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Posts tagged ‘blog runner’

Hill Yeah! (A La Jolla Half Marathon Review)

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the La Jolla Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

Last weekend I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon and it was quite…humbling  beautiful!  No really, La Jolla itself is a coastal town in San Diego and I encourage anyone who comes for a San Diego visit to make a stop in La Jolla.  You won’t regret it. So I decided about two weeks out from the race that I would go ahead and participate (stay tuned for a future blog post called, “How NOT to train for a half marathon”) because I love La Jolla and I love running so why not combine the two?!  Did I mention this is only my third half marathon?  Anywho, let’s see how this story unfolds…

The Expo: The Expo was held at the Hilton across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds/Racetrack and there was plenty of free parking available.  I attended Friday afternoon and it was actually pretty busy.  Inside there was a horse prop and photo booth along with some refreshing water and merchandise kiosk.

There were also plenty of volunteers to direct foot traffic which I fully appreciated because I hate not knowing where to go.  I grabbed by bib and tshirt with no problems and then walked around the expo to check out the vendors.  I snagged a free headband from Xracewear, a tasty acai bowl from Sambazon, and a couple of samples from Ultima. I also purchased a couple of Clif bars and Honey Stingers since I was already there.

Parking – There were two options for parking: Either park at the start line in Del Mar and then shuttle back after the race OR park at the finish line in La Jolla and shuttle back before the race. Either way the shuttle was free.  I chose to park at the start line because I like to sleep. 😉 I was really nervous about getting stuck in traffic the morning of the race since I heard parking can be kind of difficult, but I was actually parked and ready to go by 6:30 am so it wasn’t too bad.  I did notice traffic starting to back-up once I had parked so I imagine anyone arriving closer to 7am may have had a more difficult time.

Pre-race – The parking lot was only a short walk from the start line and there was a water station as well as a coffee cart on location.  There were plenty of porta-potties so I didn’t have to wait in line very long and the line for bag check was also pretty short so really the morning went pretty smoothly.  I took a quick picture with my fellow Stroller Warriors and hopped in my wave.  I was in wave #5 out of 6 and I was happy to see the waves moving pretty quickly.  I think the clock was at about 12 minutes when I crossed the start line.  Then we were off!

Miles 1-5 – The weather was great!  High 60’s with the right amount of sun and clouds and not much humidity.  The first 5 miles traveled through the quaint town of Del Mar so there wasn’t a whole lot to see as far as scenery.  The elevation wasn’t too bad at this point and then there was a big drop right before entering into Torrey Pines State Reserve otherwise known as “The Big Torrey Pines Hill”.  This is the hill people warn you about when you mention that you will be running the La Jolla Half Marathon.

Miles 6 (THE hill) –  I was doing pretty well and keeping the pace I wanted until the Torrey Pines Hill came along.  I’ve hiked trails in Torrey Pines before but never walked or run up the big hill before…because there’s a parking lot at the top so why would I torture myself?  Well here we are, mile 6 and I’m thinking back on all those times that I should have run the stupid hill in preparation for this race… But I only had 2 weeks to prep, remember?  Yeah, that’s my excuse.  So my morale pretty much dropped around this time and I gave myself a good pep talk to keep it going and not give up.  I did run a portion of it, but ultimately decided to walk the rest since I still had half a race to go.  Also to note, there are no water stations in the Reserve so I made sure that I had enough water to get me through the most difficult part of the race.  There were, however, some really sweet rangers and volunteers holding signs and encouraging us throughout the hill torture.  Although I think we have different definitions of  “You’re almost to the top.”

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Miles 7-10 – After the infamous hill, there are more rolling hills (yay) through UTC and other parts of La Jolla.  Luckily my solemate, @thehungryrunner_ was at mile 9 to cheer me on and give me a little morale boost!

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Miles 11-13 – Wow, the race directors really make you work for those views.  Because around mile 11.5-12, they decide to throw in ANOTHER hill! Not as crazy as Torrey Pines, but still a legit hill and at the worst possible location. Apparently many people refer to this as the “F U Hill” and I can see why.  There’s also a lot of downhill and big dips during this mileage too so I saw quite a bit of people walking this portion.  I felt okay enough to run during the downhill parts, but if you have bad knees or hips I would imagine you would want to take it easy during this section.  BUT…the views are absolutely breathtaking!

