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?? ‘
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!!!
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.
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 :
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.
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?
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.
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.
(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-FREE. No 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!