Saturday, January 12, 2013

A belated celebration - New Year's Race LA Recap

I guess January 5th is close enough to New Year's Eve to legitimately classify for a New Year's party. And anyway, who really needs an excuse to party (i.e. run a half marathon at night)?

I had been pretty excited about this race, ever since they announced it. Starting and finishing in downtown LA, running around and inside Dodger stadium at night, this was a concept that definitely got my approval. 

I miss city-running...the life, lights, dodging people, outsmarting street lights... I guess it's part of my nostalgia for London, where my obsession with running all began at my first race, the London Marathon. But back to the New Year's Race. 
Downtown LA...the views were incredible
The Expo was small, but organized and relatively un-crowded. I spent some time at the San Francisco Marathon booth, trying to make sure no one walked by without considering to sign up. Expect the usual gear and gadgetry...and the ever-present Clif bar samples table.

The Swag gets a mention because I love the idea of a race hoodie. My race tech shirts are taking over my apartment, but a warm and comfy hoodie is always a welcome addition. 

The Start was a little delayed, which is not entirely surprising. It was an inaugural race and clearing the roads in downtown LA on a Saturday night does not sound like simple math. There were too many corrals to count (ok, I think 16) and I moved to 7 with a friend...meaning we left with a 20ish minute delay versus the original 9pm start time. Despite the corral system, the course was a little crowded for the first mile or so (but I did enjoy strategically navigating around people). 
Tip...get there early! Freeway exits and streets get jammed, as expected. I found street parking a few blocks from the start, but had I waited in line for the lots...well, I may still be there.

The Course was great - in my opinion. I've heard it called a "hilly rat maze" and pure hell. I had an amazing time. Fine, the endless miles around Dodger stadium got me a little dizzy, but there was a certain thrill in having no clue which way we would turn next. From what I hear, the route will be changed for next year. I'd do the race again with the same route. In fact, give me more hills, please. The total elevation gain was apparently ~1,200 feet...which is virtually flat ;-) 

The finish line was supposed to be an amazing party...except it was not. It was simply too cold for people to stick around, which is unfortunate. I collected my free drink and moved on, in style, to Hooters. Yes, Hooters. Don't ask.

I have to admit, I was determined to have an amazing time, which is probably why my review is all rosy. I put my legs on cruise control and wished I could just run all night. I may have been more refreshed at the end versus the start...I call it 2 hours and 2 minutes of pure therapy. Not to mention, having done 15 miles that morning (and 53 miles on Monday of the same week) meant I was adequately warmed up, I guess. All in all, the race ended an 85-mile week which I am pretty happy about.


(Photo credits:;

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ringing (running) in the New Year - New Year's One Day Recap

So, I partied hard on News Years eve... by running around a field for an entire day with a bunch of other fun-loving folk. I mean...who wouldn't?!

When I signed up for the New Year's One Day "race" in Crissy Field (San Francisco), I hardly knew what to expect. But I did know that running a 1.061 mile loop with amazing views of the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, Marin headlands and the privilege to run all day and night sounded simply too good to pass up.
I could hardly think of a better way to end 2012. The event offered a 6, 12 and 24-hour option. Yes, I paid to run around a loop for 24 hours.

There were 29 of us starting at 9am. The concept of running until 9am the next day was something I preferred not to think about. The 12-hour guys and gals joined us at noon and the 6-hour (aka sprint event I guess) runners at 6pm.

Parking was extremely convenient, race shirt/bib pick up was right then and there before the event and the weather was perfect. The transponders around our ankles would track our progress each time we crossed the "finish" line at the start/end of the loop. We would have access to a fully (and amazingly) stocked aid station every mile. Truly, we were spoiled by the organizers.
could hardly ask for a prettier course for a city-race

The race:
The first 5ish hours went by extremely fast. It was like running with old friends...except I didn't know anyone besides Peter (who told me about the race in the first place) prior to Dec 31st. The atmosphere was simply amazing. No pressure, just friendly running. Well, unless you are the guy who was going for breaking the course record (which he did by one lap!). He didn't talk much but I did see him fly by as he lapped me (frequently). The course was 60% dirt path and 40% asphalt (which hurt a little after 10ish hours).

the impromptu running family...all smiles.

My goal? I once hoped I would make 100 miles. After a few laps I knew that would not happen. As it happens, "old" injures die slow (and resurface often) and my joints/ some muscles chose not to cooperate. I was not having a good day, but I was determined not to make it ruin the party. I ran as much as I could, limped often, walked when I had to and rested when forced. I even got to share 2 laps with the amazing Yolanda Holder, for whom this was the 120th marathon for the year (setting a new Guiness world record). I ended up with 53 miles (50 laps) and I guess I should be happy I got that far. I had to respect my body and leave at midnight, so 9 hours early...but at least I am feeling happy and ready run again 1.5 days later! Sometimes, it's just not wise to push injuries when you don't have leaving was probably one of the smartest running-related decisions I've made to date. And I don't make smart running-related decisions often.

What I learned...
A great thing about timed events is that there is no DNF (Did Not Finish). As long as you finish one lap. Mind you, this also makes it harder to incentivize moving when things get ugly (which they are bound to somewhere after mile 30 or 40). I also found it hard to "get in the zone" with the distraction of a super fun (and delicious) aid station every mile. Since this was my first time-based event, I'm not surprised. I also think I underestimated the mental/psychological difficulty of running around the same loop, in the same direction, for hours on end. It sounds so simple...and I guess it is almost too simple.

I don't think I could find a single complaint against this event. The lentil soup at night? Simply magical. Coastal Trail Runs - beautifully done and thank you for a spectacular ending to on to race planning for 2013! Next stop: New Years Race Los Angeles, Jan 5 @ 9:30pm. I love 2013 so far...