I was given a free entry to the LA Marathon in exchange for sharing my experience over the last 5 years. All thoughts and opinions on the race are mine & mine alone.
Sean & I have run LA every year since we’ve met. My first was back in 2015, which was LA’s 30th Anniversary. Outside of LA & Tahoe 200 we don’t really have many races that we do each and every year so we have decided LA is the one that we will continue to run year after year. And it’s a great one to repeat!
I’ve shared my past recaps before but if you are interested in looking back on my previous races you can find them by clicking on the following years. 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018.
I mentioned in a post I wrote earlier in the year that I had originally wanted to try and go sub 4 this year. Unfortunately with my thyroid issues I had to throw that goal out the window and I decided to ask my friend Laurie if she wanted to run together. We ran San Diego Rock n Roll together last year and had a blast so I figured we would have a blast doing this too. I didn’t want to stress my body too much, plus there is always this point at LA where I just hit that proverbial wall and then I’m walking/running by myself wishing I had a friend for company.
So we agreed we would run together, Laurie gave me a out many times but I committed to running with her and I honestly wanted to. That being said, I haven’t ever run with anyone in the marathon except one time with Sean at RnR LV and the time I met up with a girl at Mountains 2 Beach when we were both having a hard time.
I was excited and we planned it out to wear the same outfit, we both had the 2012 Lululemon SeaWheeze shorts and then grabbed a Sunday Runday shirt from Miles & Pace (a local SD shop) for a super steal using our friend Jenn’s code JENN20 for 20% off.
Anyways, back to the race. Sean & I headed over the expo after the 5k that morning. We were able to check into our hotel really early, got the car charged up and then had breakfast on the 26th floor of the hotel in the Club Lounge. I have elite status with Marriott so it comes with perks at some hotels. It was nice, we couldn’t eat a lot just oatmeal, hashbrowns & fruit but it tided us over until we could have lunch.
We were staying downtown so we were able to walk to the expo. We saw a super cool set of wings by the Grammy Museum by Colette Miller so of course I had to get a photo & then we made our way into the expo.
It was in a slightly different spot in the convention center than it has been the last few year and I found it a little smaller than the past, but I might be mistaken.
We got our bibs in minutes, this year they sent us QR codes to have scanned and then we met up with my contact, Carleigh, who works for Conqur Endurance to finally meet in person. We chatted for a few minutes & she gave us stickers so we could go to the VIP Bungalow a the start & finish of the race.
We walked around for a little bit but just ended up stopping at the LA Loyal booth before hitting up the Lululemon booth so I could get a shirt with the cool logo they had made up for the race with the coordinates of the race.
Last year, a new program was created called, LA Loyal. It rewards you for running 2, 5 & 10 years in a row. This year was my fifth consecutive year running LA. In every other race I’ve ever had loyalty at, you get your loyalty award the year you hit the number of races. So for example, this year was my 4th year running San Diego half marathon, they gave me the 4 year loyalty award. At LA that’s not the way it works. You have to complete 5 years & then sign up for the 6th race in order to get your 5 year award. I get it but it’s really confusing & most races giving you your reward the year you do your loyalty race, so it was frustrating to me. I plan to run next year so I guess I’ll get my 5 year award then. I just hope that I don’t go next year and they say, sorry, you should have gotten it last year.
Anyways, moving on after that we walked over to an amazing place called Backyard Bowls and had the first of 2 lunches. We had an Acai bowl that is definitely in my top 3 favorite. I keep thinking about it even a few weeks later.
We headed back to the hotel & got changed before going to meet Ari, our SoCal Altra rep, for a mid afternoon lunch. We went to a yummy vegan place called Beelman‘s.
After Beelman’s we hit up this amazing vegan ice cream placed called Divine Dips & the lady who was working was amazing, she let us try as many flavors as we wanted and pushed us to taste flavors we wouldn’t normally gravitate to. I ended up with a cone of New York Cheesecake, which honestly I wouldn’t normally pick but it was amazing!
After ice cream we headed back to the hotel to relax, we were going to have an early morning!
We got up around 4:30a or so and then got on the bus to Dodger’s Stadium. They had the buses set up in a new way this year. There were 3 lines of buses so they could drop off more people at the same time. They only downside was that we had to wait for buses to go through before walking to the start area.
We hit up the port-o-potties, never pass up empty ones at a huge race like this, then we made our way into the stadium. No one seemed to know where our VIP Bungalow room was but eventually we found it and it was awesome.
We saw our friend Eric, who also ran the run4kids 24 hour the weekend before, got some nice private bathrooms, bottles of water & they had snacks, but I just ate my cliff bar.
The best part was that they took our bags so we could pick them up at the end of the race & not need to worry about going to drop them off at the normal gear check.
Sean & I made our way into the corrals, I had managed to secure a B bib because of my race at Mt. Hood last year, Laurie had an E bib so I met her over by the E corral and we pushed our way into the corral. I don’t know if it just wasn’t clear or if people just didn’t pay attention but so many people in the open corral were trying to get into the lettered corrals.
We finally got in, took a photo, listened to the announcements, the speakers near us cut out as the Mayor of Los Angeles was speaking, poor guy, and then started moving towards the start.
