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.

spicy_lentil_Wrap
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?

Race Recap – 31st Skechers Performance LA Marathon

Race Recap – 31st Skechers Performance LA Marathon

On February 14, 2016, I ran my second marathon.

Caught at the right moment
Caught at the right moment

It has been less than a year since I ran my first marathon, and SO many things have happened since then. Even with all that has transpired, I am grateful that I was even able to run this insane distance once again!

My day began at 3am on Valentine’s Day. Once I stuffed all of my race day essentials into my gear check bag, I was off with my carpool crew. After picking up a few more people, we drove off to Santa Monica to park the car and load the shuttle buses to Dodger’s Stadium.

As we sat on the bus, some of my marathon teammates came up with running pick-up lines since it was Valentine’s Day. One guy had us all laughing with “I may be running 26.2, but I want 26.YOU”. It was definitely a light-hearted ride to the the starting line that would otherwise be an anxiety-ridden one!

Everyone in front of me was all quiet and thinking to themselves...everyone behind me was all laughs!
Everyone in front of me was all quiet and thinking to themselves…everyone behind me was all laughs!

Once we got to Dodger’s Stadium, we had about a half an hour to check in our bags and ready ourselves. We didn’t have time for a all-member team pic, so I immediately got into my assigned corral.

After the wheelchair runners and elite women, the elite men and the rest of us were off! I was feeling anxious about my right foot, but once things got moving I didn’t feel much in terms of pain.

The course was pretty much identical to last year’s, and I was able to keep a 9:30-10:00 pace for the first several miles. I was carrying my handheld water bottle as well, so I didn’t feel the need to stop for water until after mile 6 or so.

It was relatively easy for me to zone out all the way through Chinatown, Downtown, Echo Park, Silverlake, Hollywood…all the way through Beverly Hills even! As expected, I felt myself slow down in pace as we reached Century City and Westwood. We thankfully did not have to climb that tortous hill near the VA like last year, but miles 22 and onward only made me feel slower and wishing I didn’t have 4.2 miles left.

I refueled with the same gummies and shot bloks as last year, but didn’t start chewing until ~mile 11-13. I went through all of my chewables by mile 22, hoping I would be able to snag a packet from a spectator like last year.

Unfortunately, no one was handing out unwrapped shot bloks past mile 22, but I found myself immensely hungry at mile 23! Two pieces of licorice happened to do the trick surprisingly.

Unlike the 90+F degree weather of last year, we were greeted with fog once we hit Brentwood. As we ran downhill on San Vicente, we could feel the cool, misty ocean as we approached the finish.

IMG_3499
Everyone looks so sad!

Making it to the finish line this year was not as grueling, but once I hit the stop button on my Garmin at 26.4 miles and slowed to a walk, I began to feel the achiness of my hip and foot tendons.

Just keep walking and standing...
Just keep walking and standing…

After grabbing some post-race snacks, a heat sheet, and my medal, I proceeded to the bag check trucks. Bag check was horribly organized this year, since I found all of the bags tossed on the ground.

IMG_3498
Dude, where’s my bag?

Honestly, anybody could have just grabbed a bag and left! There was also no organization such as alphabetizing the bags, so it took me a good fifteen minutes just to find my bag.

IMG_3501
No man! Don’t sit!

Once that was all done, I proceeded to find my teammates. Everyone who had completed the distance was sitting cross-legged with their heat sheets drapped over their shoulders, munching on mini Clif bars or animal crackers. I continued to stand because if I had sat, it would have been PAINFUL to get up!!

IMG_3500
Race patrol keeping the roads clear!

I was there for another hour and a half until everyone from my car was back. We hobbled back to the parking lot around 2pm, and got back into the city an hour later (just like last year).

IMG_3505
Someone got one of my teammates roses…oooooohooohooo

I actually had to go into lab that afternoon (!!) and so I took my sweet time with that. I normally stand for one particular experiment I have to do but on this day, I had to find a seat because my legs were begging me, haha!

I also reflected on my experience, my capabilities, and my newfound strength on Instagram, leaving this picture with a caption about how I ran this race in a much healthier state than probably any other race I have run before!

♥♥♥
♥♥♥

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to go with this running thing, and getting faster is one of my top goals. My time was slower by six minutes this year, but that can be due to so many factors. I am just so incredibly grateful that I was even able to run this race, and I hope that there will be many more marathons in my future, reminding me that all is possible when you work with and trust your body.

IMG_3504
Two sides to THIS medal!!

Have you ever run a marathon? Would you want to?

