Thursday, April 16, 2015

Race Report | LA Marathon

I told you to bear with me while I got up and going at the new job... but more on that soon! I figure that given LA was a MONTH ago now (WHAT?), it was high time to finish this post that I've been working on for three+ weeks.

Even so far out from the race, I'm very much still contemplating the what happened, what if, and this is where it went wrong game in my head. I'll preface it with this: I had some BIG goals in mind. Were they attainable? Probably. Were they realistic? Probably. Was I open to the idea that race day could totally mess with me and throw other plans my way? Totally. Was I still disappointed? A little bit.

The Expo

I worked the expo Friday evening and Saturday morning for Sparkly Soul. So while I love making expos about fun, and cruising through and checking out vendors and things, my mission was really to get in, get my bib and swag, and get to the table so I could get to work! Truth be told, I was actually pretty disappointed in the expo - it being such a huge race, I expected a little bit... more... out of it, whereas it was the same vendors I saw at Long Beach, and nothing uber-exciting. Oh well.

The Wall of Fame is a fun highlight, though - who doesn't love finding their name among 26,000 others? The light blue you see above is part of the lettering that spelled out CELEBRATE - the theme for this year's 30th Edition of the LA Marathon. 

So cool, right?
What I am disappointed about missing is the Asics light show. On Friday night, thousands of lights were aligned along all 26.2 miles of the course. If you were up in the hills above the city, you could see them everywhere. I knew they were happening, I saw all the announcements about it, but I was so tired by the time I left the expo Friday night, I drove home, carb-loaded, got to bed... and then saw everyone's posts about it. Sad times.

The Race

A 2:30 am alarm clock comes stupid early, FYI. I was in bed by 9:35 on Saturday night, ready to get up, get dressed, get going and pick up Monica and make our way to Dodgers Stadium. I jolted awake with the first alarm, got up, made my bagel and headed out the door early to get her. To Monica's by 3:10, on the road at 3:15. Early. Just early. We were at Dodgers and parked by hardly 4 am. I'm glad I opted for the non-shuttle way. We slept/snoozed in the car for another hour, and about 5, got our ish together to meet up with the IERC folks. There were so many of us, and our meet up spot was just abuzz with excitement and race day nerves.

With the race starting half an hour earlier (open corrals at 6:55), we were in a corral by 6:15. I don't think there is a single race where I've been in a corral more than 10 minutes before the start of the race. That's just not how I roll! So lots of standing around - I am not sure if it made me more excited or more anxious, but you could certainly feel the buzz about people in getting our 26.2 mile from the stadium to the sea started.

Could you even ask for a more gorgeous morning?
Our pace leaders' original plans were to run the first six miles at about a 9:45 pace, run the middle miles at race pace (9:30), and then see who was hanging on for the last six miles. With the heat warning, however, they scaled it back again to a 10:00 pace for the first six, see how folks were doing for the middle, and re-assess again going into the last 10K. Sounds good to me - I know I can handle 10:00 and even with race-day excitement, we knew we'd hit a little faster than that for some pieces, surely.

There were probably 10 or so of us starting out as Team Beast Mode (9:30 pace group that trained together), but in the crowd, we quickly dispersed some all over the place. I stuck with our leaders, Brenda and Jackie, knowing that my training heavily relied on them for some motivation and support, but camaraderie along the way too.

Hollywood Boulevard. El Capitan in the back!
My parents, sister and Doug were camped out at mile 8 - and truthfully, the first miles flew by. Gates of Chinatown, mariachi band at Olvera Street, and tons and tons of spectators. By far the best part about running this course is that nearly every inch of sidewalk has someone out there to cheer you on. It was great to see them, cowbells and cheering and high fives, but I felt so good at that point, I didn't want to slow and let my head catch up to my legs. I was ready to roll! Their plan was to book to the finish after seeing me early on so they could fight their way to Santa Monica and get parked and settled.

