Race Recap – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

Race Recap – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

Once 2pm hit on Sunday, November 15th, 2015, it was time to meet up with my Team Challenge crew in the lobby at the LINQ. From there, we would assemble onto buses and head off to the starting line of our 13.1 mile journey running the Strip at night!

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Race underway!

After taking pictures we anxiously waited on the buses. Team Challenge had a special deal with the race organizers: we were the only ones allowed to drive on the blocked-off course in order to be dropped off at the starting line.

team challenge crew
Team Challenge!

We were dropped off a little after 3pm at a giant parking lot across from the Luxor. All Rock ‘n’ Roll Series races have a headliner concert, and for Vegas, they managed to get Kid Rock…erm, not my style, but ok.

The race was aimed to start at 4:30pm, and I actually had to run over to my corral (5) after realizing the parking lot was only next to corral 40…

Needless to say, I got a warm-up in without even planning for it! It probably was necessary though looking back at it, considering that it was COLD.

Because I was able to change to corral 5 at the expo, I didn’t have to wait an insane amount of time to actually start! I remember almost waiting 40 minutes when I ran Nike Women’s two years ago, and now I’m more knowledgeable about how to avoid that!

Most of the race was run on the Strip, but it wasn’t until a little after Mile 1 that we “entered” Las Vegas (we made a loop around so that we passed the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign!)

From there, we passed all the Strip landmarks—Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Bellagio, Paris, Wynn, Palazzo—and continued on north to Downtown. Actually, most of the route was familiar to me, since we were just in that area the day before. In fact, we even ran by Vegenation, haha!

This race also ended up being one of my toughest. I was putting in a hard, race-pace effort, but the elements were burly too. There were bouts of rain and gusts of strong winds. I thought I would overheat as the run progressed since I was fitted with my armwarmers, but I stayed relatively cool the whole time.

I felt slight sorness in my hips and shins, but I was able to push through, and surprisingly, the time seemed to fly by! Miles 8-10 were probably the hardest, since it was on the way back from Downtown right before hitting the Strip again…a “so-close-but-yet-so-far” zone, so the fact that I had those feelings was not surprising!

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Staying warm!

When I did cross the finish line, I was excited to have scored a new half PR, running at an 8:49/mi pace! Other than sore hips, I felt fine. My hands and face felt cold, but a mylar sheet quickly fixed that! My arms were stuffed with chocolate milk, powerbars, snap peas chips, and water by the time I exited the recovery zone and made my way to the Team Challenge tent.

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Team Challenge tent staying strong against the wind.

After I signed out, I received a Rock ‘n’ Roll charity medal to wear along with my race medal, which included flip-able slot charms (so cute!)

I met up with my Dad at the tent, and we quickly made our way to the closest casino to warm up and get away from the wind that was still howling at runners outside.

It took us a while to find something to eat, since all of the restaurants were packed and finding a place to sit down and eat was a maze in itself. We settled on a food court in the Venetian, and I ended up having another Mediterranean dish for the day.

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Falafel plate for dinner, and medals from the race!

But what I really was craving was a piping hot cup of HOT CHOCOLATE (and maybe something sweet on the side 😉 ). We thought we’d be able to find something suitable at the Wynn, and while it was a gorgeous hotel on the inside (and oh so fancy), there was no proper bakery/chocolatier/coffee shop in sight.

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Wynn beauty!

We made our way back towards the Palazzo, and luckily found something even better—Carlo’s Bakery! Yup, the place of Cake Boss fame (I was never a fan of Cake Boss as I preferred Ace of Cakes, but a bakery in a bakery in the end, despite who owns it).

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Carlo’s Bakery!

The place was packed for a Sunday night at 9pm, and there were so many baked goods to choose from!

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Waiting in line!

Jam-filled powder cookies and layered cakes…what’s a girl who just finished a night half marathon to do?

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So many goods to choose from!

I happened to spot a small tray of cannolis at the very bottom of the display case, and immediately knew that THAT was what I wanted to accompany my hot chocolate.

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Hidden tray of cannolis!!

I finished my large cannoli within five bites, but my 20oz. hot chocolate kept me warm as we walked back to the LINQ, walking inside through as many casinos as we could to stay warm. As we walked, we continued to see runners (and now walkers) make their way towards the finish.

hotch ocolate and a cannoli -- perfect!
Hot chocolate and cannoli!

By the time we made it back to the hotel, I was pooped! I still had to “pack” (meaning, stuff all of my things back in my rollerboard because I had a 6:45am flight the next morning…), and I had zero energy left to do anything. Nothing felt more right than snuggling under the cozy LINQ bedsheets and resting my head on the soft pillows. Even though I only got five hours of sleep that night because I had to wake up early (why you Monday afternoon class!!), it was a restful night’s sleep. Although to be honest, sleeping is probably the last thing a “normal” person would want to do in Vegas!

Have you ever run a night race?

Have you ever run with a charity organization?

Carlo's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap: Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon

Race Recap: Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon

Even though I have an exciting half marathon coming up in a few months, (which I realize I haven’t gone into much detail yet on the blog!) I wanted to take part in an annual half marathon well-known in the Central Valley, since I happened to be visiting my sister the same weekend it was occurring.

The Wascally Wabbit Half Mawothon sounds like a fun race just by the sound of it, and when I made it to the race site, the theme became much clearer with race participants sporting bunny ears and cottontails.

My race prep wasn’t anything extravagant compared to other halfs I’ve run in the past. I’ve been pretty persistent in my weekly running goals for the past several months, aiming to hit 30 miles a week by running 6-8 miles 3x during the week, and a long run of 8-12 miles on either Saturday or Sunday. I’ve been keeping up this regimen in order to stay in marathon-prep shape, and to also be ready-to-go if I want to sign up for a half marathon at the last minute.

So on race day morning, I got up in the mental state of getting ready for “just another long run”. I woke up at 5:30AM, kicked off my sleeping bag, assembled my running supplies, and dashed out the door. Transportation wasn’t an issue since I got to drive my old car/ now sister’s car to the race start at Woodward Park.

 Rise and shine.
Rise and shine.

