Category Archives: race

Am I running or am I driving? Because Santa Monica Blvd is a f[rea]king nightmare!

OMG LA MARATHON MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!

Yes, the one event in my life for which I am shamelessly, obnoxiously, totally cheesy-ly and excessively excited and enthusiastic!!!

I was looking at my marathonfotos, and in almost all the pics IDed so far I have the most ridiculously blissful great big smile, it’s like, who is this person?! hahaaa.

Because I love LA. I love the LA Marathon.

Every year, without fail, it’s a grand, fun, challenging, and emotional journey unlike any of the other marathons I’ve done.

Turn-by-Turns where I choked back tears a little:

Elysian/Dodger Stadium

Caesar Chavez

Grand Avenue

Hollywood Blvd

Sunset Blvd

little Santa Monica Blvd

Doheney

Rodeo

Wilshire

San Vicente

Ocean

so…… almost all of them ūüôā

No, not horrible tears of pain and frustration. Like the Tony Awards. How I Met Your Mother, Harry Potter, the Tony Awards, and now, apparently, every mile marker of the LA Marathon are the occasions during which I tear up.

This one was rough.

We had record high temps, so the vast majority finished slow, and we had double the number of medical aid requests and DNFs, according to the reports I’ve seen/heard.

I was terrified, to be honest, not about the weather, but about kneehab. My very darling, loving, insomniac husband stayed up to drive me to the shuttle at 4:45 a.m., and on the way over:

Me:¬†I mean, now I’m nervous… I could just go home and nap.

Spouse:¬†F that, I stayed up all night and we are two blocks away. You are racing and I don’t want to hear from you until you cross the finish because I am going to sleep. Where do I turn?

Oh, what a sweetheart. He always knows exactly what to say ūüôā

Really, Seattle and Kneehab had me scared. The farthest I’d gone in kneehab was about 16 miles, in the safe and controlled environment of my gym’s newer treadmills.

But I’m me, and the fact is I would eventually be doing another full, so it may as well be LA because I LOVE LA. Gotta start somewhere. If the knee is going to fail, at least it will be on a course I love surrounded by people and places I feel really comfortable with.

So that was the Race Plan. No pushing hard. Easy pace, pay attention to the knee, see if you can cross the finish with no alarming or questionable LCL sensations, and see if things feel normal the day after. ¬†Running by feel to finish with two knees that could run again (albeit much shorter distances) later in the week. I mean, I was hoping to come in around my LA course record, which I felt was reasonable because it’s almost a half hour slower than my PR and matches nicely with the kneehab paces. But that was a back-seat thought, not an actual goal.

I am grateful for 2 things in this race: That I was already set to do it as a Kneehab test, so no agressive pace goals, and that I ran with my heart rate monitor.

Because it was HOT. So very very very hot. Record breaking hot, with clear, cloudless skies, running on shade-less, blacktop roads.  FANTASTIC beach weather, though.

“Am I running or am I driving? Because Santa Monica Blvd is a f[rea]king nightmare!!!”

There came a point where walk breaks were frequent. Most notably the stretch on Santa Monica Blvd from Beverly Hills to the VA. This is when I finally thought to scroll through the garmin and check my heart rate. 176-177 running, and even with the specific decision to walk and slow my heart rate down, I had a hard time getting below 160.

My resting heart rate is around 60. I am a generally fit person and experienced marathoner, drinking extra water and gatorade, ¬†wearing plenty of sunscreen, weather appropriate attire and a very effective visor, and¬†I can’t get my heart rate below 160 during a walk break. ¬†I can not imagine how it was for some of the other people I know or saw.

So it was a challenge. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to cross mile 18. I heard later that many people behind me dropped around 18 and 19, and one of the elites had dropped at 20 much earlier in the day. ¬†Once we got off Santa Monica and into the VA, there was more shade and a little Ocean breeze, and only about 10k to go.

I got my 3 oz beer at Mile 20, finally stopped at a bathroom around 22 – I’d had to pee since the start, but refused to stop until I found one with no line, also in the hotter areas, whether I still needed to pee was a good indicator of whether I was adequately hydrated.

Finally started to cool down around 23 and putt-putted on through to the finish.

Met up with a Maniac I had talked to earlier in the race, he finished about 10 min ahead of me.

Got a bag of ice from medical to put on my head.

Made sure to get the official finisher photo, since this is one I especially wanted to commemorate.

Out of the finisher area, straight up one block to the 2nd street Coffee Bean for a latte and croissant (they were out, so I had marble loaf instead).

From Coffee Bean to the Sanuk on 3rd to buy the sandals I’d been daydreaming about since mile 4 or so.

