Hi everybody! So I know you are probably thinking, “too little too late, Claire”. Well whatever. I’ve been busy!
So when last I wrote I was like one day from running the marathon. So here is what happened: The night before, I attended one of my favorite meetings and got a lot of love. That night I packed everything. I had previously made a checklist and visited a bunch of websites to make sure I didn’t forget anything. The perpetual bag lady I am came prepared with my 3 bags of crap.
One bag was the my water pack that I was gonna wear during the race. In that pack I had my Gu snacks, a few tiny cliff bars, and I had filled up my water that night so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning. I had my visor and sunglasses with it. My other bag was what I wanted my boyfriend to bring to the finish line. Out of all the things I packed, the most important turned out to be my muscle roller, and my chocolate-covered almonds! Delicious. The other bag was just stuff I wanted in the car just in case I needed it. Snacks, a change of cloths, etc.
So here is the tale of March 19, 2017:
Woke up at around 4:30am. I knew I wanted to leave the house around 5:15am to get to Dodger Stadium by 6:15am. The race was scheduled to start at 6:55am. So we get everything together and loaded into my car. As soon as we get in, my boyfriend sends me a link to a 10-minute YouTube video titled “For Claire”. I pushed play wondering what it could be and I immediately burst into tears. He had spent 2 weeks collecting and compiling videos of all my close friends and family who were rooting for me. I am tearing up just thinking about it right now!
To be able to see how much people were rooting for me, and how many people really love me was so overwhelming. I let all the emotions wash over me and was weeping through most of the video. One of my favorite sequences was where he put together every single workout I had posted on Facebook along with my pictures of my progress. It was set to AWOHLNATION’s “Jump On My Shoulders” (which is my absolute favorite running song). To be able to see 6 months of hard work, sweat, injuries, and determination fly by in the blink of an eye was absolutely mind-boggling. It was by far, the absolute nicest, most amazing gift anyone has ever given me. I will always treasure that video.
So by the time the video finishes we are just about to the point in our journey where there are thousands of cars heading on the 2 roads to the stadium. We are well on our way, but then I started freaking out about how long it was going to take us to get to the drop off point. So we get off the freeway. Worst. Mistake. Ever. Long story short, we drove around for about 25 minutes with me freaking out, crying, yelling, and occasionally turning off the GPS because I can’t listen to SIRI for another second. I honestly thought that we wouldn’t make it a few times. It was the longest and shortest 25 minutes of my life.
It all culminated with us driving through the ridiculous hills right next to the stadium. Both Paul and I saw the size of these hills and all the anxiety about getting to the stadium vanished. All we cared about in that moment was not dying by driving up these god-forsaken hills. And once we crested the last hill we were right at the stadium! We just merged with the road and I was out of the car and putting on my gear within 5 minutes. This was at 6:35am.
I lathered up with sunscreen and made sure I had everything in my checklist. I kissed my boyfriend goodbye and headed to the security checkpoint. As soon as I cleared that, I used the port-a-potty one last time and was off to wait with the other 24,000 people for the race to start!
I had heard that you can leave your jacket or whatever you want to wear before the race at the start and volunteers will come by and pick them up to donate to charities, so I was able to get rid of a jacket I had been holding onto from when I weighed about 50 pounds more than I do now. I also ate one last ThinkThin bar to fuel the first legs of my journey. I had already finished my breakfast shake around 5:30am when we got in the car. I didn’t do any major carb-loading, because I never had before any of my other long runs, but I had eaten protein bars before and they had really helped.
We all took off our hats for the National Anthem, and then the race started! It took about 8 minutes from the time the race started to when I crossed the start line, and it was just so fun and energy-packed. Once we crossed that line we were all moving as a group. I was able to pass some people right away, just because of my pace, which was slower than I usually would start my long runs with. We got away from the stadium and there was a grassy hill where every dude ran up to take a piss. Real classy! Especially since there are port-a-potties all along the route. Literally every mile. But whatever. I guess if you have a dick that gives you license to pee in public… ugh…
So away we go! It was so incredible! There were so many runners! It was like running in a river of people. People with the same goal as me. People from every single background you can imagine. All of us, running together. I didn’t even listen to my music for the first 6 miles, which is unheard of in Claire’s running life.
So we are moving along, I find my rhythm amongst the crowds. The downtown portion was fun! I loved seeing parts of the city I have never seen before, and listening to the other runners talk to each other. And seeing the Legacy runners! These are the people who ran the very first LA marathon. Still going strong after 30 years. Amazing. I saw a blind man, a man pedaling with his arms, and countless teenagers from “SRLA- Students Run LA”. It was so awesome and inspiring. And the people on the sidelines cheering us on! At every corner there were bystanders with signs for their loved ones, or signs for all of us runners. People saying they believed in us when we had never met before. Fucking amazing.
I can say with pride that I ran up the biggest, longest hill without stopping to walk! Woo hoo! And I didn’t even think about my bum knee for the first 6 miles. I even made it past mile 3, where I always stopped to pee on my long runs before. There were volunteers every mile with Gatorade and water. They often had bananas or orange slices, too. I made it a goal to have at least one cup of either Gatorade or water at each station, as well as having my hydro-pack fuel.
At Mile 6 I started up my tunes. I made it to Mile 10 before I stopped to pee. I hated waiting in that line, losing time, but I didn’t think I could make it another mile. It was around this time where my knee started to ache. At first it would ache going up an incline. So I started speed walking whenever there was a slight incline. Then it started hurting when I ran downhill, so I started speed walking down any hills. Then it started hurting all the time. This was around mile 13-14. So I can say that I ran half the marathon without stopping (except to pee that one time).
