Helping Is Easy – Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K for My Friend’s Place

The blog is still technically on hiatus but I couldn’t forego sharing a recap of the very special

2014 Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K to benefit My Friend’s Place

Run Hard Rock Cafe, runner bling, 5K, running medal

The 2014 Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K medal.

“Helping is easy” is an expression we’ve used in my household since Wild Boy was a toddler.  I’m a helper by nature.  I’m easily “called to action” and even went into the helping profession of dietetics nutrition to serve my dual interests in health and helping others.  However after tweaking my back in spin class recently, I haven’t felt motivated to do much of anything but I definitely wanted to give my all to the Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K in Hollywood.  The run was such a blast last year and I very much wanted to do my part to help the small but mighty organization, My Friend’s Place, in their support of helping homeless youth in Los Angeles.

I was excited at the prospect of being among friends during this race.

Some friends that I didn’t see were Jen@FindingMyInnerBombshell, Stephanie@Acti0926, and Jaclyn@JaclynMullenMedia.

Some friends that I did see at the crack of dawn included:

Sam Bangs (one of the first Friday’s Featured Females) from Fleet Feet Burbank and LifeIsBangin’:

Sam Bangs, Life Is Bangin, Fleet Feet Sports

 

My music and run buddy, Josie (the goddess who brought me to the Billy Idol Sirius XM show) and her friend, Wendy.  Aren’t the shirts she made for the race adorable (Bring The Funk/Bass/Beat)?

Josie, Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K,

Some local mom-friends, Jessica, Lynn and Wendy:

Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K 2014

and the very fabulous Anne@AnneHogan (her recap is here):

Anne Hogan, 1st 5K, HRC 5K

Me with Anne

 

But I had no idea that helping would go to the next level when my neighbor Andrea told me that she had never run a 5K before.  Getting the chance to help my friend through her first 5K (and LA Metro ride) made this a race to remember for me.

This year’s race was after Daylight Savings began so even though we missed the sunrise over the famed Hollywood sign (one of my favorite parts of last year’s race), Andrea and I got a chance to see Hollywood Boulevard in a way only few people ever have before.  It was great venue to run a first 5K and Andrea really gave it her all.

RHRC 5K

Andrea running like the wind down Hollywood Boulevard.

 

Along the short out and back course, it was great to get a little boost from the homemade signs of encouragement and thanks on display at My Friend’s Place:

My Friend's Place, Run Hard Rock Cafe

 

Andrea and I finished in 33:46 (10:53 per mile) which is absolutely respectable for a first (or a 1 millionth) 5K.  We were both proud and happy to run and to be able to help the LA community.

 

Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K 2014

Before and After Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K 2014

 

The race may be over but the need for help hasn’t ended for My Friend’s Place.  

This small organization needs a steady influx of money or in-kind donations to serve the homeless youth of Los Angeles.

My Friend's Place, Open House, Homeless Youth, Los Angeles

On November 20th from 6-8pm, My Friend’s Place is holding an Open House in Los Angeles

(click link for details).

If you’re local to Los Angeles and want to understand and experience the center where homeless youth receive services that help them to lead independent lives, click the link above to RSVP.  If you can’t make the Open House but still want to donate, you can give money or find out the items are on the In-Kind Wish List,

If you’re not local to Los Angeles, there are organizations around the country (and the world) that would love your help.  As the season of giving arrives, think about what you can do to help in a way that is meaningful to you.  It will be mean more than you can imagine to the recipients.

Run Hard Rock Cafe, My Friends Place

In a gesture of thanks for your continued support of thevalentineRD.com,

I’m hosting a Momentum Jewelry Foot Notes Holiday Giveaway for just you!

See Rafflecopter Box below for entry details.

Momentum Jewelry, Designs that move you

New Balance Shoes, Reach The Beach Relay, Momentum Jewelry, Foot Notes

My Momentum Foot Notes say Duranie Forever and always make me smile.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Month, Old Injury

Welcome to October – the month of Halloween, the true ushering in of Autumn, all of the pumpkin (please make it stop, I’m just not a fan of the pumpkin onslaught) and the revisitation of my back injury.  This post could have been titled Oops, I Did It Again but I’m pretty sure that I may have post titled with that in the past.