From Sanuk to the Double Tree to check in with Leggers, cool down, and figure out how I was getting home.

BFF, who was supposed to pick me up since he only lives 3 miles from the Double Tree, woke up sick.

The traffic was horrific.

The cab co. said it would be an hour wait, which mean it would be an hour to get back out of Santa Monica, too.

And like hell I’m paying for cab fare to sit in a cab for an hour when the place I’m going is only 3 miles away.

“This traffic is ridiculous and you sound terrible. Forget it,¬†I’ll walk.”

So after a little sit and some ice water at Double Tree, I reapplied sunscreen, refilled my latte cup with water, put on my new sandals, and walked to BFFs house in Venice, where, once he woke up, spouse came to pick me up safely outside the zone of ridiculous and horrific traffic.

The End.

DID YOU NOTICE HOW NONE OF THIS STORY INCLUDED ANY KNEEHAB ISSUES WHATSOEVER?

Yeah, that’s because there were none. My knee was fine.

My knee was fine and another fantastically fun LA Marathon has been completed.

Now, I get to work on kneehabbing my way back to my normal paces… I’m looking at you OC Marathon ūüėČ

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Portland, Long Beach, and ….. what?!?!

Registered for my first maniac double. yep, yep.

But we’ll get to that, let’s get caught up first. Lots to update and “memorialize in writing” before things get even busier!

Portland Marathon!!!!

Was a blast. Remember, how I set no goals at all and was just going to “enjoy the experience”? Yeah, that went really well. No sarcasm.

Highlights: cruised through the first half spot on my “easy” half marathon pace. ¬†Parts of this course are really f-ing tedious on the mind, at least for me, and about mile 14 I was like, you know, I’m good. No time goals right? Let’s take a walk break and call some people.

yes. I’ll repeat that.¬†Let’s take a walk break and call some people.

This was followed by a little conversation with myself wherein the royal “we” assessed whether we would really be ok with it if this walk break turned into an “i don’t want to run anymore at all” situation. How would I feel if this walk break (and i’m not talking 30 seconds or three minutes, i’m talking like, a full mile) turned in to an incredibly lack luster finish time? could I live with that?

YES. I’m here for fun, dammit.

So, I decided to try to call BFF in Texas…. but the freaking app I’m using (iSmoothRun, love it, it exports to EVERYTHING and let’s you program insanely specific and complicated workouts) would not allow me to make a phone call without pausing the run. Touche, iSmoothRun. You win.

Portland, btw, was my first marathon as an official maniac. So I was wearing my pink Maniacs singlet, and met a TON of maniacs. Since I could not make phone calls, my revised race plan became, if you see a maniac, shadow them until you can’t anymore.

I maintained this race plan for the rest of the race, to great success. I wound up having nice little chats with three Maniacs, and it was a total blast. At mile 26.0, a far-higher-ranking Maniac came up behind me and said, “come on maniac, you got this, let’s sprint!” and we did, and that instance alone took about 3 minutes off my finish time.

Final result: Second fastest marathon ever (missed a PR by 7 minutes and 3 seconds) and I (felt like I) wasn’t even really trying. Also, beat last year’s Portland time by 51 minutes and 16 seconds. Very satisfactory results for my “embrace the experience” approach. Actually, pretty satisfactory results generally.

That’s not to say Portland was easy, it was not. Mentally taxing, and apparently a little more physically taxing than I realized, since I was actually sore and stiff the next day. I’ve gotten my recovery rituals pretty refined, so I haven’t had this degree of soreness or stiffness after a long run in a while. I guess, much like I was apparently “moving forward” faster than I thought I was, I was also working a little harder than I thought I was!!!

Which brings us to…..

LONG BEACH HALF MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!

The 2007 Long Beach Half Marathon was my very first running endeavor ever. Before this, I had run, at most, three miles at a time, pretty slowly, and only a few times. I had signed up for my first LA Marathon, and all the books said try a half to practice race day logistics. So I did, and like many, I’ve been hooked since.

2013 Long Beach Half was 3 of 3 in Beach Cities Challenge. I was not excited to do this the week after Portland, but that’s just how things played out. I accepted that this could be a very long walk, and set the Garmin for an easy recovery session of run 4 minutes, walk 30 seconds, with no assigned paces. I had the loose goal in my head of beating my 2007 time by 30 minutes, because that is a nice round number. In the end, I beat the old time by 29 minutes and 11 seconds.

