Distance Totals

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Los Angeles Marathon 2011 - My first Gallowalk and what was supposed to be a "fun run".

I decided to run the LA marathon on a whim, knowing that 2 weeks after Napa I should not expect any stellar time, but it would qualify me for the Marathon Maniacs membership. Before the race I decided to use a run/walk strategy to minimize the pounding and hopefully allow me to rapidly return to training after the race. This would also allow me to take pictures during the race. I settled on 9 minutes run/1 min walk intervals just because it felt right..
Last year I got stuck in traffic on the 110 freeway and had to be dropped 2 miles from the start. This year I did not take any chances and left home at 3:10am to be on the parking lot in Santa Monica at 3:30. I took a shuttle at 3:45 and was at Dodger Stadium at....4:10am ! It was nice to hang there and use real lavatories instead of port-a-potties. Also the stadium was sheltered from the wind (it wasn't raining then, but the wind was pretty strong). I met Shamar there, it was nice to see a familiar face !

Shamar, waiting at Dodger Stadium
Dodgers Stadium, cool place to wait
I did not have a seeded corral so I went an hour before the start at the unseeded one, and it was easy to find a spot in the front. There was a monent of silence for the victims of the catastrophe of Japan, and they mentioned that some runners came from Japan as they couldn't run their marathon last sunday after the earthquake.

Once they closed the corral, we moved rapidly to the front and we got started fast, even though I wasn't in the sub-4 or sub-5 corrals. A minor problem - the start got delayed again (by ~ 20 minutes - I don't know why, they could not use traffic excuse this time)?

Around 6:30am in the unseeded corral

Around 7:40, right before the start

 The weather at the beginning of the race wasn't too bad. It rained a little, but the showers were intermittent and I dried off pretty quickly in between the showers, so it wasn't much of an issue.

Overall the first part of the run was fun, high 5'ing the spectators and kids, and enjoying the scenery, even though the weather was not optimal. I took a lot of pictures there, taking advantage of the walk breaks and of the comfortable speed when I was running (8:30-40'is).  I also had to stop twice for #1 breaks, in the "bushes" each time..
Passing the Chinatown gate
Downtown building

In Chinatown

A japanese runner...inspirational and another one below

A runner borrowed my camera and took this shot of me, around mi 5 ?

After the 4-5 miles in downtown/Chinatown, we hit Sunset Blvd, Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. The scenery was different, crowds were also different and diverse

On Hollywood Blvd, mi 7-8 ?
Passing the Chinese Theather in Hollywood
Hitting Sunset Blvd, mi 11

On the Sunset Strip, mile 12-13

Around mile 14-15, towards West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, things started to get really rough for me. The rain was harder, and the wind had a chilling effect. I wasn't prepared for such prolonged bad weather and my sleeveless shirt offered no sheltering whatsoever. I tried to draft behind runners but it was useless. By the time I reached Beverly Hills, I was completely soaked, shivering and my teeth were chattering intermittently. Not so great for breathing during running.

Arriving in Beverly Hills - Cold and wet !

The longer I ran in these conditions the more the possibillity of a DNF started to appear in my mind. Given how cold and shivery I felt, I knew i was on the verge of becoming hypothermic and I thought it would not be possible to finish in these conditions. The only problem is that I would likely have to wait forever to get to the finish line., so it would not abbreviate my suffering by much. So I I started to look around to see if I could borrow something to cover me, and....the miracle happened !

Around Century City, I saw a piece of clothing on the ground. It was a completely soaked brown cotton sweat shirt, but I felt that despite being completely wet , at least it would offer me some protection against the wind and the windchill factor. It actually worked and I felt somehow better after wearing it for 10-20 minutes. I was still cold, but at least I knew I could finish in those conditions. I also had a banana at mile 19 which made me feel also better, despite all the gels that I had consumed before.
At mile 18 I decided to dump the walk intervals and finish this sucker running, so that it would take me less time to get to the finish. When we reached the VA, it was mayhem. The roads were flooded and I ran into a 3-inch deep "river" on the road - shoes entirely soaked. I decided not to care and to keep running.
Autoportrait on San Vicente  (mi 23) with my savior brown sweat shirt

Towards the end, mile 24 on San Vicente in Brentwood

Brentwood and San Vicente Blvd (mi22-25) went by very quickly as opposed to last year. The weather calmed down during that part, and I dumped my savior sweat shirt at mile 25. I passed a lot of people there who were death marching on San Vicente. I picked it up and finished on Ocean avenue between rows of spectators. I pumped my palms towards the sky to ask them to make some noise, and amazingly they responded...I guess that's the closest i will ever feel to being a pro athlete !

Here are my splits; despite the crowds I was careful to run the tangents so I did not add too much to the course (Mile 25 was slower as I had to use a porta-potty...)
Some of the miles seem much faster or slower than others, but that's because some of them did/did not include walk breaks..

Mile:            1            9:07
Mile:            2            8:43
Mile:            3            8:51
Mile:            4            8:59
Mile:            5            9:03
Mile:            6            8:50
Mile:            7            9:06
Mile:            8            8:47
Mile:            9            8:35
Mile:            10            8:50
Mile:            11            8:52
Mile:            12            8:56
Mile:            13            9:04
Mile:            14            8:46
Mile:            15            8:34
Mile:            16            8:51
Mile:            17            9:13
Mile:            18            8:49
Mile:            19            8:58
Mile:            20            8:43
Mile:            21            8:38
Mile:            22            8:34
Mile:            23            8:34
Mile:            24            8:31
Mile:            25            8:45
Mile:            26            7:54
                 0.228           7:15
Overall: 3:50:18, 2068/18914,  275th AG.

Glad to be done...

After the finish, I got my medal and space blanket, and unfortunately I had a long walk (~30 min) to the parking lot. This is when I started to get real cold again, since the rain picked it up and there was a strong headwind.
Wet, soggy and windy at the finish chute...

A spectator who was going to run the Paris Marathon in April was kind enough to walk me with his umbrella, and I made it to the car ,but still shivering and teeth chattering. I was home around 12:30 and never felt happier to find a warm sandwich and soup waiting for me.

So I guess this wasn't a fun run after all...that's what mother nature or karma gives you when you want to run a marathon...for fun !


  1. LOVE your marathon re-cap. I had a PR yesterday (despite the rain!) and your summary pretty much captured the day perfectly. Congrats on a great race and fantastic finish!!

  2. Good job! My experience was horrid... but glad to have finished.

  3. Thanks--I enjoyed seeing px from a runner's proint of view--especially nice for someone like me who will never run a marathon.

  4. Congratulations on finishing in one piece! I bet that was the tastiest cup of soup you have ever had :) Great RR/pics and thanx for sharing your experience :)

  5. Great write up....It was a wild day out there....

    Also was able to reach a new PR...

    Aroooo arooo aroooo

  6. Great recap! I wish I had my camera with me but I loved all your pictures! Thanks for sharing and great job out there!

  7. Thanks for sharing these photos! Aside from my numb fingers, there was no way I was going to bring my camera to the rain. Congrats on qualifying for MM status now!

  8. Wow, good recap and shots. Hope the camera survived.