Tuesday, May 24, 2016

REVIEW: Nathan LightBender RX

Remember when the AWESOME folks at Nathan sent me some new (to me) products to test out?!

A couple weeks ago I posted my first review of the Nathan SpeedShot Plus Insulated Handheld and now it's time for my Nathan LightBender RX review! If you read my "Getting It Done" post on Friday then you might have noticed I wore the new lighted armband out on my early morning run (if you didn't read the post or didn't notice it, don't worry, I won't hold it against you, but feel free to check it out HERE if you've got a few spare minutes).

I swear, I look like a Christmas tree when I go out on my
runs, but I'd rather be seen and laughed at then unnoticeable
and in potential danger!

The band was on the solid red option in my 'after' shot. It was about 7:30am
so the sky was bright (even with the May Gray that's been sticking around lately)

Some of the gear I took with me for my 15-miler (which started around 5am).
As you can see, my Nathan SpeedShot Plus Insulated Handheld, as well as my
Nathan StrobeLight that I use as a back light came along for the run!

Anywho, since I'm sure you are well aware, taking pictures in the dark is HARD, especially when the product you are trying to shoot is a light... Either the flash would blow out the light or if the flash was off then the pictures would be super blurry. With that said, I thought the best way to do a review might be a vlog {video + blog}. Now, please don't judge, I'm still trying to get comfortable with video, but I'd love it if you took a few minutes (or 14 because apparently I am a chatty Kathy) and check out my thoughts on this new product.

I wasn't sure how well the light translated in the video because I was filming in a bright room so I went into the closet and took a couple pictures. I also cycled through the different light patterns while in the dark so hopefully they are a little easier to see. 

In the videos below I cycled through the three lighting modes (the steady blink, the "heartbeat" and the solid light), each of which I kept on for a few counts. Here is the red light:

And the green option:

And last but not least, the blue light:

As I mentioned in the video, I am digging this lighted armband! With the warmer months quickly approaching and athletes trying to beat the heat with their workouts, having good visibility and reflective gear is an absolute MUST

If you are interested in checking out the Nathan LightBender RX or any of the other awesome LED lights, you can visit your local running store. [Nathan is currently working on an eCommerce site of their own, but in the meantime, I would always urge you to #ShopLocal.]

What safety gear do you use on your early morning and late evening runs to help you to be seen?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Jeff Galloway Blogger Tips: Vacation Run Secrets

It's time for another set of tips and tricks from the one and only Mr. Jeff Galloway! This post comes at the PERFECT time... when everyone seems to be getting ready to head out on a summer vacation (or three)! I'll be the first to admit it, lately a lot of our vacations have been racecations (vacations based around a race), but in case that isn't the game plan, Jeff has some great suggestions on how to still get in your runs while on vacay. And, just a little tidbit of my opinion before we jump into the wise words of Jeff, I truly believe that the best way to see a new area is to RUN it, so no matter how you do it, lace up those shoes and head out to explore! 

Vacation Run Secrets 

The best, more efficient workout when you’re at the beach… Running into the dawn: In Summer, it's best to run before the sun rises above the horizon. Since it's common for family members to sleep a bit longer on vacation, get up early and hit the beach. Set a total time you wish to run, and turn around at the halfway point. Or, run 1-2 minutes longer going out and try to run faster on the return. 

When you’re camping and near a lake and/or mountains. Drive around the campground area to find suitable running/trail areas. Plan a group hike each day. Appoint yourself the “lookout”. Walk ahead of the group for a few minutes and then run ahead for a minute or two, and run back. Repeat this routine throughout the hike. Even short segments of running, during a 1-2 hour hike, will maintain your running adaptations very well.

On a road trip, taking frequent “pit stops”. Wear your running gear on the trip. If it is safe to run or walk at your rest area, walk for 1-2 minutes as a warmup and then run for 5-10 minutes. Repeat this pattern until the group is ready to load up. If it is a food stop, get your meal “to go” and spend the time running.

