Monday, July 18, 2016

Road Runners Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday morning I ran the Road Runner Sports Craft Classic Half Marathon. I had the honor of working with Road Runner Sports to help promote this inaugural race and was given a free entry in exchange for my hard work (but don't worry, you will still get a 100% honest and unfiltered recap of the race - as hopefully you've come to expect from me!).

Seeing as they did not offer race day bib pick up (which is quite the bummer, especially since it takes about an hour each way to get down there for the 5 minutes of "expo" time) I made my way down on Friday afternoon to grab my goodies. This race was overflowing with perks. All runners received a commemorative tee (or tank), finisher's medal, race pint glass, sunglass, free race photos and after run beer!


Since the race is a point-to-point race, the majority of folks took a shuttle from the finish line at Green Flash Brewing Co to the start. With the very clear directions of being at the shuttle BY 5:00am for the 6:30am race start, I made the executive decision to have Ryan drop my off at the start around 5:40am or so (meaning we didn't have to leave the house until a little after 5 - SCORE!).

I decided because the course was a bit 'boring' (as in it was along a bike path next to the 56 freeway for a while and then through some industrial parts of Torrey Pines and Mira Mesa) I'd bring my own excitement and dress in character... And with the humidity making it feel like my runs have been "under the sea" lately, I thought a Little Mermaid theme would be PERFECT!

#FlatCarlee (I mean #FlatAriel) consisted of PRO Compression Socks,
a Handful Sports Bra, a Sparkle Athletic Skirt, a Road ID bracelet (finally deciding
on the red), QALO silicon wedding bands (stacked the red and purple), Brooks
running shoes
(complete with Shwings), my Garmin Forerunner 220 (actually
went with my Forerunner 735XT even though the purple would have went better
with my costume), along with some fake red hair (which I made out of curling ribbon
and a hair tie) and a Sparkle Athletic visor (complete with dinglehopper and starfish).

Apparently when you dress up in costume at a non-runDisney race you throw people for a loop... I mean, I thought it was pretty obvious I was going for Ariel but I had at least 4 people ask me "what's up with the fork?".... Uh, HELLO, it's a DINGLEHOPPER!

The details can make or break a costume!

I knew quite a few friends would be running the race so figured it would probably be more of a fun run instead of time and was stoked I made that decision ahead of time. After the hubby dropped me off, I made my way to the port-o-potties and then got a text from Leslie that she and Linzie were near the start. It took me just a few minutes to find them since there were only about 1,200 runners doing the half. Linzie asked me if I was going to run for time and I quickly decided I'd run for fun with them instead. (Honestly, if someone asks me to run for fun instead of for time, it normally takes me all of .037 seconds to decide to throw whatever goals I have out the window and lollygag with friends instead.)

These two make my heart smile!

With inaugural races there will always be kinks (and I've gotta be honest, I normally prefer to wait until they get them worked out before registering, but since Road Runner Sports was working on the race I thought I'd give it the benefit of the doubt). One of these bumps in the road was the delayed start time. Around 6:30am we heard what sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher on an announcement (guess we weren't close enough to make out what was actually being said) but then didn't start for another 10 minutes or so (and at that point there wasn't a National Anthem or even a horn, people just started running).

The first few miles are along the 56 bike path, which is great (and mostly downhill), but there seemed to be a rather large bottleneck getting on to the path. I'd say there was a decent amount of shuffling and 'going with the flow' for the first half mile or so before we actually got a little room to run. Even with the small race field, I would probably suggest a wave start simply to prevent the bunching. (PS There were no corrals and everything was self seeding, but it seemed like the majority of folks lined up appropriately by pacers or estimated finish time signs - so WAY TO GO RUNNERS!)

I have run the path a couple times now, since the San Diego Holiday Half runs along the same bike trail for the majority of its race, and I don't hate it ;) (FYI - Even though the two races are put on by two different companies, if you sign up for both this year you get EXTRA BLING!) Like I said at the beginning, the course isn't super visually stimulating or entertaining, but it is still fun! Although you are running along a highway, the left hand side has some pretty terrain (even though due to our major drought it is rather brown and dusty).

There is a little green ;)

Linzie's hip has been acting up and Leslie is just getting back into road running (trails are normally her jam) so we decided to take the race nice and comfortable. We walked or stretched when we needed to, stopped for photo ops when the moment struck and just had a grand ol' time! And, let's be real, you will remember the time spent with friends much better than a specific time on your Garmin... LIFE'S ABOUT THE JOURNEY - MAKE SURE TO ENJOY IT!

Stop, drop and SELFIE!

Keep chugging!

The sun decided to make an appearance around Mile 10
(and if you can't tell the sweat is overtaking my shirt)


Although the course is fun (especially with the right crowd), I would venture to say it is NOT a PR course. There are a few major climbs along the route. My Garmin had over 1,350 feet of elevation gain. Don't get me wrong, there were definitely some fun little downhills to cruise on as well, but man the ups were KILLER! So much so that they even had a "King of the Mountain" split that timed the mile-ish climb around Mile 10.5 or so... That hill definitely made sure that the majority of runners had a major positive split for the race!

Uh... yeah... So.... hills....

