Tag Archives: trail running los angeles

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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Mile 24

I am a marathoner.

For serious. I don’t identify so well as a “runner.” But I do identify as a marathoner.

This weekend, I did Ragnar Trail Vail Lake. ¬†It was a good time, there were ups and downs (literally, the elevations were ridiculous), some challenges — a seriously, multiple-y rolled left ankle leading to a seriously pissed off left leg, surprise rain, but still a generally good time was had.

But more so than anything, this event really drove home that I identify as a marathoner.

Before my last leg, I gave myself a little pep talk, one sentence: “ok, you’re at mile 24, get it done.”

And I’ve caught myself using that reference before, too. In the final stages of a ridiculous case, for example. At mile 12.3 at the Santa Barbara Half two weeks ago.

Mile 24 has come to represent the last bit of effort necessary to reach the finish of a major ongoing challenge. ¬†You don’t drop out at mile 24. You run, walk, crawl, whatever it takes, because you’ve come that far.

It may not be a literal 2.2 miles left, on Saturday I had a challenging 3.57 remaining, and obviously, at Santa Barbara it was less than a mile.

And it’s not limited to running. This morning at Court I had to go to hearing on one remaining issue after previously settling 13 or 14 other open issues. This case was crazy, and I was not the least bit enthusiastic. But we’d come this far, and F if I was going to let it fall apart at the end. And what thought should pass through my head?

“Mile 24.” Suck it up and finish what you started. Get it done.

And that’s when I realized, only a certain group of people would get the reference, and an even narrower group of people would really, truly know the feeling the reference embodies.

My friend Liz and I were at the Santa Barbara Expo, and there was a booth for a 5/10k with a cool banner. Liz only saw the banner and got excited.

“ooh what’s that one?”

“too far for you and too short for me.”

Liz is a self-proclaimed spectator. She’ll road trip and cheer, and make posters, carry stuff, wake up a 3:30 am and stage the cars, but she will not run. So anything over 0.0 is too far for her. Try as I might,¬†I can not bring myself to pay the registration fees to run “only 3” or “only 6” miles.

I even primarily register for the halves to practice my race plans for the marathons. I might get it in my head that I’ll train for a new “half marathon pace”, I’ve even gone on about it here — but really, ¬†in the end I always change last minute to whatever combination of intervals I want to try out before the next full.¬†AND when I arrive for a half that is affiliated with a full, without fail, every time, I get a little race envy.

AFC is great example of that, at the beginning of the week I was all excited to push through hard and try to PR. Then I looked at my training calendar, and then I got into the Portland Marathon maps, and then the AFC maps, and then I realized the similarities between AFC and the second half of Portland, and all my goals/targets for AFC got changed.

And after AFC, I even told spouse, destination half marathons just aren’t for me. “Too much money and hassle to only run 13.1.”

Not in any way intended to belittle the other distances. I mean, I don’t identify as an ultra-marathoner either. ¬†Those just aren’t my distances.

It took me a really long time to identify as a “runner”. ¬†I still feel kind of weird about it.

But I don’t feel weird at all identifying as a marathoner.

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….[crickets chirping]…………….

It’s 6:30 a.m. I’m up and dressed for running, but…….

I’m not going to group run ūüė¶

I’m bummed because this means my next group run will not be until november 24.

I’m also having difficulty enforcing the principle that recovery time is important.

Group run is supposed to be 14 miles this week. I’m only at about 11 miles for the week so far, which seems low, but then I have to have a little chat with myself about having just done a full followed by a half and still technically being in a recovery phase. My left knee has been clicking a little, a situation that comes up when the weather changes to the cold-humid we have for “fall” and “winter” down here by the beach in SoCal.

And frankly, I’m just not mentally in the mood for a run that long right now. ¬†I’m pretty squarely in the 3-8 mile mindset right now. ¬†Beyond that, I don’t have to run a long run this week. I think should really do an 8-10, but I don’t have¬†to. It’s not required by any aspect of my training or racing calendar. ¬†To ramp back up to seattle marathon, I have a half Nov. 9 and a Ragnar Nov. 15. ¬†And as was established with Portland and Long Beach I’ve developed a pretty solid running base. ¬†I also don’t need to prove to myself that I can run 14 miles. I’m totally confident that I can run 14 miles comfortably at my pace group’s pace, i’ve done it lots of times. In fact, I just did the first 15 miles of portland just under pace group pace, and Long Beach at pace group pace.

I just REALLY don’t want to right now.

There are many 14+ mile days in my immediate future, it’s totally ok if today is not one of those days.

So now I’m sitting on the couch waiting for the sun to start coming out– weather.com says that’ll be 7:09 — so I can go do 5-7 miles on the trail in Manhattan Beach. ¬†Maybe follow up with some netflix/treadmilling after to tack on some of the extra group run mileage.

But this morning I’ve decided that it is more important to get back outside running than to have the higher mileage. Treadmills and ellipticals are great, but they are not the same. I do best when I have the full rotation. ¬†It’s time to start bringing back more road/trail miles.

HA! I say that like it’s been ages… the reality is Portland was only 3 weeks ago, and long beach two weeks ago. ¬†I’ve really only been in recovery for two weeks. It is actually totally appropriate to just now be getting back to the 5-7 mile long run range.

