30th Asics LA Marathon Race Recap

I wanted to write this recap last week before I moved, however, I ended up sick in bed for a few days, then had to finish packing before the big move this past weekend.  A little late but here goes… 

On Friday I flew over to SD to meet up with Sean so we could drive up to LA together.  We started the morning with a quick run around the neighborhood, then packed up and headed up.  It’s a pretty quick drive up to LA.  First thing on our agenda upon arriving to the city, was to hit up the expo and then get lunch. 

Since this was Sean’s 4th time running this race, he knew exactly where to go for the expo, which was at the Convention Center near the Staples Center.  We walked inside the expo where there was a big Welcome Runners banner, got our bibs, then went to the next area for our race shirts and bag of goodies.  There was no line for either of us at either station, it was around noon when we arrived.   

After that we tried to get out of the Asics store, it was ridiculous how crazy it was – lines pretty throughout most of the entire section.  All we wanted to do was get out lol.  Once we finally got out the first thing I saw was the Asics Pace Your Race pace bracelet station.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run the pace I selected because of the heat, but I thought I’d at least get the bracelet for a souvenir.  I had signed up for it online so the line for pre-registered runners was pretty short.

Next we just went thru the expo checking things out.  It wasn’t an overly large expo, but had all the main players.  

We found our names on the mural. How cool is it that both outlet names were in the same section? We were walking thru near the stage area and I just happened to look over to my right and who did I see?  The amazing, inspiring oh so cool Deena Kastor!  I was so excited and I asked Sean if he would wait with me so we could get a photo, which of course he would.  When we were in Chicago he had mentioned how he gets chills every time he thinks about her running the Chicago Marathon, which was featured in the original Spirit of the Marathon. 

We said hi & chatted with Deena for a few minutes before leaving for lunch.  She is going to be racing at the Carlsbad 5000 this coming weekend so we might be heading out to spectate :).  On our way out of the expo, we ran into our friends Rhea & Kenny who were coming in.  We told them about meeting Deena, wished them luck and said we’d see them the next day. 

We hit up Yardhouse for lunch, it was close and it wasn’t too busy.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich on a wheat bun and sweet potato fries & Sean had a salad & regular fries. After that and lots of water, we headed a bit further into the city to find our hotel. 

We stayed at one of the hotels that the marathon recommended in the downtown area, The Millennium Biltmore.  It’s a nice older hotel with a lot of history.  They held the Academy Awards there a few times back in the 1930s.  While staying by the beach would have been nice, it was more expensive and a lot farther from the start line.  We didn’t want to have to get up super early 😉 and there were shuttles only a few blocks from the hotel. 

We got settled in and then headed out for dinner.  We were going to try Bottega Louie, a cute little Italian place not far from the hotel.  We got there just before 6pm and it was already packed.  We were planning to carb up and for once I have to say my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.  We ended up with a huge piece of lasagna & a margarita pizza, which was disappointing, but we also had our first Chocolate Souffle which was amazing.  We were stuffed by the time we got back to the hotel.   I got my gear ready, took my Flat Jenny photo and posted on Instagram and then I totally passed out super early.   They were calling for extremely warm temps for the race, so the LAM race officials had made a few changes to accommodate the heat. 

1) They moved the race up 30 minutes to start at 6:55a 

2) They added additional water & Gatorade to the aid stations to make sure everyone stayed hydrated 

3) They removed the timing clocks from the course so that it allowed runners to just enjoy the race and not go too hard. 

With the race start time changing to 6:55am, we were close enough that we didn’t have to get up too too early.  I think I set my alarm for 4:30a and we were up and out the door by 5:15a.  We made it to the shuttles pretty quickly and managed to get in front of a huge group of kids that were part of the Students Run LA group to get on a shuttle.  The shuttles would take us over to Dodger Stadium. 

We made it to the Stadium, hit up the port-a-potties and then headed over to meet up with a few of our friends running the race too by the gear check.  We got in line to go a second time but the lines were really long and we didn’t want to miss getting into our corrals so at 6:25a, we called it and headed into the corrals just to be safe.  I don’t know how strict they were this year, but apparently in years past they were really strict. 

