The City of Angels Half Marathon Race Report
We woke up at 4:30 to be ready to leave the house by 5:00. We were driving into downtown LA to park at the Music Hall. The race was point to point which required catching buses near the finish line to the start at the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park. The buses were running from 5:00 to 6:30. We were parked before 5:30 and waited until closer to 6:00 to catch our bus ride.
First stop at the Zoo was the Portopot. Second stop was finding a spot close to the propane heaters. I think the temps were about 45, not terribly cold but the sweats we'd worn were appreciated. We left the warmth of the heaters for a second visit to the john and then back to the heat. At 7:15 we left the heat for the last time and stripped off the sweats at the gear check. We did a quick jog through the lot to stay warm. Tyler threw in some jumping jacks and push ups for good measure. Soon everyone headed over to the start. The crunch of people warded off most of the chill.
Tyler's goal for the race was 10:00 miles, for a predicted 2:10 finish (he'd need 9:55 to really make it but 10:00 was easier to deal with. He was very pleased to see a 10:00 pace team identified with three white balloons. His plan was to stick with the pace group. During the National Anthem the balloons escaped. Tyler just threw up his hands - "What were they thinking?" I reassured him we'd be fine without the pace team balloons, I still had my watch.
Another funny thing, Tyler originally told me he didn't want to see the mile markers or know the time. He thought it would just freak him out. But as soon as we hit the first mile mark, he asked the time and continued to ask every mile thereafter. We had a laugh about that later.
The first four miles were an out and back along Crystal Springs Road in Griffith Park. The road separates two municipal golf courses. Griffith Park does a huge drive through Christmas light display. We ran by several displays. Tyler commented that it would be fun to run through here at night when the lights were on. I agreed. During those first four miles Tyler was desperately seeking a third stop at a john. Of course there were lines and he was hesitant to stop and lose time. He finally found an empty near the 4 mile mark about 100 yards off the course that no one else was willing to run to.
At 4 miles our time was 37:54. We had a 2 minute cushion. Tyler was pleased. Mile 5 was along a wide dirt path. This was very nice section of the run. At mile 5 we still had a 2 minute cushion.
After Mile 5 we went through a tunnel under Interstate 5 and ran a mile or so along the LA River Bike Trail. During this mile Tyler removed the make shift arm warmers (old knee high basketball socks) and I pulled off the long sleeve tech top. Short sleeves were ample at this point. I should say that the day ended up being a typically beautiful southern Cal late fall day.
Between mile 6 and 7 we left the bike path and hit the streets again where we would stay for most of the rest of the race. Mile 7 was our first significant hill up Hyperion Ave into Silver Lake. Hills are not a problem for Tyler. He just chugged right on up. I don't think he slowed down at all. I missed the mile 7 marker.
Mile 8 took us down Rowena Ave. It seems like this street was home to some unique and funky shops. One thing I remember is an upscale doggie daycare. We turned onto Silver Lake Blvd and ran next to the Silver Lake Reservoir and a pretty cool neighborhood. The houses were built on a hill so the garages were at street level then the houses went up two to three stories from there with some nice 30's-40's architecture. Silver Lake Blvd was concrete but there was a really nice dirt path between the street and the reservoir. We both took advantage of the softer surface. We hit mile 8 in 1:18, still clinging onto to that 2:00 cushion.
Mile 9 was predominately down hill and increased our cushion to nearly 3:00 at 1:27:19. If I had any complaint about this race it happened here. Up to this point we had been drinking water at every other water stop or so. Here I suggested to Tyler that we should get some Gatorade. This stop had some but they had run out and needed to mix up some more. Really this was a minor issue for us but worth mentioning.
On to mile 10 on Sunset Blvd was the next significant hill. Tyler slowed a little but not much. He hit mile 10 in 1:37:18. Still looking good. It was at this point that he began showing the slightest signs of fatigue. Up to here at water stops we slowed, grabbed the water, walked a couple of steps to gulp it down and then we were off. At the 10 mile water stop he was a little slower on the return to running.
Mile 11 took us into Echo Park and Tyler was hit by a pretty significant side stitch and pain that hit him in the neck and ran across his chest. We took a walk break for at least a minute before he was able to get moving again. I missed the marker so we weren't sure how much of the cushion we'd lost. This mile also included the last hill of note. Tyler slowed some, thought about walking, but kept plugging away instead.
From here on in it was pretty much a down hill finish. Mile 12 was spent on Temple Ave. Up ahead I pointed out Our Lady of The Angels Cathedral within striking distance of the finish. It was less than a half mile away but we still had about 1.5 to go. Mile 12 was 1:58, still looking good for that 2:10 finish. It was about here that Tyler began questioning his sanity and definitely questioning whether he ever wanted to tackle the full 26.2 distance.
After about a half mile on Figueroa St., the route took us onto 2nd St. which is in a tunnel under nearly 3.5 city blocks. It was a pretty cool place to run. Soon after exiting the tunnel we turned left and the finish line was in sight. Just 0.1 miles to go and Tyler kicked in the after burners. I had difficulty keeping up with him. I almost just let him go then decided to try to catch him in hopes of a decent finish line photo of the two of us together. I'm not sure if I made it.
Tyler's finish time by my watch was 2:07:25. He rocked the last 1.1 miles in 9:21:53. That boy has a pretty decent kick. As of this writing at 8:30 PST the official results have yet to be posted. Tyler felt great after the race. This evening his legs are sore and his knees ache, but it doesn't seem to be anything a Tylenol and ice won't help.
It was a perfect day of running. Getting to share a half marathon with my son is as they say "priceless". He ran pretty much the whole thing and never really needed any prodding from me to keep going, unlike the first couple of 5K's. I'm also impressed that he was able to beat his target pace by 2:35. We made it through on just the water at the water stops and no gels or other nutrition. He never uses these things in training and today wasn't the day to start. I kind of like his low tech, old school approach.
I asked him if he ever imagined himself running a half marathon. He said he knew he would once he started the Couch to 5K program back in February. High five! Today was the day!
The course was a really nice mix of urban parks, trails, residential, business and downtown theatre district. The course is way better than the LA Marathon course. The half course wouldn't accommodate the volume of people in the full. Spectators were non existent (no big deal for us really). The water stops were plentiful and well staffed although we did only see Gatorade at the one. The finish line festival was simple but plentiful. I'll never complain about getting chocolate chip cookies at a race. There was a live band, too.
It was a perfect day.