In the Santa Monica parking structure with the prize, the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Medal
This is my sixth 2013 Los Angeles Marathon race report post.
I am chronicling my road to the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon finish line with the Los Angeles Roadrunners Run/Walk 5 training group.
After a few hours of sleep, I was up at 2 AM to get ready for Los Angeles Marathon Race Day.
Preparations had been rehearsed over and over during the Roadrunner training runs. The right amount of coffee was consumed, the right breakfast, all running gear, glasses, belt, iPod, Garmin – all of it was packed safely away and ready to go. Racing bibs were pinned to my Roadrunner shirt.
I was apprehensive (as always) that our car would be inoperable (although we have another) due to the hit and run accident of the previous day or that the electronic gates of our complex would not open.
These fears were unfounded and Alice and I hit the road to the City of Santa Monica parking structure off of 4th Street. From there we would take the shuttle bus to Dodger Stadium and then run back – Stadium to the Sea.
We were booked on the 4:30 AM shuttle, but we arrived early – as we have each of the three previous years. As we exited the parking structure elevator, I remembered I had left my iPod and Gymboss timer in my running bag and had to return to the car. Whew, I almost forgot them!
The portable restroom was visited and we walked down past the Santa Monica City Hall to board the bus.
The bus ride was smooth and I think I dozed a little on the way – waking up when we passed the LA Convention Center.
Walking down through the barriers in the Dodger Stadium parking lot
We disembarked the bus and made our way to the Loge Third Base Section of Dodger Stadium where the special Los Angeles Roadrunners section was. There were stadium seats in which to sit and the private (recently remodeled too) restrooms.
Alice and I sat in the stadium seats adjacent to the Run/Walk 5 sign and waited for our fellow runners to trickle in.
A view of the Dodger Stadium field from the special LA Roadrunners section
After a few hours, and at 6:30 AM (the race starts at 7:25), Walt who had arrived along with the rest of Run/Walk 5 lined us up.
At this time, I decided to take a few photos of the members of Run/Walk 5 and their running partners. I have posted all of the photos on Facebook and Google Plus. So, I won’t post them all. But, here are a few:
We left the friendly confines of the ballpark and made our way to Running Corral D. Note that each Roadrunner had a “D” on their bib for the “D” corral.
Of course, my bib was “B” 2013.
Luckily, I had learned that you could always drop down a letter or two. In no way, was I a three hour marathoner to qualify for corral B.
But, this was a bib clerical error and the security attendant did balk at the entrance to corral D.
Why is this important?
Fellow Roadrunner Doug, remember the former Marine embassy security guard who helped me via conversation to traverse the 20 milers was barred from Corral “D.” He had to run on his own.
I said a silent “crap.”
Doug, was going to be my lifeline, if the going got tough and he was gone. I never saw Doug on the marathon course.
We waited in the corral for a while, warmed up a little and posed for some photos.
Soon, it was time to start the race.
We lined up, the national anthem was sung, we moved forward.
You know it is time to start the Los Angeles Marathon, when “I Love LA” starts.
Run/Walk 5 was off.
The first four miles weave through Chinatown and are downhill. when we course more towards central Los Angeles we confront the massive First Street Hill.
The Tonga drums do help – a little.
I videoed this television coverage of the marathon at the top of the hill and you can see the group fairly well.
After the First Street Hill, the course becomes a slow incline with occasional downhills through Hollywood. While I felt strong during the first nine miles or so, I could tell I was just not “feeling it” today.
The group’s pace was around 14:30 or so per mile which is what I expected and for which we trained over and over. But, I simply was not feeling it.
The temperature warmed up with the rising sun. I do not do well in the heat. But, was it THAT bad?
I tried additional sugar and water. Caffeine was managed. No chance of a bathroom break. But, I felt sluggish.
The half marathon mark came and the split was about 3:15 – right on pace.
Alice and Nancy were leading at this point and I barked at Nancy at one point because I thought she messed up the interval timer as we went through the 14 mile water station.
By now, I was struggling, a little dizzy and definitely not thinking clearly. The “BONK” Bear was on my back.
I fell back and weakly tried to yell at Alice and Nancy. They did not hear and the group left me.
I had planned contingencies about different run/walk ratios with different strategies, if I felt like I was bonking out. I ignored the warning signs as my glycogen suddenly ever more depleted.
