Race Recap – New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 5K & 10K

Race Recap – New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 5K & 10K

I guess this will be the first year since 2013 that I did not run at least 12 races. It was some personal goal I made up when I first started running in order to make the whole experience of running in races and writing recaps an enjoyable one.

But now I find myself picking and choosing which events to run based on my training plans. Before this 10k in October, I had only run two races for the year…two marathons at that.

In my quest to become a more competitive runner (particularly marathoner), my goals have shifted in focus, and I guess that reflects in the frequency I write up these race recaps. I still enjoy writing them though—it’s just taken me forever due to the fact I’m still way behind on my posting schedule!

It was my first time running the New Balance L.A. Dodgers Foundation 10K, and race day was definitely before World Series fever. I was excited to get back into the racing mindset, and the timing, theme, and setting of this race seemed perfect.

Since the race start was at Dodger’s Stadium early on a Sunday morning, and I was still over in Santa Monica, the best thing for me to do to get there on time was to Uber. I wasn’t expecting to have my ear talked off, but there was a passenger already in the car. Despite it being 4:30am, he had a lot of energy and would not. Stop. Talking.

I honestly wanted to close my eyes and try to get any amount of sleep possible, but I wasn’t successful. I did eventually get to one of the Dodger Stadium entrances, and got out immediately.

How about "let's go runners!" ??
How about “let’s go runners!” ??

It was still dark outside, and I hoped that by walking close to some of the vendors setting up, I’d be able to snag a pre-race bar or two.

Fortunately, KIND bar had read my mind, as their booth was readily handing out bars to people passing by.

I was also able to snack on some sample pieces of Lenny and Larry’s cookies since Vitamin Shoppe also had a tent set up, and they were serving up cookie pieces in small cups.

Soon after, people begain to line up at the start and I found my place in the beginning of the pack. I did my best to pace myself at the start, but I did start off pretty fast, going at 7:19/mi. I blame the horde of anxious runners around me!

I did stabilize my pace around mile 1, after getting past the first steep hill. From that point on, I hovered around an 8:00-8:12/mi pace.

I soon realized that this course would not go down as one of my favorites. There were too many surprising hills, gravel-coated roads, twists, and turns. There were a number of steep inclines followed by fast downhills. It balanced out my pace, but it was a beating on my legs—especially since it was my first race running with a forefoot-based form.

Bird's eye view
Bird’s eye view

I found myself having to push physically and mentally by the time we hit mile 5. The last mile had to be the most boring in design ever. We were literally running around a parking lot…

But I did finish at an average pace of 8:17/mi!

Ultimately, I found it a straightforward, but challenging course with unnecessary add-on. I mean, why did there have to be hills??

Post-race
Post-race

I grabbed an apple from a table positioned near the post-race walk path, and guzzled down a bottle of aloe water.

I later learned that I ended up placing third in my age division, and so I was given two free tickets to a Dodger’s game—next year, haha! Even though I’ve never been a big sports fan, having the chance to go to a game for free sounded like an opportunity that would be a shame to miss out on.

Two free baseball game tickets...for next year...
Two free baseball game tickets…for next year…

After walking around the race area for a bit, I walked out of the stadium towards Chinatown station. My next stop was a light brunch in Pasadena, Urth Caffe style.

Urth is probably now considered an LA staple, and after visiting a number of their locations over the years, I was surprised that I waited this long to go to the one in Pasadena. But going post-race was the perfect reason to go.

One thing I’ve learned is that there will always be crowds. That’s why the local chain has been around this long…

There's always gonna be a line. Why do I even act surprised??
There’s always gonna be a line. Why do I even act surprised??

But I came prepared knowing what to get: the Italia Tiramisu, and a chai latte.

Dining outside
Dining outside

I was seated in the front outside, and slowly dug into the tiramisu while I waited for my latte to come out. But unlike the Matcha and Earl Grey tiramisus I’ve had in the past, I found the dark chocolate shavings and strong coffee flavor of the Italia Tiramisu not in my favor.

Eh, I'll pass on this one next time.
Eh, I’ll pass on this one next time.

The latte was warm, but lacked flavor. Where was the chai? Even with the lack of flavor, I can’t deny that overall it was a satisfying post-race treat!

Lacked flavor, but it was warm & satisfying
Lacked flavor, but it was warm & satisfying

Urth Caffe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegas!

Vegas!

My weekend in Vegas was much needed, and much fun, but I didn’t go for the usual reasons people go. There were food, drinks (if you exclude alcohol and include water), and much revelry, and I was 100% sober throughout it all. 😉

After about a year and a half of fundraising with a local organization in Nor Cal near where I used to live, I was able to raise enough funds to run the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half with Team Challenge, a group that fundraises for Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

In the days leading up to my weekend “off” (every single weekend since visiting my sister in September involved a trip to lab…), I enjoyed some new-to-me snacks that fueled my weekday morning runs.

