Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles: Mini-Marathon

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Why?

It’s close to my birthday and runs through downtown Los Angeles. This will also be my first Rock and Roll Marathon event so I’m looking forward to see how well organized the event is… and how awesome the shirts/medals are! And, of course, I’m running for Team ASPCA and want to do well for them.


Expectations

I want to finish at 25 mins but most likely will clock in at 30 mins. Running this with Meghann, Robert and a few Pacers so the motivation will be there. Just hope all the training I’ve been adding will amount to a measurable improvement.


Training Schedule

Since this is only 3.5 miles, I am not on a real schedule. During last two weeks I will try to stick to running a sub 30mins 3.5 mi run.


Training Totals

Bellarmine-Jefferson Open Race

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Recap

A logo. That’s the only reason I signed up for this race. While browsing the Pasadena Pacer’s Facebook Page I noticed there was a post asking for volunteers to form a team for this race. The team needed 5 members in order to get our name on the back of the shirt. I checked the race website for details and promptly signed up. We quickly found others to join the team and we got our sweet logo on the back of the shirt!

Or so that’s all I thought I was running for. This race turned out to be quite more. The location and timing tested my resolve. The course tested my training. By the end of it, I had realized that running had quickly become more than a “hobby” it is now one of my passions. Well I am getting ahead of myself so let’s just get to the recap!

When I first looked up the location of the race, it didn’t look that far away on Google Maps. The directions given were just one bus ride away and about a mile walk. Totally do-able. Then I realized I needed to be there at 6:30… and it would take an hour to get there by bus… so including prep time, I needed to be up by 4:30am on a Saturday and I had plans with Meghann on Friday night.

I had grown accustomed to being out the door by 5:30 during my weekday runs so what was another 30mins? Yeah, I was up by 4:15. I was surprised at how quickly I had my pre-race routine down:

  • Eat 1/2 Cliff Bar
  • Drink cup of coffee
  • Apply sun block and Body Glide (no not the fun version)
  • Put on tech-shirt, soccer shorts, running socks and athletic underwear (totally worth the $!)
  • Grab Keys, ID, Phone, armband, sweatbands and wireless headphones.

It took me less than 15mins to get ready and get out the door. The ride there was uneventful but I did notice I was the only person on that bus that wasn’t heading to work. The rest were half asleep and dressed in their work uniforms. I had already gone into my pre-race panic/excitement mode.

By the time I got to the race location the first two pacers had shown up and the event looked like it had been set up hours ago. I met up with the team and we started stretching.

Bellarmine-Jefferson Open Race
Running with the Pasadena Pacers

I looked around and saw nothing but hills around us so I asked if anyone knew what to expect from the course. Two of the pacers had attended the course preview the week before and said it was a very hilly course and most of the trail goes up the first “small hill”.

Bellarmine-Jefferson Open Race: First Hill
The first “small hill”…

Yeah, I thought I was done for. Up until now I had only ran three flat courses and the lone trail race had been my worst showing. The week before was the first time I even started doing hills training on the treadmill. Now I was looking at a course that was filled with hills and rough terrain. I was warned to be aware of the narrow edges, uneven pathways, cracks in gravel, and random pedestrians since the course was not closed off from the main trail. Oh and the High School athletes would be unleashed 30mins after our wave…

This race benefited a local high school race and by 7am the entire park was filled with teenagers. I was quickly reminded of the annoying teenage volunteers from the Aquarium of the Pacific 5k and the Devil’s Gate Dam 5k. Now they would also line this course by the hundreds and run amongst us if we were falling behind. I made it a point to finish before those bastards could step foot on the course.

We lined up for the start, I looked around and noticed all of the other teams; Nike Team Run LA, Gritty City Track Club, LA Tri, ARC Racing Club. These fuckers were fit and looking to make new personal records… I was just looking to outrun the hounds/teens. So I stepped towards mid-pack. I let all of those with six pack abs and shorts-shorts take the lead.

As the rules were read aloud to us, everyone shut up and put their game face on. I ignored most of the chatter and just focused on waiting for the signal. I did a few more shoulder rolls to release the tension and stretched my calves one last time…

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And we’re off!

At the first hill we were all funneled into a narrow trail. I found a fellow Pacer and just followed him for the first kilometer. Around the second hill I noticed Mullet Lady behind me. She was the same Mullet Lady from the Aquarium of the Pacific 5k whom I had followed through the pack. It was my turn to repay the favor so I broke away from the Pacer and charged ahead up the first “small hill”.