Hello October,

Image: Athenna.com – I like the 80’s Pac Man monster.

 

I’ve reinjured my back so many times and whined about it incessantly (like here and here and here) that I’m very sure you all are all sick of hearing it.  But I should have seen this one coming – I’ve been active but inconsistent about my activity.  I don’t normally weigh myself but when I went to the doctor a few weeks ago, I noticed that I had put on a few pounds (which makes a huge difference when you’re only 5′ 1″) and I’ve paid little or not attention to my core strength.  In addition, I’ve finally been convinced that spinning is not the friend of those with injured back.

I love indoor cycling but the the last two times I’ve injured myself, it’s been due to spinning.  I also believe that the spin shoes I bought a year and a half ago are cursed.  The day these shoes arrived (after I purchased them on eBay), I injured myself in a spin class.

Spin shoes

Can shoes be cursed?

After the injury, I put the shoes on a high shelf in my closet and didn’t take them down until about a month ago.  Yesterday, I put them on and said to myself that I needed to put clips on them (cheap on eBay because they had no clips) because I’d been spinning regularly and then in spin class yesterday, I felt a small twinge of pain – you know the pain that kind of vibrates through you?  It was a tiny twinge so I pulled back my effort, engaged my core muscles a little bit more but didn’t stop until the class was over.

Little Things

I didn’t listen to the little things – Image: OkyDay

 

I thought the little twinge was a sign to pull back or I would get injured NOT that I already was injured.  By the time I got home (after finishing the 50 minute class and going grocery shopping, of course), my right lower back was tender, achy and giving me all of the signs that I was indeed injured and not on my way to injury as I believed.

So now I’m here – icing my back off and on for the next 48-72 hours and slowly incorporating some active recovery.

Icing, Injury, Recovery

I’m ridiculously pissed off (at myself) but I’ve finally realized that I need to go on a break with spinning for awhile.   I’ll be going back to my Physical Therapy exercises, possibly going to the pool for some water core work and recommitting to Pilates (at least 3x/week), in addition to putting some strength work into my routine.  My WundaBar Pilates 60 Day Challenge last year showed me the power of Pilates work for core strength and although I’ve been doing some core work, it’s obviously not been enough (or consistent).

As much as I keep thinking that I’ve worked past this back injury in the past, deep down, I know that I haven’t.  I need to make some very big changes in my body if I want to continue to be active for the long haul.  I’m certain that I’ll be in running shape for the Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K in November but being healthy long term is the overall goal.  I’ll be 45 on my next birthday and I’m not quite ready to be put out to pasture in terms of my fitness activity level.

In the meantime, I’m going to try not to be bitter but it’s pretty likely this will be closer to the truth.

Recovering from injury

I’ll keep you up to date with my recovery progress but I’m open to core strengthening exercise recommendations so feel free to let me know your tips in the comments.

Also, if you’re interested in some cycling shoes (that may or may not be cursed, size 7, purchased for $50), let me know as well.

Run Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood 5K – A Run For Community

People run races for all different reasons – the challenge, the course, the atmosphere, the conditioning and sometimes even just for the medal (no shame in running for bling, IMHO).  

Today I’m proud to announce that I’ll be running the 2nd Annual Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K on November 8th to help benefit homeless youth in Los Angeles…and so could you.

Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K, Run Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood, Los Angeles, My Friend's Place

Learn more right here: RunHardRockCafe.com

 

I’m not sure that many people know that the Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K exists to benefit My Friend’s Place, a very small organization that assists and inspires homeless youth to build self sufficient lives.  Maybe you heard about My Friend’s Place because of Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards raising awareness about the 1.6 million youth who are homeless in America.