Effectively, I ran on autopilot in both Portland and Long Beach, to some very enjoyable and satisfactory results. I feel like I’ve found that magic balance between aiming for specific paces and splits, while still enjoying myself. I’m really interested to see how things go in Seattle, which is about six weeks out at this point. I genuinely took the week after Long Beach off, some light indoor stuff, 3 easy miles at the track Wednesday, and no run, long or otherwise, over this past weekend. Easing back into it this week with some indoor and outdoor workouts, as well as a 14 mile LA Marathon training run on Saturday with LA Leggers.

Which brings me to what I DID do this weekend……

or, in the two weeks since Portland. You Ready?

I registered for my first Maniac Double!!!

2 marathons in 48 hours. I wanted to find an ultra that coincided with my birthday in February, but the logistics just weren’t working out. Then, I discovered two sets of (relatively) local double marathon weekends, one actually on my birthday, and one two weeks earlier.

After some recon, I settled on the earlier one.  San Diego Trail Marathon on January 18, and Carlsbad Marathon on January 19.  The logistics were just too perfect to pass up. Some points of note: the start/finish area of the two races are 26.5 miles apart (marathon magic number!); and the races are exactly seven weeks after Seattle and seven weeks before LA. Carlsbad is only a 90 minute drive from home, and there are about three really excellent hotel options within .5 miles of the expo/start/finish area. I could go on, but this post is already super long.  No, wait, one more: the Monday after is a Court holiday, so no one can give me Ex Parte Notice for a hearing on the day after Carlsbad!

The trail race is ridiculously flat. WAAAAAAAAAAAY flat, with one mega-hill at the start and finish of an out and back course. Not a lot of shade though. Carlsbad has gentle rolling hills throughout, and one mega hill from about mile 5 to mile 8, but is mostly scenic oceanfront views.  The moral of this story: totally doable.

Whew! So it’s been a busy two weeks! Next!

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Savasana at the Doctor’s Office

Portland Marathon was this weekend, kicked my butt but so much fun – more on that later.

Can we talk about yoga for a minute? And needles? Body awareness, injury prevention…

It’s in the name of the blog, I’ve been practicing for, oh, whatever 29 minus 12 years is. And not just the physical aspects either, the whole 8 limbed shebang.

I went to the doctor this morning, not marathon related, OBGYN related, but don’t worry I’ll keep the details PG. Really it was limited to a short convo with the Dr. followed by some needles in my arm. And NO I’m not pregnant.

But I was asked to lay down on the table in case I felt faint. And due to the set up of the room, my feet were at the top of the table, and my head at the bottom, to allow better access to my left arm, and resulting in an ever so slight inversion.

So I lay on the table, and, boom, like a finely tuned muscle memory machine, my whole mind and body…straight into savasana.

Like all of my systems said, “oh! we recognize this position! relaxation time!!” Dr., Nurse, and Observing Intern, came in and were like, “you ok?”. YES! Totally fine. Can I just lay here for a little while? It’s been a bit since I’ve made it to a full class in studio……

And so, 10 minutes of needles turned into a mighty fine 10 minute savasana. Can you believe it? Granted there were a few specifically timed deep breaths and “sensations” in the left arm during those 10 minutes. ¬†But my goodness! So simple.

Of course, obligatory marathon tie-in: As I lay down, before what we’ll call the “savasana response” kicked in, I thought to myself, “you JUST did a marathon. Remember 25.75 through 26.2? there is no possible way for this to be more physically taxing than that.”

Which is to say, yoga is fantastic for running injury prevention, and not in the way you might expect. Yes, the physical practice of yoga, done with a qualified teacher who understands the special circumstances of the endurance athlete, is great for strength training and flexibility/range of motion.

But what I’ve found to be my most valuable yoga-acquired skill, in running and in life generally, is body awareness. ¬†We talk a lot about when to push and when not to, sensation, good sensation, bad sensation, pain vs. sensation, observing where you and your body are today versus yesterday, know what is a physical limitation (as in stop, accept that this is something your body will not do/ can not do/ is really not supposed to do), and what is something that maybe just needs a slower, gentler, more mindful approach to ease the body over time to a new place.

Hey runners, sound familiar??? It should, even if you are not also a yoga junkie.

After Portland Marathon this weekend, I found Mother in Law in the reunion area where she had run into a friend who was waiting to meet a woman from her own running club who had just finished her first marathon. We all went to brunch, and of course, how many races each person did came up, cue Maniacs conversation (again, more on that in a different post) and the “dangers” of running so many marathons, so frequently, etc.

The first timer talked about how proud she was that she ran the whole thing (one of her big goals) and she did have a really great pace and finish time! She did wonderfully! And she should absolutely be proud of this achievement despite anything else I say in this post. But she talked about doing this despite severe pain in her knee that started around mile 17.  That she was still feeling, and she was going to go to the doctor for the next day.

