My Profile

@Bettejh1

Playa Del Rey, CA Raving since 2016 Boston Marathon finisher active 1 week, 6 days ago

About Me

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

    Columbia Gorge Half 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 Long Beach, CA Jun 1, 2019 1:28:21
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 (3)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
5K Culver City, CA Feb 9, 2020
5K Encinitas, CA Mar 29, 2020
Half Marathon San Diego, CA May 31, 2020

Past Races (60)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Chicago, IL Oct 13, 2019
5K Playa Vista, CA Sep 15, 2019
10 Miler Long Beach, CA Jun 1, 2019 1:28:21
5K El Segundo, CA Apr 27, 2019 26:05
5K Arcadia, CA Apr 6, 2019 26:24
Half Marathon Encinitas, CA Mar 31, 2019 2:03:03
5K Culver City, CA Feb 24, 2019 25:57
Marathon Mesa, AZ Feb 9, 2019 4:10:39
5K Redondo Beach, CA Feb 3, 2019 25:58
5K Santa Monica, CA Dec 15, 2018 26:37
Half Marathon Tulsa, OK Nov 18, 2018 2:01:46
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
Half Marathon San Diego, CA 2012 2:11:13
200 Mile Relay Flintstone, MD 2012
10K Cypress, CA 2012 55:31
Half Marathon Newport Beach, CA 2012 2:07:02
5K Irvine, CA 2011 28:38
Half Marathon Long Beach, CA 2011 2:09:41
20K Carlsbad, CA 2011 25:56
200 Mile Relay Huntington Beach, CA 2011
200 Mile Relay Blaine, WA 2011
200 Mile Relay Wickenburgh, AZ 2011
200 Mile Relay Miami, FL 2011
200 Mile Relay Las Vegas, NV 2011
5K Lake Forest, CA 2011 27:40
5 Miler Tustin, CA 2011 54:54
Half Marathon San Luis Obispo, CA Oct 10, 2010 1:53:41
5K Lake Forest, CA 2010 25:52
10K Cypress, CA 2010 55:48
Half Marathon Huntington Beach, CA 2010 2:00:41
10K Irvine, CA 2010 52:34
Half Marathon Irvine, CA 2010 2:05:28
5K Santa Monica, CA 2010 26:21
5K Lake Forest, CA 2009 27:28
5K Seal Beach, CA 2009 26:42
5K Lake Forest, CA 2008 29:30
5K Irvine, CA 2008 28:35
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
Half Marathon San Diego, CA 2000 2:21:00
10 Miler The Woodlands, TX 1998 1:45:00

My Raves

Wrigley River Run & Tadpole Trot

Wrigley River Run & Tadpole Trot

I ran this event for the first time, although it has been on my radar for a couple years. The course would be a nice change from the usual community … MORE

