The looooong overdue part 2! Life has been a little crazy, and sadly when life gets crazy blogging falls off the priority list pretty quickly. Never fear, I’m still running and Weight Watching.
There are still a number of prizes left from the Team ASPCA raffle, so I’m just gonna bite the bullet and give them all away! The winners are:
iFitness Ultimate II Running Belt – Kim E.
Sweetpea Baking Co. Gift Certificate – Cindy E.
RunWallet – Liza J.
Organicville Prize Pack – Emily H.
Ultima Replinisher – Mathilde P.
Ultima Replinisher – Carrie T.
O.N.E. Coconut Water – Sheridan P.
8 X 10 Print from My Zoetrope – Jackie D.
Gardein Prize Pack – Amey M.
Three E-books by Hannah Kaminsky – Alivia P.
Four Annie’s Coupons – Esther O.
Nasoya Prize Pack 1 – Sheridan P.
Nasoya Prize Pack 2 – Kim E.
Nasoya Prize Pack 3 – Alivia P.
Tofurky Coupon (pizza) – Kim E.
Tofurky Coupon (roast) – Brandy B.
Daiya Coupon (wedge) – Miles S.
Daiya Coupon (shreds) – Kim E.
The Team shuttle was scheduled to leave at 5:15AM sharp on race morning. I got up at 4:30 and actually made it to the hotel lobby in time to pick up the provided breakfast and get on board with a few minutes to spare. I’m really, REALLY awful at being on time in the mornings, especially when it’s that early, so I was pretty proud of myself. I may have been driven by the fact that if I missed the shuttle I had no other way of getting to the start line!
For breakfast, I had a bagel with peanut butter, OJ and water. I only had a little bit of the OJ to make sure I didn’t get any heartburn. My typical pre-race breakfast is a sprouted grain English muffin with almond butter, so the bagel with pb wasn’t far off. It was probably a bit more caloric than what I’m used to, but we had quite a bit of time until the race started, so I figured it would be fine.
The drive downtown went by really quickly due to the fact that it was 5:15AM on a Sunday. We walked a short distance to the Team ASPCA area, started organizing our stuff for the race and bag check, and had quite a bit of time to kill. I think the plan was to take the Team picture right away, but the sun hadn’t risen yet, so we had to wait a while. I thought about my race plan and goals, which were:
1. Don’t aggravate my IT band.
2. Keep my pace under at or under 12 minutes per mile average, to finish in 2:37:19, which would be a personal best by almost 3 minutes.
3. Negative split the race – keep the pace slow and easy for the first 6 miles and see if I could pick up the pace for the second half.
Those were my goals, but if the second two didn’t happen I wasn’t going to be too disappointed, considering training didn’t go as well as I had hoped and I was dealing with the tricksy IT band. At the start of training I had wanted to run the race with no walking breaks, taking gels and liquids while jogging, but I knew I would need to walk once or twice and stretch just a bit to stay healthy.
When the sun came out and other runners started gathering, we headed over to the start line for the Team photo.
I’m on the right side somewhere in the sea of orange…notice Larry the Dog, Team ASPCA’s mascot, in the middle. He ran the whole race!
After the photo we headed to our corrals; most of the Team members were in 13 or 14, and I was in 14. They gave each corral their own start, playing music and counting down from 10 each time. I really enjoyed the energy and excitement, but have to say that I question what the Rock ‘n’ Roll people might classify as rock – I definitely heard Call Me Maybe and other non-rockin’ songs. While we waited and slowly inched forward, I checked out some of the costumes, since it was a Halloween-themed race.
Soon enough, we were off! This was my first big race with corrals, and it was nice to start with a group who ran about the same pace as me. Everyone started nice and easy, and there was no need to dodge or weave. I wanted to hold back my pace during the first four miles, so I just ran easy and enjoyed the bands and the costumes. Two of my favorites were a Rainbow Bright and a Michael Jackson, fully decked out in a red leather jacket, pushing a cart with a boombox playing his music.
