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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon 2012 Recap

Wow, I dont remember when was the last time I blogged about my race, been jumped off the blogging wagon for awhile and now I think I need to get back on it since the new year had just started. So for this year's resolution, I want to start doing my recap of my races again!!

Ok so this was my 1st marathon of 2012 and 94th marathon overall!!! I have planned to make my 100th Marathon at Pasadena Marathon on May 20th. Although I would love to make LA Marathon in March as my 100th since that's where I started back in 2001, but because of my busy running schedule, I cant squeeze another marathon before March to make it happen. So LA Marathon would be my 99th Marathon and Pasaden will be my 100th!!

So I have ran Rock n Roll Arizona ever since their inagural year back in 2004, but I only did their Half that year, then starting 2005 I ran the full from then on. So this year made me my 9th year going back to Arizona.

Saturday - 1-14-12
After only slept for 3 hours after I got off work at 10pm Friday night, I went to pick my friend up at 3am so we could start driving to Phoenix, yes you read that right, I started driving to Phoenix at 3AM IN THE MORNING!!!! I really wanted to get there early so we could enjoy the sunny Arizona weather.

So after about 5 hrs driving we arrived in Phoenix, then  we wanted to hit up this local restaurant called Los Reyes de la Torta, which was featured on the show Man vs Food!! They have some crazy mexican sandwiches with all kinds of ingredients in there, I ordered the regualr Del la Reyes Torta, but it was a bit too dry for my taste, but overall it was a great experience.

My De la Reyes Torta, plus a non alcoholic pina colada.

We then checked in to our hotel and rested for a little while before we headed to a nearby light rail train station to take the train to the Expo in downtown Phoenix. This was my FIRST time taking the light rail even though I have been to Phoenix for the past 8 years. But I decided that I didnt want to deal with the downtown traffic because there were other events going on the same weekend, so the traffic would be crazy down there. Taking the light rail would be the best choice to get to downtown.


Since this year is the Year of the Dragon, and RNRAZ is sponsored by PF Changs Restaurant, so at the entrance to the expo they were decorated with many Dragon theme signs. Since I was bored in the year of dragon back in 1976, I think this will be my lucky year. =-)

The expo was nothing unusual, we picked up our bibs, got our shirts, which was poorly designed, got our "goodies" bag, walked around a few aisles and grabbed some free samples, bumped into a few friends and chatted for awhile and we were done in less than an hour. Then we walked to the famous Alice Cooperstown restaurant Alice Cooperstown Restaurant a few block away from the expo to have lunch with 2 other friends. This place was PACKED!! Since this place was also featured on the show Man vs Food, I HAD to check it out!! One of their famous item was "The Big Unit", a 22 inch hot dog, my friend and I shared that gaint hot dog, it was pretty delicious, the baguette roll was toasted and the 22 inch vienna sausage was cooked properly, I really enjoyed it. I would say that would be carbo load meal right there, along with 2 beers, I normal dont eat or drink that much the day before the race, but I figured I should break some rules, I pretty much didnt eat anything afterward, and it was only 3pm, I was THAT full.

The Big Unit!!!

So after the lunch, we took the light rail back to our hotel and get rested for the race in the morning.

Race Day - 1-15-12

We woke up at 4am and  left our room by 5am to drive over to Tempe by ASU to take the light rail to the start. This year they decided to drop the shuttle buses and suggested us to take the free light rail to the start instead. Which make us have to walk a LOT further after we finish to get back to our cars!! For the previous years we parked across the street from the Finish Line and just took the shuttle to the start so we didnt had to walk too far after we finish to our cars. So after we parked at the parking lot inside ASU, we made our short walk to the light rail station and hopped on the train. They have trains running every 10 mins or so from 5am to 7am. Inside the train was pretty packed, we werent lucky enough to get a seat so we all had to stand for the half an hour train ride to the start. The train didnt really go straight from ASU to Downtown Phoenix, it had to make all the stops between those 2 stations so it was a bit uncomfortable long train ride.

After we got off the train, we made our way to meet up with other Maniacs for the group pic at 6:45am, it was pretty chilly in the morning, like around the 50s. I had my Wheaties Fuel jacket on to keep me warm. By 7am we head to the UPS trucks to drop our bags and headed to our corrals and get ready for the 7:30am start.

While I was on my way to my corral, I tried to turned on my Garmin, but it wont turn on!! Even though I charged it the night before, I tried to reset it a few times but it still didnt do anything!! I was so frustrated and thought my race would be ruined!!! So my other option was to use my regular Timex watch, which is not GPS enabled, so I would have to hit the Split button everytime I passed by a Mile marker to track my pace for each mile. I would have to run base on how I feel instead of how fast my Garmin tells me.