I ran this event for the first time, although it has been on my radar for a couple years. The course would be a nice change from the usual community “run through town on closed streets” course as much of it is along one of our concrete river beds.
Parking was easy on race morning across the street in a grocery store lot; I arrived at 6 when packet pick up opened. No wait for the bib, assigned at pickup and the shirts were the only other stop (note: there are women’s and men’s styles, they run small).
The 10 mile race started first, on time at 7AM. After about 1/2 mile on neighborhood streets, we went up a ramp, turned, up another ramp onto the river “trail”. There were a few down, off the trail and back on in the first couple miles, then we were on the river trail for most of the remaining miles. There are no spectators along this part of the course and I was glad to have run many times along this type of trail as you must be aware of the cyclists using the same space. Stay right!!
If you want scenery and views, this is not the race for you. You are, however, able to run without worrying about intersections, traffic, or poor road conditions. There is nothing to really look at on a concrete river bed trail, in fact at one point I realized I could actually close my eyes for a few seconds and not worry about hitting anything. Now, you might wonder why anyone would do that….but it was so smooth and so straight I just got the urge to do it!
There are just enough curves to avoid the mental zap that comes from seeing how far you still have to go. There is a section of the course that is on dirt, but it is good, solid pack. While advisable to watch your footing, there really isn’t much to trip on and its a good break from the monotony of the asphalt stretches.
The 10k crew merged with the 10 milers around mile 7. The last 1.5 miles were through the neighborhood again. Be aware these streets have “dips” at all the intersections, so watch your footing. You turn a corner at 9.8, sort of like “left on Boylston” and you can sprint to the finish. There was a feel of camaraderie among the finishers near me that I don’t experience in larger races; I felt like a member of the neighborhood.
Note: there are NO potties along the course; there were 5(?) water stops, one with gels about mid-way. If I was a local, I’d probably offer to sponsor their water cups. They used Styrofoam, (maybe to cut costs) but that is a lot of Styrofoam going in the trash and possibly thrown down into the riverbed.
I hadn’t done much speed work as I’ve been in rebuilding phase, but decided to push it a little on this race; if you get the course record for your age group, you run for free the next year. The prior record in my AG was more than 30 minutes slower than I knew I could run the 10 miles, but I guess someone else figured that out and I placed second….But I was thrilled to have broken my goal time of 1:30 by 2 minutes, with no speed work in the last few weeks.
With most of the top 3 in each AG finished by 8:30, it was too bad awards were not being handed out until 9:45. There were computers set up to check your time/place. I decided not to hang around for the “custom glassware” award. There really isn’t anything to do at the start/finish. It is in a neighborhood church parking lot. There was pizza and fruit, and a few vendor tables; I decided to walk about 1/2 mile to a breakfast spot I found on my phone to kill time but it was not what I expected, so I just left for home. I heard from another runner later that they still had not gotten to the 10 mile awards by 10:45! That is probably my only gripe about the whole event. There really was no reason other than trying to keep people there for the kids’ tadpole trot. My finish time was award enough; this is the second race this year that I have left without my AG award. It is just too much waiting when our weekend time is so limited!
The Wrigley River Run is a 5k/10k/10 miler for the Long Beach and South Bay running community. While fairly well organized, this is not a race I’d travel far to run. Glad it is checked off the list and I was able to test my current fitness level. I made a few potential coaching connections, too. All Good!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
1
SWAG
1

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El Segundo Run for Education

El Segundo Run for Education

In its 28 year, the ES Run for Education is a tradition for residents and neighbors of El Segundo. The beneficiaries are local ES schools' programs that are not fully … MORE

In its 28 year, the ES Run for Education is a tradition for residents and neighbors of El Segundo. The beneficiaries are local ES schools’ programs that are not fully funded by the city’s budget. There are a lot of kids and parents, which means a neighborly/small town vibe; it IS known as Mayberry, CA, after all. Be aware: all the kids can make for some zig-zagging in the first mile. The younger ones don’t know about the danger of moseying in front of runners…just be aware and buoyed by the scene of kids out running!
The organization is excellent; there is early packet pick up on Main Street and registration/packet pick up is available race morning. Parking is on city streets and a few local businesses, but it is a small town, so you won’t have to walk far.
The course is NOT an easy course; there are several fairly steep hills, most pretty short. Two are longish hills; one is the first quarter to third mile, so take it easy going out. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, what goes up must come down so you do get to fly and make up some time.
There is one water stop on the 5k. The 10k is 2 loops, meaning 2 water stops on that course.
There are TEN turns on this course. I like turns: they help you avoid seeing how far you have to go, but also when I’m turning a corner I feel like I am really racing! Maybe I’ve seen too many movies with get-away cars zooming around corners….
While not a crowd, most of the streets on the course have a few folks out in their beach chairs cheering you on and in 2 spots you get actual cheer-leading cheers!
The final quarter mile is thankfully downhill; I was extremely grateful for that!
The finish is a nice wide space and it is evident where the 10k runners need to go to start their second loop.
The medals are fine; the shirts are okay. The award medals have the date and name of the race printed on the back. This is great! Some medals just say “1st place” and could be for any event….mine says Female 60-64, 1st place so I’ll always have this record.
There is water at the finish; I didn’t see any food, but a 5k is pretty quick so you can walk up main street to several spots that serve breakfast and the Blue Butterfly coffee shop was close enough to walk to as we awaited the awards ceremony (which moved pretty quickly considering the number of awards for both distances.)
I found the course to be difficult even though I train on hills….these were much steeper than I expected…but I actually ran it faster than my last 5k ran on a flat course. I think the downhills really help if you let yourself go.
This was the first race in my new age group, so I was thrilled to get first. A nice way to make turning 60 not feel so bad.
Everyone I talked to, from the porta-potty line to finished line, were just as friendly as could be.
I’ll do this race again next year. Recommend!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

