Race Recap – Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon

Race Recap – Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon

The last time I ran the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in LA was three years ago, when I had just moved to LA. I was excited to have it be my first run in my new home, and a half marathon at that. It was before my marathon racing days…my how time flies, haha.

Making my rounds at the expo like a pro :P
Making my rounds at the expo like a pro 😛

But with time, I’ve also become more jaded with the whole expo/lead-up to race day. It’s like everything is such a routine, with nothing new to expect…to be honest, going to expos for packet pick-up seems more like a chore for me now than an exciting thing to do. I even got in a long run before stepping into this expo because of my marathon training schedule. This race was just another opportunity to run and get some miles in while continuing on my Route 66 Marathon journey—which happens to be in less than two days upon publishing this post!!

Needless to say, I was in and out of the convention center within a half hour. I made plans to spend the rest of the day with E back in my neighborhood. We met up near Venice and Figueroa, and hopped on a bus to take us to Abbot Kinney.

The Tasting Kitchen, Venice
The Tasting Kitchen, Venice

We made our way through the crowds of tourists and Lululemon-wearing locals to get to The Tasting Kitchen, where we came across even more crowds of pretentious folk socializing over brunch. Would our grad student salaries get us much here? LOL!

We were eventually seated near the back, in the middle of two other groups: one couple and to our left, another pair of friends.

The menu was tricky to figure out. When our waiter came by, I just ended up asking what were the vegetarian options on their menu, since I couldn’t figure it out. He recommended the burrata dish, so I just agreed to get that, along with a plain biscuit. E got a sandwich that had a really long description and name, as well as a cream cheese and chive biscuit.

Our waiter walked away in a jiffy as soon as he got our orders, but came back pretty quickly to notify E of some unfortunate news: they had run out of cream cheese and chive biscuits. E was just like…”uhh, can I just get a plain biscuit?” and the “problem” was solved? Haha, at least the waiter offered to comp her biscuit.

Burrata with butternut squash, chopped hazelnuts, balsamic sauce
Burrata with butternut squash, chopped hazelnuts, balsamic sauce

When our orders came, I justified the price I was paying for the meal with the fact that the presentation was perfectly on point. Roasted butternut squash slices topped with bubbly burrata and chopped hazelnuts, coated with a balsamic sauce. Was I really in Venice, or some upscale restaurant in New York owned by a chef fresh from taping a series of Top Chef?

The biscuit was super flaky and he flavor was quite enhanced by the butter and salt. A great vehicle for mopping up the leftover balsamic sauce.

Buttery, flaky biscuit
Buttery, flaky biscuit

After lunch, we tried to forget how much money E and I spent on a mid-day meal and walked into a few shops along Abbot Kinney. We then walked towards the Venice Canals, and then ended up at the beach. We ended up walking a TON but the walk was made eventful with a bunch of gossiping and laughing. My legs were shot, but I was able to get home by 4 and spent the rest of the evening rolling out my legs and resting as much as possible before race day.

Fun day by the water <3
Fun day by the water <3

The next morning, I woke up around 4am. I had a couple minutes to roll out my muscles more, and wore some knee-highs to help with some form of compression (even if it was a placebo effect, it seemed to work, haha). I also remembered to take some ibuprofen the night before, and that seemed to help attenuate the soreness from yesterday’s events.

Got a free KT Taping at the expo which seemed to help! Also rolled out my calves and wore some knee high socks to the race :)
Got a free KT Taping at the expo which seemed to help! Also rolled out my calves and wore some knee high socks to the race 🙂

I didn’t have to spend money on a ride share service (yes!) since the Metro conveniently had trains running early Sunday morning with a stop close to the race start. I soon learned that other runners had the same idea when I saw them begin to board as we got closer and closer to DTLA.

As soon as I got to the start, I walked straight over to bag check, and luckily found some free snack bars to munch on as pre-race fuel. I also tried to keep warm by one of the heat lamps that a local restaurant in LA Live had set out, and waited until it was time to find my place at the start.

Morning, pre-race
Morning, pre-race

13.1 miles. It’s PR time…let’s do this!

When we were set to take off, I was able to gauge my pace so that I didn’t start off too fast unlike how I paced myself in the beginning at the Dodger’s 10k. I think I was a little ahead of the 1:45 pacer, but the pack eventually caught up to me at around mile 2.5. I stuck close to him, even though O felt like I was putting in a slightly harder effort for so early in the race.

Still, I felt good, my legs still felt fresh, and my shins were fine. Unfortunately, I began to lag at around mile 6, when we hit a steep hill in downtown approaching Koreatown. At that point, I was like, okay, I’ll just be a few minutes off, but maybe I can still PR.

I was able to keep my pace within 8:15-8:20/mi, even with water breaks. There were a ton of rolling hills between DTLA and Koreatown, all along Wilshire. At first, the hills seemed intimidating and never-ending—even though I was well-accustomed to the area and they weren’t really a surprise—but I felt strong overall and I was able to attack the upcoming hills with a newfound energy.

Race Finish!
Race Finish!

I was able to speed up towards the finish, and it seemed like my fatigue happily vanished. I finished the (technically) 13.3 mi course at a pace of 8:18/mi. Even though this course seemed less painful than the one I ran three years ago, I wouldn’t call this year’s course a fantastic change. I still prefer it to the one I ran in the past though.

