An epic race weekend deserves an equally epic race report! The 2014 LA Marathon will forever rank high among my favorite races I have run. Just an incredible experience from start to finish from the expo to the finish line!
Being a part of an Official fully organized and supported training program for the first time has been amazing. It also created such a huge build up for this race, so much so that I nearly blew my training! On the final taper week, I thought it a good idea to run an 8 mile fartlek workout (7 with my friend Marko) I reasoned that we’d take it easy, but no chance of that happening! Competition being what it is, we hit some blazing fast speeds that day. Thankfully that was on Monday and I still had some time to recover before Sunday. But first, the Expo!
Nutribullet is both a premium LA Marathon partner and sponsors of the Health and Fitness expo. Since I am a member of Team NutriBullet I was invited to take part of some festivities! Since those festivities started at noon, I decided to volunteer at the Ventura Marathon booth to help race director Josh Spiker. I ran the inaugural race in 2013 and had a great time so I would have no problem promoting it!
I really enjoyed working at the expo booth and having some great conversations with people about running! Not to mention I got a Ventura Marathon t-shirt and hoodie out of the deal! Thanks Josh! While I was working the booth and helping get runners signed up Meb Keflezghi was taking the stage as a featured speaker! I just had to take the opportunity to listen to my favorite elite Marathoner share the secrets to his success!
After that boost of motivation I finished up my work with Josh and prepared for the NutriBullet Festivities! Nadia Ruiz Gonzalez was a featured speaker to share her success of running over 100 marathons! During the presentation we had some Nutribullet giveaways and motivated the crowd as they answered Marathon questions for prizes! After all of the fun we took some group photos and I eventually made my way out.
So I thought I was done at the expo when I see the Asics Treadmill Challenge going on. I figured I’d watch for a little bit. “Oh”, I thought. “That guy is pretty fast. Actually he kind of looks like Ryan Hall!” Well that’s because it was Ryan Hall!
Ryan, the fastest American Marathoner was holding a conversation on the treadmill at about 4:40 pace. Answering questions and asking some back to the crowd! I answered a few questions myself but took off before it got too late. He had been on the treadmill for 15 minutes by the time I left and I later heard he stayed on for an hour! At 4:40 pace!
I got home, found something to eat and started preparing for race day. As this is my 7th Full Marathon my routine is pretty set. I laid my clothes out, prepared my morning meals and tried to go to bed at a reasonable time.
There was a lot threatening to go against me on race day, the weather, the early morning, the time change. I didn’t let any of this get to me though, somehow I was just confident that everything would work out!
Race day morning (If I could even call it that) was crazy. Crazy as in, why would you do that if you are about to run a race? I woke up at 1:30 am, gave me 30 minutes to get ready before my friend Mike picked me up at 3 am. Yes, you heard that right! No my math it not off. This was due to daylight savings time, and the clocks going forward. Yay, exciting stuff! For breakfast I had some oatmeal with chopped apple, and 2 whole grain pancakes which I carried with me in a container. I also brought a pre-made Nutriblast! I spaced out my eating, starting with the oatmeal. Since our shuttle was at 4 am I ate the pancakes and left the container in Mikes car. I brought the Nutriblast along on the bus to drink when we got to Dodger Stadium! We arrived early and I took advantage of no lines for the porta Johns. I also picked up a banana and a bottle of water for some extra nutrition before the run. I met up with my fellow Team NutriBullet runners prior to our 5:45 am festivities. The fun was about to start!
Prior to the Marathon there was a DJ on stage, NutriBullet Dancers hyping up the crowd, glow sticks, thunder sticks and loud party music! Wait, did I sign up for a Rock n’ Roll Marathon? Nope this was the new LA Marathon and NutriBullet was getting the party started right! Team NutriBullet was asked to get out in front of the stage and do the twist while a video played in the big screen of us doing the same after one of our long training runs! A video collage of the Team Nutribullet training season was also played on stage, and I have to say it felt pretty good to be a part of this group for the LA Marathon.
All of this was both getting me hyped up for the race, but also calming my nerves about the race at the same time. Usually during a Marathon you have time to sit around and get nervous, with all of the festivities, no such chance! Before heading to the corrals I made one final stop at the porta john to make sure nothing was going to throw off the race! I met up with my friends, Team NutriBullet Coach John, Luis, Marko in the B corral and had my first GU about 20 minutes before the gun went off. Game time!
My strategy for the LA Marathon was to start the race at an easy pace and run negative splits. Original plan was first 3 at 7:30 pace, next 3 at 7:15 the bulk of the miles at 7 minute pace and then try to pick it up after the VA. After receiving some solid advice from Crispin Lazarit I decided to study the course map a bit more and plan to run certain miles based more on effort with my pacing plan as more of a guide.