The race start was delayed by 15 mins because of some issue with the train I think. The first mile I was running a 8/mins pace, I knew I went a little too fast, so I made an emergency stop at the porta potty, I wanted to go before the race but I didnt want to wait in line, so I was glad that I went after the first mile. The first 5 miles were running on 7th Ave, it was a long stretch but they did have a lot of spectators on the sidewalk to cheer us on, so there wasnt a boring spot on that course. I was maintain my comfortable pace around 8:30min/mile, I tried to run my own pace and didnt want to follow any pace group. I finished the first 7 miles in under an hour, the weather was just PERFECT, cloudy sky the entire time, didnt see a sun at all!! Definately a perfect day for a PR, but my main goal was to finish under 4 hours since last year I finished in 4:05. 

I didnt try to take a lot of pictures during the race this time because I wanted to concentrate on my race. I was still running pretty good even though without my Garmin, I was able to keep up with my pace for longer than I exected, after 13 miles, I finished in 1:51, then I knew I might have a chance to finish under 4 hours if I could maintain my pace for 13 more miles. For the next 3 miles, I saw runners on the right side of the road running by after their made their turnaround at around Mile 16. After Mile 14, I finished in under 2 hours, and I noticed the 3:45 pace group was behind me, I tried not to follow them because if I do, I will end up running too fast and not have energy left for the rest of the race, so I just stayed with my own pace and be patience since I have ran the last 13 miles without a pace group, I knew I could do it again for the 2nd half of the race.

So after the turnaround at Mile 16, I could see all the runners who were behind me on the other side of the road, I always look for my friends and give them high five if possible whenever there was a turnaround. There werent a lot of spectators during this 6 miles out and back course, so it was kind of quiet the whole time, but watching the runners running by on the other side kept my mind off the race for a little while.

So after 20 Miles, I finished around 2:52, and with around 10K to go, I have a little over an hour to finish under 4 hours, that means I could run a 10min a mile for the next 6 miles and still make it under 4 hours. I wasnt gonna go for a PR, which was 3:50.55 because I didnt want to put a lot of pressure on myself, I just wanted to finish under 4 hours. So I just wanted to take it one mile at a time and make sure I hit my Split button whenever I passed by a mile marker. The weather was still perfect at this time, still no sign of the sun behind the clouds. I was still maintaining around 8:30 pace after 23 miles, which I was kind of surprise. Probably because I was doing some hill repeats training 2 weeks before, which helped my endurance level. After Mile 23, I finished at 3:18, I told myself I have 40 mins to finish the last 3 miles, if I run 10min/mile I could still finish under 4 hours. I tried not to think too much and just let my running do the talking. After I got my last few cups of water/gatorade at the last aid station at Mile 24, I finished at around 3:27, I told myself again that I have half an hour to finish the last 2 miles, I could run 10min/mile for the next 2 miles and still finish under 4 hours. We were running on Mills Ave on the bridge right above the Tempe Lake, which was a nice additional on the course since the Full marathon course from the previous year never got the chance to run on this bridge, only the half marathoners were lucky to run it during their course. So I was able to see the Half marathoners on the other side of the bridge finishing their race with only 1 mile left to go. After Mile 25, I finished around 3:36, again I didnt want to think about breaking 3:50, although I might have a chance, but I didnt want to mess up my pace, I just wanted to maintain my pace and not try to speed up. So after I make a left turn with less than a mile to go, I saw a lot of spectators were on the side cheering for us runners, both full and half marathoners, the course was well divided for the full and half runners, unlike RNR Vegas!! The full runners were running on the left side on the road and the halfs were running on the other side, even though it's less than a mile to go, I felt like the finish line was MILES away!! I kept my head down and just kept running my pace, then when I finally see the finish line after I made the right turn into ASU,  I told myself to NOT sprint to the finish since I was afraid I would pull a muscle or something, so I just ran with my hands raise up and crossed the finish line at  3:47.02!!!! A NEW PR!!!!!

My extra Desert Double Down Medal for completing both RNRLV and RNRAZ

Here are my splits:

1-8:06, 2-9:42, 3-8:20,4-8:52, 5-7:55, 6-8:24, 7-8:27, 8-8:29, 9-8:33, 10-8:36, 11-8:37, 12-8:38, 13-8:21, 14-8:38, 15-8:41, 16-8:37, 17-8:40, 18-9:01, 19-9:24, 20-8:28, 21-8:29, 22-8:46, 23-9:04, 24-8:48, 25-8:47, 26-8:37.  