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Finish Line – I finally crossed the finish line and received my medal, food bag, and chocolate milk.  The finish line area was pretty congested, but the volunteers kept the flow moving.  Then I headed over to the beer garden. Once I got to the beer garden I grabbed my IPA beer (we were allowed 2) and collapsed.  Not literally, but almost.  Never in my life have I chugged a chocolate milk and a beer within a 5 minute period.  This event was just full of firsts for me.  Then I picked up my bag from gear check, which was a cinch (pun intended) and checked out the vendors.

Course Support – Lots of volunteers and plenty of Race Guards on hand.  Also plenty of water, Ultima, and Vaseline stations.  There was even a lady handing out baby wipes around mile 8, which for some reason made my day.  There weren’t a ton of spectators at this race, there were people sprinkled along the course cheering and holding signs…but not as many as I’ve seen in other races.  Also, there weren’t any mile markers until the 8th mile so if you plan to run this and like knowing your times then you will definitely need a watch.

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Post-race: I didn’t hang out for too long after the race because it got windy and I was getting cold so I hobbled over to the bus line to head back to my car.  I only had to wait about five minutes before getting on the bus and the busses were nice and air conditioned.  It was also kind of nice not having to drive out of La Jolla since the streets are so narrow and traffic is pretty crazy on the weekends.  I even had a nice chat with a lady on the bus who told me that this was her 6th time running La Jolla.  She explained how she didn’t make her goal time but still enjoyed the views as always.  I explained how I didn’t make my goal time either but still had a good time.  Then we both agreed that running is great because you get what you put into it.  If you don’t train to PR, you won’t PR. Profound moments on a bus…which is why I love the running community!

So what was the SWAG?!

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Lots of yummy goodies! Not pictured: my acai bowl and chocolate milk.  I also received a free session at CycleBar in Hillcrest once they open.  Also, the tshirt is way better in person.  I love the fabric, color, and design!

And I love the medal! It displays the unique scenery of La Jolla!

Overall, I really fell in love with this race…hills and all!  I’ve talked to a few others that have run this and everyone pretty much has the same two reactions.  Either they absolutely love this race and would totally do it again OR they absolutely hate this race and never want to talk about it ever again.  I, personally, would do this race again in a heartbeat!  1. I always love a good challenge.  2.  The views are incredible!  3.  I would like redemption and to improve my time.

Also, La Jolla is part of the Triple Crown Series so if you want that extra bling then running this is mandatory!  I recommend doing some hill training and don’t get too stressed about the elevation, the views are all worth it!!!

And I didn’t forget about my BIBRAVE buddies!  There were a few other Bibrave Pros out there running, too!  I got to meet up with Mai (check her blog link below for photo proof), but missed Jeremy and Justin (next time, guys!).  You can also check out their thoughts on the La Jolla Half Marathon here: @once_upon_a_run, @runner_blogger_az

See you at the next event! 🙂

~SM

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Running for Food

I recently participated in the John Hancock – Cooking Light & Health Fit Foodie Race Weekend in San Diego.  This year, the event occurred in Fairfax, VA; Austin, Tx; Tampa, FL; and here in San Diego.  It’s a full weekend filled with fitness demos, cocktails, parties, and a 10k/5k with celebrity appearances.  The Fit Foodie Race also proudly supports the American Diabetes Association.  The event ranges in price from $55-$160 depending on how involved you want to be with the weekend; however, there are usually Groupon deals with significant discounts.  I actually participated in the 10k for free!  But more on that later!  Let’s move on to the review…

Packet pick-up was at Road Runner Sports the day before the race and I got in and out pretty quick.  I received my bib and t-shirt, but they were also selling some cuter t-shirts and tanks.  Then, the best part happened!  We got to meet not one, but two race legends – Bill Rodgers and Meb Keflezighi!  Bill was super friendly and chatted about his time running through the streets of Boston.  Meb was also quite gracious and his daughters were even sprinting behind him on the treadmills!

The race was held downtown and the course ran through the Embarcadero and Seaport Village.  It started around 7am, but I got there a little late and ended up parking almost a mile away.  Oops.  I was a little confused on exactly where the start line was, but that was just the beginning of my confusion.  But it was actually a very beautiful day and even got pretty hot later in the morning.  I also ran with a fellow Stroller Warrior and friend as well as my 4-year-old – whom my friend helped push along the way.

