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 – 32nd Skechers Performance LA Marathon

Race Recap – 32nd Skechers Performance LA Marathon

I find it SO hard to believe that a week ago, I ran my third marathon—and it ended up being a sub 4:00 one as well! So many things went well with this training cycle, and even though the race is over, this particular marathon has given me the encouragement to keep pushing my training to the next level and conquering more goals associated with this distance.

In the days leading up to the race, I actually wasn’t too hyped up for it. I had other things on my mind (lab work + lab “social” life), but I still made time to go down to the expo at the convention center late Friday afternoon on race weekend.

My third marathon expo.
My third marathon expo.

It was really just a routine visit. I wasn’t too excited about sticking around. To keep up with tradition, I found and photographed my name on the runner’s wall, picked up my race bib/shirt, and walked around the booths for just long enough to gather some freebies.

Trying to find/get all the samples I can.
Trying to find/get all the samples I can.

I didn’t gather much despite it being a MARATHON expo (just a couple mini Larabars and a coconut water), but one of my favorite booths was Clif bar’s. They had samples of their newest nut butter-filled bars and ginger ale/spearmint shot bloks!

Hello, Clif!
Hello, Clif!

After taking a picture with my bib at one of the booths, I decided to head home. I was actually feeling pretty hungry so the “carbo-loading”, you could say, commenced that night—with a Spicy Lentil Wrap from Trader Joe’s.

spicy_lentil_Wrap
Friday night turn down 😴 with a Spicy Lentil wrap from Trader Joe’s. I put this right up there with the grilled eggplant wrap!

Tahini sauce brings everything up a level, just sayin’.

The day before the race was a relaxing one, but because I was with E in Glendale, we did plenty of walking. I did try to keep hydrated and made sure to get home early enough to set aside my stuff for race morning and get into bed by 8:30pm.

I woke up the next morning at 3:30am (yes, it’s true), got my race gear together, and called for a Lyft since the rest of my teammates were taking a ride share service/staying at a hotel near the start with family. From Santa Monica, the drive was less than 20 min.

I got to the start with a good 2.5 hours to spare before we had to toe the start line. I had plenty of time to collect some free shot bloks and Clif bars, fuel up with “breakfast”, use the restroom, and warm-up. It was still very breezy and cool outside, so I stayed warm by huddling in a corner of one of the open women’s restrooms.

Waiting at Dodger's Stadium...
Waiting at Dodger’s Stadium…

I was waiting solo for a long while…my teammates did not show up until about 5:30am. Even then, it took me a while to find/get to them at the seats on the ground level. There were a a few of us who met at this point, and after a group picture, we immediately went to bag check and then the start.

I decided to start in the open corral with three of my teammates since I wanted to pace with someone from the beginning. Looking back, I feel like this strategy helped me immensely in getting that sub 4:00. It took us a while to get to a sustainable race pace since we were slowed down by the crowds of the open corral, but once we made it past downtown, I kept up with one of my female teammates for the majority of the race.

Everything felt great for the first half of the race. We were running down Sunset and I felt comfortable enough to talk with my teammate at an 8:47/mi pace. Once we made a turn in Hollywood however, things started to shift.

I felt a sharp pain in my right foot as we made our way down a steep downhill. I had a feeling that I got my first black (big) toenail, and despite knowing this, I tried to ignore it for sanity’s sake.

The next slip-up was my fueling strategy. I was so focused on hydration that I wasn’t sure when to start chewing on my bloks. In my last two marathons, I busted out the plastic bag between miles 11-13, but this time, I was more concerned about keeping up with my teammate. I also didn’t feel too hungry (in fact, my stomach felt a little bit “mixed”…in that, a bathroom stop would have been nice).

When we reached Beverly Hills, I began to second guess my earlier actions of not fueling up. I was starting to feel slightly fatigued, and felt like I had to push quite a bit to keep holding on with my teammate. I surprisingly managed to make it through miles 17-20 without giving up or writhing on Rodeo Dr!

Once we reached UCLA/West LA territory though, we were hitting the Mile 20 mark. My teammate took off, but I listened to my body and just kept my pace. I stopped to take out my bloks and began to fuel up at this point.

Once I reached Mile 21, I felt a little bit better. Mile 22 was when we began to approach Brentwood/San Vicente—the last four miles of the race towards the SaMo finish! Honestly, this was the worst part of the race for me (up until 25.5!!) because I felt tired (mentally mostly), and irritated by anyone that said we were “almost there”. My pace wavered in the 8:50/mi range until it settled at 8:55/mi. I didn’t want it to dip into the 9:00/mi range, so I made sure to keep my walking breaks incredibly short.

