I’m up early.

4:30am.

This part of the race report is about fuel, and how I didn’t have enough, or the right kind, or something.

My brother in law Kenny arrives at 5am to take me to Dodger Stadium.  My Dad reads 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 to me.  I write my paces on my arm.  I re-read the email, the beautiful email that my coach sent to me.  I write:

5-11-16-21-24 on my arm, to remind me of when I take a Honey Stinger

I write:  1st 10K=11:00 min. pace, 10:40-10:50 rest.

I had big plans.  I was aiming for 4:45 as my top goal, but would have been happy with 5:00. 

I ate my pb on toast and half a banana. 

I get to Dodger Stadium.  In awe.  In love.  So happy and confident.  Have never felt MORE confident.

I even went to the bathroom.  FOR REALS!  I mean, really, could this day be even more perfect? 

I am in the porta-potty line again, because I know the race won’t start for 30 minutes.

I am in the porta-potty line when the wheelchairs start.

Then the elite women.

Then the elite men.

Then, holy HELL!  EVERYONE!  And, I come out to see the mass of people making the first turn in front of the original start and wonder how the HELL I am going to get across this.  The flood of people put the fear of God into me.  Finally, this man and I hopped the corrals, ran a bit with the 3:30 group, hopped, hopped, hopped to the back of the start pack with everyone else.

By this time, “I LOVE LA” by Randy Newman had played about 17 times.  I love that song.  But not 17 times.

I’m ready.

I finally cross the start line.

And, we are going slightly uphill, then downhill around the stadium.  It’s all good, but I can’t get a lock on the 11:00 minute pace.  Too many people, and I’m with the walkers.  Finally, we go out of Dodger Stadium, and I’m feeling confident for the first 3 miles.  Then I feel a slight twinge in my back.  Which shocked me, really.  What was this?

I went up the hill at mile 4 or 5, and what overwhelmed me was the sea of people ahead of me.  I counted blocks.  I counted stoplights.  There was no way to quicken my pace.  I just had to stay in the pack.  At mile 5, I took my first Honey Stinger.  It made me ill.  I can’t stand any of these things, but had given up Gu and others like it to use these.  The facts are simply this.  When my stomach goes, I go.  And, I was starting to fade already.

I remember the Taiko Drummers.  Fantastic.  Great job on the hill.  I remember nothing else.

At mile 8.  I stopped.  I was done.  Finished.  Absolutely, and without reservation.  I had never have the wheels fall off so soon in a race or a training run.  My stomach was aching.  My feet and legs were fine.  My new iFitness belt was not working for me.  It was my first time using it.   I put it around the front, around the back, across my breasts.  I almost carried it.  It was just BUGGING ME.  Because it was new, not because it was a bad belt.

For 10 miles, I bartered.  With God, with my coach, with my mother. 

PLEASE GOD GET ME OUT OF THIS AND I WILL NEVER EVER SIGN UP FOR A MARATHON EVER AGAIN.

I took water at every station.  I ran.  I walked.  I begged.  I saw a billboard with a girl in really high heels on her back with a beach ball between her legs.  I thought.  I want to do that.  The women on the billboards were mocking me.  They were.  I saw Chuck and Brian…or was it the Bob and Tom show at the Comedy Shop. (I’m not even sure, and don’t care…), but these 1 dimensional boards became the way to get down the road.  Those stupid ladies in their beautiful clothes don’t know how lucky they have it.

I could not believe my race was gone.  At mile 8.  But, it was.

A group of people with Down’s Syndrome sat on the left.  They were clapping.  The adult with them said, “Clap for Linda!”  And they started cheering…”Go Linda, Go Linda!”  And I turned around, and walked over to them.  One lady got out of her chair, ambled over to me and threw her arms around me.  And I hugged her as if my life depended on it.  It did.  Then another.  Until I finally ambled off myself.  I don’t remember much.

A lot of asphalt.

A lot of signs.

These 3 women ran into me, and I was pissed, and the one girl said, “WOW”, like, “what a bitch”, and I thought…screw you!!!  Seriously! If you are going to stop, don’t stop THERE! Arrrgg. 

But I realized that my race was gone, and the only thing to do now was run.

The 5:15 people passed me.

The 5:30 people passed me.

I tagged onto a group of people here and there. 

But, it was simply survival mode now.

