City

Conquer the Bridge

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Why?

As I stated in the previous post about the race, I LOVE bridges and this run will let me cross Los Angeles off my “Run Across a Bridge in Favorite Cities” list. Others on the list are/were:


Expectations

Since it is roughly a 5 mile race, I don’t have any earlier times to beat. During my last long run (7/14) I ran the first five miles in 49 mins. So let’s say 45 for the race?


Training Schedule

Just got back from a long break my stamina is a bit of a joke. So I will try to hit the following times before then.
7/22 – 50 mins – NO, roughly 1hrs 3mins but it was a trail run. Valid excuse right? hah
7/29 – 49:00 – YES! 46 mins and 54 seconds!
8/5 – 48:00 – NO, 55 mins 30 seconds. Another trail run.
8/12 – 47:00
8/19 – 46:00
8/26 – Sub 45
9/2 – RACE!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles: Half-Marathon

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Why?

I really love the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series and I had a great time at the RnR LA Mini-Marathon last year. This year I will once again raise money for Team ASPCA but I’ve upped the ante. My goal is to raise $950 for this wonderful organization AND I’m doing the Half-Marathon!

Like last year, I will offer incentives for donations. Since the goal is bigger I’m going to be pretty creative. For my first goal I want to raise $250 by July 27th. If I meet that goal I will run the entire race in a full costume picked by the highest bidder! Now I do have some restrictions so if you are interested please visit my fund-raising site for more details.


Expectations

Hoping to raise $950 and finish the race in a costume! Now that I have four half-marathons under my belt, I’m confident I will finish but the bigger question is if I can raise the money. I’ll have to set a schedule for both running and fund-raising.


Fund-Raising Schedule

7/27 – $250!
8/20 – $500
9/1 – $600
9/15 – $700
9/29 – $800
10/6 – $850
10/13 – $950!
10/20 – $1150! I would qualify for the next level!

Check out my progress:


Training Schedule

Present through 9/1 – Training for Conquer the Bridge
9/8 – 9 miles
9/15 – 10 miles
9/22 – 11 miles
9/29 – 10 miles
10/6 – Might be Running Santa Monica 5000
10/13 – Run 13.1 miles in full costume
10/20 – Run 131. miles in full costume with 2 hr 20 mins goal.
10/27 – RACE!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland: Half Marathon – Recap

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Recap

Even though Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena was my first half marathon, RnR Portland was actually the first half marathon I signed up for. This is because on June 8th of this year, Meghann will make an honest man out of me and I decided Portland should be my bachelor party/run destination.

I’ve loved Portland ever since my first sip of McMenamins’ Nitro Terminator Stout back in 2010. Walking friendly downtown, great eccentric shops, breweries in every district and no sales tax! It is the one place I can see luring me away from Southern California. I got in Friday and left on Monday so I had plenty of time to see the sights, I’ve added a few pictures from that part of the trip in the Photo Gallery section below but for now… to the race recap!

The day before the race it was mid 60s and rainy. To my surprise on race morning the sun was shining (well… the Pacific North West version of sunshine) and the temperature would reach the mid 70s, perfect day for a run! It was a crisp morning but I’ve had colder runs at the Rose Bowl, including RnR Pasadena. I stayed at the McMenamins Crystal Hotel in downtown Portland which was a quick walk to the start at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Robert met me up at the hotel and we made our way to the start.

We found the gear check easily, stretched and made our way to the start for a quick warm up run. I have to say that every Rock ‘n’ Roll race I’ve been to has had a great starting area. All of the sections are well-marked and the guide they give you at the expo makes it easy to plan your morning. As we started the warm up jog I noticed the corrals were well into the 20s and stretched way back into the city…. this was going to be a packed course.

We were a ways back from the elite runners
We were a ways back from the elite runners

As with every race, my brain started to panic and worry about everything that could go wrong. I injured my foot the week before (lame injury and best told over a beer) and it flared up with all the walking we did the day before. I worried that it would prevent me from even finishing the race. At the expo I watched the course preview video and hills on the second half of the race looked brutal. Thankfully just as my brain was going off the deep end…

Woman: Hey are you from Pasadena?
Me: Yeah! I run with the pacers. Do you?
Woman: No but I’m from the area and know who they are. How was the last run you guys did?
Me: The Unity Run?
Woman: Yeah! That looked great.
Me: It was awesome. We had great turn out from other clubs as well. Like the Gritty City Track Club & Pasadena Tri.

