Well, my friends, I did it: I officially conquered my second full marathon, the ASICS LA Marathon on Sunday morning!
It was HOT out there but I gave it my all and had a great time enjoying the scenery and the crowds. 🙂
Sunday started very early with a 4 a.m. (which was really 3 a.m., since “spring forward” for daylight savings had happened) alarm clock. My fellow running bloggers and the ASICS LA Marathon team met in the lobby at 4:30, ready to hop on the shuttle to the race shortly thereafter. We arrived at Dodger Stadium (where the race started) around 5:45ish, giving us plenty of time to get ready before the main event at 7:25!
While we waited, I ate my pre-race fuel – 2 pieces of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast with almond butter and a banana, my standard go to that I brought from home. Around 6:30, we headed out to get in our corrals. Here I am with blogger buddies Jamie, Brian, Jess, and Beth! Apparently our hats were killin’ it on the reflectivity front.
I was in Corral C, based on my Richmond Marathon finish time of 3:56. When I got into the corral, I had to go to the bathroom but the porta-potties were annoyingly on the other side of the corrals from the entrances, and I didn’t think I’d have time to go again before the corral entrances closed at 7. Fail. Too much pre-race water, but I was worried about being dehydrated!
We got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise after lining up. I settled between the 3:45 and 4:00 pacers, thinking I’d be aiming for around a 3:55 finish time.
Ready to rock! For my marathon outfit, I wore shorts and a top that were gifted to me from ASICS a couple months ago for my training. Love them – super comfy! I also wore my Nathan hydration vest, which holds 2 liters of water and has pockets to carry my camera and fuel. I love having my own water during races so I can sip on it whenever I like!
I had fun chatting with those around me and then, before I knew it, it was 7:25 and the race was starting! Gulp – marathon #2, here we go! Let’s do this!
The ASICS team snagged these shots of me in the crowd as we left the starting area – can you find me? 🙂
Leaving Dodger Stadium!
As with most large races, it was really crowded for the first few miles which made it hard to keep pace (I wanted to aim for an 8:55 average minute/mile). I was also distracted because I still REALLY had to pee – apparently it wasn’t just pre-race nerves! I’ve never stopped for the bathroom during a race before but decided that I might need to make a quick pit stop unless I wanted to be miserable for the next 4 hours.
Side note – wasn’t the sky beautiful?
I kept my eyes peeled for porta potties but didn’t see any until about the 1 mile mark (I was very jealous of the men who were able to just run off the side of the course to relieve themselves…), and then they had a BIG line so I decided to keep going.
A little after mile 3, there were a bunch more porta potties and I didn’t see a line, so I ran up to them, only to find that someone had forgotten to unlock them!!! Epic fail – every single one was padlocked! Finally, a little before mile 3 I saw a public bathroom right along the side of the course and raced in. Worth the stop, and I was so glad I stopped there because all the other porta potties I saw later on had big lines, too.
- Mile 1: 9:20
- Mile 2: 8:39
- Mile 3: 9:34 (speedy bathroom stop)
With my bladder situation resolved, I worked to get my head back in the game and speed up my pace – the bathroom stop (in addition to the slow first mile due to the crowds) had thrown off my goal pace already.
Unfortunately, as soon as I decided to speed up, around mile 4.5, we hit a MASSIVE hill. You can’t tell in this picture but it was huge – wasn’t expecting that!
Bright side: we passed a fun drum band on the hill – there was a lot of great support for this race with a ton of bands and lots of cheering crowds!
I also really loved the huge mile markers – aren’t they great? You could see them from so far away. Most races I feel like I miss the mile markers entirely! I was definitely impressed with the race organization.
You can really see the hills in my pace for miles 5 and 6.
- Mile 4: 8:58
- Mile 5: 9:36
- Mile 6: 9:58
As those splits popped up on my watch, I knew that a PR was highly unlikely unless I turned up the intensity big time. To PR, I knew I had to hold an 8:55 average – by this point I was closer to a 9:20+ average thanks to the bathroom stop, the warm weather, and the hills. After some debate around mile 6, I decided: okay. A PR is not going to happen today. And you know what? That’s totally fine. I knew the weather was only going to get hotter and that it would be more important to focus on enjoying myself and taking in the course, not worrying about my pace and possibly crashing and burning in the heat.
With my mind free of time constraints, I settled into a pace that I felt was solid and took in the views around me. I loved this lake.