While I was in my corral, I ate a vanilla honey stinger, I had eaten some oatmeal before we left the hotel so this was just a little snack before the start.  It was already getting warm out by this point, I even saw a guy go down while we were waiting in the corral, if it was from the heat or nervousness, I’m not sure, but it was a little scary to see. 

They started the Elite women about 15 minutes before the Elite men and the rest of us.  It didn’t take that long until we were running thru the start line and out of the stadium. 

I forgot to charge my Garmin so I didn’t have any way to keep track of my time outside of my Nike+ but it was on my phone, which isn’t as easy to check.  That was OK with me because I hadn’t been training with it recently and considering my training this cycle it was just better for me to not worry about time. 

I was already warm around mile 2 so I just chugged along until about mile 4 when there was a bit of a hill.  I ended up walking up the upper half of the hill because of some minor chest pains that were a precursor to the cold/respiratory issue I ended up with after the race.

I stopped at every aid station after mile 4, filled up my bottle with more Gatorade and dumped water over my head.  I ran thru every sprinkler and kept myself as cool as I possibly could.  You would think that being from Phoenix, the heat wouldn’t matter, but we hadn’t had temps into the 90s yet at this time so I definitely wasn’t ready for it.

I was doing really well considering for the first 19 miles when the 4:30 pace group passed me.  By this point the sun was really out and I just wanted to finish without getting dehydrated or feeling bad so I just keep doing the run/walk thing – what interval I was using, I’m not quite sure but it was working for me. 

Miles 20 – 24 were somewhat shaded, it was on a nice residential street lined with spectators and charity tents.  It seemed like everyone was handing out water, orange slices, pretzels and other things.  Everyone was super nice and kept cheering us all on.

One of the nice things about this race was that you could see a lot of the mile markers as we ran.  There was an aid station every mile after mile 2 and so having both those things helped the course go by quickly.  There were a few Clif Gel stations, I think 2 that I can remember. 

The last 1.5 miles were probably some of the toughest mentally for me, you could see the finish line, but it was obviously still a distance away, and it was super sunny by this point.  Since I didn’t have my watch, I didn’t know exactly where I was at so I didn’t want to push it and start the kick too early so I ended up just cruising in to the finish.  

They did have a clock at the finish line and it was showing 4:41 which wasn’t too far off from my current PR so I was happy.

They haven’t finalized the results yet, they are still showing as “unofficial” but my time listed was 4:39:22 – less than 4 minutes off my PR which considering the heat and the my not so stellar training I was thrilled. 

Split times were decent considering:

5k – 29:02
10k – 1:00
15k – 1:31:23
20k – 2:04:16
25k – 2:37:14
30k – 3:12:41
35k – 3:51:16
40k – 4:26:19 

Sean met me at the finish line so we were able to get some finish line photos together.  We went thru the finish line area, got our medals, got some water and snacks before heading to a runner area so I could stretch my hips, they were so so tight.    After which we tried to find our friends, Rhea & Kenny, but they weren’t responding so we headed out of the finish area and made our way to the Santa Monica Pier to get some post race burgers & fries.   We would later get our celebratory dessert and a nice salad from Tender Greens to finish off race day :).   My thoughts:
– Well organized race
– They were really good at communicating with us regarding their plan to deal with the heat
– Lots of spectators – lots of people handing out water, oranges, pretzels, bananas and Twizzlers.  I even saw a couple grilling hot dogs and then another with beer shots.  Everyone was really nice.
– Great medals
– Overall good course with lots of aid stations
I enjoyed this race and I’m really glad that I was able to run the race without much pain, I didn’t have any issues with cramping or hydration.  I think that not being so concerned with time was a good thing for me, I actually enjoyed the race for the most part.

We’ll be back to run this one again :).      

Marathon Training: LA Marathon

So…here we are…Marathon #5 right around the corner and I’m not feeling entirely prepared yet again. I made a decision at the beginning of the year to not focus on time, but to enjoy the ride, which I have been. 

