Thursday, December 12, 2019

Lexus LaceUp Riverside Reindeer Run Half Marathon

Sunday was the Lexus LaceUp Riverside Reindeer Run. The hubby and I were lucky enough to score two entries just a few days ago, but more on that shortly. The race offers a Kids Race, 5K and Half Marathon, but obviously I talked the hubby into running the half with me ;) [Funny side note, last week I JUST wrote out a training plan for him to use for the Mesa Half Marathon in February, officially starting next week and then we got these entries... He joked and said that there's nothing like training for a half marathon by running one just days before starting your training ;) But, in all seriousness, he is in fine running shape, he just wanted a plan written down so he had something concrete to follow.]


I'm not sure if I mentioned it on here already or not, but originally the hubby, pup and I were planning on camping in Big Bear with some of our besties for our annual Friendsgiving trip. We had booked our campsite a few months back and everyone was stoked to go... Well, that was until we were close enough to our scheduled departure date to see the forecasted weather... SNOW! And LOTS OF IT! They were calling for 18-24 INCHES in a matter of days. Thankfully we all have 'rigs' with heaters in them, but towing and driving them in those conditions wasn't high on anyone's list of STDs {stuff to do}. With limited options (seeing as we were less than two weeks out from the trip), we cancelled our Big Bear reservation and switched to Idyllwild (hoping that since it is lower elevation that we would be clear of the impending doom...). We knew the storm was still going to come (California in general was expecting to get an onslaught of weather from head to toe north to south), we were hoping it'd be rain instead of snow. The crew held strong and were able to tough it out from Saturday until Tuesday evening, but the closer the storm got (which was expected to roll in on Wednesday morning around 2am), the colder the temps got (at night it was in the high 20s) and the higher probability that the precipitation would be snow got. Unfortunately we had to pull the plug and cut our trip drastically short (we were scheduled to stay till Saturday), but vied we'd still all hang out when we got back "home" to keep the Friendsgiving going.


Anywho, I'm sure you are wondering, why is she telling us this?! Well, the reason will become clear momentarily, just hang on a sec ;) You see, as soon as we booked our Big Bear adventure the hubby and I looked into Turkey Trot options. Big Bear offers a 3, 6 or 9 mile race on Thanksgiving morning so obviously we signed up (I registered for the 9-miler and the hubby was in for the 6-miler). I was stoked for a couple reasons. First, I had a goal of 19 races in 2019 and this would be my final race of the year. Second, I had never run a 9-mile race before so it'd be an automatic PR (FYI: The course is technically only three miles, but the 6 mile race runs it twice and the 9 mile race does it three times... not especially exciting, but less roads to close down, more potential spectators, etc so I was okay with it). Third, Turkey Trots are always about the FUN (even though I was still planning to race it) and I was planing to run in costume (there would also be a costume contest with the winners receiving homemade pies - SCORE!). Well, with our change of plans that meant we would miss the race. In fact, they ended up having to cancel it completely. The official email stated that the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning, noting that Thanksgiving day travel will be "very difficult to impossible."

Like I said... weather was a comin' and it didn't care what race(s) it plowed through on its way into town!

#RealTalk - I'll be honest, I was pretty bummed but was glad I hadn't started construction on my race costume when we changed plans (and also was a bit relieved that the race was cancelled and we weren't just missing it all willy-nilly).


So, what do you do when you are one race away from hitting your goal for the year?! You take to the social medias of course. I posted in my Instagram stories, asking friends which local (or at least drivable) races were coming up in December and got a plethora of answers. A friend, the sweet Laurie (@lasheats) reached out and said that her and her husband weren't going to be able to run the Riverside Reindeer Run and offered to transfer us their registrations. Well, shoot doggy, that's AMAZING! Not only were we going to hit my 19 race goal, but we were going to be able to run the last race FOR FREE! I double checked with the hubby to make sure he was game and then continued to thank her profusely!


The hubby and I actually ran this race last year (thanks to my partnership with the LaceUp Series) and although these races aren't necessarily on my list of favorites, I still love a holiday themed run and was forever grateful for the entries!

Last year's start line picture ;) 

Anywho, now that you've got the back story (I know, it takes like 20 minutes to get to the START of the point of the post, but I promise it's always usually worth it), it's time to get to race day... Well, not so fast... First, the day before the race.


If you read my recaps from any of the Lexus LaceUp races last year (or maybe you ran one, or four, of them yourself), you may remember one of the perks was FREE race day bib pick-up... Well, that was ixnayed this year and they're now charging for it. Although Riverside is somewhat "local" (the race was about 70 miles from our house), it still wasn't worth driving there and back for a three minute "interaction". We figured that we'd pay the $5 per person (especially seeing as the race was free for us) to grab our bibs on race morning, but one of my sweet friends Megan, who would be pacing the half marathon, offered to grab them for us when she got hers. #ShesTheBest With that being said, we were able to max and relax on Saturday - watch a little football, get final house tasks finished and chow down on homemade pizza.