By the time I got to Ocean Ave., I tried to let the crowds around me give me the final push I needed to finish fiercely. The finish line felt incredibly far away, but once I hit 25.5, I started to kick things up and go, go, go! The shot bloks were finally kicking in I suppose! When I crossed the line, I had run the race at a solid time of 3:53:57. I didn’t know of this time exactly until I read a series of texts from my Dad since he had been tracking me the entire run.

Bag check was much better this year!
Bag check was much better this year!

I was able to slow down to a walk, gather a medal and my gear at bag check, huddle up with a heat sheet, and take some fun post-race photos. I also collected as many protein bars as my arms could carry, and met up with my teammates at our designated family reunion area meeting spot.

People around me were still in a daze...
People around me were still in a daze…

I waited with my team for about an hour and a half just to congratulate, commiserate, and photograph the moment. The teammate I had ran with up until mile 20 ran a 3:46 marathon, and considering it was her first, she did a great job.

All of us took the train back to our destinations, and I got off pretty quickly. It felt so nice to be able to get back home at a decent time, unlike how it was the past two years fighting traffic to get to downtown! Now I had enough time to attend to my battle scars…

One ripe blister and gunmetal-polished toenail, came right up!
One ripe blister and gunmetal-polished toenail, came right up!

At least this small gem reminded me that I just did something pretty amazing that morning??

3rd time's a charm!
3rd time’s a charm!

Out of all the 26.2 distances I’ve raced, this one was the most painful, but also the most accomplishing. I had a goal, and luckily was able to meet it. It was a challenge, but a challenge worth giving up a smooth heel and big toe nail for. And if I only want to get better and faster at this monstrous distance, it’s only going to get more eventful from here!

Have you ever run a marathon/had a great marathon experience?

Would you ever consider running a marathon?

Have you ever had a black toe nail?

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Race Recap – Hard Rock Cafe 10k 2016

Last Saturday, I ran the Hard Rock Cafe 10k once again. I paired it with a weekend voting adventure that ended up being more memorable than I thought it would. The turmoil I faced in the afternoon did not make me regret the race though!

halo-top-peanut-butter-cup
Over the weekend, I also tried the last Halo Top flavor I needed to try out of the ten new flavors! Caption from Insta —> The day has finally arrived! I tried out the last of the new Halo Top flavors—Peanut Butter Cup! Honestly I was expecting for there to be peanut butter CUP CHUNKS, but there was a hardened peanut butter swirl. In my pint, it was mostly at the bottom, and surprisingly didn’t have much flavor even though it looked like PB. While I did expect this pint to be more fantastic than it actually was, it was not too bad. If you were at the store and this and Oatmeal Cookie were your options, get THIS first!! Haha. 👉🏽 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough > Pistachio & Black Cherry & S’mores > Sea Salt Caramel >> Red Velvet & Peanut Butter Cup >> Chocolate Almond Crunch > Cookies and Cream & Oatmeal Cookie. 🍦 And there you have it, my opinion on all the new Halo Top! Now please excuse me while I stock up on all the Cookie Dough pints 😏 .

I woke up incredibly early in order to catch a 5AM train. Ugh it was far from what I wanted to do in regards to getting to the race start, but I did make it to Hollywood and Highland, fortunately all in one piece!

walk
Early morning start!

I picked up my race shirt and bib, and seeing as there was no packet pick-up YET AGAIN, I had to wear the shirt over my current shirt. I also got a cappuccino from Starbucks in the meantime, before assembling with the other runners at the race start.

shirt
Race shirt and walking around the start/finish

The race began at 7AM, and the path was pretty much a 3 mile out and back in regards to the 10k. It was a run down Hollywood Boulevard, and we turned around at the border of Los Feliz. I honestly felt so light and free for the first three miles. My pace was sub 8:00 for a while and then slowly crept up after mile 3.

My breath and legs were catching up to me, but I didn’t feel so exhausted to the point that I had to slow down. I had a major dip at mile 5, but then had enough energy to kick it to the finish.

I ended up with a pace of 8:12/mi ! My current 10K Race PR!

Like last year, there wasn’t much in terms of goodies.

shorts
Bai and Nesquik were here this time…but something new were the Turkey Trot LA 2015 shorts!!

