I have so many thoughts I’m struggling with where to start this post. Do I start with the experience? Do I start with the emotional story that was the build up to it? Do I go right. Into a blow by blow of the events?
I’m still processing it all but I’m on the plane with nothing but time so here goes nothing!
Life has been pretty rocky lately to say the least. I know you know that. It’s been a series of lows that only recently starting looking like highs. Running wasn’t going well for me and I was only tracking 15 or so miles a week…nothing that looked like a marathon training plan.
I was excited to go to LA and see friends and enjoy the vibes of race weekend without participating. I mean, how could I? My longest run in the past six months was 5 miles.
My SIL was going to be participating in her first and I wanted to be there for her. I went ahead and packed my run gear for no other reason that to hopefully get a few 3 milers in and off we went…
We flew in on Friday, settled into the JW Marriott and decided to head to the expo early. Great idea because it was NOT busy yet and we got our bibs without any issues. We looked around and I decided to get my left knee rock taped (just out of curiosity) and headed out. The Marathon had this really cool expo stop where you could give them your bib number, take a picture on a green screen then they would send your friends pictures of you as you passed each of the different landmarks. You can see mine here.
Friday night we went to West Hollywood with family for dinner at a place that was perfect for the carb-loading marathoners. :).
Saturday morning was the Big LA 5K which I had signed up for because I thought I’m not coming all the way out here and NOT getting at least one race experience in. The 5K was awesome, hilly course but the vibe was chill, when you get to run at party pace with these Linzie and Tony, how could you not have fun?
Physically I listened to my body.
How did my knee feel?
Was I engaging my glutes?
How was my endurance?
All signs were pointing to ending strong.
After the 5K, we headed back to the expo to hang with friends and get a new water bottle. It was so fun seeing Carlee and so many of my west coast friends. I always feel at home out here.
After the expo, SIL and I headed back to the hotel and got our gear ready for Sunday. Secretly I was thinking I’m just going through the motions to keep Michelle feeling excited. It wasn’t till I saw all my gear laid out that I really started thinking crazy thoughts…
Could I really do this? Could I really finish this race?
I started considering strategies…walk the entire thing. It would take FOREVER but then I would get the medal. I knew the course opened back up 6:30 hours after it started so it was possible.
I had tried this one other race and actually enjoyed it. I also thought it might save my legs a little. 3 min run/1 min walk/3 min run felt right so I mentally noted it and moved on.
Saturday night family came downtown and we enjoyed a relaxed pre-race dinner and got to bed early. Having them there was so nice. They provided such a great balance to race weekend.
Funny thing happened Saturday night. I went to bed without any nerves (so much different than NYC in 2015). There were zero expectations for the next day. In fact, I planned start the race, get Michelle off and then drop out. I mean how could I really finish this race? My last marathon was two years ago and it ended so painfully I was not looking forward to a repeat of that.
After watching Bad Bosses 2…we went to sleep.
The next day we were up and in a cab by 5:30. I stopped to get some coffee and was still feeling ZERO nerves. We met up with the other Conqur ambassadors, chatted a bit, stretched a bit and headed to the corrals. I started back with Michelle but we were running by 7:15. The weather was race day perfect if you ask me…cool in the AM and really only warmed up to about 57. It’s like they ordered it!
We started at Dodger stadium and I wished Michelle good luck and started asking myself some serious questions.
What was I going to do now? I could jump out here…grab an Uber and head to Santa Monica in a few hours.
Then I thought about how tough it might be to get to Santa Monica with all the roads closed. At least if I ran the race, I would get there..at some point. :).
How did I feel about 3/1/3? Pretty good. What the hell…lets try it! What’s it gonna hurt? I had heard so many great things about this race course that I wanted to experience it anyway.
So I started getting into the rhythm of 3/1/3. If you follow me on IG you know how it went from there but if you didn’t here is the race recapped in a quick preview!
The course started at Dodger Stadium and ended in Santa Monica right on the ocean. The course itself started a little hilly but leveled off nicely and even ended down hill!
The miles sailed by! I drank every 45 minutes. I eat a snicker bar halfway through. I stopped for pictures, moments with family and friends that met us along the way and soaked up the Southern California vibes coming from the crowds that lined the route the ENTIRE race.
I started thinking back to New York and knew that I had a history of hitting a wall at mile 18. I was mentally prepping for it. Physically I was very aware of my running form and listening to my body. If something ever felt completely wrong I was giving myself permission to listen and obey.
Mile 18 came and went and not only was there NO wall but I was happy. I was having fun and I was feeling REALLY good. I almost cried because for a flash I actually allowed myself to visualize crossing the finish line. Goosebumps.
Mile 20 I was still doing 3/1/3 and enjoying the race. This course is THE BEST. You get to see everything…no exaggeration. The support was great. Water stops, Gatorade Endurance, all the oranges, pretzels, cheer squads you could EVER want.
It wasn’t till about mile 23 that I started feeling the typical tightening of my legs and lower half but it wasn’t usual I just thought I would have felt it a LOT earlier. My 3/1/3 turned into a 2/1/2 and my pace was slowing. I could feel the Wall starting to creep in. You would think by that point it would be easy to push it away but it was tough. I was full on walking now.
Mile 24…that’s what I was looking forward too…knowing Sara was there gave me something to be excited about and when I saw here it may or may not have made me cry. It reminded me of seeing Toni on the NYC course. She gave me a hug that I will never forget. The kind of hug that bonds people together for life. Yeah…it was that powerful. It was just the boost I needed to break the wall apart and finish the race.
It was slow and I wanted mentally for it to be over but there’s a point in this race where you take the last turn and you see the ocean, you feel the breeze full on and for me it was SUPER symbolic. All the struggles of the past few months flashed through my mind and I let them all just get washed out to sea. I took a deep breath like I havent’ gotten in months and just enjoyed being in the moment.
Once I could start to see the finish and hear the announcers I let myself enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that I didn’t think I would get this weekend. I crossed and shocked myself.
How did I just do that?
How did Michelle do?
First let me tell you about Michelle…SHE KILLED IT!! I was beyond proud of her!
I’m still not sure how it happened. Physically I hadn’t trained. Mentally, I spent zero energy getting ready but what I do know is that it was meant to be. I don’t recommend it to everyone but on this day…it worked! Like Magic!
What’s even crazier? Is that if I compare it to my NYC Marathon finish time, this race was only 10 more than that race but a much better race day experience. This was the first marathon where I didn’t want to swear off ever doing another marathon again. This is the first marathon where I could actually walk afterwards. Sure I’m sore but not like in the past.
I’m also starting to think that maybe if I want to continue running endurance events Run/Walk/Run might be my play. Pace wise, it ended up a wash with running the entire time but my body handled it much better.
Lizzie and I were texting after the race. I used the word MAGIC to explain this race and this weekend overall. It was great and all around. Conqur puts on one hell of a race and if given the chance, I’ll be back.
Looking for a race-cation?
Add it to your list…you wont be disappointed.