Monday, October 20, 2014

Race Report: Race for the Rescues Los Angeles 5K

October 18, 2014 | Pasadena, CA

Dad was looking for a 5K to do for work and health insurance benefits, and when our original one didn't pan out, we thought the next best bet was one that a) benefitted animals and a rescue organization, b) I could bring Molly and run her and c) was flat and all around our favorite Rose Bowl. Best yet, my uncle wanted to come walk it, so mom and grandma wanted to come watch! A family affair. Uncle had to bail after being called into work earlier in the week, but mom, dad, Molly and I still had a blast.

This race is all over - LA, Orange County, and Portland, all in the fall months. They offer a kid's fun run, a dog walk, and both a 5 and 10K, with opportunities for you to race with your dog too for just a few bucks extra. Since I figured it benefitted the pups (okay, cats too), may as well bring Molly along for the fun! Humans get race shirts, dogs get bandanas and we all know how much of a bandana girl Molly is.

I'm so used to driving to race days on my own, it felt very odd having mom and dad along for the ride! We were up and out the door by 6:45 and out at the Rose Bowl before 7:30 to get our bibs, shirts, and to get ourselves settled. Dad was nervous and antsy, and it was clear to see. I kept trying to tell him he'd be fine. Not like he hasn't done this before! (He was mostly nervous about the chip not tracking his time, especially since this came with an incentive from work, and the other 5K he did with me never got his time tracked). At least we had mom along as our race photographer!

The race "expo", if you want to call it that, had tons of pet vendors selling custom treats, harnesses, leashes as sort of pet boutique. There were also tons of local rescue groups and humane socities out, but that early in the morning yet there weren't many dogs out for adoption (mom said there never really were either, or they were all super small dogs). We ran into one of my Ragnar So Cal teammates, Beth, and her weimaraner Timmy, who were doing the 10K. We heard about this race through them!

And then it was go time -- they did a lot of waves for the race (both the 5 and 10K start together), and asked that those running with dogs don't start before the 4th wave. Dad started in wave 2 or so, and Molly, Beth, Timmy and I all hung to the side until about wave 5, when we just jumped in and got on our way. The 5K is one loop up and around the Rose Bowl, golf course, and back down through the parking lot; the 10K just does the course twice. I'm glad we weren't doing the 10K, though I think I would like to train Molly up to a race of that distance.

The course is easy, and mostly flat, though the first bit is a long though very casual grade up to the north side of the Bowl, across the wash. The last half is just as much of an easy, long downgrade into the finish. Molly and I caught up to dad just before the mile 3 marker, but he told us not to run to the finish with him, but to go on! So Molly and I trucked on and finished a few minutes before him...

... and while I was getting Molly water, we missed his epic jump into the finish! We've got this on video, too, and it's pretty freaking fantastic. I'm sad I missed it in person.

Dad rocked his second 5K in 38:56 (6th in his age group) and Molly set a new PR at 28:13 (good for fourth in our age group of 62!, and technically 2nd place in our group with a dog. Happy Saturday! I'm so proud of dad. He's a little bummed by his time but I told him that's another good reason to sign up for another one, to work on that time thing. ;) I'll get him sucked in, promise!

Do you run with your dog? How about races?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ragnar Napa Valley: Part 3

Ragnar Napa Valley
September 19 - 20, 2014
Part 1 Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I really did not intended this to take a month to get done! Holy wow, time has gotten away from me. Good thing my memory is pretty sharp. 

After my first run, and seeing Jill and Kristin off for their first legs, we found our way finally heading to the major exchange (12). It was really just a massive parking lot, it seemed, but the energy was certainly alive at that point. Deliriousness, I'm thinking. And probably something to do with all the Van 2s dealing with 100+ heat indeces, so it was probably a lot of deliriousness at that point! 

NAU alumni representing!
Heather had prepped me for this one, since it was about dinner time, and that there was a huge shopping complex with a Dick's, Chipotle, oodles of food, and a Whole Foods not far from there. We were happy campers - after a quick emergency compression-sleeve trip to Dick's, a stop at Chipotle, we joined the hoards of people at Whole Foods to grub up and eat dinner, finally! 70% of the parking lot were Ragnar vans, at least. 

After dinner and some essential van cleaning, we headed off to the next exchange to rest (yes), sleep (not so much), and do this... obviously.

