Quakes Dash for the Troops

So I’m back again. After making a big stink about returning and posting regularly, I was largely absent for almost a month. The thing is, I actually have been chugging along relatively okay on the run schedule. It hasn’t been ~great~ and it’s been a little painful, but I’ve been pretty steady.

But I can write about that more separately. Today, I’m writing about the Quakes Dash for the Troops 5k. I loved the Earthquakes Challenge races when they put them on, but there hasn’t been one since 2013. I definitely wasn’t running regularly back then. While we walked the 2013 race, I was so proud of myself during the 2012 race when I ran/walked the whole thing. A lot has changed since then, I guess.

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The race was generally fun. As I mentioned, I have been waiting SO LONG for them to bring a Quakes sponsored race back. It was an extra boost that the race benefited a good cause (and that the shirt was cute). The turnout was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but it was still relatively solid. It was advertised better than the MLS Care Run last year, but only slightly more so.

Pre-Race

There wasn’t much done pre-race. There were some stands and you could pick your bib and shirt up if you weren’t able to make it to the packet pick up the day before. I don’t think there needed to be much more than that, though, and it was just cool hanging out in a calm version of Avaya stadium. Parking also was pretty easy. A lot easier than the games, that’s for sure.

Most people there dressed in their race shirts, but my loving husband was decked out fully in his Quakes gear.

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The Course

The course was okay. I wasn’t looking forward to it because it just involved three loops around the parking lot and through the Epicenter. Truly not the most exciting course. I think the benefit of a course like that for a very community-centric run, though, was that you saw a little kids running off on their own since it was a relatively closed course. I guess that was pretty cool. It made the race fast though, because I didn’t have a reason to stop and take pictures. I mean, I think it would have been cool if they looped around inside the stadium a little more. They did that in the 49ers race and I thought it was a cool way to explore the stadium.

The Race

As I said, the race was pretty fast in general. It was my first since Orlando and I ran faster than I thought I would. It was hot, though. I never thought that I would say this, but I think the race would have been a little better if it had started even thirty minutes earlier than it had. Wouldn’t have been quite as hot.

I did a lot better than I expected; probably would have done a little better with some water in my system (more on that later). It was generally well organized and it was fun. Surprisingly, Q was absent, though. There were supposed to be Quakes players there too, but I must have missed them (boo).

My Garmin gave me an average pace of just under 13 minute/mile. It wasn’t a PR, but it was definitely among my top race times. Oddly, though, the official time I had was almost a minute/mile over that. Found that a little strange because I typically have slower Garmin times than official times and it’s odd to see it that far off.

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Negatives

There were two things that I really didn’t like about the race. The first was that there was no water station. I took a lot of issue with that, especially given the heat. With a race that involved three loops around the stadium, it really wouldn’t have been hard to put up at least one water station. I felt it around the halfway point too. I mean, I guess if someone wasn’t doing great, they could always figure something out when they got back into the Epicenter, but water stations are so standard that I thought it was disappointing that it was missing.

Also, at some point, the organizers let a car into the race course. Really? They were driving pretty slowly and carefully, but that’s dangerous and they really should have known better.

Overall Assessment

The race was fun overall. I wouldn’t rate it among the best races I’ve done as I did have some issues with it. Nevertheless, it was a fun community race and despite the flaws, I hope they bring back more Quakes races in the future.

QuakesRace2017BruceMedal

2016 Star Wars Half Marathon

So I caught up to Alea and am now also the proud owner of a Star Wars Half Marathon medal! I ran my first half on January 17, 2016–just this past Sunday, with our other friend and her brother, but not Alea this year (saaad!) It was quite an experience. I’ll try to cover as much of the feels/highlights as I can:

Pre-race

I definitely learned my lesson from last year–absolutely nothing but food and rest the day before, and minimizing the Downtown Disney shenanigans/staying up late. My friend Erin and I did pretty well here–Friday and Saturday were pretty low-key and revolved around food and napping. What I didn’t expect was my new caffeine habit and how it would affect my well-being. I foolishly did not pack enough coffee and started to get a raging frontal headache. Thank goodness Erin pointed it out and reminded me to stock up at brunch, which solved 90% of the pressure in my brain. Lesson learned: do NOT mess with your routine–if your diet involves (legal) substances (ahem), golly, now is not the time to go cold turkey.

Sorely needed coffee, and welcome sustenance.

Race morning

I had a small dose of coffee packed, along with my French press. Drank that and water first thing after getting up. Had a slice of bread folded up with some Nutella and PB for sustenance. Thankfully was able to go to the bathroom, all was well–just nerves. Got on the shuttle with no major drama.

