Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LA Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #14:

They weren't kidding about LA traffic. 25,000 people is a lot! Sightseeing tour of the LA area. Wonderful spectators! Easy pace with a strong finish.

Really not a fan of races that feature what edition of the race it is on the medal.
Really? Twenty-five years? Whoopee-dip.

The Full Recap, Marathon #14:

First off, a HUGE shout-out to Michael and Boyfriend. Michael picked up my bib for me at the expo Saturday since I didn't head down to LA until after work. Thank you SO SO much. Boyfriend did 80% of the driving to and from LA (within a 26 hour span). You're the bestest!

We didn't arrive at my friend's until 10:30 pm Saturday night. I got to sleep around 12:30 am or so and was up at 4:20 am. I had a spot on a 6:00 am shuttle bus. Since the race is a point-to-point course, you could park your car at the finish and then catch a shuttle to the start at Dodger Stadium. The race had been sending out emails saying to get there early, early, early! I did my part and was actually on a shuttle by 5:20 am. There was barely a line at the shuttle stop and they even had a small row of portapotties. I grabbed a quick pee which was probably the best move of the entire day.

Thing were going well enough until at some point we stopped on the freeway. We were in regular public transportation buses and the lights were on inside of them. So it was hard to see out the windows at what was going on. Someone said we were about 2 miles from the stadium. ONE HOUR later, someone said we were about 1.5 miles from the stadium. At this point it was probably closing in on 7 am (the race started at 7:24 am).

Once the sun came up, I was able to see outside the windows. There was another shuttle bus in front of us and we were flanked by cars filled with nervous runners. Around this time, we started to see people running on the freeway to try to get to Dodger Stadium to make the start. I was really happy this was going to be a fun run for me. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for people trying to PR this thing or first time marathoners.

At one point, our bus driver cut into an adjacent lane (everyone was really waiting in one lane to make the exit), sped past about 5 other shuttle busses, and then quickly cut back into line. The entire bus erupted into a huge cheer. It was hilarious.

We made it up to the area and I disembarked the bus at about 7:42 am. They had apparently held up the entire race just for us (ha ha). I heard the announcer say that the race was going to start in 8 minutes. I looked at the portapotty line and then I looked back at the people waiting in the "corral" area. I debated what to do. I could grab another pee and start way, way at the back, or I could stand in the corral area and just be far in the back. I decided I didn't have to go that bad and got in with the huddled runners. Thank goodness they had portapotties at the shuttle bus! I am only miffed about the poor traffic predictions because I later learned you could have hung out on the Dodger stadium field before the race. I abhor baseball, but even then it would have been cool.

Dodger Stadium at the start

I knew it was going to be a long morning when I looked around and saw the 6:30 pace group. I told this to Boyfriend later who got confused so I'd like to clarify and say this was the 6 HOUR and 30 MINUTE finish pace group. There was a couple in front of me who had "3:45" pace bands on, and all I thought was, "Good luck with that!"

"Hello, start line!" I think the winners were at mile 4 at this point

It took 25 minutes to cross the start line. I did so much dodging and weaving and elbowing the first couple of miles. It was horrible. I swore off doing anymore of these huge events ever again. It was a total cluster$%&@. I won't be posting anything but the first and last splits for this race. My first split was a 12:06 pace.

Check out all those people! Contrast it to Napa a couple weeks ago. Seriously. Click the link.

I was in a foul mood about how crowded it was the next 9 miles or so. After that I sort of hit my stride and was able to relax a bit. One thing I will say about the LA Marathon is that the spectators were 100% awesome. The one plus, I suppose about a big race. Oh, and all the free product samples. Downed a delicious Sunny D towards the end of the race.

They changed the course this year to be a bit more scenic. I was able to see things I hadn't ever seen before!

Disney Concert Hall (and a nice little incline to go along with it)

Taiko drummers pushing people up the hill

As the race went on, my average pace was always somewhere in the high 10:40's to low 10:50's. I walked through nearly every water stop to drink lots of fluid. I did walk some of the uphill segments (Man, this course was hillier than I thought it was going to be) but overall didn't take extended walking breaks. I did slow down a bit more the second part of the race as I let myself walk for slightly more extended sections through the water stops. My average pace creeped up then to the high 10:50's. No sweat (Figuratively. Literally I was pretty soppy by mile 2 -- it was muggy but thankfully overcast with a slight breeze the whole race). Towards the end of the race they had firemen operating hoses to water down the runners. Life saver. I always got a pep in my step for a while after getting sprayed.

I took lots of photos so will let them tell the story:

They had awesome mile markers because you couldn't miss them. Not so awesome because on long straightaways you could see them WAY in the distance.

My first ever sighting of the Hollywood sign was during the race!!

Fun building

Hitting the Hollywood Walk of Fame area

This was the first Broadway type show I saw when I was 7ish.
And look, the stars on the sidewalk!

I was a total nerd and actually wrote down cross-streets and names of the stars I wanted to see. And in true Blogger Dorkdom I took a picture of said list while on the run for all of you.