I have learned a good lesson after this race that I could actually run faster without the help of my Garmin!! So from now on I should run without my Garmin and just run my pace. So overall I really like this revamped fast course, will definately be back next year!! I have improved my RNRAZ time every year since I start running it in 2005.

2005 - 5:05.08
2006 - 4:43.57
2007 - 4:39.58
2008 - 4:17.55
2009 - 4:13.10
2010 - 4:27.12 (was bothered by my achilles tendon on my left foot, took it slow)
2011 - 4:05.41
2012 - 3:47.02!!

Next Race..............ING Miami Marathon, 1-29-12, My 100th Marathon/Ultra Marathon!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

This was only my 2nd Half Marathon this year and 19th Half Marathon overall.

I know I have been missing a few race reports for the past few races, I have been slacking off lately, so in order for me to catch up, I need to get back on it by doing this report first, then I will slowly but surely catching up on my reports.

So this was actually my first time signing up for ANY Disney's races, I have ran the Disneyland Half Marathon 2 years ago but I was just running for my friend was injured at that time so she couldnt run it. The reason that I never signed up for their races was they are just too expensive for just a half, but after I saw their medal of last year's, which was their 5th Anniversary, I figured I just wanted to sign up at least for once. So I did, and I am I did.

The Expo

I went to the Expo on Friday since I had to work late on Sat and didnt think I could make it. I got to the Disneyland Hotel like around 11:30am, expo opens at noon, there were a lot of people waiting in line already. There were 2 sections of the expo, one was underneath the hotel where we pick up our bib, print out our waiver and stuff, then we had to go back to the main floor for the actual expo where we pick up our goodies bag and shirt and visit all the vendors.

The Marathon Show Joe Taricani and me at the expo

After I picked up my goodies bag, I walked around the expo to see if I could get some freebies, which I got a few!!! I got a water bottle from Geico's booth, got an Angels' hat from the Anaheim Angels booth, I also got a tote bag, notebook, t-shirt, a discoball keychain, etc.. I caught up with Joe Taricani from The Marathon Show who was doing the interview at the expo and also at the race!! Always fun to see him doing interviews. So after about an hour and a half, I left the expo and heading back home so I could get ready for work.

Pre Race Carbo Load

Since it was only a Half Marathon,  I decided to just to cook myself a box of  Mac n Cheese while watching the IAAF World Championship Marathon in Korea on TV. I hate to feel too full on race day, so just a regular size box of Kraft's Mac n Cheese would do it for me.

My carbo load meal.

Race Day

I woke up at 3am, wore my brand new pair of Nike, which I bought a few months ago at the Outlet by Las Vegas, they are very comfortable to wear right out of the box, then left my house around 3:30am, drove up to Anaheim in half an hour without taking the freeway since I live on the same street as the Disneyland, just a few cities away. Once I got to Anaheim, I stopped by 7-Eleven to get some coffee, Gatorade and 2 donuts, which tasted nasty!!! I only took a bite each and threw them away!!

I tried to drive around the area to see if I could find a street parking so I wont have to pay for parking, but no luck, so I decided to just give in and park at their designated parking structure, where I had to pay $15!! Disneyland sure doesnt make my wallet happy. At around 4:45am, I started to gather all my stuff and headed to the start area, I was suppose to meet up with my Maniacs/Fanatics friends not too far from the start, but there were just too many runners that I couldnt make my way there, so I had to skip. I then walked my way to the gear check area to check my bag, which was my goodies bag's bag,  this huge see thru plastic bag kind of reminded me of NYC Marathon which they can see the contents of your bags, just for security & safety reasons.

After I gathered all the stuff that I needed, I walked my way toward the starting corral. The starting area was very well organized, volunteers were doing a great job telling us where to go to our designated corrals. Once I was inside the Corral A, I heard someone called my name, and it was my fellow Maniac Emil, he was sitting by the curb getting some last min rest, he has been running the Disneyland Half Marathon every year since their first race 6 years ago, he also ran the Disney World Marathon so he was on his way to get the Coast to Coast medal just to complete both races. We chatted for awhile before we headed toward the front closer to the start.

Moment before the start, the annoucer was introducing the runner, whose name is Whitney Henderson,  who had run all the way from FL to CA to raise money for  Souls4Soles Charity. She started the journey back in June, ran thru 6 pairs of shoes and said she will end her journey in Manhattan Beach on Labor Day. What a incredible runner!!!