This year I decided to wear a throwaway sweater to the start line–thankfully there was no rain, just cold. This year’s weather was very good, quite warm (high 40s-low 50s) at 4 am, and just a touch of fog. Sat in the corral bundled up until it was time to go.

Nick, Erin, me at 4 am!

Race proper

The 2016 course was not well-designed. A series of narrow lanes in the first five miles created noticeable bottlenecks where everyone had to slow down to a walk. Granted, there’s not much you can do about it while in the park; space is what it is, but I felt like last year’s 10K still allowed you to enjoy the park and go along for a jog without feeling hindered. The route opened up once you came out onto Harbor Blvd and into Anaheim itself, but it took about 45 minutes to get to that point.

Hello California Adventure!

After an hour in, I was able to run/walk fairly consistently, but I noted an energy crash right at mile 8. I hadn’t practiced with race day nutrition/gels/bars, so I was somewhat worried about accepting some of the Clif energy gels at the nutrition station. Next half, I want to practice this, because the energy deficit really slowed me down. My legs weren’t too bad, nor was my breathing, but the lack of food and core strength whittled away at my pace.

Steampunk Chewie.

Finish line

I was fortunate this year to have my family at the finish line with me. My aunt and uncle waited at mile 10, and my parents waited at mile 13. It was somewhat nerve-wracking, wondering if they’d found their way to the course, but once I saw them and passed them by it was like an emotional boost. I wasn’t too tired but there’s something about knowing people are there for you–not just the cheerleaders, bands, and random folks coming out to watch–but someone there to see you. I know I won’t always have this type of back-up at all my races, but for my first big race, it felt really good to have them there.

Candids at the recovery area. My parents made signs to greet us with!

I also am glad that several of my friends ran this race with me–even if we weren’t on the course together at all. My friends Nick and Erin came from the Bay Area to run, and one of my local running buddies, Steven, was there with his team. Everyone went at their own paces, but we managed to meet up at the finish for a group photo.

My first half!

Parting thoughts

I had a lot of fun in my half–barely thought about anything, really. There were too many emotions and events to really feel down, and that crowd boost really buoys you through the tougher parts. Every time I participate in a race, I appreciate volunteers and bystanders a lot more. Perhaps this is due to understanding the struggle one goes through during a race. At any rate. I’m still a bit sore in the legs and back; haven’t quite recovered yet, so my focus for the next few weeks will be rehabilitating and getting back to the schedule. I have a 5K lined up for February that I want to PR on–so it’ll be back on the track for me soon enough.

Firefly 5k (7/25)

Firefly

It’s been a while since I ran a race. I ran parts of the Veteran’s Run I did in May (?), but have been low key since then. Since my last post, I have done a few runs, but nothing too big. The new shoes I got definitely took some adjusting to and I finally got insoles for my primary pair. It’s crazy how much of a difference insoles make.

The race was the Firefly Run 5k. It has nothing to do with the show. Chris would have signed up if it did. Instead, he came to see me off and wait for me to finish. This one was a night race and we were given light up arm bands to wear. A night race in the summer really doesn’t do much, though. It didn’t get dark enough for the lights to make a difference until I was almost done with the race.

Otherwise, the run went well. I did my normal 3 min/1 min jog/walk stretches and clocked in just under 45 minutes. Not great, but also better than I expected. It wasn’t the most scenic location, but it was fun and I think I saw Manchester United’s bus during the run (they played Barcelona in Santa Clara earlier in the afternoon). I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of that.

It was a hard 5k though and that makes me a little sad. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that 5ks were a breeze. Guess there’s a lot of chugging to do before I’m half marathon ready again.

Run Seal Beach 

I did it! I finished the third and last of the OC California Race Series runs at Run Seal Beach today. I ran three 5Ks over the span of 9 months and today’s 5K was the last I needed to complete the race series. Here’s my breakdown of today:

5 am – wake up and get ready
6 am – drive to Seal Beach Pier (finish line), change into my shirt, use the restroom
7 am – walk to start line (First St and Marina), warm up/stretch
8 am – run

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Seal Beach Pier before sunrise. 6:50 am

Things I did better this time:

– Woke up earlier and didn’t rush getting to the site
– Taped up and stretched my right ankle/foot before running
– Hydrated and ate two hours before running

Things I didn’t do so well:

– Drank coffee the day before (dehydrating)
– Didn’t sleep well Thursday night –> tired Friday morning

What I still don’t understand is why I get mean headaches after I run. All things considered, this race wasn’t on a warm day, I’d actually drank enough (I thought) and I slept okay if not a little more than I did for my Star Wars 10K. I don’t get it. My muscles are mostly ok, my foot is not complaining even when I move it, but the damn temporal headaches. Maybe this is post-run stress? I do know I still get nervous.