I ended up parking in a strip mall parking lot across the street from the park, since parking within the park cost $5. The extra walk was needed anyways, since I felt slightly chilly from the early morning breeze passing through. Actually, it was the first time I felt cold in months!!

 Sunrise!
Sunrise!

Once I got to the actual race site, I was able to pick up my bib, shirt, a wristband, and drawstring bag, and leave my items safely behind with bag check. I cam prepared with a drawstring bag of my own to tie across my chest in case I had to run with it, but I was glad to see the race organizers made sure to have a bag check area for participants!

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Waiting near the start.

The race started right on time at 7AM, and since the course was mostly loops throughout the park and on trail, it reminded me of this summer half I ran back in June. This race actually had pacers though, and I decided to start off with the 1:55 pacer just to see where I could and would end up. If I PR’d, great, if not, there will be more opportunities!

The first 6 miles, even though I run this distance regularly, felt like the longest. I’ve come to realize that running in rural and barren areas, as it often is with trail running, makes shorter distances seem much longer than they really are. It can be frustrating, but I did my best to appreciate the fresh, unpolluted air, and the beauty of the Central Valley below me when I did have to pace myself up hills.

At around the 7 mile mark, the 2:00 pacer began to catch up to me, and I could feel her and her small group right at my tail! This was obviously more motivation for me to push harder, and finishing this race in under 2:00 could be reality after all.

My pace/mi was bouncing between 8:15 – 9:15, and I wasn’t feeling out of breath. I was still working hard to keep at this pace though, and to pass the time, I tried to figure out how much hydrogen peroxide my mitochondria were producing during this bout of intense cardio. <—NERD ALERT B)

Once getting through mile 9, the last few miles meshed together, and before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line before the race clock struck 2:00!! I now had a new personal record in the half, and texted my Dad the wonderful news immediately.

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Chillin’ after the run.

After receiving my medal, I gulped 1 1/2 bottles of water like nobody’s business, and checked out my surroundings for free food.

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Pancake breakfast, no thanks.

There was a pancake breakfast, a booth raffling off snacks, and another booth giving out ice cream. I wasn’t in the mood for pancakes, I didn’t feeling being solicited, and my sister and I had plans for ice cream later…so nothing really worked out in my favor 🙁

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Very few booths

I was totally fine with leaving the race with a few water bottles if it meant a new HM record! The medal was pretty cool too!

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Gorgeous medal though.

I left a little after 9:30AM, feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to enjoy the rest of the day with my sister 😀

Have you ever PR’d without planning?

Race Recap – Bad Bass Half Marathon

Race Recap – Bad Bass Half Marathon

Last weekend was the definition of a humble summer getaway. I knew going into this summer that going on an extravagant summer vacation would not be in the cards this year—primarily due to work demands—but I am grateful for being able to have things fall in place so that I was able to have more than one occasion to visit the family.

I thought my weekend in June would be my only opportunity this summer, but thankfully, things worked out so that another weekend trip would be possible!

True, I still had to work on Wednesday, and was up at the early morning hour of 4AM in order to pack and get all of my critical, time-sensitive tasks done, but at least two things made my day.

#1 was having B&J’s Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt for “breakfast”, and realizing that I ended up satisfying a hidden cherry craving I didn’t know I had until I demolished the pint in 20 minutes.

cherry garcia froyo
It may be froyo, but the cherries were still soft, and surprisingly not rock-solid from the frozen conditions they were mixed in!

#2 was taking in this gorgeous sunset during my evening/night bus trip up north. We were at a rest stop around 8pm, and I couldn’t help but admire the sky and its golden beauty…

Reststop Sunset
Summer sunsets <3

I made it to Oakland around midnight, and was picked up by my Dad. We were both too tired to keep a cohesive conversation going, but we made it home safely and I promptly hit the hay.

Since my parents are in the middle of a move, the next two days were spent primarily at home, since we had to be available when the painters, contractors, and realtor were around. Besides going out for a run, or going to the gym with Dad, I spent those 48 hours either eating, napping, or watching TV. The life I tell ya…

I did find some time to make it out to my favorite discount grocery store though, and was able to find this somewhat rare flavor from B&J’s Greek line…

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Wasn’t a true fan of this flavor, but I’m glad I got to try it.

I call it rare since I haven’t been able to find it in the LA area anyways! Plus, it says “Still a Pint!” along the lid, so I’m assuming that there must have been some confusion about this flavor not existing anymore…

Well, I certainly wasn’t confused after taking the first couple of spoonfuls. There was definitely a fruity tang with each spoonful (pretty much how a frozen Chobani would taste), but the sweetness from the fudge chunks was just enough to balance out that. It was quite impressive to see how one simple mix-in could do so much to “rescue” a flavor!

I bid my last goodbye to my childhood home on Saturday morning, and my Dad and I drove off towards Lake Chabot to finally run a race together! He has been on a “5K-a-Day” regimen lately, and when he suggested that he we sign up for a race together, I immediately started looking for any and all races that we could do together over the summer.

The Bad Bass 5k/10k/Half Marathon fit our schedules, but it was far from being a simple run in the park. It was where this race that I participated in at the tail end of last year took place, and I remember the hills being extra killer. Even the race organizers call it an ULTRAhalf, and the course is part of their “Ultra Half Challenge”.

It was somewhat chilly when we arrive in the parking lot, but I was able to walk comfortably in my shorts + tee over to the starting area. The weather was much more tolerable when compared to how things were back in December!

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Race start.

Even though the course wasn’t expected to be, packet pick-up was quite easy. I’ve become more appreciative of race day pick-ups and bag checks as of late…

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Time for packet pick-up!

My Dad ended up getting a cotton tee while I got a women’s tech tee. I actually don’t remember registering for one, so that was a pleasant surprise!

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The race shirts were fun :3

After pinning on our bibs and taking care of things in the restroom, I joined other half marathoners at the start line at ten minutes to 8:30AM. For a challenging 13.1 miles on trail, I was part of quite a large group.

We were sent off with the sound of bag pipes floating behind us, keeping in theme with the race around Loch Chabot.

bag pipes
Bag pipes!