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Santa Anita Derby Day 5K

Santa Anita Derby Day 5K

Driving up to Arcadia early on a Saturday morning is a breeze and the sun rising over the palm trees as you wait for everything to start is just lovely. … MORE

Driving up to Arcadia early on a Saturday morning is a breeze and the sun rising over the palm trees as you wait for everything to start is just lovely.
*Because the race track has a huge parking lot, getting in and parked was easy. Nothing was hard to find or figure out, picking up the bib and t-shirt the morning of the race was simple. We arrived early as is suggested on the site, so there were no lines for anything, including the porta-potties; we sat in the car until about 7:30 and then I ambled over to the start area.
You even get the start of the race bugle call by the official bugler for Santa Anita races.
*They know what they are doing with the corrals here; they are marked clearly with large signs showing pace: 8:00, 8:30, etc and each section is roped. The race started right on time, and since I placed myself in the #2 (8:30) corral, I was through the actual starting gate at 8:01. Even with the corrals and the (very funny) announcer urging walkers to the back, there were a few walkers in the first quarter mile, but the course is so wide, it didn’t hold anyone up.
*The course is relatively flat; there are some rollers but they are short and spaced apart. Running through the arboretum was so pleasant; it was my first time there. There were peacocks on the grounds along with all the flora.
*Coming back into the parking lot, into a tunnel, out of the tunnel, around the outside of the track and then on the track is what makes up the final mile. There is a good spot for your support team to see you before you get on the track and they can cross the infield to see you at the finish, too.
*Be aware the track is a clay/soil mixture, so while not as tough as running through deep beach sand, it will affect your pace. I was at 8:20 avg pace until that track which is about the last .3 of the race. I ended up at 8:30 pace; that’s a big slow down in only .3 miles. Even so, I was happy with my time and got 3rd out of 272 in my AG . I didn’t stay for the 3rd place medal; we had to be somewhere and they weren’t doing awards until 10. I was happy to have my finisher’s medal and the bragging rights of 3rd place. The “extra” medal would just have gone into a box.
*The regular, cotton t-shirts are nice design and there was a choice of unisex or a women’s v-neck. The medal has a bottle opener; a cool feature that I’ve seen on many of my medals, but since they just go in a box….
*Anyway, to quote my #1 race supporter “this seemed to be a much more relaxed atmosphere than most of the races I have been to with you”. It was!
*The finish line takes you onto the infield after getting bananas, apples, and a bottled protein water of some sort. There is a live band (they were great and that was our agreed to meeting spot), a beer garden and several vendor booths set up. We didn’t hang around, but there is also a carnival and you can stay all day for the races. A kids race takes place in the infield, and it is late enough you could run the 5k and still take your kids to their race.
I recommend this race for a nice morning in the foothills. We are planning to run it next year (both of us). I’m not sure how the logistics would be if we hadn’t arrived early but everyone was smiling. I give this race 2 thumbs up!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Encinitas Half Marathon & 5K

Encinitas Half Marathon & 5K

The folks who put together this half marathon show they care about the runner, with nice swag, race day bib pick up, no hassle/low tech gear check, lots of parking … MORE

The folks who put together this half marathon show they care about the runner, with nice swag, race day bib pick up, no hassle/low tech gear check, lots of parking and plenty of potties.
I understand the thinking behind reversing the course this year: there was a very steep hill in the first few miles: down almost after starting and then back up after returning from your run north on the 101….BUT….it was a very short hill, maybe 150 meters at most. My issue with the reversed route is based on 2 things: #1: The race was at the end of March this year, last year was first weekend in March. This means we are now in daylight savings time, so the sun is up and strong by the time you are a couple miles into this race. There is very little shade, so that change makes for heat: elevated heart rate, more hydration needed, etc. #2: The run up 101 and then back is not just boring, but you can see how far you have to run…actually, you can’t see the end but you can see it is faaar. That mind game is easier to take in miles 1 to 5 when you are still fresh, temps are still moderate…but when it is mile 9 to 13, it is tough to stay positive…nothing to look at, the sun is high….I think if it continues to be late March (and next year it is), this will make for slower finishes. I probably mentioned in my 2018 review of the course, no matter which direction you run it, there are long inclines (and declines). I personally like and run best with rolling courses…this is NOT rolling. Hey, I knew this going in, and still ran it. Gear check back was quick, I by-passed the beer garden this time as it was so crowded (a surprise, last year it wasn’t at all….sign of a growing race?). You can register for next year at 50% the first couple days after the race, so go do it!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Screenland 5K