For a mid-July race, the temps weren't too crazy warm - which was MUCH APPRECIATED (I have run another mid-July half and let's just say it was a scorcher) - but the humidity... man was it soggy. I think everyone was pretty much drenched with sweat within the first mile (and the 'easy' pace we were running was feeling a bit more strenuous than you would expect). I know I frequently complain about the weather, but that's because we pay an extremely HIGH Sunshine Tax to live in Southern California... And if I'm going to pay my pretty pennies, I expect it to be sunny and 75* and low humidity for 90% of the year (otherwise I would pay the much lower cost of living to be somewhere that the humidity is out of control). #RealTalk

Talking about pennies, during one of our walk breaks I found one! I was making money running the race - BOOM SHAKALAKA! We joked and said it was one of my thingamabobs and then made a game trying to find more... since I didn't yet have twenty! I politely declined the dead rat that Leslie found as one of my whatzits though.

Yay for free race photos (especially ones that capture my dinglehopper!)!

And, just an FYI, to whomever puts together race courses, runners do NOT appreciate uphills to finish a race. Now I understand that sometimes they are a necessity (especially if the finishing brewery is on a hill), but that still doesn't mean we are generally going to love them... Yes, the beer was near, but I would have loved to feel like I was flying into the finish as opposed to huffin' and puffin' my way in.

Thanks to the hubby for always playing race photographer for me!

After crossing the finish line, we collected a few snacks (I had a half of a banana and a fourth of a bagel). I didn't see any bottled water, just small Dixie cups like they had on the course, which is a bummer, especially for a mid-July race (or for folks who weren't going to be partaking in the brews). In fact, before I forget, although there seemed to be adequate water stops on the course (although the first one wasn't until after Mile 3), I was glad I brought some back-up hydration. The small cups filled less than half way were not quenching my thirst. [FYI: If you'd like to see Leslie, Linzie and I finishing you can watch the video clip here.]


Okay, back to the finishing area. It was cramped and not so organized. You picked up your food before your medal and then had to walk backwards to get in line for the beer... Yup, although you had beer tickets on your bib, you had to stand in line to swap them for different tickets... Thankfully the line was moving at a decent speed (but Linzie and Leslie still had enough time to run to the car to grab their IDs before I made it to the front). The hubby met up with us and was stoked to get my beer tickets (I do the running, he does the drinking - it's a pretty perfect relationship if you ask me ;)).

Green Flash has some yummy beers (or so I've been told - they are actually one of the hubby's favorite local breweries), so it was fun to see some of their different beers out and about. You were given 4 tickets and could use them for either one "full" beer, two "full" tasters or four "half" tasters. The different options were spread out throughout the area, which was great for preventing a huge line, but it did make for a little confusion when you had to walk around to find the beer(s) you wanted. Maybe a beer guide or map would have been helpful (even in the race directions if they didn't want to have signage around the property).


I always love a good photo op, so the backdrop with props was fun. The only issue is that when you stood on the "cases" everyone seemed to be too tall for the backdrop... I think they probably should have had the cases moved forward (so you could stand behind them) or made the backdrop taller.

Who can pass up a great photo op?!

Especially one with props?!

PS I hope I don't sound nit-picky, especially since the things I am mentioning aren't big deals, I just want to make sure I am giving specifics on how things could be improved for future races. (By the way, there will be a Craft Classic in Atlanta and in Phoenix later this fall. If you are going to be in the area, I'd highly suggest checking them out.)

On the way out I was able to find the sweet Dorothy and chat with her for a while. She is such a great gal and I'm so stoked that running has introduced us. Her and her hubby were working one of the booths for Road Runner Sports but I was able to steal her away for a few minutes to chat about her recent adventures, their San Diego vacation and just life in general. If you don't follow her, you should... NOW!

This lady is one speedy ROCKSTAR mama!

It was finally time to call it a day, so on the way out I snapped a quick picture by the finish line and one with the hubby (since he is normally my photographer and we never think to get a picture together). Then it was time to head home for showers, puppy snuggles and food!

Ariel found her legs!

PS Hubby ran the 5K. They started at the same time so he was
able to get in his Sunday miles, drink a couple beers and still
see me finish! I call that WINNING (as does he)!

It was AWESOME to meet all of the folks I did while out on the course! Every time someone says they follow me (whether it is my blog or one of my social media channels) I have to refrain from asking "why?" since it is still a shock that people care enough to join along on my journey. But even if it is a shock, I am beyond grateful (but maybe a little embarrassed), so THANK YOU!

All-in-all, I would give this race, especially for being the first year (and the first location in the series), two thumbs up. The hills are tough and it makes you earn your beer, but it's great! Of course there were small things that could have been done better, but overall I felt like the pros TOTALLY outweighed the cons. And the little details (like the beer filling up on each of the mile markers, the six pack bibs and the beer tap bling) definitely showed that they cared and wanted to go the extra mile for the participants!

Do you normally try inaugural races or wait until they have worked out the kinks?


Elizabeth said...

What a fun race, but with crazy elevation. I love your race outfit! Very, very creative!

EB said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. They have one in our area and I've been thinking about doing it. Hopefully they'll work out some of the kinks by then.