I hadn’t really planned on running the LA Marathon this year. It just so happened that I was near Los Angeles the week prior for work. So, why not stay the weekend and run a famed big city marathon? With the bonus of being able to (hopefully) cross California off my list of Boston qualifying states! A good deal, I thought. Went to the expo Saturday, and I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t bad, but I expected more for LA. When I went to pick up my bib, they asked for my QR code. I had never received one. They were able to look it up by my name, so it wasn’t a big deal. Then, I go to pick up my ‘swag bag’. It contained a race shirt. That’s it. No biggie, but just figured the LA Marathon would have a little more. Alright, on to the race.
It’s a point-to-point course, so we stayed near the finish. This meant an early morning bus from Santa Monica to the LA Dodgers stadium. A huge upside of this was it gave me the time and opportunity to meet some of my virtual running family in person!! Since LA wasn’t really in my plan, I had no intention of really racing this. It was only three weeks out from Boston where I’ll be shooting for a new PR!! I wanted to try for a sub-3:20 (A goal). But, more importantly, I expected (hoped) that time would be hard, but not all-out. A test of my fitness. Of course, my B goal was a BQ (3:40).
The course starts out around and winding out of Dodgers stadium parking lot. There’s an uphill, then a big downhill. 7:38 pace is 3:20, so when I started with 7:24 I was okay with it. Felt comfortable. The first few miles flew by. I ran mostly by feel and was comfortable in the low 7s. I didn’t figure I’d be able to keep that pace the whole way, but also didn’t have the self-control to back off. I just rode it out. Around mile 5, I settled into a ~7:20 average pace. This part of the course has a lot of ups and downs, so paces bounced between 7:10s to 7:40 based on the incline. But, I was able to stay pretty consistent without too much focus. Still going by feel. Comfortably hard effort. Kept that up thru mile 20. Everyone said after mile 20, it’s downhill. Turned a corner just after the mile 20 marker and literally went uphill for over a mile. Non-flatlanders probably wouldn’t call it a hill. But, it was definitely an incline. For over a mile. Needless to say, mile 21 was my slowest. I eased off the pace. Maintained an effort closer to comfortable than comfortably hard for the next few miles. At mile 24, I wanted to push to see what I had. Really test my fitness. Finished with a 7:12 and a 7:11.
I will say the course itself and the spectators on the course made up for any negative experience at the expo. It was a full tour of LA. Along the Sunset Strip and down Hollywood Boulevard. I caught a couple of glimpses of the famous Hollywood sign. Along Rodeo Drive, through Beverly Hills, and into Santa Monica. At least a glimpse of most of the big sights. And, there were spectators cheering almost all the way!! The last stretch of Ocean Avenue to the finish was rows deep of cheering spectators and cowbells. Fun course. Great support.
My official time was 3:15:54, which put me 3rd in my age group!! 380th of 20,128 finishers. I am super stoked about the race. The course was surprisingly not easy. To run such a solid time with a controlled, not all-out, effort is a huge confidence boost. Ready to chase a new PR at Boston!!