Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon: Relay

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Why?

I wanted a race between Rock and Roll Los Angeles and Pasadena so a friend suggested I look into this race. I managed to get Meghann on board with the two person relay option. I will be running the first leg, 6.55 miles from the strawberry fields to the city and she will take the last 6.55 miles that finishes on the beach. We are also running with friends who live in the area. Look for Team M&M and Santa’s Little Helpers!


Expectations

I will be running along side another friend who runs often and hope we can keep each other on pace to finish in 50-55mins.


Training Schedule

November 3rd – 6.55 in less than 1hr 10mins *Failed – Took weekend off to recoup from R’n’R LA*
November 10th – 6.55 in less than 1:07 *Failed – 1:09:27*
November 17th – 1:05 *Failed – 1:06:03*
November 24th – 1:03 *Not Sure – Ran first mile without Endomondo on, was on pace for 58mins*
December 1st – 1:00 *Not Attempted – Minor Foot Injury*


Totals

CityRace Olvera Street: Recap

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Course Map

NOTE: This only shows the game boundaries

cityrace-olvera-map


Recap

After the awesome time we had at CityRace Santa Monica, we were set on doing another CityRace by the end of the year. The draw to this particular CityRace was that it would be in Olvera Street near Dia de los Muertos. Up until this race I had never spent more than a few minutes in Olvera Street, let alone wandered all around the area.

The day of the race we got all our gear and made sure we were fully ready for this one:

  • Fully Charged Smartphones
  • Athletic tops but regular shorts with plenty of pockets
  • Running shoes and socks
  • $20 in singles, for strip club and/or bonus hunts
  • Brita water bottles
  • Awesome new tote bag from R’n’R LA
  • Extra patience

The last one is the most important item you can bring to a CityRace. When you are running around for three hours trying to solve riddles… your nerves are going to get fried and it takes a lot to keep your cool. Communication is key and you won’t get very far if your partner (or yourself) has lost their patience.

As soon as we got there I started sizing up the competition. I mean we were vets. Our first race we finished 10th and only missed one question and half of a bonus hunt. Both of us expected a podium finish. So I glanced at the groups… I wasn’t too worried about the newbies who were still reading the rules; the true competition would be from the group going over their plan and what they learned from the last two races. All four had their phones at the ready and had tourist maps at the ready… Maps? Damn it! Totally forgot tourist maps would be easy information.

The organizer was a few minutes late but we were quickly given our clues and time limit. 2:15 was the cutoff time and it started NOW!

Meghann and I split off from the pack and found a spot to go over the clues and knock out the easy ones… problem was there weren’t many easy ones. I looked up a few that had dates and important people but for the most part that only gave us the site. For example:

Go to the building in Clue #7 and find the number on top.
Now do some math…

Yeah it went into this whole Aztec math thing and said the key was nearby Clue 8. Now I get why they labeled this CityRace “Moderately Challenging”.  We decided to focus on the bonus hunts. These were simple hunts that involved buying item A or eat item B. They made the difference last game and were all in the shops area nearby. Here is the random assortment of items we bought:

  • Mini sombrero, $3
  • Coaster with Frida Kahlo’s picture, $2
  • Chilean pan flute, $3
  • Day of the dead item, $4

Nothing as costly as the $10 photo booth from Santa Monica and we found it all in one shop. All of the items will find a place in Meghann’s classroom so it wasn’t a total waste either. There were two others but they were food items and I made the call of waiting until the end to buy them. We loaded the items into our bag and took off towards La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles, oldest church in the area and clue 14!

As we walked from building to building, plaque to plaque, and monument to monument, I couldn’t help but look around and take it in: The beautiful altars set up for loved ones. The dancers in the gazebo entertaining a large crowd. The king taco offerings left at one altar, which totally made me crave tacos al pastor. A confused racer arguing with her partner on the number of bells at the church. Good times!

About an hour and a half in and we were making steady progress on the clues and had narrowed it down a few more in Olvera Street and 8 based in Union Station. So off we went and reached the point where patience would be a strong point; we were both hungry. We had a simple breakfast but the combination of walking all over the place and the heat made us burn through that quickly. Meghann went to grab some food while I tackled the single worst question on race… a math word problem… noooooooooooo

So I sat there with a train timetable in one hand and a pretzel in another as I tried to figure out how many hours it took for the train from Los Angeles to reach Chicago on the Amtrak Starlight line. Bleh. I did the raw math and gave it to Meghann. She chimed in that we should adjust the answer since the timetable might list the destination time in CT.  She hit the nail on the head. My brain was too fried to account for that.

