Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Race Review


For the second of my back-to-back races last weekend, I ran the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego half marathon. If you would like a more in-depth look at the self-titled #Fontana2SD challenge, search #fontana2SD on social media. This year was my fourth consecutive participating in the event – three times at the half marathon distance, once at the marathon distance – making it the most repeated race I have done.

Expo: A

All of the Rock ‘n Roll marathon expos have the same feel to them and I am sure that is not by accident. With the San Diego edition being one of the largest in the marathon series, it makes sense that the expo would be large as well. And it was. Lots of vendors are spaced out over lots of space in the convention center making packet pick up and any additional shopping a breeze. You will have to navigate the expo vendors even if you are just picking up your bib though because of the “one-way” traffic flow.

Prerace/Postrace: B

Another point-to-point race but this time if you want to utilize the shuttle service it will cost you an additional $5 per person. With so many races offering free shuttle service, it is hard not expect the same here especially given the fact that there are not many hotels near the starting line but too many to count near the finish line. This race makes every attempt to seed runners in corrals based on time and while it is done on the honor system, I find most people play by the rules.

The finisher’s chute was very long and even more crowded than in previous years. The race finished at a new location with better access to the ocean but getting out was a daunting task. While in the chute, runners are offered multiple options of beverages and snacks – so much so that I feel they are one of the best in this area. Once free from the chaos, there was a very large party in full swing. Rock ‘n Roll does a good job of getting acts to play at their after-race concerts and this was no exception.

The Course: A

The only thing which keeps this course from getting the top score is the lack of a run along the ocean. Being in San Diego, one would expect to spend some time along the waterfront but it is not there for the half marathon. (When I ran the full marathon in 2014, there was a segment along the ocean.) The course takes runners through historic commercial districts as well as neighborhoods with charm. The residents of the city come out for the event with unofficial aide stations – offing everything from Red Vines, to Gummy Bears, to tequila shots – adding to the vast amount of water stops along the way. There are several smaller climbs and downhill segments to keep runners focused on the task at hand but nothing overly challenging.

The Medal: B

The medal is on the smaller side for races of this size and price point. Other than the size, the design is nice and a good representation of the course and the city.

Overall: A

There is a reason I have participated in this event each of the past four years. From the expo, to the route, to the medal, to the post-race festivities, this event is positioned well for newer and highly experienced runners alike. If you sign up early, or catch one of the many discounts during the year, it is one of the better bang-for-your-buck races out there. A bit of warning for those who find themselves waiting until the last minute to sign up, the entry fee can get pricey as race day nears.


*Full disclosure: I am a member of the 2016 Rock ‘n Roll Rock ‘n Blog team. As a part of my involvement, I am gifted free entry into all Marathon Series races. However, no additional compensation was provided and the views expressed in this review are my own.


Fontana Days Run Review

IMG_6459 (1)

A group of friends and I decided to make the Fontana Days Run half marathon the first of back-to-back races in our self-titled #Fontana2SD challenge. You can search #fontana2SD on social media if you would like an in-depth look at the weekend’s activities. It was my second time entering the Fontana Days Half, having previously run in 2014, and all I really remembered about my first go-around was a no-frills, see-how-fast-you-can-run-down-a-mountain race where almost everyone set a personal best by several minutes.

I was not one of those who PRed that day, nor did I PR this day. Funny how that works out.

Expo: B

Truth be told, I am not sure there was even an expo for this race. There was an option to pick up bibs during a four-hour stretch Friday night but I had prior commitments so I opted for the free race-morning bib pick-up. It was a very easy process, from claiming my bib to picking up my race swag.  There really was nothing more I could have wanted.

Prerace/Postrace: B-

This race is a point-to-point run which starts up in the mountains and as such, it requires a bus ride to the starting line. This race is limited to about 1,000 entries so it is small and that made for easy travel to the starting line. There seemed to be plenty of school buses available to runners but there was a cutoff time for when they stopped sending people to the half marathon starting line.

The post-race food was nothing special but there were several food trucks available in the post-race village. I did not partake of the post-race party but it looked to be a good sized event even for a smaller sized race.

The Course: C

This event is the only one I have participated in which takes place entirely on the same road. Yes, you read that correctly. The road you start on is the one you finish on. Coming down the mountain there are some nice views but once you hit the bottom, around mile seven, there is nothing inspiring about it. It was akin to being on a lonely stretch of desert road which goes on as far as the eye can see.

