Race Report: The Costume Party Run. Mission Accomplished (almost)

costume party run

What if you planned a race that would take place in the summertime. It would be a half marathon (with a 5k alongside) that would start at 6:00 in the morning. The course would be a huge loop through a parking lot, then out on a boring street for several miles, a turnaround to head back along that same bland route. The last three miles or so of the half marathon would again be through the parking lot. Instead of a t-shirt or tech shirt, you gave out trucker’s hats. You’d hand out no other swag, you’d offer only water and green Gatorade on the course. Oh, and no age group prizes, just over all trophies for each race.

But let’s say you have a concept. Two really. The first is to call your race the Costume Party Run and encourage everyone to dress up. The second is to offer what may be the world’s largest, blingiest finishers’ medal. Ever.

Having experienced this I can tell you. You would have the MOST AMAZING RACE EVER! Or close, anyway. You would have about 2,000 runners, the majority in costume, out there mainly to have a good time, celebrate running, and to get their picture taken.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have already seen the costume that I chose. I know I’ve been teasing you with it for weeks. I decided on the Shoe Dog, the mascot from Road Runner Sports, both because he is a Dalmatian, and you all know how much I love my spotted running partner, and because as a sponsor and host of the race expo, Road Runner Sports and the Shoe Dog seemed appropriate and fun.

After stopping by the expo on Saturday to pick up my race bib (and trucker’s hat), I found the Shoe Dog and threw down the gauntlet.

costume party run

costume party run

He didn’t seem too concerned.

After the expo, we headed to Encinitas to check into our hotel. We almost always stay in North San Diego County no matter where our event takes place. The race was at Qualcomm Stadium, very close to my son’s house, but about a 20 minute drive from Encinitas (that’s at 5:00 in the morning, probably twice as long any other time of the day). It’s just our favorite place to be.

We walked to lunch (full vegan food report coming in a day or so…we ate at some of our favorites, including Native Foods, the Roxy, and the Lotus Cafe), then down to the beach to see the renovations that Encinitas has made at Moonlight Beach. This sounds like a lot of walking, but it was probably about a mile. Not too bad for the day before a half marathon.

When we finally settled in for the night, I laid out my costume (for the photo op of course). Since I couldn’t stand the idea of wearing an actual collar, I had decided to wear a bandana around my neck. I did want the tag though, so I took it off of the collar and tied it into my shoelaces. It is an old one of Sydney’s (my Cattledog), that has the wrong phone number.

costume party run

With the race starting at 6:00 am, we set the alarm for 3:30. That gave us an hour to drink coffee, have a bite, get the bodily functions out of the way before heading south. I am saying “we” even though I was the only one running the race. For the first time that we could remember, Alan was the official spectator, cheerleader, and cameraman. In the past, he has either run the race or announced it. I kind of liked it!

As I set about putting on my costume, I dug through my suitcase for my sports bra. Uh oh. I’m not sure exactly how I managed to do this, but I forgot to pack one! Not a lot of choice here, I ended up running the race in a lightly padded sweater bra. If you look closely at the pictures, you can probably see my bra straps. Um, if you really wanted to.

We arrived at Qualcomm about 5:10 to see a long snake of car taillights streaming into the stadium parking lot. Fortunately, it moved quickly and it was easy to find parking. I added the finishing touches to my costume, grabbed my bottle of InRefresh, my inhaler, and my Huma gel, and we headed toward the sound of the music. It was pretty easy to see we were in the right place.

costume party run

costume party run

costume party run

costume party runcostume party run

costume party run

It wasn’t long before they called us to the start line, though I noticed the deejay had a few folks still moving on the dance floor (yes, there was a deejay and a dance floor). As I got into the chute, they were just taping down the timing mats, which kind of worried me since it was about 10 minutes before race time, but I needn’t have worried. The race started exactly on time, after instructions that the half marathoners were to follow the cop on the motorcycle, and the 5k-ers to follow Michael “Blackson” on a bike.

As I mentioned, the first two or so miles were around the stadium parking lot, but I didn’t mention that there were two bands and a music station out there. That helped a lot. Since it was a big loop, you passed them twice on the way out and twice on the way home.

As for me, I was a little concerned during the first mile. I felt like my heart rate was too high, and I felt a little shaky. Fortunately, I settled down, pretty close to my goal of about nine minute miles. I drank a little bit at each water station throughout the race. They were available every mile, stocked with water and Gatorade, so lack of fluids was never an issue.

I did notice one little mix up (that didn’t matter to my race). At the point where the 5k was to split off, there wasn’t a sign, just Michael “Blackson” standing there telling the 5k runners to head right. The problem was that a few got by, I heard one ask a photographer as we headed out of the parking lot where was the 5k supposed to run. Oops! I set him straight, but I’m afraid he got an extra 1/2 mile in his race.

