Tips on Choosing a Running Race

CoasterRun2013.11

A few years ago I was on a running kick and went a little crazy registering for a bunch of 5Ks. A few particular I decided run were these fun themed 5K. At the time I didn’t think to read reviews of races. Some of these races was the first time they had put on the race. That should have already been a red flag, but I didn’t have much knowledge about racing then. Also the previous races I’ve done before the  few bad ones were all great and well organized so I didn’t think to even do research. One of the races that I went to was really badly organized. There were no water stations, checking into the race was a mess, it was a really hot day for May, and overall it was just a bad race. It was so bad that I threw away the medal and donated the t-shirt. This other race I did in October was organized really well, but I just didn’t anticipate it getting over 80 degrees. I should have known better that in October it still could be pretty hot. I guess that particular year I was trying to prove to myself how many races I could do and medals I could collect. It wasn’t actually enjoyable to be running in super hot weather in the streets with no shade. After those bad incidents I decided I shouldn’t just be signing up for races willy nilly. Here are a few of my tips for choosing your next race.

  • Research and read reviews. My number one tip before signing for any race is to do your research and read reviews. Not all races are the same and not all races are perfect even with the well known races. The more research you do the less like will end up doing a bad race.
  • When is date and time of the race? Is it going to be in a warm month where it could get really hot or during the winter when its really cold? If the race is in a warmer month when is the start time of the race. If the race is going to be in a warm month, but yet have a start time after 8AM, then it might be something to consider as it can get hot quickly. The time of the race will also factor into your travel time.
  • Distance. How far would you have to drive to get to the race? If you have a race where the start time is 7AM and you live an hour or more away then you would need to calculate the travel time and time you’d need to wake up. Though if its a race you’d have to travel to you can make it a fun weekend trip.
  • Budget. How much is the race going to cost? With some popular races one 5K can cost as much as doing two lesser known 5Ks. If you have to travel for a race you’d need to figure that into your budget too. Since I didn’t budget and was just going crazy registering for a bunch of 5Ks it put a dent into my wallet.
  • Perks. Perks are less important, but can be an added value to an race. As an example the Coaster Run 5K I do I Knott’s every year you get a boysenberry pie at the end of a race. Other races I’ve done had a beer garden and races like the hot chocolate run you get tons of sweets after finishing.

What are your tips for choosing a race?

 

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Weekend Run

Saturday I decided to do a long run. I’m not really doing any training program at the moment. I do want to eventually start half marathon training, but right now I just want to maintain my running by doing the Tone It Up 100 miles by summer challenge. In the fall the 100 mile challenge was what helped me maintained my running. This week I knew I wanted to go on a long run. For me anything over a 4 miles is a long run. I’ve run over 5 miles in the past, but this particular 5 miles I felt really great about it. I felt like I could have gone a few more miles. Also I felt that the run was enjoyable. I wasn’t cursing myself after mile 4 wondering why I even bothered to run. My mistake in the past was that I kept running for time. After reading that your training runs shouldn’t be race day pace I started slowing down my pace by a minute or two. Another problem was that I was rushing my runs just to get it over with, which goes back my problem of running for time. Overall my Saturday run was great. The weather was great and I went at a decent time for that day. I wasn’t worried about how long it would take me or how fast I was running. Before I left I told myself I was going on a long run and I would have a great run. The positive affirmation I told myself was a big help. I did stop a few times just so I could film myself running, but I probably could have gone without stopping. Though then I wouldn’t have something to put up on social media. Hahaha!

After this Monday morning’s one mile I ran, I’ve surpassed 700 miles since I’ve started running. That’s just what I officially logged on the Nike+ app. I feel so much closer to 1000 miles. Hopefully I can reach 1000 miles by the end of the year. When I decided to train for my first 5K back in 2011, it was just to challenge myself. I wanted to see if I would be able to start and finish something. I also wanted to prove to myself that just because I wasn’t athletic when I was younger it didn’t mean I was going to be that way my whole life. Never would I have thought that running would become a big part of my life and that I actually enjoy running.

TIU Bikini Challenge 2016

I’m signed up for the  2016 Tone it Up Bikini Challenge. I’ve signed up in the past just because everyone else was, but I’ve never followed through. Either because I felt I wouldn’t be able to keep up or I’m doing to many challenges at once. Since this one also has a 100 mile challenge I felt that I would be able to keep up since I run and I want to challenge myself to run more. Last year I was able to get to the over 80 miles. The plus about a popular challenge like the TIU one is that seeing everyone else sign up for it makes you want to sign up too. Anyone can sign up for the challenge. I also love the big community of TIU people. Weather or not your a member of TIU everyone is encouraging and helpful.

Derby Day 5K

I was bummed this year that I couldn’t do the Nike Women’s Run in Taipei because it didn’t workout with my schedule. It worked out though because it also happened to be the Derby Day 5K, which I love doing. This was my 3rd year doing it. Though I was worried because of the weather. El Nino decided to come back the week of the race. 3-4 days before the race weather reports were saying that it was going to be 100% chance of rain. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be running in the rain again. Then the day before the race it said it was a 50% chance. When I woke up I didn’t see any rain yet so that was hopeful. It didn’t rain till after the race was done. I always love running this race because running through the LA Arboretum is so beautiful and getting to run on the Santa Anita Race Track is fun. Since it rained the day before, the ending of the race which was on the race track was not great. It was muddy and really hard to run in because you were running in foot steps of the previous runner. I couldn’t wait to get to the end. Surprisingly I finished under 30 minutes. 29:37 to be exact. Not a PR since according to my records 29:28 is my fastest so far, but not bad. I thought running through the mud really slowed me down. What was also helpful was my Garmin watch. I was able to look at my pace and keep a good steady pace. Those hill repeats and interval training I’ve been doing for the past several weeks were helpful. I hopefully next year the weather is better. I guess a plus and another love of doing this race is that it only takes me 10-15 min to get there. I was planning to do the Nike Move with Hart event today, but my legs were not feeling it.  Glad I opted out because getting to sleep in was just what I needed.

Garmin Forerunner 235

After a few weeks of deliberation I finally decided to get a Garmin Forerunner 235 watch. I’ve been wanting one for few years, but didn’t really want to put down couple hundred dollars for a watch & end up not using it. I was running fine with my Nike+ app and I wasn’t really training for any long races or doing long runs. Part of me thought that running watches were for seasoned runners or hardcore runners. Lately I’ve been thinking more about it and I was like why shouldn’t get one for myself. I run and run races so why not. After doing a lot of online research I decided on the Garmin Forerunner 235. The main reason I got the Forerunner 235 was that I wouldn’t have to wear a chest strap to measure the heart rate and it also counts steps. I’m hoping that this watch will help with my training and it will be a constant reminder to run. I’ll still be using my Nike+ app as I get used to this watch. Doing a google search you’ll come up on some great sites that have great in depth reviews of the watch. Through reading some of these sites I was able to find out that I didn’t have to a boring watch face so I found this great Mario one. Another great feature that I like is being able to reject phone calls from the watch. I’ve been getting a lot of junk marketing calls from 800 numbers & with a push of a button on the watch I can reject a call.