Screenland 5K

I signed up for this race a couple months ago for 2 reasons: It was local and I worried that I'd be slow to get back to running after the … MORE

I signed up for this race a couple months ago for 2 reasons: It was local and I worried that I’d be slow to get back to running after the PHX marathon and needed a “carrot” to work for.
I picked up my bib on Saturday but realized Sunday that wasn’t really necessary. The start area is well laid out and pre-registered runners didn’t have to wait long for their bib. I had a support person to hold my stuff.
The start was on time, there was a rainbow balloon arch, weather was pretty perfect (cool but sunny). I had planned on making this a true fun run by taking my phone for photos of movie studio scenes but it turned out we only ran by them (not sure why I thought we’d run in, the organizer certainly didn’t suggest that on the website), so at the last minute I decided to just run it as fast or slow as I felt…this was the last 5k in my current age group, bittersweet.
There were runners in costume (there is a costume contest). I wanted to do a Freddy Mercury costume (as he looked in the Live Aid concert) but just couldn’t find time to get it together…I think it would have been a winner! The race plays on the day-of-Oscars and the movie studios in the neighborhood.
The course is flat, just enough turns to make it fun (and give you a break from morning sun in your face) and the finish is on a red “carpet”. They try to call out everyone’s name… and there was no crowding.
The medal is pretty cool, not huge but it has a rotating “3” and good color. The shirt is pretty standard.
The booths with food were just right: apples, bananas, water, some breakfast bars from Sprouts. Super friendly volunteers.
The results table had about 10 notebook computers to find your time immediately, and a single line to get to them, so there were no mobs of people cutting in at the tables.
I had such a good time (and a good finish time!) that my Bf said he’d do it next year and we will plan a team costume.
I’m signing up today!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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Mesa-Phoenix Marathon

Mesa-Phoenix Marathon

Mesa Phoenix marathon is a mixed bag, but definitely worth doing if you want a relatively stress-free marathon experience. The race is touted as downhill, and it is, until about … MORE

