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?
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!
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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:
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Only a 5k so I’ll just keep my regular running routine. Hopefully I will have some strong glutes by then.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Getting to the start was simple and organized. 😎 Since we did the two person relay, I would take one bus to the start while Meghann would hop on another to halfway point. As we met up with Santa’s Little Helpers, David and Carlos, I noticed both had bibs while Meghann and I were told at the LA race packet pick up that only the finisher would get a bib. 👿 So now I looked like a random person on the race course. 👿 This conversation also brought up how the hell I would know where to give Meghann the timing chip (in lieu of a baton…) or even if I would get to line up at the start. Yeah my brain really needs this confusion at 6am on a cold morning.
Carlos and I got on the shuttle and headed to the start… well it looked like the start. There were runners hanging around a street and a line of port-a-potties were there. It was a random neighborhood right next to the freeway and the locals seemed taken back by the sudden mass of runners blocking them into their homes. The only staff I could spot were way up front next to the start and their speakers weren’t loud enough to hear in our spot in the last corral. Carlos and I just looked at each other and took off when we saw the crowd move forward… and promptly stopped… it was a wave start… awesome if we knew about it. 👿
As we walked to the front of the crowd I finally saw the giant Santa that gave the race its name. The bastard looked fat and happy guarding the giant mound of toy offerings we had given him. He looked satisfied… for now…
Our wave was unleashed without a problem and I took to the sidewalk to pass the walkers. With this being Meghann’s first race longer than a 5k and a strict 3 hour limit, I wanted to give her a good cushion. I made a sub-hour finish my target and fell into a 8-9min pace for most of the race.
I looked around the course and the start was quite nice. What’s not to like about being surrounded by strawberry fields? But, that quickly gave way to industrial parks. Thankfully, the course was flat and wide, which was perfect for passing people at the start. I have to say it was pretty nondescript until we hit the first cheer station at a local elementary.
Those kids were out there screaming and cheering for everyone that ran by. 😎 Even the houses leading up to the station had people standing outside and cheering us on. Tip for the ladies: It is amazing what a few cheers will do for a man’s stamina.
Running through the neighborhoods was definitely when the course began to grow on me. There were enough turns to keep me from spacing out and none of those deflating turn around segments. 😎 I hate having to run a mile then take the same route back for another.
Thanks to the well placed mile markers I was cruising until I hit a hill… well it was a freeway crossing but after 6 miles that looked like a mountain. I decided to walk that thing and save my energy for the sprint towards the finish.
And here is where another 👿 point comes in. At the transition point, they were calling out to the 2nd leg runners to get ready but since I didn’t have a bib they couldn’t let Meghann know. She just knew I was aiming for a sub hour time and got in the chute around then. I ran towards the point but no one told me where to go and I quickly ran by the small tent set up. Thankfully Meghann yelled out at me and I was able to stop without any one running into me. I gave her the timing chip/baton and she was off.
I clocked in at 58mins! As I training for this race I constantly failed to meet my sub hour target. (In hindsight I pushed myself too far, see the Post Race Comments at the end of the post)
Since the transition was just before the mile marker, I did not have any food or water waiting for me. I had to walk over and reach from the back of the tables to grab some. 👿 The lack of staff also meant that there wasn’t anyone giving out medals or information on how the 1st leg runners get their medals. 👿
At least the transition point was a nice park in the middle of downtown Oxnard. My body felt great as I started stretching and doing my cool down. All I could think of was getting to the finish so we can get our medals and head to the nearest bar!
Instead of taking the race provided shuttle to the finish we got a ride from a friend…. but we parked around the 9 mile marker and had to walk the rest of the way. While walking through the beach neighborhoods I knew Meghann had the better leg of the race. There was a nice breeze coming through and the sun was finally out. After starting the race at a cool 48, it had reached mid 70s by the time I met up with Meghann.
After begging a volunteer to give me a medal, we met up with the rest of the teams and settled on which bar to celebrate in.
The second picture is of me with a coworker’s son. She was excited to see me but he was less than thrilled to take another picture. The kid is in training for the LA Marathon and this was his first half marathon. I thought he would’ve been a little more excited after that accomplishment. Safe to say I will be jumping in the air (knees permitting) when I finish my first half.
