LA Marathon Recap
What a crazy marathon! I knew that going into the race there was a chance that I might have that pain that I had been complaining the week before the race. I tried to stay positive but that could only get me so far.
I had so many crazy experiences in one race – it would take me forever to get it all out in this post so I will just get to the point. First, I’d like to say thanks to everyone that encouraged me before/during/after the race. This was by far one of the worst race experiences both mentally and physically. This makes the stress fracture pain seem like a joke.
The evening before the race my coach called me and told me not to attempt a 3-hour marathon dealing with these crazy forecasted weather conditions and the recent pains I had been experiencing. “No problem coach.” LOL The plan was to run sub-7 until the half and then pick up gradually. The sub-7 plan was perfect up until a little past the half – I felt like I was in great shape. The pain in my hip/butt/back hurt from the first step and unfortunately I knew that it was a matter of how long I could endure it.
The morning weather conditions kind of threw me off a little. It was chilly, not too cold and I made a last minute decision to leave my warm Nike jacket in bag-check because I knew that on a whim I would throw it on the street when I felt a little too warm and I don’t really want to give up a jacket that I have held onto for 10 years. Luckily a friend brought me a long sleeve top and a rain poncho to use and stay warm. I can’t thank her enough because looking back, the poncho was one of the only things that kept me semi-protected from the rain and wind. Thanks Ashley! XO
After the hill at 1st and Grand, a lot of runners began to strip themselves of their warm clothes and ponchos which makes sense just getting over that hill and feeling a little heated. I also took of my poncho but I heard a guy say, “I’d hold on to that if I were you,” so I balled it up and tucked it into my waistband. Smart move, good advice! Around mile 5 it started pouring and I put it back on and never took it off again during the race.
Around mile 13 I decided that I needed to ease off the gas and walk to avoid any additional injuries but I couldn’t stop immediately (I have to admit). It was so humiliating to stop in front of cheering spectators – I felt like a total quitter. I slowed my pace for an additional 3 miles before I realized that I shouldn’t do that so I took my first walking step at around mile 17 just passed the Concern Foundation booth. Immediately as I stopped, I let out a crybaby kind of cry and someone was there immediately to comfort me – my boyfriend. He was running 7:30 splits and was able to catch me as I fell off after 13. He was very concerned and didn’t want to leave me. I sort of sucked in my cry and asked how he felt, he said he was feeling great so I told him to leave and chase that PR. I later found out that he felt so bad and couldn’t get over leaving me. There was nothing he could have done for me at that point and I had no idea what was in store for me later.
When I stopped, I really thought that a 10-mile walk wouldn’t be that bad but I soon realized that was not the case because I was not moving very well and the cold temperatures were making me completely stiff all over. Once I hit Santa Monica near Century City, I was barely moving. I could barely shuffle and finally, I could barely walk.
Getting into the VA Hospital area, I realized that 5 miles would take me about 2.5 hours at the rate I was going and I literally stopped kneeled over and cried. I stopped three or four times and finally, upon realizing that the huge tent around the corner was NOT a medical tent, I thought I was going to hyperventilate. I was so cold and shivering – my jaw was about to lock, I had bitten the heck out of my tongue with my molars from all the chattering, my back was tightening up (lower back and in between my shoulders) when Jon Li from LA Roadrunners caught up to me and walked with me for what seemed like ¾’s of a mile. He couldn’t have helped me at a more critical time, really. I had nothing in me; I couldn’t see a way out of this disaster. He helped push me forward and helped me get my breathing under control, literally walking me through breathing steps all the way to San Vicente. Before he left, I had to tell him that I was OK and that I would make it to the finish. I can’t thank him enough. Thank you Jon!
The rain never died down and although I only had four miles by the time I was on San Vicente, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I must have looked like a zombie. I could only put one foot right in front of the other, I didn’t look around, or ahead, I just looked down now stopping every 100 meters or so to regroup. Around mile 22, I saw a Whole Foods market so I headed over there and got under the awning. I asked a spectator if I could use his phone and I called my boyfriend assuming he had finished and could rescue me. I left the Whole Foods before I realized that could have bought a sweatshirt to try and stay warm. A little later I spotted a Lululemon and I was in a zone to get in that store. I asked a guy to help me get inside and I just handed the clerk my credit card and asked her to help get me something warm. I ended up leaving with a $106.00 sweatshirt and again was on my way. I remember leaving excited and then immediately disappointed to find myself freezing again. I couldn’t believe that I made it that far without it!
My breaking point happened when I spotted a big mile marker realizing it was NOT mile 25 but mile 24! Oh no! I was completely demoralized. Mentally I thought I could go the last 1.2 miles and everyone kept trying to encourage me by saying, “you can do it, you are almost there…” I heard it so much that I lost track of my distance and I knew that there was no way I could push at that slow pace for the remaining distance. A woman had noticed me stopping and attempting to go again without much success and asked me to consider sitting in a cop car to get warm. As I finally agreed to this, some gentlemen approached the car and invited me into his home with his family. They had been watching the marathon all morning and by this time, the clock on my watch indicated that I had been out there for nearly 5 hours! Almost immediately after noticing this, the watch battery died.
Once inside, I was offered dry clothes, breakfast pizza, water, hot tea and coffee. I shyly said no to most offers as I felt I was intruding enough already. Slowly but surely I started to relax and my nightmare turned into a very pleasant moment of appreciation from their generosity. They really saved my day. At that point, I was no longer upset or disappointed, I was so thankful. It was a touching moment for me. I called my boyfriend again and waited for him and my friends to come get me. As I waited I enjoyed my coffee, watched part of Superman and was handed a laptop so I could read about the men’s winner who had ran an unbelievable record time.
Once I was picked up, the day continued with post race celebrations at the Viceroy hotel. It was nice to see Angel (Happy Birthday) and Adrian before my group settled down for the evening with nice food, drinks and better conversations. It was nice to be together again.
I can’t say thank you enough – I received so many emails, texts and voicemails yesterday and today. Shame on me for not posting or updating sooner but I felt like I was hit by a bus this morning when I woke up. I shouldn’t have gone to work but I did and I think that helped get me through the day, staying focused and distracted. Thanks to Janese for bringing me a change of clothes including the blanket that was used as a sarong!
My workout scheduled for today was to walk for 20 minutes and managed to get in .68 miles. Tomorrow I go back for PT with the chiropractor and I think I still have enough time for Boston. Oddly enough, I am excited about LA Marathon next year after this year’s experience and running a smart half. I really feel confident and less stressed about those hills. It wasn’t as bad as it was last year, assuming it was from staying reserved early in the race.
Click here for my Garmin splits.
Interesting quote from Wesley Korir after finishing the race:
Two-time defending champion Wesley Korir, who had set the race record of 2:08:24 in 2009, finished fourth in 2:13:23. He said his legs gave out at the 21st mile. ”First of all, I’d like to thank God that I’m still alive,” said Korir, smiling. “I thought it was the end of my life.”
Glad to know us “average” runners weren’t the only ones thinking this way!
Congratulations to Dom, Jen L., Jen F., Paul, Adrian, Angel, Ashley, Teresa, Maria and everyone else who finished and powered through!