LA Marathon Race Recap

Alright, give your computer about 20 minutes to load this super picture heavy/video heavy post. Pour yourself a glass of rum or hot chocolate, and sit back and enjoy my pain. There were a lot of emotions that went through my mind during this race and most of them were agony, pain, and defeat. So the short story is that I hurt. for a long time out there on the course. BUT I finished. Now, here’s the extended version.

Let me begin by stating that this is the longest race report I will ever write. Since I was lucky enough to run the entire race with Billy, he took about 6-8 pictures, EVERY MILE. So I have a billion pictures. It does help in remembering what happened throughout the race though, even though it seemingly was a death march for me in the latter miles. It was a great race in many aspects, just not my race. I know I didn’t train well and I learned my lesson on being more consistent through my training. I haven’t given up on marathons, but as for now, I am going to take a break from running another full until the fall and will run some halfs and fun races this summer. So onto race day!

We got there race morning and I felt pretty good. I didn’t know how much it would hurt to finish the race but I would soon find out. I arrived at Billy’s house and we carpooled over with some friends and though got a little stuck in traffic got there at 5:50. The race was scheduled to start at 7:20. We meandered through Dodger Stadium and took a few group pictures before hitting up the porta potties, where someone totally cut us in line and we got pretty angry at them. The lines at the porta potties were fairly long but they were efficient. Even though I did see a ton of both men and women crawling into the bushes. Sick. I would NEVER.

Weird picture, but it was still dark out and I look way too happy to be up that early. I was tweeting a little bit and we walked around as the sun came up. The crowd was pretty excited and I just felt everyone really ready to get the race started.

This is a classic Billy taking a video of me coming out of the porta pottie, and Ryan ran in after me quickly to beat the cutters in line! I heard about them talking about it in line so I try to make my exit as exaggerated as I could. I think I succeeded. Everything was running really smoothly with the mass of people that quickly accumulated at the stadium. It was already fairly warm out so I knew it would just get warmer as we started running but I wasn’t too worried about it.

Some maniacs and I! I was so glad to debut my maniacs jersey and run with two of the craziest maniacs out there! Both my friend Billy and Ryan wore their Maniacs Jersey. We had to rep the maniacs! It was fun seeing other maniacs and I wanted to say hi to all of them out there on the course.

Looking happy at the starting line even though after waiting around until well after the time they were suppose to start. We were hearing crazy stories about people leaving their cars on the freeway and getting out to run to the starting line and how bad traffic was out on the freeway. I heard more people had to get off the shuttle buses and run to the start too. I would have flipped! I am glad that we got there early and had more than enough time to get all our stuff done.

After the porta potties we did a gear check and got everything situated and found our spot by the ‘starting area’. It spilled out into the tented area where the expo was held the prior two days and we waited there for a solid forty five minutes as we waited for the race to start. It took a lot longer than expected to start, but listening to the national anthem and hanging out with friends calmed my nerves and made me excited for the race.

My friend Page was there and randomly we saw her right when we walked into Dodger stadium earlier in the morning and it was so fun to hang out with her and run the first two miles with her before she took off and left me in the dust! She is super fun and I’m so glad we’ve got to hang out the past few times I was in San Fran and she was down here.

The starting line was CHAOS. There were way too many people in WAY too small of space. Everyone was trying to get over fences and the race started about 25 minutes late. After it started it took us another 10 minutes to even get to the starting line. Once we got going I was feeling okay and we ran a decent pace for a while.

At the start of the race there were some hills around Dodger stadium that were a bit tricky to maneuver especially with the huge crowd that surrounded us. Within the first mile I saw some guy being tended to unconscious on the ground after he fell while running. Not good.

