Monday, March 21, 2011

Best. Run. Ever.

I don't know if you noticed, but, it rained a little bit on Sunday, March 20th. You know, that kind of sprinkle that makes you look outside and think, "wow, that's pretty, I bet it would be nice to be running in that sprinkle."

Please disregard the above paragraph as it was written by someone who clearly hasn't recovered from running in a Noah's Arc version of a torrential downpour. I ran a training run (14 miles) in the rain. I don't know that even people who live in Washington or Oregon train in that kind of rain - intentionally.

Roughly 26,000 of us (including 4 other people I know personally) voluntarily came out to Dodger Stadium at Holy-Crap-It's-Early (otherwise known as Why-am-I-up-this-early-and-not-going-on-a-vacation-early) to run the 26th running of the LA Marathon. 26,000 people, running 26.2 miles in the 26th annual event. You'd think that all of those 26th events would bode well for our run; and maybe they did.

Um, excuse me, the rain was like nothing I'd ever seen in my life. Ever. I know I'm not that old, but that was rain of epic proportions. Biblical stuff; I kept looking for a huge ark to get into (in Hollywood or West Hollywood, you might not have blinked an eye). That rain was bring-the-mountain-behind-your-house-down rain.

I'm telling you, it was damp.

Things you take for granted, you know, like pulling your running pants on and off, became an epic challenge.

But enough about the rain. Why? Because I had no hand in that. It was going to rain, or it wasn't and that was that. Let's get to the more important parts.

Best. Run. Ever.


You know, there are lots of tangible reasons it went well (and I'll get to those in a minute), but mentally, emotionally, I don't know why it went so well. Some of it is luck of the running draw. All you runners know that you have good running days and awful running days. I had an AWESOME running day yesterday. Maybe the big, whatever, decided to challenge me with a torrential downpour but gave me the best running day. Can't explain it.

But enough about the non-tangible part; let's talk about what went right:

1. The right clothing - God bless wiki clothing. Between Reebok, Adidas, whoever made my hat and shirt and my socks I was soaked to the bone but not carrying any of that water with me. I don't know where it went, but my clothing wikked it away from me. By 5 or 6 miles in, there wasn't one dry, or semi dry, part of me but the water didn't weigh me down. Glad that I had short hair (cut that over 2 years ago), I can't imagine that mess after this run.

2. The right music: I am notorious for getting bored with what I'm listening to. I haven't evolved into the type of runner who can run without music, a book or a movie (to listen to) or something. I took care to check my Marathon Music playlist, downloaded a book and a movie and was off. I figured that at minimum, I could listen to Breakfast with the Beatles for 3 of the hours if I needed to and then KPCC for the rest of the time. But the shuffle was my friend. Yesterday's run was brought to you by: Sparks, Motley Crue, The Beatles, The Jacksons, Little Caesar, The Who, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Dick Van Dyke & Julie Andrews, Prince, The Beastie Boys, Queen, The Spencer Davis Group, Van Halen, Will Smith, Oingo Boingo, Amy Winehouse, Lou Bega, Louis Armstrong, Kanye West, John Mayer, Joan Armatrading, Guns N' Roses, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Eurythmics, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews Band, The Blues Brothers, Adam Ant, AC/DC, David & David, Donnie Iris, Dr. John, The Emotions, John Parr, Sonia Dada and Sly & The Family Stone. Evidently, the perfect music list for 26.2 miles.

3. Eating and Drinking - everyone has been yelling at me because I don't eat before or during my runs. I just never had and what was was. For this run, I heeded the advice and ate before (banana, bagel and some peanut butter and coffee) and every three miles I ate a Cliff Block. I don't know if it was the Cliff Blocks or the pre eating, but I didn't hit the wall. I drank at all the water stations but two and paid for those omissions. I began to hit the wall as soon as I skipped them (not in a row) and once I got back on the plan, I was great.

4. Didn't bring my water bottle. See above for drinking plan and besides, I would have thrown it on the side of the road AND I would have drunk too much and too often.

5. Drove the route with Queen first - That was a brilliant plan! This run was in my back yard. There wasn't a point on the route in which I didn't know exactly where I was. I grew up in many of these areas...Chinatown for Dim Sum, Downtown for theater and music and food, Hollywood for theaters and food (hmmm seeing a trend), Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Brentwood and Santa Monica are my current stomping grounds and have been for the last 42 years. Knowing the route and knowing when all those downhills were coming was terrific. I spent the 10 days before the run visualizing the run in chunks and knowing where I was running and that gave me the ability to not get ahead of myself when I was running. When I was in downtown I concentrated on my pace, my legs and getting to the 5 mile mark - out of downtown. When I was in Silverlake and the east part of Hollywood, I settled into a flat run and was very excited when I saw the beginning of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When I got into Beverly Hills (turning down Rodeo) I was amazed that I was already there! Getting out of the VA and onto San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood I knew I was on one of the last 2 streets. Queen is right; knowledge is power.

