Monday, March 20, 2017

Los Angeles Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday morning I ran the 32nd Annual Los Angeles Marathon.

As you know, I was lucky enough to be part of the Conqur Endurance Group Ambassador team this past year. They are the parent company that puts on races such as the Santa Monica Classic, the Pasadena Half Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon. As part of the ambassador program, we were given free entry into these races... but with that said, you know I gotta #KeepItReal and will give you my honest opinion of everything (the good, the bad, the ugly)!

Although LA is only about 80 miles north of us, with SoCal traffic it can take anywhere from 1.5-3 hours to get there... and Saturday I drew the short stick and it ended up taking 2.5 hours to get to the Convention Center for the Expo.

Thankfully the Expo is very efficient and well run. (Sidebar: I saw in one of the emails that parking at the Convention Center would be $20-25. I have been up there enough to know there are some side streets you can park on and walk over... FREE OF CHARGE... So do your homework, get in a few extra steps {I parked within a quarter mile and it only took about 10 minutes to walk} and save some cash if the Expo you are attending charges for parking.)

I was able to grab my bib, participant tee and official Skechers Performance shoes (thanks to my Conqur hook-up), stop by a couple booths to say 'HI' to vendors and friends, as well as snap a couple of pictures (including my entry for the #PhotoWithLinzie contest I mentioned in my Friday Favorites post).

Can't wait to see who won the #WeRunSocial prize pack and $100 to a charity
of their choosing! 

If you look closely my name is right at Linzie's eyesight! How fun (and random)!

On the way to my hotel (PS I stay in Culver City... it's about 15 minutes away from the Santa Monica shuttles and much cheaper than staying closer to the start or finish), I grabbed a Subway sandwich for dinner to eat once I checked in.

With St. Patrick's Day on Friday, I figured I'd go with a leprechaun theme for
my #FlatCarlee. Two Pair Don't Care PROs (green & yellow), green Handful bra, green
Sparkle Athletic skirt, gray tank, homemade rainbow hat, black and green QALO
silicone wedding bands, green and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps, green RoadID,
my Garmin Forerunner 735XT, and my Brooks Ghost 9 with lightning bolt Shwings.
Also, since it was a full marathon I ran with my Nathan handheld and fueled
with PROBAR Bolt chews.

After eating my sandwich, doing a little reading and foam rolling it was time to hit the hay.

Don't worry, I rolled over every half hour to make sure I didn't miss
my alarms... and was out of bed before 3am anyway...

Since this is a point-to-point race, the majority of folks park at the finish line and take shuttles from Santa Monica to Dodger Stadium - which is what I find easiest and most convenient. Parking and taking shuttles adds to your pre-race time so I ended up having my alarms start by 3:15am so I could be ready and checked out by 4am, over to the parking lot by 4:20am (PS Another great option is the pre-paid parking... All you have to do is buy it online, print out your parking pass and bring it race morning, less things to worry about!), on a shuttle by 4:30am and at the start by 5am.

When you stay at the hotel on your own you have to get good with
your self timer for pre-race shots!

Well, what do they say? Something about the best of plans? Let's just say that the shuttle line this year was CRAZY! I got to the parking lot by 4:12am and in line for the shuttles shortly after that. Last year I waited maybe five minute as they had tons of volunteers counting runners off and filling up buses. This year not so much... I literally stood in line for 35+ minutes and moved very little. I was finally on a shuttle by 5am. (Not to mention, they had the bank of port o potties on the sidewalk right next to where you got on the buses... where people were lined up for the shuttles... so there was no real easy way to get to them or use them...)

As we were getting on the shuttle there were a few folks towards the front of the line who were giving out the plastic bags our bibs and tees came in for gear check, but no one seemed to be looking at or inspecting the contents of anyone's bags so it doesn't seem like it was a security check... Once we got on the bus there were quite a few folks complaining about the long wait and how if they kept it up all morning there would be lots of late runners to the race.

The shuttle ride was pretty uneventful... until the exit to get off the freeway was closed. There were signs saying the exit would be closed EXCEPT FOR BUSES, but the cones and barricades were stopping everyone INCLUDING BUSES from getting through. The bus driver decided he would have to take the long way around and go with the cars. We tried to enter the car route but a police officer directed us elsewhere... And then we got to another officer who told us we would have to turn around and go back to where we came. The driver tried to explain that the exit was closed and the last driveway sent us there but he wasn't having it. Well, when the bus started to do a u-turn some of the runners asked if he'd just let us off where we were and we could huff it to the start from there (no one wants to sit in traffic and have anxiety about being late to a race, even if that means walking an extra mile to the start). Thankfully he was kind enough to open the door and let us off. (There appeared to be quite a few buses behind us and were planning to follow suit.)

I was supposed to be meeting the Conqur Endurance Group Ambassadors by the Hospitality VIP Tent at 5:30am for a photo, so I did a brief warm off by speed walking over, hoping I wouldn't be later than I already was. I was pleasantly surprised to find the tent (and accommodations) SO MUCH BETTER than last year! The tent was heated, there were bars/ bananas/ race fuel/ coffee/ water/ Gatorade and there were many more port o potties for everyone to use (they also had some fun goodies like water diffusers and Air France canvas bags but since I wasn't checking anything I didn't have anywhere to store the freebies)! There were even yoga mats and foam rollers to use - nice touch!

This crew... 100% ROCKSTARS! 

