Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Marathon

Otherwise know as the LA Marathon March 20, 2011. I fully admit at least half of it was my fault.

I hadn't trained properly

I'd gained 6lbs over the holidays and couldn't shake them off

I stayed up way too late on too many nights watching Jersey Shore reruns

I just wasn't motivated

But first things first and that means the pre-race Expo & packet pick up!! I've said it before and I'll say it again, OH but I do love me an Expo. I'm beginning to accept the reality that the only reason I sign on for races is so that I can shop the Expos. That makes so much more sense today.

The crowds, loud music, freebies. What's not to love?
This Expo brought me to some cool new equipment PLUS the cutest shoes EVAR (even Gayle King was wearing them):

And how's this for ULTRA AWESOMELY COOL: all the marthon entrants names were listed on the Honda pace cars. I found my name!

But the inevitable morning of the Marathon was finally here and I woke up full of dread and fear about what I had committed to doing today. I was sure I'd never finish...sure I COULDN'T finish. However, knowing exactly how I would feel if I didn't go through with this race, plus my friend Renee's words echoing in my head: "you're not going to die, Drama!", were what compelled me to peel my face off my pillows, kiss the Puff goodbye, drive to BD's house to pick him up before finally heading on to the start of the race at Dodger Stadium.

We were warned repeatedly to arrive EARLY and AVOID TRAFFIC blah blah blah but we're Angelenos who bleed Dodger blue and know the back roads into Dodger Stadium around Elysian Park. We left BD's house at 6am, stopped for gas, avoided the mess of traffic on the 5 and were parked in about 30 minutes. Plenty of time to watch the opening ceremonies and glare at public enemies One and Two (the Mayor of LA and the owner of the Dodgers)

Elites lined up ahead of the pack. BD thought this was an unfair advantage. His first rodeo.
After the gun went off, BD wished me luck and I made my way down towards the back of the pack. Once I joined the crowd I was actually in a great mood, even smiling! BD had agreed to be my support for this marathon (boy, do I owe him big for this one) and promised to meet up with me at mile 5. We'd brought his bike in the car with us so he was also able to meet up with me at miles 8, 10 and at 15 brought me a change of shoes for which I was SO grateful!

Miles 2-10 were fine enough. I ran pretty well here and was as distracted as I had hoped to be by the cool city landmarks we were passing. Mile 2 took us under the dragon arches of Chinatown, then on to mile 3 through Little Tokyo where I (and I'm sure everyone else) couldn't help but to say a quick prayer for the people in Japan. We passed by Echo Park before heading into downtown

Up up up Grand towards the Disney Concert Hall

where I met my Sherpa for the first time, stopping here to add an extra layer of clothes. The rain was just beginning to fall... just beginning... By the time I hit mile 10, the rain was POUNDING down on us, pelting us like God hates runners in LA. People were trying to be cavalier about it at first, whooping and cheering when it came down especially hard. I literally took the rainjacket off BD's back and he was kind enough to let me even though he was left with nothing but a hoodie and got soaked to the bone for the rest of the day.

No homemade signs for David. He gets a whole BILLBOARD!

After a little while those people were no longer so cavalier. They were desperately wrapped in garbage bags, mylar blankets, plastic sheets acquired from who knows where trying to keep from falling victim to hypothermia. Some weren't successful. At many aid stations I saw people having vital signs checked by medics and saw many more people shivering uncontrollably, teeth chattering, exposed flesh covered in goose-bumps, vacant looks in their eyes. It was no-joke scary.

By around mile 15 or something BD had had enough of the leapfrog game in this unrelenting rain and sent me a text that he would wait for me at the finish line. I thought: Fine, go rest. You deserve it, you've been working so hard today. Slacker.

Up to this mile I was still trying to capture some of the memorable moments of this race, but once my camera phone got to the point where this was the best picture I could take with my cold frozen fingers, I gave up and stowed my phone for the rest of the race.
Ferragamo's on Rodeo Drive
I was super disappointed that the world record breaking Cheer Alley I'd been looking forward to was totally rained out. The rain kept most spectators away in general although there were some scattered here and there. God bless the stoic race volunteers that hung in there for us throughout the day, they also helped keep my spirits up.

Now, I got to thinking about whether or not I was going to hit "the wall" I've heard tell about or if I would even recognize the signs of hitting "the wall". Miles 16, 17, 18, 19 were difficult, very very difficult. But my thoughts were still along the lines of: I'm way more than half way done, I'm actually going to finish this thing. And I didn't really even train for this.

Mile 20 finally came and THAT's when I hit it. The wall. I slammed into that wall like an egg thrown against a cinderblock fence. SPLAT. I hit mile 20 and I stopped. I thought I'm SO done with this thing. I'm tired of being wet. I'm over sloshing through puddles and wading through shin-deep water. I'm done with being so cold I can't bend my fingers. I'm exhausted. Everything hurts. I didn't train for this! I'm over it. I quit! I HATE THIS STUPID RACE!!

I got my phone out and dialed my Sherpa and begged him to ride over on his bike to meet me and ride alongside me the last 6 miles. What I didn't tell him was that I was planning to jump on his handlebars and screw the rest of this race. Since he was already at the finish line I knew it wouldn't take him long to ride a few miles down to meet up with me. Every bike that passed by I lit up thinking it was my salvation until finally I saw BD making his way towards me....on foot. UGH! I had no choice but to keep going. And all this time the rain refused to stop punishing us.

Head down, I was following BD's feet, mostly shuffling not really running, for the last 2 miles, until he shouted at me, "See that orange arch up ahead? that's your finish!" I looked up and flipped that arch the bird. I wanted to flip a double bird as I crossed the finish line but BD thought it was in bad taste so I didn't. But that's how I felt.

After crossing the finish I got my medal and there was of course no finish line party, no celebration. The torrential rains were even worse at the Santa Monica pier finish line, and the biting wind made every step after the finish line excruciatingly painful. Everybody was scurrying for shelter from the elements at the finish line. It was a mess.


As we made our way back to our car BD was emoting the sentiments I should have and would have had I not just run 26.2 miles in torrential rains. "You just ran a marathon! How many people can say that?" I thought: What ever. I could have been home by now...I would have quit at mile 20 except for you.

Then came the best part of the day: After the race, BD (after everything I'd put him through) treated me to lunch, anywhere I wanted to go. I wanted to go to the Apple Pan. I ate a burger, fries and a slice of banana cream pie all by myself. I wore my medal inside the restaurant and hoped someone would ask about it so I could brag, Uh, yeah I just ran the Marathon. What did YOU do today? Instead I could tell they were all blaming me for the massive road closures and mad gridlock throughout the city. Damn runners.

So now the question is, Will I do it again next year?