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Now, let’s talk about the course- The 5k course just did one loop around Embarcadero and was pretty simple.  The 10k course, on the other hand, was a bit of a cluster.  First, there were a couple of splits during the course where the 5k runners went in one direction and the 10k runners went in another.  Then, at one point, the course took you down a not so glamorous part of San Diego – filled with graffiti-covered industrial buildings and glass in the streets.  I also had the pleasure of running by a homeless gentlemen who was yelling out obscenities and threats to us.  I am not normally bothered by the homeless, however, for a moment it slightly took away from my fun race experience…especially since I had my daughter with me.  Anywho, I digress.  My biggest complaint about the course was that after a while it just became a bunch of confusing and never-ending loops.  I even encountered a woman who had run an extra 3 miles because she got misdirected on the course.  However, I will say that the course was filled with a good amount of friendly volunteers who were directing the runners as well as passing out water and keeping the energy flowing.  I just didn’t like having to ask, “Is this the right way?” at every turn.

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Then came the post-race fun and food!  We were greeted at the finish line with a tote bag of goodies and medals! There were a lot of live demos, raffles, contests, samples, and the chance to test drive a Lexus.  Now, since we started the race a little later than everyone and got confused along the course, this meant that we ended later than most people and ended way later than the 5k runners. Many of the sample areas had pretty long lines by the time I arrived and I didn’t have the patience to wait at all of them.  Also, some tables had run out of things which was a little disappointing.  Then there was the big “food area” that was really hyped up leading into the event.  But I was a little let down to discover that this was nothing more than a tiny plate with two tiny food samples on them. 😦

The DJ was good at holding everyone’s attention and kept the party atmosphere flowing.  I was also thankful that I got my pics and autographs from Bill and Meb the day before since the lines to meet them after the race were pretty long.

So what was the SWAG?!

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I will say, there was actually quite a bit of swag and I like the phrase on the back of the shirt.  If I had more patience, I would have waited for more swag but I felt that I received a good amount! My two favorites from this haul are the Country Archer Beef Jerky and the Jambu full-size notebook with pen.  There was also a beer garden, but I didn’t check it out because I had a little one in tow.  I also loved the medal, especially the pink ribbon! (The 5kers received a medal with a blue ribbon).

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Overall, I enjoyed the event – although I don’t think I would pay the full price for this one, at least not for the 10k.  Next time I would do the 5k to avoid the confusing course and so I could get to the post-race party quicker to score more samples and swag.  I’m not sure what the Friday and Sunday festivities were like, but I guess I was expecting a little more food on race day since “Food” is what the event is supposed to be all about.  I also recommend running it with a friend so they can join in on the party fun.

There were also free race photos!  Bonus SWAG!

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So how did I run this race for FREE??  Well the Fit Food Race Series offers ambassador  positions for each of their locations.  The ambassadors offer giveaways on their blogs for free race entries.  I found one of the ambassadors on Instagram and ended up winning a free race entry!  You can find her blog at Runs and Roses.

Have you run the Fit Foodie 5k/10k?  What did you think?

See you at the next event!

~SM

UCan Do It!!

Well it’s the holidays, y’all!  We are all running around fighting traffic and crowds, making ourselves exhausted, and probably eating quick meals.  So because of this busy season, I will make this review short and sweet!

This time I had the opportunity to review Generation Ucan protein powder in vanilla and chocolate.  It also came with some swag – a little recipe booklet! 🙂

Ucan also makes other products including snack bars and hydration supplements.  Ucan (see what I did there? 😉 explore their other products here.  Ucan is unique in that they include an all-natural SuperStarch that helps to stabilize blood sugar and energize your body.  Ucan also comes along with a heartwarming story about the founders’ son Jonah.  Because of Jonah’s hypoglycemia, his parents committed to fundraise and bring awareness to this life changing SuperStarch.

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So how does it taste?  Well I’ve tried many different protein powders in my day and I can say that Ucan has it’s own unique flavor.  Depending on what you mix it with, this can be good or bad…but more on that later.  First,  I flipped through the recipe book  and bookmarked a few recipes that looked appealing.

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I slightly modified my smoothies a bit, but they were pretty close!

I made both of these as breakfast smoothies and I felt fulfilled with sustained energy levels until around noon, so I can say that it did its job.  The flavor isn’t too sweet, but I couldn’t drink it with just water alone.  Although to be fair, I can’t really drink any protein powder with just water.  Mixing it into a smoothie helps to disguise the flavor a bit.  I think next time I would add in some veggies, like spinach and kale for some extra nutrition.

Then I mixed the Ucan with hot water to create a pudding.

The chocolate was pretty good with strawberries. I think it would be even better with a mixture of fruits and granola.  You could even make some pre-made parfaits by putting the pudding, fruit, and granola into some jars and storing them in the fridge for a couple of days.