We’ve all been there. Even I was there in San Diego earlier this year. But as the conversation about recovery and frequency continued, I just said, “you know, that’s part of how I can do so many. ¬†Yes, every race there is the hope that you’ll PR or finish by a certain time, but at the end of the day, my goal is to also run the next one. So if it hurts, I stop.” ¬†I ask myself why and what’s happening. And if it’s really pain, not “sensation” or “sore” or “discomfort”, not “good pain” like a deep tissue massage, but “bad” and “pain” — indicative of certain potential long term consequences (like my calf in SD) I stop. Or first I back off, and then I go through a checklist to determine whether to stop. But still. Mandatory.

But to make those kind of informed decisions, you need body awareness. And that I developed through years of yoga.

So when I say yoga is a fundamental part of my ability to run so much, I don’t mean the strong abs, or reduced recovery time, or improved alignment/running form. I mean the ability to listen and assess and work though discomfort and recognize pain.

NOW! off my yoga soap box!!! Still mentally and physically recovering from Portland, but it was, truly, SO MUCH FUN in every possible way. So that post is coming soon ūüėÄ

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SF Marathon !!! :D

Beautiful and Hilly ‚̧

SF Marathon weekend was a blast! A true exercise in endurance, but a total blast. Basically, I left for work on Friday, was back at work Monday, and somewhere in between I drove to San Francisco, ran the marathon, and drove back. Only now am I starting to catch up on the sleep.

The big take away: Whatever I was doing for the two weeks in between San Diego and San Francisco worked.

My first half splits for SF and SD were nearly identical.  The first half of SD is essentially downhill followed by flat. The first half of SF is three cat 5 hills plus many smaller hills in between. And I did them in, no joke, times that were within seconds of each other. This is a dramatic result.

For the full, my travel buddy set an aggressive stretch goal for me which, until mile 24, I was on pace to make.  At mile 24 the calf started to have sensations, not anything near what occurred in mile 8 of SD, but just enough to get my attention, so I did some mental math and decided to slow down and try to match my LA finish time for some symmetry with my LA/SF Challenge results, and to eliminate even the remote possibility of injury.

You’ll recall that my original goal was to just finish before the cutoff by implementing some sort of walk 1/run 1 plan. Miss Elizabeth (my pit crew/road trip buddy) set a goal of me PRing by 14 minutes in SF. Just FYI, the time difference between those goals is 2-2 1/2 hours, depending on my start wave. So her goal for me was only slightly more aggressive than my own, haha.¬†Because she’s crazy like me (though probably the most non-running of all my non-running friends), and also the best cheerleader ever.

Really though, based on how I felt over the week leading up, I thought a good stretch goal might be to match the SD time, then a B goal of match LA’s time, since they weren’t too far apart. ¬†And all with the knowledge that this 15 day period was the most aggressive running streak in my lifetime (two fulls and a half) so really, the day truly was still a success as long as I finished before the cut off.

So I went out easy, and just ran what was comfortable, while trying to stick to the splits programmed into the Garmin from SD. I slowed sometimes to look at the scenery, because man, this was a really beautiful course. I also slowed some on the uphills, as a carry over from SD and the calf issues.  All and all, it was a very enjoyable little run.  I think all the driving took more out of me than the race itself!

What did I do between SD and SF?¬†Epsom salt soaks, daily, before bed and before the morning shower. KT Tape, even just at work or around the house. Two deep tissue sports massages focusing on the calves, hips, it bands, one the Friday after SD and one the Tuesday before SF. Yoga. Short 30-40 minute sessions on stationary bikes and elliptical, also a few very easy, slower-than-marathon pace road miles and a couple of faster one mile sessions on the treadmill. Valley Crest Half Marathon at an easy pace, with no time goals, on the Sunday in between. Lots of water, lean meat, potatoes, lettuce, and coffee. ¬†Pizza, salad, and a beer for “carbo loading” Saturday.

Next Up:¬†Portland Marathon, October 6, with the monthly half marathons in between. I’m looking at Summerland in Santa Barbara (Miss Elizabeth lives there) for July and America’s Finest City in San Diego for August. ¬†September is still up in the air, hopefully a trail or beach race.

But first, I am resting, legit, for two weeks.¬†A friend asked what I was up to this weekend, my response? “Not running!” We’ll see how long that lasts… ūüėČ

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Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon Recap :D

Hello!

Sup? NO, I kid. Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon — What an adventure!!!!?

How many weird, little, but ultimately insignificant things could go wrong not as planned?

ALL OF THEM. Well, except my finish time, which amazingly, despite all the weird but ultimately inconsequential things that went not as planned, came in exactly 3 minutes and 5 seconds over my goal.