Despite the rains, we still have to get in our "Walt Walk Streak" (where he walks at least one mile at a
time) so we went down to the Carlsbad State Beach. He loved being up on the wall and feeling "tall" ;) 

Get in my belly!

Since we were meeting Megan to grab our stuff before her pacing duties, that meant we needed to shoot to be at the race by 5:30am. And, of course that meant early alarms come Sunday morning... #WhyDoRunnersDoThisToThemselves

When we looked on Saturday night the directions said
it would take us about 80 minutes to get there so the
game plan was leave by 4/4:10am. 

I'm not sure about you, but sometimes at that hour I'm not functioning on all cylinders, so it can be super helpful to make sure you lay out everything you need the night before to cut down on the necessity to use your brain. With rain in the forecast I decided I wouldn't go all out with a costume, but still wanted to be festive and fun for my final race of the year.

My #FlatCarlee included: red and white striped PRO Compression socks, red Handful sports bra, green Sparkle Athletic skirt, a festive
running shirt from Marshall's (I grabbed it a couple years ago), elite Road ID, red and white QALO silicone wedding bandsred Momentum
Jewelry wraps
, Do Good Be Kind truckerCOROS APEX watch, ProBar BOLT chews and Brooks Levitate 2 (Ugly Christmas Sweater).

Thankfully traffic was pretty non-existent at that hour, despite the wet roads (oh, you may not know this, but drivers in Southern California seem to be allergic to rain... it makes them break out in hives and forget how to drive... like legit, it's scary and frustrating all at the same time). I turned on the Christmas jams, let the hubby nod off to Dreamland in the passenger seat (ha, let's be real, there is no keeping him awake so I don't really have a choice) and hit the highway.

Had to snap a tree picture before we hit the road!

Not too shabby for wet roads... Apparently everyone was still sleeping.

With the race set to start at 7am, we decided we'd wait until about 6:30am before getting out of the toasty sleigh car and make our way to the potties (which there were plenty). (PS This race offered many parking options with available shuttles, but a little elf told me if we got there early enough we may be able to sneak into a parking lot at the Fairmont Park... and sneak we did ;)) We lucked out with a parking spot less than a 3 minute walk to the start/finish and didn't require the riding of a shuttle. In between meeting Megan and the race start I brought one of my books and did some reading.

When in doubt, selfie it out!

Loved this inflatable near the port-o-potties... just wish there
was more festive "entertainment" on the course...

At the time, the rain had held off so we were thanking our lucky stars and holding out hope that Mother Nature would be good to us and keep the precipitation away completely. The clouds were holding in the warmth so it wasn't too cold out either (in the mid-to-upper 50s). In fact, when we started running both of us mentioned how warm and humid it was. It was definitely soggy, but not from physical rain... Rain may have actually helped cool it down a bit, but apparently God had been listening to everyone's prayers because the rain didn't start until we were already on our drive home.

What you didn't see was the 97% humidity... YUCK!

On the walk over to the start we saw and said HI to a bunch of friends. I love local races because we don't have to drive forever and a day to get to the start, but also because there are so many familiar faces. Thanks to all the friends and followers who found us and said hello. {FYI - If you see me out and about, PLEASE come say hi. I promise, I don't bite!}

These two ladies ROCK MY SOCKS! Love me some Megan and Andrea!

Eventually it was time to line up. There aren't corrals, but Beast Pacing does have pacers out there so you can line up strategically either near or between them with the rough estimated time you plan to finish. The hubby and I lined up near the 2 hour pacer (he comfortably will run 9-10 minute miles when he's just training, but don't let him fool you, he can bust out 8:30-9 minute miles consistently if he wanted), although we figured we'd probably be closer to 2:15 when all was said and done. While we were waiting we also found JT and Richard (who we ran with for the first bit until they sped away).

Like I mentioned, we ran this race last year and I remember the course not being too exciting. The majority of the time you are split between a bike trail (running along an empty riverbed where there are many homeless encampments) and desolate neighborhoods (don't get me wrong, the houses are stunning and the tree-lined streets are gorgeous, but no one is out). On Saturday we actually received an email that said due to standing water and the forecasted rain the course would be changing slightly. We weren't sure what to make of the new map (since we aren't 100% familiar with the area), but figured the changes probably wouldn't make it any more exciting but we could always hope. #FingersCrossed

This doesn't sound fun...

SPOILER ALERT: As we sort of suspected, the course change actually made it more boring. Instead of the course going next to the little "lake" in Fairmont Park, we were rerouted to more of the bike trail (it is higher ground).

As you can see... it was gray, soggy and boring...

