The gap between my previous marathon experience and this one has only been a time span of about 7 years. INSERT SARCASTIC FACE.
In 2013 at the Marine Corps Marathon, I was training for me and trying to see what I could do with my body in the time that I trained. This time around, when training for the LA Marathon, more meaning was behind each step I took to toe the start [and then finish] line.
Since moving to Las Vegas, we’d made the drive over to Southern California over a dozen times. Each time, the drive is filled with singing, napping, and lots of stress having a little one. I’ve had to learn and adapt to the experience of being a mother, all while setting big goals for myself to conquer and learn from as an example to my little.
We decided to stay in Santa Monica, near the finish line of the race, since this was a point-to-point course.
Regarding the course and lead-up to the race itself, let me back up a smidgen.
I did my research to understand the course since I hadn’t been able to drive or run it before. A multitude of hills sprinkled into the course, particularly in the first 8 miles. Some of these hills rolled while others were steady for a mile or more at a time. During training, hill training along with speed interval training remained a focus. Even still, I told myself to see how things go – see where the weekend took me to determine how I would handle running the course through Los Angeles.
One week before race day, the news of the COVID-19 spread began to surface. That first week of March, we all had no idea what would lie ahead in regards to this pandemic nor what it would do to our way of life. A week before that, I’d taken a trip to New York City to be on an episode of the Mel Robbins show to rub elbows with my favorite celebrity trainer, Shaun T. Thoughts began to flood into my head questioning the potential of the race to be canceled, not knowing the social distancing that would be a part of everyday life immediately upon returning home. In addition to all of this news, we’d learned we would be making our move to California sooner than later. That meant that I had two two-week-apart travel stints backed up with a house full of boxes all the mess that comes with an out-of-state move. Sure! Let me run a marathon like it’s nothing!
The texts started between Brian, Carlee, and Linzie, who I knew I would see at the race. Carlee and Brian were running the course together, as they had so many other times before (many of those races I’d been on my hiatus from.) Linzie was open to running at the pace I’d suggested (9:30-10:30) with room for us to do what we needed to do individually come race day. the options were a-plenty.
I couldn’t sleep for the life of me the night before the race.
We had a great dinner at the nearby Cheesecake Factory, my stomach had no issues, but for some reason I was irritable. Oh wait, my period decided to make a grand appearance while we were at dinner, that’s what it was. My shuttle was to leave between 3:45/4:00 am a couple of blocks away, so after I got my life together to leave the hotel, I met up with Carlee and Brian to head over to LA Dodgers Stadium where there race started. In previous years, runners were welcome to hangout inside of the stadium in their seating and use their restroom facilities. Again with the imperfect timing, we UN-lucked out. Construction prevented anyone from entering the stadium. So, with a start time of around 6:30 am to enter corrals, starting about 30 minutes after that, we were set to hangout in the parking lot. Making the most of it, we pitched up at a “comfy” spot to half-sleep and half-talk before starting the race.
When the starting horn went off and we were on our way, I knew I would be sticking with my gang. My legs felt like lead from sitting so long and my whole body didn’t want to walk a 5k, much less run a marathon. I did, however want to enjoy all that there was to see in Los Angeles on foot. That much, was possible.
The race recap for this marathon goes like this:
We chatted our heads off since it’d been around 7 years since I’d done so with them …
Around mile 2 we found Linzie and ran with him as he enjoyed an on-course hotdog….
Our legs gunned it up some hills together while we waited for each other at others …
Photo opportunities were all over the place and taken advantage of ..
Witty banter created laughter in some moments while heavy breathing and silence happened in others …
I had to poop around mile 6 … Carlee peed with me around mile 7 …
By mile 8 Brian was hot as F from his Kobe Jersey (even though his outfit was impeccably coordinated) and we started to all walk more …
I decided to see if I still had any steam in my tank by mile 9 to finish the rest of the race solo.
Nonetheless, the race was never solo. I didn’t listen to any music, only the breathing of other runners and cheering on as spectators lined the streets. I didn’t push myself past any point pace-wise that I couldn’t come back from.
Landmarks in LA that I’d driven past before were right in front of me, and I didn’t miss them for a second.
I finished this race a little slower than my first marathon in 2013, yet had a smile from cheek to cheek on my face. Soreness was a given, but the sense of pride that I felt was insurmountable. I finished, vertically, and with my little at my feet yelling “MOMMY! You did it! You ran 13 miles!”
I’m more grateful than ever that this race was the experience it ended up being. Hours of catching up with long-time runner friends is now something so priceless given the current situation that we’re in during this socially distanced quarantine. Who knows when we’ll ever get to run again together, much less in a race of this capacity. I know that this time of isolation won’t be forever, but it’s been one that’s given us all reflective time to appreciate what we once were able to do.
New York City Marathon is still on, so far, for November. California International Marathon is as well, for December. I still hope to run both of those races, even if a virtual option to support charities close to my heart. In the mean time, while we wait on updates on large social gatherings, I’ll remember LA Marathon as the time when things were simpler – where we could just be a community looking for a finish line to celebrate together.