They had the Nesquik truck again, but they also at least had Bai and this guy giving out LA Turkey Trot 2015 shorts! Obviously I thought the shorts were the best of all the race goodies being given out, even if they were more like bloomers, haha!

medal
Ohh shiny medal!

I left for North Hollywood soon after since I wanted to get voting out of the way (lol) but overall I was glad with how the race ended up. My last race experience in Hollywood was terrible so Saturday’s race definitely made up for that ordeal!

What would be a cool post-race freebie for a company to hand out?

Race Recap – The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K

Race Recap – The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K

This past week started off a bit stressing, but then ended on a surprisingly pleasant note. Our boss in lab decided to drop by the lab unbeknownst to us (he’s on sabbatical right now), which caused some anxiety among everyone as far as putting together reports just in case he asked for them. Turns out he was busy with other things, and even though I did end up having a meeting with him, it turned out better than I thought!

I have been loving these RX Bars lately! I've only tried two flavors so far, one of which was Blueberry. And the chunks of this particular bar was quite photogenic.
I have been loving these RX Bars lately! I’ve only tried two flavors so far, one of which was Blueberry. And the chunks of this particular bar was quite photogenic.

This left me feeling more relaxed going into the weekend, and actually feeling more motivated with my current projects as well. I did get home late though, and had a late (though delicious) dinner. I also had some Halo Top, and went to bed with a stomach that still needed time to digest. It was a frustrating situation: I wanted to sleep, and catch up on all the hours I missed this week, but I couldn’t fall into a deep sleep because of all the food that needed to be digested.

I even almost thought about missing the 10k I signed up for only because I wanted to sleep in. Fortunately I didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing this post!

race-reg
Waiting for the race to start.

I missed getting up at the time I set originally on my alarm, but I still had enough time to assemble my things and get out the door. I caught a bus that’s final destination was my destination: Wilshire/Western. The location of Saturday’s 5/10k run was in Koreatown, and benefiting a Korean organization I believe. I wasn’t actually sure because I signed up for what I thought was “The 6th Childhood Obesity Awareness Month 5K/10K”, but there was no word of childhood obesity or the Let’s Move campaign. The race was benefiting some charitable Korean organization…I just didn’t know what it was 😛 ?

I spent some time warming up, but not as much as some other runners. There was a father-son duo, and they were stretching/warming-up so much that they were sweating by the time it was time to start the race!

We were supposed to be off by 8am, but of course things got delayed, and we didn’t get the signal to go until at least a half an hour later. The race course was a straight out and back, but done twice to account for the 10k distance vs. the 5k distance.

Unlike running in Santa Monica, running in the more urban areas of Los Angeles can definitely feel much warmer. I was running at a comfortable 8:20-8:30/mi pace, but my pace dipped into the 8:40-8:50/mi pace from miles 4-5. My legs felt heavier at this point, but at least my pace didn’t dip too much!

medal
Finisher medal…for LoveShare?? Lol Active.com didn’t say that was the name of the race when I registered!!

When I reached the finish, I was handed the medal which looked pretty cool, and I think helped me figure out what this event was exactly…

ginseng-drink
A Ginseng drink samples I didn’t get to have because I accidentally broke the bottle inside my bag when shopping afterwards!

There was lots of water, ginseng drink, and Yakult/probiotic drinks to go around.

cold-drinks
Keeping it cool!

And several tables serving up watermelon, popsicles…and compression socks?? I’m talking about those leg mannequins, haha.

what
Grab some watermelon and…socks??

After the race, I walked over to a small courtyard mall that was right across from the Wilshire/Western Station. It was there that I found Paris Baguette Cafe, the perfect place to replenish my glycogen stores!

pb_koreatown
Paris Baguette Cafe

When I stepped inside, I was immediately overwhelmed by the selection! There were fresh savory baked goods stuffed with cheese, cold sandwiches, beautiful cakes, and cute confections (the array of macaroons though)!

carbheaven
So much selection…

After much pondering and wandering up and down the aisles, I grabbed a wooden tray, a thin sheet of paper along with some metal tongs that they had near the entrance, and placed a cheese pretzel on top. One thing to note about this pretzel—one of the main ingredients is white chocolate! The bread has white chocolate added into it, so the bread part of the pretzel was actually sweeter than what you would expect of a cheese pretzel.

cheese-pretzel
A cheese pretzel…with white chocolate?

