March Run All The Races: LA Marathon 2018

Third in line this month was one of my favorite marathons, the Los Angeles Marathon!  This was my 4th year running it and Sean’s 7th so we were both #LALoyal!

Since this is my 4th year running LA, I’ve recapped this race a lot.  If you are interested in reading all about LA, you can read 2015, 2016 and 2017‘s recaps.

But let’s get to this year.

We left for the expo a little later than I would have liked around 10:30/11am, stopped at Plant Power in Encinitas for lunch and finally got to the expo around 2pm.  We walked around for a short time, got some photos, etc.

LA Marathon started a new program called LA Loyal which means that if you have run the race at least one time and continue to run the race in consecutive years, you become a part of their legacy program.

If you were in the between year 2 – 4 you got a special LA Loyal Bib, if you were between 5 – 9 years, you got a special LA Loyal T-shirt & a mug (although they ran out of mugs by the time we got to the expo).  If were 10 or more you got all of these things plus more & a special medal that looks like the first LA Marathon medal at the finish.

I like loyalty programs and I think this is a nice addition to the race.

Another thing I did this year was pre-purchase the marathonfoto bundle.  They had a sale for $20 off for LA Marathon and then because it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I was able to get an additional 20% off so it ended up being around $42, less than the normal cost of 2 photos.

We stayed with Sean’s sister again for the race so we didn’t have to get a hotel. We had a pre-race meal at True Food, Sean & I split a rice bowl & a vegan pizza. Yummy!

We headed back to their house, got our clothes set up, with a 4:00am shuttle to Dodger’s stadium, we were going to have to get up early.  I like to do Flat Jenny’s not necessarily for the photo but because it means I’ve got everything set for the race & then I don’t have to search for anything early in the morning.

I bought us parking in Santa Monica again for $20 & we signed up for the 4:00am shuttle.  This year, the shuttles were 100% better than last year.  They had everything organized and the volunteers were on point!

We got to Dodger’s stadium pretty quickly and it was freezing!!!  We didn’t have any issues with our shuttle getting to the stadium. Although, Sean was wishing we had a blanket like some of the other runners, lol.

After about an hour, give or take, in the stadium we headed out to hit up the port-a-potties.  There were bathrooms in the ball park, but the lines were ridiculous & I didn’t want to miss getting to drop my finish line bag.  They said the bags had to be dropped by 6:30am.

We headed out towards bag drop and got in line for the port-a-potties, by this time the lines were pretty long and after waiting in a line that never moved, it was almost 6:30.  I told Sean that I was going to the gear check and then headed over.  The gear check lines were soooo long.  For next year, this would be something that they need to work on. I saw lines that were 2/3x longer than the port-a-pottie lines.  I don’t know exactly what was going on with them.

After I dropped by bag, I ended up not being able to find Sean again before the race started.  He was in Corral A & I was in Corral E.

But I did run into my friend Almi, who went on to crush it and run a sub 4 hour race! So proud of her!

Anyways, I made it to my corral & never got a chance to use the bathroom, I wish they had port-a-potties inside the corrals, but unfortunately they don’t.

A few minutes after I got there they sent the Elite women off and then all the corrals got pushed up.  I’m not sure why I forgot this from the last 4 years, but basically there was so much room in the corrals that I was up with the C corral folks by the time I started the race.

I headed out, just wanting to survive this race.  After the last 2 weeks of half marathons and starting 80 Day Obsession, my butt was a little sore, although I wasn’t upset about that because it meant that my glutes were finally firing! and my legs were tired.

I did have to hit up the first set of port-a-potties since I missed the pre-race bathroom stop.  Fortunately there wasn’t too long of a line so I didn’t lose much time.  After this I just worked on keeping my breathing & heart rate under control and just cruised along through Chinatown and up to the Disney Concert Hall.  My favorite band of the whole race are the Japanese drummers, I always walk up this hill, I’d like to say just to listen to them, but it’s a pretty steep hill ;).

We made our way over towards the Chili Dog Station, which is so fun.  I don’t think that they have a vegan version, lol, and it’s still way too early in the race, but I always love seeing them out there.  I did see another Orange Mud ambassador & his friend out there eating one while running!

When I got to Mann’s Chinese Theater I was struggling a little with tummy troubles, but we still had over half the race to go so a minute or two of walking and then I was running again.

Right as we were approaching Beverly Hills around mile 16 the 4:15 pace group caught up with me.  I was trying to stick with them for as long as I could, which would be through BH.  I could see them through mile 20 and then they took off up the hill lol.

I did my best to run as much as possible during this race & I really succeeded.  I pushed as hard as I could and while towards the end, I really struggled with a lack of calories, I got to that finish line and managed to be within seconds of my PR.  At the time I really thought I had PR’d but after looking at the official results I was just over.

The last three miles, which are normally some of the funnest for me because we are going downhill & almost to the finish, where a serious struggle this year.  Due to my lack of calories and probably the first week of 80 day obession, my calves were really cramping and my fingers were starting to tingle again.

I pushed so hard to get to that finish line.  The last 3 miles, which were not fast, but I managed to run pretty much every step.  I was so close to a PR, I had to try for it.

I finally got there hands up, smile on my face, sorry to the girl behind me for blocking your face, I had no idea you were right there.  And as soon as I stopped running, the hurt set in.

I was in a lot of discomfort immediately after the race.  I was hungry & sore but you have to keep moving.  I got my medal, put it on for a photo and then immediately took it off.  I love the LA Marathon medals, but they are super heavy and after a race, I can’t always handle having it around my neck.

I started getting texts from Sean & made my way over to him.  Grabbing a few snacks on the way.  I think I mentioned this last race, but being vegan, you have to really look at the post race food options.  This race has always been someone lacking in my opinion in post race food, with fish pretzels, animal crackers, bagels & bananas.  I grabbed a banana & some animal crackers & made my way to find Sean.

I found him & we got my gear bag.  We made our way to the port-a-potties to get changed and then made our way to the Santa Monica pier where we got some french fries & a coke to refuel before some photos.

All in all, it was a great race, my fastest time on this course, beautiful, runable weather, awesome spectator support & volunteers.

We’ll be back next year!

 

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!