First find, Lassie!

I cut off the official course to grab this video. Later I wondered if I missed a timing mat (I didn't).

Second (and sadly, last) find, Walt Disney!

Julie Andrews was located behind a water stop and I think Tom Hanks and possibly Mickey Mouse were just beyond where the course veered left off of the Walk of Fame. But two finds in the middle of a marathon aren't bad!

Kodak Theatre!

Laugh Factory's first sign: "If you can read this you are running too slow." I guess that means if I could take a picture of it there was just no hope for me.

Their second sign: "Run harder; You're about to get free healthcare."

I figured when you're running a race that ends in Santa Monica, it is a good sign when you turn onto Santa Monica Boulevard.

Hello, Beverly Hills! Thanks for keeping it beautiful with that yellow hazard tape.

All the fancy pants stores. I lived off of 5th Ave in NYC so it made me a little nostalgic.

Rodeo Drive!

More opulence

There were tons of bands out performing (Rock 'n' Roll race series, eat your heart out!) which was a huge lift during the race. There was a Christian rapper who even had his own entourage of groupies dancing and cheering for him (which is something I've never seen at a race). My favorite by far was a violinist who was playing Canon in D. As I came up to him I was totally mesmerized by his music (it was a really upbeat unique version) and almost took my camera out to record the sound (but my camera has a horrible microphone -- probably because it is waterproof -- so I decided it was a worthless endeavor).

As I often do when people are performing I clapped for him as I ran by. He made eye contact with me. I yelled, "Thank you!" to him and he nodded his head in acknowledgement. I don't know why, but it gave me a huge boost to know that he knew I appreciated what he was doing. I used the power of Google and found him! I am totally going to buy his album. I found this video of him performing Canon on youtube:

Sign I saw on the course: "Live positively. It's much easier than running a marathon."
Food for thought.

Running around the VA Hospital. Did six months worth of externships at VA hospitals on the east coast so that was sort of neat. Even saw a patient from the hospital out in his wheelchair to take in the race.

I saw this sign at one point in the race and really regretted not getting a photo of it. Saw it a second time 10 miles later and didn't miss my second chance.

Found Ron out on the course. LOVE his shirt. In case you don't know, getting passed by a girl is referred to as "Getting chicked." Sorry to say it, Ron, but I chicked 'ya ;)

I ran with Ron for a little less than a mile, I think. He had been suffering from leg cramps and was having a tough go at it. I am so glad I ran into him because his company from mile 24-25 took my mind off of the actual distance. I knew once I got to mile 25 (this day) the hard mental game of the marathon would be over for me.

At this point the course was totally downhill or flat the rest of the way. I knew I was pretty close to not breaking 4:50 and made that my goal. Once I passed the mile 25 mile marker, I threw down the hammer. There was a left hand turn at the 25th mile and the next 1.2 miles is a flat straightaway. Talk about suckage! I could see the finish line waaaay in the distance. I hate that! I tried to get incrementally faster and pulled off the 25th mile in 9:30 pace, then 8:58 pace; the last 0.5 miles (distance per my garmin -- darn all that early weaving) was at an 8:00 pace. Official time: 4:48:03

I am happy with my time. I didn't want to go too fast (and honestly couldn't have gone much faster on this day if I wanted to) and after I threw my hissy fit the first few miles, I really enjoyed all the sights and spectators. I also finished feeling strong which is a huge plus to me at any marathon regardless of the finishing time.

The race finished by the Pier.

I have major gripes about the finish area. Here is one of them: For a 25,000 runner race, this was their family reunion area. Really? You can't separate the signs more so runners have more room to meet with their people?

Only runners were allowed to use the ramps (everyone else had to use adjacent stairs). That was a sweet touch. I seriously felt so special :)

Poor Boyfriend stood at the finish line for hours and didn't see me at all. He wasn't immediately aware of the late start and also didn't know it took me 25 minutes to cross the line. So he was a bit disoriented about where I was. Plus, well, it is hard to pick someone out in a sea of so many people!

As I was running down the homestretch, a guy on the sidelines yelled, "Run, 'RoadBunner,' Run!" (insert my real name, which was printed on my bib) He yelled it with such conviction I thought for sure it must have been someone I knew. I even thought maybe it had been Boyfriend (I swear I was too far away from the sidelines for that guy to have easily read my name). But it wasn't Boyfriend and it wasn't anyone who knew me. Just goes to show you how awesome these spectators were. I got my medal from someone who was also named "RoadBunner." Fun day.

Overall, I would recommend this race if you are in the market for a mega marathon. They definitely have some logistics issues to work out, but I am hoping that will improve as they get feedback. The course is great to make it a destination race. It is a little hilly but nothing too terrible. I was telling Boyfriend I don't think I have a lot of these mega races left in me. I'd love to do NYC again and Boyfriend reminded me we are planning on doing Chicago in 2011. But other than that, I think I like my 5,000-12,000 runner races so much more.