I knew it was bad when the 6:00 pacers got ahead of me.  My head was screaming to stop.  Walk off this course!  No one will know!  Get OFF!

I stopped.  A lot.  I saw the orange balloon mile markers.  I lived for those.  I ran.  I ran a lot.  Then I stopped.  The heat from the ground and the water from the cups made for a humid water stop.  People handed out everything.  Candy, oranges, bananas, granola bars, water, gatorade.  One person simply had a gallon jug on top of a metal post.  No one was there.  Just a spout.  I put my head under and drank hungrily.

I found the LA Road Runners pace group.  I ran with them for about 1.5 miles.  They would run, then shout 5-4-3-2-1 and STOP! and everyone would stop.  and we would walk.  and then those fingers go up again, and i had simply no freaking clue what they were doing, so I just did it with them.  I followed a lady in a red bandana.  Just watched her feet, her backside for a long, long time.  And then…

Mile 18.5 comes.  Here they go again with the counting.  And I was losing my mind, thinking, is the sky gray? or is it me?  What is WRONG WITH ME!!!

I go to the bushes because I got hit with a wave of nauseau like being pregnant.  I hunched over to vomit.  But there was nothing to vomit.  No dry heaves even.  Just heaves.  (I found out much later how dehydrated I was).  I remember sitting down.  Then falling back into the bushes.  I laid in the bushes, wishing for a quick death.  I know, I’m drama like that.  But I swear to everything holy, I was more willing to die at that moment than ever.

The cops came over.

My arm was in the road.  Runners were hopping over me.  The cops tried to get me to move.  I crawled on all fours.  They asked me my name, how old I was.  The cop said, really?  I thought you were 35.  Nice try, buddy.  They said they had to call the ambulance.  My Garmin said I was down for 40 minutes.  Excruciating.  The paramedics came up with their annoying siren.  I wasn’t even embarrassed.  At that point just wished for the end.  They took my blood pressure, my pulse.  I asked them what it was.  I was fine.  THEN they took out their stretcher! (The whole time, they left on the ambulance, so I was sucking in exhaust fumes too)  I said, “What is that for?”  They told me I was going to the hospital.

Because my parents read this blog, I will not repeat what I said.  However, it included a few salty phrases, some yelling.  I told them I wasn’t going.  They made me sign that I wouldn’t sue them.  I was in trouble though.  I could barely stand.  They told me they were going to take me to the bus a few blocks back and take me to the finish line.

Again.  Not happening.  I fought with myself here.  They told me a 21 yr old man had cardiac arrest, and that it was okay for me to stop.  There would always be other marathons.  Again with the arguing in my head:

Linda, Your whole family is here.  You are finishing this course, even if you have to crawl the rest of the way in.  Your Dad is at the finish line.  You get off your ass right now and make him proud.  You can do this.

This was ridiculous.  I couldn’t do anything.

But, I got up.  And, I put one foot in front of the other.  I cried.  I was mad.  I had definitely not counted on 76% humidity.  I hadn’t counted on being sick.  I was going to have an hour PR!  AN HOUR!

This was long.  A battle.  A walk for all of Mile 19.  Mile 20, I am coming into the VA grounds.  I start to do what someone did for me in NIKE.  I just asked this girl if she wanted to run with me.  So we did for like 3 minutes, then stopped.  I could NOT move. 

Mile 20.  Where everyone hits a wall.  I had hit mine 12 miles earlier.  My sister and her daughter were there.  I could see them. I yelled.  I stopped.  They showed me their signs.  They hugged me.  I just wanted to sit down.  Right there.  Then I saw the purple balloons.  And, remembering where I was, I tried to envision all of our soldiers.  Fighting through every pain, every day.  And it was enough to take one more step.

I said to my running partner.  LOOK! CAMERAS!  Let’s fake having fun!  And it was enough to get us to the NEXT set of cameras.  Holy cow.  Was that tough. 

She stopped.

I found Mark, who had blisters on his feet.  I said, “Do you want to run/walk this with me?” He said, “I’m done, I can’t”.  I tried to explain to him that it would just mean he was going to be out here longer.  For the next 3 miles, we walked a half mile, then ran a half mile.  It was brutal.  But the people of LA were there.  Giving us so much.  Clapping, yelling…

I had to stop at mile 24.  In a restaurant.  I said goodbye to Mark.  I went in the ladies room, and my urine was very dark, and I had been drinking for 16 miles.  So, I knew that something was wrong internally.

