My Profile

@Bettejh1

Playa Del Rey, CA Raving since 2016 Boston Marathon finisher active 4 days, 6 hours ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:
  • Race that's calling my name:

    Columbia Gorge Marathon

  • I run because:

    I can’t fly.

My races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon &/or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Personal Bests (8)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Ojai, CA May 24, 2015 4:02:14
Half Marathon San Luis Obispo, CA Oct 10, 2010 1:53:41
20K Carlsbad, CA 2011 25:56
10 Miler The Woodlands, TX 1998 1:45:00
10K Irvine, CA 2010 52:34
5 Miler Tustin, CA 2011 54:54
4 Miler Porter, IN 2014 31:30
5K Lake Forest, CA Jul 4, 2016 25:28

Future Races (6)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
Half Marathon Tulsa, OK Nov 18, 2018
10K Santa Monica, CA Dec 15, 2018
Marathon Mesa, AZ Feb 9, 2019
Half Marathon Encinitas, CA Mar 31, 2019
Half Marathon Oakhurst, CA May 11, 2019
Marathon Chicago, IL Oct 13, 2019

Past Races (47)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Half Marathon Healdsburg, CA Oct 14, 2018 1:59:54
10K Encinitas, CA Oct 7, 2018 59:01
10K Santa Monica, CA Sep 9, 2018 54:41
10K Los Angeles, CA Apr 29, 2018 54:44
Half Marathon Encinitas, CA Mar 4, 2018 2:04:00
Marathon Staten Island, NY Nov 5, 2017 4:29:33
5K Irvine, CA Jan 7, 2017 25:39
Marathon Folsom, CA Dec 4, 2016 4:08:05
5K Lake Forest, CA Jul 4, 2016 25:28
Marathon Hopkinton, MA Apr 18, 2016 4:27:39
Half Marathon San Diego, CA Nov 21, 2015 1:58:34
Marathon Ojai, CA May 24, 2015 4:02:14
Half Marathon Greenville, CA Aug 16, 2014 2:01:27
4 Miler Porter, IN 2014 31:30
Half Marathon Pasadena, CA Jun 30, 2013 2:10:49
Half Marathon San Luis Obispo, CA 2013 1:56:50
Half Marathon Goleta, CA 2013 1:58:17
Half Marathon Long Beach, CA Oct 7, 2012 2:07:52
10K Cypress, CA 2012 55:31
Half Marathon Newport Beach, CA 2012 2:07:02
200 Mile Relay Flintstone, MD 2012
200 Mile Relay Blaine, WA 2011
200 Mile Relay Miami, FL 2011
200 Mile Relay Huntington Beach, CA 2011
Half Marathon Long Beach, CA 2011 2:09:41
20K Carlsbad, CA 2011 25:56
5K Lake Forest, CA 2011 27:40
200 Mile Relay Wickenburgh, AZ 2011
5 Miler Tustin, CA 2011 54:54
200 Mile Relay Las Vegas, NV 2011
5K Irvine, CA 2011 28:38
Half Marathon San Luis Obispo, CA Oct 10, 2010 1:53:41
10K Irvine, CA 2010 52:34
5K Lake Forest, CA 2010 25:52
10K Cypress, CA 2010 55:48
5K Santa Monica, CA 2010 26:21
Half Marathon Irvine, CA 2010 2:05:28
Half Marathon Huntington Beach, CA 2010 2:00:41
5K Seal Beach, CA 2009 26:42
5K Lake Forest, CA 2009 27:28
5K Irvine, CA 2008 28:35
5K Lake Forest, CA 2008 29:30
5K Lake Forest, CA 2006 29:09
5K Lake Forest, CA 2005 29:55
Half Marathon Huntington Beach, CA 2001 2:17:00
Marathon Huntington Beach, CA Jan 30, 2000 4:30:00
10 Miler The Woodlands, TX 1998 1:45:00

My Raves

Healdsburg Half Marathon

Healdsburg Half Marathon

There are many good reviews here which I read a few times before running the Healdsburg Half (HH). I'll repeat what another reviewer noted: this is NOT the Destination Races … MORE

