Monday, November 19, 2018

Palos Verdes Lexus LaceUp Half Marathon Race Recap

Saturday morning was the Palos Verdes Lexus LaceUp Half Marathon (the third race in the Lexus LaceUp Running Series {which I have been lucky enough to work with for the 2018 racing season}). If you haven't read my recaps for the first two races, the OC Lexus LaceUp Half Marathon and the Ventura Marathon, make sure you go and get your read on!

Jumping for joy that the hills are done!

As you may remember, I was asked to be a part of the Lexus LaceUp Running Series crew this year, and with that comes some AWESOME perks - like two free entries to all of the events (one for me and one for the hubby), the ability to do a giveaway for two additional entries per race, some sweet swag, etc. With that being said, you better believe I will still #KeepItReal and let you know the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to my opinions on the events.


So let's get right into it, shall we?! 

I don't know if I'm the only one, but I love Saturday races. Something about still having all day Sunday to sleep in (ha, as if my body would ever allow that, but technically it's an option ;)) and take care of business (laundry, food prep, household chores, etc) helps me feel accomplished and like I am ready to tackle whatever the week ahead has for me. I also enjoy getting ready for a race on Friday because I feel like I'm already in a routine and can easily add in the few extra tasks required of an upcoming race (as opposed to Saturdays when it's more of a free-for-all filled with maxin' and relaxin').

Obviously taking a #FlatRunner is one of those "extra tasks" required for race day ;)
#FlatCarlee included: white PRO Compression socks, white Handful sports bra, Sparkle Athletic mermaid skirt {limited edition color}, Graced
By Grit half zip
(with November Project Pride tag), elite Road ID, trucker hat I made, black and white QALO silicone wedding bands, blue
Momentum Jewelry wraps
, my Garmin Forerunner 935, Nathan handheld, PROBAR BOLT chews, and Brooks Ghost 11 (with blue Shwings).

This is especially the case when it comes to going to bed at a reasonable hour. It feels like I am just extending my normal routine an extra night instead of having to go to bed extra early on a Saturday night (although, let's be real, if you are a runner, I would guess that most of you have your long runs scheduled for Sundays and therefore tend to be up before the butt-crack of dawn on those mornings anyway, which calls for hitting the hay at an unreasonably early hour anyway).

One of the many things I appreciate about this race series is the fact that it offers race day packet pick-up. Although the events are located in Southern California, SoCal is a rather large geographical area and therefore I wouldn't say all the races are "local" {it took us 4 hours to get to Ventura the afternoon before that race}. Not having to drive to an Expo on the day before the race is a HUGE plus for me. In fact, there are some races I would love to do, but it isn't worth it to me to drive there and back on the day before the race to grab my bib and then again on the day of the race to run, nor is it worth it to pay for a hotel to stay in the night before. {#RealTalk} The Lexus LaceUp Running Series even includes race day pick-up as a "free" perk if you register early enough (the cut off for this race was October 23rd, about 3.5 weeks before the event) - and even if you missed the cut-off the extra cost was only $5, which I feel is totally reasonable.

A picture of the views on our way to packet pick-up

We got there close to "opening" and there was still quite a few folks. The closer to race time, the longer the lines got.

Let me back up a quick minute before moving on... I saw on the runners' information that there wasn't parking at the start/finish, but there were three parking lots (two within walking distance from the start/finish area and one that you could take a shuttle to and from). The hubby and I decided we'd shoot to park at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center (the first parking lot option listed). Let's just say it was a cluster. We got to the area around 5:40am (bib pick-up was supposed to open at 5:45am and the races weren't scheduled to start until 7am). At this point the line for the parking lot was already extremely long and although there were volunteers, they just seemed to be standing around {warning - this was a reoccurring theme throughout the morning}. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate volunteers immensely, but either they weren't equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary or they just didn't care... either way they were very ineffective. Eventually we found a parking spot (I'd say maybe 10 or so cars after us got in and then the lot was filled to capacity - and that was before 6am - so in case you are considering running this race in the future, make sure you keep this in mind).

