Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘run california’

Rockin’ & Rollin’ in San Diego

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Diego 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!”
Hopefully you’ve already read my recap on the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego race expo and 5k!  So here we go with my 4th half marathon adventure!
IMG_5832
Parking: Parking was pretty complicated.  The race website listed which roads would be closed off and suggested parking plans, but it was a little hard to follow.  I had a friend pre-pay for parking in the finish line parking garage only to arrive early and sit in a parking line for over an hour.  Then she ended up missing her pre-paid shuttle because of the delay and had to run 1.5 miles uphill to the start line and almost missing the race altogether.  We ended up finding street parking near North Park around 5:30am and walking two miles to the start line.  Basically, all of the streets around the race were shut down by 5 am so if you didn’t arrive by then, you were walking at least 1.5 miles.  Overall, the parking situation was a total mess and really needs to be re-evaluated.
Race Morning: The half and full both began at 6:15am from the same location.  It was more “June Gloom” weather which meant is was overcast and in the 60s.  There were close to 40 corrals and I was in corral 32.  The waves were pretty well organized and were released about every two minutes.  This meant my wave was released around 7:20am.  We arrived to the race area around 6am so I had plenty of time to prepare for the race.  There were lots of porta potties and crazy long lines, but I waited until about 7am to find one so the wait wasn’t too bad by then.  Gear check was simple – it was organized by last name and divided up among UPS trucks that transported the bags to the finish line.  Pre-race also included a water station, info area, and medical tent.
IMG_5841
Miles 1-5: The first 5 miles were a little hilly, but nothing too crazy.  I watched a woman throw up on the 2nd mile and another woman trip and fall pretty hard around the 3rd mile.  A few runners stopped and helped her up and it looked like she kept going.  Then apparently their bad luck rubbed off on me because I rolled my ankle (the same ankle I had rolled a week before) on the 4th mile.  I’m not sure which hurt worse, my ankle or my pride because now I knew I couldn’t PR.  Luckily my friend was also running with borderline pneumonia so she wasn’t planning to PR either and ran with me the rest of the race.  The spectators and crowd support were fantastic though and they even had a bar set up at the 4.5 mile mark!
At this point in the race we had seen a couple of small bands, lots of cheer squads, and some clever signs.
IMG_5854
I even saw my old pal, Forrest Gump! This time he was bouncing a ping-pong on a paddle! 😉
IMG_5881
The 5th mile was the Wear Blue mile and it was quite emotional.  American flags lined the streets along with names and photos of fallen service members.  I knew a couple of the ladies volunteering and holding the flags so it was nice to see some familiar faces during this emotionally tough stretch.

Miles 6-10: This part of the course ran through more small districts and some residential areas.  There were a couple of more bands, water/Gatorade stations, spectators, and plenty of cheerleaders.  The terrain was a little rough since this is a heavy-traffic area – so there were lots of cracks and holes in the roads, not to mention slanted streets.  These are all horrible things for running on a sprained ankle. 😦   Also, the full marathon course started to split off sometime around here so things got a little less crowded.

And I always appreciate a good reference to Da’ Dip 😉

IMG_5877IMG_5878

I even got a fun pic with this guy! 🙂

IMG_6232

Miles 11-13: Despite my injury, I think these miles were the most entertaining. There was a stretch of the course where there weren’t many spectators, but then there were fun drums and more fun people!  They even had signs with inspirational quotes from the participants lining a long stretch of the course.

 

Then came the disco tunnel!  Complete with a DJ!  I was sad that the marathoners didn’t get to experience this part of the course.

Then we started making our way through more of downtown and towards the Waterfront Park.

Finish Line: Yay!  I made it! Injured ankle and all! But the finish line was kind of a mess.  They handed us our medals…followed by water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and various snacks.  Notice anything missing from that list?  Bags…there were no bags.  On top of having to carry 20 items, we had to walk a block down a hill, through an intersection to the finish line festival.

Not to mention, it was extremely congested.  It was crowded and confusing and gave me a bit of anxiety.  We finally made it down to the festival near Waterfront Park where we had some more room to breathe.  The festival included a medical tent, photo ops, a beer garden, live band, and medal area.  The medal area is where you could pick up any of the extra bling you may have earned.  Since I completed the 5k the prior day, I picked up my Remix Challenge medal!  All I had to do was show my wristband that I received at the expo and it was all mine!  There was also a marathon jacket table for all of the awesome marathon finishers!