The cheese wasn’t off-putting at all, and overall was a unique savory confection. Even though I refueled, I felt very tried and physically drained, so much so that I took a two-hour long nap the minute I got home. Guess I needed some catching up from waking up early every day this week? Whatever the reason, it felt amazing putting in so much effort into my runs this week, and the completely crashing for the rest of the weekend!

Have you ever had a savory food item that was changed to taste sweeter?

Paris Baguette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases 2016

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases 2016

Two weekends ago, I ran a repeat race! Last year, I ran California’s inaugural Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases, and I followed it up this year without actually planning for it.

Seeing that my last race was in April, and one that I didn’t find to my liking, I was looking to find any race that would fit my schedule. And since the Expo Line extended about a month ago, it has made it MUCH easier to participate in races occuring in Santa Monica!

Since the Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases was taking place in Santa Monica again, I was easily able to wake up around 6am, versus the 5am wake-up call I set for myself last year. Yes, I was also doing the 10×10 challenge so part of my reason for waking up earlier than usual was to add some miles to the 5k, but this year, I wanted to see how fast I could be in the shorter distance.

Checking in for the race on a bright day in Santa Monica!
Checking in for the race on a bright day in Santa Monica!

The goodies weren’t in a surplus like last year, and consisted of the basic fruit items, coffee, and a slim selection of bars (Kashi and mini Clifs). I remember bringing home a HUGE haul last year so I definitely was disappointed. Oh well…

snackssss
Fruity refreshments and waiting for the race to begin.

There were still many vendors specializing in compression gear set up at tables, looking to inform and guide those living with lymphedema on products that could be helpful.

Kathy Bates is the celebrity ambassador for Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), and she honored a brave woman by the name of Marie with an Inspiration award. Marie’s speech was very touching, and it really put some perspective on the run/walk. The crowd that was present was definitely a mix of runners looking just to check off another race, and those suffering from lymphedema, their families, and friends. I think that while some of the runners’ initial intentions for signing up for the race were to just run, these thoughts softened after the speeches were heard. It definitely made me feel grateful for my ability to run.

shirt
Race Shirt!

The race started around 9am, and I was worried that the weather would be unfavorable, but the ocean breeze actually made things much cooler. It was still mildly humid and I felt sticky throughout the run, but I was able to achieve my goal of running faster than last year. I ended up being the first female back, clocking in with a 7:56/mi pace!! I had several confidence boosts during my run, with people shouting out my bib number and a group of women runners cheering me on.

After the race, I replenished with water and then headed back towards downtown Santa Monica for some breakfast since it was still a decent hour in the morning. Upon seeing this chalkboard sign, I was immediately tempted to go in.

bowl
Acai is calling out to me!

The Hive is a cafe that specializes in organic and superfood-enriched meals. The acai and similar bowls are just one of the spectacular-sounding goods offered here.

hive
Decorative wall art and fancy seating area.

Because it’s my latest obsession, I ordered a bowl with a dragonfruit base (that’s apparently mixed with some almond milk and banana according to the employee who took my order at the counter), mixed with the “power” mix of almond butter, cacao, and maca. I also had them add cacao nibs, granola, pineapple, goji berries, and bee pollen.

After picking a table in the corner by the window, I waited semi-patiently until my beautiful, cold bowl arrived.

acai_bowl
Dragonfruit bowl with power mix (almond butter, cacao, maca), cacao nibs and granola, pineapple and goji berries, and bee pollen.

The dragonfruit base had a slushie-like consistency, and the pineapple chunks had a tart flavor, but what I enjoyed most was the crunchy granola mixed with the chewy, gummy-like goji berries. The conglomerate textures caused my mouth to have a workout! So not only did I get my cardio in that day via a 5K, but also with my late breakfast, haha!

Even though my day started off wonderful, I soon had to head back in order to go into lab for a bit. It was disappointing having to cut my time in Santa Monica short, but it didn’t sting too much…knowing that I’ll be moving to this fun-in-the-sun place in less than a month is has allowed me to accept that fact that performing a balancing act with work + life now will pay off soon enough!

The Hive - Organic Cafe & Superfood Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases

Race Recap – Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases

I didn’t expect things to be so slow and calm these past two weeks, but they surprisingly have been! With people gone on vacation, things have also been pretty slow and steady at work in lab. Of course I’ve been making sure to get what I need to get done each day done, but the demands have eased a bit compared to how things were last month!

