Monday, March 22, 2010

The 25th Los Angeles Marathon

Back in January, I signed up to run the new and improved Los Angeles Marathon. This was the 25th running of the event with the new course that started at Dodgers Stadium and "ran the icons" all the way to the Santa Monica Pier. I didn't end up with a stress fracture this year but the running gods were certainly trying their best to hold me to my "No More CA Marathons" Pledge, no matter how easily sucked into the hype I can get.

Thinking back on it my 15 miler two weeks ago was the beginning of the downhill slide. That particular run went horribly. I was beat like I'd run a full marathon after what should have been an easy run. I also can now recognize all the signs of labored breathing after that run for the next week until I ended up with a horrible cough deep in my chest. No matter how hard I coughed I couldn't bring up whatever was down there. I ran 10 miles last weekend with Celeste, Brian and Terry and nearly lost a lung afterward. Monday at work I felt awful and Tuesday I ended up staying home from work. I haven't taken a sick day in years.

I didn't get out for my easy 5 miler on Tuesday. I couldn't. I went back to work on Wednesday and made it the rest of the week, but I was wiped out by the end of the day. Thursday I finally succumbed to peer pressure (mostly from my wife) and went to the urgent care to find out I had a pretty bad case of bronchitis. The PA prescribed antibiotic and an inhaler. I told her I was a runner. She suggested resting a couple more days. Friday and Saturday were a couple of days, so in my mind I was running again on Sunday for the LA Marathon. Even if I had told her about the marathon and she had suggested I not run, I likely would have run anyway, so I figured why ask for permission. Thursday's 5 miler was scrapped, too.

The drugs did some serious damage on the infections but I was by no means anywhere near marathon shape by Sunday. I came home after the expo on Saturday and took a 2 hour nap; not exactly a good omen. I did get to meet Joe and his nephew at the expo. We had lunch in Eagle Rock and then they gave me a ride home.

Sunday morning Terry met me at my house and my wife chauffeured us to Dodger Stadium. We were there soon after 5:30 and got in quite easily. I had that familiar "I can't believe I'm running another marathon" bubbly feeling inside. I really was looking forward to this race. I spoke with Joe on the phone several times that morning but we never managed to hook up in the sea of humanity.

Dodger Stadium was open to the runners, which was very cool. We had access to the outfield and the low level bleaches. I headed straight to the bathrooms but it was apparent very early on that this was one huge area for improvement for next year. The bathrooms inside the stadium are not nearly numerous enough to accommodate 25,000 pre-race bladders/bowels. There were a bank of port-o-lets in the parking lot, but again not nearly enough. By the time Terry had gone a second time and we headed to the starting corrals, we were lined up way in the back.

We were at least 10, if not 15 minutes from the starting line. We heard Randy Newman's "I Love LA" at least 4 if not 5 times before we were racing. It wasn't a problem, just a testament to the shear number of people there. Starting that far back put us behind many, many walkers. The first mile was predictably crowded. A 12 minute first mile was determined by the crowd more than anything. Upon exiting the stadium Terry was able to open it up a little on the downhill. It became apparent right then and there that my bronchitis was not going to allow me to keep up with her. I let her go early and settled in for a long day.

I felt good. I just couldn't muster up any kind of speed or power. I just kinda hummed along at around 11:00 miles, taking a walk break every 7 minutes. I knew it was going to be a long day, but like I said I felt OK. Then I hit mile 19 and the wheels really fell off. There were two 12:00 miles and then things headed up into the over 14:00 range. I was definitely doing the "worn out old man shuffle." I kept up my 7 minute run and 1 minute walk break until mile 23 when the walk breaks started extending themselves to about 90 seconds.

I ran those last few miles off to the right side of the course, mostly to stay out of the way. One nice side effect of that was that I got called out quite often by the spectators which was really pretty nice and frankly quite needed at that point. I knew that I didn't "look good" nor was I "almost there" but it was nice to be recognized by name. I kept going more for them than for anything. I never doubted that I would finish. I just wanted to be done.

Final official time was 5:19:28. This was my third slowest marathon time ever, 60 t0 90 minutes longer than my recent times from last fall/winter. The only ones that were slower were a previous LA Marathon on a 93 degree day (only my second marathon ever) and the Tecumseh Trail Marathon "mudfest." The slow time doesn't bother me in the least. I never had a time goal for LA from the start and I knew the battle with bronchitis was going to bring a challenge to the day that I was certain not to overcome. Just being able to start and finish my 20th marathon was reward enough. (Although the finishers metal is pretty darn cool.)

