LT5K Recap

The LaDainian Tomlinson 5k was held on Saturday June 14. I signed up because I needed to do more races that were shorter in length and I wanted to have an opportunity to be near one of my favorite (former) Charger Players LT. They had packet-pick up available the day before at our local RoadRunner Sports store but due to my busy schedule I was not able to attend.

Day of packet pick-up was organized.

Day of packet pick-up was organized.

The morning of the race I arrived at the NTC Park, where the race was being held, around 7:15am. There was plenty parking available. It gave me time to pick up my bib and t-shirt, take a selfie at the start line, and head back to my car to finish my breakfast.

Selfie at the start line.

Selfie at the start line.

Before the race began the gave the announcement that runners should be in the front while walkers, strollers, and those running with pets remain in the back since there would only be “one corral.” (This will be important later) Then they introduced LaDainian Tomlinson and he spoke for a few minutes about the race. They played the national anthem and at 8:15am we were off.

The man himself, LaDainian Tomlinson!

The man himself, LaDainian Tomlinson!

The race began on the road. Shortly after we were on a dirt trail. The trail was not very wide so here is where it became hard to move around people. People were walking 2, 3, or 4 people wide. So I was dodging walkers, trying not to get run over by strollers, watch out for kids, and not step on dogs. I tried to pass people by saying “on your right/left” but quickly realized that it would not be an option when a group of people didn’t move and the person behind me cut in front of me so I almost tripped. So I tried running when I could but did a lot of walking. When we began running on the sidewalk again it became easier to start dodging people. We had our first water stop around mile 1.5.

The only hill on the course but it had a gorgeous view.

The only hill on the course but it had a gorgeous view.

Mile 2 had us run the only (short) hill on the course. While everyone stopped and walked it I felt that I had the advantage as I am too familiar with that hill from the San Diego Half Marathon. Once I got down the hill I felt my pace start to go faster. I tried to make sure I did not burn out but I felt great so I had to keep moving. We hit the second water stop right before mile 3. Once I saw the Mile 3 marker I ran as hard as I could. I passed a bunch of people and crossed the finish line with a smile on my face.

Finisher!

Finisher!

The last few months of running have been a battle but I felt great this race and was happy to see that my pace has improved, although it is not where it used to be. I ended up doing negative splits during this race which is something I have not been able to do for a long time. This run has left me optimistic that my road to recovery might be getting on the right track.

Autograph signing with Jason Verrett, Branden Oliver, D.J. Adams.

Autograph signing with Jason Verrett, Branden Oliver, D.J. Adams.

After the race I got into the autograph line. Although LT left before I could get to the front of the line, I was still able to get an autograph from the Charger players Jason Verrett, Branden Oliver, and D.J. Adams. Once I got my autographs I decided it was time to head home.

Race swag.

Race swag.

Overall I will definitely recommend this race. If  you are looking to finish with a PR or by a certain time then I recommend that you start at the very front otherwise this race makes for a fun run with friends.

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2014 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Recap

Flat NitroJen ready to run the half marathon.

Flat NitroJen ready to run the half marathon.

 

The course map.

The course map.

 

The night before the race I attended a family party so I was exhausted when my alarm went off at 3-something in the morning. The RNRSD information packet advised that roads would be closing at 4am and suggested people arrived early to park, get on the shuttle to the start line area, and do their pre-race rituals. For that reason I had purchased the parking pass because I didn’t want to stress out the morning of the race. So when I got to the parking lot at the Bayfront Hilton around 4:20am I was starting to regret getting there early. I sat in my car for 15 minutes eating my breakfast and making sure I had everything with me. I started to see more people in the parking lot so I crossed the bridge to the shuttles. On the bridge I could see a line of cars that went back a mile or more waiting to enter the parking lot. I started feeling better about getting there early. I got in line for the shuttle and was on in less than 5 minutes. Later in the morning I was reading on twitter that it was chaos to get on the buses because there were too many people. So overall I’m glad I got there very early.

Our shuttle driver did not know the route to the start line drop off and kept going in circles for a few minutes. I was definitely glad to be on an early shuttle because that started to raise my anxiety. I got off the bus and found a place to sit down and relax until the half marathon started at 6:45am. The sitting and waiting wasn’t too bad because I am used to the long waits at the runDisney races.

Inflatable info arch & start line

Inflatable info arch & start line

After the marathoners started they opened the corrals to the half marathoners. When we received our waivers we were given corral numbers but I could not locate them printed on our bibs and people were not checking bibs to see where you needed to be. So it was an honor system to get into your correct corral.

