Thursday, March 22, 2012

LA Marathon 2012 Recap

Wow where do I start? Lauren, Sarah, and I woke up at 4am to get ready for the marathon. I had bought a hot plate to make oatmeal (old fashioned, not instant) in the morning because I was too paranoid to alter my pre-run routine. It got too hot and boiled over so we opened the slider to avoid setting off the fire alarm. We finished getting ready and snapped a final shot before heading downstairs to meet my dad who was awesome enough to pick us up from the hotel in Santa Monica and drive us to Dodger Stadium!

At this point it was still a mystery if the rain would continue as it had all day Saturday so we dressed accordingly. There was no traffic on the way there but as we approached the exit it was totally backed up. Luckily it was 5:30 a.m. and we planned to arrive by 6:00 a.m.

We inched up to the parking lot outside the stadium where my dad dropped us off. It was pretty darn cold so I was glad Mike had donated his Charger snuggie for me to wear for warmth. We went into the stadium and Lauren and I went up to the CATS suite which was available to the fundraisers. In the suite we snapped some team pics and marveled at the 3200 runners gathered in the bleachers for Students Run LA.

Since it was after 7:00 and the race started at 7:24 we decided to head down to the start line. Behind the corrals (where they keep the fast people) were pace teams ranging from 8:00 min/mile to 12:00 min/mile. I would have liked to line up with the 12:00 people but it was so packed we just found some space behind them. The mayor and Frank McCourt were introduced then a girl from the Pussycat Dolls sang the national anthem. It was pretty surreal hearing it as an athlete rather than a spectator! As the countdown started I ditched the snuggie (all abandoned clothing would be donated to the homeless) and set my watch. We shuffled along to the start line as they played "I Love LA" over and over.

Once we crossed the start line I was really surprised how the pace picked up. Don't get me wrong, there was still a ton of people and it took a lot of dodging to maintain a running pace, but the crowd also helped keep us from running too fast.

The course was amazing, we ran under the Chinatown gate and were entertained by dragon dancers and before we knew it, my watch said two miles. I was convinced my watch was broken but sure enough, there was the two mile marker!

Shortly after we came upon the first major hill around mile four. We took it with no problem and were cheered on by a huge group playing bongos, congas, and other world percussion instruments. At the top we were greeted by the Disney Concert Hall.

I don't really recall much of the next few miles other than crossing a "speed bump" (tracking equipment) at the 10k mark and knowing that the first text message was going out to my adoring supporters. This was also when we chose to take a walk break to eat a Bonk Breaker and then walked again at the next water station because I haven't mastered the running while drinking concept yet. The next speed bump we crossed was near mile eight which was where Asics had installed a screen showing messages from loved ones. I pointed this out to Sarah just as this came on the screen:

We were so shocked I almost didn't notice that the next message was for me! A video from Mike, his mom, and his dad via FaceTime! I was so overwhelmed I started to cry. I also knew that I would see everyone really soon which was very exciting. I was a little worried when I didn't see them at the cross streets I had designated but just as I started to panic, we saw my neighbor Jack standing outside Del Taco waiting for his wife Andreia. Since Sarah had needed the restroom basically from the start, she took the opportunity while I waited with Jack. I took this time to call my mom to find out where they were and was relieved to find out they were just a bit further down.

When Sarah was done we started running again and Lauren caught up with us! We ran together for a bit then Lauren switched to her walking interval while we kept running. It wasn't long til we saw my mom, aunt, Mike, and his mom. I hugged Mike and my mom while Mike's mom tried to snap a picture but we rushed off knowing we'd see them at mile 16. It was too cold to dump our outer layer at this point, even though the sun had poked through a bit.