One really cool thing about the ASICS LA Marathon this year is that they offered a “Support Your Marathoner” feature which gave friends and family the opportunity to send in messages for you that would pop up on a screen during the race after you ran across a special tracker. Between miles 7 and 8, we crossed one of the trackers, and I glued my eyes to the screen, hoping to see something for me. And what do you know: after a few messages for others, a video popped up from Matt and his dad (Matt was home in Pittsburgh over the weekend for a bachelor party) cheering me on!! I let out a huge gasp and “AWWWWW!!!” and had the goofiest grin on my face – I think those around me were confused. 😉 I could even hear them cheering “Go Anne! Go Anne!!” loud and clear! I was able to snag a picture of it – you can see them on the screen in the top right of the photo below! How fun! It gave me such a great boost. 🙂 Wish all races had this – and that they had it more often along the course, like every mile! I was able to log in to the website after the race and see the other messages people had left for me that didn’t make it onto the screen – so sweet! Even though I didn’t see them during the race I appreciated them so much – thank you to all who submitted them for me! 🙂
- Mile 7: 9:10
- Mile 8: 9:12
- Mile 9: 9:22
Around mile 10, we entered Hollywood – loved seeing the stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
Lots of great things to look at in Hollywood, too! This was a fun part of the race.
Look – it’s Hollywood High where they apparently filmed Grease!
At this time, it was warm but still cloudy out so the weather felt good.
- Mile 10: 9:06
- Mile 11: 9:13
- Mile 12: 9:24
And then, almost exactly at the half marathon point, it happened: the sun came out. Hello, HEAT.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, I took all these action shots using my trusty old point and shoot camera that I normally bring with me on runs and to races – it’s way easier to take photos while you’re running without stopping with a point and shoot vs. cell phone!
Anyway – the second the sun came out, it got seriously hot – it was already in the 80s and it was crazy how much of a difference the sun made with how hot it felt. I decided I now had a new goal for the race: finish without a visit to the medical tent. Training in the freezing cold and ice this winter in DC did not lend itself well to being prepared to run an 80 degree marathon. Time to hydrate like it was my job and dial back the pace even more. There was absolutely no shame in being smart and slowing down a little to accommodate the heat!
- Mile 13: 9:33
- Mile 14: 9:55
- Mile 15: 9:29
I was really pumped to see Rodeo Drive around mile 17. So cool!! I’d never been here before in my previous visits to LA and loved running through it and thinking of the movie Pretty Woman. 🙂
- Mile 16: 9:27
- Mile 17: 10:00
- Mile 18: 9:49
Things started getting really tough around mile 18, but when I started to feel too warm or my legs felt really tired, I took the advice that Ryan Hall had given us the day before to not mentally acknowledge how hot it was or how tired I felt. Instead, I repeated the following over and over in my head, which I think really helped:
It is a beautiful day and I am doing what I LOVE. 🙂
I know it’s cheesy, but it really helped. Sure, I was tired. But I was in LA, on a stunningly beautiful sunny day, and I was running. What did I have to be upset about, really? Another thing that helped? Truly believing that no matter what I would cross that finish line. I didn’t know what my time would be, but I knew that I would get there, and that all I had to do to get there was to simply keep moving my legs. That was it – nothing more.
Some great crowd support really helped, too. There was a whole wall of high school cheerleaders going crazy at one point – loved the sign you can see in the photo below that says “When you feel like quitting think about why you started.” So true.
Around mile 19, I started feeling very slightly lightheaded, so I made it my mission to step it up on the water intake and fuel intake, too. In terms of fuel, so far I had had a Clif shot gel (mocha flavor with caffeine) around mile 5 that I ate slowly and finished around mile 9. Around mile 11, I started alternating with my PB dates coated with salt and my margarita shot bloks (love the margarita ones because they taste good and have extra salt). I ended up not eating the granola bar I packed – apparently I only crave those in colder weather – but ate all the dates (I had 3 big ones) and nearly all the shot bloks by the time I finished. Around mile 19 I also grabbed a half banana from someone handing them out, figuring the potassium could only help the situation.
Passing the 20 mile marker was really exciting – I feel like getting over that mileage hurdle makes the finish line seem much closer, though you can tell by my pace from here on out that I was really feeling the distance and the heat by this point.
- Mile 19: 9:56
- Mile 20: 10:11
Somewhere around this time I saw a girl on the sidelines handing out ice and snagged a big piece. I spent the next mile totally engrossed with rubbing the ice over my wrists, neck, legs, etc. It felt sooooo good.