The weather conditions were perfect: not too hot, not too cold. Transportation was easy to manage, the race loot was decent, and the medal had a snazzy design.

Race medal and shirt
Race medal and shirt

I didn’t PR, but I was happy with my outcome given the shin and calf soreness I was feeling leading up to the race. I also saw it as a great warm-up/race condition-simulating run for marathon prep. We’ll see how much it functioned as the latter come marathon race day this Sunday!

The Tasting Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lotsa Snackin’ and the Expo

Lotsa Snackin’ and the Expo

In the days leading up to my second marathon (!!!), I honestly did not feel as amped or excited as I did for my first marathon. Part of it was due to the fact that it all felt rushed. The race itself (LA Marathon) was pushed up to Valentine’s this year instead of its usual date in March. I also felt like my training runs didn’t feel as accomplishing (even though I should have felt accomplished!) because I was going through a lot of changes with my body in regards to my eating disorder recovery. I plan to write a more detailed post about this in the future, when I have more time to organize my thoughts and piece everything together.

But even though I wasn’t feeling 100% positive about this race, I did my best to enjoy the fact that I was opening new doors for myself, and that by going through the tough challenges now, I (and my body) would be so much more grateful in the future.

So in the few days before the race, I munched on some new-to-me bars and tried new snack combos.

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D’s Naturals – No Cow Bar – Blueberry Cobbler

I tried No Cow Bars for the first time, in two different flavors.

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D’s Naturals – No Cow Bar – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Upon opening each flavor, I found that the bars were quite limp! Peanut butter chocolate chip had a chunky texture to it, while blueberry cobbler had a smooth, but grainy aftertaste. I ended up liking PBCC more, but I’m looking forward to trying this brand’s other flavors!

I mixed in this Mission1 protein bar with an Arctic Zero pint and a generous serving of macaroon cookie butter from Ralph’s, which made for the most excellent Monday night dessert! The bar was supposedly “chocolate chip cookie dough”, but it mainly tasted like a chewy chocolate protein bar throughout. It was nothing spectacular, and actually may have tasted slightly better if it had been warmed up in the microwave for a little bit.

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Mission1 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Other snacks during this week included a jar of Buff Bake Cookie almond spread, chock-full of chia and flax seeds, which meant it was supercharged with protein.

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Buff Bake Cookie Almond Spread

Another bar also made its appearance later on in the week—Combat Crunch’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. When I had this bar before, I believe prior to a team long run actually, I found it too hard to chew on and less than appetizing, but this time around it wasn’t too bad.

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Combat Crunch Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

When the weekend finally arrived, the first thing I did was dash on over to the race expo. There was a line that curved around the entrance area, but when the expo officially opened at 8:00am, we were able to enter in an orderly fashion.

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LA Marathon Expo

The first thing I did was collect my bib, shirt, and bag, admiring this year’s shirt design inspired by Valentine’s Day.

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Race shirt

I then ventured into the expo, and took in my surroundings. I noticed a life-size piece of Quench gum casually walking around 😛

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Quench gum walking.

The first booth I visited was the KT booth. They were applying one free taping, and I asked for one for my right foot, since the “top of my foot” tendinitis migrated to the top-middle of my arch…weird. The taping seemed to help at first, but when I bent my foot outwards to see if I still felt sore, the soreness was still there…oh well, at least now my feet were shiny pink?

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KT Tape!

After doing some more exploring, I got my picture taken and tacked it onto the photomural board. We even got two Polaroid copies so we could keep one. Last year, it was a board with all of the participants names.

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Photo-mural

I soon got bored with the expo (within an hour…shows how my attention span really is!!), and ventured outside onto Figueroa. The Olympic Trials were about to begin, but I still had to pop into lab that day! I didn’t get to see any of the celeb elites in action, but I did see some runners warming-up down the street. It was refreshing to see a race taking place on the downtown LA roads I frequently run myself…yeah, I may not run as fast as these elites (yet), but one can hope and dream about it 🙂

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Olympic Trials about to start!!

After finishing up some morning lab work, I immediately got myself out to get some grocery shopping done. I obviously wouldn’t have time on Marathon Sunday, and since I had to go into lab on President’s Day, it was just easier to get the grocery shopping done and in bed all by 7pm.

Since I wanted to go to Sprouts, I ventured to the Westwood location and even sat down for a quick bite to eat at Tacos tu Madre. It was more like a little food shack than a restaurant, but there were some veggie-friendly options on the menu.

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Menu

Because the inside of the “food shack” was incredibly small, I was awkwardly standing by the door for a few minutes before finding a seat and actually sitting down.

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Inside Tacos tu Madre

I could have sat outside, but I also wanted a break from the hot sun.

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Decorations!

My huevos rancheros dish came out in a small tin bowl, and featured two stacked fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and guac, and two fried eggs. It was satisfying enough to get me to Sprouts a few blocks up ahead.

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Huevos Rancheros in a bowl

When I finally made it home, it was almost 5pm! I quickly got all of my race gear for the marathon ready, and had a pint of Arctic Zero that I picked up from Sprouts. It was a new exclusive chunky flavor, Snickerdoodle Dandy. It was a cute flavor idea, but I wish there had been more sugar cookie chunks. I feel like it’s a similar issue with the cookie dough flavor. Still, it’s a flavor worth trying!

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Arctic Zero – Snickerdoodle Dandy

What have you been snacking on lately?

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