Wednesday, February 17, 2016

LA Marathon Race Recap

Let me start out by saying it has been an HONOR to have been an ambassador for the LA Marathon this past year. I was lucky enough to be one of the few asked to help promote this amazing race to the world (and hopefully I didn't do too bad of a job). I hadn't run LA before, but last year I spectated the race and just KNEW I needed to be a part of it in 2016!

We were last year's self proclaimed BEST CHEER SQUAD on the course ;)

In case you missed my recap of Saturday's events, make sure you check it out... Don't worry, we can wait while you catch up. Because, legit, LA WAS ON FAYAH the whole weekend with so much going on and I would hate for you to miss out on any of it.

Okay, onwards and upwards!

I decided to stay at a hotel in Culver City instead of in Santa Monica or DTLA (Downtown LA) the night before the race. The prices near the start and finish line were pretty cray-cray, so I figured I would TOTALLY prefer saving $300, even if that meant driving 15 minutes the morning of the race over to the shuttles.

I thought with the race being on Valentine's Day that there would be tons of
reds and pinks, so my neon yellow would stick out... Well, that is until I got
to the race and saw the "Students Run LA" had the exact same color as me...

Quick side note, since I had to catch the shuttle at 4:30am, I figured I'd check out of my hotel around 3:45am (always overestimating how long it will take me to get somewhere and giving myself 30 minutes to drive to the parking lot and then 15 minutes to walk to the buses). As I was chatting with the desk clerk, there were kids coming back to the hotel all dolled up (like maybe they were at a formal)... Yup, I was waking up to go run 26.2 miles and they were just getting back to the hotel... The life of a runner isn't so glamorous, but I wouldn't change it for anything!

This girl is ready to #RunLA!

Anywho, once I checked out I walked outside to throw my stuff in the car and was welcomed my SUPER THICK fog! I had three immediate thoughts. First, I was glad I overestimated my time, since I would need to really slow down on the drive over to the shuttles. Second, I was worried that the fog would make it much more humid than I was expecting, especially since we have been having such dry weather with the Santa Ana winds. And third, I was hoping that the fog would help keep the temperatures a little cooler than they were originally predicting for the race.

The drive to the parking lot was very smooth and uneventful (minus the whole white-knuckles due to the inability to see more than a few feet in front of me while driving). I had pre-paid for parking so the morning of was super easy and seamless - just had to give them my confirmation form and I was good to go.

I parked at one of the lots that was about a half mile away from the shuttles (because, let's be real, it was $10 cheaper and I am "frugal"). The walk over to the shuttles was super easy and I've gotta be honest, I was very glad the hubby talked me into grabbing one of his hoodies from our "donation pile" for a throw-away layer because the cooler temps were definitely evident.

The shuttles were very well organized. I didn't count them, but it legitimately seemed like there were at least 40-50 buses at the pick-up location. The volunteers were filling them with runners as soon as they walked up and off they went (I guess because there were such specific times like 4:00am, 4:30am, 5:00am, I was expecting that they would be leaving at regimented times, but thankfully it was super effortless and fluid). I got on a bus and away we went.

On the way over to Dodger Stadium I ate a PROBAR BASE Bar (mint chocolate), along with a banana, and sipped on water. Although I had been hydrating well throughout the week, one can never be too careful!

Once at Dodger Stadium I found some friends, rested my legs, and relaxed for a bit before we had to get into RACE MODE. It was great chatting with everyone and feeling the excitement that comes with race morning.

Source: Tam's Facebook

Photo CreditSmitha

Linzie and I went to the VIP Tent (thanks to our ambassador hook-up), but I've gotta say, we were SUPER unimpressed. I think had I spent the money on the upgrade I would have been PISSED! The tent was freezing cold, there were very little snacks, no coffee or warm drinks, the private port-o-potties were a joke and had a longer line than the "public" ones, etc. Like I said, thankfully I hadn't doled out my own cashola for it... So, just a heads up, I think I'd probably suggest skipping the upgrade and saving your money if you were considering it... Hanging out inside of Dodger Stadium was more comfortable, warmer, had "real" bathrooms and was FREE!

With the corrals closing prior to the race start (if you aren't in the seeded corrals prior to closure you are forced to start in the open corral which I did NOT want to do), so we made our way to our respected corrals, said our goodbyes and wished one another the bestest race EVER! I made my way to B and found some more friends to hang out with until it was go time (isn't it the best when you run into friends at races?!).

Let's be real, I'd MUCH RATHER be at Tiger's Stadium, but I'll take it ;)

The starting line

Casey, Pam and I before the race - these ladies are so sweet!
Photo Credit: Pam

Loved that we were able to spend a little time together before the race!
Photo Credit: Pam

I didn't really go into the race with a game plan. Seeing as I have the Phoenix Marathon in less than two weeks, I wanted to try and take LA easy... Easier said than done, I know, especially when the excitement that comes along with a race is pumping through your veins... I figured I'd shoot for a time between 4:00 and 4:15. I knew the heat would definitely be a factor and I figured I'd just take it as a training run and see how I felt.