The weather was perfect. Starting at 6:00 is a great idea, it stayed cool (around 70 degrees) and cloudy the whole race. Heading out onto Friar’s Road, which fronts the stadium, there is a slight uphill. I should point out that this course is really, really flat. Basically the only hills were when we’d run over a freeway, or the slight undulations of the road. In fact, it was so flat it was pretty boring. It is on the outskirts of San Diego, not downtown, not walker friendly, so there was nobody on the sidelines. There were a couple bands, which helped.

I hit the turn-around at about mile 6.5 and that is when the race started to get fun. Not because I was feeling so wonderful. I had to use my inhaler shortly after the turn-around, but because now I could see all the runners, in costume, coming behind me. It was great! So many people had really taken the time to be creative and have some fun with their costumes. I would estimate at least 75-80% of the runners were in some sort of costume, and as you can see, some went all out.

Right about that time I took my first Huma gel (review coming soon), and I began to feel better. I was on pace for my goal time of two hours, my asthma seemed under control, and I was having a good time. What more can you ask from a half marathon?  Doesn’t the timing seem ripe for a “but then…?”

Meanwhile, Alan had taken a short run, then placed himself at the finish line both to support me and to take pictures of the crowd (blogger’s spouse duty). He got some good ones.

costume party run

Okay, here it comes. But then…I got to mile 10 and I could feel the asthma. As I’ve said before, it’s not a full-on asthma attack. I can just feel it coming. I feel like my extremities aren’t getting enough oxygen, I start to slow down, and I know if I keep going my airway will close. So before that happened I started walking, took a puff on the inhaler and, after about 20 seconds, got started again.

I felt pretty good. With about 2.5 miles to go I was running close to race pace. A lady bug pulled up alongside me and recognized me as the Shoe Dog. I ran with her for a bit, the she slowed down at a water station. I kept plugging along, trying to do the math in my head. If I could hold this pace, I could make it. Could I hold this pace?

About a mile from the finish (I could actually see the finish line because of the looping parking lot course), I saw Alan cheering me on (and taking pictures, of course). He said he’s see me at the finish line and I went on. I again could feel my body starting to slow, wanting to slow. Right at that time three young men came running from behind and encouraged me to keep going. Which is all fine and good, and I really tried, but, you know you have to breathe to be able to keep going. Another short walking break, inhaler use, then back at it. Now I was worried that I would miss my goal.

When I finally got to the last third mile or so, I was able to pick up the pace (I looked at my Garmin and saw 7:38! Kind of scared me!). I wasn’t sure if my lungs or my legs would last, but I was going to give it everything I got. I could see the finish clock ahead of me. Would I make it?

costume party run

costume party run

I told Alan to “get my tail” in the picture!

After I crossed the finish line, it took me a few moments to pull myself together, catch my breath, and walk it off. Then I looked at my Garmin: 2:00:10. So. Freaking. Close. Less than a second a mile. The time I spent walking. (My official time is 2:00:11). More on my feelings about that later, but first:

costume party run

Bah-ling!!! Seriously this baby is six inches in diameter, and weighs a ton! The disco ball is suspended in the middle, and the outside looks like a vinyl record. They kept their promise. This is the biggest, coolest finisher’s medal I’ve ever earned!

costume party run

costume party run

I met a couple other Dalmatians:

costume party run

I also got to meet Melissa, a fellow Fitfluential and Sweat Pink Ambassador! Fortunately she “spotted” me and asked it I was Debbie. She had seen other Dalmatians, so it wasn’t as easy as it sounds (I think I saw about a half dozen other ones). As you can see, she is proudly sporting that Disco Ball Medal too! I’m looking forward to reading her race report.

costume party run

I came prepared to hand out some information about KindRunner, but the opportunity just didn’t arise. As you know, I’m a KindRunner Ambassador. I thought it would be a great idea to bring some little flyers or a card to give to runners who expressed interest in KindRunner. I mean, free 3-way shipping, a custom fitting process, a huge selection, personal service, plus the chance to give back by returning your old shoes (and receiving $10 Kindness Cash Rewards when you do), what’s not to love? I still think it is a good idea, and I’m going to hand out some of the flyers to my cross country team at our first practice this morning.

costume party run

After we got back to the hotel, I fixed up another bottle of InRefresh Electrolytes, took a short nap, showered (tried to dry my bra over the air conditioner), then we checked out and met my son and family for lunch (more on that later). I wore compression socks, keeping them on all night, so my legs felt pretty good the next morning. Actually I felt good all over except:

costume party run

My second toe is sore and swollen, and, I’m pretty sure, black under that polish. I haven’t lost a nail in years, so I’m kind of considering this a badge of honor! In the meantime, though, it just hurts.

