LA Marathon – The (soggy) Recap

Saturday night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep I got an email from the LA Marathon.

‘ What do they want at 9:30 pm race night?? ‘

Dear Runner,

Blah blah blah…

MAKE SURE YOU GET THERE EARLY!  TRAFFIC WILL BE HORRENDOUS!  DON’T PUT YOUR RACE TO CHANCE!  THIS ISN’T LAX, BUT ARRIVE AT LEAST 2 HOURS PRIOR TO THE START!!!!  DO IT OR DIE!!!

Love, LAM

I’d heard about the disasters in past years (parking cars on highway exit ramps and running to the start line, etc) so I planned to arrive at Dodgers Stadium at 6am for the 7:25 start.  Since B was dropping me off and I didn’t have to mess around with parking or the shuttles, I figured this was plenty of time.

But as I lay there reading that email – 10 hours before the start of the race – I freaked out.  I yelled to B in the other room that we’d be leaving 30 minutes earlier than planned.

(I’ve said it a million times, I’ll say it a million more – GOD BLESS THIS MAN FOR PUTTING UP WITH ME.)

 

I figured it’d take us about 90 minutes to get to the stadium.  It took 45.  There was NO traffic.  Before I knew what was happening, a  vest-wearing, flashlight-yielding parking attendant was ushering me out of the car and pointing me towards the stadium.

IT WAS 5 AM.

I was so flustered (and partially asleep) I didn’t remember to text the people I had planned to meet up with.  I forgot to remove the new stick of deodorant in my throwaway bag and had to pitch it.  I sat on the concrete walkway of Dodger Stadium for almost two hours.  Killed time by standing in the excessively long bathroom lines, even when I didn’t have to go.  I just kept getting back in line.

The race started late.  Know how bad it sucks standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in spandex for 45 minutes?  A lot.  Know how much worse it is when you’re really starting to question what you’ve gotten yourself into?

… At least it wasn’t raining yet.

After the standard weaving/elbow-throwing through the jackoffs that start way too close to the starting line (READ : NO CORRAL SYSTEM + 23,000 RUNNERS = DRAMA) I settled into a comfortable 9:15 pace.  About 2 seconds later, the rain started.

Big, fat, cold rain drops.  “PERFECT!”  I yelled.  What else could you do?  We knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when.

(from LA Marathon's facebook page)

I had to stop to pee at mile 3.  I’ve never done this in a race before.  You’d think those 40 unwarranted trips to the ladies’ before the race would’ve sufficed.  Let’s try not to think about what sort of “sub- _(not saying it out loud)_” time I may have clocked if it weren’t for that pit stop, mkay?

The rain really started coming down around mile 4.  Off and on, heavy downpours and light mistings.

I started fueling at mile 5 and made sure to get some calories inevery two miles.  If they ever make a movie about my race (call me, Warner Bros…) there will be some serious Jimmy Buffet rocking in the background everytime I ate one of these bad boys :

margarita clif shot bloks

It was like Happy Hour every 2 miles.  My kind of racing!

The miles kept ticking, holding onto a steady 9:10-9:20ish pace.  Walked a couple of the hills, looked absolutely death-like doing it :

I know it’s tough to tear your eyes away from my CoverGirl face, but can I point out the flags in the background here?  IT WAS WINDY.  Didn’t help with the bone-chilling-ness, but at least it was at our backs most of the way.

Blah blah blah, more miles, steady pace, no pain, lots of WET.  Once we hit Hollywood the streets started flooding.  Like, actual rivers running through the course.

(this isn't me...)

 

 

The course was designed to take you along all the most popular landmarks in LA – I might have something to tell you about them if I’d lifted my eyes higher than 5 feet in front of me at all.  It was everything I could do to keep the rain out of my eyes and my contacts in place.

(afterwards B suggested I should have ran in swimming goggles.  WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?!!)

Saw some cross-dressers in West Hollywood.  What a weird place that is.  A little too crazy for this small-town Ohio girl.

 Ran down Rodeo Drive.  WestHo and it’s drag queens might be a little crazy, Rodeo is a lot too crazy (espensive) for me.

