2017 Los Angeles Marathon Race Recap

And with this post, I’m caught up on my race recaps!  Yea!! Can you see me giving myself a pat on the back? LOL

Let’s get the following out of the way and then get on to my recap.  I am an ambassador for Conqur Endurance Group, which puts on the Santa Monica 5k/10k, Pasadena Half Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon.  I did receive a free entry into the race as part of my ambassadorship, however as usual all opinions on the race are my own.

This was my 3rd year running LA and Sean’s 6th.  We really enjoy this race and will continue running it for many years to come.

Sean & I drove up to LA on Saturday morning in an effort to beat some of the traffic and then to be able to get our streak run in and relax before having to get up crazy early to drive to Santa Monica.

Once we got near the convention center we started looking for street parking, it’s significantly less expensive than parking in the garage. We parked about 3 blocks from the Expo and walked over.

On Friday, we got a text with our bib numbers in, which was a nice surprise.  If you opted in for text messages, you received this text.

When we got to the expo, there wasn’t a line to pick up our bibs so we immediately walked over to our respective numbers to get our bibs.  They weren’t there and both Sean & I were directed to the solutions desk.  We had added on the start-line hospitality so our bibs were in a different section & tagged with a sticker showing that we were in the hospitality tent.

Once we got our bibs, we got our race shirts & gear check bags.  I really like the shirt and I would love to see a medal like the shirt with the landmarks around the medal, I think that would be so cool :).

We walked through the sponsored merchandise and Skechers had some nice gear at reasonable prices, but I have so much gear that I felt it best to pass.

Once we got into the expo area, I immediately took us towards the Lululemon Sweatbox where we would be for the next 90ish minutes.  I’ll talk more about this in a separate post.

Once we left the Sweatbox, we walked around the expo for a few more minutes, got some Clif Bar samples, a few photos and then headed out.

We were trying to decide when to do our run, but we also wanted to go to lunch, it was already 2:30pm so we were in that in between time.  We looked it up and saw that Bottega Louie was less than a mile away so we walked over.  Once we got there they told us that it would be 40 minutes for a table because they were changing over the shift so we put our name on the list and decided to go for our run.

We ran back to the car, I got us new shirts since we would probably be pretty sweaty and then we ran back to the restaurant.  We were probably a 1/4 of the way back when I got a text saying our table was ready so we ran back as fast as we could to get our table.

It was pretty funny when I sat down at the table, sweat literally dripping down my face.  Our server didn’t miss a beat and didn’t say a word as I was wiping my face, lol.

A hour later we had stuffed ourselves with Cobb Salad, Margarita Pizza, Creme Brulee & a Chocolate dessert.

We headed back to the car and over to Manhattan Beach and a movie.  Afterwards we had to find a FedEx office because I forgot to print out our parking permit & I didn’t want to have an issue in the morning.

In the past 2 years, 2015 & 2016, we’ve stayed in a hotel downtown.  This year we were able to stay with Sean’s sister in Manhattan Beach so I pre-purchased parking in Santa Monica prior to the race for $20, note to self, print it out before you leave for the race ;).

We finally got to our destination, did our flat runner photos and headed to bed. A 2:45am alarm was going to come fast. Needless to say, I don’t think I slept more than about an hour the whole night and I was already up before my alarm went off.  I tried to sleep until about 3am before finally just getting out of bed.

We were out the door and on our way by about 3:40a, we took a nice route near the beach up to Santa Monica and encountered no traffic on our way to the garage next to the Civic Center. Since it was so early, Sean & ate GoMacro bars on the way to Dodger Stadium.

Once we got parked we headed to the shuttles, the line was quite long, but there were tons of buses so we assumed we’d be in one and on our way quickly.  30 minutes later, we had barely moved and maybe one bus had left.  We realized at some point that there were 2 lines of runners, on either side of the building, oops.

