Santa-Monica Venice Christmas Run 10K and 5K Race Review

YEAH BABY! PR in a Christmas tree costume! I don’t run too many 10Ks so I didn’t have an overly ambitious time to beat, but not gonna lie…I was kinda nervous about publicly making the dumb goal to run fast in this outfit. It was flopping around and choking me for most of the race, but the crowd support helped me manage a PR of 42:54. Nothing beats the feeling of sprinting passed an intense runner and seeing their look of shock when they realize they’re being past by a Christmas tree. Cecilia filmed the finish. Check out the video here! I feel incredibly light and free now that I am wearing normal clothes again.

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5K Start

5K Start

This is my fourth time running this 10K/5K combo race, and it is STILL my FAVORITE race of the year. Alaina (aka Ernie) is my official Santa-Monica Venice Christmas Run Buddy. We’ll be old ladies running this race. Last year it was pouring rain, but this year we were (maybe unfortunately due to our costumes) gifted with warm weather and sunshine. So many runners were out today! I saw people from RunMDR, Back on My Feet, Lululemon. It was awesome to see so many people out having a good time! Every year I run the 10K first, then walk/run the 5K. Our group is growing. This year we had Archana, Cecilia, Marta and Joe join in on the fun!

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The 5K!

For the 5K our finish consisted of Archana and I (the Christmas trees) twirling around in circles while the rest of our team danced around us singing “Rocking around the Christmas Tree.” It was amazing. I need to run more races in costume.

Archana is one hot mama!

Archana is one hot mama!

We got really lucky with the freebies this year. Nutribullet was making smoothies, and after the 5K when they were packing up and getting ready to leave, they had TONS of produce left over. We all got bananas, spinach, strawberries and blueberries. Yay for free groceries! photo 3

Thinking of running this race next year? (Don’t think about it. Just DO IT!)

Pros:

  • Fast course
  • Beach bums (like actual beach bums) cheering you on
  • Interesting herbal smells on the Venice board walk (is this a pro or a con?)
  • SO MUCH SPIRIT!!!
  • Everyone is in a good mood
  • Great long sleeve shirts
  • Medals this year!
  • Flushing bathrooms on the beach
  • Opal apples at the finish!
  • Huge parking lots right next to the start/finish (although you have to pay but its worth it)
  • I love running by the beach
  • The entire LA running community comes out for this! (So there is actually good competition)

Cons:

  • Turns are kinda annoying in the 10K if you are really trying to go fast. But it’s fun to see other runners so I think it’s worth it!
  • Crowded start area
  • NOTHING ELSE. IT IS SOOO MUCH FUN!

NYCRUNS Firecracker 5K-Governor’s Island Race Review

I like gifting experiences rather than stuff. Meredith (my NYC roomie) celebrated her 29th birthday earlier this month. Last summer I got her into running, so I figured entry into the Firecracker 5K on Governor’s Island was the perfect birthday gift. Meredith is a transformative educator at Columbia Secondary School in South Harlem. She teaches sixth grade English, built the school’s community garden and directs the school musicals. If she can make time for running, anyone can. Last summer Meredith had no running experience and in just two weeks we were consistently running three miles together. Meredith has always averaged 29/30 minutes for three miles, and today she ran an incredible 25:13!!!

I haven’t run a 5K in years. There’s no easing into a 5K, you have to run fast the whole time! A few months ago Lauren Fleshman wrote a great article for Runner’s World entitled 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome. She calls for a 5K revolution, arguing they result in less injuries, require no gels or blocks, and are cheaper. The two-time U.S. Outdoor 5000-meter champion wonders why value a slow marathon time more than a hard effort at the 5K when she states, “I want to talk about how, with three laps left, my body felt engulfed in flames, and how alive that feels compared with the slow burn of the marathon.” She’s right. If you run a 5K right, it is incredibly painful, and you don’t get any of that marathon glory.

I didn’t have a goal for this race. I love not having goals for races because I go in so much more relaxed and never experience disappointment. I surprised myself averaging a 6:27 pace with a 20:04 finish and was the third female finisher. I felt great the whole time, but it just finished so quickly. I’d love to run another 5K in the near future and use a little more strategy. I learned that I didn’t need to pace myself much for the first half, I just need to GO!

After the race I went to Carmen’s in Brooklyn. Brent and Marta were already here, and Mama and Papa are on their way. Looking forward to a fun family weekend (and work). Happy Fourth of July!

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Thinking of running a NYCRuns Race?

Pros:

  • Relaxed community feel
  • This course was gorgeous! Great view of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty
  • The race director was hilarious, cracking jokes on the mic before the race
  • AMAZING bagels after the race
  • Inexpensive
  • REAL BATHROOMS!

Cons:

  • Huge race shirts (I gave mine to Brent)
  • Getting to Governor’s Island was time consuming (but it was worth it!)

Back on My Feet Ten Miler

Back on My Feet is a non-profit that promotes the self-sufficiency of individuals experiencing homelessness by engaging them in running to help build confidence, strength and self-esteem. The organization was founded in Philly and has chapters in more than ten American cities. Back on My Feet members begin by running and gradually earn job and finance management training, moving their way through our program until they reach employment. (Click to find a chapter)

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My CLARE Foundation Running Buddies

I’ve been running with Back on My Feet since November. I learned about Back on My Feet through Lesley Brillhart, a friend who taught at KIPP and now works with Back on My Feet LA. She included a note in our school weekly bulletin encouraging us to support the new to LA organization by joining one of the 5:30 AM run groups. 5:30 AM is early enough for anyone but an educator’s schedule. The absolute LATEST I can arrive to school is 7:00 AM. My amazing carpool buddy/BFF/co-worker Alaina, now a runner, joins me twice a week at the CLARE Foundation site in Santa Monica. We have quite the system. I pick her up at 5:15 AM, and  we’re in Santa Monica in ten minutes. We warm up, huddle up, set out for our runs, then go straight to school. Alaina drives my car to school so that I can change while we’re driving and be ready to welcome students into the building for breakfast. Don’t worry, I use PLENTY of wipes, spray and deodorant. Yeah, it’s kinda gross, but it’s SO worth it to be involved with this incredible organization.

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6:59 WOO!

Back on My Feet has reminded me what a powerful impact running can have on your life. It relieves stress, is a great way to meet people, and teaches you that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. The organization is making an incredible impact on the lives of resident members and on its volunteers too. Back on My Feet has improved my speed tremendously. One of the members has really helped our entire team pick up the pace. Today was his longest run yet. He’s rocked 5 and 10K’s in the past, but today we set out for a new distance. 10 miles. The Long Beach, Downtown and Santa Monica groups all came together this morning at Palisades Park in Santa Monica for a 10K/10Miler. We decided to run together, and set the goal of averaging roughly a seven minute mile pace, and we DID IT! Miles 7-10 were hot, but we kept encouraging each other and pulled through finishing 1 and 2.

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Celebrating a great run at Road Runner Sports in Santa Monica

Road Runner Sports in Santa Monica then hosted a post-run party with food, freebies and a raffle. Brent (the hubster) and I just bought new running shoes there. We love their shoe dog that helps you find the PERFECT pair of running shoes for your feet. Live in the LA area? You should definitely check them out for a pair of good running shoes. Brent and I are spending a lazy afternoon on the couch, I then have a group meeting with my Columbia group (more on that later) and tonight we’re walking down to the beach and The Tripel for dinner. We can’t go more than a week without The Tripel.

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The Finish!