Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pasadena Half Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday morning I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon.

Aren't free race pictures THE BEST?! Literally, I think it's one of my favorite race
perks that can be offered! Even if they aren't my fave pictures I so appreciate having
a couple shots from the run (especially if the hubby isn't there to spectate). 

As a Conqur Endurance Group Ambassador (the parent company who put on the race), I was given a free entry to the race, but you know I've always gotta #KeepItReal.

With that said, I did pay the $20 upgrade fee for race day bib pick-up (I figured it was cheaper than any hotel I'd find {and would want to stay at} or amount of gas I'd have to spend driving to and from Pasadena on Friday or Saturday to attend the Expo and then again on Sunday for the race).

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I appreciate races that offer race day pick-up (even if there's an additional fee), especially since the majority of my races are not right down the street and having to drive to an Expo AND to the race or having to make accommodations to stay the night before can be a hassle (and an extra expense). I realize that it can be a logistical headache (the runners are not attending the Expo and potentially not spending money at your vendors, as well as all of the bibs, participant shirts, etc need to be at the race the morning of along with extra staff to man the area), but am a much appreciative runner!

Since the weather man was calling for cold and windy rain, I made sure to pack
my layers (even if I didn't end up using them all). This #FlatCarlee was all about
trying to stay warm and dry! Lavender PROs, black Handful bra, midnight
Sparkle Athletic skirt
, gray tank, Sparkle Athletic black visor, long sleeve
tech tee, rain jacket, black and lavendar QALO silicone wedding bands,
gray and black Momentum Jewelry wraps, purple RoadID, my Garmin
Forerunner 735XT
, some cheap sleeves (that matched the color scheme of course),
and my Brooks Ghost 9 with lighting bolt Shwings.

Anywho, seeing as I had to grab everything on race morning I knew it would be an EARLY one. Not only is Pasadena about 85 miles from our house, but we were in the middle of major storms. (In case you don't know, Southern Californians don't know how to drive in the rain... Legit, it can be sprinkling out and you will see cars flipped upside down in the middle of the freeway... Unless it's sunny and 70* they lose all ability to operate vehicles.) I knew I needed to leave myself plenty of time in case the crazies were already on the roads so I decided to leave our place by 3:45am.

Can you believe it?! I actually slept until my first alarm went off!

Thankfully the roads were clear and the rain wasn't too torrential on the drive up. I ended up getting to the Rose Bowl parking lot around 5:20am, waited in the car till about 5:30am and then made my way over to bib pick-up. The staff made it easy-peasy, even though the timing company had screwed up royally and had put the incorrect information (name, age, gender, city of origin, shirt size, etc) on EVERY SINGLE bib.


Once my Christine's bib was in hand, I went back to the car to try and stay as dry as possible. It was only sprinkling/ drizzling at that point, but with the look on the radar I knew it was only a matter of time until the sky opened up on us.


Around 6:10am I made my way out of my cozy car and over to the restroom (there were a couple "real" bathrooms in the parking lot {and by real I mean they flush} so I hit one up, although it appeared as though they had ample port-o-potties near the starting line). I was meeting the Conqur Endurance Group Ambassadors at the starting line around 6:15am for a picture and to see if we could be of any assistance for the set-up crew. Since the team had everything dialed, some of the ambassadors (the ones not stuck in traffic) snapped a quick picture in our reflective rainy gear.



The races (there was a 5K and half marathon option) were set to kick off at 7am. Unfortunately, due to traffic issues, the start was delayed by about 25 minutes. Normally this wouldn't have been a big issue (sure, folks would have been whiny no matter what), but due to the cold and rain that we were standing in the runners seemed to have less patience with the issue. You would hear chants of "Start the race" or "Let's Go!" break out in the corrals.


I was towards the front of the pack and could see the constant stream of cars trying to make their way into the parking lot so I knew we wouldn't be under way until everyone was parked and the roads were deemed safe. [They are already working on this issue for next year so that they won't run into the same hold-ups. As with all inaugural races, there are a few bumps along the way but I know this crew will work to improve drastically for future races.]

If you look at the street in front of the starting line you can see all of the headlights...
This picture was taken around 7:15am...

I hadn't looked at the course map or elevation chart prior to the race (I know, I know, major FAIL on my part). I saw a brief snip-bit that said something along the lines of "it's a very challenging but rewarding course" and assumed that meant it would be a hilly one. Well, let's just say it did not disappoint. I felt like the majority of the course was either uphill or downhill. Not crazy elevation changes, but just constant rollers for sure. With the ground slick due to the continually falling rain, it seemed like everyone was taking it cautiously as to not slip and slide.

