Wow, guys. Wow. That was…wow. There are so many feelings that run through you (and I mean that in the both a metaphorical and extremely literal sense) during a marathon, and you just hope that heat stroke is not one of them. Luckily, I didn’t have a catastrophic run like many people I saw, laying low in the medical tents and waiting for a sports drink. But let’s think positive. First, let’s talk about:
The Spectators: You guys are so many kinds of awesome. I’ve run a marathon with few to no spectators, and without anyone there to cheer you on, it’s gets rough. I’m so lucky to have amazing friends who came out to cheer on myself and my running partner! Their support at mile 12 energized us, and we definitely needed it, even so early in the race. And I can’t forget the people who brought out their hoses from their houses along the course to cool us down. More on that below, but for now we can say that they were lifesavers. Also, thank you to my friend, Colin, for a post-race macaroon, my favorite! It was so, so delicious.
The Stadium: Have you ever seen the sunrise at Dodger Stadium? Like, from really good seats? Because we have, and it’s beautiful.
The Bathrooms: I was impressed when, at mile 20, there was still toilet paper in the Porta-Potties.
The Course: We ran through many major Los Angeles landmarks, and it was pretty neat. There was entertainment along the way and plenty to see and take in. It was a beautiful run.
The Running Buddy: I can’t say enough about my amazing my friend and running partner, Stacey. She’s a talented athlete and always comes prepared with an excited attitude (and great stories) that make running in circles for hours lots of fun. I could not have done this marathon without her help and encouragement.
The Hour: They scheduled a marathon for the day after daylight savings time—when we lost an hour of sleep. Precious, precious pre-race sleep.
The Open Corrals: This was our mistake. We should have signed up for a seeded corral so we could start with runners who were at the same pace as us. But we didn’t, so we started in the open corral. Which meant that, from the time the race started, it took us 20 minutes to cross the start line. And then we had to weave in and out of the crowd to find a pace group that worked for us, which can take a few miles. Not great.
The Extra Tight Security: This wasn’t actually bad, and it put our minds at ease when it came to race safety. But it wasn’t effectively coordinated. To ensure that each runner was who they said they were, you had to pick up your bib number and race packet at the expo. This was instead of the usual getting your bib mailed to you or asking another runner to pick it up for you. I understand the reasoning behind this—it’s the execution that didn’t pan out. Many runners waited in line at least 45 minutes just to pick up their bibs! Have you ever stood on concrete for more than an hour? Your feet start to hurt a bit, so you shift your weight back and forth. Another hour goes by, and then they start to burn. Yeah, that’s what happens in a marathon. Except once they start to burn, you still have another few hours to pound pavement with burning soles. So the day before your race, the last thing you want to do is stand on concrete for an hour (and for some people, two), just to get your bib and then have to go in search of your race packet and stand in yet another line.
The Gatorade: And by “the Gatorade,” I mean there was none. They ran out. THEY RAN OUT of Gatorade, which is pretty essential for balancing electrolytes and preventing runners from passing out, getting heat stroke, vomiting and other super fun long-distance-running-in-severe-heat ailments. And not long after, they started running out of cups for water. Volunteers were just holding out gallon jugs of Arrowhead, asking which runners wanted a “free shower!” Nope. No thank you. I’d like some water. And Gatorade. Which I actually ran off the course for once I spotted a semi-nearby gas station. P.S.—A word of advice: ALWAYS carry five dollars on you during a race. You never know when you’ll need it.
The Heat: Temps were reaching into the mid-80s by the middle of the race, if not earlier. So without Gatorade or cooling stations—something else a race will usually provide on hot race days, which are basically buses with hoses to spray the runners—people were feeling the heat and the medical tents started to fill up. And then they were overflowing, as people couldn’t all find room in the medical tents to lie down, so they took to the grass. It just sucked. There’s no better way to put it. To give you an idea of how much it affected us, we spent the last five months training at a 10-10:15 minute pace. We finished our longest training run, a 22 miler, at our goal pace. But on race day? We were running 11:30 and 12:30 miles. Some of that had to do with the intense hills in the first half of the race, but a lot of it had to do with the heat.
The Sickness: I saw more than a few sick runners after the finish line, with nothing to do but bend over and vomit it all up. That can happen with or without the heat, but I have a feeling that the poor planning for hydration on the part of the race had something to do with it.
But Don’t Forget…
We ran a freaking MARATHON, people! At whatever time we finished, we were champs and pulled through. Training for and running a marathon teaches you a lot that has nothing to do with running (another post on that later), and that includes how far you can push yourself when you set your mind to it. If you’re thinking about doing a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon—do it! Because you might think you can’t, but you definitely can (unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Please check with your doc if you have health concerns). You’ll be surprised just what you can accomplish when you’re willing to push past your comfort zone.