It all started with my obsessive need to pay $150 to run a marathon, not my first or second marathon and certainly not the cheapest marathon Ive run. Some about the allure of running a big city race that sucked me in, maybe it was the whole supporting a marathon in the city your from or maybe it had something to do with trying to beat some Kenyan runner I've never heard of but whatever the reason I wanted to run it. Last year I had run a marathon in 3:38 and was happy with it but I knew I was capable of more this year. I usually run one or two marathons a year but this year I had run a couple of 50K's and a few smaller trail races along with a strong base of 50-60 miles a week.
Instead of waking up at 3:00am driving to Santa Monica and taking a packed bus with other runners I opted to bribe my wonerful GF into dropping my off at Dodgers stadium at 6:00am. Getting to Dodgers stadium was a lot easier than I anticipated and I ended up finding a nice place to relax in the bleachers behind the home plate, this was cool, way better seats than I've ever got going to watch a Dodgers game. After watching the weather (yes from the app on my phone) for the whole week I was convinced the weather was going to be hot, but it ended up being slightly cloudy and absolutely perfect for running. I lined up in corral B right behind the sub 3hr runners and the elite Kenyans and such. The elite women runners got an 18min head start over the elite male runners and the overall winner would received $50,000. I was most excited to see Deena Kastor running again at 40 years young as she was a local runner from the town of Agoura Hills. Bagpipes played, I sucked down a GU and lined up somewhere near the 3:25 pace group as my goal was sub 3:30.
The gun went off and soon I was running in a huge group of others trying not to trip over anyone feet and ran my slowest mile of the race at 8 mins flat. After the first mile though I was able to get some room to run and fell into a nice pace of 7:45 min/mile, a pace I was sure that was too fast and I thought I would surely pay for it at mile 21. This is where the fun really began, we first ran through Chinatown and It felt like I was running through Asia, everything was oriental architecture, the streets were filled with Chinese spectators. Around mile 5 we then entered little Tokyo and ascended the biggest "hill" of the course at the top of the hill was Taiko drummers beating there drums at an almost perfect 180 beats a minute, I could match my cadence to there's and it really help me make it up the hill. Next came Echo Park and Silver lake and after around mile 9 I made it into Hollywood. Hollywood was fun and really brought out the whole spirit of Los Angeles, I past all sorts of famous landmarks like Pantages theater, Capitol Records tower, Hollywood and Vine and the Hollywood walk of fame. Next was West Hollywood where everyone was entirely too happy and I got kisses blown to me from cross dressing cheerleaders. Beverly Hills around mile 12 I ran past Graumans Chinese Theater, Whiskey a Go Go and the Troubadour.
The biggest decent came next at mile 14 as we turned down Rodeo Dr. this was really a gem in the middle of nowhere. The streets seemed paved in gold and I almost felt important running this short 1 mile down Rodeo Dr. definitely one of my favorite parts of the course. Through Century City around mile 19 came cheer alley where all the schools cheerleaders came out to shake there pom poms and cheer your name as you past by, a real pick me up. Mile 20 -22 was the Veterans Administration probably the most boring part of the race and was also one long ascent just when most people hit the "wall". I expected to hit the wall myself as I have so many time in the past at mile 21, but this marathon was different. I felt good, I felt fast and there was no slowing me down, I don't know if it was all the miles I been putting in lately, the perfect pacing I had done up to that point or my meticulous fueling, but I was cruising. The remainder of the race through West LA, Brentwood and Santa Monica was all downhill and I was passing people left and right, I was smiling and sucking in all the energy of the crowds around me, Its was electric! I was running the last 3 miles of this marathon as fast as I ran the rest of the race, rounded the corner into Santa Monica running next to the beach and the crowd was enormous. Ran across the finish line at the Santa Monica Pier with my hands held high and my smile held even higher at a time of 3:22.04!
Yes my legs were sore walking the long exit chute that seemed another mile in length but I wasn't in agony like I normally am after a long marathon or 50K race. Collected the really nice St. Patrick's Day inspired race medal, took a few pictures, ate a banana and even got myself on channel 5 camera where my folks saw me on TV at home. I gave my awesome and very supportive GF a sweaty hug and kiss where I ended up 566th place out of 20,000 + runners. This had to have been the most enjoyable marathon ever and actually worth the $150 I paid to run it, the energy of the enormous crowd support, the scenic course, perfect weather all made for a fantastic day. The diversity, culture and way of life varied immensely in just 26.2 miles and that's part of what make the city of Los Angeles so great, I Love LA!
Uh oh... now what?
"...566th place out of 20,000 + runners...
Congratulations on the first number, but that second one is just scary (to me). I am in no
way against progress, but I fondly recall a race or two where it seemed most of us at the
starting line knew each other by first names.
congrats on a great race! Thanks for sharing it with us.
Follower of Forrest
Congrats...really nice race report too. I guess the way to deal with the crowd is to put them behind you and never look back..
4/5 - Lost Brook Trail 10mi 1:15:42
4/27 - Ironmaster's Challenge 50k
6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 56mi
Faster Than Your Couch!
Congratulations on the great placing, and on a nicely executed race!
I have never run a big city race, and I assume the atmosphere is very different from trail races, but it sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing, fun to read!
Run for fun.
Good run. I've ran most of the big city races in the east... in a previous life. One thing I notice about road marathons is that many of them seem to put the most boring industrial parts of the course right past the 20 mile marker. It's like they want to enhance your suffering. Well, now that that's done, time for you to get back to the trails.
Trapped in the night, moving alone, caught in a world of glass and stone...
Down to skin and bone.
Thanks for the kind words. I do perfer low key races and im very much into running trail races these past two years more than anything, this is by far the biggest race ive ever run. I did get into corral B which started me in front of 75% of the crowd, so while the first mile was a lot of ducking and dodging akin to a mosh pit I was ahead of 95% of the people racing out there. I guess im just a sucker for punishment and enjoy seeing how much I can inprove on my marathon times (almost a guage in fitness), so I tend to run at least one marathon and half marathon a year. Now its time to enjoy the beautiful trails around here and start training for the Leona Divide 50 miler next month.
Le professeur de trail
Thanks for sharing. I imagine that marathon specific training has it's benefits also towards trail races (50k mainly) as long as you are also adding some longer trail runs.
Congrats on such a good race and finish. You made it sound effortless although I am sure it had much effort.
The incarnation of peacefulness and patience
Nice job on your PR. Looks like that first mile set you up for a great finish.