Random facts we learned about Union Station:

  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles was not filmed there. Blade Runner, Union Station, and The Way we were… were.
  • There are 230 original wooden seats in the main lobby… we bailed on that question.
  • There is a bench on the east side of the station made from material found at the original Chinatown.
  • Union Station was built over the original Chinatown, white voters wanted to do away with that part of town and the new rail station was the perfect excuse.
  • Four famous figures in the mural, also on east portal, are wearing hats.
  • The three original lines were Southern Pacific Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Finding out random bits of local history is one of my favorite parts of CityRaces. We checked the timer and were down the final 15 minutes and we still needed six more questions… arg.

We ran back to Olvera Street and I kept an eye out for plaques and signs. BAM! The replica bell that was rung to signal the war between Mexico and Spain. BAM! The two plants listed in a Native American remedy that we needed for a word scramble. BAM! A map that decoded yet another word scramble; it spelled Mexico… har har har… Only the Aztec math and the churro remained! I opted to stand in line for the churro while Meghann took one for the team and handled the math.

10 mins left:  I had made a bad call by putting off the churro purchase as there was now a long line for it.

7 mins: Tourists in front of me were deciding what they wanted.

5 mins: I pleaded with one that I was in a race and just wanted a plain churro but that made no difference.

3 mins: The churro was in the fryer…

1 min left: The churro was in my hand! As we ran to the finish I held that churro like the Olympic torch. The timer had gone off but thankfully there was a line to check in and we were not penalized. When we turned in our score sheet and bonus hunts, it hit us; we did very poorly this race. We had a few blanks, two guesses and missed the bonus with the highest point value. Damn you bug candy! Why were you sold out??? Anyhow… the Olympic torch churro turned into a sad churro and I nommed on it while we waited for the results.

As in the last race, the organizer read the questions aloud and waited for us to reply with the correct one. The first ten we were all locked up. And then came the math questions and curse words were thrown around. Followed by Union station facts and… it turned out only a handful of teams had gotten that far! The pros I worried about in the beginning were even missing a few. Could it be? Could this be our podium finish???

CityRace Olvera Street Top 10
VICTORY CHURRO!

No it wasn’t. While we did finish higher than the last race, 5th place! we were a bit disappointed in ourselves. All of those blanks and guesses had cost us the podium finish we wanted. Still, it was an enjoyable experience and we got to know the area. Team M&M will definitely sign up for another race! Perhaps even the CityRace Pasadena… what better place to PR than in our home town?


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Where I’m Going

Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles: Mini-Marathon – Recap

Recap

As we waited for the Goldline at 6am on a cold Saturday morning I recapped how we got here. I picked this race since I want Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena to be my first half-marathon and needed to check out the organizer. But I also didn’t want to do this alone so I had managed to convince Meghann to join me. I did not expect her to sign up since we had one good race, one great race and really shitty race. It took a bit to get both of us out of bed but here we were… pinning our race bibs and getting pumped for another race.

We only just made it to the start on time and due to the tight corrals we were not able to slip into our assigned Corral 1. We saw Robert up in Corral 4 and tried to get up to him but instead we would only get as close as Corral 7. I didn’t even have enough space to stretch properly as everyone was packed together like sardines. Naturally, I began to worry if this was the race I wouldn’t be able to finish. The day before I had finished the Pasadena Pacers 10 mi Challenge and now I was worried about a 3.5 mi race. Seesh. Since this was a wave start I had plenty of time to worry. Each wave would get called to the start and after a 10 second countdown they would be unleashed. I heard Corral 4 released and I knew Robert would be running fast to stay ahead of me. I now had a goal. Catch. Robert.

Unknown “Celebrity” Announcer: Corral 7 move on up! I want to hear you! COME ON CORRAL 7! 10… 9… 8…
Marlon’s Thoughts: Come on lady just get to fucking 1!
Unknown “Celebrity” Announcer: 6… almost there! 4…
Marlon’s Thoughts: Seriously?
Unknown “Celebrity” Announcer: 2… 1… GO!!!
Marlon: The chase begins.
Meghann: What?
Marlon: Nothing. I love you

I kissed Meghann and told her I would see her at the finish… I had a god damn Robert to catch! Like the Aquarium of the Pacific start, I had to dodge a few walkers. At first I followed a woman who also was on a mission. We ducked and weaved past Gumby, some Smurfs, a weird-looking Elvis and a Decepticon. At the half mile mark I noticed the sidewalks were finally empty and there was no rail to keep us on the course. I made a break for it and quickly passed another large group. Running on the sidewalk meant I only had to dodge uneven pavements.

