Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Holiday 5K Pomona and New Year's Race L.A. Recaps

Yes, it's been a while since I've written anything here.  It's not that I've stopped running (far from it), it's just that I haven't gotten around to putting pen to paper, metaphorically speaking of course.  Since we've last shared company, I've run two races.  Which I will sum up shortly.

Like, now.

Crossing the line with a new PR.
On December 14, Theresa and I ran the Holiday 5K in Pomona, California.  For those of you not from Southern California, Pomona is famous for . . . well, not much of anything, unless you count the L.A. County Fairgrounds or the Whatever-It's-Called-This-Week Speedway (think "drag strip," not "NASCAR").  Anyway, the 5K took place at the fairgrounds on a quite chilly Saturday morning.  My goal for this race was simple: Set a personal record.  My previous PR for a 5K was 24:35, but that was at the "unofficial" Hesperia Days 5K a few months back.  I was eager to top that (or is it "under that") in an officially timed race, which the Holiday certainly is.  The course was pretty flat, except for one short hill early in the race.  The first half-mile or so was all downhill, so I took off at a really fast (for me) pace of about 7:10 per mile.  Then came the hill, which I traversed without any trouble.  I completed the first mile in 7:23, so I was easily on pace for a PR.  The second mile was a bit slower, and we ran right down the Whatever-It's-Called-This-Week drag strip which was pretty cool.  No need for a parachute, though, as I was a bit slower for mile two, completing it in 8:09.  I picked up the pace for the last 1.1 miles, and crossed the line in 23:44, beating my previous best by 51 seconds.  Mission accomplished.  I waited for Theresa to finish, we collected our snowflake medals, and headed to Slater's 50/50 for the traditional celebratory burgers and fries.  For those of you who have never been to a Slater's (I'm not sure where they're available geographically), you MUST find one.  Their burgers are half ground beef, half ground bacon.  Condiments include baconnaise, bacon catsup, and all sorts of other deliciousness.  Definitely worth the trip.

The second of our two "Holiday Break" events was the New Year's Race Los Angeles (subtitle: L.A. at Night).  This was on January 4, and to date it is the most difficult course I've run.  It was also a heck of a lot of fun, as it passed through all kinds of L.A. landmarks incluing Chinatown, Olvera Street, and the highlight of the race, Dodger Stadium.  Of course, the downside of running through Dodger Stadium is that it's located in Chavez Ravine, which is Spanish for "The top of a really big friggin' hill that will beat the crap out of your legs if you try to run there."  But we'll get to that in a minute.

Doing the "Gibby" during the Dodger Stadium lap.
I didn't really have a set goal in mind for this race, which is unusual for me.  I'd seen the elevation profile for the course (more on that later), and I knew going in that there was a nasty hill at about mile four.  I've been to Dodger games before, so I knew pretty much what I was in for hill-wise.  But according to the profile, the one big hill was the only thing to worry about.  From mile five on, so it would appear, it was all flat or downhill.  Still, I knew that a PR wasn't going to be in the cards, and even a sub-2 hour finish would be a bit of a reach.

The race started in downtown, and the first three miles or so were pretty comfortable.  I'd settled into about a 9-minute per mile pace which is my norm for the half marathon.  And then came the hill.  Or, more accurately, series of hills that somehow didn't make it into the course elevation profile.  Some
were steep, some were long, some were steep and long . . . the next four or five miles basically sucked.  The only fun part of this stretch was the run through Dodger Stadium (literally . . . we ran around the warning track) which is definitely a career highlight for me.  And as suggested by my
swell pal Jim "Suldog" Sullivan, as I passed the Dodger dugout and the official race photographer, I did the patented "Kirk Gibson Celebratory Fist Pump."  As I write this, I have yet to receive my official photos, but as soon as I do, that one will go up here for you, Sully.

Side note: Neither Sully nor I are Dodger fans, but we appreciate baseball history.  Though we have much different perspectives on the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry.  I'm right, he's wrong, we'll leave it at that.

But back to the race.

Once the hillaciousness (copyright pending) subsided, I was able to get back to my normal pace but by then a sub-2:00 was out of the question.  Pressure off, I enjoyed the rest of the race, finished in a respectable 2:04:41, and got a really blingy medal for my efforts.  Theresa met me at the finish line (right in front of Staples Center), having completed the 5K in a fantastic time.  We had a late dinner at Yard House (the burger-and-fries tradition again), and we happened to catch the end of the Kings-Canucks game on the television and witness the postgame hoopla first hand.  Kings 3, Canucks 1.  Great night all around.

Tune in again soon, for the recap of my next race . . . Rock 'n' Roll Arizona on January 19th.  See ya then!


  1. I am definitely looking forward to the photo! Nice job, Chris. I'm proud of you.

  2. Sounds like you had a MUCH better time at the LA Race at Night than I did (I did it last year---it remains my most hated race to date). I agree, though, doing through Dodgers Stadium was pretty amazing!

  3. Hillaciousness... love it! Way to kick off 2014! Good luck this weekend in Arizona!