When you’re on a trip that’s based around a theme park. Many of the hotels in areas like Disneyworld, have designated areas for running. In some cases you can run to the parks. Ask the hotel staff for recommended routes. Each evening, gather the family and plan your park visit for the next day. This allows for you to find a timeslot to squeeze in a run. As you mention how you are planning your run, you'll teach the kids how important your exercise is, for you.

When you’re on a sightseeing city tour. Time is limited during most sightseeing tours but you can usually squeeze in a few minutes here and there. Wear running clothes or very comfortable apparel with running shoes. When the bus stops, keep walking around while looking at the sights or listening to the guide. If time allows before reboarding, jog for a minute or two.

A home-based vacation. If possible, arrange with another family member to watch the kids while you run. Then, offer that person a chance to get away for a while while you stay with kids. Early morning is often a great time to get in your runs. Plan trips to local parks (that you seldom visit) where you can run and walk with the family.

Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached hundreds of thousands of runners to their goals. For more information, see his books GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS and MARATHON—you can do it! Ask Jeff a question at www.JeffGalloway.com

I think my favorite tip Jeff mentioned was the one for road trips. We have an 'Adventure Mobile' and have been trying to do a few more camping trips lately. When traveling with a larger group sometimes those stops can become a little longer than we may normally make on our own, so running during those pit stops (and then eating in the vehicle) is a great idea that I've never even pondered before! I'll make sure to report how it works out if I give it a go!

One of my fave pictures from our last racecation we took to the Big Sur Marathon

Are there any tips you would add?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Workout Recap - Week 21

Sunday, May 15th – 5 mile run {Yasso 800s}, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, May 16th – Strength Training (abs, back, legs and arms), 4 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, May 17th – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, May 18th – 11 mile bike ride, PiYO Sweat Workout, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, May 19th – 5 mile progression run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, May 20th – 15 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, May 21st – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

37 miles of running, 11 miles of biking, a strength training workout and a PiYo workout and I AM SPENT! My body was definitely ready for this week's rest day when it finally rolled around! (PS I know that 37 miles doesn't seem to be too high mileage, but I think my body has just been physically drained lately, so every mile has felt a bit like ten!)

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Getting It Done

We all have those days that we don't want to do our workout. Whether it's because we got a crappy night of sleep or because we have been going non-stop all day, we'd rather push it to another day. Don't get me wrong, we definitely need to listen to our bodies (especially if an injury or sickness could be knocking at your door), but pushing through, even when we don't feel like it, will often make you a stronger runner (both physically and mentally) come race day.

Since I knew my alarm(s) would go off at zero dark thirty this morning and I'd probably be a little flustered trying to get everything together, I did my best to get it all ready last night. Laid out a #FlatCarlee, got all my fuel together (my BASE Bar for breakfast beforehand and my BOLT Chews for during the run) and double checked to make sure my alarms were good to go.

It's always a great idea to throw a couple bucks in, just in case you need to buy
an electrolyte drink or something along the way

Just as I suspected, when my first alarm went off I was NOT ready to get out of bed. I wanted to stay snuggled in the bed (and even when I went to the living room to start getting ready I was hoping the pup would get out of his crate and come cuddle with me, but thankfully he didn't tempt me like that!). But half the battle is getting up and out of bed, right?!

I threw on my gear, ate my bar and jumped in the car. I was hoping to be down to Carlsbad by 5am (the hubby would prefer I not run around our house when it isn't daylight... it is totally safe, but he feels more comfortable with me running in Carlsbad in the wee-hours of the morning) and that is exactly when I made it down there.

Some may laugh at my reflective gear, but SAFETY FIRST!

Although I'm not following a specific training calendar right now, I pretty much know what I need to do on a weekly basis, at least to keep myself in constant half-marathon shape (and without losing too much of my marathon work that I've been putting in over the last year-ish) and am fairly self-motivated to get it done. On tap today was 15 miles.

One day I would LOVE to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which means at my current age I need to run a sub-3:35 marathon. With that said, I normally shoot for my goal marathon pace to be 8:00/mile. Long runs should be 60-90 seconds slower than that, so I would love for my long runs to be 9:00-9:30/mile, but I try not to stay too focused on my Garmin and just run by feel (long runs should be more of a comfortable pace... working more on endurance and getting miles on your feet).

