Thursday, December 30, 2010

Final Run of 2010

On my last run of 2009, I made a few resolutions for 2010. Let's see how I did:

1) Match or beat my time from the 25th Long Beach Marathon during the 25th in L.A.

I not only beat it, I did so with a time in the high 3:30's. I won't make such a resolution for 2011 because I started a few weeks behind my marathon training schedule for Surf City and even missed a week due to illness.

2) Break the 6 minute per mile barrier

I managed this on a couple of occasions, but cannot do so consistently. I will have to work on this.

3) Drive my NSX at least as many miles as I run each week

If I hadn't attended NSXPO in Las Vegas, I might not have accomplished this. I did have to jump start my NSX once due to letting the battery die...just once.

4) Finish everything I start (including a backlog of things already started)

Now why would I make such an impossible resolution?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1000 Miles YTD Again!

I may have reached this mark 9 days later into the year, but I actually managed to exceed 1,000 running miles in less time (by more than an hour-and-a-half) than in 2009. In doing so, I have improved my average annual pace from 8:35/mi to 8:29/mi...not nearly the leap I experienced between 2008 and 2009, but an improvement nevertheless.

In 2011, I plan to run Surf City as my fourth full marathon. What's more, my wife has started to run again...and is training to make Surf City her first half marathon! Wish us luck.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Still At It

Cannot believe I have not updated this blog since April. I am still running...just clocked a 1:44:44 doing my "Cheesecake Factory" half marathon orbit (with a 45:34 10km split)...but have not signed up for any races since the Los Angeles Marathon.

Part of the reason I have been shying away from races is on going PF issues with my feet and pain in my right ankle. Obviously, the pain is not enough of a factor to keep me off my routine as I have recovered my race pace and much of the distance (ran 33 1/3 miles on the previous week, starting with a 15 miler). I actually set my unofficial half marathon PR (1:43:49) during a similar 15 miler back in August. I should even cross the YTD 1,000 mile mark before Thanksgiving.

Now that the PF issues affect both of my feet, I am starting to get a little more proactive in dealing with it. This week I started using SOLE Signature DK Response footbeds in my Kayano 15's. The size 11 inserts perfectly fit the size 11 Kayanos. At first, it felt like I was running on tennis balls (I had been using a tennis ball to work out the pain in my arches every morning)...the first real time I had experienced any significant PF pain while running. However, I think they have had an effect on how I feel after running. I even feel less pain when I first step on the hardwood floor in the morning.

I am also trying a ball more suited to the purpose rather than an old tennis ball. Hopefully, the combination of approaches will keep the PF at bay. Again...the pain I am experiencing is not debilitating in the least. I just don't want my running routine to suffer now that I am back up to speed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fastest 5 Mile Orbit

What a difference a day makes!

Based on this data, I am fairly certain I completed the last 5km in exactly 21 minutes (finished the last 3 miles in 20:28.57). Not bad for someone concerned about his foot...which, by the way, was not a factor today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not On The Right Foot

On the surface, my post-L.A. marathon recovery has seemed to be going very well. My pace is quicker. I feel fitter. However, if you have been following my recent entries, you may have noted how often I refer to issues with my right ankle.

There is a pattern: My foot feels great when I start running. At some point it starts to bother me, but not enough to abort. I finish strong. Foot hurts off and on for the rest of the day...and even more so the next morning. I skip the next day. If it still hurts, I skip another. Then I wake up feeling great...only to start this pattern all over again.

Actually, the pain is not really confined to my ankle. Some of it reminds me of PF, but along the outside edge of my foot (as opposed to the arch). It especially hurts when I first step down on the hardwood floor in the morning, so I roll out the pain using a tennis ball. The ankle feels a little click-ish when I roll it to loosen it up. At times there is tenderness in front of the ankle. Occasionally the heel of my foot stings. The pain is worse when I am barefoot or wearing slippers.

Some of these pains are not new. Some may not necessarily be from running. I first noted pain along the front of my ankle after catching my toe-edge while snowboarding a few years ago. I have rolled this foot inward a few times while running on uneven pavement. The PF-like symptoms are more recent (as in during my last month of training for L.A.). The heel pain started after the marathon.

