Monday, March 9, 2020

Los Angeles Marathon Race Recap

Sunday was the 35th running of the Los Angeles Marathon (which was my 27th marathon and 4th time running this race).


But, like with all other race recaps, I've gotta start at the beginning... or maybe we'll consider this "before the beginning" so everyone is on the same page (and so that even if my Fibro Fog tries to wipe the memories from my mind, at least I have some recollection of what happened when I look back). So, bear with me and let's take a quick look back in time ;)


In 2015 I got my first taste of this race when I joined some friends and we spectated the LA Marathon. In 2016 I decided I would give it a go myself and ran the race. In 2017 I was back at it (returning to the streets of LA both as a runner and an ambassador for Conqur Endurance Group) and tackled the streets of Los Angeles. In 2018 I was able to talk the hubby into joining the fun (we were training to run the Grand Canyon and since we had an "extra long run" on our calendar for that weekend it just made sense ;)). I decided to opt out of the race in 2019 and actually wasn't planning to return (don't get me wrong, as you will have noticed from past recaps from this race, and from what you will see in what follows, it is a great race, but I just figured it had run its course in my life). Well, as with most of my running adventures, once friends start chatting about adding a race, my eyes light up and I check my calendar. I already had a 50K on the schedule for mid-March but because "everyone was doing it" I figured it'd be my final long run before the ultra. #PositivePeerPressure

Far Left: 2015 / Left: 2016 / Right: 2017 / Far Right: 2018
[PS Besides 2016 when the race was Valentine's Day Weekend, it is normally around St. Patrick's Day, hence the green color schemes...]

In the past, my LA Marathon weekends have been a quick trip. I would drive up for the Expo (because they don't allow someone else to pick up your bib on your behalf), stay at a hotel in Culver City (since I'm cheap frugal and Santa Monica prices are a pretty penny) and then peace out right after the race. Well, earlier this year Best Western reached out to me about becoming a "Travel Your Passion" Influencer and with the program I would be able to take advantage of a couple of comped nights throughout the year. I figured this weekend would be the perfect time to cash in on one of the nights. I was stoked when I saw they had a property right down Pico Ave in Santa Monica that we could stay at. (Just in case you were curious, we stayed at the SureStay Hotel by Best Western Santa Monica.) But, more on the hotel in a minute. Seeing as we would be able to stay near the finish line, I thought I would invite the hubby to join the party (normally he stays home since it's a point-to-point race where he wouldn't really be spectating so there's no real "need" for him to come along). Let's just say all it took was for me to promise him that we could go to one of his favorite pizza places for lunch on Saturday afternoon (and then have the leftovers for dinner that night) for him to pencil the trip into his calendar ;)

Before I forget, I always try and write a quick thank you note to the staff who clean the hotel rooms. If you write
it right when you check in, you won't forget about it when you are getting packed up to leave. #ItsTheLittleThings

Now that I had my registration paid for (I'll be very honest, this is a pricey race... but this was the first year that I actually paid for the race entry out of my own pocket, so I just told myself to divide the cost by 4 {since this would be my fourth year running it} to make it a little more palatable), the hubby on board and the hotel reserved, I could plan everything else.


When Brian reached out and asked if I wanted to co-host a We Run Social meet-up on Saturday I, of course, agreed. I love seeing old friends and making new ones, and these meet-ups are a great way to get everyone together. He asked about timing and I said 11am would work better for us since we would be driving up to LA that morning and I figured a little extra sleep plus allowing plenty of time for crazy LA traffic would be best. We put it on the calendar and spread the word.

Source: @werunsocial's Instagram feed

Our game plan was to leave the house by 7:30am so we could drop off the pup (our best friends watch him when we are out of town - THEY ROCK OUR SOCKS!) by 8. With the meet-up at 11, I figured we would give ourselves 2 hours for the drive up (and then find parking since you better believe I won't drop the $20-30 on parking at the convention center) and still have about an hour to hit up the Expo before the meet-up. Thankfully traffic was easy peasy (well, for Southern California, haha) and we were right on schedule, walking up to the Expo right around 10am. {And, GUESS WHAT! Ryan didn't even fall asleep in the car on the drive up! #ItWasAMiracle #OrMaybeItWasTheAirConditioningKeepingHimAwake]

Decided to rock purple and yellow for Kobe to the Expo since I wasn't going to wear it for the race.