This video is at mile 2. We had just gone through a water station and I successfully drank the cup of water as you can tell by my smile. The way I always do it is pour a little out, pinch and drink. Or else it gets all over the place. The water stations were positioned every mile and they worked out perfectly for my hydration needs. I drank water at every stop and they never ran out during the race. Anyways, then we had the blow up mile markers. I loved those mile markers! They were so easy to spot, but this one was sketchy. It was kind of just hanging there and I told Billy, this looks unsafe! I did grab it though but man, I thought I was going to be whipped backwards and fall on my back when I hit it. Thankfully I didn’t. :)

Along the entire course there were TONS of spectators. That was a huge plus for the course. Everyone was out and being wild and crazy. I totally agree with the idea of doing crazy stuff while cheering because you will probably never see any of the runners again and it cheers people up and let me tell you the people of LA are wild and crazy. I have never seen so many strange supporters. You can even see that guy next to us clapping along! Maritza, this picture is for you :)

This was right before the steepest hill right before mile 4. I powered up that hill and was still feeling fine at this point of the race. I had my cross country coaches voice going through my head and I could just envision him at the top yelling for me to push up the hill and take three quick steps. Once I got the to top I was fine and we continued on. Then we saw Punk Rock Runner and Nina and I got really excited and we ran with them for a bit and said our hellos.

Billy and I tried to have fun along the course and I asked these cops for a high 5. They looked less than amused, but thankfully obliged.

Running through some random neighborhoods. I was surprised by all the people out this early and so supportive of all the runners. It was great hearing Billy’s name over and over again. People see my name on my bib and don’t know how to say it so they usually just say, wayyyy to go with a quizzical look. I don’t think it’s that hard, but hey some people have problems with it. By the way it’s DAN-ICK-UH, not DONICA or DANEEKA, which I do get often :)

The crowds lined the streets and just cheered for everyone. It was a nice showing of the community and it showed that they really supported the marathon running through their area.

This was right next to Echo Park and the crowds were still pretty thick at this point. I was still feeling decent but I started to run out of gas. It was pretty warm at this point of the race.

There were some hilarious cheerleaders among the course. I was not amused by the clowns since the clowns scared me, but they were out cheering people along doing some crazy things on stilts, which I think was very unsafe. Billy was pretty much the social butterfly of the race and I was like get this the f over with. He was slapping people’s hands and high fiving everyone and yelling at everyone and thanking everyone for being out there. He made up for my sourpuss race.

Then I got super excited by the firehouse before the 10k mark. I asked to take a picture with them and they looked at me like a FREAK, so that was cool. It was fun though.

There were seriously all types of people out there… Including drag queens, people with bootleg water stations, passing out all kinds of foods, including donuts? Crazy, wild supporters added a lot to course! It shows how cool it is to cheer for everyone, and I really appreciated it.

Billy told me to run ahead and get another picture in front of the Pantages, just like the one we took on the tour and it was another great picture! This was one of my favorite parts of the course.

This is when the death began. Ha ha, you can kind of see the pain on my face even in the side view. I was getting really tired and Billy was so supportive and gave me salt tabs and made me eat. I am so thankful he was there. He constantly was checking on me and asking me what he could do to help me. I felt bad for running so slow but my feet were killing me for some reason, I knew my toe was bloody and my hips were so sore. It wasn’t a good sign because it was so early in the race.

I LOVED the giant sponsors that covered up huge parts of the street. I took mental notes of interesting things that I liked :) It was cool to run over the giant logos and it totally drew attention to the sponsor and what mile they were sponsoring and their product.

Mile 11. I really liked the huge blow up mile markers, but they weren’t every mile. After about mile 14 or 15 they kind of disappeared and made a few more appearances farther down the course. They were really easy to spot though and made me keep moving forward, since I knew how far it was until the next mile.

I still look happy though I was dying. I had already walked a few times and just wanted to get the race over with, so I knew that I just had to keep repeating that each mile was closer to the finish and I just had to KEEP GOING. One foot in front of another, over and over, I told myself.

My hips and butt were KILLING me ever since mile 11. It was a different feeling than the sore feeling, but it was like hi you are under trained and haven’t run much at all lately feeling. My butt was cramping and my hips were just so sore. I tried to do some stretching and swinging of my legs. That’s when Billy got this sweet pic. It makes me laugh I look like I’m trying to do the airplane or something.

Stretch, swing, please feel better legs, please get me to the finish. Stretch, swing, pull yourself together Danica!