What is relatively new is having any of these pains while running. I think the Long Beach Marathon was the start of this phenomenon. If I remember correctly, the next time I even noticed any ankle pain was during the latter miles of my longer runs leading up to L.A. And now I am noticing discomfort in my right foot at some point during every run.

I find myself paying close attention to how my right foot feels all day long. Sometimes it bothers me while I walk. Sometimes it bothers me while I sit. Sometimes it does not bother me at all.

I do not want this to become something serious, so I have elected not to run since doing a 5 miler on Tuesday. Considering I do not have any races scheduled, I can afford to play it safe. I just do not want to lose my post-marathon speed boost. I probably will run this weekend. If I am smart, I will not run a 10+ miler until I am absolutely certain the pain has completely gone away.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter on Burma Road

I find it hard to believe that between my marathons at Long Beach and Los Angeles, I did not step upon Burma Road even once. The last time I ran upon my favorite local trail was last August, when Valerie and I lamented the damage from a recent wildfire. This had been my prime destination for hill training and impact sparing, a challenging five mile out-and-back, a picturesque shortcut through Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve. My training options, especially my number of long distance routes, were significantly reduced without it.

This morning, Valerie and I have returned. Spring has sprung, not quite erasing all evidence from last year's fire, but triggering a dramatic recovery. Black trees contrast with an El NiƱo-fueled bloom of yellow wildflowers. Occasional splashes of purple dot the hillside. I am quickly reminded why I love running here.

I fly down the hill, completing my first mile in 6:03. I am a little disappointed that I did not crack 6. Perhaps I would have had I not stopped to appreciate the surroundings.

As I reach the lowest point on the trail, I am amazed by the amount of erosion. The top soil has completely washed away, revealing grooves etched in Palos Verdes stone. The uneven and jagged surface wreaks havoc on my weak ankle. The surface softens during the steep climb towards the gates of Rolling Hills, but one dip needs cones to warn how much has slipped away.

As I continue my ascent around the bend, the trail appears even more beat up. I thought potholes were bad on the streets throughout L.A. County, but the pits formed here are deeper, potentially ankle twisting. Though it is not hard to find footing while climbing, I must remember to be extra careful when I traverse back down.

I quickly catch my breath when I reach the halfway point...and wait for Valerie to catch up. She says that she did not remember this hill to be so steep or long. I remind her that this half mile climb has always been tough for both of us.

Valerie takes off ahead of me since I plan to stop for pictures on the way back.


Once again, I fly downhill, pausing at the treacherous spots to record pictures and avoid injuries. I complete 5km shortly before the final climb towards Del Cerro Park with a split just under 22 minutes. This is not as fast as my previous post-high school best, but, given the inclusion of a steep half-mile-long incline, it is far more impressive.

The etched rocky surface once again aggravates my ankle and the incline increases the pain. As I complete mile 4, a man on horseback passes me. My pace is dropping...I could use a one horsepower boost. A woman on horseback passes next, her steed spewing road apples on the ground in front of me. I make a mental note to never draft behind a horse. With a half mile to go, I finally catch and pass Valerie.

Upon returning to Del Cerro Park, I am surprised to learn that I have completed the out-and-back averaging exactly 8 minutes per mile. This is by far the fastest I have ever completed this trail run. I guess I am still benefiting from a post-marathon speed boost.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Orbit Post-Marathon #3

Everything went so well during the L.A. Marathon that I rewarded myself with a full week break from running, even though my legs felt like they could run the day after. That said, I am glad I did not jump back on to my feet too quickly because the extra time allowed my blister to heal.

Once again, I chose my basic home orbit as my first workout. It seems strange to only run 3 miles. The last time I targeted this distance was in November of last year, before I resumed my marathon training schedule. I chose this distance so my wife (who has not run many times over the past few months) would be willing to join me. I will not reduce my pace for her, but will stop to encourage her along the way.

As with the week after Long Beach, it is a lot warmer today than on race day...at least 10 degrees warmer. I cannot believe how lucky I have been since my meltdown on Maui. I cannot recall training in temperatures this warm since the year began. I doubt I would have recorded a personal record under these conditions.

