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!

(Running) Things I’m Loving Lately

After several years of kind of lackadaisical running, mixed in with some long distance cycling, this year I decided to push myself and train seriously. I have increased my distance, added some speed training, and generally upped the intensity of my workouts. Now as I plan for my third half marathon of the year, the Costume Party Run, I have quite a selection of new (to me) running gear that has kept me hydrated, comfortable, and injury free. Oh, and cute too!

I’m Loving…In Refresh Electrolytes

I didn’t take a picture of my toes after my last half marathon, but if I had you would have seen them pulled into  pointed, cramped position.  In spite of drinking water and using a supplement during the race, I was pretty dehydrated by the end of the race. So when I was asked to try In Refresh Electrolytes, I was excited to see what the product had to offer. I was really happy to learn that there are no processed sugars, artificial ingredients, GMOs, or preservatives, and that it is clearly marked “vegan” right on the front (really saves the never-ending ingredient search).  There are very few calories, because In Refresh is simply an electrolyte replacement, but it is jam packed with vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidents.


In Refresh

I got to try the Tangerine Passion Fruit flavor and I really liked that it was light, not too sweet, and tasted pretty good. In the desert, it is really important to stay hydrated. A combination of long distance and high temperatures can lead to disaster if you don’t replace the electrolytes that you lose through sweating. I feel confident that In Refresh Electrolytes will do the job, and I’m happy to report that I will definitely re-order.

In Refresh2

Ignite Naturals carries a complete line of nutrition products for both the casual individual and the athlete. I can’t wait to try the Ignite Energy Gel, that is made with fig paste, maquie berry extract, Peak ATP, and other natural ingredients. Just like In Refresh, it contains only natural, whole food ingredients.

Ignite Naturals offers many different products. Check out their website for complete information.

I’m Loving…Mizuno Wave Rider 16

I have been running for over 20 years, and I have been on a search for the perfect shoe for the entire time. I have found some good shoes along the way. I have found shoes that felt really good, until my shins started to hurt. I have run in shoes that were light and flexible, until I developed plantar fasciitis. I have purchases cute, colorful shoes, until I found that my running felt dull and flat when I wore them.

I have spent the last 10 years running in nice, fairly heavy, boring shoes, that at least didn’t cause me any pain. I’d had friends switch over to Mizuno, and they would tell me how amazing they were, but I was afraid to make the switch because at least I wasn’t injured. Finally, though, a few months ago, I decided to give the Mizuno Wave Riders a try. I’ve got to tell you. It was instant love.

I am on my third pair of Mizuno Wave riders. I’ve been running in them long enough to know that my feet and shins (and hips and butt) are in the best shape ever (and that’s saying a lot since I’m a few years older!). The most recent version, #16, is even lighter that before. They just feel so good to run in! And best of all, check out the color:



I ran my last half marathon in my newest Wave Riders, and I felt great for the whole race and recovered quickly afterward. And even though yesterday’s long run was a slog-fest, it was the heat, not the shoes, that were the problem. I also appreciate, as someone with, ahem, larger feet, that Mizuno understands that my feet didn’t stop growing in half sizes once I hit size 10.

I’m Loving…Moving Comfort Sprint Tech Skort

I bought this Moving Comfort skirt at Road Runner Sports the day before my half marathon, which could have been a huge mistake. It wasn’t. Not only is it cute (love the patterned spandex shorts), the shorts stay in place better than any other skirt I own. No chafing, which is a huge plus in a half marathon. There are two pockets, one on the leg of the shorts, one zippered pocket in the back of the skirt, which makes it perfect for long distance running events. Best running skirt I own.

Running Skirt Review


I’m Loving…My Foam Roller

While I have known the benefits of consistent foam rolling for a long time, it was only since I’ve increased my training distance and intensity this year that I have really made an effort to use the foam roller on a regular basis. I think it has made a huge difference. I have a tendency to be plagued with sciatica, plus some IT Band tightness (not to mention my rock hard calf muscles!), and foam rolling has done so much more than simply stretching to reduce my aches and pains.

Running review

I’m Loving…My Polar Heart Rate Monitor

Years ago, when I was running and training at high intensity, I used a heart rate monitor to assist me in my training. Once the battery died though, I stopped using it. At the time, I felt I knew my body and training levels pretty well. Once I started back with my training though, I was about eight years older and not in very good shape. So I was really excited when I got a chance a few months ago, as a Fitfluential Ambassador, to receive and review a Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor for a sponsored post.