That is a <1% difference between target and actual, BTW, so in light of the totality of the weekend, I’m counting it as a win. ūüėÄ ¬†The goal, remember, was to beat LA by 20 minutes. I beat it by 17 minutes.

Still a PR. And I’ll trade those 3 minutes to have two fully functioning, recoverable legs any day.

Let’s back up.

Wednesday night, I put on the old pink pureflows to do the last taper miles at the gym. About the end of the fourth mile, which was to be followed by a fifth “easy” mile, something happened in my left calf and, internally, I totally freaked out.

I have a friend who, one day, was stepping off a curb and her achilles tendon just snapped… unprovoked. ¬†Naturally I instantly thought of this.

But thank goodness for yoga and balance (both mental and physical) and logic and an understanding of anatomy and all that, because externally, I calmly slowed the pace a little early, paid careful attention to my form, observed the various sensations, and finished up the work out.

THEN I went home to spouse super freaked out before again returning to “the calm place” and logically assessing the symptoms and relevant factors.

Based on the sensations and range of motion, combination muscle spasm and tendinitis.   That was the last pre-SD marathon run on the schedule anyway, so immediately initiated rest/recovery steps.

Fast forward to Saturday. We very nearly miss the expo due to, naturally, traffic. Then our hotel room wasn’t ready until almost 8:30. No late checkout available, the in-room fridge was warm, the room service bacon (no joke) had green spots on it…

But we had brought our own snacks and a cooler, and after the check in and room service debacle were able to finagle one extra hour for a technically late check out so all that worked itself out.

I almost missed the start. I was in corral 5, and made it, barely to corral 7 for the start. But I made it, so I started, and from there things went pretty much according to plan.

EXCEPT¬†that around mile 8, the left calf situation began to flare up. Mostly on the uphill. ¬†There were a few occasions where I seriously evaluated dropping out. I’ve never done that before, not dropping out nor even evaluating whether to drop out. ¬†Fortunately, I had basically memorized the elevation map, and assessed that the pain (yep, pain, no longer a “sensation”) was primarily on the incline, or if I went faster speeds and got sloppy with my form. So I decided, like with Wednesday night, to back off a little on the pace and pay doubly extra attention to my form. Also to walk on the uphills as warranted by whatever my calf was telling me in the current moment.

This plan worked through mile 24, when, even after the hills were done and the course flattened out for the remainder, I was having disconcerting sensations (yes! we are back to “sensation”, which is indeed a better situation than “pain”, although still a serious concern) even running on level ground at an easy pace. So, for the first time ever, I made a phone call during a race.

To spouse. “I’m at Mile 24, but my calf, it’s doing the thing again. I think I might have to walk to the finish. I might still finish on time if I can run at least one of the miles, but I might be 15 minutes late.”

Spouse: Ok, I’m here, I’ll see you then.

Me: ok, but i might be late, did you bring my shoes? at mile 8, the calf thing started and almost dropped out then, but I think I’m ok to finish, but I might have to walk the rest and did you bring my shoes? Where…..

Spouse: JUST FINISH. I’m hanging up on you now, JUST FINISH!!!!!

Ah, love. ¬†He is convinced I would have made my goal time if I hadn’t stopped to call him, how sweet. ūüėČ ¬†(to be fair, I did not actually stop, I slowed down)

So I did finish, and so close to my goal, it was (is) a little frustrating. But I’ll tell you this: There were times during this race that I was literally talking to myself. Repeating, out loud, things such as: ¬†Be responsible. Do not do anything stupid. Do NOT run up this hill. You will finish, but you will NOT injure yourself. DO NOT DO ANYTHING STUPID. DO NOT RUN UP THIS HILL.

So while I’m am still happy with my time, I mean, PRing by 17 minutes is still a nice chunk of improvement, I am most proud of my ability to balance finishing the race with being responsible enough to not exacerbate the “issue” into an “injury.”

I have now commenced a recovery program consisting primarily of epsom salt soaks, massage, pizza, beer, and thai food.

Next up, left calf permitting (and it will! i will it so!) WIPRO San Francisco Marathon in (gulp) 14 days!*

*in case anyone is gearing up to lecture me about a) ice, or b) doing SF two weeks from now, a) there has not been any swelling, b) I was planning on alternating run 1/walk 1 for SF anyway.

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LA Marathon Race Recap

LA Marathon = Super Fun

SUPER FUN.

Cliff’s Notes Version: PR’d by 41:21. Legit chip time to chip time comparison, none of this but garmin said or nike + said or the bathroom lines were so long or if only I hadn’t stopped to tie my shoe or whatever. Although, there¬†was¬†a bit of a beer break around mile 22, but we’ll get to that later.

