With just over two months to go until the 25th Anniversary Los Angeles Marathon, we’re now officially on Defcon 4 alert. Things are starting to happen very quickly, and deadlines are coming at us like bullets: Medals, participant shirts, ads, signs, citywide police & fire meetings, etc. A lot is going on, and much of that is captained by Race Director Nick Curl (resplendent in Hawaiian shirt above) and Director of Operations Stacy Embretson. Along with our Volunteer Coordinator Manon Levenberg, they organized today’s coordinator kickoff meeting. We gathered in Westwood all of the coordinators who will be manning aid stations, organizing the start and finish areas, running the shuttle bus system and other important jobs. It was a gathering of many familiar faces–some of these folks have been with the LA Marathon since its inception–and a few new ones as well. The event does not happen without the hard work of these individuals.
We also had representatives from the City of Beverly Hills as well as the Veterans Administration, and I was able to catch up with them on things we’re doing in each place. Nick took everyone through the many new developments in this year’s event: the course, the 5K, the Expo…well, let’s face it, everything is new! In any case, it was a productive afternoon, and we’re now in the red zone approaching the race.
Finally back home after a spectacular trip to Chicago. Russ and I went together, worked the Expo booth and then ran today. We woke up to 30 degree temperatures, and there must have been 500 runners huddled in the Hilton lobby waiting until the last moment to make the freezing dash out to the starting line. I was in the D corral, which allowed me to get right up to speed in the first mile. You have to see what 40,000 runners looks like to believe it. An absolutely giant group, with logistics to match. I thought the management team did a good job with the start/finish area, water stations and post race food, given the size of the field. The course covers 29 neighborhoods throughout the city and never once goes higher than 24 feet above sea level. Talk about a place to run your PR.
Russ, not having run a marathon in 25 years, ran a very solid 4:57. His day included bolting from the 5 hour pace group and passing 1,000 runners in the last 2 miles. Way to finish strong! I ran a steady 3:51:09, helped along by the 3:50 pace group. My goal was to run consistent 8:45-8:50 miles, and I was able to do that. The first 13 miles were no problem, then the running becomes more labor intensive up to 20 miles. The last 6 miles took a lot of effort. If I didn’t have the pace group to follow I surely would have lost at least 5 minutes in the last section of the race. The group was like a carrot dangling out there urging me to keep up. At 24 miles the course finally widens out, and Dean Karnazes passed me on the left. So I had a quick chat with him, then let him go. He was running the first of 2 loops of the course for 52 miles total on the day. What a guy. By the time I finished I was completely spent, and I was happy to know that I’d “left it all on the course.” It was still in the low 40s, so the mylar heat sheet was welcome protection from the elements.
There are an incredible number of spectators on the route, holding all manner of signs out and screaming encouragement at the runners. Amazing fan support. My favorite sign read, “Trample the wounded. Hurdle the dead.” Fortunately, I didn’t have to do either!
Tomorrow morning at the office we’ll have a debrief session and discuss our learnings with the staff. Stacy ran the Long Beach Marathon today, and she’ll give us her report as well. All in all, a great weekend, and it’s good to know that training actually works.
It’s an exciting day here in the LA Marathon office. The LA City Council will be voting on moving the marathon back to a Sunday in March. Many of you are probably heading down to City Hall right now to show your support of the date change. For those of you who cannot get downtown today, you can watch the City Council meeting online HERE. We are thankful to all of you runners, charities, volunteers, students, and many more who are out there supporting us. Keep your fingers crossed and we hope to have good news for you soon!