Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

Sunday was the Rock 'N 'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon - which was also the third and final race of our #Dirt2Strip journey.


Hopefully you've read my recaps for the first two races {Saturday morning's Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon and Saturday evening's Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas 5K}, but if not, you totally should... and I'm not just saying that... or maybe I am ;)

In the morning we were running the Hollywood Hills and in the evening we were running (off the) Vegas Strip

When I left off in the last post we were refueling Saturday night with #AllTheFood. After that it was time to head back to our hotel rooms and hit the hay since it had been quite the full day. Now, I don't know if you know this or not, but I am currently training for my first official ultra marathon (the hubby and I did the Grand Canyon {Rim2Rim2Rim} which was about 50 miles, but it was self-supported and unofficial). With that said, my training plan calls for quite a few miles to get me and my legs ready to tackle this next challenge. Technically I was supposed to have 22 miles on Saturday, so seeing as I only got in about 15 I decided I'd hit the strip and get in an extra 7 when I woke up Sunday morning.

Maybe next time I'll tuck in my shirt so my tummy isn't out in all its glory ;) 

The weather was a bit on the chilly side and the winds were whipping around, but it was awesome to have the strip almost to myself. (Let's be real, Vegas never sleeps, so folks were still stumbling around at 6:30am "continuing to rage".)

Some of the character stops I made while out on my run

After finishing my run I decided I should probably get off my feet for a while so I made my way back to my room to shower, refuel, do a little work and watch some football. {During this time the guys went to the lululemon outlet store, but since those clothes are a little too rich for my blood I opted out.} Eventually it was time to get dressed and ready for the race.

This #FlatCarlee was all about the reflective gear (so of course I had to shoot one picture without a flash and one with a flash)!
My flat runner included: neon pink and black PRO Compression socks, black Handful bra, Sparkle Athletic reflective chevron skirt,
2017 Los Angeles Marathon jacket (Jade Jacket made by Skechers Performance), Brooks Sherpa reflective hat, pink and black QALO
silicone wedding bands
, pink and black Momentum Jewelry wraps, elite Road ID, my Garmin Forerunner 935 and Brooks Ghost 11.

Just like before the 5K, the #WeRunSocial crew had a meet-up before the races on Sunday at the Bellagio fountains.

Source: @werunsocial's Instagram feed

It was awesome to see everyone. Although having the fountains going off in the background of our shot was a great idea in theory, it was a little difficult to execute because the sun was behind us and the sidewalk is only so big (especially because all the tourists are also trying to stop and enjoy the water show), but we did our best to make it work.

All of the crew that was there at the time of the photo (people came and went when it was convenient for them)

The #RockNBlog crew who were at the meet-up

The #Dirt2Strip crew! 

Since all of the official information said that runners were required to go to the Start Line Village prior to the event (and enter the corrals via the village), once it got close to race time, the meet-up started to disperse and everyone made their way to the pre-race festival. Capital Cities was the headliner and were already onstage by the time we got there.

As you can see, it wasn't a hip-happenin' concert...

I guess this is as good of a spot as any to see if anyone would like to place a wager (it's Vegas, baby)... Race one of the weekend was a short course and race two was... uh... lameSo what do you wanna bet that race three will be a success?!

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I will say, when we got to the Start Line Village I was impressed by the number of port-o-potties. There were tons and we were able to walk up with zero line {spoiler alert: this was NOT the case for the rest of the race, but more on that later}.