Last year there were a bunch of fun, festive signs with holiday puns, but this year there were none. I'm not sure if it was due to the forecasted rain or just the race cutting costs, but it was very bare bones. We came across two "candy cane lanes" which were maybe 20 feet long sections with a few candy cane and present signs stuck in the ground, but other than that it was just arrows on signs at turns or mile marks on plain white boards.

The only "festive" stretch of the course...

I hope this doesn't come across as ungrateful, like I mentioned, the hubby and I were stoked to be able to run this race due to the generosity of a friend, but I did want to mention these observations in case you were thinking of paying the registration fee to run it in the future. The course is pretty boring and the spectators are almost non-existent, but we were still thankful to be there. (Also, although this course isn't as hilly as the Palos Verdes course in the series, there is still a decent amount of elevation, so I wouldn't say it is a PR course for the majority of folks either.)


Despite the course being a bit 'eh', we enjoyed our time together. Much of the course is an out and back, which means you will see runners going in the opposite direction as you. Some people don't like this, but I love being able to keep my eyes peeled for friends and cheering on fellow runners. I was even able to snap some photos of friends when they ran by.

Apparently my HDR was on, hence the funny blur on the picture.

A fun mural under an overpass.

Love seeing friends while we are running!

Not sure why the free photos this race seemed to be more out of focus... maybe because of the
overcast sky... whatever the case was, they definitely aren't as great as previous photos we've received.

Like I mentioned earlier, Ryan hasn't necessarily been running consistently lately. He will do a 3 mile run here or a 5 mile run there, but he hasn't been following any type of plan. With that said, he definitely hasn't had regular long runs on his calendar for a while. This was the first run over 6 or so miles in a couple months. He ROCKED it. We took our time and made sure to pace ourselves (if the hubby is willing to run, I am willing to run his pace, so 97% of the time I stick with him in the races he does). We took a couple breaks so he could stretch his hip flexors or walk through the aid stations so he could grab some electrolytes (our handhelds had water in them, but with all the sweating from the humidity he wanted something more), but for the most part he kept chugging right along. #OneFootInFrontOfTheOther

Hubby loves him some standing pigeon pose!

We split a package of ProBar BOLT Chews (he prefers the Berry Blast with Caffeine, so that's what we shared) around the 10K mark. The course did offer Honey Stinger gummies, but they actually had opened the packages and had them in a large pan. Maybe it cuts down on waste (not sure if people take a package and then don't use them all so they end up in the trash or what), but I'm not sure I would've wanted fuel from where all the other sweaty fingers had been grabbing.

We each had 5 chews, which is a single serving size.

Eventually it was time to run it in to the finish line and collect our bling. We obviously weren't focused on any sort of time goals, but were thrilled when we saw we actually BEAT our finish time from last year by 11 seconds!  BOOYA!

Uh... oops... I guess my excitement got in the way of the hubby's photo!

Is it just me or does Rudolph look a little strange on this medal?

Bling bling!

One of the perks that the hubby especially loves from this race series is the free beer and food truck breakfast! I wasn't sure if there'd be any vegan options so figured I'd just be giving him both of my tickets, but was able to find some avocado toast at one of the trucks {FYI - I remember last year they marked the "Bee Berry Energizer Smoothie" from D's Super Blends as vegan, but it contains honey and bee pollen... Seems like they need to update it from vegan to vegetarian!}.

Get in my belly!

Hubby appreciates that I don't drink beer because that means he gets mine too!

We were able to enjoy our food (and Ryan partook in both of our beers since I don't drink it) with Richard. It was great catching up - I mean, it had been all of three weeks since we had seen him last, hehe. Once we were all fed and rehydrated it was time to snap a quick jumping shot to cap off the event (and my year of racing).

It took us a couple tries, but we finally NAILED it!

Traffic didn't look like it would be too crazy on the way home, but I knew if we waited much longer the rain would probably start rolling in and those crazy California drivers would make our trek back home a long and treacherous one.

Only a couple minutes longer than our trip there.

And, as I'm sure you could guess, the hubby fell asleep and sawed logs for the majority of the drive. Thankfully I had my Christmas jams to keep to entertained (the sky did end up opening up, but thankfully we were already over half way home and my fellow vehicles were somewhat behaving - although I did see an officer helping a car spun around in the median).

He can go from chatting with you to out cold in seconds flat...

All-in-all, for a free race this was fine but I don't know that I'd personally pay for it in the future. The perks of free race photos, good beer (per the hubby) and a food truck breakfast are nice, but I don't think they compensate for the lackluster course, especially since it is a decent drive. Hopefully if they continue the race they'll bring back more of the decorations and "entertainment" along the course. Having inflatables or fun signs or some sort of photo ops could help a ton.

I made our jumping picture series into a gif ;)

PS And just because I'm curious, what type of driver are you? One who tries to get every mile out of their gas tank before they fill up or one who is looking for a gas station once you hit a half tank? I'll let you guess what type I am...

Driving on fumes...

What is your favorite race perk?

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