I really had no idea what to expect for the Los Angeles Marathon. It was my first marathon in 4 years. My training leading up to it had gone fairly well. I figured on a good day; I could run around 3:20. On a bad day, I would be lucky to finish.
As many people know, my husband was tasked with a no-notice six-month deployment. Even after eight other deployments, I haven’t handled this one well—especially the week before the marathon. I barely slept or ate, which is all you need to do the week before a 26.2-mile race. So I had no idea how the Los Angeles Marathon would go. This week has been better. Not great, but better.
Before the Los Angeles Marathon:
As mentioned, it was not a great week before. On Wednesday, I didn’t know if I would make it to the start (as cliche as that sounds). But I got decent sleep, and everything else had gone well. My training for the Los Angeles Marathon had mostly gone well. I did my long runs. Avoided injuries and I got into better shape as time went on.
Similar to my first marathon, I had zero expectations. Go out there, and have fun. I thought not being my slowest marathon would be cool, but I wasn’t going to cry about it if it was. We stayed in Los Angeles the night before. Getting to the Los Angeles Marathon was a nightmare, and I wasn’t even sure we would make it on time. There was a ton of traffic, road closures for the race, but also road closures for construction, My husband dropped me off, and somehow, I got to the Los Angeles Marathon start on time. I even got some pro tips from Taggart, a 2:20 marathoner. I’m glad he told me the first few miles dropped 250 feet because I didn’t realize it was that much.
Standing at the Los Angeles Marathon, it felt hot. I was already sweating before the race. It was 60 and humid, which aren’t the worst marathon conditions but also not ideal. There were a few brief moments of rain, but I could have used about 20 degrees cooler or more rain. You can’t control the weather conditions and to my knowledge, this was one of the cooler Los Angeles Marathons.
- Nike Tempo Next% Shoe
- 6 Maurten Gels (before, 5, 10*, 15, 19*, 22) caffeinated
- Coros Pace 2 Watch
- Electolyit at all aid stations (provided by race)
Los Angeles Marathon Race:
We went off right at 7 am. I was maybe 30 seconds before crossing the line. A bad habit I’ve had is just starting my watch when the race begins and ending it well after I’m done, so I was happy to remember to press that when I actually crossed the Los Angeles Marathon start. My only goal was to run by vibes and not to push it. If we are being honest, that’s usually my goal anyway. I’ve never been someone who can look at my watch and say this is too slow; I need to run faster. Either I feel good, or I don’t.
As anticipated, the first two miles of the Los Angeles Marathon drop a lot. You leave Dodger Stadium and go downhill for two solid miles. During this time, I saw the 3:20 pacer and 3:30 pacers. The 3:30 pacer was going the same pace as the 3:20 for the first mile. One was on the left and one on the right. I thought it was funny and was like ok, choose your own destiny. I don’t love being around pacers because you never know how they’ll run. Maybe they’ll push the downhill to “bank time.” Run an even pace the entire time…you never know!
Ultimately I ended up close to the 3:20 pacer until mile 16 of the Los Angeles Marathon. I ran a 7:47 and 7:40 first two miles. I was staying relaxed. I felt decent, not great, and I could tell the weather would likely be a factor later. I tried to remind myself I ran 20 miles in the humid heat of Hawaii and felt moderately good, and this was a good 10 degrees cooler. Mile 3 of the Los Angeles Marathon kind of flattened out. I knew there would be a relatively large hill at mile 4. I planned a Hawaii trip well before planning to run the Los Angeles Marathon but that confidence in running in high heat and humidity just a few weeks before really helped.
During mile 3 of the Los Angeles Marathon, there were a ton of “spectators” telling us to repent our sins and to run for Jesus, not for the plastic medal. There was also an 8-foot sign that just said Jesus. Who knew the Los Angeles Marathon also had a church service? Anyway, mile 4 climbed a reasonably large hill, then went straight back down. It was one of my fastest miles of the day at 7:23. I felt smooth and comfortable. I was about 10 seconds behind the 3:20 pacer. They would lose me on uphills, and I would catch them on downhills. Occasionally I would pass them on downhills. I was never really running with the 3:20 pacer, but they were always in my sights.