We had a decent size crew in the blue wave (the number of runners is very large for RnRLV, so they split them into three waves {blue, green and yellow}, with 12-14 corrals within each wave) so we tried to set a game plan. Last year we had entered the starting area too close to the start of the race and really had to work to get up to the proper corral (not to mention try to stay together). This year we decided to try to enter the staging area as soon as the corrals opened - which, for the blue wave, was 3:40pm for a 4:30pm start time. We figured that because the official info all stated runners had to go to the village and could only enter the corrals when their wave was called that it would be regulated... Let's just say it wasn't. Once they opened the gate for us to start walking to the start line you could tell it was a cluster. There were no barricades along the road to keep others out of the huge mass walking to the start (this included folks from other waves, spectators and just drunkards who got stuck in the shuffle). Literally we were all just meandering down the street and whoever wanted would jump in. Now, don't get me wrong, RnRLV is never about a time for me (this was my fourth time running the race {2015, 2016, 2017}), so I wasn't getting bent out of shape because other folks were "sneaking" into the wrong corral (although no sneaking was required, there was no security, nothing preventing anyone from from coming or going, no one telling anyone where they should or shouldn't go, etc), but I was disappointed by the lack of security, the lack of a plan, the lack of containment, the lack of thought that seemed to have gone into the start. Unless you needed to drop stuff at gear check or you were really into the concert, there was zero reason to arrive early and go to the Start Line Village. Had we known, we could have hung out with the crew longer, saved some steps and just bee-lined it straight to the start closer to race time. We all hoped this wasn't a preview of things to come...

Last year, a few weeks prior to the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas event, there was a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. Due to this, RnR moved the start line, changed security measures, adjusted the pre-race entertainment, etc. I'd say that because of this many runners are extra aware of security at this event... but it didn't seem as though Rock 'N' Roll felt the same way. In fact, I don't remember going through much security for any of the events over the weekend. (During the 5K they were checking bags, but that's the extent of the security I remember.) When we were waiting at the starting line a few of us mentioned how worrisome some of the issues were (the lack of security to get to the corrals, then when we got to the corrals we were fenced in with 8-10 foot fences, meaning if something were to happen we were stuck, plus folks noticed an open window at one of the nearby hotels, etc). In the world we live in today, unfortunately these are things we have to think about, especially with what occurred down the street so fresh in everyone's memories.

The fire may have been a better touch if it was dark out...

But, now, let's get back to the race itself. After waiting for what seemed like FOR-EV-ER in the corrals (maybe they thought the walk would take 50 minutes?), it was time to go. We located satellites on our Garmins, assigned everyone a number (so we could count off and make sure we didn't lose anyone along the way) and got down to business... And by business I mean the exact opposite of business... this race is always a 13.1 mile PARTY!

While waiting for the race to start we numbered off... I was #2!

The first mile or two is pretty boring and mellow. Since the blue wave started at 4:30pm it was still light out so the strip isn't lit up in all of its glory yet (and you are just running along the airport and a few smaller hotels). But then we get to our first stop - the "Welcome To Vegas" sign. And here's where our good friend Chris Heuisler was. Rock 'N' Roll had a four hour Facebook live stream going on and Chris was there getting some footage. Of course the crew rolled up and chatted for a bit. (If you saw it, you probably noticed I thought it'd be 'funny' to act like I was bored while everyone else was freaking the freak out {I don't know why I thought it was a good idea... I've since apologized to Chris twice for "ruining" the interview}.)

[And in case you didn't see it, you can watch it now ;) Around the 32:45 mark is where the crew rolls up and takes over.]



Well, after we left Chris, it was time to snap some pictures at the sign... I mean, it is one of the reasons why you run Vegas, right?! (And, as Chris mentioned in the interview, I ran as 'the sign' during the 2016 RnRLV 5K - HA!)

This picture is a MUST if you are running RnRLasVegas!

And then one of just me ;)

Then more friends caught us before we left so we snapped another shot!

And one final selfie before heading out ;)

Eventually we decided it was probably time to start running again... so we merged back into the race and plotted along.

Like I said, this race is pretty much a party from start to finish. I don't know if it feels like that because so many of the people in town are wasted and go crazy for the runners or if it's just that fun ;) Las Vegas only closes down the strip twice a year (once for New Years Eve and once for this race), so it's pretty special to be able to run it without cars or having to dodge the intoxicated crazies on the sidewalks. The lights are all on, the music is pumping and the party vibes are strong!

Was trying for a selfie and someone jumped in... Then I figured I'd get just the cool neon signs.

Look at all that reflective gear!

