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 – 30th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

Race Recap – 30th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

On June 4th, just a few days after returning from our Europe trip, I ran my fourth marathon in San Diego. I was breaking my “just running LA” streak with this race, and it was also just about two months after I ran LA this year.

I woke up around 4am and had enough time to put on my race gear, and call for an Uber right outside where my sister and I were staying for our Airbnb. Since I called for one early enough, there wasn’t any issue with traffic so it was an easy drive to the race start at Balboa Park.

From where I was dropped off, I followed other runners to the exact location of bag check, restrooms, and the starting line. At that moment, I realized I made the mistake of forgetting my race belt…so I had to improvise 😛

Sometimes you have to improvise...
Sometimes you have to improvise…

I literally pinned a ziploc bag to the side of my shirt and stuffed my Clif Shot Bloks and some freebie bars from the expo into it, and it actually managed to hold up for the entire race, haha!

The race start was at 6am, so I had some time to kill. I took my stretching, and after checking in my bag, found my spot at the start line. I was shooting for a 3:40 (around 8:23/mi pace) based on how my training the past two months had fared, and after talking with my coach the day before, we thought it was a reasonable and good goal to shoot for. Luckily they had pacers, and I made sure to stay glued to mine.

The first few miles leaving Balboa Park and through North Park seemed to be alright. I felt like the pace was sustainable, I felt properly fueled, and I tried to only drink to thirst. As we made our way through Normal Heights, I felt like I was transported back to the Silver Lake/Hollywood portion of the LA Marathon. There was a good crowd turn-out throughout this section of the race, but I managed to stay focused and stay within a few steps behind my pacer, so I mostly tuned out what was occurring in my surroundings.

I started fueling with one shot blok around mile 5, and the plan was to refuel every 5 miles. Miles 10-13 felt slightly harder to push through since I started to have an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Just after approaching Old Town, I had to stop and use the first porta-potty that I saw. I never had to stop mid-race (at least for a half or full marathon) to use the restroom, so I was slightly anxious about how it would cut into my time. Unfortunately, I knew a 3:40 would not be possible this time around since my group was already way ahead by the time I was back on the course. I did try to speed up around mile 15 as we made our way to Mission Bay, but it didn’t help much.

It was disappointing knowing that I wouldn’t make my goal time for this race, as well as having to finish without external support. And honestly from that point on, it seemed like the course got much more difficult. There were hills, less crowds, and a mundane, mind-numbing stretch of the last portion of the race on Highway 163. I was certainly having my doubts about making sure I was sub 4:00 at this point, let alone finishing. I began feeling an intense sense of fatigue around mile 18 that pressed on until about mile 24.

I managed to recover and pick up my pace once we were back on city streets, and wrapping around Balboa Park again. It was kind of funny because the last few yards of the finish made me remember of a weekend trip my sister and I took to San Diego a little under two years ago. On the way back to where my sister was picking me up, I even passed the hotel we stayed at!

After passing under the finish line arch, we were handed water bottles and our finisher medals. I was disappointed by the fact that no mylar blankets were being handed out, and I honestly felt like I needed one. I felt slightly cold, shaky, mild nausea, and every step I took felt like I was carrying a 1,000 pound load on my back and my muscles were taking the beating. It was my first time feeling such intense fatigue after a race…my past races usually brought on powerful soreness the day after, but I usually felt okay immediately after a race.

Fancy-looking medal but what's the point if you're shivering?
Fancy-looking medal but what’s the point if you’re shivering?

They did give free jackets to the marathon runners though. Many of the half marathoners were confused/upset as to why they couldn’t get one, and while I could see that they felt left out, I would have been perfectly content is they gave everyone mylar blankets at the end. That should be a mandatory requirement at marathons!

I wanted to sit down but every part of my body ached. Ugh, probably the worst I've ever felt after a race...
I wanted to sit down but every part of my body ached. Ugh, probably the worst I’ve ever felt after a race…

After making my way over to where my sister was parked, we planned to get lunch somewhere in SD, but since the race closures were still active, it was hard to navigate without coming across a roadblock. So we ended up driving north to Santa Ana, after I thought about some possible restaurants I’ve been wanting to visit in the OC. GD Bro Burger was one of them, it was open, and crowds were not to be seen.

GD Bro Burger
GD Bro Burger

The wall decor and signage was very interesting—very much in tune with current pop culture and popular slang. And you can’t have burgers without sports playing on a TV hanging from the wall, so that was obviously there as well, haha.