This lead to more interaction among my fellow runners and quickly got me to ease up. She was talking about the Unity Run we did after the Boston tragedy. It was a great run that reminded me I should be thankful to just be able to get out and run.

I took a deep breath, said a prayer (with special request for my foot), and got back to focusing on the run. As each corral was released, I started to think about what lay ahead. Running across two more bridges. Seeing new parts of Portland. Hearing words of encouragement from strangers. Yeap, just going for a run in my favorite city in the Pacific Northwest!

View from Corral 9 at the start
View from Corral 9 at the start

From the get go we got into a good pace and weaved our way through the traffic. The initial 5k was an out-and-back on Nieto Parkway along the waterfront. I’ve only enjoyed one out-and-back and that was over the Golden Gate bridge at RnR San Francisco. This one wasn’t very scenic once you went under the Fremont Bridge. The road was also just as rough as we saw a few runners trip in potholes. The crowd, as with every RnR, was quite diverse and provided some entertaining people watching. We noticed a caveman, Chiquita & banana, some poor bastard running in a powder bottle suit, plenty of Elvi, and a barefoot runner. Just Portland keeping it weird.

The rest of the first four miles of the course weren’t very memorable. There was a nice section around a few parks that included my favorite type of course band, Japanese Taiko Drum group! A similar group had provided a nice boost during RnR Pasadena so it was nice to hear those drums before the steady climb up to Hawthorne Bridge. I glanced at the clock at mile marker 4 and we clocked in at just over 36 mins!

Five miles in and he was happy! I’m the knee brace behind him

Running across Hawthorne Bridge crossed off Portland from my “Run Across a Bridge in Favorite Cities” list (click here for full list) but it wasn’t as great as I hoped. For starters they laid down a carpet to even out the bumpy road… well in certain places it wasn’t laid properly and there were bumps, some big enough that we had to hop over them. There was a nice breeze on the bridge that felt amazing 5 miles into the race. We didn’t admire much of the view since we were on a mission to finish below 2:15.

After crossing the bridge the course made its way through an industrial part of town that totally reminded me of downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District. There were some nicely remodeled loft apartments, recording studios and heavy manufacturing. Just a few residents were out there but as with every RnR race there was plenty of local bands and cheer squads along the way. One of the bands was a two piece group that reminded me of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, I loved the diversity of the bands at this race.

Finally, just past the six-mile marker we had our first walk break. While I did hit a new PR for best one hour (10.64 km) it came a heavy cost as we were feeling winded and the mile climb still lay laid. We took a few sips of water and I chewed on some GU Chomps to refuel for the second part.

As we turned the corner back to Hawthorne Blvd, that one mile climb looked very daunting. I could see groups clumping up near the middle and just walking the entire way up. It is a steady climb so the incline isn’t harsh. Just the thought of running for ~1.5 miles uphill caused my muscles to ache but on we charged. Every step was a victory and I didn’t dare look back. The only band I remember on this climb was the School of Rock kids, they performed Gorillaz’ “Feel Good”, the music was great but the death metal vocals made me run just a bit faster to get out of sound range.

For those of you unfamiliar with Portland, Hawthorne Blvd is filled with shops, bars and restaurants. There were plenty of people lined up along the street cheering us on… including some with beers. It took about 3 walking breaks and 10 mins to beat that hill but we made it. We were at mile marker 8 with 1 hr 14 mins on the clock. Not too bad and definitely on pace for a PR, set at RnR SF 2 hrs 17 mins.

The course then looped back into neighborhoods and for the most part flattened out. We picked up the pace and felt we could definitely hit sub two hours. Along this stretch of the course we saw plenty of families lining up the road and kids holding out hands for some sweaty high-fives… including one who give a sticky high-five to a runner, afterward she frantically tried to wipe off the unknown substance on her tech shirt. Note to self: avoid high-fives from kids along the course.

