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Race Report: Los Angeles Marathon

Where do I begin?! My thoughts are all jumbled up and although I suggested to my sisters (and friends) to make notes throughout the next day of what they remembered about their LA Marathon experience, I failed to heed my own advice! So here I am (started penning this on Monday!) attempting to consolidate everything in my brain. ๐Ÿ™‚

I suppose going by photo would be best — that way, if you’d rather stare at pictures (than read), you don’t have to scroll to the very end for them ๐Ÿ˜‰

Let’s start with some prep work, though…

The Expo

Photo courtesy of Sheryl

Photo courtesy of Sheryl

My new “standard operating procedure” for attending Marathon expos are now to attend them 2 days prior to the race (if possible). Why? Because not only do you encounter lesser crowds (generally, participants are unable to take the days off leading to a race) but you also get that extra day to stay off your feet. If you’re like me at Expos, I like to check out *every aisle* and at least scan through *every* booth. ๐Ÿ™‚ The LA Marathon expo wasn’t the bestest, though, but it was adequate (i.e., I got some great deals and a really funky product demo – see right). Props once more to Sheryl for coming along and schlepping the stuff I couldn’t carry by myself.

Saturday

I was rather nervous that day, actually. By 2pm, I had yet to pack (for the marathon) and was still working on my iPod playlist! I actually have never been that nervous the afternoon before a “training” race and it didn’t help that I kept feeling some pain (or phantom pain?) in my left knee. Anyway, when we finally got to Santa Monica, we weren’t able to check-in and relax at the room (it wasn’t ready) before heading out to supper. We literally got there, dropped off our luggage with the bellhop, stopped by our friends’ (Irene and Dexie) room to pee, then all 5 of us walked out the hotel and made for Il Fornaio a few blocks away for the requisite carbo-loading supper. We were minutes late to our reservation and although the hostess gave us a look, the manager (or at least he looked like one) sat us less than a minute later.

This post wouldn’t be complete without food, so here’s what I had that evening ๐Ÿ™‚

Lasagna Ferarra

Lasagna Ferarra

The walk back was insane because we had to make a detour to Third Street Promenade where my sis, Minel, and Irene had to go shop @ Forever 21 for some ‘throw-away’ shirts (hello, timing?! lol). We also were unable to catch a shuttle back to the hotel so we walked back and my shoes weren’t that comfy. >_< Note to self: never wear cutesy shoes day-before-marathons; stick to my Sanuk sandals.

Bright much? ^_^

Bright much? ^_^

As my sisters and I got ready for bed, preparing our marathon gear, I realised that I had not brought any safety pins for my race bib. ACK! Minel lent me two of her pins (she was pinning the bottom half of her bib to her cool SPIbelt) and then I decided that I’ll just figure out what to do the next day (I eventually asked the front desk for some safety pins! lol). With all our gear laid out, it was lights out until around 3:45AM when I awoke to my sis needing to use the bathroom and to a nightmare I had — I had dreamt that we didn’t wake up until 6:48AM and were scrambling to get ready for the marathon! I also remember (in my dream) yelling at Annelle to call the Front Desk and ask if a shuttle can take us there. LOL. And here’s the odd thing, I remember wondering in my dream if renting a helicopter to take us to Dodger Stadium would be too expensive, but if there’s 5 of us we could all split the cost LMFAO. I just thought that was really weird.

Race Day!

Mmmm. Oatmeal!

Mmmm. Oatmeal!

My sisters and I got up relatively early (4:00 – 4:15AM). We needed to be at the Shuttle Stop 30 minutes before our scheduled pick-up (6AM) so I thought that I needed that much time to get ready (and I did). Minel made the coffee in this little coffee maker the hotel provided in our room and I (thinking ahead, thanks very much) heated the hot water in the Braun electric kettle I packed with me. Some oatmeal with brown sugar and dehydrated strawberries later, I made my way to the loo for my morning routine (hehehe, TMI).

Irene and Dexie joined us when we were downstairs and headed out to the shuttle stop (again, just a few blocks away).