Since we were wearing the same outfit, we ended up making it onto the news, I had a few people mention it to me & one sent me a quick screen shot. Too funny how we are both looking down starting our watches.
Off we went, running out of Dodgers Stadium on our way to Santa Monica. We were doing great, got to the first aid station in Chinatown. We saw a bunch of legacy runners, who had run all 34 races.
We were run/walking, taking some photos here and there. I saw this cool Audrey Hepburn street art about 3ish miles in.
We saw the Disney Concert Hall shimmering in the sun, looking beautiful. This year, there was a screaming guy talking about religion as we ran up the hill.
The Japanese drums are my favorite musical group of the race. They are always at the top of the hill by the Disney Concert Hall.
As we turned the corner, Laurie saw Justin Turner & had to get a photo so I took a few for her. We kept moving, running the downhills, run/walking the uphills & some of the flats.
We saw our friend Pretty, we went back and forth with her for a bit until we lost her on a hill.
We were doing great, moving decently, we hit 5 miles in under an hour & then 10 miles in just around 2 hours. We saw some more cool street art.
We passed the chili dog station. This is something I look forward to seeing each year. I don’t eat them, but they are so sweet to come out and support us like this.
Then we had a short break while Laurie grabbed a donut from California Donuts. While she was getting her sugar fix, I had a lady insist that she was going to be DQ’d because she left the course, she literally went 50 feet to the shop to grab a donut, not a mile or 2 off course. The lady was so convinced that Laurie’s chip was going to turn off and she would be DQ’d. Ok, then.
We headed onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame, by Mann’s Chinese Theater. We were looking for Jimmy Fallon’s crew, but never saw them. I always seem to get the best photos in this area of the course & this year was no exception :).
I love seeing the Hollywood sign. The first few years I ran the race, I didn’t see it, this year we saw it a few times.
We hit the first of the Clif Bar aid stations, this guy’s costume is sooo cute. I don’t normally dress up for Halloween, but this would totally be an awesome costume.
We hit the half marathon just after this in about 2:40 or so. The sun was shining, we were doing good. Running through the city, we came up on our friend Briana who was running her first marathon! She was struggling a little but moving really well. She was excited to see her parents at one of the LA Leggers aid stations. I saw Josh Holmes, from RunItFast, out with his kids.
We ran down an awesome downhill around mile 16ish, turned the corner saw the drag queens and kept moving. By this point I was just a little bit ahead of Laurie. I was trying to keep with her but I felt like I was always a few feet or more ahead of her. These miles, 16 – 18 are always tough, they aren’t the most exciting, although there are a lot of tents set up & spectators.
Eventually we headed into Beverly Hills & saw the We Run Social group, Ivie & AJ & a few others. By this point, Laurie was having a short low point & so Ivie ran with us for a few minutes, she gave Laurie a birthday gift, one of her Cozy Cone Crafts. She put it on her arm & I told her it was her power up.
We turned on to the section of the course where they have the USC/UCLA cheer groups. I turned back to make sure Laurie was behind me. She had her head down & I thought she was hurt or sick. She was just in the zone. We walked & ran & eventually caught up to Briana again. Briana wasn’t having the best day, she started feeling a little light headed earlier in the race so she was walking. We walked with her for a bit.
By this point we had slowed down a bit, but we were still moving well. I know Laurie was struggling a bit and it was getting hotter. I was trying to keep her motivated. She was doing so great & I was so proud of her.
We finally made it to the final downhill & headed down to the beach. We were almost there! This part of the race is a challenge, you can see the finish line, but it seems so far away! This year it was absolutely beautiful! Bright blue skies, sun shining, the spectators were out in full force.
Closer & Closer we were almost there & then we made it!!
I was so proud of Laurie! She pushed the whole way, running while I was walking next to her, running up hills, downhills, when she probably didn’t want to ;), for staying in our positivity bubble & keeping her head up high.
We might not have had the fastest time, could I have run faster on my own? Probably. But then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see someone dig so deep & finish. I wouldn’t have changed my experience at LA for anything. I just hope that I was able to be motivating and not annoying.
We finished up, Sean had been hanging out in the VIP Bungalow learning all about the race, seeing the winners & Meb while we were out there running. He and Carleigh were there when we finished & Sean gave me my medal!
That was such an awesome surprise. And we even had some paparazzi taking photos LOL.
Laurie & I got our challenge medals, I got the double-play for doing both the 5k & the marathon & she got that & the season challenge medal for doing 3 races Santa Monica 5k/10k, Pasadena Half & LA Marathon.
We got a photo with Carleigh & then went our separate ways. The race was over.
Sean & I got to hang out in the Bungalow for a few minutes before we headed back to the buses to get back downtown.
The buses, well I guess it’s been a few years since we have stayed downtown. We haven’t had to take one in a while since we have parked in Santa Monica for the last few years. This was probably the most frustrating part of the whole race and not the fault of the race necessarily, but as we walked up, a bus left & then we had to wait for over 45 minutes until we had a full bus to leave. Everyone got up and talked to the drivers & honestly they didn’t care. So we sat & waited and waited some more. Eventually we headed out but that was an exercise in patience for sure.
I have run 26 marathons now & this was probably one of the most rewarding. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to share it with one of my friends. Laurie, you inspire me!
Have you ever run a race with a friend?
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