This race couldn’t have gone much better – and it feels really good to say that! At six months postpartum after my twin pregnancy, I didn’t have super high expectations for this race. I really wanted to have fun and I really wanted to feel pretty good throughout the race. In my mind, I though a sub 2 hour half marathon was possible, but given that the average pace of my long runs was close or over 10 minute miles, the course was described as hilly, and I did nearly zero speedwork, I wasn’t completely sure that was realistic.
My friend Kelly and I took the train from San Diego to LA on Saturday afternoon & arrived with just enough time to check into our hotel room at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live and make the quick walk over to the convention center for the expo. I am SO thankful that we splurged a little on this hotel because it was incredibly convenient. This was the first time I’ve ever been able to walk to the start line of a race and it was Ah-Mazing.
I am a member of the Rock n’ Blog team, which means I received a complimentary entry to this race. I was also given the privilege of taking over the @runrocknroll Instagram account to go Live and post stories of my experience with the race! Honestly the takeover was more nerve-racking than the race for me!
Kelly and I had a beer in the lobby of the hotel before dinner because all the bars and restaurants around were packed thanks to the World Series game. We then found a cute little Italian restaurant that was somehow serving happy hour on a Saturday night and we were able to get pasta (her) and a cheese pizza (me) for super cheap. I’ve actually never eaten pizza the night before a race – I usually have pasta, but figured this was a good time to test it out!
Since we stayed so close to the start of the race, we got to “sleep in” until nearly 5 a.m. We met up with the We Run Social crew at 5:45 AM for a photo and while we were there I drank my Energize pre-workout drink. Rock n’ Roll LA is always held the weekend before Halloween so it’s considered a costume race. Kelly and I wore all black and cat ears (yes I know, super creative) to get in the spirit.
It was fun people watching! A group of girls from We Run Social dressed up as CareBears and Carlee McDot had an incredible Pac Man costume. After the photo, Kelly and I hit up the bathrooms (relatively short lines surprisingly) and then got into our corral. I did a live video for Rock n’ Roll Instagram account which got my adrenaline going. It was still very dark at 6:15 AM when the gun went off.
Rock n’ Roll is trying out a new corralling system that brings the runners through a small chute instead of letting everyone run all at once. This spreads out the runners so that just a small amount (maybe 3-5 people) are crossing the start line together and it was awesome! There was no crowding or weaving at the start of the race at all!
Kelly and I both were shooting for a sub 2 half, so our loose race plan was to start around goal pace (9:10-9:15) and then pick it up if we could. We let the excitement get to us and ran slightly faster on the first mile (8:51), though it was a net decline so that made sense. We eased off for the next mile as we went out and back on Figeroa St – it was still dark and cool (high 50s, low 60s I think) and our scenery was strip malls for this section. Once we moved into mile 3 where we had to climb back up the slight hill we’d gone down for mile 1, I wasn’t feeling that great and neither was Kelly, but we tried to stay positive.
We passed the start/finish line area around mile 3 and then started the second, much longer out and back that takes you west on Wilshire Blvd. This section also has a nice incline and we slowed a bit. Soon after this the sun was coming up and we passed over a beautiful bridge in the middle of a park. Skyscrapers were around the park and it was very beautiful! (It was MacArthur Park).
Finally during mile 5 we got to go downhill and the next two miles were also downhill. I had taken a Gu just before this and that mixed with the downhill and a great conversation Kelly and I were having about business goals and mindset really got the excitement going. We started to pick it up a bit and were easily running in the high 8s, talking the whole time and occasionally dancing to the music of the bands along the course.
Unfortunately, around this point we both had to go to the bathroom and since we were just over halfway through the race we opted to stop at two portopotties on the side of the race. The break cost us about 2 minutes total or so, with that mile being 10:28.
When I was in the bathroom Kelly said that the 2 hour pacer passed us, so once we were running again it was our mission to pass them back. Around mile 8 there were incredibly real looking zombies which were pretty cool (any other Walking Dead fans out there!?). The next two miles were a slight decline and we were able to run in the high 8s and pass the pacer (who was now running alone, his pace group gone). Since my watch had auto-paused in the restroom, we weren’t sure exactly how much time we’d lost, so we knew a sub 2 was going to be close but we kept saying that we were going to do it.
We picked it up a little more, and with the next two miles being a net incline, we started to feel it. I was expecting to feel it though. My legs surprisingly still felt really strong and not very tired at all (thanks to LIIFT4 and 80 Day Obsession!). It was my cardio that was holding me back. I even said to Kelly, “it’s going to hurt but we can work through it.” I was almost anticipating the hurt-so-good working feeling.
It was cool because when I was feeling it more, Kelly would be feeling good and pull me along, and then she’d be feeling worse and I’d get a burst of energy and pull her ahead. It really reminded me of the old days of racing with Asia and it was great to have an evenly matched running buddy again.
When the going got tough, I started just repeating mantras to myself and even saying things outloud to Kelly and the people around us (who probably thought I was insane). I was saying “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Kelly reminded me that this is nothing compared to childbirth and I started thinking about the twins being born and being laid on my chest. I imagined Siena cheering for me, saying “go mommy go!”
Once we reached the top of the last hill and started going down, I knew we’d do it. We gave it our all for that last mile and were passing people left and right (mile time 7:51). When we got to the final finisher chute with the people lining the edges cheering, I was grinning ear to ear as we ran. We sprinted to the finish and I felt nauseous, so knew I gave it my all! My watch, since it paused, said 1:47:45, so I knew we’d done it but I wasn’t sure how close since I know that the bathroom break took some time.
We were so happy at the finish line that we did it! I was even happier that we ran a smart, solid and strong race and felt good at the end. Even though this is a far cry from a PR, I felt SUPER proud and incredibly excited to run a sub 2 half marathon 6 months after having twins. After the race was over I went live on both the Rock n Roll Instagram account and then on my Instagram and ended up getting teary-eyed recapping my race because it meant so much to me.
Official finish 1:58:54
It was SO convenient staying at the Marriott – we went back and quickly showered then headed back to the beer garden to hang out and talk to people and watch the costume contest.
It was a GREAT day and I’m so glad I did this race! I was so excited that I was plotting my next race during the race and on the train ride home we decided that Carlsbad Half Marathon on January 20th would be our next race. I’m looking forward to adding some speed work back in and truly working on chipping away at my time until I get back to PR shape!