Back in January, I signed up to run the new and improved Los Angeles Marathon. This was the 25th running of the event with the new course that started at Dodgers Stadium and "ran the icons" all the way to the Santa Monica Pier. I didn't end up with a stress fracture this year but the running gods were certainly trying their best to hold me to my "No More CA Marathons" Pledge, no matter how easily sucked into the hype I can get.
Thinking back on it my 15 miler two weeks ago was the beginning of the downhill slide. That particular run went horribly. I was beat like I'd run a full marathon after what should have been an easy run. I also can now recognize all the signs of labored breathing after that run for the next week until I ended up with a horrible cough deep in my chest. No matter how hard I coughed I couldn't bring up whatever was down there. I ran 10 miles last weekend with Celeste, Brian and Terry and nearly lost a lung afterward. Monday at work I felt awful and Tuesday I ended up staying home from work. I haven't taken a sick day in years.
I didn't get out for my easy 5 miler on Tuesday. I couldn't. I went back to work on Wednesday and made it the rest of the week, but I was wiped out by the end of the day. Thursday I finally succumbed to peer pressure (mostly from my wife) and went to the urgent care to find out I had a pretty bad case of bronchitis. The PA prescribed antibiotic and an inhaler. I told her I was a runner. She suggested resting a couple more days. Friday and Saturday were a couple of days, so in my mind I was running again on Sunday for the LA Marathon. Even if I had told her about the marathon and she had suggested I not run, I likely would have run anyway, so I figured why ask for permission. Thursday's 5 miler was scrapped, too.
The drugs did some serious damage on the infections but I was by no means anywhere near marathon shape by Sunday. I came home after the expo on Saturday and took a 2 hour nap; not exactly a good omen. I did get to meet Joe and his nephew at the expo. We had lunch in Eagle Rock and then they gave me a ride home.
Sunday morning Terry met me at my house and my wife chauffeured us to Dodger Stadium. We were there soon after 5:30 and got in quite easily. I had that familiar "I can't believe I'm running another marathon" bubbly feeling inside. I really was looking forward to this race. I spoke with Joe on the phone several times that morning but we never managed to hook up in the sea of humanity.
Dodger Stadium was open to the runners, which was very cool. We had access to the outfield and the low level bleaches. I headed straight to the bathrooms but it was apparent very early on that this was one huge area for improvement for next year. The bathrooms inside the stadium are not nearly numerous enough to accommodate 25,000 pre-race bladders/bowels. There were a bank of port-o-lets in the parking lot, but again not nearly enough. By the time Terry had gone a second time and we headed to the starting corrals, we were lined up way in the back.
We were at least 10, if not 15 minutes from the starting line. We heard Randy Newman's "I Love LA" at least 4 if not 5 times before we were racing. It wasn't a problem, just a testament to the shear number of people there. Starting that far back put us behind many, many walkers. The first mile was predictably crowded. A 12 minute first mile was determined by the crowd more than anything. Upon exiting the stadium Terry was able to open it up a little on the downhill. It became apparent right then and there that my bronchitis was not going to allow me to keep up with her. I let her go early and settled in for a long day.
I felt good. I just couldn't muster up any kind of speed or power. I just kinda hummed along at around 11:00 miles, taking a walk break every 7 minutes. I knew it was going to be a long day, but like I said I felt OK. Then I hit mile 19 and the wheels really fell off. There were two 12:00 miles and then things headed up into the over 14:00 range. I was definitely doing the "worn out old man shuffle." I kept up my 7 minute run and 1 minute walk break until mile 23 when the walk breaks started extending themselves to about 90 seconds.
I ran those last few miles off to the right side of the course, mostly to stay out of the way. One nice side effect of that was that I got called out quite often by the spectators which was really pretty nice and frankly quite needed at that point. I knew that I didn't "look good" nor was I "almost there" but it was nice to be recognized by name. I kept going more for them than for anything. I never doubted that I would finish. I just wanted to be done.
Final official time was 5:19:28. This was my third slowest marathon time ever, 60 t0 90 minutes longer than my recent times from last fall/winter. The only ones that were slower were a previous LA Marathon on a 93 degree day (only my second marathon ever) and the Tecumseh Trail Marathon "mudfest." The slow time doesn't bother me in the least. I never had a time goal for LA from the start and I knew the battle with bronchitis was going to bring a challenge to the day that I was certain not to overcome. Just being able to start and finish my 20th marathon was reward enough. (Although the finishers metal is pretty darn cool.)
I'll be back with another post about the good and bad, at least from my perspective, on the 25th LA Marathon Stadium to the Sea.