What’s Beautiful, Goals, and Accomplishments

As you know, the Costume Party Run was my goal race in the Under Armour What’s Beautiful program. My goal was to run a 2:00 half marathon for the first time since I turned 50. I trained very hard to achieve that goal, and in the end missed it by 11 seconds. Less than a second per mile.

You know what? It doesn’t bother me at all. Not a bit. I did the training, I worked hard, I accomplished what I wanted to do. I ran the very best that I could. As my friend Jody would say, I am Enough. I am completely happy and satisfied with my race.

costume party run

A little disclosure here. I am an ambassador for the Costume Party Race. I received a free entry, and in exchange I wrote about the event in my training recaps and race report. My opinion is my own.  I also chose to dress as the Shoe Dog on a whim, I have no relationship with Road Runner Sports (except as a customer). Although, I think they approved:

And I impressed them with my time:

Oh, and while they had no age group awards, and many people were there just for fun, they did keep track of the finishing places, and, this Dalmatian just happened to WIN HER AGE GROUP!

Whew! Sorry for the long post. I hope I kept you amused! How was your weekend? It was a long one, wasn’t it? I hope you had great summer fun! Tell me about it!

I am an Official KindRunner! Plus Vegan Sofritas at Chipotle!

I Am A KindRunner!

As of today, I am not only a KindRunner Ambassador, I am myself a kind runner.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this post yesterday afternoon:

I had finally received my order from KindRunner! I had to wait a few days for my Mizuno Wave Rider 16s to be available in my size, so I was anxiously awaiting their delivery.

Now, new shoes are exciting, but with KindRunner, there is also this:

Now I get to be the kind runner by shipping back my old shoes (they go directly to Soles4Souls), to be rehabbed and given to someone who really needs them. Every time you buy a pair of shoes from KindRunner you receive a return shipping label for your old shoes. When they are received you will earn $10 in Kindness Cash Rewards that you can use on your next purchase. In spite of the picture above, I was only able to squeeze two pairs of my old shoes in the box. I still get $10 credit, and I will help twice as many people! Plus help keep those old shoes from ending up in a landfill for a long time.

KindRunner

What? You’re not sending away your running shoes?

There are a lot of great reasons to shop at KindRunner, like free three-way shipping, expert video reviews of every product that they sell, confident runner pricing, easy 365 returns, and of course the Kindness Cash Rewards, but to know that your shoes are going directly to someone who needs them is, to me, the most important. Click here for details about the KindRunner benefits.

KindRunner

Did I mention that as one of the first 500 KindRunner customers I receive free socks for life every time I buy a new pair of shoes? Truth!

New Shoes

Saturday is my next running day. I can’t wait! I plan to run a few miles in my purple shoes, then put them aside for the Costume Party Run on July 7.

Vegan at Chipotle!

Actually, it has always been possible to eat vegan at Chipotle. Their Veggie Bowl, Tacos, and Burritos are all vegan (if you skip the sour cream, cheese, and remember that the pinto beans have bacon in them). Their food is very good, reasonably priced, and I love any fast food joint at which I can order a beer.

There is a lot of vegan buzz right now, though, about Sofritas. What are Sofritas? From the Chipotle website: “We start with organic tofu from Hodo Soy that we shred and then braise with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. The result is a delicious, spicy tofu that will give vegans and carnivores something they both will love.

Sofritas have been available in Northern California for awhile, but Chipotle just made them available in all their California locations a few weeks ago. Healthy? Well, they are quite high in sodium, especially when combined with some of the salsas that Chipotle serves. Plus, remember that anything wrapped in a large flour tortilla will have an additional 250+ calories before you add any toppings.

Frankly, I am just happy to have a new vegan option available at a fast food restaurant that generally offers fresh, whole, made on the premises food. But, how does it taste? Alan and I decided to find out for ourselves.

KindRunner - Vegan Chipotle

We met there after work. As we waited in line, one of the servers brought around a sample tray with the Sofritas. It was nice to get a chance to have a taste before ordering.

The only thing I have ever ordered at Chipotle has been the Veggie Bowl. I decided to jump way out of my box, not only with the Sofritas, but by having them in a taco! Alan went that way too. I had the soft corn tortillas and he had the crispy shell.

Chipotle also has a choice of rice, so I stayed on the healthier side by ordering the brown. They still offer the pinto beans when your order the vegan food, which always bothers me. I know that non-vegetarians order veggie bowls, and now Sofritas, and that the menu clearly states “cooked with bacon,” but it just seems to me that unless someones states they want the pork-laden beans the vegan/vegetarian black beans should be offered. What is wrong with the sentence, “will you be having the black beans with that?” Then if someone says they prefer pinto, you can let them know, “those contain bacon, is that alright?”

