|It's amazing how different experiences can be... Take, for example,|
the runner in the blue... He looks to be hating life while I am
loving the crap out of it ;)
The race offers a 5K and 10K option. The 5K is probably my least favorite distance (I feel like it's an all out sprint for way too long - probably because I don't know how to properly pace myself), so I decided on running the 10K (not to mention, having to drive 100+ miles each way I figured I might as well make the trip worth it and get in 6+ miles).
The sweet Smitha (a fellow Conqur Endurance Group ambassador) was driving up from San Diego to the race and asked me to ride with her. SIGN ME UP! We love each other, but we also hate traffic equally as much (if not more) and wanted to take advantage of the carpool lane. I paid for parking and she drove - a sweet deal for both of us.
|Let's just say that life of a runner does not include sleeping in...|
The Conqur Endurance Group ambassadors were planning to meet at the bib pick-up area at 7:15am for a picture so we shot to be up there by 7am. I met Smitha at a nearby Oceanside Starbucks and jumped in with her for the drive. The traffic was almost perfect at 5am and we got there by 6:30am (although I'm gonna say that it was our conversation that made the ride seem to fly by).
We were both thankful for race morning packet pick-up, especially for being somewhat out-of-towners. The official info said you could grab your bibs between 7 and 8am (which is when the 5K was scheduled to begin), but there were volunteers eager to help us when we rolled in a half hour early.
Although I had a hard 5 mile speed workout on Thursday and a 20-miler on Friday, I still thought I would try and chase down a PR (personal record). Last weekend I ran the Disneyland 10K and even with 6 character stops I was within mere seconds of a PR so I figured I'd give it my best this go around. (My current PR was actually the previous year's Disneyland 10K, which I was not shooting for at all, but since I don't run many 10Ks it just happened that way.)
|My Thursday and Friday workouts were not easy...|
Smitha and I found some of the crew and snapped a couple pictures before going back to the car for a few minutes. (Although it was about 63* out, being right on the Pacific Ocean, the sea breeze made it a little chilly.)
|Tim, Smitha, Ryan and I|
Photo Credit: @RunningWithSD's Instagram Feed
|Ready to rock the streets of Santa Monica|
At 7:05am we decided to head to the port-o-potty line (there were only 30 potties for the 5,000 registered runners so we wanted to get to them before the lines were crazy out of control). Thankfully not everyone was at the starting line area and we were able to walk right in (although I do have to say, I think the potty-to-runner ratio may have been a little off...).
|The only port-o-potties I saw|
Right around 7:15am we found some of our ambassador team and huddled up. We chatted it up, talked about strategy and more importantly, post-run snacks (but with the one and only Linzie as our team captain you KNEW the subject of snacks would have to come up, right?!). Once everyone arrived we made our way to the starting line and took a couple pictures (Jenny was crewing for her hubby's Tahoe 200-Miler and Emelia was running the Giant's Race in San Francisco, but other than that the entire team made it out to the first race of the season! GO TEAM!).
|The Conqur Endurance Group Ambassadors (minus Tony, Emelia and Jenny)|
|Tony was running late so we snapped another shot when he arrived!|
Photo Credit: @PrettyCheeky's Instagram Feed
Before we knew it the 5K runners were racing out of the gate and it was time to get in line for the 10K (the majority of the team was going the distance with the 10K). In honor of September 11th, I decided to go with a red, white and blue theme for my race gear (and I was not alone - it was so great seeing all of the American pride out on the course!).
|#FlatCarlee consisted of PRO Compression Socks, a Handful Sports Bra, |
a Sparkle Athletic Skirt, a Road ID bracelet, QALO silicon wedding bands,
Brooks running shoes (complete with Shwings), my Garmin Forerunner 735XT,
Momentum Jewelry wraps, a Sparkly Soul headband and a Nathan handheld.
I didn't necessarily have a game plan for the morning. I was shooting for sub 8 minute miles (since my PR at the time was 49:36 which averages right at 8 minute miles), but other than that I thought I'd take whatever my body gave me. Linzie had originally told me the course was FLAT AND FAST, but when I was looking at the website the night before (probably should look more then 12 hours before making my way to the starting line) it said the first 4 miles were slightly uphill with miles 4-6 being a gradual downhill.
This race doesn't have corrals, so everything is self seeding. No announcements were made about properly seeding yourself and with no pace signs in the starting area it was a bit of a cluster. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing people out at their first race (the announcer made a point to have the newbies raise their hands so we could congratulate them for getting to their first starting line), but it does cause for a hectic first half mile or so. I did my fair share of weaving, but thankfully once we got up onto Main Street we had a couple lanes of the road to start spreading out.
|The starting line|
My first mile was 7:45, which wasn't crazy, but did feel a bit harder than it should have at that speed (I'm going to blame the weaving on playing a bit with my head). Mile 2 I was able to knock down my pace to 7:40, which I was glad to see. Prior to mile 3 was when the 5K'ers were splitting off (although they started 30 minutes before the 10K'ers you were running with some of the walkers) so you had to watch for them crossing the course. My third mile was my slowest, but 8:02 was still nothing to scoff at.