We finally made it up to a bus, a girl asked me if I was wearing my back and taking my bag with me to the start and gave me 2 orange wristbands to put on them.  I didn’t know what they were for, they didn’t look in or at either my pack or drop bag closely.  I found out later that they were checking bags for security reasons, but that wasn’t the case with us.

We made our way up to Dodger Stadium and got dropped off in the normal spot.  I heard from some of the other ambassadors that they would get dropped off outside the stadium and that the freeway exit got all messed up with cones in the bus lane.  Fortunately that didn’t happen for us.

We walked in and over to the start-line hospitality tent.  It was pretty chilly when we arrived.  This was our first time doing the start-line hospitality and it was pretty nice.  They had food, bagels, bananas, clif bar shots, coffee, bottled water and most importantly heaters!  We saw Tim, one of my fellow ambassadors (for Conqur & The OM Dirt Unit) at one of the tables, we eventually moved to the back of the tent to stay warmer.

It was really nice, they had yoga mats and foam rollers, Air France tote bags & infuser bottles, private porta potties and a special gear check UPS truck for us!

We got the whole ambassador gang together for a photo and then we went our separate ways to get ready for the start. Left to right: Linzie, me, Tony, Emelia, Erica, Tim, Brett, Carlee, Ivie & Miriam.

I was in Corral C which was the 3rd corral and Sean was one of the lucky 300 people to be in Corral A up with the elites.  As I was standing there waiting for the start, I saw Gocart Mario in his car.  It was pretty cool.

I will say thinking back on it now, the start line atmosphere wasn’t quite the same as it has been in the past, it seemed a little bit more mellow than I remembered from past years, but all good.

I turned my Garmin on about 20 minutes before the start and unfortunately it never got a signal so when I started I thought I hit the start button, but found out right before mile 1 that I had not started it at all so I was about .85 miles off on my tracking.

We start in the parking lot of Dodger’s stadium and as we were starting the sun was coming up and it was looking to be a very beautiful day.  Contrary to what we were expecting with fog for most of the race.

I started out feeling ok, my back and legs were a bit tight from standing around so I took it slow to start, or so I thought, lol.  I actually did quite well the first half of the race, looking back, although I did not feel great at all, my butt hurt pretty much from the get-go and that eventually moved to my hamstrings and it was all I could do to just keep moving.  A lot of my issues are stemming from an anterior pelvic tilt along with one hip that is higher than the other.

I was experiencing a lot of pain but I decided to just have a lot of fun, take photos & try to find some of the snap chat filters, I don’t use snapchat, I only downloaded it for the geofilters, which I was planning to upload to my Insta stories.

I’m still a bit shocked at the time I came into the 20k at the time I did considering I hiked up a lot of the hill, slowed for photos, etc.

Around mile 4, is the Disney Concert Hall, which looks so pretty and the Japanese drummers are there too.  They are amazing, I caught a short video as I walked up the hill.

One of my absolute favorite spots on the course is the chili cheese dog station at about mile 5.5.  They totally did it up this year with a table and chafing dishes full of food.  It is things like this that make LA Marathon so awesome.  The spectators really get into it.  That being said, I really wish this station was at mile 25.5 so I could actually enjoy one, my stomach is a bit too finicky to eat a chili cheese dog less than 6 miles into the race lol.

I ran walked from mile 4 on, taking photos, seeing the sites and just having a great time.

We ran down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  It’s really pretty with all the palm trees. I had a video of this area, but I seem to have lost it.

I love coming into Santa Monica, there are so many spectators, I swear this year there were even more than in the past.

About mile 18 the pain in my glutes/hamstrings started to get really bad, to the point where it hurt to walk.  I know my walk sections were getting longer but I kept moving.  Talking to other runners, listening to my audio book, enjoying the sunshine and all the spectators.  Around this point there were more and more of them.

After doing a run/walk hobble to mile 23, our friend Mitch came by and said Hi before passing me.  I chatted with some other runners and just kept chugging along.  Eventually we got down the hill and to the beach.  I ran the last mile just trying to keep it together and get to that finish line.