 

(I’d call that a death stare, but it’s really just what I look like all the time.  That’s why I don’t make friends very easily.  Something about un-approachable?  I don’t know…)

I got pretty achey around mile 18  – just your normal pain when you’ve been banging your joints together for 3 hours straight. 

Luckily, Margot volunteered to work the mile 20 water station, and emailed me before the race to ask if I wanted her to have anything ready for me.  (I told B I felt like a badass because it was like I had my own “pit crew”.)

(remember Margot from the miserable 6 miler with SkinnyRunner?)

So when I got to, through, and past the water stop without seeing Margot and my magical ibuprofen, I almost cried.

And then, somehow over the noise of my ipod, I heard someone yelling and running up behind me.  It was sweet, sweet Margot with my magic pills!  Her hands were so numb she couldn’t get them out of her pocket!  So there we stood, in the middle of the course, both trying to dig the baggie out of her jeans pocket.

It was a sight, I’m sure.

I thanked her, took off, and fumbled in the baggie with my own frozen fingers – and dropped one of the pills I literally screamed.  If it had been dry out I would have turned around and picked it off the ground, but I knew it was already dissolved.  Second saddest moment of the day (the first is about to come). 

At mile 22 the Lululemon Cheer Crew (including BrokeRunner!) was out dancing and jumping and screaming – all acting like a bunch of lunatics.  Brought a smile to my face.  They could have fun in the rain, so could I, right?

from lululemon's blog

I was really surprised at how many spectators (not volunteers) were passing out food/fuel on the course.  There was a family passing out fresh-from-the-farm strawberries, and they were the best damn thing I could have imagined eating.  A little while later I saw a woman with a tupperware full of gummy bears.

I saw her from a mile away and gave her the biggest smile.  I pointed and fist pumped and she saw me coming.  When I got up to her, it was like this :

 

I reached in and couldn’t grab any with my frozen claw hand!  She tried running with me for a few steps – sweet woman knew what those bears meant to me.  I kept going though.  Sad, sad, Sarah…

The last few miles were mostly downhill.  What a freaking blessing.  I wanted to make out with whoever designed the course.  At mile 24 I got that race-changing feeling of knowing I was going to finish, and finish STRONG.  I turned up my pace a little and started picking people off.

P Diddy’s “Coming Home” came on, and I lip synced and bobbed my head through it.  Twice.

We made the final turn onto Ocean Ave in Santa Monica, and I picked it up again.  My legs were so close to cramping but I wanted that strong finish more than anything.

The final quarter mile was the WORST – the winds picked up and the rain was hitting us horizontally.  My contacts fogged up and I could barely see the finish, but knew it – and my PR – were just a few steps away.

(I have no idea why my hair is so red??)

 

 

The family meet up area was a COMPLETE DISASTER.  People packed so closely to the exit of the finishers shoot we couldn’t get out.  There was a security guy yelling at people to “GET BACK!  GET OUT OF THE WAY YOU IMBICILES!”  How these people thought they were going to meet up with their runner friends if they packed the exit shut, I don’t know.  Morons…

The website said they were going to have alphabetical meet up signs for people to easily find each other.  I walked and walked, still on the verge of cramping and now shivering violently, and there were no signs in sight.

A random girl stopped and asked how I did.  I told her my time, and right after I said “… but I don’t know how the F I’m ever going to find my fiance in this clusterf…”  B showed up.  I crashed into him and started deliriuosly laughing/crying.

I never said bye to that girl, now that I think about it…

As we walked to the car (which THANK HEAVENS was only a block away) we passed Lo Bosworth (from MTV’s The Hills) on the street.  I did a little double-take, and she smiled at me.  Whether that was a “congratulations, you’re a badass marathoner!” smile, or a condescending “quit staring at me creep-fan” smile, who knows.

from fitceleb.com

(She never wrote me back on Twitter, so it’s probably the latter…)

15 minute PR and miserable conditions aside – the most important tale of this story is that I ran COMPLETELY AND 100% PAIN-FREENo knee pain, no shin pain, no foot pain.  No blisters, no chafing, no lost toenails.  None of the injuries that have plagued my marathon past reared their ugly heads, and I am SO thankful and proud of that.  I’ve finally found a training and racing plan that works for me, and am excited to keep testing it out.