 This Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist bar tasted like it was filled with cinnamon sugar! Protein bar churro?
This Combat Crunch Cinnamon Twist bar tasted like it was filled with cinnamon sugar! Protein bar churro?
 I only got these since they were free (Ralph's Friday Freebies!), but they were useful as running fuel.
I only got these since they were free (Ralph’s Friday Freebies!), but they were useful as running fuel.

I managed to stay alert in school and work-related things, just so that nothing would seem amiss 😉

 Proyo bowls at night, salads and sandwiches by day!
Proyo bowls at night, salads and sandwiches by day!

It helped that we had two talks that week, meaning free lunch 😛

On Friday of that weekend though, I was OUT—but not without stopping by lab an hour before I had to catch my MegaBus. #lifeofagradstudent

The ride took about six hours, but with naps and a footlong Subway sandwich, the time passed by relatively quickly. I made it to the RTC (regional transit center) around 5pm, where I met my Dad, whom I haven’t seen since August…

We caught a bus that took us to the least exciting part of Vegas, where we would stay for Friday night since Team Challenge only covers hotel rooms for Saturday and Sunday. Our hotel was not luxurious, but it did have a kitchen?! So we ended up going to the Albertson’s next door and having a humble supper 😛

 A humble meal, featuring Gardein-stuffed buns.
A humble meal, featuring Gardein-stuffed buns.

I was feeling extremely exhausted and went to bed about an hour later.

The next morning, we got ready as soon as possible, and caught a bus that was headed straight to the Strip. We even got off right near the LINQ, where Team Challenge was gathering its members.

 The LINQ is that little LEGO-looking cube nestled in between those buidlings...
The LINQ is that little LEGO-looking cube nestled in between those buidlings…

We couldn’t check-in until noon, so we left our stuff at the bell hop and then headed over to the convention center for the race expo. It was ~2 mile walk, and more walking was to be done once we got inside…

 LV Convention Center.
LV Convention Center.

After getting my bib, confirming my corral change, and receiving my (ugly yellow neon) race-themed shirt, we made our way past the pop-up shop in order to access the sponsor booths and to collect as many freebies as possible!

 Yes, I am a big deal.
Yes, I am a big deal.
 RUN away from the pop-up shop and TOWARDS the samplesssss
RUN away from the pop-up shop and TOWARDS the samplesssss

During this exploratory time, I even walked past Meb, who was signing copies of his latest book!

 Meb!
Meb!

We spent about an hour and a half at the expo, and soon it was time for lunch!

 Of course, I went searching for the food samples.
Of course, I went searching for the food samples.

I wasn’t in the mood to navigate the Strip just yet, and actually, I wanted to visit at least one vegan-themed restaurant during this visit. Fortunately, Vegenation was nearby and close to downtown/Fremont St.

Once again, we hopped on the bus, which dropped us off in front of the downtown casinos (including the Golden Nugget, haha). From there, we walked towards glorious food.

 Vegenation.
Vegenation.

Vegenation reminded me of Native Foods, and I guess it was because of the font.

 Such a cute restaurant inside!
Such a cute restaurant inside!

Their menu had an extensive selection, but I wanted something warm to counteract with the cool Las Vegas chill (at least it was cold…LA needs to take a hint 😉 ).

 Cute menu!
Cute menu!

My Dad and I shared the vegetable potstickers, which were far from stellar, but at least the Out of Africa Stew made up for it.

 Boring potstickers.
Boring potstickers.

It was an entire bowl of quinoa topped with spiced veggies from okra to sweet potato.

 Out of Africa stew!
Out of Africa stew!

Dad got a “meatball” parm sandwich which he didn’t like in the end, but it was satisfactory for lunch.

 It looked good, but Dad didn't think so :/
It looked good, but Dad didn’t think so :/

After getting our fill, we made our way to Fremont St. and stopped to watch people flying from the sky.

 SLOTZILLA! Shooting people out, flying through the air!
SLOTZILLA! Shooting people out, flying through the air!

We also played some slots at one of the casinos, but I soon got fed up with the bright lights/cough-inducing cigarette smoke (and the occasional cigar, ick), so we didn’t stick around too long. Plus, we weren’t too lucky 😛

On our way back to the bus stop, I realized why this area was also known as the Arts District.

 Art in LV!
Art in LV!

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were able to check-in. The first thing I did was use the bathroom (duh), lay out all my freebies, and then take a short nap until the Team Challenge Pasta Party that was being held at 7pm.

 Bars galore, and a super comfy bed with squishy pillows.
Bars galore, and a super comfy bed with squishy pillows.

Even though I was on my feet all day the day before my race, it was all in good fun. And it didn’t stop, as evidenced by the next morning/early afternoon before the famous night race!

Have you ever been to Vegas?

Are you a fan of slots/casino games?

Vegenation Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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