Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Stadium to the sea

The 26.2-mile/42.16-km "Stadium to the Sea" route began at Dodger Stadium and ended at Ocean and California avenues in Santa Monica. But before that we had to actually get there. So Lynette and I (and Jef for moral support) got up at 3:30am to get dressed, psyched and coffee'ed. We needed to leave the house by 4:30am to drive to the finish line, park the car, and catch a shuttle to take us all the way back to downtown LA so we could run all the way back to the beach.

We arrived in Santa Monica within half an hour, and then the looooooooooooong wait in the really loooooooooooong queue to get onto the buses which seemed to take forever to move. I was absolutely busting to empty my bladder, and there was one port-a-loo (yes, count them, 1!) close to the buses with a queue that didn't look like it was moving in a hurry. As soon as I got in the loo queue the shuttle line started moving really fast, and Lynette was at the front of the line and waiting for me. I was still lined up waiting for the loo, and then in a blink there were no more people waiting for the shuttle, and we were seriously worried we were going to miss the last bus. But when you've had as much coffee as I had that morning, well, when you gotta go you just gotta go! So Lynette ran off trying to hold a shuttle for me, and after I was finally able to do my business we got on the bus and were on our way to the start line.

The sun had finally decided to wake up, and by now some horrible mangled rendition of Star Spangled Banner was blaring from the load speakers indicating the gun was about to go off. We were lined up for the loos, again, and there was a countdown and then the gun and horns and lots of cheering and music and it all seems like such a blur as the adrenaline kicks into high gear.

At the starting line of the 32nd annual Los Angeles Marathon.

The first half felt pretty good. I paced well and didn't go too hard. I was texting and sending pictures to Jef of the landmarks along the route.

Entering Chinatown.

The mass of people climbing up the hill up ahead.

Taiko drummers at the top of 1st Ave hill. It really helped to hear the cadence.

At mile 6 making our way around Echo Park lake.

Running through Silver Lake for mile 8.

The long strip of Sunset Blvd seeing Griffith Observatory and Hollywood sign in the distance.

The transition from Sunset Blvd to Hollywood Blvd.

Mile 12, home of the Academy Awards.

We were back on Sunset Blvd for mile 13 - yay, half way point. I think I looked at Strava and saw I did the first 21km in 2 hours 18/19 minutes or something like that.

Then it was into West Hollywood and through Beverly Hills. Just after mile 16 checkpoint was where Jef and Kien were waiting. A quick kiss from them both gave me a boost to keep moving.

Mile 19 on Santa Monica Blvd. I think I was still feeling okay at this point. By now I had sucked down 4 GU gels and numerous cups of Gatoraid that was handed out at every mile point.

I'm pretty sure it was after this that I hit the wall. Only 8km left. I kept telling myself how easy 8km was as my legs screamed at me. This was the furthest distance I had ever run, and the cramps were setting in. That smiling selfie was also the last photo I sent to Jef, as from that point on it was so very tough. I could not suck down any more GU gels - the thought of having another one made me want to throw up. I tried to talk myself into having one with caffeine, but I was over it. I just couldn't. The course profile write up had said this was one of the toughest points - a continuous 2 mile hill climb. It seemed never ending. I knew I had dropped my pace quite substantially, and was a tad worried I wouldn't make my goal time. After passing mile 25 mark all I told myself was that the finish line was less than 12 minutes away and to go go go to stop the pain sooner.

The finish line was in sight, but it looked so far away. I remember throwing my head back and pumping my arms harder just to propel my aching body forward along this stretch. It will be over soon, I told myself. And then...

When I crossed that finish line it was totally surreal. I told myself I could stop running now, but I was in disbelief at the same time, so in my state of confusion I was wobbling about not knowing if I was walking, running, or collapsing and dying. Stopping moving hurt so much. A volunteer lady came over and said she could stay with me if I needed help. I walked with her for a few meters and then decided I wasn't going to die after all. I thanked her and told her I was okay. She congratulated me and I went and got my medal.

Jef texted me my result. I made it.

2 comments:

Michelle MacWhirter said...

Oh gosh, this made my eyes well up. Absolutely amazing Lien, well done.

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