Run or Dye: 5k – Recap

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Course Map

NOTE: I decided not to map this run with Endomondo since it was a “fun” run and I was afraid the dye would get into vital components. So instead I bring you the map on their site, which actually isn’t even close to what we ran.

Their "5k" Course
Their “5k” Course

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Recap

I would do my usual recap and reflect on my experience but this race was pure shit from the beginning so instead I will just list all that went wrong:

  1. NOT A 5k!
    See Course Map above for proof. Their tag is “The Most Colorful 5k Run” but that should be changed to 4k. The “Dye Zone”  moved to the start/finish and that decision cut off a chunk of the run. This inaccurate map was the first of many errors on their site which brings me to…
  2. INACCURATE WEBSITE!
    You rely on a race website to have the most up to date information on a race. People need to know; where to park, where the expo is, and start times. The Run or Dye site got about one of those right. See a Rock and Roll Marathon site for comparison. Night and day right? One glaring omission is that Run or Dye claimed to be a charitable event but the closest information you can find is on there About Us page that only vaguely states each race works with a local charity. At the race there was zero mention of this charity. I was only aware of it from the post race email. The expo info wasn’t even on the site until a few days before and even then the hours were inaccurate. The only reliable source of information was from the weekly email, which got caught in my junk mail the first two times.
  3. OVERPRICED!
    Now I was lucky with this one since I only paid $30 total via Groupon for our registration. If you try to sign up regularly, expect to pay $45-50 per person. What do you get for that fee? A heavy cotton shirt with their logo, one dye packet that lasts about 30 seconds, temporary tattoo of their logo, cheap plastic wristband, and lots of fliers for other stuff. The white shirt is a clever idea since you want to see all the colors but heavy cotton during a run? Oh man is that a mistake. My shirt also failed to clean up completely as the neck has this purple ring around the collar.
  4. POOR COMMUNICATION!
    So we get there an hour before the start and get to the main gate of the coliseum. We see people lining up around the Sports Arena and only one sign saying that it is the Registration line. We start to stretch but notice that a steady stream of people is working towards the parking lot south of the Sports Arena. Once we weave through the lines to the parking lot we see a sign saying that it is the Dye Zone, we assume that’s the start. Nope! About thirty minutes later someone finally comes over the speakers and says we need to get to the chutes that are south of the Dye Zone or as he put it “near the porta potties.” So the crowd slowly inches over there through the barriers. No staff helps move people to the start. We stand around well past the 9 am start time and we finally move forward! And stop. Five minutes later we move again. And stop. This cycle goes on for about an hour. It wasn’t until we could see the starting line start that we realize they are doing wave starts. No message about wave starts was ever given over the speakers. We could only hear the bad music coming from the DJ booth. No notice was given about the late start until the post race email. Apparently, the packet pick up line snaked around the Sports Arena and spilled into the course. I would’ve been more understanding if they had told us at the day of the race.
  5. COURSE HAZARDS!
    Along the 4k course we had to deal with uneven pavements, pot holes, narrow trails, and just about every other course hazard you can think of. None was marked and the course itself was roped off only in certain places. This became an issue when a regular amount of pedestrians walked through the course.
    Strollers, who should have been told to start last, would come to a grinding halt when the course would hit an unmarked sidewalk. This was especially dangerous after the first Dye Zone where your vision was impaired by the dye for a few seconds. The stroller in front of me barely saw it in time to stop just shy and caused the rest of us to run into the spectator area to avoid a pileup.
    There was also the traffic (runner and car) that had to be dodged throughout the street sections. The staff of the nearby museums and parks were a lot better at marking hazards than any of the Run or Dye staff. One woman from the coliseum security actually stood near a pot hole the entire time to make sure runners didn’t hit it. She complained into her walkie-talkie that she could not find any of the Run or Dye staff to take over.
  6. PACKET PICK UP MADNESS!
    If you read through their Facebook page you will see numerous complaints about the packet pick up. I can verify that the lines snaked around the Sports Arena and definitely took an hour to clear. I only saw two people doing the registration part. There were also complaints about the staff just giving up and handing out numbers towards the end. As well as not having enough shirts and dye packets. These last three I did not witness. I went to the Citadel packet pick up the day before and while we did not have such huge issues there were still some problems.
    The email said the pick up would start at 10. We got there exactly at 10 and the tent wasn’t set up. The Run or Dye Staff was told by the Citadel staff to change a bit of their layout. Thankfully we did get an update; their computers weren’t connecting to the wifi but would be in a few minutes. So we stood there for another twenty minutes until they got it all set up. This shit should have been fixed an hour before the actual start time. People complained about needing to get back to work and that it should not have taken more than ten minutes. I did not have any where to be so I was not too bothered by it but I understood their frustration.
    When we finally got registered and moved into the packet pick up tent, they STILL weren’t ready. We had to bag our own goodie bag and the line ended up at a dead-end. They set up so the line would lead into their small store but instead it was blocked off by merchandise boxes and tables for the first few minutes. We could not walk back through the single file line so we stood there and alerted the staff who moved a few items out-of-the-way to let us out. I guess that should have been my first warning at how incompetent this company is.
  7. DYE TO THE FACE!
    In the final packet info they instructed us not to throw dye at each other’s faces. I’m pleased to report that none of my fellow racers did that, the kids manning the Dye zones however had no such restriction. There were a few dye zones along the course manned by teenage volunteers. A good number of them would make it a point to throw it high and smack you in the face with it. I got dye in my ear and Meghann got dye in her eyes/mouth. A few other runners had to pull off the course to cough out the dye. One even pulled out her phone to call her fellow runners to complain. Yes I expected to get dye in my face but not intentionally. These kids were gloating to each other about how many people they’ve smacked in the face. I would hope the next time some adult supervision would be at each station to avoid this.
  8. DOUCHEY PICTURES!
    Now this is something Run or Dye didn’t have any direct control but definitely could’ve cut down the amount of instances. Pictures at the start/finish dye zone wasn’t a big deal but when people would stop in the MIDDLE of the course dye zones to Instagram the moment how the fuck is that not stopped? I literally ran into people doing this at every color station. It didn’t occur to them that some were actually running the course. They even had the Run or Dye staff take pictures for them. I wish more of the runners would just enjoy the moment.
  9. LACK OF COURSE SUPPORT!
    Any race you do, there will be at least one water station along the course but not Run or Dye. There wasn’t a water station at mile 1 nor one at the finish. There was a tent that had some water bottles but they were all out by the time we finished. Again the staff just said “there are more near the porta potties”. Why the fuck would they be placed there? I found no such secret stash of water bottles.
    Got dye in your eye and causing problems? Too bad! There was a medical station but it was from another event at the coliseum at the middle of the course.
    Hungry after running for 4km? Ha! You could buy food from a food truck but that was as far as food selection went.
    We left the finish area after some annoying hype man was calling for a walk off competition. I needed food/water and it was obvious Run or Dye wasn’t going to provide any.

