I ran one 5K last year. After the race, I wasn’t left with the desire to immediately sign up for another race. I didn’t have a bad experience, in fact I won a pair of shoes raffled off by one of the race sponsors, Run With Us. Still, I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked. Maybe I was a little discouraged.
Long Beach was different. I met my goals and came away thinking about my next race. Would it be another half? Or would I begin training in earnest for a full marathon? LA in March? I read bloggers’ race reports and looked up training plans. I’m still undecided about the LA Marathon, but know there will be other races in the fall and winter.
In fact, I’ve already run one race.
Lori and I ran the La Puente Main Street 5K/10K Halloween Run on Sunday morning. We decided on it last minute. The idea of running a shorter race so close to home and in costume seemed like fun. In fact, before the Main Street run came up, I thought my next race would be on Halloween for the LA Cancer Challenge 5K/10K.
I didn’t know what to expect from the race, neither did Lori. We arrived shortly before 7 to register and admire the colorful sunrise. Around Old Town La Puente, small teams gathered to stretch and more busses filled the nearby parking lot.
Most of the 10K runners were Students Run LA participants. The La Puente Main Street 10K is a mandatory community run for the ~3,000 students training to run the LA Marathon next March. The middle and high school students were easy to identify in their white SRLA t-shirts.
Most of their leaders (teachers, counselors) were easy to spot in yellow SRLA shirts, but some also got in to the spirit of Halloween and dressed up. Yes, they ran with those masks the whole time.
I dressed up, but Lori didn’t.
Shortly after 8, the MC played the national anthem and blew the horn. We were off up a hill. That was tough, especially as I tried to keep pace with Lori. My calves burned and I worried I’d start cramping up. I slowed down a little and Lori kept going at a faster pace. The pain went away after we got through the wretched hill and began a decline, but I never felt my best during the race physically or mentally.
Two things about this race messed with me mentally. First, even though I knew I wasn’t racing against the numerous teenagers around me, it was still slightly discouraging to see them whiz past me while I struggled a little. Plenty of people passed me up in Long Beach, but there was more to distract me there, and I also felt better. Second, the 10K is two laps of the same route. At the half way point, you run past the finish line area. On the one hand, I got a boost from spectators cheering us on, but to see “finish” and know you’re not finishing sucks; talk about cognitive dissonance. Plus, I knew “finish” meant I was closer to the wretched hill once again.
I wanted to walk the uphill stretch, but kept running so I could count it for the October Running Challenge. I ran a slower loop through La Puente’s tiny old town/civic center, back up the wretched hill, through a residential area and back down to the industrial side of La Puente along the train tracks. As the morning quickly warmed up, I got water from from one of the three water stations. I was happy to see folks on their lawns or outside of their apartments cheering on all the runners. The best part was drummers beating on huehuetls (Aztec drums) half way through the course, that was a nice pick me up before heading down a boring and smelly stretch through industrial La Puente.
As I neared the finish line, I was much happier that this time I’d get to run under the balloons. Lori spotted me easily in my orange tutu and cheered me on right before crossing. A La Puente High School cheerleader gave me a medal, another volunteer handed me water and another clipped the time chip off my sneaker. We got bananas, orange juice and bagels and then headed back to the car to quickly change in to dry clothes.
When we returned in dry clothes and race t-shirts, Main Street was full with runners cooling down and stretching. The students all lined up at the SRLA booth for their goodie bags and t-shirts. We bumped in to Ismael, our neighbor, who had just won his age division (65-69; he gets one of those medals above). We elbowed our way through a crowd to check the results board. Lori just missed placing in her age group finishing at 54:08 (5th); I finished in 58:33 (8th). Hopefully we’ll do better at the turkey trot. I know Lori wants to win a turkey.
Before leaving, we went back to the finish line. Sadly, most of the spectators had left the finish line area, so Lori and I stuck around to cheer for some of the kids still finishing the race.
Around ten, we called my dad. Since my mom and grandparents are currently in Mexico, we knew he needed company for breakfast. He treated us to Grand Slams at a nearby Denny’s since we never got our pancakes after the half marathon last week.
I’m still not sure whether I’ll do the LA Cancer Challenge run on Halloween. I may have gotten the fun of running in costume out of my system. Plus, my codo (elbow) hurts every time I pay another registration fee. Funny, that’s not the joint I’d expect to be aching with all this running.