Yours truly, apparently the queen of all things Ragnar temporary tattoos. Everyone got marked up, and then we all found our way to our own place to sleep. Tina, Kristin, John and I in the van and Jill, Kim and Kate all went out the grass at the huge community center we were at. The local rugby club was using the showers as a fundraiser, but as I had promised folks, you just hit that point where you'd rather take a 20-minute nap than you would a 5-minute (though hot) shower. I was right. I eventually fell asleep, for maybe two hours or so, and soon enough, Jill, Kate and Kim came back because the sprinklers had gone off! Thankfully they weren't soaked, but wet enough to be unhappy. Apparently the sprinklers had sent a whole ton of folks packing. 

Soon enough, Van 1 had made their way to the exchange, and after a stretch session with the trainer at First Aid, I got ready to head over to the exchange with Tina for her night leg! She was most nervous about this one too, mostly about getting lost, but I promised that as long as she found people to follow, she'd be fine.
At least she had a pretty exchange! They had done all these lights the whole length of the corral... individual lights.
Tina was off. I kid you not, we were following directions, trying to find our way to the exchange, and finally found the madness (it was really just the side of the road in a business complex and not conducive to large vans and runners). We were about to park, and I was going to text her to check on her (she runs with her phone), when I got a call from her! ...that's not good. I couldn't make it out, so we hung up and called back. She had fallen, and cut herself up pretty badly (though how badly she didn't know given that it was 1:45 am and pitch black), so we found our way back to her near her mile 2-ish. Turns out, the trail/sidewalk had combined, and got loose and she tripped and appeared to have skidded on her hand - her palm was torn up, fingers road rashed and bleeding and her knee rashed pretty good. Kate took off running for her, and thanks to nurse-in-training Jill, we spent nearly 20 minutes on the side of the road cleaning the poor lady up (sorry to make you re-live all this, Tina!). The only humor out of the situation was the group of about seven or eight college students, clearly on their way home from the bars, asking what we were doing, and did we need their help? Drunk Girl #2: "Can I help? I'm REALLY good with bandaids!" Us: "No, hunny, you just keep walking." Though not at all funny in the situation, it provided some good relief afterward. 

We found Kate, exchanged her back out for Tina who then got to run her last mile or so and still finish out her leg. Trooper, I tell ya what. (Side note: apparently she wasn't going to call me, but a lady who was right behind her when she fell made her - thank you Ragnar stranger!)

Morning aftermath. :(
Soon, we were getting ready to send off Kim, so Tina and I spent awhile cowbelling and cheering at the exchange waiting for Kate to come in and send Kim off on her night leg. As soon as we got Kim off, it was my turn to pysch up and get ready to roll. Fact: Despite doing (now) three Ragnars, the  night legs are still the worst for me - they are terrifying. I hate them more anything. Yes, it's cooler, yes the weather is usually nicer, but mentally... they overpower me. 

My night run was about 8.4 miles in and out of Santa Rosa - a gorgeous little city (home of Charles Schulz), but also country enough that there were enough trees and shadows that scared the crap out of me. As noted, all my legs were NO van support, and this one was clear as to why: two lane highway, and we were running against traffic (obviously) at 2 am. Not a good situation for turnarounds. I was determined, though, to make it better than leg 1, and ran with what I had in me to get a solid 8.4 mile run in! 
Night leg selfie. 
During the day, I'm sure that leg is amazingly gorgeous - I could make out cornfields, some vineyards, tons of trees and a pretty tunnel of trees we ran through at some point. I'd never been more excited to see the one mile to go sign and gave everything I had for that last one mile. 8.4 miles, 1:22 and change, and something like 8 minutes over projected. Told you, night legs win! 

After my night leg, I changed and passed out for a few more hours - thankfully. I can't remember when I woke up, but it was just before or just after Kristin (#12) headed out, so we were near the next major exchange! Time kinda flew, despite how over time we were. We got to the exchange, said hi to our Van 1ers, got Kristin through, and stopped at first aid for Tina (first aid is only at majors, and we hadn't been to a major since Tina's spill). The awesome guy got Tina super wrapped up, gave us extra supplies to clean up later, and sent us on our way. BREAKFAST. 

Over breakfast, Jill analyzed all our next runs and gave us the run-down: hills, flat, rolling, short. A quick pump-us-up before we headed down the road. After breakfast and some playing catch-up on our legs and kills, and brushing our teeth on the side of the road, we headed out. 

Last legs, here we come! 