The first half of the race posed a challenge right off the bat. A little after Mile 2, before Mile 3, we approached our steepest, most difficult climb yet. It didn’t make sense to run up the tower of a hill, so I ended up interrupting my stride and slowing to a steady fast-walk.

The whole course was an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Some people let the downhills get the best of them, and I saw plenty of flailing arms and wobbling bodies’ race past me from time-to-time. I did not get any severe knee pains (knock on wood!) while hitting the downhills, and I focused on channeling the momentum from those downhills to power me through the immediate uphills.

There were times we had to run single file, and towards the second half of the race, it was pretty isolated and we were deep in the heart of the woods…like, the trees were so tall you couldn’t see the sun deep…

We also got to take in the most breathtaking views of the lake, and I was so mesmerized that I ended up falling, and scraping my elbow/palms of my hands.

PARK and lake
Park near the lake.

The injuries were minor, but I was fortunate to be near a half marathon hiker who had band-aids and wipes galore. She and another runner were sweet enough to stop and check to see if I was okay, and this small moment only emphasized the fact that we runners are part of such a gracious, giving, and kind community.

I finished my first trail half with a time that was plenty far from my true half PR, but at least I finished with what counts—sore legs, and battle scars. Yeah, the medals were fun to receive and wear after the race, but feeling the aftermath of an extreme workout is what I think is the true medal of honor.

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Got the race medal, as well as an age group winner medal!

My Dad’s 5k started at 9:10AM, so even though he took about an hour to complete it (it was a trail 5k after all), he was still at the finish line waiting for me! It was so great to see him and his medal at the end 🙂

After grabbing our goody bags, it was obviously snack time.

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It’s snack time kidsssss!

I passed all the pretzels/cookies/cakes/brownies in favor for the token ice cream sandwiches that associate with Brazen Racing races. I ended up getting strawberry + pumpkin, and fully enjoyed them after finally washing off the dust that had caked my hands and legs since Mile 10…

ice cream sandwiches
Strawberry & Pumpkin — the way to go!

My Dad and I found a bench to rest at while we ate, and soon after, we got up to check the results.

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Results checkin’ time!

After spending some more time walking around and giving our muscles time to bounce back from the run, we got back in the car and drove towards Berkeley before stopping by my cousin’s place. I was able to change into some “regular” clothes at a grocery store where we also bought some fruit to share with our host.

Upon arriving at my cousin’s place, I had an extreme feeling of exhaustion overwhelm me, and I couldn’t say no to a sweet nap. After napping for almost an hour, we all had coffee, cheese, and other “afternoon slump” snacks. We heard meowing from below, and I found a mother cat and her two kittens staring up at us on the balcony!

cats & snacks
Feline cuties and afternoon snackables.

My cousin’s friends came over soon after, and we all agreed to go play table tennis at the last minute, since it seemed like a fun thing to do on a Saturday evening. Even though I played regular tennis in high school, TT is a whole ‘nother ball game, literally. I didn’t sweat, but I was certainly warm enough to not need a sweatshirt when we walked back to my cousin’s apartment.

We had dinner + a movie at home, with my cousin having prepared lentil daal, a rice/quinoa mix, sauteed garlic and pea pods, strawberries, and yogurt.

dinnah!
Dinner part 1.

Our movie that night was Queen, a fairly recent Bollywood hit, and despite there being some cheesy parts, was actually quite good.

We all went to sleep soon after since it was approaching 11PM—and I had a bus to catch the next morning!

The ride home took most of my Sunday, but I was back in my apartment while there was still daylight. After unpacking and showering, I sat down with this delectable pint of fudge brownie ice cream before sleeping away a lingering headache I carried with me from the bus ride.

cho-fud-brow
I could handle the 100% B&J’s chocolate base if it meant copious amounts of Greyston Bakery fudgy brownie chunks! They are way too good to turn down!!

There was certainly a lot of fun that went down over just 72 hours…it’s amazing how much stuff can be packed into what seems like so little time!

Have you ever run a trail race?

Do you get headaches while traveling?

Race Recap – Bay Breeze Half

Race Recap – Bay Breeze Half

President’s Day Weekend was not only a superb time for me because I got to spend it with family, but also because it happened to coincide perfectly with my marathon training plans—in regards to the distance of the long run I had to complete.

My team had a group 14 miler scheduled that Sunday, but since I was spending all of my precious holiday weekend time with family, it made sense to register for a half marathon close by, and get into race mode before the marathon itself!

I woke up bright and early at 5:50am, and assembled all of my racing necessities (watch, camera, phone, change of clothes, etc.) and drove out with my Dad to San Leandro to make it to the start at 7:30am. The weather wasn’t frigid like it was back in December…in fact, it was the perfect condition for running. The race start was at a local park and by the bay, and I was delighted to learn that the 6.5 mile out-and-back course would have us hugging the coast the entire way!

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After picking up my bib, pre-race goody bag, and quickly stopping by the porta-potty, I huddled with the others in my half marathon tribe. 

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We were on our way a little after 8am, and we knew that the 10k and 5k runners would soon follow us. The course started off on paved roads, but soon we made our way over gravel and two wooden bridges. There were no menacing hills in sight—just a pleasant mist and the breezy, cool bay winds.

I felt pretty good for the first half of the half, clocking in paces below 9:20 and running at my “good day” pace. It has been a while since I’ve run anything less than 9:23/mi, and so I was glad to see I hadn’t “lost” my pace from before the intensity of my marathon training long runs. I stopped at the water station at the half way point for a few seconds to gulp down to paper cups of water, but then charged back up to speed. I originally thought it would be cool to shoot for a 2:00 hr half, but I let the pacer get too ahead of me from the get-go, so I let the idea of snatching a new half PR drift away. 

But even though I wasn’t aiming for a new half PR, I ended up getting one! I shaved off a little over a minute from my old PR, and so this race ended up being more than just a substitute long run 😀

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The medal was adorable too—one of the prettiest in my growing collection (it’s weighing down the board I tack my running medals on, haha!). 

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So after running for a little over 2 hours, it was time to grab some grub!

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I wasn’t in the mood for any of the pretzels, cookies, cakes, ice cream sandwiches, and bananas (shocking, I know…), but I was more than ready to stuff myself with some sweet potato chips!