Unlike my speed workouts (i.e. Yasso 800s on the track, progression runs, etc), during my long runs I am a little more lax about stopping. Obviously I am not stopping during my races (or at least I hope not), but if there is a picture I need to snap I don't think twice about it.

Signs at CoffeeCoffee this morning (I know some of you feel this way, right?!)

Southern California has this weather phenomenon called "May Gray" (follow by "June Gloom"). It is when the marine layer (aka fog) sits along the coast and never really burns off. Although it keeps the temps cooler, one of the major drawbacks is the humidity. Man, we have been getting socked in with this thick air lately.

I'm always #FueledByPROBAR

I used my Nathan SpeedShot Plus Insulated Handheld during this morning's run. Around mile 9 I was near a 7-Eleven so I went in and refilled my water in the bathroom. (I always make sure I am well prepared with my hydration or at least know of adequate water options along my route... Dehydration is no joke!)

Since today was National Bike To Work Day there were a lot of extra bikes out this morning, which was great because I love saying 'HI' to everyone out and about. There were even bike clubs that set up fueling stations along the coast. I didn't think they'd be stoked if a runner partook in their goodies, but it was nice to have more people to chat with.

I ended up finishing my run in just under 2:11, which was an 8:45/mile average - not too shabby for the humidity and tired legs (they are SCREAMING for some rest!). All-in-all the run felt great and I was able to knock it out and get home in time to wake up the hubby and puppy with their breakfasts and coffee (coffee for the hubby, NOT the pup)!

The assortment of gear I bring with me on my training runs

Some Mamma Chia granola, Silk almond milk and fresh strawberries - YUM! 

And once I walked the pup it was time to hop into a nice, warm Epsom salt bath for a little rest and relaxation. [Tonight we are going with some friends to the Escape Room SD to celebrate a birthday so I wanted to make sure I was able to get in my run before everything else I had on my to-do list. PS Don't you worry, a recap of the shenanigans will be coming! I've been promised it won't be scary, but who knows!]

So, although I would have MUCH PREFERRED to stay in bed or cut my run short, I got in my miles and have a HUGE smile on my face because I am better for it! And I promise, if you put in the work to get it done, you'll be better for it too!

What mileage do you have on tap for the weekend?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Balboa Park 8-Miler Race Registration GIVEAWAY!

Let's be real, I think a runner's favorite two letters are P.R.! I mean, who doesn't like getting a personal record when they run?! So when I saw @HPMovement post on their Instagram account about the Balboa Park 8-Miler yesterday I was intrigued... I've never done an 8 mile race before, so even if I walk the entire thing it'd still be an automatic PR, right?! 

Source: @HPMovement's Instagram Feed
This year the medal features the 101 year old Spreckels Organ Pavilion
which is located right by the start and finish of the race!

Come to find out, the Balboa Park 8-Miler is actually San Diego's longest running tradition... It's the oldest consecutive race in San Diego and this year marks the 62nd annual running of it! Well, shoot doggy, that sort of means I MUST run it, right?! And thankfully my race calendar was totally open on August 6th so it's a NO BRAINER!
In full disclosure, I received a complimentary entry to this race because the guys over at HP Movement are FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC, but even if I hadn't I was planning on registering for it (an automatic PR is worth the low registration fee, #AmIRight?!)! With that being said, not only did I receive an entry for me, but I also acquired a SECOND ENTRY and it could be FOR YOU!

Enter using the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a complementary race registration to the 62nd Annual Balboa Park 8-Miler**The race is on August 6th, 2016 at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA. Please be sure you will be able to attend prior to entering the giveaway. Start time will be at 7am and they offer race-day bib pick-up free of charge!**

PS I do want to mention, this year will be an all new course throughout Balboa Park. Although it will be beautiful and scenic, I'm sure it will be challenging as well. We will be running by historical landmarks, on trails, over bridges and around windy roads - but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right?! Not to mention, if this is your first 8-Miler it's an AUTOMATIC PR NO MATTER WHAT PACE YOU RACE! 


