Monday, March 19, 2012

RACE REPORT: LA Marathon | My First Full at Fifty

The Day after my first Full Marathon is quite surreal.

The journey did not begin yesterday - it began here on May 19, 2010 with this FB post on my personal profile. I recently found it and took a screenshot of it. I can tell you, that first mile I "ran" was done in 25 minutes.  Yes a 25 minute mile.  Lots of stops, lots of breaks. 

Over 600 days later, here is the post that was on my FB page:

When I set out on my Half Marathon journey in 2010, I never planned nor imagined to run a Full.  In August, 2011 I registered for the LA Marathon.

As many (if not all of you) know the nonsense that happened to me the Vegas Half. That set back my training for at least 5 weeks.  Time I could not regain.  I ran my first 20+ run only a few weeks ago.  I knew going into this event, I was under trained and not at the fitness level I needed to be.

But, I was going to finish - no matter how long it took me.

After a few rainy days in CA - we woke up to almost clear skies on Race Day morning.  I came prepared.  Waterproofed EVERYTHING that would be touching my body.  Better to be prepared than not.

Approximately 23K racers lined the Start Line Alley.  No corrals -and guess what?  Everyone was courteous, pleasant and there wasn't a crowd control issue.  Announcer said something that stuck in my head "be sure to take care of each other, if someone is in need"  Little did I know, I would witness and experience a lot of that on the course.

Set out on the course and the first mile, I was in tears.  I was in a Full Marathon.  The last time I was crying during a race was my first Half in 2010.  As we headed into the streets of LA - the crowd support was unbelievable.  I thought, "this is nice for the start of the race" - well, it continued on for the ENTIRE race.  Never letting up.  The entire 26.2 miles of support. 

The first hill came at 4-5 miles.  My first goal was to get passed those hills and to the 10K split, as I knew friends, loved ones, friends on FB & Twitter were tracking me.  Took my second gel at the top of Mile 5 hill. Swig of water.  Kept going.....

Maybe about 6-7 (I think) a man face planted right in front of me.  I had to JUMP over him to miss knocking him on the head.  I mean he was DOWN.  I walked over and he was (already) suffering from severe leg cramps and he was pretty scuffed up.  Poor guy. The only aid station I knew was the aid station we passed at the last mile marker.  So, I ran BACK to get help and ran back again.  That was my first taste of how AWESOME the volunteers are at LA. Without hesitation, they were at his side.

I continued on - walking through some aid stations (to save my strength).

Around Mile 10, I could feel the need for a "pit stop" (memories of Vegas start coming back to me). But NEVER worry, I wasn't sick - it was just one of those things, that I needed to do.

Moving on, the sun came out around Mile 12.  I tossed my rain poncho.  Then, was back and forth from keeping the jacket on, to taking my jacket off.  Felt like I was in a constant state of adjusting my clothes.  Something I need to figure out.

On Hollywood Blvd and I decided to jump onto the sidewalk to give my calves and quads a stretch.  I wasn't hurting, this was all preventive.  I SO wish I had my phone/camera with me.  I was right on top of the Motley Crue Star!  ARGH!

Along the way at the aid stations, chatting with a few volunteers, walking some more - to save my energy.

Yes, I know it slowed me down, but I really didn't care.

Coming onto Santa Monica Blvd (Ladybug & I were chatting away, again) - I jumped onto the sidewalk to take off my jacket (again) and then I noticed a man with a cute little dog with the exact same coloring/markings as Ladybug.  I said, "Oh!  you need to see the back of my jacket!"  He loved it and took a picture of it.

That was one of my favorite moments of the race.  Used that stop to take another Gel & swig of water.

About 2-3 miles in the tummy started doing it's thing and poopie stop time.  I then realized that the GEL'S were making me...well....poopie.

Luckily, I had some Electrolyte Capsules with me and enough to finish the race.

By the time I had reached Mile 18, I knew my paced was not as others planned, but I was still cruising along at a comfortable pace and I was feeling really good. 

Mile 20 - Where did that hill come from?  It was a wall, not a hill.  I should of walked up that hill, but I didn't.  By the time I reached the summit, my quads were shaking, but no cramps.  As we entered into the VA Hospital/Admin - I was now in my next phase of walking.  I walked A LOT in this stretch.  Saw a man with the ET Full Moon shirt and yelled, "ET FULL MOON - LOVE THAT RACE!'  He said, 'CHARLENE!  It's Ron Kag!"  we embraced, that was good to see him.

Then, as I got passed the last hill at VA - I was tired.  Not cramps, no pains (other than the bottom of my feet), but I was smiling & feeling good.

And since I stopped taking the Gels, no more poopie breaks.

At Mile 20, people were dropped like flies and many were cramping up.  I was run/walking in shorter intervals.  I was getting very tired, but that is to be expected.

A few people were having trouble walking and myself and few other runners helped them off to the side.

Since I knew my mileage was way off, I didn't even look at my Garmin the rest of the way. I figured, I will know when I am done :)

Here I am during the last 5 miles of the Race - yep, I am still smiling.  (temporary picture, until the CD with the originals arrive)

Turning the corner into the Santa Monica Pier - I saw it, I saw the Finish Line.  The tears started coming and I said, "this is our time, Ladybug - we can run the rest of the way, let's go find Daddy and the Boys!"

I ran, I ran, and I kept running - looking for the Ladybug signs, that my family would be holding up.  Nothing.  Then a few yards just before the Finish, I saw them.  Here is a picture of me waving to my family (black outfit)

Crossing the Finish Line - I had tears rolling down my face.  I turned back and saw fellow runners carrying other runners across the Finish Line.  I saw the aid car driving across the Finish Line with a racer so they could receive their medal.  Total strangers hugging each other (including me).  I am so glad this was my First Full experience.

Crossing the Finish Line (and another temporary picture):

I finished feeling good, strong, no cramps and no injuries.

The attitudes, the presence of the volunteers, staff was outstanding.  How they kept smiles on their faces for 23K racers, is beyond me.

To the great people of Los Angeles County - thank you for embracing us and cheering us on!

My finish time:  4:46:51

My Garmin said I ran 28.14.  My Garmin said I crossed the 26.2 mark at 4:23:14

Not near the time that many thought I would run, but considering pit stops, helping out other runners and walking - I am VERY happy with my finish & time.  I wouldn't of changed a thing of that morning.  Not a thing.  I have no regrets and will do it all over again, I finished that race on my terms.

My original goal was to finish the race in less than 5 hours.  I achieved that goal.  

What's my next Full?  I am shooting for ET Full in August.  I am seriously considering running Pasadena in May to get more practice with fueling during a race. 

 The things I need to work on before my next Full:

1)  Continue to work on strength training of my lower body at 2-3 times a week.
2)  Get more miles in & start speed work
3)  Find another gel option.  I *think* since I have gone meatless, that might be the reason these gels no longer agree with me.  I noticed on my last long run, my tummy didn't like them, but I thought it was just a bad day.  Time to experiment with Vegan gels.
4) Figure out weather attire.  For this race, I had my UnderArmor, Singlet AND arm sleeves on top of my shirt.  I got cold, I got hot, I got cold. It got on my nerves.  I wasted a lot of time by taking my jacket on and off the entire race.  Need to find a solution.
5) Work on the correct dosage of the Electrolyte capsules for me.  They worked great, but I may need to bump them up and forgo the Gels, completely.

Overall, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this event for anyone wanting to run a Full.  You will not be disappointed. 

I will be back next year, for sure!

(c) C. Ragsdale 2011-12
Run F.A.B.,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Running Coach, Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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