Tuesday, March 20, 2012

LA Marathon - Part 2

Race Day: Sunday!
The alarm went off a little bit earlier than usual, as being in a bigger city it takes more time to get places. 3:35am was the wake-up time today, but at least coming from mountain time it was 4:35 to me. I went through my routine with no hitches and was ready to go when Robin and Kevin pulled up.

We made our way to the Santa Monica Civic Center to park. A bit of race traffic, but we had plenty of time. They even had plenty of port-o-potties at the loading area.
We got on a bus and a few minutes later we were on our way to Dodger Stadium. We took a slight detour (apparently they didn’t tell the bus drivers the specific route with road closures) but we got to the right spot just before 6am. On the bus I chatted with a school psychologist who was doing the first half in a charity relay. She told me to keep my eye out for the guys in bikinis on go-go boxes when we got to sunset blvd. I couldn’t wait for that! She told me the course was awesome and I would really enjoy it.

Then we wandered over to the not so crowded bathrooms. Yes, finding bathrooms is a key event before a race. Fortunately, this race had plenty! There isn’t much to do other than stay warm, make sure you have your nutrition ready, drop off any extra clothes in the gear check, and then do a warm-up (maybe) and line up. With almost 23,000 people doing a race, corrals really are corrals.

Robin and Kevin and I gave our good wishes and went our ways to do our own race routine. I dropped of my gear and a guy hoping to do a 2:40 made light conversation with me. I then made another stop at the port-o-pottie and then hung out a bit by the portable light, as the generator generated some heat as well. It wasn’t raining, but it was a bit cool for California! The other athletes hanging around were friendly and we all shared the “we got up way too early” look. I finished up my UCAN mix (chocolate and cran-raz) at about 6:45am - right on schedule. I chatted with a guy named Rupert from California who ran the Pikes Peak marathon last year.

One more quick stop and then on my way to the starting corral I stopped in the stadium, which they had open. Lots of runners were hanging out in there, and it was quite a bit of a wind block and a bit warmer as well.

I found my way to the outside of the corral and it took a while to actually get in. 23,000 is a lot of people. Yancy and Heather kept me in good conversation and also told me how awesome the course was. They had both run the race last year in the monsoon. One of the Pussycat Dolls sang the national anthem (quite well, actually) and we wiggled our way closer to actually being in the corral. A few minutes before the start, clothes were being strewn everywhere and we made it into the corral. I shed my cheap poncho that was keeping me warm and was ready. At 7:30 the race started and at 7:38 I crossed the timing mat and had officially started my race.

The 26.2 miles...
Course Map
A lot happens in 4+ hours on a marathon course, so I will do my best to recall the cool stuff. First, the hills weren’t bad at all thanks to extra oxygen being at sea level and doing some solid hill repeats in my short time training for this! The course was actually more downhill than I anticipated. My plan - run 4:30 and walk :30. My new Garmin 910XT was set to buzz each intervals for 26.5 miles (gave myself a cushion for zig-zagging and that turned out to be perfect.) So there I was, taking walk breaks about every half-mile. This worked really well for me. The running intervals never seemed “too long.” I modified a little a few times due to aid station timing, because if I needed water, I took water.
I remember running through Chinatown, seeing signs for Olvera street, which I used to go to in the summer when on vacation in LA. We wound around a bit in downtown and we went by the Walt Disney theater, in which I can say I’ve actually been and seen a concert there.

We got to Hollywood Blvd and I caught up to Yancy and Heather and passed them. Around mile 10 I had to pee, but I didn’t want to stop. But I didn’t want to “just go” today (might have been different if it were raining!) Just past the halfway point I decided to stop at a port-o-potty stop and there were about 6 or 7 ahead of me in line. This stop took about 5 minutes. I stopped my watch so I would get actual running time. And yes, I did remember to start it up again! Legs were a bit stiff once I got going again, but they loosen back up in about a mile.

Hollywood Blvd to Sunset Blvd (familiar roads for me from my many summer vacations to LA as a kid) down into Beverly Hills where my mom and Oma would be. And I saw them - they were near mile 17. I actually yelled at them so they would see me. I stopped and gave my Oma a hug, they took a few photos and I went on my way. 

My quads were hurting (they had been since early on) but otherwise I felt really good. My nutrition plan seemed solid as I was able to keep pace. The crowds, the street bands and DJs really helped keep me moving. So much fun to see everyone out there. Some spots weren’t crowded, others had tons of people. Each time my watch beeped for my walk-break to end, I was ready to run again. This was a good sign at mile 18,19, etc. In my first marathon I had really slowed down at this point and my run had been a shuffle and it was a struggle to get running again. Around mile 18 I passed my distant cousin, Kevin, who didn’t seem to be doing as well as he would have liked. But I gave him a cheer and went on my way.