I could start to feel the breeze.  I started to get some energy.  Coming onto the highway, it was still 1.2 miles to go.  I picked up Jose, an adult mentor for *Students Run LA*.  I asked him to run with me.  At mile 25.7, we started running, and we ran to the end. 

And I saw my other sister and her family.

And then, I saw my father.  My stately, wonderful dad.  Waiting for me.  Just like every other time.

And then.  Bliss.  The end. 

Part 3 is the overall assessment, and I can’t write anymore.  It still makes me too sad.  What I lost at mile 8 was the will to go on…worst day of my life for sure.  And, I think that’s enough for right now.   My fingers are tired, and my soul is weary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part 3: My grandfather’s letter, the metaphor of the marathon, the KTLA coverage, the family support.  The will to try again…How something this bad…can be this fun.  What my coach gives me.  Every day.

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14 thoughts on “LA Marathon Race Report, Part 2

  1. Although non of my 3 marathons have been as tough as this one was for you, I understand every single thing you went through. You are amazing. So many give up, but you kept going. BRAVO! Be proud of yourself.

  2. Holy Smokes Linda, the word brutal barely begins to describe what you went through! I’m sure there are a few lessons to be learned but I’d ask what it would take to make you pull out of a race when things were going so badly and you didn’t? Stopping when your health could be compromised is not a bad thing you know. Hope your recovery is going along well. Take care.

  3. Mike, what a doll.

    Seriously, if they hadn’t given me the go ahead, I would have gone with them. They let me go. They would NEVER have let me if I wasn’t able.

    I recovered. It was ugly, but I recovered. And finished.

  4. Linda, I am kind of all choked up over here. From the blessing of the shoes to your open letter thank-you note to this, to your suffering. You can live through anything. Now you know, if you didn’t before.

  5. I’m crying. I can feel your disappointment and hurt, and my heart aches for you. I am proud of you. I hope I have HALF this much heart for San Diego.

    I love you. But you know that.

  6. Hey…wow, that was intense! Sad yes, but inspirational at the same time!
    I will never again complain about hitting a wall at mile 18-21…
    I will never again wonder if it’s worth it to finish when you’re dying at 22…
    I will never again define failure by some stupid time on some stupid clock…
    You’ve shown me that in your race report. And so I thank you.

    You’re a fighter, Mrs V and the very epitome of a marathoner!

  7. “How something this bad … can be this fun.” Truth.

    I think the second marathon is tougher than the first. We think we know what to expect after having one under our new fuel belts, and we set our goals accordingly. Then we find out something new on race day. That’s the marathon, and it always will teach us something new.

    You fought through your demons. That in itself is a victory. Hold your head high. Even if you don’t want to.

  8. wow you fought like hell for that finish line. i know it wasn’t the time or the race you wanted but i know making it there during those hard races are the most character defining moments. you showed you are a fighter out there. hold your head high and be proud of that race. you WILL have other marathons and it WILL come together to get your goal time. this is just another race in the journey to get there and it will all be worth it when THE race happens i promise 🙂

  9. You got heart girl. Major heart. A lesser woman or man for that matter would’ve quit. You are an inspiration to us all. And yes, I’m still crying… only a little harder now.

  10. Wow, that sounds brutal. Did you ever find out what was happening internally that made your urine so dark?

  11. hi linda….i’m dre. i’m so inspired by you: your courage to talk openly about what scared you, your openness about the demons you wrestled out there, the fact that you finished not out of stubbornness but out of inspiration – digging deep to remember those who lift you up too. i think what inspires me the most is that you asked other people to help you, to run with you – that even when you were ready to die you actually got other people running. you have the heart of a mentor. you are a true leader. you know what else? your family. i got really choked up reading about that – because my whole family was at my marathon too. your dad reading scripture to you…valuing that relationship, allowing them to be proud of you – GIVING that opportunity to them…building in that accountability to your experience and being vulnerable…it’s all just really overwhelming. i want to tell you something else: i recently made some changes in my life that would allow me to have more time to read blogs like yours. i have narrowed my scope in life down – to read only things that lift me up, inspire me, encourage me to go on – blogs like this. so – thank you very much for sharing it….i am very grateful and look forward to staying connected.
    ….in all these things we are more than conquerors…(you know the rest ;). I also like to remember that we were told to run with endurance…I’m not sure He cares about the splits…
    best,
    dre

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