My strategy for this race was to do run/walk intervals for the first third, mostly walk the middle third, and finish strong by run/walking the final third. With all my recent body injuries and fatigue I did not want to risk being injured and miserable.

Lots of great signs displayed throughout the course

Lots of great signs displayed throughout the course

The course began adjacent to Balboa Park and headed towards Hillcrest and other neighborhoods. If someone not from San Diego wants to run a race that showcases popular tourist areas and locations that San Diego is known for, then this is not the race for them. A great majority of this race was run through neighborhoods and side streets.

The guys were awesome!

The guys were awesome!

The great thing about going through the neighborhoods was that there was an incredible amount of support from the locals. I saw people handing out free sunscreen, free cups of water, paper towels, oranges, licorice, tequila & whiskey shots, and some were using their water hoses to spray us with water. All of that was needed because it got extremely hot quick at this run.

The mist one was my favorite.

The one that sprayed mist was my favorite.

The first 9 miles I stuck to my plan but with the heat I felt tired. And my legs were starting to hurt. So once I passed the mile 9 marker I stopped to reapply some Real Time Pain Relief lotion on my quads and calfs and took some more EnergyBits. I knew that I had slowed down a lot but I continued on my way.

This dude rocks!

This dude rocks!

Shortly after mile 9, our course met up with the marathoners. I was walking slow after doing 9 miles and yet these people were on their 22nd mile and many were still running or speed walking. Having our courses meet up was the best thing that could have happened. It brought some new life into me. I took a jolly rancher from a stranger and started chugging along. (Races are the only places where it doesn’t seem wrong to take candy from strangers.)

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I had chosen not to look at my pace while I was running so I could go by feeling so I was surprised after the race to notice that I got faster each consecutive mile after mile 9. I felt so strong and happy. When the finish line was in sight I picked up the pace and sprinted for my life passing as many people as I could!

The finish line. Almost there!

The finish line. Almost there!

Once you cross the finish line there was a line of volunteers handing everyone their medals. Then there was an area where they were handing out small towels that were drenched in ice water. It felt so good to throw that around my shoulders. Then they had the snack area where we were given chocolate milk, bananas, water, and a few other snacks. I took my pictures with the RNRSD backdrop. I had originally planned to stay for the post-race concert but I decided to call it a day as I was too exhausted.

FINISHER!

FINISHER!

Overall I found the course to be decent. There was not much to look at but the bands and the support from people watching the race was exciting. I would probably do this race again.

#truth

#truth

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Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend

As a huge Star Wars nerd, I knew that I had to try my best to get into at least one of the races being held during the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at the Disneyland Resort. But in all honesty I was hoping to get into the Rebel Challenge (10k + half marathon) and the Star Wars 5k. Yes, I wanted to do ALL the races. When I ran the Disneyland Half I was able to get online after the Dumbo Double Dare sold out. So I missed that challenge. When I ran the Tinker Bell 10k and Tinker Bell Half this year they did not have a challenge. And with the Avengers Weekend not having a challenge I knew that I HAD to get in for the Star Wars Weekend.

When runDisney announced the registration date I got nervous because I work on Tuesdays and there is no way for me to get on a computer. So I started casually asking around if anyone wanted to pick-up my shift, although I did not tell them the real reason why. Luckily for me someone wanted the extra hours so I was able to get the day off. And it all worked out in the end because I was able to register for all the races before the Rebel Challenge sold out in the record time of 26 minutes.  I am beyond excited to participate in these races.

I'm in!!

I’m in!!

May the course be with me!

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The 2014 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Expo

Expo5

The Expo for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon and Marathon was held on the Friday and the Saturday before the race. The Final Information document that was sent out to participants recommended that locals attend the expo on Friday as it was most likely that out-of-towners would attend on Saturday. With that guidance and because I work close to the Convention Center, where it was held, I elected to attend the expo early on Friday to avoid the crowds. I arrived to the convention center around 2pm. I knew how to make my way to Hall G & Hall H but it was nice to see volunteers posted throughout the Convention Center to help out those that were unfamiliar with where to go.

The packet pick-up location.

The packet pick-up area.

The expo began at Hall G. There was a red carpet laid out towards the entrance to give it the glam rock ‘n’ roll feel. The red carpet led you to the 1st section of the expo. It was pleasant to see that there were only a few people there. I was able to walk right up to the table and pick up my bib. The volunteers were polite and offered words of encouragement for the race.

Expo3

Less than 38 hours left!