And with that, racing on the weekends was a possibility again. Two weekends ago, it was a Father’s Day Half, but this past weekend, it was a 5K for a very worthy cause.

At the time I registered for the race, I knew that I would be in the middle of a running challenge (that I voluntarily got myself into…more on that in an upcoming post!), so I paid my dues knowing that I would have to allot some time on race morning to get a “warm-up” in before the actual 5K.

To account for all this, I woke up on Sunday morning around 5AM, and got my things together. I was on the train an hour later, and ran from Culver City Station all the way to Crescent Bay Park. The distance was a little over 7 miles, and certainly overqualified as a warm-up 😉

IMG_0306
Gazebo at Crescent Bay Park

I found the registration area set-up below from where I was standing, and carefully walked down the steps. I didn’t want to risk getting an ankle sprain before the actual run!

IMG_0305

Once I got down to ground level, I signed-in, grabbed my bib and goody bag, and then hung around near the refreshments. It may have been a small turn-out and a tiny 5K, relatively speaking, but the goodies spread out for the taking were beyond awesome.

Fancy water bottles...
Fancy water bottles…
Bars galore...including Quest Bars! My dream come true!
Bars galore…including Quest Bars! My dream come true!

As for the vendors at the race, they stayed consistent with the theme of the race. Since the 5K was all about Lymphedema and Lymphatic Disease awareness, many of the vendors were compression materials/medical companies specializing in lymphedema treatment.

IMG_0311

Since I came super early, I took the time to scope my surroundings, despite it only being a small area to begin with. I also snacked on a few bars while doing so.

 Finish line/Start line in the distance
Finish line/Start line in the distance

As time went on, more people showed up and started sitting down near the portable stage. Before the race began, there were speeches, testimonials, etc.

 Seating area.
Seating area.

The speeches began around 8:30AM, and were presented by speakers representing the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) and BSN Medical. Apparently this race was the first of its kind being held on the West Coast, and its goal was to spread awareness of lymphedema, since ~10 million Americans suffer from it. It can be genetic, a side effect of cancer treatment (due to the removal of lymph nodes), or brought upon by trauma to the lymphatic system. Whatever the cause, it is obviously a very painful, challenging disease to deal with, and the speakers kept emphasizing the fact that it is often a disease that is “hidden” by those that silently suffer from it.

We were introduced to a seven-year old boy who suffers from primary lymphedema in his left leg, and an elderly WWII veteran named Julius who had been suffering from the disease for years. Seeing what they had to go through on a daily basis—and realizing that there was no cure yet, just therapies for managing the condition—made the fact that our participation in this small 5K actually meant something.

 Listening loud and clear.
Listening loud and clear.

Kathy Bates, the national spokesperson for LE&RN, attended the pre-race ceremonies and gave a not-so-silent speech herself. She told her story—after a double mastectomy, she had lymph nodes removed and lymphedema occurred as a result. Since then, she’s been an avid supporter and fighter for lymphedema awareness.

After hearing all of the speeches, we were ushered to the starting line where a ribbon was being rolled out.

Once the ribbon was cut, a blow horn sounded and we were allowed to run! Even though it was a 5K, my legs felt dead at that point since I had already run 7 miles just an hour earlier. Despite this, I reminded myself it was “just another three miles”. The fact that it was a 1.5 mile out-and-back mentally helped push me through.

I managed to lock in and finish at an average pace of 9:23/mi, and though this wasn’t top female finisher material, I was proud of my pace on sore quads. I was also grateful for have the ability to run day in and day out, and to find the time to run for a worthy and necessary cause.

Before heading home, I grabbed enough Quest bars to last me a full week (saving me almost $30 bucks!!!), as well as some other bar goodies I had not tried before.

IMG_0317

Yup, I’d say this was a worth 5K from all angles 😉

Do you or someone you know suffer from lymphedema or lymphatic disease? *This post wasn’t sponsored, but if you are interested in learning more about LE&RN, click here.

Race Recap – Loop the Lagoon

Race Recap – Loop the Lagoon

Last year was packed with fun races and was a great experience for me as an “official” first-time runner. I knew that coming into 2014, my racing for the year would have a late start, due to interviews and family trips, but once things got settled, I decided to get back into racing. I’ve registered for some really exciting events this summer, including two half marathons next month!

