Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LA Marathon: The Race

It's already Wednesday! I love this week: a three day weekend followed by a three day work week followed by another three day weekend. Hooray!
OK OK I know I left you hanging on the edges of your seat yesterday with my LA Marathon Expo teaser. Or maybe not, :) but without further ado, onto the main deal; the race!

Ahh. The race. Let's preface it by saying it's always better in hindsight, isn't it? That's clue #1.
Yesterday I wrote about the HUGE crowd at the starting line. I mean.... look at all the people! The phrase "cluster f%$k, cluster F!@k, CLUSTER F**K" kept repeating in my head. I have never run such a huge race before so this was a shocker. The gun went off to start the race but it was kind of anticlimatic..... I couldn't even see the start, we weren't moving, we didn't know what was going on.... just kind of standing there twirling our thumbs. We didn't cross the finish line until after 5 minutes! Dang. That's crowded.

Even as we stepped over the starting line, there wasn't much running happening. It was utter chaos, I tell you. Right away, people are walking 4 deep, running in huge packs, little kids, strollers, costumes, people zig zagging in and out trying to beat the crowd.... CLUSTER F**K.

One pet peeve: If you are a walker, PLEASE START NEAR THE BACK AND PLEASE DON'T WALK 4 DEEP because that seriously pisses me off.

The first mile was around the Dodger Stadium. I could NOT get a pace faster than 11 min/mile because there were just too many people. But that's OK; no need to start with a 9min pace. However, the crowd never ever thinned out for the entire 26 miles. Clue #2.

But enough with the complaining. I'm in LA, I'm here to have fun :)
I went into the race not knowing the course, not knowing the elevation profiles, not knowing anything, really. No home court advantage for me this time.

The course was interesting. Very urban. Very different from the lemon groves and "nature" feel of the Santa Barbara Marathon. Buildings, buildings everywhere. Concrete, concrete, concrete. What a big city LA is!

Immediately, what made this marathon special and memorable for me is the crowd support. Literally every single inch of the course was PACKED with supportive, enthusiastic, amazing, motivating spectators. It really touched my heart HOW many people were out supporting the runners; handing out sliced oranges, bagels, candy, water, and donuts (!!!) Thank you thank you thank you to all the supporters!

The first few miles were a complete blur; just trying to dodge the crowd and find a pace. Right before mile 8 we took a potty break, which was absolutely necessary, but ended up costing us a good 5-8 minutes. Ouch. After the potty break though.... I was unable to get my pants back up correctly. Little did I know this would be the biggest mistake of my life......

Let's jump ahead a few miles to a quick video I made of the stretch I was most looking forward to:

Rodeo Drive baby!
I'm not much of a shopper, and I most def can't afford to shop on Rodeo, but I was stoked about running down a Rodeo Drive that was shut down esp for us! It epitomizes LA glitz and glamor for me... I was really hoping to see Paris Hilton or someone! haha

Anyways, back to around mile 11. Because Mile 11 was right about the time I started wanting to quit.
Yup. quit.
I was tired! I was hurting! It was crowded! It was hilly! And there was15 miles left! Boy oh boy I was in trouble. I just focused on maintaining my form, and tried to distract myself as much as humanly possible with the sights and sounds.

There was a gnarly steep and long downhill at mile 14 which was good for my pace but awful for my knees. There was a "strip show", a band playing Eric Clapton (!), guys handing out beer and donuts (love!), cheerleaders, the Mann's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign.... all sorts of things to keep me distracted.

But right around mile 15/16 is when my real problem started.
So, up until this point, my tummy was feeling really gassy and painful. Annoying, but I could live with it. And then BAM!
I really had to use the bathroom.
Big time.
Really bad.
Not for a number one or two, either.
This was more like a number ten. If you know what I mean.
OMG. Talk about discomfort. OMG. That was all I could think about.
But there was no way in hell I was gonna stop AGAIN for a porta pottie. So I decided I will hold it in. Um yeah.

Running for ten miles needing to go to the bathroom ain't fun. Running ten miles with a camera in the SpiBelt bounding on my tummy ain't fun either. Bathroom bathroom bathroom. It was all I could think about.

Around mile 19/20 is when I really started hating my life. A lot of the promotional material and a lot of the spectators and volunteers kept telling me "this is the last uphill!" "It's all downhill after mile 19!" Of course, I believed them.
What they meant was, after mile 19, it's the last uphill until the next uphill.
Believing all the hype, I gave my last valiant effort climbing up a hill around mile 20. Only to discover 4 more miles of climbs. It was pure torture my friends, pure torture. And let's not forget I was trying to "hold it in" as well.

