The night before:
Apparently there is much debate about whether or not an athlete should carb load before a big event. My bible (which I followed religiously) told me I should carb up all week, and if I felt like I hadn’t eaten enough carbs that on the night before I should eat a particularly carby meal. Since I feel like I could never eat “enough carbs” I decided to go for a nice Italian meal. I wanted to go early (6pm is early meal time in LA, for some people it’s even considered a late lunch…) and was unpleasantly surprised by the shit-tastic service we got from a normally delicious and low key restaurant. It probably didn’t help that I had been sitting in the auto shop all day with my car, so waiting an hour and fifteen minutes for food was not on my ‘things to do’ list. I’ve crossed that restaurant off my list. Il Capricio - if you were wondering.
The morning of:
I woke up at 3:45AM and kind of tossed and turned until 5:30AM. I was fretting about what to wear, if I should eat, was I going to have to go number 2 during the course, etc, etc. Finally I got dressed and Louie came to pick me up. He dealt with my nerves and my non-specific directions as best as he could. I am a trial.
The Line Up:
I met Eric, Dave, Karma and Joe at the corner of 4th and Fig, which was a block away from the start line. It was freezing. I was wearing shorts. Goose bumps and white legs. Sexy.
Eric gave me some pointers and tips and before too long we heard the gun and Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” playing, and we were off. Sort of. The start line is packed about a block and a half deep, so we walked until we crossed the actual start line and then Eric and Dave took off, and Karma and I puttered along.
Mile 1 through 6:
It is an amazing thing running with 25,000 strangers. You can only hear their footsteps and clothing and see the mass of heads bumping along in front of you. I did my best not to over run the first six miles, just took it slow and hydrated at every water stop. Karma had to pee at about mile 3 or 4, so I was alone running along, and at mile 6 I decided I need to pee to. I lost about 5 to 7 minutes in line for the portapotty, but wasn’t about to drop trou like the crazy people and pee beside a building. When I started back up again, I picked my pace up a bit, but not too much, I wanted to make up time, but I wasn’t terribly worried about it.
Mile 6 through 13.2:
People were out everywhere cheering for the runners, calling out the names they could read on people’s bibs, banging pots together. I started using my iPod around here, just to pass the time. I could have done it with out, but I figured since I was carrying it, I might as well listen to it. In two places “Eye of the Tiger” which is on my iPod was being played live, but the “On Course Entertainment.” I expected to feel really tired at the half way mark, but the only thing I felt was a little mental twinge. I was tired, but the mental image of doing what I had just run, except with more hills, made me a little… weary. I used the techniques my training bible taught me and that went away pretty quickly. At some point Karma reappeared, and we ran together for a while. I slowed down a bit and she kept going. Around here I took 2 more Advil and got drank/ate a Cliff Shot (the Vanilla flavor is delicious.)
Mile 13 through 19:
There were a few small hills to contend with, but nothing like what I had been training on, so that was a total relief. In fact, if anyone wants to train in Los Angeles for the marathon, I highly recommend Los Feliz/Silverlake/Echo Park. Our hills are killer. We started moving through neighborhoods I’m very familiar with on this part of the course, because of my commute to and from work, so that was nice. Running up Wilshire Blvd, there was a big cold wind blowing right in your face, then it would switch and be at your back, I almost put my wind breaker back on, but before too long we were on 6th Street and the wind was gone. At mile 18 they had a “Salonpas” pain relief station, where they sprayed some kind of Ben Gay type solution on your legs. It might be a pure placebo effect, but it felt great. Then I got just passed mile 19 and a group of my friends were there cheering me on. I was so happy to see them. Louie took a few photos.
Mile 20 through 26:
Wow. This is a blur for me because as they say, the last six miles are the last half of the marathon. You know you can finish, you just don’t know how. I saw a man in the middle of the street, he had collapsed and a couple of people were trying to help him. I’m not sure if he was one of the two people that died. I kept going. I walked a few times in this last six just to give my knees some relief. I was also getting worried about my left foot. I was experiencing some numbness in the pad and two of my toes. At mile 26, Karma and I reconnected and I started to push pretty hard.
There is no way for me to describe running up Flower seeing the finish line, knowing that the past sixteen weeks had led up to this one moment. I crossed. I got a little choked up. They took off my timing chip and I half limped to get my medal. I kind of had to lean down because the woman was so short. It felt heavy around my neck. I had finished it.
After the medal you run the gauntlet of water, gatorade, shiny blankets, cliff bars and I devoured one and a half. (Which is probably why I got a little sick when we got to the car.) Louie was there with flowers and I was ready to start planning my next one.
I can’t believe how awesome it feels to do this. I love it and will do it again.