Parking lot selfies are a must, right?!

After walking over to grab our bibs and participant shirts, we made our way back to the car to drop off our goodies and get ready (the hubby wanted to use our Rolflex, put on his socks and shoes, etc). I noticed when I went to attach my bib that it was a little off... The holes for the safety pins on the top of the bib were actually punched in the gear check portion, so if you took off that tag you didn't have holes to put your safety pins through. Also, the food and beer tags on the bottom weren't perforated (the food trucks thankfully had scissors, which were a life saver because the paper was not easily torn).

Obviously these are not huge issues, but these are the small details that some events
handle while others let slip through the cracks.

The sun was a little more visible on the way to the start after our wait in the car

Once we were ready we made our way back to the start/finish area. I knew Megan and Richard were running this race and thankfully we found them right away. We snapped a few quick photos and then made our way over to the start.

The PRO crew!

Richard made sure the photographer got the sunrise in the shot too ;)

Note: This was Megan's third year running the race, so we got in line and followed her through the chaos. There was a HUGE line for gear check (I don't know if there weren't enough people helping or what, but apparently it has been an issue in the past as well) that we had to meander through and then made our way to the start. Well, we thought it was the start... Apparently this year they changed the starting line for the Half Marathon and 10K and thankfully we saw the pacers walking away from where we were so we followed them. Seeing as the starting line had changed from previous years, it seems like a good idea to have been making announcements or have some sort of signage to let folks know where they were going... (Megan mentioned Palos Verdes is pretty cray-cray when it comes to city regulations, so she thought a noise ordinance might be why they weren't using a PA system, but I still think we could've been better informed).

For being a somewhat small race (712 finishers in the half marathon), it still felt crowded

Ready to get this party started!

The Half and 10K were slated to start at 7am (and the 5K five minutes after), but we didn't start until closer to 7:10am. I'm not sure what the delay was (I thought I heard the announcer say something about a fire arm malfunction, but that seemed extremely strange), but eventually they were counting down from 3 (and then back up to 3) and we were off.

Source: @blingwhore's Instagram feed
FYI: I am not pushing a stroller, although some folks thought it looked like I might be ;) That was the mama's next to me.

Who doesn't love FREE race photos?! 

Seeing as I had three races the previous weekend [if you haven't read about our self-imposed #Dirt2Strip challenge including the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon, Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas 5K and Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, I'd suggest checking out those posts!], I knew this race would not be about time. The hubby and I had heard it was a beautiful, but hilly course, so we were out to enjoy the views and time with each other. We had no time goal, no agenda.


Having all the fun!

The rolling hills definitely started immediately and never really let up. The race does try to spin them in a positive light, by setting up a race within a race - offering a $500 prize for the fastest male and female on the steepest hill of the course (which comes after the Mile 10 mark). I'll be honest, the course is definitely not easy, but the views do tend to distract you.

Some of the hill action we encountered along the course

I may be in the minority, but I enjoy out-and-back races because seeing runners on the other side gives me something to take my mind off of myself (whether it's cheering for them, looking for friends, etc). The issue with this out-and-back was they didn't have the two sides split. Sure logic would tell you that you could run to the right hand side of the street, but until the lead cyclist is riding at you, you don't know that the runners will be sharing the same lane you are in. There were a few spots along the course where it seemed like runners were choosing their own adventure... with no cones splitting the lane or volunteers telling us where to run, it was up to runners to decide where they wanted to run. {There were plenty of volunteers, but unless they were at an aid station, the volunteers were students and it seemed like they were just there to get school credit or something... Apparently their phones were more important than the race they were there to help at.)

