Race Recap – Route 66 Tulsa Marathon

Race Recap – Route 66 Tulsa Marathon

“Going home” always brings about a bunch of emotions, but this past week was quite peaceful, blissful, and just all-around couldn’t have been better.

When I originally planned my visit, it was to come for the Route 66 Marathon and stay for Thanksgiving. It was cheaper to fly out on Black Friday than it was to wait a few days, so even though I was able to spend a full week away, leaving abruptly after Thanksgiving Day did bring up some melancholy.

But let’s start at the beginning and focus on the good stuff 🙂 . Before leaving for a week in Tulsa, I had my order of four of the latest Lion’s Pack cookie dough flavors arrive:

I was expecting Frosted Sugar Cookie to be my favorite, but it’s off-lemon flavor took me by surprise. It had bright blue confetti sprinkles mixed in, but still…

Frosted Sugar Cookie
Frosted Sugar Cookie

What did end up being my prime favorite was the Golden Oreo and Cream flavor. It had a mild sugar cookie dough base, with chunks of broken golden cream sandwich cookies mixed in—so good!

Golden Oreo & Cream
Golden Oreo & Cream

Then there was White Chocolate Pistachio, which had a nice green hue. When I first saw a picture of this flavor, I thought it was a matcha green tea flavor but I later learned it was more on the salty side with whole pistachios mixed in, only to be balanced by mini white chocolate chips.

White Chocolate Pistachio
White Chocolate Pistachio

Pumpkin Chip Cookie had a smooth pumpkin flavor that was not overwhelming at all. It also had a colorful orange hue that harkened thoughts of pumpkins mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg. The chocolate chips were also small, smooth milk chocolate chips. I had the jar all in one go and it was way too delicious to put the spoon down.

Pumpkin Chip Cookie
Pumpkin Chip Cookie

I landed in Tulsa on a Friday night, and surprisingly, the weather was nice and cool—not freezing!

My Dad had made some dinner for me at home, and as soon as I finished gobbling it up I fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning, I tried to bond with our new cat. He’s an orange tabby who doesn’t like to be touched, so unfortunately it was hard to get any cat cuddles during my stay…BUT, he does have a liking for eggs? Especially the yolk, haha!

After breakfast, my Dad and I drove over to the Cox center in downtown for packet pick-up.

Expo Entrance
Expo Entrance

There were some crisp, strong winds outside, so we tried to get in the building as quickly as possible.

Route 66 Marathon Expo
Route 66 Marathon Expo

Pick-up was relatively simple: I got my bib and bag, and then after walking around the expo for a bit, I also got my race jacket as well. They were giving those out instead of race tees.

Not too much going on
Not too much going on

We didn’t stay too long since there weren’t a lot of freebies being given out. Instead, we ran some errands.

BOOCH YA'LL
BOOCH YA’LL

One of the stores we went to was Natural Grocers, which had an amazing selection of giant kombucha bottles…though they looked cool, they wouldn’t be too handy for the race. Instead, I got some Clif Shot Bloks, a more practical choice.

Once we got some errands done, we drove to Tulsa Hills for lunch. I tried Zoe’s Kitchen for the first time, a fast casual Medditeranean food place that had all the meat options but no falafel. How is that possible?

Zoe's Kitchen
Zoe’s Kitchen

They did make it a point to highlight which items were vegetarian on their menu though. I got the power grain bowl (without meat protein) and my dad got a bowl of lentil soup.

zoeskitchenmenu
Menu

The presentation of my bowl was lovely. The grain blend was flavorful, and it was perfectly balanced with cheese, tzatziki, and cucumber on the side. 

bowlandsoup
Power Grain Bowl & Lentil Soup—so warm and refreshing!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at home, and before I went to bed, I put out all of my stuff for race day so I’d be ready to go at 6:45am.

Breakfast & gear
Breakfast & gear

I actually managed to get a solid night’s sleep and so I felt a little groggy when I woke up Sunday morning. I was trepeditious about what I should have for breakfast, since I didn’t want a repeat of what happened in San Diego.

I thought a simple cup of coffee, half a bagel with some cookie butter, and a veggie patty should be enough and wouldn’t cause too much upset.

My Dad and I made the same drive as the day before to downtown Tulsa.

Looks dreary, but it was a nice kind of quiet :)
Looks dreary, but it was a nice kind of quiet 🙂

We even managed to park in the same spot as we did when we came for the expo!

Heading to the race start
Heading to the race start

I had plenty of time for bag check and taking care of bathroom-related items. (lol). The race start for this marthon was 8am, so later than what I was used to as far as marathons are concerned.

Getting organized in corrals & leaving jackets on the fence
Getting organized in corrals & leaving jackets on the fence

I think all of the marathon runners that had a predicted finish time under 5 hours were grouped into Corral A. So there was no delay in starting time.

Almost ready to go!
Almost ready to go!

