You know how when you were a kid, there were certain roads that you thought would be so completely amazing to run/bike/skate/ski down without any cars in sight? One of those dreams came true for me last weekend. And it was amazing.
Last Saturday, I ran the Big Bad RAD 10-Miler, one of two races that run in conjunction with Reyes Adobe Days in Agoura Hills, CA. I have run the race for the past three years, and every year, I’m left with a big old run-nerd smile on my face. And it’s not just because of the free beer at the end. It’s a great local event that I feel could draw a bigger crowd if people knew how awesome it is.
This year, the race directors had their hands full with the whole government shutdown and gusty Santa Ana winds. Paramount Ranch (the original start/finish) is located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and since our elected officials couldn’t put their big boy and girl pants on and hash out a budget plan, the race had to be cancelled or moved. With less than a week leading up to race day, officials communicated clearly and frequently with runners: the event would go on at a different location, and if runners wanted to differ their race entry to the Great Race, that would be okay, too.
Pretty cool, if you ask me. Scouting, measuring, approving, and communicating a new course in a matter of days is pretty stinking incredible.
I wasn’t super excited to run all the way up Kanan Road as was part of the original course, so when I saw the new course, I nearly peed my pants:
In case you’re not familiar with the area, the race start was at Malibu Creek State Park off of Las Virgenes, ran up Mulholland Hwy. (my dream road), around the Malibou Lake neighborhood, and back. Seriously. Mulholland Hwy. with NO CARS.
And then I looked at the elevation chart:
And almost peed my pants again. That’s a lot of climbing, people.
But when I sign up to run a race, I commit myself 100% to it, so there was no turning back.
Packet pickup was at my local RoadRunner.
It was quick and easy, the best kind! Swag included a ton of chips, a tech shirt, and a pretty cool spike bag:
I actually prefer the long-sleeved tech shirt from last year (long sleeve is always a win in my book!), but I still keep my short-sleeved tech shirts for the days when it’s a little too chilly for tank tops and not cool enough for a long sleeve. Or for painting. Or washing the dogs.
I love spike bags and use them a lot for things other than running. They’re convenient for carrying pads of paper and markers or crayons when I take my kids out to eat with me when I’ve visiting with friends or when they are relegated to sitting quietly through staff meetings. I use them to carry office supplies and snacks to work, too. The zippers on this one make it extra cool.
Runners also had the option of pre-purchasing a parking pass for $12 since the new course was on state park land. I didn’t because I already spend way to much dinero on racing, so I like to save whenever I can.
My best husband on earth and I loaded the kids in the car for the 20-minute drive to the start line.
The morning was gorgeous, but the Santa Ana winds were still whipping through the Conejo. Luckily, I don’t have bad allergies, but I’m still not a fan of doing anything in the Santa Anas other than surfing. For those of you who aren’t from SoCal, this is what the Santa Anas do to the waves:
The plan was for the huz to drop me off at the park entrance, and then he was going to take the girls to Starbucks and the park before picking me up.
When I entered the park, a DJ was playing music, the energy was good, and I made my usual bee-line for the potties. I chatted a bit with some friendly ladies who were all interested in my Oiselle bum wrap
(seriously amazing!) while in line, and as soon as I was done doing my business, it was time to line up.
Which brings me to this:
Maybe it was the wind, maybe it was the emcee with the British accent, maybe it’s just that really cool people run this race, but the energy was so good at the start!
The energy continued to be pretty solid for the first mile. Starting with a pretty good climb, I knew to pace myself. I ran on effort alone, not looking at my Garmin once for the first couple of miles. I knew that doing so could break me mentally. I didn’t have a goal time, but I definitely wanted to place in my age group (I’ll do anything for a race pint glass!). I passed some runners, and some runners passed me as the course wove up Mulholland Hwy. towards Cornell Rd. I didn’t worry too much about it, though, because I knew that if I ran smart and used the downhills to make up time lost on the climbs, I would be okay.
At the first aid station, I was already hot, so I grabbed a cup of water and dumped it on my head. I immediately felt relief, and then a gust of wind blew a wave of dust right at me. Dirty hair don’t care, so I kept on trekking.