The vanilla pudding with the bananas and cinnamon was a different story.  It was an odd combo of flavors.  I think this mixture would be best as a smoothie rather than a fruit dip.

Overall, I enjoyed the Ucan protein powder.  I probably wouldn’t use it as a meal replacement just because I have a hard time drinking my calories (I need to chew something up to feel full, I guess it’s a mental thing.)  But I would use it as a recovery smoothie after long runs or a hard training session.

What are your thoughts on protein powders?  Would you give Ucan a shot?  Ucan leave your thoughts below.  I would love to hear!

And right now you can save 15% on all Ucan products by using code “BIBRAVE”.

~SM

**Disclaimer: I received the Generation Ucan protein powder to review as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro and check out Bibrave.com to find and write race reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

Imperial Beach 5k

Last month I participated in the inaugural Imperial Beach 5k Beach Run.  I was little hesitant to register since it’s the organization’s first race and I prefer all of the kinks to be worked out before I participate in a race.  But they offered a promo code and a military discount so I only paid about $25 after the fees (darn you Active.com!)…and I always enjoy a nice run on the beach.  So I decided to go ahead and run this one along with a couple of friends.

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If you’re wondering how close Imperial Beach is to Mexico, it’s this close:

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I found free street parking fairly easy (the race started at 8:00 am) and I only had to wait a few minutes in the line to pick-up my packet.  The race was held on the actual packed sand of the beach and there were probably about 250-300 participants.  There was also a 1 mile fun run option for those not quite ready to tackle a 5k which meant there were two separate race courses.  The 5k race route was a bit odd to me – it was an out-and-back followed by another out-and-back.  We will get to the details on that later.  The terrain was sand (obviously) but there was an added hurdle that I did not take into account for this run – rocks.  There were rocks buried all throughout the sand, which made for an obstacle course that I was unprepared for.  It wasn’t too crazy, but since the beach was also kind of slanted, I had to pay attention a little more to my footing so that I wouldn’t trip or roll an ankle.  My friend pushed a stroller during this race, so it wasn’t an impossible feat – just a challenging one.  There was also a water station about halfway in and some volunteers directing the runners along the course.

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Note the rocks in the last pic and in case you’re wondering…no, I did not fall.  After the run there was a big expo with lots of activities for kids, including a bounce house and face painting.  There were also fitness demos, a band and free pancakes!  I would say the free pancake breakfast – which included, pancakes, syrup, sausage and juice – was one of the best parts of the event.  I have no pictures of this delicious ensemble because I consumed the whole meal in about six and a half minutes.  You’ll just have to use your imagination on this one.  I also thought the band was pretty great.  Since this event was held to benefit the Calvary Training Center in Mexico, the band played worship music but with a Mexican flare…and I totally dug it.  I didn’t bring my kiddos to this event so I can’t say I participated in any of the activities – but they looked fun and the bounce house seemed pretty rad.  There was also a raffle, but they weren’t doing the giveaways until two hours later.  In the words of the great Sweet Brown – “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

Participation medals were not given out at this race, but they were given to those who placed in the top three of each age group.  I ran with a fellow Stroller Warrior and placed first in her age group so I did hang around for the medal ceremony.

Now, back to the course.  There was a big issue that I had with the race course and that was the fact that it was NOT A TRUE 5K, which drives me crazy when races are not the length that they are advertised.  This one ended up being around 2.38 miles so there was obviously some miscommunication or miscalculation when the course was originally created.  I will give them a little bit of a slide since this was the inaugural race and like I said, I expected some things to not go as smoothly as they would in other established races.  However, since I did pay $25 for a 5k, I expect a true 5k.  Other than that, the views were beautiful and everyone was friendly; although I feel like all those people who placed 4th or 5th in their age group kind of got screwed since they would have had at least half a mile to pass the people in front of them.  Anywho, besides that hiccup I enjoyed the event and although I didn’t bring my kids this time I like that it was a fun event for the whole family to enjoy in beautiful Imperial Beach.

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So what was the SWAG?!

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Aloe Gloe is a refreshing drink that comes in a few tasty flavors!

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~ A cotton tshirt – I love the design, but it runs fairly large so I’m not sure I will be wearing this one very often.

~Clif bar trail mix bar

~Kashi Go Lean granola bar

~Larabar

~Homemade cookie

~Beachside FroYo keychain

~D’ames Day Spa tube of something (not sure what this is as there were no instructions, perhaps a face scrub?  But it smells divine!)

~Suicide prevention pin

~Various coupons and pamphlets

~And Scenery, of course!

See you at the next event!

~SM

 

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