Okay, mini rant over.

KindRunner - Vegan Chipotle

 My tacos were so messy that I had to eat them with a fork. With fresh, spicy, and corn salsa. I could only eat two. Were they worth the mess?

KindRunner - Vegan Chipotle

Alan’s tacos with a crispy shell and added guacamole. In the old pre-Sofritas days, the guac was free (with the veggie dishes). Now it is $2 extra. His crispy shells held together well. But how did they taste?

And the answer is…very good! The Sofritas are very tasty, the food is fresh, and I will be back for more (for sure because I was given a coupon for a free Sofritas Bowl, Burrito, or Tacos). Yes, the sodium is high, but I don’t eat there everyday, and I’m happy to have a good, vegan option at a fast food restaurant.

Oh, I asked the servers how the Sofritas were selling, and they said very well. Great job, California, keep buying them and Chipotle will keep on serving them.

Are you a Kind Runner? Do you eat at Chipotle? What is your favorite?

Costume Party Run: The Week in Training

With just over a month to go before my target half marathon, the Costume Party Run, my training should be heating up. Instead, the weather is. As I type this it is about 107 outside (fortunately I am inside). I’ve been very fortunate the last few weeks that the mornings have been cool and lovely. That seems to be over now. This morning at 5:00 it was 81 degrees. And warming up. Quickly.

Still, I am excited about my training and about the race in general. Remember the date…July 7 in San Diego. The Hilarious Half and the Wacky 5k both start at Qualcomm Stadium, and promise to be an insane combination of warm weather, costumes and crazy runners. Plus, remember the half marathon has what may be the biggest medal EVER!

Half Medal

I plan to get started on my costume this week. You guys gave me some great suggestions for turning a white running skirt and top into a Dalmatian costume, now I need to get going. A few felt circles, ears, tail, and I’ll be good to go!

I’ve been pushing in my training this week, in spite of the heat, but it has been challenging. I’ve had some asthma issues, some achy knees, and just a general feeling of, well, of feeling my age. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the weather, and I know I’ll adapt, but it’s been tough. Okay, enough of the excuses. Here’s my Week in Training.

Strength Training

Now that my Fast and Furious class is finished for the summer, I’ll either have to do it on my own (fat chance, though I could possibly handle the Seven Minute Workout), or get back to the gym. Finally. My “excuses,” my dear clients I see after my regular work day on Mondays and Thursdays, are leaving for the summer, opening up some time that should be put to good use.

In the meantime, I taught two Superball Classes this week. On Tuesday we did “Student’s Choice,” where each member of the class takes turns picking from a list. I love my class, they always pick the hardest exercises! On Thursday, I planned a circuit where the class goes from station to station. I usually keep the time and watch their form (everybody is doing different exercises, so you have to pay better attention). But when only three people showed up, all longtime students, I decided to join in, so I got my workout too.

On Wednesday I filmed the Seven Minute Workout and did the whole thing all the way through. Judging by my heavy breathing in the video, I was working pretty hard, so it counts.

seven minute workout - week in training

Running

I already wrote about Wednesday’s workout. In a nutshell: Intervals. Heat. Asthma. Kick Ass. Done. If you want to read the details, click here.

Week in Training - Exercise Induced Asthma

My inhaler is my friend.

On Saturday, Alan and I ran our regular trail run with Buddy and Penny. It’s a little over four miles, and we got out much too late. It was 6:30 when we left the house and already pretty warm. I worry more about the dogs than us, but we give them lots of breaks and water, and they seemed fine. It was probably in the high 70s when we finished, so it wasn’t too bad, just felt warmer in the direct sun. Then I took Lily and Olivia out for a one mile run. I also did some runner’s selfies with them, but I couldn’t decide which one I liked best. What do you think?

Costume Party Run - Week in Training

 On Sunday for my long run, I knew I had to get out earlier. Even so, it was 81 degrees at about 5:00. I finally got rolling about 5:30. Since this week was a cutback week, I planned to do a negative split run. I still need to run with Penny, so after two miles with her, my plan was to run the next mile about 30 seconds below my race pace of 9:07 per mile. Then,I would run at race pace for the next three miles, and finally pick it up once again, to faster than race pace for three miles. Then I could take it easy the last mile, which is good, because it is uphill and always feels like a long, hot mile anyway.