Since I find the 10k distance to be my favorite (though I hope that the 13.1 half marathon distance will be after I get back into the long run swing of things…), I decided that it would be best to have my first race of the year be a 10k, so Loop the Lagoon fit the bill. The only May race I ran last year was the Sunrise Run, and leading up to that, I had run in four 10k races. So having my first race of the year be in May did bring on some doubt as far as my readiness was concerned. It didn’t prove to be a problem however, and I even logged some 6 mile runs in the two weeks prior to the race, after returning from my trip.

This race took place on the same course as this race from last year, but it was organized by the host city’s school district education fund. The 10k course was a flat loop around the lagoon (twice), so I didn’t have to worry about steep hills! They also had pre-race day packet pick-up, so I was able to pick my race shirt and bib the day before.

Pre-race Swag (really it's just the shirt...)
Pre-race Swag (really it’s just the shirt…)

I opted for the “Mother’s Day” edition shirt, since I had a choice. Also because I love the pink color of it 😛

I woke up around 7:00AM the morning of the race, had some coffee and a Quest bar, and noticed that there was a cool breeze outside even though the sun was already out.

The booths were already set up by the time we arrived.

Morning of the race

It was time to do some pre-race swag collection!

The booths were starting to open up, and I wasn’t sure if all of them were handing out free samples…

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Fresh and Easy passed out fruit, granola bars, and water.

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Walgreens made a stop on their Way to Well Health Tour here, and provided participants with free cholesterol, bp, BMI, and metabolic rate checks!

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Jamba Juice was selling (not giving away 🙁 ) morning smoothies for runners who wanted a pre-race smoothie.

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The money from this race went towards school/education funding, so it made sense for there to be school-related companies advertising their wares to the public. I thought this car was super adorable:

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A hospital was handing out free sunglasses, water bottles, and sunscreen samples. I’ve already collected an innumerable amount of water bottles from previous races, so I stuck with the sunglasses and sunscreen samples.

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Someone was already helping themselves to a pre-race massage as well, haha!

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There were at least three jumphouses at the event…I almost forgot there was a kids’ race scheduled as well.

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The casual strolling from booth-to-booth came to a close when a representative from Gold’s Gym came to the stage and initiated a group warm-up.

LothLaWarmUp

After the warm-up, the runners for the 10k Tower Challenge (this included those hills) lined up for the 8:30AM start. Us 10kers were let go from the ring around 8:35AM with the 5kers.

Miles 1 & 2 – I was surprisingly able to zone out for the first two miles. Normally, my boredom kicks in around mile 2 and the mental countdown begins, but there were many people going at my pace early on in this race so there was a lot going around me to keep my mind distracted.

Mile 3 – After looping around the lagoon, we were directed to go up alongside a hill, which wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. The long descent down was gratifying, but I grew frustrated when I saw the finish line ahead and knew that I had another loop to finish before I could stop.

Mile 4 – At this point, I was wishing that time flew by faster! The crowds that were around me were spreading out, and so it was harder to stay focused. I was sort of keeping pace with an older man (likely to be in his mid-70’s or so), and made it my “goal” of sorts not to get too much behind him. At least (I think) I had an endorphin kick, because the dull hip and right foot aches I had been feeling earlier on were subsiding.

Mile 5 – Made my way to the hill again, eager to come across the finish line that was in the distance…

finish.

Mile 6 +0.2 – The descent was much fun, and I felt a surge of energy that propelled me to take greater strides than the old man I had been running with/against. I finished with a 9:49/mi pace, happy that it was under 10:00/mi, even though I started the race at an easy pace. According to my Garmin, I had negative splits!

The older man that I had been running near the entire time congratulated me on a good race, which I thought was nice. Another woman came from behind us, and thanked us for pacing her! This was the first time anyone has ever come up to me and thanked me for pacing them, so that was pretty awesome as well. I could have shelled out a few bucks for some shave ice, but I quenched my thirst with a full bottle of water—in less than 30 seconds.

konaice2kooloff

As far as the freebies I came home with are concerned, I had a good collection of trail mixes, g-bars, and fruit stashed in my bag. I did come back with much more than is pictured here, of course.

 Sunglasses, trail mix packs, granola bars...
Sunglasses, trail mix packs, granola bars…
 Random frisbee too, haha!
Random frisbee too, haha!

This race was the perfect start to my 2014 racing season, even though we’re almost reaching the middle point of this year! I’m looking forward to the summer races that are taking place in the coming weeks, and am even keeping an eye out for some races in my new home, later on this year.

What was your first race of 2014?

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