I could only walk.
I was dizzy and pissed off with myself, but knew I had to finish – so I pressed on, albeit slowly.
Your mind and emotions can play tricks on you in this state. I even felt like quitting.
I remembered back years ago DNF’ing a LA Marathon after I fell at mile 17.
This was not going to happen – no matter what.
I knew I could walk the rest of the race at a very slow pace and still PR. The first half was a good strong pace – I just had to finish.
Somewhere out of the blue, I saw Tamara, Teon (who had hurt his knee) and Janet. I thought what? Did they bonk too?
Now, Janet and Tamara had been sick for a couple of weeks with a bad cold/flu/bronchitis so it was understandable that they would be spent.
I really cannot remember when we started walking together but the conversation helped me get over MY thoughts of quitting.
Tamara was walking at a faster pace than I could handle. I struggled to keep up. The pace, in fact was 19:30. I was a little depressed that I was struggling. I pounded the sugar and kept her pace anyway.
We passed mile 17 and the video board in Beverly Hills. I saw the message that was left by my wife, Alice. It spurred me on! I have to do this.
Maybe I can recover some glycogen, composure and start running again.
Pace Leader Mary came upon us and her hip was really bothering her. I asked her if she had taken some Advil and she said she had. She soon dropped back.
Mary had the BEAR on her shoulders and joint pain. I didn’t think she would finish. She soon faded with Tamara’s super fast walking pace (being facetious!)
As we arrived at the dreaded Santa Monica Blvd. straight away another Run/Walk 5 member joined us, Cristina. She was HURTING.
She had developed blisters and each step brought agony. I have been there – a number of times. Advil and Tylenol worked for me and I had some extra.
I gave Cristina two extra strength Tylenols and she recovered very quickly. Her brother soon joined us. This really perked up Cristina.
Teon and Tamara were walking a little faster and at this point I decided to NOT drop Cristina. They went on ahead.
I was with Cristina and Janet.
Between mile 19 and 20, I saw Tara, my last year’s Roadrunner training partner. She had pretzels and was full of encouragement! This really helped.
On to mile 20 on Sepulveda Blvd and the VA (Veteran’s Administration grounds). The twisting and turning and slow upgrade is the “Heartbreak Hill” of the Los Angeles Marathon.
We made it out of the VA. I was feeling better.
Cristina’s family joined us, including her mom, her sister and her sister’s husband. I gave Cristina two more extra strength Tylenol as she said her blisters were starting to bother her again. She picked up the pace with the support of her family.
Hugo (Cristina’s brother), Cristina, Janet and the old guy telling Janet to keep her hands off of her hips
As we were walking up San Vicente, I was plotting a running finishing beginning at 26th Street. We passed Bundy Drive and I asked Cristina and Janet if they wanted some extra credit and run off course to include my “Heartbreak Hill” where Nancy had fallen during our last 20 miler.
They passed and Janet grumbled something. Ha!
It was definitely cooler now and the ocean was NOT far from us – so was the finish.
When we reached 26th Street, we started running again. We did a 1:1 Run/Walk/Run ratio and the last 3.2 miles we had an average pace better than 15:00 per mile.
We passed tens of Zombie walking marathoners and I suddenly felt good. Janet and Cristina were keeping the pace.
We hit Ocean Avenue and we passed even more runners/walkers.
As the finish line approached, I told Cristina that even though we were a little slower today, we should finish STRONG.
With about a half mile to go, we hit a walk break and Cristina said she didn’t want to walk any more.
We all sprinted to the finish!
We finished strong.
We KICKED ASS!
Here is my official finish:
Here is the pacing from my Garmin:
Although I did not finish with the main Run/Walk 5 group, I was able to hang with them for at least half of the race. I am grateful for this and am grateful to finish with Janet and Cristina (who completed her first marathon).
Why, did I not finish at 6:40 with Alice and Walt is unknown, but I have my suspicions. I probably need some more hill training for the many early hills on the marathon course. I, also, think my nutrition was off due to the early shuttle ride.
But, in any case, I had fun and am looking forward to the spring and summer session of the Los Angeles Running Club where I will be training for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September and my next marathon in Long Beach (October).
Next year – I WILL finish with the group!