Stay tuned for lots more PR-shattering  :)

LA Marathon, 3.20.11  :  4:02.12   NEW PR!

Sarah Soon-To-Be

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56 thoughts on “LA Marathon – The (soggy) Recap

  1. Girl this post is awesome! You got so many cook photos! You mentioned a couple of things that I had forgotten about. Including all the amazing random people standing in the rain passing out food. Even little kids. I smiled when I saw them. Yeah and the runner exit area. WTF?!? I was yelling when I got there for the families to part so the sea of runners get out the hell out of there. It was pouring, we were cold and people were crowded the exit so much that the runners had to walk slowly in a single file line to get out. They really need to change that for next year. Grrrr!

    You’re a rockstar! I ran something near your time last year but was not up to par on my training this year. Next year baby!

  2. You did such an amazing job! I cannot believe these horrible weather conditions and you still PR’ed? That’s really awesome!

  3. Kudos to you for sticking it out through the monsoon and PR-ing at the same time. Awesome recap and congratulations on your PR! And despite the rain, your pictures look really good (jealous, I always look like death, even in perfect weather conditions)!

  4. Girl you are awesome, what a race! Swim goggles would have made for some serious glamour shots.
    I am so jealous you saw Lo, she was always my fave of Laguna/The Hills.

    • I have no idea – thing is a champ! I have an ipod shuffle and had it clipped to my waistband – it was covered by my tshirt so it wasn’t getting hit directly. I wasn’t really worried about it since they’re like $2 these days…

  5. i loved this!!! bet you were on cloud 9 after it was over:). the harder the race, the more victorious and rewarding. that is really inspiring:) I have a marathon this weekend in DC — supposed to be 40 and wet so I really needed to read this post! Congrats again!!

  6. You are hardcore. Thanks for clearing it up for me that the black kenyan wasn’t you…I was wondering ha:) I FREAK out about getting to races early. I LOVE that you chicked those dudes and looked so dang good doing it. Hope you have an amazing day gorgeous girl!

  7. A few things of note:

    a) somehow you make the drowned rat look work. (I swear that’s not as back handed of a comment as it sounds…bahah) I’ve looked more drowned-rat-esque then you just from sweat and not monsoon conditions… so that’s neat.
    b) I need to have the long sleeved shirt you’re wearing. Is it yellow? Is it green? What’s the brand?
    c) we clearly need to run a marathon together. my 1st was close to your last time, and I’m shooting for just a hair under 4 hours this fall. race plans… and go! :)

    But seriously, mondo congrats on a major PR and great race. No worries about missing sub 4, because you know you have it in the bag next time as long as you’re healthy and not running in the most freak weather conditions EVAAAAAAAH. WAY TO GO! :)

  8. Seriously if I was supposed to run this race, I totally would have bailed. Your next marathon you will PR again, for sure, since you PRed in those hellish conditions. Congrats, awesome job! Paparrazzi snapped tons of photos of you!

  9. w00t. nice work girl — and in torrential down pours too, and through rivers! it was like you got thrown into an adventure course without signing up for it. and then you pr-ed. solid :) i’m impressed.

    i’m adopting part of your 5w2m mantra…i’ve got a half just three weeks away. i didn’t run for like 2 weeks. whoops :) thank you for inspiration :)

  10. Congrats on the PR to our favorite death-stare wielding cover girl. It looks like an amazing experience. I know a little bit about how you felt with that missed gummy bear; I lost the last Gu Chomp in my packet during my Sunday 8 mile run, and I was thinking about the 5 second rule for the next quarter mile.

    I’m impressed your iPod held up through all that rain; my shuffle starts to electrocute me if I sweat too much.

    Amazing job running a hard distance in a driving rain.

  11. i can’t believe you didn’t pee on yourself. have i taught you nothing in our months of online friendshippery?

    at least you wrote the best recap I’ve ever read. i’m tuned in and eagerly awaiting your future PR shattering.

  12. Well, Lo aside, I think you’re a badass marathoner! You rocked, girl. So impressed with you & I actually think you look great in those photos. If you can make that look work, you know you’re a hottie. :-)

  13. Those pictures and your commentary cracked me up. I like how you fist-pump for gummy bears (which reminds me that I have the latest Jersey Shore waiting on DVR – sweet!).

