I’m sitting here, holding a clear plastic bag with a drawstring and my L.A. Marathon number inked on on the front. I can’t toss the bag because it holds some of the magic of last Sunday; waking up at 2:20 a.m., getting into Dodger Stadium in black darkness, handing this “gear bag” full of post-marathon shorts and shirt, to a guy in standing in the open door of a UPS truck and then, over five hours later, limping to pick up the bag. It’s a talisman, a souvenir, a relic.
I always keep my numbers and put them in a scrap book. Years later, I turn the page to these numbers and feel deeply attached to the wrinkled scrap. I sweated, poured water on, and ran my guts out, wearing that paper. My grit, heart, and spirit, osmosed into that paper. I’m back to race day.
With my blog readers, I’ll share LA Marathon happenings I couldn’t or didn’t put in the Daily Pilot article you can read by googling carrie luger slayback Daily Pilot March 20, 2015.
First, getting into Dodger Stadium at 4:00 a.m. has a nightmarish quality. The lot’s not well lit, but the marathon organizers hire a bunch of people with flashlights so there’s a human light path guiding cars and runners. Inside the stadium is pretty dark too, but getting there at 4:00 a.m., I ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich. Maybe it was early enough for some of it to digest and give me energy for the race…
If you’re an endurance athlete, you know that hours leading up to the event are all about going to the bathroom, waiting in line to get in the john. One runner I know waits in line, does her business and gets in line all over again. I went twice but that didn’t prevent me from holding it in for the last half marathon.
Runners talk about things nobody else does. Bodily functions cannot be delicately ignored. In my case, the extra pants in the plastic gear-bag were there in case I had an accident. However, butt muscles held it in as I preserved through the last half of the marathon. Still, I was fully thrilled to find the port-o-potty at the finish.
Back to the run, I’d made up my mind to take everyone’s advice and walk through the water stops, making myself drink Gatorade which, to me, is “throw-up juice.” I expected one water stop per mile but, due to the heat, extra tables were set up randomly before the mile marker, after the mile marker, between mile markers.
My plan was to stop ONE TIME each mile, walk and drink as much Gatorade as I could tolerate. As I said, the marathon organizers had all those extra water stops. I had a bad case of runner’s brain and lost track of whether I’d stopped that particular mile, so I probably stopped more than once a mile. I did drink the sports drink and I DID NOT HAVE LEG CRAMPS EVEN THOUGH IT WAS HOT. Was it drinking more fluids, or the compression pants and socks or simple good luck? I do not know.
For me, to run a hot marathon, have energy all the way through and no cramping was a great gift. My marathon history—Chicago, 10-10-10, a 90 degree marathon, I cramped and walked in. Last year, LA, a hot marathon, I cramped and walked it.
Walking in is demoralizing to me. I’m not the fastest thing out there, but I keep trying all the way through. Cramps take everything away from me.
This time I came through the finish at 5:06 which is my slowest time ever. However I never bonked and ran the last .2 miles. Walking all those stops and the heat may have slowed me down but something gave me power when I’m usually half dead. I ran in!
That something may have been chocolate. I’m not crazy about Goo’s or Chew’s with electrolytes and vitamins or whatever they claim. I love chocolate so I had a chocolate bar and chocolate balls. I portioned them out to have a bite every mile from Mile 10 to Mile 25. Chocolate gives me a sense of well being. Maybe that was what helped me on Mile 26.
I’m not in the mood for chocolate right now. Unusual but even a good thing can translate into “too much of a good thing.”
Finally, I did not really train for this marathon. Signed up just weeks before it, did a few 20 milers, two 18’s and one 15 and I did o.k. marathon day. Gives me confidence in my weekly work-outs. I always do hills, speed work and a distance run. YES, I ran my slowest marathon but I enjoyed it. Also I got first place in the 70-74 age group for the second year.
With all that said, I think I’m done with L.A. for a while. Maybe when I’m 80, I’ll run it again.