As we waited for the Goldline at 6am on a cold Saturday morning I recapped how we got here. I picked this race since I want Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena to be my first half-marathon and needed to check out the organizer. But I also didn’t want to do this alone so I had managed to convince Meghann to join me. I did not expect her to sign up since we had one good race, one great race and really shitty race. It took a bit to get both of us out of bed but here we were… pinning our race bibs and getting pumped for another race.
We only just made it to the start on time and due to the tight corrals we were not able to slip into our assigned Corral 1. We saw Robert up in Corral 4 and tried to get up to him but instead we would only get as close as Corral 7. I didn’t even have enough space to stretch properly as everyone was packed together like sardines. Naturally, I began to worry if this was the race I wouldn’t be able to finish. The day before I had finished the Pasadena Pacers 10 mi Challenge and now I was worried about a 3.5 mi race. Seesh. Since this was a wave start I had plenty of time to worry. Each wave would get called to the start and after a 10 second countdown they would be unleashed. I heard Corral 4 released and I knew Robert would be running fast to stay ahead of me. I now had a goal. Catch. Robert.
Unknown “Celebrity” Announcer: Corral 7 move on up! I want to hear you! COME ON CORRAL 7! 10… 9… 8…
Marlon’s Thoughts: Come on lady just get to fucking 1!
Unknown “Celebrity” Announcer: 6… almost there! 4…
Marlon’s Thoughts: Seriously?
Unknown “Celebrity” Announcer: 2… 1… GO!!!
Marlon: The chase begins.
Marlon: Nothing. I love you
I kissed Meghann and told her I would see her at the finish… I had a god damn Robert to catch! Like the Aquarium of the Pacific start, I had to dodge a few walkers. At first I followed a woman who also was on a mission. We ducked and weaved past Gumby, some Smurfs, a weird-looking Elvis and a Decepticon. At the half mile mark I noticed the sidewalks were finally empty and there was no rail to keep us on the course. I made a break for it and quickly passed another large group. Running on the sidewalk meant I only had to dodge uneven pavements.
I kept scanning the crowd to see if I had caught up to Robert. He would be easy to spot since most of the crowd had costumes and he was in race gear. About a mile in I saw the first Pacer, he was on the sidelines holding up the “Run Pacers Run!” sign and taking pictures. He gave me a shout out and I quickened my pace. I love being a part of such a supportive group. I ran past the first cheer squad and water station but still couldn’t see my target. I did manage to spot another Pacer… in a full Banana suit. Jamba Juice had given him a free entry if he would run the half-marathon in the suit. So he did and was telling banana jokes along the way.
Andrew Banana: What’s Mario’s favorite fruit?
Crowd Does Not Respond
Andrew Banana: Ba-na-na-na-na-na. Ba-na-na-na-na-na
We had reached USC and the race was splitting off into the Mini-Marathon turn around. I wished Andrew good luck and laughed as he started telling another joke. I went back to hunting down the most dangerous game of all… man. As soon as I hit the turn-around I kicked it into high gear. I hit a 5min/km pace and never looked back. Despite this pace, on the other side of the cones the half-marathoners were speeding by. The same teams I saw at the Bell-Jeff Open were racing by. I wasn’t foolish enough to even try to match their pace.
I still could not spot Robert or Meghann, so instead I began to take a look around. I found it odd that I was so focused on catching up that I never bothered to take a breath and look around. I was running through downtown Los Angeles! I could see the skyline glistening in the morning sun, a hobo scratching himself on a “bum-proof” bench, and a confused sorority girl trying to run across the course. LA, I love you.
I ran by the cheer squad again and a DJ playing some Rocky music. With every random cheer and “go Pacer go!” I would get a nice burst of energy. Running around the neighborhood just can’t compare to the sights and sounds of well-organized races.
By the time I reached Figueroa and Pico, I realized I would not catch up Robert. I could, however, finish strong… unlike the Devil’s Gate Dam 5k. Dan you hipster! I ran past even more walkers and I could see the big finish. I spotted a women a few feet from the finish and made her my target. I went into a full sprint and did my best… but she finished just a few steps ahead of me. Damn it! Couldn’t even catch her. I grabbed my medal and spotted Robert a few feet away. The bastard had finished 2 mins (gun time) earlier. We talked for a bit and collected some freebies while we waited for Meghann. He said he knew I would be gunning for him and saw me sprinting by on the turn around. Bah. I’m not much of a hunter after all. A couple of minutes later we spot Meghann coming in. Despite being sidelined with random injures since our last race, she managed to get back to her 11 min pace. We gathered up and headed to the post race area.