So after the national anthem was sang by an Army soldier, a few fireworks were fired up above the sky, and then we were off we go!!! My goal was to get between 1:50-1:55, I even printed out my split time wristband on my right wrist but I never looked at it since it was hidden underneath my arm warmer, which wasnt necessary since the weather wasnt really cold at all!! I should have left them in my bag,  I was warmed up the momemt I started to run. It was around 65 degree, kind of humid early at 6am in the morning, the sky was still dark early on. I was trying to run the left side of the road so I could run my own pace and worry about other runners. There were already a lot of spectators on the street cheering once we got on the main road within a mile. Then we ran the next 3 miles inside the Disneyland which was really cool since the park was closed early on, we even ran thru some backlots area where only the employees are allow to go during park hours.I saw a lot of Disney's characters cheering for us runner, I tried to not  to stop and take pictures with them cuz I wanted to try to run a fast half marathon and get under 1:50. I was running around 8min pace so I was really running faster than I should. I was even passed by the 1:40 pace group, I knew that wasnt my goal so I didnt bother to follow them.

Then after Mile 4, we started to run  outside the park on the main road, there was this little uphill to cross right over the freeway, I tried to maintain my speed and pace myself on the over hill. I saw this guy running with the back of his shirt stated that he is single and actually put his phone numbers on it!! that was really clever!!

Around Mile 5, there were a bunch of marching bands from a local school playing on the right side of the road to entertain us, then around Mile 6, there were a group of Hispanic Heritage performers with full on costumes performing on the left side of the road this time to cheer us on. Then around Mile 7, another group of performers, this time they were Hawaiians performing some Hawaiians dance and musics, it was awesome that we get to see different ethnic groups out there on the course.

Now around Mile 8, we started to enter the Honda Cener parking lot where they have TONS of people cheering us!! even more cheerleaders from local high school!! Then we made a right turn on the Santa Ana Rive Trail about Mile 9 and ran for about a quarter of a mile on the dirt, the sun was already up at that point so I was a little bit heat up, I stopped to walk a little bit just to take a break. Their aid stations were incredible, they were fully stocked with water and blue Powerade, the volunteers were awesome as well. I had to take 2 cups of water/powerade everytime cuz it was pretty warm.

Now the best moment finally comes, running inside the Angels Stadium, just before we ran inside, the great volunteer held a sign that said "SLOW" since there was a downhill leading toward the the Stadium. Once we were inside, there were even MORE spectators waiting for us to run thru, even some were from boys and girls scouts, I even saw the Angels' cheerleaders, aka The Strike Force. There was also a jumbotron showing the runners running by. Then after we exited the stadium, there was another orchestra band playing outside to pump us up!! Sometimes I really think these bands are WAY better than those rock bands at those Rock n Roll's events. I stopped by the aid station a little bit to rehydrated and continued my run, with only 3 miles to go, I had to stay focus and finish strong.

Getting ready to enter the stadium

Here is a video of me running thru the Stadium, it's a bit shaky though.

The Angels cheerleaders, aka The Strike Force

I told myself that I had to maintain a 9 min pace for the next 3 miles in order for me to get under 1:50, so I just stayed focus and tried not to stop and get thru the last 3 miles. I tried to count my steps to 100 and if I feel good after 100 steps, I will start over from 1, this helps me to maintain my pace when I am tired.

After Mile 12, I knew I could get under 1:50 even if I walk the final mile, so as we ran thru the back of the California Adventures, more spectators and cheerleaders were cheering continously, I was giving high five as I ran thru, then after I passed the Mile 13 marker, I saw there were a few photographers on the side, kind of surprised me that they have that many photographers on the course!! I raised my arms as I always do when I see them so I would look good in the pic, then once I see the Finish Line infront of me, I did a nice sprint to the finish and finished at 1:47.38!!! A New Disneyland PR!!!

Met up with my running friends at the finish.

Here are my splits: I ran a negative split the last 5miles!!! I am still shocked!!

Mile 1 - 8:02
Mile  2 - 7:54
Mile 3 - 7:58
Mile  4 - 7:51
Mile 5 - 7:59
Mile  6 - 8:07
Mile 7 - 8:10
Mile  8 - 9:01
Mile 9 - 8:56
Mile 10- 8:24 
Mile 11-8:11   
Mile  12-8:07  
Mile 13-8:05  
.1 mile - 57 secs

Overall, I really enjoyed this Disneyland Half Marathon, although they are a little pricey, but it was all worth it at the end, a very well organized race with great volunteers, great aid stations, great course entertainments, great crowds!!! I would love to do it again next year!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Palos Verdes Maraton Recap

This was my 9th marathon this year and 82nd marathon overall.

