an 80+ degree half marathon on the trails meant I could drop my shirt off at a water station if I wanted and there would be no judgment.  I also lubed up my chin and knees with Body Glide to ensure that any flapping skin hitting said areas would not cause chaffing.

I preventatively put my number on my shorts in case I ditched the top (which happened at mile 1).  I also grabbed a visor at Road Runner Sports the night before since I only have a black hat = heat trap. (side note:  totally shocked they were only 8.95 with VIP memberships and since I’m a total cheap-o this was GREAT news for me)

Here’s my number. #callmemaybe

Overall I finished in 1:59 (for 13.52 miles- see below).  I think I came in 4th in my age group and 9th overall or something.  I just glanced once at the results and walked away and was too hot to care.  I wasn’t too concerned about the finishing deets as I was doing this for training.

The Good:

-Race Logistics:  The race was directed really well.  Even being small, everyone had chip timing which is always a perk, the scores were scrolled on a computer on-site within minutes of your finish, everything was SUPER organized from beginning to end.

-Aid Stations:  Aid stations were frequent enough and well-stocked- gels, water, and electrolyte mix.  My only beef came with the Chia Seed Gel Pack (see below).  Even so, I carried a water bottle with me mostly for comfort since I was worried about the heat.

-Post Race Grub:  There was a great assortment – bagels, bars, chocolate (each finisher got a little bag as we crossed the finish line bless them), bananas, oranges, etc. but it was too hot to even want to eat a thing.  I had a tiny piece of bagel and an orange slice then thought I was going to hurl, so I settled for 3 bottles of water followed by 1 bottle of Honest Tea – this mama was THIRSTY.

Post-race grub tents

-The People:  I met some great ladies running.  I was mostly alone throughout the race, but around mile 8 I caught up with a woman named Deanna and we ran about 2.5 miles together and talked races, training, etc. which was a nice break.  I also stumbled across a poor woman who got lost and added 2 miles to the race so she hung out 100 yards ahead of me to ensure she wasn’t lost the last 2 miles.

The Not So Good:

-The Surprise Gel Pack:  At the turnaround they had gel packs.  I grabbed mine and was desperate because I was about 9 miles into my running at this point.  I ripped open the pack, squeezed away and almost choked to death when I realized that the pack was laced with Chia seeds.  I was so not expecting that.  It was like sucking seedy raspberry jelly from a piece of foil – not pleasant.

-The Medals:  They were so-so.  I only paid 30 bucks so I don’t really care, but I do think medals are super fun and judge them discriminatingly.  The concept was cute, but if someone had just taken the time to even sew the top of the ribbon instead of just tying it, it would have looked a lot nicer.

-First Aid:  They needed more first aid options.  A few women fell [for the first time ever in my life it wasn't me] and there was not near enough first aid stuff for them.  I ended up grabbing my first aid kid out of the car to help some of the women clean up cuts, scrapes and bruises after the race.  It’s a trail run so these things will happen, I think they should have been more prepared.

I also wanted ice for my foot (especially since it was a small race) and I had to bum some off of Honest Tea who was there at the finish line (thank you marketing peeps you rocked sharing your ice) to do so.

-Course Markings:  There were a few spots where it was easy to miss.  I didn’t like a longer stretch that I think was on the street (next to a trail – the markings were unclear so I’m not sure) so I got on the more padded trail and it wove back and forth and ended up adding about half a mile to the race.  Since I wasn’t really “racing”, I didn’t care too much, but for those who cared, it would have mattered.

Overall – for $30 and my need to get in a long run, matched with my desire to mix it up – it was worth it.  That said, if I had not had a Groupon and had paid full price I would not have been very happy.  Most women out there that I talked to were in my shoes – cheap race and using it for training – so we got what we needed out of it.

Post-race self portrait. Not looking like I wanted to die which means I beat the heatpocalypse.

Are you near any of the SheRuns events?
What are your thoughts on trail distance races?

I Came, I Tried, I Won – Huh?

Saturday 3 generations hit the OC Roads to dabble with our first triathlon!  The iTryathlon in Irvine was actually a pretty fun, small local race.  There were about 500 people who participated and the mix was women and youth.  It made for an interesting dynamic, but the race was super organized (as most Renegade Races are), incredibly family friendly and a wee bit hot at the end!   Even with all my nerves and “where to go when?” jitters, it was seamless thanks to the Renegade staff.

Myself, Strawberry and Mumsie Poo all post-race

And a special shoutout to them because they made accommodations to help me meet my mumsie to finish her out.  The transition area manager saw me come through for my swim and was waiting by my bike when I returned and got me set on my way to find her.  Monster bonus points for that unique accommodation!

Showing off the goods!

And I’d say it was mostly a success!  I posted Saturday morning about my concerns (wedgies, falls, etc.) it turned out that none of my fears came true.  And for the record I forewent the garbage bag & duct tape swimwear.

5k:  21:16
Transition 1:  55 seconds
Bike (9 miles): 34:23
Transition 2 & Swim – Not recorded :( Boo!
Total Time:  1:03:35
1st place in Division, 8th woman overall

5K was okay – got a positive split so I went out too fast :(  It’s also very humbling in a women & youth race when you’re getting your behind kicked by 13 year-old prepubescent boys and watching 15  & 17 year old girls hang out front.  Man, I felt old.
Mile 1- 6:30
Mile 2- 7:46 (all uphill)
Mile 3- 7

Bike:  I have no idea on my bike splits, but I was a hurting puppy on the mile 2 & 5.5 respectively uphill stint.

