This past Sunday was, the 25th running of the LA Marathon, and my awesome friend Raciel and her two sisters, Minel and Annelle were three of the 26,000 runners who ran its inaugural stadium to sea marathon route. It was EPIC!
I was following the LA Marathon and a handful of other marathoners on Twitter. So I knew that the shuttles transporting runners from Santa Monica to the Dodger Stadium were delayed due to a traffic jam and that the race start was delayed about 20 minutes.
Having gotten only 4.5 hours of sleep the night before, I was feeling pretty tired and a little bit grumpy waking up at 7am. But this was my very first time spectating and more importantly, my first time serving as course support, so I took my duties seriously! My plan? Gas up my car, pick up some pretzels, drive to Santa Monica (hoping for no traffic), find parking, then take the #1 Big Blue Bus to mile 20 where I’d meet up with Raciel and Annelle.
But before I left, I made an attempt to catch the elites pass by at around mile 7-8. I was watching them on TV but due to poor timing and despite some major hill sprinting on my part, I missed them by about 5 minutes. Sadface.
I did catch some front of the pack people though. Although they aren’t consider “elite” I still think they’re pretty awesome.
I cheered for a few minutes before running back to my parents and finally leaving for my errands and Santa Monica.
Getting to Mile 20
Everything went without a hitch. I gassed up and got my bag of pretzels in no time. Then I made my trek to Santa Monica. It was one of those fantastic California mornings when you feel so grateful to live in such an awesome place. The sun was out, the sky was blue, my sunroof was open, the wind was blowing through my hair, and there was no traffic on the fwy. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I couldn’t help but relish in the moment.
When I got to Santa Monica, I was able to find parking in one of the structures ($10 flat fee – a rip compared to the $3 they usually charge). I then took a quick nap before I made my way out to find the bus stop. I knew I had to take the #1 and that there was a bus stop on 4th and Santa Monica. I was a bit disoriented when I got out of the parking structure, so I asked this doode for directions to Santa Monica Blvd. He said it was 4-5 blocks north-west. I’m thinking, damn, it didn’t look that far on the map! So, I start speed walking in that direction. After 4-5 blocks have passed, I STILL don’t see it. I ask someone else. He’s like oh, it’s 4-5 blocks in the other direction. ::insert curse words here::
By then, it was already noon and Raciel was estimating that they’d be hitting mile 20 at about 12:30-1. CRAP.
So, I sprinted down the street in the other direction and I FINALLY see Santa Monica Blvd, which was only ONE BLOCK away from where I already was. Motherfracker (as they say on BSG ;)
I waited for about 20 minutes for the bus. Luckily, the ride only took about 10-15 minutes, and I arrived at mile 20 about 15 minutes before Raciel and Annelle got there.
Bandit Running/Course Support – Miles 20-26.2
Here they are crossing Mile 20! You normally can’t miss Raciel in her bright yellow jersey. Unfortunately, the kids in the Students Run LA program were ALL wearing almost the same shade shirt and there was literally an unending sea of them. Thanks to texting, I knew they were coming up and was able to snap this pic.
Mile 20 hit the VA Grounds, which follows almost the same exact route that the LA Cancer Challenge goes through. The LA Cancer Challenge was my first race ever and it holds my PR so it has a very special place in my heart. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic going over those VA Ground hills.
Annelle was hurting right around this time. Her arch was bothering her a lot and she was in a lot of pain. But we still tried to make the best of things. Here are Raciel and Annelle, hamming it up for the camera!
This was pretty much the only costumed runner I saw on the course. It totally reminded me of the bunny in Donnie Darko. I think he might’ve been a bandit runner (like me) because he didn’t have a race bib on.
Before long, we were hitting mile 21. Raciel was still in high spirits, but Annelle was NOT having any of it. I felt really bad for her. I know how it feels to be hurting at mile 20 and feeling like the next 6.2 miles might as well be a kajillion miles away. But Annelle was a trooper and kept at in.
On our way to mile 22, we ran into Irene, who has a hairline fracture in one of her feet but was STILL walking/running the LA Marathon. She’s so crazy! Prolly not the best thing to do, but I totally admire her sheer determination and totally awesome badassery.
Miles 20+ of a marathon is were it starts to really look like a battle field. People start hitting the wall, start feeling the effects of maybe going out too fast in the beginning, or are starting to really hurt. Most people are walking, limping, hobbling, or are on the sidelines stretching. It wasn’t quite as depressing as the RnR San Diego though.. although that might have to do with the fact that I wasn’t also suffering like they were. This guy was running his first marathon and was really hurting (limping very slowly).
While Annelle was dealing with sore arches, Raciel had sore shoulders. And this is why…
Too much tweeting! LOL It’s funny because she has several race photos of her texting on her phone. Don’t tweet too at the RnR SD, ok Raciel??
Here are Raciel and Annelle still offering up smiles for the camera at mile 22.
Right around this part of the marathon, we entered the super nice area of Brentwood. After walking through some of the more commercial parts of Brentwood, we went into the residential portion of the route and got to see some really ginormous houses.
It was along this route that we saw this older lady hustling past us.
I’d love to be her age and still be doing marathons! And not only doing marathons, but passing people WAY younger than me!
As we continued on down this route, we slowly started to feel the ocean breeze hitting our faces. The weather got a lot cooler and we saw a haze straight ahead of us. We eventually turned onto PCH for the final stretch.
With less than 2 miles from the finish line. Raciel is still tweeting ;) lol And this is another hilarious pic.
You’ll notice that there are two ederly ladies in grey walking right behind Raciel and Annelle. Raciel’s expression says it all. “Oh shyte! We can’t let them pass us!” hehe =)
Making our way to mile 26, I couldn’t help but get swept up by the crowds cheering for us, by the runners rallying for that final stretch. Even though I hadn’t run the entire marathon distance, I still felt overwhelmed by emotion and completely awed by what people were doing that day. No matter how fast or how slow, all the runners ran the same route, went through the same general emotions, and accomplished something so crazy awesome. It’s really hard to imagine another sport that has that much camaraderie =)
No finish line pic because it was too crowded and crazy! But here are the Diaz sisters post-race with their medals.
And finally, some official race photos! A couple of these crack me up!
People always say that the marathon doesn’t start until Mile 20. During those last 6.2 miles, you have to dig deep mentally and physically to carry yourself across that finish line. I was glad to be there for Raciel and Annelle during those tough miles. And watching them cross the finish line felt almost as satisfying as if I had crossed the finish line myself.
The whole experience has got me really excited to do CIM in December. I just really REALLY need to get my training back on track. I know, it’s the same tired song you keep hearing from me. I ran! I stopped. I ran! I stopped. I’m still trying to find a happy medium between work and my training. I’m just so physically exhausted from work most days that I find it hard to find the energy to do anything else. I need to redo my priorities.
Anyway, I’d like to end this post by sending out a big CONGRATULATIONS to all the LA Marathoners out there! =)
Can’t wait to join you guys next year!
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