Nice big bus

Nice big bus

When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to see bus after bus after bus, loading the drones of runners. We did not have to stand in line very long to board our shuttle to Dodger Stadium, too. Little did we know, we would be sitting in the shuttle for nearly 2 hours to get there! Yes, Los Angeles traffic reared its ugly head at 5:45AM thru 7AM. We were actually stuck on the 110 FWY around downtown LA for a good chunk of the travel time. I wasn’t worried much that we’d miss the “Opening Ceremonies” (they actually delayed the race start time because some vehicles were still on the race course!) or when the gun was fired because 1) it’d be timed by your running chip (or bib chip in this case!); and 2) I needed to pee badly I knew I was going to miss the start anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚

RANT: It would’ve been nice if they had made the shuttles a requirement (i.e., no Stadium drop-offs) because part of the reason why we were “late” was because of the last-minute cars that were attempting to cut in front of all the buses and thus created additional congestion on the 110. I should also note that there were some pretty craaaazy people who were “dropped off” in the middle of the 110! ZOMG. They ran alongside speeding cars and made their way to the stadium on foot and on the shoulder of the freeway. I should’ve taken a photo at that time cos “nobody walks in LA” (unless they’re late for the LA Marathon!) LOL! Anyway, I digress.

Inside Dodger Stadium

Inside Dodger Stadium

It took us a while to finally corral into the start line. By then, of course, the Elites had long gone since we arrived late and had to do a bathroom-break inside Dodger stadium. (Side note: Dodger stadium was really clean. I totally did not expect that! Then again, that was the first time I had ever been to Dodger stadium. I’m not much of a baseball fan. Eep.)

The Course

Sea of runners

Sea of runners

If it wasn’t clear that this course would be hilly, the first incline was literally steps away from the start line. Talk about a reality check. It was unusually warm that morning, no doubt the body heat of 25,000 participants and numerous spectators added to that, and thus climbing that first hill was already laborious! ACK. I already noticed one casualty (some dude laying on the ground and being attended to by several people) and to keep my mind off the strain, I noticed a guy wearing Vibram Five Fingers shoes! Awesome. Mile 1 finally arrived just below the hill (or therabouts) and around the bend. At this point, I was already sweating profusely! Soon after, though, we were greeted with another hill (ack!) as we exited Dodger Stadium and onto the neighbouring community.

Between miles 3 and 4

Between miles 3 and 4

In no time, mile 2 was upon us (me, Annelle and Dexie) and then almost instantly, mile 3! At this point, I had a feeling that we were going too fast and though we were ahead of our pace, I could tell that this would bite us in the bum later. One thing I’ve learned from my previous races is to go slow in the beginning, despite what adrenaline does to you; LOL we chucked that out the window as we made our way to the next three miles, a full 2 minutes ahead of schedule.

Disney Concert Hall

Disney Concert Hall

It was after the beautiful (and amazingly clean) Echo Park Lake, as we approached mile 6, that my sis, Annelle, finally needed to stop and use the loo inside this gasoline station. Whilst Dexie and I waited on the curb, we were entertained with a group of circus acts (man on a unicycle, man on stilts, man juggling, etc.) Five minutes later, Annelle wasn’t out yet and I told Dexie that she should go ahead. She was kind of unsure at first (since it was her first marathon and didn’t want to leave the “safety” of our mini-pace group) but some encouraging words and instructions from me later, she set off.

Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake

Meanwhile, I stretched on the side of the curb waiting and realised that I needed to refill my Amphipod bottle with some more water and Nuun (I drank so much in the beginning because of the initial strain). What seemed like an eternity later, Annelle emerges from the doors of the gas station and what do I do? I go inside to refill my water bottle! LOL I know, I could’ve done that whilst waiting.

The Pantages Theatre

The Pantages Theatre

The next few miles were a blur; not in the sense of a runner’s high, though (I wish). Somewhere in-between I saw the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory up on the hills. I really wanted to take a photo of both but was too lazy to reach back, boot-up my mobile and take the snapshot. LOL! The rolling inclines really took quite a bit out of myself and sis (mostly me in the beginning!) that by the time we reached mile 10, I had already broken our 6/1 run/walk intervals. I already had negative thoughts in my mind (i.e., I don’t think I can finish!) and was more angry with myself and was thinking of why I had hit the wall this early (we haven’t even reached the half-marathon point, yet!!) Thank goodness that we were approaching the Pantages and other landmarks of Hollywood — those cluster of landmarks were a great help to keep my mind off what I felt as sis (in a reversal of roles) coached me back to focus on the race! LOL.

