Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LA Rock’n’Roll Halloween Half Marathon

I was super excited for this race! In fact, I had been so excited, that I had signed up for it almost nine months ahead of time with a couple of my girl friends. Unfortunately, they had to cancel, but I still went to rock it solo. My awesome Dad volunteered to tag along and he cheered me on at several places along the course.

This was my first Rock’n’Roll marathon event. I’ve heard the horror stories of the past and I’ve also heard the rockin’ stories, so I had mixed emotions going into this one. To start, the Expo was amazing! There were a ton of vendors, lot’s a free stuff and an overall fun atmosphere. I was very impressed. The event shirt turned out to be really cool and bib pickup was really easy.
The Expo
Rock'n batgirl!
I booked a hotel half a mile from Staples Center where the race both started and finished. It was very convenient and saved me a ton on parking. I decided to go as batgirl thanks to my cousin allowing me to borrow both her batman t-shirt and cape (thanks Kristen)! I found some cool sunglasses at Target that I thought would work great and they really did.

Even before the sun was up the morning of the race, it was already on the warm side. I don’t run well in heat (I’ve lived in Santa Barbara all my life), so I was a little nervous. The black outfit probably didn’t help in that department at all either. 

The start of the race was very pleasant. Daddio hung out till I crossed the start, he kept reminding me to take it easy, to not push myself too hard. He knows how I can be when I’m flying solo. I started off doing intervals of eight minutes running and two minutes walking. I felt two was a little too much walking, but with the San Antonio half in two weeks, I was trying to be good.

Party time!
Around mile three we went under the big blowup Rock’n’Roll balloon and ran around the LA Memorial Coliseum, this was the turn around point for this end of the race. We then headed back to the Staples Center, where I got to run with a group of people dressed as Elvis who were pushing a stroller with a boom box that was pounding out Elvis music. I stuck pretty close to them for a few miles and turned off my own music to rock out to some Elvis.

Around mile six, Daddio gave me a shout and I gave him a big wave and a smile. A couple blocks later, I ran into Coach Steve from SoCalRunning.com. I was pretty excited to get to meet him. I’ve been following his YouTube videos for a few months now (MarathonTrainingTV), so my inner fangirl came out. He was really nice! We ran through the tunnel together and he gave me some advice about chi running. If you don’t watch his videos, you should check them out.

Coach Steve!
From there, the course goes about another two miles out, turning back around after going up and across the 6th street bridge. From the tunnel to the bridge, it felt like we had been going uphill and the heat was starting to turn up. There was an awesome view of the skyline at the turn around point, which was a two edged sword. It was a beautiful view, but also showed just how far back the finish line was. I started getting really hot running the bridge since there wasn’t any shade and my pace started to slow down. 

Coming up on the bridge
Nice view!
The tunnel
At mile eleven, I felt like I was hitting the wall, but kept pushing myself forward. My intervals got shorter, but I was still chugging along. About half a mile out from the finish, I could see the finish line. I started running a little more consistently. There was a cheer squad of little girls all dressed up and I ran over to give them high fives and twisted my ankle hard on a manhole (stupid rookie mistake). Thankfully, other than the initial shock and embarrassment, the pain didn’t hit till later. 

I sped up, gave my Dad a high five near the finish line and finished strong, feeling more drained than I have the last few times I’ve raced. I really don’t do well in heat!

After finishing, I received my medal, felt like a celebrity with all the pictures being taken and had bottles of water, gatorade, chocolate milk and even a smoothie pushed into my hands. There were oranges, bananas and Snickers protein bars that are really, really good. There was an after party, with a beer garden, but we didn’t stick around too long.

Overall, a very enjoyable race! I had a wonderful time and would definitely recommend it to those in the future. There were a lot of water stations, all well equipped. I carried my own water, due to stories of past Rock’n’Roll events having problems with their water, but I was drinking it in the end due to the heat and I don’t think there was any problems with it at this race. There was one GU station near the end, but as far as I saw, that was the only fuel station. Like usual, I carried my own stuff. This time I fueled with a GU mixed into my little water bottle, a pack of the sports beans and two Clif shot blok squares.

My one complaint was the corrals. I was in corral eleven, which seemed further back than I expected and for the first few miles or so, spent a lot of time trying to weave around walkers and slower runners even though I was running slower than predicted nine months ago. I’m not sure how they determined the coral assignments, but it didn’t seem very accurate and with the beginning of the race being so crowded, they might want to rethink their process next year.

Definitely look into this race if you are looking for a fun event with a Halloween twist and don’t forget to dress up! It was like 13.1 miles of Halloween Rock’n’Roll partying!

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