Swim:  I have no idea what happened…I pulled a Michael Phelps and ended up with one lens of my goggles full of water and the other half full.  I’d take a peak out of my right eye every 30 seconds or so to see where I was.  Rumor has it I passed one person.  I have no clue though!

Highlights

1:  Dashing out of the pool, running back to my bike and meeting up with my mom for the last 2 miles of the bike and then swimming her to the finish.

Mumsie poo & I!

2:  Watching Strawberry kill it in his race (3rd place Division finish).  The half mile race was half uphill.  I may or may not have stood there yelling, “Hills make men!” to him repeatedly.

Hills make men. I may have said that to a running group of all men recently too.  I’m shocked they invited me back to run with them again.

3:  Literally biking next of groups of women singing, “I want to ride my bicycle…let’s hear it ladies…I want to ride my – ____” and made them fill in bike.  If they wouldn’t I’d tell them that yelling or singing bike would make them go faster.  That said, I just might have done a wee bit better if I didn’t spend 2 miles uphill trying to get people to sing.  Whoops.

4:  Super fun awards ceremony afterward.  They had one pro participate who was there signing medals for the kids (and some adults!) and they gave out tons of awards for small age groups which is rare in a small race.  Since it was targeted at newbies in the tri-world this was a GREAT way to get people motivated.  Showed Renegade’s commitment to encouraging people in the sport.  Monster kudos to you!

Kiddos spent the rest of the day at the pool and I literally sat in my swimsuit from the race with compression socks on (it’s a super awesome look, OC approved) until it was time to take Grandma Honey back to the airport.

I found this driving home:

Apparently being a cheerleader is VERY exhausting!

Long Beach Pajama Run 10k Race Recap

This post could also be titled, “The Race I totally tanked on but somehow pulled a 3rd place overall out of my  butt”.

Time:  46:04 (7:18 pace) – 3rd woman overall

I had snagged a great room for a steal of a price, so I went up to Long Beach on Friday night so I could enjoy a little of the city which I love.  I met a friend for dinner the night before which led me to make several brilliant decisions:

Carbing up?

Mexican food out at a cheap hole in the wall restaurant the night before a race is ALWAYS a bad idea.  Beer, chips, salsa, burritos and margaritas are not fuel foods.  I thought a lot about this from miles 4-6, but whatever – they taste oh so good.

Woke up to have myself a typical race day morning breakfast.  I dropped my sugar packet into my coffee, tried to plug my banana into my iPhone charger which all lead me to remember that sleep deprivation is no joke.  Ironically the race supported the Sleep Disorder Relief Foundation.

Coffee, Nuun, & banana.

The race took place at Shoreline Park which is beautiful, right on the ocean front and always makes for a fun time.  I’m a big fan of the area and have run many races and been to many festivals there.  That said, the whole race itself was incredibly disorganized.

Yes, this race had race day pickup.  Yes I’m so glad I didn’t use it.  The lines were INSANELY long.  By the scheduled race start people were still lined up about 30 minutes deep to get their packets which lead to the inevitable…

Starting line

Race delay.

It was a chipless race, so I made sure to warm up and try to get to the front of the corral as there were a good number of people and the race was on a fairly narrow bike path.

Due to the race delay a bunch of us had to take turns going to warm up again (this is my agreement with my doc to run – race one in a while, but you must be sweating you’re so warmed up first).  As a few of us were going out to warm up, people from the back of the corral assumed the race was starting and just left.  They were mostly walkers so it worked out, except that we all caught up with them eventually and it was kind of a mess on the course.

Speaking of the course – it was not a closed course so bikers were cursing racers, racers were cursing bikers and beach goers just looked confused and pissed.

The race started with a ridiculously narrow turn about 20 yards in.  It was like trying to drive through the Sepulveda pass at rush hour – wasn’t pretty.  It was a general nightmare to get around so everyone sprinted out to get ahead.

Mile 1:  6:38

Mile 2:  6:50

Then I started feeling it.  My endurance is up from all of the other cross-training activities and cardio, but my calves and other muscles I’m not using by logging less than 10 miles a week running were really sore and fatigued.

Each mile went slower and slower.  My phone didn’t record my splits for some reason, but I sat somewhere between 7 – 7:40 for the rest of my miles.  It was an out and back race, so it was nice to see where you were at.  At the halfway mark I was woman #5, by mile 3.5 I was woman #2, and then with a mile left I got passed by one other woman that frankly, I had nothing in me to catch up with so such is life, #3 it was.

Sporting the medal. And some compression socks since I still had to bike a few miles back to the hotel

At the finish line you got your medal, half a banana and a little 6 oz bottle of orange juice.

NO WATER.

Critical mistake.  It’s almost July, people just raced 6 miles and there were no water botttles.  *tsk* *tsk*

I guess there was free yogurt and small coconut water samples somewhere (plain, which I just can’t stomach ever, sorry I have tried), but I didn’t even wait.  If there was not going to be water waiting at the finish I was heading back to the Hilton for my free buffet breakfast.

The bling: I almost stabbed myself about 90 times biking back to the hotel, there’s a reason medals should have rounded edges. But it is a honking big medal

My overall take:  pretty course (if you like running on the beach) that was well staffed at the water stations, but really crowded, terribly organized on all ends from registration to the finish (even by local race standards).  There were a lot of unfulfilled promises (t-shirts, bracelets, finishers medals) and most people were incredibly angry and disappointed at the race.

Final Verdict:  Glad I had a Schwaggle so I only paid $22 for this.  I wouldn’t have paid a dollar more.  Period.   In fact, I don’t know if I’d pay $10 less.

Anyone else race this weekend??  How did it go?