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.

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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?

Events Taking Place Pre-Race

Events Taking Place Pre-Race

There is something about October that (almost) makes it my favorite month. I guess I can go far as to say it’s my second favorite month, perhaps because there is so much going on and my time has been occupied by things that keep me busy, but in a good way. 

Besides studying/lab rotations, spending my weekends exploring the city, eating, and sleeping, running has been a major part of my schedule. I signed up for the Rock n Roll LA Half back in June, excited about the prospect that my fifth half, and my second fall half would take place in the heart of my new home!

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It was also my first RNR race altogether, and I have to admit that I was majorly influenced by the constant stream of ads for the race series when I picked up and read issues of Competitor from my old gym. More about my experience with the race to come, but for now, let’s get back to expo day

I originally would have liked to make it out to the expo for packet pick-up on Friday afternoon, but I was occupied in lab until about an hour and a half before the expo closing time. I decided to just make it out to pick-up right when they opened at the LA Convention Center at 9:30am the next morning. 

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I expected it to be crowded, crazy, and take too long, but it was actually the opposite. In fact, I probably was only there for about an hour total for packet pick-up and booth browsing.

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Not taking the time to browse over-priced expo merch.

There were plenty of vendors, mostly pushing/selling their products at “expo prices”, but there was a good share of freebies being handed out as well. I got (waytoomuch!) reusable tote bags, pens, and other random non-food goods. A lot of the food/beverage samples were being portioned out unfortunately, for me. I did sip on a sample of a vanilla protein shake while checking out the Geico booth, but my favorite booth from the expo was Mahatma Rice’s.

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Yeah, so I may have gotten a lousy paper fan as my “spin-the-wheel-prize”, but the booth guy was like “hold up!” as I was about to leave, and handed me two sample packs of rice! Um, thank you very much! 😀

Since the expo bored me pretty quickly after I made my way around to all of the booths, I left the Convention Center with one of my reusable totes filled with the freebies I happened to pick up, and boarded the Metro to Venice. I was looking forward to getting off at an earlier stop on the Santa Monica route and not only saving time, but gathering more freebies at Vitamin Shoppe’s health “fair” and getting lunch for the first time at Cafe Gratitude.

My first stop was Vitamin Shoppe for Quest Bars (of course…), but since they were having health fairs in their stores nationwide, I ended up getting yet another reusable bag full of samples! I looked like a super bag lady walking out of the store 😉 !

With my bags in tow, I walked 2 miles coast-wards, and ended up on Lincoln and Rose for part of the walk. I noticed that the area took the name to heart.

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When two cross-streets have a logo, you know you’re in a pretty savvy place B)

My destination was in housed in a brick building, and I would have absentmindedly passed by it had I not looked up at the right moment.

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When I walked in, I could tell that it was lunch time—the place was packed!

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I was able to get a table for one right up against the wall at the back of the restaurant. Great for picture-taking and out-the-window gazing…

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I love how the menu items start with “I am…” and then finish with some sort of adjective. I ended up getting the Humble bowl, which, when you think about the ingredients, really does sound humbling!

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 HUMBLE indian curry bowl  14 Red lentil dal, roasted heirloom tomatoes, sautéed spinach, fresh corn, spicy mint chutney, sweet tamarind sauce, chopped scallions, choice of local brown rice or quinoa
The Humble Indian Curry Bowl ~ Red lentil dal, roasted heirloom tomatoes, sautéed spinach, fresh corn, spicy mint chutney, sweet tamarind sauce, chopped scallions, local brown rice or quinoa

It was humble in flavor too (in other words, it was lacking in spice & seasoning!!)

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But if were just keeping score based on looks? 10/10.

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I had a hard time picking up the small bits of quinoa though. Perhaps a side order of bread would have been helpful in this case…

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What am I grateful for?

Free stuff. And good food. 😀

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What are your experiences with race expo(s)?

What are you grateful for?

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