I missed the LA Marathon. Okay that’s not true, I was into the LA Marathon for over a hundred bucks, bought a plane ticket from NC but things got…shaky. Somehow I got recruited to work in Washington D.C. for the entire month of March. Well, that and between Jan 27th and March 19th (Marathon day) I think I’d completed about 18 official running miles. TOTAL.
So there I was inhaling food eating at Art Smith’s Art and Soul restaurant at The Liaison hotel on Capital Hill lamenting my lost training and lost bling collecting opportunity when a thought struck me. A year ago the thought of a marathon was ludicrous. A year ago I had no idea who Art Smith was because my sister had not yet dragged me into the Top Chef universe. Here I was eating Southern food at Oprah’s chef’s restaurant disappointed that I missed the LA Marathon. Not only did I miss LA I missed the 25th Anniversary medal and THAT was a double bummer.
So I will never have one of these:
(I know it’s not the clearest picture, sorry) But I’m still disappointed that I don’t have one.
Then I saw one of these:
Hello shiny! 2009 was the 34th year which makes 2010 the 35th year. That’s an anniversary I can get behind.
What you don’t see is the hundreds of uniformed Marines lining the course and offering support. A solider even hands you your medal.
Oprah ran it in 1994 and finished in 4:29:15.
I figure I have serious doubts about my ability to finish a marathon but this way I can keep chanting to myself Oprah finished this… Oprah finished this… Oprah finished this.
Now don’t get me wrong I admire Oprah. But girlfriend isn’t exactly a hardcore runner.
So bring on the soldiers! miles! I’ll post my race training calendar soon.
Okay I’ll admit it, I’ve been something of a mopey-pants since Saturday morning. Not because there is anything wrong with a 5K. Alright I’ll stop BSing, there is something seriously wrong with the 5K. There were no medals. Come on people a medal costs like a dollar to make right? And it would look so pretty on the medal tree I’m planning for myself!
Fortunately the other 5 (yes 5 of them) 5K races I tentatively have planned for 2010 all feature race bling. Who are you calling a blingdigger? Me? Oh, okay just checking.
From the health standpoint my knee is still iffy. Initially it was both knees felt a little…off. Several days into this whole rest + Advil thing I’ve decided left knee is okay, right knee (my dominant leg) is the troublemaker. I wish flogging would straighten out what is clearly my leg’s bad attitude but Tanya Harding proved that doesn’t work.
I know, I should be ashamed of myself for even mentioning her but I’ve been watching old Saturday Night Live reruns.
Anyway, my general disgust over lack of bling, failed race distances and a funky leg have just made me feel…blah.
And then I heard from a lovely woman named April. She posted a comment on my woe-is-me blog from Saturday and basically made my week. She signed up for a half marathon! Just like me! And she clearly must occasionally laugh at my jokes because she lurks here! Just like me!
Okay, I don’t actually lurk here but I might occasionally shake my head at my own craziness, is that weird?
Anyway. THANKS April! You made my day and best of luck on your half marathon! We’d be delighted to post about your training and race adventures if you’d like. (No pressure).
I’d also like to share a facebook picture my friend Carol posted of her weekend’s winnings.
The Donald Medal is for running the Walt Disney World half marathon on Saturday, the Mickey medal is for running the Walt Disney World full marathon on Sunday, and that Goofy medal? You only get that if you do both the same weekend. 39.3 miles in two days gets you a little extra bling. This year’s medal was distinct because it’s the five year anniversary of the WDW Goofy Challenge but how cool are those!
And this year with snow, ice, sleet and generally the worst race conditions I’ve ever seen 55,500 people participated in race weekend events. Just imagine the crowds! A hearty congrats to all the people who ran, walked, jogged, stumbled or just stood on the sidelines and chEARed. You all rock!
Maybe if I survive 2010 I will be willing to try that for 2011. If you’ll excuse me I’m off to take my vitamins.