Have you ever fallen while running? Did you keep running?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: WIN Detergent + Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was sent two bottles of WIN Detergent in exchange for this post through a partnership with Sweat Pink. As always, the opinions are my own. I received no compensation other than these two free bottles! 

Especially as we (hopefully) wrap up these 95+ degree days in Southern California, my runs are early in the morning but live little to be desired in terms of how much I'm still sweating. And therefore, stinking. I want to do laundry like every day just to keep things smelling clean but in this drought, that's probably not smart. I digress...

WIN Detergent is designed and made for athletes and lovers of all things sweaty who are looking for great products to keep their athletic apparel fit and clean, all while removing that stank. There are two formulas: the original, scented (fresh!) formula and WIN Green -  its dye-free, fragrance free GREEN counterpart. WIN GREEN is hypoallergenic and designed for users with sensitive skin and noses. After using both the last few weeks, I definitely prefer the scented version (blue), but love knowing that both are friendly to my tech gear and remove the stinkyness regardless. 

Not afraid to air my dirty laundry!  ;) 
Especially after the Long Beach Half, where it got nice and toasty outside, I quite literally couldn't wait to get my stuff home and in the wash so it could smell pretty again. 

Are you loading up on stinky clothes lately too after races? Now's your chance to earn two free bottles of your own, too! The winner of the giveaway will receive one each of the original WIN and WIN Green to use at home on their gear too. Detergent isn't super cheap, so why not jump on the chance to win some good-smelling stuff?! Giveaway ends Monday, October 20. Good luck! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Race Report: Long Beach Half Marathon {30th Anniversary}

Long Beach ICB Half Marathon
October 12, 2014 | Long Beach, CA

Just two weeks ago, I was gifted a half registration to the LB Half for my birthday from one of my dearest friends in Texas - I was beyond shocked and so so so excited, and can't ever think Sarah enough for getting me in for this opportunity! Even then, on Wednesday my NYR ambassador + running friend Monica asked what pace I was planning on running at the half. I was gearing up for a sub-2, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and not just on a huge downhill at Fontana. So then this happened:
Monica was aiming for a 2:05 finish, which would be just about a 6-minute PR for her. That sounded pretty comfortable to me, so I quickly jumped on board. Needless to say, if you read the above, I was pretty excited!

Race morning was a little chaotic. Long Beach isn't all that super easy to in/out of anyway, but with the 405/22/605 closing, it was sure to be a cluster. Lucky for me, I don't normally go that way anyway, but the closures seemed to cause major chaos for tons of folks. (Bear in mind there are 15,000 for the half marathon alone, plus the full, 5K and bike tour folks = TONS of people in LB). The expo gives you the opportunity to pre-pay parking and guarantee yourself a spot in one of two garages or a handful of city lots for $10. Mentally, I thought this was a great idea, given that I didn't know what race morning looks like here, so just before I left the expo on Saturday I bought myself a spot. Despite arriving in LB at 6:12 on race morning, I didn't actually park until nearly 6:50 because of all the bottlenecks. Shenanigans.

This girl's gonna PR today!
Despite all that, I had time to get into a pre-race routine, meet with Jessica her bib and shirt, and get down to the start to find Monica + other new friends as we waited. Monica said she'd run what she could with me, but if she started to get too tired, I could go. I told her no way, that I had made myself a 2:05 bracelet and everything and she would PR today. She said if she could hold on until mile 8 or so, she'd be happy.

The waves are a little messy - the first wave is for finishers in times of 1:16-2:09, and the following  waves are in only 20 minute increments. Needless to say, the first wave was HUGE and looked like it kept on going. Lucky for us, we were able to jump in in an opening in the gates and got started. Monica and I talked other races for the years, previous PRs, where she needed to take her Blox, and did she want to push it now or at the end? Talked Avengers registration with two other ladies, scoffed at the bicyclist on the beach path who thought it would be okay to play his bell so WE (yes, 15,000 runners) would get out of his way.

Endless runners. 
The beach path is gorgeous and flat and easy, but it drags on forever. I swear that part would never end, despite telling the guy running next to us that it turned around at the dog beach, which was "just behind that building!"... or three buildings later. Mile 10 brought a cheering station with donut holes (which they're apparently known for), and the last two miles are nearly flooded with people cheering and yelling and cowbelling non stop. It sure makes up for the mostly quietness of the 3-4 miles down the beach path!

