LA Marathon was a WOW race for me.
After months of training and a healthy dose of self-doubt, I stood in a crowd of 20,000+ other marathoners with my grandson, Will, and my girlfriend, Donna.
Donna Canterna, Will Hess, and me.
I was nervous and excited to finally be at the start line. Doubts swirled around my mind as last year, I had a hard time finishing this race. I didn’t want a repeat.
LA Marathon starts at Dodger Stadium with “I Love LA” sung by Randy Newman blaring from the loud speakers mixed in with the announcements along with the cacophony of competing voices as each corral crosses the start line.
Because we are not fast enough to qualify for a start corral, we are in the last corral squeezing in with others as we walk to the start line. But it isn’t long before we are there. The race starts with a slight hill between the stadium and the parking lot out to the gates before the course starts the downhill run towards Chinatown.
This makes for a fast start and one you need to be sure you go fast enough but not too fast as there are 24 miles to go. The course flattens out until we get to about mile 5 where we start a steep uphill climb near Disney Concert Hall.
From there, the course isn’t so bad. It basically alternates back and forth between a slight downhill to a slight uphill for the next 4 miles through Echo Park and Silverdale until we veer right from being on Sunset onto Hollywood Blvd (mile 9).
It was nice to see my family at mile 9 with iced towels, water, extra food, and extra bottles for my water belt. Also it was nice to be able to give them our warmer clothing instead of carrying it for 26 miles.
Continuing on Hollywood Blvd to just past Brahman’s Chinese Theater before dropping back onto Sunset, the course continues with the slight uphill and downhill. About 1/4 mile before we turn off Sunset, we begin a steep uphill climb where most everyone is walking to save their legs, including me.
Once we turn off Sunset on to N. San Vincent Blvd, it’s another fast downhill before we turn onto Santa Monica Blvd. Then it’s mostly flat through W. Hollywood, Beverly Hills and a quick run down Rodeo Drive.
When I made the right onto Wilshire Blvd. at around mile 17, I knew that SoleRunners’ Aid station was only about 1 1/2 miles away. Another place to replenish, get another ice cold towel, find out how Will and Donna are doing, and to pick up Saundra who ran me in.
At the aid station, Saundra Whitehead, Donna Canterna, me, Patty Thompson, and Alessandra Verduzco.
Will was ahead of me by 1 1/2 hours and Donna, surprisingly, was at the aid station.
With Saundra and Donna, I left the aid station to run the last 7+ miles to the finish line.
Saundra took real good care of me so I didn’t have to think about anything except whether to run or to walk. She made sure I had water to pour over me so I wouldn’t overheat.
I walked the hills from mile 20 until mile 23, even the slightest inclines, to save my quads as they were starting to really ache.
We stopped briefly to say hello to Donna’s family at mile 23. We left Donna there so she could spend a bit more time with her family, knowing she could easily catch up with us.
From mile 23, it’s basically a fast downhill run. Once we turned onto Ocean Blvd, we could see the finish line. Saundra stayed with me until the beginning of the chute just before mile 26.
Almost to the finish line
At times when you run this long, it’s always nice to have something to look out and this race does afford you that and more.
One of the first things I noticed was the legacy runners who have run all 31 LA Marathons. There are 173 of them left and their times range between a little of 3 hours to over 7 hours. Then there are the Elvises that ran pushing their boombox blaring Elvis’ music and a man that ran dribbling a basketball while juggling.
Each of the different areas of LA has a different character with highlights. Chinatown has the Wong Tail Dance Team, Disney Concert Hall has the Hongo Taiko School’s Taiko drum
Richard Craft who took this picture with one of the lovely ladies of W Hollywood.
ensemble drumming, and Hollywood and Vine have weddings being preformed or renewal of vows. But the best was in W. Hollywood. The ladies were out in full force dressed to the nines with platform heals I’d never be able to walk in.
Comparing this year to last year, I would have to say that the support of the race organizers, the people who cheered, supported us with food, drink, and sprayed us with water was so much better.
I ran 2016 LA Marathon in 6:28, cutting over an hour off my last year’s time. Will, my grandson, did his first marathon in 5:19.
Will crossing the finish line.
And Donna was right behind me.
Donna and I with our medals.
As with each half or full marathon, you always learn lessons. Here are mine:
- Steve, my running coach, last words to me were run your own race. I kept telling myself this throughout the race.
- Put your potatoes on top of your water bottles so you don’t forget them.
- Have clear instructions for family if they are doing an aid station, ie…instead of them asking me what I needed since my mind wasn’t registering what I needed, they should be handing what I packed in the ice chest to me. Since I didn’t give them those clear instructions, I ended up running on 4-5 gel blocs, lots of water, about 10 oz. of my electrolyte drink, a small bite of potatoes from SoleRunners’ aid station, and handfuls of pretzels.
- Don’t wait to grab what you need when it is being offered especially if you are getting hungry. I waited too long to get pretzels that were being handed out on the course.
- And lastly, have a mantra that you keep repeating to yourself. Mine was “I’m strong, I’m powerful, yes, I can.”
2016 Finisher’s LA Marathon Medal