Once we were given the signal, there was a huge confetti blast and we were off!

Confetti cheers!
Confetti cheers!

My plan was to stick with the 3:40 pacer for as long as I could, and then if I did slow down, at least finish it within the 3:50 and 4:00 pacer. I was hoping to whittle down my marathon time from earlier this year in LA.

The first 6 miles felt so light and free. My legs felt great, and even though the air was colder than what I was used to, I was slightly ahead of the pacer even though I tried to hold back. I wasn’t paying too much attention to my surroundings, but the time and miles seemed to pass by quickly since there were plenty of runners on the streets and crowds cheering us on.

When we reached Mile 10, things started to not feel so hot…I started to feel some mild cramping in my stomach but tried to push on. I felt like my tummy troubles from SD were acting up this time again, but I kept moving in hopes that they would pass.

The 3:40 pacer began to ratchet things up (or so it seemed) by the time we reached Mile 12. We had passed Riverside Parks by this time (the trail I ran on almost daily during my 2016 winter visit to Tulsa), and the half marathon runners were gleefully turning out to the finish. I still had another 13 to go, and things didn’t look or feel peachy at this point…

At Mile 13, I had to stop and use a porta-potty. I could see the time passing on my Garmin, but I hoped that this stop would help me make it through the rest of the race in peace. I was now behind the 3:40 group, but I did not see the 3:50 group pass by just yet…maybe they did, but I kept pushing on as if they had not.

Because this was my first marathon running forefoot, my calves were seriously taking a beating by the time I reached Mile 15. I began to walk through water stops at this point, taking a couple seconds to massage out my claves, stretch, and gulp down two cups of water.

The streets were barren at this point, and seeing rolling hills in the horizon literally made me want to cry. Actually, it was a strange sensation I had never felt during a race before…it was as if my throat was closing up and I was trying to catch my breath, usually the muscular contractions you before you cry. I didn’t actually cry, but it was certainly an odd sensation I could not shake off through the duration of the race.

Things just seemed to get worse after that. Miles 18-22 were an absolute pain. I tried to distract myself by the sights of the University of Tulsa, a very pretty campus, but my tight calves got the best of me. At this point, it was just getting through the race one mile at a time.

And of course the last 1.5 miles was a mindgame. There was an optional Center of the Universe detour, and when I saw the sign, my mind screamed “NO!”. When the finish was in view, I couldn’t have felt more relieved.

Just gotta finish...
Just gotta finish…

I didn’t have nausea, but my calves felt beaten. My appetite was at an extreme low, and even though Mazzio’s Pizza was at the finisher’s walk-through handing out free slices of pizza, I did not have the desire to get one, even for later.

I saw my Dad at the exit and gave him a hug. He could see I had a pained expression on my face so we slowly walked until I found a place to sit down on the sidewalk. I know that the number one rule after a marathon is to keep walking and all that, but my calves were screaming at me at this point. I had to sit down, and just let my whole body catch up.

The race didn’t go as planned…it didn’t meet my expectations, but I was glad I made it one piece and that I was able to run a marathon with my Dad spectating. All of the marathons I had run previously were without his attendance, so having him physically present was nice.

This race was also Marathon #5 for me. I didn’t exactly go into this year thinking I’d do three marathons, and I honestly thought this would be a nice PR race, but when my coach suggested I switch to forefoot running 4 months ago, that really affected how things turned out. I’m looking at this as another learning experience though, and I’m only more motivated to put in the work and tweak my training as I need to for 2018.

Even though my appetite was shot and it took us forever to walk back to the car thanks to my slow-as-molasses legs, we still decided to go out for a decent lunch. We also figured that in the time it would take us to pick a place to eat, order, and have te food ready, my appetite should return.

We decided to eat at Cosmo Cafe, which my Dad remembered as being one of my sister’s faves when she stayed over the summer.

Cosmo Cafe
Cosmo Cafe

And, we were right in our assumption that it would take forever to eat. First, it took about fifteen minutes before someone got to us. Then, we had to figure out what to get…and since I had no appetite, my decision was much harder.

Menu
Menu

I decided on their Vegetarian Pizza which came served on french bread and a side salad. My Dad once again, had soup (lol).

Vegetarian French Bread Pizza!
Vegetarian French Bread Pizza!

I think it almost took half an hour before our food came out. I even managed to waddle over to the restroom, and when I waddled back, our food was sitting at the table. My Dad had to send his soup back because it came out cold and brothy, but the waiter appologized and even offered to comp the soup.

Soup!
Soup!

I offered some of my pizza and devoured the rest. My appetite quickly came back once I consumed the first slice of pizza. I just love it when that happens :/

After our late lunch, we returned home where I took a long, glorious nap on the couch. The rest of the evening was spent just veggin’ out, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The medal was gorgeous BTW
The medal was gorgeous BTW

Cosmo Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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