Lucky 13, that is what I am this past year’s Los Angeles Marathon was.
The Los Angeles Marathon is a race I have now ran three times and each time it does get better. Weather is the main factor of my less than stellar runs the previous two years and this year, the weather gods were nice and gave us more favorable conditions. Don’t get me wrong, it got hot, but it was significantly better than previous years.
My weekend began on Saturday morning at the LA Big 5k race at Dodger Stadium. This is a nice family orientated 5k and was the perfect choice for my shake out run. (I tend to skip my shake out run, so I leaped at the chance for a reason to stay accountable and earn a medal!).
After the race, I headed to the race expo. I choose to drive myself and parked in one of the ramps. Tip for next year – find street parking. The expo was great and Skechers really brought great merchandise this year. In all, I spent about 2.5 hours there before heading home to rest up.
Race morning I elected to drive to Dodger stadium since I had friends meeting me at the finish line to drive me home. The race is point-to-point so you either park at the finish or the start line. They offer shuttles for free from both the finish line and select Metro Stations.
Once at the race, I headed to the Air France Start Line Hospitality Lounge and met up with the other Conqur Ambassadors. If you run LA, add on this option! You get a heated tent, stretching area, private bathrooms, private gear check and pre-race snacks! I took advantage of all of this and wonder why I have never done this option before.
Before I knew it, it was race time! I was in a seeded corral, but since I was injured, I elected to start in the open corral. I hate being in runners way and knew I wasn’t running as fast as planned. Instead, I looked for the Clif Bar Pace Team and lined up with the 5:30 group. My plan, hang with them for as long as possible. I usually check in with their team at the expo to see what the race day plan is for the Pacer. I luckily had one utilizing the run-walk method.
The course is hilly, but it is beautiful. I always enjoy running through the city, because for the other 364 days a year, I avoid most of the area because I hate traffic. Running on closed roads just brings a peace to me and makes me love the city. Miles 1 – 4 flew by and then we hit the first big hill. I hate this hill, but there is always great crowd support there and that makes it bearable.
Shortly after the hill we move out of the Downtown area and into West Hollywood area. Along the course is the famous hot dog cheer station (free for runners!), a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and Jimmy Kimmel’s Prankster Team along Hollywood Blvd. The last two years I have made Jimmy’s video (background only) as I do not fall for the pranks.
Right before Hollywood Blvd, I pulled back from the Pace Group. I stayed with them for nine miles, but my legs and body couldn’t keep the faster pace. I adjusted my run-walk intervals and settled in for the final fifteen.
I hit my wall early on the LA course, right around the half way point. I think it is partly due to lack of crowds and partly due to no shade coverage. I knew I had friends at miles 19 and 20, so I told myself only a 10k to my first group of friends and pushed through the wall. Around mile 16 I ran into fellow Pasadena Pacer runners and that gave me the push I needed. I reminded myself that I was out here to have fun, not have my best race time. So out the phone came and I started taking photos and safely Snapchatting. See Snapchat and the Los Angeles Marathon had teamed up to bring over 40 Geofilters and I wanted to be like Pokemon and find them all!
This new task kept my mind off the race and I found myself smiling and interacting with the crowd and volunteers again. Soon I hit mile 19 where my November Project friends were manning a water station. I cannot tell you how great those hugs were and how seeing their energy kept me positive. That just continued to grow, because at mile 20 the famous Pasadena Pacer cheer station was set up. They have members run us in and ask if we need anything. You feel like a NASCAR driver at a pit stop. They have everything! I opted to get a cooling towel to help with my body temperature and kept going.
Mile 21 is my least favorite mile, just not pretty and lacks energy. We are running under the 405 overpass so not many spectators can be there. But I knew once I got to the other side there would be the super not-so-secret beer stop. I stopped to grab a dixie cup of beer and phoned my friends at the finish to let them know I was less than 90 minutes from the finish.
The last five miles seem to drag on, sure we are closer to the ocean so the temperature drops, but I usually am dragging my feet and just ready to be done. See, they hide a hill right around mile 23 and it is just cruel. I know it is coming and at mile 22 I spot another November Project runner and yell out some encouragement. The runner responds and we both have the look of dread so I ask if I can run with them for a bit to try and get some energy for the hill. That turned into us running the final miles together. It was his first marathon and we began to take videos at the mile markers and chat about running and our lives. It was just the distraction I needed.
At the six hour mark I knew that I would not beat last years time, but I kept positive. We had just under a mile to go and we were on the final stretch. I heard my two friends yelling (not because they spotted me, but because the spotted the other November Project runner) and I yelled back. After that I was ready to finish the last 0.4 left. I started yelling at my favorite race announcer, Rudy Novotny, and he gave me a great finish line shout out back! And that was it, I finished my third Los Angeles Marathon. My comeback race after a difficult year. My race to prove I could do better. My chance to enjoy the city of Los Angeles. Lucky Marathon 13.
Registration for the Conqur LA Challenge is open! The challenge includes the Santa Monica Classic 5k/10k (Sept), Pasadena Half Marathon (Jan) and the Los Angeles Marathon (March).
Registration for only the Los Angeles Marathon will open in September.