Running Review

Since that time, I’ve been using my Polar heart rate monitor consistently during my training, particularly during speed work. It tells me a lot about my training zones, allows me to push myself when I need to by letting me know exactly what is going on with my body. I really feel sure that it has improved my training.

I’m Loving…Balega Socks

I was actually not looking to change my socks. I’ve been running in Nike socks for some time, and the newest version are thin (like I like them), and have some arch support, which I appreciate. But when I won a pair of Balega Socks from Marcia, I certainly wasn’t going to turn them down!

running review

 While these socks were a little thicker than I usually like, they felt very cushioned and comfortable on my long run. There is a bit of arch support as well.  And I liked the cute little runner on the back of my ankle.

Those are just a few of the things that I’m loving lately as I start back on my new cycle of training for the Costume Party Run. I’m sure that you have your favorites too. I’d love to hear all about them!


Disclosure: As I mentioned above, I was sent a free sample of In Refresh Electrolytes in exchange for my honest review. I won the socks in a contest that I participated in at Marcia’s Healthy Slice. And I was originally given a free Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor as part of a compensated campaign for Fitfluential. Everything else was purchased with my own hard-earned dollars. All opinions are my own.

Recovery Week and What’s Next. And the Bestowed Box Winner

I’m sorry if I’m a little late announcing the Bestowed Box Winner. I did email her on Thursday, but I haven’t heard back. But because I’m just announcing it on the blog today I’m giving her one more day to respond or I will pick another winner. And the winner is:

Erin H.!

Erin, please respond to my email or comment below by Tuesday or I will have to select another winner. Congratulations!

Recovery Week

I have spent the week since my race doing, well, almost nothing. This wasn’t by design, my work schedule was a little off last week and I didn’t have time to run. I taught a couple classes, though, so I did get my strength workouts in (including a killer Fast & Furious class on Friday that I will share with you later this week).

On Saturday Alan and I ran on the trails with the dogs. Only five miles, but my legs were kind of tired and sore. I think this was more an effect of the aforementioned Fast and Furious workout than any post-race tiredness.


La Quinta View

running buddies

On Sunday, I didn’t get to run because we were putting on our own race, the Gem of the Desert Trail Run. It is run in the trails near my home, seriously one of the most beautiful places to run in the desert. This year it was to benefit my friend Jeff, who, as you know, was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer last November. He is amazing. Just one week out from a week-long hospitalization for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, yet there he was, not only at the race but walking the entire course! This man, and his miracle, are so inspiring. He is an ironman in all senses of the word.

Recovery Week

Recovery Week

Recovery Week

Recovery Week

Coming Next…The Costume Party Run!

So, after a week down-time, it is time to ramp it up again. As you know, I am planning to run the Costume Party Run, which is only nine weeks away! I am an ambassador for the event and I will be running the Hilarious Half Marathon, in costume, on July 7 in San Diego. There is also a 5k, called the Wacky 5k, and everybody in both races is encouraged to have fun and dress up.

If you head over to the Costume Party Run Facebook page by Monday (May 6), you can save $20 on the half, and $10 on the 5k (scroll down the page to find the discount code). If you miss the deadline, you can still save $10 on the half by using the code LAQUINTA.

You guys have had a few ideas for a costume, but the one that really excites me is a Dalmatian. More specifically, the Road Runner Sports Shoe Dog Dalmatian. Not only will I be honoring my 12 year old running partner Penny, I will also be celebrating one of the race sponsors (and my favorite running store-I’m like the original VIP). Road Runner Sports seems to be on board:


If you missed this photo that I posted the other day, check out the resemblance between Shoe Dog and Penny.

Penny Shoe Dog

Perfect, no? Since as I mentioned, I don’t want to be running in fur in July, I will be a streamlined Shoe Dog. I’m thinking white running skirt or shorts, white top, decorated with multi-colored spots, ears, tail, collar and tag. Hopefully that will be aerodynamic enough so that I can take my second chance to run a two hour half marathon for the first time in about five years. I do believe it’s possible. I was close in La Jolla, in spite of asthma and hills. I’m going to crank up my training this time around, and possibly look into some preventative asthma medicine (Alan swears by it!).

Anyway, that is what is next for me. I’m working on my training plan now, training starts this week!

How was your training last week? Any highlights, races, or other events?