Morning & Getting to the Stadium
The morning of the race we woke up at 4:15 AM – I quickly showered and ate 1/2 bagel with peanut butter and a banana. We were out the door by 4:45 AM – Jason’s parents agreed to drive us to the stadium (we were about 40 minutes from Santa Monica – the finish line and where shuttles were being run from and 40 minutes from the stadium) so we decided to bite the bullet and drive to the stadium. We were VERY lucky on our timing. We hit traffic about 1/2 mile from the stadium but were able to get through it and to the drop off point in less than 20 minutes – total drive time was 50 minutes. A lot of people who drove and came later hit massive traffic. I heard that people were getting out of their cars on the expressway and running to the stadium to try to make it on time.
We arrived at the starting line (Dodger Stadium) around 5:30. The organization of the starting line wasn’t much better than the expo the day before. Very little signage or people telling you where to go. We went inside the stadium and found lines for the bathrooms – so glad I went right away. I only had to wait about 10 minutes in the line – by the time I was out the line had to be at least 30 minutes long. It wasn’t until a little later I saw the porta-potties and saw hundreds of people in line… After the bathroom we still had about 40 minutes to kill so we hung out in the stadium seats for a while and then finally made our way to the corrals.
The corrals were insane. There were assigned corrals for previous sub -3 and sub-4 finishers but since this was my first I had to go into the open corrals. They tried to make people self-identify their mile pace time for placement in the corral but people just were pushing their way to the front of the corral. We were towards the front but hundreds were in front of us.
The race was delayed 22 minutes. This was a huge bummer but there were folks still trying to arrive and cars around so I understand the logistical problems the organizers were encountering. Once the race started it was about 2 minutes before we crossed the starting line.
Everyone took off out of the gate – they were sprinting and weaving around people to get a head. Jason had previously run a marathon and made the same mistake. So for the first few miles Jason watched our pace and made me hold back (even though my adrenaline was pumping at this point). The first mile was around the stadium and then we headed out in the LA. The first 6 miles were quite a few rolling hills – with one pretty long one around mile 4 or 5. I didn’t think the hills were bad compared to where we had been training but I could definitely tell most of the runners had not run a lot of hills. We were moving past folks on the hills (I imagined the olympic cross-country skiers – the strongest made their moves on the hills to over take the weaker ones!).
The course was great and spectators were amazing! We ran through Chinatown, Silver Lake, Hollywood and West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, and then into Santa Monica. There were spectators the entire race – I can’t imagine a better crowd of supporters. Their energy and cheering were contagious and really helped keep us going. At mile 12 there were drag queen cheerleaders along with hundreds of people, and then a mile 16 (I believe my memory is a bit fuzzy at this point) they had teams of high school and junior-high school cheerleaders cheering us on.
Water and powerade stations were very well manned the entire route. I believe the organizers said they had over 5,000 volunteers helping with the race. Every other mile there was powerade and every mile had water. I definitely realized we lost a lot of time going through the stations – some people would slow down to a walk and we’d get caught up behind them. I tried to take water at every mile but probably missed a few at the beginning. I thought the powerade was too strong – I prefer it watered down so I only had it at one station. Later in the race spectators were handing out orange slices, ice cubes, and even donuts. I passed on the donuts but did have a few ice cubes.
Jason and I stayed together the entire race. We had our bibs personalized with “Just Married.” It was incredibly sweet the way people would cheer for us together. I feel very lucky to have such an amazing husband. This was an incredible opportunity for us to work together through our training and stick together through the race.
I took my first gu around mile 12 – it was vanilla flavored and disgusting! I had always brought chewy granola bars on our long runs during training but since I didn’t want to wear my fuel belt I had to settle for gu. Miles 6 – 17 was my favorite part of the race. We settled into a great pace and then just enjoyed the experience. At mile 18 – we saw a guy collapsed on the ground, getting chest-compressions. It was a terribly frightening moment (luckily the guy survived and is at the hospital according to the newspapers). Miles 20 – 22 were the hardest miles for me. I only had one more gu to take and wanted to wait until mile 22 to take it. These miles were a long uphill climb through the Veteran’s Administration. I finally took the gu right before the 22 mile marker. The last 4.5 miles were a slight downhill (the perfect amount of decline for a runner – not too much so you had to hold back). The last 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile was along the beach in Santa Monica. As we turned the corner for the last part of the race Jason said that if we picked up our pace a bit we’d be close to being under 4 hours – so I gathered all the juice I had left and sprinted the last 1/2 mile. We held hands as we crossed, and we finished in 3.59.08!!!
Our unofficial splits (based on our running watch):
Mile 1 – 10.55.41
Mile 2 – 9.17.92
Mile 3 – 8.57.63
Mile 4 – 9.19.51
Mile 5 – 9.53.50
Mile 6 – 8.22.28
Mile 7 – 10.36.51 (we stopped at the porta-potties here and had a little line to wait in)
Mile 8 – 8.42.91
Mile 9 – 8.48.36
Mile 10 – 8.45.76
Mile 11 – 8.40.73
Mile 12 – 8.52.75
Mile 13 – 9.00.2
Mile 14 – 9.26 (we stopped at the porta-potties again – no line this time)
Mile 15 – 8.40.75
Mile 16 – 8.45.92
Mile 17 – 8.51.53
Mile 18 – 9.06.55
Mile 19 – 9.05.84
Mile 20 – 9.07.78
Mile 21 – 9.35.55 (we stopped for 30 seconds to have our sister take a picture of us)
Mile 23 – 9.31.53 – very long mile…
Mile 23 – 9.19.13
Mile 24 – 9.15.13
Mile 25 – 8.29.3
Mile 26 – 8.04.8
Mile 26. 2 – 1.35.2
Post Race –
We got our medals and mylar blanket (I now understand why everyone wants one after a race, it kept me warm as I cooled down). They were handing out bagels, water, bananas, and some dried fruit. We caught up with Jason’s parents and headed to sit down for a bit. We stayed at the post-race party (called a party by the organizers, not so much of one) for an hour and then headed out.
For my first marathon – I could not have had a better experience. There were certainly some things organizationally that were not great but the crowd and course made up for it. The weather was perfect – 60 degrees and overcast. I have definitely caught the racing bug and can’t wait for my next race.
I felt great after the run. I had blisters on each of my big toes but they healed themselves in a few days. My quads were really sore for the first two days. I stretched them out a bit each day and by Thursday I was feeling completely fine. I credit this to our extended training. 7 months was a long time but it’s pretty incredible that neither of us got injured during the training or race.
One of the coolest things (again more races might do this but since it’s my first I have no clue) but after the race – the marathon posted an analysis of your race results on their website.
- I finished before 85% of the men running
- Overall, I placed 2536th (in the top 11%)
- I placed 529th among all women (in the top 6%)
- I placed 97th in my division (in the top 7%)
- Over the last 4.5 miles, I passed 402 runners and only had 32 pass me