Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My First Marathon - Wet & Wild LA Marathon 2011 Race Report!

Woke up feeling rested, excited and nervous thinking that all of my training culminates to this one day. It was funny. In the prior weeks during tapering, I was so worried about injuring my legs, knees or my feet that I made a conscious effort to watch where I was stepping on.  I didn't want some preventable injury to ruin my first marathon experience. Having battled plantar fasciitus for 4 months last year, I didn't want to feel any of the symptoms. On race day morning, however, all systems were a go and I wasn't going to let rain ruin it for me. Nutrition: Bagel w/cream cheese, banana, and scrambled egg whites.

We arrived to see a nice quarter mile line of cars getting off the exit to the stadium. With only 1 hour to go until start time, I made the quick decision to get out of the car and start walking from the freeway to the start line (~2 mile warmup?). 

Dodger Stadium (Credit: Kristin Burns)
 I was targeting a range of 3:50-4:10 (~9min/mi pace) based on my previous race times so I was placed in the "C" Corral (sub-5). With the countdown beginning for the wheelchair participants, I stripped down to my singlet and tri-shorts. I was wearing an undershirt, thermals and a poncho to keep warm and dry. It was about 50 degrees and no rain except for dark ominous clouds.  Soon the gun went off for Wave 1 (my wave) and we were off!

Start Line (Credit: Kristin Burns)
Nutrition: 6 Gu's, 2 Roctanes, on-course water and gatorade. Took in Gu every 3 miles. Hydrated at every aid station.

Mile 1-6:
After navigating through the discarded trash bags and clothes, I settled into a good rhythm flowing with the mass of runners. The rain was just starting to pick up. I took Howtorunamarathon's advice to ease up on the hills early on and attack the downhills to make up for any lost time. I kept checking my Garmin to see if I was going out too fast and sure enough I was, so I slowed down a bit knowing that I needed to conserve energy to get through the VA/Brentwood (mile 20-23) section of the course.  It was cool to run through Chinatown, Olvera Street, City Hall, Disney Hall and the Cathedral.

Taiko Drummers  (Credit: Jeenyuhss)
Miles 7-13:
By this time, the rain was getting heavy with occasional lightning and thunder. I was thoroughly soaked. My feet felt the cold water every time I landed on a puddle.  It was during this stretch that I felt the first signs of cramping in my quads. I never felt this before since it's always been my calves. I thought to myself "Not now, not this early" so I slowed down until the pain went away. Despite this, the runners kept cheering at every downpour so with that kind of energy in the air, I pressed on. I tried to stay relaxed, concentrating on my form and taking in water/gatorade at every aid station. This was one of my favorite sections. I loved running through Hollywood Blvd and passing the Pantages, Grauman's Chinese Theater, El Capitan, Hollywood & Vine. The crowd support here was just awesome!

Grauman's Chinese Theater (Credit: Bloodeyeballs)
Miles 14-20:
Although this was beyond the half way point and I got to see WestHo and Rodeo Drive, I was also feeling the effects of the long stretches of inclines. I could no longer attack the downhills to make up for the lost time on the hills. My legs were just not moving quick enough. The steady incline and rolling hills of Santa Monica Blvd took the wind out of me. My mind wanted to go faster, but my legs were crying "UNCLE!" By the later part of this stretch, my avg pace was on a steady decline and I knew a sub-4 finish was wishful thinking. The hills at the VA sealed the deal. Not surprisingly, this would have to be the least liked section of the course. 

Beverly Hills (Credit: Lanegra8330)
Miles 21-26:
Crowd support was awesome in Brentwood! I pushed on despite my legs being spent coming out of the VA section. The slight cramping in my quads came back so I again had to slow down. I didn't want to be one of the runners on the side of the road trying to stretch them out. I kept telling myself, "I just need to get to 23" and it will be downhill to the home stretch. At this point, the storm was in full swing and the winds were starting to pick up. As we made the left turn onto Ocean Ave, I felt the head winds and heavy rain drops. The crowd cheering on top of that was deafening. I sprinted as hard as I could toward the finish. I knew when I crossed the finish line, no one, not even the freak storm will take this accomplishment away.

Finish Line (Credit: Bloodyeyeballs)

Here's a video clip of condition at the finish line:

Nutrition: Bagels, potato chips, banana, boost and powerade.

Loved seeing all the different ethnicities going through the different parts of course. It was truly a melting pot experience which makes this city what it is.  It was awesome to see the crowds out there cheering the runners despite the weather.

I have to thank LA Marathon for making this a truly memorable first marathon experience. I have to also thank the volunteers and spectators who braved the torrential rains to help the runners get to the finish line. Lastly, I have to thank my family for all of their support (tolerance) not just for the LA Marathon, but for the prior ten months of training runs and races they had to endure.

Ready for the next LA Marathon! I love LA!

For you data nerds, here's the data from my Garmin:


  1. This was my first marathon experience also and I don't think I would change anything about it! Congrats on your finish, great race report!!

  2. Great recap! I typically go a pretty even pace for my front and back halves but the hills on the front end trashed my quads (being from flat mid-west, it is tough to train on hills). I decided to enjoy the sights and took time to visit with friends that stood out in the down pour (not sure I'd do the same for them!). All in all, without those stops, I would have PR'd! Should have paid a little more attention. Love the photos - and those drummers got me moving up that hill!


  3. Awesome race report! Congrats on finishing your first marathon! The LA Marathon was truly a memorable experience for me as well!

  4. Hey there! Thank you for checking out my blog and subscribing! Congratulations on your first marathon finish, that is SO exciting!!

    You did great, especially for those conditions! Wow! I can't believe that video of the finish line! you are a rock star for doing your first marathon in that weather! I thought I hated the heat the most, but that weather looks pretty horrible. Eesh!

  5. Oh and I forgot to say that I have been having some foot pain and my doctor thinks it might be plantar:(. I was hoping it would just go away on its own with some rest, but it doesn't seem to want to cooperate. I am going to try and go back and see the podiatrist now:/.

  6. Hi Erin,

    If it is PF, you'll most likely feel heel pain with your first step in the morning or after a period of time off your feet. It usually disappears once the ligaments in your feet warm up. Two things that helped me heal: Using a boot or Strassburg sock and bending your toes up toward your shins to stretch your fascia for a good 30s or so. You have to do this before you take that first step. The pain you feel is your ligament re-injuring itself so you want to prevent that initial pain. Try to take care of it as soon as possible because once you have a full blown case, it takes months to heal.

  7. Thanks for the info! I am really unsure if it is PF because I don't really have any pain in the heel, just the middle of the foot. I need to get in to see the podiatrist and get a better opinion (no offense to my general doctor). If the podiatrist agrees that it is PF, though, I will definitely keep this information in mind! Thank you so much. I haven't dealt with this kind of injury before. It's so frustrating!