distance: 25.6 miles (according to my garmin)
i signed up for this race to attempt to qualify for marathon maniacs by running three marathons in ninety days. i knew i was doing los angeles (2/14) and big sur (4/24) and needed one that fit in between. griffith park was somewhat inexpensive and local, so i figured, why not?
i signed up for this race with my friend jimmy (and our other friends signed up for the half). texting jimmy the days leading up to the race really helped. we were able to freak out together and then calm each other down. we talked about what we would bring, what shoes we would wear, and how the weather would be. he was concerned we wouldn’t finish in 7 hours (but we both ended up breaking 6 hours).
the night before, i feasted on beef and white rice (and s’mores) at gyu kaku with jenny. i can’t think of a more fun way to fuel for a race.
the race started at 7. jimmy said he’d get there at 5:30. i had planned to get up at 4, leaving a full hour to prep and leave by 5. but at 3:40 am, i was wide awake. i really like watching tv on my ipad while getting ready. i braided my hair and got dressed very calmly, knowing i had a lot of time before i had to leave. i left the house at 5 and was parked by 5:30. it was still pretty dark, but luckily jimmy and i happened to park close and found each other easily.
we walked up to the start line and got our bibs and shirts. i’m really happy i picked “men’s small” as my size because the women’s shirts were hot pink. all the shirts were tank tops though, so i can’t wear it for racing (my camelbak rubs against my skin if i don’t wear a t-shirt).
the cut off time for the marathon was 7 hours. but there was an option to start at 6 am instead (an hour earlier) to give the runner an extra hour to finish. jimmy and i considered this (earlier also meant cooler weather) but decided against it.
in the hour leading up to the race, we just hung out and talked to our friends who were running the half. it was very laid back and distracting. a few minutes before the start, the race director brought us over to explain the course markings. i never really got nervous butterflies, i just knew what i had to do and i couldn’t get out of it.
the race started on time and there were hills right away. i quickly was in the back of the pack, walking up most of the hills. i knew to listen to my heart rate and not push myself. i told myself “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” (and laughed at myself at how topical this was). at the top of the first big hill (around mile 2) there was the first aid station. i grabbed some water and animal crackers, but there was so much amazing food. caramels, chocolates, chips, crackers. i knew what to look forward to at future aid stations.
at around mile 5, we were combined with the half marathon route. then at mile 6.5, we were split off for a little out and back (to gain miles i guess). this was the weirdest part of the race. we ran up a hill, then on the side of the road next to some really tall grass, where if a runner was coming at you, you had to pull off to the side and wait for them to pass. luckily since it was an out and back, it ended with going down the hill we had climbed.
miles 10-18 were pretty much flat. this really helped me out. i was able to run at a comfortable pace and keep my heart rate down. we were also running the opposite direction of the half marathon runners (who were returning from their out and back). it was really fun to see and high five my friends, as well as say “good job!” to random strangers. my team were able to meet and get a picture together and get a quick status report, then part ways. the other runners distracted me until about mile 13. then the marathon course was separated again and we were on our own. this was the most boring and mentally difficult part of the race. we were running until the turn around and i didn’t know how far i was from it. there wasn’t much to look at, we were just running next to the golf course.
once we hit the turn around though, things started to seem easier. we knew we were over half way. i was able to walk/run next to jimmy for a bit and catch up with how he was doing. i took advil at the aid station. i had already seen everything i would be running on the way back, and i knew it was possible. i ran until the uphills started again.
one thing that was a bit distracting/scary/confusing was that there were horses on the route. it was an open course and we were apparently running on the horse trails. this not only meant that we had to avoid horse poop (wonderful) but it also meant we had to worry about running around horses. there was one part with a 20 ft tunnel and i hit it right when 3 horses were walking through. i think that was the fastest i ran the whole day.
the last hills were brutal, but i was so happy to be almost done and happy to take a walk break uphill. i also loved talking to people i was walking next to. everyone was ridiculously friendly, i even made a new facebook and strava friend. i walked next to a woman i had never talked to and she told me she was proud of me. it made my day.
after the last aid station, the last two miles were (mostly) all downhill. this was fun and an ego boost.
my gps was short so i thought i had a lot more to run when i saw the finish line. i started running faster toward it (with extra fuel left over) and was shocked to see my friend erin standing with amy cheering for me. erin hadn’t told any of us that she was coming to cheer. i crossed the finish line in 5:12 and immediately went over and hugged my friends. i sat while they went closer to the course to cheer for jimmy to finish.
before the race, the race director made a big deal about having lunch for everyone after. but when i finished, i looked at the food table and all i saw were prezels, chips, and crackers. i went over to ask my friends where the food was, and it turned out it was all gone. now i know i’m not the fastest, but i definitely wasn’t the last to finish.
the course was very well marked and well staffed. i got 82nd place overall (out of 147 that finished), 17th woman (out of 59) and 4th in my age group (out of 9).
it was a really fun race. i think i’m hooked on this whole trail race thing. i’m already looking at ultra sign up for some future trail races to try.