distance: 26.2 miles
temp at finish line: 91
i woke up at 3 am and immediately drank a bottle of water that i had put in the fridge the night before. i then filled it back up, put a nuun tablet in it and put it back in the fridge. i had done my kt tape the night before, so all i had to do was get dressed, make sure i wasn’t forgetting anything, put my bib on my shirt, make sure i wasn’t forgetting anything, and head out.
i met up with my friends at 3:45 am (luckily my friend amy’s husband was awesome enough to drive us to/from the race). traffic was not as bad as any of us had expected. i think we were walking up to dodger stadium at around 4:30 am. we took a few pictures and headed over to the bag check so i could drop off my bag (which contained a powerbar, flip flops, and an extra shirt). as we were walking over, we ran into our training group! it was great to camp out with them (they could watch our stuff as we made multiple trips to the dreaded porta poties). our group leader met up with us at 6:15 am and led one last stretch. (the funniest part of the stretch was all the random people who gathered around and stretched with us.)
at 6:30 am, we headed to our corals. i hadn’t been given a coral, but i was going to try and sneak in with my friend amy who was in the “d” group. we said goodbye to meghan (she was in the “b” group) and as we were walking to “d”, we saw the two large security guards checking people entering the “d” group. i decided not to sneak in and say goodbye to amy (a few tears were shed). i tried to find my mentor (bear) because he was in the “open” group, but at this point it was too busy to find anyone. i stood with the crowd alone, and even though i would have loved to be with my friends, i think i needed that time alone. i was able to prepare myself mentally for the miles ahead. i told myself to take it slow, take small steps (a tip i read in “runner’s wold” the night before), and just enjoy the experience.
at 7:10 am, i crossed the start line. the course starts at dodger stadium, then goes into downtown LA. right as we were leaving the parking entrance for dodger stadium, i saw a guy collapsed on the side of the road. .66 miles in, i couldn’t believe it (and i still wonder what happened). i kept trying to stay slow, between a 11/11:30 pace. there were a lot of religious signs (“get christ or you got hell” was my favorite) that just made me chuckle. there was a boy holding up a sign that said “i don’t know you, but i’m proud of you” that made me tear up. i walked up the nasty hill at mile 4 (and texted my parents saying everything was fine so far).
i loved the fans and volunteers on the course. not only were there volunteers in their official race shirts, so many community members came out to hand out ice/bananas/oranges/water. one family set up a table on their lawn and on it were dixie cups with ice. another spectator was handing out frozen otter pops.
i ran through echo park, hollywood, then west hollywood. my knees felt fine, and i was trying to stay ahead of the 5:00 pacer (who i knew started ahead of me).
at the hill at mile 18, i texted my parents again (telling them i was fine and my knees still didn’t hurt!). as i was texting them, i realized that amy (the one i tried to start with) was right up ahead of me. i ended up spotting her, and she was with bear (my mentor, who i also tried to start with) and another teammate mike. i was so incredibly happy to see them. unfortunately, our visit was brief. i knew i was still ahead of that 5:00 marker and thought i could still hit my time goal, so i said goodbye but kept looking back for them the rest of the race.
the last few miles were tough (really miles 20-26), not because i was tired or my legs hurt (my knees still didn’t hurt!) but because of the heat. this day coincidentally hit temperature records for LA and santa monica. i was afraid of ending up with an iv in my arm, so if i felt like i was overheating, i took a break and walked. i also grabbed ice whenever i could (thanks to the amazing volunteers) and poured a lot of water on my head.
at mile 22, i saw more of my friends! my friends aileen, logan, brynn, diana, and bobby had come out to cheer me on in santa monica. it was the greatest feeling running toward them (and i made them take a picture of us together). that gave me the last boost of energy to finish the race (wall, what wall?).
as i got closer to the finish line, i realized i still had a shot of getting under 5:00. the pacer had passed me while i was walking to cool down, but my garmin told me i could do it. at the 40k (24.8 miles) marker, my phone texted me the alert that at my current pace, i would finish at 5:03:28. i told myself it wouldn’t be the end of the world if i finished close to 5:00, but i still really wanted to break 5. i started pushing myself a bit more, especially when i made the turn and could see the finish line up ahead. i felt light headed but knew that i would kick myself if i hadn’t pushed myself my hardest. i crossed the finish line (so much for the goal of finishing with a smile, i think i was just relieved) and then i got the text that i had finished at 4:59:56. four seconds!
i walked a ways to get my medal, then as i finally got to the water station (it felt like miles) i saw my friend erin who was volunteering at the event. she helped me track down the rest of the group while i was spread out on the side of the road. the rest of my group finished close to when i did and we were able to take 1 picture together (why didn’t i take more?!) and talk about the race. then amy’s amazing husband picked us up and drove us home while we continued to talk about the race (it must have been so boring for him).
the heat was miserable, but i still can’t stop smiling about this race. i am so proud of myself for finishing with the time i did. i can’t give enough credit to the group i trained with. they held me accountable to show up for training, kept my spirits up, and made this whole training process fun.