The Medal: D

The medal will, without a doubt, be the smallest and cheapest looking medal I receive this year.

Overall: B+

I know, I know. Not one element of the race scored higher than a ‘B’ but here I am giving the race an overall grade of ‘B+’. What does not previously show up on my report card for this race is the intent of the event. This half marathon is all about speed! There is a reason it sells out each year and that is because the people who enter want to run fast and that is where this race excels. With a drop of around 2500 feet, most of which comes in the first six miles, runners are afforded the ability to run faster than normal without as much effort. Even after you reach the bottom of the mountain, the course is still a slight decline with only one small incline. An incline which would go unnoticed on most courses. If you are out to establish a new PR then I highly recommend the Fontana Days Run. If you are more interested in running a big race with lots of bells and whistles, you will be underwhelmed by this one.  There is no national anthem at the start, there is no starting gun, there are no gels on the course (there are water stations every 2 miles), there is no entertainment nor bands on the course, there are only a handful of spectators.  However if you simply want to run fast, Fontana Days is the race for you.

Tinkerbell Half Marathon Review


Expo: A+

Parking at Disneyland can be rough and getting to the Simba parking lot proved to be more difficult than it should have because of some errant signage but there was plenty of parking available. Bib pick up is underneath the actual expo and is very spacious. Plenty of computers are provided to print out race waivers and picking up your bib is very simple. The expo offers lots of vendor options as well as several events like guest speakers throughout the weekend.

Prerace/Postrace: B

Parking for the race is a whopping $18 per day! Keep that in mind when you sign up for one of the races at Disneyland. I arrived early enough that I had no issues getting into the parking structure. Post race runners are offered a bottle of water, small bottle of Powerade, and a prepackaged box of snacks. The box contained Oreos, a Luna bar, corn chips, a cheese sauce, and apple sauce. There is a stage with music being played but not much “entertainment” as I imagine they would like for runners to head over to the park for that.

credit: runDisney

The Course: A+

Full disclosure, I am not a “Disney” person. That being said, running through the parks offers a nice distraction from thinking about running 13.1 miles and most of the first half of the race take place within the parks. Once out in the streets of Anaheim, there is nothing super special about the course. There were plenty of water stations along the route. With just two short hills, from what I recall, I would say this course is one where going after a PR is a realistic goal. I would recommend this race for all skill levels.


The Medal: A+

One thing runDisney usually gets right is its medals and Tinkerbell is no exception. The medal is one of the better medals out there.



Overall: A-

This race ranks right up near the top of my list of races. The problem is runDisney charges a premium for its product and I just do not feel the race is better than any other well run half marathon. For fans of the Disney franchise, running through the parks and taking pictures along the route holds a certain value. But charging such a high rate for parking and cutting corners in the finisher’s area leaves a bit of a sour taste. One are where this race excelled was in photos! No longer outsourcing their race photography, they perfected the art of race photos. Action shots were available to download same day, well lit, large files, and in focus. I think all your race photos can be purchased for $39 (another added cost to an already expensive race) but in this case, it is money well spent.

credit: runDisney


OC Marathon Race Review


Last weekend I ran the OC Marathon. I had heard lots of good things about the race but never participated in the event myself. The following review is for the half marathon distance.

Expo: A-

Held at the Orange County fair grounds, the expo provided plenty of parking and space. Bib pick up was clearly marked and easy to get in and out of. Because there was so much space, the vendors’ area did not feel crowded as there was plenty of room to walk and shop at the same time. My only two knocks on the expo were having to pay $8 for parking and the limited hours it was open on Friday. I doubt the race has any control of parking costs and the website did warn attendees in advance about the cost and that it was cash only. I also would have liked the expo to open at noon on Friday because, due to Southern California traffic, 4 pm is not a fun time to be driving. It also forced most people to attend on Saturday which caused lots of parking traffic.

Prerace/Postrace: A-

Runners received an email informing them of which shuttle time slot they were scheduled for. Mine was 4:25 am. That made for a very early wake up call on race day. I encountered absolutely no traffic getting to the fairgrounds and boarded the school bus without a wait. There were plenty of buses to take runners to the start line. Again, I had to pay $8, cash only, for parking. Finishers had the option of water, chocolate milk, and Gatorade but the free food options were limited. The post race party was very large and spread out so while there were a lot of people hanging out, it did not feel overly crowded.