This giveaway will run through May 25th at 11:59pm PST. The winner will be contacted via the email address associated with their Rafflecopter account and will have 24 hours to claim their prize. All entries are verified, so please be sure to complete them or a new, random winner will be selected.

Good luck to everyone who enters and remember to enter early & often as some of the options are available daily!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

#RnRSEA Here I Come!

I received some AWESOME news earlier today (and if you are my Facebook friend or follow me on Twitter you may already know what I'm about to say, but don't spoil it for the class, k?!)... I'm heading to Rock 'N' Roll Seattle mid-June! I was one of the lucky few selected to be an Ambassador for #RnRSEA on behalf of Athlete IQ and Alaska Airlines! WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!! <<insert running man dance here>>

Because I'm on the #RockNBlog team I already receive a complimentary entry to the race, but thanks to Alaska Air and the new ambassadorship I also receive AIR FARE TO AND FROM SEATTLE! OH HECK TO THE YES! This "Real Housewife of Oceanside" needs all the 'free' perks she can get or otherwise these racecations wouldn't be a reality!

I am STOKED! I've never been to Seattle before and you know that the best way to see a new city is to RUN THE CITY, right?! I'm BEYOND BLESSED to have this opportunity and I am going to take advantage of every single second I can!

I know it is still a couple weeks away (and I may have a 10K and two half marathons before then), but I want to try and start getting the details of the trip together sooner rather than later. Wanna know one detail that is a MUST?! The #RnRSEA #WeRunSocial Meet-Up! YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! With Linzie and Megan hosting, along with PRO Compression sponsoring the shin-dig, you KNOW it's gonna be a good time! An afternoon filled with tons of amazing runners, all the selfies and maybe a donut or three?! COUNT ME IN!

Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to wear, because, let's be real, race day attire is of utmost importance! ;) {Do I go with a grunge theme? Or maybe Seahawks colors? Or how about as a giant coffee? The possibilities are ENDLESS!} And if you wanna come run Seattle with me and the crew, because why the heck wouldn't you, register HERE {there is an 8K, a half marathon and full marathon option} and use CARLEEMCDOT to save a couple bucks (which you could use to buy a coffee or maybe a dozen donuts - because SEATTLE!)!

Any suggestions on MUST-SEE or DO things in Seattle?

Monday, May 16, 2016

ASICS Vine Body Sole Half Marathon Race Recap

Let me start out by saying a couple things.

First, I am well aware that there are many kinks in inaugural events/ races. Although this was the first year for the ASICS Vine Body Sole Half Marathon, this was not ASICS first rodeo, therefore I was expecting a bit much better... I mean, they sponsor the New York City Marathon for goodness' sake - they SHOULD have some resources they could have tapped into for assistance had they needed it (and, spoiler alert, boy, did they need it!).

Next, I realize that a few folks may think some of my opinions are a little too harsh, but I've gotta #KeepItReal, not only because I want my friends/ family/ followers to know what they are getting when they are spending their hard earned money on an event, but also because with my Fibro Fog I tend to forget things pretty quickly so I want to remind MYSELF of my thoughts on the event so I remember if I want to participate in following years.

So, with that being said, we might as well just jump right into it!

I won a free entry into the ASICS Vine Body Sole Half Marathon from an ASICS Ambassador. I was intrigued about the whole event so when I won the entry I was stoked! (I should note at this point that the only time I heard about the event was when I saw people giving away entries on social media... maybe that should have been clue #1, but I digress...)

With the race being female centric (I did see a couple guys on the course) and the cost in Napa being so expensive, the hubby and I decided he'd sit this one out! It was going to be a quick turnaround (I ended up leaving Friday morning around 4:50am and getting home around 5:40pm Saturday afternoon), but I was pumped for it all!

I packed my bags and made the 8ish hour drive northbound on Friday morning. My plan was to leave early enough as to beat the morning commute through LA so got on the road a little before 5am.

Used my Eagle Creek gear for the quick trip (along with the canvas bag I got
from Ford at Wanderlust). 

The drive was decent - but long on my own (remember, Ryan, Walt and I just made a similar drive a mere three weeks ago when we went to NorCal for our camping adventure that concluded with the Big Sur Marathon).

