Posts Tagged ‘Race’

It saddened me to read today of the plans of Black Lives Matter St. Paul to disrupt the Twin Cities Marathon this coming Sunday, October 4, 2015. The protest organizers say they hope to block the road at some point on the course to prevent runners from finishing the race.

Runner’s World article: Black Lives Matter Says It Plans to Disrupt Twin Cities Marathon
Statement by the Twin Cities Marathon: Updates on the Twin Cities Marathon event page
Black Lives Matter Facebook Event: Black Lives Matter St. Paul Press Release of September 25, 2015

It’s hard for me to come up with coherent thoughts on this, so I am just going to post the thoughts that ran (no pun intended) through my mind as I read the articles, the comments, and the Facebook replies.

– I cannot see the link between police violence against blacks and the Twin Cities Marathon. Yes it’s a high profile event. Yes it is something that runners are privileged to do. But if you wish to highlight and protest police violence against blacks in your community, why choose an event at which the police will be ensuring the safety of the community? Disruption of such a positive community event is not likely to garner support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
– Why target a sport in which so many of the professional athletes are black? Twin Cities Marathon does not yet have up the profiles of the professional athletes running this particular race, but you only have to look at the finishers of the world marathon majors and Olympic races to know that the sport of running benefits many blacks.
– And forget about all the professional athletes, what about the ways in which running benefits the everyday athletes of all backgrounds? Don’t the protesters know that Black Girls RUN!?

At any rate, my thoughts will be with all of the runners and the protesters on Sunday. May the runners finish safely without interruption and may the protesters stay safe as well.

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On a whim I decided to enter a contest for a free entry to the Shoreline Half Marathon from RaceGrader.com (a great place to check for reviews of Southern California races and to find registration discount codes for many popular local races). I’m always looking for someplace new to run and 13 miles along the beach sounded spectacular. Of course as soon as I typed in my email address and hit submit, I had second thoughts. How far exactly is Ventura from my house? Two hours. How early would I need to get up for the race? 4 a.m. Ugh, that seemed a little early for what would basically be a training run for the REVEL Canyon City Marathon in November. But what are the chances I’ll win anyway? Pretty darn good, apparently!

So that’s how I found myself lined up at the start of the 2015 Shoreline Half Marathon on Sunday July 12. And what a gorgeous shoreline it was!

Part of the course runs along this promenade in Ventura

Part of the course runs along this promenade in Ventura

I had arrived at 7 a.m. and parked for $6 at the public parking structure next to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, an easy walk to pick up my race bib and nice grey technical shirt at Promenade Park. There were plenty of porta potties and also some public restrooms on the beach path (oh the luxury!)

The half marathon started promptly at 8. I loved how the race director asked people to self-seed in the corral by pace and sent us off in waves every two minutes. It’s an unusual way of doing it but it makes perfect sense to avoid a crowded mass start along the beach path and the chip time doesn’t begin until you cross the starting line.

I wore my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch but vowed not to look at it for the entire race. Mike didn’t think I could run “naked” (he knows how I love my data!) but that made me all the more determined! I wanted to practice running by feel and not by the watch. I hoped to go out at a steady pace, slower than marathon or half marathon pace but not exactly an “easy” pace — just a pace I felt I could sustain comfortably for 13.1 miles. I guessed that would be in the low 9-minute mile range.

The first part of the course runs five miles north along the bike path and the wide shoulder of the 101 overlooking the ocean. As always in a race I felt grateful for the privilege of being there and being healthy and able to run. The course is nearly all flat with just a few dips here and there, less than 100 feet of elevation change. Around mile 4 I could see the leaders of the race coming back along the course after the turnaround at mile 5. It was fun to cheer them on and marvel at their speed! The north-and-back and south-and-back layout of the course meant that there was plenty of opportunity for people watching with the 664 participants in the half marathon and the people on the boardwalk. Somewhere in the first five miles I passed the 2:00 pacer so I knew my pace was faster than I had originally thought it would be.