There are many good reviews here which I read a few times before running the Healdsburg Half (HH). I’ll repeat what another reviewer noted: this is NOT the Destination Races half marathon; that is at the end of October.
The HH was a good excuse for a girls’ trip to Sonoma, plus I needed a race to kick off the fall that was not too easy (as in not down-hill) and would give a good indication of the quality of my summer training.
HH has very few flat areas; you are running short, rolling “hills” or a couple long inclines followed by some lower grade downhill. It is not an easy race to plan paces for. I had written up a pace plan that started with easy 9:20 pace and progressed down to 8:40 pace for a sub-2 hour finish. Within the first half mile I threw that plan out. With the frequency of rollers, I realized I’d be better off slowing increasing the overall mile paces, but within each mile I took the ups a bit conservatively and the downs strong. It was kind of fun, gauging that effort while trying to keep check on average mile pace.
Around mile 8 the road gets rough as you move off a well-paved road to a vineyard road for about a mile. At about 9.5 there is a pretty long incline; it is longer than it appears at first. I train on long inclines, so this did not seem so bad but I imagine if you don’t run many hills or inclines, this could be daunting. Since what goes up mus come down, you will get to make up whatever time you need. There is another (2nd longest incline) right after that.
There is a lot of canting in the second half of the race; if you have IT band issues or over-pronate, you will feel these. I was concerned and tried to stay near the edge of the road when the tangent wasn’t too far off it.
You are moved off the road less than a mile from the finish onto to a hike/bike trail (asphalt) to the finish. It felt long but was a nice way to finish.
The second half of the HH is the toughest half, so I am pretty happy I had a negative split, even if it was only a minute difference!
There is ABSOLUTELY no spectator support on this course. Zero. Nada. Once you take off you are on a course that runs through vineyards in the morning, often running on a road with traffic on the other side. At no time did I feel it was unsafe, but there is no place for spectators to stand; in 13 miles I saw 2 signs held up for encouragement.
Even the finish is very small….
Here’s something though: earlier reviews of this race mentioned bottle stopper medals and shirts and chicken and rice at the finish.
I got a medal that looks like it could be from any year (no date) and is small and plain. I am not a medal collector; I don’t care about the size. However, this was nothing like they must have given out in years past. There was no shirt; we received a hat at packet pick up.
I got the feeling this race may be losing attendance and the lack of remarkable “swag” reinforced that feeling….too bad because it is a well thought-out course.
I also want to mention the Age Groups are 10-year, as of this year. I checked and all previous years it was 5 year divisions… sad for me! It is tough to make a good time that would have put me 2nd AG if it were 5-year AG instead of 10th place with a lot of runners 9 and 10 years my junior. Next year, look out! I’ll be the baby in my new AG!
There was a “wine and beer festival” at the end, with 3 wineries and 2 beer booths. I never saw food, but there was a food truck. My bib had a breakfast tab, but unless I was supposed to use it at the food truck, I only saw the usual fruit/muffin/bagel table…and I did not need a tag to partake. There was a company pouring their INCREDIBLE chocolate milk, which made my day! I drank enough for a couple people.
I really enjoyed the race: the course, early start, the weather and the quiet countryside enough to make it an annual event if it continues. It is a great weekend to get away with your pals, run, drink wine and eat. You can shop as much as you like, because you will NOT be bringing home tons of swag!!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2
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Surfing Madonna Beach Run

Surfing Madonna Beach Run

I've run a guesstimate of 75 10k races over the last 26+ years. The 2018 Surfing Madonna was my slowest finish and probably one of, if not THE toughest I've … MORE

