This was my race, the race I wanted for redemption and to prove to myself that I can do a sub 5 hour marathon.
The day before I did a 2 mile shake out run, did some errands, saw Cinderella, ran some more errands and relaxed and watched Back to the Future 2 and 3. I had dinner during the 3rd one and reviewed my plan and made sure everything was packed and laid out. I got into bed around 8:30.
I slept until 4 and got up and got dressed, had breakfast, double checked everything and headed out at 4:45. I was up so early I left before my Sunday paper was even delivered! Got on the train with the other runners and got to union station at 5:30. Getting off the train I ran into one of my old student workers so we chatted and I gave her first timer tips!
Met up with Devin, used the bathroom and we hopped on the bus with no problems and got to the start line with time to spare to check our bags. The bathrooms by the bag check were out of control so we walked back to where we were dropped off and used those with less than a 5 min wait (PRO TIP: use these restrooms as soon as you get off the shuttles, then go check your bags, grab a banana and water and head straight to the corrals).
We then tried to head to the corrals and that is where mass chaos ensued. People couldn't get into the assigned corrals and then others were just trying to get into the open corrals and it was all a disaster with people climbing over barriers. Not to mention extremely dangerous. The LAM really needs to work on this because it was crazy!!
We finally got into the open corral but nowhere near where we wanted to line up. Oh and can I also mention how there were no trash cans anywhere and with the high barriers there was no where to toss anything so you had to watch out for food, bottles, throwaway clothes and more to make sure you didn't trip. Very dangerous.
While waiting we heard the national anthem and it started before we knew it! I could tell this was going to be INSANE! No one could get to their projected pace so when we finally started, it was just a wall of people. Also it starts on an incline which doesn't help either! I started running but soon realized there was no point so I just walked for the first 2-3 min. Eventually with the downhill it spread out but still was all different speeds. The Marathon really needs to think about putting everyone in corrals. An open corral of about 16,000 people is a nightmare!
All things considered, this is a fabulous course that takes you to all of the major landmarks in the city. After leaving Dodger Stadium, we head over to Chinatown and hit the mile 2 marker with our first water stop and fabulous chinese drummers. The water stops were all a bit strange-some were longer than others and it was hard to judge where the water and gatorade were (common sense would say that gatorade would be in the Gatorade cups and the water would be in the water cups. sadly that did not happen). I had debated when I would start pouring water on myself and then I realized I should probably just do it the whole time. So starting at water stop 1, i would drink water and pour some on my head and back.
I was feeling fine and really using the downhills to my advantage. We continued through Little Tokyo and through downtown past the LA Times building, city hall, and then up the huge 1st street hill next to the Walt Disney concert hall. Around this time Devin ran into me again and we decided to just stay together the rest of the race.
We had decided would we walk the up hills and run the downhills. Did I mention this course is pretty hilly? After downtown we went through Echo Park (the lake is really gorgeous) and through Silver Lake. Silver Lake has great crowds and I used their energy to fuel me. Here we saw a few friends that gave us gatorade and bananas and we continued onto Hollywood.
On Hollywood Blvd, we decided to take a pee break before mile 10 at a port-o-potty line with 5 people. Unfortunately, this took over 5 minutes! We knew it was important to stop as we had been drinking at every water stop. Running through Hollywood is fun and right after the Chinese Theater, we turned left to head to Sunset Blvd.
Around this time, and also later on the course, Red Bull was handing out full cans. I understand that they are sponsors but I feel like it is not the best to to offer energy drinks on a course. Many people around me were also concerned, especially when they don't have a sponsored food stop!
Up until this point, I had been fueling every 2 miles and also taking water and gatorade at every stop. I was also taking water and pouring it on my head and body. I was determined to keep my body cool even though it had not been that hot yet. We passed the halfway point and that is where things got off.
Remember all of the talks of having water every mile? Well that started to not happen around this point. The water stops were not every mile and were more like every mile and half or more. I also think I started doing math here and realizing that even though I forced myself to pee at mile 10, i was not that hydrated. I wanted to take in more water but my stomach felt full and I felt good so I took in as much as I could.
Around this time is also where the "misting stations" were. In reality, these were water hoses or fire hydrants opened for spraying. They were great for cooling off.
