Race Recap: Beach Fiesta 5K

… well technically it was a 5K, 10K, 15K, and half marathon; but I did the 5K and my friend did the 10K, so those are really the only two I’ll be blogging about.

The Beach Fiesta races took place on April 27, 2013, making this race my third and final for the month of April! It was put on by a group called Rocket Racing Productions, who put on a bunch of small races throughout the year. On their website they describe themselves as: “A grass roots effort, helping people achieve their goals by providing a positive conduit for human expression through small, high quality races from triathlons to 5k’s to ultra marathons.” It was the smallest, most laid back race I’ve ever run – but more on that later.

For this race, my friend and I were originally talking about both running the 10K, since neither of us had ever done one; but decided to keep it chill and do the 5K since she’s been so busy with her puppy and work and I’ve been so bogged down with my move. However, you know what they say about plans… I signed up first and by the time my friend when to register, the only race with space left was (surprise, surprise) the 10K!

We  were both pretty tired from our long days at work on the 26th. (I started at 5:30 am and ended up staying until 3:15 – well into overtime; and she had an even earlier and longer work day than I did!) But we were excited nonetheless and ended up getting there pretty early. So we checked in, hit the bathrooms, and dropped our stuff off in the car before congregating in the starting area.

Customary pre-race photo.

Customary pre-race photo.

We basically huddled around the starting line (which was just a large line and the word “START” written in chalk) in a close group. There was only about 100 of us, though it looked like even less to me! Maybe I’m just used to giant crowds, who knows?

One of the people from Rocket Racing Productions walked us through the basic construction: there were two distances laid out and marked on the ground in chalk, one was the 5K – anyone running the 5, 10, or 15Ks would use this as a turnaround point and do as many laps as they needed to to hit their kilometer goal, the other was the marker for the half marathon – which I think he said they would run to and back four times. (I’m honestly not quite sure, at this point I was setting up my earbuds, music, and run tracking apps…)

Look at that view! The starting line was just beyond that yellow pedestrian yield sign.

Look at that view! The starting line was just beyond that yellow pedestrian yield sign on the right.

And then, just like that we were off!

My personal goal for this race was to make it through the first mile without stopping to walk, since my practice run on Thursday had gone so abysmally. (I had to stop after 1.2 miles or so because my intestines started to cramp up and I felt like I was going to throw up…) However, something about the sun and the view (who doesn’t love the Santa Monica pier?) had me thinking that just maybe this would be the race I made it all the way through…

But then, just like clockwork, at about 1 mile in, the cramps and nausea hit me. There was a bathroom, so I paused my run and tried to go, just to be on the safe side until it passed, but the doors were all locked! I decided to just keep walking and hope for the best. It was a run-walk and there wasn’t a pace requirement or anything, so I figured worst case scenario was I’d just walk out the last 2.1 miles. Luckily, after about a fifth of a mile, the pain just disappeared! I don’t know exactly why it came and went, but I was glad it was gone! (Ok so maybe I have a tiny idea why it was happening – poor food choices and an erratic sleep schedule – but that doesn’t explain why they disappeared.)

I picked up the pace again just in time to pass my friend on her way back to the start! (We high-fived and everything. It was adorable.)  Seeing her gave me just the extra kick I needed to make it to the halfway mark!

Woo! Halfway there!

Woo! Halfway there!

The race took place on an open course, which meant that along the way we passed tons of other runners, walkers, running groups, bicyclists, and dog walkers. It was fun seeing all of the different kinds people out and about doing their morning activity! It also kept me relaxed about the race; which was nice since sometimes I get so caught up in doing well and comparing myself to the runners around me that I can get a little stressed and forget to enjoy myself as much a I should.

Beach running is going to be one of the things I miss most about California.

The view from the halfway marker.

Unfortunately, here’s where I had a bit of a hiccup in my tracking. I’m not quite sure why (I’m sure there’s some setting I can tweak to fix it) but for whatever reason my running apps pause themselves when I go to take a picture during a run. I’m sure this is because the designers figure you’re standing still to take the photo, and would automatically want it to pause, but since I always forget to resume them I’d much rather take the few extra seconds. I lost about a quarter mile of my progress before I realized that they were still paused!