Portland 2012 chip time vs. LA 2013 chip time, 41:21 differential. ¬†Made it square in the middle of my target finish range.¬†Amazing what happens when you actually train, huh? And yes, I’m already strategizing ¬†re: knocking off another 20 minutes at Rock N Roll San Diego in June, but we’ll get to that later, too.

LA Marathon Weekend: A Novella Length Memoir (Hence the Cliff’s Notes Lead In)

To begin, Friday morning at work, we got Ex Parte Notice for Monday morning. Usually, Friday ex parte notices involve a lot of weekend work. They are also often frivolous and meant to give the other side a hard time; this was one of those, with very real potential for derailing much of my Marathon St. Patty’s Weekend plans.

FACT: If you intentionally plan anything mentally or physically taxing that involves the mandatory participation of others for the morning after a major drinking holiday, you are an asshole.

Somehow (I’d like to say because I’m good at what I do, but I think it has more to do with my paralegal being awesome) we managed to wrap up all the EPA prep work except client signatures by 3 p.m. Friday, and the¬†Weekend Work Crisis was averted.

So, with crisis averted, events leading up to the race!!!

4:00 p.m. Friday: Emergency tune up shoulder work with emergency back-up massage therapist. (Yes, I have a massage therapist and emergency back up massage therapist. They know about each other, and I refer lots of people to both of them. They are both fantastically skilled at what they do.)

7:00 p.m. Friday: work event, Fresh Brothers pizza and smart water.

10:00 p.m. Friday: attempt final 5k training run from the training plan, the lights shut off at the track half way through the first lap. Finish first lap and go home.

11:00 p.m. Friday: home yoga, hang with spouse, sleep.

8:00 a.m. Saturday: Starbucks iced latte with whole milk and toasted chocolate Croissant.

9:00 a.m. Saturday: EXPO!!! and First Marathon Miracle: I found a meter in my preferred parking block that already had an hour on it, I added a dollar for two more hours so that when I left there’d be some time for the next person too.

9:30 a.m. Saturday: Walk away from the Garmin booth before I impulse buy a new Garmin. Visit race booths to scope the medals for the races I’ve already registered for, and scope discounts for other races I’m considering. Buy three pouches of honey stinger gummies for $1 each. Collect coupons for other products.

10:30 a.m. Saturday: To the Valley!! My fantastic friend who is in the business of nail wraps is giving me a blinged out St. Patty’s themed manicure because she is awesome.

11:00 a.m. Saturday: Pick up from Starbucks and Panera for pre-mani snack. Another Latte and some tomato soup with baguette for me, avocado blt for my friend.

2:00 p.m. Saturday: Second Marathon Miracle! As we’re walking to my car after the marathon mani, a random woman who looks like she was having a yard sale walks up to my friend and I. “You look like you are going shopping. I made this reusable shopping bag, and I would like to give it to you because you look like you would use it.” The bag was green and black, with glitter ribbon trimming the inside hem. I had just been thinking how I wished I had a St. Patty’s themed tote for my after-race stuff. And low and behold, random woman on the street gives me a very nice one.

4:00 p.m. Saturday: Home Again!! Nothing makes  you ready to get out of the car and run a marathon like driving from the valley to LAX on a saturday afternoon.

5:00 p.m. Saturday: Snack Time (Kettle chips and sour cream ranch dip) and Organization Time.¬†Third Marathon Miracle!!!! I pull out my bib during Organization Time, and discover that I am actually on the 5:30 a.m. shuttle!! Due to some gliches with the registration website, I was under the impression that I was stuck in the 4:00 am group. ¬†I registered for the race opening day and signed up for the latest Santa Monica shuttle, to have it just in case, but when I logged in last week to confirm, not only did it show me as having no shuttle reservation, the latest available was 4:00 a.m. But whatever, mercury retrograde and all that, so I made contingency plans and moved on. But, halle-freaking-lujah, man, I’m in the 5:30 group.

6:30 p.m. Saturday: My amazing spouse makes mashed potatoes from scratch and cooks a perfectly medium well filet with red wine butter sauce.

7:00 p.m. Saturday: My amazing spouse fixes my iTunes and gets my playlist onto the iPhone for me, because sometimes I’m useless. Him: Your playlist only has eight songs? Me: The first one is a four hour audiobook. Him: That sounds terrible. Me: It’s a comedy and I’ve already read it. Him: I will teach you how to use Spotify, because that still sounds terrible.

8:00 p.m. Saturday: Nap time!

11:30 p.m. Saturday: My amazing spouse brings me Subway.

