Race Recap – 32nd Skechers Performance LA Marathon

Race Recap – 32nd Skechers Performance LA Marathon

I find it SO hard to believe that a week ago, I ran my third marathon—and it ended up being a sub 4:00 one as well! So many things went well with this training cycle, and even though the race is over, this particular marathon has given me the encouragement to keep pushing my training to the next level and conquering more goals associated with this distance.

In the days leading up to the race, I actually wasn’t too hyped up for it. I had other things on my mind (lab work + lab “social” life), but I still made time to go down to the expo at the convention center late Friday afternoon on race weekend.

My third marathon expo.
My third marathon expo.

It was really just a routine visit. I wasn’t too excited about sticking around. To keep up with tradition, I found and photographed my name on the runner’s wall, picked up my race bib/shirt, and walked around the booths for just long enough to gather some freebies.

Trying to find/get all the samples I can.
Trying to find/get all the samples I can.

I didn’t gather much despite it being a MARATHON expo (just a couple mini Larabars and a coconut water), but one of my favorite booths was Clif bar’s. They had samples of their newest nut butter-filled bars and ginger ale/spearmint shot bloks!

Hello, Clif!
Hello, Clif!

After taking a picture with my bib at one of the booths, I decided to head home. I was actually feeling pretty hungry so the “carbo-loading”, you could say, commenced that night—with a Spicy Lentil Wrap from Trader Joe’s.

Friday night turn down 😴 with a Spicy Lentil wrap from Trader Joe’s. I put this right up there with the grilled eggplant wrap!

Tahini sauce brings everything up a level, just sayin’.

The day before the race was a relaxing one, but because I was with E in Glendale, we did plenty of walking. I did try to keep hydrated and made sure to get home early enough to set aside my stuff for race morning and get into bed by 8:30pm.

I woke up the next morning at 3:30am (yes, it’s true), got my race gear together, and called for a Lyft since the rest of my teammates were taking a ride share service/staying at a hotel near the start with family. From Santa Monica, the drive was less than 20 min.

I got to the start with a good 2.5 hours to spare before we had to toe the start line. I had plenty of time to collect some free shot bloks and Clif bars, fuel up with “breakfast”, use the restroom, and warm-up. It was still very breezy and cool outside, so I stayed warm by huddling in a corner of one of the open women’s restrooms.

Waiting at Dodger's Stadium...
Waiting at Dodger’s Stadium…

I was waiting solo for a long while…my teammates did not show up until about 5:30am. Even then, it took me a while to find/get to them at the seats on the ground level. There were a a few of us who met at this point, and after a group picture, we immediately went to bag check and then the start.

I decided to start in the open corral with three of my teammates since I wanted to pace with someone from the beginning. Looking back, I feel like this strategy helped me immensely in getting that sub 4:00. It took us a while to get to a sustainable race pace since we were slowed down by the crowds of the open corral, but once we made it past downtown, I kept up with one of my female teammates for the majority of the race.

Everything felt great for the first half of the race. We were running down Sunset and I felt comfortable enough to talk with my teammate at an 8:47/mi pace. Once we made a turn in Hollywood however, things started to shift.

I felt a sharp pain in my right foot as we made our way down a steep downhill. I had a feeling that I got my first black (big) toenail, and despite knowing this, I tried to ignore it for sanity’s sake.

The next slip-up was my fueling strategy. I was so focused on hydration that I wasn’t sure when to start chewing on my bloks. In my last two marathons, I busted out the plastic bag between miles 11-13, but this time, I was more concerned about keeping up with my teammate. I also didn’t feel too hungry (in fact, my stomach felt a little bit “mixed”…in that, a bathroom stop would have been nice).

When we reached Beverly Hills, I began to second guess my earlier actions of not fueling up. I was starting to feel slightly fatigued, and felt like I had to push quite a bit to keep holding on with my teammate. I surprisingly managed to make it through miles 17-20 without giving up or writhing on Rodeo Dr!

Once we reached UCLA/West LA territory though, we were hitting the Mile 20 mark. My teammate took off, but I listened to my body and just kept my pace. I stopped to take out my bloks and began to fuel up at this point.

Once I reached Mile 21, I felt a little bit better. Mile 22 was when we began to approach Brentwood/San Vicente—the last four miles of the race towards the SaMo finish! Honestly, this was the worst part of the race for me (up until 25.5!!) because I felt tired (mentally mostly), and irritated by anyone that said we were “almost there”. My pace wavered in the 8:50/mi range until it settled at 8:55/mi. I didn’t want it to dip into the 9:00/mi range, so I made sure to keep my walking breaks incredibly short.

By the time I got to Ocean Ave., I tried to let the crowds around me give me the final push I needed to finish fiercely. The finish line felt incredibly far away, but once I hit 25.5, I started to kick things up and go, go, go! The shot bloks were finally kicking in I suppose! When I crossed the line, I had run the race at a solid time of 3:53:57. I didn’t know of this time exactly until I read a series of texts from my Dad since he had been tracking me the entire run.