I speed-walked the rest of the race. I struggled a lot with wanting to run. I kept trying, and each time my knee would respond worse than before until I finally gave up the idea that I would be able to run any more. Then a thought came into my head. “If I can’t run anymore, I am just going to walk as fast as I possibly can.” I could still walk without pain, and I had seen one of the Legacy runners kicking ass by speed-walking. So I used him as inspiration. With that new mindset I just kept walking. Walked through Beverly Hills and West LA. I was walking faster than a lot of people were running. Occasionally the thought of attempting running would cross my mind, but I had to quell that and just keep doing what I was doing.
The reason I started listening to music at Mile 6 was because I knew that I had gone 20 miles before, so I knew that I would be able to finish the race. So when I passed Mile 18, it didn’t have any huge meaning to me. (The farthest I had run was 18 miles. I had a 2 mile cool-down with that run, so I knew I could 20 miles.) I just kept going. There were so many amazing spectators with awesome signs. I had a few favorites – Grumpy Cat with “I ran once. It was awful.” “Run like (picture of Donald Trump) is trying to grab you (picture of a cat). “I bet this seemed like a great idea 4 months ago!” and all sorts of other phrases to help keep us motivated.
I hit my little wall around Miles 20 and 21. I was getting pretty down on myself about not being able to run, and I had decided to try an orange slice that seemed like a delicious idea. It was the worst choice I made on that run. I had crazy acid reflux and indigestion for the next several miles. Fuck oranges. But somehow I made it through and just kept pushing. Occasionally I would get a text or a picture from my boyfriend and my other amazing friend who were waiting for me at the finish line. Things like, “I am watching your progress and you are doing so well!” I even saw a woman I used to work with who ran out to me and gave me a hug, some water, and some encouragement. It was around mile 22 where my ex-boyfriend, the one I started really running with a year ago, finished the marathon and sent me and amazing uplifting text. It really put my mind right. Even though I was walking, I was still doing it! So I pushed harder.
Then I came up on Mile 23. Someone was standing there with a sign that said “23-mile warm-up, check. 5k to go!” All of a sudden, sunlight burst through the clouds of my mind and I thought, “my god that is so easy! Even my short runs now are almost twice a 5k! Easy peasy.” With that I started walking as fast as my little legs would go. By this time we were on San Vicente in Santa Monica, heading downhill toward the finish line. The crowds of onlookers were getting bigger, and the amount of runners who were stopping to rest or stretch, or lay down were growing greater and greater.
The weather had been perfect the whole run, but once we got to Santa Monica, the marine layer was still hanging around, so it was not too hot, not too cold. By Mile 24, I had finished the water in my pack and was no longer interested in drinking or eating any more. My stomach was done. I had been having my little gu pouches every 4-5 miles like clock-work, and when I got hungry I ate a little cliff bar. I felt hydrated and knew I would be able to finish.
So I kept pushing. It was around this time where I just started talking to myself. “You can do this! Don’t give up! You’re almost there. Come on, knee, come walk with me. Come on other runners, keep going with me. Don’t you dare stop. You can do it. I believe in you. HP believes in you. Your people believe in you.” I heard other runners doing the same thing, which made me feel better. I had learned this technique from my book and it had been more than helpful in almost all my training runs.
Then it happened. We rounded the corner to Ocean Ave. and were on the home stretch! I had been holding back tears the whole run, and when I got this far some of them started to flow. I could feel how swollen my knee was, and how much it ached, but I started limping into a slow jog. I knew there was no way I was going to cross that finish line walking. I had to be running. There were thousands of onlookers, people with signs for their loved ones. I knew that my people were waiting for me past the finish line, and I just kept their faces in my mind, along with everyone who believed in me.
The sidelines began to have stantions that kepts the spectators from the running path. There were new signs now that said “All non-marathoners need to exit the course now. And there it was. The FINISH LINE!!!! I kept limping along, tears rolling down my face from pain, exhaustion, and pure joy. As I passed the bandstand, I heard my name! “And here is Claire Dyud, crossing the finish line!” Then it happened. I did it! I limped my way over that fucking finish line. I had completed my first marathon.
As I sit here typing, I am reliving the whole experience. I am crying. It was seriously the coolest moment of my life so far. I picked up my medal and my space blanket and took my first selfie which I immediately sent to my mother:
I grabbed a banana and a giant protein bar for later. As I ate the banana, waiting for my time with the photographer to take my finisher’s photo, I thought to myself, “This is the best banana I have ever eaten in my entire life.” I really didn’t want to eat it, but I knew I had to replenish some of my glucose. I kept wandering down to where I would find my people, the pain almost overwhelming me. And then all of a sudden they were there!! I fell into their arms and it was such a magical time. My friend got a video of it.
I had mentioned earlier that the most important things I had packed for my boyfriend to bring to me were my muscle roller and chocolate covered almonds. I managed to sit down and immediately start massaging my muscles. Greatest. Idea. Ever. It saved me a lot of pain for when I had to walk to the metro later. And avoid the ridiculous line for the massage tent. I absolutely love this roller.
Then we hopped on the metro to go EAT! I was not hungry until about 30 minutes after I finished, and I guess this is really common. I ate a pasta dish with meat, and a bunch of trail mix. I just kept eating all day, really. And continued to drink water and roll massage myself. When we got home, my boyfriend massage my feet, which was possibly the best thing I have ever experienced.
So that’s it, people! That is the epic story of Claire’s First Marathon. I do have more posts coming. I sit here now with an injured knee, so I haven’t been able to run again yet, but I have high hopes for the future, and will tell you about my training very soon.
I love you all, and until next time, HAPPY RUNNING!!!