Mesa Phoenix marathon is a mixed bag, but definitely worth doing if you want a relatively stress-free marathon experience.
The race is touted as downhill, and it is, until about mile 14, when it levels out. Prior to mile 14, the course loses some 744 of elevation and that includes 1.5 miles of uphill, so you can see all but about 150 feet of the 900 feet of downhill is in that first half. Once you hit mile 14, the flat feels like running through mud, but after a couple miles your legs will stop fighting the change.
Personally I don’t know if I could ever achieve a negative split on a course of that nature and I didn’t this time, but did manage to get my BQ and finish almost 5 minutes faster than my goal.
The expo is not huge but is sufficient. My only beef was the narrow area where vendors were set up and the fact there was only one way in and one way out…meaning you had to go back through the corridor of crowds lining up for free food if you forgot anything. Solution: ask questions before you leave so you don’t have to return.
The finish line is near the expo, clearly marked and that was great to use to select a meet up spot for my support. We walked down the finish line area together, got a good sense of the viewing space, so on race morning I found her without stress.
The car line to get in to the lot where buses were was looong, so I hopped out of my drop-off ride on the corner across the street. It was a 45 second walk to the buses and I did not have to wait in line (about 4:45AM); our bus departed as soon as full and I had a great seatmate to chat with, making the drive up the mountain go by quickly.
You can stay on the warm bus; I hopped off, got into a porta-potty (they have monitors that keep the lines moving) and got back on the bus until about 6, when I got in the line again…this time the line was looong, but where did I have to be? While waiting in line, the 4:05 pacer walked by and I was able to ask her what her strategy was. I wanted to finish in 4:15, but decided to hang with her group a while since she said she was running by effort more than specific pace which was perfect for me knowing the downhill could be my undoing if I went too fast.
It was chilly (I bought a zip sweatshirt at goodwill) and dark but there were small fires in the start area. I wished I had gotten my fuel belt situationed on the bus where there was better light. Some fireworks were set off…and then we were off. I chatted with another 4:05 group runner for a few, then zoned out to concentrate on the odd sensation of running on a downhill slope that I couldn’t actually see…so I had no clue when it might flatten. I was glad to have the pacer in front of me.
At the top there are no spectators (it would have been to dark to see them anyway), but as the sun comes up behind you, the vista is really pretty with mesas and rocks being bathed in the soft light. It is quiet and peaceful, great for energy conservation.
The uphill at 4.5 was expected but was unexpectedly long; my plan to take it at 10 minute pace didn’t work; I ran it about 10:15, but the fast first 2 miles more than made up for it.
A few spectators as we entered some populated areas was nice; mostly folks standing at the end of their driveways.
I truly don’t remember much about the area between miles 10 to 20. A lot of residential, retail, commercial and unincorporated areas with the occasional “estate” style neighborhood.
If you do not like long straightaways, you will be challenged by this course. There were at least 3 sections where you can see how far you have to run by the runners in front of you for miles, and it is mentally tough. I think on the 3rd one I actually said out lout “man, they gotta put more turns in this thing or something”.
I was lucky to hit a year with no headwinds, although there was a breeze in a few places where I imagine it could be tough with wind.
There were quite a few turns in the last couple miles, which I welcomed and I truly had to dig deep to keep a pace that would get me to my goal. I was doubting my watch for some reason but in retrospect I am glad I was wary. If I had given myself permission to slow down more, I wouldn’t have had the thrill of seeing how far ahead of my goal finish I was.
The finish chute is quite long, almost the whole last .2, so spectators are not crunched together…and you ample opportunity to turn on whatever you have left in your legs for a fast finish.
I had to get back to my hotel in order to shower before check out time, so I didn’t have have time to get a BQ visor or food. It looked like it was for runners only, so I wouldn’t have been able to celebrate with my support team. It looked like a good spread, including volunteers walking around with trays of french toast….YUM!
The medal is nice, if simple. It creates a star of some sort if you get 5 of them. I’m not sure what one would do with that “star”, but it is a nice incentive to do it again.
Exit from the finish area was stress free.
All around a very well organized event, minimal stress points. Prepare for the course and weather, and everything else is taken care of for you.
Good luck!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
1
SWAG
3

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Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10K & 5K

Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10K & 5K

My first time running this; chose the 5k as I was tapering for a marathon the following weekend. It seemed pretty well organized, this was their 41st year so it … MORE

My first time running this; chose the 5k as I was tapering for a marathon the following weekend.
It seemed pretty well organized, this was their 41st year so it was pretty dialed in.
The race site shows a course map, but no elevation. It was not difficult, but I would have run it maybe 20 seconds faster per mile if I’d taken the time to see the inclines ended around mile 2. It is long-ish inclines and declines, not “rolly”. There was plenty of room to get going; I did make sure to get near the front as I saw many folks up front who were clearly going to walk.
The course is through streets mainly 1-2 blocks inland from the water, not much to look at but the 10k may have had more ocean views.
There is no finisher’s medal for the 5k….that is on their website buried in the FAQs. Because I had just run 12 miles the day before, I still would only have done the 5k, but I wouldn’t have been wandering around in the rain afterward asking people if there were medals; the first 3 volunteers I asked didn’t know. But, I like the long sleeve T, a throw back to my early racing days in the 90s when there were NO finishers medals at any race except the Komen races.
Not sure about parking that is offered near the start as we parked in a shopping center about 1/2 mile away and jogged to the start to warm up as many did judging by the walkers I saw en-route.
The after-race food was about 60 yards away through another gate and around a corner; if you didn’t go in that direction you would not know it was there. The expo booths were still up at the finish line, but I had to ask about food, the volunteer said he thought there might something “in there”, pointing to the opening in a chain link fence. Since I wanted to get back to the car in the rain, I didn’t head back to the tucked away tent with bananas when I saw where it was. If it had been a dry day it would have been okay.
I’d do it again, probably the 10k, and make plans to stay a little longer. My first year living in the area between South Bay and Santa Monica has taught me a lot about my new “local” racing scene.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
1
SWAG
1

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Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run

Santa Monica Venice Christmas Run

Moved down to the 5k for a couple reasons: I had a long run coming up on Sunday and the 10k didn't start until 8:30. The packet pick up on … MORE