Mile 12 and I was super stoked to eat more sharkies, which I am pretty much obsessed with. This is when the wheels on the Danica bus seemed to fall off and completely roll away, never to be seen again. This is where Billy stepped it up big time and kept me going. My hips were killing me and when your at mile 12 of 26.2, that’s a little daunting to start feeling crappy.

This was also when I took out my headphones. It seemed that the whole race the  noise just was getting to me and I couldn’t find the zone at all. The music was just not working for me so from mile 12 onward I ran without music, which was the first time I’ve done that. I don’t think it would have helped either, so I just clipped my earphones to my iFitness belt and kept trudging along.

He told me to run with a smile and just to finish. I told him numerous times to leave me if he wanted but he wouldn’t. He was amazing and looked out for me the entire time. I was so grateful that he ran with me, even though I wanted to die! We still had fun together and he kept me from wandering off the course and curling up in a ball and crying.

Mile 13 was when I was really feeling depleted. Billy hung in there though and took this hilarious video of me. You can start to tell my delirium because I gave a shout out to Shea. We have this thing where we say, That’s the way the cookie cruuuuuumblllles. Just like Let’s get ready to Rummmmmmble from jock jams. I don’t know why that was necessary at that moment but I cracked myself up over it.

I remember running by this mural when we did the course preview. I knew we were creeping closer to mile 14 and I loved seeing this. The support all along this area was amazing.

In West Hollywood it is a notoriously gay area (is that pc? sorry if it’s not). There were some drag queen (don’t know if that’s pc either… sorry!) cheerleaders passing out water and there were tons of people out in this area. It was a smaller section of the race but it was pretty entertaining and sketchy at the same time.

Right before we went down Rodeo Drive, I ran into Emil! He is the definition of a maniac and we hobbled along for a bit. It was great seeing him out there. We both looked so dapper in this picture and like we are having a great day! Truth be told…

This pretty is the funniest picture ever and sums up my day. Yea. I looked like this most of the race, head down, just trying my hardest to put one foot in front of the other and keep my legs going with the least pain.

We ran in front of Nike Town and this is what we saw. WHAT THE HECK is going on?! Nike people were wearing green onsies and cheering. It was seriously very weird. they were handing out towels too. I think at this point I didn’t know what was going on and this just confused me even more…

This was a REALLY cool part of the course, Cheer Alley. There were tons of cheerleaders out and screaming and cheering for everyone. It was cool to run down the loud noise and it pepped me up even just for a second.

Then I saw Drea on the side of the road right before mile 18. She was my saving grace during this section because her sign cheered me up and I knew I was getting closer and closer to the finish, slowly but surely. This picture is hilarious though, so I had to post it :)

Then we got a great picture with my sign and it was so pretty! I loved it! Thank you so much to everyone who cheered for me out there! It seriously meant so much to me. You don’t realize how much you draw from the crowd on a bad day. I was so happy when someone said my name and I would wave back and smile.

I RANDOMLY saw a good friend Katie out there too. She’s the girl who looks confused on the left. We went to high school together and I was so happy to see her too! I was pretty delirous at this point and everything was taking my mind off the pain. Notice how I totally cut off that guy getting back on course after giving Katie a hug. Whoops! Sorry Jay! ha ha.

I found the hottest fireman I could right before mile 20 and took a picture with him. He seemed to be so happy to take a picture with me and he was by far the nicest fireman out there on the course. He made sure I was okay and then told me to keep going and that I could finish! I love him!

Ha, ha, ha! When Billy sent me this picture I about died laughing. I look like I was dying here, and yes, I was. There was a pretty brutal hill right at mile 20 that I somehow forgot about and I was really sore going up it. I was TIRED but I knew that i had six more miles. I could do it if it took me all freaking day! So the wall at 20 miles? Yea I hit it, and I hit it HARD. That’s what she said.

We ran down San Vicente Blvd and everyone was cheering for us so much. It was great to see so many supporters out there. I have never run a race this big and having the crowd around, minus the ‘you’re almost there’ cheers, and the ‘almost to the downhill’ cheers, was fantastic! I really focused on just getting the race over with and finishing. I knew I could do it, and I was already over the time that I would be ending with, so I just knew that getting to the finish was the most important thing.