On Sunset is where the halfway point was and I once again enjoyed watching the charity exchange. Sunset was not being kind to us as the sun was starting to come out, the hills were in full effect and there was a lack of shade. We soon made it to the downhill of San Vicente into West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
West Hollywood had pretty good shade and it is one of the last water stops I remember. After that, we went about 1.5-2 miles without water, without shade and people starting to struggle. Somehow my body still felt strong, mentally I was still in it and my legs felt fine. Even though I could tell it was getting warmer, my body wasn't feeling hot.
Let me take a second to thank all of the spectators that were out. THEY WERE BEYOND FANTASTIC!! So much food, gatorade, water and everything else you could ever need. However, this was during the water dessert and really all I wanted was ice. We went to a few tables here and were DENIED. With other people. I am sorry but that is just not in the spirit of what the marathon is about.
FINALLY we got to a water stop with a med stop and ICE. I put ice under my hat and continued into Beverly Hills towards Rodeo Drive. This is where Devin and I lost each other. :( He got split up and could never get back together (all of the water and gatorade was also on one side of the road so it made for a zoo as it had been too long).
Around this time is where I saw people start to fail. People dry heaving onto sidewalks, people sweating like crazy and I was getting worried. I kept fueling with my Clif products and kept drinking water or gatorade. my plan was to hold on to my pace as long as I felt good. I figured around mile 18 or 19 I would split my interval and then if I wanted, I could go down to :30 sec running/:30 sec walking. the important thing was just to keep going.
Towards Santa Monica I ended up with some shade (yay!) but also behind the KTLA news van filming people which really slowed things down a lot. trying to get around them was really hard! We turned onto Santa Monica Blvd in Century City and this is when I started to feel the heat. I knew more hills were coming with no shade. We were approaching mile 18 and I decided to split my interval to keep my legs feeling fresh. I was fine until closer to mile 19-my calves started to cramp and I decided to stop and do some stretches and also some hip flexor stretches as my hip flexors were a bit sore. I was still holding on and Roar came on the playlist and it was just what I needed. I just needed to hold on.
Around this time, I realized that my sub 5 was probably in jeopardy and I really came to terms with it quickly. It was miserable and I wanted to get done. Even if I could PR in this, I would be beyond happy. I had some more fuel from the clif station and was really feeling the heat. I decided to walk a full interval cycle to give my legs a rest. I was getting frustrated. My mind was there, my body was there, my calves were cramping.
Around this time we were ending the craziness and I knew once we turned on Sepulveda, there would be shade before hitting the VA. I finished an interval and started to walk as I turned Sepulveda and realized that was it. If I ran anymore, I had for the first time in my entire life a feeling I would collapse. I knew my race was over.
I texted Devin to see how he was doing and he said his legs were done so I called him and we chatted (he was about a mile behind me at that point). I then called Ralph to tell him I was done (I had texted him at mile 11 and 14 that I felt great and then mile 18 when I was struggling where he responded "where you are going, you don't need roads, you got this!)) and that I needed to walk it out. He reminded me to take my time and just finish and that he would pick me up whenever I was done.
The level of disappointment I felt walking through the VA was just immeasurable. I was hoping that if I walked for a few miles I would be able to pick up the pace to at least PR but the farther I went, I knew it was not good. I even tried every few minutes to run but knew my legs would not be able to support it all. In all honesty, if there had been a med stop where I first felt bad, I probably would have stopped there. I knew these last few miles would require me to dig deep.
My friend Mari and her running club would be at mile 21.5 so I texted her and came back and walked me in. They gave me popsicles, cold water, a towel and her coach rolled my calves out with The Stick. The rolling is honestly what saved me. She then walked me to mile 22 and sent me on my way. She reminded me how awesome I had rocked it, how good I looked (I didn't believe her until she sent me pics later). She said the important that was to finish, it was insanely hot, and that if I wanted her to meet me after, she would. (seriously, this girl is BEYOND amazing!)
I tried not to think about what was happening around me. I knew my dream redemption was shot but I tried to focus on all I have done to that point and how much worse shape I could be in.
As we turned towards the ocean, people took off. I knew I wanted to but there was no way I could. My goal was to just keep walking (I kept having to stop and stretch my calves), sprint through the finish line if I could, get my medal and go to the medical tent.