My Friend’s Place is a small organization that does big things - MFP  served over one third of the homeless youth population in Los Angeles last year with nearly 30,000 meals, over 540 linkages to on-site and off-site medical care for youth and continue to do intensive case management and move homeless youth into housing.

When I ran the 1st Annual Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K last year, I had no idea that the race was for charity.   I was new to Los Angeles and I was  just excited that I got the unique opportunity to run down Hollywood Boulevard – Hard Rock Cafe is the only 5K to have ever shut down the world-renowned street.  I was dazzled by the race bling and was absolutely oblivious that Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K was a local community expansion of the Hard Rock Cafe philanthropy mission statement of LOVE ALL – SERVE ALL®.

 

Love All Serve All, Hard Rock Cafe, Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K

 

Once I learned more about the community and charity components for the Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K at the Hard Rock Cafe Media dinner I attended earlier this year, I knew I needed to do more than just run the race in 2014.  I approached HRC to ask if I could help spread the word to the Los Angeles community the best way I knew how, blogging so now you’re looking at the new Blogger Ambassador for Run Hard Rock Cafe 2014!

Hard Rock Cafe 5K

Oblivious me after Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K 2013

 

If you live in the Southern California area, this is a race that you don’t want to miss.  

Participate in this unique race for the Hollywood community in one of the following ways:

1.  Register for the Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 7:00am.    This flat unique course is a great first race to run, walk or even PR!  Walk or run or stroll and you’ll get one of these super cool medals*:

Finisher Medal 2014

 

*I will run or walk with anyone who lets me know they’ve registered.  

Bring friends and family (strollers and kids are welcome to participate); there will also be kid-friendly activities available!

 

2.  Give to My Friend’s Place by purchasing exclusive Hard Rock Cafe pins and shirts at the race that benefit MFP.  You can also volunteer, give directly or in-kind donations.

RHRC, My Friend's Place

 

3.  Volunteer at the Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K race.

RHRC 5K Volunteers

Maybe you don’t want to run, walk or stroll this course but want to help out.  Race production takes a lot of effort and any help is appreciated.  Just so you know, there are few things better than watching happy people finish races with their heart.

 

For more information so you can help spread the word, please see the following social media outlets/hashtags:

Hard Rock Cafe and Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K:

RHRC-Course-Map

 

My Friend’s Place:

My Friend's Place

 

Whether you run/walk/stroll, give, volunteer or spread the word about this unique race, I thank you in advance.  Please let me know if you’ll be there at dark-thirty (aka 7am) on Sat. 11/8 at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood because I’d love to give you a big hug!

 

Disclosure:  I was furnished with complimentary race registration (worth $45 at the time, registration is currently $50) by Run Hard Rock Cafe but have donated to My Friend’s Place.  No other compensation has been provided.  I’ll reiterate that I approached Hard Rock Cafe to become involved in this effort so clearly all opinions expressed here are absolutely my own.

New Balance Reach The Beach Recap

Last week you got a relay education with 12 Things You Learn at Reach The Beach and today I’m finally sharing my New Balance Team Pumped Up Kicks Reach The Beach recap (it’s a long one, so get comfortable).

Team Pumped Up Kicks, Reach The Beach, New Balance

Team Pumped Up Kicks at the New Balance Factory (L to R): Theodora@PreppyRunner, Caitlin@CaitPlusAte, Carrie (in back) Jess@RacePaceJess, Gia@RunGiaRun, Christine@LoveLifeSurf, Me, Marissa@BarefootColorado, Allie@VitaTrain4Life, Sarah@RunFarGirl (in back, not on team but a NH native – Sarah was on an ultra team), Melissa C.@SoTheseAreMyThirties, Lorraine@RunWifeyRun (in back) and Melissa G.@FitnessBlogNYC

Pre-Relay:

On Thursday, Team Pumped Up Kicks got the chance to learn more about the New Balance brand at their factory in Lawrence, NH (see photo above).  Getting a chance to see learn about the science, design, performance and spirit of what goes into making New Balance products definitely got the team psyched for the relay.