So what did I enjoy? Not much. The two upsides were that it was near a metro station and the initial Dye Zone was actually fun. Any one of the complaints above would’ve been enough to override those two upsides.

Still it was slightly enjoyable since I had Meghann around to keep me from going crazy.

Run or Dye: Pre-Race
Team M&M always looking at the bright side of life

Post Race Comments

This event is nowhere near an actual race. As it stands it is just an excuse to take pictures of yourself throwing some dye. I would only recommend this race to those who have money to burn, can get a big enough group to make your own fun in the Dye Zone, and who aren’t interested in a race.

While the company did eventually send out an apologetic email here are the only two solutions they came up with:

1. Better line management.  We’re committed to making the line move faster and more productively, including roping it off, having more check-in staff as necessary, and ensuring that people don’t cut in line.

2. Getting started on time.  The fact is, the line was so long that it stretched into the course — which is why we started late.  If we would have simply set up the line away from the Dye Zone, we would not have gotten a late start.

Acknowledgment of the poor communication and a plan to rectify that would’ve been a big fix in my book. And what did we get in return for being part of such a shitty run? 50% off an upcoming race, limit two. I gave mine away on their Facebook page with a warning of how much of a train wreck Run or Dye LA was. No way am I ever doing another Run or Dye race.

UPDATE
I got another email from the Run or Dye people with another coupon (I still won’t bite) and further details on what has changed since the LA fiasco.

1.Dramatically improved the check-in process, including creating an electronic QR code system that allows us to check runners in very quickly
2.Quadrupled the amount of staff we have checking runners in at packet pick-up and on race day — another adjustment that helps the line move faster
3.Moved the check-in line at race day so that there are NO delays to the start time
4.Put water prominently at the finish line
5.Created extensive training materials to ensure that our volunteers DON’T throw dye in the face or other sensitive areas

LA River 5k

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Why?

It’s for a good cause as all the funds go towards revitalizing the Los Angeles River. I got Meghann to join me so Team M&M will be at the ready. This race also fills the gap between Rock ‘n’ Roll SF and Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland. I love breaking up big races with some fun 5ks.


Expectations

I hope I can break my 5k PR, which now stands at 25:47 from the Pasadena Marathon 5k. Might be a bit tough since the Pasadena course was really flat and I knew the route.