My sister got herself their vegan burger, but it didn’t come with their classic hot red-colored bun. Rather, it was a stiff gluten-free bun that my sister had to resist from spitting out. She did like her two crispy mozzarella sticks though.

herd
“A not-so-delicious veggie burger”

I got the pizza fries sans pepperoni, and man, did they not skimp on the cheese.

_pizza_fries
All the cheese, some marinara, and very skinny fries.

I reached my dairy quota for the month from that tray alone.

When we got back home, my sister and I quickly got into couch potato mode. I slept earlier because the next day would be my first day back to work after two weeks of vacation. Surprisingly, I felt minimal fatigue and soreness the next day…it was as if I never ran the day before! It was very bizarre cause I thought I would be limping around with DOMS, but I was walking just fine. I guess the training I had in the past two months really impacted my endurance and muscle recovery.

I think I’ll be passing on this race in the future though. The course wasn’t as exciting as LA’s, and the experiences I had during the race didn’t leave me feeling my best. BUT, I did still maintain a sub-4:00 pace, and I came out injury-free! That’s something worth celebrating 🙂

Have you ever had to do anything physically strenuous right after traveling/when you were feeling jet-lagged?

GD Bro Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Hollywood Half Marathon

Race Recap – Hollywood Half Marathon

Last week, I ran the Hollywood Half, but it was far from being one of my favorite half marathons to-date. You’d think that a race with a steep race fee and that was super hyped-up would offer a more memorable and enjoyable experience, but for me, that was not the case.

My irritations began with the mandatory packet pick-up that had to be done on Thursday or Friday, since they were not offering race day pick-up…

packet pickup
Packet pick-up at Hollywood Palladium.

That meant I had to leave lab early enough to catch the red line and make it in time to the “expo” to pick up my packet at the Hollywood Palladium.

This so-called expo had absolutely no freebies, but oddly enough, they had ample seats for teeth whitening?

clean
Teeth whitening at an running expo…hmmm

The lack of freebies made me an irritated kind of hungry, and I stopped at Trader Joe’s before catching the red line back to head back home. Once back at my apartment, I went to sleep early in order to get up at 4am to have enough time to arrive by the 6am call time.

Even though I woke up on time, had all of my things laid out, and felt amped up for the race, I got off at the starting line (Hollywood/Highland) only to realize that I had to walk an extra fifteen minutes BACK to Hollywood/Vine to drop off my bag because their gear check was at the finish line. No where on the website or in the e-mail did I see any clear explanation of gear check…yes, they said there would be gear check at the finish line, but they didn’t say participants had to DROP OFF their stuff at the finish line and then walk to the start…how is that a fair assumption when so many other races offer start line gear check?

Needless to say, I got my warm-up run in, running just under a 9 min/mi pace. Unfortunately, this didn’t stay during the race.

My pace maintained within the 9:20-9:50/mi range, with me averaging a 9:40/mi by the end of it. It definitely wasn’t my best, but there were many inclines, and—the major drawback of the course—HARD GRAVEL PAVEMENT. It was the first time in my years of running that my knees acutally felt sore from the constant pounding on extremelt flat, gravel streets.

Another unpleasant thing about the course was the random detours off of Hollywood in order to make it a 13.1 mile course. I understand that in order for it to be a “Hollywood Half” that keeping it within the constraints of Hollywood Blvd would require off-shoots into random neighborhoods, but still, it was far-from-thrilling race course :/

By the time I reached the finish, my knees were ready to hug me. I grabbed some water, my shiny medal (probably the only good thing of this race…), and a handful of snacks when I should have grabbed more because once I left the finisher’s zone, they didn’t allow runners to reenter.

race
Cheesy photo-ops 😀

I walked down the strip of road to see if there were any freebies to offered post-race. Besides some fizzy drinks, an energetic emcee, and a food truck that was NOT giving away free food.

stage
Run MC – He was energetic and very good as an emcee!
drinks
Literally the only booth that was giving out edible freebies (carbonated drinks….)

I realized I would be better off stopping by the Starbucks close to the red line station for my post-race breakfast. Other runners agreed based on the line curling around near the door.

cookie and coffee after race
Had to get me something I actually wanted…this hit the spot post-13.1 miles!!!

With my caramel macchiato and butterfly cookie in hand, I found a seat by the window and chatted with my Dad over the phone rehashing the not-so-stellar race experience.

view from the window
View from the window!

If there is anything I learned from this race, it is to not do it again (unless they make several changes), and not assume that any race with a pricey fee will be of good quality…even if the race organizers think it has celebrity status :/

medal
The medal was very pretty though!

Have you ever paid too much for something that was over-hyped only to be very disappointed by it?

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…

SAMSUNG

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?

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