Rockin’ LA for a Half Marathon

So, here’s the thing. When I signed up for the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, I had all these amazing memories from when I ran the race back on 2013. After all, this is where I set my (still standing) half marathon PR. I knew the race was two weeks after the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Back in 2014, I ran the Surf City USA Half Marathon three weeks after finishing the Walt Disney World Marathon. In that race, I had no idea how I’d do with so little prep time. The first 8 miles of the 2014 Surf City USA Half Marathon were the best 8 miles I’ve run. If not for a lower cramp in my calf, I would have PR’d that race. So, as I registered for the Rock n Roll Los Angeles, I secretly had this thought that I’d have a similar experience to what I had at Surf City. That was then, this is now. I was in better shape for the Walt Disney World Marathon than I was for the Chicago Marathon and I had one more week in between races.

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I was up and out the door dark and early. For this race, I could take the train! That meant, no crazy parking to deal with. I loved taking the train two years ago to this race and loved it again this year. What’s fun about taking the train to a race is that most of the people on the train are going to the same place you are…the start line!

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As I walked to the waiting area, they were spray painting the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon logo on what I knew would be a picture spot on the course.

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The runners had gathered for another Rock n Roll race!

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LA Live was the place to be!

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The waiting outside of the corrals is always fun. There’s always lots of great energy. It’s a combination of nerves and excitement and happiness to be around fellow runners. I love race day!

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Because there is more than just Magic Johnson outside of Staples Center, I got this quick selfie with the Logo (aka Jerry West).

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After milling around for a little while, it was time to head off to the starting corrals and get settled in. Here’s a complaint I have about this race on this year. The corrals were pretty much a free for all. No one was checking bibs to make sure you were in your correct corral. Also, the street was divided in half. One half was for the corrals. The other for the port-o-potties. However, it was rather confusing as to which side we should be on.

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Another complaint about the corrals is lack of entry points. This meant that the runners in the front corrals had to push their way to the front. Not cool. I talked this over with those around me. We all agreed that the organization of the starting corrals was a complete mess.

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Each corral left one by one. I think the corrals were leaving about 2 minutes after the previous one. This meant that I didn’t have to wait too long before it was my turn! Hooray!

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Almost time to start!

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I’ve never been able to position myself so close to the front of the corral before. So, I had to take a picture of what it looks like from the front of the corral before we start. Lots of open road. I was really happy with the start! Since I was in the front of the corral, I had no crowding issues whatsoever. As we made our way towards USC, I was happy with my run/walk intervals. I even ran into someone who either reads this blog and/or follows me on Instagram. Let me tell you guys, it’s kind of fun to be recognized!

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In the first mile, I went out too fast. The temps weren’t too bad and we had this cloud cover which was heavenly! I knew, from the course elevation chart, that the first three miles were slightly downhill. So, I kind of expected that I would go out a little fast. The second mile, however, found a very natural way to slow you down. As we made our first turn to run in between the campus of USC and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the spacing we had to run was pretty limited. To make the course more crowded, the folks that had run around the Coliseum were now heading back. So, I got to watch several run intervals come to an early end. I was very cautious with so many people around me. I really didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. My first complaint of the course is that there were many missing mile markers. For example…the mile 2 and 3 mile markers.

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When I ran this race two years ago, running around the Coliseum was the highlight of the course. As a USC Trojans fan, I loved every minute of this part. Not having a mile 2 marker left me unsure of how that second mile actually went. I felt like I slowed. So, I had some fun at the stadium.

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Welcome to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum!

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Just past the second water stop, I stopped for this quick selfie.

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The evening before our race, the USC Trojans players and coaches went into the stadium through here as part of the Trojan walk. USC surprisingly blew out the University of Utah!

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Up high is the torch that was lit for two Olympic Games and gets lit at the start of every fourth quarter of a USC Trojans home game.

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Fight On!

imageSadly, our time at the Coliseum had to come to an end and it was on to the rest of the course. We passed by the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum on our way back to the Staples Center.

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By the time we got here, I believe we were starting mile 6. However, the missing mile 5 marker made it difficult to tell.

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There were so many really cool murals on the sides of buildings. This one was my favorite.

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By the time we got here, we were just past the 10K mark! Here’s the thing about this course. It’s essentially two out and backs. The first one was complete. We went out for three miles and then came back for three. For this first out and back the route was largely flat. There was a slight decline over the first three miles and a slight incline for the next three. However, I wouldn’t say there were any hills.

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As we made our way through the 7th mile, I could feel the elevation going upward. At this point, we also saw all the speedy runners who were finishing the race!

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This pic is blurry because I wasn’t expecting to see Sharpie on the course. He was cruising on the course because he had another race to get to after this one.

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Right after seeing my friend, the first major hill came. This picture is roughly half way up. This year’s Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon was a very different course from what I remember. We didn’t go up this hill two years ago. there was a turn we made back then that took us through this tunnel which the folks from Rock n Roll had some lights going and a DJ with very loud music. This hill took it out of me. There was no 7 mile marker on the course. So, this hill might have been at the start of mile 8 or the end of mile 7.