I’ve run a guesstimate of 75 10k races over the last 26+ years. The 2018 Surfing Madonna was my slowest finish and probably one of, if not THE toughest I’ve ever run. This issue is, they try to time it so the low tide is at the lowest point so there is plenty of hard-pack beach to run on. Pacific storms can throw a wrench into this, not to mention the whole nature thing.
I saw photos from previous years and it looked like a fun way to experience running on the beach. What none of the photos show (and for all I know, this is the first time this occurred), is that at least a mile of the 6.2 miles is almost unrunnable. That would be rocks about the size of small plums covering the entire area except the surf and the loose sand up the berm. They were 2-3 layers deep, meaning you could prance over them, but definitely not run unless you were wearing serious trail shoes. There was about another mile or more of scattered rocks that you could pick your way through.
By mile 2 (on my watch) I gave up trying to A. keep from twisting an ankle and B. keep my shoes dry and ended up running most of the 10k in the water or on very wet sand.
I think the scenery might have been nice, but I knew looking up from the ground could mean a fall or twisted ankle. That might also be why I didn’t see any mile markers until mile 4.
The 5k runners’ turn around spot was mid-return for the 10k runners, and with no actual lanes on a beach, it was a mess trying to run around walkers, avoid rocks, avoid water….you get the picture. I was glad to be in the top 1/4 of the 10k runners at the 10k turn around because I bet that was another crowded area when it got heavy with bodies.
The 12k was cancelled due to “rough conditions” and those registrants were told to run the 10k. I don’t know if they were reimbursed.
With a start time of 10:40 and very few clouds, it was a warm race. Wear sunblock!! My upper back is sunburned, didn’t think to cover that. I also wore a visor which was very helpful.
The age groups were 10 years deep instead of 5, so I ended up up 11th; had they been 5 year increments, I would have finished 3rd; I’m in the last year of that 10 year span. No big deal to me; my finish time would be the same. I was honestly miserable at the end and that is very unusual for me; most tough races leave me feeling energized and proud of finishing them.
I saw a few people with bananas, but have no idea where they got them although someone did give me a box of water.
I saw a very long line for some food in the pre-race booths area, but couldn’t even see what was in the booth. I was so wiped out I just left (at that point I didn’t even know about the 10-year age groups and didn’t care if I might have placed; I wanted food.)
To get decent parking, you have to arrive early and sit for a couple hours; bring reading material!
The swag was very nice: a very cool medal and matching mug, a reusable bamboo straw and some soap samples in the mug. If you don’t live locally and can’t drive there on both Saturday for packet pick up and Sunday for the race, there is a fee to pick up your bib Sunday morning. When I registered it was $10 but sometime after that they changed it to $12. I had to show them my confirmation email proving I had agreed to the $10 fee.
I’m glad I ran this as it was a good reminder of how humbling a tough race can be, but I would not run it again.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5
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Santa Monica Classic

Santa Monica Classic

I should have read the RaceRaves reviews: I would have known earlier that it had a 3 mile incline! I registered for this race because it is local and I … MORE

I should have read the RaceRaves reviews: I would have known earlier that it had a 3 mile incline!
I registered for this race because it is local and I needed to get my race season started. I presumed since Santa Monica is flat, near the ocean and close to home, I would have a good test of where I am in shorter distances and test my finish kick after summer training.
Not until you receive the “final instructions” email do you read “there is a gradual incline from mile 1 to mile 4”. I would still have run this 10k, but my mind-set and race plan would have been a little different. Being a seasoned racer, I simply tweaked that plan and it was fine.
If you are new to 10k or avoid inclines, be advised. I say “incline” and not “hill” because it really isn’t much of a grade, but just enough to feel like a slog. The GREAT thing about it is the hard part is over at mile 4 and you can fly down the last 2 miles. Going down after 3 miles of up is amazingly enjoyable! I kept expecting it to flatten out, but really, it is slightly down “hill” to the finish. I ran the last 2 miles at 8:05 pace and would have gone a little harder if I’d felt confident of that continual decline. Next year I will know!
Park at the finish line area; cheaper and you don’t have to walk so far to your car afterward. Walking TO the start is a good warm up.
Pros: >Lots of communication from Conqur (organizers) via email, with reminders, parking info, the 3-race series the SMC is part of, your results afterward, etc.
>Bib pick up was easy at Reed Park, if a bit of a headache for parking (see cons).
>Well marked mileage signs
>You get your race shirt at the end of the race on the pier. It is quick.
>After the finish chute, you mosey down the pier to the “festival”, an area aside from the main pier businesses. There are booths there. (See cons)
>The timing/results are updated regularly. I was at first listed as 4th AG, but by the afternoon it was corrected and I finished 2nd AG. Seems a couple folks who ran 6:20 pace in my AG were actually quite a bit younger.
>They mail medals to AG winners. This is GREAT! If you have ever had to wait for AG winners to be called, you know it can add an hour or 3 to your total time at the race!
Cons:
>Parking, at the bib pick up and at the race. Go early to both and it is easy. Go any time after it actually opens, and it will be a chore. Don’t even bother driving all the way to Reed Park on Saturday. Find a spot a couple blocks away and save yourself some time. If you can have someone drop you off and drive around the block a few times, it really is that quick.
>The start. What a mess. I had no idea what was happening since I could barely hear the announcer and there were wave starts, not noted in the race info but there are no markers, lines, tape, etc to let you know who is going. I couldn’t tell if the 5k people were leaving or if it was time to get in the crowd for 10k start. I asked several people and finally heard that the 5k had started but the next wave was still waiting….the 5k started 20 minutes late. I ended up in the 2nd 10k wave. Just after you cross the start mat the course narrows GREATLY and you will have trouble getting around all the walkers who feel they should be that far up in the start….I am sure I would have finished at least 20 seconds faster if not for that. Ten seconds would have moved me from 2nd to 1st.
>Support: there are 3 water stations but they are very short, meaning very congested. I bring my own hand-held bottle for 10k or longer so I didn’t get in that mess. Not much spectator support until the last couple hundred meters.
>The Finish Festival has a lot of booths…most of which have things to promote or sell. I saw one clif bar booth with samples, and a very long line of people waiting to spin a wheel at the chance to win a pair of shoes. The rest were just there to market their services. I think there was a massage tent. It was pretty unexciting.
I would run this again because it is local and after my first go at it, I know the ways to make the experience quicker and more enjoyable. I think this race could be a stellar rather than average experience, but the goal of the organizers seems to be having a sold out race in Santa Monica with nice signs and nice shirts and medals for people who live here, get vendors to pay for booths at the finish and to promote the LA Marathon.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
1

