Los Angeles Marathon
March 19, 2017
Los Angeles, California
Why I Decided to Run Los Angeles Marathon
The answer is simple: my brother, Dylan, has a rather large mouth. And a fair amount of arrogance. So over a glass or three of Knob Creek, we decided we were going to run Los Angeles Marathon. He has been out there for a bit over a year and I had yet to get out and visit him. So we pulled the trigger. I’ve always heard great things about the race and it did not disappoint.
Getting There/The Lead-Up to the Race
Getting to LA was certainly a bit more of a chore than I had imagined. There is no real good public transit to and from any of the area airports, so make sure you plan accordingly. Either rent a car, have a friend get you, or be prepared for a very expensive rideshare. We ended up flying in to John Wayne Orange County Airport (flying standby and LAX oversold everything; not ideal) but it was a pleasant enough experience. Provided you have continuous access to a vehicle, LA is a great city. Just be ready for long drives wherever you go.
The Race Expo
The health and fitness expo took place at the LA Convention Center (downtown by the Staples Center). Location-wise, it was right in the middle of the course. It took us quite a while to get there because of that traffic I mentioned earlier. But once we were there, it was quite a happening place. Entering the hall was quick and easy. Bib pick-up was fast. Shirt pick-up was fast. And getting your wrist band for the beer garden was fast. Probably among the most efficient.
Once you got into the hall, you’re taken through the Los Angeles Marathon Gear Shop where they have all manner of Skecher’s (the title sponsor) gear for sale. Throughout that were all of the usual suspects: SPIbelt, Ragnar, runDisney, Clif, so-on-and-so-forth. Pretty run of the mill from that point forward. They did have this really cool LA Marathon wall to take pictures with – it really got you jazzed about the race!
One note not often discussed on CR: Los Angeles Marathon is super mom and baby friendly. There were places for breastfeeding and diaper changing everywhere. Kudos to that. Us new parents really appreciate that.
I took very little with me. Since it was supposed to be warm, I ran in just my Nike 5″ Challenger shorts, a Nike Dri-Fit shirt, Feeture’s Elite Max Compression socks, and Saucony Guide 7’s. I wore my Fitbit Blaze, plus I took my SPIbelt that held my phone and 5 Gu Espresso shots. And instead of my standard wedding ring, I wore my QALO silicone wedding band so no other girl runners or spectators would try to grab me up.
The drop-off for the race was about as smooth as one could expect a race with around 30,000 runners. The staff and volunteers at Dodgers Stadium (the start line in a point-to-point marathon from Dodgers Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier) had the drop-off section down to a science. We arrived at the start line about an hour prior to the start of the race and we were able to get right into our corral. There were shuttles offered that we heard good things about, but Dylan’s apartment is right near the start line, so we had no need.
The pre-race entertainment was among the best races I’ve participated in. Live music, an energetic MC, and breakfast for runners really sealed it for me. Plus, there were PLENTY of port-o-potties. Very little waiting in line.
Along the Course
My one negative to this race was the start. The first 2-3 miles were SUPER congested and slow going. Lots of tight turns with tons of people running. Understandable, but I wasn’t quite expecting the thinning of the herd to take quite as long.
The on-course support was impeccable. Never before have I seen such consistent cheering and water stations along a race, especially in my pace group. You Los Angelinos really love your Los Angeles Marathon. There were even tons of ad-hoc water stations set up by regular folks, which was so cool to see. More on that down the way.
The water stops were consistent and well manned making for a streamlined approach and pass. No bottlenecks there! And volunteers did a tremendous job keeping us informed as to what we were drinking and where to get it.
The Route Highlights
Starting at Dodger Stadium, you do some hair pinning along the city through Downtown LA. It’s super misleading if you aren’t from the area because it feels like you’ve gone so far, but really by mile 6 you are only a mile from the start line. Those first few miles are largely downhill and take you through Chinatown and Little Tokyo, which is super cool. They had drummers and even dancing dragons along the way. My personal favorite was seeing Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall at the very top of a hill. Made me almost forget I wanted to die.
After the 10k mark, you begin your basically straight march to the sea. Unlike Sherman’s March, though, the the only thing burning is your thighs. While the course itself is a net-negative slope, there are some strong hills that I, as a Chicagoan, was way underprepared for. So keep that in mind when training.
Sprinkled with live bands, a cheerleader competition mile, marching bands, and a noise making mile, there was never a shortage in entertainment. You’ll go through Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, West LA, and finally Santa Monica. And as they say, once you get there, it’s all downhill. The Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame, Dolby Theater, Rodeo Drive, and Santa Monica Pier are also some solidly famous things you’ll see.
The Finish and Post-Race Experience
In all honesty, I didn’t experience it as much as I should have. I didn’t run a great race so I was a bit out of it and pouty. But the finisher’s shoot was awe-inspiring. There were thousands of people cheering for the last half mile along the beach. When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel great but there was a ton of support. And it was beautiful. That breeze off the ocean helped cool me down after having been so overheated.
In the finisher’s festival, they had the Angel City Brewery beer garden and I enjoyed a glorious IPA. So great after a long hard run. They had photo-ops, food trailers, TVs with the NCAA Tournament, and a ton of other things to do. We should have gone to visit the Santa Monica Pier, but I was not feeling up to it. That will motivate me to do it again, I suppose.
And let’s not forget about the medal. Because let’s be honest, it’s important. Boy is that sucker heavy. It’s obviously well made and nicely designed. It’s one of my favorites. But more importantly, my daughter loves it.
Even though I had trained better for this race than any other I’ve done, things didn’t go my way on race day. The slow start combined with my decision to try to make up too much time too quickly lead me to run out of steam in the heat and the hills after Mile 19. Cramps, nausea, and dizziness – all the treat that comes with overheating and exhaustion. I wish my performance had been better, but it’s hard to complain. I finished a race and got a lot of experience with it that I would not have had I kept up pace.
Los Angeles Marathon was a great event. It was SO well run with so much to see and do. The runners, spectators, and volunteers could not have been any better. From the kid that squirted me down with ice cold water from a super soaker to to the volunteer who rubbed out my calves to the kind Elvis that gave me a beer I so desperately needed to the fellow runners who helped me by patting my back while got sick or challenged me to run with them for the final two miles. If you ever lose faith in humanity, go run a marathon. It’ll heal you up real quick.
I’d totally do LA again in a heartbeat. And who knows – maybe I will be back again!
Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!
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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!