So things have been really slow with my writing. I've got one story that's almost ready to face the firing squad (i.e. editors from various journals) and another one that's still in need of a few more revisions. Other stories I'm working on aren't anywhere near finished. That's left me with a big time gap on this blog because I don't have much to report on.
However, I promised myself that I'd maintain a blog to help me keep my writing juices flowing, so I thought I'd make a post reviewing a couple of 5k races I've done recently. It's a topic I've blogged about briefly in the past, and I'm sure it'll appeal to a select group of readers (and by group, I mean one person). I decided in February to set a personal goal of running at least one 5k race every month. So far, I've been faithful to that goal. Here's a quick rundown of my races this year:
2/10/13 - Live Ultimate RUN, Santa Monica
3/10/13 - The Coaster Run, Buena Park
4/6/13 - Hollywood Half Marathon (5k), Hollywood
5/5/13 - Wahoo's OC 5K, Costa Mesa
6/22/13 - Into The Summer Fun Run, Cerritos
7/27/13 - Drenched 5K, Los Angeles
I have a race planned for every month, including January of 2014. Fingers crossed, I'll be able to run all of them without any problems.
The "Into The Summer Fun Run" 5K was an inaugural race that was held in Cerritos Regional Park back in June. Being a brand new race, I wasn't expecting very many participants. I thought 200-300 runners/walkers would show up. When I got to the starting line, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were 500+ people registered to participate, many of whom were participating in their first 5k ever. The money raised went towards local schools, so it's nice to know that the community came out in a strong show of support for the kids and teachers.
The course for the run was oddly mapped out. While I enjoyed running through part of the Coyote Creek bike path, there was a huge hill just prior to the turnaround. I think race organizers could have shifted the course a little bit more to avoid that hill. Oh well. It was kind of funny to see so many tired faces (mine included!) that seemed to say "WTF was I thinking when I signed up for this." Another minor complaint was that the course wasn't clearly mapped out in the beginning and through parts of the end. All I did was follow the runners in front of me, hoping that they knew which way to go. At forks in the road, there was at least one volunteer steering runners in the right direction, so thank goodness for that. Overall, the course wasn't too crazy. I just hope organizers will map it out better next year and have more indicators (perhaps orange cones?) that will tell runners where to go.
The health expo was surprisingly good for such a small race. I was impressed with the number of booths giving out free samples of fizzy water, energy bars, etc. I've run in bigger races that didn't have as many booths as this one did. Also, huge kudos to the volunteers of this race. Rarely do I see an enthusiastic bunch that cheers on every runner, from the first one crossing the finish line to the last. I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, but the volunteers along the course made me feel like I was running at the same pace as the pack leader. I completed the course around 42 minutes, so no new PR for me. I think I might have done much better if it weren't for that hill. Still, I enjoyed this race overall, and I'm excited to know that they're planning another one for next year. I hope to race this one again!
|My finisher medal. Quite nice!|
The Drenched 5K took place in Expo Park, which was a unique location. I don't think I've ever fully explored it. I've been to the Science Center, but I had no idea that there were a few neat (and somewhat hidden) areas around the park. During the run, I spotted a huge rose garden, open to the public, that I never knew was there. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Drenched 5K was a "fun run," so there was no timing chip. That was a minor bummer for me, as I like to keep track of my times. I used the watch on my cell phone so that I could at least estimate my finishing time (~44 minutes, but that's including obstacles and stopping for photos). Several hundred people showed up for the race, but without official results, I don't know the exact number. Based on the runners at the starting line, I'd venture a guess of about 300-400 people. Not too bad.
Now what makes this race unique from others is the water based obstacles (if the title didn't give that away). There were two points in the race where someone with a huge fire hose was spraying people. Not directly though! I'd like to keep my skin on, thanks very much. Fire hoses were aimed upwards creating a huge area of spray that people either tried to avoid or embraced completely. I was in the latter group. I figured, this is a drenched run, might as well get wet. There were also three areas with crazy foam that I had to run through. One of those areas had foam almost chest deep! Some of the kids running the race simply disappeared into the foam, never to be seen again. Several spectators along the course were armed with squirt guns and fired away at unsuspecting runners. Fortunately for me, my cousin brought a set of squirt guns that we used to retaliate against these ambushes. We also didn't hesitate to turn on each other as well! What good is a squirt gun if you can't use it against family? We started a few water wars with other runners who brought squirt guns too. Good times. The race also touted a "slip 'n slide" finish line, but it wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped. It was simply a short stretch of plastic that extended about 15 feet.
Based on the videos and photos I saw online, I was expecting many more water obstacles than the two that we received (foam, fire hose). It was disappointing that we didn't have more wet zones. I wonder if that was due to city regulations? I don't want to place all the blame on the race organizers, as it seems like they've put on fun races in other cities. The course itself wasn't mapped out very well. There were two points where we actually had to wait for a light to turn green before we could cross. Streets were not shut down for this race. Additionally, parts of the course had us running in between buildings with museum staff and visitors darting in and out of the course to get to the other side. This was very poorly planned and could have resulted in injuries or accidents (thankfully, I'm not aware of any being reported).
Despite my disappointments with the course and the lack of timing, there was one glorious moment at the end of the race that made this event one to remember... The biggest water-balloon fight I've ever been a part of! Each racer was given 25 water-balloons to fill up prior to the race starting. All the balloons were collected and spread out on the ground in a central area of the park. Once the majority of runners crossed the finish line, the MC had us gather around the balloons. He wanted us to wait until he said "go," but naturally, no one paid him any attention. The resulting water balloon fight was the most fun-filled, chaotic 2 minutes I've ever experienced. I was chucking water balloons at complete strangers, all while being pelted in the face, on the head, on the butt, everywhere. I also managed to score a few hits against my cousins, haha. It was definitely the high-light of the race. Normally, I wouldn't run a race like this again (poorly mapped course, no timing, no finisher medal), but that water fight at the end was just damn fun. I'll chalk this race down as a maybe for next year.
There were no finisher medals, as stated above, but we did receive these funky sunglasses in our goodie bags. Not the same as a medal, but at least I have a small memento to remember the race by (I also keep my race bibs and shirts... but they're not as fun to display).
|While fun to look at, they simply don't fit. My nose doesn't have the high bridge for them.|
Before I wrap things up, have you figured out which movie I swiped my post title from? If you thought "Forrest Gump," then by jove, a winner is you! Congratulations. You receive 5 points to use wherever points are accepted. If you did not guess "Forrest Gump," then I'm sorry. No points for you.
So far, I've been having a good race year. I encourage everyone to go out and join a race! Whether you run or walk, being a part of a community event will leave you feeling good. Also, there's lots of free stuff after the finish line. Go claim your free stuff!