This race was on May 14th and it's overdue for the race report, I have been slacking off writing my race reports, but I am trying to get back on it, in a hurry!!!
I have ran this event for the past 4 or 5 yrs, since it's the 2nd oldest marathon in the US just behind Boston Marathon. It's a small marathon unlike Boston, plus with a lot of rolling hills, definately not a first timer friendly marathon. But I enjoyed the beautiful oceanview along the course, that's why I go back every year. Plus I have ran my first sub 4 at this tough course, so that makes this race kind of special to me.

But this year they have made some major changes to this race, before it was a simple out and back course, but this year it was out and back AND out and back, which means you go out 11 miles out and back, pass the finish line, then another 1.5 miles out and back, then run the same course for the 2nd time, so you get pass by the finish 2 times before you actually finish. They did this changes just to minimize the closure on the main road because of budget cuz I guess. So this year we ran thru alot of residential streets with beautiful houses near Rancho Palos Verdes with ocean cliff view.

Race Day

I met up with my friend early morning so we could carpool together, we drove to the designated parking structure at local mall so we could take the shuttle to the start. It was really cold in the morning around 5am so we just hung out at Starbuck to keep ourselves warm. There was a little drizzy but not too much. We hopped on the bus and got ready to head to the start. The previous years they didnt require shuttle service since the race was start and finish at the same location so everyone would just park at the parking lot near the finish.

So after we finally arrived at the start after a couple of turn arounds since our driver got lost, or didnt know where to make a turnaround so we passed the start area twice. We then headed to pick up our bib and timing chips, the t-shirt will be picked up when we finished. One of my friends was gonna run this race but she couldnt make it so I used her timing chip and ran for her, which mean I have 2 chips on my shoes. =-)

The race, both the marathon and half marathon, started at 7:30am, it was nice and cool weather thru out the day, even a little misty drizzy when I come back around Mile 11,  perfect condition for a marathon. When I passed the finish line for the first time around Mile 11, I had to run a dreadful and boring 1.5 miles out and back to the finish AND do the same loop all over again. It was a small marathon with only around 220 runners doing the mararthon distance, around 1000 doing the half marathon distance, so the course was pretty wide open. At one point during my 2nd loop, I found myself alone running by myself with no one in sight,  infront of me or behind me. There were little spectators on the course so it's unlike other huge marathon events where they have spectators every street corners. But the volunteers were awesome, even there were little kids came out and volunteers, something that you dont see that often in a race.

I finished the race at 4:31.13, then I went to pick up my t-shirt and was looking around to see if they have any food like the previous years which they had banana, orange, watermelon, begal, etc.. But this year they have NOTHING but water, so I was really disappointed that they couldnt continue to provide enough food for the race. Plus, they seems to raised the price of the entry fee a bit this year, and with no post race food, it's gonna be hard for me to run this race again next year.

After we got back from the race, my friend and I went to California Kitchn Pizza for our own carbo reload. =-)

Overall, I think this race could have been better had they not changed the course a bit, the reason I enjoyed the prevous years was it's a small marathon, nice and quiet but challenging course with great post race food and entertainments, but this year they seem to gone down a notch a bit. Hopefully they will improve from this year and make some changes for next year's.

Next Race..........................Running with the Devil Marathon, 6-25-2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Big Sur International Marathon Recap

This was my 8th marathon of the year and 81th marathon overall

 Got to meet Bart Yasso at the expo
 Pre Race Dinner
 My carbo load restaurant
 My carbo load meal
 Race Day
 Getting ready to run Big Sur!!!
 Randy and I inside the Safeway before the race
 Runners getting their coffee fix at Starbucks inside the Safeway before the race
 Never seen that many runner inside the supermarket before
Waiting in my corral before the start

 Bumped into my friend Brooke( the start
 My goal was to finish around 4:30, last time I ran Big Sur, I finished around 4:40.
 Famous piano player on the course, since it's a out and back course, we get to see him twice instead!!

  7 more miles to go!!

 Almost done!!

 Met up with my friend Alyssa at the finish line. I finished in 4:24.55!! A Big Sur PR!!
We all get a tray of food after we finished.

 I went to this place for some breakfast after the race. They were about to close when I got there but were able to fit me in. GREAT FOOD!!!


Next Race.......................................Palos Verdes Marathon, 5/14/2011