I snagged my bib (Side Note: For some reason a few weeks ago I had friends posting about what corral they were in for the race and I never got an email about it. When I reached out they said I didn't submit proof of finishing time so I would be in the open corral. Thankfully they were able to let me send over a recent race finish and got me into the seeded corrals so I would be able to run with Brian.) and race shirt before taking a couple of photos around the Expo.

Yay for fun backdrops!

While I was walking around I made my way to the PROCompression booth and let Jenn, who was working, get a bathroom break. I also randomly ran into Kat and her family as they were getting ready to head to the beach.

Love me some @fittykat_

The minutes seemed to fly by and it was already time to head outside to the meet-up area. (We realize it is hard to coordinate what time and place works best for everyone - sometimes pre-race meet-ups work great, other times it's at a coffee shop the day before, or, like with this race, it's at the Expo. We try to pick times and places that work for the majority of folks, but understand not everyone's schedules allow for them to stop by. We appreciate everyone who is able to come by, say hi, snap a selfie and hug a runner ;)) The turnout wasn't too shabby - we had about 30 people make it out.

"Now throw up your hands like you're excited..."

After the meet-up, the hubby and I grabbed a drink with Laurie and her boyfriend before they went to the Kings game. (Laurie and I were not so quietly overjoyed when the guys got along so we could do more double-dates in the future ;))

Love these ladies!

As promised, after the Expo and meet-up, we made our way to Little Tokyo for pizza. (Ryan loves Prime Pizza. We've been to the Fairfax location before, but it was a little further away, so we hit up the new-to-us spot on the way to the hotel.)

Before you ask, no, this is not vegan, but I do allow myself one non-vegan meal a week if there is something
I want when we go out to eat (if there is a vegan option I will 99% of the time opt for it though). 

After eating half of our pizza for lunch, we boxed up the rest and got back in the car to head to the hotel. Check-in was at 3pm, but thankfully they had a room available for us when we arrived about 45 minutes early. They were working on the courtyard, but we were given the heads up before we arrived that renovations would be going on (and they finished for the day by 4pm so the construction didn't interfere with anything we were doing). We dove onto the bed and put our feet up for a few minutes before we went down to check out some of the stores near the beach (Patagonia, REI, Adidas, etc).

BIG MOOD... When you lose an hour of sleep and your shuttle time is 3:30am
(which is really like 2:30am), you aren't sure if you'd rather be running or sleeping... 

We met up with Brian for drinks and fries (well, the guys ate fries and drank beers, I just provided the quality conversation, HA!) before making our way back to the hotel to eat our leftover pizza and try to get some shut eye.

I won't eat in bed at home, but at a hotel?! SURE!

Like normal, I laid out everything beforehand to make sure I had anything I'd need for the race. I also had a rain jacket because Mother Nature was threatening to bring some precipitation earlier in the week and I didn't trust her to behave...

#FlatCarlee: White PRO Compression Socks, Rainbow Sparkle Athletic Skirt, be awesome Sparkle Athletic trucker hat, pink Handful bra,
Nathan Speedmax Handheld, PROBAR BOLT chews, a tank I grabbed a couple years ago from TJ Maxx, elite Road ID, blue and pink
QALO silicone wedding bands
, blue Momentum Jewelry wrap, pink MudLOVE bandCOROS APEX Watch and Brooks Ghost 11.

I literally was in bed at 7:15pm, but I don't think I actually fell asleep until closer to 10pm. And, why 7:15pm you may ask... Well, because someone decided to plan the race of the morning we LOST an hour of sleep... #NotCoolLAM #NotCool

This isn't real, is it?! YUCK!

Brian and I were registered to take the 3:30am shuttle from the Santa Monica City Hall to Dodger Stadium (both he and I prefer to be early and have to wait around a little while rather than feeling rushed and panic-y), but ended up deciding to meet at 4am instead. Well, our hotel was about 2.5 miles from City Hall, so if we were meeting at 4am, that meant I needed to leave the hotel (yes, I walked to the shuttles, but the hubby and I had scoped out the route {straight down Pico Ave} the night before and both he and I felt comfortable with me doing it in the dark) by 3:10am (Google Maps said it'd take 52 minutes to walk there). I normally try to wake up about an hour or so before I need to leave so I have time to get ready, use the potty, scroll through social media, etc. With that said, I should've gotten up around 2:10am... BUT THERE WAS NO 2:10AM... When the clock struck 2am it jumped to 3am! In fact, I literally watched it happen on my phone and felt personally attacked ;) I have a friend who said she set her alarm for 2:30am without realizing there would be no such time on Sunday morning, but thankfully she had a back-up set for 3am. I wonder how many people did something similar. (Brian asked me to text him at 3:10am "actual time" to make sure he was awake. {Thankfully he was already up.})

These screenshots were taken SECONDS apart... How rude!