Before I knew it, we were headed down Hollywood Boulevard for the full running tour of LA. Much like Georgia's Publix race, if you're not from LA, this is the best way to get the full experience on foot and see it all! Hollywood features Pantages, El Capitan, the Chinese Theatre - all things that I've experienced, albeit like 20 years ago! That was definitely a perk.

Chinese Theatre selfie. 
We hit the 20K split in 2:06, just on target and doing pretty well. There was an awesome breeze coming down Hollywood Boulevard for two or three miles, and I figured that if that could keep up, we'd be okay. A few blocks later: the breeze stopped. Boo.

The IERC had planned tents at miles 17, 20, and 23. In the weeks leading up to the race, you could prep drop-bags for certain tents, and they'd have your goodies ready to go. I certainly slowed in mile 16, ready to see some friends camped out on Rodeo Drive (thank you Carlee & Michael!), and ready for our first support tent. This is where it all went south - feeling pretty good through our support tent, but ready for some run club love. At 17, I grabbed a ton of ice, shoved it in my sports bra (I tell you, it's never felt so good to have so much ice on bare skin), got Biofreezed (totally a verb), and got Tiger-Tailed (also a verb) a little bit on my right quad and calf.

I'm convinced that getting Tiger-Tailed is partially what sent me over the edge - while it felt hurt so good getting rolled, I physically fell apart after we left the tent. The stretch to mile 20 truthfully felt like the longest 3 miles I'd run ever and here is where I legitimately walked for the first time in a decent stretch. Jackie, bless her heart, stuck by me and kept coaching me on: "Three miles to 20! Just three! Next tent is there!"

Mile 20 tent. Ragged. 
Miles 20 to 23 dragged - I was walking more than I was running, and my big goal dreams quickly dissipated. At that point, I was happy to be doing it, happy to be almost done, and ready to just call it a day. Mile 20 is where the heat really kicked in for me, which is funny given that we were closest to the coast than we'd been yet. We loaded up on more ice, cold water and Otter Pops (re: heaven) and went on our way. Mile 23, check.

Despite the long stretch between 20 and 23 having tons of trees, it wasn't super shaded through the whole road, maybe half of it, and the heat really sank in. Jackie kept reminding me that the more I walked, the longer it'd take to get there! At that point, I just wanted to be done. Quick mental math told me that even if I shuffled to the finish at this point, I'd have a PR even if it was only by a minute or two, and really... that was my last goal. I could be okay with that, right?

The crew was waiting for me just before the 26 mile marker and finally, the finish line. A finish line has never felt so far away! I shuffled, truly, because that was all I had left. Jackie and I crossed the finish line at 4:52:52, almost an exact 6-minute PR. Goal C, accomplished.

Wouldn't have made it without this girl!

After sitting in the finishers' chute for a few minutes and fighting my way through the madness of the family reunion area, I finally found my sister and Doug, who is pretty much the best guy ever for carrying me back to the car like three blocks away. And just like that... it was over. Sore legs, medal, salt lines everywhere proved that I had done it, but all of a sudden, it was just over. I did it again - 26.2 or bust!

Recovery this time was nothing like the first time around - I think much of the heat to blame. On Monday, I was okay. Tired and sore, but nothing like I hadn't just run hard the day before. Tuesday, however, was a different story - the post-marathon sickness creeped in and I was so sore, I literally almost fell out of bed because it hurt so bad to stand on my own two legs. I got through Tuesday (substitute teaching) on 3 Aleve in one dose, and kept popping 'em just to feel alive. By Thursday, I was doing okay.

So, a month later, here's what I've got: still convinced getting Tiger-Tailed is what did my leg in. The heat sucked and certainly affected me more than I was going to give it credit for. If you're looking for a race with amazing course support, LA is for you. If you're not from LA and want to check the city out and conveniently like running marathons, LA is for you. Marathon recovery sucks, but more on that soon and how my injury is doing (see how far behind I am?!).

Thanks for sticking with me - long freaking post, and a long break after getting settled into work!

Did you run LA this year? How'd that heat treat ya?!

No comments:

Post a Comment