Sick Lisa

Thanks for all the comments on my race report. I’m glad to know that my readers are fellow Chipotle fans. 🙂

I think my crazy travel schedule has finally caught up with me. I’ve been feeling under the weather for a few weeks, but this week has been the worst. I had such a bad cold after coming back from Baltimore that I worked from home the rest of the week. Usually I don’t mind going into work because it’s only a short 15 minute drive. But it was such a relief to not have to think about what to wear and just throw on some sweats and flop on the couch with my computer.

Last night was scary. I won’t go into all the boring details, but the short story is that I had some kind of allergic reaction and went to the emergency room because my tongue was hurting and swollen. Don’t worry, I’m almost better now and I have follow up appointments with my regular doctors next week. I was so thankful to have Troy with me the entire time. I would have been really freaked out otherwise, but he kept me somewhat calm and it was just so good to have him there for support.

Anyway, needless to say I haven’t been running lately. I don’t have the time or energy for it. I think I’m going to take at least another week off then evaluate how I feel. I hope to be running again by November 1 at the latest, which will give me two months to get ready for RnR AZ. Eeek.

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Posted in Health. 4 Comments »

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Race Report

I’m going to tackle the reports for my most recent three races backwards. So RnR San Jose is first up on the list.

Since San Jose is only a short flight away from Phoenix, I didn’t fly out until Saturday morning. I took a taxi from the airport to the Marriott, which was the perfect home base for all my weekend activities. (Initially I tried for reservations at a couple slightly cheaper hotels in the area, but they were sold out. I’m really happy that I ended up at the Marriott.)

First on the to-do list was lunch. I walked over to a Vietnamese restaurant that I’d found on Yelp. With all my traveling, I’ve been using Yelp a lot lately to find local restaurants and attractions. On the way, I walked through the San Jose State University Campus, which was very pretty but seemed rather small to me.

San Jose State University campus

After lunch it was time for the Expo. The Marriott was right next door to the convention center where the Expo was being held.

San Jose Marriott and Convention Center

I’ve been to too many Expos recently because they’re just not as fun now as they were in the beginning. Packet pick-up was easy… no lines. None of the official race shirts for sale appealed to me, but I did got another pin for my collection of course. I was disappointed that Women’s Running was still handing out the same sample magazine that they had at Seattle in June and Chicago in August. I was hoping that by now they’d have a new issue. I’m too cheap to subscribe to either Runner’s World or Women’s Running, but I enjoy reading them when it’s free.

It looked like the most popular booth at the Expo was for KT Tape because they were offering free tapings. They’ve really exploded on the running scene lately. I checked out their website a couple weeks ago and was glad for the opportunity to talk to the rep about a few lingering questions I had.

Back in my hotel room, I took a few photos of my goodies from the Expo. The bedspread made a really nice backdrop for the photos.

After my race shirt rant just days earlier, it was kind of ironic that the shirts for this race were black.

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon t-shirt (front)

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon t-shirt (back)

If I remember correctly, the tissues, Cytomax, GU Chomps, KT Tape, and dog treats were in the goody bag. I picked up the chip clip, Odwalla bar, and chapstick at the Expo. Out of everything pictured, it’s funny that I’m most excited about the chip clip. I actually took two from the booth. We always have partially eaten bags of chips and until now I’ve been using binder clips to keep the bags closed.

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon goodies

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Tech Museum of Innovation, right across the street from the hotel. This was a really great deal. The entrance fee was only $10 and it included a showing of an IMAX film. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to an IMAX film and I forgot how cool it is. The film I watched was called Under The Sea and it was just incredible to basically be enveloped with an up close look at all sorts of sea life.

The rest of the museum was okay. I probably wouldn’t go again, but it was a nice way to kill some time. My favorite exhibit was probably this robot that draws your picture.

San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation

I also really enjoyed this interactive exhibit.  On the screen there’s a flow of “sand” falling from the top. If there’s no interaction, then the sand just falls straight down from top to bottom. But when you stand in front of the screen, your shadow is projected onto the screen and the sand will flow around you. It’s also fun to hold out your arms and “catch” the sand to prevent it from falling. There’s an exhibit just like this at the Arizona Science Center, too.