Some of the sights along the course (although either I am lit or the background is, so it was hard to capture)

I've gotta give props where props are due and say that I appreciate the update that they made in the course this year. We did less running "off the strip" (in years past, you did some neighborhood running to make up some mileage) and it definitely kept the morale up. I'd say we probably could have had the corrals much closer to the Start Line Village and had even less "off the strip" (boring, dark, cold) running, but it was a move in the right direction. #OneStepAtATime

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But with the positive comes a negative... The bathroom situation. Now, since this is an evening race, not everyone is familiar with how to fuel and hydrate (it is much easier to race in the morning, at least in my opinion, because you don't have a full day's worth of food and beverages in your gut). Although we used the bathroom at the Start Line Village, by Mile 3 a few of us already had to go. We decided that we would keep our eyes peeled and take a group pit-stop the next time we came across a bank of potties. Well, let's just say that didn't happen for almost SIX MILES! The official information about the race mentioned there will be portable bathrooms at each of the aid stations (but that it was "subject to change") but whenever we came across a port-o-potty which were far and few between (like maybe 6 or 8 total between the start of the race and Mile 9) it was a SINGLE one and the line was at least 20 runners long (legit - when we stopped later in the race for 'adult beverages' I counted and there were 21 people in one of the lines I saw). Around the point we were turning around and heading back to the finish we saw quite a few runners taking a detour down a side street and a bunch of us crossed our fingers and said "BATHROOMS!". When we veered down the street there was actually a truck unloading port-o-potties... I have no idea if this was something that slipped through the cracks or where the ball was dropped, but it was bad. Maybe they were ALL at the Start Line Village... (If you remember my Ventura Marathon recap, I had stomach issues, so bathrooms are definitely in the forefront of my mind.) Had we not found these recently delivered bathrooms we would've exited the course and gone into a casino or restaurant nearby to use their potty.

Literally unloading port-o-potties around Mile 9 when we showed up...

Despite the bathroom dilemma, we still had a great time (but when you roll with the friends I have, it's hard not to!). As per tradition, around Mile 12 we stopped into one of the establishments along the course to hydrate with adult beverages... Because "when in Vegas", right?! I am not a beer drinker (I have never tasted pee, but if I were to try it, I am sure it would taste the same as beer...), so when Brian suggested some of us do Fireball shots I was ALL IN! (Beer and wine aren't my jam, so if I am going to drink {which doesn't happen too often} I go the hard liquor route.)

The only four "brave souls" who wanted shots during a half marathon ;)

The bartender was not stingy with these pours!

The rest of the crew grabbed their Coronas (which they attempted to save for the finish line, but most folks ended up drinking the contents before we got there ;)) and we made our way to the finish. Although, we didn't want the fun to end!

I don't drink beer so I made the perfect photographer ;) 

We ended up finishing in just under 3 hours and keeping most of the group together - I'd consider that a success! Vegas is always about the PARTY PACE! And when we crossed the finish line, guess who was there... Chris! Brian and I stopped to chat with him for a few minutes and when we snapped a quick pic he returned the favor of "being bored/ unimpressed".

Always good seeing this guy! 

The finisher chute is always crazy long in Vegas, but eventually (after picking up all of our medals and post-race snacks {like pretzels, bananas, chewy bars, Pringles, water, Gatorade, etc) we were able to exit to the street.

The bling bling! (I thought it was cool that it could sit flat and that the
cards move and fold into a single card.)

Finisher shot (with and without a flash so you could see my reflective gear in action)

We call Vegas pace our PARTY PACE! 

Some of us had discussed going to get pizza after the race and it was exactly what the doctor ordered! (Again, having to figure out fueling {when and how much to eat before a night race} is tricky and I wouldn't say I nailed it because I was hungry by Mile 6, so pizza was sounding scrum-didily-umptious at that point.) The white pizza was AMAZEBALLS!

Where'd we go? Shhhh... it's a secret ;)

Eventually it was time to call it a night and go our separate ways. Vegas is always a whirlwind (especially when you mix it in with a self-imposed challenge like #Dirt2Strip), but no one ever seems to want it to end. #UntilNextTime

The last picture I snapped before boarding my 6:30am flight Monday morning

If you want to party in Vegas next year, there is a $99 pre-sale price* available until the end of the week (to put into context, when we grabbed our bibs from the Expo on Saturday they were selling half and full registrations still and the cost was close to $300... prices only go up if you wait to sign up!).  *You can register for the 5K, Half or Full for $99 (although, if you read my recap from yesterday, I'd suggest saving your 5K registration fee and going to a show with the extra cash).


