It all started with a step, followed quickly by another. A few hundred feet later I stopped shuffling amongst the crowd of runners and starting running as the density of people around me decreased. Together we sounded like rain as we stormed through LA’s Chinatown toward Echo Park.
It was brutal running up that first hill. When running distance races it takes me about a mile or a mile and half from a dead start to catch my second wind and settle into a good pace. The first hill started between the 1/4 – 1/2 mark into my first mile and then gave me a shellacking the whole way up. I didn’t look around at the highly-touted “180 degree views of the city” because I was focused on getting to the top of that monstrous hill. That there were hundreds of other runners who felt my pain at the same time made it slightly better. At some point I saw and made a beeline for the first water station. After swigging a couple of ounces, I felt a lot better, at least until the next station was in sight. Then it was like the one before never existed. I wasn’t really in much of a race mode while going uphill.
I really felt like a snail when I saw a fit guy running while pushing a kid in a stroller uphill faster than I was running. I laughed at the sight of him and so did everyone else he passed. I could have gotten really deflated at that point but then I remembered everyone runs best at their own pace. I was going at mine and doing just fine. Running downhill was easier for me. I felt like I was gliding at times. I leaped into the air and let gravity help me close the distance between the first and second hills, and also that final hill descent leading into the parking lot of Dodger Stadium. I passed a drumming troupe near mile five and remember a bunch of high school students cheering us along after that point. The best encouragement was a course volunteer saying “You’re over halfway there!”
I took that to mean I was halfway through with mile 5, which meant that it was the furthest I’d ever run in one session. I still felt good so I picked up the pace and finished the race, looking for anyone standing beyond the finish line who was offering water to the finishers, naturally. They had no water at the finish line, but they did have finisher medals. I had one placed around my neck by a volunteer and obliged a request to take my timing chip off of my shoe. After that I walked about 20 meters away and found that they not only had water, but also cardboard boxes full of the juiciest orange slices and a fortune cookie. That was worth the price of admission. I grabbed some post race nutrition and hung with some teammates for awhile before grabbing a food truck meal and heading home.
I’ll file away for next time the experiential knowledge that I really wouldn’t mind carrying a bottle of water with me which would eliminate the need to stop at four water stations in a 6.33 mile race. My first 10k race went well overall. I had a goal of finishing in under an hour. I clocked in at 1:04. Granted, this race was slightly longer (at 10.7k or 6.33 miles), but I now have a concrete time to try to beat for the next attempt.
This is the longest running race I’ve done. If you’ve run a race before, what is the longest race you’ve done?