Bag check was much better this year!
Bag check was much better this year!

I was able to slow down to a walk, gather a medal and my gear at bag check, huddle up with a heat sheet, and take some fun post-race photos. I also collected as many protein bars as my arms could carry, and met up with my teammates at our designated family reunion area meeting spot.

People around me were still in a daze...
People around me were still in a daze…

I waited with my team for about an hour and a half just to congratulate, commiserate, and photograph the moment. The teammate I had ran with up until mile 20 ran a 3:46 marathon, and considering it was her first, she did a great job.

All of us took the train back to our destinations, and I got off pretty quickly. It felt so nice to be able to get back home at a decent time, unlike how it was the past two years fighting traffic to get to downtown! Now I had enough time to attend to my battle scars…

One ripe blister and gunmetal-polished toenail, came right up!
One ripe blister and gunmetal-polished toenail, came right up!

At least this small gem reminded me that I just did something pretty amazing that morning??

3rd time's a charm!
3rd time’s a charm!

Out of all the 26.2 distances I’ve raced, this one was the most painful, but also the most accomplishing. I had a goal, and luckily was able to meet it. It was a challenge, but a challenge worth giving up a smooth heel and big toe nail for. And if I only want to get better and faster at this monstrous distance, it’s only going to get more eventful from here!

Have you ever run a marathon/had a great marathon experience?

Would you ever consider running a marathon?

Have you ever had a black toe nail?

MTR: Week 17

MTR: Week 17

I was debating over the idea of running 20+2 miles prior to the marathon, but I ended up doing so this past week. To be honest, it was a pretty smooth set of miles, except until I reached 20.1…haha. I seriously could feel every bone/ligament/tendon in my body from the hips down, and what was only “two more miles” felt like twenty.

I know there is a lot of debate concerning how much a long run should cover prior to the actual marathon, and that a lot of people say no more than 20 while others say 24 is totally okay. I decided to run 22 because a) I was running with a team, b) we ran from Dockweiler Beach to Santa Monica and back, running alongside Marina Del Rey (um, who doesn’t want to run by the beach??), and c) why not?

Blister/scar from my water bottle strap // trying out GU Watermelon Chomps // Celebrating my longest run of the training season by going out to eat!

Sunday22 mile group LSD run at  10:05/mi

Monday – Rest

Tuesday4 mile morning solo run at  9:24/mi

Wednesday –  Rest

Thursday6 mile morning solo run at  9:41/mi

Friday4 mile morning solo run at  9:27/mi

Saturday – Rest

Total Mileage ->  36 miles

Since the Clif Shot Bloks I used for Mile 20 as race fuel worked pretty well, I kept in theme with using a gummy/chewy food for fuel, but decided to try the watermelon flavor of GU Chomps since they were {slightly} cheaper at Vitamin Shoppe. I stuffed them in a Ziploc, which I then stuffed into my running water bottle, and I was off to meet my team at 7:00am for our carpool.

The sky was cloudy and gray, but the temperature was nice and cool since we were starting off at the beach. We made our way north from Dockweiler, passing Marina Del Rey. It even rained around mile 6, but that didn’t stop us from trucking on through the “fun” part of Venice, and straight onto the bike path near the Santa Monica Pier before turning around at 11 miles. I decided to fuel up with all my chomps around the halfway point (along with hydrating), and savored the watermelon flavors as I eased myself to run back to the starting point.

There were so many good (and bad annoying) distractions throughout this run. I always enjoy people-watching when running, and there is ample opportunity to do so when you run alongside the coast. Even at 8:00am, people are hanging out in Venice and “making a scene”, which obviously equates to entertainment for the weary runner!

Want to know some of the annoying stuff though?

Getting a blister on the back of your hand from your running water bottle strap.

That said water bottle getting soaked prior to the run because you didn’t screw the cap tight enough, and your chews ended up getting soaked as well.

Wishing the last two miles of 20+2 didn’t feel like 22.

In the end, it was all worth it when I high-fived my teammates and commiserated with them about our long run “struggle” 😉 And I was pleased with the fact that I was able to step out on the town afterwards and treat myself to an appetizing lunch and astounding cupcake sundae for dessert!*

*Side note – about five hours after eating, I started getting strong stomach pains and a really bloated stomach. I ended up vomiting, which after consulting a running friend, I think was due to my long-run induced muscle-spasms/eating something high in sugar after running. Even though this adds to why one shouldn’t run over 20 miles prior to the 26.2, I’m glad that this happened pre-race so that I can be prepared to address the issue if it happens after race day (by keeping Tums or some antacid on hand)

Still, I don’t regret my cupcake sundae ‘cause that thing was mind-blowing….and apparently gut-blowing as well :P*

Have you ever experienced nausea/vomiting after a run? 

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