The race shirt is kinda bleh, but they did have women's specific sizes. My size small fits so that leads me to believe the shirts ran small (which is the feedback I have read elsewhere). Does anyone get this design? I don't really understand what they were trying to go for here.

I would like to close with the most random thing to ever be stuffed into a race goody bag:

Please tell me my tax dollars did not pay for this.


bunnygirl said...

Thanks for the RR. I've never done a marathon that big, and I've been intrigued lately by the thought of doing very small ones, like the Marathon-to-Marathon in Marathon, Texas.

I'm glad you had fun in LA and didn't let all that traffic stress you out.

Hef's Mom said...

Very cool, don't worry I'm a blogger dork too, Hef's dad just rolls his eyes "NO! I have to take a picture of the box before we open it!"

ShirleyPerly said...

Excellent race and race report!!

I have driven through L.A. countless times but think I've seen more of it from your race report than any other time before. Really enjoyed your photos. I feel the same way about big races as you do. Maybe fun to do once in a while but overall not really worth the hassle and frustration.

Congrats on another fine marathon time and another one down!!

Mica said...

Wow, that race definitely had some issues. Stupid traffic (Reason # 234902042 why I am terrified of LA and the surrounding areas.)

I totally would have mapped out the cross-streets too. You're just being an efficient runner AND sightseer, no?

Alisa said...

LOL that your shuttle bus was late. Doesn't surprise me it is LA =).

I love big races b/c I really dislike running long race alone. In big races you're almost certain to have someone within a sprints distance away.

Course looked nice and scenic, I've heard much better than what it used to be.

L.A. Daze said...

Nice race recap! I think I will do this one next year. I was a bit put off by all the roads that were blocked and that kept me from doing my usual Sunday routine, but then I remembered all you folks who were running 26.2 miles and quickly got over it. Did Mario come to LA with you and BF?

PunkRockRunner said...

It's pretty impressive that you made all those pit stops and still managed a super respectable time out there.

I'm glad you found me. You made mile 25 a blast.

Great report!


heather said...

Love all the pictures. The signs were great.

Ms. V. said...

OMG That is a GREAT race report. What's up with going to the beach for the family reunion? LOVED that you took a picture of your list.

aron said...

great race report girl and congrats on ANOTHER marathon!!!

i am with you on the smaller marathons though, i think this would have given me a panic attack! sounds like a great one to run for fun though :)

Anonymous said...

Terrific race report, and I love the photos. You've actually got me thinking I should add that race in the future. Congratulations on another marathon finish; you're really knocking them out this year--keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Race report? Sorry - we were distracted by that cute little fluffy part between Mario's ears. DKM calls that 'the snorgle spot'

cliff said...

you're so critical. sheesh! you've become a marathon diva!


and how can you abhor baseball! how dare you write that!!!!!

Marci said...

What a great race report, can I endorse everything you wrote 200%?!! I was thinking those same thoughts early on... I knew a PR was out of the question shortly after someone peed on the shuttle bus on the way to the start line.. eww... LOL. I loved the race though, but for a fun destination, not a PR, congrats on another marathon, we will get to meet sometime (I may be back in CA in July). You are doing amazing on your marathon streak!!

Katherine @ Lipgloss and Spandex said...

Loved the race report! :) I don't care for big races for the same reason--I hate getting stuck behind crowds for miles and miles :(

And I agree, that violinist is amazing.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Thanks for the report! And Pix. I too now know way more about LA than from all the times I've driven through.

Sounded like a good run - no report of aches and pains.

Portland in October - I've heard that is a good one.

The shirt - oh - those are, from bottom to top, your course on each mile .. the early ones with all the joggling it takes to get by the slow-pokes. They did not want to show #26 or #26.2 ... too awful Really! (No?)

cody@codywestheimer.com said...

Great pics! And great job out there! :)

X-Country2 said...

Great pics! Love that you made teh star map. Totally something I would do. Also, we have the same shoes!

Priscilla, Lil Miss Hungry said...

That was me with the 26.3 would be crazy sign! I was supposed to run but had to drop out 3 weeks before race day due to injury. But I still went out there to cheer you guys on.

Michael B said...

great report, my friend. congrats again. (so glad i missed the crowded conditions and shuttle fiasco).

EndorphinBuzz said...

Thanks for the race report and sorry I missed you. I also had a late start due to traffic and my cell phone got wet and broke down.

I agree that there were logistical problems but I am willing to overlook them for the superb course and amazing crowd support. I felt like a superstar the whole way!

The Laminator said...

Wow, so many pictures! If you weren't taken pictures and looking for stars on boulevards, maybe you could have finished 30 minutes faster? Maybe. Either way, congrats on finishing LAM. It's one of my destination marathons once they work out the logistics.

Marathon Maritza said...

Congratulations, you marathon MACHINE!!! Whoooo!!!

I loved this recap (you seriously have some of the BEST pictures of the LAM I've seen) and I especially loved the video of you running over the Walk of Fame...brilliant!

Great job, chica!