Expo2

The T-shirt & gear bag pick up area

 

After picking up our bibs we were directed towards the t-shirt and gear bags pick-up. Everything was well laid out and fairly organized. After grabbing your shirts you could exchange them for a different size at the exchange booth. The nice thing about this booth is that they had a full-length mirror so you could see how you actually looked in the shirts. They also had an area dedicated to freebies which included leg cramp cream, coupons, Starbucks Refresher mixers, etc. I tried to be polite and not take too many but I couldn’t help myself because my Comic Con instincts came out.

Expo4

 

Then we were moved along to the 2nd section of the expo which was the official race merchandise area. Once you entered this area you could only return to the gear/packet pick up area by fully exiting the expo and entering the 1st section again. Although they had plenty of awesome things including shoes, bras, shirts, jackets, shot glasses, and other novelties, I had decided ahead of time not to purchase anything. Then you “exited” the merchandise area to enter the 3rd section of the expo which was the booths. I love this portion! There are plenty of free samples to enjoy and for certain products they sell them at a discounted price. Because there were not too many people present I was able to go through every booth and grab my fair-share of freebies in no time. I will say that the Nuun Hydration booth was my favorite! One can never have enough Nuun. I may have lingered there too long drinking different flavors. My second favorite was the runDisney booth because I was able to geek out with others in the area.

Once you exited the expo from the Hall H doors, you could go to the parking/shuttle booth to pick-up or purchase your passes. I usually don’t like purchasing parking but with the early start time I did not feel like stressing out (which ended up being the best choice!). I had purchased my parking online before attending the expo so it was speedy to pick up my parking ticket and shuttle wristband. Once I had that I decided to call it a day and go home.

Overall I felt the expo was run well, was spacious, and it had a fun atmosphere.

Goodies from the expo!

Some goodies from the expo!

What did you think of the RnRSD Expo?

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2014 Peace Love Run 10k

After my experience at the San Diego Half Marathon, I decided that I needed to start over with running. I not only needed to continue focusing on getting my hip healed but I wanted to train for a smaller race as if I had never run before. So I signed up for the Peace Love Run 10k. I approached my training as if I was starting up (my version) of the Couch-2-5k program. I wanted to make sure I was starting slow and listening to my body.

The Peace Love Run event offered a half marathon, 10k, and 5k to be held in Mission Bay in San Diego. Although their website asked people to dress in their favorite styles from the 1960s, I just couldn’t bring myself to follow the theme. They offered packet pick-up the day before at a local Sports Authority but I decided to wait until race morning to pick up my items. I arrived early to Mission Bay and was able to park near the start/end time. I received my bib and shirt within two minutes and decided to go back to my car to wait until closer to the start.

The "Start" line banner which was not actually at the starting line.

The “Start” line banner which was not actually at the starting line.

Once it was time to start I learned that the start line was actually not underneath the banner that said “start.” I though that was strange. As it was a local race there were no corrals. Each wave was based on the distance you were running. The first wave was the half marathon, followed by the 10k runners, and ending with the 5k runners. The course itself did not have anything “special” about it. It was actually ran in a public area so non-racers could run alongside us because it was not a closed race. It made the race feel more “homely” in a way because at times you were surrounded by other runners, bikers, walkers, doggies, etc. We ran on the streets around Fiesta Island which meant that for most of the race we were looking at the bay and some of the taller Sea World buildings. I definitely needed my music to keep me entertained. Not every mile marker was marked. I can only remember seeing the 1 mile marker and 3 mile marker although there may have been more for the 10k. Most of the mile markers were geared towards the half marathoners once they joined our route right before our mile 3. That actually wasn’t a bad thing for me because I was able to lose track of time and not worry about how much was left (although I did pop open my RunKeeper app a few times to check). But they did have a person stationed at each of the turnarounds for the different distances to direct us where to go. That was fantastic. As far as course support it appeared that they had a decent amount of water at each stop.

The view.

The view.

On a personal note my hip began bothering me shortly after I passed mile 3. I was able to speed walk fine but once I hit the running motion I could feel the discomfort. I decided to incorporate more run/walk intervals but I was determined to finish this race by continuing to run because I wanted to see how much I could push myself without truly injuring my hip.

The race volunteers handing out goodies.

The race volunteers handing out goodies.

At the finish we were handed our medals which I absolutely LOVE. They provided the runners with bananas, bagels, peanut butter, melted cheese, and some other delicious goodies. It felt like a backyard hangout in a way which I liked. They also had a board where they put up the race results. It was fun to see what your official time was minutes after finishing. I got to meet some fun people but since I didn’t know anyone there I decided to call it quits shortly after finishing and headed home to rest. Overall, I thought that it was a fun event and I’m glad I was able to participate.

 

I LOVE this medal.

I LOVE this medal.