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Trying to stay ahead of mullet-lady… didn’t happen

I lead us through a group of hipsters, past someone who looked like Jack LaLanne, and left a smug 10 year old in our dust. I could feel the energy of the crowd! The power of each step! The… burning in my thighs and knees!

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have charged up that hill. By the time I reached the plateau I was thinking of finding the nearest bench and curling up in the fetal position. I ignored those thoughts and settled for jogging at a slower pace. Mullet Lady would have none of that and quickly made her way past me. She continued her trek to bring back the style. Maybe next race I will be able to keep up with her past the first mile. God bless you Mullet Lady.

Around the 1.5 mile mark the trail opened up and reached a point where I could see downtown Los Angeles in the distance. With the sun rising in the background, I took a moment to take it all in. I had never seen LA from this height and with such a grand view… this is one of the reasons why I run; to see more of the places that I love. I felt re-invigorated.

According to the data from Endomondo, shortly after seeing downtown I ran my quickest kilometer of the race. Sure it was mostly downhill but I still think LA saved me from giving up on the race. If it had been an ugly course like Devil’s Gate, I don’t think I would have kept up the pace.

But then, as I rounded the tennis courts I saw it… the big hill. It finally hit me why they had called the first one the small hill. The elevation gain of the small one was about 10m… the big one was 30m. Fuck.

The hill had collected quite a few of us. There was a lady in a cross-fit shirt who had pulled off to the side looking like she was dry heaving. An older man had decided walk it. Young dude came up from behind us and tried to charge it… only to stop halfway. Then a stick figure of a woman flew past us at a leisurely pace. What did I do? Well I tried to keep a jogging pace and failed once the trail curved to show that we were only half way up the hill. A collective “FUCK ME!” was yelled out. I did manage to beat the pack up the hill but the old man ran past me on the flatter section, crafty bastard pulled a tortoise. I made a mental note of walking up steep hills in future trail races. There is no shame in being realistic.

Over the last hill I saw the starting area and my biggest fear… the teenagers were being given their 5 min warning. Oh hell no! I ran down the hill and flew past a few others. As I came closer to the final mini-hill I noticed that the teenagers were lined up against the ropes and they were… cheering? The hell? I expected some sarcastic remarks or insults. But instead I was greeted with kids trying to read my race bib to cheer me on and telling me that I was close. One even shouted that I need to finish strong. That was just what I needed.

I used up every last bit of energy in the final km. According to Endomondo, I hit my max pace of 4min/km during that stretch. As I ran through the finish shoot, I heard people cheering my team name. A few “GO PACERS!” and one “COME ON MARVIN!”… to be fair the print on my bib was a bit small. I knew I should have written Marlton or Gulpo. I finished in 24 mins 59 sec, one second shy of the mark I wanted to hit. I hunched over and chugged a bottle of water. Then I heard the teenagers unleashed onto the course. I cheered them and myself.

I stayed along the finish to cheer on my fellow Pacers. We exchanged sweaty high fives, compared notes on the course and complained about that bastard of a big hill. The race expo didn’t have much for me so I headed back to the bus stop.

Halfway back to the stop I passed a group of teens warming up:

Girl 1: I hate running
Girl 2: What? Then why the hell are you here?
Girl 1: I need it for my college application. I’d rather be sleeping
Girl 2 looks at Girl 3: Not us. We love running.

That explained why they were so nice. These kids were on the road as early or earlier than I had been and were there because they wanted to… well except Girl 1.

As I got on the bus for the 45min drive home, the one mile walk back to my apartment and the cold shower that awaited me I knew this is something I was doing for myself. I could have called it quits at various points but each time I kept with it. This is something I want to keep doing for the foreseeable future.

September Update

I’ve been slowly adding miles to my longer outdoor runs, see Sep 7th and Sep 15th in the Run Log, and feel quite confident as I head into the last quarter of 2012. I’m still doing Yoga before work on Tuesdays and Thursday to improve flexibility. Other than adding hill variations on the treadmill, I have not found a way to do some strength training… that will definitely be a challenge.

Catalina Island: Half-Marathon

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Why?