With the race being Saturday morning I was trying to hydrate on the drive which made for a couple extra pit stops along the way. My final stop was in Dublin for lunch (and yet another potty break) at Mr. Pickles. [Sidebar: Ryan used to call my parents' dog, Dizzy, Mr. Pickles so when I saw it come up on my Yelp app I knew I had to give it a go! And the "vegetarian sandwich on wheat with no cucumbers, tomatoes or peppercinis" HIT THE SPOT!]

Mr. Pickles was scrum-didily-umptious! 

I pulled into the winery that was hosting the "expo" around 1:30pm or so. As the saying goes, "you never get a second chance to make a great first impression" and I've gotta say, the impression that I received when picking up my bib definitely set the tone for the weekend...

Let's just say there was ZERO signage, direction or flow. I ended up in a restaurant asking if anyone knew where the race bib pick-up was and I was given very strange looks by all of the employees I encountered. Then I went on a search of the grounds and came across a couple of tents in a courtyard - BINGO BANGO! I asked the vendors if the bib-pick up was nearby and they all had puzzled looks on their faces... Okay, so I'll be doing this on my own...

I finally found a room that appeared to be the right area. When I walked in there was a "solutions" table. I asked these ladies if I was in the right spot and they said "For what?". Ah, so you're gonna be like that, eh?! I decided I'd try to figure this thing out without their 'assistance' since I had been around the block a few times when it came to races. There was a big table with a couple volunteers sitting at it. Thank goodness - I FOUND THE BIBS!

I was able to grab my bib but then was told to go back to the beginning of the table to pick up a bag. The lady at that spot then asked for my shoe size and found me a bag with a pair of socks in them that correlated. And again was left to fend for myself. I had to ask about the race shirts (I saw them behind the table but was never offered one or asked for my size). I knew we were supposed to get a pair of shoes with our registration and saw an area with chairs and shoes, so meandered that way, but had to figure out everything on my own.

I don't know if it was because I was wearing Brooks or they were extremely disorganized or the ASICS folks were just 'models' and not actually there to work or if they were just plain rude but the help (or lack there of) that was offered was comical. It was like ASICS was just using this event as an expensive and elaborate photo shoot and didn't realize or care that there were other people around or hoping to run a race.. But, hey, that's just my two cents.

Some of the details at the bib pick-up

Let's just say as soon as I grabbed everything I needed I was left shaking my head and crossing my fingers that the rest of the weekend was better organized. I made my way to our hotel and waited for Paula to arrive. Once we unpacked a bit I made sure to ask Paula about her expo experience, hoping that maybe I just caught the team at a bad time, but, in fact, she had a similar experience... BOO! We ended up staying in a hotel about 50 minutes away from the race due to cost and it was still uber expensive. For a "free" race, this was turning into quite the ordeal ;)

Paula and I wanted to take advantage of all of the events we could. She (and her sister-in-law) went to the workout earlier on Friday and we both wanted to try out the Sunset Yoga. Once it was time, we made our way to the winery for the yoga session (it was a different location than the bib pick-up, which I think is a little strange, but hey, that's just me). I was hoping to set up my GoPro like Ryan and I had done at Wanderlust, but when we walked in and set up our mats one of the ASICS folks asked us if we would go to the front row and took our stuff so it wasn't in the photos/ videos.

I do have to admit, the yoga was great! Like I have said before, I am not a yogi at all, but the stretching was just what I needed after the long drive up from San Diego County. It was a little strange to have a media and camera crew going around during the entire session, but if you could get over that slight invasion of space it was fine. Although afterwards I couldn't find the girl who had taken my bag and of course all of the other folks I asked just looked at me like I had a third eye or something. Finally I tracked down my gear so that Paula and I could skit-skat-scaboodle out of there.

Post-yoga glow ;)

I would have much preferred the succulents to the wine as a gift ;)

Although the yoga had given me a little hope about the weekend events, Paula and I were still pretty skeptical. The website was finalized a week or so before and the information provided to participants was so few and far between that we were honestly hoping when we showed up on Saturday morning there would be race... For example, we had driven around the area for most of the day (going to grab our bibs, to the different events, etc) and saw no signs that there would be a race the following day... No port-o-potties, no road closure signs, no nothing... Paula was able to find a map of the course when she grabbed her bib and was actually told that part of the race was on a trail... WAIT, WHAT?! Thankfully, just like with the majority of folks we came across, that person didn't know what they were talking about...

