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I LOVE when new running events come around my town mostly because we’re so tiny up here and rarely does anything really rad come our way (we’re late bloomers around here=)). That’s why I was super pumped when I became part of the Lexus LaceUp Ambassadors representing Ventura County!

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Last Sunday was the first event of the Lexus LaceUp Race Series in Ventura! (Other events are in Palos Verdes on 11/15, Irvine 12/6, and Riverside on 12/13).

As I drove to the packet pickup at RoadRunner Sports in Thousand Oaks, I realized that I hadn’t run a half marathon since March (I always run the Great Race Cheseboro), and before that, Santa to the Sea last December! I actually love the half marathon distance and think I should run it more often! I feel like it makes me a more confident runner.

Packet pickup was easy peezy, as the volunteers and the folks at RoadRunner were efficient and friendly.

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I stayed and helped greet people at the entrance for a bit before heading off to a day of fun with my family (Re: eating Bavarian pretzels with cheese sauce and drinking craft IPAs at Barrelhouse 101. Oh, and caprese sliders. Because my life hasn’t been the same since eating those bad boys.).

After a long day out, we were very happy to come home. I promptly painted my nails and set out Flat HCR.

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The next morning (Can we talk about how much I loved having that extra hour of sleep?!?!), I woke up at 5:00 to give myself enough time to eat breakfast and chug several gallons of coffee before the start.

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Mmmmmmm… whipped cream in my coffee never gets old.

The Incredible Husband and I (Who am I kidding… it was mostly him) got the girls dressed, fed, and loaded, and we managed to make it to Ventura before I peed my pants before the race started.

We parked in our secret parking spot where I ditched the fam in search of the porta potties. Luckily, there were no lines! (Although I didn’t take pictures, so I may or may not be telling the truth.) 😉

The expo and the start of the race was on the grassy area just south of the Ventura Fairgrounds that borders the beachfront.

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How beautiful is that sunrise?!?!

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I made my way over to the ambassador tent where I didn’t take pictures with my new running friends (FAIL!). But I did manage to take a bundled up selfie!

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Because it was a smaller race (as all races are for the first go-round), gear check was super fast and efficient! I met up with some of my girlfriends from the ‘hood and chatted about how our non-training regimen for this race was going to be comical! (Again, no pics. I may or may not have any actual friends).

About 5 minutes before the start, my ambassador friend Edward and I made our way over to the start corral and lined up with the 1:40 pacer. It was actually a little windy and chilly, so when 7 o’clock came and went, I started shivering just a little bit.

It’s never fun when a race doesn’t start on time, but race organizers made sure that they communicated with us immediately at 7 that the start would be delayed due to lame-os who parked where they weren’t supposed to on the course and that the police were working to remove the vehicles. Communication is key, though, and by 7:13, after using the portas onelasttime, we were one our way.

I thought that I’d try to maintain a 7:45ish pace because I am running the Santa Barbara Marathon this Saturday, but I quickly found that my head was not in the game. As I ran down Harbor Blvd., I was still cold and my confidence from my sucky summer/fall training got the better of me, so I dropped away from the 1:40 pacer. Also, the start was full of 10Kers and halfers, and I was nearly run over by a man racing with a jogging stroller (in his defense, the course was narrow at that point, but in my defense, if he was planning on running so fast, he should have toed the line), so I decided it wasn’t worth fighting for the pace.

After running about 1 mile south, the course turned back up towards the start along the beachfront. I was already having head problems, so running back through the finish chute at 2-something miles was no bueno. <–This is not a joke, and I think it might be one of the cruelest things that can happen to a runner who is already struggling mentally.

Then, the course ran up the bike path and across the railroad tracks, where I was greeted with a steady, crisp headwind. Actually, it was more of a breeze, but considering temps haven’t been south of 70 in quite some time, I my So Cal weenie bones were cold! It was rather refreshing!

Eventually, the 10Kers turned back towards the start and the halfers peeled off towards the Ojai bike path. This is the same bike path at the end of one of my favorites, the Mountains 2 Beach marathon.

Man, those miles were lonely. The out and back on the bike path nearly did me in. At the turnaround, I spread my wings and tried my hardest to pick up the pace (without working for it, obviously.)<–I’m a lazy runner.

I don’t think I ever breathed hard during the entire race, but mentally, I was on the struggle bus.

After too many hairpin turns, I was finally on the home stretch (again!) to the finish! I crossed the line in 1:43:24.

Because I didn’t work at all for this, but rather, I ran at a comfortable pace based on effort alone, I was happy to see that my splits coincided with the elevation chart:

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I immediately met up with Eddie PR City:

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And then found my family. Mini Me and the huz both ran the 5K, which they loved!

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Yes, she ran with her hair down. Because, she says, it feels like she’s flying when she does that.

I’m not usually one who hangs out for a while after races, but the post-race party in Ventura was epic!

Food trucks and beer? (NOTE: for those of you where were wondering, Sierra Nevada was serving one of their IPAs as an option!!!!!!!) SIGN ME UP!!!

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I used my food ticket for a delicious kale/minty goodness juice called the Frankenmint from the Good to go Juice truck. Usually after a race, I don’t have an appetite until a couple hours afterwards, so I was glad to have a juice option.

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I would drink that green thing every dang day if I could!!!

The husband got a tasty grilled cheese/avocado sandwich from one of the trucks, but the winner of the day (that I didn’t try) was a breakfast burrito that one of my veggie friends ordered where she subbed the meat for the roasted brussels sprouts!<–How absurdly tasty does that sound?!?!

And then there was the beer.

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And plenty of space for people to sit and hang out either in the shad or in the sun!

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The bands were great, too!

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I love beer.

Also, I love this friend:

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She PRed in the 5K!!!!!!!

So I guess it was a good day to set some records!

Also, if you’re in the market for a new car, the Lexus vehicles that were on display were gorgeous! The seats on this one were a really pretty dark red color!!!

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Also a nice touch was that white structure behind the car. It was a charging station for electronic devices!

After hanging out for a while, the family and I stopped for one last picture.

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These guys are the best. My husband, especially. And I’m always so proud of Mini Me for wanting to run these 5Ks. She’s a pretty amazing 6-year old. As for Blondie, well… I just love her so, so much. She just goes along with everything we do.

Final Conclusion:

I’ll definitely run this race again. And I’m not just saying that because I’m an ambassador. I really thought that it was a fun day! For the first year, I cannot complain. There are little things that I’d tweak, but the race organizer has already sent out a feedback survey, so I’m sure her inbox is full of ways to make this event even more rad and an even bigger success next year. If you are still looking to race any of the remaining three races, use code RunLaceUp9 for 10% off!

Are you running any holiday races this year?

What is your favorite cold-weather running gear?

What is your favorite running song right now? (I’m making my SB Marathon playlist.)

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