Week in Training - dogs

Here’s how it actually went. Penny and I got out about 5:30 and ran two miles. I dropped her off, then headed out, down the hill at this point. Right on schedule, I picked up my pace to race pace. It was pretty warm and it was tough, but I stuck it out. Then, about 2.5 miles into it, I could feel my stomach rumble. Uh oh. I made it to my turn around point, which was also supposed to be where I would pick up the pace again, but all I could think about was finding a bathroom. I had a choice between heading toward home, where the park was three miles (!) away, or running a half mile out of my way, adding almost a mile to my run, where I could get into the bathroom on the golf course (providing of course, that it was open).  I chose the latter.

I couldn’t really even run. I jogged a little, walked a little and finally made it to the golf course. I actually entered through the back, climbing a low fence (it’s a public course so I don’t think I’m breaking any rules or laws). Fortunately, the bathroom was unlocked. Even better, they had a little machine that provided cold, filtered water! A win/win!

Week in Training - Silverrock

After I got back on the road, I had a hard time getting going again. It was really getting warm now, my stomach was still not great, and I was getting tired. I made myself pick up the pace though, but all I could handle was one more mile at about race pace. It would have to do. I ended up running 10.35 miles, which actually shows how much I walked, since my detour should have added almost an extra mile.

Week in Training - Silverrock

I took this picture on the way out. It is really a beautiful scene, but if you look closely at the rocks, you will see the reason that I stopped for a photo.

Week in Training - Silverrock

Week in Training

I didn’t spend the whole weekend running (or recovering from running). On Saturday Alan and I went to the movies for the first time in ages. We saw Now You See Me. It was very far fetched, but extremely entertaining. The real reason I mentioning the movies though was that when Alan was buying his popcorn I was excited to see this:

Week in Training - Go Picnic

Yes, I was way more excited that I should have been about a processed food snack at a movie theater. But, and it’s a big but, the movie theater is a world filled with tons of junk, from popcorn coated in highly saturated gunk, to candy, to huge sodas, so to find a practically healthy, not to mention vegan snack, thrilled me. Once in the theater though, I saw one of the drawbacks of crackers with hummus at the movies: it’s hard to see while you put the hummus on your cracker in the dark. No matter. I will keep buying this snack, so hopefully the movie theater will keep stocking it.

So, that was my week in half marathon training. How did your week go? Any races, competitions, or other training you’d like to share?

KindRunner is Open for Business!

Finally!

I don’t know about you, but I have been gathering my old shoes and counting down the days until the launch of KindRunner. Well, the time is here and I am, as a KindRunner Ambassador, excited to announce the launch of the most innovative running store on the internet, KindRunner.com.

In case you missed my original post, KindRunner is the brainchild of a group of runners with more than 40 years combined in the running shoe business. With the opening of KindRunner, they plan to bring the personalized service and knowledge of a local running store at your fingertips online. No one has done this before!

They also know that there are millions of running shoes that go into the trash every year. They felt they had an opportunity to help do something better with these shoes by helping people who really need them. And they feel that you, the runner, should be rewarded for helping too. Hence, the “Kindness Cash Rewards.”

KindRunner

You may never have thought about the life cycle of a running shoe, so I am here to educate you. Running shoes are constructed of diverse materials, which tend to leave an impression on our environment that can last up to 100 years. Oil used in polymers such as plastic rubber or foam, timber in the form of cardboard, and molds and glues used to make all the elements stay together are only a few of the 65 distinct components of a running shoe.

KindRunner

Runners tend to use their shoes for simply running for about 300-500 miles. After that, they may be relegated to “daily use,” and worn casually until they no longer are deemed suitable for such use. At that point, they are frequently thrown in the trash, and end up in a landfill, where they will maintain a similar condition for around 50 years. Only after a period of 90-100 years will they completely biodegrade, having left a lasting impression on the environment. Kindrunner has more information about the damage discarded shoes can do to the natural environment on their Life Cycle of a Running Shoe page.

KindRunner hopes to find a highly functional alternative, one that extends the life of shoes by donating them to people who need them and will wear them to their fullest potential.

KindRunner is offering personalized service at a level that has never before been available on the internet. Here is a list of some of the things that makes KindRunner different.