Moved down to the 5k for a couple reasons: I had a long run coming up on Sunday and the 10k didn’t start until 8:30.
The packet pick up on Friday was just not cool…a small park on a street with no street parking and a $7 lot nearby…for a 1 minute bib pick up. After going around the block (not a quick thing in SM) I realized people were just parking in the NO parking area in front of the park, so I did too. Once parked, it was quick and easy to change from 10k to 5k get the shirt and go.
Cannot comment on parking for the race as I was dropped off.
Start area was great; plenty of potties, lots of room to get set up in the corral… and then the horn went off and I spent the first 3-4 minutes slamming on my brakes for or running around walkers…and I was near the start line! I respect walkers being out there and doing it, but PLEASE, why are you up front in a race that narrows right after the start? (Same thing at the SM classic). So frustrating when you are working toward a time goal; my first mile was slower than I run a 10k mile. It would have helped GREATLY if the guy announcing had mentioned walkers should place themselves accordingly instead of urging everyone to “move up!” “fill those spots”.
Anyway the course was through the boardwalk areas of SM and Venice, up Venice Blvd and a little stretch on Abbott Kinney. There were a few inclines, but nothing I’d call a hill and the finish was very cool as you came rounding off Pacific Ave to Windward, there was faux snow blowing and a nice wide area.
Plenty of water, flavored water, Naked juice, bananas… I could see lots of tents set up past the boardwalk toward the Ocean walk, but I had another 2 miles to run to meet the boyfriend for breakfast. I carried my medal (very colorful, not too big) and my naked juice in my hand as I ran.
I’d run it again, probably the 10k. I want to say I’d go right up front and put my toes on the start line to avoid the walkers, but then the really fast runners would be annoyed with me, too! LOL

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Williams Route 66 Marathon & Half Marathon

Williams Route 66 Marathon & Half Marathon

I registered for this because my S.O. is a big Route 66 history fan. He does not run, but I announces we HAD to do this race b/c of the … MORE

I registered for this because my S.O. is a big Route 66 history fan. He does not run, but I announces we HAD to do this race b/c of the Rte 66 connection. He agreed to walk the 5k if I walked it with him. This was a tough agreement, since I would probably have medaled in AG, but I was happy to do it so he could get the Rte 66 medal for his Rte 66 collection of junk, LOL.
Anyway, we flew from LA on Friday and arrived early afternoon. The Expo was only a $7 Lyft ride. The expo was in a very large area and not very full of vendors of people, so it was nice to walk around. Bib pickup for the 5k was only available on Friday, so you have to go that day. Kind of a bummer if your flight got delayed or something as it closes at 6PM. Anyway, got our bibs (I got 2 since I was doing the half on Sunday), jacket (me), long sleeve t-shirt (us) and some samples, etc. and headed to our hotel.
The Courtyard on Boston and 4th is 2 blocks from the start line, so its a good place to stay although not inexpensive. It is in an old office building with the original marquee sign (Atlas Life) and a great example of Art Deco design; it is in the Deco District and if you admire historic architecture, you will enjoy this place and the buildings in the adjacent streets.
There is a small “grab and go” selection of stuff if you need it pre-race, and a SB coffee counter open most if not all the time.
We walked to the 5k start on Saturday, about 1-1/2 miles away. It was cold! And windy! Glad we brought cold weather run/walk stuff. Glad to have the free gloves from the expo, too. Bart Yasso was announcing the 5k start (and the next day’s events) and I just love him; I’ve gotten photos with him elsewhere and he’s always so accessible.
The 5k route was not exceptional and we didn’t even walk on Rte 66 but it was the first time the S.O. and I did an event together, so we had fun. If you can stay for the Mascot Dash, it is fun, funny and a good photo opp.
I insisted we rest for my half the next day so we Uber’d to a tavern called Blackbird on Pearl to sit and listen to some live, local music. Got to bed early for a 6AM wake up.
Coffee and a banana from the lobby, peanut butter on bread I snagged the day before from the Jimmy John’s across the street and I was set to go. I have never, in 26+ years of racing, worn anything but shorts and a tank and I’ve run in what I considered some pretty chilly places but when we walked outside I was soooo glad I was wearing knee-length capris and arm sleeves…and a hat and gloves and 2 throw-away tops. Man!!! It was 34 degrees and windy. I was in corral A and discovered the 2:00 pacer was in corral B and I was not allowed to switch unless it was to corral D, so in I went to A. Goodbye to S.O., goodbye to first layer. Chatted with great folks in the corral about my non-plan, since I was just going to go with the pacer this time. Oh, well, it was for fun, right?
The course was rolling hills the first 6 miles or so, which I really like. I previewed it and expected this, but the next 6 miles were flat or a slight incline….and a very strong (12-14 mph?) headwind from about 7 to 11. I tried drafting, but it was still an encumbrance. There were a few inclines toward the end…one short but steep downhill and then….turn turn turn. You could not really determine how far the finish was visually because of all the turns until you were almost done. A very exciting finish, it was about the only place there was a crowd. The course had neighborhoods with residents out on their driveways, but really not much support. I’m okay with that, but I know some runners need it for motivation. You do get to see how the “other half” lives in Tulsa, lots of very large homes on the course.
We did run a small stretch on Rte 66 and under a sign, but I didn’t do the full, so didn’t get on it much and didn’t do the Center of the Universe detour (did that later in the day and it is a pretty amazing little spot in the city, worth the walk if you are interested).
I finished 2:01:46, not my best but an average finish for me when the course isn’t optimal, 8th in AG out of 196. It was a fun and well organized race. The swag is plentiful, medals actually stand up like little trophies.
There was not a lot at the finish…some food as you came through the finish area (pizza slices, bananas, etc) and you did get a mylar blanket. It was a little hassle trying to find the “double race” medallion I was supposed to get, turned out to be in the Fleet Feet booth where where they were selling stuff. I was pretty hungry by the time we got to the hotel, which we walked back to, approximately 1.5 miles from finish line.
If you are new to Tulsa, also check out the Woody Guthrie Center. Plenty of good places to eat and some incredible Art Deco architecture downtown. Enjoy it.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5
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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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El Toro Chargers 5K (fka Lake Forest Chargers 5K)