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The hill took us up to the Los Angeles Music Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall. When I ran the Los Angeles Marathon, we were coming the other way…

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See? Same spot!

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What goes up, must go down. On the downhill, I got into recovery mode and found my rhythm again. Although, that huge hill really took it out of me.

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On the way down, I ran by another run blogger who is part of the We Run Social crew…Carlee and her husband!

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At the bottom of the hill, we ran by the Los Angeles Police Department. I loved the building! This was the start of mile 9. As the course flattened out a bit, I was back with my run/walk intervals. I was struggling a little bit. However, I was doing the best I could. After a quick stop at a port-a-pottie, I ended up spotting the leader of our We Run Social group, Brian. He had run the 5K and then got back in the latter corrals to run the half. Yep. Even with running the 5K first, he still finished ahead of me. Brian and the others he was running with are still faster than me when they are running slow. I saw him on a walk break and got to chat a bit before it was time to run again.

At the beginning of mile 10, I had a problem. Sweat was streaming down into my eyes. Usually, I carry a paper towel or tissue in case this kind of thing happens. I must have taken that out after the Chicago Marathon. When I reached to get it in my fuel belt, there was nothing. I had a sweaty shirt, sweaty hands (with sun screen). Nothing good to clear my eyes. As if that hill in mile 7 or 8 didn’t kill my time enough, I had trouble keeping one eye open. It stung from the sweat. I desperately prayed for a port-a-potty to show up so I could get something to clear my eyes. That didn’t happen until the last quarter mile to half mile of mile 10. By the time I got there I was so miserable.

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I felt bad about how I was feeling because as we approached the last turn around point (in mile 10), they had an “inspiration zone.” There were lots of great signs like this one. Unfortunately, all I could think about at this point was clearing the sweat from my eyes so I could see again. I’m actually surprised that I saw this sign.

I did find a port-a-potty and used the toilet paper to clear my eye. I also made sure to grab some more to carry with me for the rest of the race. It took until the end of mile 10 before everything felt better. However, my time was so bad at that point I thought I was about set a new record slow half marathon. If I walked the entire way, I would have finished in around 3 hours, 20 or 21 minutes. That’s how it looked as I crossed the 10 mile marker. I knew that we had to climb an overpass soon after the 10 mile marker and that huge hill in mile 12.

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At the top of the overpass, we got a pretty cool view of Downtown Los Angeles!

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Ahhhhhh. LA! I love it! I may have been smiles here. That’s because I finished a few run intervals going downhill!

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So much fun going down this hill. It was encouraging to me to see people coming up where I had just been. So, I wasn’t at the exact end of the race. At each even numbered minute, I’d try to run. Sometimes, I got 10 seconds. Sometimes, it was the full 30-40 seconds. I knew I’d be walking up that huge hill in mile 12. So, it was important to finish mile 11 as quickly as my body would allow.

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As we got to the end of mile 12, this hill was a little demoralizing. Why such a cruel hill at mile 12 of a half marathon? I was trying to remember where this hill began when I ran it at the Los Angeles Marathon. It didn’t seem like we ran as much of this hill. There was no way I was going to attempt to run once we started going up. I was exhausted and the hill was too steep for me.

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There was one one point where we got a brief flattening out of the road. Cheer leaders were there to keep us going. Just past them, I think I saw some Police Officers who were making sure everyone was safe. I felt like asking them if they saw the escalator that I could take to the top, but didn’t.

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Even though I walked to the top. It was rough. I could have taken a nice long nap at the top. However, I could see the mile 12 marker. That made me smile. As I got close to the mile 12 marker, I started gearing myself up for some more running to the finish. After all, I knew it was pretty much downhill from that 12 mile marker! By this point, I could see that I would beat my slowest half marathon finish. But, I had to do some running or it wouldn’t happen.

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As we got close to the 13 mile marker, I saw my friend Erica who encouraged me to run. I was almost there! Somehow, even though I felt crazy tired, knowing that I wasn’t going to have my slowest finish was all the motivation I needed to keep running. Geico had these fun signs on the road as we approached the finish line!

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Once I took this picture of the finish line, I ran the rest of the way. When you’re a run/walker a funny thing happens close to the finish line. You want to be running through the finish. However, sometimes that messes with your run/walk intervals. So, a decision needs to be made. Do you run longer than normal? Do you cut a walk break short? What to do? I decided just go by distance. This one looked like what I would do. It didn’t matter where it fell in my timing.

LA RNR Finish Sprint

See? Here I go. Ready to finish the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon!

LA RNR Finish

My last step to cross the finish line! I finished in 3 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds. It was my third slowest half marathon. However, every step of this race was earned.

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After getting my medal, they gave us a bottle of water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, a PowerBar, and a banana. While that’s not bad for a race to give out, two years ago, there was much more. So much, that I couldn’t carry it all. This time, I brought a small bag with me for the after race food and didn’t need it. Oh well.