  • Free 3-Way Shipping: Free shipping to you, free shipping of your returns for any reason, free shipping of your donated shoes for re-purposing with Soles 4 Souls or the More Foundation Group.
  • Confident Runner Pricing: Do you know what you want and you’re confident you won’t need to return it? KindRunner offers a special discount to confident runners who waive their free return shipping option (your order will still be shipped free to you, as is the return of donated shoes for Kindness Cash Rewards).
  • Kindness Cash Rewards: This is my favorite part. Every runner I know ends up with a pile of old running shoes in their closet (and usually their laundry room and garage, too!).  Now, instead of throwing them away, you can return your used running shoes to KindRunner and earn Kindness Cash Rewards. Here’s how it works. For every pair of running shoes purchased, you will receive a pre-paid return label to return your used shoes. When they are received, the label will be scanned and you will earn $10 in Kindness Cash Rewards. If you purchase five pairs of running shoes and return five pairs of donated shoes, you will receive $50 in Kindness Cash Rewards. You can even return more shoes to be donated if you like, but you will still earn $10 per pair of shoes purchased. Your Kindness Cash Rewards will be applied to your next order.
  • Expert Product Reviews:  A video review for every product! How cool is that? These videos are done by people who have been in the running industry for years, either as shoe reps, store owners, or expert shoe fitters. KindRunner is bringing the knowledge of your neighborhood specialty running store to the comfort of your own home!  Of course, I wanted to check out what Joe and Pat had to say about my new favorite running shoe, the Mizuno Wave Rider 16. Here is their review:

  •  Easy 365 Returns: You have 365 days to return your purchase, as long as it is in the original packaging in its original condition. Injured? Wrong fit? Need a different shoe to fit orthotics? No problem, no questions asked.
  • Free Socks for Life: The first 500 customers of KindRunner will receive a free pair of socks of their choice with each subsequent new shoe purchase. As long as this customer continues to run, they will continue to get socks from KindRunner!

Let the Kindness Begin!

Are you a KindRunner?

Disclosure: As a KindRunner Ambassador I will from time to time receive products at no charge to review. I have received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. And my opinion is I want to be a KindRunner!

La Jolla Half Marathon Race Report

Pre-Race Emotions

Finally, the weekend was here. I hadn’t been this nervous about a race for years. For one thing, this was the first half marathon in years for which I actually trained seriously. All the long runs, all the speed work, all with the goal of running a two hour half marathon.  In addition to that, I had picked a challenging race in which to do it. The La Jolla Half Marathon is one of the hilliest and toughest races in Southern California. But frankly, the thing that really made me nervous though, was you.

Yes, that is true. You made me nervous. I had set a standard for myself, told you all about it. I felt like you had hopes and expectations for my race. Could I live up to all that? So yes, I was a little frantic nervous.

Expo

Backing up a bit. Alan and I drove in to San Diego on Saturday. This year the expo was moved to Roadrunner Sports, which was perfect. I had even told Alan that I wanted to stop there (big race=new outfit!), before I knew about the expo.

Off-topic for a moment but this just sprang into my mind. As you know, I have been asking for help deciding on an outfit for the Costume Party Run, my next event, for which I am an Ambassador. A couple people suggested a Dalmatian, which I though would be perfect and a great salute to my amazing 12-year old running partner Penny. White shorts/skirt, and top, add some spots, a tail, ears, and a collar. Easy (important for me), appropriate for running a July race (even more important), and cute (the most important). While at Roadrunner I happened to see a photo of the Shoe Dog and a little light went on in my head. Check out the similarities:

Penny Shoe Dog

Anyway, while at Roadrunner Sports I did pick up an outfit (with an extra 10% discount on top of my VIP discount-woot!) and my race packet.  While roaming the (2) aisles of the expo, I met Laura Mildon at the Island Boost booth.

Island Boost is a premium, all natural endurance energizer, which comes in a liquid form as opposed to a gel. It is formulated with glucose, a fast and easily absorbed energy source, and coconut water for electrolytes. This makes it perfect for quick assimilation during the run, but it also makes it very sweet.  The passion fruit flavor was delicious, but I had a little doubt about the sweetness of it during the run. Laura offered to let me try a sample, suggesting I take a packet right before the hill (she didn’t have to say what hill, if you have ever run the La Jolla Half Marathon you know she is talking about the Torrey Pines Hill, which is at mile 5.5 in the race), and at mile 10.

La Jolla Half Marathon

You may have noticed that I was on the verge of breaking one of the cardinal rules of racing: Nothing new on race day. There I was, the day before the race, planning to test a new energy replacement and buying a new outfit.

race report

Logistics

I had to get up early on race morning. We were staying in La Jolla, which meant that I needed to catch the shuttle bus up to the Del Mar Racetrack for the start of the race. We were told that the buses ran between 5:00 and 6:00, but we needed to be in line by 5:30. Pretty easy, really, since our hotel was right across from where they would pick us up. But Alan, who was announcing the 5k, also need to get to the start line of the 5k. The first bus there would be too late for him, he needs to be there before the runners arrive.