Anywho, enough of me bashing Daylight Savings Time (but, seriously, who plans a race on that day?!). After a few hours of sleep (I think I probably got a total of two hours broken up over the five or six hour span I was laying in bed), I was up - bright eyed and bushy tailed. The weather looked promising, but I had forgotten a throw away layer (#RookieMistake), so ended up wearing my rain jacket and using gear check before we went to the corrals, but more on that shortly.

How fun is it that my rain jacket is also from the Los Angeles Marathon (a few years ago)?!

The walk to the shuttles was smooth sailing and I actually walked up right as Brian was arriving. It was sort of like we planned it ;) We also met Kat at the buses. In years past at this race, I have had easy shuttle experiences and terrible shuttle experiences. Thankfully this year was a walk in the park - we literally walked right on a bus and we were off.


As I have mentioned, this was the my fourth time running this race. Every year I've done it, I take a somewhat early shuttle to make sure I am at Dodger Stadium in plenty of time (one year the lines were INSANELY long and it took like 45 minutes to an hour to actually get on the bus from when you got to City Hall, and another year the bus I was on got lost and ended up dropping us off "as close as we could get", which meant we had to hike up a dirt hill to get to the stadium). In the past they have had the stadium open for the runners to hang out in (sit around the concourse or in the stadium seats, use the flushing toilets, fill up water bottles from the drinking fountains, etc). Well, as I am telling Kat and Brian this on the walk up to the stadium we were stopped by a security guard and asked for a wrist band... What the what?! We don't have a wrist band... Well, the stadium is under construction and now everyone (unless you are a cool kid with a cool wristband) is required to stay outside in the parking lot... and pop-a-squat on the pavement... Now, I'll be completely honest, seeing as I thought 2018 was my final year running the race, there is a possibility that I unsubscribed from email lists which meant I didn't get all of the updates for the 2020 race, but even still, I don't remember hearing anything about runners not being allowed into the stadium! Had I been told, I'm pretty sure I would have opted for the 4:30 or 5am shuttle. We figured we would be enjoying the "comforts" of the stadium for the TWO HOURS before the race, not sitting on the concrete outside for that entire time. Thankfully I had a Mylar blanket I could sit on (and wrap up in), while we waited for the race to start...

Definitely not a comfortable way to spend 2+ hours...

Eventually it was finally time to head to the corrals. I dropped off my bag at gear check (it only had my rain jacket in it, everything else the hubby would be bringing with him since he'd check out of the hotel before picking me up from the finish line) and we went to the corrals. First, let me say that some of the lines at gear check were insane. The trucks were set up based on race bib number. My truck didn't have anyone in line, but some of them were a hundred or more runners long. I'm not exactly sure what was going on (maybe folks didn't bring the appropriate bags and were being forced to put their gear in a new bag or maybe the volunteers were moving at a sloth's pace), but in case you are checking something in the future, make sure to get in line with plenty of time before the start of the race. Second, they really need to situate the bottle neck of runners on the way to the corrals better. We were in the seeded corrals (based on a previous race's finish time), but we literally had to inch our way through the hoards of folks standing and waiting for the open corral. Maybe I've gotten to the corrals earlier in the past, but man it felt like we were really having to swat-and-swim through runners to try to get up to where we were going. Again, if you are planning on running this race in the future, keep this in mind (especially because the seeded corrals close at 6:30am and gear check closes at 6:40am).

What time is it? GAME TIME!

