Saturday, March 15, 2014

Race Review: LA Marathon

Wow. The day was finally here... only a few short hours after closing my eyes, the hotel wake up call and all the phone alarms were simultaneously signaling it was time to get the show on the road.

After figuring out how to hang up our super modern hotel phone... I stumbled to the bathroom and sorted all of my race things out. I had laid out as much as I could the night before.

I really don't think I have ever been so nervous before a race. I was just so terrified that I wouldn't be able to run. Because of this, I neglected to take a too many pictures of my "smiling" face before the start.

I had asked at the expo what would happen if I tried to get on a shuttle later than my reserved 3:30AM time (one of the only times left by the time I signed up) and they said it shouldn't be a problem just don't wait until the last one. I was aiming to be at Santa Monica City Hall by 4:30 (the last shuttle would leave by 5:30). I got there shortly after 4:00 and found a ton of empty bus'. Security took a quick peek in my hydration pack and then I got right on the bus.

The bus was rather quiet. The man next to me only said one thing: "This seems like quite a long way to Dodger Stadium, we are going to be running this far?". I just put my head down.

When we arrived at the stadium, there was hardly anyone there with 3 hours to go before the start, I suppose it wasn't that surprising. I really wish we had been allowed into the stadium though. I feel like I could have fallen asleep in one of the seats or something. Instead, the only place to sit was the ground.
It was cold, really cold and windy. I had a throwaway sweatshirt but really wish I had brought a blanket or a garbage bag or something. This one lady had brought a whole comforter, she looked so warm. I sat there stretching until pretty much the sun came up. I tried to get in touch with the other girls, but they were running late and I realized I wouldn't be able to see them before the race. I gathered my things and headed for the port-a-potties. The lines were pretty long, but I still had time. When I got back to the open corral I tried to find the 11:00 min/mile pace sign but everything was so crowded I was only able to get to the side of chute. As the race began and people started moving forward I was able to get in but I'm not sure which "corral" I actually ended up in. That part was a lot less organized than I expected. Funny enough, people around me were saying things were way more organized this year than previous years.

Above us, the sky was opening up into a beautiful sunrise.
Maybe it's the pessimist in me, but whenever I see this, I always think of the phrase "Pink sky at night sailor's delight, pink sky in the morning sailor's warning". This is probably never the case but it refers to bad weather, and in fact it definitely wasn't the case on this day.

This is the only pre-race selfie I took, check out the photo bomb ha ha:
And just like that, we were running. I was running. I was so hesitant on my feet, would I make it? Would there be pain? Every step terrified me. As we passed the first mile marker, I was still feeling okay, and that's probably when I finally took a deep breath. The only thing I found bothersome was that my hat didn't fit... big race no-no, try on something before you where it in a marathon people!

As we passed through Chinatown, I began to feel some shooting pains in the bottom of my foot. I reminded myself to stay calm and just go slow. My goal was to cross the finish line however I got there. So I didn't want to run so hard that I wouldn't be able to at least walk. I kept to my 10/1s very well other than the major hills. Every time the road would slant in any direction, up, down, sideways, my arch would begin to hurt more. So I walked when I had to and ran as often as I could. I think at mile 10, I finally realized I was going to do this. I still didn't know how long it was going to take me, but I was going to get there, slowly but surely.
As we made our way down Hollywood Boulevard, the sun was really starting to peek through the buildings, and I could feel it getting hotter. I hadn't seen Gatorade at a water station since mile 3 and though it isn't my favorite anymore, I knew I was running low on Skratch in my hydration pack, and my mouth was getting dry. I was shivering quite a bit even though it was hot. I was trying not to think about what that meant, but I know from first aid that I was in the early stages of significant dehydration.

I had a spectator take this picture for me:
I posted it to RBRR's FaceBook page and captioned it "15.2 miles to the beach, we are NOT almost there!"

As I came up on the halfway mark at around 2:30 something, I was pleased. Even if I walked the rest of the race, I was confident that I could get there. That isn't even my worst half marathon time, so all things considered, things were going well.

