The title of the Playa del Run 5K is a play on the location of the race: Playa del Rey (neighbor to the better known, Marina del Rey). I couldn’t have asked for a better location for a race, literally steps away from the beach! What better way to top off running in this awesome location than a very impressive finish on said 5K. Well here you go: 19:09, 3rd AG, 8th overall! If this race had been 3 days before (my birthday), I would have won my AG instead, that’s what I get for getting older, right?
Marina del Rey is 122 miles away from San Diego. I would never drive that far just to run such a small (~250) race. I was looking for races to do before my half marathon in mid August and happened to find this one. My cousin lives just miles away from this race and I had been meaning to visit him in his new place and it was on the weekend I was already planning to visit my parents in LA for my birthday. It was literally the perfect race (with the perfect ending)!
When I told my cousin about this race, he was actually interested in running it too, which threw me off guard. I knew he liked to workout and do outdoorsy stuff, but running never crossed my mind. Then again most people who run now never thought they were runners in the beginning. But I gave him too less time to prepare (2-3 weeks?) If I had known about this race sooner, I definitely would have let him know. Part of me wanted him to run it, so I could not have to worry about the race and just do it with him. There would have been much less pressure and I would have been able to enjoy the sights and push my cousin along, which would have been very rewarding.
But the competitive side of me also hoped that he didn’t run it. The reason why is because I looked at the previous year’s times and knew I could place within the top 10 pretty easily (assuming the runners in 2010 ran about the same as 2009). Even though there were no awards for top finishers, knowing how well you did is well worth it. So when I found out my cousin wasn’t going to race, I was partly disappointed but also eager to find out how I would do.
The course was fairly simple: imagine starting at the midpoint of an oval, run to the southern end, u-turn, pass the start, to the northern end, u-turn, back south, north and finish at the start. Basically, two loops. Not the most complicated or glamorous course, but it was nice to just focus on sections of the course (knowing how much was left for each).
Pacing was the main focus for me, as is with any race I run. I wanted to go for ~6:30 for the first mile, possibly pick it up a little the 2nd, and whatever I had left the last mile. It worked out pretty well: 6:20, 6:22, 6:12. Because it was a small race, getting to the front was pretty easy, it was funny because the announcer called the fast runners at the front the “thoroughbreds”, never heard that before. I wasn’t at the very front, but once the race started, I sprinted along the side of the course and found the optimal position and settled into my pace. As mile 1 approached, I did a check on my breathing and felt fairly comfortable (for a race). I kept it up the 2nd mile and although I was pretty tired by the end, I still managed to run the fastest mile. This is opposite of how I ran my PR race (just 18:58): 5:47, 6:13, 6:29 and I felt 10 times better during this race, so this race was definitely better paced than the PR race. Even though there were a number of people ahead of me at the start, I felt confident that I would catch them eventually and I did (and it felt great passing others as they were huffing and puffing).
Some notables from the race: there was a guy in a hoodie that passed me between miles 1-2, must have been a training run for him. There was a kid running in front of me the entire race and I ended up one spot behind him, and he raced barefoot! I hate doing this (before and) during a race, but I actually counted the number of people ahead of me as they completed their u-turns. Having that knowledge with me can be a double-edged sword. It could push me to try harder and pass even more people during the race, or it could just break my heart and give up before the race even finishes. Luckily, this time it worked out for the better.
I was definitely stoked about the outcome of this race and was really happy to be able to give such great news to my cousin, friends and family. This is making me think that I should just stick to 5K’s and abandon all other distances, but of course I won’t. I still have a lot to prove in the half marathon and ever daunting full marathon. But that’s going to be tough because a triathlon is now back in the picture. I didn’t want to ask for any triathlon gear for my birthday because it was either too expensive or I just wasn’t sure if I was going to even do one (in the near future). But I did receive cash for my birthday specifically to help pay for a road bike and although I could just use the money elsewhere or save it, I feel obligated to use it for what it was meant for. And now as I start looking, I can just think to myself, ‘oh it’s x less than that price since I got the cash’ It won’t hurt as much having to pay hundreds of dollars just for a bicycle J
Here are some wonderfully boring race pictures, enjoy!