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Courtesy of Food Should Taste Good

The Naked Juice truck was present again.

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Only this time, they weren’t pressing shirts. There were plenty of opportunities to try their smoothies though!

There weren’t too many sponsor tents up, but along with the copious amount of chip bags I collected, I also ended up with a free shirt from Sungevity. I passed on the massage though…

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We left the venue before noon, and spent the rest of the day with my cousin (more on that in a later post 🙂 ). After getting back home in the evening, I admired my lovely race shirt (not sure why there is an octopus, but it sort of fits in with the roses if you ask me) and offered my sister some of my chip packs. 

The next day was a REST day—on a Sunday! It must have been the first Sunday in ages that did not have running on the schedule, but sometimes it’s good to shake things up 😉 !

Do you like running incorporating shorter-distance races into longer-distance training plans? 

MTR: Week 15

MTR: Week 15

The big 2-0 wasn’t so bad. Actually, I think I would go as far as to say it was calming and hypnotic. The Strand (a bike/running path near that runs through Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach) is one of my most favorite places to run, since there is always so much activity—-even as early as 8:00am on a Sunday morning. 

Sunday – LSD 20 miler group run at 10:03/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 6 mile morning solo run at 9:51/mi

Wednesday –  6 mile morning solo run at 9:55/mi

Thursday –  8 mile morning solo run at 9:39/mi

Friday – Rest

Saturday –  13.1 mile race at 9:24/mi [and new HM PR!]


Total Mileage ->   53.1 miles

Since our team wanted to finish up our run early before the sun came out and before the temperature started to rise, we had to leave our carpool spot at 7:00am, which meant I had to wake up an extra half hour early (which doesn’t seem to be a problem for me these days, since I’ve been getting up as early as 4am…). I was able to finally pick up a water bottle with a running strap over the weekend (Nathan Sports QuickShot Plus), and some Clif Shot Bloks in Tropical Punch!

MTR15 (1)

I was excited to find a tiny enough bottle that fit to the outside of my hand, and the straps were snug, but not too tight. The bottle itself holds about 10 oz. of water, and it got me through the first 13 miles. The zippered pouch on the outside was also the perfect size to hold my Shot Bloks once they were packaged tight in a ziploc baggie. 

By the time we got to our starting point at Dockweiler Beach, used the restroom, and gathered around our team captain to hear the route directions just to make sure we knew where we were going, we were off before my Garmin hit 8:00AM.

What was great about this run was being able to stick with a running buddy for 17 miles. My teammate was a trooper—carrying two plastic water bottles in each hand, and running without fuel because she couldn’t find GU at the store. I understood her predicament, and so I let her know before we started the run that she could ask for one of my Shot Bloks anytime to try it out. As a result, I ended up with a running buddy for the majority of the run 🙂

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Stuffing six, squishable Shot Bloks in a Ziploc bag that conveniently fit into the running bottle case.

Since I knew what to expect on the run up until we hit Harbor Parkway, it was not too difficult to “force” myself into getting distracted. The weather was cool and damp with overcast skies overhead. Being so close to the ocean, my skin began to feel sticky within the first 0.5 miles. It wasn’t the best feeling, but the Sunday morning ocean views were phenomenal. Running past the refinery, yogis perched on shed roofs (seriously!), and surfers retreating from their early morning surf were the sights that started off my run and put me in the zone.

My buddy and I left the Strand and ended up running inland versus trying to get back to running along the coast. We completely avoided a steep hill that we were supposed to come across before the turnaround at mile 10, and instead pushed on through Torrance, and the edge of Palos Verdes (from the residential side). My knees were starting to feel sore around the halfway point at mile 9—approaching 10—but it went away as soon as we turned around. 

I consumed my first Shot Blok at mile 11.8, and offered one to my running buddy as well. She compared it to tasting like a Starburst, and I could see where she was coming from, since it did have some strong fruity flavors. The effects of the small chew kicked in about 0.5 miles after consuming it, which was when I needed it the most! Miles 13-15 were hard to get through (mentally) even though we decided to run along the coast again.

I had two more Bloks at Mile 16.8, and the last two at around Mile 17.1, along with gulp-fulls of water from a nearby water fountain. That was exactly what I needed to get me through the final three miles. I felt a lot more energy as I approached our starting point, and finished in 3:21:00 solid, with a 10:03/mi pace!!

I had to leave as soon as I finished, since my ride had to get back as soon as he was done, so I didn’t have time to ask my running buddy how she felt the Shot Blok helped her (if it did at all). I suppose I’ll find out at out at our team’s final long run before we officially taper!

For the rest of the week, I ran my 6-8-6, even though it was mentally a struggle to get through each of them. I had to push up my long run (which would have been a 14 miler with my team) for Week 16 to Saturday, since I signed up for a half marathon (which I plan to recap in a separate post) to coincide with a visit home for the holiday weekend. So next week’s MTR will look pretty light compared to this week’s total of 53 miles, but I do look forward to having a rest day on a Sunday 😉

Do you run with your own water bottle/container on long runs? Or stop for it along the way?

Race Recap: Brazen Almost New Year’s Race

Race Recap: Brazen Almost New Year’s Race

I was hesitant to make my last run of 2014 a trail run, but given my options, I had little choice. Despite having numb hands at the end of the run (even with running gloves on!!), it turned out to be an okay run…but certainly not one I would consider running again if given the choice.

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The race start in Lake Chabot—fuh-ree-zing temps!!

I woke up around 6AM, and assembled my cold gear essentials together while sipping on some coffee before heading out the door. At least the freezing temperature gave me the opportunity to try on a new pair of Mizuno gloves and some new socks (definitely was in need of some new socks 😉 )!

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It took us about an hour to get to Lake Chabot in Alameda County, where the race was held. By the time I got to the tents, the half marathoners were already on foot. I was desperately trying to keep warm, so I could only imagine what they were feeling like!

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Even the SKY looks frozen!!

The 10k didn’t start until it was close to 9AM. My legs were feeling sore from running in my old gym shoes from previous days’ workouts, since I didn’t pack my Hoka One Ones, but I didn’t have any other choice but to run in my flatly-padded shoes. Oh well, I just had to suck it up and brace myself for the steep climbs ahead. 

