EVENT: Los Angeles Marathon XXIII
DATE: Sunday, March 2, 2008
LOCATION: Hollywood / Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 8:15 am
FINISH TIME: 04:50:24
Let me start off by saying that although I've done this race before, I was still very excited about it. I don't think there is anything else quite like training for and running a marathon.
Three of my sisters and I did this race this year, the older three having done it at least once before and the younger one's first time. After we returned from the Expo on Saturday, we decided to buy these $1 bunny ears and wear them to the race. (4 for us and 1 for my 10-year-old sister who we decided is too young to do this yet... hi, Kwi!!).
Getting to the race took a while because we needed to cross the street to get to the subway, and the bike tour was cutting through our path. We had to dash across when we finally saw a gap in the riders. Whew! We got to the start at about 7:45 am. I spotted a fellow volunteer from our group who was running for a stroke group. And because the news cameramen were interested in us four girls in bunny ears, we got on TV! (SEE PICTURE: Yes, the MarathonFoto shots are SMALL, so it was either the huge PROOF watermark or a picture you could barely see. This was taken at the LA Coliseum at around Mile 15).
At around 8:25, we were off. I noticed that the initial crowding was much improved from last year, or maybe I have gotten more proficient at dodging people. Those first few miles felt good. I took it easy on the downhills just as Hal Higdon advises, and finished my first 10k in 58:20, which is very much like that of a half-marathon. I think I probably went out too fast, but I really didn't feel like I was trying very hard at that point.
Early on in the race, I also ran into someone I met on Facebook who was doing his first marathon. I think it was at mile 5 or so as we were turning a corner. I saw a guy who looked like the said person's pictures and saw that his name matched, so I said hello. We ran together for brief time before I had to stop at a water station. I should mention at this point that I definitely don't mind if readers of this blog (hi, Mike!) say hello to me if you happen to run into me during a race.
I slowed down after the halfway point to eat some Shot Bloks, drink some salt tablets, and down some extra water. The heat had climbed into what felt like mid-70's, and my face was already beet-red. I got a lot of extra cheers, photographers, and attention because of my ears, which was both good and bad. At around mile 7-8, I saw a guy in pink ears who gave me a "come hither" look, which would have been funny if I was still feeling good.
Miles 9-13 were grueling because of the heat. I thought of Mammoth and snow, but that didn't help. At mile 12, I met with the Rebuilding Together president, who took some embarrassing pictures of me. It was definitely encouraging and a nice break because I was tired of running.
My half split was about 2:19 (at which point I thought, "@#$&, only halfway?!"), which is not great, but I have run a half in that time before. I lowered one bunny ear to signify my fatigue (the other one went down at Mile 25). The second half of the race was tough as predicted. I ran very slowly and tried to keep my composure for the many cameramen at Exposition Park. By mile 18, I was just hoping for all of this to end as I made my way to the Salonpas pain spray lady at mile 19. I couldn't feel the stuff doing anything for my leg, by the way.
And at 22, over the long bridge coming into Downtown LA, my right calf cramped. I had been running through miles 20-22 when that happened, so to try to keep going, I shifted emphasis onto my left leg, at which point my left quadricep cramped also. I walked/ran the remainder of the race, wondering why I did this to myself (electing to run this race)... again. I was disappointed that this happened again in spite of all the additional training I did this year and the fact that I've done this before. Those moments were those "this is the hardest thing I've ever done" and "when will this end?!" ones. At 23-24, I called my friend so she could distract me and told her that I was going to have to go for the last 2 miles because I would only be making struggling noises. Yep, the infamous "wall." I was dying.
In spite of the finish being so close, I couldn't run. Someone would cheer, and I'd run until they focused on someone else... then walk again. But I somehow managed to run the last .2 at some sort of pace, although my legs were about to buckle. My finish time was 4:59 clock, 4:50:24 chip.
When I finished, I made 2 bananas, half of a chocolate protein thing, and 1 apple slice packet disappear so fast that I worried I'd get sick to my stomach. I was so hungry but also relieved that it was over. I had to walk a lot before my legs stopped feeling as if they were about to charlie horse everywhere the minute I stopped. Oh, and the chafing... I got two HUGE scuffs that stung like Hades in the shower.
This year's race was especially fun because so many people I knew were doing it also. I know I can improve on my race time, though I don't want to think about that right now. I thought this was going to be my last LA Marathon (because I wanted to try other races), but there's something so charming about it... and it's close to home. The course support was excellent (e.g., "Finish strong, Bunny!"). I don't know if many other races can claim such a crowd.
However, I must mention that the LA Marathon did not deliver on three things: Mariachi Mile, inspirational banners at "the wall" point, and Emerald Nuts snacks in the last 5 miles. I wasn't THAT slow, so it's not like all that stuff was there and then disappeared. What gives?
Kudos to all the finishers I know: Tea Time, Rattles, Boopid, Kathy, Kelly, Emily, Efren, Peter, Joseph, Mike (x2!), Burgess, and Jonathan. Also, thanks to everyone who sponsored Rebuilding Together (raised over $440 for them... wahey!). And on that note, thanks to Tim for cheering for us at Mile 12! Lastly, thanks to everyone who thought of me!!