Mann's Chinese Theatre

Mann's Chinese Theatre

In hindsight, had I not “failed” that early, I think the blister on my sis’ foot wouldn’t have been as bad (i.e., stop-go movement, I suppose, messed with her gait >_<)

It was after passing through West Hollywood (just after mile 14 and approaching 15) that I finally began to feel better. Of course, at this point, it was Annelle that wasn’t feeling so great — in particular, her right arch was super sore. We also caught up with Irene who stopped running and just decided to walk the rest of the way (hello, she had a hairline fracture and wears a stabilizing boot on her right leg when she’s not in running clothes!) Crazy Irene. >_<

On Rodeo Dr. Steps

On Rodeo Dr. Steps

By the time we hit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, fun time set in. We took some really silly photos and stared at the shops where rich people go to (or people who have high credit card limits ;))

I kept asking Irene, “where the heck are the steps?!” cos I wanted to pose by them — after all, that was my nth visit to Beverly Hills and I really haven’t done the touristy thing in that area, yet.

Lo and behold, the steps finally emerged as the race course turned to the right! Ack. I was like, no, I’m veering to the left and want my effing photo by the effing steps! LMFAO. There you go (see left), a mini-detour for the silly steps. The tourists behind me were probably like, “Hahahaha. Tourist.” lol.

I should probably note that I had the most fun in the Beverly Hills-portion of the race. We saw Cristina B and her husband (can’t remember his name!) I know them both from my stint with Nike Club Run LA at the Niketownย  cheering section (appropriately enough) and thought that was random that she’d recognise me in my funky running shirt! We actually had to leave Irene there cos she wanted to stop and chit-chat for a while, whilst I told Annelle that we should move on and try to “salvage” the rest of the race.

Mormon Church

Mormon Church

Unfortunately, at/around mile 18 (around Century City), Annelle’s arch was really hurting that I actually suggested we stop (appropriately at a bus stop) so that she can take off her shoe and massage the arch (whilst I sprayed some Kool ‘n Fit on the pressure points of her foot). Actually, she was adamant at first about not stopping, but I knew she’d need it.ย  She found semi-relief after that (in the meantime, Irene caught up with us!) and we decided to continue on. At this point, I believe we had been walking more than running and 6/1 intervals were but a distant memory. LOL. Oh, did I mention Irene passed us? Dang that girl is fast, even when walking and with an injury!

It actually took us forever to get to mile 19. As we walked on Santa Monica Blvd, I could tell that my sis was really hurting. That, and I think she was disappointed this guy she’s seeing didn’t show up on the race course. *sigh* We’re doing an effing marathon and all she can think of is the man. LMFAO. Anyway… I was trying to cheer her up with like, “we’re almost there!” and “Sheryl’ll be at mile 20 with some pretzels!” but she’s like *inaudible growl*. Aw, poor sisy. I have to note that we had a nice good kick going uphill as we approached the 405 FWY, just before turning onto Sepulveda towards mile 20. I was like, whoa, slow down sis, but she couldn’t hear me. As I caught up to her, she slowed down and I was like — “what music was playing in your iPod?” Annelle just smiled back and we continued on our walk.

Can you say mile 20!

Can you say mile 20!

Mile 20 was finally here and since mile 10, I’ve been texting Sheryl of our ETA. Like a welcoming desert oasis, the pretzels were under the mile 20 sign (oh, Sheryl was there holding the bag of pretzels, too ๐Ÿ˜‰ LOL! j/k) It was a loverly change as I chatted with Sheryl whilst eating the pretzels. Annelle, in the meantime, was eating quietly behind us. I would turn back to make sure she’s still behind usย  and then would let her catch up and attempt to inspire her to keep on moving.

Sheryl, Me, & pretzels

Sheryl, Me, & pretzels

It was inside the Veterans’ Administration area, towards the underpass that Annelle snapped and yelled at me, whilst in the tunnel! LOL. It made such a booming noise that I think the other runners who were in a haze suddenly awoke! LMFAO. I think I asked her to run up until the stop sign and she stopped before the stop sign, and I was like, no, “the stop sign” and she was like, “BUT IT HURTS!” +_+. I was like, whispering “yeah, I know, but a few steps wouldn’t matter!” and then I remember the look on Sheryl’s face (i.e., surprised and perhaps, scurred? lol) but just walked on anyway. Poor sis. Not only was she in pain, but I also think that not seeing the dude kept her spirits low. ๐Ÿ™

Finally, 22!

Finally, 22!

Like the previous way-points, it took us forever to get to mile 22. We did run into Irene again, and then Lisa W. (and her friend) somewhere around West LA (between mile 21 and mile 22). Hanging with Lisa and having her converse with Annelle was a great change in pace: she kept Annelle preoccupato, catching up on each others’ lives. If it wasn’t obvious to me before, it definitely is hitting me in the face right now — that spectators can make a huge racing difference. I mean, at every mile (and almost at every in-between miles), there were people cheering you on. Families, kids… strangers telling you that you can do it and that you’re almost there. Knowing who the spectator is had an even bigger impact, and having that spectator walk with you during the race to keep your mind off the race was even better (Thanks again, Sheryl and Lisa!)