Miles 5-6 of the Los Angeles Marathon had rolling hills. They didn’t feel as terrible as people said they might be. Maybe that was because it felt like I was running easy. Things were clicking along, and I didn’t feel like I was running about my means…which, at mile 6 of a marathon, you do not want. I ran mile 5 at 7:51 and six at 7:42.
From there, the Los Angeles Marathon gets pretty flat. There are small hills but nothing crazy. Taggart had told me mile 6-18 was rather flat…which I’m glad he did, so I wasn’t waiting for some crazy uphill or something.
The miles clicked off, and I soon found myself at mile 10. I crossed mile 10 around 1:16. I laughed because it wasn’t too far off the Hawaii Running Lab Kailua 10 Miler race a few weeks ago. That race came up a lot in my head because I thought: if I can run 20 miles in 70-degree humidity, I can run 26.2 miles in the 60s. I grabbed electrolit at every stop offered, and sometimes I grabbed water too. I made it a point to stop at every station at the Los Angeles Marathon which meant I was often zig-zagging to get there.
Running down sunset boulevard was slightly underwhelming. I hadn’t been an adult and didn’t know what to expect. There were a lot of people, but I just thought it would be more exciting. That could also be the majority of my marathons have been New York City, where you can’t get away from people if you tried. But we crossed the halfway point of the Los Angeles Marathon in just under 1:40. I thought, wow, I am doing well right now. I was surprised and kept waiting for things to “fall apart.”
Miles 14-15 of the Los Angeles Marathon had slight uphills, followed by a big (and welcomed) downhill at mile 15. It was my fastest mile in 7:21. Around mile 16; my shoe became untied. I stepped to the side and stopped to tie it, and that is when the 3:20 pacer lost me, and I never really rejoined them. Stopping and tieing my shoe didn’t put me in a funk, and it probably took 20 seconds.
I could see the 3:20 pace group, and I was gaining on them from about 16-19; I might get close. Then around mile 19 of the Los Angeles Marathon, the 3:20 pacer dropped. I didn’t realize they weren’t running the whole race, but I also never asked. We also passed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon around mile 19. Passing the finishing line of a marathon at mile 19 is incredibly challenging. Honestly, I could have been done with the race with no shame. It is nice because it allows a lot more spectators to watch. The next few miles got hard, fast.
I knew the last 7 miles of the Los Angeles Marathon were hilly, but I never realized how hilly. Miles 20-23 were the hardest for me, and I ran 8:24, 8:06, and 8:00. I told myself when I had my last gel at mile 22, I could take a few seconds to walk. I was tired, and the hills were beating me up. Around 23.5 of the Los Angeles Marathon, we turned around and headed back to the start. Suddenly I didn’t feel as bad anymore. I was tired, of course, but I didn’t feel like I did 2 miles ago. I felt a lot stronger and I actually never stopped to walk. Hoorah!
I ran the final few miles in 7:44, 7:42, and 7:56. They weren’t flat, and the Los Angeles Marathon finishes uphill. I passed several people, and I counted down the seconds until the race was done. I told myself just 20 minutes, than 10, then 5.
Finally, I crossed the Los Angeles Marathon finish in 3:24.59 and was 52nd woman overall.
Los Angeles Marathon Thoughts:
I didn’t realize how hilly the Los Angeles Marathon is until afterward. They changed the course a few years ago. It used to finish in Santa Monica and had about 600 feet of elevation. Now it ends in Century City with 960 feet of elevation (much more than you prefer in the final few miles of a marathon). I didn’t realize it had more vertical than New York City.
Anyway, I’m happy with how I ran. It was too warm for me for a longer race, but I paid attention to hydration and never gave up. I never felt like I was running above my means. I do think my endurance for marathons is just not quite there, mainly because I haven’t run more than 12-14 miles for nearly four years. I got enough longer runs in before the marathon, but I could probably use a few more. I think doing a flat and fast marathon would be fun, as I’ve never done that. Phoenix Marathon was the closest to flat and fast, but I didn’t enjoy (or run well) the extreme downhill. Maybe I’ll train and run another flatter marathon.
You can see Strava here or more race recaps here.
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Questions for you:
Have you run the Los Angeles Marathon?
What is your favorite marathon?