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Tommy Scott Memorial LAX Run

Tommy Scott Memorial LAX Run

This fund-raising race is held on Westchester Parkway and Pershing, both bordering LAX. I train on Westchester almost every week, so I am intimately familiar with the course. A lot … MORE

This fund-raising race is held on Westchester Parkway and Pershing, both bordering LAX. I train on Westchester almost every week, so I am intimately familiar with the course.
A lot of small fund-raising events are heavy on fund raisers and casual runners/walkers but this race brings out some speedsters. The course is great if you love rolling “hills”, which I do. They are more inclines than hills, but they are long inclines (on Westchester). Pershing is flat-flat. It is an out and back course.
The packet pick up is the day before and race morning and it is basically a table set up near the start line. No expo, this is a very small event.
I had not raced in several months, so this was a good race for me to get back into racing to compete. The day was warm, not hot but the sun was up early and it was bright. The return trip was a struggle against the heat and the incline turning back onto Westchester, by that time you are ready to turn it on for the last couple miles.
Be prepared to wait and wait and wait for awards. I came in second in AG, and I think it was about an hour after I finished before they even started and then I had to wait for the “advanced” age groups. Really, don’t you think they should start with the older folks first?
I recommend this race if you live in or near Playa del Rey, Westchester, Playa Vista, El Segundo or surrounding communities.
1. Easy to get to, parking is easy in the surrounding neighborhoods and at a nearby shopping center. I got dropped off and walked home after!
2. It is for a good cause, the Tommy Scott Memorial Scholarship fund. Tommy Scott was an LAX police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
3. The course is smooth sailing, even if roll-y and you get to watch jets take off and land!
4. There are plenty of walkers, so you can bring the non-running members of your family and they won’t feel out of place!
5. I’ll be there again. 🙂

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

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Encinitas Half Marathon & 5K

Encinitas Half Marathon & 5K

Came off a bad cold, wasn't expecting to finish under 2:10 (slow for me). The "expo" was tiny, but friendly and quick. The start was walkable from motel, weather was … MORE

Came off a bad cold, wasn’t expecting to finish under 2:10 (slow for me). The “expo” was tiny, but friendly and quick. The start was walkable from motel, weather was great (pretty chilly) for a half. When I realized how many “rolling” hills there were, I was really prepared for an embarrassing finish time. The tiny/steep hill at the beginning was not the issue, but the long slight elevation changes were a surprise. Mile 11 was almost entirely uphill. However, what goes up, must come down, right? So, I ended up with a 2:04 finish; pretty good considering my speed work was in the toilet for a few weeks. Loved the mug, a nice touch. Medals just go in a box. I’ve already registered to run it in 2019. Recommend the Econolodge-you can walk to the start. Happy running.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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New York City Marathon

New York City Marathon

The New York Marathon is epic, no doubt. It is a huge race in size, notoriety, and mentally. You will read many helpful tips about how to get to the … MORE