After a yummy dinner (and quite entertaining... I mean, with all of the wine tours folks can do in Napa, there are bound to be plenty of plastered folks nearby to people watch), we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the morning.

My #FlatCarlee was ready to rock, even if the race wasn't ready for us...
Race gear included a #WeRunSocial tankSparkle Athletic skirt, PRO Compression
(#TwoPairDontCare), Handful sports bra, Brooks shoes, Shwings, Road ID,
Garmin Forerunner 220Sparkly Soul headband, Momentum wraps,
and QALO wedding bands.

Paula was meeting her sister-in-law at another hotel that was offering a shuttle to the race, but I was very leery about the shuttle options so decided to drive and park at the finish (I had a dinner to be at in Carlsbad by 6:30pm so needed to leave right after crossing the finish line and based on my experiences thus far, wasn't sure if I'd actually be given a ride on a shuttle back to where we started). Since traffic seems to be horrendous in the Napa area I decided to leave the hotel around 4:45am so that I could get over to the race area around 5:45am (the race was supposed to start at 7).

Two mornings straight that I was out of bed before 4am - OUCH!

The finish of the race was at the same winery that the yoga was at on Friday, so thankfully I knew where I was going, because, honestly there was NO SIGN that a race was going to take place... Maybe it was because I was early, but all I could do was laugh because there was NOTHING! I pulled into the parking lot where we had been the day before and with no signs of life just parked. A few minutes later a kid came up to my window to ask me to move to another parking spot. Once I re-parked I heard the 'head parker' yell at the kid to have me move again. I asked him where to go and he said 'Well, you see that car right there, that's mine, how about you park by it and then we will figure everything out.'

I decided to sit in my car since it was chilly out and I was early, but I heard a fellow runner get out of her car and ask the guys where to go for the start. One of them said 'We will get you parked, but that's all we do"... WAIT, WHAT?! No one knows where we are supposed to go?! WHAT THE CRAP?! I know (from the map) that the start was across the street somewhere, so once the sun started coming up I figured I better start making my way to see if I could find this thing. I walked back up the driveway and saw a sign... I think it was the first sign I had legit seen all weekend.

I've never seen it, since I don't do scary movies, but is this how Children of the Corn starts?!

And it was pointing me INTO a vineyard... Well, since it was the only sign I had seen the whole time I figured I might as well try to follow the directions it was offering. Thankfully, since it was still somewhat dark out (there ended up being a decent cloud cover/ haze for the race), I was able to see some police lights flashing in the distance and remembered reading that we MUST cross where the officers were or would be in BIG TROUBLE, so made my way to the lights.

The kind police officer (seeing as so many of the volunteers or ASICS folks were less than friendly, it was great to have a smiling face to offer some assistance) made sure it was safe for me to cross and let me go. But go where?! Well, I saw some port-o-potties so figured that must be the way...

Funny story, there were runners lined up on both sides of the starting line until
about three minutes before the race... No one even knew which direction we were
supposed to be running... OH BOY!

I figured I must be early because there were like twelve people meandering around. I saw a 'starting line' so knew I was in the right place and figured everyone else was just on their way (I had heard from Dre that ASICS had 3,000 spots for this race, so I was interested to see how many folks would be running).

At least the grounds were pretty to walk around...

A few minutes later the shuttle that Paula, her sister-in-law and Dre were on pulled in and runners got off. We still had a while before race time (maybe 45 minutes or so), so we socialized and then figured we'd go see what the background at the end of the parking lot was. When I came I thought it was just an ad for the vineyard but soon we saw a line forming.

Low and behold it was a selfie station so we got in line and took a couple pictures. (If you watch the video below you can see me using the selfie station at the beginning... By the way, why is it that I keep getting caught by the cameras making a fool of myself?! Remember the Big Sur video?! Must be the bright colors I wear attracts attention ;))

I guess this is my "SURPRISE, THERE'S A RACE" face ;)

The ladies!