    When I ran LA I remember the spectators were great. At one point (I think it was mile 8 or something – we were in south central) I had a bug fly into my eye and this random lady with her own water she was handing out, flushed it out of my eye for me. Which is why when I hear people say that LA people are unfriendly, I call bullsh*t.

  14. just wanted to let you know that you look superskinny in your race pics. and a little redheaded stepchild, but lets focus on the skinny part.
    congrats again on the PR! if you can pr in those crappy conditions, you’re breaking 4 hrs easy.

  15. Awesome recap!! HA!! “swim goggles!!” Should’ve brought THOSE!! AND a “life-vest!!” MAN!! :)

    I agree on the “runner drop-off” situation!! CRAZINESS!! My wonderful,loving,supportive husband had to drop me off on the FREEWAY! Due to the congestion I was afraid that I wasn’t going to get to the start on time!! I’m happy we made a split decision ‘cuz traffic wasn’t moving! I had a good 2.5 mile warm-up to the start. I’ve always wanted to do LA every year but, I may be reconsidering!! I liked the old course better! My hubby retrieved my “gear bag” at the end and he was frustrated ‘cuz it took soo long. They were soo unorganized. Some things def. need to be worked out. The peeps that were doing the “rain dance” need to be FIRED!! :)

    On top of a PR you had a celebrity sighting!! Should’ve gave her a soggy hug!! :)

    HAVE A GREAT EVENING!! :)

  16. Congrats on a great and pain free race! Where’d you put your iPod to keep it dry? I’m running the National Half Marathon on Saturday and there’s now a chance of rain. Don’t want to ruin the iPhone but want some tunes!

  17. Congrats Kiddo, I bet if someone invents a frozen finger gummy bear dispenser you’ll break 4 easily lol Tell B hey. Don’t be too shocked your mom is typing this lol

  18. i love that you head bobbed to Diddy…twice. that same song came on in the last .5mi stretch of my last half, and i coudln’t help but turn into total thug-janna and head-bob it out too!

    congrats lady on a total kick-butt marathon! baller!

  19. I’m finally reading this (so much has kept me away) and DAMN GIRL you rocked it! I would have totally wussed out when the buckets of rain started falling. You look so cold in those the pictures – I want to give you my snuggie to run with.

    Congrats on a fantastic race — and I love that picture of the two guys being chicked. Ha!

  20. I am soooo sorry I didn’t get to this earlier. What a freaking awesome race you had! I’m so proud of you for not letting the rain stop you from taking that race DOWN. :) Great pr and how motivating!!! The rain last year during my half devastated me (note.to.self…do NOT wear elastic capri pants that are 4 yrs old from Tarjay…they will need to be held up when waterlogged) I love how you are totally drenched and yet rocking a HUGE grin. :)

  21. I just found your blog and LOVE IT! CONGRATS on finishing in the rain… so hardcore!! I also love that you narrated it using the proof pictures from the race!!

  22. Congrats on your PR! It was definitely a tough race and I was pretty miserable the whole time. I think I saw you pre-race in the stadium but didn’t want to freak you out with “I know you from the internet!” Glad your race turned out well!

  23. What a great and wet recap :) Love all the soggy pictures, I felt like I was there because I watched all of you guys on TV hoping I would spot someone I know.

    Great job on the race. I’ve told you many times that I’m proud of you. So proud that I’m going to give you an assigment…pls, pls give me an OUAL half marathon training plan. Thanks.

    Signed,

    The person who dared you to do this race :)

  24. CONGRATS Sweetie!!! This Texas gal is SOSOSO proud of you!!! You kicked that marathon’s ass, ignoring all the obstacles. You’re my hero, lady!

    I’d love to hear about your plan, if you don’t mind sharing. It’ll be my post-wedding pick-me-up to get me ready for the half I’m training nice and slow for :)

    Congrats again! So uber proud!

  25. I can’t believe that rain! Way to get a PR even with all that craziness! Races like that make you not even worry about encountering those conditions again. A little rain sprinkling in any other race for you will feel like a breeze!

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