However this training cycle didn’t go exactly as planned. I started out good, but then a few things happened to get me off track.

December was really lazy, I did the Hot Chocolate 15k on the 7th and then didn’t run over 6 miles until the end of the month, when Sean and I ran 13.5 miles around San Francisco. 

Running over the Golden Gate Bridge

December: 11 runs 59.6 miles 

January was better – I started running more on the weekends doing back to back runs. Weekend 1 was 9 miles on Sat, 8 miles on Sun. Weekend 2 was 15 miles on Sat, 5.5 on Sun. Then we headed to Hawaii where I was supposed to pace Sean for at least 20 miles, but after he almost fell off the mountain there was no way he was going to let me out there. Especially since I have a huge fear of heights. We did however run at least 2 miles everyday we were there. 

I ended the month with a 10 mile run after work one day feeling a little better about getting in another semi long run. 

Heading to a waterfall near Hana on Maui

January: 22 runs 103 miles

February started out great with a 15 mile trail run on SuperBowl Sunday & then my one & only 20 mile run the next weekend. Sean & I went out for 13 miles to start off our Valentine’s Day. Then things got a bit of track yet again. I wanted to do another long run the next weekend but it just didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. The last week of February was the Phoenix Marathon & while I had great plans to run additional after my half marathon, it was freezing & I didn’t have another set of running clothes to warm me up. 

February: 16 runs 111 miles

March – well let’s not really talk about March lol. It’s already the 13th of the month and I’ve only run 25 miles with a nice 10 miles last weekend. 

I’m not sure what happened to my best laid plans but life got in the way. I know I am capable of running a marathon. I’ve already done 4 of them & while they haven’t all gone to plan, I know it’ll all work out. 

The LA Marathon is tomorrow & it is slated to break heat records with a current forecasted high of 91 so I don’t have any thoughts of PR. I just plan to enjoy the ride & hopefully take some photos along the way.  Whatever is meant to be will be, I’m just along for the ride

Phoenix Marathon 1/2 Marathon 2015

I kept meaning to write this recap but with packing, work and training, it just didn’t get done until now. When I ran this race in 2014 it wasn’t my best experience. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, I fell and my knee was all cut open, it rained. There were a ton of burnt toast moments in that race and it definitely wasn’t my favorite race.

So why did I decide to come back for another year? Well first off, it wasn’t super expensive, I think I paid less than $70 for this race and all sorts of people were running this race, from the RunEatTweetAZ peeps, to most of the Cave Creek Running Chicks, to tons of bloggers from out of town to friends of mine from other races & run groups. So I convinced Sean to sign up for the marathon and I signed up for the half again.

The Phoenix Marathon is deceiving in it’s name as I mentioned last year, it actually takes place in Mesa, but I think the race name has to do with, not only is it’s near the city of Phoenix, it is also referring to the bird the Phoenix, which was the focus on both of my medals.

When I signed up for the race, I wasn’t quite sure what my work schedule was going to be like, we typically do an out of town event the week of the race, but fortunately this year we did it the week before so I didn’t have to worry about missing the packet pick-up like last year.

First off, quickly, I made it to the official packet pick-up this year. It was held at Mesa Riverview over by the Sports Authority. When you arrive, you get your bib, they ask you to know your number and show a photo ID. They allow you pick up other runner’s packets too with the same info. I was picking up Sean’s packet too and just had to show a photo of his ID on my phone.

I got our bibs & the swag bags in the first part of the expo. Then you could walk thru to see the various vendors, they were selling my favorite Honey Stinger waffles 10 for $10 which is an awesome deal so I picked up a few of those and then looked at what else was for sale before heading in to Sports Authority to get our shirts.

Ladies…I think I did this last year too, but I normally like to have a medium in most women’s style race shirts. This is because they run small and have tight necks, which I hate. I’m just a little picky lol. Well the Phoenix Marathon shirts are by Albion, which is an awesome brand, but they run super big because the fabric is really stretchy. You couldn’t exchange at the expo, but if you brought your shirt to the race you could exchange there. I ended up getting the last x-small. So glad I did because the medium was pretty big on, definitely not something I would have ever worn because of how loose it was. So in case you are wondering what size shirt to get, if they are using Albion, err on the side that the shirts might be a bit looser.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Shirt, Arm Sleeves, 2015

Inside the swag bag was a bunch of random brochures, a pair of arm warmers, a mini sized peanut butter Clif Bar (finally not that horrible mint clif bar or luna bar that I always seem to get) and some sun screen.

All in all the expo was nice and for such a small race, pretty big & I’m glad I got to experience it.

This year, I didn’t want to have to drive the 30 – 40 mins to the race so Sean & I stayed closer to the race location, I got us a room at the Marriott at the Buttes Resort in Tempe, which was about 12 minutes from the race vs. 30-40 from my house. Sean isn’t really a morning person so I didn’t want to have to wake him any earlier than necessary and since we needed to be at the race location by 5am to catch the last shuttles to the start lines. I didn’t want to get stuck in a lot of traffic and have to rush to find parking and then get to the buses. Especially since the buses were in different locations for Sean & I.

I think I set my alarm for 3:30a and I’m pretty good about getting up when it goes off. I made Sean some coffee and then attempted to make myself some of the new Quaker Steel Cut Oatmeal packets. Burnt Toast Moment here or just tired girl moment, I forgot to pull the coffee packet from the coffee maker and so I go to eat the oatmeal and I’m like that’s right. Oops! Fortunately I had another packet so I was able to make another one.

We headed out to the race, it was a little chilly out, probably around 50 or so. I took my gear check bag so I could wear my track pants and jacket to the start line area. We made it to the bus area pretty quickly. There were different exits for the marathon & half marathon bus staging area. We decided to park near the half marathon buses because it was closer to the finish line and Sean walked/ran over to the marathon bus area.

I got on my bus pretty quickly – same set up as last year and then headed off on a 15 or so minute drive to the staging area for the start line. When I got off the bus, there were port-a-potties right there with a lot of heat lamps. There was a lot of space for everyone to wait for the race to start. I think I got there about 90 mins before the race would start. The buses started around 3:30 or 3:45am, I’m glad I didn’t get on an earlier bus, that was long enough to have to wait.

I walked around a bit before I saw one of my friends from my Slowrunners running group – I don’t run with them often any more since I’m trying not to use Galloway as much but I did run the Ragnar McDowell Mountain Trail Relay with them. Joe & I chatted for a while before another friend Trish came up to say hi. We headed over to near the start line to use a few port-a-potties that were over there.

After this I sat down near the gear check buses and just chilled for a few minutes. The guy next to me asked me some questions about my awesome Altra The One2 shoes so I gave him the run-down about them before checking my bag. I wanted to head up towards the start line to find the RunEatTweetAZ peeps for the photo op. On my way over, I ran into Cave Creek Nic so we chatted for a bit, took a few photos and were looking for the others. Eventually they came running past us and we all got a few photos. I haven’t really been able to be at a lot of the RunEatTweetAZ events, so I don’t know most of the other members but I did meet Corine (zucchinirunner), Jeremy (confessions of an amateur athlete) and Issamosley at the Hot Chocolate 15k. If I wasn’t moving to SD I’d definitely want to be more involved with this amazing group of people. Maybe they can come to SD for a field trip for Rock’n’Roll SD in June 😉

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Course, Start Line
with Cave Creek Nic before the start

with Issamosley (her photo) before the start
with Issamosley (her photo) before the start

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Start Line, RunEatTweetAZ
With the RunEatTweetAZ Half Marathoners – photo courtesy of RunEatTweetAZ

We all chatted for a few minutes before it was time for the race to start. I decided to keep my long sleeve lululemon shirt on for the race. I figured that if needed I could always take it off during the race and put it around my waist. I was fine for the first mile or 2 and then I started to get a little warm, but I was like, I’ll wait until at least mile 5 because I was feeling pretty good and didn’t really want to stop. I’m not sure what mile it was when the wind started to kick up a bit but I was glad I had it on because by the end of the race I was freezing.

I still don’t really like the course. I don’t find it very exciting at all and while there were some people out cheering us on, it’s not like a huge race where there are lots of spectators.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Race Course
We were all going about 7 miles per hour around this point of the race 😉

Now the finish line area, that was awesome. I have to say of all the races I’ve run and I’ve done a lot of them, this race had the best post-race food of any race I’ve ever done.

Issamosley & I post race - She did amazing even with a sore knee.  Her photo
Issamosley & I post race (her photo) – She did amazing even with a sore knee.

Soon after crossing the finish line, we were handed bottles of water, hand towels from 24 hr Fitness and our medals.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, 2015, Medals
His & Hers – Marathon & Half Marathon Medals

There was a section to have your finish photo taken, I passed, but it was there. Then you walked over to the food section. There was a muscle milk area with Muscle Milk shakes of course, yoga mats and foam rollers, an area to get massages and a line for food. The line was semi long but it went pretty fast. In line I talked with a lady who came down from Indianapolis to run the half and she asked me about my Altras too so I was able to chat about them while waiting for the line to progress.

First up was some fruit (orange, apples, bananas), Dole handed out fruit cups as well, then there were some breakfast breads, Sprouts had a small booth with multiple snacks, and then there was a BBQ food truck handing out mini bbq pork sandwiches and a really good mac & cheese with a little kick.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race Food
Post Race Grub – BBQ with Mac and Cheese

Turkey Hot Dogs
Turkey Hot Dogs

That was just in the runner only section. Then when you went out into the main expo area there were turkey hot dogs, green juice, Sprouts had another booth with tons of stuff, bottles of water, containers of coconut water, Svelte protein drinks, multiple snacks and they were telling us to take some of everything. When I went back with Sean a while later, there was even more & different items out. And all of this was free.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Swag Bag    IMG_3287

There were other food trucks with things like sodas, mustache pretzels and other things that you could buy. It was like a mini expo after the race. They also had a nice area for the awards, with seats and a seating area with little tables for you to enjoy your snacks, etc.

I got my bag of dry clothing, changed into some warmer clothes before heading back to my car to drop off my bounty, get Sean’s heavier sweatshirt and then headed off to wait for him to come in.

Phoenix Marathon, Half Marathon, Post Race, Finish Line, Medal
Post Race Photo

I thought he was going to be in somewhere around 4 hours. He was still recovering from the Sean O’Brien 100k at the beginning of the month and had a few issues with his knee and heel so I didn’t think he was going to push it but I wasn’t sure.

I ran into Olivia (Balancing Mommy) and her friends so I cheered with them for about 20 minutes before I saw Sean come in.

Me and Balancing Mommy cheering on the runners.
Balancing Mommy & I cheering together while we wait for Sean

I took a few photos, he semi stopped to wait for me to give him a quick kiss, awwww… lol. He had eaten a ton of red starburst so his mouth was bright red. At first I thought he had fallen and cut himself or knocked out a tooth, it looked like blood, but no, that’s what happens when you eat 12 red starbust 😉

Sean almost at the finish line

Love this photo of Sean as he sees me near the finish. Hilarious :)
Love this photo of Sean as he sees me near the finish. Hilarious 🙂

I met him at the finish, got a few photos, he got his medal and went thru the food area before meeting me. He had gotten blisters on the bottom of both his feet because he wore a pair of old Newton Distance shoes with about 600+ miles on them. Oops.

Sean right after he finished the Marathon

After we went thru the finish area again, we walked back to the car, headed off to get showered and changed before heading off to a celebratory post race lunch at my favorite restaurant, Flowerchild, where we met to oh so lovely Narindipity and her boyfriend Marcus in Charge who are the most awesome peeps (Definitely follow them on Instagram).

Lunch with Narindipity & Marcus in Charge

All in all it was a great day that I got to spend with Sean and with a lot of other awesome runners. I’m super blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of like minded people.