I should tell you up front I don’t have any pictures for this blog. That’s kind of silly because I did my ten miler at the local park where I’ve done all my running/walking/foot-dragging for the past month. But I’ve never taken any pictures of it, how weird is that?
Anyway, according to my desperately-seeking-LA-Marathon-glory schedule I was supposed to do a 10 miler. Tomorrow. And that would be okay except I’m scheduled for a half marathon exactly a week from today and I didn’t want to do a 10 miler on Sunday followed by a 13.1 marathon on saturday. So today was the big day.
I should probably also add that this is the longest training run I’ve ever done in my life. Other attempts to train for races usually crap out at about 6 miles. I think I did 8 once. But mostly I get bored or hungry and stop. (My 4th grade teacher was right I really do have a short attention span).
I’m trying to be a better person.
Mostly though, I’ve been seduced by bling. Remember how my first two half marathons I was so slow they ran out of medals and they had to send one to me? At the end of my december race they handed me a medal right then and there and it was AWESOME. Now I need to speed it up so I don’t have to stalk the USPS or race directors.
And how committed am I?
I ran a sub 13 minute mile (which is the time I need to maintain in order to run the LA marathon at my preferred pace). I also averaged 14:45 minute miles which is super speedy compared to my previous times.
I’m thrilled with my time and my progress and I think I might actually set a personal record at my next race.
I also had a number of “firsts” today.
First time running a sub 13 minute mile in my first mile of the day (usually my calves kill me for the first three miles)
First time getting stopped by a woman in a van so I could give her directions to Costco.
First time witnessing a car accident. A REALLY dumb lady got into a head on collision with a car who had right of way because she was too distracted to see the other car. Both cars were Lexuses and you know that’s going to be expensive. Sucks for her insurance!
And the race course? The one they originally described as
Changed considerably without notice. My previous blog map was the updated trail but reality looked like:
The race course was something like 13.3 according to my GPS watch. I forgot to mark my location at the finish line so 14.67 includes all post-race walking until I got to my car. That didn’t include the extra 2 miles I walked in the morning going from my car to the race, then back to my car and back to the race which would make it 16.67 miles overall.
All in all not a bad day. My feet are fine. My muscles are pleasantly sore but it’s not excruciating and I think I’m finally getting the hang of this race thing! Next step? Solve the shin splint problem!
For the first time ever I crossed the starting line as soon as the gun went off. This was important because it meant when I reached the finish line the clock time displayed would actually be pretty close to my actual time. That was definitely a nice side benefit for competing in a small race!
The problem with being so near the front was that I had to start at a run. Faster runners are towards the front, the very fastest are in the very front. I was frontish so it was important that I crossed at a good clip and kept going. For the most part that was okay, I’ve been doing a lot of running on treadmills and local park trails but it’s a bit different when you can feel a wave of people behind you trying to get past. At one point I really started feeling the pace and looked down at my watch. I was running a 9:30 mile. Advanced runners run 9:30s and there was no way I was keeping that up for very long. I moved as close to the side of the route as I could and started walking for a bit.
At that point I was feeling pretty good. I’d made a big dent in my first mile and was just about to start a second running interval when my foot slipped on a lane line. Yes, the lines they paint on asphalt to direct cars are incredibly slick in the rain. I recovered without injury but I frightened myself and my muscles tensed. The next time I tried running my shin splints flared up and bam, there went my fantasy of jogging a substantial portion the half marathon. Which was especially annoying because I was wearing compression sleeves for shin splints.
Right around the time I started feeling sorry for myself for having a setback so early in the race granny passed me with her walking sticks. The shock actually rendered me mute (miracle!) for a moment and I’m sorry to say she was ahead of me by the time I got it together and cheered her on. How cool that she was out doing a half marathon on Sunday morning! (And leaving me in the dust!)