I didn’t stay very long for the concert fun because we were pretty tired and my ankle was hurting. We were also a little chilly and were ready to get warm.  So we caught a Lyft back to the car (super easy and quick) and headed home!

So what was the SWAG?!

IMG_6224

Most of it is pretty much the same stuff I received in my 5k swag bag.  The tech shirt is slightly different and my bib was personalized which was nice.  We also got extra snacks at the finish line.  (not pictured: Gatorade, chocolate milk, and banana)  I also didn’t make it to the beer garden this time, but it was Michelob Ultra again and I saw a lot of people in there so I’m sure it was great!  My gear bag also came apart right before the race, so I was a little disappointed in the quality.

You even get cute little digital badges for reaching certain goals!

And of course the sweet medals!  The half marathon and remix medals spin!  Woo hoo!

IMG_5972

Overall thoughts: Things I really liked about Rock ‘n’ Roll: course support, spectators, hydration stations, medical tents along the course and at the finish line, race swag and medals, quick race photos at a decent price, race expo, beer garden, disco tunnel, photo ops, some of the bands including Naruwan Taiko, Forrest Gump, the Wear Blue mile, and running with @thehungryrunner_.

Things that could be improved: Parking, more upbeat bands – the bands were all great, but it would have been nice to hear more energetic music rather than blues types songs during certain points of the run; better quality gear bags – they were essentially grocery bags with strings; offer bags at the finish line; also offer mylar blankets – even though it’s June it was pretty chilly; a lower participant cap – I really think the event was slightly overcrowded and felt like the experience would have been better if it hadn’t been so congested.  Also, San Diego is such a beautiful city…I think the course route could be slightly altered to include some more scenic spots.

Another interesting fact: This was the first half that I ran without headphones!  I wanted to experience the bands and full essence of the race so I skipped personal music this time.  In doing this, I heard a lot of other people’s music in passing and guess what song I heard the most??  “CALL ME MAYBE”!! I actually forgot about this song so I was surprised to learn that this was a lot of people’s power jam.

Also, my D-tag malfunctioned and my time wasn’t recorded.  I’m not sure if it was a glitch or an error on my part.  Regardless, my time was unfavorable due to my injured ankle so it’s probably better that my finish time isn’t etched into the internet. 😉

Would I run this again?  I’m not sure if I would run the San Diego event again, although that could be my injured ankle talking.  However, I would LOVE to run Rock ‘n’ Roll in other cities!  I think it would be amazing to experience this event all around the world and rack up extra medals!  But I’m happy to say that I Rocked and Rolled (literally) in America’s Finest City. 🙂

What do you think about the Rock ‘n’ Roll series?  Which city is your favorite?!

Well I’m off to add Da’ Dip to my playlist. 😉

~SM

 

Advertisements

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.”

IMG_4927IMG_4848

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!

IMG_4896

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!

IMG_4924IMG_4920IMG_4919IMG_4760

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.

IMG_4922

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?!

IMG_4731FullSizeRender

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

Hot Chocolate 15k San Diego Review (so close yet so far)

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k – San Diego 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! All opinions are my own.
If you’ve been following my blog and/or social media for the last few months, you know how excited I’ve been to run the Hot Chocolate 15k! However, weather and I guess Delta airlines (more on that later) had different plans for me as I didn’t actually make it to the race. Womp, womp. 😦 😦 😦
So this review is going to be a little different than the others…
I had been training for this run for a while now since I heard the course was a little more challenging than others.  Then about a month before the race I found out I needed to go back home to Mississippi to visit family.  Since I only booked a month out, you can imagine what the airline fees were like.  The only return date/time that wasn’t outrageous was of course March 25th at 9pm (the night before the race.)  So I thought, “No big deal…I’ll just be a little tired but I’ll be fine as long as my flight isn’t delayed.” As. long. as my. flight. isn’t. delayed…
Building up to the race I tried to add more challenging elevations to my routine to prepare for the infamous hills that I had heard so much about.  So I did some extra hiking in addition to some longer runs.
And since I knew that I would be going to a flat area for a week, I decided to run the Stairs of Death (112 stairs X 10) the day before I flew out.  This turned out to be a terrible idea because I forgot my compression calf sleeves and the elevation/sitting on the plane turned my legs to Jell-O the next day.  Anyway, lesson learned.
IMG_3504