Once I hit mile 20 and still was feeling good (relative term!...legs hurt, but no issues.) I knew I would finish strong and that pumped me up even more. So down to the beach we went and those last few miles I tried to push the pace. I still took my walk breaks and got a lot of encouragement from spectators. A lot of runners were stopping to stretch these last few miles, but I had gas in the tank. The last mile I skipped the walk break. I ran strong and was so glad to get to the finish line in under 4:10. 4:15 was my “I’ll have a good day and be happy” time, so 4:09:12 was awesome. And my watch had 4:05 because of the stop I made half-way.
Once I crossed the line I got my medal and ran into Vicky who was waiting for Kirk. She ran a 3:35! I grabbed banana and bottle of water, a blanket, and my gear all very quickly. It was efficient! I put on my jacket and long pants from the morning since the wind was really strong. I found the “buffet” and grabbed some snacks and then headed to the family zone to find my mom and Oma. They were there as anticipated with my bag of clothes and an extra bag of water. I opted not fight the crowds to head back to the change tent so we walked a few blocks to the car. I mixed up my recovery UCAN and had a good drink for the ride home.

A very successful day! A new marathon PR for me, perfect running temps in LA, a great visit with my grandparents with my mom.
More photos!

LA Marathon - Part 1

Race weekend is here! Time to get out to LA for a little break and run a marathon while I am there. Plus visit my grandparents with my mom, and meet a cousin and her son who are also running. So despite the forecast for rain, it should be a nice weekend!

I got up at 4:30 (wow- and it’s not race day!), my mom drove in the night before from Divide, and we left a bit after 5:30 to get a 8:30 flight out of Denver. On time and eventful, just how I like ‘em.

When we arrive in LA and it’s overcast with some light rain and temps slightly under 60. 

We are definitely in LA! We hopped shuttle to Westwood, where my grandparents picked us up. A nice lunch of bagels & lox and some chill time.
A few hours later I got picked up by a friend of a friend and we met up at the friend’s place (Vicky), watched FSU pull of a victory agains St. Bonaventure in the NCAA tournament, and then headed out to the Expo at Dodger Stadium. A little irony here because my brother, nephew, and uncle are in Phoenix to see the Dodger’s in spring training.

The guy in the foreground is Kirk, the friend of Vicky. I know Vicky from Girls Heart Rockets. 

Kirk, Vicky, and I walked around the expo for a bit and hit up some of the vendors for an afternoon snack.

Buffet line #1: Clif

Buffet #2: Honey Stinger

And buffet #3: Probar

That tided me over until dinner.

I also “ran” into Meb at the expo. Generation UCAN is my main fuel source for endurance events. (Try it! Get 10% off with coupon code UCANTRIND).

Then we found our names on the Honda vehicles.
that's me in the very bottom corner!

Then back home for dinner, which was a yummy kale salad, veggie & goat cheese ravioli, and I added a few slices of turkey to get some more protein.

A set of backgammon games with Oma (I couldn’t quite get luck enough with the rolls and she was 3-2) and then bed...

Day 2, Saturday: 
I slept in until 7am, waking up a couple times, but pretty good rest being at sea level! At 8am my mom and I got picked up by a high school friend of my mother’s. We ventured out in the rain the short distance to the Beverly Hills Hotel and had breakfast at the Polo Lounge. I picked the egg white frittata and added some toast. Yum!

I was pretty full after this meal, but it was a great day-before-the-race breakfast. The rest of the morning was pretty relaxing, and it was a good day for being lazy since it was raining with some heavier downpours every so often. But by 1pm the rain had lightened up enough for me to go for a quick run to make sure my legs were working. 3 miles around the hills of Beverly.

In the afternoon a distant relative (but now not so distant!) and her son came by to visit. Robin (same first name AND occupation as the Robin with whom we had breakfast!) lives in NY and her great-great grandfather is the brother of my grandfather’s great grandfather. We had coffee and apple cake, and got to know each other a bit. They are both running and agreed to pick me up in the morning so my mom wouldn’t have to get up at o-dark-30 and drive me down to Santa Monica. Very nice!
After they left I started to get stuff around for the race before we ate. Dinner was salmon and brown rice as requested, with some carrots and green beans, and some more apple cake for dessert. In my Oma’s house there is dessert every day. Good thing I am here to run a marathon!