The Course: A

Runners were treated to some nice downhills at the beginning of the course. This allowed for quick miles without exerting much energy. Views of the ocean and coves were followed by lengthy runs through very affluent neighborhoods. If attempting to set a personal best at this race, beware there is a small section run on a sidewalk which makes passing people all but impossible and there is a formidable hill at mile 11. After reaching said hill, runners have great views of planes taking off from John Wayne Airport.


The Medal: A-

The medal looks similar, but not exactly the same, every year. I like that. It is a nice medal with the half marathon appearing to be slightly smaller than the marathon finisher’s medal. The medal is of good size and weight and is on par with other races.


Overall Grade: A

I really enjoyed the race and the course and can see myself running it again. I would recommend it to runners of all skill levels. If not for the really narrow sidewalk, I would have no problems saying this race was one to use to go after a new PR.

For a limited time, you can sign up for the 2017 race for $65.


La Jolla Half Marathon Review


Expo: B

The expo was held inside the Hilton San Diego/Del Mar Hotel. Parking was easy, and free. The hotel ballrooms felt cramped with vendor’s booths but bib pick up was quick and painless.

Prerace/Post Race: A

With the race being a point-to-point event, there were two options for runners. Take a shuttle from the finish line to the start line in the morning or take a bus from the finish to the start after the race. I stayed closer to the finish and opted for the first option. The shuttles were charter buses and not school buses so that was a welcomed surprise. Also, there were plenty of buses available so it was not a long wait. My only issue, and it was not a big deal, was the bus got me to the starting area 90 minutes before the race. That was a little too early for my liking but with a 20+ minute ride to the start, I am not sure it was avoidable. I did not utilize the shuttle post race.


Course: B+

The views on the course were as advertised. AMAZING! Starting in Del Mar, running along the Pacific Ocean, through Torrey Pines National Forrest, and into La Jolla was breath taking. So were the hills. Looking at the course profile, I knew there was a MASSIVE hill in the middle of the route with a couple of smaller inclines mixed in but I felt like I was climbing the majority of the morning. The course also ran down what seemed like a residential alley and there was a part where runners had to navigate over a median in the road.


Medal: A-

The medal is a good size, colorful, and represents the race well. It is one which will stand out on your medal display.


Overall Grade: B+

This course was most likely a one-and-done for me. I took the race easy as I wanted to capture photos along the way and was still soul crushed by the end. A steep hill around mile 12 was the final straw.

Have you run this race? What did you think?

A 24 Carrot Experience

The weekend that was SeaWheeze came and went. After almost 11 months of waiting, it was time to relive what I considered my favorite race of 2014.

The weekend started with a late Thursday-night flight to Vancouver. From the airport I proceeded directly to the convention center via the rail where I met up with Lisa, Richard, Carmen, Mikenzie, and Tracy. Anticipating a VERY large and early crowd for the lululemon Showcase Store, they had gotten in line around 10:30 pm.

IMG_2260I was shocked by how early people started lining up, the first people are rumored to have arrived shortly after 9 pm, and how long the line was just after midnight.

A trip to 7-11 for coffee with James was followed by a trip to Tim Hortons with Christina and her friends to help pass the time during the wee hours of the morning. Between the four and five o’clock hours were the most difficult for me to stay away as I neared 24 consecutive hours of being awake.


By the time six o’clock rolled in, I was running on pure adrenalin. The line was now wrapping around the convention center and it was estimated over 4,000 people were waiting for their chance at the exclusive SeaWheeze clothing line.

IMG_2272When the doors finally opened at 7 am, it was a mad dash for everyone to locate and secure their items.

IMG_2277Following shopping it was time to pick up my participant packet which consisted of a bag, water bottle, and runner’s bracelet.

IMG_2306I had time for a quick breakfast before heading back to the convention center to co-host the We Run Social Meet Up. Lots of people showed up but with so many people still shopping, in line, or with families most people were only able to hang out for a few minutes before heading off to their next destination. It was great to meet so many new people and see just how far the We Run Social movement has spread since its inception in May of this year.

IMG_2298By the time I finally made it to my hotel and was tucking myself into bed, I had been awake for 39.5 consecutive hours. Note, I do not recommend this if you are attempting to run a half marathon the next day.

Race morning I met up with several friends who were running the race, many of which were also wearing “TheGibblers” by PROCompression.