Anyway, after a brief stop in-between mile 22 and mile 23 (Thanks LA Leggers for the Kool ‘n Fit and hi again Stan!), we were on our way to the beach. Despite feeling the breeze and knowing we were almost there, it still felt like the longest three miles of my life (and poor sisy’s, too). I should also my poor Garmin Forerunner 50 (not the 201 strapped on my right hand) was giving me the “Lo Mem” message. Darn you Forerunner 50 — you’re not made for 6+ hours of activity! Also, somewhere around mile 24, I had some Yakult which I later regretted towards at the end of the race and much to the despair of my sisters (Probiotics + my tired tummy = gas). LOL. I had it because it was chilled and was craving something other than salty or super-sweet. Oh, I also have to note that around 22 thru 25, my little brother, Jean (ok, not so little, he’s 22, but he’s the youngest in the fam, so he’s still little to us!) kept texting me the funniest motivational messages ever, as I read them aloud to my sis (and Sheryl). My fav has to be (and I quote):

If u see an old lady with bib 26822, u better haul ass cuz that’s a 17:32 min pace :p

LOL. How can you not laugh to that whilst on the course. There were a bunch more, but you might think he’s too snarky ๐Ÿ˜‰

Indeed!

Indeed!

Even before making the final left turn onto Ocean Blvd, we knew we were approaching the beach because we saw the marine layer (fog) and felt the cooler air. Seeing mile 25 and then turning onto the street towards the home stretch was the bestest. At this point, sis was telling me to go ahead and I (sort of) snapped back and said something to the effect of — why the heck would I leave you here, of all places, at the final stretch?! I wasn’t really that cross, and was really half-kidding when I said that, but I thought man, I guess she doesn’t really appreciate what I’m doing here. I know, 7+ hours in and stupid self-pity hit me finally at the final leg. ๐Ÿ™

Hazy view of finish chute!

Hazy view of finish chute!

I think I was literally a few yards away from the finish that I gave Sheryl instructions on where to meet us at the finish line. She had been patiently walking with us ever since mile 20 and the last thing I’d want for her is to get a ticket or something for bandit-ing the race (lol, too late, I just mentioned it here ;)) It was also then, when Sheryl temporarily departed us to meet us at the finish, that I was somehow able to convince Annelle to jog the remaining portion of the race. What I didn’t expect was that she’d run a 10 min/mile pace and kept at it until the end. Way to go, sis! We finally crossed the finish line just after 7 hours (chip time: 07:15:21) with all smiles despite the pain we both felt (her arch and blisters; my right shoulder, no thanks to texting/tweeting most of the race! LOL). I have to note that I’m particularly proud of the shot I took just before we reached the finish line chute (photo above). It really captured my state of mind at that time! LOL.

We found our sis, Minel, waiting by the finish (exactly where she said she’d be). I was surprised to hear that she had finished an hour earlier (her worst marathon time) thanks to some bad Clif Shot gels and as a result, the multiple-visits to the porta-johns in-between. She wasn’t in “Her Majesty” mode, too ๐Ÿ˜‰ and we were very grateful for the bananas, animal crackers, and other goodies she saved for us (there was nearly nothing left when we got there). Sheryl rejoined us and took a really lovely pic of the 3 sisters, finally completing the same marathon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Three Sisters!

Three Sisters! (Photo by Sheryl T.)

Epilogue

If you’re reading this, you probably skipped from mile 1 to here. Bravo! LOL. I really don’t expect anyone (not even myself! hahaha) to go through this babble ๐Ÿ˜‰ That and here’s the best part to finishing the marathon — the post-race meal! Nom nom nom.

Mmmm Steak!

Mmmm Steak!

That’s a deeelish medium-rare piece of meat served with a yummy salad and mouth-watering french fries with truffle oil! ZOMG. And for dessert, I went for the gold:

Molten chocolate cake!

Molten chocolate cake!

It was almost too small but actually, just right to satisfy my craving after all that meat! The accompanying vanilla ice-cream was the best I’ve had (and I normally don’t like vanilla ice-cream!) Ahhh, the sweet rewards after a race. ^_^

Until my next marathon (Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, 6th June)…. Thanks for reading! ^_^

Stats!
Garmin: Forerunner 50; Forerunner 201 (check out the elevation!)
Runpix: Finish Order

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