I've gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to stick to my game plan. SPOILER ALERT: I finished with a 4:01 (and since the course measured long, I was right at 4:00 at 26.2 miles, at least on my Garmin). This was actually the strongest I have ever felt in a marathon... sure, it was also one of my slower times, but I kept it consistent the whole time and felt like I was truly in control and dominating my run!

But... I'm getting ahead of myself... Let's back it up and start at the beginning. Casey, Pam and I chatted before they let us loose. Casey said she was going to shoot for a 4:30 or so and decided to pull over to the side as to not get run over. I told Pam my "plan" and she said that she was going to take what the day gave her as she also was running the Phoenix Marathon. I ended up running with Pam for the first mile or so, until she pulled over to use the first set of port-o-potties. I ended up seeing for about a half mile later handing out her Valentine's - SO AMAZING (she actually made 26 Valentine's to hand out to spectators along the course!). {I ran up on her around mile 12 too, which I knew was a BIG problem, because she is MUCH faster than me. Unfortunately her sciatica was acting up and she had to pull out of the race. She encouraged me to keep chugging and finish strong though.}

Shortly after Pam broke away for the potty, I saw a familiar face pop up next to me - RICHARD! He and Michael started in the front of corral C and gave us a shout and a wave before we took off. We chatted for a few minutes and grabbed a quick picture "before we looked sweaty and nasty".

Photo Credit: Richard

Once we snapped the picture, we said our goodbyes and wished each other the best. After that I ran by myself for the rest of the race. I mean, sure there were 25,000+ runners on the course, I just didn't have a running buddy - but no need to fret, I do the majority of my runs on my own, so I am TOTES okay with it!

Seeing as this is my little space of the Interwebs, I've gotta take a quick second and jump up on my soapbox... As I'm sure you've realized, I run my fair share of races, so see some of the same things at multiple races. One such thing that I LOATHE is "those Christians" who have blow horns and signs, screaming at runners that pass by. JUST STOP IT, K?! Like, really, I don't know how many people can actually say they were saved because while they were running a race some crazed lunatic screamed at them about how they were going to burn in Hell and at that moment they gave their life to Christ... YOU ARE JUST GIVING CHRISTIANS (AND JESUS) A BAD NAME! If you want to make an impact, fill up a cooler of ice cold water and hand it out to runners along the course - THOSE WERE THE ANGELS I SAW! And now I will get down off my soapbox and continue on with my recap.

On the note of the angels on the course, I've gotta say, this was BY FAR one of the best spectated races I've done. It's like the whole city of LA comes out to cheer everyone on! I loved seeing the city rally around the runners! I know how annoying races can be to non-runners, I mean, the headaches of the traffic, the garbage, the road closures, etc, but there were so many people out legitimately proud of what we were accomplishing and truly happy for each and every one of us! From a 99 cent store handing out free bottles of water to neighbors with kegs of beer to families with otter pops to firehouses spraying down runners with squirt guns and hoses - the city TOTALLY SPOILED us!

If you are friends with anyone running the race, I'm sure you heard ALL about the heat! They were expecting the temps around mid-day to be in the 90s (#SoCalWinter). I am happy to report that Mother Nature was kind to us and it didn't get nearly as hot as they were expecting. The first half of the course was actually rather cool (I found lots of shade to run in and at one point saw a temperature reading on a Jimmy Fallon billboard that said it was "only" 64* around mile 12).

The second half of the course definitely started to heat up. I normally don't run races with my hydration pack, but with the weather they were predicting I figured I'd better be safe than sorry. I think I would have been okay without it, but was definitely happy I had it along the few hot stretches of road running we did. At two points along the course I actually grabbed some ice from spectators and put it in my IBG to help cool me down a bit.

And although I "gave up sweets" starting January 31st until after my two marathons, I partook in a pink otter pop and a orange popsicle along the course and they were DELISH and quite possibly Heaven sent! Not to mention, ice cold orange slices are AH-MAZING when you are running in 80 degree weather! I took my fuel (PROBAR BOLT Chews {strawberry flavored}) around mile 6, 12, 18, and 22, but the "treats" in-between were definitely complete AWESOMESAUCE!

Like I said at the beginning, this race was one of my strongest to date. I did stop for a few seconds to say HEY at the #WeRunSocial cheer station, walk two of the aid stations when I needed to get a little electrolytes in my system, and took one other walk break, but other than that I was trucking right along.

A shot of me running up to the WRS Squad! Thanks Christina!

You can see where my pace dropped the four "breaks" I took, but other than that I was chugging along smoothly

My times might not look amazing, but they were consistent, and THAT is what I needed. I hit 20 miles right at 3:00, which was perfect for a "training run". In my head I was thinking it would be awesome if I could have a strong first 20 miles and then, if I needed, I could take the final 10K easier. And that is EXACTLY what happened. My first 20 miles I had an average pace around 9 minutes per mile and overall my pace was 9:08/mile. I'm especially proud because I didn't look at my pace AT ALL during the race (and most of the mile marker clocks were broke so I wasn't even doing mental math!).

Some of my non-runner friends will make comments about how crazy I am because I run 26.2 miles "for fun"... But this is a picture of me around mile 22... SMILING FROM EAR TO EAR... Because I LOVE it... And have been blessed with the ability to be out there... So don't want to squander the opportunity I've been given!