I feel no ill effects from last week's race. I am not nearly as winded as expected when I reach the first peak. My legs feel surprisingly fresh...much better than they did at any point during my final month of training. I really open it up on the flat and downhill stretches. My right ankle and arch are still a little tender, so I am careful not to go too fast.

I start coughing...allergies have kicked in. It is definitely Spring. That said, coughing and sneezing is not slowing me in the slightest. The first and last inclines usually kill my pace, but I complete the final mile in a quick 7:15.

When I stop my watch, I am surprised to see my average pace is under 8 minutes per mile. This is the fastest I have ever completed my rolling three mile circuit. Perhaps I will be ready for another race sooner than I realize. If I did not have a work deadline mid-May, I would seriously consider signing up for the Palos Verdes Marathon. Maybe I should anyway.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day After 3rd Marathon

My body has definitely adapted to running marathons: I have surprisingly few aches when I first stand on my feet. I definitely have some tightness in both legs and a blister aggravates the ball of my left foot, but the more significant pains (right arch and ankle) seem to have faded. If anything, my upper body is more sore than my lower, probably more from sleeping in an awkward position than yesterday's race.

I would consider going for a run right now, but I know better. My body needs time to recover, even if I do not feel that to be the case. I could use a bit more sleep though...was on such a high yesterday that I did not take a post-race nap. I ended up staying awake until my normal bedtime!

Now that I think about it, I feel almost exactly as I did the day after marathon #2!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

25th Los Angeles Marathon

I wake up at 4am. I am really glad I opted to have dad drive me directly to Dodger Stadium rather than to the shuttle buses in Santa Monica...the extra 45 minutes of sleep was well worth it! I enjoy coffee, a bagel, and suit up for the race. Dad arrives at my house, I grab my pre-packed gear, and we depart exactly at 5:30am. Traffic is light to and on northbound Interstate 110 through the I-10 interchange. Everything is proceeding as planned.

Suddenly, a sea of brake lights appear. It is only 6:00am. No need to worry...at least not yet.

Half an hour later, Downtown Los Angeles still fills my door window. Coffee usually takes this long to pass completely through my system. I try hard not to think about it, focusing instead on fastening my bib and applying sunscreen. We are surrounded by cars and buses attempting to ferry runners to the race. The radio frequently mentions how traffic is being affected by this "Stadium to the Sea" marathon route, but not specifically why we are in a stop-and-go situation. Event organizers redesigned the course to give out of town runners a more complete taste of the L.A. experience. Perhaps this gridlock is by design?

Another half hour passes. We now inch along adjacent to the ramp for Highway 101. Traffic trying to merge back on the 110 further aggravates the situation. Dodger Stadium is still two miles away. The race starts in 24 minutes. I seriously have to go. Anxiety is not helping my situation. If we can make it to the next embankment, I will hop out and use whatever bush I can find. I am not sure I will last that long.

Runners jump out of their cars and run past my window. I do not hesitate to join them. They weave in and out of the stop-and-go traffic, but I feel safer running in a straight line using the stripe between the 110 and 10 as a guide. A CalTrans truck passes me on the right and then pulls on to the divider ahead of me. Its driver expresses his concerns about us running on the freeway, but I do not have time for chit-chat. Between the freeways, just beyond the truck, lies a patch of grass on a slight downward slope that seems sufficiently shielded from anyone's view. I run directly for it. RELIEF!!!!!

In my haste to make waste, I have left my pre-race water and Gu in my dad's car. I check the time and realize I cannot wait for him to catch up. I join a growing number of runners who have abandoned their rides, continue north on the freeway, exit Stadium Way, and climb up the steep hill to the Dodger Stadium Parking Lot. Near the top, I notice another semi-private alcove along the hillside already being taken advantage by several runners. RELIEF!!!!!

A horn sounds. Crap! Did I miss the start of the race? Only the wheelchair race appears to have begun. An announcement confirms that the marathon has officially been delayed by twenty minutes. I must wait for all of the wheelchairs to pass before I can cross the course and look for the Sub-4 Hour Corral, but I should have enough time. I could really use some water though.

