I still can’t believe its over. Race season is over. I feel like I can’t get rid of this feeling of disbelief. I must say, I had so much fun this year. I can’t believe I forgot to talk about the bling. I always forget to talk about the bling, and its important to talk about it.
This weekend marked the end of the ConqurLA Challenge. In order to receive the ConqurLA Challenge medal you must run the Santa Monica Classic (5k or the 10k distance), the Pasadena Half Marathon at the Rose Bowl, and of course, the beautiful Los Angeles Marathon (which is my personal favorite). Everyone was after this medal, especially because they heard that it spins. This is the second year in a row that I have done this challenge and I absolutely love it.
The second bling, which is new and introduced this year is the LA Double Play. You earn this by running the LA Big 5k, and the Los Angeles Marathon back to back, which is running a total of twenty-nine point three (29.3) miles for the entire weekend. I was up for the challenge which is why I was running the LA Big 5k. I usually rest all day on Saturday, but I really wanted this medal, and I loved the challenge.
I’ll be walking away with four (4) medals, who can say no to that? Let me tell you about my journey to get these four (4) medals, which was one awesome ride.
Friday is Day 1 of the Expo and I was excited. I wanted to get there early, but I had my internship in the morning. After I finished my internship at the court house, I changed my clothes and went straight to the expo. I had to pick up my race packets, and I was looking forward to doing some shopping for LA Marathon merchandise. I picked up some awesome LA Marathon merchandise, and grabbed some pictures at the new LA Loyal booth. My plans quickly changed, so I had to rush through the expo. I considered this a blessing in disguise because for the first time, I was the running the 5k on Saturday morning with one of my BFF.
Later that night it was off to Olive Garden for dinner with the BFF before I called it a night.
Its Saturday morning, and its the morning of the LA Big 5k. Happy race day! It started off in an interesting note. After stopping at Starbucks for coffee me and the BFF were on our way. Keep in mind, that it only takes me about 30 minutes to get to Dodger Stadium. This morning was different, it was Saint Patrick’s Day this morning, and I decided to jump on the 10 Freeway. Well, that might have been a mistake because I am unable to merge onto the freeway. Traffic is heavy due to an accident, but no on is letting anyone in front of them. Myself, and about 15 other cars in front of me were unable to merge on, therefore, we were forced to drive on the shoulder of the freeway.
About 2 miles later, I’m still in the shoulder and no one is letting us over. One lady even took the time to roll her passenger window down to yell and curse at me about make the shoulder my lane. I explained to her that we can’t even merge onto the freeway because people were not let us over. I pointed to the 15 other cars still in front of me, still unable to merge onto the freeway. She continued to scream at me, calling me choice names while almost rear ending the car in front of her three separate times. During this, I have reached the offramp for La Brea. After an exchange of words by me, which she did not like, but that was the point because she punched her gas peddle and decided to switch lanes. In doing this she almost hitting two cars (which I was hoping she’d switch lanes carefully and not anyone) in the lane next to her, and I saw my opportunity. I felt horrible for doing it, but I cut the person off, and I was able to get into a lane. I came to a dead stop to allow 5 cars still on the shoulder to merge into the lane, and trust me when I saw they were grateful. From there I was able merge to my left to get on the feeder road to take me back onto the 10 Freeway. Finally, after about 6 miles of driving on the shoulder I am finally on the freeway.
We arrived at Dodger Stadium at 7:50am. OMG, the race starts at 8am. I am rushing at this point to find any parking space I can. After finding a space, changing into my running shoes, the BFF and I were literally sprinting to the start line. We jump into the open corral at 7:59pm. We both breathed a sigh of relief. We were able to take maybe 4 pictures before the race started and everyone was walked to cross the start line. I looked at the BFF and said to her “Talk about making it by the skin of our teeth. We’re never doing this again”. She looked at me and we both laughed. Being late to a race is not in my vocabulary, let alone just barely making it to the start. It was an adventure, and the stat line is magical.
This was her race, her pace. I just wanted to keep her pace, I had marathon tomorrow. She’s jogging, and I’m lightly jogging next to her. All of a sudden two of our friends came up beside me and said hello. I was super excited to see “Kay” and her wife “Laura”. We’d all been seeing each other since the Santa Monica Classic. They kept my BFF company during the 5k runs, they were completing their Triple 5k Challenge today. “Kay” was in a wheelchair and we found out that she had major surgery weeks prior to this race. “Kay” wife rented her a wheelchair so that “Kay” can finish the Triple 5k challenge. I wasn’t running, or jogging. I was staying with “Kay” and “Laura” so I could help. The BFF immediately understood without any words being spoken what my plan was and agreed. Myself and the BFF offered to help push “Kay” to the finish line.
This was my very first time running the LA Big 5k. The course was beautiful, and it felt like a stroll in the park. I loved it. After climbing up hills, laughing all the way through the course, “Kay” and “Laura” both thanked us for staying with them. “Laura” said with those hills, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do it all on her own. I said that it was my pleasure to stay and help. I had a lot of fun, and how many times can you say that you literally pushed someone to the finish? All four of us broke out in laughter.