Heading UP to mile 4 I started seeing the front runners heading back across the median. Seeing other runners always makes me run a little faster... Not only am I stoked by their effort, but looking for friends and cheering others on tends to take my mind off my own running and I push a little harder than normal. My pace wasn't that much faster, but with the majority of the elevation gain coming in that mile I was thrilled it wasn't slower than mile 3.
|The overall gain was 239 feet which isn't bad at all, but it definitely had some elevation to it|
Between mile 4 and 5 (I think) was when I saw Smitha on the other side of the course. She has had some hip issues so was taking the race easier as to try and not aggravate it more. She snapped a couple pictures of me cruising along.
|Thankful for running friends who are willing to snap shots for me!|
Photo Credit: Smitha
I knew that the last two miles would be a gradual decline to the finish line so decided to open up. I was able to knock out two miles at sub-7:10 pace (Mile 5 at 7:07 and Mile 6 at 7:05). I was running near a November Project kid towards the end and we kept pushing each other, it was great. F YEAH for a bit of friendly competition ;)
The kid I was running with looked at me around the Mile 6 sign and said "You set the pace, you're pulling me in." I decided to let 'er rip. Can you believe it?! My pace, even if it was for a quarter mile, had a FIVE in the front of it! 5:59 pace - WHO AM I?!
We crossed the finish line and gave one another a sweaty hug, because that's what the November Project tribe does, and congratulated each other on a strong finish. I grabbed my medal and a water bottle before meeting up with some of the ambassadors. We waited for more of the crew to finish and then made our way over to the Pier.
|Finish line selfies are always the best, right?!|
|Some of the crew at the finish line|
Photo Credit: @PrettyCheeky's Instagram Feed
While we were waiting, I finally had a chance to look at my watch and saw a TWO AND A HALF MINUTE PR! My watch had me at 6.25 miles and 47:04 (which averages to 7:32/mile). The official results had me at 47:02 overall which was good enough for 5th in my age group.
This was one of the first races that I've run where you had to trek somewhere else to grab your finisher's shirt and refreshments. The walk wasn't crazy far or anything, but I think next time they should probably have some signage up to remind runners to make the walk over (I don't know if anyone forgot to head to the Expo and grab their goodies, but I could definitely see it happening).
When you arrived at the Pier you were given a bag and could walk around to all of the vendor booths to get some freebies. I sort of felt like we were trick-or-treating, asking the companies to fill our bags. I ended up only going to the Clif booth because it was a little hectic and busy in the limited space we had, but that's okay because I was able to score some of the new nut butter filled bars!
The shirts are nice, especially for a 5K/ 10K (although, let's be real, I never wear them... it's now in the stack for my "to be used for another Project Repat quilt" in the closet). I was slightly disappointed in the refreshments post-race (there were boxes of cut bananas or quartered bagels), but maybe they were expecting you to get your fill from the vendors.
|I LOVE when race shirts aren't plastered with sponsors!|
We grabbed a couple photos before Smitha and I had to make the journey back to her car (we ended up parking near the starting line, which was about a mile walk down the beach from where you had to grab your shirts at the Pier).
|These two ladies rock my socks!|
|Apparently the #WeRunSocial crew got the memo about the patriotic gear...|
Photo Credit: @IvieAnne's Instagram Feed
All-in-all I was stoked with how the morning went. The traffic cooperated, the weather held out with decent cloud cover until after we finished (even though I would have preferred less than 85% humidity), the bling was snazzy, the course was fun (even if it wasn't pancake flat), the crew turned out, and I was able to run away with a new 10K PR!
But, as you know, I've always gotta #KeepItReal. Although I'd give the race TWO THUMBS UP, I don't know that I would have made the 200+ mile round trip trek had I not been comped an entry (but that it mostly due to the distance from my home, nothing to do with the race itself). If it was a local race for me I'd definitely keep it on the calendar!
PS Because people had asked, there were 3 water stops on the 10K course (one around mile 2, around mile 3, and around mile 5), but because of the late start (8:30am for the 10K), I did carry a handheld with me. I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry, especially since I was planning on pushing it for a PR (also I could store my phone in the pouch). With that being said, I would have been totally fine with just using the course provided hydration.
How long is the furthest you would drive for a 5K/10K?