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?

Lotsa Snackin’ and the Expo

Lotsa Snackin’ and the Expo

In the days leading up to my second marathon (!!!), I honestly did not feel as amped or excited as I did for my first marathon. Part of it was due to the fact that it all felt rushed. The race itself (LA Marathon) was pushed up to Valentine’s this year instead of its usual date in March. I also felt like my training runs didn’t feel as accomplishing (even though I should have felt accomplished!) because I was going through a lot of changes with my body in regards to my eating disorder recovery. I plan to write a more detailed post about this in the future, when I have more time to organize my thoughts and piece everything together.

But even though I wasn’t feeling 100% positive about this race, I did my best to enjoy the fact that I was opening new doors for myself, and that by going through the tough challenges now, I (and my body) would be so much more grateful in the future.

So in the few days before the race, I munched on some new-to-me bars and tried new snack combos.

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D’s Naturals – No Cow Bar – Blueberry Cobbler

I tried No Cow Bars for the first time, in two different flavors.

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D’s Naturals – No Cow Bar – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Upon opening each flavor, I found that the bars were quite limp! Peanut butter chocolate chip had a chunky texture to it, while blueberry cobbler had a smooth, but grainy aftertaste. I ended up liking PBCC more, but I’m looking forward to trying this brand’s other flavors!

I mixed in this Mission1 protein bar with an Arctic Zero pint and a generous serving of macaroon cookie butter from Ralph’s, which made for the most excellent Monday night dessert! The bar was supposedly “chocolate chip cookie dough”, but it mainly tasted like a chewy chocolate protein bar throughout. It was nothing spectacular, and actually may have tasted slightly better if it had been warmed up in the microwave for a little bit.

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Mission1 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Other snacks during this week included a jar of Buff Bake Cookie almond spread, chock-full of chia and flax seeds, which meant it was supercharged with protein.

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Buff Bake Cookie Almond Spread

Another bar also made its appearance later on in the week—Combat Crunch’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. When I had this bar before, I believe prior to a team long run actually, I found it too hard to chew on and less than appetizing, but this time around it wasn’t too bad.

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Combat Crunch Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

When the weekend finally arrived, the first thing I did was dash on over to the race expo. There was a line that curved around the entrance area, but when the expo officially opened at 8:00am, we were able to enter in an orderly fashion.

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LA Marathon Expo

The first thing I did was collect my bib, shirt, and bag, admiring this year’s shirt design inspired by Valentine’s Day.

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Race shirt

I then ventured into the expo, and took in my surroundings. I noticed a life-size piece of Quench gum casually walking around 😛

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Quench gum walking.

The first booth I visited was the KT booth. They were applying one free taping, and I asked for one for my right foot, since the “top of my foot” tendinitis migrated to the top-middle of my arch…weird. The taping seemed to help at first, but when I bent my foot outwards to see if I still felt sore, the soreness was still there…oh well, at least now my feet were shiny pink?

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KT Tape!

After doing some more exploring, I got my picture taken and tacked it onto the photomural board. We even got two Polaroid copies so we could keep one. Last year, it was a board with all of the participants names.

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Photo-mural

I soon got bored with the expo (within an hour…shows how my attention span really is!!), and ventured outside onto Figueroa. The Olympic Trials were about to begin, but I still had to pop into lab that day! I didn’t get to see any of the celeb elites in action, but I did see some runners warming-up down the street. It was refreshing to see a race taking place on the downtown LA roads I frequently run myself…yeah, I may not run as fast as these elites (yet), but one can hope and dream about it 🙂

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Olympic Trials about to start!!

After finishing up some morning lab work, I immediately got myself out to get some grocery shopping done. I obviously wouldn’t have time on Marathon Sunday, and since I had to go into lab on President’s Day, it was just easier to get the grocery shopping done and in bed all by 7pm.

Since I wanted to go to Sprouts, I ventured to the Westwood location and even sat down for a quick bite to eat at Tacos tu Madre. It was more like a little food shack than a restaurant, but there were some veggie-friendly options on the menu.

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Menu

Because the inside of the “food shack” was incredibly small, I was awkwardly standing by the door for a few minutes before finding a seat and actually sitting down.

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Inside Tacos tu Madre

I could have sat outside, but I also wanted a break from the hot sun.

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Decorations!

My huevos rancheros dish came out in a small tin bowl, and featured two stacked fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and guac, and two fried eggs. It was satisfying enough to get me to Sprouts a few blocks up ahead.

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Huevos Rancheros in a bowl

When I finally made it home, it was almost 5pm! I quickly got all of my race gear for the marathon ready, and had a pint of Arctic Zero that I picked up from Sprouts. It was a new exclusive chunky flavor, Snickerdoodle Dandy. It was a cute flavor idea, but I wish there had been more sugar cookie chunks. I feel like it’s a similar issue with the cookie dough flavor. Still, it’s a flavor worth trying!

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Arctic Zero – Snickerdoodle Dandy

What have you been snacking on lately?

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