When I crossed the line, I was surprised at how quite it was.  I looked for someone I was supposed to meet at the finish but I never saw them so I got my medal and a few photos before going to look for Sean.  In the past he’s been closer to the finish line waiting for me, but he said they were pretty strict, and understandably so, about runners hanging out near the finish.

I got a bunch of post race treats, banana, bagel, Power bars, pretzels, animal crackers, cheese-its, etc. and then kept moving.  I was in so much pain, I just wanted to sit down.

After getting my heat blanket, I finally saw Sean & made my way to him.  We got my drop bag at the start-line hospitality truck, this was an awesome perk, it was the first truck!

After getting our gear and that Air France tote bag came in handy here for all of our post race snacks ;). We headed to the pier to change into dry clothes.  I sweat so much, my lululemon speed shorts are always soaked to the point I’m dripping, I don’t understand why I’m sweating so much lately but in any case, I always bring a full change of clothes for after the race.  I hate being wet once I’m done running.  This race, I got smart and brought a small towel to dry off with too ;).

We got warm, took a few photos and had a nice post race meal of burgers & fries.

I finished the race in 4:46:10, out of 18,893 runners I was 6,244.  After reflecting on my time, which compared to a lot of people isn’t fast, I realized that I was in the top 3rd of people, which means that over 12,600 people finished behind me.  That’s a lot of people and it’s nice to see that LA Marathon is a race that is for any ability.

So I already know I’m registering for next year, you can get in on the party by registering for the lowest prices for the next 3 days. (Regular registration opens later this summer)

As with any race, even those you love, there are always things that are better than others so here’s what I liked, what I didn’t like and what I’d love to see ;).

Pros:

  • Nice big expo that wasn’t super crowded
  • Beautiful Medal
  • So many spectators on the course
  • Amazing Volunteers, those kids were so into it, cheering us on
  • SRLA (Students Run LA Program) this is seriously an amazing program that brings over 3,000 at risk youth from grades 7 – 12 together for a marathon training program that culminates with them running the marathon. These kids inspire me so much & I look forward to seeing them every year.

Cons:

  • No information telling us that our bibs would be at the Solutions desk instead of the normal pick-up area.  It wasn’t a huge issue since it was pretty quite but if it had been busy we could have waited a long time.
  • Shuttles to the start line
  • While the volunteers were amazing, the kids had a hard time staying on the sides, some of the aid stations became bottle-necks
  • Last year at the expo we got a lot of treats in our gear bag, this year nothing. While I don’t need the papers, I liked trying new food products.

Suggestions:

  • As I said earlier, while LA has amazing medals, I would love to see a medal that looks like this year’s shirt with the landmarks around it.
  • Santa Monica shuttle definitely needs a little work, I know this is definitely something that Conqur is investigating already.
  • Give out bags with post race snacks in them – SD Half, NYC Marathon & Venice Marathon does this and it is sooo nice. You just grab a bag from a volunteer & go.

Overall though, this is one of my favorite marathons and I can’t wait to go back and run it again in 2018!

2017 San Diego Half Marathon Race Recap

Nothing like registering for a race the week of the race.  When Jenn tagged me in a photo that SD Half posted of me 1 week before the race, Sean & I discussed it, eventually we decided to go ahead and register for the half.

I really like the San Diego Half, which I ran for the first time last year, you can read my 2016 recap here.  The race starts by the convention center, takes you by the Harbor to Liberty Station, up the crazy Washington St Hill up in Mission Hills before taking us through Hillcrest, by Balboa Park (the start of RnR SD) and then down to the finish line by the Gaslamp sign.

The course is mostly flat until about mile 9 where you have hills for the next 2 miles before a nice downhill final 5k.

The race expo is on the Pier on Friday afternoon & most of the day Saturday.  Since Sean & I had some plans for Saturday, I drove downtown to pick up our packets on Friday after work.  You are able to pick up someone else’s packet with a signed release & a copy of their drivers license.