My official times for the race series are as follows:

City of Cypress 5K/10K (June 2014) 33:22
Los Alamitos Race on the Base (Feb 2015) 34:38
Run Seal Beach (Mar 2015) 34:23

Didn’t break my 2014 Cypress run PR, but I’m happy to be at a pretty consistent 11:00/mi average. Not bad. My baseline performance puts me at the solid middle of the pack for my gender and age division, but there’s always room for improvement. I’m excited.

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Yay!

This is my first running series completed. I’m definitely open to doing something like this again, like the Beach Cities challenge (any combination of half or full marathons in each of the three cities: Huntington Beach, Orange County (typically Costa Mesa/Newport Back Bay), and Long Beach.) But first, my foot needs to recuperate so I can aim for Long Beach Half–OC is in May and might be too short to train properly.)

As always I am glad to be able to exercise and happy that my body lets me do something awesome every day. I hope I can keep up my fitness for a long time.

Los Alamitos Race on the Base

And thus February ends with another race–that’s one race per month (roughly) for me, which is pretty neat. I feel like some sort of athlete (not.) Well, for all intents and purposes, I kind of am. Today was my 5K at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, CA; it is the second qualifying race for the OC California Race Series. This is my third ever 5K but my first time doing a series, and so today’s general mode was somewhat interesting. There’s a part of me that enjoys race day and its exhilaration and pitfalls. I always learn something new about myself and the world when I do so, so it’s been great getting into this hobby.

If I had to give that day’s mood a description, I would say it was pretty distracted. Several things were at play: first, I underestimated the amount of traffic flowing into the base, not to mention I didn’t give myself much time to get there. Added onto my own delay was the poor management of parking at the site, so when I finally parked I had 20 minutes left to get to the starting corral. Thank goodness it was just a short race and I didn’t need to drink any more water or use the restroom–I would have had very little time to do so because the lines for the potties were also very long. The last thing that played heavily on my mind was whether or not my right arch would last–it’s been bothering me for the last two weeks after I increased my half-marathon training milage to eight miles. Many thoughts and not too much time to get settled in. Soon the gun shot went off and we were off.

Since it’s a 5K there wasn’t really much to do but just go. I’ve been doing quite a few increasingly long runs since Star Wars 10K (which probably contributed to my foot problem, as I ramped up pretty quick) so I wasn’t worried about stamina. I just wanted to focus on my form, keep a close watch on my foot’s performance, and aimed to finish under 40 minutes. Race on the Base (heretofore ROTB) is much much smaller than SW 10K–only 4,000+ participants in all four events: 1K, 5K, 10K and Reverse Triathlon, so the corral was not as full and I was able to start jogging right away. The course is just a loop around the Army base airfield, flat and cemented. It was just like one of my regular running days around home, but without stoplights.

Because my morning prep was poor, I didn’t quite get as hydrated as I wanted to. After the first mile I did pick up a cup and worried that I might spit up, but it was fine. I was close to 10:40/mile at the first half, but slowed to 11:11/mi or more after the second mile. Right foot pain resulted in leaning on the left foot and a tightening of the right calf. I just tried to concentrate on keeping as steady a pace as I could without further aggravating the right foot. Pain level about 3-4, noticeable but not acute/sharp.

I kept pace with some people for the most part. There was a platoon of servicemen and women running together and they passed me at mile 2. My foot pain’s persistence really kept me from gunning it. At mile 3, I picked up a little bit (even though I knew I wouldn’t break my PR) to spring the final 0.1 mile in.

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Final time: 34:38, 11:11/mi

Hopefully I can get to the doctor’s soon to see about this foot! I want to get back to training for OC Half :/

Alea’s 2015 Race Calendar (Feb. 2015)

While running (hah!) off of a post-race high the last few weeks, I’ve gone a bit nuts signing up for a ton of races. There are only so many that have been confirmed and I’m also waiting things out a little to see what else may come up. I want to do the Race the Bay Challenge, which requires races complete in the South Bay, SF, and the East Bay. I’ve got the sign up date for the Avengers Half Marathon on my calendar so I don’t miss it. Right now, my race calendar looks like it’s a handful of 5ks with a couple of half marathons sprinkled in. I need to up that a little. Feel like my calendar can be rounded out with a few more 10ks. Maybe a trail race. Not sure yet.

Here’s what it looks like so far:

January: Star Wars Half Marathon (done)

February: Guadeloupe River Run (done), Heart and Soles 5k (tenative; depends on how bad rain is)

March: Neon Run 5k 408k

April: Santa Cruz Half Marathon

May: Bay to Breakers

June: Firefly 5k

July: TBD

August: TBD

September: Rock and Roll Half Marathon (San Jose)

October: TBD

November: TBD

December: TBD