See? The conversations I have in my head? ok, sun’s coming out… i think. time to go!

UPDATE!!! (12:57 p.m.)

after all of that, I got overwhelmed deciding between which trail to run on, so I went to coffee bean to decide, and coffee bean is next to my gym, so I decided to just go to the gym to do 6-7 miles. That turned into 20 miles….you know how sometimes you turn on netflix and wind up on the couch longer than you planned? replace couch with treadmill, and that was my morning. ¬†funny how all that worked out.

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RIP JayBird Bluetooth Headphones!!!

Yep, apparently I’m a headphone serial killer.

Meh, here’s the secret… I wasn’t the hugest fan of these headphones anyway. At least, not as a marathoner. The battery doesn’t last long enough for my pre-during-and-post-race preferences, and the bluetooth connection drains my phone battery, too.

But recently I had come around to using them at the gym for shorter workouts. I got really used to not having to worry about where the chords were. And then, the left earbud went out.

I bought these in January, but only used them, maybe, 15 or so times for a total of 15-18 hours of actual usage — to make a generous estimate. Not a great shelf life for a product meant to withstand heavy sweat and athletic activity, and priced at over $100. ¬†To compare, my Bose SEi earbuds¬†made it about 350 miles, plus some significant bike and travel time, all within 88 days, so some pretty heavy usage, before spontaneously crapping out just within Target’s 90 day return window. But hey, Bose is Bose for a reason.

But also hey! Best Buy is Best Buy for a reason, too, eh? In January they price matched Amazon, so I paid less than sticker price and spent the $15 I saved on the extended warranty.  So six months later, and without a receipt, I was able to return the dead earbuds for an even exchange or store credit. And it gets better!

I had the freedom sprint 3s, which are discontinued to make way for the recently released freedom sprint 4s! And again, Amazon had them new, in stock, for 20% less than Best Buy! So again, Best Buy price matched, and for an out of pocket cost of $5.62 I got the dead headphones replaced with an upgrade and another extended warranty.  Oh, America!

So here’s hoping version 4 lasts longer than version 3, or atleast until version 5 comes out so I can trade up without incurring actual out of pocket costs ūüėõ

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Six Weeks of Serious

and lunges?

Vacation happened, now easing out of post-marathon recovery followed by vacation and back into training, technically for Portland Marathon.

But before I get deep into the Portland cycle, I’m going to use the first six weeks to try out a Half Marathon training plan, see if I can get another 5 or 10 minutes off my half PR by August, which would ultimately lead to a faster marathon time, too, in the end.

So the half plan is from my same go-to book, and I am supplementing with strength training, yoga, and spin. Since the half plan has, well, half the distance, and at faster paces, there’s more time in the schedule for these kinds of things.

Sunday, I did a strength sequence which, despite being labeled as for arms, involved quite a bit of lunging and squatting. My legs are still recovering, and Monday’s run got moved to this evening.

But! exciting to be sore in places that have not been sore for a while. And exciting to see that what used to be tempo pace is now easy pace.

So, as always, we’ll see how it goes!!

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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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Calf Updates!

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the awesomeness of my Massage Therapist, because, I mean, I try not to curse too much on here, but f— ok — DAMN, WOMAN.

In the midst of last week’s SD postmortems, my massage place called and said Massage Therapist wanted to let me know that if I wanted my usual 90 instead of the 60 on Friday (which the front desk had told me was her only availability between SD and SF) she could rearrange her lunch break. Because she is awesome, of course.

So Friday night, the least relaxing but possibly most productive massage session I have had in recent memory. We got deep into the calf muscles — all of them — and after a follow up epsom soak and Saturday off completely, I went ahead with the Valley Crest Trail Half.

For Valley Crest, I taped the left calf, wore the green compression sleeves, and ran in the new orange trail shoes.  I am pleased to report that I had no calf issues of significance, only the normal I just did 13 miles with 1700 ft elevation gain kind.  To be fair, I was fun-running it, just going by feel and not pushing anything, but under the circumstances, I think it was appropriate to be conservative.

Afterwards, I felt like I could have gone longer or run again in the afternoon, also a good sign.  So Monday I took the new treadmill shoes over to the gym.  Normally I would do 7-8 miles on Monday, but again, to be conservative, I split the run and did 4 miles Monday night and 3 miles Tuesday morning.  Again, no calf issues.  Normal muscle fatigue, but no issues of significance.

Given the indisputable effects of Friday’s session, I called my massage place to see if, by chance, Massage Therapist had any cancellations for her Tuesday or Wednesday. She did not, but a woman she has recommended to me as a back up had an hour opening. ¬†So 60 minutes with, we’ll call her B, ¬†45 of which were deep muscle sports massage on the calves and hamstrings. ¬†Again, DAMN WOMAN. ¬†And I don’t use that phrase lightly when it comes to massage. I am a deep tissue girl with a wide variety of massage treated issues. When I say damn, I mean damn in the are you drilling my tooth without a numbing agent kind of way.

Shit has been cleared out. The legs have been equalized and neutralized. I am now taping both calves on days with lots of walking, as a precaution. Fourish road miles early Thursday morning, and then nothing (ok, maybe some yoga) until Sunday.

And then, if things go as I hope, I know two ladies who will be receiving some kind of awesome gift cards, because, really, without them, my calves would not be what they are today.

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