Sunset Boulevard, was the first taste of what the weather was going to be like for the remainder of the race; HOT.
This was also where I felt walking was going to become more and more of reality as the pain became more intense. I had been texting the other girls during my walk breaks and I knew Jacki was behind me at this point and struggling. So I waited 4 or 5 minutes to see if I could see her and cheer her through since I was walking a lot anyways.
While I was waiting, I noticed this sign and boy was I tempted to stop, champagne sounded pretty delicious!
Having since looked at the picture more closely, a lot of people were headed in there! I imagine for a restroom, but still funny!

Thankfully, I was able to spot Jacki in the crowd and I ran on with her. I figured she would keep going and then I would be walk/running alone for the rest of the race, but she was really having a rough day.

I'm so glad she was with me because look who she spotted on the side of the road cheering, BOB HARPER!
If it wasn't for Jacki, I don't think I would have been brave enough to ask for a picture either, I think he was trying to keep a low profile. He was really kind about it though.

On we went, running when I could, and walking when I couldn't any longer. I started to lose track of where we were when we were no longer on Sunset Boulevard. At some point we ended up in Beverly Hills and from that point on we were almost exclusively walking. I had hoped to be able to run the last 5 or so kilometers to the finish, so I was just biding my time.

Things really slowed down now. Dehydration had totally taken it's toll, I was shivering constantly now, and my mouth was as dry as the desert, no amount of water would quench my thirst. They had run out of Gatorade completely. Everyone seemed really surprised by the heat. I don't know what the exact temperature was, I've seen reports ranging from 28-32 degrees celsius or in the high 80's farenheit. Obviously I knew it would be warmer than at home, but this felt particularly unseasonable.

At some point we ended up on San Vincente which stretched on forever towards the beach. Looking at the course map now, I can see that stretch was about 4 miles long. We were doing our best to walk our kilometers at a 9:30 pace, I'm not sure what that is in miles. There was a slight downhill to Ocean Ave when we could see the beach but it wasn't as dramatic as the elevation profile had made it seem.

When we had about 2 kilometers to go, I wanted to run, but Jacki had developed a blister straight across the bottom of her foot and she just couldn't. We had made it this far together and we were going to finish together. So we walked until we reached the chute and we ran in together. 
All in all, I think I did okay. Considering I ran a half marathon and then walked another one on a foot that probably should have done neither. I crossed in under 6 hours which is what I had adjusted my goal to after the injury. And I didn't DNF (Did Not Finish) which was my biggest fear. I also had lots of fun despite the pain and was a lot less lonely out there with Jacki next to me.

After the finish, I was hobbling. We had to walk quite a ways to get ice and water. I had my left knee taped and iced and took a bag with me for when it was time to remove my shoe. I could tell that my foot had swelled a lot because I could feel the laces on my right shoe were a heck of a lot tighter than when I started. All I grabbed from the small selection of food was some animal crackers. We somehow missed the cold towels, WOW that would have been amazing. I took a picture with Jacki as she is planning on purchasing the photos and we began searching for my sister and Nikki.

The crowds were intense and it wasn't easy to locate anyone. Finally, we found them and made it back to our hotel.

I'm so proud of Nikki, she got a 14 minute PR in some really tough conditions.
Nikki and I the next day. Everyone was so delirious after the race, no one thought to take any pictures.
I was in a lot of pain after the race and still am today. I'm really hoping some rest will help me resolve the issue so I can get back to doing something I love. Until then, I will eat, ha ha.
Post race food at Buca di Beppo
My sister and I spent the evening relaxing in our hotel room and took a very slow walk on the beach to take in the gorgeous sunset.
Thanks LA for a great trip. Now it's back to real life.
Race Review Summary 

Package Pickup/Expo:

Easy and fast. There was convenient parking as well. There wasn't too many exciting exhibitors though, I expected more in that respect for such a big race.