The course was beyond gorgeous. Running on a banked road was not as awesome running up as it was running down, and with the rolling hills, I found it necessary to choose my lines carefully. The bonus Outlaw Mountain Challenge was from miles 1-2 (top times won a sweet shirt), where I could have put in a little extra effort, but I didn’t want to burn unnecessary energy in the first part of the race knowing that there were plenty of climbs ahead.
I carried my own water, and the aid stations seemed pretty well stocked and staffed with wonderful volunteers, so I was well hydrated the entire race. As the course wound around the Malibou Lake community (seriously adorable and woodsy), I did some real estate dreaming to take my mind off of the hills until a gust of wind blew dirt into my eyes.
For about a mile, I ran with my eyes closed(ish). I hope I didn’t miss anything cool!
At mile 5.5, I took my gel. I brought it just in case, but because of the energy I expended climbing, I was definitely glad to have it. It took me a little over .75 miles to get it down, though, because the air was dry and I wanted to conserve my water.
Right around mile 7, I came across more hills where runners were no longer running, but fartleking. I’ll admit it. I walked in two spots, and one of the hills was somewhere around mile 7. But from rom 7.5-9, though, I FLEW!!!
So that dream I mentioned earlier? The one where I used to think it would be the sweetest thing ever to race down a road with no cars? Yeah, that happened! It’s the run-nerd in me!
My Garmin isn’t cooperating with uploading data, but after seeing Ventura Marathon
director Josh Spiker (best race director ever
) at the top of the hills (where he kindly reminded me to relax my shoulders and work with what the road gives me), I passed everyone who passed me on the way up! I looked down at my Garmin once, and I was running a 5:36 pace (unheard of from me)! Instead of obsessing over my time, though, I forgot about the race and simply enjoyed the flight down the banked highway! I can’t really explain it, but that little 1.5 mile section of the race was just about the most fun I’ve had running in a long time!
After coming down off the highway, the course (unexpectedly to me because I don’t pay close attention to the details of course maps) turned right onto a trail that ran straight into a last climb. I swear, if it wasn’t for the amazing trio playing music or the volunteer screaming at me to keep moving, I would have toppled backward down the hill!
After the last climb, though, the course ran down and back up into the finish chute, where the energy was still amazing! I finished in 1:19:something. Not a PR, but for the course, I was pretty satisfied. It was about effort that day.
I was handed a medal and made my way to the water, where I met some amazing women from the Santa Clarita Valley. All were in other age groups, and all were way faster than me! I like chatting with more experienced, fast women, because that’s who I want to be when I grow up: still in love with the sport, still setting goals, and still running faster than the young ‘uns. We also chatted about marathoning and how amazing Boston is going to be this year.
Seriously, people. I could chat with fellow chick runners for days! In fact, I’ve never been involved in a sport or activity where there are so many supportive, wonderful women who freely dispense good vibes and advice!
After grabbing some food, I ran into an old teacher friend of mine and my running mentor, who placed first in the 10K. She has some amazing goals lined up, and I’m pretty positive that with her hard work and speediness, she’s going to make them happen! We talked about shoes and training and all that good stuff and then went to pick up our pint glasses for placing in our age groups! I think she won a pretty sweet overall prize, too.
All runners who finished the RAD 10-miler or 10K were invited back to the Reyes Adobe Days festival for a beer or wine in the beer garden. Those who couldn’t make could bring their bib into Ladyface Alehouse
until 10/10. I didn’t make it to either, but I think it’s cool that there were options to redeeming the beer!
As it turns out, I was one of the top age group runners up Outlaw Mountain! I got this super cool shirt in the mail yesterday:
I eat hills for breakfast = amazing.
So amazing, the Rubinator tried to rip it off my back:
That dog is so silly sometimes.
I just love this race. The vibe is amazing, the 10-miler is the perfect distance, the course is gorgeous… it’s a good October training race. And SOOOOOO well organized, despite the forces agains it.
Overall, I will definitely run this race next year. And you better bet I’ll be out for another pint glass/age group win.
For more on the RAD run, check this girl’s blog out
. She’s a Race Guard, and she has lots of pictures from the race!