Stairs of Death

 I was also able to get in a short shakeout run while in Mississippi but then I decided to rest my legs until race day.
The Hot Chocolate Expo was the Friday and Saturday before the race and they do not offer race day packet pick-up.  I was pretty bummed that I was going to miss the Expo because I knew there would be lots of photo and swag opps…but luckily I had a friend who picked up my bib and extras for me.  Hot Chocolate is pretty accommodating about having someone else pick up your stuff for you in the event you are unable to attend the expo.  All they need is a copy of your ID (digital or printed) and they’re good to go!
From what I heard, the expo is fun…but a little crowded and parking is a pain and costs $5-$10 because it’s downtown and parking downtown can be stressful.
When I saw a picture of my bib I got even more excited!  I was only a couple of days away from rolling in the chocolate!
Processed with MOLDIV
I even picked out my race day outfit before I went out of town!
IMG_3785
And then I looked over the race course to get an idea of what to expect on race day.
IMG_3786
Then on Saturday I headed to the airport to catch my flight back to San Diego!  I was supposed to fly out of Mississippi at 4pm but a storm came rolling through around 3pm and the flight got delayed until 5:30pm.  This meant that I was going to miss my connecting flight in Atlanta.  Since there were no other flights headed to San Diego, the only option they had for me was to fly out the next morning at 6am.  My Hot Chocolate dreams were crushed. 😦
I still wanted to gain a sense of what the race was like so I interviewed a few of my fellow Stroller Warriors to find out their thoughts!
Rochelle:  “I thought this race was very well organized from corrals to potty placement and amount of potties (weird but so important to me) to chocolate pick up and the fact they had bags to place over your mug to take it home! I thought that the swag was great! Nice jacket, medal, visor (given with code), and the mug of goodies at the end of the race. Love that pictures are free. Oh and whoever they got to run the water stations were AMAZING! They were so loud and enthusiastic handing out water and Nuun while cheering us on. I could hear them well before I could see them and that gave me an extra push to get to them for my hydration.
Not sure if there is anything I would say I disliked yes those hills were insane BUT that has given me such a sense of accomplishment.”
Christina: “I loved everything we got. Jacket, medal, chocolate!! I disliked the hills.  I would definitely do it again, just not prego.”
Laura: “I personally loved them [the hills]. It made the finish more rewarding. Yes the hill after hill after hill was challenging, but it was worth it. Especially the bling, jacket & visor. I don’t think there was anything I disliked about it, it was very well put together and organized. The volunteers were great, the aid stations were always stocked. The free pictures were great too! I don’t think I would do it again only because I usually just try to do races one time but it should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list!”
Heather: “I loved that they handed out chocolate during the race 😂 I wasn’t running for time so I had fun with it and carried the chocolate with me to snack on as I ran! I disliked the traffic and parking for packet pick up and the race itself. I know there aren’t a lot of options since it’s downtown, but I’m glad I gave myself an extra hour before hand. I would totally do it again because I love the jacket and the chocolate.”
Nell: “I loved the hills. I dislike the pavement.  Will not do it again…off to bigger races to chase.  I loved the medal and jacket.”
Well it sounds like everyone enjoyed the race for the most part and would recommend that others run it at least once.  Another thing that was kind of a bummer was that they changed the race date a couple of months before the actual race.  The original race date was March 18th, but moving it to the 26th meant that it was the same day of another big race in San Diego.  I think there could have been more participants had there not been a date change.
So what was the SWAG??

A cinch bag and a sweet jacket!  Everyone raves about the Hot Chocolate jackets and I know that is a big incentive for some to register (it was one of my motives).  They are also pretty cool about switching out sizes at the expo if needed.  They are a good quality and I really love that it’s a full zip instead of a pullover!  They also offer free race photos which I think is fantastic swag!

And of course, the medal!

hot chocolate medal

Ahh..that beautiful medal that was so close yet so far! Well the good news is that Hot Chocolate races are happening all over the country so I’m sure I’ll have the chance to #RunforChocolate in the future!

If you’re interesting in running next year’s Hot Chocolate 15k San Diego on 3/18/18, register here.

And you can vote on next year’s Swag!

FullSizeRender

 

Hurry, you only have until April 5th to cast your vote!  Vote here!

Did you run this year’s Hot Chocolate 15k/5k?  What did you think?  Share your review on Bibrave.com to help out fellow runners!

See you at the next event!

~SM

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: