Well, it’s Wednesday night. I’m still in a bit of a haze about Sunday. I’m not quite sure what happened. There was this event on Sunday where a bunch of us went from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica. One minute I’m doing okay. The next not so much….
The day started early. I know I had said that I was going to get up at 2:30 to start things. I lied. 2:40 AM. Not that I could sleep anyways. Got my coffee, got my bagel, got dressed and was in my car on the freeway by 3:15. AM. Early. Even the party animals were asleep.
Less than an hour on the freeway, and I’m in my parking spot in Santa Monica. I grab my bag and walk the 50 yards to one of the dozens of busses waiting to cart us the 20 miles to Dodger Stadium just north of Downtown. Before I know it, I’m sitting in Dodger Stadium. Not *at* Dodger Stadium, but *in* Dodger Stadium. I look up at the clock. It’s 4:56 AM. Out in the parking lot there were bananas, bagels, juice, coffee and water. The best part? No porta potties! How cool is that? (Note: Things got much worse the closer to the start it got. If you’re running this race next year, heed the advice of the organizers and plan on getting to the race *at least* two hours early).
A few minutes later my phone rings. It’s Kathleen! (Write Sizing). I move over a few sections to meet. On my way over I run into Bob (Run Bob Run). Let’s get this party started! A few minutes later, my phone rings again. It’s Linda! (MsV). While the gang was sitting around talking, Sheila (Sheila’s Page) walks by. I think you’re getting the idea. It was tough to walk around and not run into someone you knew. The whole City was out for this one!
About 6:45 I left my seat and made my way out to the start line. Complaint time! “Corral management” was non-existant. Think a long chute. Think a card here and there with an anticipated pace. Think the only way to enter the chute was at the rear. Think about people trying to get to the front of the chute to get to their anticipated pace. Think about those anal retentive folks who think they have to be at the front of the line even though they are 13:00 milers. In a 5K. Oh well. I made the best of it. All I’ve got to say is there are a *lot* of sub 4:00 marathoners in L.A.!
I knew I was ready for this race. Even though things were supposed to be off at 7:24 AM, the start was delayed (Evidently traffic had gotten so bad that the last shuttles were not able to get to the stadium. See my note above!). How long? I don’t know because it didn’t matter. Eventually we got the horn we were off to the sound of “I Love L.A.”! According to my Garmin we hit the start line at 7:52 AM.
My goal was to stay with the 4:30 pace group as long as I could. We’ll, that got dashed pretty quickly when, on our first circuit of Dodger Stadium I realized that I was well hydrated, if you get my drift. I peeled off and hit the porta potties. It was roughly 8:20. It would be the last time I peed until after 4:30 that afternoon….
As with any mega event, the first mile was slow:
Oops! I settled down and slowed myself as we hit the streets of Silverlake and moved East toward Downtown:
At mile 4 we hit the only significant “hill” on the course – a 90 foot “behemoth” leading up to the Disney Concert Hall and the Music Center. We had the energy of Taiko drummers pulling us up the hill.
I was already slowing. Turns out that the course was far from flat. Once past the hill at mile 4, it occurred to me that we were on another incline. In fact, the one thing about this course is that it really hits home that all those earthquakes we have leaves the landscape tilted and folded! Hills! Nothing huge, but just a constant series of inclines and declines. It was not a big deal. I knew that sub 5 hours was in me.
It was here during Mile 11 that I first started seeing some signs of distress. I was tiring, but still felt pretty good. I had been taking my regularly scheduled Hammer Gels and Endurolytes. This had never happened on training runs. I realized then that I had no urge to pee, and that I had stopped sweating in my normal sweaty streams! Not good! I started supplementing my water station stops with water that I was carrying. But my stomach started rebelling and cramping! What’s with that? Well, it never occurred to my that maybe it was getting warm. The skies were overcast and the temperatures in the upper 50’s at the start (I would find out later on that the humidity was around 75% at the start and never went down). The sun wasn’t really out, but the clouds weren’t very thick either. In short, things were turning into a bit of a sauna.
The next few miles were the coolest on the course (no pun intended). We were on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, passing landmark after landmark. The Pantages. El Capitan. The Kodak Theater. The Whiskey a Go-Go – the birthplace of West Coast Rock n’ Roll. The Comedy Store.
|Mile 13:||13:12 (!!!!)|
At mile 13 something happened that set the tone for the rest of the day. We had a hill. A little hill. Like 60 feet tall. And I had to walk. I watched as the 4:45 pace passed me by like a ship in the night. No problem. Just average an 11:27 for that 5 hour milestone.
The wheels were off the bus. I’m not sure what happened. My legs were really really tired and fatigued. I spent the next mile in deep thought. Literally asking the question on my bib.
I suffered a mental letdown like I’ve never experienced before. All of a sudden somewhere between Miles 18 and 19 that magical 11:27 pace passed me with the other runners that were still plodding along. By the end of mile 19, I was at an 11:44. Crap. Why am I out here suffering through this? The letdown was complete and total. I quit shuffling. I started walking.
I tried to get a handle on myself. I kind of realized what was happening at this point. I has already stopped once to fill my *entire* water belt – 40 ounces. And I was out again. And I wasn’t sweating. I carried a few extra Endurolyte capsules, so I popped an extra six of them at the water station at Mile 19. I filled my water bottles and quaffed 4 or 5 little cups of water and a couple Powerades. Then I set off for my next goal – Mags (Love2Mags) at the Mile 20 water station.
It was somewhere in this part of the race we moved off the streets and onto the grounds of the Veteran’s Administration in Westwood. For the first time I realized something. There weren’t any spectators! For the last 20 miles the community was out in force. Cheering us on. People were passing out oranges, bananas and candy. Mariachis were serenading us. Kids had drug their drum sets and guitars out to play for us. Aspiring DJs had their turntables out and to entertaining us. The drag queens and Gay community was out in force in West Hollywood cheering us on. Shoulder to shoulder. It. Was. So. Awesome. At mile 20 I realized that this is the type of stuff that I just kind of take for granted. Damn. That’s what I get for being born in Los Angeles. For the first time in my life I think I realized what kind of community we live in. Through thick and thin and through the hugeness of the Los Angeles Metropolitan area (driving from the furthest South to the furthest North points takes almost two hours on the freeway) – we are a community. No wonder an earthquake or a fire or a flood doesn’t beat us into submission. We are the best!
Then, my mile 20 goal appeared. Just like the rest of my day though – she was the last person handing out the liquid love.
If I thought that my meltdown at mile 19 had been total, what was waiting for me next was even worse.
Somewhere after mile 22 I couldn’t take it any more. Not one more step. I stopped. Not just shuffling. Not just walking. I stopped. Took a seat on the curb. Started looking for a golf cart. I was cooked. 5:16 (my old PR) was now gone. I didn’t need this shit any more.
It seemed like I was down for several minutes. I was pulling grass out of the parkway and throwing the little blades into the street. I was like the kid on the Little League team that never got to play because I was so inept. This was a total mental meltdown like I never had experienced before.
Then something happened while I was sitting there. Or more like something didn’t happen. For the past couple of miles I had seen the golf carts and ambulances moving back and forth as people started wilting in the heat and humidity. But, just when I wanted one, none appeared! Not only was I a loser at this race, I couldn’t even get karma when I needed it. And then they showed up. The 5:30 pace group. I had no choice. If someone wasn’t going to give me a ride to the finish, I was going to have to do this myself. I got my sorry ass up off the curb and joined them.
I don’t know who the pacer was. But what a God send! Singing songs! Keeping us focused on the next walk break. Tell us what to expect next. I need to find out who she was and send her some flowers! Maybe it was the extra Endurolytes that I had taken about 30 minutes earlier. Maybe it was the water and Powerade I had been judiciously throwing down the hatch for the last 5 miles. Definitely the spirit of the pace group had me pumped. But all of a sudden I started believing again. I knew I could. Somewhere in there I may have even cracked a smile. Time to HTFU and get this bad boy over with!
By now we had turned onto Ocean Blvd and were within striking distance of the finish. Our pace leader was imploring us to move on ahead. 5:30 was *her* goal. 5:28 should be ours. I’m not sure I could have been so unselfish.
Then it hit me again. The crowds. I thought the crowds at the finish in Long Beach were supportive. I realized that this time though – there were thousands of people. The roar of the crowds started a mile from the finish line. It was noticeable. Not just a person here or there. But like being at a baseball game.There were thousands of people who had braved the gridlock on the freeways. Who paid their $20 to park. Who had waited 5 or more hours for us to finish. They didn’t leave when the elites passed the line 3 hours earlier. They were there for us. For me. I was in my personal version of Dodger Stadium. It. Was. Awesome. Crap. I’m choking up right now just thinking about it….
The FINISH LINE! It was there. In front of me. My thoughts? Head back. Arms up. Stand up and be happy!!!!
Then it was. The toughest race that I’ve ever run.
And remember the hills? How about 2,000 vertical feet gained, 2,400 lost? At least it was “net downhill”!
P.S. – I have no official time. This race made use of a new B-Tag technology where the timing chip is glued to the back of a racer’s bib. Mine quit working somewhere after the 10K split. You can see the clock above shows 5:36:46 clock time. My Garmin shows 5:27 and change, but that was for 26.2, which I hit before the finish line. And of course, in my state of delirium, I didn’t turn my Garmin off until after I was in the finisher’s chute, and my final Garmin time is 5:33. So – my time is somewhere between 5:27 and 5:32.
P.P.S – Remember my comment about peeing? I hit the finish line. My water belt was again empty. That means at least 100 ounces on the course. I had 3 half liter bottles of water. I went down and grabbed my gear bag. Had another half liter. Climbed in my car and drove home and had another half liter. Then, finally at 4:30PM, I felt this urge that I hadn’t since 8AM. I found out that at the finish line the temps were in the lower 70’s with 82% humidity. I’m getting an inkling into what happened….
P.P.P.S. – My video says my sitdown at Mile 22 was 10 minutes. After looking at the data (believe me – this is the first time I’ve looked at my splits) it was obviously less. But it sure seemed like a long time in the grass.