In the past, he was given a ride on a motorcycle, which would then transport him back  to the finish line after the start of the race, so that he could announce the finishers as they came in. This year, the ride back was assured, but the right to the start was not available. That meant that we had to leave about 4:45 so that I could bring him to his start line. I then drove back, with plenty of time to spare, until I was almost back to the hotel. I expected to have to explain myself, because the road around the hotel was closed for the race. What I didn’t expect that I would be blocked by a bus loading runners for about five minutes. That was okay, still time to spare.

I finally got back to the hotel, parked my car, and went up to the room. I was ready to go, I just needed to drop off my keys and wallet, picket up my race gear, and head down to get in line. But then, my key didn’t work. So I marched back down to the lobby, had to wait several minutes because the desk was being manned by the security guard until the desk man got back. Still time to spare, though it was getting shorter.

The key machine didn’t work. After multiple tries, I was finally sent back to my room with the security guard, who let me in with his master key. I just had time to use the restroom one last time, grab my stuff, and head out the door. Good thing the line started right in front of my door!

When I arrived at the Del Mar Racetrack, I wondered what my hurry was. It was 6:10. The race didn’t start until 7:30. It was pretty cold, around 59 (yeah, I know, I’m from the desert give me a break), so I wanted to keep my warmups on as long as possible. I did go pick up my gear bag so that I’d have it when I was ready. Time moved quickly though, and soon enough, it was time to head to the start line.

Race Report

Can you see the start line? In all my years of racing, this is the farthest I’ve ever been from the start line. That is the result of time, injury, and my own words from last year’s race report

My suggestion? If you want to do a wave start, you need to corral the runners by their race pace or expected finish time. You can pre-screen on the application and assign race numbers appropriately. Then block off the corrals and either go with the wave start, or let the natural effect of corralling go to work: The fast runners are out front, and the slower runners are behind, and the walkers are at the back.

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, the race directors took every suggestion I made last year, and the result was a better race. I wonder if they read my post? The start was better, there were a lot of water stations, something La Jolla has never had, the exit after the race was much more open so that you weren’t standing waiting to get out of the finish area on tired legs. Part of this, I know was because the race was taken over this year and managed by InMotion Events after being run for years by the Kiwanis Club. But, a small part of me hopes that they read my post, took my suggestions, which created a better race. A girl can hope, right?

Race ReportRoadrunner Sports provided the pacers. This was the two hour pacer (sorry, I forgot her name).  This may give you a hint of my upcoming story, but I did not see her again after the race started.

Race Report

The Race

I was in wave number three (of six). When the race started, wave #1 took off, then there were three minutes between each wave. It went fast, and was organized, and when my time came, we were off. I was wearing my Garmin, mostly to give me an idea of my pace, to keep me from running too fast, and to let me know that I needed to pick it up if I slowed down. The challenge with a hilly race is that there is no set pace at which to run. Yes, I can say that my goal pace for a two hour half marathon is 9:09, but add a little elevation and none of that counts. And there was plenty of elevation.

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We finally were off. And, even though I was surrounded by a bunch of potential two hour half marathoners, when I checked my Garmin about a half mile into the race, we were running eight minute miles. Um, better slow down.

Overall, the first three and a half miles were great. The course takes you out of the racetrack, through a pretty good uphill along Ville de la Valle, then a left turn onto the Coast Highway. Part of what makes this such an amazingly beautiful race is that much of it is run along this highway, which hugs the west coast of California, offering amazing views of the ocean and the shore. For me, though, mile 3.7 ish, wasn’t so beautiful, because that was my first “asthma incident.” I have dealt with my exercise induced asthma as long as I’ve been running, so this was nothing new, but it still slows me to a walk, puffing on my inhaler until the medication sets in. I probably walked about three minutes, right at the point the road headed back up to the Coast Highway, right before mile four.

When I felt recovered, I started running again, hitting mile four and this view.

race report

Here comes the hill. (That picture was from a couple years ago. I did not take any pictures during the race.)

Actually, I ran strong up that hill. Not fast, but steady, and I did not walk. As Laura instructed, I took my first Island Boost at the base of the hill, right before the water station. It was quite strong and sweet, but I liked the Passion Fruit flavor. And I did feel good after taking in the Island Boost. I felt the fuel kick in and it felt good. I had no stomach problems at all during the race. I was actually looking forward to my next “boost” at mile 10.

One of the things they don’t tell you about “the hill,” is that in addition to that .75 miles of about 15% grade, there is another mile of slight uphill as you run through the park. It doesn’t level off until you leave Torrey Pines park and get back on the main road.

I was running along fine at this point. In fact, miles 4 through 9 were about as good as I could hope for. My pace was good, even though the fear of the asthma makes me want to hold back a bit, and I felt strong. I was close to the mile 10 marker when the asthma kicked in again. Maybe I should describe it. It doesn’t feel like my airway is closing, at least not at first. I start to feel a little lightheaded, like I’m not getting enough oxygen. My extremities start to feel the same way, and my pace will slow down. At this point, if I try to push through, it will become a full-fledged asthma attack. If I stop, walk, and use my inhaler, I can usually recover completely.

