Monday, March 21, 2011

Wet and Wonderful - LA Marathon Race Report

The day started dark and early at 4 and I managed to get the wife and kid in the car by 4:30 as we headed out to Dodger Stadium. Thankfully, the traffic, though still bad, was better than last year. Only took about 30 minutes to go the last 2 miles. Made it to the stadium just before 6AM, but my hoped for mini-loop meetup with Alice and 50Stater at left field was a bust. Probably traffic related.

So we had some time to kill. It was low 50's and windy, but not raining yet. About 6:45 I headed for the port a johns and thankfully found very small lines! 2 minutes tops. Then it was time to strip down and get in my corral. Said goodbye to the family and headed into the mob.

So I turn on my Garmin, and...nothing. Blank screen. Panicked, I decide to break down and actually talk to a stranger, because I know someone knows the reset trick, and almost everyone has a Garmin. First try, a guy holds two buttons and gets it going. Phew!
So I have a seat on the ground and try to relax. The race starts late again due to course clearance issues. I chat with a guy from San Francisco. Eventually it is time to go.
So my race plan is to try and take it easy, and treat it like a training run - maybe 8:30 to 8:20 pace for the first 10 miles and then see how it goes. I have had muscle problems for several weeks that made even easy runs painful, but I have been able to run through them. Still, I am nervous because I didn't have these issues when I was doing all my long runs.
So, we're off. Literally within 2 minutes the first rain drops are felt. Woo Hoo! Bring it!

It's a little crowded getting out of the parking lot, but it opens up by 1/2 mile and I feel good. The next two miles are a pretty good downhill and Garmin tells me it is too fast so I try to take it easy. Still, 1st 4 splits: 8:24, 7:38, 8:00, 7:56. It is looking a lot like last year's splits. Mile 2, Garmin says Low Battery. WTF! I charged it yesterday! Whatever, I press enter and keep plugging.

My problematic glute/ham/calf are a little sore already, but it's more of a dull ache that I can run through. I figure I'll just keep going as long as it will let me and see what happens. Miles 5 and 6 have steep uphills so the splits drop to 8:21 and 8:12. Still too fast, but I feel relaxed and good.

Mile 6 the heavens opened up. Heavy downpour for 10 minutes and we are soaked to the skin. Wet socks, wet everything. I say a little thank you to myself for remembering my nipple bandaids. Although it is pouring hard off and on for most of the race, it really didn't bother me. On the contrary, it kept my temperature low. I was glad I had done a 3 hour training run in the rain, because I knew I could do it and I didn't need to worry about the rain. I didn't have any serious blister problems or chafing. Yay for hi-tech modern materials!
Miles 7-16 are mostly flat on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards and I am cruising in a groove. 7:42, 7:56, 8:05, 7:56, 7:53, 7:54, 8:10, 8:06, 7:42 (big downhill), 8:08.

Most of the inflatable mile markers are down. The crowds are down from last year by at least 50%, but still, it is incredible how many people are out cheering in the rain. And the hundreds of volunteers are awesome! Mile 16, I go through West Hollywood and only a few drag queens are out this year. Mile 17 is Beverly Hills and I take my 3rd GU (Gu'd at 7,12,17 and 22). Took a small pleasure in littering my GU on Rodeo Drive. Mile 18 was supposed to be a Guinness record for most cheerleaders in one spot, but they bailed in the rain. There was one group left - good for them.

Mile 17 my pace started to drag. I was tiring, but I still felt OK - better than last year. 17 -19 was 8:26, 8:24, 8:25. I got to see my family at 18. A little brief cheer that makes all the difference.

Last year I was hurting at this point and had my first walk before 20 miles. This year I was feeling better. Felt like I could just keep swimming for quite a ways yet. Went by the gigantic Mormon temple and thought of some Mormon loopsters. And then I saw a familiar face behind a giant camera lens. Junblack! He gave me some words of motivation and it was great to see him just before mile 20.

At 18.7 miles my Garmin shut off. Not sure if it was the rain or the battery. As I was fading, I figured it was for the best as I didn't need to check every tenth of a mile to see how far the next mile marker was. Or see how slow I was going. Each mile had a clock so I had an idea of my speed. Plus I got 5K splits later from the website, so I estimated some mile splits for the rest of the way. Mile 20 was about 9:00 as I was shortening my stride and slowing a bit. But I made it through 20 in 2:42:20, so I was still ahead of schedule and just needed to survive the last 6 better than last year. No problem!

In mile 21 I got another boost as I passed a coworker who was running part of the course (10-24) for "fun". We chatted a bit. Then we hit a river running down the street that we had to go through. Ankle deep water for 3 steps. But my socks and shoes held up fine. In mile 22 the streets were flooded and we all went up on the sidewalk for 2 blocks. 21-24 were about 9:20, 9:30, 9:45, 9:50. Yes I was shuffling and getting passed a lot, but I was still running. No walk breaks yet. Had to stop once in 22 when my hamstring cramped up, but it passed and I kept going. Finally at the 24 mile mark, I decided I needed a little break and walked for 30 seconds. I was starting to lose my form and really get sore. The rest of the way was just one step at a time. Just keep swimming. I took two more short walk breaks at about 24.7 and 25.2, but then I was at the beach with the finish in sight. I kept up the shuffling all the way in. Last 2+ miles were at about 10:30 pace. But I MADE IT! Final time 3:44:15. Beat last year's course record and age-group PR by 8 minutes! Woo Hoo! I threw out a bangle pump for the cameras. Hopefully I will have that for you later.

After the finish was the hardest part of the day. It was raining hard, and winds of 20-30 mph. I was soaked with just the paper wrap thing, and I had to walk 8 blocks into the wind to get to the family meeting area. It was brutal. Every step hurt, and I was shivering like crazy. I walked with one guy who just finished who said he had to be at work in 2 hours! Finally I made it and thankfully found my family and got some clothes on. Hundreds of people were treated for hypothermia. It was brutal. But eventually I made it home, had my ultimate cheeseburger, shower and a nap.

Today I am sore, but not too bad for marathon sore. Very happy.


  1. AWESOME!!!!!!

    That is incredible. I love a little warmish rain...or cool rain when it feels warm.

    Nipple bandaids- check! =D

  2. BANGLE!! Way to battle the elements - congrats!

  3. Congrats. Crazy race conditions but awesome report