Sunday, March 18, 2012

LA Marathon -- With a Little Help From My Friends

Today was my twelfth marathon.

My athletic bucket list has just about everything checked off.  5K in under 28 minutes -- check.  Half Ironman -- check.  Olympic tri in under 3 hours -- check.  Half marathon in under two hours -- check.  Podium finish in a local race -- check.  Ironman finisher -- check!!

But one item remains on the list -- Qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  So, I take my running seriously.  I've been dutifully doing my runs as prescribed by my coach.  I go to track once a week and push hard.  I even do my yoga, which I don't entirely love, but know will make me a stronger runner.  But that BQ time (Boston Qualifier) remains elusive.

While my training was on track, my sleep last night was poor.  Before my next race, I will remember to turn my phone off before I go to bed.
 My Race Bib

Having good friends made this race the success it was for me.  My friend Kiki was kind enough to drive me to the start line at Dodger Stadium at 5 am.  Since she would be spectating in Westwood around mile 18, I gave her a bag of Gu Chomps (fast-acting carbohydrate) to hand off to me if she saw me during the race.

The weather for today was projected to be terrible, similar to last year's race.  I was layered up, with gloves, arm-warmers, hat, and tights.  But, just before the race started, the sun came out.  No one expected sun today!!!

In the first mile, which initially was a shuffle as we all piled onto the race course, I saw a sign that read, "Go Vegans!"  Obviously, that got my attention.  Holding that sign was my friend Lawrence Ziese:
I'm not sure where the nickname "Sensational" came from, but I'll take it.

Miles 1-3 were more downhill than uphill.  Miles 4-5 were the biggest hills on the course.  Miles 6-8 took us up Sunset, onto Hollywood Blvd.  Around Mile 8, I saw my friend Trey, gave him a high-five and kept going.  I was on pace at this point and felt good.

Still feeling good, at mile 11 I saw teammate David Wachtel.  He was kind enough to take my gloves and arm warmers.  He was also filming with his IPhone.  He asked me if I had anything else I wanted to say, and for some reason my response was "Booyah!"  Endorphins clearly do not make for intelligent speech.

Onward.  Miles 11-14 took us through Hollywood, past Grauman's Chinese Theater, down the Sunset Strip..  The wind was pretty tough at times.  Then we turned onto San Vicente, a nice downhill, and then right on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood, with great entertainment, including cheerleaders in drag.  Mile 16 took us through Beverly Hills, and Mile 17 was down Rodeo Drive.  Again, I saw Lawrence and his "Go Vegans!" poster.

Shortly thereafter, I saw LA Tri Club friend Byron Lea. Last year, coincidentally I was running with him for about four miles -- he was out doing a training run, and I was running the race.  I ran into him last weekend and jokingly suggested that he should be on the course so he can pace me for a few miles.  He asked where would be ideal and I suggested that the second half of the race would be good.  Now I didn't expect him to actually take me up on this.  But there he was, in his shorts and running shoes, waiting for me!

So I had Byron with me for miles 18-22, through the rest of Beverly Hills, Westwood, and through the VA.  I let him do most of the talking since I was tired.  He reminded me what was coming ahead, to shake things out, be ready for a hill, and so forth.  Having someone with me kept my mind off the pain.

At mile 18, at Santa Monica and Westwood, as expected, there was Kiki with my bag of Gu Chomps screaming some words of encouragement.  The Chomps definitely hit the spot.

Miles 20-21 traveled through the VA Medical Center, my least favorite part of the course.  It's boring and it's uphill and at that point I just can't see that I am going to finish this race off.  My pace dropped off here.  Big time.

Byron left me at mile 22 as I turned onto San Vicente in Brentwood.  Running alone again, this may be where I "hit the wall".  Nothing in particular was bugging me, but I was just tired out.  I struggled just to keep a 9:45-10:00 pace.  I ran up the short hill, and then "everything was downhill", or so they say, because when you've run 23 miles and have three more to go,*nothing* feels like it is downhill.

The next few miles, we were battered by strong winds.  Mile 23 was my friend Carol with a bag of frozen grapes that absolutely hit the spot.  Miles 24-25 had a few other LA Tri Club friends to cheer me on.  Then at mile 25 was the turn onto Ocean Blvd for the final stretch.  I gave everything I had left of my tired legs.  My calves were starting to cramp up, an issue I've never had before in a race.  At Mile 25.5, Fortius team members Kelly, Cynthie, and Bodie were cheering loudly for me, but at that point, I was so spent that I think I tried to smile but nothing happened, and yet I was so grateful for their encouragement right then.  At mile 26, I saw Fortius teammate Hans, yelling for me as I headed toward the finish.

Finish time:  4:11:36.

And finally, a huge thank you to Lisa, my ride home, who surprised me with coconut water, blueberries, and a granola bar.  A perfect post-race snack!

This was my personal best by a minute and 17 seconds.  But, I am disappointed in how my pace dropped off.  Next marathon, the phone will be turned off at 8 pm, and I will be better rested.  In the meantime, I will train like hell, drop the 5 pounds that I need to lose to make me faster, and next time, at the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon in June, I will kill it!

3 comments:

Catie Hardiman-Berger said...

You continue to inspire me, Heather! Great job!

TooeleTwins said...

A personal best is nothing to sneeze at! Congrats and great job!

Emily said...

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Thanks and have a great day!