The whole time throughout Brentwood Billy was so amp’ed and fired up. I felt bad for holding him back and hobbling along but I knew we were just getting closer and closer. He kept yelling, ‘I Love you Brentwood!’ and all these funny things. He would pump his arms at the crowd. I wanted to punch him in the head, but I also know without him it would have taken me a lot longer. He is an amazing friend to stick with me for that long. I would have punched myself in the head if I were Billy! When we were running we were keeping about a 10:30 pace but I was walking a lot. My hips were killing me! He also told me that when we walked we needed to walk with purpose, hence the video above of me traveling at breakneck speed. I was powerwalking. I felt like a 90 year old!

We rounded the corner and started down Ocean. It was 1.2 miles to the finish! The final mile was PACKED with people and it was great to finish around everyone. I was in so much pain but I knew I was so close. I tried to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we passed under the 26 mile marker and then I knew it was .2 of a mile left! Then I could walk and sit down!

This was the the moment when I was thinking in my head, this is it! This is worth it! All this pain and hard work that I worked through and the mental battle I worked through and having Billy cheering me on was done! We had done it together! I couldn’t have asked for a better friend to run with. Right at the last .2 miles I started tearing up and then I almost started having trouble breathing and I was like Holy crap you freak, pull your self together you don’t need ot PASS OUT .1 miles from the finish! So I took a few deep breaths and pushed the emontion back. Finally we crossed the finish line and the medal was placed on my neck. Number 5 was DONE!

With Colin, Peter and Billy after the race. I am so thankful I ran LA. It taught me a vaulable lesson about myself and how hard it is to run a marathon. It’s funny because when I put on my 26.2 necklace back on Monday it had a whole new meaning. I forgot how hard it was to run that far and what a challenge it was.

The course was MUCH hillier than I had remembered, sorry for saying it was so flat, it’s NOT. The crowd support was amazing and the water stations and food on the course was great. Thank you again to everyone who cheered for me and kept me going out there.

I’m not giving up on the full. I have a few more planned, but not for a while. Right now I need to find the happy running that I found before I ran Long Beach last year and focus on getting healthy, swimming and enjoying working out. I need to remember to do it for MYSELF. It wasn’t my day, but not every race can be absolutly perfect. I am not the happiest with my time, but I still finished and that’s all that matters. I’ll begin training again soon, and I am running a half this weekend for fun, but I am thankful for the lessons that LA taught me and for the running community that I am a part of.

xoxo

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110 Responses to LA Marathon Race Recap

  1. Joe Ely says:

    Great post, Danica, way to persevere!! I appreciated all the help you gave us non-LA runners pre-race and thrilled to see you hung in there!

    And a fellow Maniac… I’m #1,228 and was an hour behind you at the end. I just posted my own video on my blog, “Run With Perseverance”

    Hope you are recovering well!

    Enjoy the summer and you’ll be out there again!

  2. Nicole says:

    your amazing. way to man up, stick with it and finish that B-even when it was the last thing you wanted. that fireman is smokin… did u get his number?

  3. Mindy says:

    I love running in the spandex shorts … Where do you go to get yours?

  4. Es says:

    Congrats! Love reading your race recaps, as always.

    PS, your new job sounds like a dream job for a runner! How did you get it?

  5. Stacey says:

    You absolutely ROCK for being a FINISHER!!!!!

    And Billie is your personal running savior Haha!!

    Questions:
    What are salt tablets?
    & What do you do with your “warm up” clothers pre-race?? Do you throw them away in the streets like others??

    CONGRATS! On finishing this 26.2 miles and many more to come!! WTG!!

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  8. bridee says:

    I just signed up for the LA Marathon. I loved reading your recap! This will be my 1st full! I loved the line:
    “I started tearing up and then I almost started having trouble breathing and I was like Holy crap you freak, pull your self together you don’t need ot PASS OUT” This will be me!!! Love you blog!

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