I did it. I ran the 26th Annual L.A. Marathon (my first ever) on the day that the heavens decided to literally open and despite all that, I miraculously finished with an official race time of 3:58:13, just under my four hour target. I was overjoyed to say the least.
Pre-race marathon kit
A combination of adrenaline and anticipation helped me start my marathon day at 2.30am. I quickly fueled my running engine with a banana, a bowl of quinoa and a cup of tea, then after a hot shower we jumped in the car at 3.45am to Santa Monica to catch a shuttle bus to the starting line at Dodger Stadium.
Dodger Stadium Marathon Day
So at 4.30am I arrived at Dodger Stadium, with just three hours in the cold to kill. Luckily I got to use the stadium's facilities before the hordes of runners descended, as there's nothing worse than running on a full stomach and losing critical race time for a toilet break half way through.
T2: Team To End AIDS heroes
The hours really flew by as all my fellow T2: Team To End AIDS runners arrived and we entertained each other and helped to keep our nervous spirits high.
In the starting corral before the race
Fortunately the rain kept at bay whilst we waited in the starting corral with the 23,542 registered runners, but sadly I got separated from the majority of my training team.
Getting ready to run
Luckily I got to run with another first time marathon runner, Rob, and we each helped keep pace and had fun along the course.
Jason and Rob in the starting corral
I'd chosen to just run in my race singlet so as not to get weighed down if it did rain and I'm so grateful I did, as once the rain came it was fierce and relentless. My wet shoes felt like lead weights at times.
Drenched runners in the rain down San Vicente Boulevard
Even though it was tough running in the wind and rain, and through all that surface water, it was oddly liberating. You couldn't help but laugh at the circumstances, that with the low levels of rainfall L.A. gets, of all days it would have to happen on marathon day, and thunderstorms to boot.
A surprise celebration after the marathon
All the time I was running, I couldn't help but remember why I was doing this. Not only did I want to achieve something by completing and experiencing my first marathon, but to also raise as much money as I could for my chosen charity, AIDS Project L.A.
With generous donations from friends and family I raised an outstanding $2,775 and here are the names of the people I and APLA have to thank:
Charlie & Cooper, Mum & Dad, Lee, Julie, Lauren & Evan, Gareth, Simon & Richard, Hannah, Mike, Richard, Erin & Gays R Us comedy night, Alfredo, Rosie, Barry, Craig, Jay J, Columba, Sarah, Shann & Marina, Billy & Robin, Rachel & Rhodri, Jo, Caroline, Rob, James, Julia, Jay V, Tim & Simon, Mo, Madeleine, Cort & Charles, Tom, Jeremy, Carol, Joe & Les, Stacey and Sally.
And if you've been inspired by my marathon success, you can still donate.
Running in my red Team To End AIDS vest really did help, as I received so much encouragement and support from all the volunteers and race spectators. They were the real stars, as they stuck it out for hours in those miserable conditions to encourage myself and all my fellow runners. It really did give me a boost at many times during the marathon and was incredibly emotionally moving.
At mile 20 I realised that I really needed to pick up my pace to finish under four hours, so I gunned it and ran my heart out. My legs were on fire and my head was down. I can hardly remember a lot of the course as it was raining so much, all you wanted to do was get through it.
With two minutes to spare I raced for that windswept Finish Line in Santa Monica and punched the air as I crossed that threshold.
It was so brutal once you stopped. My legs were seizing up, it was absolutely freezing with the cold ocean wind gusting and all I wanted to do was breathe and get somewhere warm.
I made my way a couple of blocks to the washed-out Marathon Festival and the family reunion area and shed a few tears when I saw my boyfriend, Charlie, and lovable Labardor, Cooper, who was so excited to see me. The feeling was mutual.
Official L.A. Marathon Medal, T-Shirt and Bib. no
At home before my ice-bath I was greeted with a wonderful surprise, as you can see Charlie had decorated the bathroom with balloons and banners, which was so appreciated.
Today I'm hobbling around the neighbourhood with Cooper to keep my legs from stiffening up and eagerly anticipating the release of the official race photos in the hopes of getting some memorable souvenirs of my first ever marathon.
3:58:13. 'Nuff said...