A packed field of nearly 25,000 participants and fences make it really hard to move about the starting area. From here, I cannot see if there are gates or even breaks in the fences for each corral. I look for a race official, organizer, volunteer for assistance. There is no such person in sight. Another horn sounds. The elite women have started. I now have less than twenty minutes to reach my corral.

Someone starts singing the National Anthem. I briefly pause and remove my cap, but realize this may be my last opportunity to advance through the crowd. I reluctantly enter from the starting area very back and then quietly try to push my way forward. This is not working. With an unprecedented density of people ahead of me, I estimate it will take longer than twenty minutes to reach the start line from here. Temperature could be a huge factor today. Every minute counts.

I drop by the Volunteer Check-in Tent to ask for assistance. No one knows anything about how the corrals are being handled. I dive into the tents left from yesterday's Expo desperately hoping to find someone who can help. There are people stretching, but no uniformed race officials or event organizers. Thankfully, the tents provide a clear path to the start line...so I make a dash for it.

I finally find the gate for the Sub 4-Hour Corral. A mob of runners now stands between me and the entrance. Oddly, no one is wearing the wristband required for admission. I hold my fist in the air to clearly display my blue "Sub-4" credentials and start pushing my way through the crowd...an act that draws some angry looks, but do I care? I stop as soon as I find another wearing the blue band. We are standing just outside of the fence. We cannot proceed any further because the corral is densely packed with runners not sporting the required ID! There is no room to stretch, not even enough to pull out my cellphone for taking pictures. Good thing I am already warmed up!

The horn sounds, the elite men take off. As the rest of the field slowly unpacks, I make my way into the corral. Spacing soon increases, so I quickly pull out my cellphone, snap one picture with the phone's camera, and return it to my armband. I am glad to see that I am not the only marathoner taking photos before crossing the timing mat.

I reach the start line nearly two minutes after the horn, start my GPS watch's timer, and accelerate to a jog. My pace is slower than 10 minutes per mile as I begin my ascent around the ballpark. If I want to achieve my pace goal, I need to advance through the field. The course through the stadium parking lot is narrow. I try to find gaps while weaving from one side to the other.

I complete an orbit of Dodger Stadium and reach the first mile marker in 8:36. I averaged 8:31 per mile in Long Beach, but am not terribly concerned. I figure L.A.'s downhill-trending course will offer many opportunities for reducing my average pace. My mouth and throat are unusually dry...the downside of leaving my pre-race water bottle in dad's car. I eagerly grab water at the aid station. I do not spill a single drop.

The course presents its first downhill stretch while exiting the stadium on Elysian Park Avenue. I let my legs loose...feels good to increase the pace without exerting additional effort. The descent continues on to Sunset Blvd and my pace levels off with the grade. I complete mile 2 in a quick 7:18, mile 3 in 7:11...a bit fast, but good compensation for a slow start. The balls of my feet start to burn...a cause for concern given how little I have run wearing this particular pair of Kayano 15s. It is way too early for blisters. Am I pounding the pavement a bit too hard?

As the course turns on to Main Street, Los Angeles landmarks enter view accompanied by festive mariachi music. I run by City Hall. Disney Concert Hall swings into view as we head down 1st. Wait...there it is again. Recognizable large buildings register quickly, but I forget it takes time to actually reach them. My mind is already playing tricks on me. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has been looming on the horizon far too long. Is this hill getting steeper? As I near the top, rumbling taiko drums urge me to pick up the pace.

It feels good to turn down Grand. Despite the hill, I have completed this mile sub-8. I grab Powerade at the Mile 4 aid station and, though I did not have my-pre race Gu, resume my gel consumption plan. Sticking to familiar splits (every 45 minutes starting with minute 30) should make it easier for me to remember when to dole out my remaining packs.

The course turns on to Temple, descends over Figueroa and approaches the 110. I cannot help but notice the improved flow of traffic on the freeway before I dive under it. I wonder if my dad bypassed the madness at Dodger Stadium altogether...after I bolted from his car he really had no reason to go there. Wait...here comes another incline. This course has been advertised as downhill trending, but, thus far, drops in elevation have been all too brief...and the inclines more frequent and longer lasting.

