Let me start by saying — I’ve been trying to write about my marathon experience all week and because of the scope of this experience for me, it has been hard to capture it in words. I have thought about it all in so much detail that I’ve decided to do this post in two parts. Here is Part 1 🙂 hope you enjoy!!!
Sunday was the day. I woke up at 3 a.m. to go on down to Dodger Stadium, pick up my dear friend (& pacer) Jonathan on the way, and RUN A MARATHON.
But before I get to how insanely amazing it feels to have finished the marathon, let me bring you back to that morning. I want to tell you guys for you, obvi, but I also want to write this ish down so that I never forget all of the craziness and awesomeness that surrounded that morning and everything leading up to it.
The Prep Weeks:
So I suppose I should start with the weeks leading up to the race. I have had so much going on this training season that it often became sort of easy for me to “forget” that I was going to be running a full marathon. The run itself kept seeming so far away, and there were so many other milestones between the beginning of the season and the actual race. My book came out, I traveled almost every week, I was dealing with my health problems, I ran a 5k, a 10k & a half marathon with my team, the holidays came and went, I spent time at home in Sacramento, my friends and fam came to visit L.A., I was working hard on running TBB and TBV Apparel, the list goes on.
I would say sometime in early January it hit me that the race was about a month away, and that it would be in my best interest to take that time frame VERY seriously. I knew I had been training enough up until that point, but not quite at the level of seriousness that I needed to be in order to tackle the full 26.2 without seriously struggling. The last thing I wanted to do was get out there not-quite-prepared-enough and injure myself or not be able to finish.
So, from January onward I took on this marathon in the same way I take on a lot of things that I commit to — in a very serious, all or nothing, let’s do this thing kind of way. I stopped drinking alcohol from New Years on, because even though I am not a huge drinker it definitely keeps me up later when I drink and makes it much harder to wake up early and be productive (i.e. go on a run!). Also, I just wanted to be kind to my body throughout the most rigorous part of the training process by avoiding foods like alcohol, refined sugar, or anything that could make me feel like crap while I was running. Trust me, I had a few hungover runs that made it veryyyy clear to me that my body isn’t meant to run hungover… And I have enough stomach problems to make exercise difficult in general sometimes, so I had to choose very wisely when it came to what to eat before a run. Instead I focused on fueling myself with lots of protein, healthy fats, good carbs & tons of hydration.
Beyond the no alcohol thing, I also switched my schedule up to start going to bed earlier and to wake up earlier. It helped a lot that I spent a few days in NYC in early January, so when I got back I made it a point to stay on that east coast schedule. Or at least for me that’s what it was. I can’t even tell you how much I’ve loved going to bed earlier and waking up earlier — it’s been sort of life changing, but that’s a different topic for another post!
The early wake ups were important because I knew I had to get my body ready for that crazy early race morning. A lot of you know that I have a legitimate FEAR of waking up excessively early (usually for travel reasons, but now for running too) because it just fills me up with anxiety and makes it nearly impossible to fall asleep the night before. The last thing I wanted was a few terrible nights of sleep before the marathon, so I reworked my schedule far in advance to at least make it easier to sleep early if nothing else.
The Day Before the Race:
So now, let’s jump ahead to the day before the race. I knew that all I wanted to commit to doing on that Saturday was go to the race expo to pick up my packet and bib #, which was already a trek in itself because it was at the L.A. Convention Center (not too far but with L.A. traffic definitely not easy to get to either). That morning I got coffee with my parents and my BFF Alexi and we all walked around Brentwood a little. We were on a mission to find the perfect running visor for me since Sunday was going to be so bright & hot, and we ended up finding one at Nike that I loved.
After that it was pretty much lunchtime and we were all hungry, but I was also sort of starting to freak out because the expo was closing at 5 p.m. and I had no idea what traffic to go downtown was going to be like. It was still only about 1 ish, so I have no idea why I was being such a lunatic, but it was that inner anxiety about the marathon revving itself up and making me feel like I had zero time to go down there and do what I needed.
I forced myself to relax a little so we could have lunch and enjoy ourselves, and I’m glad I did because I definitely needed the food to fuel me for the next day. I had a veggie chicken sausage scramble with potatoes, and it was delish. (Sidetone, the potatoes later made me feel extremely nauseous, mixed with my nerves, so that was not fun.) We turned out to still have plenty of time afterward and get to the expo with at least 2.5 hours to spare. I don’t know if I was envisioning all of Downtown L.A. to be blocked off because of the upcoming marathon or what, but I definitely envisioned the WORST before we got there — it was actually an exceptionally easy process, lol.
After that we came back to my place and it was about 5:30. I knew I wanted to be in bed by 7:30 ish so I could hopefully fall asleep by 8:30 or 9 (yes, it takes me that long to fall asleep! Especially when I am nervous!) so I knew dinner had to be quick and easy. I was also starting to feel PANICKED. I can’t even explain to you the feelings and sensations I had running through my body… I was basically short of breath and was also starting to feel like I was preparing for something like my wedding day (LOL, I am psycho I know) because there was so much prep, nerves, excitement, congratulations and good luck texts/calls pouring in, and I could hardly function to even know what to eat for dinner.