New Balance, spirit, factory

A glimpse into the spirit of New Balance.

After the tour, we were whisked off to a ski resort in Bretton Woods, NH.  It looked exactly the way you imagine New Hampshire to look at the end of summer and beginning of fall.

New Hampshire, scenery, Reach The Beach

We were treated to a carb loading dinner with all 11 of the New Balance teams.  After a short sleep, we were soon out the door to get the Reach The Beach party started at 5:30am on Friday morning.

Reach The Beach, Van 2, Team Pumped Up Kicks, Allie, VitaTrain4Life

Fake smiles at 5:30am.

 

Relay begins:

Because everything that can go wrong, will go wrong when you’re pressed for time, we were lucky that we made it to the start line in time to see Jess@RacePaceJess start the Relay at 7am.   The whole team wanted to be there to help support our longest distance runner (25.4 miles in total) of the team no matter what.

RacePaceJess, Reach The Beach New Hampshire, Team Pumped Up Kicks

 

After Jess started, Van 2 decided to use the time we had before our runs began by getting a proper meal.  We all agreed that food would make us better van sitters (and/or drivers), runners and human beings in general, so we drove toward transition 1 and stopped at the very adorable Glen Junction restaurant.  We took care of business in order of priorities:

Van 2 Group selfie:

Team Pumped Up Kicks, Glen Junction, Reach The Beach

Eating and getting properly caffeinated followed by

Utilizing social media (as good bloggers should).  This was before my cell service started to punk out):

Bloggers, Reach The Beach, Team Pumped Up Kicks, Glen Junction

We waited for our first transition between Van 1 and Van 2 at the Attitash Ski Resort.  We decorated our vans, hung out a bit and made sure to capture another group shot before the fun (and the sweat) really began.

Team Pumped Up Kicks Van 2

 

Leg 1:

As the van followed each of our runners during the first leg, I couldn’t help but notice that the roads were especially hilly.  Very pretty but hilly.  As I waited for Marissa@BarefootColorado to transfer the slap bracelet for my first leg, I was nervous.

Waiting for Leg 1

Image courtesy of CaitPlusAte

I knew that I had the second least amount of mileage in total for all of #TeamPumpedUpKicks but after traveling cross country with a sinus infection, poor sleep for the past 2 nights and my recent history of crappy runs, I was a little afraid of the 5.1 miles I needed to cover.  This leg was also a No Van Support leg (which means your van can’t stop for you on the way to cheer you on or provide fuel or water).  The last thing I should have done was to look at the elevation map before I ran:

Leg 10, Reach The Beach Relay

It was perfect running weather and the scenery couldn’t have been more beautiful but there were some nasty hills throughout the leg.  Instead of killing myself, I walked the hills (I wasn’t the only one who walked them either).  As I neared the end of the leg, I picked up the pace only to find that to reach the end, I needed to go up a grassy knoll.

The race planners must have known this was not the way for runners to end because they actually had people sitting on the hill directing people upwards.  I was frustrated and didn’t take a photo of the hill.  Instead I took this in the beginning of the run:

NH scenery

After 55:29 minutes, I was done with my 5.1 miles and Melissa@SoTheseAreMyThirties was off for her 4.8 mile leg.

More food and some rest:

After feeling accomplished, I got cleaned off with an Action Wipe, changed clothes and the van finally met up with Lorraine@RunWifeyRun at the end of her run (we got a little lost).  Of course, we needed food again before Leg 2.  We had a very civilized dinner at Canoe Restaurant and Tavern.  We were lucky to get the word from another RTB team that half portions of food were more than plenty (they were) and the lobster pea risotto was perfect running food IMHO.

Next, we went to get some rest.  Some of us went to sleep outside while the rest of us attempted to get some sleep in the van.  Sooner than we realized, it was nearly midnight and Allie had to start Van 2’s second set of legs…..in the dark.  All relays have the requirements of a headlamp, safety vest and front and back blinking lights to make sure you’re visible on the road.  New Balance provided us each of the runners with one of their very cool Glow Beacon Vests that literally glowed in the dark.