I’ve never been to Catalina and what a better way to see the island than to run to the top and have a look around? It appears to be a grueling course but I would also get to see bison! Maybe I should also start up another list of places to run… I did, after all, start up a Bridge List. Perhaps other islands? Or geographical features list?


When?

Maybe 2015. The cost of the race itself isn’t too bad but the hotel and ferry to Catalina would add up to a ~$400-600. A very steep price to pay for a race. It is also around the same time as other destination races I want to do. This one might stay in my Bucket Race list for a few years.


How Awesome?

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Running on an island would be checked off list and possibility of seeing bison!

How Difficult?

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They openly state that this will be the most challenging half in your life… there is no elevation chart for this race but other Catalina ones are listed around 3-5k gains. This. Is. Serious trail running.

Conquer the Bridge

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Why?

I love bridges. Always have. Always will. This run will let me cross Los Angeles off my “Run Across a Bridge in Favorite Cities” list:

I know that must sound like a boring list to you but it is a goal for me. When I pick city runs I want to have a scenic route. Either through historic districts or, in this case, over an awesome bridge. In 2013, I should be able to knock off Portland, Pasadena, and San Francisco as well!


When?

It is always on Labor day so being available for the race should be no problem. Driving all the way down there during the busiest travel day of the year, well that’s the reason this race isn’t in the “Where I’m Going” category. I’m hoping this will be my “FUCK YOU SUMMER!” Race in 2013.


How Awesome?

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Checking off another city off bridge list would be pretty awesome.

 


How Difficult?

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Should be pretty flat with a steady elevation gain. The distance is comparable to a 10k.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena: Half-Marathon

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Why?

What better place to do my first half marathon than in my own backyard? The Pasadena Pacers have a great training schedule that I will stick to. I know the streets well enough that I know what to expect and will be able to run the course a few times beforehand. It is also part of the Rock and Roll Tour Pass that I plan on purchasing so I can run the west coast series.


Expectations

First half… so just finishing will be awesome.


Training Schedule

Note: I’m using the Pasadena Pacers 13 week beginners program

Week of – Target Miles – Accomplished?
11/24 – 3 – YES!
12/01 – 4 – YES!
12/08 – 5 – YES! Ran Santa to the Sea
12/15 – 6 – No… injured
12/22 – 7 – No… injured
12/29 – 8 – No… recovering, 2.5mi
1/05 – 9 – No… recovering, 3.1mi
1/12 – 10 – No… recovering, 0mi doctor’s orders.
1/19 – 11 – No… recovering, 2.9mi. On recovery plan.
1/26 – 10 – No… ran 6mi total but chopped it into 2 runs
2/02 – 12 – No… ran 5.3mi in 50mins. Decided to switch to the 5k
2/09 – 6 – YES! oh and decided to switch back to Half… should be interesting
2/17 – RACE DAY!

 


Training Totals

CityRace Santa Monica

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Course Map

NOTE: This only shows the game boundaries

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Recap

After the sub-par Devil’s Gate Dam 5k, we needed this race. I signed us up for the Chinatown scavenger hunt but due to the +100 heat that day I had them reschedule us for Santa Monica. Man did that work out well for us. I was unsure what to expect so I had brushed up on some random facts about Santa Monica and fully charged my phone.

The starting point was a great overlook right next to the California Incline. There was a large group of people with 30 teams ready to scramble across Santa Monica for the next three hours. We named our team Team M&M, put on our City Race Buttons, got clues and  the rules:

  • Stay within boundaries
  • You can use locals, phones, guards, whatever you think will help you solve the clues.
  • The questions are not set to any order and can be done at random.
  • Three hour time limit. Teams will lose 10 points every ten minutes over.
  • While there are optional questions, if you want to finish in top 10 you will need to do them.
  • Run now!
CityRace Button
As Melody would say: “BUTTONS!”

With that we were off! I told Meghann we should split off from the group and find a spot where we can figure out a game plan. She suggested we walk and talk while making our way towards the 3rd Street Promenade since most of the questions would be centralized there. Smart gal.

We walked over to the Promenade and I began to Google the simple ones. One question referred to the seasonal rain storm in south-east Asia, a monsoon, and wanted to know the address of the restaurant with the same name (+10). Another asked about the city code that prohibited defacing public property (+15). We breezed a few but we quickly hit a wall.

