I hope you had a great holiday weekend. As my last post explained, I took advantage of the long weekend to travel down the coast to Los Angeles to watch the Olympic Marathon Trials and run the LA Marathon. I cannot believe how much I accomplished last weekend and how quickly the time passed.
Settle into a comfy chair because, unlike this past weekend, this may take a while.
Marilyn and I flew down early Friday morning and were picked up at Bob Hope Airport (my new favorite airport in Southern California–so tiny and efficient!) by our friend and Oiselle teammate, Ali. Ali was so sweet to pick us up and took us on a scenic route to our hotel with detours to check out the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Original Farmers Market.
The weather was objectively warm but felt more hot to me, being the web-toed, moss-encrusted Pacific Northwesterner than I am. As excited as I was to be in LA for the weekend’s festivities, I was very concerned about how the weather would affect my performance at the LA Marathon.
After leaving the farmers market and stopping for pre-race eats at Whole Foods, we drove to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the LA Marathon Expo to pick up our bibs and, well, you know, expo. (I think that “expo” should be a verb that means “to stroll through a marathon expo, visiting every stall–no matter how uninteresting–trying samples, chatting with vendors, buying all the things, and taking silly pictures.”)
After collecting our bibs, we posed for our obligatory silly picture.
True to form, I ended up buying so much at the expo that my bag was stuffed by the time we left. We (of course) stopped at the Nuun booth, where Ali and I met a fellow teammate, Angelo, and paused to take yet another photo.
I sampled and then bought the brand new flavor of Nuun Active, Mango Orange, which was veddy, veddy delightful.
We stayed at the Omni Hotel in Downtown (a.k.a. DTLA), which was probably very well located for business travel (it felt like we were surrounded by dozens of office building plazas) but seemed a little sleepy during the evenings and weekends. We did have a fantastic view of the Disney Music Hall from our room, which was kind of cool.
(A less pleasant”perk” of staying at the Omni? Our hallway reeked of marijuana every night we stayed there. It wasn’t us!)
Before meeting up with the rest of the Oiselle team on Friday night, we made a pit-stop at the nearby Grand Central Market to grab a bite to eat. My friend Lily had recommended the market as the site of several great places to dine, and her advice was spot-on. It was really difficult to decide, and we wandered around the market for a while before we all decided on which vendor to commit to. I finally decided to order a tasty (and fatty and messy) porchetta dip sandwich from Knead.
After dinner, we met up with Oiselle at Angel City Brewing Company in the Arts District of DTLA. I enjoyed reconnecting with people and also meeting those who I knew only online. Teammates (as well as some very understanding and supportive partners) traveled from all over the country to be in LA for the weekend. It was a lot of fun and the beer was good.
On Saturday morning, we rolled out of bed and dressed in our best red, white, and blue before meeting up with teammate (and fellow lawyer) Kimberlie and driving to our Marathon Trials cheering location. Once we arrived there at Figueroa and Venice, we were greeted by dozens of other Oiselle folks. As sedate as everyone appears in the picture above, everyone was amped and ready for the race.
Lily met up with us to cheer, and it was really fun being able to watch the race with her and catch up a bit.
(Not so fun was that a bee stung Lily’s arm during the race–ouch!)
It was incredible watching the 400+ runners race by us that day and think about all the blood, sweat, and tears that had brought them to that place. I seriously lost it the first time I saw Meb run by, and I was a total spaz when I saw my former personal trainer, Ruth, speed past.
Everyone I watched with was ecstatic and cheered like mad, especially when the women raced by. Our group sounded like the crowd at a boy band concert.
By the time Kara Goucher moved from midway back in the lead pack to fourth place, I gave myself a headache from screaming so hard.
The women’s race didn’t go exactly as I had hoped (I would have loved for Kara to qualify), but it was still amazing seeing Amy Cragg, Desi Linden, and Shalane Flanagan perform at the level that they did and qualify for the team. I loved that Amy Cragg supported Shalane Flanagan like a true teammate. Kara’s 4th place finish was gutsy and inspiring.
After the Trials, we grabbed a bite from Grand Central Market and I sneaked off to snap some pics of the stunning interior of the nearby Bradbury Building, which I studied in college.
After that, it was a brisk walk back to the Omni to change out of my patriotic gear before meeting up with an old friend, Lisa, and driving to West Hollywood for drinks and dinner.
I had a great time chatting with Lisa, who’s pregnant (yay!) and loving her job and life in Los Angeles. I love seeing old friends who you can just pick up right where you left off the last time you saw them, even if it’s been a very long time.
I enjoyed one of my guilty pleasures, a Michelada, before Lisa dropped me off for my pre-race dinner at WeHo’s Angelini Osteria, where I rejoined Marilyn and Ali.