NB Glow Beacon Vest, Allie VitaTrain4lLife, Reach The Beach

Allie modeling and getting ready for Leg 2.

Leg 2:

It might have been lousy running at 4am but since my 3.5 miles were all downhill, I could not complain at all.  Honestly, it was actually kind of fun.  I hadn’t seen a split time under 9:30 minutes/mile in quite a few years.

leg 2, Reach The Beach

It was a little spooky running along the shoulder of a road with only a few distant blinky lights as beacons but I kind of zoned out to my music.  I may have zoned out too much because when the two people passed me for their kills (I might have woken the neighborhood with a shriek – I’m easily startled). I was done quickly and Melissa was off again.  Another quick wipe down and clothing change and I felt great.  I tried to stay awake to cheer on the rest of my van mates but I drifted off to sleep.  I woke up as Lorraine finished her leg and the sun was already shining.

 

Food and Rest again:

Because food is magic during a relay, we again drove toward a restaurant near our final van transition.  We were all tired, hungry and exceptionally cranky.  This was not the time to have to wait over an hour for breakfast but I can guess that Josiah’s Restaurant in Kingston, NH is not often as busy as it was that Saturday during the Reach The Beach Relay.

Melissas, Team Pumped Up Kicks, Reach The Beach 2014

Tired Melissas in a van with a photo bomb by Lorraine.

After some refueling, we parked and tried to get some sleep before our last legs.  As luck would have it, our van got hit while we were parked.  I’m convinced that I have some sort of bad van karma since during the SoCal Ragnar my van also got hit while parked.  It gave a little drama to the already charged day.

Leg 3:

Sooner than we knew it though, Van 1 was done with their part of the relay and Allie started Van 2 for the home stretch.  A lot of this time is a bit of a blur due to lack of sleep.  I did wake up a bit when my friend Christa came to see me in North Hampton.

MB and Christa

 

Christa was one of the bridesmaids at my wedding and even though we don’t get a chance to see one another often, whenever we do, we can pick up like we saw each other last week.  We got a chance to chat for about 10 minutes before I had to run my last leg but I’m pretty sure that seeing Christa was the only reason I could smile like this during my remaining 4.1 mile run:

MB Thumbs Up

This might need to become my new profile picture – Image courtesy: VitaTrain4Life

Once I was done, I was in a daze.  Once Melissa was done with her leg, we coordinated with the rest of the team from Van 1 to meet Lorraine as she finished to cross the finish line together as a team.  It was so cold when we went to the beach that Allie brought a sleeping bag as we waited.

Reach The Beach 2014

Glad that I’m not the only weather wimp – with Allie and Christine at Hampton Beach waiting Lorraine’s arrival.

 Finish Line:

Crossing the finish line together as a team was a really nice feeling.  We had just enough time to take this group shot with our medals (notice that Melissa@SoTheseAreMyThirties and I have double medals for doing 2 Ragnar relays within the past year) before it started to pour and we needed to make a mad dash for the vans back to Boston.

Reach The Beach

Within 3 hours of the above shot, I made it from Hampton Beach, NH to the hotel in Boston to repack, shower and change all in time to catch a flight back to LA.  It was a crazy trip but absolutely worth it.   As someone who has had to pull out of 4 half marathons in the past 4 years due to injury, I’m still in shock that I’ve completed my second 200 mile relay race in less than 6 months!

 

Ragnar, Double Medal, Reach The Beach, New Hampshire

Double Prizes! Double Medals for completing 2 Ragnar Relays in one year

There really is something different about running an overall distance with built in breaks versus slogging on continuously to cover the same distance.  Even though I’ve never been a member of Van 1 in relays, I like that Van 2 gets a break in the beginning but ends the relay as part of the action.  I may not still be in love with running per se but despite the lack of sleep, extensive van sitting and unique running demands, I do know that I really enjoy relay races.