The first 2 miles were manageable. I was running at a consistent 9:20/mi pace and it was mostly flat up until we crossed a single-file bridge. At that point, there were hills to run up climb. It got to a point where the hills were so steep that running seemed impossible, and it literally turned into a hike. There were so many defeated looks plastered on the faces of runners around me, but I tried to put the obstacle into perspective: this was a hill that had to be conquered, and after reaching the top, I told myself that I could get back to running business.

We had a turn-around a little after mile 3, and it was all downhill from there—literally. The steep climbs turned into precarious slopes, and having good balance and control of your legs was more than necessary…it was mandatory for survival. Needless to say, I was relieved when I saw the single-file bridge again in the distance, since I knew flat grounds were near. From that point on, it was smooth running to the finish. Of course, my legs felt beat up (mostly from the shoes I was running in, plus the added intensity of the hills), but I guess the heavy finisher’s medal made up for it…

medal

There wasn’t much in post-race festivities and freebies, but there was a huge buffet lined up with sweets and savories:

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Nothing on the table struck my fancy, and instead, I made my way over to the Naked Smoothie truck parked near the entryway to the park.

nakedsmoothies_truck!

Along with giving out samples…

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…they were giving out free t-shirts with four decals of our choosing! Gotta love free t-shirts—especially ones that can be used as PJs 😀 

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It took about 3-5 minutes to prepare a t-shirt and get it pressed with the decals, so I was in line for a good forty minutes. It was worth it though, and with my Dad standing in line as well, we were able to pick up one for my sister. 

By the time we left the race grounds, it was nearing noon and we had agreed to meet my cousin at Bacheesos in Oakland for lunch. With my sis and I away at school for the past couple months, we had not seen her since summer, and so I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet up with her again!

The restaurant was on a street corner, and even though the sign(s) were tiny, we were able to spot out its location before finding parking. 

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Parking was (surprisingly) free, and so we proceeded to walk towards the restaurant without having to pause and sift for spare change. 

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We met my cousin inside, and found some seats near the wall. The interior was spacious, and a lunch buffet was already line up. 

bacheesos interior

The lunch buffet offered a grand selection…

bacheeso's buffet

For the first pass, I got a variety of veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, beets, bell peppers, eggplant discs), pita bread, hummus, a yogurt-based dip, and a generous dollop of moussaka. At first I confused the potato-laden dish for babaganoush based on appearance, but when I actually tried it on my plate, I found it too bland for my liking, and didn’t go back for seconds of that. 

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Speaking of seconds though, I did go back for more of the veggies and eggplant discs. I also had some scrambled eggs with the hummus, and what a combo that was 😀

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Once we had our fill at lunch, we went back to my cousin’s place and hung out for a while. Along with catching up, we played a cards and had some coffee before leaving in the early evening. To round out the day, we stopped for some froyo before heading home.

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Ending the day with a fun cup of frozen yogurt! Flavors here are: original tart, peppermint stick, and fancy french vanilla! 😛

What was your last race of the year?

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Race Recap: RNR LA Halloween Half

Race Recap: RNR LA Halloween Half

I may have had an uneventful Halloween this year, but I guess you could say I got my dose of costumes, adorable dogs, and candy post-race snacks the weekend before the holiday, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Halloween Half Marathon.

 RNR Halloween Half in LA: benefiting those with our friends with paws :)
RNR Halloween Half in LA: benefiting our friends with paws 🙂

Since the race course was marked in and around DTLA, walking to the start line was a breeze. Even though it was dark out, the streets were already sectioned off and police were at their posts, so I felt safe walking over to the Staples Center.

 Walking over to the race start.
Walking over to the race start.

Once I got to the start line around 6:45am, I quickly checked in my drawstring bag that was given to me at the expo, and found my corral. The parking lot across from LA Live was a convenient location to place gear check!

 Gear check area after I finished the race. It was super dark before 7am.
Gear check area after I finished the race. It was super dark before 7am.

Along with trying to keep my muscles warm, I tried to walk myself (in my mind) through the course. I knew where I would be going up until Mile 5, but had no idea where I would be running between Mile 5 and the finish! Just somewhere in downtown was all I knew…

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The race was slated to begin at 7am, with the half and 5k runners running together. Since we were in corrals, we were released every 30 seconds or so to stagger the amount of people on the course. Once I did hit the start line though, I was looking forward to seeing what costumes, live bands, and sights I would come across!

Mile 2 was when I started to feel a lag in energy. We were beginning to approach the University Park area and I started to feel somewhat tired. We ended up making a loop around the LA Coliseum, and it was such a sight to see a horde of people both in front of and behind me. I was shocked (and slightly embarrassed) by the fact that some of the people way in front of me were in heavy, full costume and were still running at 8:00 min/mi or less. Seriously though, how does that work?!

I guess the coliseum loop did the trick because I felt pumped around Mile 4 as we made our way back to the start line/downtown.  There were bands (mostly playing rock), high school drill teams, and the occasional spectators with posters every couple yards, so that helped keep the morale of the running pack up. 

But once we entered downtown again, my energy began to sag around Mile 6. It’s funny how since the course at this point was positioned adjacent to the finish line, I could see the elite athletes rolling on through as I was just getting to the half-way point. I suppose it should have been motivating, but it was more like, “How is that humanely possible?!” in a joking way of course 😉

After a making our way over a mini paved hill, I started to hear echoes of EDM coming from a tunnel. Now the music was starting to get good! At the end of the tunnel, I learned that the sweet selection was courtesy of a DJ dressed in a full gorilla costume.

What I remember of Miles 8 and 9 were winding, flat roads through the Toy/Art Districts and Little Tokyo, up until we reached the hill. We were basically set-up to run up a massive slope onto the Sixth Street Viaduct which at first seemed conniving, but then I understood why it was included as part of the course when I turned around at Mile 10. The most incredible view of DTLA was in front of me as I made my way back down the slope. I tried not to pound my knees too much, but it was difficult to not want to speed up with the sounds of Duck Sauce’s “Barbara Streisand” pounding in my ears, thanks to another EDM DJ 😀

I have come to dread Mile 11 based on my experiences from past halfs, but the mile didn’t mentally attack me as much as I thought it would in this race. I tried to keep my mind distracted by the various cheer squads and (growing number of) spectators, who finally managed to make it outside on a Sunday morning. I pictured myself soaking up the energy as I made it back through the tunnel at Mile 12. I let the music push me through as I focused on the last mile. I felt that surge of energy I needed for that moment just in time, and I let that guide me to the finish.

