LA Marathon: Race Recap

LA was my 4th (fourth-that’s right) full marathon in less than 11 months; this doesn’t take into account that I ran an ultramarathon in December 2015. That’s a heck of a lot of running, for me. I know there are marathon maniacs that are practically running a race every weekend but that’s not my life. I’ve taken a few days (okay a week) to process my LA Marathon race experience. I’ve already recapped some of the usual pre-race things such as the Expo in last week’s Friday Five which can be found here. So let’s get into discussing Race Day!

Wake-up: I slept very well and woke up before my alarm at 2:30am. I prefer having some time to relax, drink my coffee and eat breakfast, instead of sleeping in then having to rush.

Weather: Leaving my hotel I noticed that it was cool (55 degrees F), and a bit humid (around 90+%). I wore a pair of throw-away sweatshirt and sweatpants, plus my Oiselle Pom Hat.

Goals: I didn’t have any to be honest. I hoped I could break 4 hours, so I started with the 4:00 pacer. But I knew that my training period had many rough spots, so enjoying the course was my primary goal.

Shuttle: I was scheduled for a 4:30am shuttle from Downtown Santa Monica, but I arrived early around 4:10am and boarded a bus immediately. Approaching our exit for Dodger Stadium, we realized the exit was closed by CHP, so we were diverted to the general traffic entrance. Once arriving, we were turned around by traffic control. Many people on our bus were not very happy about this and a few wanted off the bus right there. It was barely 5:00am so we had plenty of time, and there really was no reason to stress (yet). I was sitting inside Dodgers Stadium by 5:15am.

Start Line: There was a lot of room at Dodgers Stadium, plenty of bathrooms, and free bananas, water bottles AND Clif Shot Bloks, which was perfect because I accidentally forgot to remove my second breakfast from my gear bag before checking it after I applied my body glide and sunscreen.

Mile 1-5: Within the first ¼ mile we were so bottlenecked we were walking. Within the first ½ mile men were breaking off to the trees for a potty stop. Our first mile overall was a wee bit slower than a 4 hour pace, but it was comfortable. Besides that first mile and sometimes at water stations, the course wasn’t very congested; you looked ahead and it was a sea of runners, but there was always sufficient elbow room thankfully. For this race I actually turned off auto-lap on my Forerunner 230, and manually lapped myself each mile marker to get a more accurate mile-by-mile split times; I only forgot three times because that’s how quickly this race flew by despite how slow I was running/walking. I knew there were some rolling hills but I underestimated these inclines (I should’ve driven the course!) and that’s saying a lot from someone who has run the Flying Pig (Cincinnati) and Pittsburgh Marathons! Mile 2 was my second fastest mile of the day at 8:44, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable; the pacer did slow down to a 8:58 for Mile 3, but as we hit Mile 4 I lost them because of the Hill. This was also the start of walking the water stations to allow my legs a minute of recovery.

Mile 6-10: I wasn’t quite hitting 4 hour splits, but I was happy with my pace. I had decided to walk inclines to save my legs because let’s just admit it now, I wasn’t in the best shape for this course. Around Mile 6, we passed Echo Park Lake. At Mile 9 I stopped for a potty break. I was also on the border of being too thirsty and worried that I would be overhydrating in the weather. It was sunnier than expected and I was regretting not wearing a hat. I was still pretty positive at this point, but a bit sad that the course was going by too fast and I was certain I was missing some touristy type sights.

Mile 11-15: Around Mile 11, I ran passed Hollywood & Vine, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I was excited to see these landmarks because I felt certain I had missed them. I don’t remember where it was on the course, maybe somewhere around here, but you get an amazing view of the Hollywood sign. Just as with Detroit, most of this part of the race was a bit of a blur; although I was in a much better place physically and mentally than Detroit. I think during this part was when Jen from NYC passed me, and when I noticed a blister on my foot. I also noticed that almost every mile appeared to begin with an incline which had me walking for almost a ¼ mile. I was probably too cautious at this point with the walking, but mile 4 pretty much tormented my quads and too a lot out of my legs.

Mile 16-20: I knew that I needed to learn how to push myself at this late in the race. But I was comfortable and not really thinking at all about my finish time at this point. It was during this stretch that I entered Beverly Hills and was running down Rodeo Drive. I really wanted to stop and take pictures but I was focused on putting one foot in front of the other because while my finish time wasn’t a concern (yet) I didn’t want to waste more time on my feet.  Despite how slow my mile splits were, the miles really did seem to be flying by!

Mile 21-23: Somewhere between Mile 20 and 21 I caught up to Jen and asked her if she wanted to run together. At this point, I was feeling good and knew I could pick it up. But I had been wanting to run with someone else for most of the course, so regardless of my desire to pick up the pace, my desire to run with someone else was stronger. Eventually around Mile 23, Jen encouraged me to keep going. I passed the Oiselle Cowbell Corner around Mile 23.5. I wanted to stop for a photo-op but my legs were just carrying me at this point and I knew that I had to dig deep to get in under 4:30. The only reason 4:30 even was a “goal” at this point was because I had caught up to the 4:30 pacer and suddenly I began calculating my estimated finish time.

Mile 24-26.2: In order to break 4:30, I had to hit a 9 min/mile for the last two miles. I had taken it too easy for most of the course, and with the hills being over I had that kind of kick left in my legs, but physically I had been on my feet for over 4 hours so sustaining that pace took a lot of mental focus to keep the physical drive alive. Contrary to the elevation map, I didn’t notice that lovely decline into the finish.
Finish: My watch said 4:29:53. I never noticed the clock when I crossed the finish. There was no 26 Mile Marker, and spectators aren’t allowed in the last 0.2ish of the actually finish line, so it was pretty lonely and a bit confusing because I’m not a very visual person when it comes to estimating distances. I saw the finish line and knew I was within seconds from not breaking 4:30 (not that it really mattered). Immediately after crossing a volunteer came and walked with me. I probably didn’t look good. I got my medal, took a picture, and texted my mom. Apparently I didn’t actually cross the finish line when I stopped my watch (there were at least 3 “timing” mats at the finish) so I didn’t quite break 4:30 this time around.
Official Finish Time 4:30:32
Average Pace 10’19”

Summary: Each marathon has been a learning experience. The distance is very humbling. Random fact though is that my pace was exactly one minute slower than my pace at Pittsburgh.

Overall: If I lived closer, I would probably run this marathon annually. But the cost of travel isn’t cheap and that will keep me from making this trip. I enjoyed the course, and the volunteers were freaking amazeballs. The course entertainment and spectators didn’t come close to Pittsburgh or Columbus, but the views made up for it. I didn’t have issues with the Shuttle to the Start line, but if you read my blog often you know I’m a planner and I prefer to be early rather than late. For my first point-to-point race, I thought the logistics were very smooth. Compared to Columbus, Detroit and Pittsburgh, while LA did have constant contact via emails, and social media, they are not as responsive to posts or interactive with guests as the others. The coolest feature of LA was the Students Run LA (SRLA) group, they just brought a whole new energy on the course that was contagious.

You can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Question: Have you ever run LA? If yes, what was your favorite memory of the race?

Jes

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