On the left, LA Marathon 2012, on the right, LA Marathon 2016. Both pictures were taken when I saw my family on the course.
I can’t believe the marathon is over.
I was calm up until 2 days before it. Then I proceeded to panic pretty spectacularly. It didn’t help that I’d left a few errands until the day before race day (and Leo had to put up with my panic and find me something warm to throw away on race morning, since I’d forgotten to go get something).
Got up at 3am, felt wide awake and rested despite not getting great sleep the night before (says every runner who’s every run a marathon). Ate breakfast that Leo had made (baked eggs in cute little tortilla cups, ate 4 of them which was probably ~600 calories). Got all my stuff together and headed for the stadium.
Thankfully, Colin Sapire and Jimmy had managed to secure the Ketel One Club for us, so we had a lot of room to spread out and keep warm. We also had an indoor bathroom (with SINKS and SOAP…something I was super happy about).
I basically sat in a chair, propped my feet up, and tried to stay zen. Practiced my meditation breathing for awhile. I finally started putting on sunscreen and packing up my bottles when Jacette got there, and we chatted for awhile.
I ate a Honey Stinger waffle, used the bathroom one more time (where I was still unable to make the IMPORTANT bathroom activity happen…this will come into play later in the race). I was so busy getting my friend Lynn (first time marathoner) hooked up with Jacette (super experienced runner) that I lost Consuela, who I had planned to run with. It was so crazy at the start that I couldn’t find her, and tried to just go with the flow of the morning after that.
I’d planned to just go easy the first few miles and see what my splits were, and to not stress if they weren’t close to what my pace band said. I did a really good job of not getting caught up in the madness of the first few miles, and my heart rate data later confirmed that I stayed relatively aerobic for the first 4.5 hours of the race, a fact I’m hugely proud of.
I started feeling warm around mile 3, and since I didn’t know if it was going to get hot or not that day, and since I do terribly in even a hint of heat, I started my heat management strategy then and there. Took my neck cooling towel off my handheld and soaked it in water and put it around my neck. Put a cup of water over my head. Pulled my arm sleeves on and soaked the inner part of each one (a strategy I’d decided on while watching the pros on tv pour water on their wrists and inner arms). From then on, at every single aid station, I poured one cup of water on the front of my neck towel, one on the back, one on my head, and half of one down each of my arms. About halfway through each mile, I’d squeeze the water out of my cooling towel so that I’d soak my sports bra and my jersey, and be ready to soak up more water at the next aid station.
The first 8 miles were hard. I had a bit of trouble with the mental game, since we were still in the single digit miles and I felt like there was a long way to go. My stomach was also starting to feel a little off, and I hit an antacid as I neared mile 6. I mentally went through the list. Was I hot? Nope, cooling strategy was working perfectly. Was I fueling too much or too little? Nope, I was sticking with the plan of half a waffle and 150 cals of Tailwind for each of the first two hours. I realized the issue was a much needed bathroom stop around mile 7.5, and spent 8 or 9 minutes in line with Corazon and Kenton. That was about the time I realized that this and one more bathroom stop would probably kill my under 5 goal…but hey, if that was the way the day was going to go, that was the way it was going to go.
My friend Diana and her boyfriend were at mile 8, and it felt so amazing to see them. Diana had made an amazing sign instructing people to touch pictures of soccer players butts for power, which was hilarious and made me laugh. I picked up another bag of Tailwind from them, and from then on, I think I smiled the rest of the course. I was having such an amazing time.
I said hi to any NutriBullet people I saw that I passed (and I passed a few a couple of times, thanks to bathroom stops). I stopped again at mile 13, and once more at 17, but neither of those stops threw me off my game, and my stomach felt pretty good. Once I hit hour 3, I switched to Tailwind only, and just kept putting down 200 calories per hour, which worked fantastically.
I saw Team Owie around mile 13, and it basically made my day. I gave Sergio a hug and ran off screaming “I’m so happy I saw you guys!” It was super unexpected and really energizing. From there, I knew that Leo would be at mile 15, so I just kept it chill for another 2 miles until I found him. Again, it made me incredibly happy to see someone I knew. He had ice, so I put some down my bra, some down my arm sleeves, and a big handful in my hat, and took off again.
From then on, I felt really good. The first and only other time I ran LA, I ate way too much food at the beginning, and my stomach felt so horrible for the last 13 miles that I had to walk the whole way. The contrast between that race and this one made this race feel even better, and I grinned like crazy as I kept running. When I recognized the point that I’d gotten to on our longest team run, I stuck my arms in the air and cheered, and everyone around me was very confused.
I saw Jimmy off to the side as I exited Rodeo Drive, and waved frantically to make sure he saw me. He ran with me a bit and told me I was looking great, and then peeled off to run with someone else. I kept running, hitting every aid station, and doing my best to enjoy the course, since the only previous memories I had were of misery through the last few sections.
Once I hit mile 19, I really started feeling like I was going to finish well. I knew my mom and sisters were at mile 22, and I had to rein myself back a bit to make sure I didn’t run too hard too soon. It was amazing to see them on San Vicente, and I think it was my biggest smile of the day. Brianna even ran with me a bit (in flip flops, it was very impressive).
Things started to get hard around mile 23, since it was the last uphill and I was running a bit hard for the incline (this is where my heart rate definitely started to climb more). I found Consuela’s wife so I could grab some more ice (down the bra and in the hat), and kept going.
I was still smiling and having a great time, although I was definitely putting out more effort. My lifesavers on this last leg were Annie, who ran next to me and gave me one of the best inspiring speeches of the day, and Coach Craig, who ran with me right near the end, around mile 24. I checked my watch, and saw that I was running around 9:45 miles, which was a little fast, but at that point I didn’t care. I was also making audible noises every time I breathed or my feet hit the ground, but I didn’t care about that either. All I cared about was seeing the finish, which was an agonizingly long way down Ocean Blvd.
I teared up a little bit as I crossed the finish line, some from happiness, some from pain, some from disbelief that I was really done. Got my medal, and then realized that I was really really tired and in an incredible amount of pain. I kept moving, mostly because I figured that if I sat down I probably wouldn’t ever move again, and finally found my way to Leo with some phone directions, where I promptly collapsed into his arms and started sobbing. Mostly because I was happy to see him, but also mostly because I was in more pain than I’ve ever been in at the end of a race. Those last 4 miles or so were quite fast for me (about equal to some of the miles I laid down at the end of the half marathon).
As I went to take off my arm sleeves so I could put on a dry jacket, I realized that they had blood all down the insides, and realized that I was going to probably have some pretty intense inner arm chafing. Looking at it now, 2 days later, I’m not sure how I didn’t notice it happening during the race, but it’s probably the most painful spot on my body at this point. But since it was a byproduct of my awesome cooling strategy, I’ll take it.
I’ve never had that much fun in any race I’ve ever done. A huge part of it was running with my team members, and being able to see so many people out on the course that I’ve seen for months and months. It was also in huge part because of my husband and my family and my friends, who were out on the course to support me. And it was also because I really went into the race with the goal of enjoying it as much as I could, and I really met that goal 100%. I’m so happy that I finally have a marathon that I feel really proud of, and that I feel like I executed everything in the absolute best way I could. What an amazing training cycle, and what an amazing race.
Thank you Team NutriBullet for everything!