About seven questions were linked to each other and the first clue asked how many Buddha statues were on top of the entryway. Google only found one reference to Buddha in the area, some random coffee shop but the entryway lacked Buddhas… trick question perhaps? We decided to skip the question for now.

One hour in and we were half-finished and completed about two laps of the area. I was nailing every bar reference and Meghann was solving a few on her own. I had a tendency to make every question complex… she would quickly ask me to take a breath and think that the simplest answer was probably the correct one. Ah, Occam’s razor proved quite handy.

We kept running into other teams and noticed they were also struggling with the Buddha question. Some began to yell at each other and were starting to complain about the heat. While the distance wasn’t too bad, the 90 degree heat and backtracking would be the biggest obstacles.

There were times where I could tell my nerves were starting to fry and hoped I would not take it out on Meghann. Think of trying to solve a crossword puzzle with your partner while walking down a busy random city and only one of you could hold the clues. As was walked from block to block and back again, I kept trying to solve the one question while Meghann would ask me another. I would have a “EUREKA!” moment and try to explain my answer only to have her completely debunk my theory. It was grueling.

By the 1.5 hour mark we were down to just the seven Buddha linked questions and about 6 that focused on the pier. We shifted our focus to the bonus questions, luckily they were simple “buy x from y” questions so the only taxing part was paying for it.

Then… as we stood by the same block we had been on about four times and in the middle of a conversation with a local… I finally saw the fat bastards.  I yelled:

THE BUDDHAS! THERE ARE SEVEN!
SEVEN BUDDHAS! FUCK YEAH!

They were on a door frame across the street. I don’t think we even thanked the local as we quickly began to cross off the other questions. One by one we were knocking them out of the park but hit a snag on one that asked about guardians of a “mystical place”. Even with the Buddha clue, I couldn’t think of what mystical place the question was referring to. We had made a note of it and decided to not get caught up on this one question. Two hours in and we ran towards the pier for the big finish!

The pier questions were quite easy. A few “name this” questions or ones that asked about the number of items in a certain locale. The most difficult one had us look at the age of the two cannons located right before the pier. That just involved some sprinting to each gun.

We looked around and only spotted a few teams at this stage of the race. We knocked off more bonus challenges, such as taking a picture in a photo booth (+5) with a stranger (+5). When we took the picture the guy wished us good luck and hoped the prize was worth more than the $8 we spent on the picture. Meghann and I looked at each other and concluded we didn’t care about the prize. We were just having fun running around Santa Monica. The total cost of the items was about $17. More than reasonable for the amount of entertainment we were getting.

With about 30 minutes left we had wrapped up every bonus question but needed to find a kid to cross the finish line with us (+5) and still had to answer the mystical place question. Meghann was double checking the answers and corrected a few. Still.. mystical place… I let my brain go blank and… bam!

Shang-ri-fucking-la!
There is a hotel named that and it had some lions in front!

We made sure every question was answered and made our way to the finish! We climbed the steps up to the finish and turned in our score card. We got credit for 15 out of 20 in the bonus questions. The results of the rest of the questions would be announced twenty minutes after the cutoff point. We high-fived and took a moment to just relax and look at the ocean.

CityRace - Santa Monica: Post Race
Team M&M. As Meghann said: We have the best dates!

As we sat there going over our answers and recapping the morning, another team was finishing up and they had a kid… bastards had bribed the kid with a free pail (another bonus question) and had told his parents why they needed him. The tourists loved it and took pictures of their child walking up and turning in the scorecard. Bah. A few more teams came in but it was obvious a good amount of teams had just quit. I only counted about twenty teams at the finish line. The couple that was fighting over which direction to go did not make it to the finish…

The announcer thanked us for coming and congratulated those of us who finished. He began to read the answers. Through ten questions we were perfect! And then this…

We asked you to play Jeopardy for one question…
and in that show you answer with “What is…”

Boos were yelled, a few teams walked out, and I looked around for a pretzel to throw at the announcer. Yea that was all that we screwed up on. They named the Top Ten and we came in tenth with 175 out of 190. The other teams were between 180 and 185. If we had just gotten that what is… bah! Still it was a great time and we celebrated our finish with dinner at Barney’s Beanery. We signed up for another scavenger hunt for November, this time we will run around Olvera Street in downtown LA… and this time I will drag a kid to the finish if it means another 5 points!

CityRace - Santa Monica: Top 10 Finish!
Top 10 Teams… we got screwed by Jeopardy!