I kept scanning the crowd to see if I had caught up to Robert. He would be easy to spot since most of the crowd had costumes and he was in race gear. About a mile in I saw the first Pacer, he was on the sidelines holding up the “Run Pacers Run!” sign and taking pictures. He gave me a shout out and I quickened my pace. I love being a part of such a supportive group. I ran past the first cheer squad and water station but still couldn’t see my target. I did manage to spot another Pacer… in a full Banana suit. Jamba Juice had given him a free entry if he would run the half-marathon in the suit. So he did and was telling banana jokes along the way.

Andrew Banana: What’s Mario’s favorite fruit?
Crowd Does Not Respond
Andrew Banana: Ba-na-na-na-na-na. Ba-na-na-na-na-na
Crowd Laughs

We had reached USC and the race was splitting off into the Mini-Marathon turn around. I wished Andrew good luck and laughed as he started telling another joke. I went back to hunting down the most dangerous game of all… man. As soon as I hit the turn-around I kicked it into high gear. I hit a 5min/km pace and never looked back. Despite this pace, on the other side of the cones the half-marathoners were speeding by. The same teams I saw at the Bell-Jeff Open were racing by. I wasn’t foolish enough to even try to match their pace.

I still could not spot Robert or Meghann, so instead I began to take a look around. I found it odd that I was so focused on catching up that I never bothered to take a breath and look around. I was running through downtown Los Angeles! I could see the skyline glistening in the morning sun, a hobo scratching himself on a “bum-proof” bench, and a confused sorority girl trying to run across the course. LA, I love you.

I ran by the cheer squad again and a DJ playing some Rocky music. With every random cheer and “go Pacer go!” I would get a nice burst of energy. Running around the neighborhood just can’t compare to the sights and sounds of well-organized races.

By the time I reached Figueroa and Pico, I realized I would not catch up Robert. I could, however, finish strong… unlike the Devil’s Gate Dam 5k. Dan you hipster! I ran past even more walkers and I could see the big finish. I spotted a women a few feet from the finish and made her my target. I went into a full sprint and did my best… but she finished just a few steps ahead of me. Damn it! Couldn’t even catch her. I grabbed my medal and spotted Robert a few feet away. The bastard had finished 2 mins (gun time) earlier. We talked for a bit and collected some freebies while we waited for Meghann. He said he knew I would be gunning for him and saw me sprinting by on the turn around. Bah. I’m not much of a hunter after all. A couple of minutes later we spot Meghann coming in. Despite being sidelined with random injures since our last race, she managed to get back to her 11 min pace. We gathered up and headed to the post race area.

Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles: Post Race
“Enjoying” Michelob Ultra with the most dangerous game
Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles: Post Race
Team M&M
Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles: Mini Marathon
The first RnR medal of many!

To sum up the race: it was fucking awesome and I’m definitely getting the Tour Pass to run as many Rock ‘n’ Roll events in 2013 as I possibly can.


Previous Posts About Race

Where I’m Going

October Update

This was a BIG month for me in both training and events. In training, I worked out with the hills group and managed to not embarrass myself too much. During the last weekend of the month I ran 13.5miles by finishing the Pasadena Pacers 10mil challenge and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Mini-Marathon. I ran a total of 52.54 miles for the month and will continue to pile on more as I train for my first half marathon in February!

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco: Half-Marathon


Why?

As I previously posted in the Conquer the Bridge post, I love bridges and want to race across them when I get the chance. I don’t really love San Francisco but this would give me a chance to explore a bit more of the city. A friend of mine lives in Japantown so hopefully he can show me that part of town. Here is an update on the Bridge list:


Expectations

This will be my second half-marathon so I will see how I set the bar in Pasadena. Since this would be the first of 3 in the same amount of months, I don’t want to push myself too much. I just want to take in the sights and enjoy the weekend.


Training Schedule

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

Week of – Target Miles – Accomplished?
12/29 thru 2/17 – Training for Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena: Half-Marathon!
2/23 – 9 – No… knee recovering from RnR Pasadena
3/02 – 10 – YES! But in two days, 5.6 and 5.4.
3/09 – 11 – No… but logged 8 miles over two days
3/16 – 10 – No… knee didn’t like the previous run
3/23 – 12 – Y.. No… but logged 14 miles for the week
3/30 – 6 –
4/07 – RACE DAY!

Training Totals