Do you enjoy going to Las Vegas?


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas 5K Race Recap

Saturday night was the Rock ’N’ Roll Las Vegas 5K - the second race of #Dirt2Strip (and also our second race of the day).


Hopefully at this point you've already taken a moment or three to read yesterday’s recap of the first race in our journey {the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon}, but if you haven’t, I’d highly recommend it so we're all on the same page.

The views were pretty spectacular, even if the course ended up being a little (okay 1.5 miles) short

When we left off, the crew and I were on our way to Vegas. We caught a 12:05pm flight out of Burbank which was expected to get us into Las Vegas around 1:10pm. For the most part it was smooth sailing (minus the fact that I got separated from the group on the plane because of non-assigned seats, but ain’t no thang).

The Burbank airport is small enough that you actually still walk out on the tarmac to get onto the plane (fun!)

Originally our game plan was to take a ride-share from the airport to our hotel, check-in, get showered and changed for the 5K, then head to the Expo to grab our bibs (for both the 5K on Saturday night and the Half Marathon on Sunday), then make our way to the 5K. Well, apparently when I was making our itinerary I didn’t consider a few pieces of information. First (and probably most important) was the 5K bibs had to be picked up from the Expo prior to 3:30pm (even though the Expo was open until 6pm). I am assuming this is because the Rock ’N’ Roll team would be bringing the remaining bibs to the 5K race in case people were doing pick-up at the event (but I am just speculating as to what the reason was). The second thing I didn’t consider was check-in for our hotel rooms wasn’t until 3pm. With these pieces of info being brought to my attention we quickly adjusted our plans to go from the airport to the Expo to the hotel and then back to the race.

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The struggle is real (and definitely was during the weekend... we were running on fumes, adrenaline, and maybe a little alcohol)

I am normally not one to spend much time at an Expo, but with our quick turnaround time (and the desire to get to our hotel, check-in, shower and grab a bite to eat before the 5K), we were in and out in no time flat (hence the lack of photos).

When we got to the hotel not all of the rooms were ready, but Brian was kind enough to let David and Richard use his shower so everyone was fresh and clean before running again. [I lucked out that not only was my room ready, but that I am also the only girl in the group so I was able to have my bathroom all to myself ;)]

This is what a #FlatCarlee looks like when it is based around a pair of socks ;) Florida Skies PRO Compression socks, orange
Handful bra, Catch Me If You Can rabbit shorts, quarter zip I grabbed from Target a while back, Running4ThoseWhoCant
trucker, purple and teal QALO silicone wedding bands, purple and orange Momentum Jewelry wrapselite Road ID,
my Garmin Forerunner 935and Brooks Ghost 11.

If you remember in my #Dirt2Strip post, the #WeRunSocial crew was having a meet-up prior to both the 5K and the races on Sunday (they offer a 10K, Half and Full), so our aim was to get over to the race area around 5:20pm.

Source: @werunsocial's Instagram feed

Timing worked out perfectly again (even after stopping to grab a couple appetizers in one of the casinos) and we strolled up with a few moments to spare. We had a decent turnout for the meet-up (it’s always difficult when the meet-up is in the dark, but we still tried to make it work) and it was great getting to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Source: WeRunSocial's Facebook feed

Eventually it was time to head to the corrals. A group of us were in the first wave so we made our way towards the start. I had David snap a quick picture of me prior to us starting the race. (I know, I know, I didn’t have a crazy costume with a wig and battery powered lights or made of cardboard, but I needed to be able to fly with my gear so when the guys picked the Florida Skies PRO Compression socks for the race I kept it simple and went with the color scheme to match the socks.)


I was a little surprised at the lack of starting line signage. There is normally a large blow-up arch that goes over the start, but this year there were just two small signs on either side of the road that said 5K (similar to the mile markers you see along the course). Not a huge deal, but for a 5K that already seems to be very low frills, this was something that I noticed.

