Thursday, March 19, 2015

Official 2015 L.A. Marathon race day photos bring back hot memories...

Now that I'm getting some feeling back in my legs after Sunday's tough 30th L.A. Marathon, I thought it was the perfect time to share my official race day photos that tell the super hot story from Stadium to Sea.

I truly earned this finisher medal this year
30th LA Marathon Finisher
When you reflect on your marathon experience days later I always find it's with fondness and a sense of accomplishment and it's only when I look at the race photos that I'm reminded of the often excruciating ordeal the marathon was.

Ready to run 26.2 miles at Dodger Stadium at early o'clock
2015 LA Marathon charity runner Dodger Stadium
The 30th annual L.A. Marathon, and my 5th consecutive L.A. race, had record-breaking temperatures, soaring up to 88° and bringing back all the PTSD from last year's Hellfire marathon which was a similar scorcher.

Running past the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown L.A.
2015 LA Marathon runner Downtown
We'd been expecting high temperatures, but on the day we actually got lucky. The race started 30 minutes earlier than usual and we had some cloud cover to protect us from the beating sun of last year.

Later in the race as I got closer to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica I could even feel a welcome breeze, although after the previous few days of hot weather you could really feel the asphalt itself radiating heat.

Running past Hollywood's famous Chinese Theatre
2015 LA Marathon runner
Looking at these photographs brings back race day memories, from year to year I always forget how many hills there are Downtown especially before the Walt Disney Concert Hall and afterwards, but it's also a reminder of all the great neighbourhoods we run through and all the infamous landmarks and places you run past.

Turning off Hollywood Boulevard
2015 LA Marathon runner
Best of all we get to run the streets of L.A. with no traffic or stop lights, which is very liberating. Although the funny thing is, sometimes as you're running up Hollywood or Sunset Boulevard you'll look up to see the flashing red lights and your mind wonders, "Do I have to stop?".

Turning off West Hollywood's Sunset Strip 
down the steep San Vicente Boulevard
2015 LA Marathon runner
After last year the race's organisers learned some valuable lessons and the support along the course this year was amazing, lots of hydration stops and cooling stations, water sprays and medical tents, plus the level of support from the local people was spectacular.

Taking a walk break down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
2015 LA Marathon Rodeo Drive
In fact the atmosphere at some stages in the race was infectious and what really got me through the race. Those 'power up' signs and all the high fives along the course from all the spectators and random strangers really helped life my spirits, and got me out of my spiral of heat despair when I was questioning if I'd actually finish at all.

Running down Rodeo Drive at Mile 17
2015 LA Marathon runner Rodeo Drive
I've since learned from sharing stories with my fellow runners and teammates that some of my friends didn't actually complete the race and had to stop because of the adverse conditions. I can imagine their disappointment, but it really was a case of living to run another day in that heatwave.

Walking through the VA at Mile 21
2015 LA Marathon runner VA
In this 'Free Hugs' video (around 0:35 secs) you'll actually see me stopping in Brentwood to chat with one of our fabulous coaches along the course, who were there to offer encouragement, advice and anything we needed, from salt packets to fresh water and more ice. It was invaluable and this year our charity team, T2: Team to End AIDS, proved they really know how to support their runners on race day.
From around Mile 20 I think I walked more than I ran, but the important thing was I kept going and I actually kept something in reserve to that last stretch along Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, I wanted to finish strong.

Racing to the Finish Line along Ocean Avenue
2015 LA Marathon runner Ocean Avenue
You can see how wet I look in these photos, partly it's from the sweat, but mostly it's from tipping copious cups of water into my hat to keep my head cool and over my neck and shoulders, so I didn't overheat. It really worked too.

Last dash to the Finish Line
Race to 2015 LA Marathon Finish Line
This was one of my slowest ever marathon races, certainly my slowest L.A. Marathon time at 4:20:09, but I made sure I beat my New York Marathon 2014 time by two minutes. There's no real comparison with the courses, but psychologically it helped to not have run my slowest marathon to date.

I made it to the Finish Line
Crossing LA Marathon 2015 Finish Line
I'm honestly not at all disappointed with my time, as I feel fortunate to just have completed this marathon. Next year the L.A. Marathon is moving forward a month to Valentine's Day in February to accommodate the Olympic time trials. Hopefully that will help with weather conditions, but you never know, as we had some pretty hot weather in February this year.

My slowest L.A. Marathon - 4:20:09
2015 LA Marathon Finisher
Like I've said before, you can never control the weather on race day - it could be hot, it could rain, it could be freezing. All you can do is train your best, have everything you need that you're comfortable running with and have confidence and faith in your own ability to finish the marathon.

That's my 10th marathon in the bag, now to recover and get ready for my first ever London Marathon this April. I'm hoping for a hometown advantage, some friendly support along the course and favourable weather (which in Britain is even more unpredictable than L.A., guaranteed).

I'll keep running as long as my body allows, as I know for a fact there's other people who are not able to run a mile for whatever reason, let alone a marathon...

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