I put my stuff together for the morning, as they were going to get me by 4:20. Bed by 9pm!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Half Marathon Race Report

A good friend of mine, Tim Bergsten of PikesPeakSports.us got together with the Pikes Peak Road Runners and organized a half marathon and 5k for Super Bowl Sunday. I wouldn't miss this inaugural event and the timing of the event was great, as it is 6 weeks before the LA marathon. So today, I ran!
You can read about my race plan here, but it was executed well.

I got a good night's sleep and DIDN'T have to wake up at 4:30am. Nope, slept in until 7! I had a low-key race morning, got all my stuff around and left the house around 8:35. Pre-race packet pick-up went well. I parked in the underground garage and took the elevator up (saving energy!) to the lobby of the Plaza of the Rockies. Had my bib number in about 5 minutes and then met up with Scott, Kim, and Nate of the Pikes Peak Tri Club. John showed up shortly thereafter. I ran into Ken from the Porsche club, and several Team In Training athletes as well. Tim and Karen Barry were there as well....a lot of people out to race!

Despite the recent snowstorm that hit Colorado and made the national news, Colorado Springs didn't get that much so the trail was 98% clear. Although in the teens on my drive in, the temp was probably in the mid-20s at race start and low 30s when I finished. The sun was shining brightly and there was only a light wind. For Feb 5th winter weather, no complaints at all!

In the hour that I had before the start, I made sure I had my hand-carry bottle with Nuun and a couple Hammer Gels in the zipper pouch just in case. I was going to use my race belt, but then opted to just pin on the number instead. I put my jacket, car key, and outer-pants in the gear bag and dropped it off. I went to the bathroom a couple times and did some dynamic warm-ups in the lobby. At about 10 minutes before "kickoff" I headed outside with Nate to do a little warm-up run. The crowd had gathered and shortly thereafter the gun went off.

I am working with a run/walk for the LA marathon, so this was a great place to put it into practice. I set my Garmin to do 20 5min/30s intervals. I did my best to stick to an 8min pace for the run segments and just walked the 30s. I pushed myself pretty hard - I haven't run like this in a long time, as my Ironman training was a lot slower. So running hard for just under two hours is pretty tough on the body, though I knew I have the base fitness to do it. And the Generation UCAN really does provide steady energy.

Here are my splits. Here's the Garmin data.

I was running with a group of people, and I'd pass them running, and they'd pass me walking. I'd expected this to happen. I basically just tried to run as hard as I could without over doing it. The walk breaks were definitely welcome! I was so glad to see the turn around, as that meant over half the race was over (it didn't quite finish where it started) and I just tried to use my leg strength to push the pace. It was cool to see Kelly Ping out on the trail (she wasn't racing) as she's training for the Leadville 100 run. Yeah. Mark Good was at one of the aid stations and he gave me a little extra cowbell.

My legs were hurting and I was breathing pretty hard, but the downhill sections allowed me to keep up a good pace. I stuck to my walk breaks the entire way (except the last one, as the finish line was just a minute away.)

I finished at 1:50:31, a little more than 2 minutes over my half marathon PR. 9/61 age group, 23/173 overall females. But based on my training and the fact that I walked 10 minutes of the race, I'm quite happy with that. Tim was at the finish line to cheer before he headed in to work, and the tri club guys were hanging out. Tim Barry was there, as was Ken. Some quick "how'd it go?" conversation and then we walked the few blocks to Jack Quinn's. My clothes I checked were there. I had to wait in line to get it and pick up my goodies bag (a pretty cool shirt and pint glass):

But before I stood in line too long for the goodies, I realized I REALLY needed to eat. There were no snacks at the finish line and the half a gel I had over an hour earlier was long gone. So I hustled to the snack table and grabbed some bananas and mini-clif and mojo bars. That helped! I had to walk a block or so to get to my car and get my dry clothes, and then back to Jack Quinn's to change and enjoy the post-race specials. Once I was changed...and that was a challenge in itself...try putting on compression tights in a small bathroom stall...a table had opened up and I got a seat and then ordered the breakfast special and an Odell's Pale Ale. John, Nate, Scott, Kim, Tim, and Karen all joined in on some post race cheers.

I chatted with Tim Bergsten to tell him I had a great race (and that there should be food and clothes at the finish!). He was really pleased with the turnout as it was about twice what he originally thought it would be. I left Quinn's but before I got back to my car, I stopped into Buttercup's Frozen Yogurt and got a snack for after I got home. Even though it was cold out, frozen yogurt treat sounded great! And it did taste delicious!

So with super sore legs after a Super Half, I walked back to my car drove home and plopped myself on the couch to work a little and enjoy the Super Bowl.