Fun with Kids in Los Angeles, CA

Whenever I register for a race that's away from home, I always debate if we should bring the kids or not.  Most times, it just comes down to if there's anything fun for them to do there or not.  With the L.A. Marathon being in Los Angeles and it also being my first full marathon, I thought it'd be great to bring the kids and make a trip out of it, a little race-cation ;) 

WIth a little planning, it is totally feasible to run a great race and have a fun time as a family together. I think it's important for the kids to see all your hard work pay off in the end.  My kiddos are there when I get home from an early morning run, they see me hobble up the stairs if I'm sore from a long run, they know all about epsom salt baths and icy hot, so why not have them their for the reward after too!  They are my biggest supporters and rather than leave them behind, I try to take them along for most races for all the race day fun and more! 

After packet pickup on Saturday, we were all super excited to go eat at Seoul Sausage, since they were previous winners of The Great Food Truck Race on The Food Network.  It originally aired a few years ago, but we just recently saw it on Netflix  as a family.  I knew they were from L.A., so I looked them up and saw they had 2 actual restaurants, plus the food truck.  Turns out, their newest location in Little Tokyo was about 2 miles from the convention center where we'd be for packet pickup.  I wanted it to be a surprise, but I blurted something out to Jason while driving one day and they caught on quickly! So much for the surprise! 

Before we left Vegas, I jokingly asked the kids if they thought we’d see the guys from the show and of course, they both said we wouldn’t see them.  Well, to their surprise (and mine) 2 of the 3 owners showed up right as we finished our late lunch.  They were super nice guys and took a picture with the kids.  This really made their day.  

After lunch, we went to check into our AirBnB condo and relax a bit.  My nephew really wanted to go check out the Urban Lights exhibit at LACMA once it got dark soo, before grabbing some dinner, we went to check it out.  It was packed, but the kids had fun walking through and playing among all the light posts!

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After the marathon, we walked to the Santa Monica Pier and grabbed some food at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  Although the food isn't anything to brag about, it's a fun atmosphere and super kid friendly.  After lunch we walked down the pier so the kids could ride the roller coaster before heading back to our condo to crash for the day!  We could easily have spent hours at the pier riding rides and playing games, but I was just too exhausted for that this time.  The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to go and spend a few hours enjoying the sights and attractions, plus have fun on the beach!  It's definitely a must-visit for any Los Angeles trip, with our without kids.   

The next day started out a little rocky with cranky kiddos, but thankfully we were able to turn it around and enjoy our morning walking around the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits and L.A. County Museum of Art.   The weather was perfect for being outdoors and it was exactly what we needed to unwind and relax a bit before driving back home.  The grounds are free to walk around and explore.  We spent about an hour and a half there and could have easily spent another hour there.  Next time we go, we'll actually go inside the museum and check out those exhibits and IMAX movies. But this time around, the outdoor exhibits and sculptures were just enough to keep them interested in the art and science without getting bored.  Plus, there is plenty of room to run and be kids!  I highly recommend going!  

It was a  jam-packed 3 day trip full of fun memories for sure! Getting away to sunny California, running a marathon, and spending quality time with the family is always the best!

So, I'd love to know, do you take your kiddos or family when you travel for a race?

L.A. Marathon 2016 Recap

It took me a few days to figure out what I was going to say about this marathon.  I've had such mixed emotions about my performance, but either way,  I set out to complete the L.A. Marathon and I did it!  I ran 26.2 miles through some of the most famous streets in the world.  That in itself was surreal and amazing and emotional to me.  I grew up on the east coast and I never thought I'd live near the west coast. Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, these were all such cool and glamorous places I always said I'd love to visit some day.  Moving to Las Vegas 7 years ago, made visiting those places a reality.  But, never in a million years did I ever think/wish/dream/ that I would run through those places.  So yeah, it was definitely an amazing experience.  

Packet pickup was being held at the Convention Center, which was right at the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials finish line.  We arrived Saturday morning just in time to watch the last lap!! It was so cool to see these elite athletes and to catch a glimpse of Meb and Desi Linden!! Being short myself, these are 2 of my favorite runners because they aren't the typically tall, long-legged runners we associate with running ;) So excited they made the team and will be heading to Rio this summer!  

Since my sister and nephew came to support me (huge, massive thank you to them!!!), that meant we could leave the kiddos sleeping with them while Jason drove me to Dodger Stadium at 5am.  The race started at 7am, but I don't think I crossed the start line until 7:20 or so.  The energy at the start line was typical.  You could feel everyones anxiety, nervousness, and excitement all rolled up together.  I know I was definitely feeling it.  Once I crossed the start line, I had my first issue after 3 minutes.  My playlist ended up on shuffle somehow and Jason had just updated my phone, so I couldn't figure out how to get it off shuffle.  We'd worked for hours to get my playlist just right and we had specific songs that were set to come on at various landmarks, so I was upset this was happening.  I pulled off to the side and called Jason in a panic, eventually after about 3-4 minutes I figured it out and started to relax. I was going way faster than I intended too, but with my lost time due to technical difficulties and the wave of runners practically pushing me forward, it was hard to slow down.  I did eventually get back to my groove but I was happy to be running about 5 minutes ahead of my goal.  I saw Jason again between mile 5-6 and that was a nice surprise.  He ran alongside me for a minute or so and then went back to meet up with the rest of the family :)