Miles 1-6: (7:36, 7:12, 7:10, 7:17, 7:38, 7:18)
Since I was planning to run the early miles easy I figured I’d have some fun with it! I ran with John whose plan was to run with all of the Team NutriBullet runners at some point of the race. I purposefully went easy in the first mile since I knew we were hitting a downhill that could cause us to go out too fast. Dodger Stadium was rockin’ and I was the voice of reason keeping our small group in check. First mile slower than planned! Mission accomplished! There’s so much to love about the early miles! When I ran this in 2010 I didn’t run through Chinatown or Little Tokyo so the course change since then was great! Then there’s familiar favorites like Disney Concert Hall and those amazing Drummers! Echo Park also brought fond memories! Through it all I was engaging the crowd and feeding from there energy, so by that logic… Run slow to conserve energy + extra energy from the crowd = energy surplus!
Miles 7 – 12: (6:54, 6:56, 7:01, 6:48, 6:48, 6:49)
After mile 6 is when I started my focus on Marathon Pace. John and I ran about another mile together and then parted ways, me to run my race, and him to support his trainees. This is also where I really hit my stride and clocked some of my fastest miles of the race. I just went with it and made sure my effort was on par with my pacing plan. I really enjoyed Silver Lake as the mural on Sunset has always been a favorite of mine during previous training runs. I also came across the groovy 70’s Funk Soul group which prompted some high 5’s! I saw a pretty funny sign on this stretch of the course that read “Smile if you pee’d a little” It was so unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh! I knew that I’d be entering Hollywood and with that i’d get a huge energy boost! I ran into Michael Blackson around Hollywood and Vine entertaining the crowd and having fun! I ran over and gave him a high 5! I think that glitter glove sprinkled a bit of magic on me because I only got stronger from then on!
Miles 13 – 18: (7:13, 7:15, 6:44, 6:49, 7:02, 7:00)
After the turn on Orange I got back on Sunset Blvd and all I could think about was Nutribullooza! I was very hyped up thinking about it! I remembered from last time that West Hollywood had a lot of energy from the crowds so I was feeding off of that as well! When I made it to Mile 15 I took my gel and had my eyes peeled for those NutriBullet Shirts! I heard the crowd calling my name and looked back to see Nutribullet T-Shirts! I looked ahead to see our Fitness Trainer Monique cheering me on! I also saw Jeremy our camera/production guy and gave him a huge high 5 as well (are you seeing a theme yet?)! The great thing about the LA Marathon is that there is never a dull moment! Beverly Hills was a welcome sight as its always fun to run on Rodeo drive!
Miles 19 – 22: (6:50, 6:57, 7:06, 7:25)
Going into Century caught me completely off guard! I had heard about “Cheer Alley” but didn’t expect what I ran into! Cheerleaders from all sides, I felt like an NFL player running out to the field before the start of the Superbowl! It was insane and granted me yet another energy boost! At this point of the race I was still going strong and feeling great! I knew that the VA was coming up but I also knew what to expect! I was sticking by my plan to run the VA Hills by effort. My pacing had been great so I knew that 1 or 2 slow miles weren’t going to break me in any way! While entering the VA Grounds I saw Cynthia from LASP cheering on! She spotted me and yelled out some encouragement which is just what I needed before the toughest part of the course. Indeed, this was not easy but at least my legs had some life to them. While running through the VA I kept in mind my cause (raising money for Veterans) and yelled some encouraging words to the crowds! I grind-ed my way through it and got a little emotional when I saw San Vincente! I was 4+ miles away from reaching my goal!
Miles 23 to the finish: (7:04, 7:07, 6:36, 6:56, 3:05)
The final 4 + miles (My final total was 26.45 miles) was all about focus and determination! I put my game face on and the gloves literally came off! I knew from 2010 that just because I was on San Vincente didn’t mean that it was going to get easier right away, or that I could start relaxing. Nope! My legs were feeling the toll of so many miles by this point, its to be expected! I knew that if I just held things together I was going to be very happy at the finish line! I clocked my fastest mile of the entire race at mile 25 (6:36) and once I hit ocean I was overcome with emotion! I cruised in at 3:06:38 gun time (3:06:24 chip time!) I ran a 6 minute PR and my first ever BQ! Boston 2015 here I come!!!
I got my medal and some water but the most welcome sight was an ice cold wet towel handed to me by one of the race volunteers! It was heaven! I walked way to much after the race, since my phone wasn’t working properly. When I finally got a call from my wife I was ready to go and get some food! Would have been great to meet up with Team Nutribullet post race, but my body simply wanted some food and rest!
Congratulations to all of the 2014 LA Marathon finishers! Though I beat most of the heat, I heard about the hot conditions. I hope everyone was safe during and after the race, you all have my highest respect!