San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation

As I walked to dinner Saturday night, there were still workers out setting things up for the race. It was nice to get a sense of where the area and how long it would take me to get to the start line in the morning. Dinner wasn’t anything worth writing about, although I did order a yummy tiramisu to go that I enjoyed later that night in my hotel room.

The race didn’t start until 8am, so I didn’t have to be up super early which was nice. Of course, I’d laid out everything the night before to make getting ready for the race a little easier. After RnR Chicago and being unprepared for the lack of water stops in the last part of the course, I wanted to know what to expect for this race. There was no way I’d be able to memorize it, so this was my solution…

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon water stops

The weather in San Jose was colder than I expected it to be and I hadn’t packed a throwaway sweatshirt. I debated whether or not to wear a sweatshirt over to the start area then check it at bag drop, but in the end I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of checking a bag. I also didn’t want to bother with a carrying a camera for this race, so no bag drop meant no camera to take photos at the start and finish. Instead, I settled for snapping a quick photo before I headed out the door.

Ready to head out for the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon

There was a small cafe at the Marriott and I grabbed a small cup of hot water to keep me somewhat warm as I walked over to the start line. For once I got there rather early and had plenty of time to visit the port-a-potty, stretch, and eat my GU. Then I lined up in the very back of corral 4. As I was waiting, I felt the need to pee yet again but didn’t think I’d have enough time before the start of the race so I decided to wait until I saw a port-a-potty out on the course.

Even though there were corral assignments, this race didn’t have a wave start. So I crossed the start line just a couple minutes after 8:00. I barely remember the first couple miles because all I could think about was finding a bathroom. I know we ran through a commerical area because I remember seeing a Starbucks and some other places (fast food?) and considering whether to stop in. At other RnR races, it seems like usually there are port-a-potties near the bands. But unfortunately not that day. I didn’t see a port-a-potty until around mile 2, just before the first water station. After a quick stop to pee, I felt much better. I guess I just had too much water that morning.

So for this race, I followed a run/walk plan, right from the beginning. I went with run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. I liked how it broke the race down into little chunks. Instead of always thinking about how many miles there were left, I just had to get through the next four minutes. It actually made the race seem shorter, not like I was out there for almost 2 1/2 hours.

To me, there wasn’t anything very remarkable about the course. Running through the residential areas was nice because there was shade from the trees lining the road. But even when there wasn’t shade it didn’t feel hot at all to me. It was a great day for running. The course was very flat with only a couple very small hills when we went underneath an overpass. What I didn’t like was that the roads in San Jose had a very marked camber. Normally I’d just stay to the middle, but with the run/walk plan I wanted to be on either side of the road when I slowed to a walk. I ended up doing a lot of weaving back and forth to run down the middle of the road, but then scoot to the side before the end of my 4 minutes.

Around the 5 mile mark I was about to go under an overpass and heard some cheering. At first I thought it was people shouting because of the brief “tunnel”. Then I realized that it was the lead runner on his way back to the finish line. It’s incredible how some people are just so stinking fast. In the hour that it took me to go five miles, he’d already done 13! We continued to see the elite runners pass by for a little bit until the course split off in a different direction.

It wasn’t until the last few miles of the race that I realized I hadn’t seen any official photographers out on the course. I don’t know if there just weren’t any or if I somehow missed all of them. Other than at the finish, the only photo of me is this one from I think the 10k point.

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon

The best part of the race was in the last mile when we ran past a Chipotle and there was a guy standing on the side of the course handing out cards. I had no idea exactly what he was giving out, but I made a beeline over to him because anything Chipotle-related must be good. I was a little worried that it might be an offer valid only at that location. When I finally looked at the card after the race I was so happy that it’s for a free item at any Chipotle. Score! Although now I wish I’d asked him for a few more. You know how there are shirts and stuff that say “will run for beer” or whatever.  I think I need one that says “will run for Chipotle”. Because I would totally have been more motivated if I knew there was a free Chipotle card waiting for me.

Free Chipotle card from Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon

Anyway, here I am crossing the finish line. Four down and just one to go before I can call myself a “rock star”.

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon finish line

My official chip time was 2:27:14 which I’m happy with since I didn’t really have any particular goal time in mind. It probably would have been more like 2:24-2:25 if I hadn’t taken the potty break at the beginning. The race was a good test of the run/walk plan and I’m happy with how it went. I think I’ll definitely be doing run/walk for my first marathon in January.

Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon finisher photo

After walking around the finish area for a bit I headed to the Bijan Bakery & Cafe right across the street to grab some lunch. I got a roasted red pepper soup and a couple treats (princess cake and chocolate mousse cake) to take back to the hotel. I’m starting to think that running a half marathon just makes everything taste better, because this was the most delicious soup I’ve had in a long time and the roll was amazing. Nice and crusty on the outside, but soft on the inside. Unfortunately the treats weren’t quite as good as they looked, but the soup made up for it.

Soup and roll from Bijan Bakery & Cafe, San Jose

Overall, it was a good weekend. I doubt I’ll be repeating this race again anytime soon (unless I decide to try for “rock legend” status), but I’d recommend it as a nice destination race. It’s probably the best race I’ve done in terms of convenience, with the Expo, start line, and finish line all so close together and plenty of hotels in the area to choose from. The airport is just a few miles away and even if you drive in I’m pretty sure I read that there was free parking available. Add to all of that the flat course and 8am start time and it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Baltimore Running Festival – Volunteer Report

After arriving in Baltimore, I immediately noticed something very cool. All around downtown there were banners everywhere announcing the running festival this weekend.

Baltimore Running Festival banner

Baltimore Running Festival banner

I started to get a case of race envy. Here I just happened to be in Baltimore at the same time as a running festival that the whole city was rallying around and I wanted to be a part of the fun too. Since I couldn’t participate as a runner, I decided to volunteer.

I went to the expo on Thursday night to sign up as a volunteer, and also check out the various booths. It was a fairly small expo and unfortunately there weren’t any really good samples or giveaways. I got another tiara from Disney and entered a couple contests, and that was about it. The set up of the expo was kind of weird. There were three steps to packet pick-up for the runners for bibs, shirts, and something else. The first step was in a tent outside. The second step was inside on the second level of M&T Bank Stadium, all the way on the very left of the expo. Then the third step was all the way on the right side. I figure it was set up this way so that the runners would have to pass every booth, but it seems like there would be a lot of traffic congestion during the busier times. I was there less than an hour before closing and it seemed crowded even then.

Anyway, this morning I woke up early and arrived at the site of the race just after 7am. After getting my volunteer t-shirt, I was sent over to work the bag check area. I started off collecting bags for the 5k which started at 8:30am.

Baltimore Running Festival bag check

Before today I never really thought much about bag check other than that it’s a nice convenience to have at a race. But now I have a whole new appreciation for what goes into the organizing just this area, which is only a small part of the whole event. Of course it’s probably a little different at each race, but the way it was set up today was that the ground and tables were labeled with numbers in increments of 100.

Baltimore Running Festival bag check

I would take the bag from the runner, make sure that the bag check tag was secured, and place the bag in the appropriate area. Sounds simple enough, right? For the most part it wasn’t too bad, but I couldn’t believe the number of people who didn’t bring a bag or lost their tag. One person just checked a shirt. Another person just checked his keys. As you can see in the photos, at this race they didn’t require that you use the goody bag. Any type of bag was acceptable. I’m kind of divided about this because on one hand it makes it easier to identify the bags when the runners come to pick them up. But on the other hand some people went really crazy with the amount of stuff they brought. I didn’t come across any bags that I couldn’t lift, but some of them were quite heavy.

After all the 5k runners had come through, I moved over to help with the 1/2 marathon. That race didn’t start until 9:45. This got a little more chaotic because there were more 1/2 participants which meant a wider spread of numbers to deal with… lots of scurrying around here and there. Just as things died down from the 1/2, the 5k runners started returning. Now it was time to reverse the process. Look at the runner’s number, find the right aisle, and grab the right bag. I was working with a really great group of volunteers and we got to the point where we’d see the person approaching and already be on our way back with the bag by the time they reached the table.

It was fun talking with the runners as they came by. One neat thing I learned was that the results were available almost immediately after finishing. Some of the runners had stickers that were printed with their name, race number, and finish time.

