Warning: this post is LONG! but it is a good one :) I promise!
All pictures of the course are at the bottom. It's a lot to have to insert them and they are kinda blurry (sorry!)
We are off!
Luckily it wasn't too hot and I was just trying to settle into my intervals. The funniest thing I saw-after my first interval, I noticed guys running across to a bush. Yup-a line of 50 guys peeing. HILARIOUS. For real.
I started much slower than I thought. My body is so used to running half marathons that I knew if I didn't want to hit a wall, I need to be slow.
The first mile marker had a tiny sign (like seriously maybe 12x 16) so I almost missed it. However I was looking for it as my nike app told me about .1 before I had gone a mile (I was already weaving into between). I was worried the next one would be small as well but then the big mile markers started. They were my favorite.
A bit about the course incase you don't know. It's the Stadium to the Sea course and pretty new. The marathon was started after the 1984 Olympics when a Joan Benoit, a US Woman, won the first women's marathon (fun fact: she is the voice on the nike plus app! The one that encourages me everytime I run!). I love that event started the LA marathon! It has gone through many courses but this is the newest one and plans on staying for awhile.
The course takes you from dodger stadium downtown to Santa Monica. You go from dodger stadium to Chinatown to little Tokyo to downtown proper past city hall and Walt Disney concert hall to echo park to silver lake to Hollywood to west Hollywood to Beverly Hills to the VA to Brentwood to Santa Monica. It's a great course and it's amazing after almost 6 years living here there were still areas I had not spent much time in.
So we head into Chinatown and I'm feeling good. There is a cloud cover and it's feeling okay. I keep seeing the kids from Students Run LA pass me in long sleeves and pants and know they will be in trouble later. People are passing me more than I was used to and I'm not letting it upset me. I want to conserve my energy-I can always step it up later.
This is where I catch up with the 5:30 pacer which makes NO sense! I was averaging around 12 minute miles and the 5:30 group was supposed to be 12:30 (obsessed with the clif timing bracelets! Wearing the 5:00 and 5:30 were great for figuring out my finish time). I knew they were going to finish fast so always just kept an eye on them (I passed them many times actually).
We get to Little Tokyo and it's the only place I got Gatorade. I remember thinking they were mixing it super strong but thought it was on purpose as people need the electrolytes.
I continued on and there was a big hill at the Walt Disney concert hall. Not thinking much of it, I attacked it. Yeah and I made it up but was exhausted. Oops-it was much steeper than I was thinking and had to take more walk breaks than I wanted.
We continued onto echo park which is very pretty. This is where we started seeing random strangers handing out food which was great! I didn't need much but Gatorade.
We hit Silver Lake and this was our first big crowd of people and it was AWESOME. But shortly after that, there was no one! No one! It was hard to stay motivated in those areas. I think the more quiet areas need bands and/or people support. Also there were bands on the course and they seemed to never be playing when I passed them! How strange is that? Must of all been on break haha.
This is where I had my first of two pee fiascos. I decided to pee in a mcdonalds. 2 female runners were heading in and figured it was a good idea. NOPE BAD IDEA! People were so slow and it added 7 minutes to my clock time. SEVEN MINUTES. I didn't even really need to go but learned during training I have to go before I need to. I was also worried about my legs locking up.
Right after the McDonald's fiasco was my medical tent problem. I ran over and asked if they had Vaseline-I wasn't chafing yet but it was the first tent I had seen and knew they were about 6 miles apart so I was being productive. Another mistake-A MINUTE AND A HALF to get Vaseline. They had a phone where they were taking pics of our bib (which took a long time). And the girl handing it out took forever and kept trying to also write down my bib number and wouldn't give it to me.
I guess they wanted to track people? Everyone I talked to had the same problem. I know they want to know what were stopping for but I literally need Vaseline. It's hot and I'm sweating. One water stop around 15 had it down because one guy had Vaseline on a stick and would scream out the number to the guy behind them. And it was a waste because the next mile the water stop had Vaseline on a poster board you could just go up and grab. Another fail :/
At this point I knew with these mishaps I would not hit 5 hours and was just shooting for 5:15 which I was hitting right on target with my mile splits.
Around here was mile 9 which is the where I usually hit my stride in a half marathon. I could feel my body trying to go faster but I had to keep slower than it wanted. I needed that time and energy for later.