Source: @blingwhore's Instagram feed

Now, despite the fact that I received a comped entry to this race via my relationship with #RockNBlog, that doesn’t mean I won’t shoot straight with you… Hopefully by now you know I’ve always gotta #KeepItReal… So, with that being said, this is a lame 5K. Don’t get me wrong, this is my third year in a row running it {2016, 2017}, but that is because I was already in town, it was free for me, friends were doing it, and it was a race where I could let my creative juices run free and run in a fun costume. If this is not the case for you, I would probably recommend saving your pretty pennies.

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The marketing team does make it look like a blast though... Here's a video from 2016 (see anyone you recognize?!):



The course itself is dark, on poorly cared for roads (which means you have to watch for potholes, cracks in the road, etc) and on back roads away from the strip. There are a few “entertainment stops” along the way (a couple DJs, a guy playing the drums, and a KISS band near the finish), but for the most part it’s nothing to write home about.

I did appreciate the Brooks rocker made an appearance!

We might have thrown around the idea of dressing as KISS for the race but were worried the prep would take too long for our limited time.

Just as the course leaves much to be desired, the perks are pretty lackluster too (at least in my opinion for comparable races). The finish line was missing signage (just like the start), the participant shirt was okay (although I don’t wear them - I keep them for Project Repat quilts I have made from my race shirts), the bling is decent (seems smaller than most other 5K medals - I liked the idea of the slot machine handle, but it doesn’t move and seems like it could break very easily {not to mention the date is wrong on the back of the bling...}) and the after party has never been enticing enough to keep us around. Although, we all did mention that the course either seemed wider or they did a better job at spreading out the wave start because it didn’t feel as overly crammed as it has felt in previous years (my one positive for the race...).

Took it easy, ran with friends and shook out some of the tightness from the morning's run


You're probably asking yourself why Rock ’N’ Roll asks me back as an ambassador when I don’t have raving reviews for all of their races (I may ask myself the same thing), but hopefully you appreciate my honesty {not only do I want you to know what you're getting yourself into when you are thinking about spending your hard earned cash, but I also want you to know that when I give positive feedback it’s because I truly enjoy something… otherwise I don’t really hold back}.

Source: @blingwhore's Instagram feed
These guys are some of my FAVORITES! Even though half the time they act like they can't stand me ;) #AnnoyingLittleSister

I was glad I had a long sleeve that went with the color palate... it was actually pretty chilly when the sun set!

And, just like that race #2 of the day was complete. We were all starting to fade fast (remember, I was up since 2:30am and had been go-go-going since tackling the Hollywood hills hours before), so we made a bee-line to the monorail (a ride-share would have been cheaper, but with everyone leaving the race around the same time it seemed pretty chaotic and worth the extra couple bucks to jump on the monorail back towards our hotel) and then to find some ‘real’ food.

When in doubt, Mexican food is always a good choice!

Would you run a race because “everyone else is doing it” even if the course leaves much to be desired?


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon Race Recap

This past weekend was the culmination of hours of text messages, race registrations, details and anticipation - it was finally time for #Dirt2Strip! In case you didn’t read Friday’s post, some friends and I were embarking on a “crazy” {self imposed and totally unofficial} running adventure - tackling 3 races in 2 states within a matter of approximately 36 hours.


Saturday morning was the first race in our journey - the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon. But before we get to the start, I’ve gotta share some info… California is currently on fire. And I don’t mean like in the slang “lit”, I mean literally on fire from multiple wildfires. In fact, on Friday one started in Griffith Park and we were worried the race would be cancelled.

Some of the articles that popped up when you searched "Griffith Park" on the day before the race.

Thankfully Keira, the amazing race director for the Griffith Park Trail Runs (along with other awesome races), kept us informed. She was onsite for many, many hours on Friday and we were assured the race would go on.


As you're probably well aware of by now, I'm what some would consider “frugal” (ha, that may be a tiny understatement ;)). Because I was already paying for a flight to and from Vegas and hotel in Vegas for two nights, I decided the hubby and I would drive up bright and early at zero dark thirty the morning of the race instead of paying for a hotel in LA.

As you can imagine, that forced some VERY EARLY alarms...

Thankfully the roads are pretty empty before 4am so we didn’t have to deal with the usual hell that is Los Angeles traffic.