We continued down Hollywood Blvd which is not that scenic despite the walk of fame. I did however notice that there is a star between the dashed lane lines in the road. I can't seem to find evidence of these on Google Maps and can't think of adequate search terms, but I'm fairly certain I was not hallucinating this early in the course. Also I saw my dad at mile 10 and tried to slow down a bit so he could snap a picture. This is also where the CATS cheer station was but since they were on the right side and I had told everyone to be on my left, I almost missed them. But how could I miss Trey screaming my name? I saw them just in time to give a wave. One thing I was really looking forward to was Cousin Sal in front of Jimmy Kimmel's studio but he wasn't there and it was actually pretty desolate in that area.

Next we turned down Orange to Sunset Blvd. It was pretty surreal to run down such a major street that I have driven down hundreds of times and thanks to the rain it was so clear you could see the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory! At the half marathon point we walked again to consume fuel. Sarah had been pretty willy nilly eating just about everything that was offered to her while I was much more strict about not eating or drinking anything new. We walked again through a water station to wash down what we had eaten. I forgot to keep an eye out (or maybe I was running too fast) but this was the sign in front of the Laugh Factory:

Next up was a big downhill and then Santa Monica Blvd. Running through this stretch of West Hollywood was amazing, there was so much crowd support! I was surprised all throughout the race at how well supported it was and also loved that because my bib had my name people were cheering for me by name!

The next few miles were a little drab, especially compared to the excitement of West Hollywood but I knew I would see my family at mile 16 so that helped a lot. We decided to shed our outer layer at this point even though we were still hitting some cold pockets. We stopped and drank some coconut water and took pictures before taking off again.

We didn't have long to go before hitting mile 17 where we crossed another speed bump indicating the second Asics screen. This was as we ran down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills which was really fun. We didn't see any more messages this time but there was a ton of spectators in this area and in front of Niketown they were playing that Kanye and Jay Z song that I've heard a million times but for some reason got me really pumped. This was probably the last time on the course that I felt 100%.

At about mile 18 my right arch started to nag me. I've had issues with my arch before so it wasn't a shock but it was frustrating given how far I still had to go. Luckily I knew I had friends and family coming up at miles 19 and 20. We were back on Santa Monica Blvd at this point and across from the Mormon Temple I saw my friend and former coworker Jon holding a sign that said "Wench." Inside joke that we have dragged on for years but was just what I needed to see.

Next up was my family at mile 20: Aunt Liz, Jason, Nichol, Carmen, Ryan, Isabella, and Gavin! I didn't even see the sign I was so happy to see them all but it ended up being the best sign of the race:

Right after this we took a walk break to eat again and as we turned onto Ohio we walked through a water station. I was pretty proud of my nutrition and hydration schedule which did not result in a single bathroom break.

"Only" six miles to go at this point but my foot was really starting to hurt and I knew we still had to go through the VA before we got to the home stretch of San Vicente Blvd. At the entrance to the VA they were serving beer which was not appealing at all. It was pretty hilly through this area but thanks to the monster hills we did in training it really wasn't too bad. We finally made our way onto San Vicente and at mile 22 I saw the Lululemon cheer station and surprisingly my friend Wie with her adorable dog Coco! She actually trotted along with us for a while which made me feel bad for her because she was carrying the dog but I didn't realize it probably wasn't that hard not having just run 22 miles.

Despite the claims, San Vicente is not all downhill. I was prepared for this since we had driven the course but that didn't really make it any easier. By mile 23 my pinky toes were starting to blister and coupled with the arch pain it was like running on knives. Luckily I got another boost when I saw my friend and coworker Erin holding a bright pink sign and shortly after saw my Uncle Chris and Anna!

I really felt like I was dragging and was dying to walk through a water station but knew if I did I probably wouldn't run again so I kept going and Sarah was so great trying to keep me distracted with stories. At mile 24 I saw a huge group that included Mike, his mom, my mom, Aunt Pam, Aunt Liz, Jason, Nichol, Carmen, Ryan, Isabella, Gavin, Mallory and Josh! I was thrilled to see all of them and it really gave me that last boost I needed to finish the race.