As per usual, I didn't have a goal for the race. I figured I'd stick with Brian (since that's normally the plan), but other than that I didn't really have a time I was shooting for (remember - I have a 50K on Saturday so this race was "just another training run" that happened to have aid stations and spectators on it ;)). Kat was hoping that she could PR, so in the back of our minds we had the idea of running sub-4:30, but also told her to do her own thang and not to let us hold her back. The weather was gorgeous (in the past it has either been freezing and raining or hot and extra hot, so we were due for good weather from Mother Nature ;)). And I was just excited to get in miles of smiles with friends.

Just about perfect running weather!

Brian, Kat and I started off together and ended up catching up with Linzie around Mile 2 or so. Whenever I would see a "character stop" I would pull over for a quick selfie and then sprint to catch back up with them.

Chinatown and a chili dog sign... Yup, there's an unofficial stop where neighbors hand out chili cheese hotdogs (around mile 5!)

If only the photographer hadn't cut off Brian in this shot it would be been near perfect!

Kept my eyes peeled for all of the Kobe and Gigi murals for Brian

Some awesome buildings along the route! The Walt Disney Concert Hall and TCL Chinese Theatre are just two of them.

Love me some awesome street art... and LA is covered in it!

I love how many spectators come out for this race. It's like the neighborhoods of Los Angeles (not to mention all of the run clubs, family/ friends/ loved ones of runners, etc) truly show up for the runners and it's pretty fan-freakin'-tastic! I try to say "thanks" to as many of them as I can, but I know I don't do enough. If you've ever spectated a race - please know how much I (and all of the other runners) appreciate you! It is often a thankless role, but it is HUGELY appreciated!

Spectators of all ages come out to cheer on the runners!

You never know who you will see along the course...

So many magical characters along the way!

If you haven't run the LA Marathon before, I would definitely recommend you checking it out. I always joke and say it's the fastest way to tour the city. Legit, traffic in LA is redonkulous, so being able to see all the different areas (on foot) is a treat!

Wait, was that a mural of wings made of tacos?! Must detour NOW!

I've never spectated in a costume, but think that must go on my bucket list...

Unfortunately Brian was having a rough morning with his tummy not wanting to take in nutrition, so around Mile 20 Kat left us in her wake as we continued towards the beach. It was great getting to spend so many miles with her, and lucky for me, I get to run with her again in less than a month when we tackle Ragnar SoCal with FitApproach! Our pace may have slowed the second half of the race, but any miles spent with one of my BRF {best running friends} is a mile well spent!

So much Lakers love out on the course yesterday!

Originally Brian said he wanted to finish in under 5 hours so he could make it back to his hotel to grab his stuff before heading to his flight in Burbank. Technically we met that goal and finished in just under 4:53. Hey, like I told him, this was just about time on my feet and getting ready for my ultra, the time on the clock means NOTHING! I was just stoked to cross another finish line with him (in fact, this was our TENTH MARATHON together - cray, cray, right?!)!

This guy is one of my faves! Not sure he realized what he was getting himself into when he became my friend ;)

Celebrating finish lines, not just finish times.

Once I finished I called Ryan to see where he was. He had already gotten his free continental breakfast at the hotel (I'll be honest, I was a little bummed that they didn't have any of the breakfast food out for the runners who had to leave before the butt-crack of dawn, but understand the official hours were 7-10am) and had found a parking spot a few blocks away from the finish line. I grabbed my goodies and bee-lined it away from the shenanigans. {PRO TIP: If you are waiting for your runner, please do not wait for them right where the runners exit the finishing corral. It causes huge crowds and is super chaotic. Give everyone a little room and set up a meeting place ahead of time that is a little further away.}


When I found the hubby, he had a bagel for me from the hotel, as well as a banana. (Let's be real, I probably would've preferred #AllTheChipsAndSalsa, but that wasn't on the breakfast menu at Best Western ;)) As he drove us away from where it seemed like everyone and their mama were, I asked him if we could snap a couple quick pictures on the drive home. Thankfully there is street art on just about every corner in LA, so we found a couple murals and took a few photos.

One can never have too many medal shots, right?!

Bling bling!

Now on to my 50K in 5 days ;) (And here's to hoping there's a break in the storms that are predicted for the 10 days.)

Of course the hubby fell asleep on the drive home... It's not like he woke up at 1am, ran 26.2 miles, then had to drive 2 hours home... Nah,
he slept in until 9am, ate a yummy breakfast and then picked up his wife so she'd take him to go grab Burger King and chauffeur him home ;)

Have you ever spectated a race before?

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