Crazy... there is no traffic at 2:45am - WEIRD! 

With a wake up call around the time some party animals were calling a cab from the night before, I knew I had to have everything ready to go for Saturday morning (including everything I needed for the two additional races and days in Vegas). Laying out a #FlatCarlee helps alleviate the “am I forgetting something?!” worries that normally stress me out.

I thought this shirt was perfect to kick off our #Dirt2Strip adventure. This #FlatCarlee included: Classic Red, White and Blue PRO
Compression socks
, red Handful bra, royal Sparkle Athletic skirt, baseball tee that I made (grabbed a blank one from Dick's Sporting
Goods
, then the hubby mocked up a spoof on Elf's "Smiling's my favorite" and my friend printed it on her cricket so I could iron it onto
the tee), a hat I made out of felt and hot glue, red and blue QALO silicone wedding bands, red and blue Momentum Jewelry wrap,
elite Road ID, red Knockaround sunnies, a Nathan Handheld, my Garmin Forerunner 935, an Epic Wipe and Brooks Cascadia 12.

The game plan was to get to the parking lot at Griffith Park at 5:30am so we could meet up with Brian, David and Richard, grab their stuff (since they were taking an Uber from Richard’s house to the race and the hubby would be dropping the four of us off at the airport after the race), then head to check-in to grab our bibs and get the party started.

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Our schedule may not have looked like Buddy the Elf's, but it was jam packed! 

Everything worked out perfectly and we quickly grabbed our bibs and participant shirts (the guys got tees and the girls got tanks {more on this later}). Unfortunately, with the craziness that was Friday with the fires and all that came with it, safety pins fell through the crack so the runners were offered duct tape to attach their bibs. Thankfully for us (and the guys’ lululemon clothes ;)), Brian had a few spare pins in his luggage so when we took our participant shirts back at the car we were able to make it work. {Side note: I probably have a billion and a half safety pins at the house and yet had ZERO in my car [isn't that how it always works?!]… I rectified this immediately when I got home from Vegas and filled an old nuun tube with pins and put it in my glove box so in case a similar issue arises in the future a crisis can be averted ;)}

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Once we got back up to the starting area we found some more of the crew and snapped a few pre-race pictures.

The start wasn't much to look at, but when it comes to trail races - less is better!

This is what you call #RunMatchy... right?!

Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and shake it all about...

Runners make amazing friends!

Eventually it was time for Keira to give some pre-race announcements. She apologized profusely for the safety pin fiasco (it really isn’t that big of a deal, but runners can be extremely Type A so when anything deviates from their norm they can get a bit testy), as well as for the slight delay in the race (the race ended up starting about 15 minutes late, giving folks time to finish at the port-o-potties). She promised her races normally run without issues, but the previous day had been one of the hardest she had to deal with and unfortunately there were a few things that may not go according to plan...

I guess her comment about things not going to plan was a bit of foreshadowing...

Then it was time for the countdown (no frills, just counting down from 10) and to hit the trails. #LetsGetThisPartyStarted

Seeing as there weren't "spectators" on the course, I didn't need folks to cheer my
name... but the blue hat went with my outfit ;) #Priorities

Now, let me preface this by saying not everyone in our crew is an avid trail runner. When looking at logistics, we looked at the elevation map, past finisher times, etc and guesstimated that we'd probably finish in close to or under three hours (which would give us just enough time to get to the Burbank airport to catch our flight). I swear, both Brian and I remember looking at the elevation chart when we were considering our Saturday morning race for #Dirt2Strip and seeing one with a decent amount of climbing in the first 2-3 miles (maybe 500-1,000 feet), but after that it was pretty flat and downhill. Well, let’s just say something must have changed… I don’t know if we were looking at something wrong or between the time we looked at the info and race day the course changed because we were WAY OFF in our assessment of the course.

Source
We were wrong... sooooooo wrong!

Don’t get me wrong, the course was gorgeous, the volunteers were awesome and getting out on the trails with friends was amazing, but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. As you can see from my Garmin’s elevation information below, there were three big climbs we had to tackle (adding up to about 2,500 feet of elevation gain) - instead of the single one we were expecting. Let’s be fair though, although Brian and I both remember the same thing, the website currently reflects the elevation we encountered (David said he checked it earlier in the week and it showed the “three mountains we had to climb”, so this could have definitely been user error on Brian and my parts… OOPS!).