At the fourth mile marker, I took a quick walk break along with a gel. In addition to carrying Ultima Replenisher electrolyte drink in my belt, I grabbed a sip of water at every station, since it was hot and dry. At the first station with Gatorade I tried a bit, which reminded how gross Gatorade is. From then on I stuck to water.
Miles five through eight were fairly uneventful; we passed the start line going the other way (the course was a double out-and-back) and a few more bands. I took another quick walk break at mile 8 but didn’t stop to stretch, as my knee thankfully wasn’t bothering me. Just after mile 9, we started up the only real hill of the course, an overpass. I saw two of the Team ASPCA coaches on the way up, and they both told me that I “looked strong”. I don’t know if that was true or if they were just being nice, but it was good to hear either way! Honestly, the hill wasn’t that bad and I was only a little winded at the top, where we turned around to head back toward the finish. We had a really great view of the downtown LA skyline, which I admired for a minute before I realized we had to run all the way back. Doh! I cruised down the hill we had just run up, and then started to feel how tired I was when it flattened out at the bottom.
Toward the end of that ninth mile I was exhausted, and started bargaining with myself as to when I could take another walking break. I went back and forth in my mind about it, and finally told myself that NO, I didn’t need any more walking breaks. I would keep running the rest of the race at whatever pace I could manage, no matter how slow.
I don’t have accurate splits for the end of the race because we went through a tunnel that threw off my GPS, but the last few miles were definitely over 12 minutes per mile. The ball of my left foot was hurting with every step, and at some points I caught myself practically walking. With just over a mile left to go, we made a final turn and could almost see the finish line.
I had just a little bit of juice left and ran as fast as I could over the finish line. I was really sore and tired, and happy to be done!
Jamba Juice had a tent just after the medals and were handing out smoothies, which were confirmed dairy free, and it was SO refreshing. Then a bagel, which I started wolfing down right away, and a slow walk back to the ASPCA area. It was right around the time when the first shuttle was scheduled to depart back to the hotel and I assumed I had missed it until it was announced that they were rounding up to walk to the shuttle right then, so I grabbed my bag and booked it over there as quickly as possible so I could get back and take a much needed shower. I missed out on the main concert and free beer, but showering and food were much more important to me at that point.
My official finishing time was 2:39:59, exactly 2 seconds faster than my previous half marathon time. I am nothing if not consistent! I really think I could’ve shaved a bit more time off if the heat hadn’t gotten to me, but I was happy to set at least set a PR. And, while my muscles were quite sore, I was knee pain-free at the end, which meant I had achieved goal #1 of not re-aggravating my IT band.
Apart from the heat, I enjoyed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, and would definitely recommend it. The start and finish were well organized with plenty of porta potties and supplies, and it didn’t feel like I was surrounded by so many thousands of other runners. The course was marked well, and the on course entertainment and support were fantastic.
I’d like to write a separate post on my experience with Team ASPCA but I don’t think I’ll get to it, so I’ll jot down my thoughts here. I really enjoyed my Team ASPCA experience, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to train for an endurance event and raise funds to help animals nation-wide. It’s a big commitment, time and energy-wise, and you do have to raise a certain minimum in order to get your race entry and accommodations. Even with all the work I put in and the generous donations of friends and family, I had to cover a bit of the amount myself. I would say that unless you know a TON of people who will donate, you will need to hold at least one event in addition, such as a bake sale or raffle.
I wasn’t in an area that had enough team members to train together, which is definitely part of the experience I felt like I missed out on. The support I did have was great though; both the Regional Manager Tina and the National Coach Spencer were swiftly responsive to e-mail, and very helpful. Spencer gave me good motivation and tips when I was training through my IT band issues. Tina is about the bubbliest person I’ve ever met, and she even took me and a few other team members out to dinner one night when she was in the area.
So, if you’re considering joining Team ASPCA for an event, I would say go for it with the understanding that it will take some time and energy! There are a few different training plans available, so it’s good for beginners and experienced runners alike.