At mile 9 we hit Laurelhurst Park and another walk break. It was a great spot to take a breather as the park had plenty of people cheering us on and a few just enjoying the park. I saw a runner (not in the race) running through the park with his dog by his side… I really want to get a dog so I can do the same. This was the first time I had been so far east in Portland. The neighborhoods in this part, with plenty of tree cover and single-family detached homes, seemed like just home. Again, I can totally picture myself moving up here. But enough about my love of Portland.

Kathy Boyd & Phoenix Rising, one of the awesome bands along the course. Courtesy of Facebook
Kathy Boyd & Phoenix Rising, one of the awesome bands along the course. Courtesy of Facebook

My familiarity with Portland would be a hindrance at Mile 10 as I thought the last 5k would be downhill and mostly after the bridge. In actuality, miles 10-12 were still on the east side and were rolling hills. I checked the clock at mile 11 and were at 1 hr 46 mins… which meant two sub 7 minute miles if we were to finish under 2. We kicked it into high gear. The Lloyd district was pretty plain so we did not miss anything by running at full speed.

We came across the Rose Quarter at mile 12.5 and gave it a one finger salute for Hugo/Lakers. Steel Bridge and its sweet breeze was just one turn, and slight incline, away!

Now running across the Steel Bridge was much nicer than Hawthorne. We had great views of downtown Portland ahead of us, the scenic waterfront park to the south, and the Broadway bridge to the north. There also wasn’t a carpet to trip us up. I had hoped the MarathonFoto people had taken a nice picture of me on either bridge but looks like I missed both cameramen. Maybe for the best since I never look great during a race. Every photographer at RnR Pasadena caught me during a walk break.

Mile 12-13 was a nice downhill coming from Steel Bridge. Because of my weak left knee I tried to limit my speed. Even with my brace I can feel every shock my left knee takes. While my knee felt great it was my injured right foot that was starting to become an issue. I could feel the top of it scraping against the shoe. It wasn’t enough to slow me down but ice and Meloxicam would be needed once I crossed the finish.

The line of spectators started just after the last band stage, some Journey cover band that was on a break when I passed, and stretched well past the finish line. I began to look around to try to spot Hugo and Mario, who had kindly joined me on my Bachelor weekend. Just before the finish I noticed them looking behind me so I ran to their side and let out a “SURPRISE MOTHERFUCKERS!” à la Doakes from Dexter.

Too fast for the camera
Too fast for the camera

That picture sums up the last stretch. Seeing strangers cheer me on and hearing the band at the final stage always motivates me to give it my all. With a new PR in sight and a scenic final mile I said prayer and thanked the old gods and the new that my foot had held up so well during the race. I managed to shave off another ten minutes and clocked in at 2 hours and 4 minutes!

Couldn't have done it without my support group!
Couldn’t have done it without my support group!

We didn’t stay very long at the post race concert, headliner was Andy Grammer. My swollen right foot made the walk to the gear check seem like another mile. I definitely needed to pop a few pills, have some beers and rest in the soaking pool. I checked out the merchandise tent but found nothing new from the expo. The finisher shirt just a rehash of the earlier ones and I plan on buying a RnR Pasadena finisher shirt to commemorate my first half. Though as you can see in the photo gallery below I had a nice haul of souvenirs.


Post Race Comments

I had an amazing time at Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland but didn’t sign up for next year. Though this is only due to the timing of the race, it would be during my second semester of grad school. I highly recommend this race to anyone and especially to those who haven’t been to Portland. There are plenty of things to do before/after the race and the course is challenging. As always Competitor group put on a top class event and remains my favorite series.

3 down and 3 to go! Onward to San Diego!
3 down and 3 to go! Onward to San Diego!

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Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego: Half-Marathon

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Why?

As I’ve stated before, I love the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series. They might have issues time to time (namely shirts/medals with their Mini marathons) but I enjoyed RnR Pasadena and RnR San Francisco. As an alum of San Diego State (GO AZTECS!) I know my way around San Diego and love the town. So when I noticed that RnR SD is their premier event I grab my Tour Pass and signed up quickly!


Expectations

The downside is that this race is near my wedding date so I might have to cancel at the last-minute if we need to get things done. I’d rather make sure things go smoothly at the wedding than run SD. If I do run it then I will have a fellow Pasadena Pacer running with me and I’m pretty sure we can hit 2:10. With every half I run I’m trying to get 5 minutes faster, seeing as how I ran 2:17 in SF and I’m shooting for 2:15 in Portland I believe 2:10 is possible for this race.