I took quite a few walking breaks. I passed on my SpiBelt to James. I honestly don't know How on Earth I kept going.

Oh man.
Home stretch!
Only one more block to the finish!
So tired!
The last two miles were a complete blur. Bathroom. Pain. Discomfort. I just wanted to be done already! I honestly did not care about a PR or pace or anything by this time. I just wanted to sit on the toilet. A clean one.
That's a candid shot of me right after crossing the finish line. There is anger in my eyes, can you see? haha. In hindsight, I love this pic, but in the moment, I was hating my life.
Sooooooooooooo glad to be done!

Official Time: 4:28:08

After crossing the finish, we were given mylar blankets and more food than I could handle. I made sure though, to get as much food as humanly possible. James and I took official finisher's photos, got our medals, and made our way through the crowd to the post-race party on the Santa Monica Pier.

Getting our bags back from the bag drop-off was a complete DISASTER, but after about 40 minutes, we finally got our stuff. I was slightly angry (still trying to "hold it in" at this time), slightly hungry, and more than slightly tired. BUT, the post-race party was fun; I scored a lot more freebies again :) And I found a relatively clean Porta Pottie.
Official race tee and medal

And made our way back home where I discovered I had the WORST chafing I have ever seen "down there". No details needed except HOLY SH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!T the shower hurt like hell. And then I proceeded to use the bathroom like, a bajillion times. My stomach really took a beating on this run!

Nap/movie time ensued, followed by dinner!
get in my belly!
I actually did not have as much knee pain as I was expecting. Or maybe it did hurt, but I was too distracted by my tummy issues. Who knows. All I know is this happened by Monday Night:
HUGE bruise on my left quad. WTF!???? Where did you come from? It came more than 24 hours after the race finished, on the leg without the knee pain! WTF WTF WTF. It's monstrous! It doesn't hurt too much... I guess I'll just let it be and see what happens.

PHEW. Long post. And I didn't even manage to say every thing I wanted to! I will save it for a "reflections" post.

I am recovering quite well; and already thinking of what races I want to do next! I have a few in mind :)

Marathons. I think I am developing quite a love hate relationship here :)
But hear this marathon: I'm not done with you yet!


  1. The hill profile must be a lie. Didnt it seem ALL up hill? Hot, uphill, and crowded. A great experience but your right one big cluster__ck. Congrats on bangin through it!

  2. Sorry to hear about all of the stomach issues!! That sucks! Love the race recap :)

  3. Oh MAN - nausea during a race is one thing - GI discomfort?! that's a whole 'nother league. I would've had to stop ....none of that holding-it-in business :)

    Congratulations on marathon #2!!!

    HUGE props to you for pushing through it - wanting to quit at mile 11 is HARD to accept...but you made it through for all 26.2!

    any of your upcoming races bring you to the East Coast?? heh, that'd be FUN

  4. Oooh GI issues are the worst. I can't imagine pushing through. Whenever "it" strikes me, I give up and throw in the towel for that run. Definitely a memorable race!

  5. OMG girl what on earth were you thinking holding it that long?!?!? My poor baby I just want to craddle you in my arms and promise you it will all be ok and you'll never have to deal with that mean LA Marathon again... oh wait... you just said you weren't done with it yet... So I guess that's on you! LOL! Great recap, had my pulling for you the whole time! Glad you made it to the end without any unfortunate accidents. Lube up those legs missy and I still don't understand that bruise!!!?!?!?

  6. Oh NO, I don't know how you 'held it in' for so long. That is the worst feeling. You're a trooper for hanging in there. Sorry to hear that you had a tough run, but at least you got to enjoy some of the sights of LA. Congrats on another 26.2!

  7. Way to go!! I concur with everyone, no idea how you held it in for that long! Way to kick ass!

  8. ACK, that did not sound fun at all!!!! But glad you were able to carry on and finish.

    How's the bruise?

  9. crazy bruise chica! Congrats on your finish!!

  10. Wow that seemed like such a tough race. I'm worried about tummy issues on my half or right when I stop running which is what usually happens :(

  11. yay way to stick it out!!! you did great even with the tummy problems :) I heard from a lot of people that there were some pretty decent! I am supper impressed! I did a 1/2 this weekend and was ready to quit 1 mile in b/c of all the hills so i can't imagine it for a full!

  12. report! congratulations on your marathon finish!

  13. Awwww, I love this post. Congrats on your big finish!!!!!! =)

  14. You two are too skinking cute! Congrats again!

  15. Great recap, ohmigosh, I totally felt the love/hate thing! Congrats on the race and I hope you recover well and soon. I'm totally craving for that "I hate this thing." moment. Funny we runners are.



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