IMG_2330I had not run, at all, for five weeks leading up to the half marathon, again, I do not recommend this type of training, so trying to run for any specific time was out of the question. Luckily for me, the course works its way through beautiful downtown Vancouver before spitting you out along the Seawall, then through Stanley Park.

The views are beautiful. I am glad I was not “racing” because I enjoyed being with my thoughts and taking in the majestic views.

The Seawall

The final 8K (they use the metric system in Canada) was a struggle. My legs were tired, I was tired, and I was really ready to not be running anymore. Two things kept me going. First, I still had no clue what the medal looked like and secondly, I remembered the most amazing post-race waffles from last year and was super hungry.

The course itself is not one to try and go after that PR unless you are able to get to the front of the corrals. It is a very narrow course, especially along the Seawall where it is only four to five people wide and there is a very crowded out-and-back early in the run.

I collected my carrot medal, finisher’s cap, and post-race meal then met up with everyone else. The waffles alone are worth the trip. Yes, they are THAT good.

IMG_2363The SeaWheeze experience was winding down but far from over. Around 4 pm I made my way to Stanley Park where I flew through the sky on a trapeze, drank beer during the third, and final yoga session of the weekend, and carried on with friends during the three-band concert.

IMG_2429It is no wonder why this race keeps gaining in popularity. Lululemon pulls out all the stops and it is not just another half marathon, it is a weekend experience.

Vancouver is a wonderful city, one of the best I have visited, and if I am lucky enough to secure an entry into future SeaWheeze races, I will make this an annual trip. It truly is a bucket-list event.

Week One: Seawheeze Training Recap

IMG_0710Of the over 30 half marathons I completed last year, the Seawheeze was my favorite. Shocking, right? I mean, if lululemon is going to host a race, it HAS to be MY favorite, does it not? Truth-be-told, this race was not my favorite because of the host. It was my favorite because of location and the weekend’s events. With the release of the TackleBox Training app last week, I am now officially training for The Seawheeze!

I have not run much since the Phoenix marathon. By not much I mean I ran a total of 26.2 miles in April. There were two reasons for this. First, I needed a break. I was logging a lot of quality miles in the months leading up to the marathon and my body was ready for a rest. Secondly, I lost the joy of running.

So now I start anew!

In my opinion, the 14-week training app is geared more to getting runners to the finish line than it is to the runner who is looking to compete in their age group. Each week it follows the same format of:

Monday – Easy Run
Tuesday – Yoga
Wednesday – Speed work
Thursday – Cross training
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Long run
Sunday – Easy Run & Yoga

But I want to see if this app can be used by an experienced runner and still produce results. With that said, Week 1 is in the books and here is how it looked…

Mon., May 11

IMG_0711Donning my new Seawheeze participant pace breakers, I headed out for a 30-minute run down to the Venice Beach Pier and back. Full disclosure, my right leg has been hurting on runs of late and this was no different. I wish I could point to one area and say, “there!! It hurts right there!” I would be pointing to my entire right leg if I did that so…

Tues., May 12
Did I mention I am out of practice with my running? Well, I am even more out of practice with my yoga! I have not touched a yoga mat in at least two months. Needless to say, yoga was a strugglefest. The app comes with a link to a YouTube practice lululemon filmed specifically for runners. It seems like a very beginner-friendly practice but man did I struggle with it.

Wed., May 13

IMG_0712Back to running. Today was the first run workout of the training but with my leg hurting from the start, I ditched the speed work portion of the workout and only ran the 30 minutes down to the pier and back. By mile two my leg was in extreme pain and I was ready for the run and my pain to be over.

Thurs., May 14
I am starting to sound like a broken record here but it just goes to show how far out of shape I have let myself get recently. The app has a built in cross training workout I decided to try. It is nothing the average person could not do and you have the option of swimming, power yoga, spin class or anything else you would like to do to get active, except run. I was able to get most of the way through this workout but did not complete it in its entirety.  My leg was still bothering me and blah blah blah…I just did not feel like doing it anymore. Meh.

Sat., May 16

IMG_0713The first long run of training was here and it called for three miles. I would have knocked out three miles quickly a year ago but in my current condition, I was happy just to finish. My leg still hurt although not as badly as it had earlier in the week so I counted that as a win.

Sun., May 17
The final day of training for the first week and as excited as I was about starting training, I was equally as uninspired about my first week’s performance. An easy 20-minute run capped off my efforts which saw me log 11.27 pain-filled miles.