6. Trained right. I must admit, I trained correctly. I was very anal retentive about sticking to my Runner's World training plan and with the exception of one last long run (turned into 10.5 miles due to the cold I was still getting over) I did what it said. I also tapered down correctly. This includes sitting around and relaxing the day before.

7. Had the support of friends and family. When I woke up at 3 am on race day, I looked at my Facebook page and saw that so many of my friends and family had posted on my wall their wishes of good luck and a blog had been written in my honor (five songs about running) I was very touched. I felt so lucky to have the family and friends that I do.

8. Stayed realistic. I wanted to get in under 5 hours. I followed my pace band (given out at the Expo) and was ahead for 22 or 23 of the miles. I slipped at 23 because, well, my body was done and it was FREEZING (we were ocean adjacent by this point) and my feet hurt; and so my walks through the water stations got longer. I finished in 4:59:06 (that counts for under 5 hours folks). Don't get me started about the fact that I somehow, fell off the LA Marathon's monitoring grid according to the run at 20K and they show that I didn't finish - I DID!!! I'm reaching out to them to fix it.

9. Great volunteers - I would be totally remiss if I didn't thank the volunteers (thousands of them) who braved the weather to give us water, gatorade, etc. They were amazing and a HUGE thank you goes out to them.

10. Having runner parents. The fact that Queen and Big Mur are ex runners meant that they could empathize with all my training runs and with 3 completed marathons between them, they understood everything I was going through yesterday. It was a great run and even better to see them at mile 19 cheering me on and at the end with a warm car and lunch.

11. Have the best spouse ever!!! My husband Aha was tremendous. He tolerated and supported all my training runs, was there to pump me up when I was faulting and cheer me on when I had good runs. He worried when I was out on long runs until I started running with my iPhone and worried less after that. He drove me to my friend's house at 4 am so that I could get a ride to Dodger Stadium so we wouldn't have to go back to get my car at her house after. He took one for the team by sitting outside in the cold and rain (which only made his MS hellacious) and hugged and smooched me at mile 19 and at the end. He made me a sign and there were flowers and a card he made me when I got home. He got me a box of yellow Peeps and signed the card "from your #1 Peep". He sure is and I'm a lucky woman to have him in my corner. He's the best and I love him more than anything.

What an amazing run (ahem, LA Marathon peeps, get off the stick and get me recorded as having really harshes my mellow when my name isn't listed as a finisher...).

Running by all the LA landmarks, but more importantly MY landmarks: ABC Seafood - where my family has had about 1,000 dim sum lunches, the Music Center where I continue to see theater; Barnsdall Art Park - where I went on field trips with elementary school, The Capitol Records Building - a figure of my childhood, the Pantages Theater where I saw my first play with my Dad; the Beverly Wilshre (at Rodeo and Wilshire) where I, Aha and my parents went for a drink to celebrate our engagement; Brentwood and the ocean - the ocean is a significant factor in my life and Brentwood, well, that was the last 4 miles so it was fabulous.

Oh, what did I do wrong?

1. Use up all my dry days by driving around in my convertible. Sorry runners, I think I screwed that up.

Best. Run. Ever.,


  1. So friggin' proud of u Dena. Sounds like you ran the perfect race.'re a marathoner!

    ps - lemme know if the issue w/ LAM doesn't get resolved. I can try reaching out to them.

  2. Awesome race report! Just found your blog on twitter and I'm glad I did. You ran an awesome race! Congrats!

  3. Congratulations! And yay for happy running! I'm from LA too and having trained on the last 10 miles (also my current stomping grounds) really helped.

    You captured the feel of the day perfectly. I felt my self saying, "wow" a few times at how hard the rain was getting. And then I just kept going because that's what I had signed up for.

  4. I have a Washington friend who ran it and trained here....based on his posts, it does sound like it was crazy by our standards! I am so happy for your achievement! It is super inspiring for us peeps who are trying for aggressive goals this year.

  5. Thanks everyone for the love....I'm still on a high from the run. I can't believe it. I feel so accomplished. Doing the run in my town was something I can't describe. : ) Looking forward to hearing from you all again. ; )

  6. I am with you on this, Dena! I had such an amazing experience and I think the rain/wind added a little something extra special to it all! :) Great blog post! And great job running your first marathon!!!