Los Angeles marathon

Long story short: what a dreadful, dreadful race :)

Let me elaborate... I left for LA on Saturday morning. Or rather: we left, as I was going with two fellow Googlers. We made it to the expo and then drove to our hotel in Santa Monica. After going for dinner (pasta, naturally) it was basically time to go to bed, as we had to get up at 3am (!!!) for the shuttle; unfortunately we didn't manage to find an alternative mode of transportation for the start.

Not surprisingly I didn't get much sleep that night. We got to the shuttle and arrived at the Dodger Stadium around 4:30am. The start was at 7:30am. So we had 3 hours to kill. Beautiful.

There wasn't much we could do so we were just sitting, getting cold and urging the time to go forward faster. I wasn't very smart the following day and didn't plan any breakfast, so I had to satisfy myself with a banana and a roll that we got. So I hardly got any sleep and I hardly got any food, could it get any worse?

It turned out, it could. And it did. Early on Nick went somewhere and later on Robert did go somewhere "for a minute". As it turned out this minute stretched into an hour. And I was stuck with his bag. At some point I started getting anxious because I needed to use a toilet. At a later point I started getting super anxious as it was high time to get moving for the baggage drop.

Eventually I went through his bag, took all the valuables and left a note saying that I had to go (which was quite a challenge as it required finding a pen -- for some reasons not many runners had one with them ;). Of course, as it usually happens, shortly after I did that I did meet him. It was super late and the line to the restroom was super long. In the end I managed to get in, but it was too late for baggage drop...

So I ended up with my jacket and long sweat pants on and standing next to the 5:00 pacer -- what a lovely beginning of the race! I was considering just throwing away my gear but I kinda like it and thought it would be a waste so, annoying as it was, I kept it on.

Surely, at least it couldn't get any worse. Yeah, right. How about the fact that for the first two miles I had to push through the crowds? I passed a batman, a rabbit and about a dozen or so Leprechaun's (courtesy of Saint Patrick's day), not to mention hordes of people who started well in front of me and were now... walking. How about the fact that the organizers decided to use the same type of cups for water and sports drink, so it was a lottery what I'd be getting? As the people handing out drinks were fairly shy about shouting what they were serving. Except for the guy who was announcing at the top of his voice that he had "juice" (yes, it was Gatorade; I suppose it's "runner's juice" of sorts). And what about the fact that they decided to use fruit punch Gatorade -- my most hated taste of Gatorade; in fact I'm not sure whether most hated because after once trying fruit punch I decided: Gatorade, never again. And what about...

I could go on like this. I won't. I know I'm presenting a very skewed view of the race. Worse than that: I know I'm being an asshole. The guy's with costumes? They were having fun, which is what running marathons should be about. The walking folks? They were probably running their first marathon (for over 50% of the participants it was their debut!) and didn't know any better. Both groups deserve applause, not insults. So do the organizers and the aid station volunteers, without whom I wouldn't be able to run this race at all.

So I'm not going to bitch any more. I did it to show you how very frustrated I was during this race, running in my full gear and looking completely ridiculous. I didn't realize it during the race buy my frustration showed in my pace. The first kilometer I was really pushing through the crowds, but the second and third the crowd was already bearable but I failed to notice it and kept on chasing. Result? I run them in 4:03 and 4:08 -- a pace appropriate for a 10K race, but not for a marathon, in my case.

What happened in the end? Well, same as always: lots of suffering and near walking pace in the end... so yes, you can officially call me a looser now ;)

Conclusions? I shouldn't be running marathons anymore. I'm serious. I know it probably sounds like a frustration of someone who just had a bad race, but it's more than that. First of all this year was supposed to be about the 100-miler ultra. Marathons are preparations for that? Bullshit. 50K races that I do with Coastal Trail runners, on trails, with hills are. Flat, road marathons? Not so much.

But perhaps more importantly do I enjoy those marathons? I'm not sure to be honest. I do have a collector's gene in me, so I do enjoy completing another marathon and ticking it off on my running map. But the racing itself? I'm not so sure. And I am completely sure that I don't enjoy it nearly as much as the trail races. So I should stick to them.

I already registered for the San Francisco marathon, so I'll run it, especially that, as I just learned, by doing so I'll complete the LA/SF Challenge. But once I'm done with that, no more marathons before the 100-miler. So if I ever start talking here about registering for another event, please whack me on the head.

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