We turn up a small street, cross over Highway 101, and turn up again. I have not been paying attention to street signs, so I am not exactly sure where we are, but I suspect we are snaking our way back to Sunset Boulevard. The hill crests around mile 5. I suspect more climbing will be involved before we reach Sunset. Perhaps I should conserve some energy during this next descent.

I see a Echo Lake! I cross Echo Park Avenue and turn right from Bellevue Avenue to Glendale Boulevard. The lake provides a pleasant change of scenery...and a nice stretch of flat terrain. And shortly after the lake disappears from view, I see the sign for Sunset Boulevard.

I soon realize that I am not that familiar with this stretch of Sunset. My familiarity begins in Hollywood and ends at the coast. Will the next few miles be downhill, flat, or rolling? As I come around the first bend, I feel a touch of headwind. The strength increases as hills come into view along the horizon. I complete mile 7 pretty quickly. Gravity has apparently compensated for the increasing air resistance.

I notice I am running alongside the 3:30 pace group (its leader holds a large yellow sign with "3:30" printed...hard to miss). Have I gone out too fast? I am not having any difficulty maintaining my current pace. I decide to hang with the group.

The Hollywood sign comes into view. For some reason, this brings a smile to my face. I suddenly feel like a tourist, eager to see what sites Tinsel Town has to offer.

After the Mile 8 marker, Sunset becomes Hollywood Boulevard and then turns due west.

There is absolutely nothing worth seeing between miles 9 and 10. Thai Town is certainly not Tinsel Town as glamorized in the movies. Hollywood Boulevard does not really start to get interesting until I cross Highway 101. At the Mile 10 aid station, I grab another water. I drink it down and then consume a Clif Shot without breaking my stride.

I cross the famous (albeit bland) intersection of Hollywood and Vine and run past the Pantages Theater. The Capitol Records Tower comes into view. As I cross Hollywood and Highland, more famous sites come into view. I would have loved to trample the Stars on to the Walk of Fame, but the course is bound to the pavement. Asphalt is easier on the joints, so I cannot complain...but there are stretches of concrete around here. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is playing at the El Capitan? I am still on the fence whether or not I want to see it. I am briefly tempted to check out the footprints in front of the Chinese Theater, but wisely decide against it. Wait! Where is 3:30 pace group? I guess I fell off the pace while being distracted by the sites.

I turn left down Orange and pass the gated parking lot for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I hope their guest lot opens on to other streets because this entrance will likely remain closed for many hours.

The course returns to Sunset Boulevard. I am familiar with this stretch from visits to the Guitar Center...which comes into view after Mile 12. Last time I stepped inside this location was with my nephews and niece a few years ago. Actually, I do not think I have ever bought music gear from this store. Heck, it has been awhile since I have bought any music gear.

As I try to remember where the Virgin Megastore once stood, I hear Erasure being blasted over loudspeakers. I must be in West Hollywood. My Walkman phone just shuffled to different song by Erasure. What a weird coincidence!

I cross Mile 13 and start wondering if I will cross a timing mat to signify the halfway mark. If I rely solely upon my GPS watch, I have already exceeded that distance. My split has to be under 1:45. I am way ahead of my pace...and once again I have gravity assistance. I pass by Carney's. A hamburger sounds so good right now. I settle for Gu. Wait...I consumed my last one 30 minutes ago! Damn! Now I will have to wait an hour before downing my next one if I want to get me back on schedule. I have two remaining packs. They must carry me through to the finish.

Did I just get passed by the 3:30 pace leader? I thought that group passed me ages ago. Wow. If I can keep them in view...

Mile 14. Water or Powerade? The last few stations have not done a great job pointing out which volunteers serve the electrolyte replenishing fluids. Some aid stations use white cups for water, red cups for the ade, but lately I have gotten water in both cups. Should I be concerned?

