Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LA Marathon: Running Down A Dream

Yay! Sunday was the Los Angeles Marathon... :)

I'm a huge fan of marathons - mostly because they remind me of my mother. She's run 10 marathons around the country (LA, Long Beach, San Francisco, Chicago, New York) and there's nothing I love more than cheering her on. I find it so inspiring.

Unlike previous years where the course just makes a big circle around downtown LA, this year the marathon went from Downtown LA @ Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, traveling through many popular communities, as the "Stadium to the Sea" route.

My plan was to watch the elite runners go by Beverly Hills at mile 16, and then watch the regular folk wheeze their way along further down the course.

So that entailed me getting up super early at like 8:30. On a Sunday. (shudders). There's like no one up that hour. The streets were deserted.

Via Rodeo.


Along the course were dozens of bands and cheer stations. Mile 18 had a cheer alley - a cheerleading competition judged by Cheer LA. Playing at Wilshire and Rodeo in front of Bvlgari was Red Light Cinema. There wasn't a lot of (okay, any) people around this early in the race, but I'm sure that later on they were playing to a packed street.

Niketown had their own little cheer party going on. You could make signs...

... grab pseudo-cow bells

... or groove to the sounds of the Black Eyed Peas from the resident DJ.

Or if you are a tad more adventurous, you could have volunteered to be one of the Nike green people.

Folks began arriving with chairs, balloons, and signs to stake out places along the route.

I took the opportunity to do some window shopping...

I got a kick out of Barney's marathon-themed window display... someone should totally run in a Bottega Veneta gown next year.

And of course there were plenty of cute dogs in attendance.

Love this little guy.

When I arrived, the wheelchair racers were finishing up.

I waited for a while for the elite runners. I thought I had missed them because I couldn't wake up at the time I wanted and had to huff and puff my way to the race course. When we saw the helicopters hovering in the sky, we knew they were coming soon.

Here comes the women's pace car!

And there they go. Amazing. Honestly, I don't think I could run as fast as them if I started sprinting along the route with them. And they've been running for an hour and a half!

The men came next... I shot some video of them doing their thing.

The winner Wesley Korir is near the front of the pack in the orange jersey.

I found this great article about him detailing his early "training" in Kenya (e.g., running 5 miles to school before the bell rang and he got in trouble), his life in Louisville, and being exposed to tribal violence on a trip back to Kenya.

After the elite runners had passed, I went back home and got all my stuff together for my real spectating. I know a thing or two about Marathon spectating. lol I always like to station myself somewhere between miles 20-22 (aka The Wall). I borrowed a ipod boom box from my mom and a folding chair. I packed a backpack with drinks, food, snacks, noisemakers, and my camera. I carried balloons. And I made signs. Oh the signs.

I had inspirational.

I had funny.

I had colorful and artistic courtesy of Mr. Insom.

The night before I had perfected my Marathon ipod playlist:
  • "Gonna Fly Now" (Theme from Rocky)
  • "The Final Countdown" (another cheesy rock song, popularized by the awesome Gob in Arrested Development)

  • "Eye of the Tiger" (of course)
  • "I Love L.A."
  • "Let it Rock" (a new addition which worked out smashingly)
  • "Dancing Machine", Jackson 5 (this song allowed me to bust out my fly dance moves)
  • "Crazy", Gnarles Barkley (which is a catchy, upbeat song but I realized the chorus probably didn't work so well - especially the part that goes "I think you're crazy, maybe you're crazy" lol).

Once I got sick of those songs I added James Brown's "I Feel Good", and the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There".

I was ready.

I met my cheerleading partner, AJKnightfan at the VA just after mile 20. She had brought along a chair, a cooler, and her adorable dog Vega. We set up camp and cheered our hearts out, ipod speakers blaring. The weather was perfect - overcast and not too hot/sunny - I didn't even need the baseball cap I had packed. :)

I had a great time. The runners loved our signs - many took pictures of us or posed next to our signs. The "Pain is temporary, Pride is Forever" was especially popular, as was the "If it was Easy, I'd do it!" They enjoyed the music - lifting up their arms in Rocky tributes, encircling their eyes during Eye of the Tiger, singing along to the Staples Singers, high-fiving us, thanking us for being out there, or just smiling.