The last two miles were pretty tough and felt like I was crawling so I was glad to see that my splits were actually sub-11:00. Once we turned onto Ocean Ave the wind hit us big time. It was pretty bad but the crowd was insane and kept me somewhat distracted. I didn't really bother looking for anyone at this point because there were thousands of spectators so I tried to just keep pressing on. My teammate Melissa caught up to us here and we ran together for a little while before she took off. As we closed in on the finish I started to lose my breath. Even though I had forgotten my inhaler that morning I'm pretty sure it was due to the emotion of the day. As we crossed the finish line I tried to look decent for the photographers but after they were behind us I shed a few tears. My official chip time was 5:14:20 which wasn't the 5 hours I was hoping for but I'm really not as disappointed as I thought I would be.

The moment I started walking I realized my legs were jello. It was a madhouse at the finish line but we made our way to get our medals and some water before trudging a few blocks to the hotel. When we got there we met up with my friends and family and when we went into the room I was shocked to see it had been decorated with 26.2 balloons (the .2 were two halfway blown up balloons), a banner, champagne, chocolate dipped strawberries, and some of my favorite snacks!

If you would like to see my official marathon photos, click here. I'm planning to purchase the digital downloads but don't feel like doing it now so they won't make the recap.

Big thanks to Coach Trey and all the staff at Fleet Feet Encino. Also major thank you to everyone who donated to CATS which you can still do if you haven't had a chance: And finally thank you to my amazing boyfriend Mike who was so supportive of the massive time suck known as marathon training.

Next up: Ragnar

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It all comes down to this

It all started October 4th, 2011 with a 2 mile run and a promise to raise $500 by November 30th. As you may recall, I reached my goal and then some! This week I started off with my usual trip to Woodland Hills Physical Therapy.

Tuesday I met up with my training group at Fleet Feet Encino for our last group run before the marathon. The fast group held back a bit which allowed a large group of us to run and chat over the flat 4 mile course.  After the run we did some quick ab work and then Brooks held a raffle but I didn't win anything.

Wednesday Fleet Feet hosted a pub run sponsored by adidas so even though we only were scheduled to run 4 miles, I joined the group for a 10k that started with a free round at Tony Roma's courtesy of adidas!

Then we ran about 3 miles to Springbok where we had another drink before running the remaining 3 miles back to the store.

Once at the store, we walked over to Numero Uno for our third drink and pizza. It was a really fun night and I'm glad I was a part of it!

Thursday was bittersweet as it was the last yoga class before the marathon. Although yoga will continue to be held every Thursday at Fleet Feet for the other training groups, I will probably not be attending if I'm not in training. I'm excited to get my free time back but I'll miss the incredibly structured training regimen.

Friday I went to the expo for the LA Marathon with my cousin! It made everything seem so real. It was pretty cloudy but didn't rain. I found my name on the Honda, right at the top!

Then I picked up my race shirt and bib... with sticker granting me access to the CATS suite before the race!

We hit up the Rock 'n' Roll Race Series booth where I signed up for the LA half marathon and saved $20! They also gave me a free promo shirt.

After walking around the expo for a while, we entered the Asics tent and I picked out the Dodgers themed shirt.

Then I saw this awesome tech tee and my wonderful cousin bought it for me as a good luck present!

After the expo we went to Marshall's where I picked up this water resistant jacket for $20. Unfortunately this was a necessity due to the forecasted rain. I'm not a big fan of new clothing for race day but it was such a warm winter I never had a need for such an article.

Saturday I got my shoes blessed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels. It was a beautiful service and I was really glad I went.

After the shoe blessing I packed up my gear and drove out to Santa Monica picking up Sarah and Lauren on the way. We checked into The Shore and went to True Food Kitchen for dinner.

After dinner Sarah and I went in the hot tub to unwind while Lauren went on a covert mission. It started to hail so we went inside and it was time to bedazzle our bibs!

They came out great and it was so fun!