I was in and out in about 5 minutes with our bibs, shirts and bags.  One of the really cool things that SD Half does is a legacy program that isn’t just for the people who have run every year.  Running as few as 2 years in a row gets you legacy status.  We are at 2 years in a row so we got a race shirt with 2 stars on the sleeve.  I really like the gifts they have for years 4 & 5 so if we are able to, I’d really like to keep to our legacy up ;).

Sean & I went to the PCT for a nice run on Saturday, I had a fabulous run, which was so nice because I’ve really been struggling the last few weeks with not loving running and my mental state on the run.

We spent a little time taking photos and then headed back to SD.

We carbloaded at our fav new Italian restaurant, Cucina Basilico in La Mesa and then relaxed.

The only downside to the race being on this weekend is that the time change happens.  It’s always a bit stressful hoping that there aren’t any issues with your iPhone changing time.  The race sent a text reminding us to change our clocks, which was a nice surprise.

We got up around 5:00am and left around 5:40a getting downtown and finding an awesome spot on the street (free parking for the WIN!).  We walked down to the race start area, we saw Jenn & her friend, hit up the porta potties and then walked over to gear check.

Sean is still nursing his knee so he decided to start with me in Wave 3 instead of his normal Wave 1.  He always starts in the front so he doesn’t normally have to wait for the waves to go off and was like wow, it takes a while for the other waves to start, huh.  They started each wave about 5 minutes after the last one so we waited about 10-12 minutes to start.  It was super foggy at the start, a big change from last year’s race.

We finally got started, heading down towards the harbor, I felt really good, even with the really humid weather.  I was keeping up with Sean and ran straight until about mile 9 when the hills started.

We finally got up the Washington St hill which I ran/walked.  I took a minute to get down a Glukos gel, which was a good choice because I needed more calories.

Once we got up, we were in Mission Hills heading towards Hillcrest which is an area I run often at the #619Run club on Friday mornings.  We headed towards Balboa Park and into downtown.  I picked up the pace following Sean, the last 3 miles were ticking off. 9:01, 8:21 and then about a half a mile from the finish, my shoe came untied, oops, but I just kept moving.  We fortunately missed having to stop for the Coaster like I did last year.

I was running down the street, huffing and puffing, just trying to get to the finish line. I finished that last mile with a super fast 7:47 mile – who would have thought? I haven’t run that fast in a very very long time & never at the end of a half marathon!

So while this was not a PR time, it was my fastest half marathon since Nov 2014 when I set my current half PR.  Not too shabby considering my training hasn’t been for shorter distances lately.

After the race Sean & I got a few photos at the finish.

SD Half gives a great goodie bag of post run snacks and a nice medal.

Sean & I collected our gear, headed to Starbucks for a warm coffee just as the sun was coming out and then headed over to get breakfast at one of our fav brunch spots, Eclipse Chocolate.

They haven’t announced the date for 2018 yet, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the LA Marathon, I definitely plan to return & I’ll register earlier to save 😉 lol.

Griffith Park Trail 50k Recap

One week after the Wisdom Tree Marathon, Sean & I made our way back up to LA for Keira Henninger’s Griffith Park 50k/Marathon & 1/2 Marathon.  We had a ton of friends running and were excited because Keira always does an awesome job.  We always have a great time at her races.

We drove up to Manhattan Beach on Friday to stay with Sean’s sister.  Driving to LA on a Friday is always a bit stressful since there is so much traffic but it wasn’t horrible until we hit the 405.  We managed to get to her house relatively early.

We got our gear out, did our flat runner photos and then headed to bed.

We got up pretty early to drive the 30 minutes to the park. This race started on the other side of the park, by the Merry Go Round, opposite from where we were for the Wisdom Tree race the week before.

Once we got on the road, we hit insane traffic because they closed one of the freeways for construction and had to be re-routed around the airport.  It was super stressful since we were already running a little late.

I was texting with Kristina and asked her to pick up our bibs just in case we were really late.  We managed to arrive with about 30 minutes to spare but I was a bit nervous.

We got lots of photos with the OM Team and lots of friends running the 50k and other distances.

Keira gave a quick pre-race speech and then we were off!  Sean & I were with Kristina for a bit at the beginning and then we all separated on the first little climb.

Once we got up a little ways we were treated to the most spectacular sunrise!  This photo I got of Sean really doesn’t do it justice but gives you a little insight into what we saw.

I really had no idea what to expect from this race except that the course was a little short (29.5 miles) and that there was going to be a LOT of climbing, over 6k.  If you have followed me for a while, you probably know, I’m not a fan of climbing, LOL.

Anyways, I started off hiking the uphill and running the downs and flats.  I chatted with a few other runners and Orange Mud fans. We eventually were treated to an awesome view of the Griffith Park Observatory. The guy I was running with at this point was telling me La La Land was filmed there and that I should check it out.

Just after this we saw Howie Stern taking photos and then we got to another uphill, where there were volunteers cheering us on and sending us down to the left to the observatory.

Down I went, I saw Sean coming back up not too long after I started down.  I was having a weird feeling like my right foot was swelling even though my shoe didn’t seem to be overly tight and I had to go to the bathroom. Odd, but I kept moving and eventually got to the bottom where there were more volunteers telling us where to turn around.  As I went back up, I saw a bunch of my friends, Jenn, Vanessa, Alexis & Kristina.

 

The only downside to this race, at least the first half of the race was that there were a lot of other people out on the trails which meant weaving in and out a bit.

I hiked the way back up and once up we headed over to towards the Hollywood sign.  We went down a pretty steep trail and then up the road to the sign. At the road there were a few volunteers, I saw one of the guys I followed for a bit at Sean O’Brien directing us up the road.  Once we got to near the top, there was a girl there telling us to go up to the flag and when we came down she would give us a wrist band showing that we made it to the top. Once I got to the top, I asked someone to take my photo since I was by myself at this point.  Note to self…make sure to tell the person taking the photo to get your feet in the photo too so you can show off your Altras ;).  The sign was the turn around spot at about mile 11.5.

I got my bracelet and headed down the road to the little hill that the week before I described as a slip and slide ;).  And we did a portion of the course that we did the week before – on the single track section. It was a lot harder to run the single track because it was dry and there were so many other runners coming that it was hard to get any kind of decent pace going.

Once we got back to the road, that the week before would have taken us to the horse trails, this week we headed back up over towards the Observatory.  My legs, specifically my hamstrings & glutes, were starting to really bother me around this section and when I saw Smitha, Jenn & Valerie, they asked me how I was doing and I was like my legs hurt! lol

Fortunately we didn’t have to go back down to the Observatory and just headed back towards the start. Those nice downhills were now pretty steep climbs and by the time I got to mile 17 I was hurting pretty bad.  I texted Crystal and told her where I was, pretty much whining about the horrible hills.  From this point until I was to the final turn around, I was not in the best of moods.

For some reason when I looked at the course map, I thought the course was a loop not a bunch of out and backs, I was kind of confused when I was heading back and didn’t know where the additional miles were coming from. Turns out all the out and backs look a lot like a loop.

Regardless, I finally saw Sean around mile 22 as he was almost back to the finish.  I was not happy and complaining about why was I even doing this, I hated running, etc. etc. This has been a reoccurring theme during my long trail runs lately, especially when there are a lot of hills.

And the worst hills were still to come it would appear.  I hit the last aid station and headed out for the last out and back.  I was not happy when I got there and I was pretty calorie deficient by that point too.  I’ve still got to work on my fueling.  I got some more CarboPro and kept moving.

As I was heading up a pretty steep hill, another girl passed me and then was like this is horrible, how far up to we have to go.  I felt at least a little comforted that it wasn’t just me who was hating these hills lol.

We just kept going up and up and up and then finally I saw 2 people and asked hows much further we had, they told me the turn around was by the trees, which was a lot further than I was expecting.  Regardless I got to the turn around and then saw my friends, Jenn, Alexis & Vanessa coming down.  Then on the second or third uphill, I saw Kristina and we got a quick photo before continuing on.