Headed into Hollywood and my music was syncing up with my surroundings. We were passing all of the clubs on Hollywood blvd and skrillex was playing and then we hit my favorite-el Capitan and graumans. And LET IT GO came on! Yes, just what I needed as the sun was starting to get hot and I kept moving off into the shade. Why was it perfect because I was about to hit the half point, 13.1 is the farthest I had ever raced before and it knew it was new territory but I had to let the nerves go.
I also saw the exchange point for the charity runners which was a nice distraction as I was curious how it worked. Well it turned out they would just call up the number as the person got closer and it looked like it worked well! I was happy for them and there were a lot of people there which was great.
Around this stretch is when I was taking Gatorade and snacks from random people. I didn't feel I needed it but knew I had to fuel before I needed it.
This is also where we hit the clif stations. I went to the booth and they said they would have the usual flavors-vanilla, raspberry, citrus and mocha. However I got there and they had only had flags for vanilla and raspberry. I knew I needed the caffeine of mocha so I grabbed a raspberry to use at some other time and used the mocha I packed. Lesson learned: always bring your fuel!
This is where the heat was starting to get to me. Very warm without shade on Sunset blvd. I knew this stretch well and knew there wasn't much shade. So I had to just run in the shade of the buildings which did help.
This is where me and the pace group were playing leap frog. I knew I was still on pace for 5:20 so I'm not sure how they were ahead of me but who knows.
We headed up some hilly parts and finally down a hill towards Beverly Hills which I really needed some people around. Something! It was too quiet.
As we were heading into Beverly Hills, I saw the trees and shade from buildings! Woohoo and I had actually started catching up with some of the people I started with, which was great. A few run Disney shirts and hats which always makes me smile :)
Around here was where I got my second cup of Gatorade! Many of the stations were sponsored by running groups and organizations which was great! One station had Gatorade! I guess they hid it or found a secret stash but it was a win win!
As we continued towards beverly hills city hall, my hips were starting to hurt so I stopped to stretch and it was better but still not good enough so I finally split my interval and it worked wonders! I was able to continue running without pain.
The heat was definitely getting to me and my brain was turning to mush. I couldn't remember my mile markers and with my nike + app off from the course, it wasn't helping. I got off on miles and couldn't figure out my time (the off 5:30 group which was ahead of me wasn't helping). We headed down Rodeo Drive (so fun!) and off towards century city.
I kept on and it was just so so so hot. I started seeing people struggle and knew I had it in me to finish.
We rounded a corner and it was just HEAT. I knew Santa Monica blvd was no trees and hills so I was getting worried. I decided on another bathroom stop as I passed 7 port a potties with a line of 4 people. Score! Or so I thought. ANOTHER BATHROOM FAIL! Ugh. It added 4 minutes to my time. People seriously need to speed it up (the girl in front of me in line finished before anyone else did. It was seriously only 2 of them working or something). However I felt much better after-I guess I had to pee and didn't even know it.
At this point, I knew my 5:30 was gone. There was no way with all of the wasted time and with the heat getting worse. I seriously wanted to sit on a curb and cry. All I had worked for wasn't going to be. However I took a deep breath and had to "let it go" and go forward. I was going to finish a marathon in insane heat and even if it wasn't the time goal I wanted, I would still be a finisher and I needed to be okay with that. And I was because the hills and the heat put me in flight or fight mode.
This portion of the course had amazing food and drinks and most needed Gatorade. I had gotten so off on my fuel that I was just trying to get back on schedule and decided Gatorade would be the way
This was also where the second clif station was and they only had mocha and citrus! So I guess they split them? I wish I had known that but oh well. I was feeling nauseous and decided to hold off on the clif for now.
This was my mental wall-mile 20. So insanely hot and all I wanted to do was go and curl up in a ball and sleep under a tree. I knew I had a 10k left-an hour and 30 minutes max-so I could keep going. However, I never hit a physical wall which I was proud of. No calf hurting here for me like in training~
I turned the corner and God had answered my prayers!! Shade, lots of it and I was so happy.
I turned another corner and another prayer for water had been answered. OPENED fire hydrant! Water spraying in the street. I ran through it and had so much relive. I was beyond motivated to keep going.
Turn around corner FREE BEER! I'm not a beer drinker but others were and they were very happy. They also handed out half bananas already peeled!
