My first 26.2: 2014 LA Marathon Race Report

If you have spoken with me since November 15, 2013, then our conversation was probably dominated by one topic: my training for the LA Marathon. My obsession got me to the start line and more importantly to the finish line.  I had a some expectations for myself, of which I only met one (two, if you count getting to the starting line) but the experience was unforgettable and I am so happy to finally be able to say that I have run a marathon. LA_MARATHON_SIGN.jpgMy anxiety for the race started about 72 hours before the race.  My productivity level went way down about Wednesday and fell away completely by Friday afternoon. I could barely pack my suitcase for all the distracting thoughts going through my brain.

Saturday
I flew out to LA in the morning and met my colleague, Kelly from Las Vegas, at the airport.  We grabbed a cab to the expo to pick up our packet.  Being an ASICS employee at an ASICS sponsored event is just delightful.  We stashed our suitcases while we walked the expo and picked up our packet.  We finished with the ASICS booth, picking up all our race-branded gear to remember the event.  These LA Marathon limited-edition Gel-Lyte33 3s are my favorite memorabilia.  BeFunky_Chromatic_1.jpgI set up my race outfit and gear for the following morning and got crazy!  My anxiety was the real deal.  I went way, way up (poor Kelly!) and then afterward, I just sat quietly in my bed reading as my energy level crashed.  This up-and-down pre-race emotional roller coaster has never happened to me before.  I am so glad my roomy was patient with me.

prerace.jpgAs I was planning for the morning, I realized that I had forgotten my pre-race breakfast oatmeal and had no probar with me so I walked across the street to pick up a little single serve oatmeal bowl. On my way back to my room, I stepped into the elevator with ASICS athlete, Deena Kastor!  I haven’t met her before and she was gracious enough to allow me to capture the moment. Note: you may see her glass of wine and assume this is the pre-race meal of the champions but Deena was there to help with the press coverage this year.

deena.jpgSunday
I slept like a champ that night but the 4:00am wake-up call still felt pretty early.  I got up and at-em and made my way to the ASICS VIP bus that would deliver me at the stadium.  My ASICS employment got me entrance to the Stadium Club at Dodger Stadium where we had a place to rest our legs, access to flushing toilets, and a great friends to keep us stoked for the race. VIP_CLUB.jpg

At 6:45 I delivered my drop-bag to the VIP drop bag area and headed down to the start line.  I was soooooo nervous.  I had goosebumps all over my body and my voice was stuck on high volume. I had to pee but figured, after peeing 3 times already, it was just nerves. I didn’t have any previous marathon time so I wasn’t able to be part of a seeded corral meaning I started 20,000/21,000.  I crossed the start line about 17 minutes after the gun when off and I spent the first 10 miles doing some serious dodging of people.  In fact, I ran about an extra 1/3 of a mile getting around people in that first half.

At mile 4 the song F*ing Perfect by P!nk came on.  I couldn’t help it, I had been holding back tears all morning and that song – its pace, its lyrics – just handed me over to my emotions.  I started crying, sobbing actually, thinking about the journey I had taken trying to get to my first marathon.  Toward the end of the song, I pulled it together and plodded along.

Then the heat came out.  Around mile 13 I turned the corner and the clouds had disappeared. The temperature immediately soared to the mid-70s and I started to drink more water and take my electrolyte capsules.  My nervous bladder turned out to be an actual need to pee and at mile 15, there was finally a porta-toilet without a line and I took advantage.  About a minute later, I was back on the road.

Around mile 17 I had a little IT band pain and pushed it out of my mind.  At mile 18 I thought, “4 weeks ago I was done with my run, only 8 more miles to go!” Then at mile 18.5, things started to hurt and I realized the remaining 7.5 miles were going to take willpower and strength.

I always walk through the aid stations. The science shows that it is faster to walk a little of each mile and I figure that if I do it during an aid station then I get double benefits because I get more of my nutrition in my belly because I take the time to get it there. The aid station at mile 21 had me hobbling to get started again, my left quad was spent.  I walked and ran off-and-on from mile 22 to 24. I battled my brain for the control over my body.  Then, something one of my colleagues said in the pre-race VIP room came back into my mind, “You can endure a lot of pain for a long time.”  At mile 24 I took the opportunity to take her advice to heart and decided not to walk again until I had crossed the finish line; and I didn’t. Thank you Clara!startlineI made it across the finish line, cried my tears, called my husband, and then hobbled over to the post-race VIP area.  There I looked at my watch for the first time: 26.62 miles, 3:53:56.  I had expected a time that was about 8 minutes faster and had hoped for one that was about 18 minutes faster so my time and effort felt disappointing.  As I talked to folks in the post-race area I realized that sub-4:00 is an accomplishment that many people work for throughout their running career.  Accomplishing that in my first race was nothing to be ashamed of.  Andy Potts, another ASICS athlete, had been milling around our little club and I asked for a picture with him.  He asked me how my race went and when I told him of my disappointment he explained, “Never poo poo on a personal best, even if it wasn’t what you were hoping for.”  Somehow, it changed my entire outlook on my results and I became proud of my accomplishment.

potts.jpgAs the day went on, I pulled up my official results and learned some interesting facts.

  • I started the race in spot 20,418. I finished the race in spot 2,009.
  • I placed 351/9125 in the women’s division, the top 4%.
  • I placed 74/1362 in my age division, the top 5%.
  • I placed 2008/21,503 out of all athletes, the top 10%.

With all being said and done, I have come to appreciate the body I was given and the performance that it gave me.  I am looking forward to the next opportunity I will have to prove myself and left myself a lot of room to improve.  Eyes forward to St. George in October but first, I need to be able to walk down the stairs without any pain.

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