 People leaving recovery area---just finished race!
People leaving recovery area—just finished race!

After passing the finish line, grabbing a water bottle and medal, and taking a legit post-race photo (not the mid-run kind where you look like a zombie!), I glanced down at my Garmin to see I had run a little over 2 hours, but did not PR. I wasn’t too bummed though, because I’ve been glad with how consistent my pace has been since summer.

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Also, I feel like this half marathon wasn’t worth the PR 😛 . I thought the race organization and course were fine, and I like how it was accessible for me to get to by foot, but I’m still not sure I would do this race again, unfortunately. The recovery zone was blocked off to runners, and once you left you couldn’t re-enter. This meant limited freebies collection, but I did get two bottles of chocolate milk, a Powerbar, and Alaskan Airline snacks.

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I thought it was odd that the Noosa yogurt tent was place right outside the recovery zone, but I had to pass on their samples since they contained gelatin. Seeing as I didn’t get any yogurt samples, I wondered if I could get another Powerbar or two, so I walked along the perimeter of the gated-off recovery area.

 Noosa tent
Noosa tent

I literally asked one of the Powerbar reps if I could have a bar, and she looked at me like I had said the most horrid thing about her. They said they couldn’t pass samples over the fence otherwise “Competitor would revoke their sponsorship”, and while that is understandable, it was disappointing.

 Recovery area
Recovery area

Post-race celebrations this time around weren’t nearly as fun as when my gal pals and I went out to eat at Saturn Cafe after my SJR Half in June, or when I stuffed my face with Biscoff for the next two months after my first trail race. Not only did I not have my “crew” to collect freebies and eat out with me, but I also had the pestering “I should be studying” thoughts swimming around in my head, since I had two exams (on the same day!) that I had to take later in the week.

I still took the time to enter and check out what booths and tents were up though.

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I mean, how can one leave a race without even trying to celebrate 😉 ?

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I skipped past the merch tent (I didn’t even have any cash or cards on me, so…), and lined up at the first booth that I saw had a prize wheel.

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I didn’t get anything from them, but I did get two pairs of earbuds from Yellow Pages! Now that’s a freebies that would come in handy 😀

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Only one is pictured here.

I eyed enviously at the fortunate “GEICO-sponsored” athlete who got a free massage. I wasn’t in need for one anyways, but having the option would be nice!

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I went further down the road and saw the ASPCA Bark Park.

aspca_tent

After taking some time to admire the adorable puppies that were being shown off, I scooped some complimentary shortbread biscuits…

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…and snacked on those while I contemplated over if I should stay for the headliner concert or not…

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In the end, I passed on the concert and ended up walking back home. I forced myself to study and get a late lunch later on in the day, but I ended up taking a 20 minute power nap before I got to any of those tasks. I may not have felt as sore post-race as I did in previous half marathons, but I certainly could not ignore my body’s cues to get some sleep—even if for a short while!

 Wasn't a fan of the shirt, but I love the medal! It's too heavy to hang on my wall though...
Wasn’t a fan of the shirt, but I love the medal! It’s too heavy to hang on my wall though…

Have you run in an RNR race before?

Race Recap: Rad Runs Reyes Adobe Days 10 Miler

Race Recap: Rad Runs Reyes Adobe Days 10 Miler

In exactly a week and a half from today, I will be running my 5th half marathon, and my first second race in So Cal. While I originally planned for my 5th half to be my first So Cal race, my impromptu registration for a 10 miler fit my training schedule (and personal schedule) too perfect to resist signing up. Since my family was visiting, I was able to get a ride up to Agoura Hills for a great Saturday morning long-run race interspersed with hills. 

This race hit all the right notes on many accounts: 

The price – I found the price tag of $30 for a 10 miler to be quite a bargain, and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that all participants got a medal. I have participated in races where you have to pay extra for a medal (which I can say I have not done before…), so having that included in the (cheap) race registration was pretty awesome.

A great race for locals.
A great race for locals.

The size The race was held for the first time I believe, and for being a first-timer, it had a pretty solid turn-out for both the 10 miler and 10k. I liked the small-ish, local crowd—even one of the vendors at the booths was amazed when I told her I had come “all the way from LA” to come up for the race in Agoura Hills. 

crowds

The weather – The weekend of this race was a particularly cold one compared to what it’s been like in LA for the past two months. When I arrived at the race start around 6:30am, I had to borrow my Dad’s jacket because I was freezing (first time I’ve felt cold in a while)! The coolish, 59°F weather did benefit me though in the end, since my pace for the first five miles was quite fast for me. 

earlymorning

Mile markers – I have been frustrated quite a few times during races that had inaccurate mile markers (it really does get you from a mental standpoint if you are running the last 2 miles of a half or 0.2 of a 10k, and the mile markers don’t match up with your watch!!), but this race was certainly an exception when compared to my past experiences. I appreciated the fact that every time I saw a mile marker during this race, my Garmin would beep with my pace in agreement.

The finish feels more fantastic when your watch matches up with the mile markers!
The finish feels more fantastic when your watch matches up with the mile markers!

But like anything else, there’s always room for improvement!

 The freebies – The freebies were not bad…and that’s about it. I did finally get a chance to try the Strong & Kind savory bars, a soft (but wide) race shirt, a pack of band-aids, a random protein bar, water bottles, and varied pamphlets (including a Quest Bar recipe book) <— though I would have appreciated actual Quest bars…

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They had a good amount of vendors, but not a lot.
They had a good amount of vendors, but not a lot.

(Lack of) division ranking – I like looking at things through lists and categories, so the fact that there wasn’t any age/gender division ranking was kind of a bummer. This is obviously a very minor issue though.