Price/Value: $195
That was the cost for international participants. I'm not sure what it was otherwise. It did include the 5k, but still very expensive. I mean that rivals a Disney race for cost. At this cost, there are expectations, some of which were not met, such as adequate hydration and post race food.

Aid Stations: 
There were enough of them, they had just run out of stuff. I understand that the weather was unseasonably warm, but seeing as how the race released a warning about extreme heat the day before, I would have thought they would have been making adjustments accordingly.

Course Difficulty: 
Not as "flat and fast" as advertised. I don't really think I'm over exaggerating either. I ran San Francisco, I've seen my fair share of hills. Was it the hilliest course I've run? No. But I wish the advertising would have been clearer regarding this.

Love them and I love how the ribbon has "Stadium to Sea" on it.    


  1. I'm surprised they didn't let you into Dodger Stadium. I did LA two years ago, and that was the one thing I was thankful for, since it was really cold that year. Also...bathrooms. I wonder why they kept runners outside this year. Congratulations on finishing in the heat!

    1. Thanks! My understanding is that they had a VIP blogger area inside the stadium.

  2. Great race report Krista. You made the best of the situation. I really dislike waiting nervously and shivering in the cold before a race too. It's sometimes hard to know when to call it quits and when to push on. I'm not sure I know the difference but I wish you a speedy recovery and can't wait to meet you at the Calgary Marathon!

    1. Thanks Michelle :) I'm working at rehabbing everything so I'll be all fixed up and trained for Calgary Marathon! Only a couple of months away now :)

  3. Another one done. Did you find out what was wrong with your foot?

    1. Yup another one in the books. No definitive diagnosis, just a severe irritation or pulled muscle and a lot of scar tissue buildup. Chiro says I'm at about 80% now so I will be trying my 1st run on Monday. Wish me luck!

  4. Congrats! I love running races in the States. (You look great in your photos by the way.) Way to power through & get it done. It's really tough getting up that early & waiting around for hours. I had to do that in NY and in Tuscon. Ugh.

    1. I love traveling to a race also! It always makes it more exciting. However, the waiting around was a bit crazy. I probably could have gotten a later shuttle since I didn't need to check a bag or anything, but that might have been cutting it close. I had to do it for NYC Half last year too, but I didn't expect LA to be SO cold!

  5. So sorry to hear that your foot gave you trouble during the race :( Have you been able to find out what is the matter with it? Either way, congratulations on finishing the marathon!

    1. There's still no definitive diagnosis, all the Chiro will say is that I have irritated the fascia and there is a lot of scar tissue buildup similar to what people with PF develop. Hopefully it won't be a chronic situation though. Thanks Leigh :)

  6. Krista, I'm so sorry your foot gave you grief during the race. How are you feeling now? I hope rest is helping!

    That's really great that you and Jacki were able to meet up and keep each other company on the course though. And you ran into Bob!! That's so cool!

    I hope you are recovering well and that you'll be back on the roads soon!

    1. Rest is certainly helping Leana, thank you! It was a real wake up call for me as to how fragile our bodies can actually be since I've never had that debilitating of an injury before. Looking forward to my first run back on Monday :)

  7. Great example of determination to us all.

  8. Congratulations on crossing the finish-line! It takes a lot of strength to persevere through an injury like that but you did it! Great race recap and I hope your foot feels better soon.

    1. Thanks Lindsay, it was a tough one that's for sure. Hopefully that makes the next finish line all that much sweeter!

  9. Girl, you did great!! That sucks about your foot though. Hope you're feeling better today. So cool that you saw Bob! You're awesome!!

    1. Thank you! I'm improving steadily now. The chiro says my foot is at about 80%, will be attempting a run on Monday!

  10. You are amazing!!!! Well done. Love your selfie (+photo bomb) and the Bob Harper pic. Do you travel to many different locations for races? What a neat way to see different cities!

  11. It was a tough one Krista but you did it and we’re all proud of you! Glad the foot is on the mend!