The VA was awesome as I had never been and it was huge too. Very cool but had hills and periods of no shade.
More food and people which was great. I saw something very touching which gave me more motivation to finish. I saw a few patients from the VA come out and someone ran over (I'm assuming a worker) to greet the guys in hospital gowns and casts. I knew they were veterans and my first thought was-if these guys can go over and fight for my freedom to be running this race right now and come back injured and can be cheering us on-I HAVE TO FINISH!
We hit a tunnel which was a god send as it was cool and had high walls which were good for calf stretching and hip stretching. There was also a race staff telling us it was all downhill to the finish line. SCORE!
This is also where I had the most delicious snack ever. Remember my banana? Well I saved most of it (in my top actually) and decided to have half a clif shot (I was starting to fade) with banana. Chocolate covered banana. At that moment it was the best dessert I had in awhile (not including grey stuff!) and it was just what I needed.
Continued on and used the bathroom one last time. No wait! Also didn't need to go much. In and out in 40 seconds :)
Brentwood! Yay for tree lines streets in suburbia and lots of snacks and drinks from people that lived around the route! At this point I was drinking water every 5 minutes from random people because it was crazy hot.
This is also where I had my second delicious treat of chocolate covered pretzels (aka pretzels and mocha clif shot). Sweet and salty! Just what I needed. I got the pretzels from some water stop and saved them as well.
This was also when I split my interval again to 30 seconds. I did that for about 10 minutes but was so off with all of my water stops and cool off breaks that I raised it to 45 seconds running and 12 seconds walking. Weird I know but it worked until the end!
My cooling off routine was becoming epic. Every water stop I would drink a cup and grab 2 extra cups. 1 for my head and one to cool my body. My legs were chafing like crazy (I think i stopped every mile or two for Vaseline) but my arms and back were fine. And I didn't ruin my iPod or phone.
Sorry there aren't many pics from mile 19 until the end. I was just in survival mode and so wet from all of the water that I didn't want to risk messing up my phone.
This is also where a lot of people were struggling. People sitting on the curb and shoes off struggling. Tears and more. It was hard to see but I had to push forward.
Before I knew it, I was in Santa Monica and the streets changed to numbers. I knew once I hit number 16-I ha 16 blocks until the ocean and then it was the final turn! It's getting closer.
I looked at my watch and realized I had about 35 minutes or so left so I got on my phone and texted Ralph to let him know. I was also tracking mari and saw we were going to finish around the same time so I was keeping a lookout for her. I also saw my own splits. I had only slowed down about 1 minute/mile since starting which isn't bad at all! I was still running and moving.
Funny story about the watch. My watch said almost 12 which I knew there was no way I was finishing in my time goal. Then I realized I had not set it! I had been an hour off (no wonder it was so hot when I thought it was only 9:45, it was actually 10:45!). I had to just laugh and keep moving.
Around this point some random person was handing out bottles of water and it lasted me to the end. I also took one more shot blok just incase and drank a lot of water. I was more dehydrated than I thought and it gave me the energy to keep going.
Right before that point we crossed mile 25 so I knew I was about a mile out. Some kind soul actually marked on the ground in spray paint: one mile to go! I knew I had this.
I could see the ocean about four blocks out and was so ready! Turned the corner and knew there would be one More water spot before the end. Did my water routine and headed forward.
I could see people starting to line up as close to the finish. People had signs about bandits exiting now (I don't know either...) and I knew it was right there. People were saying-ITS RIGHT THERE and calling out my name. I could see it far off and it was amazing.
This was it-I could see the finish line and I could feel my body finally getting to use that energy I had conserved the whole time. I kept my walk breaks (wasn't sure how much there was left as the street was very straight). All I kept saying-outloud- IS THIS REAL? Is this real life? It felt like a dream.
Here we are. Photographers everywhere, crowds going crazy (only on the left side as the park was closed for security reasons). I could feel the tears coming: all the hard work and determination.
The crazy training since really July and dumbo. Dealing with the heat at dumbo. Training for rock n roll LA with injuries before and after. The christmas run issues. Running in the cold. Doing a horrible 15 miler. Doing a decent 20 miler. tinkerbell. 26 miler after a crazy week at work with crazy calf cramps. glass slipper challenges. maintanence runs. signing up for dumbo and wine and dine. Planning schedules. doing research. trying things. trying to go gluten free. trying to get everything together. and here we are! All the crap I went through for this moment. All building to this moment. The moment no one can EVER take away and that will never be replicated again. I'm about to finish my FIRST MARATHON IN MY TOWN!
