Monday, March 16, 2015

Surviving the sweltering 30th L.A. Marathon...

Well, I certainly know how to to pick them. Yesterday I survived my 5th consecutive L.A. Marathon, and 10th overall, and it was another super-hot affair along the 26.2 mile Stadium to Sea course, with record temperatures which made for a sweltering and muggy race.

Cooling down after another scorching L.A. Marathon
Keeping cool after 2015 LA Marathon
You can prepare all you want for a marathon, but if there's one thing I've learned about race day, you can never do anything about the weather. Back in 2011 when I ran my first L.A. Marathon it poured with rain and last year the L.A. Marathon was the hottest in a decade (until now), so you just have to suck it up and run regardless of the elements.

On shuttle bus to Dodger Stadium 
with my fellow T2: Team to End AIDS runners
This was my slowest ever L.A. Marathon from Dodger Stadium to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, finishing in 4:20:09, but for once I'm not disappointed with my time, in fact I'm just grateful that I crossed that Finish Line.

Over 22,000 runners get ready to race the 2015 L.A. Marathon
2015 LA Marathon starting corrals
The race may have been made harder by the heat, you could actually feel the warmth radiating off the road from the previous days, but for the most part it was a lot of fun. I saw a lot of my T2: Team to End AIDS teammates before and after the race and bumped into many runners I knew along the length of the course.

Starting Corral B at Dodger Stadium
2015 LA Marathon Start Line
Even more fantastic was the support I received along the route from my close friends and our T2 supporters, which was invaluable and real boost at different and sometimes difficult stages during the race.

With a little help from my friends at Mile 12
2015 LA Marathon charity runner Mile 12
There's a common belief that Los Angelenos are shallow, self-obsessed individuals, but this wasn't in evidence on Sunday as thousands of locals came out in there neighborhoods to support friends, family, loved ones and total strangers.

All the volunteers, handmade signs, cheers, bowls of bananas, sliced oranges, water, pretzels, salt packets and beer was a real tonic to the conditions and certainly kept my spirits alive.

Running down San Vicente Boulevard in West Hollywood
2015 LA Marathon runners San Vicente Boulevard West Hollywood
The race organisers had also done a great job of trying to cope with the high temperatures, from starting the marathon 30 minutes earlier (which made a significant difference), to all the electrolyte and water refreshments along the course, to the firemen and locals hosing participants in much needed water sprays and volunteers armed with hand-held misters. It all kept me and no doubt thousands of others going.

Still going, barely, at Mile 23
2015 LA Marathon charity runner Mile 23
More than ever this year I could see the effect of the heat around me, with more people walking earlier than ever before, and in Brentwood I think I saw the paramedics trying to resuscitate the 61-year-old man who had the heart attack, which was a bit distressing when you're feeling so emotionally and physically raw.

After the Finish Line in Santa Monica
After 2015 LA Marathon finish Santa Monica
In all I think over 30 people were hospitalised for some kind of effects caused by running in the heatwave, so I count myself lucky to have survived it with a bit of dehydration and aching leg muscles.

I felt very drained early on in this race, my strength sapped by the heat, far earlier than any other marathon I've run and I think I walked more from Mile 20 than ever before. But I did keep some reserves for the final sprint down Ocean Avenue, as I remember last year having to walk the majority of that last stretch.

Post-race celebrations before my ice-bath
Post race LA Marathon celebrations
In retrospect we were very lucky with the weather, as all week it had been getting hotter, but at least there was some cloud cover on the day to help protect us from a harsh beating sun like last year and there was a breeze as you got closer to the finish in Santa Monica.

During the race I was taking whole cups of water and drenching my cap to keep my head and neck cool, plus the bags of ice along the course were a lifesaver too.

30th L.A. Marathon shirt and finisher medal
30th LA Marathon shirt 2015 finisher medal
In addition to all the friends who came out along he course, I also want to thank all the people who also supported me by donating to my chosen charity, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and they helped me raise $1,355 this season and collectively our training group raised over $140,000.

30th L.A. Marathon 2015 Finisher Medal
30th LA Marathon 2015 finisher medal
As always I can't wait to see what story the official race photos show, I'm sure there'll be lots of me walking and looking miserable, but overall I did it, marathon number ten in the bag.

Now it's time to recover and get ready for my first ever London Marathon at the end of April, where I'm hoping the weather gods will be kind for once.

By the way, the stairs and sunshine are not my friends today...

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