The New York Marathon is epic, no doubt.
It is a huge race in size, notoriety, and mentally. You will read many helpful tips about how to get to the start, which color is “best”, etc. I was glad to have all that info when I got to Staten Island, but once there, I just went with it.
Trying to move to another “color” is more effort expended, and any amount of rest you can give your brain will benefit you. With so much going on and your mind trying to process it, you can use energy better saved for the race.
Hearing that orange has more turns or green is on the bottom…let the organizers take care of getting you going and forget all that.
Once you get going on the Verazzano bridge, all of that is behind you anyway! Behind you! Get it? I loved the start, that bridge was one of my favorite parts.
The run through Brooklyn is fairly uneventful; it is pretty flat and the neighborhoods vary by architecture, cultures, etc, so you can look around as you run. If you can, read “A Race Like No Other” for interesting tidbits about the neighborhoods; it made the race come alive for me.
There are rough areas of roads through the whole first 22 miles, so be aware of pot holes, lane dividers, etc. Keep a lookout at least 3-4 feet ahead of you.
The Queensboro Bridge was the toughest spot for me. I train a lot on “slight inclines” of 1-3% grade and I find that tougher than hills because of the muscles you use but this seemed soooo long. The Queens Bridge was almost all “slight incline”, you can’t get a GPS signal (I saw and heard many runners around me getting frustrated with this) and that makes it tough to understand why it feels so hard! Coming off that bridge is pretty jarring: the crowd is deafening, but the down-slope feels so great!
If you have run Boston, you know how great that crowd support can be, but some of the crowds at NY were so large and loud that it took some of the personal feel out of it. If you have earbuds, just leave them in but turn off the music; you can’t hear it anyway in some areas like the end of that bridge.
I barely noticed any of the other bridges as far as elevation change.
It is very cool to run down 5th Ave, to see sites as you cross the bridges, to know where you are from all the times you looked at the course map during all your training weeks…
Once you are on your final stretch, heading south alongside Central Park it feels oddly sad to be almost over. Mile 23 to 24 was the second toughest section for me. I was pretty gassed and my watch stopped working (oddly enough, even though they have nothing to do with each other, my tracking stopped right then, too. My daughter and boyfriend both said they lost tracking of me at mile 23 and thought I must have dropped out). Anyway, I was getting close to my limit at mile 23 and it is an incline. I kept thinking about getting to CP South and Columbus Circle….once there, I made the big right turn back into the park. You are NOT done yet with distance or inclines! But the crowd there felt more personal, more real and warm….I saw a “400 meters to go” sign and boy was I excited!
I wanted to enjoy this run, live the NYC experience and finish in under 4:30. I lived it, I’ll always remember it…and I finished at 4:29:33, although I didn’t know for several hours (no watch info).
The logistics: NYC is not easy to get to. Flights, trains, subways are always crowded and can be confusing. Research your travel from after you get off the plane as much as anything.
Get to the Expo on Friday if you can and spend that day/evening doing some light sightseeing. Save your legs on Saturday by dining local, people watching in the hotel lobby, taking a cab if you must go anywhere farther than a couple blocks.
I took the bus from the library on race morning. I’d heard the ferry was awesome, but I wanted a nice warm ride to the start (more rest for my brain and legs). I stayed at a hotel between CP and Times Square. This made the walk to the bus short (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 mile) and back from the finish line not awful (about 1 mile).
The finish line will go by fast. There are volunteers who will give you a Mylar sheet and push you on your way. If you opted for a poncho, you will walk, and walk and walk to get out of the park, but once you get that poncho, you are home free. It drizzled the ENTIRE race in 2017, so many of us were shivering during that long walk and the Mylar sheet didn’t help much, so the Poncho was heaven-sent. Not sure how/if I’ll ever actually use it again.
Get out and away from the park quickly by getting across Columbus Avenue. If you are meeting family, have them meet you on the far side of Columbus and make your way to Alice’s Tea Cup if you can. It is a tiny oasis of calm and there are a few small tables to rest and have a cup of warm plus a pastry made from many good things.
I can’t advise regarding the check bag option.
You can go to the day-after Marathon Monday event at the Pavilion in CP. Go very early if you want to get your medal engraved or buy finisher stuff. The line gets long before it opens. I opted to order my stuff on line and not carry it home to CA. You can walk through the now-deserted finish line and get photos; the signs are all still there on Monday. I got a photo of the Fred Lebow statue, etc. It was worth the walk up there. I did go into the Pavilion to use their roller area on my legs: THAT was incredibly appreciated. You can buy the NY Times and see your name in print, too!!
So happy and proud (I got in via qualifying time at CIM) to run NYC marathon and I recommend doing it. Although the cost, logistics and desire to always run something new will keep me from running it again, it was EPIC.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3
My Media