I decided to just tack an extra quarter mile on after I finished in order to get “credit” for the full 5K, and tried not to let the technical error get to me too much. Plus, it would give me something to do while my friend finished up her extra 5K. (She’s much faster than me, but not quite twice as fast as me! Though I’m fairly certain her boyfriend is… ouch.)

The way back was wonderful, despite the rising sun and temperature. I allowed myself to walk if I needed to, but made sure to take advantage of the shade as opportunities to run. There’s just something about running at the beach I love. It’s one of the things I’m going to miss most about California. (Though I won’t miss the heat, even though we were done before 8 am, it got pretty warm!) Not to mention that I got to look forward to passing my friend again. This time we fist-bumped and I noticed she’d made a running buddy.

Here's a photo the organizers took of them at the turnaround.

Here’s a photo the organizers took of them at the turnaround.

I trucked it out under the pier, past muscle beach and a Beach Body tent, itching to see that finish line. I kept telling myself to keep going, not to walk, I was so close! I had to slow to a walk once, for just a few yards, because the soles of my feet were throbbing and couldn’t take it anymore. This is a common problem for me, and I’m seriously considering going to a podiatrist before I leave to make sure everything’s ok with them since I’ve been told that it’s not normal. (Though honestly it’s probably in large part due to my weight, so hopefully it’ll go away as I keep losing.)

When I finally got to the home stretch, I could see that the ground was divided along the center – runners turning around at the hydration table on the right, finishers on the left. I swung into the proper lane, which took me right past the photographer, who urged me to smile.

What I usually look like when I run. Not so pretty.

What I usually look like when I run. Not so pretty.

SMILE!

SMILE!

I paused my run long enough to grab some water and my medal, and then kept going to burn off that extra 0.25 miles to get me to 5K status on my running apps.

I love collecting medals!

I love collecting medals!

When I finished a voice congratulated me through my earbuds on achieving a new fastest mile time! I’d shaved off 8 seconds from my previous best time, bringing me down to 11:24! Less than 2.5 minutes away from this year’s goal of a 9 minute or under mile!

Once I’d finished “earning” my 5K I had just enough time to snap a post-race selfie, and walk back to catch my friend finishing!

I had to stare into the sun to get the pier in the background. Worth it.

I had to stare into the sun to get the pier in the background. Worth it.

She was exhausted and pale (I thought she’d put sunscreen on, that’s how white her face was) but she’d dominated it! Her goal was to come in under an hour, and she made it somewhere around 53:00! Not bad for a first 10K (or so I’m told, haha). It turns out she’d started chatting with her new friend right before the turnaround and they were both running their first 10K! So since they’d been pacing kind of similarly for the first 5, they decided to run out the second leg together. My friend told me that there were times when she wanted to stop, and her new running buddy wouldn’t let her, and that she returned the favor along the route! Definitely something I hope to be able to do with people someday! In the end she managed to do the whole thing without stopping to walk at all! My hero!

When we went to ask for her time, the photographer asked if we wanted a picture together!

When we went to ask for her time, the photographer asked if we wanted a picture together!

We stopped to grab some hydration (some kind of electrolyte drink and water) and food (Quaker blueberry bars and bananas) and she picked up her medal before saying goodbye to her running buddy. We troubled a nice group of people who’d also done the 5K to take a picture for us with my phone, since I wasn’t sure how the official photos would be posted and wanted my own.

They even made sure to get the pier in the background for me!

They even made sure to get the pier in the background for me!

We were both so beat that we ended up just chatting in the car for a bit afterwards instead of hitting the road right away. Another reason to be grateful for the smaller scene, no traffic jams to worry about getting caught in!

I came home to find something really exciting waiting for me!

Two medals in one day? Fabulous!

Two medals in one day? Fabulous!

I also checked the posted results and found out that I’d finished in 40:23. Not my best time, but still not terrible. I also placed 39/53 for the 5K! Again, not terrible. I’ll take it!

Interested in learning more about Rocket Racing or the Beach Fiesta 5K/10K/15K/Half Marathon? Check out their website!

They’re also sponsoring a Virtual 5K which I’ll be doing as my May race! Sign up here!