The girl who asked Paula and I to be in the front row at yoga the night before saw me and asked if we would take some pre-race photos for them. We went to the starting line and then one of the photographers looked at our shoes and noticed neither of us were wearing ASICS and whispered to the other that they couldn't use us... Like I thought, it was just about their product... Ah well, it wasn't like I thought we were gonna be famous from the pictures, but since the hubby (aka my professional and personal photographer) wasn't there, it would have been nice to have a few pics of us.

Paula thought it'd be funny to photo bomb improve my picture - it was ;)

With only about 10 minutes before the race we looked at each other and mentioned how the crowd was NO WHERE NEAR 3,000... In fact, I'd say 300 was probably a generous estimate (Paula joked that the bibs were alphabetical. She was 255 with a "V" last name so if that was the case 300 registered runners might have been right on.).

We joked and said that maybe we would be able to place in our age groups based on the size of the field, but then during the National Anthem Paula and I looked at each other quickly and mouthed "Alysia MontaƱo". Yup, the Olympian was just a few rows in front of us. After the National Anthem finished she walked back to run with some friends and Paula and I might have fan-girled out a bit ;)

Yup, we were 'those' creepers taking pictures with Alysia not knowing!

As we were getting ready to start the announcer mentioned that the roads were opened so we would need to stay within the cones and on the shoulder of the road... WAIT JUST A SECOND! This race was legit just on the shoulder or the road?! Well, I guess the lack of signage around town now made sense seeing as they weren't closing anything...

3, 2, 1 and we were OFF! Since we were starting in the parking lot at a vineyard, we ran down the driveway and then a couple officers had the road closed for a few feet so we could cross the street to get over to the shoulder... Yup, we'd be running with traffic (a big NO-NO) on the shoulder of an open road for this race... Well, that's interesting...

I think since one of the roads was the "Silverado Trail" and the map showed it a little 'off road', that is where the
volunteer got that it was a trail race... Glad it didn't turn out that way! 

I found a groove around mile 1 and decided I wasn't going to try and be a hero, especially with an Olympian on the course, but figured I'd run a comfortable race. By mile 2.5 or so we all started to spread out a bit (which was great seeing as the shoulder of the road didn't offer a safe way to pass other runners in most areas). At that point I decided I didn't need a super speedy time, but my goal for the rest of the race was to not let anyone pass me.

Around mile 3.5 there was a water stop and a relay exchange (yup, although no one really knew, there was apparently a 4-person half marathon relay choice for this race... I think the most people I saw at the areas throughout the course was maybe 5 or 6, so I guess 5 or so teams had heard about this option...). There were a few port-o-potties and I noticed that Alysia jumped in one. Around mile 4 I heard someone coming up hot from behind, but since it ended up being Alysia and she was technically in front of me I didn't count her as someone passing me. (It looked like she took the first 3 or so miles easy and then put in her music and took off for her workout.)

I wish I could say the course was amazing or beautiful or something inspiring, but, at least for me, it wasn't. Sure, we were running along the streets next to vineyards, but after one field of grapes they all pretty much look the same to me. And the whole running on the shoulder of the road didn't seem super safe so I was constantly looking down to watch my footing and around to make sure no crazy drivers were heading my way to hit me.

The first six miles or so my right shin was acting up. It felt tight, which happens when I go out too fast (although the pace I was running shouldn't have caused that issue), but it took a long time for the tightness to subside. Shortly after that annoyance went away my legs turned to lead. Any incline on the course (we had some rolling hills to deal with) made my legs SCREAM and remind me how I had done a hill repeat workout on Thursday. Thankfully I didn't go into this race thinking it was for a PR, so I was okay with a strong showing, even if that meant not overtly speedy (for me).

Well, I thought I was keeping a consistent pace, but as you can
see, I'm not the best at pacing ;) The rolling hills may have had
something to do with the differences of course...

