This was my first visit to the land of the movie stars and my 1st LA Marathon and 1st Marathon this year with my new direction in sport.
The first visit to any new city is always met with excitement about what amazing things I will see and how many challenges I will face at a new race. LA was no different.
I made this short trip as a good hit out one month out from my major marathon of the autumn being the London Marathon. I wanted to see where I was at and to find problems which can be fixed before London.
I was luckily enough to be invited to the race, with three nights free accommodation in the Sheraton in downtown LA and decided to only stay three nights for this trip.
I arrived early Thursday morning and headed out straight away to training to get the body moving as soon as possible – this helps with the recovery from the long 14hr flight from Melbourne. As an elite wheelchair athlete, we were provided with very cheap transport anywhere we wanted, so I took this offer up and headed down to Santa Monica Pier for an easy 10km recovery roll along the famous beach front. The rest of the day was spent recovering and resting.
Friday morning I managed to catch up with one of Australia’s leading female discus throwers, who is studying at a local LA college. It was great to see her after a few years. During the afternoon I managed to get a few hours being a tourist, which saw me head up on what I found to be an accessible tube system in LA to Hollywood.
The Hollywood walk of fame is very touristy, but well worth the look to see what stars you can find along the road. I also got to see the Hollywood sign - but from a very far distance - I saw it from a viewing platform in a shopping mall next to the metro station!
Saturday morning I joined a few American athletes for an easy 10km tourist push around downtown LA; it’s a great way of getting out and seeing more of the city - just like taking cabs between locations may cost more, but the sights you see along the way are well worth it.
I am still getting used to racing marathons and how much earlier you have to wake up. Coming from a track back-ground, where most races are nights, it will take time to adjust to the very early starts. LA was no different and this year saw us wake up around 3am for a 4am bus departure. During that time we saw a heap of coffee drunk by athletes in the athlete’s lounge as well all tried to wake up and get in the right mind set for a marathon.
I managed to score a driver who didnt speak English and didnt know where the start line was, which made for an interesting drive. Luckily somehow we found the start. I had never done this race so I wasnt sure what to expect.
I’ve only heard stories from other athletes, but it’s funny how different each version is about the course and how tough the big hill is, but I felt great going into the race. I’d had a great few months of training and all was going well, but anything can happen in races.
We were told of the timing of the race, when to get into the race chairs and when to line up on start line the day before the race, but on the morning of the race the times changed and we had to be in chairs 15mins earlier and then on to the start line 25mins earlier, so we only had a short warm up and then sat on the line in the dark for around 40mins.
But you can’t let this stress you you, just have to relax and go with the flow and just enjoy the occassion. The race started as expected then we hit the first big down hill and I struggled to stay with the pack. From then on I was playing catch up, but never making much ground on them by myself. When they were all working together, I managed to get back on during the huge climb around the 6km mark, but there were two big down hills after that and the guys just rolled away from me. I never saw them again, so it was a long lonely road for me for the next 35kms of the race.
I did however notice when I was passing the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then again when I turned into the most amazing street I had seen during my trip - which turned out to be Rodeo Drive. Seeing the sights of the city is one of the highlights doing the major marathons, if you notice them during the race. I’ve done many road races where I simply didn’t see any of the sights due to the race.
Unfortately, the LA Marathon didn’t go my way, but it’s on to the next block of training and more races. So it was in to the the recovery ice bath and a quick sleep before heading straight to the airport for the long flight home.
My trip to LA was short and sharp and i’ll be back again soon. But til then, I’ll keep searching the world for the dream roll. Until next time keep chasing your dream.