The last time the LA marathon was part of my schedule was in 2012. I ran a good race but the event left me wishing for better organization and more effective crowd management for the hefty price tag. This year a friend of mine had to skip LA, not wanting the entry to go to waste she gave it to me so I was able to take part of the 30th LA Marathon and things are better.
The LA Marathon fit perfectly in my schedule for American River 50, it would be a supported training run with 20,000 of my closest friends…what else can you ask for?
Oakley Radar Sunglasses
Patagonia Silk Tech Tee (AR50)
North Face Better than Naked Shorts
Newton All Weather (discontinued_similar to Gravity)
Sunday fast approached and my legs felt as strong as they could. Unfortunately, this semester has been more difficult than anticipated and my days have become very sedentary. Yet, the week of LA produced a few good runs where I PR’d local hill segments on Strava and pushed some faster miles where possible.
I felt confident the 4 hour-ish range for the marathon was a reasonable expectation. My concern was nutrition. I train with Tailwind Nutrition and I love it. The expected high temperatures and readily available water stops made me choose to run with a handheld so I could spray myself to keep cool as the day heated up. The trade off of this strategy having only two bottles (4 scoops) of tailwind which would cover the first half then I would be relying on the cooling effect and whatever aid available on course.
1 – 13.1
I avoid speaking with fellow racers during the first half of any race. I avoid chit chat because it throws me off and rather than running my race I run theirs. Further, I dislike the curbside soapbox preachers with the speakers yelling at runners to “repent” or “run to Jesus.”
A huge negative to the organizers were locked porta potties at two point during the race. Coming into Chinatown (about 5 miles) there was a string of locked porta potties which angered 50% of the pack I was in. Guys just resorted to peeing outside of them and the ladies…well they were just out of luck. That was a failure of the part of the organizers.
Without my iPod to drown out the sound my strategy was to repeat different mantra’s during the first part of the race and zero in on just clearing my mind and imagining smoothness. The plan worked, and I came to half way that seems to have worked well. I came to the half way point around 2 hours, well within my 4 hour ish goal.
The day heated up as expected. The last 2 times I had ran the LA Marathon there was a lot more shedding of clothes in the first 5 miles. The 2014 running most runners did not bother because the temperatures were pleasant to run in. The first few miles did have a slight breeze that became a warmth blanket a little passed half way.
13.1 – 26.2
My nutrition is generally at least 22-24 oz of fluid per hour regardless of temperature and increased as temps go up. By mile 20 I had only completely refilled my bottle twice. Thats not good, not good at all, but that fact did not click till mile 20.
At mile 20 I saw a guy who I had been trading spots with in the earlier miles getting his chest compressed and irresponsive lying on the pavement. That image sent shivers through me. I said a quick prayer and seeing the medics on site helping him out was good, but that could just as easily be me. My brain changed from time goal to training run. My friend was kind enough to give me her entry because she knows I am running American River 50 in April so why crush myself? When I changed my mind and adapted I ran smoother.
The last 10k I decided to enjoy the experience and it was awesome. I did get pretty emotional seeing some families cheering wildly for their friends, siblings, parents, etc…so wonderful that they could be inspired and inspire their friends with their enthusiasm and support.
I spoke with a dozens of runners but two stood out. One was a woman wearing a pick top, purple shorts and an Ironman Tattoo on her calf. We ran the same pace for the first 15 miles. I stopped to use the restroom and lost her and tried to catch her because her pace and form were solid and similar to mine.
I also enjoyed running near her because she would cheer everyone on at random times. I felt like she was a marathoner with a trail runner attitude; she was thanking volunteers and spectators and really motivational to everyone around her. I caught up with her at mile 23…cramps. She was power walking. I thanked her for the motivation earlier in the race and lamented the fact she got cramps because she was running well. She just smiled, thanked me for noticing and just chalked it up to not being her day…then told me to run it out and finish strong.
The second was a kid who could not have been older that 14 or 15. Around mile 25, my calf cramped a little so I moved to the right and walked. 30 seconds later I felt a tap on my shoulder…the SRLA kid smiled and said…hey, only a mile left you can do this. That smile got me moving.
Finish Time 4:13:06
I really liked the improvements to the corrals. They did not just have the fences open on both sides, but instead had one entry with a buffer zone. The volunteers only allowed runners into the corral they signed up for. I did not appreciate locked porta-potties, but I am a guy and I am sure the ladies can comment more on that…but the take away from 2014 LA26.2…
Even if its not your day finish strong. You can do this.