Sunday, March 17, 2013

Los Angeles Marathon 2.0

As soon as I crossed the finish line in 2010, I knew Los Angeles would be the site of my first repeat marathon.  Aside from some traffic issues that made the beginning and end of that race memorable for all the wrong reasons, I had very little to complain while actually running upon L.A.'s new Stadium to the Sea Course.  The weather was perfect, spectators were abundant and enthusiastic, live entertainment appropriately demonstrating our metropolis'  diversity.  I set a PR and had a great time in the process.

I knew my second time running from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica would be different...and not just because of welcome course changes that allowed the Downtown segment to stretch into Chinatown and Little Tokyo.  My training pace over the past month strongly implied I would not be able set another PR.  Beating my last time in L.A. looked nearly impossible.  Not seeing steady improvement over my last month of training, I could not even predict if I could top my disappointing result in Malibu.  That said, I still held out hope that my familiarity with this course, today's encouraging weather forecast, and the downhill finish would put me within striking range of a 3:40 finish.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

The positives:
  • I spent the week shifting my hours so that I was able to get a solid 8 hours of sleep.  I even woke up a minute before my 3:30am alarm sounded, so I had plenty of time to enjoy a bagel and a cup of coffee.
  • Valerie dropped me at the Artesia Transit Center before the first Metro Silver Line bus arrived and there were zero issues between there and Union Station, despite some detours due to road closures for the marathon.
  • The departure times of the shuttles were not strictly enforced, so I could climb aboard a shuttle bus from Union Station as soon as I arrived (otherwise I might have had to wait in the cold for another twenty minutes)
  • There was traffic heading into the Dodger Stadium, but shuttle buses had their own lane.  I stepped under the welcome sign near the corrals before my reserved bus was even scheduled to depart from Union Station.
  • Plenty of port-a-potties this year.  Lines for some were long, but not so bad if you took time to look.
  • It was so nice to not have to fiddle with a bib and safety pins before a race (this year, while at the pre-race Expo, I opted to have it printed directly on a shirt)
  • The bottle of sunscreen included in our Expo packet provided the perfect amount of coverage...and the provided Shot Blocks (and knowing there would be a Clif Energy Station on the course) meant I only had to bring one additional packet of Gu to cover the whole race.
  • Hanging out inside the stadium provides some shelter from the morning breeze...and there are plenty of places to sit down.
  • I met up with Leo and his running club in Corral B...and I could have used them as a pace group had I not been overly ambitious as we started our first descent from the stadium
  • I could have tried to stay with Leo as he passed me around mile 14, but I knew I was dropping off the pace and wisely decided not to pursue.
  • Plenty of water with stations at least at every mile.
  • The stretch on Santa Monica Blvd from Century City to Sepulveda did not seem nearly as long as it did in 2010
  • The hill through the Veterans Park did not seem nearly as challenging as it did in 2010
  • The temperature actually dropped as we approached the sea...only 54 degrees as I ran through Brentwood.
  • Christophe, my former boss, started running with me for a block or two around mile 23.  He was not in today's race, just wanted to show his support for coworkers past and present.  He pushed my pace from 9:39/mi back to around 8:03/mi...a pace I nearly held through to the finish line.

Official Results:
10K Split: 0:49:00 (7:53/mi)
20K Split: 1:39:40 (8:09/mi)
30K Split: 2:35:11 (8:56/mi)
40K Split: 3:32:27 (9:13/mi)
Total:        3:43:30 (8:06/mi)5th fastest marathon
Average race pace: 8:31/mi

1,609 / 23,006 overall finishers
1,358 / 11,752 male finishers
209 / 1434 male finishers age 40-44

GPS Data:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Marathon #6 (or 7) Training Complete

Well, I can't say I feel 100% ready for this year's L.A. Marathon. Fighting off a light case of the flu as I entered my final month of training, I never found my rhythm...the first time I have not recorded a steady pace progression through race day.  Even worse, my average pace over this period (and my annual average pace) has slowed considerably since I set my marathon PR two years ago.

02/17-02/23: 37.74 @ 9:29/mi
02/24-03/02: 37.17 @ 8:58/mi
03/03-03/09: 30.19 @ 9:17/mi
03/10-03/16: 20.41 @ 8:53/mi
Average training pace for month: 9:11/mi

Annual average pace for 2013 YTD: 9:14/mi

Month before the Malibu Marathon in 2012:
10/13-10/20: 46.65 @ 8:46/mi
10/21-10/27: 36.67 @ 8:31/mi
10/28-11/03: 30.15 @ 8:18/mi
11/04-11/10: 20.22 @ 8:13/mi
Average pace for month: 8:31/mi

Average race pace: 8:30/mi
Annual average pace 2012: 9:03/mi

Month before the Surf City Marathon in 2011 (still my PR):
01/09-01/15: 45.49 @ 8:17/mi
01/16-01/22: 36.42 @ 8:27/mi
01/23-01/29: 30.02 @ 8:06/mi
01/30-02/05: 20.26 @ 7:40/mi
Average pace for month: 8:11/mi
Average race pace: 8:13/mi

Annual average pace 2011: 8:45/mi

Month before the Los Angeles Marathon in 2010:
02/21-02/27: 45.41 @ 8:47/mi
02/28-03/06: 36.16 @ 8:23/mi
03/07-03/13: 30.11 @ 8:08/mi
03/14-03/20: 20.17 @ 7:59/mi
Average pace 
for month: 8:24/mi
Average race pace: 8:22/mi
Annual average pace 2010: 8:29/mi

Starting the week after Malibu, I began my 18 week training schedule unable to do my back-to-back-back midweek runs with consistency for fear of aggravating my ankle injury.  That said, I was able to hit or exceed my distance targets through mid-January until a trip forced me to shift one out of sequence.  Not counting the 27 miler I ran before Christmas, I stopped short of my target distance on my two longest runs, surely a bad sign.

Since I started feeling tenderness in my Achilles tendon, I backed off on the minimalist running.  I have also started to question the endurance of Vibram soles...I wore through a second pair of Merrell Trail Gloves more quickly than the first, and in less than half the distance I typically get out of a pair of Asics Kayanos.  I will no longer use Merrell Trail Gloves in my rotation.

I still hope to beat my time in Malibu, but I am not sure I will be able to beat my previous time on this course.  3:40 is a tough nut to crack...even when the weather conditions are ideal.  Sunday's forecast could reach into the 70's if there is no marine layer or if it burns off before I can finish.
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