Despite the hills never seeming to end, the scenery was AMAZEBALLS! If you don’t run on the trails, you may not know this, but trail running seems to be a lot more laid back than road running. Most folks walk/ hike the uphills, the aid stations are full of yummy snacks (instead of the standard water, electrolyte and potential gooey fuel), and the environment is much more lax. With that said, I made sure we stopped along the way to enjoy the views (while also catching our breath).

Everything was very clearly marked (and if there was ever a confusing
spot, there were plenty of volunteers there to direct us in the right way)

I thought the runners looked like ants marching up a hill

I think when I pass away I want a trail in my honor for everyone to enjoy and reminisce on

You can see the smokey haze in the background from the nearby wildfires

Not gonna lie, one of the hubby's TOP reasons for pondering an ultra was the aid stations! #RunsForFood

The hubby and I are a bit more versed in trails and elevation than some of our crew, so there were a few spots where we'd pull away from the group when we got into a groove, but then we’d pull over, snap a selfie and wait for folks to catch up.

Surprisingly you could see the LA skyline in the distance (normally there is smog and I would have expected smoke from the fires) 

Source: @PavementRunner's Instagram feed

Despite the fires, the air quality didn’t seem terrible. At the beginning of the race, when we were huffing and puffing up the first major climb, I'd say I noticed my throat burning a little more than normal - and my teeth felt like they were a little more gritty - but overall I would say that although we could see smoke/ haze, we were incredibly lucky to not be effected.

LA might not be my jam, but man, aren't the views stunning?!

Even though Los Angeles is only 90 miles from Oceanside, the hubby and I avoid it like the plague. Traffic's always horrendous and we tend to stay in our little North San Diego County bubble. There are a few reasons we make the trek to LA, but for the most part, we steer clear. But Griffith Park is one of those places I'd make an exception for. It's awesome!

We found the Hollywood sign!

I'm not sure if Ryan thought he would blow away or what... 

Despite the lack of rain we've had recently, the hills were still pretty green.

Almi snapped this shot of Brian, Ryan and I. As you can see, I'm more concerned about my footing
and not falling than looking at the camera for a picture --- maybe eventually I'll be talented enough to look up.

With our tight timetable, I was keeping my eye on the time. If we were going to finish in three hours, we needed to average around 13:45/mile. Normally that would be a walk in the park for this crew, but with the unexpected elevation gains and new terrain (to some), we were definitely cutting it close. That was until we realized we were going to be short on the half marathon distance. You see, the course went out to the Observatory, then to Chapel Hill and then back to the start. Well, at the turn around point we were a little over half way, but we weren’t going back to the Observatory so I wasn’t sure how we would be making up the missing distance. Come to find out… we weren’t. The course ended up being 11.5 miles long. When heading to the finish, we speculated that maybe this was one of the things that Keira was alluding to that “wouldn’t go according to plan” like she mentioned in her pre-race announcements. I’ll be honest, I was a little bummed about the short course, but I also know that had those additional 1.6 miles included more elevation gains, we would have been cutting it extra close to get to the airport on time (we did discuss running around the finish area and parking lot to get in the extra distance, but none of us seemed to care "that much" to do it at that point).

The medal was HUGE (and the blue background was actually see-through {like stained glass})

FYI: Looking at the website, it appears as though the chunk from Mile 6.5-9 was what was cut out during Saturday's race.

Source

Source
If you look at this elevation chart vs. what we had, we are missing the low, flat part.

But, let’s be real, I knew this race was never about a time on a clock, so whatever the overall mileage ended up being, I wasn’t too worried. It was about the moments and the memories. And this race was filled with plenty of both!

Source: @blingwhore's Instagram feed

And here's what it looked like from the other side - HAHA! Thanks for snapping this one, Almi!

After crossing the finish line, I went over and gave Keira a big hug and thanked her for the race. I can’t even imagine the stress of putting on a successful race, let alone have a natural disaster to have to deal with. She apologized for the shortcomings, but I told her not to worry about it. We all completely understood the circumstances she was dealing with.