Big thanks to everyone (all two of you) for reading about my journey. Also HUGE thanks to everyone who made donations and helped me reach my ultimate goal of $3,000! It's not too late, you can still make a donation at:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's the final countdown

Monday was a fabulous day! Started out at Woodland Hills Physical Therapy which wasn't the same without Joe but I was happy for him that his second daughter was born over the weekend. Then I got to see my great friend Lorie who is brilliant and an amazing runner! On her suggestion we headed up the coast for some shopping, lunch, and a shortish run. Before we got started we had a passerby snap our picture to make her friends in Montana jealous of the beautiful weather. 

Apparently this was not looked upon too kindly because almost immediately the fog began rolling in. It got very windy and since we were running along the ocean there was nothing to shield us. We finally turned off the beach path onto city streets and she took us up a 400 foot hill, from sea level. I'm no stranger to hill training but this one was a beast! I had to walk a little but the view was pretty amazing, especially with the fog rolling in.

We finally reached the top at Serra Cross Park which was only too fitting given the amount of praying I did to get up the hill. I pray a lot during my runs because I know I could never get through a run alone. I pray for myself to be able to finish the run and I also pray for my friends and family. If you need any prayer let me know, I don't run with music so I take that time to pray and it also keeps my mind distracted!

Tuesday I joined the gang at Fleet Feet Encino for a short run! It felt so weird to only do one loop. We still had our usual hill but it really didn't feel all that hard. When we got back to the store we did extra ab work to make up for the shorter run. 

Wednesday I had the night off since I ran on Monday and for once a night off didn't mean getting up before dawn the next day. Thursday I was back at Fleet Feet for yoga with Ko. We worked on balance and I was reminded that it's something I really need to work on.

Friday I went to WHPT and realized I was feeling great. My shins, the original problem I went in for, don't even hurt anymore even though I've been running a ton. And even my little aches and pains that have developed during training were not too bad. I'm so grateful for these guys keeping me injury free!

After PT I went back to Fleet Feet (third time this week) to watch Fire on the Track with my teammates to raise money for the Center for Assault Treatment Services. We are doing all we can to raise nearly $13,000 more so CATS meets their required $50,000. You can help them reach their goal, me reach my goal, and help victims of sexual abuse and assault by donating here:

Saturday was our last "long" run before the marathon. For the first time in about five months, I started out in the front of the pack. I figured this run wouldn't make or break my training so it didn't matter if I went out too fast. I ran with Kasia, one of the running coaches and the captain of my Ragnar team, and Theresa, a fellow teammate. We didn't quite keep up with the frontrunners but we weren't far behind and it was a pretty speedy run for me overall. Lorie showed up a little late but of course caught up and we had a great time chatting through the second half of the run. When we finished I asked Trey to take a picture of Lauren, Kasia, Lorie, and me. Of course he had to leave me a present before doing so...

After the run, my teammate Karen was kind enough to host a pool party which also raised money for CATS. It was a beautiful day but it's still March so the water was a chilly 56 degrees. Luckily Trey had already promised to do a flip into the pool and we held him to his word.

I'll post one more time before the marathon but in the meantime you can go here to send me a message that will be shown on the course: Support Me

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two weeks til LA!

Monday I quickly got my stretch on at Woodland Hills Physical Therapy then took the rest of the night off for a fun night of pizza making with Mike.

Tuesday I was back at Fleet Feet Encino after two Tuesdays off. We were scheduled to run 8 miles but the route worked out closer to 7 miles. The route included hills and a tempo portion. We all mused about how soon the race would be here and 8 miles didn't sound nearly as scary as it did when we began training last October.

I planned to attend Lululemon's run club this week so I took the night off Wednesday and literally did nothing. Thursday I joined the gang at Lululemon in Brentwood and met up with my friend Sandy. We started with a super fast 3.5 miles with a couple hill repeats at the end. Not just any hill repeats, we did Indian runs. If you're not familiar with this term, as I wasn't, it's when you run single file with the last person sprinting to get in front. When they get there the new last person does the same, and so on. It's extremely tiring, especially uphill! But hey, before all that fun started, I got two sub-10 minute miles in!

