Christmas Run

My birthday started out pretty perfectly, if you ask me! I mean, is there a better way of starting out being 25 than running a fun 5K with your friends… and PRing? I think not!

To back up for a moment… the preparation really started the night before when I carbo-loaded with some Pad Thai…

… while I was making my race day t-shirt. You’ll see that in just a minute.

The 5K didn’t start until 9:15 am in Santa Monica, so I got to sleep in until 6:30 on race morning! This is rare, since most races start earlier and/ or are farther away. I actually could have slept later, but I was wide awake at 6:30 (I know, I’m crazy).

I made myself some toast with white chocolate peanut butter, but I only ate one piece.

Truth be told, I have finally learned my lesson. I’ve gotten a stomach ache after every race (this one included), and all three times it was because I tried to eat before the race. Never again. I’m going to have to figure out how to fuel for longer races, though, because I think running 13.2 miles on an empty stomach might not be the smartest idea.

Anyway, Chris came over to the apartment and he, Mark and I hit the road!

Once we got there, we parked kind of far away (whoops) and picked up our chips and bibs.

Oh, want to see my shirt? The front:

And the best part, the back:

Cool, right? That shirt is the best idea I’ve ever had. More on that later.

Anyway, it was so wonderful to be at a race with friends. Mark, Chris and I were all really excited and I was thrilled to be sharing the experience with them.

This race was, hands down, the most completely packed race I have ever seen.

Despite being so popular, this race was, unfortunately, kind of disorganized. For instance, there was no bag drop (which is where we had planned to meet up with Amanda and Katherine, so Katherine was initially stuck with a bag that she had to find somewhere to leave. Also, Amanda was registering that day and was not warned ahead of time that she needed to pay in cash… so she had to run to an ATM a mile away (so she ran 2 miles before the race even began!) to get some cash.

Somehow, in the masses and despite all of these issues, we still managed to find both Katherine and Amanda.

Katherine was there to PR, so we bid her goodbye and let her head up to the front. Amanda and I were planning on running at least part of it together, so we stayed together and the boys stayed with us, too.

Check out the massive crowd at the start line:

Before we knew it, it was time to go! There was no preamble… suddenly, the horn went off and people started moving.

This is where having the shirt I’d made on got really cool. All throughout the race, people kept yelling “Happy Birthday!” to me. It had me smiling the entire time. People – especially runners – can be so friendly and supportive. I had a blast.

The best part? When these two (and Amanda) SANG to me!

That was amazing. Seriously, amazing. And it was right at the beginning of the race, too! What a way to start.

This was a particularly good race for me. I knew, even beforehand, that it was going to be. My body felt great. I didn’t once notice my knee or my achilles tendon.

Amanda and I had originally planned to run together, but our natural paces started to set us apart and so we agreed to go our own ways after about 3/4 mile.

Mile 1 was pretty uneventful, race-wise, though it was a lot of fun to spend most of it with Amanda and to be sung to!

Mile 2 was… interesting. Much of it was along Venice Beach, where many of stands were being set up, many homeless men were about and yelling at us, the scent of incense was strong, and the scent of weed was even stronger. Running through those smells was kind of difficult (read: gross), but it was also a little bit funny.

At the end of mile 2, a girl named Holly tapped me on the shoulder and said, “It’s my birthday, too!” That was pretty awesome. I wished her a happy birthday, told her about the blog, and took a picture with her. I look CRAZY (I was really excited), but I’m going to post it anyway because it’s so cool that we were both running the race on our birthday.

Yes, we were still running while that was taken.

Happy birthday, Holly!

Lesson learned, by the way: from now on, I will have my blog address written on my shirt! I told both the singers and Holly the address, but I can’t imagine they remembered it just from being told while running.

Anyway, when I saw the sign indicating that mile 3 was beginning, I decided to push myself and run even faster. This was a great call (since I got a great time), but I did get a little bit worn out. By the time there were only .2 miles left of the race, I tried to sprint but didn’t have enough left in me to truly do so. Still, I ran even faster, even if it made me feel a little bit sick. Crossing that finish line felt wonderful, especially when I saw that I had PRed.

As I was running to the finish line, I saw Katherine, Chris, and Mark, all of whom finished with incredible times! And, while my time wasn’t quite in the low and mid-20s like theirs all were, my time was incredible for me! I PRed with a total time of 33:55, which gives me a 10:56 average pace. This means I crushed my previous PR from the Turkey Trot (just a few weeks ago!) of 36:15, which had given me an 11:42 average pace. So, I improved my total time by over two minutes and improved my average pace by almost a minute per mile! Not bad, huh? Especially for having two injuries and not doing any training.

Right after finishing, I quickly joined Katherine to wait for Amanda. Right before Amanda showed up, this guy, carrying his dog, did.

Isn’t that adorable? Lots of people cheered for him.

Amanda came soon after, and Katherine and I finished the race with her. I loved crossing the finish line again with them!

It was also so great to reunite with the boys and to hear how amazingly fast they both ran!

My friend Vera also came to cheer us on, which was so sweet of her. I love having supportive friends! Here’s a (squinty) group picture of all of us:

That’s Katherine, me, Vera, Chris, Amanda and Mark.

We all went to brunch on the beach together (per my request), but after everyone else had ordered, I realized that my stomach was feeling kind of sensitive and I didn’t end up ordering anything.

Instead, I munched on a Clif Bar that I’d packed.

I felt a little stupid (since brunch was my idea and all), but it was definitely the right call for me. Plus, even though I didn’t order anything, it was still nice to sit and chat with friends.

I had such a perfect birthday morning. Running a race with friends is awesome and it just felt amazing to start out a new year by doing something both healthy and fun. Chris told me I’m one of the only people he knows that would think “Hey, it’s my birthday, I think I’m going to run a race!” but I think more people should – it was fantastic. I wish I could do a race on my birthday every year.

By the way, you can read Katherine’s recap here and Amanda’s recap here.



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13 responses to “Christmas Run

  1. Great recap and fantastic pics! Loved seeing that dog. I think we all should get blog race tshirts made!

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  3. Raya

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Some of your pics are so familiar b/c when I was in LA this summer my mom, sister and I rented bikes at Perry’s and rode from Santa Monica into Venice and back. It was so fun!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I’m so glad I came and ran with you guys. It was so fun to see people singing to you.

    And way to go on the PR!!!!! I am so proud of you!

  5. hahahaha! i love the picture of the guy carrying his dog! too funny!!!

    great job on the race! such a great pr!

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  7. Congratulations on your PR! Certainly a very nice way to start your birthday celebrations! 🙂

  8. Great job on your PR! Glad you had such a wonderful birthday run!

  9. Awesome job! Are you doing any races in the near future? I could use a racing buddy 🙂

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