12:20 a.m. Sunday: Nap time!

4:30 a.m. Sunday: ALARM CLOCK!!! Apply temporary tatoos and sunblock, dress, eat the rest of my Subway.

5:00 a.m. Sunday: Amazing still awake insomniac spouse: Isn’t your shuttle at 5:30? Me: yes. Him: Do you want me to drive you? It’s already 5:00. Me: I don’t know now I’m nervous!!! Him: I will drop you off, but that means I may fall asleep after and miss the finish. Me: Ok.

5:30 a.m. Sunday: Amazing spouse gets me to the Shuttle and I’m on my way to Dodger Stadium!!!

The Race

After arriving at Dodger Stadium, I happy to see that the general admission corral situation is not as hectic as I feared. I stand in the portopotty line for about 20 minutes, then go sit on the ground in my corral of choice for awhile, and then with about 45 minutes left get back in the portopotty line. I finish at the P.O.Ps at 7:24, and head back to the corral for the 7:28 start. Luckily, my chosen corral is convenient to the P.O.Ps and I merge back in with the masses just as the national anthem begins and we all start shifting forward.

The Elite Men start, and then “I love LA” plays on a loop as everyone else makes it across the start. I cry a little, because that damn song and marathon starts always make me f-ing tear up. And then we’re off!

During my last 20 miler, I met a lovely lady who had done the new course several times and told me she always walks up the first little hill out of dodger stadium because the course is so congested at the start anyway, and that hill is short but super steep. Having walked in and out of Dodger stadium several times, I decided to follow her advice. After that short steep uphill, there is a short steep downhill to Sunset anyway, so the pace averaged itself out.

Once out of the Stadium, the crowd opened up enough to be comfortable. In fact, I think the crowding was instrumental in preventing me from going out too fast.

Down Sunset, past my apartment from second year law school, around and through china town over to Hill St and the courthouses, up the street between my preferred court parking lot and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, at which point I remembered I had Court on Monday. Also, this is the second”big” hill. I decided that I run up and down this hill in dress shoes often enough that I had nothing to prove, and chose to walk briskly up to the Music Hall and conserve my resources for later in the race.

Over and out of downtown through some of Silverlake, the lake itself was under construction so not as pretty as it could have been. Back around and down to Sunset, through Los Feliz and into Hollywood (oh, I’m to Mary and Beau’s already? that was fast!) Past 3L/Bar Exam apartment and into WeHo (Oh, I’m to Hollywood and Fairfax already, that was fast!) and boom, half way done!

Beverly Hills took us on Little Santa Monica, Doheney, Rodeo and Burton, past the my hair person’s salon. ¬†Then through westwood into the VA, at which point I’m starting to lag. But, on pace for the low end of my target range, so no biggie.

Then, I realized I was almost out of water. I had started with my .5 liter hydrapak, and also about eight honey stinger gummies. About every seven miles I’d eat one gummy, and after mile eight or so I had a sip of water every half mile. This schedule worked really well for my stomach, but also caused me to drink more than usual and there I was, after being self sufficient for most of the race, mentally evaluating the remaining course resources.

And then, magically, somwhere around the VA, I saw it. Not oranges or bananas or gatorade or any other sugary icky stuff.

BEER. Pure delicious carby-watery goodness. ¬†Right there. About a mile back I had mentally evaluated my pace and overall state of wellbeing, and determined that barring an epic unexpected emergency I would¬†be finishing well within my target range. So I slowed and allowed myself to transition into an extended walk break for three ounces of beer, shouting an, “Oh thank god, you are wonderful” to the person with the beer tray as I passed. After letting the beer settle, I sipped the last of my water to dilute it out a little in the tummy, and got back to business. About five miles to go.

Out of the VA and into Brentwood. My old training route for LA 2009 from when I worked for a Brentwood attorney right after passing the bar. Chugging along until the audiobook ended just before mile 24.

And then, right on cue: my other seven songs. ¬†It is a scientific fact that I cannot sit still while “Time Warp” is playing, so despite myself and whatever my legs or arms or lungs may have been feeling in the seconds before, I was sprinting. For the last 2.2 miles, after 24 miles of this situation, I was fucking¬†sprinting. I may also have been lipsyncing, possibly singing out loud, and certainly at times doing truncated versions of the arm portion of the choreography.

Past my friends at the Meals on Wheels Charity Team cheer station around 25.5, and the finish in sight. Slowed for a minute to get ready for the finish line, then the last quarter mile or so at the original target pace, crossing the line with 10 minutes to spare. Even my gun time was under my target finish time!

DONE AND DONE.

(Oh, and amazing spouse did in fact make it to the finish to meet me.)

