26,000+ runners packed the start line at Dodger Stadium to run the new LA Marathon course – Stadium to Sea. I was reminded why I enjoy some of the local ultra trail races after trying to get to the start of the LA Marathon.
Nicole, Dylan and I were in the car and on the road by 5:30 AM Saturday morning heading down to LA and made the traditional photo stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s. We arrived in LA by 2 PM and then I walked over to Dodger stadium (much farther than the reported 1 mile from the hotel) for the marathon expo. It didn’t look like I was going to make my 3 PM shift so I started jogging only to start to melt in the 80 degree afternoon. I didn’t look so fresh arriving at the pace booth dripping in sweat.
Marathon morning is always a little hectic but this one was classic. We met in the hotel lobby at 5:45 AM to catch a shuttle to the start. But after waiting on Figueroa for almost 30 minutes, it was clear there would be no shuttle. So we said our goodbyes to the other waiting marathoners and decided to walk. Good call. As we walked across the 10 overpass, traffic on the freeway was at a standstill and many people were getting out of their cars on the freeway and walking.
After making it to Dodger Stadium, I had to work my way through most of the 26,000+ runners and push my way close to the front of the pack. Excuse me. Pardon me. Right behind you. Sorry. Excuse me. Coming through. As luck would have it, they announced many were still stuck in traffic and they were going to delay the start by about 30 minutes. I chatted with Bull’s Eye Bob and a couple women while we waited for the starting gun. A completely different experience than showing up 20 minutes before the start of a 50K trail race.
Along with the pace balloons, I carried my camera and took some pictures and videos along the way. First half of the marathon had some small ups and downs. During the first half we saw the Dorothy Chandler Music Center around mile 6, Echo Park Lake around mile 7 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame around mile 12. But a couple highlights were some old friends that ran with the pace group. One of the guys was Kurt Goetz, a strong sub 3 hour marathoner and middle grade history teacher from Southern California. Kurt ran with the group for the first 20 miles wearing his Kids Run LA shirt. Another guy was my Semper Fi buddy from Marine Corps marathon. I had been looking at him and wondering why he looked so familiar. Then around mile 10 or so, I asked him if we knew each other and he said, “Yes, you paced me last year at Marine Corps.” Of course, he was the guy calling Semper Fi to all the soldiers we passed during the Marine Corps. He was my inspiration that marathon and, again, he finished with me and demonstrated some heart and guts. We also had a barefoot runner who ran and finished with us.
We did hit the halfway point right on the 1:40 mark. Second half the marathon provided better scenery and finishing at Santa Monica pier was so much better than previous years finishing near downtown LA and skid row. Finishing time of 3:19:44 was almost perfect for the 3:20 Pace Group.
After the marathon, we hung out with Jody, Lily and Oleg by riding the ferris wheel on the pier and then having lunch at Yankee Doodle in Santa Monica. Leaving lunch, there was a guy playing a nice set of drums on the street. You could tell he was talented and probably in his 40’s. We started watching him as people passed by and his hands moved around the set with ease and he would spin and flip his sticks. We watched for a few minutes and then all of the sudden he stood up, sadly walked to his collection bucket and poured the money in the street and started packing. A homeless looking guy passed and started collecting the money and handed him some dollar bills but the drummer said no thanks without a smile. If he only knew how much I stood there wishing I had half his talent. He packed up his drums and left. Why didn’t I get closer so he could see us watching him and he would know people were amazed at his talent?
Then Nicole, Dylan and I made it to Solvang for the night and drove home next day. The drive up the 101 had some great scenes with the wildflowers blooming and we loved Pismo Beach and the town of San Luis Obispo. Here are a few of my pictures from the marathon.
Then it was off to Houston for business and my first solid 6 hours sleep at night in months. Dylan continues to sleep solid until about 1 or 2 AM in the morning so any solid sleep is a big bonus. Business trips usually mean the meetings, plus hours in the hotel on the computer trying to do the normal daily work. So a running tour through a city is a plus but could mean a run in the dark. Whenever I have gone to Houston, I’ve always enjoyed roaming through Buffalo Bayou Park and some of the River Oaks neighborhoods near downtown. But this time we flew into Hobby and stayed right next to the airport. So around 10 PM at night and in the light rain, I took a run from the Drury Inn around Hobby Airport and I discovered the airport is almost 9 miles round – not the most enjoyable part of the city. The clerk at the front desk questioned my judgement and said “Watch out for the hookers and don’t carry any cash.” Dangers are everywhere.