I could not wait to be done! Finally I got to the last aid station, had my bottles topped off and was told it was only 2.5 miles to the finish! Hallelujah! I took off and caught Tam shortly afterwards, we chatted for a minute and then I started running again.  I’d hike the uphill, run the down.

Finally we got to the final turn back to the finish line.  Raul & his son (Founder of Running4ThoseWhoCan’t) were there and cheering me on.  I started running and didn’t stop until I got to that finish line.

I was so incredibly happy to have made it to the finish.  That was a very tough race.

Sean congratulated me, got a few photos and then I got my medal & buckle from Keira.

We waited for our friends to finish, got a few more photos and then headed back to his sister’s so we could have lunch.

As always Keira does an amazing job and even though mentally I was not in a good place, this was a great race.

Griffith Park Trail Marathon – Wisdom Tree Loop

I’ve been procrastinating long enough and I’m now 3 race recaps behind with another race this weekend so I better get a move on!

Sean & I have headed over to LA to run in Griffith Park, in downtown Los Angeles 2 out of the last 3 weekends.  Our first jaunt up there was with a small group of friends for an informal marathon.

I found us a cool historic hotel about 15 minutes from the start in Koreatown.  We got there around dinner time and just decided to grab dinner in the cute burger place below the hotel called Cassell’s since we had already valeted the car.

You’ll see that eating burgers before a race is now becoming a trend, which is interesting. lol

These burgers were super yummy, we also got some amazing sweet potato fries that were covered with cinnamon sugar. I’ve eaten a lot of fries, but none that were like dessert, lol.  I also ordered a ginger beer that Sean & I shared, it was homemade and huge! Like 2x the size of the water glass.

Of course we couldn’t resist getting some pie.  Personally I prefer fruit pie, but Sean is more of a chocolate person so we decided to try the chocolate peanut butter, which was good but the back crust was a little tough, I kept clanking my fork on the plate.

After dinner, we got our gear ready and then hit the sack.  I’ve been so exhausted lately, I sleep but yet it doesn’t seem to be helping me to feel rested.

We were meeting at 6:30am so we got up around 5:15a and left the hotel around 6:00am.  It was raining as we were waiting for the car to pull around and it was a little chilly.

We got to our meeting point a little bit before 6:30a, we got our gear ready, chatted with some of the other runners and then after the last runner arrived, we got started.

The loop started out with a tough technical climb up to Wisdom Tree.  We got a quick photo and then headed out to the next spot, above the Hollywood Sign, we would only go to the top the first loop.

After another quick group photo there, we headed down the road to the next set of trail. Up a steep section that reminded me of a slip & slide.

From there we took an overgrown & muddy single track trail to a fire road.  When we got down, we ran down the road to the horse trail, which was like a fire road.

We took the horse trail down for a bit and then we were at the bottom of the Hollywood sign.  We got a few photos and then headed on.  The next section included in a little more downhill fire road and a bit more road before turning onto a dirt sidewalk and heading back to our car.

Sean & I stuck together the whole “race” for the most part.  He is a bit better than me on the uphill, but with his knee still getting back to normal, I was a little faster on the downhill.

It was not an easy race and I struggled up the hill to Wisdom Tree on the 4th loop. I really wanted to quit, but I pushed through and we made it finishing 4 6.2ish mile loops for a total of 26.4 miles & somewhere between 5-6,000ft of climbing and earned this amazing medal!

Afterwards we went to Howlin’ Rays Tennessee Chicken with our friends, where we stood in line for 2.5 hours to order our chicken sandwiches.  They were good, but I’m not sure if they were 2.5 hour wait good, lol.

We did have a great time and of course watching Andrea eat the Howlin’ chicken was very entertaining!

Next up, I’ll recap Keira Henninger’s Griffith Park 50k.

What is the longest you’ve waited for a post race meal?