Training Schedule

With only two weeks between Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland and SD, I will not train much. I plan just take an easy 5k the weekend before and reset the week of the race.

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco: Half Marathon – Recap

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Recap

A few days leading up to the race I began to question if I was running for the right reason. As you can tell by my site I love logos & medals. I’m also a sucker for any type of collectible and began to believe that I enjoyed the build up to the race more than the course itself. This actually stems from the terrible Run or Dye race where I was actually happy that the race was shorter than advertised. Would this race be any different?

The start was near Ghiraredlli square, with a 7 am start it was packed by the time I walked over at 6:15 am. I did my usual stretches while I waited for Angelo to join me. The night before my mind barely let me sleep more than 3 hours and yet now I could barely stand still.

Angelo showed up around 6:30 and we started talking about what to expect along the course. A woman at the expo mentioned to him that this was one of the most challenging race in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. Internally I had a mini panic attack about my knee.

On the walk to the corrals, I could only think of punishment my knee was in for at the hands of the hills that lay ahead. While I wasn’t shooting for much of an improvement on my Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena time, I did want to finish ahead of the 2 hour 30 minute pacer that was in our corral.

Pre-Race:  Corral 17!
We were in Corral 17 of 25. Thankfully it wasn’t this packed throughout the course

From the get-go we were at a steady 6 mph pace. I had set the Endomondo app to give us a 10 min interval at the start, this allowed us to put some good distance between us and the rest of the corral.

The first two miles were a nice flat and wide street portion. We ran by some beautiful houses along the waterfront… which all had signs protesting a proposed restaurant on the open green. Ah SF, where even the rich are activists.

Rock On!
Rock On!

The guy above greeted us as we entered Crissy Field. This is one of my favorite spots in SF. Just beautiful open land with plenty of history. Old hangers converted into businesses. Miles of beaches just a stones throw away. Historical buildings are all over the place with plaques detailing how the air field was an important step in west coast aviation history. It also has a great path that leads to the miles of trails in the Presidio, including one that leads to the Golden Gate. Speaking of…

Mile 3 - First Hill
Within sight but first we just need to climb for two miles

At the 5k mark we finally got a nice view of the bridge. Just seeing the Golden Gate made me run a little faster…. but those hills made me walk. My knee wasn’t complaining yet but I still wanted to take it easy on hills. I hope next year I can charge up them like most of my fellow runners.

We ran (well… power walked) past several more historical sites, including the somber Presidio Pet Cemetery. A half-naked man, who I think was the flag runner at RnR Pasadena, ran past me and gave me a Pacer shout out. He did not motivate me to run any faster but the girls around us quickened their pace.

And then something happened that I had never experienced during a run… I had to go… and bad. Every step I took felt like it was shaking my bladder. I knew I couldn’t hold it until the end. Hell we weren’t even at the half way mark! Thankfully there was a porta potty near the top. We lost a few minutes standing in line but I felt so much better and made it a point to ignore the next two walk intervals.

Finally at the Bridge
Our reward for hills? A sweet 1.5 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge!

I have more shots of the bridge in the photo gallery at end of this post. Naturally we zoomed past a good chunk of people at this part. The road was wide since we were running on the bike path side. The views on the bridge were amazing so I had no hard feelings towards the walkers and photo takers.

Best Part! Running Across the Bridge
Best Part of the Race!

By this point I had found my zone. Sure I felt tired but at no point did I think about quitting or coming to a complete halt. Well… we did stop for more photos but did I mention the amazing view? No, well see below.

Best Out and Back Ever!
What an awesome view and it’s only halfway done

At the turn around we ran into the first band on the course. I don’t remember who it was as the course took precedent over the music. While I had enjoyed the bands spread throughout RnR Pasadena, I was glad they didn’t try to squeeze too many into this one. The stages would have killed the greats views. And despite the limited spaces on the course, their were plenty of aid stations along the route.

I finished off another bottle of water and ripped open a bag of chomps to fuel up for the last 6 miles. A downhill kept me from running through this part since my knee hates those with a passion so I took in the view once again.

And Back We go!
And back we go! One last picture of the bridge.