I'll be back with another post about the good and bad, at least from my perspective, on the 25th LA Marathon Stadium to the Sea.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Thank goodness for taper weeks. No more trying to fit in a 7 to 10 miler midweek in the dark. I just find it difficult to wrap my head around getting out the door for those miles in the winter months. The taper week called for nothing but 4, 5 and 6 miles. Funny that 6 is doable but 7 seems so far.

I usually try to vary my routes on a daily basis but this week, all three runs were on the same basic route. I used the equestrian path in Via Verde as much as possible. Tuesday I ran a 5 mile out and back. Wednesday I covered the same ground, a little less of it though, for my 4 miler. Last night I started at a different spot on the route for my 6 miler that included hills covering some of the same ground from the previous two nights and adding on a couple of the hilly extensions. My go to 3-5 mile route is in the valley between two hills in the Via Verde neighborhood. The rest of the neighborhood is one big up or down hill run. It would be a terrible place to have to learn to ride a bike for a little kid.

One last long-ish run on this weekend of 10 or 12 miles and then next week I even get an extra rest day before the LA Marathon. Time to start checking the weather forecast.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Hat Was for Naught

After starting out this week's training with an accidentally shortened run, it all came together in the end.

I worked out with my trainer on Tuesday after work and then opted not to run. I'm not sure why, normally I would and especially thinking ahead to the after work commitments I had the rest of the week I should have.

My two easy 7 milers this week, Wednesday and Sunday, were extended to 7.5 and 7.7 respectively. I didn't plan it that way its just the way the routes worked out.

Dinner plans with friends on Thursday and small group meeting on Friday precluded running or gym time for that matter. I snuck out at lunch time and ran my 8 miler that included 3x1 mile repeats. Instead of driving over to the dam I ran straight out the front gate. Doing it this way saves quite a bit of time. It takes nearly a 30 minutes round trip to drive back and forth to the dam. The 8 mile run only took 70 minutes. I don't think I was missed at all, except that one of the management team saw me leaving. I've heard he spend some of his lunch hours at the gym.

Saturday's long run was threatened with rain. It seems to have rained or threatened rain very frequently in the last couple of months. We get so spoiled with beautiful weather most of the time, the rain is getting a little old. But I know eventually it is going to be in the 90's with no relief in sight and we'll be wishing for some rain. The CA Cruisers met for a run on the Santa Ana River Trail. We had a pretty big turnout today with a couple of new comers as well. There were at least 25 of us.

It was cloudy but not raining when we started. I wore my baseball cap just in case. We had about a half dozen rain drops around mile 4 and then the sun broke through the clouds for a few miles. I was running with Terry and the girls. Carol and Jamie turned back at the 5 mile point. Jeanne talked Terry into continuing on to 6 miles. I was planning 15 total so I was in for the long haul.

Around mile 9 I was cooked. I couldn't really explain why. I'd felt so good last week on the 20 miler and here I was wondering if I'd even make it back for the 12 mile round trip. I seriously considered calling it quits at 12. When we got back Terry and Jeanne were done. I was beginning to feel a little better and knew that I'd be upset with myself later for giving up, so I headed off on my own for the last 3 miles to make it 15 (2:32). I got it done, but I was beat. I'm still not quite sure why. The rain held off until the afternoon and evening, hurray!

45.2 miles for the week, a tab bit over plan. Next week should be a breeze with only 32 miles on the docket. Only 2 weeks until the 25th running of the Los Angeles Marathon. There's quite a bit of buzz about it on Twitter. I'm getting kind of excited for it, even though it wont' get me a state.

In other exciting news I may get to run as part of a team for the Ragnar Relay from Ventura to Dana Point. When I'd gotten the flyer I was interested but didn't think anyone else would be. I found out this weekend that a Cruiser I haven't seen in a while has a team going and has an opening so I may join in on the fun. I've read lots of posts about relays and everyone seems to have fun, exhausting fun, but fun. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mistaken Identity

It was shaping up to be a mildly hectic week so I ended up running yesterday. Monday is usually a day off and especially after a 20 miler on Sunday I might have expected to take the day off. I was very happy with how good I felt after the 20, almost too good to be true.

In an effort to get in all the planned runs for the week I ended up heading to Bonelli, but stuck to the pavement to keep it a little easier on my legs. I hadn't really studied the plan nor committed it to memory I new there were two "round number" runs bookending a 7 miler was about as specific as I could remember on the run.

I ended up running 6 miles and by then it was fully dark and Bonelli gives me a little heebie jeebies at that point. There were still a couple of bike riding stragglers but I in two separate places last night I came upon lone men walking along purposelessly, or so it seemed. Kind of gave me the creeps especially after listening to the news on the way home about the girl jogger down near San Diego. I'll will be very happy in a couple of weeks when daylight savings time kicks in.

I got home and gave the schedule a look and the "round number" I remembered was actually an 8, not the 6 I ran, but I'm calling it good.