BOOM! FINISH LINE! CAMERAS! I don't remember much. No idea what song was playing. I don't know if they called my name. In that moment it was me and the finish line and I have never been happier or prouder of anything in my life.
I started crying immediately: so much emotion in one moment. Took off my headphones and grabbed my phone and started calling people. No one answered but my dad so I talked to him while I collected all of my stuff and went to the trucks.
It was so quiet. Insanely quiet as it was only runners. So sad after the Boston Bombings there will probably never be an exciting finish line again. It's just the world we live in now. Runners were all over the ground too. I wasn't feeling 100% but I could walk so I was grateful.
Got to get my stuff and decided to get organized and ready to find ralph. He finally got a call through (he said he called me 5 times. i got none of them. so much cell traffic!) and told me to meet him at Colorado by the last tent (see the finishers festival was nowhere near). I knew that was at least 10 minutes away so I sat down for a second. Put away my blanket and electronics, took out my wipes (best thig ever!!) and wiped my face and body. Took an Advil. Drank Gatorade. Drank water. Had some banana. Loaded up and headed on. Oh and of course I instagrammed. I'm a marathoner!
Remember how I thought mari was ahead of me? Well she started about 5 min after me! She finished when I got to my truck. She was tired and I couldn't go backwards to meet her which was sad. Mallory was on mile 22 so she would be done soon! after i left that area, I did not get a single call or text out until we were back at the car so sadly I did not get to meet up with anyone! :(
Found Ralph and was so happy to see him I started crying again. He thought I was all sweaty (it was just all my water) and we took a few pics. He had actually just ran into a friend which was fun. He had to park in Venice and said traffic was insane so we started the mile walk to the car.
He couldn't get over how good I looked. I was tired but walking and talking and felt fine. Took some pics in Venice, a potty break, and finally got to the car where I wiped off again and changed clothes and shoes and put on compression socks.
We decided to get our fav Indian food to celebrate. It took forever with traffic as we had to make a big loop but we made it. Had amazing food and headed home.
I wanted to shower and unpack but I sat on my bed and fell asleep immediately for an hour and a half. I woke up thristy and stinky so I showered while Ralph slept (spectating is hard!) and then watched Lena Dunham on snl and talked to Devin about our wine and dine trip. YAY disney trips!!!
I was so hungry the rest of the night so I kept eating. We watched walking dead and resurrection and cosmos. I passed out during cosmos and slept about eight and half hours. My fitbit said I hit 30 miles! Woohoo!
I didn't work the next day so I slept and got stuff done then meet up with a friend visiting Disneyland with the crazy crowds. Overall a great way to recover. My coworker were so excited on Tuesday to hear all about it (I also emailed all of them on Sunday as well).
Btw-my nike plus says I did 29 miles. Umm-maybe? If that's true, my running portion was just under 5 hours. I don't believe it but I according to it, I finished in about 5:35. 5 minutes off my goal and you know what-I'm okay with that. I worked my ass off for that time and survived the heat. I kept running and pushing. I'm proud of that. Time goal-had to let it go!
- Never walked more than two minutes (mostly because I was pouring water on me and that takes time)
- Never stopped running
- Never got awful calf cramps like I did during training (BANANAS are the secret)
- Worked through hard mental moments and freak outs
- Learned to "let it go"
- Wore a great outfit with no issues with the heat.
- My hat was amazing and kept my head cool.
- Was able to walk for more than a mile after without pain
- Didn't get sick from eating after
- Sore but not of overly so
- Able to walk around Disneyland the next day
- Almost ran a 5k PR a week after
- The heat
- The mental exhaustion
- The lack of sleep the night before
- Lack of Gatorade
- Hip flexor tightness while running
- Chafing on my legs (gotta get marathon shorts!!)
WORD OF ADVICE:
- Respect the distance- 26 miles is a long way. You gotta be mentally prepared for it.
- Train for the distance-there isnt much difference in training a 10k to a half. but a half to a full was a beast!
Would I do it again? Find out tomorrow in the wrap up post.