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California International Marathon (CIM)

California International Marathon (CIM)

The expo, the buses, the portolets, the starting gun, the mile markers, fuel...everything was perfect. Note: not "downhill", rolling with overall drop. But still a good course. My second best … MORE

The expo, the buses, the portolets, the starting gun, the mile markers, fuel…everything was perfect. Note: not “downhill”, rolling with overall drop. But still a good course. My second best finish.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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Lake Forest Chargers 5K

Lake Forest Chargers 5K

This used to be my neighborhood July 4 morning....In all the years I lived a mile from the start line, I ran this race unless I was traveling out of … MORE

This used to be my neighborhood July 4 morning….In all the years I lived a mile from the start line, I ran this race unless I was traveling out of town and always had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved it because it was local and many of my neighbors ran it. I hated it because I could never reach my goal in that race; either the heat or the elevation threw me. I did come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd AG in various years, and 4th many times, I think.
The Charger 5k or Firecracker 5k or whatever they were calling it each year is a simple, local, small race that is almost always on July 4 (sometimes they move it to the 3rd if the 4th is on a Sunday) and precedes the city of Lake Forest’s July 4 parade.
Part of Lake Forest Drive is closed for both the race and parade.
The Tshirts (as far as I know they have never offered anything but actual cotton blend tshirts, no tech shirts) used to have a challenge rhyme on the back for the year, like “Beating you in 2008 feels great”. I loved getting those shirts and would get a large size to use as a pool cover up or to give to my hubby who did not run. The medals are fine, winners get gift certificates and small race medals. Age groups are 5 year increments.
Anyway, the race:
The start is in front of a Ralphs grocery; some of the lot is blocked for shoppers and the rest is open if you arrive early enough. Surrounding residential streets have parking if not on the parade route. It starts a little late for a mid-summer day, so there will be bright sun on your face during the last 3/4 mile. Be prepared.
You run .9 mile down LF Drive to Jeronimo, which is a nice gentle slope. If this were a longer run, I’d caution not to run too fast down the slope, but being only a 5k I learned to just go out medium-hard and take advantage. If you go out too fast, you will pay for it….because…once you turn around at Jeronimo you get to run half-way back up the slope and turn on Toledo, which is even more “up”, you could almost call it a hill. The turn around is at about mile 2.2, just past El Toro High School. If your legs will let you, fly back down Toledo. The final turn back onto LF Drive will put the sun on your face and you will run the rest of the earlier slope back up to the finish and that leg of the run is the toughest, dig deep!
Post race isn’t much, but there is a pancake breakfast at the high school, very yummy and the line moves fast.
This is a long review of a short race, but I’m so intimately familiar with it, I had to share! My son-in-law used to coach Bball at El Toro and these fundraisers make a big impact.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
1
SWAG
2
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Running with the Bears

Running with the Bears

This race is the most emotionally satisfying race I've ever attended. The race proceeds benefit foster kids in the northern part of CA. The organizers and the entire surrounding community … MORE

This race is the most emotionally satisfying race I’ve ever attended. The race proceeds benefit foster kids in the northern part of CA. The organizers and the entire surrounding community are involved, and it shows. Most of the events surrounding the race itself feel as if they are family gatherings. From the pre-race spaghetti dinner to the many decorated and heavily staffed aid stations (there is a competition for the best aid station and they are serious about this! Great fun!) to the after party pig roast, the folks from all the surrounding towns make you feel welcome.
The course is “in the country” and runs through a rural setting, starting out with cows to your left and leading into some back roads, a few busier areas (busier being relative here), and plenty of private space as this race is capped, the year I ran it at 300. (It may be larger now but is full for 2018.) There are undulating hills, nothing tough in the half.
The weather is a factor: it was a chilly 45 or so to start, but the sun came up strong and it was in the low 70s by the finish; humidity was very low.
At the end there was a huge trough of ice and water for your bare feet, beer, food. Your goodie bag includes bear bells, and while I did not see any bears, it is bear country. This was my first half marathon first-place age group win which made it more memorable.
The only difficulty is the logistics getting to Greenville, or Taylorsville. Lodging very near the race was scarce. My hotel had no AC and it was quite warm the night we stayed. There are campsites and while I do camp, I prefer not to rough it the night before a race, so book your lodging early. It is also a haul from anywhere. We flew into Sacramento and it was still a couple (3?) hours drive north; not an easy place to find, but once you are there it is a stunning place to spend a weekend.
Between the scenery, people, cause and course, this is high on my recommendation list. Oh, it is a Boston Qualifier as well.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
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City to the Sea