 What they lacked in timing organization they made up for in water and bagels.
What they lacked in timing organization they made up for in water and bagels.

Boy, am I glad to be part of the racing scene again—and to come back when the weather is starting to cool is a major motivator to keep racing! I was also happy with my 9:27/mi pace, and am excited to see what the half will hold for me in a couple days’ time!

How do you stay motivated to run/exercise?

Race Recap: Davis Moonlight Race

Race Recap: Davis Moonlight Race

Last weekend, I ran in my first night race. Actually, it ended up being more of an evening race, but if I had instead raced in the Half Marathon Wave 2, then I may have finished under the moonlight. Nevertheless, the race was still a new and enjoyable experience.

Since my race was at 7:30PM versus AM, I had to take a different (and perhaps more careful) approach with fueling on race day. I had a late lunch as a result: a piece of flatbread made of plain pizza dough, with a side of steamed veggies flavored with spices and coconut flakes. I also had some greek yogurt with Kashi cereal (unpictured). 

 pre-race fuelage
My favorite go-to lunch—be it pre-fuel or post-fuel depends on when I go running in the day!

After my meal, I took a 45 minute nap before leaving with my Dad, friend, and sis around 5:00PM for the race venue.  Along the way, my Dad wanted to make a pit stop at a roadside produce place since we had the time. Also on the “things to do before the race” list was getting my eyebrows threaded, and dinner for the gang. Since I didn’t want to eat anything too soon before the race, I got my eyebrows threaded while everyone had sandwiches from Subway. All of this occupied our time until around 6:30PM, when at that point we actually drove over to the race venue. 

 market along the way
Roadside produce pit stop.

This race had so many different start times that I almost freaked out about misreading my start time. By the time we got to the parking area, we could see the runners from Wave 1 of the Half Marathon already running towards us, full speed ahead. 

Wave 1, Half Marathon
Wave 1, Half Marathon

Because the lot we were headed towards was full by the time we got around the runners, my Dad dropped the girls and I off, and we slowly made our way around the DMG Mori building towards packet pick-up—doing our best to keep our steps within the boundaries of shade. 

 walking to pick-up
Walking towards packet pick-up.

After receiving my bib and shirt (which was in a lovely shade of blue!), I shuffled the girls to an area of shade near the start line. We also had a clear view of the wall of porta potties, and the bouncy houses behind us. We were rooted in this area when the start for the kid’s fun mile was announced. Despite the weather being quite hot, the kids were full of energy and didn’t seem to complain at all. They all just seemed to be focused on the getting to the finish, where a ribbon and sno-cone were waiting for their arrival. 

 getting to where the action is
Kids assembling for the fun run // bouncy house // porta potties

All three of us were beginning to get antsy with just standing around, so I suggested that we walk past the bouncy houses, since I sensed a couple of booths were stationed behind them! And indeed there were—boxes of things from free mini body washes to mini trail mix packs were being handed out. Being a group of cheap, frugal girls headed back to school, you know we stocked up!

 snack line
The booth with the most freebies.

As we delved further and further into the booth fair, we found ourselves getting lost in the crowds. How could it be avoided when there were masseuses ready to have people sign up for post-race massages, and sweaty kids standing in line for their post-race sno-cone treat?

 crowds, massage, sno cones, new balance
Unavoidable crowd // Massages—being given before the race too?! // Kids in line for sno-cones // New Balance

It took some time to persuade the girls to get into the freebie revelry, but once I had them each approach the KIND bar booth and get a KIND bar “for me”, they were soon victims of the freebie-collecting bug 😉 .

So of course the freebies quest kept us busy until I had to head over to the start line. We left right on the dot at 7:30PM with a sun still high in the sky and the air as warm as ever—it was, after all, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The 5kers were instructed to hang back until 7:45, since the roads would be packed for the first mile or 2 with just 10kers and wave 2 half marathoners alone.

Mile 1 – Navigating in between hundreds of runners can be quite the challenge, only because it’s so annoying. Right when you think you’ve found “your space”, you land right behind someone running 30 seconds slower than your target pace. I thought that with all this navigating, my pace would be slowed, but it was actually quite the opposite. (9:07/mi)

Mile 2The heat was beginning to catch up to me, and I came across the first water station where I grabbed a cup and drank it down chipmunk style. I still managed to maintain a consistent pace, according to Garmin. (9:02/mi)

Mile 3 – I was starting to get bored. I finally got the space I wanted, but I was now running on a woodsy park trail, and it was difficult to discern when it would end. (9:16/mi)

Mile 4 – I approached the second water station with my eyes directly oriented towards a specific volunteer. I couldn’t get all of the water in my mouth, so I ended up just splashing it on my heated skin and bib. It then looked like I had an awkward area of sweat on my shirt, but I just had to keep going. Given how warm it was still, I had to assume that my shirt would dry in no time at all. (9:19/mi)

Mile 5 – The end was so near…we pretty much looped around and ran back across a bridge that we had to cross in the very beginning. There was a nice breeze sweeping over all of us runners, and the sun was just starting to set. If I had my phone with me at the time (and the dexterity), I would have certainly taken a picture of the gorgeous view from the bridge. My pace quickened up again, thanks to the descent. (9:05/mi)

Mile 6 – Why does the last mile always have to be so tough? I was ready to call it a day, surprised by the amount of sweat I had perspired over the past hour. I don’t think I sweat that much in a race ever…not even during my half marathons! (9:05/mi)

According to my Garmin, I completed the race with an overall average pace of 9:06/mi. Looking at my pace chart, it looks like I had a lot more speedy spikes after the 3 mile mark…

 timingoffthecharts
Speedy after mile 3.

After gulping down large water bottle (and surprisingly not getting a scolding from my bladder!), I learned that it was around 8:30PM and I was more than ready to head home. The girls were already waiting in the car, and so my Dad and I walked about a half mile to get to where the car was parked. As we were driving back, I could not resist taking a picture of the evening sky. It had finally started to cool down, and rolling down the windows as we approached the highway was definitely a good idea 😉

 sky after the race
The sky after the race.