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The post race concert featured Sir Mix A Lot.

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I made my way to the statues because I knew I could find a place to sit. Before that, though, I had to get a quick picture with my new finishers medal. Half Marathon number 15 is now in the books!

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Final Thoughts about Rock n Roll Los Angles Half Marathon 2015

  • I don’t know what’s happened with this race. Everything about it from the Expo to the missing mile markers made this race feel smaller than it should be. I would have expected the missing mile markers in a smaller race. However, for a Rock n Roll race, this shouldn’t have happened.
  • I should have checked the new course elevation chart better than I did to be prepared for that crazy hill in mile 7 or 8. If I’d looked over the chart in more detail, I would have prepared myself for that. Unfortunately, I didn’t and suffered the consequences.
  • Running a half marathon two weeks after running a full marathon is something I’m just not in shape for. Here’s where reading blogs of faster, more experienced bloggers and knowing some of them worked against me. After seeing others who have run marathons on back to back weekends or marathons and half marathons on back to back weekends. Seeing the folks who run the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge at Walt Disney World and the Dopey Challenge, it looks so doable. It looks so because those who make it look that way train for it. I struggled with my Chicago Marathon training and it hurt me both in Chicago and here. If I was in the same condition as I was for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon, this post might have been about a new half marathon PR. Who knows? The hills in the second half of the race still might have prevented the PR.
  • Before this race, I was seriously thinking about running Rock n Roll Los Angeles next year. It was a total no-brainer. However, after this year, I might wait to see if they communicate any changes for the better.
  • I loved running by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum! That was my absolute favorite part of the race.
  • Overall, I have mixed emotions about this race. I’m glad that I finished. I’m even happier that it wasn’t my slowest half marathon. In Chicago, I think I found something that I haven’t experienced before…the ability to find motivation to continue running when I feel exhausted. In this race, I could have just walked the entire last 5K and finished ahead of the course limits. I’m proud of the fact that I got back to running in that last mile…tired legs and all!
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Posted in Half Marathon
8 comments on “Rockin’ LA for a Half Marathon
  1. Liz says:

    Thanks for the recap. I’ve run this race since 2011 and was very disappointed that they changed the course 3 days out from the race. The hills were no joke. It was a warm run as it was already over 70 degrees when we started and the additional hills in the second half just made this a not so great day for me as well. I did notice the lack of mile markers but I just thought I wasn’t paying attention. There was a definite change in the run this year and not for the better. This was the first time I saw this race and RnR Las Vegas advertised on Groupon so maybe the popularity is dying out….I’m waiting for some cooler races. I’m over the heat!

    • gloucks7 says:

      I’m over the heat as well. Can Fall come to Southern California soon please? This race did feel different from the last time I ran it in 2013. Hopefully, the runners will have their voices heard and the folks at Rock n Roll Marathon Series will make good changes next year.

  2. You should be proud of finding it within yourself to run again at the end! What a tough course. I hope you’re enjoying a well earned rest week.

    • gloucks7 says:

      I was proud of that! It’s so easy to give up when the race doesn’t go your way. I’m really glad that I got myself back together for that last mile and didn’t finish with a slowest half marathon ever.

  3. This race is the worse RNR I have experience. I got zero emails about the race, the expo is just sad and the course entertainment just seems lackluster compared to RNR SD.

    But I saw all the mile markers so that is weird that they were missing for you. I wonder if they just got torn down early or fell over? But I will say, they weren’t big markers. If I wasn’t looking for them I would have missed it.

    Also that mile 12 was no joke. That hill was brutal.

    Overall, this will not be a race I come back for.

    • gloucks7 says:

      Thanks for the shout out in that last mile! I have no idea what happened to the mile markers in the first 8 miles. I think that I saw every mile marker from 8 to the finish. However, the mile 2 marker was nowhere to be seen. I remember getting a little concerned when I didn’t see it. I knew that the course crowding by USC/Coliseum was slowing me a little. When I was at 26 minutes and still didn’t see it, I hoped that it was just missing. The mile 3 marker inside the Coliseum wasn’t there either. I did see the 5K mark, but no 3 mile marker. Who knows what happened?

      I’m not so sure that I’ll be back next year either. This was pretty disappointing.

  4. great recap-im still in shock they changed the course so close. it seems like they are doing the minimum to do this race. After last year, i said i wouldnt do it again unless for a combo medal and it looks like i will stick with that assessment for now

    • gloucks7 says:

      Good call! I like that this race is so close to home and that I can take the train to the start line. However, I do wonder if the folks at Rock n Roll Marathon Series have given up on LA. They had a Pasadena Rock n Roll race not that long ago.

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Official PR’s
5K - 32:46 - 2012 Pasadena 5K

10K - 1:15:42 - 2013 Pasadena 10K

Half Marathon - 2:43:25 - 2013 Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon

Full Marathon - 6:21:46 - 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon
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