If you look at the map everything in the white space after the first mile marker basically until you hit the blue resevoir area was a private airport. I’m assuming Pomona airfield but don’t quote me on that. The route went right past the flight tower and about 10 of us in a pack all simultanously waved at the air traffic control guy. A woman behind me said “This is probably the most variety that guy has had in his day all year.” We all laughed because she was probably right.
By the time I hit the second mile I realized one weird thing about the course. It had no spectators. I mean NONE. You could argue that rain would have discouraged even the most hard core race enthusiast but when you looked at the land you couldn’t tell it had just rained. There was none of the flooding I’d seen in my car. The earth just soaked it all up (which tells you how desperately we needed the water).
Every half mile or so for the first part of the race there was a cop parked in his cop car watching us from across the street. Didn’t honk. Didn’t clap. Didn’t wave. Just sat there and watched us. Every other race I’ve done the local support has at least cheered or smiled or something. Notsomuch in Pomona. Kind of a bummer.
What I didn’t know during that second mile was that I should be soaking up every second of the flat route. As a finisher of two coastline events it never even occured to me to ask what the elevation was for LA County. Oops. Hills galore! short ones, long ones, steep ones requiring signage, the whole enchilada.
Here is the route in pictures:
On the resevoir trail
That’s Raging Waters Water Park and this is the closest I’ve ever been to it.
As for the resevoir trail itself
Looks kind of flat right?
That was before
See the sign? I listened to it and was half way down that dirt trail (my first ever trail run) when a college guy from behind me shouted “Hey red shirt girl! That’s the wrong way!” He and his girlfriend became my race buddies. Had he not saved me from my horrible mistake I would have ended up at this boathouse about 2 miles round trip out of my way with no hope of returning to the race in time.
Thanks again B!
Plus I had company for what turned out to be a hilly course.
But I did learn one thing. Sometimes you’re okay with hills and slopes if you think they’re going to take you somewhere good.
By mile 7 I was all ready for that!
But the fat lady wasn’t done singing and the fat chick wasn’t even halfway done racing.
According to my GPS watch the total elevation change in feet for the race was +1,381 / -1,367.
Did I mention I live at sea level? I’m not used to this stuff!
Now this made me think two things:
1) Damn if only I’d known I would have been mentally prepared for it at least!
2) If only this race was in June because I really need a warm up for the San Francisco 1st half marathon!
Yes, most of my thoughts pertaining to racing are punctuated by exclamation points.
Other pictures include:
Notice how the road is empty of all other competitors. This would never happen in a race with 18,000 people. There are fields on the right and an airport on the left. This is somewhere around the 9 mile marker and it was a little creepy. I was grateful to have two race buddies with me.
I also had a glorious realization: NO BLISTERS SO FAR!
Huge. Yes that is HUGE!
And let me tell you that perked me right up! The rest of the course from 9 on felt like it went a bit faster.
From the middle of mile 10 on you were pretty much on Fairgrounds property again. Parts of the course were very well marked. Other parts not so much. I’d printed the map you see above before my race which is what allowed us to figure out where we supposed to go in several instances if you can believe it.
See the water drop before 12? We passed the water station and then it was like a ghost town. There were barricades in several different places and the path could have been in either of two directions. The map saved us.
Do you also see that loop above 12 that runs parallel to North White Ave? That segment of the race was through what basically amounted to the Fairgrounds backlot. There were a lot of food carts being stored. Full sized Union Pacific train engines (not sure why). There was also the:
And the final water stop?
I kept waiting to see Clifford the Big Red Dog racing for the fire hydrants.
If only I’d known that was a precursor for heading to the back 40. The last 2 miles of the race route took us through mini vegetable gardens and tiny apple orchards. We moved past an equestrian center (and smelled it) and then went right through the Pig Patio
I’m serious the sign on the back wall says Pig Patio!
It was an interesting glimpse at the county fairgrounds.