Can you tell the hubby was OVER the rolling hills at this point?! ;) 

Richard snagged a shot of us on his GoPro. (You can sort of see runners are sharing a single lane with no separation between sides)

I would say there were plenty of aid stations on the course (I was a little confused because the ones with Honey Stinger Chews had opened the packages and just had them in large pans, which seemed unsanitary, but maybe they were trying to avoid having folks toss half of the package if they didn't eat them all?), although when they use plastic cups I find it difficult to drink from on the run because I can't fold them like the standard paper cups. {Wow, I'm being so petty, aren't I?!}

The hubby and I split a package of PROBAR BOLT chews (how I fuel for 99% of my runs and races),
so we didn't have to worry about all the sweaty hands reaching in the big pan of race-provided fuel.

Let me be honest (HA, as if I haven't been already), this is a nice race, and if I was local I would definitely consider running it again, but to have to drive upwards of 4 hours (1.5 hours there and 2.5 hours back - thank you weekend traffic), it probably isn't worth it for me. The course has some great views, but we are spoiled with similar ocean views a mile from our house (and I don't have to fight the constant rolling hills to run them at home ;)).

Overall I think we gained about 1,000 feet of elevation, which isn't terrible, but it was constant rollers!

Stopped mid-run to ask some surfers checking out the waves if they could snap a picture of us.

Around Mile 12 I tried to get the hubby excited about finishing and told him in less than 15 minutes we'd be in line for breakfast burritos! You see, the Lexus LaceUp Running Series has some great perks, one of which is a free food truck breakfast post race. When we grabbed our bibs we were checking out the different trucks and saw the one we had our sights set on - vegetarian breakfast burritos! Well, as luck would have it, by the time we finished and stood in line for about 10 minutes (it always flabbergasts me that the lines are so long since there are only three items available and absolutely no substitutions, so you'd think they'd just keep making the same thing over and over with very little wait time) THEY RAN OUT OF BURRITOS! Ex-squeeze me?! How does this happen?! I guess it happens because the 5K and 10K runners finish before the half marathoners and eat all the food... NOOOOO! To say we were bummed was an understatement... We settled for smoothies because we could take them in the car with us, but we were looking forward to the burritos.

These were our "get out of our way, we are high tailing it to the burrito truck" faces ;)

Seems as though they need some spell checkers... and nutritionists...
Vegetarian has an extra "g" and they continue to mark items with bee pollen and honey as vegan...


On the way to the car we snapped a couple pictures. (The finisher area was overly crowded for my liking and I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. I realize Pelican Cove Park is small, but if it's going to be that tight of a squeeze I'd recommend limiting the number of runners for future events if there isn't a better place to hold the post-race gathering.)


The girl taking our photo said that if we stood in front of the sun she would snap a "cool silhouette shot" - LOVE IT! 

Despite the hilly course, the hubby and I still ran a very respectable race - finishing in 2:10 (an average pace of 9:55/mile).

Not too shabby!

I think of the three Lexus LaceUp races we've done thus far, this is my
favorite medal of them. (The blue in the waves is like a stained glass"

When we got back to the car I had put in our directions and saw it would take us about an hour longer to get home than it did to get to the race due to traffic - UGH! I guess the silver lining in the extra delay was the fact that one of our local radio stations had started playing Christmas music already so I had something to jam to on the drive.

He can fall asleep within minutes of getting into the car...

Now, after reading this recap you may think that I hated this race - but I didn't. It was a decent race (especially since the hubby and I received comped entries to run it), but I just want to make sure everyone is well aware of the potential issues we ran into, that way you can make an informed choice when deciding to spend your hard earned cash on the registration. If we lived closer, I definitely wouldn't rule this out for the future, but for us, I don't know that it is worth it.


PS Since we didn't get burritos for breakfast, we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner on the way to church.

With Mexican food on the brain, we had to get some for dinner!

Can you believe that one last race in the Lexus LaceUp Running Series is all that remains for the year?! The Riverside Reindeer Run. If you want to come run this Christmas themed event with the hubby and I (we will be running the half marathon but they also offer a 5K and Kids' Race), make sure to use code "CARLEE10" to save 10% on your registration!

Do you like running hills?

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