It was a little bumpy along the way, but nothing too terrible

The last half mile or so was actually running through the vineyard (which meant loose sand, gravel, grass, etc). And even though I parked at the finishing area I didn't notice anything erected, so hoped that we were getting closer. I heard someone announcing names (or at least mumbling on a loud speaker) so knew I was getting close. I ended up finishing with a 1:47 (and some change) in __ place {yup, just like the rest of the details, the official results are MIA}.

I reached out to ASICS via Facebook and Twitter and they said they would "look into it", but since then I've received radio silence and haven't seen any word on when or IF results will be posted...

And my goal, to have no one pass me, WORKED PERFECTLY! I even picked off a handful or two of runners throughout the race. Even though it wasn't a PR, I felt mentally strong and kept chugging along even when I wanted to let off the gas (I think my latest read has truly helped!).

My watch was off by at least a tenth to a quarter mile starting by
mile 2... Or maybe the course was truly just short...

Once you finished you were handed a baggy with some treats in it. Although I don't like the plastic bag (I would love it if ASICS would have had a little reusable bag here), I do appreciate having everything all together rather than having to juggle and struggle to hold it all. One MAJOR bummer was the lack of water... Yup, ZERO water... They had some coconut water or some flavored stuff, but I just wanted your run of the mill tap water or a bottle of 'plain' water and there was none in sight! (Thankfully I filled my reusable bottle and had it in the car for the car ride home.)

With a lack of signage or direction, the hope is that you would find your way into the little finishing area and then realize that since your bib had tags for a 'keepsake' and 'wine glass' that you would find the wine glass tent to grab it and then would go inside to get a bottle of wine and medal. I don't drink wine, but you could have used your glass to taste the 4 options they offered before selecting the bottle you wanted. I asked one of the volunteers 'If I were to give this as a gift or bring it to a dinner party, which bottle would you suggest?' She gave me the Cab...

Don't get me wrong, it was a HUGE haul we got, but for $250 I'd expect that...
And for someone who doesn't drink wine or wear ill-fitting tops, the majority
of this gear will end up in my 'donation' pile. 

Since I had a dinner to get to by 6:30pm in Carlsbad, I had to dash, but I don't know if runners really would have stayed around long. Maybe if you were a wine drinker you would have, but with the cool, breezy weather and lack of much to do I would assume most folks grabbed their goodies and left. I said my good byes to Paula and her boys (who drove out to see the finish), then jumped in the car for the 8+ hour drive back home.

Such a WONDERFUL woman! And I get to see her again in just a
few short weeks for RnRSD! YIPEE!

Again, please do not read this recap and think that I am bashing the race or ASICS in general. I totally realize that there will be issues to work out with EVERY inaugural race and event (but for a $250 price tag, there were quite a few things that you would have had to write-off and dismiss). Hopefully, if this race continues in the future, some many of the mistakes or oversights that occurred this year will be corrected with upcoming events.

I stopped at the Napa Valley sign on the way out of town. Three girls were there and offered to take my photo if I took theirs. 

My honest opinion is that this was the worst race from start to finish that I have ever been a part of - the lack of organization, direction and thought put into the event was unimaginable and at points the only thing you could do was laugh. I felt as though I was an inconvenience being there, which started from when I arrived at the Expo and the feeling never went away. If I wasn't a runner or was new to the racing scene, I think this would have turned me away from it. Don't get me wrong, we had a GREAT time, but that's because we know how to make lemonade out of lemons and won't let a bad experience hold us down!

It literally felt like it was a big photo shoot for ASICS and their runners, with us peons just in the way and in the background. Even the photographers on the course were only there to shoot their ASICS runners (I saw them because I was close to a few of their runners, but they weren't taking pictures of the 'regular runners'). If this was a local race and I was given another free entry I might consider doing it again, but otherwise I would save my money (and time). Maybe I will be able to sell the shoes that came with the entry to recoup some of my gas money...

And, in case you were wondering, I made it home with 35 minutes to spare so got a chance to shower before dinner!

We clean up decently... Sometimes ;)

We had a Growth Group social that I was NOT gonna miss! Even if that meant
jumping in the car immediately after running to drive for 8+ hours on a Saturday.

Do you participate in inaugural events or wait until they are tried-and-true?