Not only did we get a participant tee (or tank), an awesome medal and yummy food throughout the morning,
we also got a pint glass when we crossed the finish line! I wish more races did this (or mason jars or maybe hats!).

Just like the fully stocked aid stations, the post-race spread was awesome! There were Subway sandwiches (egg whites on flatbread, turkey or veggie subs), tons of salty and sweet snacks, and plenty of re-hydration options. Had we not had a plane to catch, I absolutely would have hung out a while, cheered in other runners and took in the chill vibes.

Not too shabby! We definitely felt spoiled!

Before leaving I asked Keira if I could swap my participant tank for a guys tee. She told me that was absolutely fine, to find a specific volunteer and ask her to help. I found the woman, relayed the info and told her I'd run to the car to grab my tank and be right back. She said it’d be absolutely fine, so off I ran. (The guys took their time to head back to the car, but I didn’t want to make them wait for me, so I figured I’d run ahead.) When I got back I gave her my tank and asked if I could get a men's extra small or small instead (whichever the smallest size was they offered). She then told me the smallest they currently had was a LARGE… Wish she would've told me that before I ran an extra mile or so to grab the tank… So off I ran, back to the car with my tank in hand. (PS This is no fault of the race, I was asking them to swap me for something I was technically signed up for, but I did wish they would've mentioned the women would be receiving a tank because then I would've selected the mens’ shirt to begin with. Also, I knew of at least four of our friends who had registered and didn’t come due to the uncertainty with the fires so I thought maybe they’d have extra, but I was wrong.)

Although I love bright colors, I thought the guys tee would be something I would actually wear frequently. I also love the simplicity
of the shirts (and the fact they aren't covered with sponsors or other unnecessary info). 

Once I got back to the parking lot we snapped a quick group picture before everyone made their way to Vegas (minus the hubby… he was heading to Oceanside to keep Walt company and to visit with his dad who happened to be in town).

Eddie (on the far left) came in first OA in the half, Almi (next to him) came in first in her AG and third female OA - ROCKSTARS!
All but the hubby were heading to Vegas to continue the weekend of races. (Eddie and Almi drove, but the rest of us caught a flight.)

I decided it'd be easier to change before we went to the airport, that way I could leave my clothes and trail shoes with Ry, instead of packing dirty stuff. Thankfully Epic Wipes sent me a couple convenient wipes to use for such an occasion (I'll post a full review soon, but for now, know a product like this is much needed {and appreciated by your aisle neighbors} when going on adventures like this). Nothing like a little "shower" in a parking lot in the company of friends ;)

I wasn't sure if I should show the "after" because it might be a little
gross, but I wanted you to see the size and hashtag real life ;)

And, before we knew it, we were leaving on a jetplane. {FYI - Traffic to the Burbank airport was surprisingly light at 10:30am and security was a breeze, so we got to our gate with about 45ish minutes to spare before boarding!}

Thanks for the ride, Southwest!

Now you’ll have to pop back tomorrow and Thursday to read parts II and III of the #Dirt2Strip adventure! PS Just in case you're a crazy runner like us and interested in joining us in the future, these adventures are always open to whoever is down! (And if you have ideas of other shenanigans or different races to consider, we are always open to suggestions!)

I figured the best place to show off my medal was IN THE DIRT!

Side note - despite the short course and lack of safety pins, I'd definitely consider running this race (or any of Keira’s other events) in the future. Now, I probably wouldn’t have suggested it for the morning race before flying to Vegas once I knew “the real” elevation - but that's only because it may have been realistically beyond the ability of all of the runners we had with us to comfortably complete the challenge. I have only ever heard amazing things about Keira’s races, so I'm absolutely willing to give her a pass this go around due to the fires. {And just so you know, because I want to be completely transparent, I did receive a comped entry to this race, but the hubby and friends paid for theirs. And, as you hopefully know by now, the generosity of a free bib does not cloud my judgment when it comes to my recaps or reviews.}

If you were to run a race and it was short, would you complete the distance on your own or leave it as-is?