Pace miles 1-5: 8:54, 8:37, 8:29, 8:32, 8:22

The course then runs the five miles back, past the start/finish line, a couple of miles out under the Ventura Pier and around Ventura State Beach Park, and back to the finish line along the promenade.

Around mile 8 the pace stopped feeling comfortable and started getting tougher. The 8 a.m. start time meant that we faced some serious heat on the course in the later miles (73 degrees and humid by the time I finished). I wore a visor and sunglasses and stopped at the aid stations every 1-1.5 miles for Gatorade and water. The volunteers were hustling and did a good job helping the runners.

Pace miles 6-10: 8:29, 8:38, 8:27, 8:26, 8:36

The last 5K of the race was a challenge. My training plan only called for 11 miles for my long run so when I passed the parking structure after mile 12 the temptation to call it good was strong! The plan also called for a “fast finish” though, so I picked it up for mile 13 and brought it home strong.

Pace miles 11-13.1: 8:24, 8:52, 8:30

Chip Finish Time: 1:52:15, 8:34 average pace overall

Females 40-49 age group: 9 of 113

Females overall: 33 of 408 (Interesting that there were more women than men in the race! Go ladies!)

All finishers: 94 of 664

I enjoyed the bananas, oranges and Gatorade at the finish line while I waited in line for the free tacos. There was free beer too but I wouldn’t have survived the drive home with that!

It was an interesting experience running the race “naked.” I ended up running faster than I would have had I been looking at my watch, and yet the pace felt easier. I found that when I run by effort, the pace feels more comfortable than if I try to “force” myself to hit a certain pace on the watch. Now would I pace a marathon goal race this way? Not likely. That would take a lot more practice for me and a lot better sense of how to run 26.2 by feel. Would I pace another half this way? Absolutely, especially if I wanted to use the race to gauge my current level of fitness. For not tapering (and for spending several hours the previous day cleaning and priming my daughter’s bedroom to paint), I was very happy with how the race went. I recommend the course for the views, the smaller size of the field, the ease of parking and same-day packet pick-up, the nice race t-shirt, finisher’s medal, and free tacos and beer at the finish. Just a few tips if you plan on going for a goal time on this course: place yourself toward the front of your wave at the start, be prepared to dodge a few runners and people on the boardwalk (which isn’t closed to the public), and dress for the heat. With early bird registration starting at $45 for the half and going up to $75 in the months before race day, it’s a great value for a well-run (no pun intended), gorgeous race!

Have you ever run a race “naked”? Do you find it easier to run by feel or by a GPS watch?

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NaNoWriMo dawned this morning and I have yet to write a single word of the next great American novel, but I had to stop by here and write a few words about how I won a free race registration for the 1st Annual City Farm 5K/10K Turkey Trot from Race Grader!

city farm turkey trot

It takes place on Saturday, November 16 in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. You might wonder why I would take on a race in November when I’m already committed writing 50,000 words of a novel. The answer: (1) I’m going to keep running during November anyway to maintain [what remains of] my sanity, (2) it’s a unique opportunity to run 6.2 miles in Griffith Park at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, (3) it will be my first trail race and I’m thrilled about that, and (4) did I mention it’s free?

Anyone else doing a Turkey Trot race? Any other NaNoWriMo participants who exercise to maintain mental health during November?

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PCRF Reaching for the Cure LogoMy oldest daughter trained with her elementary school’s running club for a 5K. She is 11 and she had run two 5Ks before, but this would be the first one she would run by herself. It turns out that the PCRF Reaching for the Cure 5K made an excellent choice for her first solo race! It offered a well-marked course, a medium-sized field of runners, a great cause, and a super-fun finish line expo with lots of activities and free food for both the participants and the spectators.

My daughter joined the team for Diann’s Defenders. After Diann’s cancer diagnosis at the age of 5, she underwent two and a half years of treatment and has since remained cancer-free for five and a half years!

Some of Diann's Defenders after the race.