Luckily Alexi kept me calmer than I would have been had she not been here… And we went up the street to a place called Roast where I got some chicken and veggies. My coaches had said to carb up on the days leading up to the race, but that dinner the night before should be lean protein and veggies or anything you know won’t upset your stomach the next morning. Obvi I took that very seriously and did exactly that!
I also anxiously picked up a few Quest bars at the gas station after we finished because I wasn’t sure whether I would want to eat something closer to the actual start on the marathon after my oatmeal + nut butter for breakfast at 3 in the morning, dropped Alexi off, and came home to pop some Xanax (yes, being supes honest with you) and attempt to pass out.
It took me a while to fall asleep, and I also hopped on the phone with a couple of people to talk the nerves out, and then I started to feel the Xanax kick in and I actually got a pretty good night of sleep. I did have nightmares that I wore my old, worn out running shoes to the marathon and that I was running with people who forced us to stop in a bunch of restaurants throughout the way which kept adding on to our time (lol), but when my alarm went off at 3 a.m. I felt shockingly well-rested and SO READY to get out of bed and do this thing!!!
The Morning of the Race!!!!
It’s so crazy to have prepped for something for so many months and then actually have it be the morning of. I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off that morning. I had already prepped everything I needed to bring… My NutriBullet jersey, my race bib #, my gels (I like the Clif vanilla ones), my running shoes & socks, my Lululemon pants, my iPhone armband and head phones, my last minute Quest Bars, tons of water, my fav new visor, and a sweater that I didn’t mind losing in case I left it at Dodger Stadium before the race.
With all of that stuff prepared… I hardly knew what to do with myself in the morning! I am not usually an “early to prepare” person, so I am used to scrambling and checking over and over again in the morning to make sure I have everything I need. Since that was all out of the way, I got to enjoy a leisurely (haha… if you can call it that when you’re freaking out as much as I was!) breakfast and my bulletproof coffee. My pre-race breakfast is always oatmeal with lots and lots of peanut butter mixed in, and coffee with almond milk and a little bit of MCT oil and stevia.
I finished with plenty of time to spare before I needed to leave to pick up Jonathan, so I actually ended up taking a shower and washing/drying my hair. If you know me, you know this is SO rare for an early morning pre-workout experience… But I was so jittery and out of my mind and I wanted to feel my absolute best for this crazy day ahead. I am so glad that I did that, because it did help calm my nerves a little in an unexplainable way.
I had been checking and re-checking the Uber app that morning to make sure there were plenty of Ubers available and that the time frame was 5 mins or below so I’d know when to order mine. So right around 4:07 (as I was drying my hair), I had an Uber head over to me. There was some minor panic when he first arrived because the streets around my apartment were already all blocked off for the marathon! I started freaking out for a few minutes because I wasn’t sure how I would get to him, and even when I did wasn’t sure how we would get to West Hollywood and then to Dodger Stadium with no issues.
The race wasn’t starting until 7 a.m., but we had been warned about the gridlock traffic and I’d heard horror stories of people who got out of their cars/cabs on the freeway to run to the start line to make it on time!
Luckily we had none of those issues. My Uber driver dealt with my anxiety swimmingly, even though he knew I was freakishly on edge until we got to Jonathan’s. Then I started feeling a lot better because Jonathan is a pro, this was his 6th marathon, and he has a calming way about him that makes it so easy to trust that everything is going to be totally fine.
Arriving to Dodger Stadium
We basically hit none of the traffic that I had been terrified about, and we got there and were able to saunter right into the room that my NutriBullet team had rented out for us so we could all be together in a warm & comfy place before we ran. Nerves were definitely on high in that room, but also so much excitement and thrill for each other as our whole entire season was about prepping for THIS DAY. Even though we were all so full of nerves, there was also a strange calm that I felt because all the work was done, the results were out of our hands, and we were finally about an hour away from beginning to accomplish this goal we’d been working toward for so many months.
After several million trips to the bathroom, lots of water chugging, a last-minute bite of that damn Quest bar that I flipped out about the night before, an inspiring pep talk from our coaches Jimmy & Nicole, lots of hugs with my teammates… we were off! We headed to the 10 minute mile pacer mark of the start line.
THE START LINE
Let me be clear with you that I didn’t really have a goal time for this race, I just wanted to finish and enjoy myself enough that I would want to do another. I had a ballpark idea of around 5 hours, and that was an awesome goal to shoot for, but I also just wanted to get to the last few miles and feel the excitement of nearing the finish and not want to absolutely die.
Standing at the starting line sort of felt like absolutely forever and like no time at all — I still just couldn’t believe that we were actually about to do this thing. I was fueled, caffeinated, well-rested, well-showered (lol), with Jonathan who I knew would be an incredible pacer, full of energy with no aches or pains… It seemed too good to be true!
When people ahead of us started crossing the start line and we started moving forward, it was almost unbelievable what the sea of people in front of us looked like! I snapped this pic (to many people’s dismay around us because they were worried I was going to trip):