El Toro Chargers 5K (fka 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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USA Half Marathon Invitational

USA Half Marathon Invitational

This event was a great idea: a half marathon that required a qualifying time. It made you feel kinda special to be "in". Unfortunately and for reasons unknown to me, … MORE

This event was a great idea: a half marathon that required a qualifying time. It made you feel kinda special to be “in”. Unfortunately and for reasons unknown to me, it was not successful. For an inaugural race, it was fine; maybe a little unorganized but nothing glaring. The jacket was pretty poor quality, but it wasn’t an expected item. Anyway, I was glad to run it with my running pal, Kris, so it was good day!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
2
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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America’s Finest City Half Marathon

America’s Finest City Half Marathon

First, I ran alongside Oprah when I first ran this race. Pretty cool. This time I had a car accident the day before while waiting to turn left into the … MORE

First, I ran alongside Oprah when I first ran this race. Pretty cool.
This time I had a car accident the day before while waiting to turn left into the hotel parking lot where the Expo was. Another runner rear-ended me; the damage was so bad we had to get the car towed and rent a car for the weekend, which is tough when you are away from home.
Anyway, I got about 2 hours sleep and ran it, although slowly.
Overall the AFC is well organized and has a large turnout.
Course: down hill the firs 3 miles, then flat, then uphill most of the last 2 miles. It can be very hot running along Harbor Drive. It is late morning by then and no shade. Think twice before you run under sprinklers offered in some of the neighborhoods….wet shoes and socks can mean blisters.
The finish is in Balboa Park. I’ve run it a couple times and enjoyed it, even with the rear-end thing. I don’t like heat, so I probably wouldn’t run it again, but its kind of a “must do” if you live in So Cal.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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OC Marathon & Half Marathon

OC Marathon & Half Marathon

They know how to organize a race; it went smoothly and the course was well laid out. It was cool to run through CDM, pretty area. I run Back Bay … MORE

They know how to organize a race; it went smoothly and the course was well laid out. It was cool to run through CDM, pretty area. I run Back Bay often, either alone or with one or 2 people, so it was interesting to see so many people on “my” route. I’m happy to have run it, but I prefer to try different/new races.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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Ragnar Road Washington DC

Ragnar Road 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 Road Del Sol

Ragnar Road 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 Road Northwest Passage

Ragnar Road 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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