There are several things I absolutely love about this race:
- It is for a really great cause! It benefits the Riverside Police Officer's Association Assistance Fund. Last year the funds went to Officer Andrew Tachias who is on the long road to recovery from injuries he suffered during the Christopher Dorner incident in early 2013. And guess what - Officer Tachias actually ran the race this year! How cool is that?!? Here's an article about him that was in the local newspaper.
- It is the perfect time of year in SoCal. Seriously - the weather was amazing both this and last year. Chilly enough in the morning to need a light jacket, but warm enough during the run to not be cold at all while not being overly warm either.
- The course is fabulous. It is a rectangle and is fairly flat for the most part so it makes it pretty easy. You start on a short straight, make a left and stay straight for a good stretch, another left for a short straight, then a final left to the homestretch. Once you turn that final corner you know that you are headed for that finish line and it just makes it so much easier to push through. It's also a really pretty course for the most part running along the orange groves and passing under large shade trees. The road is a little beat up on the first long stretch and there's been water runoff that you have to either run through or dodge both years, but those things are so minor in comparison to the rest of the benefits.
- Great post-race party with a free (FREE!!) pancake breakfast put on by the Boy Scouts. Now, the Boy Scouts do ask for tips/donations, but if you didn't bring anything with you, it doesn't exclude you from getting a couple free pancakes and a glass of juice. They also had a band this year providing entertainment and invited folks to hang around and enjoy the day (we didn't, but if I planned to it would have been really cool!)
- The location is the best it could possibly be. I mentioned last year that it is at a Sports Park near the historic citrus district (see the recap link in the opening paragraph above for a lot more background on that). Real bathrooms! A park to keep kids entertained! Plenty of space to mill around without feeling cramped! Tons of parking! Easy to get in and out of! Seriously, race locations don't get better than this in my opinion. If the race grew to attract a much larger crowd it might not work, but right now - PERFECTION.
|Check out that rectangle and the temp at race time - PERFECTION!|
|Elevation Profile - it doesn't get much better than this...58 ft. of elevation gain overall|
Tech Shirts Sizing: This year we registered early enough to get the tech shirts that went to the first 250 registrants which is awesome! However, these shirts were pretty much baby-sized. We ordered me a Medium and I swear it would have barely fit my size 0-1 twenty year-old daughters. Not only was it small around, it was really short on the torso. My sister ordered an XXL, but was only given an XL so it's my guess that they couldn't get sizes larger than XL and just changed them out in those cases for the next available size. The XL will fit me pretty good, but it wasn't going to fit my sis. She traded it with me with the intent to cut it up eventually for her t-shirt quilt, but ended up trading it back for a cotton tee that she can actually wear.
Water Stops/Post Race: I am happy to say that they added a water stop this year which was great, but the placement was way too close together. The first stop was just before turning onto Adams Street (see map above). The second stop was just after turning off of Adams Street. So you can see that they were probably not even a full mile apart from each other. I carried my own water this year since I've learned that lesson the hard way too many times, but I definitely felt for folks that were relying on the stops for their hydration. It left a long way to go with no water on that homestretch. And they still don't have water at the end of the race which is a problem to me (but they do have the free post-race pancake breakfast, so that kinda balances it out...kinda).
Bottleneck to Start: I mentioned last year that one of the things that is really cool is that instead of just gathering at the start line, shooting the gun off and sending you on your way they have a real live bagpiper leading you to the start! It's pretty awesome and is something I really love about this race. However, they lead you from the Sports Park, through a narrow gate, and then to the start. So you get stuck at the narrow gate...it's a huge bottleneck and it takes forever to get out. I don't really care that much about this, but if someone had done a warm-up prior to starting because they are planning on killing it, then this bottleneck would allow them to completely cool down. Not a huge problem, but something that I think could be fixed if they walked out the drive-in gate instead of through a pedestrian gate.
But seriously - those are the only things I think need improving and in my opinion they are pretty minor issues. None of those things would keep me from running this race again in the future even if they were exactly the same as they are now. And I think that says a LOT about how great of a race this is!!
Alright - let's talk about MY race, shall we?
I was running this race as a Team SunRype USA Ambassador through the Active Network so I was proud to represent in my team shirt, visor and jacket (finally it was cool enough to be needed!!!). I also brought along samples of the SunRype FruitSource bars that I handed out prior to the race starting.
|I absolutely LOVE these things!! Seen out in the "wild" in our little mountain community of Idyllwild|
It felt really good to pass out a product that I don't just enjoy myself, but that I can stand behind because it is a great product made with quality ingredients. I got really good feedback from people and I hope they enjoyed them! If you haven't already, you should definitely check out SunRype's Facebook and Instagram as they have a lot of really great contests to win awesome products!! One of them is running now for Halloween - #Good4LittleMonsters. Check it out and keep your fingers crossed for luck!
SunRype on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SunRypeUsa
SunRype on Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunrypeusa
SunRype on the Web: http://www.sunrypeusa.com/
Did you know you can buy SunRype products on Amazon too??
Okay, so shameless promo out of the way, I do need to say that I have been provided with free samples of SunRype products but my opinions about their deliciousness are all my own. And I can say that free or not - I would absolutely BUY THIS PRODUCT and will continue to do so long after I am no longer an Ambassador. If you want to give them a try before purchasing, let me know as I am happy to send you a little care package. :-)
So after feeling awesome from sharing the SunRype love with the other racers it was time to line up and get to the start line...I almost forgot that I was there with a PR goal in mind! I set as a goal way back at the beginning of 2014 to PR in every main race distance between 5k and marathon. Since the marathon was my first it was a given, but this was my first time out in a 5k distance for the year where I was planning on pushing for that personal best, so I really wanted to mark it off the goal list! (I ran a little 5k earlier this year, but it was in the middle of a flood so it doesn't really count, right? haha)
Last year I PR'ed at this race without even trying, but I knew this year that it was going to take trying to actually accomplish it. So once I got to the start line my plan was to start at a fairly easy pace to warm-up and then just keep pushing to the end. I'll spare all the gory details because, really, they aren't gory at all but are just straight-up boring instead! What ya'll want to know is if I did it, right???
My previous best time was 34:14 from the 2013 Hometown Heroes Honor Run. Here is this year's:
|So very pleased with this!!|
I have to say...this running thing...it's kinda crazy to me even still! I never thought it would be something that I could do, much less something that I would love so darn much! It just amazes me to realize that I'm capable of getting up and out on a regular basis. To run through doubts, soreness, sickness, weather and everything else in between. Being a runner...well, it's a pretty cool thing!!
I'll leave you with a few final pics:
|Sweaty Selfie with the Bling!|
|L-R: My Sister, Heather; My Mom, Barby; and ME!|
But if you're in the SoCal area in October - definitely check out the Hometown Heroes Honor Run in Riverside! It is one of the best events I have participated in and I will be back again in 2015!
Keep moving, friends!