We took a little break while waiting for the 1/2 marathoners to finish. There was a volunteer refreshment area with water, Capri Suns, breakfast pastries, sandwiches, chips, bananas, apples, and granola bars. I also walked around to check out the celebration area a bit, but it was drizzling so I didn’t stay out too long. (The bag check area was underneath an overpass so for the most part both we volunteers and the bags were able to stay dry.)

This was the first finish line festival I’ve seen that actually looked like a festival. There was all sorts of carnival food, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even fresh smoothies available. I also saw a clown making balloon animals and other creations for kids.

Baltimore Running Festival finisher's area

I was impressed by these large recycling bins that were placed everywhere. There’s no way to mistake where the water bottles are supposed to go. I still saw quite a few water bottles that were not properly recycled, but at least this was a good effort to try and keep things straight.

Baltimore Running Festival recycling bins

Before the 1/2 marathoners returned, we did a massive reorganization. Space was tight in the back corner of the tent and there were a lot of bags jumbled up. I wish I had a before photo, but just imagine that all the bags in the below photo were basically on and underneath one single table. Isn’t the end result so much better? We didn’t quite get everything in the right place, but we were pretty darn close. There were a few scary moments when a bag wasn’t where it should have been. Nothing actually went missing, but I felt bad for the runners who had to wait while we looked.

Baltimore Running Festival bag check

I stayed until a little after 2pm. I kept busy most of the day and the time just flew by. I actually had a lot of fun and I’ll definitely think about volunteering for races more often now. It reminded me of why I’m in the hospitality industry. It’s great being able to help people, and especially at a race everyone’s just so nice and friendly. If I do end up moving to Baltimore, I look forward to being involved with the event next year. Hopefully as a runner, but volunteering is a good alternative too.

I’ll wrap up with some things to think about next time you check a bag at a race:

  • Pack your bag with the expectation that it may get tossed, dropped, stepped on, or wet. The volunteers will not do these things on purpose, but sometimes they just happen. The aisles are small, and we can’t control the weather.
  • Don’t check a purse that doesn’t zip or snap closed. There’s a good chance that your bag will be moved multiple times before you pick it up and it’s just too easy for things to fall out.
  • When picking up your bag, follow the same philosophy as for race photos… make sure your number is clearly visible.
  • Provide the volunteers with a brief description of the bag. Colors are very helpful. Size and shape are also good.

In the belly of a whale

This is the third weekend in a row that I’ll be away from Phoenix. First there was Orlando, then San Jose, and now I’m on my way out to Baltimore. This time it’s not for a race, although the Baltimore Running Festival is on Saturday. Unfortunately the half marathon and 5k are both sold out.

I relocated to Phoenix two years ago because of changes within the company I work for. Now they’re asking me to consider another move out to Baltimore. So that’s the purpose behind this trip… to get to know our Baltimore office and the general area.

At first when I found out about the potential relocation, I got really freaked out. I really like Phoenix and I feel a lot more settled in Phoenix than I did in Houston. I just signed another year-long lease on our rental house, purchased an annual gym membership, and have the RnR Las Vegas and Arizona races coming up this winter. (Training for a marathon in snow and cold northeast weather doesn’t sound like my idea of fun.) But as I slowly got used to the idea of moving again, I’m not so opposed to it now. I’m just waiting for the official job description and offer so that I can evaluate whether this is the right opportunity for me or not (and whether it makes sense financially).

Anyway, I’m actually writing at 30,000 feet in the air, although I’ll be posting from my hotel room later. I just so happen to be flying in one of Southwest’s Shamu planes, which I think is kind of neat. Troy and I saw one in the air once, but this is the first time I’ve flown in one. Not that there’s anything different about the flight. I only realized it was a Shamu plane because the overhead bins are painted with SeaWorld logos and pictures of Shamu. I confirmed it with a flight attendent and she’s the one who actually gave me the idea for the post title.

Overhead bins on one of Southwest's "Shamu" planes

The good thing about all this traveling is that I’m very close to finally having earned a free Southwest flight. And at least for this trip, all my expenses are covered by my company. I have my laptop with me this time (obviously) because I have to go into work on Friday and Monday. But I’m looking forward to a fairly relaxing weekend with a lot of reading and hopefully catching up on my race reports.