Post Race Comments
I never believed in Santa and I think this race was his revenge… my left knee did not like all the post race walking we did. By the evening I could not even bend it without significant pain. Thankfully I had this before and knew the treatment was the standard Rest Ice Compression Elevate. Still, it has been well over two weeks and my knee still complains about anything beyond a mile. DAMN YOU SANTA! DAMN YOU TO HELL!
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!
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.
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*
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.
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
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.
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.
This wasn’t an actual race but it was totally worthy of being added. I’ve run with the Pasadena Pacers since September. They are a great group and I jumped at the chance to represent them in an official race. I had floated around the group depending on how many miles I wanted to run any given day but 10 mile challenge was an important event for me. It would be the longest run I’ve done and a great way to measure how far I’ve come.
Before we set off coach Wende called all the 10 mi challenge people into the spotlight during our stretch. The +50 strong Pacers group cheered us and Wende told us while she wasn’t running that day (she had the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon the next day) she would be showing up a few times along the course to cheer us along. The Half-Marathon group volunteered to set the pace for us and lead us through an awesome warm up. It was on.
I was doing this run without music since I did not know the entire route and needed to be able to hear the interval call outs. I ran by myself for the first mile, preferring to take the trail route along the Rose Bowl. I met up with the lead pack at the first hill… thankfully I had run up the hill the previous Tuesday as part of the hills training group. I knew I could take this hill. I charged up it and kept pace with the lead pack. This pack consisted of some of our best runners. I was quite thankful they were taking it easy on us. While they had the energy to talk I was just focused on getting through this.
2 Miles Down! Still feeling fine. Wende is ready with her boom-box and camera after the first hill and she cheers us on. She is the best coach I’ve had! We catch up to some runners from the Korean-American Running Team (KART) and exchange hellos. Always nice to see other groups out there. When we came up around a bend I was able to look down at the Rose Bowl. Quite a view but my fingers were beginning to feel a bit numb. It was another sunny, but cold, Pasadena morning. I focused on the long ascent ahead… Running with the lead pack is starting to take its toll as I fall back a few paces. At this point I spot JPL.
3 Miles Down! The climb continues but I am starting to feel loose. That hills training really helped me get over the mental block of steady gains. We spot Wende one last time and she reminds us we are near the turn around.
4 Miles Down! The lead pack splits off and I soon realize I am the leader now. I ask them which way to go and head off into the winding streets… yeah I totally get lost. Unfortunately, two other Pacers who were new to the group were following me. We decide to wait for the pack and I finally get a breather in. AT this point I’m feeling good enough to just run the remaining distance. A few others catch up and tell us to continue down the street and we will know when the turn around is… off we go!
4.5 Miles Down! I spot the group founder and another Pacer veteran at the turn around and… we run right past them. Only after running a few more feet did we stop to think if that was the turn around. We ask and it was. Around this point Jennifer catches up to us. I met her a few weeks ago. She is recovering from injuries but is an established marathoner. I decide to keep pace with her.
5 Miles Down! Jennifer and I talk about why we joined the group and how our training has gone. She asks me a few times if the pace is alright. While I am starting to feel tried, I knew I could keep up with the pace. The rest of the route is, literally, all downhill from here. We continue just running for the finish.
6 Miles Down! Finally having someone to talk to is a blessing. While I do spend more energy talking to her, the conversation is interesting and she is keeping track of our speed.
7 Miles Down! We spot JPL and the Rose Bowl. It has been an hour since I last saw the two… still feeling good.
8 Miles Down! Two of the Half-Marathoners run right past us. I knew they were holding back. Jennifer again asks if I am still good with the pace. My legs were starting to complain but I was not going to let that stop me from finishing strong. We run on.
9 Miles Down! We catch up the Rose Bowl loop crowd. Having to dodge walkers/strollers/bikers is no easy task on tired legs. Jennifer encourages me to continue running since we are only a mile out.
10. Miles. COMPLETED! I run towards Wende and tell her I did it! She is surprised to see us come in so soon and quickly grabs her medals and cow bell. Yes a cow bell. She is ringing the bell while announcing to the other pacers that I just completed the 10 mile challenge. I am tired but proud. I thank Jennifer for keeping me motivated and being wonderful company. I receiving a few high-fives and make my way to the food. Carbs! I need carbs! I down a few cups of apple juice and chow down on 1.5 bagels. I keep myself from eating more.