Here we are, we can finish. We were all discussing where we should stop because “Kay” decided that she wanted to get out of the wheelchair to cross the finish line on her feet. After much debate, we were all concerned for her health, we picked the perfect spot. “Kay” got out of her wheelchair, and all four of us crossed that finish line together.
There is no better way to end a race, than an epic finisher picture. Granted, I am not a Triple 5k finisher, but four of the women in the picture are, and I was happy for them.
Today wasn’t about PR’s, it wasn’t about us and our goals. It was all about our friend “Kay” and ensuring that she crossed that finish line. It was all about seeing her get that LA Triple 5k medal. It was about the smile on her face when she received her medals. Seeing her happiness, supporting a fellow runner, and friend is what makes me smile the biggest smile, it makes my heart sing loud and proud.
Its back to the hotel for me to shower, and relax before marathon. Well, not just yet. I’m hungry. Off to Langer’s with the BFF; the BFF just had to have her corn beef and cabbage. I just wanted food and a coke. I got a breakfast sandwich with their famous cream soda. That seriously hit the spot; yummy food make my tummy very happy. Langer’s was the best, and their cream soda is to die for. I highly recommend it.
Now its time for me to get some rest, grab dinner, and go to bed super early.
I woke up Sunday morning extremely groggy and exhausted. I got about 7 hours of sleep, but all I wanted to do was to go back to sleep. I got up, got dressed, grabbed my marathon bag, and I was off to Santa Monica. When I arrived and parked, I realized that I should have slept for another hour because it was freezing cold this morning.
I was still half asleep as I was walking to the shuttles. The guy in front of me looked all warm and cozy in his pajama pants. I was thinking I should have done the same thing, then just tossed them at the start line for donation. The guy in front of me was unable to get onto the shuttle. When security asked to see his bib he said “I don’t have it but I have the email” security then told him to “step aside”. I showed security my bib and got on the shuttle. I love the shuttle ride to Dodger Stadium, its peaceful, and it gives me an opportunity to fully clear my head. I feel asleep on the shuttle, and before I knew it, we arrived at Dodger Stadium.
It was freezing cold at Dodger Stadium, my teeth were chattering so bad that I thought my teeth had decided to type a letter. Until it was time to start jumping into the corral the name of the game was trying to stay warm, and stay awake. I failed at staying awake because I feel asleep, twice. On the bright side, I got an additional 40 minutes of sleep. I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired.
It was about 6:45am and I decided to brave the cold. It was warmer in Dodger Stadium because everyone was huddled together to stay warm. When I walked out it felt like someone was throwing ice at me. It was so cold. I had to brave the cold, it was time to start. I put on my headphones, listening to music to get my head in the game. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I was recording video of Dodger Stadium, the National Anthem was being sung. I was so in my music I didn’t know what was happening. When I got home and watched the footage, I felt so horrible that I didn’t put my hand over my heart and respect our National Anthem.
The 33rd Edition of the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon has officially started. Walking to the start line all I could think of was how am I still half asleep? I crossed the start line, started my Garmin, and took it easy. I have 26 miles ahead of me, no point in giving it my all right out the gate.
I remember very little about the first 10 miles of the marathon. I was honestly still fighting not to fall asleep, however, I’m pretty sure I lost that battle. There are points that I truly do not remember. I remember coming to the Golden Dragons when entering Chinatown, which is mile 2 of the marathon. I remember making that left turn onto Broadway. I remember making the right onto Alpine and then a right onto Spring St. I remember running by City Hall, mile 3 of the marathon.
I had slightly woke up to notice a change in the course. I was running on a street I had never been on, and I didn’t recognize the buildings. In front of me I did see a tunnel, and then we made a right turn. At this point “Elle” came up behind me and smacked my ass. I laughed and gave her a big hug. As we made that left onto 1st Street we were faced with only 2 blocks up hill, not 3 blocks as in the previous two years. I’m down with that. I remember running by the water station right there at Grand Park.
I honestly don’t remember much after that. I remember texting my best friend and he was letting me know where he was on the course (he was not running the marathon). I just happen to look up and saw the LA Loyal poster advertising the Los Angeles Marathon. I stopped to grab a pic and “Julie” comes running up behind me. Ah, I was so ecstatic to see her. I hadn’t seen her in over a year. What do we do? We grab selfies and run the marathon together.
I realized at this point that we were actually closing in on mile ten (10) of the marathon. Oops. I thought it was mile eight (8). “Julie” told me we were in Hollywood, coming up on Hollywood and Vine. That intersection is mile ten (10) of the marathon. I told her how tired I was and how I feel I’m still not even awake, and it looks like I completed the first 10 miles of the marathon, still asleep.
“Elle” and I must have been playing leap frog with each other the entire time because she’ll catch up to us and then we’d catch up to her. “Julie” and I were talking about how great we are doing. She is recovering from surgery and I was coming back after being out with an injury for a year. We were taking it easy, and we really hadn’t had much training. Both of us were solely relying on muscle memory. A lot of friends I bumped into were relying on muscle memory too, because they couldn’t get enough training in.
