A friend one told me that not every "race" is a race. I believe this to be true, especially at this weekend's 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon. I had no expectations of running this race for a super fast time, just for fun. It has Halloween in the name so what do you expect? The race capped off a Halloween themed weekend in Southern California that began with a trick-or-treat party at Disneyland.
With this race being a Halloween themed, I decided I had to dress up in costume to run it. I've seen previous years photos online and it looked like so much fun. So about two weeks before the race, I decided on an easy Charlie Brown costume. I only had to buy a shirt since I had a baseball glove and red hat already. My wife thought I was silly for running a half marathon with a baseball glove (which is not easy by the way). Again, not overly concerned with time but more about keeping up with the theme.
The expo at the L.A. Convention center was, as always, easy to navigate. The bib and t-shirt pickup were seamless and quick. It's always a good idea to not spend all day at these expos because it does wear you down being on your feet for so long. After a quick stroll visiting the vendors, we made our way to the hotel to unpack and get settled in. The Downtown L.A. area is nice and we strolled around a bit to find coffee and ended up seeing the Start and Finish areas of the race near the Staples Center. The night before a race, after the kids are asleep, I always get my race gear ready for the morning. I take this time to re-read the Final Race Instructions and look at the race course map one last time.
I used the mile to the start line as a warm up jog and saw a few zombies and a ninja turtle making their way to the start area. I knew this was going to be a good time. If you can't already tell, I really enjoy seeing people dressed up in costume. I made my way to my starting corral and saw a few friends. A quick shout out to the #SA2LV crew. These guys and gals know how to get things going. They were dressed up, snapping pics, catching up and having a good time at 6:30 in the morning. Who else but runners would act like this? A couple of friends even ran the both the 5k and Half Marathon! Big ups to @pointonemiles and @pavementrunner and @vegasrunnerguy (and others) who took on this amazing feat!
So we were off and running down the streets of L.A. The weather was perfect with some cloud cover and cool temps. We ended up running around the L.A. Memorial Coliseum which was really large. What was nice about this race is you get to run opposite of other runners so you are seeing all different kinds of costumes as you proceed along the course. I even hi-fived a couple of other "Charlie Browns" along the way. Very cool and a big boost of encouragement.
I planned to meet my wife and two youngest kids on a corner around the mile 12 marker and it took a bit longer for me to get there due to some slight calf cramping just before the incline of the mile 9 bridge over the Los Angeles River. Ouch. I should've stopped here at the first sign of trouble (more on this later). I slowed it down a bit and met up with the family and stopped for some hugs and kisses before moving on. I'm very blessed to have such a great support team and it's nice to see beautiful faces at this point in any race.
Since I was at mile 12 at this point, I looked at my watch and I thought i was doing pretty good for not having a time goal. I didn't want to go all out sprinting because i knew my calf was not in a mood to cooperate. Well, it decided to stiffen up at about the 12.6 mile mark and I had to stop and stretch it out. For a loooong time. Sad, yes, but it didn't matter that much at the time because in my mind I knew i wasn't running this for a time goal or trying to beat a PB. Any other day I would've rushed it, cursed, and probably injured myself in the process. Having this care free mindset pre-race made all the difference. I actually smiled and enjoyed runners sprinting towards the finish in their Skeleton, Superhero and Where's Waldo costumes while I was stretching out my calf. I finally felt okay enough to jog through the finish with a smile on my face and the feeling of accomplishment.
Another Rock 'n' Roll Race in the books and an awesome way to end a fun Halloween themed weekend! It's crazy, to wake up at the butt crack of dawn, get dressed up in costumes to run 13.1 miles (some even more) and have fun doing it. We're proud to be a part of this running community and it's a very special group of people.