I turn down San Vicente and then on to a familiar stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard. Is that a drag queen cheerleader? Did a guy just pass me wearing a tutu and phallus on his head? I am definitely still in WeHo. The course turns on to Doheny. I complete Mile 15. I get another cup of water...this is getting ridiculous! If I see someone handing out orange slices, I will grab one. So far, the oranges have been pretty damn good.

Oooh. Naked Juice is handing out boxes of their Coconut Water at Mile 16. Supposedly this is a good substitute for Powerade. Had I not sampled a box at yesterday's Expo, I probably would have avoided it. I suck down quite a bit of the box as Burton Way becomes Santa Monica Boulevard, but I do not need the whole container. It feels really strange tossing litter on the streets of Beverly Hills.

I turn on Rodeo Drive. When I visit this street with my wife, I want to run away (just kidding). Without realizing it, I pass Brian, a former coworker (I knew he ran the race, but did not actually see him until he sent me an e-mail regarding the photo to the left). His goal is a sub-3 hour marathon, but he is having an off day. Tiffany's & Co does not seem the far away.

Next thing I know, I am turning on to Wilshire Boulevard. There are a bunch of people dressed in green in front of Niketown. Not sure what the meaning is...too busy running to care.

The course turns back on Santa Monica Boulevard at one of the busier and more accident prone intersections of this city. Fortunately, it remains closed to traffic to protect us marathoners. I wonder how this closure impacts surrounding streets...can't be good.

As I continue down Santa Monica towards Century City, I notice a slight incline...and suddenly remember that this will likely continue for more than a few miles to come. As my mood starts to darken, I notice the street is lined with cheerleaders from a large number of high schools. They cheer us through the Mile 18 aid station. My pace is dropping, but, as long as I keep it under nine minutes per mile, I should be fine.

I pass the Westfield Shopping Center and continue down the somewhat recently improved section of Santa Monica Boulevard. As I pass the Los Angeles Temple, my cellphone starts ringing. Figuring this is a call from my wife, I decide to answer it. "Hi Eric, this is Betty...Pete's mom". Why is my best friend's mom calling me in the middle of the race?

"Is this a good time?" she asks.

"I am in the middle of a marathon right now," I reply.

Obviously, I will get back to her later. Pete is not in the country right now...and I have not talked to her in a long time. I am a bit concerned why she would call me. But, first things first.

I am starting to feel the distance as Interstate 405 comes into view. This whole stretch has definitely not been easy. I am glad to turn right on Sepulveda Boulevard, even though it is short lived. The course takes an immediate left on Ohio, dives under the 405, and then right on Bonsail towards the West LA Veterans Association Healthcare Center. I have now completed 20 miles of the race, but I do not feel like celebrating. The incline is increasing. The heat is increasing. The sun is breaking through the clouds. There is no shade. My pace is decreasing. Could this be the wall? Judging from the faces on the runners around me, I am not the only one feeling this way.

Much to my chagrin, the incline continues after Mile 21. Fortunately, spectators in Brentwood seem more enthusiastic than anywhere else along the course. Even better, a gentle sea breeze has brought the temperature back to a more pleasant level. A sign on a nearby building says it is only 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The forecast was for 70 by this hour.

I really want to stop at the mile 22 aid station. Cheers prevent me from doing so. I hear someone calling "Keep going, Akira! You're almost there!" (my bib says "Akira3D"). How can I even think about walking? I glance at my watch more frequently. My overall average pace continues to slow. Aren't the final five miles are supposed to be downhill? I can still feel the incline, even as I complete the 23rd mile. My average pace for the whole run has slowed to nearly 8:20/mile. 8:22/mile was my average at Long Beach. Intimate familiarity with the remainder of this course is the only thing keeping me from getting totally discouraged. I repeatedly tell myself I will set a personal record today.

I feel my legs turn over faster and faster. I have begun my final descent! Gravity is definitely helping me pick up the pace. I complete the 24th mile in 8:44. Will my pace will continue to improve? There is a slight headwind, but the breeze feels great. I consume my last Cliff Shot. Hopefully it will provide the fuel for one last push.