When we got back to the store we did some ab work and stretches then did a little shopping before the panel discussion. The panel included Scout Bassett (going to trials for the Paralympics), Lizzie Brenkus (top Ironman triathlete), Blue Benadum (elite runner and coach), Kate Martini Freeman (Coyote Running founder and coach), and Richard Diaz (founder of Natural Running Network). It was great to get each of their perspectives on running and some last minute pep talks for the marathon. It also made me realize that I could be a much better runner. Nothing makes you feel slower than killing yourself for a 9:13 mile and watching the rest of the pack pull away with ease. Especially hearing Lizzie talk about how she got into running to lose a little baby weight and in a short time was winning races. I know I can do better!

Friday I talked to Rod at WHPT about my desire to be faster. He agreed to work with me after the marathon and I'm so excited! I'm not looking to BQ or anything but I would like to enjoy running more and I think becoming faster is a key ingredient. Also at WHPT, Joe admitted to reading my blog so HI JOE!

Saturday I had big plans: drive the LA Marathon course, join Lululemon in Santa Monica for a 12 mile run they put together, and then eat brunch at my favorite Santa Monica restaurant, True Food Kitchen. I embarked on this journey with my neighbor, Andreia, and our teammate Lidia agreed to meet us at Dodger Stadium at 7 am to caravan to Lululemon with her friend Barbara. We got off to a rocky start because there was an event at the stadium so we couldn't get to the actual start of the marathon. Instead we started outside the stadium and since Lidia was running late we got started. Our first turn was to be on Broadway, a pretty major street downtown, however the directions made me think it would be sooner than it was and I was convinced we had passed it. We looked at the map and couldn't even find it so we drove around trying to figure out what to do until Lidia called and we finally found Broadway! We had eaten up about 20 minutes and it was pretty clear we wouldn't make the run in time but we were determined to drive the course since there may not be another opportunity so we pressed on. Soon we were climbing the first major hill at First Street and could see the Disney Concert Hall.

We decided to let Lidia and Barbara lead the caravan and boy was I glad! There were so many turns downtown and the course goes the wrong way down one way streets but Barbara navigated us seamlessly through to Hollywood where I was able to relax since I knew the area better. We drove down Sunset, through Beverly Hills, and when we got to the VA in West LA we realized that it was gated and we would't be able to check out the looming hill I'd heard so much about. Luckily Barbara saved the day again and maneuvered us onto San Vicente Boulevard where I felt completely at home. I'm so excited for the last 6 miles of the course because I know it so well and it feels like home to me (having lived on that street for 8 years). When we finally got to the finish line, we parked and got down to the beach for our run since it was far too late to join Lululemon.

We had 15 miles scheduled but the Lululemon run was 12 and we all had that number in mind so we agreed to see how we felt before doing the extra 3 miles. Well, it was a hot beach day and due to a little miscalculation, we ended up doing just under 11 miles. It was a gorgeous day though and I couldn't help stopping to take a shot of the pier.

When we finished the run we dipped our toes in the ocean which of course was freezing, I mean it's still winter. Then we got a passerby to take a group pic!

We headed up to the car and took one last shot of the busy beach below.

And now a fundraising update.... I got knocked out of the top spot but as of this moment I've raised $2,495 and firmly believe I'll raise $3,000. I'm so thankful to everyone who has supported me and the Center for Assault Treatment Services. Whether you've already donated or not, would you consider donating? Donate to make sure CATS stays open to offer 24/7 support to victims of sexual abuse and assault, donate because you think I'm crazy for running 26.2 miles, or donate to fuel my desire to be the #1 fundraiser! Whatever your reason, it's a good one so go for it...