Angelini Osteria was small and intimate, with what appeared to be an entirely Italian waitstaff. The food was delicious (I started with a beet and burrata salad, and my main course was housemade tagliatelli with a duck ragout) and our server could not have been sweeter or more charming.
We somehow mentioned to him that we were running the LA Marathon the following day. In addition to saying the usual things that people say when you tell them you’re going to run a marathon (“Wow! Good for you!”), he also said something very thoughtful and, in my opinion, very true for this particular race:
“Good luck tomorrow. Run strong. Fast or slow doesn’t matter, just strong.”
As I previously posted here, I didn’t train that much for LA and I didn’t expect to hit a PR. My plan was to have fun and feel good at the finish line. I knew that the temps were going to be hotter than I was used to (or comfortable with), and that the course was pretty hilly. Despite knowing all that, a small part of me still expected to run a sub-4:00 marathon the following day. To me, that would have been running “strong.”
After dinner, we Ubered back to DTLA to attend the Oiselle Trials after-party at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
We didn’t stay too long–less than two hours–but I managed to visit with some Oiselle friends as well as some friends from home (including HEIDI!). I also met one of the Fierce Flyers for Oiselle who competed in the Trials and my friend Mike’s daughter, Allison Maxson–a very talented runner and very sweet person.
Marilyn and I also somehow met Shalane Flanagan (I know–what?!), who happened to have a family celebration right across the hallway from the Oiselle party. We almost didn’t say anything to her because we didn’t want to bug her, but another teammate had approached her and Shalane was incredibly kind to her, so we figured “why not bug her?”
We congratulated Shalane and she was extremely nice and patient to delay leaving the LA Athletic Club (presumably to go back to her hotel and, I don’t know, rest) in order to take a picture with us.
We ended our evening at the Oiselle party with Kara Goucher’s heartfelt speech to the group. She was so thoughtful and generous with her appreciation for her coaches, the brand, and her fans in attendance. I think everyone in that room was either crying or misty-eyed by the time she wrapped up her message. (This article from Competitor contains quotes from Kara’s talk at the party.) Her speech left me feeling even more energized and inspired for the following day’s race.
Marilyn, Ali, and I left the party early and Ubered back to the Omni to get much-needed rest. I, of course, futzed around on the interwebs while Marilyn wisely went to sleep. I didn’t end up falling asleep until around midnight (ugh) even though we had set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. so that we had enough time to catch the shuttle to the start, go to gear check, and visit the portapotties before the race.
And how do you think I did on three hours of sleep? I finished the marathon but ended up getting a PW (personal worst), the details of which you will need to wait to hear till I write my race recap. I promise I’ll post it soon.
After the race, Marilyn and I stiffly walked to the finish line festival so that we could finally enjoy the fruits of our labor (not just going 26.2 miles on foot, but wearing a dumb neon yellow wristband since Friday’s expo) to collect our free beer from Angel City.
And contrary to my shitty race performance and what some friends think, that is definitely not a fake smile. I was so happy to be done with the LA Marathon and to be drinking that beer.
Ali met up with us and drove us back to DTLA through typically awful Southern California traffic. Marilyn and I were both famished and wanted to eat, so we got off the clogged 10 and went to an In-n-Out in Culver City. Maybe it was because I was calorie-depleted, but unlike my previous In-n-Out experiences, my burger (a Double-Double Animal Style) was actually delicious.
This was, of course, Marilyn’s chance to gloat, but she really restrained herself. And Ali and I still want to take her to a Shake Shack so she can see how good a burger can be.
Finally we reached DTLA, where we dragged ourselves to our room and crawled into our beds to rest for a while. We almost ordered dinner through delivery, but LABite failed us on several levels and we ended up going down to the hotel bar to meet Ali for dinner. The food was a little disappointing for a post-race (and Valentine’s Day!) dinner, but I enjoyed my celebratory Old Fashioned.
At dinner, we recapped the day and weekend and started talking about what’s next for all of us. Individual plans were hatched, and I began to feel hopeful again after such a having such a dispiriting race earlier that day. Needless to say, I slept really well Sunday night.
We flew home early Monday morning from Burbank. Stiff-legged, Marilyn and I hobbled our way up the ramp to the airplane and said goodbye to California and our fabulous weekend before traveling home.
It was an amazing weekend, filled with mostly highs and some lows, but the highs (spending quality time with existing friends and making new ones, watching the Trials, finding inspiration everywhere I turned my head, and being in the sunshine) far outweigh the lows. And I am so excited for what’s next.
Did you watch the Olympic Marathon Trials? Did they go the way you hoped? Have you visited LA?