City to the Sea

My second time running this and it is consistently well produced. I reviewed it from my first time, but will just reiterate this is a great weekend away if you … MORE

My second time running this and it is consistently well produced. I reviewed it from my first time, but will just reiterate this is a great weekend away if you live in LA or SF areas. Nice people, good weather, course is not tough, but has some rolling hills mid-race. It is a point to point, so best to have someone at the end to either take you back or hang with. They do have shuttles back to your car, but not as much fun as making it the end of your weekend and then heading home, with lots of food stops on the way!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

I first ran the full LB marathon way back in the day ('96) when it was early in the year, I think late Feb or early March. The 1996 race … MORE

I first ran the full LB marathon way back in the day (’96) when it was early in the year, I think late Feb or early March. The 1996 race was the last or next to last for a couple years and when it was restarted, it was moved to October. It has been so long that I don’t remember if the course was even the same as it is now as I have only run the half since it was moved to October.
The expo is really first rate, lots of vendors, good space to move around, and gives you a chance to scope out parking for race morning. You do pay for parking in the convention center lot.
The event is well organized, the start line corrals are defined, and you know what is going on, there are plenty of aid stations, all well marked, all good stuff. The good quality shirts usually have interesting art work that wraps around to the back; I see a lot of the LB shirts out on the trails.
The actual race is not very outstanding, much of it through the city and some out on the harbor/Pike area where you see the Queen Mary, Shoreline Village, etc. There is one long stretch right after the view of the QM that feels much longer than it is because you can see how far you have to go and by that time it is warm and it is on a beach-front, so no shade. The course is very flat most of the course; no hills but a few late rollers.
If you are looking for a flat, local marathon or half, this is the one for you. I would mention the cost, but all of the well-supported races are expensive now, so that is the price we pay, literally.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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Ragnar Relay Washington DC

Ragnar Relay Washington DC

This is my favorite Ragnar of the 9 I ran. Starting in rural Maryland, and running along a river through a woods, I saw white owls, had to stop to … MORE

This is my favorite Ragnar of the 9 I ran. Starting in rural Maryland, and running along a river through a woods, I saw white owls, had to stop to wait for a deer to cross the path, ran through a cornfield in Virginia where I’m sure I saw red eyes peering at me from the corn…and my last leg was to and through the mall: Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington monument…I was overcome with emotion. I’d never been to DC and what a way to see this for the first time: running! I was with a great group and it was just magic. I stayed in DC alone for 2 days after and saw everything I could, walking 8 hours each day. Highly recommend.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Ragnar Relay Del Sol

Ragnar Relay Del Sol

I signed on with a team of unknown people as I did for NW Passage. This team had one van full of friends, and they filled the second van with … MORE

I signed on with a team of unknown people as I did for NW Passage. This team had one van full of friends, and they filled the second van with strangers. It was a good experience; the other 5 in my van were fun, loved running, easy going and all different. It was probably the most under-whelming Ragnar, much like the Vegas Ragnar, lots of sand and distant hills, the best part was at night because it is so dark in the desert you can see a million stars…but also odd rustilings in the brush. My BFF lives in Phoenix, so that was a bonus.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
1
SWAG
3

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Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

I joined a team of people I'd never met. It was the second time I had done that and it is a great way to meet people and yet be … MORE

I joined a team of people I’d never met. It was the second time I had done that and it is a great way to meet people and yet be sort of alone. They don’t really know you, so you can run as fast or as slow as you want. But the NW Passage route was very pretty, through some small towns and along several waterways. I ran again with this same group later in Vegas and in DC, give or take a few members. It is pretty and staying in Seattle after is always fun.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Ragnar Relay Florida Keys

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys

Starting in Key Biscayne and ending in Key West, what could be more fun? I do not recommend running the leg that includes the 7-mile bridge unless you are really … MORE