Yet another hill greeted us as we went under the bridge for the loop back. I ran up it but that was a very dumb idea since it drained quite a bit of energy. Again we ran across the entire length of the bridge. Passing people on this side was difficult since it was a narrow pedestrian only lane. Now we had the Pacific Ocean to look at and my was it a sight.

Once we got back across the bridge we started the slow descend back down to Crissy Field. This time we took a shortcut through the Battery trail. Getting off the tough concrete was a welcomed change.

Fort Point, another awesome historical site along the route, was the 10 mile marker and the last out-and-back. All that was left was a 3 mile run along the waterfront. Easy right?

The course switched back to trails along the beach and again the views were amazing. Angelo and I figured we could catch up the 2 hr 30 min pacer if we ran the rest of the course. We could see her up in the distance (she passed us during my pee break) and kicked it into high gear.

At this point, we rushed passed plenty of walkers and joggers running in the opposite direction. I guess you can’t shut trails for too long. Thankfully the trail was wide enough to handle everyone.

We eventually came to the last hill and, of course, I had to walk it. My knee wasn’t in pain but it definitely fatigued. This is where we also saw the 2 hr 30 min pacer so I power walked up that hill to pass her.

Though it also brought us to an unfortunate scene. A woman ahead of us was receiving medical treatment as she laid on the side of the path. According to the that Angelo found later in the week:

The woman was in cardiac arrest but was revived by paramedics and taken to a hospital in serious condition, the dispatcher said.

Later in the week the Rock and Roll Marathon series reached out to her and posted on theirRnR SF Facebook page:

Thank you guys for your concern. We are glad to report that the runner is recovering and still in the hospital. The family asked for privacy during this stage of recovery.

I hope she recovered from that. She was just one hill away from the finish.

I sprinted down the hill and around the bend to the start… only to realize the finish was actually about a quarter-mile from there. It took everything I had to finish that last leg.

I couldn’t spot Meghann in the crowd but the grandstands were full of people cheering and that was enough for me. I love races for their spirit. Sure they might come off as a “You’re all winners!” type of event but finishing IS a huge personal accomplishment. I was hungry, thirsty, dead tired… and I couldn’t help but smile. I chugged a bag of chocolate milk and ate a few bananas while I sat near the finish. I had just finished my second half marathon and was already looking forward to my third.

Hardest Course I've Ran and Looking Forward to SF '14!
Hardest Course I’ve Ran and Looking Forward to SF14!

I love the medal, shirt, pint glass and all the other souvenirs I picked up that weekend but the parts that will always stay with me are ones that I can’t share. Like the cool breeze along the bridge while running at full speed. After running this beautiful and challenging course I can safely say that I love the sport.

Onward to Portland!
Signed up for 2014 but for now… Onward to Portland!

Post Race Comments

The course was so amazing that I signed up for the 2014 edition. With a racer cap of a few thousand and a $20 discount, early registration was a no-brainer. I loved every part of the course, yes even the hills, and really hope they don’t change it too much for next year. It had just the right amount of bands, aid stations, and cheer squads. They were there when you needed them and faded away in time to take in the sights.

Speaking of sights, this weekend totally changed my view of the city! I had only been to San Francisco once before and it was less than ideal. Meghann and I went during a holiday weekend and the areas we visited were all tourist traps that were well over capacity. Thankfully this time around we decided to check out the other parts of the city. The day before we hiked around the Presidio of San Francisco and got a nice course preview. As you can tell from the course map above, this race took place on the northern coast of the city which lead to a nice long run along the waterfront. It was a welcomed escape from the touristy part of SF.


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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

RunOrDye-Map-Actual


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

PDX To Coast

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Why?

I love Portland and the Oregon coast so why not run from one to another? The upside is that I would be part of a team and the mileage can be an easy 7mi split into two parts. The downside is I would need to find a team. I doubt I can convince many of my friends or grab a big enough group from the Pacers to form one. Despite these challenges I will keep tabs on this race and I vow to run it!


When?

Could be two years from now or 10. It doesn’t matter. I. Will. Run. It!


How Awesome?

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Running from my favorite town in the pacific northwest to the gorgeous Oregon coast would be amazing no matter what leg of the relay I pick.

How Difficult?

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Running from my favorite town in the pacific northwest to the gorgeous Oregon coast would be really fucking difficult no matter what leg of the relay I pick.