On to lunch, a shower and a St. Patty’s party!

What I Learned

Training works. I am capable of making a race plan and sticking to it. I still love marathons.

I am super excited to take a few days off, and then start training again for San Diego on June 2.

I went to my normal massage therapist Monday night, and goodness I love her. You know what she said? “I can tell from the state of your muscles that you trained for this, and you must’ve had good form too.”

I think that sums it up. I was very responsible this time around, and I was able to have fun and get the results I wanted without injury or stress.

So…. next up San Diego!

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Run Like the Wind Half Marathon Recap

Last week was the big 2-0, the last really¬†long run before LA;¬†this week, the assigned long run was 13 miles at marathon pace, and my social calendar was pretty full. I had BFFLYLAS show up last minute from DFW for an LA weekend escape, and yoga buddy bro who I haven’t seen since November demanded¬†we stop flaking on each other for brunch and actually get together, as well as¬†multiple friends birthdays at various dinner/drink establishments over the last seven days.¬† And I’ll admit, none of this is particularly conducive to adhering to my Pre Marathon Lock Down philosophies.

So how do I make sure I fit in the 13 miles, and that they are 13 quality miles with all the taper time long run marathon plan test drive components?

Google! I found a very small, semi-casual race taking place incorporating parts of the route I was actually planning to run anyway: Run Like the Wind Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10 miler hosted by Rocket Racing Productions. Only a $33 dollar registration fee to boot.

But still, it started at 6:30 am, which means waking up at 5:30 a.m., which is a pretty big commitment. And running this long run as a race made me a little nervous. What if I didn’t have the anti-ego will power to start slow and maintain an even marathon pace or pushed myself to hard trying for a better Half Marathon Race PR and hurt myself before LA? What if I showed up and hit the wall half way through and was debilitatingly disappointed with my performance going into LA Marathon?

A few weeks ago I wanted to compare the course and swag for the La Jolla Half, SD Safari Park Half, and the OC Half. In my google results, I came across the blog Run Like ¬†A Coyote. Through that blog, I discovered a national, online running club called¬†Run It Fast. After a little more time exploring the blog and the Run It Fast website, I joined. They have the best camaraderie¬†vibe I’ve found in a runners group so far – and I’ve been trying to find a running club for a while – very nice, supportive, and fun people. So when I couldn’t decide what to do, I asked the group via the face book page.

Of course they said do it! But those who responded also gave great input supporting my initial instincts as to why I should do it, so I did!

And guess what? Not only do I have a new Half Marathon Race PR (by about 5 min), but I also satisfactorily executed my LA Marathon Race Plan test drive!

For the reasons listed here¬†I don’t normally post my paces or list my actual PRs on social media or the blog. ¬†But if you go back to the very beginning of this blog, you can find the LA Marathon Target Finish Time my training plan has me training for. A very fast time, a time that seemed pretty ridiculously unrealistic when I started in November, almost a full hour faster than my personal target finish time, so yeah. In my world, a very fast time.

Today, I comfortably completed the Half Marathon at exactly the target MP for the training plan. The difference between my slowest mile and my fastest mile was about 45 seconds, with a nearly even first half/second half split, and Mile 13, the final mile, was my fastest mile. I finished within seconds of one half of the target LA marathon finish time, and felt like I could keep going.¬†Not like, oh that was a great half marathon, but now I need to vomit and have someone carry me to the car, no. Like, oh, gee, that was nice, but we’re done now? Really?

W.T.F.

Do you know what this means? This means that even in the worst case scenario — if I get sick, or injured, or hit the wall early, or otherwise have to revamp the race plan mid-marathon —¬†even if I have to walk up to one half of the marathon,¬†I can still finish within my target LA Marathon finish time. I could slow my pace by 2-3 minutes and still finish within my target finish time.

So I will repeat, with gusto, WTF.

The Race

The race itself was simple and fun. Looked like about 75 people, doing various combinations of three loops marked out on the bike path and sidewalks with chalk. The start was in Santa Monica, incidentally about two blocks from my home yoga studio. For the Half Marathon, the first loop went down the beach along the Venice Boardwalk to where the sidewalk for the boardwalk¬†dead ends just past Washington, and back to start.¬†The second loop went from the start up a combination of the bike path and ocean front walk to Will Rogers, with the turn around just past Temescal Canyon. Started on time, with one of the organizers giving an overview of the course and a few instructions before a countdown. They used a Garmin to time everyone and wrote down an “official” time as you came up to the aide station/registration table at the end. All of the participants were really considerate of and friendly to each other. Overall, a really enjoyable experience. I think I will do other races hosted by this company.

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