When I started running again, I was approaching a water station and it was time for my second Island Boost. And I felt a surge of energy almost immediately afterward.

Of course, that was also partly because mile 10 is downhill. A long, glorious, relatively steep downhill all the way until you hit the mile 11 marker, dropping you down into La Jolla Shores, where you run briefly right along the boardwalk between the parking lot and the beach, causing surfers to make mad dashes between the runners. After that you enter a little neighborhood, where right before my favorite house ever (because it’s purple), I had to stop yet again and use my inhaler.

Purple House

I took that picture a couple years ago, when, I was having similar problems with the asthma (but was not in nearly as good of shape). That year I did a lot more walking and picture taking.

Shortly after I passed the purple house, I turned a corner and saw the 12 mile marker. I also knew that one more turn would bring me to the final hill in the race, one that doesn’t get talked about much, but is just as deadly because it is unexpected, steep, and much longer than you expect. It actually takes you from the 12 mile marker to only about a quarter mile from the finish. I heard a lot of groans (maybe one from myself too) as we turned the corner.

The last part of the race is downhill all the way to the finish. It’s kind of steep, and partly on a brick-paved road, so you have to be careful. I could feel the asthma starting again, but I wasn’t going to stop so close to the finish. I pushed through and finally heard the voice of my husband announcing as I approached the finish line, “Here comes my favorite person in the whole world.” We’d been asked to cross our arms across our hearts as we crossed the finish line, in remembrance of the Boston Marathon, and as I did so, my emotions welled up and suddenly my airway started to close. Fortunately, I was done, so I stopped, grabbed my inhaler, waved off the man who was approaching me with concern, and gradually recovered.

race report

Post Race Recovery and Reflections

After I managed my asthma, I grabbed some water, coconut water, and a little fruit and headed out to find Alan. Actually, he found me because I was still a little hazy. It’s nice to be right across the street from your hotel in these situations, so I headed back to the room, and after a quick photo-op trip to the roof, showered, ate a little and we got on the road. Because we had someone important to see.

race report

So, all that walking…how did I do with my goal? Well, you can probably guess I didn’t make my goal time of two hours. But, I am happy that in spite of the asthma issues that I managed to finish at all, and that I did in 2:05:41. I’ll take it. That was good for 21st in my division.

I didn’t mention this before, but I was running this race for two people. One was my mother, who would have been celebrating her 85th birthday that day.

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The other was my friend Jeff. If you recall, Jeff was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma back in November. He had emergency surgery, where they found the huge tumor had actually pushed his brain stem aside. His fiancee, Amy, was given very little hope of his ever waking up. But Jeff is still with us, still fighting, still being amazing. He has been through radiation and is currently undergoing yet another round of chemo. After a recent hospitalization and another procedure for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, Jeff was not able to get around much, so Amy asked all his friends to dedicate their weekend athletic endeavors to Jeff, who is an Ironman triathlete.

race report

Jeff and Alan appeared on the local tv station this morning to promote the Gem of the Desert Trail 5k which is on May 5 and will benefit Jeff. If you’re in the area, there is a link to the registration in the sidebar.

Thoughts of Jeff kept me going. Because, seriously, compared to what Jeff has gone through, what is a little asthma?

I know a lot of you were racing and at other events this past weekend. How did they go?

Thursday Thoughts: On Training, New Mizuno Shoes, and Roadrunner Sports

You may know, if only by the name of my blog, that I live in the desert. That place that is as hot as hell in the summer, but beautifully warm and sunny in the winter. Where the Snowbirds come to spend their winters. Well, it has been cold in my desert lately. I know for those of you living in the snow this may sound like whining, but hear me, it was 26 freaking degrees this morning when I went for my run!

New Shoes 3

Thursday Thoughts

This was me bundled before the run. Underarmour base layer, polar layer, jacket, headband, tights, warmup pants. Oh, and heavy gloves.

Thursday Thoughts

Can you tell I’m wearing two pairs of running pants?

For my Thursday Thoughts vlog this week, I am rambling about running, training, new Mizuno shoes, and Roadrunner Sports, my favorite running store of all time. I bought my very first pair of running shoes from them. That was a long time ago.

 

New year, new shoes, new plan. Exciting!

New Shoes 2

It’s halfway through January. How are your goals shaping up?

Disclosure: I am a Roadrunner Sports affiliate and I might make a few cents if you order through the link above. All opinions are my own. And I did buy my first pair of running shoes from them.