Posted in Travel. 2 Comments »

A rant on race shirts

Why is it so hard for race organizers to provide a decent-sized shirt for petite women? Out of my entire collection of race shirts (about 15), there are only two that I would actually wear in public. One is from last year’s A Race For Maggie’s Place which ended up being well worth the $30 race day registration fee for the tech shirt and the great goody bag. Although it wasn’t a women-only race, I attribute the great shirt to the fact that the race is held to benefit women.

Lost Dutchman 10k 2008The shirt in action during the Lost Dutchman 10k.

Then, there’s the awesome women’s tech shirt from Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. It’s my favorite race shirt because it’s Disney, it’s pink, and it just fits perfectly. Although the race was open to men, it was definitely a female-centric event and I don’t even think there was a male/unisex shirt option available.

Disneyland 5k 2009I wore my “princess” shirt and a tiara for the Disneyland Family Fun Run 5k.

Of course, not all women’s races get it right. At the Trek Women’s Duathlon, the smallest shirt size was a medium!

For some reason I don’t mind it so much when I get cotton shirts that are too big. At least I can still get some use by wearing them around the house. But there just isn’t anything to do with tech shirts. It also seems like some race organizers use tech shirts as a reason to justify high registration fees. If I’m not going to be able to wear the shirt anyway, I’d rather get a $5-10 discount and no shirt. Like at the Rock ‘n’ Roll races, I already know the “free” shirt won’t fit. They must be getting some kind of huge bulk discount because every race has the same “unisex” Sugoi tech shirts and they’re always blue. With as many participants as they get, you’d think they could provide women’s sizes and different colors for each race.

But the real reason for this post is because of the last two Disney race shirts that I’ve gotten. Here’s a look at the shirt from the Expedition Everest Challenge.

Expedition Everest Challenge 2009 race shirt

At this angle it looks okay. But the proportions are actually all off. The body’s not too bad, although perhaps just a little short. It’s the sleeves that are crazy. The Disneyland Half Marathon shirt has the same cut. Here’s what it looks like on.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2009 race shirt

See what I mean about the sleeves? Who would actually look good in this shirt? I don’t know whether the blame lies with Disney or Champion, but both companies have enough expertise with apparel that this shouldn’t happen. It’s worse than if the shirt was just too big overall.

So anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Do you have a favorite race shirt? What are some races that offer shirts in both men’s and women’s sizes?

Fall is here

Okay, so those of you who live up north are going to think I’m crazy… I walked out of work at 6pm, it was 84°, and I was cold. I guess fall is here in Phoenix.

I haven’t been feeling like running lately. I tried to run Tuesday, but only made it one mile before I had to stop for a bathroom break. My legs hurt and I just couldn’t muster up the will to go back out and keep running.

Tuesday, September 29 – 1 mile run (Adidas)

Tonight I headed out with the goal of completing four miles, which I did at an 11:17 pace. It took the first couple miles to get comfortable, but I felt good the last couple miles. That might actually be a bad sign. When I’ve had good runs prior to my last few races I end up not doing as well as I want during the race. I’ve been comparing it to the dress rehearsal of a play. Don’t “they” say that a bad dress rehearsal means the performance will go well?

Thursday, October 1 – 4.05 mile run (Saucony)

So this Sunday is the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon. I’m going to take it fairly easy again since I’m not really that well prepared for the race. I think the longest run I’ve done since Disneyland was the Fall Five Miler. Oh, wait. Actually there was the I-Did-A-Green-Run 10k. Anyway, my plan for the race is to follow a run/walk pattern right from the beginning and hope that it carries me through the 13.1 miles without feeling too horribly at the end.

Originally I only signed up for San Jose to qualify for the rock star medal. But after doing some research, I’m getting excited about the sightseeing aspect of the trip. There are some great restaurants in downtown San Jose within walking distance of my hotel. I have a list of seven possible places depending on what type of cusine I’m in the mood for. The Tech Museum of Innovation is just down the street and only costs $10 which includes admission to an IMAX film. I even thought about going to the ballet, but ruled that out because the performance starts at 8pm and I don’t want to be up too late the night before the race.

I’ve been wishing lately that I had a netbook so I could work on the blog while I’m traveling. I don’t know if it’s the most practical choice, but I’m really drawn to this Disney-branded netbook.