December 9, 2011

2011 Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic Recap - My First AG 1st Place!

The Annual Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic is now in it's 11th year here in Los Angeles and is an official charity benefited by the LA Marathon. Beneficiaries of the Say No to Drugs race include several drug awareness and education programs such as:

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Burbank and Greater East Valley
Drug Free World
Friends of Narconon




For the past 3 years at least, the race has been held in the Universal Studios Theme Park Backlot. I ran it 2 years ago and had a decent, but not great, experience. The day before the race, it poured rain which made the steep descents on the course a little scary, not to mention unmarked uneven surfaces, slippery smoothed cobblestone rocks and open grates. When the race organizers sent out an email asking for feedback, I suggested asking the volunteers who were near these more dangerous areas to call out warnings or have some kind of indicator that the surface of the course was about to change dramatically. What I got back was a complete blasting of me for criticizing their volunteers. He had some other harsh things to say so I think it's safe to say he took it personally. Sorry dude. Just trying to help out my fellow runners who would like to avoid twisting ankles, falling and getting injured.


This year, our BFFs from St Paul were going to be in town so we decided to give it another shot. At least I would be prepared for the changes in the course surface and knew when ans where to look for it. Running through the backlot takes you through a lot of famous movie sets, many of which do not have asphalt roads running through them.  It's a lot like going on the Backlot Tour ride at the theme park - except you've jumped out of the tram and started running along side it! :-)

Dee, Bridget and Hubby John at the Start
Something different this year was a split of the "5K/10K Competitors" and those who were coming for a "5K Fun Run or Walk" through the backlot. The Start times were separated by about 45 minutes. Some of the pathways are narrow and navigating around families with kids darting out everywhere, strollers and walkers stretched out 6 participants across the width of the paths was EXTREMELY frustrating a couple of years ago.

Here are some of the highlights!
At the Start of the Competitive 5K/10K race




Whoville!
The infamous Bates Motel

Confessional time....who knows immediately what show this neighborhood is the backdrop for?

Desperate Housewives Neighborhood 1

Desperate Housewives Neighborhood 2
And now, maybe slightly exciting and gruesome at the same time, a humongous disaster set from War of the Worlds:

Yes, that is a real plane torn to shreds. I think it's a 747.

I wasn't crazy about the amount of fog being pumped into this area. I understand wanting to re-create the ambiance, but I heard several runners talking about the negative effect it had on their breathing (myself included).
I had to stop for a pic with Tom Cruise!
I'm kidding of course - this is a pic of me and 'Hollywood Tom Cruise'
taken a couple of months ago on Hollywood Blvd. :-)
My 10K experience this year was good. I was able to run fast enough to pull away from the big crowds early on.  Maybe a little too fast with such a steep descent in the beginning, but I was having a good time. It's been quite some time since I've actually raced in a 10K. It felt so good to let loose!  I had no time goal really. More like "let's see what I can pull off"...especially since I'd run 5 miles the day before with our Galloway group members. I remembered one steep climb that I needed to reserve some energy for but it sure felt like there was an additional climb that would rival Mt. Everest (slight exaggeration). Maybe my brain blocked it out from last time.  

The 10K is 2 laps around the 5K course. After riding the steep descent for the 2nd time in mile 4, I realized there weren't that many people around me anymore. I have to admit, the thought starting occurring to me that I might have a chance at breaking the top 5 in my AG. The few women around me looked like they could've been in my AG. A new goal developed in that moment - "chick the chicks!" - but stay focused and controlled until after that big hill comes around again. I managed to hold my 8 min/mile pace for miles 4 and 5, praying I wouldn't pay for it climbing up the hill again. I was pleased not only to see I only took it 20 seconds slower but had held back just enough for a big push up the hill to the Finish line.

Miles 3 and 6 had the big ascent. Miles 1 and 4 had a steep descent.

I met up with our friends and Hubby who had run and already finished the 5K. We headed up towards the parking lot to browse the small Expo. Many runners were taking advantage of the pancake breakfast but we already made plans to go out with another friend we don't get to see often. He ran the 5K with THIRTY people from his work. How's that for being an inspiration to your co-workers?!? 

But just before we left, I noticed the 10K results were being posted. Of course, I couldn't get closer than about 5 or 6 people deep and it was hard to make out the tiny print out. I finally found my name with what I thought was a 5th place finish in my AG.  I was happy with it, but slightly disappointed I didn't do better. My official chip time was 52:36. I set a PR in May of this year at the Santa Monica Classic - 50:05, but that is a relatively flat course.  

Hubby left for work while the rest of headed to Bob's Big Boy for a hearty post-race breakfast. 

Me, Dee and Bridget

Jeremy and Ashley - SO great to see them!!
Monday morning came around and I decided to check the race results since I wasn't exactly sure what my chip time was. Low and behold, there was my name at the top of my AG with a #1 next to it! WHAT?!? I may have yelled out. I'm not really sure. But the Hubby was sure proud of me.  So proud in fact that he came home Monday afternoon and surprised me with these:

Love you baby!!

Happy Racing Everyone!!

1 comment:

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