Training Schedule

Only a 5k so I’ll just keep my regular running routine. Hopefully I will have some strong glutes by then.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena: Half Marathon – Recap

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Recap

The smart thing to do would have been sitting this race out. After being diagnosed with a patellofemoral disorder in my left knee, my doctor told me that I should forget about this race and focus my training on getting back on the road for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco. For a week I did just that, I emailed the race staff and had them downgrade me to the 5k, I convinced myself that I should not risk three destination races, and started shooting for distances to match the SF training.

There was a part of me that felt like I was playing it safe. The knee pain lingered for a while but I felt great after two 6 mile runs. I kept thinking about the joy I felt after I finished the Pacer 10 mile Challenge. I ran the crazy idea of switching back to the half by Meghann and a few close friends. They were all in agreement; if I was confident I could finish it then I should do it.

I also felt a need not to let down Robert. He had signed up for this race after we did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Mini-Marathon. I told him we could run Pasadena as our first half marathon and that I would be alongside him every step of the way. He made no big deal when I told him a week earlier that I had to back out but he was excited when I told him we were back on for the half.

So with just a four days until the race, I switched back to the half! And I instantly started to doubt myself. Every day I would reconsider the decision and my brain would dream up various catastrophes; you could slip and twist your knee; the cold will wreck your other knee; and the classic, you will miss the start! The night before a race I can never just shut off my brain and get a good night’s sleep. Despite going to bed at 8:30pm, I slept no more than four hours.

We had to park the car by 6:15 am so we were up pretty early. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it wasn’t 40 degrees and had some pants on. Seeing ice on the grass made it that much colder. We found the Pasadena Pacer tent and met up Robert there before the race. I had missed the group picture and warm up before RnR LA so I made sure I was a part of this one:

Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena: Pre-Race
Pasadena Pacers Group Shot

Coach Ezra led us on another awesome warm up stretch and gave a great pep talk. He reminded us that we had trained for this and we would make it to the finish. I reminded my knees that ice and pain killers would await them if they could carry me across the finish.

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Pacer Warm Ups

With all the pre-race stuff done, we made our way to the corrals. Meghann was a few corrals behind us since she was doing 5k. I had placed my estimated finish time at 2 hours 30 minutes so that meant we were back in corral 8 with the rest of the slower runners. I saw a few pacers in the first few corrals and made a mental note that next year my target time would be sub 2 hours. I looked around and noticed that most of the teams in corral 7 were walkers, one team was even called the “Wine Walkers”… we needed to finish in front of this group. As we moved forward with every corral start, I found spots along the side to move up further; I didn’t want to get caught up in the slower packs at the start. My heart began to race as corral 7 was unleashed.

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Just one more corral to go!
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Official Picture of Start. Believe this is Corral 5. – Courtesy of Facebook

I don’t remember who the announcer was or if there was any joke before he/she fired the signal. All I can remember is seeing the people in front of us take off and kicked it into race mode. I looked at my watch to make sure I wasn’t starting off too fast. I wanted to keep it at 7 mph during our run segments. I also made sure the first running segment was ten minutes so we can get far ahead of the walkers. The Pacers were manning the first water station and I made sure I was sprinting when we got there at mile 1.5:

Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena: Pacer Water Station
Goofy smiles at Mile 1.5

I wish they were further along the route as their cheers energized me through the first 2 miles. Then came the hill on California and Orange Grove… man that was steep. I ran it a few times before the race so I knew it would drain me if I tried to charge up it. To make matters worse, my knee had healed but it still did not enjoy steep inclines. I told Robert we would walk it and continue the run segment once we reached the top. As we pulled to the right side with the rest of the walkers I kept seeing people try to charge up the hill. Most gave up halfway up or cursed through the pain. There was one kid who did manage to run up the entire hill at full speed but once we got to the top:

Kid: I’m done.
Mom: What?
Kid: My knee… I’m done.
Mom: But it’s only mile 2.
Kid: I can’t… I’m done.

I felt bad for the kid but there was an aid station on top of the hill. I also thanked my knee for taking one for the team. I looked behind us and one of the Wine Walkers was starting the hill, so we took off running. We won’t let the winos win!

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series gets its name for having bands every few miles along the course and a great post race concert. Dynamite Beat Puppy was the first band to greet us at Colorado and Orange Grove:

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Dynamite Beat Puppy at the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado. She sang a cover of “Yellow” by Coldplay… I prefer her version. – Courtesy of Facebook

As we ran past sights like the Tournament of Roses house and the Norton Simon Museum, I couldn’t help but say to myself “man I love this town!” The weather was finally starting to warm up and a clear sky above us.