Some of Diann’s Defenders after the race.

On race day our family woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the race in time for the 7:15 start for the 5K. I should have printed out the directions to the parking area from the race website instead of following the Google Maps directions to the street address. Of course several roads were blocked off for the 5K, 10K and half marathon courses and there really was only one way to get to the parking. I ended up dropping off my daughter and husband near the starting area and going back to follow the directions from my phone. Once we reached the parking structure there was plenty of parking remaining but I have to say, it was a L-O-O-O-N-G walk from the parking structure and I saw several racers running on their way to the starting line. Tip: Build in an extra 15 minutes for parking and walking.

My daughter finished the race in just over 32 minutes. She was happy with her time and super proud of the fact that she ran the whole way without stopping. The school running club had only had two training sessions (a third was canceled due to 100 degree heat) and the rest of the training she did on her own. It made me really happy to see her stick with it and achieve her goal!

After the race we made a beeline to the Jamba Juice tent for free smoothies for everyone. Then we visited the petting zoo, the puppies, the train, the inflatable bounce houses and slides, and best of all, the trampolines. Even my 4-year-old got in on the action. She got strapped into the harness and bounced high without fear!

Race pros: First off you cannot beat an event for such a good cause as the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. There’s a positive energy at the race and I think it takes a little bit of the competitive, nervous edge off (even though it’s a race for serious runners as well as fun run/walkers). The race is well-organized and family-friendly. Runners are allowed to push their babies and toddlers in strollers on the course. The best part though is the post-race expo with all the free food and family activities. My kids all had a blast. There weren’t long lines for bounce houses or even the trampolines and we spent over two hours going from one activity to another. Tip: bring a change of warm, dry clothes so you can stay and play in comfort! The cool, overcast weather was perfect for running but it felt downright chilly when we were milling around after the race!

Race cons: None of the cons would keep me from highly recommending this race for kids and adults. There’s always room for improvement though, so here’s what I would say: (1) The long walk from the parking structure made it hard for racers to get to the start on time and hard for supporters (especially 4-year-olds with short legs!) to get to the start line. That could be overcome with better planning on our part, but I did hear that parking used to be more convenient and perhaps it should be switched back if possible. (2) My daughter’s registration was not processed properly. We were charged the money for the event but I had to follow up with a phone call to actually get her registration processed. I think it was a one-time mistake of lost paperwork though and the PCRF people were very helpful and nice when I called. (3) There were plenty of porta-potties but one long row did not have a hand-washing station within sight. (4) The race took place on Sunday, May 5 (yes, Cinco de Mayo) which happens to be the same day as two other local-ish, popular races: The OC Marathon and the Safari Park Half Marathon.

Again, those were minor details that did not overshadow a great race experience at the PCRF Reaching for the Cure 5K!

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Brea 8K 2012 logoWith the 2013 Brea 8K coming up on Sunday, February 24, I’m flashing back to my experience at last year’s race. To give you some context, I’d been running for 11 months at that point. I was 40 years young. I’d done a few 5Ks, a sprint triathlon, and an Olympic distance triathlon. I had just started training for my first half marathon, and I was recovering from a groin strain injury in my right leg.

I went to bed at 10 p.m. and got up at 6 a.m. to get ready to race. I left the house at 7:15 and got there at 7:30 for an 8 a.m. start time, cutting it a little close given the line at the porta potties! But I had time to make it to the start line with a few minutes to spare and I happened to meet up with my half marathon running coach Stephanie. She is so nice. She chided me for running the full 6 training miles yesterday and said I only should have done two. 🙂 She also coached me on how to protect my pulled groin muscle from further injury — she told me not to lengthen my stride when I went up the hills — to keep my stride quick and short and not overtax that muscle. Good advice. I felt great during and after the race.