Heading to the finish line, I noticed a girl next to me really struggling. I decided to be her encouragement to the finish. She said her legs were spazing and she could barely feel them. We chatted for the few minutes it took us to get to the finish. Her name was Serena and it was her first race and she was running the second half of the charity relay. We just chatted up about our lives and I told her when we got closer, we could sprint and then head to the medical tent together. and that's exactly what we did! My finish line pictures from marathon foto-I AM SMILING. yay for me! I was able to sprint for all of 20 seconds haha. I finished in 5:48:53, only 2 minutes off of my PR from last year.
oh medical tent. I practically had to beg to get in and then they gave me motrin and I started shaking and feeling nauseous. I was pretty much having a panic attack at the same time as I had no idea what my body was doing. I tried to stay calm and just explained what happened. One of the best doctors ever came and explained to me what was happening in these words-You just ran a marathon in 93 degree weather. You are dehydrated. Your body is going to start shaking as a way to regulate its temp and also get the lactic acid moving. You will get cold. Cover up and lay down but make sure to stretch and keep yourself from getting too tight. <--some of the best advice I have ever received.
I was given Zofran (which could be the best drug ever!) so that my nausea would go away so I could drink water and fluids. I laid down on a cot but couldn't sleep because I had to pee so bad. I figured it was a good sign with all of the fluids I had over the last 6.2 miles. No one knew where the bathroom was so they were finding me a wheelchair. Well turns out IT WAS 20 STEPS FROM ME BEHIND THE DOOR. so off I went and felt so much better and went back and laid down and took a quick 20 minute nap.
Afterwards, I felt amazing. Seriously the entire walking period all I wanted to do was sit down and take a nap. I had some more water and a banana and off I went. Being in the medical tent really put things in perspective-people passing out, throwing up, it was a bit of a mind trip. I was able to call my parents and tell them what happened (yeah don't call your mom who is a nurse, and when she doesn't answer, text her and say you are in medical) and was able to get to the runner drop off area for my boyfriend to pick me up and we went to celebrate with mexican food that I could barely eat. I changed in the car and with the traffic so bad we actually stopped at a wendy's so I could pee and i got french fries. those were delicious! later that night I finished my food and ate more and celebrated with a glass of wine before passing out at 8:30 pm haha.
- Train on hills-this course has more hills than it should
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, and proper clothes
- carry sunscreen (my tan lines are out of control on my back)
- prepare for all weather!
- take the last possible shuttle in but get to the corrals quickly
- pay for spectator parking as soon as it is announced so that people coming to watch can have a place to park
- prepare for traffic
What the LA marathon needs to fix:
- CORRALS-an open corral of 16,000+ plus in a small space is going to work. If you want to keep an open corral, the corral space needs to be about 3x the size so people can really line up according to their speed
- trash cans in the corrals so people can throw away their food and drink
- a donation bin for clothes or a place to drop them in the corrals
- more trash cans by water stops. the streets were horrible
- publish water stops and have more frequent ones from miles 13-20
- have ice for the water stops-cold water would have been a lifesaver
- hand out towels during the marathon (if the WDW marathon can hand out towels soaked in cold water to 25,000+ people, so can you)
- move the race time earlier (this did not happen for 2016) to 6:30. Everyone would get at least an hour or so running in the dark and cool
- a food stop-the only food I got was from spectators. there should be 2 banana stops at least. Some water stops did have oranges which was nice
So what's next? Well recovery. I am more sore than I have ever been so I I'm trying to eat right, sleep and take it easy without it being too easy.
My next race is this weekend! Eek! And that begins the 4 weekends in a row of racing but I'm not worried. Next week is a 10k, followed by 2 5ks which I will use as speed work and then a hilly half marathon that I'm starting to dread, especially because it covers the part of Sunset where things started to fall apart. I am dreading it but I want to go in strong so I can prove I can tackle that crazy course.
And the big question-will I do it next year? YES YES YES! It is the Olympic trials the day before so I want to go watch part of that and then run the day after on Valentine's Day. And even better? MY BOYFRIEND HAS AGREED TO DO IT WITH ME! Running on Valentine's Day is going to be awesome! and you know we both already signed up too! :)
So there it all is. Not the race I planned but the race I got and I'm very proud of all that went into this race. I got a great 20 miles and it was some of the strongest I have ever felt in a race. The heat and lack of water when the sun came out did me in. It is what it is. I learned a lot and will be taking it all into account as I train for the New York City Marathon.
So this post was insanely long so thank you for sticking it out with me.
For others that ran, how did your LAM go?
Have you ever run a race in extreme race conditions?