Seeing my family at mile 11 was perfect!  I was feeling so good then and we were right in the middle of Hollywood Blvd.  It was a great boost for the next 5-6 miles.  After that point, I was feeling the heat and getting a bit nauseous.  I was losing my mojo fast and not even listening to Weezer's Beverly Hills song whilst running through Beverly Hills was working for me.  I was trying to work through it and get back on track but then I started cramping.  My right calf and toes cramped up and I had to pull over and stretch for a bit.  After that, it was just a matter of moving forward and not stopping.  I knew I was nowhere near finishing at my goal time.  From there, it was a very slow 6 miles with lots of walking and stopping to stretch.  I was feeling defeated and the tears were starting to flow freely.  Around mile 23 I started to dig deep.  No more feeling sorry for myself, I had to finish.  I picked up the pace as best I could and cried some more. Then I told myself I would not slow down or walk the last 2 miles.  Thank goodness they were downhill miles!  Finally, I turned the corner and was on Ocean Drive.  I could see the finish line.  It took me FOREVE to get to the finish line, but I didn't stop "running" or maybe a better term would be trotting or shuffling!   I have never felt more relieved in my life than when I crossed that finish line.  More tears.  I still had about 2 blocks to walk to find my peeps, but when I did see them well, you know, more tears and there may have even been some sobs.  The first thing I said was, "Don't ever let me do that again".  

Yup, ugly crying was in full effect.

Yup, ugly crying was in full effect.

I gotta say the people of LA rock!!! Seriously, I cannot get over how many spectators were out there cheering us on.  The streets were always lined up with people, not just volunteers, but folks from the communities we ran through.  They cheered, they handed out snacks from orange slices to ice pops to pretzels.  I especially enjoyed seeing the "vasaline" poster boards.  Yup, there were globs of vasaline all over poster boards so runners could just grab and dab where needed.  It was pretty warm, so some people were handing out wet paper towels, others were spraying runners with water, and even better yet there were some water hydrants open to run through!  The people of LA hold a special place in my heart.  The support was beyond anything I've ever seen or had at any race!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

And to Students Run L.A., I send you all a virtual hug and high five! This organization is amazing.  I didn't know anything about them prior to seeing them on Sunday.  They all wore matching neon yellow tank tops and were everywhere.  You couldn't miss them.  Seeing these 12,000 or so kids from 7th-12th grade out there running and giving it their all was so inspiring.  At mile 18, a kid about 14 years old patted me on the back while my calf was cramping and said, you got this! Well, you guessed it, more tears.  I googled Students Run L.A. when I got home and here's part of their mission statement, "to challenge at-risk secondary students to experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health by providing them with a truly life-changing experience: The training for and completion of the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon." Each year, more than 95% of the students who start the marathon, finish the full 26.2 mile course.  In June 2015, 99% of the 740 seniors who completed the LA Marathon with SRLA graduated from high school, and 95% of them planned to go to college. This organization and it's volunteers are doing some worthwhile work.  Congrats and kudos to them!  

Once I calmed down and stopped crying, I sat down for a bit. Then we continued our walk to the Santa Monica Pier and grabbed some food at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  After my burger and beer, we walked down the pier so the kids could ride a ride before heading back to our condo in Hollywood.  We were all too tired to go out to eat dinner like we had originally planned, so we ordered some chinese food, popped open our celebratory bottle of Perrier Jouet and called it a day! 

It's way too soon for me to say if I'll ever run another marathon.  I may be ok with one and done.  But, I gotta say, if there was one marathon for me, it was this one.  The L.A. Marathon delivered on it's promise of a fun, mostly flat and downhill course.  The support on the course was unmatched and the people were the best!  If you want to run a marathon, run the L.A. Marathon.  


Preparing for the LA Marathon

For the past 12 weeks, I've been training for my first marathon, the L.A. Marathon and it's finally (almost) time to go out there and see what I'm made of.  I've been a bit of a mess this week.  I'm really excited and anxious to get out there and get it done.  But, at the same time I'm nervous and of course, I'm questioning my training.  I skipped a few runs and didn't make it to the long run of 21 miles that I wanted reach.  At this point, though, all I can do is trust that I can finish strong because not finishing is not an option.  

Aside from getting myself mentally prepared to tackle 26.2 miles, there's actually a lot of "stuff" needed for race day.  Here's a quick list of what it's going to take for me to get out there on Sunday.

And now it's time for me to get a little bit mushy.  I am seriously awed by all the amazing people in my life.  From encouraging messages to waking up at 4am to run with me, I am so grateful to everyone who's been with me through these crazy training weeks.  My hubby and kiddos who never doubt that I can do this.  My sister who is coming to L.A. to cheer me on, I may or may not have guilted her into it ;) I just couldn't do this on my own, that's for sure. Thank you so much!  I'll be thinking of ya'll big time while running through the streets of LA on Sunday! XO