I loved these guys. On the front of their t-shirts it said "Steven: The Son" and "Richard: The Father" ...

And on the back it said this...

Some people were having a real rough time, though. This guy spent a good 10-15 minutes lying down on the grass in major pain. A police officer checked on him to make sure he was okay.

I totally had to get a picture of anyone wearing Michigan gear. :)

And there's always someone in an outlandish costume. I saw Marilyn Monroe and Stitch, and this guy that really likes Fed Ex for some reason.

Of the 25,000 people who entered, 242,348 finished. Not bad! Wesley Korir had the fastest time (2:09:19) and received $25,000 for being the top male, but since Edna Kiplagat managed to cross the finish line first (women are given an 18 minute head start), she received the $100,000 Battle of the Sexes bonus. Last year Wesley won the Battle of the Sexes, so it's all good... lol

I was happy for Wesley - he won last year and he's the first back-to-back winner in eight years. And he had just gotten married a couple of days earlier to a former teammate on the University of Louisville track team.

I loved one of his comments at the end of the race... "I really loved the course; it was amazing. I couldn't believe I was running through Beverly Hills and someone was screaming my name. Somebody knew me in Beverly Hills!"

I wished that he was talking about me. :)


kenpen said...

This post made me teary. You are the good fairy of LA--delivering Christmas cardboard cut-outs and cheering on strangers!

weezermonkey said...

Most excellent post!

I'm so happy with the new course. Doesn't block me in anymore. ;)

Insomniac said...

lol - It kind of made me teary writing it - especially after reading Wesley's story.

Swank said...

Great post! Is the guy behind the Ped Ex guy the Harvey The Drill Sargent from Celebrity Fit Club?

HaveShoesWillTravel said...

I love watching the marathon! I usually bring doughnuts with me to eat. And think for about 15 seconds that running would be fun.

Nanette said...

This is fabulous! I want to cheer folks on next time!

And I think Swank is right - that's the Celebrity Fit Club guy!

10yearstogether said...

I wonder if you know how much it means to runners to have people out there like you cheering them on. You who have no reason other than to support the runners that are strangers to you. It means a lot, at least it did to me. For us non-natural born runners it's a painful experience and any support along the way from spectators really pushes you on.

I love the father-son shirts. Omg tears. The doggies. AJ. I wish I had come along to cheer with you. And I too love Wesley's statement. That got me all chokey as well. =)

Thanks for a great photo recap and commentary.

amber said...

Dude, I love this post! Okay, I want to join you for this next year. You know I can get my cheer on and I have no problem acting the fool in front of large crowds. :)

Seriously though, I remember the people like you when we did the 3Day walk. You were the kinds of folks that made all the difference and really helped us push through the pain when all we really wanted to do was to just stop and grab a drink. So thank you. You rock missy!!

補到 said...

生活總是起起伏伏,心情要保持快樂才好哦!! .........................................

wan said...

there's so much good stuff in this post, it's hard to remember everything i wanted to say.

the new course looks fantastic! and the nike green people are quite amusing. oh - and WOW to the man with the 52nd marathon tee!

i remember having a blast cheering on the OC ladies two years ago. like amber, i'd love to join you next year!

Nota said...

Thank you so much for doing this! As a non-fast runner, crowd support - even from complete strangers - is such a wonderful thing. Finding something that makes you laugh when you're at low points in your running 'steam' can make a WORLD of difference on the course.

You're awesome!

Dunc said...

I absolutely love the signs - what a fun way to spend a Sunday (as a spectator, of course)

Anonymous said...

好熱鬧喔 大家踴躍的留言 讓部落格更有活力........................................

N said...

the fedex guy still has me lol, with tears streaming down my face.