Last year, Bangle started recruiting Loopsters to come watch the Olympic Trials and run the L.A. Marathon. I didn't really know what kind of race I would be aiming for come February 2016, but I knew this was something I didn't want to miss out on. Running a big city marathon is always a special way to travel, but seeing the Olympic Trials just added an extra layer of awesome.
I convinced Adam to come along with this cross-country trip to hang out in L.A. for a few days with a bunch of my internet friends over Valentine's Day weekend. It was ultimately a great decision--I think he had almost as much fun as me!
We touched down in L.A. after an uneventful plane ride and had to sit on the tarmac for about 20 minutes as Air Force One was about to take off. I was able to snap a few photos through the plane window with my phone!
The 3 of us were starving so we had a mandatory pit stop at In N' Out. I told the cashier that I had never been and I asked him what to get. Double Double with grilled onions and animal style fries apparently...
Steve, Adam, and I went out to Von's again to grab cupcakes for Rebecca's birthday and made it back in time before she arrived. The rest of the evening was spent beering, playing Boggle, Body Boggle (Mild and I totally whooped Clark and Bacon), and falling prey to East Coast jet lag.
I had no trouble waking up and like Toucan Sam, I followed the smell of coffee upstairs. A group of us decided to do a 2 mile shakeout run and we headed down to the beach to stretch our legs.
We tried to meet up with the other group, but eventually settled on a spot along the out-and-back section in the shade. I brought thunder sticks/bam bams and had a blast making tons of noise as the pack would fly by. The course was perfect for getting lots of pictures and once the runners spread out, we pretty much had people going by the whole time.
Gah!!!!! It was so amazing. I started to find myself hoarse from shouting so loud. Once we saw the lead women go by the last time, we headed towards the expo to collect our bibs. More confusion led to me grabbing a piece of cafeteria pizza for lunch, but once I calmed the hangry, I felt much better.
The group eventually made it back to Bangle's and then we relaxed for a short while before going to California Pizza Kitchen. As we rode down the street, our minivan group noticed Brad standing in a parking lot with a smooshed car. Uhhhh? Fortunately, no one was hurt, but everyone was a bit shaken. Once we all got together, things we much, much happier. I was thrilled to finally meet Alice in person and ending up sitting with her and her boyfriend.
I slept well and woke up when I heard others stirring around. That is the benefit of a Loopfest. You absolutely cannot oversleep. For me, that means I'm not panicking about what time it is because I figure that someone will come find me. Hah!
Bangle told me that they would have food at the start so I decided to just have a mandarin and coffee at the house. Everyone convened in the kitchen and then Roger took the fast kids to the start while Adam and Nancy took everyone else to the shuttles in Santa Monica.
Our game plan was to try to go sub-4 if it wasn't too miserably hot and hope that JJ catch up to us so the 3 of us could run together. The corrals ended up being much smaller than expected so JJ wasn't too far back.
I had to pee while standing in the corral, but I was worried I wouldn't make it back in time. So I just held it and decided to wait until there was a free port-a-potty (spoiler: it wasn't until near double digits that I managed to find one). We heard the wheelchair division leave, followed by the elite women, and then our own race began!
As we headed up the hill in the first mile, we were doubled over with laughter as there were probably 50 guys leaning against the wall peeing. I have seen a few here and there (and obviously more on the trails), but this was excessive.
We took it easy just enjoying the morning in the first miles and JJ caught up with us quickly. Not too long after JJ joined the party, we saw Bob out on the course too and ran with him for a bit. Caitlin told us that she would just listen to our gabbing and that is pretty much what happened the whole race.
A marathon is never, ever easy, but I was running at a comfortable pace, injury-free, and with 2 awesome ladies who happen to love running too. I don't even remember half the stuff we chatted about, but I don't know that I've ever laughed so hard while running. JJ was doing shots of Fireball, I was eating pretty much everything I could find (pretzels, gels, oranges, bananas, Twizzlers....)
I was slightly concerned about the heat as we headed into the morning and so I made sure to drink early and often. Once we got beyond mile 5, I started dumping water over my head at the aid stations.
I knew to look for Adam and Nancy at mile 10 so I started to get excited as we got near double digits. Luckily, Nancy had a big, pink inflatable hand and I was able to easily spot them in the crowd. I ran over to get my Valentine's Day race kiss and then we carried on.
JJ was snapping pictures of all the sights and would catch back up to us after the photo op. Caitlin was staying steady and I made sure that as the temperature rose, she was staying cool. I splashed water from cups and water bottles on the back of her neck. As we got into the second half of the race, the splits started to slow, but we never stopped to walk. I wasn't really paying attention to my watch in the middle miles.
The crowds were really helpful in the final miles. They were handing out water, spraying water guns, offering ice and snacks, and cheering loudly as we came past. I had a perma-grin the final few miles. There is nothing better to me than getting through that last 10K and feeling really, really good. I knew we were off of Caitlin's PR, but considering the hot and hilly course, I was ecstatic that we were going to get her second-fastest time.
The last 2 miles were cloudy and the temperatures started to (thankfully) drop. Plus, it was downhill!
As we came down the finishing chute, we spotted JB and gave him a big wave as we flew past. And then, a short while later, we saw Adam an Nancy as we closed in on the finish. With big smiles, we crossed the line with Caitlin's second best marathon time and 26.2 miles of memories.
Marathon #19, check!
Most of the Loopsters left on Monday, but JJ, Caitlin, Adam, and I decided to make the most of our day and went to downtown L.A. for burritos and a T.M.Z. tour. The burritos because we all wanted some authentic Mexican while in the SoCal and the T.M.Z. tour because we needed something to touristy to do that was also lazy.
If you have to leave the most rad Cali vacation ever, you should definitely do it with a blindingly beautiful sunrise in your plane window.