Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, 2013

Our Team, L to R: Theresa, Michelle, Rebecca, Renee, Staci, Katherine, Lorena, Rachel, Tina, and me.  We need more guys.
After being mildly disappointed with my performance at the Long Beach International City Bank Half Marathon, I was looking forward to Rock 'n' Roll L.A., my first race in the popular Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.  During the last two weeks of training for this race, I focused on two things: lowering my arms to reduce tension in my shoulders and improve my running efficiency, and to run at an even pace for a longer time.  At Long Beach, I knocked out a couple 7:30 miles early in the race, but I paid for it during the last three miles.  This time around, the plan was to run as close to 8:45 per mile as I could, which would get me to my race goal of 1:55:00.  After a couple training runs where I concentrated on my arm swing, I saw that it made a huge difference.  I was running 8:30 miles without expending much additional energy.

We had a lot of our school's staff members and friends running Rock 'n' Roll L.A., so there was a lot of excitement building in the week leading into the race.  On Saturday, Theresa, her co-worker Tina, and I drove out to the race expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  We got our bibs and shirts, and browsed the many booths.  We got hooked on Dave's Killer Bread (look for it at your local Vons store), checked out the medals from a few upcoming races, and stocked up on gels and other goodies.

The race started at 7:30 on Sunday morning, so in order to get to Staples Center with time to find
parking and warm up, we woke up at around 3:30 in the morning.  We picked Tina and her husband up at 4 or so, and made the hour-plus drive to L.A.  We'd prepaid for our parking, so there was no issue finding a spot, and since we were early, not much traffic to deal with.  I turned in my bag at the gear check, where we met up with the rest of our team.  In all, there were ten of us running in the race, with several family members there as our cheering squad.  At about 7:15, we headed to our various starting corrals.

I'd estimated my finishing time at 1:55, which had me starting in Corral 4.  As I waited for the gun, I reminded myself to concentrate on consistency.  No 7:30 miles this time around, just keep it comfortable and save my energy.  Moments later, my corral was released to start, and we were off.

Theresa coming to the finish line.
The weather was cool and overcast, and a bit foggy.  The starting line was at Staples Center (home of the Lakers, Kings, and yeah, I guess the Clippers).  During the first mile, I once again encountered what is quickly becoming a pet peeve of mine.  Several people were walking already!  The whole point of starting runners in corrals is so the field gets spread out and so faster runners don't have to navigate around slower ones.  There aren't race officials who check for these things, but it's a matter of etiquette that apparently some people have no interest in following.  Seriously, if you're planning to walk the entire race, start in the back.  I ditched my disposable arm warmers (tube socks with the toes cut off) around the first mile marker and checked my pace.  8:33 for the first mile.

The course took us around the legendary Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (site of the first Super Bowl, the 1984 Summer Olympics, and home of the USC Trojans), and back up Figueroa past Staples Center again at mile six.  Mile seven was the first uphill stretch, a gradual climb leading to a right turn into a tunnel.  I sucked down a mandarin orange GU gel at mile seven, downed some water from my fuel belt (I'd decided to forego the water stations in favor of maintaining a consistent pace) and enjoyed the band rocking out alongside the course.  This is a hallmark of the Rock 'n' Roll series . . . live bands every couple miles or so.  It's great for maintaining the energy along the route, along with the spectators.  Miles eight and nine were mostly downhill, and I took a peek at my Garmin at the nine mile marker.  1:17 and change, which was minute and a half or so under the pace I'd need to reach my goal.  I was right on target, and still feeling really good.  No fatigue, no soreness.

Then came the bridge.

Mile ten was a pretty significant uphill, a bridge crossing the Los Angeles River.  I knew this was
Early in the race.

coming, which is why I'd tried to build up a bit of a cushion on my goal pace.  I maintained my level of effort, not trying to speed up, but also concentrating on keeping my form under control.  We went up to the peak of the bridge, slightly past the crest to the turn-around, and back down.  Mile ten turned out to be a 9:16, which would prove to be my slowest of the race, but I knew I'd be able to make up for it on the downhill side.  Going back down the bridge, I saw one of our teachers, Michelle, heading up.  We high-fived as we passed each other.

During miles eleven and twelve, I looked for the rest of our team going the other way.  I saw Rachel as a approached the mile twelve marker, then Staci as she came out of the tunnel.  As I reached the end of that tunnel (going the other way), I saw Theresa, looking strong.  This was her first half marathon, and I was more excited for her than anything.  I exited the tunnel for the final mile, which was a straight downhill shot to the finish line.  I was right on pace, so I turned it on the best I could, and as I came to the finish, I saw our support crew off to the right.  One final push, and I crossed the line . . .

1:54:28.  Boo-yah.

I collected my medal (a very-cool Halloween-themed piece of hardware), posed for the official finisher's photo, and downed a chocolate milk.  I then walked back up the course to where our crew was waiting, and I watched for the rest of our team.  Being a Halloween race, there were runners in all sorts of costumes.  In no particular order, I saw:

A giant squirrel.
A taco.
Several bananas (there's ALWAYS a banana).
Various Superheroes.
Fred Flintstone.

And many, many more.

Everyone on our team finished, and Theresa completed the race under her goal time.  I'm so proud of her . . . awesomeness!

For me, it was great to have my preparation pay off, and now I've experienced first-hand the importance of keeping an even pace.  Lesson learned.  And hats off to the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, this was a fantastic event, well-run and plenty of support.  Can't wait to run another one.

Which is perfect, because our team is doing Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas next month!

See you then.


  1. Nice job, Chris and Theresa!

    Hee Hee. There is always a banana.....and a few tutus.

    Big Bird ran Houston in 2012. Hilarious.

  2. Awesome! The Rock 'n Roll Marathon held here in Phoenix is a wonderful event. Good luck in your future runs!

    1. Cool, my brother-in-law and I are signed up for Rock 'n' Roll Arizona in January . . . can't wait!

  3. So fun to hit a PR and cheer on others. Good luck in Vegas!!

  4. Great recap! And have fun at Vegas. I did the RnR Vegas back in 2011, the first year it was at night. It remains one of my favorite running experiences. To run at night, on the Strip---wow. You'll love it and I can't wait to read the recap!

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