Oh how I wish I could run on the patch of grass dividing eastbound and westbound San Vicente! When I worked at Naughty Dog, Justin and I would fly down this median during our workday lunch runs. This marathon course has been pretty tough on my feet, but my left knee and right ankle have not bothered me at all. The former nearly ruined the last ten miles of Maui, the latter became a real nuisance during the final miles of Long Beach.

As I turn on to Ocean Avenue, I decide to skip the last aid station and just push hard for the finish line. Why does the finish line at Santa Monica Boulevard seem so far away? My attitude improves as I cross California. I am definitely in the home stretch now. I quickly glance at my watch. I am still on pace to finish under 3:40:00. I see Marshall, a former coworker. He is totally cheering me on. What a boost!

I start looking for my wife, my parents, anyone I can recognize, but it is hard to know where to focus...there are so many spectators lining the final blocks of the course. I can now read the time on the official race clock at the finish line. I am well ahead of my chip time from Long Beach. I pump my fist as I approach the finish line. I have easily exceeded my goal. I hear my name announced as cross the final timing mat. This is the way to finish a marathon!

I stop my watch. It reads 3:39:32. A quick review of its history shows I completed my last mile in under 8 minutes. Heck, I averaged 8 minutes per mile over the final three. Adding my unanticipated pre-race warm up, I ran at least 28 miles today...the most I have ever run in one day. A 50km now seems well within the realm of possibility. That said, I still have no desire to run an ultra marathon (sorry Justin).

I grab my post-race spoils as I make my way down Ocean Avenue. I will wear the 25th L.A. Marathon finisher medal with pride. Volunteers start handing out the typical post-race drinks and food. I could really use a fork...and a bag to carry everything. I drop my plastic blanket as I grab the last item. I reach the post-race photo area and am relieved each photographer's assistant has a box for us to place our goodies so we do not have to juggle them while posing.

My wife Valerie calls to find out where I am. She is still near the finish line. The whole street has been fenced off as the finisher's area, forcing the spectators to remain on the sidewalk and runners on the street. It will take some time for her to reach me. Event organizers could have easily improved the flow of crowds by narrowing the finisher's chute to the southbound side. Marshall finds me on the west side of Ocean, my parents meet up with me on the east. I have to get off my legs. I finish a banana and start into a bagel. Valerie finally reaches us. Everyone seems so proud of my accomplishment and starts taking pictures. Great...I probably have bits of bagel in my teeth!

Suddenly, bird crap lands on my leg. Just great. I look up and see that I am sitting directly under a street lamp...and there are three pigeons on it. My legs are tired, but I must move.

Results (official):
05km: 00:24:20
10km: 00:49:39
15km: 01:14:01
20km: 01:39:14
25km: 02:05:06
30km: 02:32:31
35km: 03:01:32
40km: 03:28:36
Total: 03:39:31 (new PR)

1189 / 22161 overall finishers
1016 / 13042 male finishers
166 / 1746 male finishers age 35-39

RunPix Results


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marathon #3 Training Complete

I started training for the L.A. Marathon after recovering from Long Beach, but did not chart out a training schedule until November 22, 2009. Still, this was the earliest I attempted to follow a structured mileage build-up...the same routine I used for my first two marathons. Figuring that my performance increased the closer I stuck with the schedule, I was very anal about following it this time with one significant exception.

Nearly a full week off for snowboarding could have been a huge setback, but I got right back on schedule almost immediately after I returned home. My injured rib proved only to be a slight pain in the side, thankfully not a significant disruption.

And despite that break, I exceeded the planned mileage from November 22 through today by 7 miles.

Note how my average pace has improved since my peak mileage week:
02/21-02/27 8:47/mi (45.41 mi)
02/28-03/06 8:23/mi (36.16 mi)
03/07-03/13 8:08/mi (30.11 mi)
03/14-03/20 7:59/mi (20.17 mi)

Compare this with the month before the Long Beach Marathon in 2009:
09/13-09/19 8:51/mi (45.74 mi)
09/20-09/26 8:33/mi (39.09 mi)
09/27-10/03 8:24/mi (29.06 mi)
10/04-10/10 8:03/mi (20.29 mi)