Miles 21 and 22 we ran through the VA – I loved this colorful tunnel – but this part of the race was really challenging both mentally and physically. I was hot and tired, even though I still focused on not admitting it to myself. Just. Keep. Running.
I continued to work on mental exercises and staying positive. Around mile 22, we hit another hill. I didn’t even realize that we had crossed another “Support Your Marathoner” tracker until I all of a sudden heard Matt and his dad’s video chant of “Go Anne! Go Anne!” What perfect timing – it gave me just the boost I needed to finish slogging up that hill!
Also by mile 22, I ran out of water in my hydration pack – I had finished all 2 liters. Wow! There were water stops every mile, so from mile 22 on I started walking through them, taking one cup to drink and one to dump down my neck. I knew if I ran through them I wouldn’t drink enough water or would probably half choke on it (this is why I like having my own water with me).
- Mile 21: 10:20
- Mile 22: 11:06
Reaching mile 23 I was PUMPED – I knew that the course was beautiful from here on out and also slightly downhill to the finish. Hooray!
Just. Keep. Going. Focus on these stunning views and amazing houses. When I start making my millions, I think I might move here… perhaps that house. Or that one. Hmmm… so many options. It is not hot. I am not hot.
- Mile 23: 10:24
- Mile 24: 10:45
It is a beautiful day and I am doing what I love! Just keeping running!
After passing the mile 25 marker I decided to take a video just for fun (and to distract myself)! Click here to see it on my YouTube page. 🙂
One thing that was great about the shake out run we did the day before with the ASICS crew was that we ran the last 3/4 miles of the course – I remember Deena saying that once we turned onto Ocean Avenue, we’d only have 3/4 of a mile left. I loved knowing exactly what to expect here – it really helped! Here’s a blurry shot of making the turn onto Ocean Ave – SO CLOSE!!
All downhill from here! The sun was RIGHT on us at this point in full force, but check out these epic views. It was hard to not be excited. 🙂
Look, there’s the ocean to the right!
As I was approaching the finish line, I heard the announcer say – “If you are on the course and can hear this, you are about to finish a marathon! And there is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a marathon.” So, so true. It’s really hard to describe the feeling you get just before and while crossing the finish line at a race, and especially a race this long. My pulse starts racing, my heart soars – it’s the biggest adrenaline and endorphin rush all at once. I feel like my chest will explode, but in a good way. It’s relief, and pride, and exhaustion, and happiness all at once.
I did it! Marathon #2 in the books, and despite the heat I still managed to have fun and finish with a big smile. Sure, I was nowhere near a PR. But who cares? It was a beautiful day, and I was doing what I loved. <3
- Mile 25: 10:14
- Mile 26: 9:30
- Last 0.2 miles pace: 9:06
Official finish time: 4:18:10 – average pace of 9:52 minutes/mile. I finished 4,015 out of 21,495 people. Out of just females, I was 964 out of 9,123. In my age group, (females 30-34) I was 177 out of 1,313. Sweet!
Cool medals, huh? Love the Hollywood sign (we could see it in the distance in the first half of the race – so cool!), the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel, and more.
What an incredible opportunity – I’m so, so grateful to the whole ASICS LA Marathon team for having me out, covering my race/travel fees, and for being the catalyst for me to do another marathon so soon after my first.
Obviously this was not an easy race – I can’t even believe how night and day different the experience was from my first marathon, the Richmond Marathon (click for race recap) back in November, where I finished in 3:56:48, more than 20 minutes faster.
But am I disappointed by my time in this race? Absolutely not. I’m so proud of myself for staying positive despite such hot conditions (that I was completely unprepared for physically given my polar vortex winter training). This race could easily have been a complete disaster for me – while running on Sunday I was thinking back to my first half marathon in 2010, which was extremely hot, and how back then I totally let my mind and the conditions get the best of me. In that race, I completely fell apart mentally and as a result, felt terrible the whole time. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about running – primarily that positivity makes ALL the difference. Sure, positivity didn’t make my legs go any faster and didn’t lead to a PR – but it did lead to me having a great time out there despite the conditions. At no point in this race did I ever feel that I would not or could not finish, unlike that first half marathon. Had I let doubt creep in, or had I focused on how hot and tired I was, it might have been a different story.
I want to end by saying, as always, a huge thank you to all of you for your ongoing support, motivation, and encouragement. I know I say this every time, but I really mean it – knowing you believe in me really helps me to better believe in myself. Thank you for always inspiring me to challenge myself – and for letting me know that I’ve inspired some of you to do the same. <3