Starting in Key Biscayne and ending in Key West, what could be more fun?
I do not recommend running the leg that includes the 7-mile bridge unless you are really into seeing the same thing for 7 miles. Water, cars, water, cars…although when I see postcards of that bridge, I always brag about running over it. Our whole team traveled there from CA and staying in Key West afterward was the best prize of all.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Ragnar Relay Las Vegas

Ragnar Relay Las Vegas

I've run 9 different Ragnars, the So Cal race3 times. I have to say Vegas and Del Sol (AZ) were the least interesting, scenery-wise, but always fun with a group … MORE

I’ve run 9 different Ragnars, the So Cal race3 times. I have to say Vegas and Del Sol (AZ) were the least interesting, scenery-wise, but always fun with a group in a van for 24+ hours!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
1
SWAG
3

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Carlsbad 5000

Carlsbad 5000

It has been a few years, but I remember this race well because of how many times I ran the course that day. I chose 20k above, but the year … MORE

It has been a few years, but I remember this race well because of how many times I ran the course that day. I chose 20k above, but the year I ran it, it was the All Day 25k but 25k was not on the drop down menu.
Anyway, Carlsbad 5000 is often referred to as the fastest 5k in the country. It isn’t because of the course, I think it because so many elite runners compete there.
The course is pretty flat with some inclines, and a couple turns. The scenery is, of course, the ocean and beach, but you are elevated from it a bit and the start/stop area is a couple blocks inland.
The All Day 25k was kind of surreal. You are running different heats of the race. It is a huge field so they break it up with starts for different demographics; if you sign up for the “all day” [now 20k] you get entry to all of them.
And every one starts with the national anthem sung by the same person, the same announcements, the same start gun, area, same cheering crownd, etc….So by the 3rd one it starts to feel a little like Groundhogs Day (the Bill Murray movie).
I tried to save my best effort for the heat in which my AG/gender would be noted; I think I did by a few seconds. My PR for a 5k shows as being at this race, but that is only because a few 5ks I ran faster are no longer in existence (Running Is For the Birds, Race for the Pier, etc) so I can’t claim those times.
Because Carlsbad 5000 is such a well-known race, the organizers have made sure everything is nice, quick, streamlined, etc.
I don’t really remember the medal; it is in a box somewhere, but the shirt was one of my faves and I still wear it occasionally after 7 years.
I recommend this race as a nice mid-year road trip weekend, whether you are doing the 5k or more. It is just one of those races everyone hears about, so why not just run it? Good weather, nice course….and of course, Pizza Port! Carlsbad is a great little town and you can watch the elite runners finish, which is pretty mind-blowing if you get close the finish line. Its amazing to see humans run that fast so close up.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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City to the Sea

City to the Sea

This race runs from SLO to Pismo, and once you are out of the town portion of SLO, the course is fairly rural. I've run in a couple times and … MORE

This race runs from SLO to Pismo, and once you are out of the town portion of SLO, the course is fairly rural. I’ve run in a couple times and both times finished with a respectable time, which surprised me as I was (at that time) struggling with rolling hills. I’ve come to embrace rollies, and use them to my advantage. The last mile is a little tough with constant small ups and downs, but the view of the ocean is a good way to distract yourself and push the pace. Well organized and the finish area is fun. They do shuttle you back to SLO if you do not have someone waiting for you at Pismo.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon

Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon

I don't remember much about this race; I think it was my 2nd or 3rd marathon, but it was called the Pacific Shoreline and I'm pretty sure this was the … MORE

I don’t remember much about this race; I think it was my 2nd or 3rd marathon, but it was called the Pacific Shoreline and I’m pretty sure this was the inaugural year and they still used the tags from your bib. It did not coincide with Super Bowl then. The course was different than now; at least one of the streets you run now was still just a 2-lane road with no shoulder. My finish time is a guesstimate, I was using a bib from a neighbor….but I don’t think I broke 4.5 hours till the mid-2000s. I lived in Huntington Harbor, so this was a local race for me. I like that is still going and has gotten so large!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Memorial Hermann 10 for Texas

Memorial Hermann 10 for Texas

I lived in The Woodlands for a couple years and ran this twice. It was a nice route around The Woodlands which has doubled in size since I moved back … MORE

I lived in The Woodlands for a couple years and ran this twice. It was a nice route around The Woodlands which has doubled in size since I moved back to CA in 1999. Well organized, and The Woodlands is called that for a reason. Nice shady course, ran at a bearable (weather wise) time of year. We moved away partly because of the humidity… tough on a runner.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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