Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2011 LA Marathon Race Report

My original intention for the marathon was +/- 10 in the 4 hour range. I worked really hard to get this goal within my grasp, but in the weeks leading up to the marathon it became unrealistic. I had a lower leg injury and took 3 weeks off before the race. The week of the race my training was 3.7, 10.34, then the marathon; before that point I did not run at all. The 10 miler really helped get my head in the right place; it reminded me that I could crank it out if I was smart about it.

I spoke with Coach Jeff of PRSfit, who suggested we take LA like a training run. The plan would be to do a run/walk for as long as possible with no goal in site. Just focusing on good form but if anything hurt I would drop out and bag it. With this mind set the weekend was set.

A dear person to me S. gave me a ride to the start of the race. Straight up, if not for S I would not have even attempted the marathon nor started. The southern gates to Doyer Stadium were closed and Stadium way of the 5 freeway was a long, long line. We were running a little behind the expected arrival time so we took some Silverlake side streets and arrived from a different angle with plenty of time. In the car I had a Clif-Shot Gel (Expresso) with some water…I needed the kick and I gave up coffee for lent so I would not be getting that, and I had a banana and small bits for breakfast so the extra pep was a must. Originally my plan was to take a pack and run it solo without using the aid stations (ultra style), but seeing the weather and realizing my questionable fitness I ditched the pack idea and the waist pack idea as well (I was scared of GI issues). I put 6 gels in my pockets, 4 tri-berry GU, and 2 Honey Stinger - Chocolate.

Race start was a combination of excited newbies (like me) and seasoned veterans. I lined up between the 10/11 minute pace area. I thought that if I could hold that pace for a while I would be pleased at the effort. At the gun we moved like a wave with a lot of cheering and excitement. I really wish I had rocked a poncho or a trash-bag because the rain started before I got to the line. I had run in the rain before so I was not really concerned…my fear was wind.

The first few miles I focused primarily on keeping a steady pace and good form. I changed my garmin to only show total time because I really wanted to follow the plan and stay hydrated and fed so I did not bonk. I ran zone 2, sang a lot of songs that were playing on my iPod…I am sure I got looks but whatever. Because of the rain and wind a lot of the neighborhood music and displays were cancelled or I could simply not hear them. The first half was un-eventful...ran a lot and thanked every aid station person I could…they were the brave ones at least the runners warmed up by moving. I did not feel out of breath while running so mentally I still thought I had some in the tank.

Mile 16 I felt like quitting. The left leg I had babied for three weeks acted up. The pain shot up my leg and I slowed to a walk. I started scanning the road for bus stops or cafĂ©’s where I could sit and wait for a ride home. Walking it all started feeling better…and there was a downhill. I figured I would quit at the bottom of the hill…so I trotted along. Pretty soon I found myself at mile 18. I decided at that point that I was too close to just stop if I was feeling good (the pain had vanished)…mile 19…Salonpas had an aid station where they were spraying pain reliever spray.. So I stopped pointed to the area ahead of my ankle and the volunteer sprayed me. I thanked him very much for the help and headed off into the rain…that now smelled like peppermint/ menthol spray for a few yards.

I got the mile 20ish and kept repeating that it was just a 10k. I started imagining my regular route in San Clemente where I usually head up a long hill. I kept thinking…that hill is tougher than this so I better get out of my own head and just keep moving. I remembered a lot of people who see a marathon as such an unobtainable goal…something very distant. I was one of them; back in August when I started running. I remember thinking it was too far for any normal person to want to travel on two legs as opposed to four wheels. I decided to run for all those who didn’t or couldn’t. Many of them were facing debilitating disease or life changing events; one guy’s shirt said “think a marathon is hard, ask me about my girlfriends Chemotherapy”…every time I saw that guy I felt like a wimp for even thinking of complaining.

The other people I thought of were those who are too lazy to get off the couch. They know who we are. We are those who are the blessed born healthy and just opt not to go out there because we don’t want to push ourselves. We set the limit to the three sections of the couch and proceed to complain about how Hollywood is airbrushed and we could never look like that; you can just takes a little work and a little sweat many times over. I hope that everyone like that see’s or knows someone that ran this “rainiest” LA marathon on record gets motivated. No matter how bad it looks it feels great to be out there doing something good for ourselves but also supporting those runners out there for a cause or a loved one who couldn’t be.

S told me it was all downhill after San Vicente…hmm lies. Well…it is relative. There was a slope that any other day would be almost flat but on tired legs its Mount Everest at least. The end was rainy but very satisfying. I did not really feel proud of the run until today. It really did not sink in. For me the volunteers and crowds cheering in the rain made the marathon. They were out there supporting human achievement and cheering for everyone and that was awesome. I never hit the “wall” but when I almost did at 19, there was a man who handed me an orange a few words of encouragement later I forgot about the fatigue and just kept going.

After the race my friend was there to pick me up…almost perfect timing. The rain caused many runners to suffer from hypothermia according to the LA times. I was really lucky to have a friend there to help me out. We walked up Wilshire and I had the most delicious wild rice soup ever, EVER.

LA marathon Facts:
Of the 19,740 who finished 39% were women and 61% were men.

Over the final 4.5 miles, I passed 604 runners and 85 passed me.

Official Finishing Time: 4:56:28
Overall: 8,761 / 19,740

GPS DATA

2 comments:

Why said...

Way to perservere!! If Mile 16 you felt like quitting yet you didnt.. then that is a victory. Those last 10 miles can feel longer than the first 16.

Plus what crazy weather you guys had.

Maybe we will see you at a race.

Gotta Run,
-Mike
http://www.facebook.com/WhyMarathon

Alex said...

thank you, def the last 10 were tough. Hopefully you are at the SF marathon and i can swing by and say hi