When I look at my finish time it makes me sad to think that a year ago I was running a 10k approximately at an 11 min/mile pace but now I am struggling to maintain an under 15 min/mile pace. Hopefully I can move past my hip issues and start getting back to my old form.

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Why I will stay loyal to runDisney

In October 2012, my friend posted a status on her Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join her in a new 5k race, the Neverland 5k, that would take place in Disneyland. At this point in my life I never thought that I would be runner. Running to me equaled punishment. In school we were forced to run a timed mile that would determine our grade based on the amount of time it took us to finish. The problem was that in our P.E. classes they never helped us train to become faster, better, stronger, runners. So naturally it felt like a punishment unless you were naturally fast or training on your own. During my freshman & sophomore years of high school I played field hockey. During the season I was in great shape but I would get out of shape rather quickly when the season was over. Then my knee injury worsened and I stopped doing any physical activities. Even after surgery I didn’t feel like doing anything.

So when I was reading the post about the Neverland 5k I knew that I had to do this. The main reason was because I would be able to use my Annual Pass and go to Disneyland with a friend. (Not many of my friends have passes so I go on my own a lot. Insert tiny violin music here.) Plus I was miserable in my own skin and I figured that if I started running then maybe that could change. And let me tell you, it has.

I was extremely nervous to be the fattest, slowest, least experienced runner on that 5k course. But the wonderful thing about runDisney is that there are people there of all levels of fitness, all speeds, all sizes, and all ages. It is something incredible to see. I actually felt like I belonged. Even though I shuffled along at a snails pace I was overjoyed with my accomplishment.

Since the Neverland 5k I have run 6 more runDisney events (2013 Tinker Bell Half, 2013 Disneyland Half, 2013 Jingle Jungle 5k, 2013 Wine and Dine Half Marathon, 2014 Tinker Bell 10k, and 2014 Tinker Bell Half) with plans to continue doing more events. The magic you expect from Disneyland and/or Walt Disney World is ever-present at the runDisney events. They have characters throughout the course that you can stop and take pictures with. Many of them are characters you can expect to see during normal operating hours at the parks such as the Princesses but others are exclusive to the event like The Bride and Tightrope Walker from the Haunted Mansion! The course support is amazing. Each water stop has PowerAde which is beneficial. When we are not running in the parks, there are other forms of entertainment like high school bands, cheerleaders, mariachi, dancers, red hat ladies, etc. People line the streets and cheer on the runners! It is amazing. When you think you are dying you turn the corner and people are cheering for you and it motivates to keep pushing forward. They also provide one of the few times that adults can wear costumes inside the Disney parks! Their events are great because they really manage to build a ‘community spirit’ where everyone is cheering each other on. I have stopped to tell a walker that he/she is doing great, and I have had other people give me words of encouragement. You are never alone.

I have also ran a few local races. And although many of them have been fun and provided the best support that they can, I have felt ‘lonely’ in those events. Typically faster runners take part so I’m usually one of the last few to finish if not the last. Even though we all run our own race, it is mentally defeating to know that I will finish at the end and I will be one of the bigger runners. And I don’t have any friends to run with me so at the end of the race I am on my own which is not that fun. That community spirit and “magic” is just not there.

And there is another reason why I will stay loyal to the runDisney brand. Recently I registered myself for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon during the AP early registration period. When the active receipt came in, I noticed that it had registered me twice for that race. It was a scary feeling to see that amount being charged to my credit card. Knowing that Active does not offer refunds, I immediately called the runDisney phone number to see if I could get help. The runDisney employee Sabeen was extremely kind during our interaction and did everything in her power to help me with that duplicate registration. She helped me in contacting the right person who immediately helped refund and remove that duplicate registration. Their level of customer service and quick response has made me a bigger fan.

So even though the prices for their events may continue to rise, I plan to continue taking part in runDisney events because they are the only events where I truly feel happy whilst running.

Have you ever ran a runDisney event? What do you think about their events?

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Avenger’s Super Heroes Half Marathon

Today Annual Passholders of Disneyland Resort and Disney World Resort as well as DVC members were able to register early for the inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Weekend events being held at the Disneyland Resort from November 14 – November 16. By the time I got home from work the pre-sale for the 5k had sold out. But luckily for me I was able to register for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. I plan to sign up for the 5k when registration opens for the public because I need my Marvel fix. I am a huge Marvel fan so I am excited to participate in the events being held. I already have two “costume” ideas that I can run both events in but I will keep that a secret until closer to races. The only hint I will give is that it is two versions of my favorite Marvel character. Any guesses?

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Registraion opens for everyone on Tuesday March 25 at 9am PST / 12pm Eastern on the runDisney website. Are you planning to sign up for one of the Avengers races? #smashthehalf

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