After the crew assembled and talked strategy, we all wished one another the best of luck and made our way to the corrals (the seeded corrals close by 6:30am, so if you don't get in by the cut-off you have to start in the open corral).

Dodger Stadium... It's been real but I gots ta go!

I found myself in B Corral thanks to some past fast races so did a little stretching before we sent the wheelchairs, handcycles and elite women off. Then it was time for the elite men and the rest of the crowds to hit the streets of LA.

My Garmin was ready... but apparently that was about all that was ready to run!

I didn't have a goal for the race. Originally I had applied to SET A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD at the race but that didn't pan out. (Let's just say the folks at Guinness made me rather upset when I sent them my #FlatRunner picture and they came back telling me I needed to add a whistle AND be wearing it, only to send them a photo of me in the gear and get a response that lifeguards can't wear sequins a week later... Well, thanks but no thanks!)

When that idea went out the window (about a week before the race, which is when I had to scurry around to figure out a new outfit to wear), I decided I would run LA for fun. The Los Angeles Marathon was teaming up with Snapchat to make history and cover the course with over 40+ geofilters, so I thought I'd spend the race snapping away... That was until I remembered I didn't really know how to use the platform {DOH!}.

I loved the idea of the selfie wall at the Conqur booth... but the
lighting was HARSH on my selfies and this is what I got when
someone offered to take my picture... Not exactly the best frame job.

Well, if you follow me on social media I bet you can guess what comes next... I am pretty glad I didn't have a plan, because said game plan would have been thrown out the window very early on in the race. By mile 3 my legs felt like lead, by mile 8 I was dumping water on myself at every aid station to cool off (I realize the weather was MUCH BETTER than it has been in recent years, but I was expecting cloud cover and I don't think we had any between miles 1 and 25) and by mile 10 I wanted to walk the rest of the course.

I don't know if my legs were heavy as heck because I ran a marathon three weeks prior, because I started a squat challenge at the beginning of the month or if I was just having an off day. Whatever the case, my quads felt like rocks and any incline was a killer. I took walk breaks when I needed (after mile 13 I swear I felt like I was walking more than I was running), stopped to talk to friends and snap pictures, finally realizing that it just wasn't my day.

Not the race I was hoping for, but marathon #11 is now in the books!

Even if my body didn't have the race I was expecting, the race itself (the course, the volunteers, the spectators, the men and women protecting the runners and the streets, etc) was AMAZEBALLS! I know I am not a huge fan of Los Angeles as a whole, but it is mostly because the traffic (and maybe their sports teams)... So when you can take a 26.2 mile tour by foot (faster than you could by car), it is AWESOMESAUCE!

I made sure to give out TONS of high-fives and as many "THANK YOU"s as humanly possible. We pay to run these races, but the volunteers and spectators are giving up some of their precious time to try and make our day the best it can be... and just out of the kindness of their hearts!

At first I asked if one of the officers could take my picture in front of the Beverly
Hills sign, and then they joked and said I should really get a picture with one of the
officers in the picture too - well DUH! Then the photo guy asked me if he could take
a similar picture for their social media accounts and ended up sharing it on their IG
account over the past couple days! @bhpd_90210

Puppy kisses?! Don't mind if I do ;) 

I also try and get as many kids involved as possible. This may be the first time they're experiencing the running bug, so who wouldn't want it to be the best possible experience?! Give them a high-five, thank them for being on the course, tell them you're proud of their family member or friend running, snap a picture with them. It makes a difference, I promise!

Let's just say the streets were very safe with these little super heroes keeping everything under control!

Sometimes Most of the time (at least for me) races aren't about a finishing time, they're about time spent with friends, time spent doing something you love. Sure, not every race will be a PR or a pain-free run, but you better believe I do my darnedest to find happiness every step of the way (otherwise I might as well save LOTS of cash and sleep in).

Got to run with Pam for a mile before she left me in her dust. Shortly after that Monica caught up with me and let me hang along for a couple
miles before she dropped the hammer on her way to Boston in a few weeks.

I want to give BIG PROPS to all of my spectating friends on the course. I was able to stop and chat for a few seconds with most of you and you'll never know how much that meant! It was just the little motivation I needed to get me to that next stop light, to that next water station, to that next marker I told myself I needed to make it to. Spectating is often a thankless job (one that can often be harder, in my opinion, than running the race), so I want to tell you again, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! Your cheers, high-fives and encouraging words mean more than you may ever know!

This sign right here... It means SO MUCH! Especially when you see it while
you are driving the struggle bus all over town!

I am not lying when I say that runners make the best friends! THEY ROCK MY SOCKS!

And who can forget about the folks who were handing out chili dogs, otter pops, Red Vines, bottles of water, ice chips, wet wipes or BEER?! Yup, like I've said before, the city truly comes out to embrace the marathon and loves its runners (even if they don't totally understand our craziness)! It's a legit party from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica pier.

Since I was an ambassador I saw the bling a while back, but isn't
she purrrrty?! And she is double-sided too! 

Which reminds me, if you want to take part in the festivities next year, NOW is the time to register! I would watch @lamarathon's social media accounts for when they open registration (normally they open it shortly after the race concludes AT THE LOWEST PRICE POSSIBLE and it only stays open for a few days). Whether you live in the area or are planning to make the marathon a part of your racecation, make sure to put March 18th, 2018 on your calendar.

Have you ever run a race faster than you could drive the course on any given day?

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