Mile fifteen and a half (15.5); we are officially in Beverly Hills. I was so grateful to the ladies who had the massage rollers. I was able to roll out my calfs, thighs, and hamstrings. It felt so good and my legs felt refreshed. I hear voices from behind me, and it was all smiles when I saw my sistah and “James”. We immediately hug each other and grab a selfie.
After seeing my sistah all decked out in the LA Marathon sunset and palm tree leggings and tank, I started kicking myself for not seeing that at the expo, but that’s ok; I got the hat. We were all off to make one of my favorite left turns, that left turn onto Rodeo Drive. I saw my sistah on the bench just short of the Louis Vuitton store and I asked her if she was ok. She had pain cream, and when she offered some, I was all up for it. My left hamstring was beginning to become very painful again. After a pain cream break we were off to conquer the hills of Century City.
Yes, on Wilshire Blvd in Century City there are hills. This is what I feel is one of the toughest parts of the marathon. The sun is directly on you, its the hottest part of the marathon as well. At mile nineteen (19) my sistah had caught up with me. I stayed with her while she took some Advil, and she gave me some as well. I’m thinking damn, my sistah comes super prepared. Lesson learned for me; come with pain reliever cream and Advil.
It was super nice to come off Sepulveda onto Wilshire, leading us gently onto San Vicente Blvd for the next four (4) miles. The two (2) miles through Brentwood are the toughest for me because there’s not much to look at, but I managed to get through Brentwood with ease. At mile twenty-three (23) I saw my friend and got a big hug from him. I told him I was hurting so bad, mainly my upper left hamstring. He said “I bet”. Then he asked the route we took through DTLA. I had to tell him I honestly don’t remember because I was extremely sleepy and not really awake. He then asked if it was the route that is posted online? I told him that it was not and I know that for a fact. I didn’t recognize my surroundings, and the surroundings were different from last year, which is the route posted online. As I was talking to him, “Julie” had caught up to me and asked me if I was ok. I told her I am good, I’m ok. She said ok, then continued jogging. My friend then pointed out that the clean up trucks were starting to come down San Vicente and I better get a move on and finish. He gave me one more hug, and I was off to catch up with “Julie” who had passed me.
One more mile until we reach the Santa Monica City Limits. We were almost there. It was time to finish this marathon. It had been so much running with friends, and talking to a lot of the runners around us. It was nothing but encouragement, positively pushing each other to the finish, and pacing each other to the finish.
As we made that soft left from San Vicente onto Ocean, we could mentally see the finish line. The band was playing and we were all focused. “Julie” kept motioning for me to keep going, and to follow her. I could see the finish. I was weak, hurting, and I had ran out of water by the time I hit mile twenty-three (23). Someone was pushing me, and pacing me to the finish before he turned off to the right, that is for those who have no bibs for the event, otherwise known as bandits. I was so grateful for him pacing me toward the end. I felt like a lion. I was focused on that finish line.
The finish line was closed when I got there and we were turning to the right, toward the park. OMG I had never been so happy because there was so much shade and I saw water. My heart was so happy. I finished, there was shade, and water. I got my finisher’s medal, my ConqurLA Challenge Medal, and my LA Double Play Medal. I grabbed two bottles of water and chugged one. I was so grateful to have water. The second bottle I drank. I still had my music on, so I made my way through and I was back on Ocean Blvd.
I ran into a runner from New York who asked me about my two extra medals. I explained to him the ConqurLA Challenge and the LA Double Play Medal. He told me he didn’t know about the 5k the day before. He said he’s for sure gonna be checking out the LA Big 5k. He was also talking to me about the New York City Marathon, and how he runs that annually as well as the Los Angeles Marathon. How awesome is that! We congratulated each other on our finish. I really enjoy people just coming up and talking to me. I always learn a lot and I always walk away feeling good. “Julie” found me, and we got a finisher’s picture together. Which reminds me, I need to ask her for a copy of that picture.
This years marathon was the best. I actually talked to friends, ran the last sixteen (16) miles of the marathon with “Julie” and playing leap frog with “Elle” whom we lost somewhere in West Hollywood. I found out that she passed us, and finished before we did. I didn’t even see her, she was sneaky. It was the best, and I still can’t believe its all over.
I now have my Mr. T starter kit, and all I wanted was an ice cold Coke. Time to head to McDonald’s for a large coke.
We are all back to training for next years L.A. Marathon. As for me, I’m starting at the beginning and building a strong foundation. I have an entire year to train, focus, and strengthen my knee back up. I am LA Loyal, and I am working on getting gold.
Special thank you to the staff at the Doubletree Hotel. Every single year you make my stay very comfortable, even if something isn’t right you go out of your way to ensure that its made right. Thank you so much for hooking me up with the Hilton HHonors floor. I have been a Hilton HHonors member for years and I loved staying on the Hilton HHonors floor. It was quiet (for the most part, can’t control noisy neighbors), and the view was amazing.