A friend found this picture on her marathon training group's Facebook page

And I would be remised if I forgot to give shout-outs to the amazing friends who were out on the course! A HUGE thanks to AJ & the WRS crew for holding it down for us runners! Also, I absolutely LOVE when I see Ken {president of Superhero Events} at a race, especially when he's giving out FREE HUGS! (You can see me take Ken up on his offer around 3:20 of the video, as well as Pam, Andrea, Ivie & crew, and so many other friends going in for a BIG SQUENCH!) #AllTheFeels

Free Hugs - Valentine's Day Love
Free Hugs - Valentine's Day Love #FreeHugsProject
Posted by Free Hugs Project on Monday, February 15, 2016

As we were coming into Santa Monica the marine layer (aka fog) was rolling in and cooled down the temps - PRAISE THE LORD! The air was heavy, but it was a welcomed relief from the heat we had been trudging through for the prior few miles. I figured I could pick it up a bit and kick it in for the final mile. As I was coming through to the finish line I heard Rudy call out my name (and then tell everyone how much he enjoys my HUGE smile - YAY!)... Just the last push I needed to cross the finish line strong!

After I finished I saw a couple friends, snapped a couple pictures, grabbed a few snacks and made my way to try and find the Ragnar tent. You see, Ragnar Relays and the LA Marathon teamed up this year to create a challenge. If you ran a Ragnar Relay in 2015 and the 2016 LA Marathon, you receive a Golden State double medal. Or, if you ran the 2016 LA Marathon and run one of the upcoming Ragnar Relays then you will receive the additional medal.

Michael passed me around mile 14. He beat me today, but
I'm coming for him! 

Sean ROCKED the race... even with some knee pain!

Double Bling BABY!

The tent took me a good 30 minutes to find... But at least it gave me a little time to shake out the legs before getting in the car for 2 hours to drive back home, right?! ;) And when I got back to the car, I dropped off my goodies and then asked some beach goers if they wouldn't mind taking a picture of me and the Santa Monica Pier in the background.


The bling did NOT disappoint! The LA Marathon medal is double sided (and AMAZING!). The Double Medal is HUGE (and has TWO bottle openers). And then I figured I should probably include a picture of my Ragnar medal that helped me qualify for the double medal (as well as the FIRST PLACE MEDAL we got for being the FIRST Female Ultra Team at SoCal Ragnar last year). #Blingtastic

All-in-all this race is AMAZING! And just in case you are bummed you missed out on it, you're in luck! Until Friday, you can register for the 2017 LA Marathon for the LOWEST PRICE EVER! Head over HERE and register NOW (because, let me warn you, this deal will NOT last so you better take advantage of it while it's here!)!

Source@LAMarathon's Instagram

Have you ever #RunLA before?!


ahotsouthernmess said...

Oh, are a kindred spirit. I don't race much because I work on Saturdays but I took the opportunity to run the Austin half and I loved being able to get fairly close tho, like you, we opted NOT to stay in a downtown hotel. I was mostly unimpressed by the lack of food (maybe that's a deep south thing?) and that the lack of corral enforcement. I am not a super fast runner, but I shouldn't have been running over walkers in mile 1.

What really made me giggle is that I, a girl who wears red/pink/hearts year round, opted for a bright shirt too. I also eat a mint chocolate bar and banana, too. Great minds think alike ;)

Running With The Girls said...

I love this!!!!! Great recap. I wish we lived closer! I'd totally run with you everywhere!!!!

Unknown said...

After my experience this weekend, I can't wait to run this race! I've been debating for quite awhile about what would be my first full and this is gonna be it. Can't sign up quite yet but I'm gonna do it!!

ivieanne said...

When you posted your flat Carlee with your hydration pack, I turned to AJ and said "if Carlee is running with hydration, I'm in trouble!" ;)

Good recap! And I had the same thoughts as your soap box. There was more of that this year than last.

KookyRunner said...

Love Love Love your race recap. I have to see how I feel after running the NYC Marathon this year, but if it goes well I may need to add the LA Marathon to my bucket list!!

As good as it Gets! said...

Loved seeing the marathon through your recap! Excited to track you at PhoenixπŸƒπŸ’ͺπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ™Œ

Unknown said...

Love love love!!! Great recap. I am pushing or actually hoping Dave choses to run this next year. I will gladly be part of a cheer station with the kiddos! And can I just say I actually shed some tears watching the video. Corny, I know but it made me happy to see all that love out there!

Tayna said...

I seriously love how much you love running! It's infectious (in a good way). Thank you for your constant positivity and for sharing your passion with all of us! <3

Sarah Says said...

Love your race recap! This was my first marathon ever (after many half marathons) and it did not disappoint! The spectators totally made the race for me.

Taryn said...

This race sounds like so much fun! Crowd support makes such a difference in the marathon. I love that your friend was handing out Valentine's at each mile to spectators, what a great idea.

Great recap! Makes me want to run it :)

Abby said...

It looked like an amazing event with so many awesome Pro and We Run Social people.