There were 4,500 people registered for the race [2,853 finishers I found out later] and even though I stood with the 7-8 minute mile starters, there were tons of walkers and beginning runners who stood there too and should not have been there. I did a lot of passing for the first two miles of the race. Frustrating. I made a mistake trying to pass someone too, totally my fault but she made me feel bad about it. She was listening to her music and couldn’t hear me overtaking her on the right, and while it’s my duty to keep out of her way as I overtook her, I thought she knew I was there. My bad. I said, “Sorry, sorry!” and she said, “Yeah you better be sorry.” I didn’t feel quite so sorry after that!

The course starts on a straightaway and makes a loop through a business district by the Brea Mall but then turns into the suburban neighborhood. There were some slight hills but I would not call the course challenging (aside from the fact that an 8K is 4.97 miles of course!) There were plenty of spectators and some funny official race sponsor signs.

I was cheered on by Mike and the girls. They showed up to surprise me on their way to go skiing for the day. First they drove by right around mile 2, and then they pulled over and stood on the sidelines to cheer for me. That was so nice! Mike saw a couple of his co-workers too.

My chip time was 41:55 for a pace of 8:21 per mile and an average 7.17 miles per hour. Not bad for an injured, tired woman!

Place overall: 689 of 2853
Gender place: 181 of 1618
40-44 Female division place: 17
Of 40-year-old females: 5th of 39
Of females from my city: 1st of 8 (hey, I’ve got to celebrate my “victories” where I can get them!)

At the end of the race someone called my name and I turned around to see Mike’s co-worker Jennifer. He didn’t even know she was running the race so I was surprised to see her there and so very glad I remembered her name. 🙂 We enjoyed the post-race food — quite the spread of vendors. I had a banana, oranges, water, a slice of BJ’s pizza and a small Jamba Juice strawberry-banana smoothie. I started to get really cold as the sweat evaporated off my running shirt, and I took that as my cue to drag myself away from all the free finish line goodies and head home.

All in all it was a great experience and I’m glad I signed up for the race again this year! Who’s in it with me? If you’re interested in the 2013 Brea 8K, take advantage of the 10% off discount code from the Race Grader coupon code page (scroll down to the Brea 8K entry and create a free Race Grader account if you do not already have one)!

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Putting my marathon race goals out there for everyone to see intimidates me. I know that saying them out loud makes me no more or less likely to achieve them. I will put in the hard work of training. I will do my best to rest for recovery, eat well, and stay healthy. With a little luck thrown in, I will show up well-trained and injury-free on race day. Then it’s a matter of seeing how the cards fall that morning.

Which of these goals will I achieve? Does it make it any less of an accomplishment if I don’t achieve them all? (Remind self on race day: the answer is no — if you achieve any of these goals, you should be thrilled and proud and ready to strive for the next goal at the next race!)

5. Finish the race. I know all too well that the goal with any race, and particularly a new running race distance, is to finish. No DNS, no DNF = win! An automatic PR! Better yet, finish without injury and you’re golden even without a spot on the podium.

4. Finish in under 4:30. That would be a darn respectable time.

3. Finish in under 4:10. Now we’re talking.

2. Finish in under 4:04. That’s what the McMillan Running Calculator and other pace calculators predict I can do based on my half marathon time — somewhere in the range of 4:04 and 4:02.

1. Sub-4! There’s a big difference between 4:04 and 3:59:59. Some (including the authors of Run Less, Run Faster) would say it’s not wise for me to push the pace and try to break four hours. Perhaps they are right, and “they” can tell me they told me so on race day. I am content to strive for my highest goal. My training thus far proves that the goal is on target. Using the Run Less, Run Faster plan and assuming a marathon pace of 9:06, I am able to meet the prescribed times for the track repeats, tempo runs and long runs. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, I’ve-put-it-out-there-don’t-smite-me-now, I will achieve one or more of my goals at my first marathon less than three months from now!

Do you set one or more goals for yourself for a race? How has that played out for you in past races? I broke 30 minutes in my first 5K as an adult. I completed my first 8K and 10Ks without injury (I set a low bar on those races!), and I reached my highest goal of a sub-2 for my first half marathon.

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