Transitioning

Transitioning

How did I ring in the New Year? In the most simple way possible…

HappyNYE
A simple breakfast, a simple shopping trip, a simple drive home from the mall at night

It was nothing fancy, but NYE—and the entire week and a half that I was back with my family—was the perfect time for me to hibernate, enjoy home-cooked meals, and have nothing to worry about in particular 🙂

So I was obviously feeling a little down when I had to bus back down to LA over the weekend, since I felt my family-time was being cut to a length that was shorter than what I preferred. I felt homesick the evening of my arrival back at the apartment, and this carried over to the following morning. Still, I was able to push aside those feelings to make room for a 10 mile run and a grocery shopping trip. I even planned it so that I could do my errands in Brentwood, so that I could visit this vegan-friendly establishment that I passed by on one of the long runs I had last semester with the team:

 Entrance to A Votre Sante.
Entrance to A Votre Sante.

The door had a knob as if it were the entrance to a small house, and upon entering, I was greeted with by a waitress who was all smiles. She found me a seat in the overflow room near the back wall, and I enjoyed people-watching for a little bit before being handed the menu.

SAMSUNG

I immediately skipped over to the vegan and signature entrees selection, and found something that fit the wholesome and nourishing bill: the Dragontail.

SAMSUNGI found the decorations to be aesthetically pleasing…

SAMSUNG

…especially the Buddha on the far wall.

SAMSUNG

I felt at peace while I sipped on my water and waited for my late lunch to arrive.

 Pretty lighting!
Pretty lighting!

When my plate came to the table, I admired the presentation—the grains and protein were perfectly portioned-off to one side, while the veggies marinated in tamari sauce were positioned immediately opposite:

Fresh vegetables, hijiki, organic tofu, organic tamari sauce, ginger, organic quinoa or brown rice, organic black beans, tahini.
Fresh vegetables, hijiki (brown sea vegetables), organic tofu, organic tamari sauce, ginger, organic quinoa or brown rice, organic black beans, tahini.

The tahini sauce blended well with the quinoa and black beans.

dragontail_A Votre Sante_close-up

I was able to finish my lunch just as the crowds were leaving, and as the staff was getting ready for the folks coming in for dinner. In order to get to the nearest grocery store, I walked back in the direction of the country club, and spotted this on the same road that I scrapped my hand on:

 I'm guessing other runners are trying to fuel with Quest bars mid-run!
I’m guessing other runners are trying to fuel with Quest bars mid-run!

It was around 6:30pm when I returned home, and I was able to have a good phone call with my Dad. We commiserated over the fact that my stay was too short, and that neither of us were ready to go back to work, but we also knew that once our routines were established again, we would be okay. I also realized that even though it would be quieter and lonelier around these parts for another week, since the hustle and bustle of campus activity doesn’t officially resume until then, I could at least take my time with establishing a new schedule and transition into things at a non-overwhelming pace.

How do you handle homesickness?

A Votre Sante on Urbanspoon

MTR: Week 6

MTR: Week 6

So…on Sunday’s run, I ended up with this lovely mark, courtesy of the dirt, paved roads near Brentwood Country Club. 

 Scraped my hand around mile 9 on Sunday's long run...
Scraped my hand around mile 9 on Sunday’s long run…

Sunday – LSD 12.7 miler with the team at 9:11/mi 

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  4 miler solo morning run at 9:11/mi 

Wednesday –  6 miler group run at 9:23/mi 

Thursday –  Rest

Friday –  Rest

Saturday5 miler solo morning run at 9:07/mi [breaking in my Hokas!!]


Total Mileage ->   27.7 miles

Good thing I was running with others near by. One of my teammates offered some of the water from her water bottle, which I was able to use to rinse out the wound until I got back to the start point. It was also a good lesson for me in regards to what I should be bringing with me (or any serious runner for that matter) for long runs going forward—band-aids, or a mini first aid kit. 

 At least the locale of our Sunday long run was nice. It was route that started on Ocean Ave. in SaMo, and then lined through a residential neighborhood that eventually ended up at the entrance of Brentwood, an adorable area of residences, shops, juice bars, and yoga studios (probably one on each street corner)! We reached the boundary of Westwood before turning around—when I stumbled and fell around mile 9. 

But continuing to look at the bright side of things, I at least had negative splits! I started out with a 9:32/mi pace but after my stumble at mile 9, my pace actually quickened to what was eventually a 8:26/mi pace! 😀 . 

After Sunday’s LSD, I made Monday a rest day (but not a rest day for my brain—studying was in overdrive). I was able to get some running workouts in on Tuesday and Wednesday, but didn’t even try on Thursday morning since that was my day of exams!! Friday was also a take-it-easy kind of day, but Saturday’s 5 miler was actually a lot of fun since I finally got around to breaking in my new pair of running shoes (Hokas!!). I still plan to post a review of them, but I will say I absolutely love them as of right now 🙂 

What has been your worst while-running injury? 

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