Believe it or not I didn’t get a picture of the finish line but I did manage to run to it. I’ve never done that in a race before because by then the blisters are so bad I won’t even consider it. This time I was just fine!
Oh and for those of you who read this far (I’m sorry).
But here your treat.
Dirty D turned out to be a speedy young woman running with her arm in a sling. She raced past me not long after granny. (I missed the pic of granny but I still had my phone out and managed to snap a pic of D)
Next year’s goal is to catch up with Dirty D and maybe beat granny!
Running a race is a lot like a final exam. You can’t just show up and expect to pass unless you’ve put in some kind of effort.
Some people prepare for months and sleep deeply at night secure in their efforts.
Others realize 24 hours beforehand that 80% of their overall grade is riding on this sucker and panic commences. This can include all night cram sessions. Cheat sheets. Sleep for these people is rare if not impossible the night before their big event.
While I fit in neither of these categories, I do take some time the night before every race to set out my gear, pack some snacks and generally prepare myself.
It’s a little hard to do that when all you can hear is
Particularly when your drive home from your race expo involved a lot of
As much as I’d like to pretend I could stick out an entire half marathon in those kinds of weather conditions there is just no way. Maybe if I was a full scale runner. Maybe if I wasn’t a total wimp. Maybe if hell froze over.
So why didn’t I just throw in the towel last night?
Because my friend Joan posted her 2009 medals not too long ago and I was a little jealous.
And then yesterday my friends Stephanie and Greg posted a picture of their Christmas tree.
How awesome is that tree!
And now you see why I was unwilling to give up on today’s race.
Darkness wasn’t going to stop me.
Rain wasn’t going to stop me.
Not even Frodo himself was going to stop me from my quest for shiny objects.
So driving past Angel’s stadium in the dark didn’t faze me.
And arriving to wet pavement didn’t faze me.
Neither did stormy skies.
But then there was a miracle! By the time I reached the starting line the skies has cleared up and I was greeted with:
Yup, just more proof that a picture *is* worth a thousand words. For those who prefer text you can check out the details HERE.
Anyway, the dates (SF is just added) at the moment include:
Long Beach International City Bank Marathon – October 11, 2009
Surf City USA® Marathon – February 7, 2010
The San Francisco Marathon™ – July 25, 2010
Now, I’m not sure how I’ll get to SF in the summer. There is no way I can afford it at the moment. Especially since hotels in the area must cost a friggin fortune and my recent 3AM Disney debacle tells me I need to stay nearby…
We will see, but at the moment I’m aiming for the first two races and hoping for the third.
Does Hell YEAH? mean anything to y’all? Cuz it sure does to me.
I set 3 goals for today’s 5K.
“Run” then entire way. (Yes, I use a very loose interpretation of the word run…)
Come in at 40 minutes.
When I found out there were 800 participants, I wanted to be in the top half and not the bottom half.
I hit 2/3 and I’m very happy!
I ran the entire race. My break-neck speed, let me show you it:
2nd goal was to end the race in 40 minutes. My official time was 41.59. I’m sad I didn’t make my goal, but still very happy. That’s a 13.33/mile which is not too bad if you’ll remember I couldn’t really run 60 seconds back in the fall. There’s room for improvement and I’m good with that.
Goal #3 was to finish in the top half of the group instead of bottom half. My overall place was 393! Suck on that bitches! My husband thought I would be in the bottom third. Guess I showed him.
I had a good time, met some fun people, and spent the entire run trying to find a person in the crowd in front of me to beat. I managed to do that with every person but 1. Apparently, I was the “No way am I gonna let that chick beat me” chick for her. Every time I would pass her, she’d kick it up a notch. Bitch.
My favorite thing to see today? The lady who ran with sponge-rollers in her hair. Seriously, that was awesome. Guess she wanted to have good hair for the final picture.
Anyway, I finished. I ran. And I’m proud.
I’m also damn tired.
Here’s my medalI can’t believe how excited I was when the chick draped it around my neck!!