In 2008, the month before Maui suggests I may have peaked too early due to races:
08/17-08/23 8:12/mi (17.03 mi)
08/24-08/30 8:45/mi (28.85 mi)
08/31-09/06 8:27/mi (31.88 mi...includes Disneyland Half and Hana Relay)
09/07-09/13 9:16/mi (15.79 mi)

My legs, ankles, and feet may not feel as good as I did in the weeks leading up to Long Beach or Maui, but this data clearly reveals I have continued to improve. My YTD average pace shows a similar trend (9:52/mi in 2007, 9:30/mi in 2008, 8:35/mi in 2009, 8:31/mi in 2010). Based on this data (and given that L.A.'s Stadium to the Sea course is downhill trending), I should at least be able to match my marathon PR on Sunday.

Of course, the weather could be the real spoiler. A race day high of 78 degrees is forecast for Santa Monica. My hope is to finish before it hits 70...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One Week to L.A. Marathon

Friday, February 26, 2010

Injury Update

This evening, while moving some furniture, I realized that my chest injury has practically become a non-factor. While there may still be moments when I feel something is slightly off (like when I lie face down on my bed), I have little difficulty lifting or carrying heavy items and, more importantly, I no longer feel any tightness when I run.

This is very promising indeed!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fastest 5km Split in 20+ Years

After watching yesterday's Winter Olympics coverage, I felt inspired to reach for a personal record...and threw down a 21:37 in a mostly downhill 5km (and perhaps my fastest time on the 6 mile Malaga Cove Plaza orbit). This was the fastest I have run a 5km in over 20 years and an extremely encouraging turn for this marathon training session considering that the L.A. Marathon is exactly one month from Sunday...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

14 on the 14th

Just a little more than a month from marathon #3 and I continue to make slight alterations to my training schedule to compensate for my run-free week of snowboarding. I am concerned that I have been a bit more winded at the start of each run than I had been at any time over the months before the break...and even more so that my legs burn with greater intensity on the return ascent despite shorter total distances. My snowboarding injury is proving to be nowhere near the challenge I anticipated it would (no pain, but tightness over the last few miles), but I suspect that the blow to my chest may have contributed to my drop in performance.

Though I am not that far off my annual pace through 14 miles and am still well ahead of it during runs of 6 milers or less, I did not complete this Herondo orbit nearly as quickly as I did last May. At that time, I had just started to increase my distances while training for marathon #2. This does not bode well going into next weekend. If I resume my training schedule, Sunday's run should be at my peak distance (a 22-23 miler).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

21 Miles Today, Tahoe Tomorrow

Despite a slight setback due to illness a couple of weeks ago, my training for the Los Angeles Marathon has remained largely on schedule.

I was not sure if I would make it all the way through today's 21 miler (almost called it quits between miles 17 and 18...and again after mile 20), but I completed the distance...and at a strong pace. My 10km split was a quick 46:57 and I hit my half marathon split at 1:44:43 (have yet to finish a half marathon race that quickly). I ran this as an out-and-back, largely on the dirt trail that runs from Hermosa Beach through Manhattan Beach. For some strange reason, the path felt uphill in both directions!

That said, I am about to take a week off from running...a small sacrifice for snowboarding. I may hit the treadmill in the hotel's fitness center while I am there, but chances are I will save all of my energy for the mountain.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spoke Too Soon

I should have known better.

In my last post for 2009, I mentioned how I have not been sick since I resumed running in 2007. On Thursday, less than a week later, I felt the unmistakable tingle of a sore throat. By Friday, I had a slight, but persistent sniffle. Yesterday, I decided against running because this illness had evolved into a pesky cough.

Since Thursday, I have not lost any sleep, nor have I lost my appetite. I have not had a fever. My symptoms have been and continue to be minor...just enough to be a nuisance. On one hand, I really feel I should run. On the other, I would hate to make my illness worse...especially because the illness seems to be racing through my body without affecting my ability to work or play.

I still feel an annoying tickle in my lungs. If I talk for any significant amount of time, I start to cough. Though I still feel I can run, I would be surprised if I could last a 20 miler. Based upon my training schedule, I am due for such a run. This is the first weekend since Thanksgiving that I have fallen short.

I decide to play it safe.
 
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