Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pac Man Fever - Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon 2015

Things to think about if you ever decide to race in a costume.

1) Make sure you try it out before the race. Don't just hop on a treadmill for 60 seconds because most of the real weird stuff takes time to fall apart.

2) Read the description about the material. Even if you order from Amazon, different vendors have different thicknesses and fabrics.

3) Chafing. In places you probably don't expect, like the armholes, neck, and the shoulders for outfits that were allegedly 'one size fits all' if you happen to be a size 2.

All that said, note that I ignored all of this before Rock n Roll Los Angeles.

California races are super convenient. A reasonably early flight from Oakland to Burbank and we're at the expo almost as it opens. This was the second weekend where CGI was staffing two different cities, the other being north of the border in Vancouver. I'd say about 80% of the people we know on the circuit chose to come to California. This is also the third of nine consecutive weekends with RNR races for those making the late push to the Heavy Medal Hall of Fame. 

First things first. Hit the expo, grab the pins. No luggage tags this time around. I kinda wish Brooks would do those for every race, but I picked up yet another half-zip in a charcoal. I have to say, the colors for the gear are getting better.

Ron, Amy, Susan, Ainsley and Arnold. By the end of the year, we'll all be Hall of Famers.
This is the last time we see Monarch the California bear. He had some costume cooling issues which made me really appreciate not having a costume that I was wearing over my head.

If you're wondering, the Cali-Combo medal is NOT actual size.
We grabbed lunch at Tom's Urban with Al and Kamika and loitered a bit to wait for Tawni and Caryn. The sliders hit the spot. The lighting was challenging, but I'm glad Tawni remember to ask for a picture. 

With the short trip and the extra gear prep to do, we were back in the hotels for a few hours before dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Pictures didn't happen. Part of me says it's because I'm trying to enjoy the moments more and part of me is just getting forgetful.

Sunday October 26th. Race morning.
Now keep in mind, we coordinated the idea months ago, but only ordered costumes four to six weeks before the race. Except for a video preview I posted to make sure no one backed out, race morning was the first time we'd seen each other's outfits.

The concierge at the Sheraton was amused.
Pac-Ron, Caryn (Inky), Al (Blinky), Susan (the gameboard), Kamika as The Pineapple.
OK, it turns out that the classic Pac Man game doesn't have a pineapple, but since Kamika is from Hawaii, we thought it had to happen. His was the most recognizable costume on the course, other than the kids who thought he was Spongebob's house. It was a short walk to the starting line to meet Tawni (Pinky), Sherry (Sue) and Don (the edible ghost).

Jim and Beth were busy elevating the level of crazy for some of their TeamUP captains. Virginia (left, holding the sign) joined them in Las Vegas for a 10K on Saturday, drove 4 hours to LA and did the 5K for her first double race weekend in two different states.  

I put a lot of work into getting sounds effects into my phone, some of them being loaded the night before after downloading a Pac Man app and Voice Recorder Pro. A small bluetooth speaker in my bottle pouch made for a good distraction (or annoyance, depending on how long you were behind me). Listen carefully and you can hear the 'waka waka' sound on a 10 second loop coming out of my rear end.

The costume got a lot of attention, even from some of the four-legged participants. Bill "Chino Loco" Kwok, Rock Ambassador for Los Angeles, had a cadre of Running Elvi and a puppy in a stroller. ASPCA was the race sponsor, so this was perfect.

LA had the cheer squads going in full force since this was downtown and we didn't have any early morning noise restrictions like we've had in Brooklyn and San Jose. 

The course goes south to take a loop around the LA Coliseum and back, so we got to see a stream of runners coming back toward us. There were lots of Ninja Turtles, Thing 1 and 2's, Tweedledees and Tweedledums, an Ivan Drago and Rocky, a few Forrest Gumps and even Rosie the Riveter (with the paperboard "You Can Do It" sign behind her). Everyone had the same idea to stop by the arch for pictures. The Coliseum is a national landmark, after all.

The course changed slightly due to some issues at the 6th Street bridge, so we were diverted north to the 3rd Street bridge. Out and backs are good for this kind of picture since we see most people regardless of pace. 

We got this backwards. Sherry was supposed to kill me.

The course change shouldn't have been that big a deal, but it added a substantial hill that peaked at mile 7.5 and 12. We caught Ilona and Carl zipping down at mile 12.5, Ilona keeping a close eye on the ground, because at that speed and a decent sized pothole on her scooter, things could get dicey.  The top of the hill had some good views and the Toyota Inspiration mile kept us entertained.

This wasn't going to be our fastest race. With three fast races in the previous month and Double Live 3 coming up in mid November, this was a great one to throttle back and enjoy. Even the Pineapples are happy.

The group did get a shot at the costume contest thanks to Colleen. Based on applause, I think we took 5th behind the Jamaican Bobsled team, Forrest Gump and Devo and the dude in the Red Solo Cup.

Thanks, Amy, for taking this pic!
The costumes held up pretty well all things considered. The plastic ribs in the Pac Man structure worked loose at mile 8 and started poking me every step until I yanked it back into place. Al's Red/Blue ghost costume was a layer of rubber with light fleece on the inside, so he was roasting a bit. The ladies did a nice job with what turned out to be compression tops and Kamika kept his pineapple top on the entire way. 

We'll be watching our friends from the sidelines for the next two weeks, skipping Philly/Merida and Savannah. This is a good time for a break with the holiday season and the decorations going up, just as long as we don't let the Eating Season go too far. We still have Rock n Roll Fever!

Waka waka.  


Rock n Roll Los Angeles was run for the 5th year in 2015. Signups were not available for 2016, but if it falls on the same weekend as Vancouver, this is probably the race we would do. Vacation time will be short with Victoria Falls on the schedule.  There were 7,780 finishers in the half marathon (median finish time 2:26) and 1,516  in the 5K (37:57).  The course winds past the Staples Center, LA Live and the Coliseum and over the LA River into Alviso Village. Race temps were in the high 60's, but thankfully, we had cloud cover the entire race. It could have been toasty for the ghosts.

The Pannell Report (Heavy Medal count) going into the Philly/Merida weekend has 91 people with a shot at finishing at 15 or more races to earn a spot in the 2015 Hall of Fame. This is the last weekend to actually double down with Philly/Merida, but if it's possible, it's likely cost prohibitive. 

18 at 11
19 at 12
23 at 13
13 at 14
5 at 15     Hall of Fame
3 at 16
4 at 17
4 at 18
1 at 19

We don't personally know anyone who hit 15 this weekend, but I'd be happy to update it if anyone lets me know. I'd love to recognize the accomplishment! We're projecting a total of 11 repeat Hall of Famer's from 2014. Ilona and Carl were the first and two more should join them this weekend.

This was our 97th half marathon and 70th RNR half or full marathon. I think the medal walls are going to get a much needed makeover when we get a break in December.

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