Just before mile 1l, Monica said she was over it and she was starting to hurt. At about this point, she had exactly 24 minutes to run just over 2.4 miles, so I knew as long as we'd keep shufflin', she'd be close. She said (somewhere along the course) that 2:05 would be perfect, but she just wanted a PR. I kept pushing, yelling encouraging her from just steps ahead, and got smiles and nods from other runners nearby to push her along as well. I told her I'd drag her if I had to! About a quarter of a mile out, I grabbed her hand and pulled in her for a strong last burst.

"There's the finish!"
"There, around the bend. Follow the fence."
"THAT's the finish?!"
"*screams*" and bolts.
Hands up, locked together, for an epic photo finish. I wish Marathon Foto would get on that already.

Splits (9:34 average)
10:18 (that blasted Mile 11!)
7:26 for .21 miles on my Garmin

2:06:26 and a 4:50 PR for miss Monica! While it wasn't her 2:05 dream, she is beyond stoked with her PR and knows that sub-2 is near in her future (wink).

Stupid humidity and sweat made all these photos blurry. :(
Afterwards, we found Jessica, Michelle and other friends at the IERC table, played around with our new shiny bling (side note: these medals are gorgeous) and wandered around for awhile. Such a great race morning with friends and reminds me how lucky I am to have some really awesome communities out here in LA. Grateful.

Me, Monica, Jessica, Michelle. 
I am so stoked for Monica and her PR and am glad I got to be a part of her LB journey! I am also really excited because despite some tightness after, a 2:06 was super comfortable for me, which tells me a lot about my conditioning lately and that I can totally aim for my sub-2 again at RnR LA in two weeks! Here we go!

Happy race day indeed!

Did you race this weekend? Brag about it here!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ragnar Napa Valley: Part 2

Ragnar Napa Valley
September 19 - 20, 2014
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Somewhere about 2 in the afternoon, it was my finally my turn to run. I was excited and antsy and for whatever reason, nervous - not like I've done this before or anything - and needed to get myself together! My first leg was 6.6 miles, and I knew there was one beastly hill but the rest flattened out and should be bearable (hint: not true). 

Tina and Kate had both killed their first legs and it was finally Kim's turn to go! She had about 4.5 miles and was ready to rock. Finally, we heard our number and got ready to roll. Kim came flying in from her leg (she killed it!), and we were off. I had run into a friend from grad school in the store at Exchange 6, and her teammate (who I met at So Cal while trying to find said friend) recognized me and was also their runner 10. We said we'd try to pair up for our late-night run, but sadly she took off for her first run about 15 minutes before me. Oh well. 

Ha. That word, bearable. Never mind the fact that it was about 90 degrees out, but hit a heat index of almost 100, and it was brutal. I got not even to mile 2 before pausing to walk, doused myself at the water station and just hoped I'd make it through. I hadn't brought a handheld waterbottle at all (total fail), nor my phone, so just hoped for the best and that I'd make it through these 6.6 miles. My leg consisted of a zoo of roadkill - frogs, birds, opossum, deer - and unfortunately, not tons of scenery! 

At the start of my leg, just across from the exchange. 
Have I noted that ALL THREE of my legs were no van support? Not even partial. For you newbies, this means that my van wasn't allow to pull over anywhere to get me water, food, whatever, mostly due to the lack of shoulder space on the road or a runner being on a trail and not on the road. However, I think given with the heat index, there were tons of vans pulling over, I guess risking being disqualified?, and supporting their runner. 

Admittedly, I turned a few teams in while we were driving previously (on some really stupid places they were pulled over), but I was grateful when a van person ran across the road and handed me a bottle of ice water. No way I was gonna turn those kids in! About two miles later (just about 4.5, 5 maybe), I stopped to talk to a van across the road (who also refreshed me with a new bottle of water). Thankfully, I have Tina's phone number memorized (from college, no less), so I had this girl text her to tell her I was fine, but it was hot and I would be longer than anticipated. 

Finally, the one more mile marker showed its ugly face and I just wanted to fly - I zipped past the girl that I had leap-frogged with the whole time, and apparently made it so fast, my team wasn't ready for those coveted exchange photos! Bummer. 

I said at the end of my leg I wanted chocolate milk and cookies. My awesome vanmates even fed me the cookies! <3
It was finally over. Holy crap. I had never felt so horrible or defeated after a first Ragnar leg. I think there was a steady stream of obscenities that came out of my mouth and I was not happy with how that had gone at all. Well, it could only go up from here, right?

Alright, Leg 1, done!
How do you survive runs in 100+ degree heat indexes?