We seemed to coast during the miles 3 through 5. Running down Colorado Boulevard and Green Street was a treat.

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Not my picture but a great shot of the Colorado section – Courtesy of Facebook

It wasn’t until the long turn around on Lake that I started to feel a bit fatigued. The odd part is, according to Endomondo, my best lap times were during and after Lake. I’ll give some credit to the awesome Japanese Taiko Drum group that was at mile 5. Best band on the course!

By the time we got to the halfway point in front of CalTech, we were taking longer breaks. My knee was starting to feel sore and I completely lost control of my breathing. I decided to double down on the Gu Chomps and chowed down half the bag. It took a few minutes to feel the boost but it definitely helped me get back into pace. The shade along Green street was a god send by this point.

I forget at which miles or what schools they were from but along the course we they had some great cheer groups. Each time we ran by one it gave us a boost of energy. This was the USC Cheer team on the route back on Colorado:

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USC Cheer Station – Courtesy of Facebook

When we hit the hill in front of the Norton Simon we didn’t think twice about walking the entire block and skipping one run segment. Hopefully by next year I will be able to at least jog up that thing.

Just beyond that we hit the part of the course I was really looking forward too… The Colorado Street Bridge! As I mentioned in earlier post, I LOVE bridges and make it a point to sign up for races that let me run across them. This knocked Pasadena off the list! It was a great view from there and wish I had taken a photo.

And then we hit another hill… I always forget how hilly Pasadena is. This one was a bit steep and included a turn around. Thankfully there was a band at the top of the hill and their “unique music” really pushed us to run back down the hill and towards the Rose Bowl for the big finish.

At the 10 mile mark I hit a bit of a wall; my knee ached during every run segment, I ran out of Gatorade/water on my hydration belt, and I finished the last of my Gu Chomps. What I thought would be a “quick” 5k victory parade around the Rose Bowl turned into a slow march around the Rose Bowl AND golf course. Totally forgot we had to run by half of the Brookside Golf Course just beyond the Rose Bowl.

We came to a complete stop around mile 11 as I had readjust my shoes and Robert was feeling quite winded. I needed a drink of water but we were still about half a mile away from the next one. I knew we would finish but I could see the time getting away from us. We had made great time through the 10 mile mark and I was hoping we would finish in 2 hr 15 mins.

We gathered whatever strength we could muster and ran the last 2 miles. Along the way we ran across a fellow Pacer, she was quite tired and thought she couldn’t make it. I slowed down our pace and kept encouraging her. This was around her third half-marathon so we both knew she could finish it.

I told Robert we needed to finish strong so we went into a nice sprint towards the finish line. As we hit the last turn I could see all the spectators lined up along the shoot. A few pacers were there and cheered us on. Meghann was also in the crowd but I completely missed her:

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Meghann’s picture of us crossing the finish.. yes I’m totally fist pumping!

That last quarter-mile made my day. Sure I was tired and soooooo very hungry but the feeling of accomplishment was well worth it. I had just ran 13.1 miles through my hometown!

With the medal around my neck and hands full of food freebies I collapsed on the nearest piece of grass. I went to town on that chocolate milk and fruit. I would have eaten 5 bagels if allowed. I checked the Endomondo stats and the time shocked me; before getting injured I was shooting for 2 hours and 30 minutes but we had finished in 2 hours and 27 minutes! If I had any energy left I would have started dancing, the best I could do that day was my usual goofy smile.

Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena: Post Race
Finishing my first half was amazing and having Meghann and Robert there to celebrate with made it that much sweeter.
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Meghann’s sweet medal from the Mini-Marathon
Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena: Half Marathon
First of, I hope, 6 Rock and Roll Half Marathons in 2013. Onward to SF!

Post Race Comments

My knee isn’t hurting as bad as after the Santa to the Sea race but it is still troublesome. I managed to get back on the road the week after the race. I will continue to do strength training as advised by my doctor and hopefully I won’t run into the same issue in San Francisco.


Previous Posts about Race

Where I’m Going/Training
Training Update for January

February Update

Reading the last two training posts makes my accomplishment at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena (recap coming soon) pretty freaking awesome. While my long runs for the race didn’t match the training recommendations, I felt very confident after pain-free 6 milers. Unfortunately, my glutes still need work and I did have knee pain after the race. On the bright side, the pain wasn’t as bad as after the Santa to the Sea and I was able to get back on the road a week later. My monthly total was almost back to pre-injury levels, a nice 38.35 miles thanks to the 13.1 boost!