I’m really proud and very thankful to have been part of the New Balance Media Team Pumped Up Kicks! (short video – courtesy of New Balance)

 

We may not have been fast but we certainly had fun!

Bib       # Team Name          Overall            Category                  Cat./ Plc.             Pace         Finish Time

23      Pumped Up Kicks   463/520   8-Women Open      7/11         9:45    33:43:17

To see other Team Pumped Up Kicks Recaps, see below:

 

Disclaimer:  All travel, lodging, gear and all aspects pertaining to Reach The Beach was sponsored by New Balance for all members of Team Pumped Up Kicks.  However, as always, all opinions expressed here are completely my own.

 

Have I made you want to participate or avoid a future relay race?

12 Things You Learn From Reach The Beach

Even though I’ve had a few days to recover from being a member of #TeamPumpedUpKicks from Reach The Beach, I’m still wrapping my head around the event.

Reach The Beach, New Hampshire, Ragnar, Relay Race

It was a whirlwind trip with a ton of experiences and I’ve found that it’s been exceptionally difficult to get the words together so today, I’ll share the 12 lessons I learned overall and I’ll recap the relay itself tomorrow.

 

1.  New Balance really is all about quality:

  • From being the only major athletic shoe company that manufactures athletic footwear in the US -

New Balance

 

  • To every aspect of product development, quality control and design innovation
New Balance, Kim Conley

In the Design Lab, the Smash Lab and a pair of track shoes for USA Track & Field Star, Kim Conley.

 

  • To treating their Media team like royalty:
New Balance, Reach The Beach

I’m a dork. I’ve never had someone hold up a sign to pick me up at the airport.

 

2.  Boston is all heart.  You fall in love with Boston – even if you’re there for less than 24 hours.

 

Boston Blood Drive

 

 

3.  Proper running shoes (that just happen to be cute) makes running #allthemiles a little bit easier.  

New Balance Shoes, Reach The Beach Relay

Duran Duran bling optional for some, essential for others.

 

4.  Cell service is everything: Social media > GPS.  Shoddy service makes people (read: me) stabby.

 

Twitter fail,

Instafail

 

5.  Sleep deprived runners can be transformed into human beings with food and coffee (or hot chocolate).

Allie, VitaTrain4Life, Reach The Beach

Coffee

 

6.  Vanmate encouragement should be bottled as Super Hero Juice – it can make someone conquer fears of altitude, distance and the elements.

 

BarefootColorado, Marissa L, Reach The Beach

Marissa@BarefootColorado killed beastly hills and still managed to smile. Incredible!  Image: Melissa@SoTheseAreMyThirties.

 

7.  New Hampshire is incredibly picturesque – but also very hilly.

 

Reach The Beach, NH, Attitash

…and you sleep whenever you can.

 

8.  This is “Pimp My Ride” Relay style.

Reach The Beach, New Balance, Team Pumped Up Kicks

 

9.  Gear: You will always pack too much, Night Glow Yellow is fashionable and you will walk around like this in public because you just don’t care:

socks

 

10. Must haves: Ziploc Plastic Bags, Action Wipes, Skratch Hydration (affiliate link), Pretzels, Aquaphor and BarkThins.

skratch labs

I love this hydration mix. Flavor without sweetness. Thank you Kia Ruiz for letting me try some during Ragnar SoCal.

 

12.  You can go from a beach in New Hampshire, to the airport in Boston, to a bed in LA in less than 12 hours and survive.

Reach The Beach Travel

12.  2 vans, 12 people and 207 miles of a relay can turn running into a team sport (inspired by the words of Sandra@OrganicRunnerMom).

 

Reach The Beach

A happy but tired Team Pumped Up Kicks at the Finish Line in Hampton Beach.

 

…and after all is said and done, I’d still do it all over again.

 

Disclosure:  While New Balance did sponsor me for this relay, providing travel/lodging, gear and race registration, this is not a sponsored post.  I did not receive monetary compensation and I am not obligated to write this post.  All opinions expressed here are my own.