Friday, January 29, 2016

A Run to Remember (LA Edition)

"Look sharp. Act Sharp. Be Sharp." -- John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz), SouthLAnd

Hello again! It's your favorite occasional runner Becky here, ready to brief you on yet another race. This week it was Los Angeles' inaugural Run to Remember, a 10K/Half Marathon race that honors LA's fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and first responders while giving back to the community. This race is actually an expansion of the twelve year old race in Boston of the same name. [Editor's Note: I didn't intend to become a race enthusiast. It just sort of happened.]

I thought long and hard about this race before I registered for it. While I have long been a supporter of our law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders, this race was exactly one week after my RunDisney Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland, so I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be up to it. After seeing other people post about it, however, I decided to at least look at the course and see if it was interesting. Originally planned as a half marathon and five mile race, the organizers decided to extend the five mile race to a 10K after getting feedback from potential participants about their desire to run through Paramount Studios instead of simply to the gates. Once I saw that, I was sold and quickly confirmed registration with my friend, Shika. (A great overview of this race can be viewed on Youtube here.)

Like most races, the Run to Remember had an early morning start time. This wasn't nearly as bad as the 4am time RunDisney recommended for Star Wars, but I still got up before 5 to get ready. And thank goodness I did! After swinging by to pick up Shika, I thought we had plenty to time to make it to The Grove for parking and a warmup stretch. I was wrong. While race organizers had cops in the area controlling traffic leading up to The Grove's parking structure entrance, the actual entrance was a nightmare. People were by-passing traffic to cut the line for "faster" entry. Nearly everyone disregarded the traffic signals, amounting to 6 lanes of cross traffic trying to enter the two lanes for the parking garage at the same time. It was not fun, and it took us about 30 minutes to navigate. UGH!

Stress lifted pretty quickly once we made it out of the parking garage and into the race area. Everyone was very friendly! We met a father/daughter duo before the starting line that came all the way from San Jose to run the race. It was lucky that we did - the father was able to give us a better understanding of the LAPD helicopter flyover, the symbolism of which would have been lost on us if he hadn't told us. Mario Lopez, of Saved by the Bell fame, was supposedly there, but I didn't see him. While I did finally hear him as we ran through the starting line, it was the awesome emcee/DJ (The Run MC) that motivated me more than Mr. Lopez.

The turnout from the law enforcement, firefighting, and first responder communities in LA and from around the country was amazing at this race! There were representatives from all over LA county, as well as those from other areas in California and some from the Boston area too! My hands-down favorite, however, was the LA County Fire Department's 141st Fire Academy. This group ran the entire 10K race in formation while singing! They passed us around the first mile mark, and we saw them again right before we headed into Paramount Studios. So inspiring! Also amazing? One of the runners ran the half marathon in a complete Police Officer uniform! I barely made my 10K wearing comfy running clothes, and I took plenty of walk breaks (who am I kidding? I walked far more than I ran... stupid body can't perform on less than 2 hours of sleep like it used to). This guy is a rock star!

As we ran into Paramount, we were greeted by a line of sheriffs and police officers, lights and sirens accompanying a constant round of applause. It was incredibly humbling... we are here to honor the work THEY do, and here they are cheering us on! Shika and I decided that we could not walk here... they sacrifice so much - we owe them a run. 

Just past this point, we entered in an area I'm going to call the Wall of Honor. In this corridor, we ran past over 200 pictures and biographies of fallen officers, firefighters, and first responders. Husbands, wives... brothers, sisters... mothers, fathers. Another incredibly humbling and moving moment in a pretty emotional race. 

As we rounded the corner past the wall, we arrived in New York! (... street) As the video I linked above said, the Run to Remember race is the only race that you can run from Los Angeles to New York and back in less than a day... and they were right! Ha!

More officers and firefighters were hanging out here to cheer us on... and they brought some really sweet rides with them too! Blocking each of the side streets were various classic police cars and fire trucks. All of the officers were more than willing to take a picture with us in this area (but we only stopped for 4 pictures here). 

The antique fire truck was by far my favorite vehicle, and the fire chief here was very friendly. Everyone kept thanking us for running (we ran from picture to picture), but I felt like we should be thanking them. This was such a cool race!

You run under the Hollywood Half archway and on to a red carpet just before exiting the backlot. This was bittersweet for me - I really wanted to run this race, but everyone I asked to join me was out of town for it. Argh! Next year! The red carpet area just past this was silly and fun, and the official race photographers took a picture of us here that was used in the race emails we got later in the week. So embarrassing! 

In typical Becky fashion, the last half of the race was my easiest. I don't know why it always takes me 2+ miles to get going on races. This is why I don't like 5Ks... I am never warmed up enough to enjoy it or make a decent time. Humph. The race double backs to the finish line from Paramount, which was understandable but a little boring. A lot of the faster half marathon people joined up with us at this point, so that was demotivating. Shika encouraged me to pick up the pace, however, and we didn't finish with super terrible time (for me). I know I could have and should have done better. Lack of sleep, lack of training, and lack of fuel absolutely killed me on this race. I am not fit enough to wing it... and it shows. Alas, I ran across that finish line, received my medal, and munched on my banana and my bagel all the way to the car.

The medal for this race was really cool. Having seen the medal for the Boston race, I gotta admit that ours was a little bit better :) The front of our medal was a replica of the LAPD badge - the back was a replica of the sheriff badge. Sorry for the picture quality on the latter... for whatever reason, the light caught the angles of this side of the badge more, making it much shinier than I intended.

All in all, this was a very good race. I got to support organizations I care about, run in a city that I love, and race through one of my favorite (and only truly Hollywood) studios. That said, this race (much like my Dodger 5K last year) taught me a lot. Here are things I need to consider for my next one:
  • Remember to run your own race. While running with a friend is fun, it's less fun if you aren't on the same pace or feel like you're holding someone back. Shika and I actually talked a lot about this on the course, and have already decided that we won't run together at the Tinkerbell 10K in May.
  • Don't get lazy. Running a race the week before does not give you a license to be lazy. If you want to perform well, you need to condition your body. Failing to train leads to poor performance, unnecessary fatigue, and probable injury. 
  • Fuel your body. So, you decided to skip breakfast, eh? Bad choice. Don't change anything on race day. Normally eat a protein bar? Make sure to pack one before you go. Don't show up at the start line on an empty stomach. Your body will hate you.
  • Hydrate! There is a ton of literature on the importance of hydration, so I won't bore you with that here. I will, however, remind you to make sure to drink lots of water the day before your race... and at least 8-16oz the morning of. And make sure you drink it early enough that you won't have to potty after the start line. Sure, there will be restrooms... but do you want to run not knowing if/when those will be available? 
I currently don't have another race coming up until Tinkerbell in May, but I have a feeling that will change between now and then. If I do, be sure that I'll be blogging about it here. I started personal training with a friend this week, so this will be fun and hopefully it will keep me on track with my fitness goals. Maybe I'll share some of the insight I learn from that here too! (And maybe Natasha will blog again? Who knows! The world is crazy. Ha!) But thank you for coming along for the ride on this latest edition of Becky's tales from the racing trail. Have a happy and fit weekend!



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