I've been giving this blog a lot of thought this week. So much I want to say but having a hard time typing it.
Sunday, March 20th was my moment of truth. The LA Marathon. My 3rd goal - achieved.
As I stated in previous blogs this is not my first time doing the event but it has been 4 years and as my teammate said, I am 4 years older. Even though this was my goal I didn't believe I could achieve it. I put off registration until January and only registered because I thought it would sell out and wanted to keep my options open.
As the day got nearer my fears were off the chart. A co-worker just told me to do the best I could and that would get me through it. I guess. A week prior to the event I did a 17-mile walk and afterward a new calmness settled on me.
On event day I woke early (3:15am) to prepare and drive to Santa Monica to catch the shuttle bus to Dodger Stadium. (Note - the race starts at Dodger Stadium and finishes in Santa Monica near the pier). Once at Dodger stadium I met up with a co-worker who was participating also. We did the usual things like others around us, stand in long lines for the bathroom, stretch, eat something to fuel us for the 26 miles and basically wait. We met 2 "newbies" who were running their first marathon. I never saw them again after we started the race and hope they had a good race. My co-worker is a runner, so he left me as the race started. I primarily walk with some short running bursts.
Did I mention the weather? Rain was the forecast. It did rain while we huddled in Dodger Stadium preparing for the start but then it stopped and we all hoped it wouldn't start again until later. That was not to be. Just as the race began a few drops of rain could be felt. The 2 newbies had already taken off their jackets and threw them over to the side. My co-worker and I had jackets plus rain ponchos that we were not parting with. Immediately we ran/walked a hill and the rain came harder. By the time I approached Mile 3 (another hill) I definitely was wearing my rain poncho with the hood up. The early miles were a lot of up/down hills. My strategy was to walk up and run down and dodge puddles if possible. By Mile 6 my feet were getting wet since it was getting harder to dodge puddles.
The sky opened up and a downpour came at Mile 8. My feet were thoroughly soaked. The roads had streams of water coming down them. Hard to dodge this when you have to walk/run the hill. At some point the wind was picking up so I had to hold my hood up since it didn't have a drawstring. This caused my jacket sleeves to get wet and at times I had to squeeze the water out or it would start running down my arm inside my jacket.
Despite the weather I was making good time and was 6 minutes under pace. Unfortunately, I knew at some point I would need to use the potty. For us women this cost valuable time. Time lost waiting in line and time lost doing your business once inside. I delayed as long as possible but eventually did and lost my pace lead. Eventually I got back on pace but never got that lead time again. Not a problem though since I did meet back up with the crowd I had been walking/running with since I recognized a few faces.
I can deal with rain, but the wind was getting on my nerve and the 2 together really was bad. We were battered. The rain would slow just enough to allow me to lower my hood and give my arm a break but it never stopped so you just got wetter and wetter. As I walked I tried to take in a few sights and recognized traveling portions of the LA 1/2 Marathon (Oct 2010) in reverse. We covered part of Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Echo Park and Silver Lake. At some point we walked up Hollywood Blvd (aka Red Carpet for the Oscars) by Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Pantages and I think I passed JLo's restaurant. We made our way to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. I tried to do some window shopping at this point but the wind and rain was bad during this stretch. I remember seeing a store with some beautiful gowns and quite a few doormen at storefronts. We went through West Hollywood where some (fe)male cheerleaders cheered us on. And still the rain and wind continued. It was getting colder and my fingers were shriveled from it. I kept thinking if my hands look this bad what must my feet look like.
Even though I was wet and cold, my spirits were up. My legs and feet did not hurt and were not tired. It was nice seeing people brave the weather to cheer us on and many, many, many thanks to the volunteers who passed out water, gatorade, orange slices, and energy chews to us as they cheered us on and got just as wet and cold as us.
At some point around Mile 18 I just didn't care about the weather anymore. Even though I wore the rain poncho I no longer put the hood up I just let the rain and wind do their thing. Sometimes I reached up to wipe excess water off my hat brim or dump the water out from my poncho hood. When we went through the VA Hospital area (Mile 20?) we had to walk through mud since the road was a mini-lake. I worried about my sneakers being muddy. Why? because that didn't last since it was washed off immediatly from the many puddles and mini-streams we crossed.
I was wet and cold, no longer able to reach in my fanny pack for my phone or other snacks I had packed and prayed I didn't need to use the bathroom again since it would be a major feat to get my fingers to work. Everyone knows you need to stay hydrated but you can overdo it. There is a term for this but I can't remember the word, but know I was reaching that point since I was becoming naueous. I started passing on the water/gatorade stations. Lots of people made stops for coffee at stores on the route. Not a bad idea but you hate to sacrifice the time.
One sound I remember hearing while walking is the rushing water pouring into the gutter grates. It was loud. Later I heard the weatherman say there was a flash flood advisory for LA and Santa Monica. Wow, I walked through that!
When I saw the Mile 21 marker I knew I was going to finish the marathon and with a good time. I do 5 miles everyday as regular habit. Well, those last 5 miles were grueling. The weather was getting worse. I think because we were getting closer to the ocean. Do storms go out to sea or come in from the sea? The route took us on San Vicente Blvd leading into Santa Monica. This is mostly flat and a very long stretch. I was getting tired of walking straight. One of my fellow marathoners said he would be happy to see the ocean and know the end was near. He was right, it was a huge relief to see this. The last part leading into the finish line was really bad since we were parallel to the beach, the wind and rain battered us.
I like to run in the last portion to have a good "photo finish" but this time I needed to make this a short burst.
I crossed the finish line in 6hrs 44min. This is 1 hour faster than my time from 4 years prior. And only 15min longer than the pace I could have had if not for the weather. Not bad at all. Now I wonder why I was so upset when I read they would shut down the course at 8 hours.
It was a crazy day. We were crazy to be out there but not once during the race did I want to quit or think I couldn't take another step. My body and mind were in tune and I felt good!!