Once I got home around 9:30PM, I had my late dinner and admired my shirt.

 da shirt

As well as the goods that (my friends and) I collected.

 fooods
I think I’m good on deodorant for the next couple months…

For my first “night” race, it was a pleasant-enough experience. Based on recaps I read about this race from past years, this year was relatively mild, though perhaps only by a smidgen since I crossed the finish line with probably enough sweat to fill five water bottles. Sorry if that’s TMI…I might be exaggerating too 😉

Have you ever run a summer evening/night race?

Race Recap: Women’s Fitness Festival

Race Recap: Women’s Fitness Festival

As I was writing this race recap, I noticed that I ran this race on the anniversary of my first half marathon. Coincidence? Perhaps…or maybe I just have a penchant for running half marathons in June. I cite the two half marathons I registered for this month as support of this statement 😉

I came into the Women’s Fitness Festival Half Marathon with the attitude that this race would serve as a good “warm-up” for my See Jane Run race two weeks later, but it actually turned out to be a more pleasant experience than I intended it to be.

One race morning, I woke up at 5AM and avoided any food and beverage whatsoever since I absolutely did not want to deal with bladder problems—especially since I knew I would be on the road for 2+ hours! I did have pick at some pistachios from a trail mix bag in the car around 6AM once we were in the car though…

In order to avoid any possible issues brought on by pistachio consumption, I stopped by a Starbucks near the race’s starting area in order to use the restroom.

starbucks

After the quick stop, I walked over to where bib pick-up was.

 Don't mind me, just following the crowd...
Don’t mind me, just following the crowd…

After picking up and pinning my bib to my shirt, I slowly walked over to the starting line. From afar, I noticed a familiar face from where I work near the front of the start line, but many ladies began to make their way to the starting line soon after, and prevented a meet-up.

waiting@thestart

I began to do some minimal stretching when I noticed this odd contraption flying in the air:

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It was a flying camera taking photos from above! Wonder how those will turn out 😉

We were off at 7:15AM, and the heat was already beginning to settle in. It was in the late 60s when we started, but it would soon warm up incredibly. I stayed close to the 2:10 pacer—a man in a blond pigtail wig and a dirndl dress over a blue racing shirt and black shorts (thankfully!). All of the pacers were men dressed as women, since only “ladies” were allowed to run this race!

The first half of the half was quite dry. The air was dry, the roads were dry, and the sun was beating down on us heavily. Whatever shade we could find was treated like a gift, and instead of taking things mile-by-mile, I began to take things shade spot-by-shade spot.

I was feeling a bit parched early on, but I kept focused on my goal of sticking with my pacer this time around, and kept a consistent, right-on-track pace between 9:48/mi – 9:55/mi. There were small musical groups every mile or so, including a banjo player, a teen boy band (haha), and a bunch of guitar players. Whenever I came across any of these musical groups, I felt a sudden surge of energy that helped me push through. The power of music I tell ya!

Once I reached the Mile 6 point, I stopped for water. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch up with my pacer, I hurriedly picked up my pace so that I would fall right behind his footsteps. I hope he didn’t think I was stalkerish 😛 

Around Mile 8, I felt a pinch in my left knee that eventually subsided around Mile 9, where I helped myself to some more water at an aid station. Mile 10 felt the most difficult for some reason. I expected to feel difficulty set in around Mile 12 since that was the longest distance I ran leading up to this race, but this was not the case. My feet were beginning to fatigue from the pounding, but I continued to focus on the goal—the 2:10 sign was fixed in my sights.

At around Mile 11.78 (thanks Garmin for the detailed distance 😉 ), there was a rainbow balloon arch and a huge crowd cheering everyone on. My pacer,  who at this point noticed I was at the tip of his heels, kept urging me to keep up with him. After gulping down three cups of water at the Mile 12 aid station, I noticed I was at least 20 seconds behind my pacer. He eventually noticed no one was around him, which was when he turned around and stopped for a few seconds urging us lagging ladies to pass him to the finish line.

I saw the capitol building coming in closer view, and took in the music that the final band was playing on the course. The band was playing their own rendition of “Stacy’s Mom”, which I found to be a fitting song for this race since many of the participants were mommy runners aged 30+ 😉

 View of capitol building from the festivities side.
View of capitol building from the festivities side.

I felt a surge of energy towards mile 12.5, but found myself itching to finally reach the finish line. It was one of those “so-close-yet-so-far” moments! When I did cross the line though, I noticed I was ahead of my pacer, and managed to chop off ~12 minutes from my old PR! My Garmin says I ran an average pace of 9:50 min/mi. Oh yeah, I’ll take that 😀

After grabbing my finisher’s medal, I guzzled down some water, squeezed my aching quads, and reoriented myself so that I could pick up my racer goodie bag(s) (yes, I went back for two only because of the Luna Protein bars inside!!) from the Kaiser Permanente booth.

 Assembling in front of the capitol.
Assembling in front of the capitol.

I made my way to the various vendors’ booths, which included KIND bar, Whole Foods, Asics, Blue Diamond Almonds, and Kaiser Permanente:

 An Asics pop-up shop of sorts.
An Asics pop-up shop of sorts.
 The KIND Bar booth and Recovery Zone.
The KIND Bar booth and Recovery Zone.
 KP Booths for Health Awareness.
KP Booths for Health Awareness.
 Breakfast from WF. Wasn't interested, so I gave this bowl to Dad.
Breakfast from WF. Wasn’t interested, so I gave this bowl to Dad.

So much activity was going on post-race!

postrace

I could have fallen in line and helped myself to a massage, but I didn’t feel like it this time.

massage

Wasn’t much to do after booth browsing, plus walking was getting to be a pain, so we decided to head over to Whole Foods so we could redeem these coupons, since it was only about 10 minutes away from the race location. The goods were pretty decent—365 brand coconut water, coconut cashew Truebars, and Vega Protein powders!

wholefoodsfreebies1

I also was amazed with the loot I made out with in this race. The quantity of almonds I managed to collect was insanity alone 😛

lotsoffreebiesfromthisraceeeee!

This race was definitely more than a “trial run”. Now the pressure is on to see if I can beat this PR! But isn’t that what racing is all about? Bring on the next 13.1 😀

Did you ever have a race where you exceeded your goals and expectations?

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