The elevation chart from my Garmin

Pasadena is not my stomping ground (in fact, the hubby and I tend to stay as far away from Los Angeles County as possible), so I wasn't sure what to expect with the course. I heard some folks mention that the course was similar or went along some of the same streets as other races they'd run, but it was all new to me. Some of it was industrial, some of it business, some of it residential, and even some of it was parking lot running. I wouldn't say that it was the prettiest course that I've ever run (but the cold, rainy day may be clouding my judgment a bit) or that it was full of spectators (not sure if the weather kept them away or the location), but I had a great time. [The fact that I don't know the Pasadena area may be why nothing really 'stood out' to me on the course, since I didn't know what I was looking at.]

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We are spoiled living in the Southern California weather. It is sunny and 70* for about 350 days out of the year (but we do pay a HIGH sunshine tax for the weather... one that I will happily fork over). Running in the rain is not something that the majority of us are used to, but I kept telling myself that it could've been a lot worse (for example, Monday we had torrential downpours with HAIL). I had a smile on my face the entire time while I splashed and dashed through puddles, cheered on fellow runners and thanked the amazing volunteers who were like angels out on the course.


One of the awesome parts of this race was that it finishes on the fifty yard line of the Rose Bowl. Although I'd much prefer running at The Big House, [but that brings with it running in the snow and Michigan weather] the Rose Bowl wasn't too shabby ;) #ItsGreatToBeAMichiganWolverine


I wish the weather would have cooperated a little bit more because it would have been awesome to have the stands full of spectators when you turned the corner and ran onto the field, but the stadium itself was still pretty cool. By the time I finished (actually, by the time we started) I felt like a drowned rat and didn't want to hang out too long since I knew I had a long car ride back to Oceanside, but I did grab a quick picture at midfield before grabbing all of my goodies.


On the way back to my car I was able to stop by the tent where I picked up my bib earlier that morning and grabbed my participant tee (I was glad they had them afterwards so I didn't have to do gear check or run back to my car if I was running late). With the mix-up on the bibs, the tees were more of a honor based system (normally you can't swap shirt sizes from what you selected when you registered because they might run out of a size, but since your bib no longer had 'your' size I was glad to see that they still had my size when I got to the tent), but it worked out.

Another shirt for an upcoming Project Repat quilt...

Officially my time was 1:52:14, which averaged 8:34/mile (although I showed that the course was long {my Garmin seemed to have picked up an extra .2 of a mile between mile 6 and 7} so with my 13.3 miles the time averaged to 8:27/mile). I wasn't pushing too crazy hard (although due to the cold and rain my heart rate was a lot higher than I would have liked) and was using this as another long run in my training to get me to the Phoenix Marathon (and then to the Los Angeles Marathon a couple weeks after that).


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The medal that we received is PURRRRRTY! She goes with the same color scheme as the Santa Monica Classic and what we can only imagine the Los Angeles Marathon bling will be (since the three races are part of the Conqur LA Challenge). It is similar to last year's Los Angeles Marathon medal in that it is two sided and heavy duty.


Although the weather is out of a race director's control and the parking/traffic/race start should be fixed by next year, I think this may have been a one-and-done race for me. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing terrible about it, but at the same time, to have to spend 3-5 hours in the car (depending on the day and how traffic unfolds) a race needs to be fan-freakin'-tastic, and I don't know that this one had 'that'. If Pasadena was closer or if I was a huge UCLA fan or if I was adamant about running the challenge, then I would definitely be all about this race, but since none of those are facts in my life, I appreciate the race for what it was and will continue looking for new races to run.

How far do you normally drive for a race?

3 comments:

Brett Copeland said...

Look at the bright side, Michigan won a national title on that field in 1998 :-) I completely forgot to do a Woodson Heisman pose at the finish line.

Amanda Mangus said...

Some of my most memorable half marathons have been in the rain. Looks like you made the most out of the soggy situation! 😊
I will drive up to 2 hours for a half or full marathon. I don't like to repeat races, so I am starting to have to drive further to run new races.

Juliana said...

thanks so much for this recap-I live in Pasadena and I plan on doing this race next year mainly because the Rose Bowl is about 2.5 miles from my house! i will definitely look into the course and changes they make (getting down into the Rose Bowl can be difficult)

If I am driving up the day before, I prefer not to drive more than 1.5 hours. I drove down to Carlsbad last year for the 1 mile and then stayed over night for the 20k and that was the farthest I had driven the morning of a race!