LA Marathon Race Recap

It was wonderful to be out on the course with my two kids

I finally made it to the LA Marathon. Way back in 2015 this was supposed to be my 2nd marathon, but I chickened out a few days before the race. It was going to be a hot day and I think I was still traumatized from the very hot conditions in my first marathon the previous September. Backing out was a good decision because I clearly wasn’t ready. A month later, I joined a running group to train for the 2015 Ventura Marathon and had a great experience.

That seems like so long and so many marathons ago! This was my 11th marathon. So how did it go? Not as good as I’d hoped and better than I’d hoped.

Achilles taped and happy. I do need to do more work on my posture

Training went well. I successfully pushed my volume to that I had a couple 50+ miles weeks and was averaging mid-40s for the bulk of the training. I had to be careful here because I have been dealing with an unhappy achilles and didn’t want to make it worse. So, working with both a chiropractor and a PT, I was able to carefully increase the mileage while healing. I had a couple of weeks that I had to back off and that’s ok. The therapy along with daily mobility work has given me some pretty healthy calves…and a happy achilles. Note: I don’t recommend running with an injury unless you are working with a professional who gives you the ok and is continuing to monitor. If I’d worked with my team sooner my achilles would have healed long ago.

Knowing that the LAM course is hilly, when my achilles felt ok, I also trained on hills as much as I could. A group of us even drove down to LA to get in a 20 mile course run.

I’ve done a good job of incorporating strength training and have been doing workouts from Jay Dicherry’s Running Rewired. All in all I felt prepared.

A last comment on training – it’s been colder than normal this winter. We had lots of training runs with temperatures in the 40s. It was great for training and totally not normal for SoCal.

Sleep and Diet
I attribute this to menopause, but I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I especially don’t sleep well when I’m away from home. The night before The San Francisco Marathon I slept horribly, in fact I don’t think I slept. I was hoping for something better, but just in case I got in some good quality rest in the week before the race. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well the night before this race either…but it wasn’t as bad as San Francisco. Thankfully I felt fine in the morning.

As to diet, I quit eating meat about 5 weeks before the race. I note this, but also don’t think it had a big impact, which is fine. I do think that on none race nights I’ve been sleeping a bit better. Maybe from my diet? I’m not sure.

My daughter and me in our starting corral

Race Morning
We (my, son, and daughter) arrived at Dodger Stadium at about 5:30am. We went inside to look and take a photo. Lots of people were sitting (trying to sleep) in the stands. But the seats were wet, so we left. We walked around a little and found a place to hang out, eat a snack, and take of the clothes that would go in our drop bags.

We then did our warm ups, waited in line for the bathrooms, and then found our way to our corrals.

My daughter gave me this shirt on the day I qualified for my first Boston Marathon. I have to earn the right to wear it again! I was hoping to wear it last Sunday. Hopefully that will happen in July.

My Goal
One mistake I made was that my A (9:09 pace), B (9:15 pace), and C (9:20 pace) goals were too close together. All of them would have gotten me a Boston qualifying time and would have been a PR. My PR is 4:04:49, a 9:21 pace, run on a downhill course. I was optimistic because I believe I am in better shape than when I ran that PR.

The Race
Well…this didn’t turn out as I expected. I thought I started slow enough and was well within my goal paces, but I still had great struggles on those later hills.

One frustration was that my Garmin (Fenix) was off from the very beginning. I understand that this is always a possibility, but so far it has been off so much in races that my goals/training paces are way off target. This day I was very diligent about running the tangents and by the end of the race I was still off by .40 (why can’t it ever be in my favor? 😜)

When I reached the halfway point, I was on pace according to my watch but I knew that was meaningless and according to the race clock I was already 2 minutes behind. There’s no real making up that much of a gap. I really have to stop looking at time! Because then I had to convince myself to keep trying.

The hills in the second half were way harder than they were when we did our course run. I remembered that the climbing was hard in that run, but not as hard as I was currently experiencing. I also knew that when I got to Sepulveda, it would be even harder. And it was!

Thankfully there were a lot of people here cheering and encouraging us runners. I want to give a shout-out to the Pasadena Pacers Run Club. They had a huge group out there to support their runners. When the saw someone from their club coming they’d shout out that a Pacer was coming. Then a club member would go out and run with them for a few minutes. That was great! If I lived nearby I’d seriously think about joining their run club.

As I climbed Sepulveda and then Wilshire, I was looking forward to the downhill finish. I kept thinking that I would at least redeem a little bit of my time. Once I got there I did go faster, but my quads were on fire and what seemed fast to me was barely my easy run pace. So much for that!

I ended up completing the race in 4:26:16. This was 16 minutes slower than what I need to go back to Boston and thus 16 minutes (or more) slower than all of my goal paces for the day. Oh well. I think I will still get it at Jack and Jill.

Two More Observations

First – Street Preachers
There were two different street preachers out in the first third of the race. One man was standing on a bridge yelling down at us as we passed my. The other had a portable amp for his “preaching.” They were both sharing “hellfire and brimstone” messages. I wanted to yell at them both to “shut-up.” Seriously, what do they think they are doing except trying to bring attention to themselves? They were certainly not sharing anything remotely close to the love that God has for us…and for our world.

A better role model was found in the athletes who were running for World Vision and its mission of helping communities access clean water. That says a lot more about God and our sharing of God’s love.

Second – Road Conditions & Yeah for Trail Running
Overall I’d say that the course was nice. But there were a few spots where the road was buckled, or where there were unpatched holes. Considering all of our rain, I wasn’t surprised. I was also thankful that I occasionally run trails. I think that the experience of running on uneven surfaces helps to prepare your body to respond and thus prevent injury. I would definitely recommend occassionally hitting the trails for all runners.

I Almost Forgot the Better Than Expected Part
Although I did not run as fast as I’d hoped, it seems that many others did not either. So, I did way better than I imagined in the standings.
Division (F55-59): 35 out of 360 (top 10%)
Female: 1,153 of 8,224 (top 14%)
Overall: 4,801 of 20,029 (top 24%)

Rediscovering the Lost Body-Connection within Christian Spirituality – #2

Way back on October 31, 2018 I posted the first of what was to be a series on the above mentioned book. Then I got bogged down in all kinds of stuff…and to be honest the book is not all that easy to write about. Well, also, I’m only on page 38 so that’s maybe not the best excuse. Today, a few quotes that are important.

All of us, especially children, must be encouraged to listen to our bodies as teachers and not as enemies.

Somehow, as a child I learned that my body is the enemy. I was told that I was fat…ugly…lazy and I believed all this. It’s only recently that I’ve learned to love this wonderful body that God has given to me. It is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made…freckles and lumps and all!

I’ve learned this through sport…endurance sport…running to be exact. I wish I had discovered this earlier, but as I keep telling people, “it’s never too late to start.”

Important to my journey (which led to a pastoral call) I discovered the truth that God’s grace is an absolutely free gift. This knowledge has freed me from lots of self-doubt, but I must have thought of it more in the sense of feelings and heart. Today, as I fully realize this grace, I now believe, it can a should lead us to a holistic understanding of our bodies as gifts to be used and cherished and cared for.

What about you? How do you interact with your body today? Is it different from when you were a child?

Mile a Day Challenge

My 4th Annual Pastor/Coach Nancy’s Thanksgiving to Christmas Mile a Day Challenge starts tomorrow. Most of us can walk a mile in 20 minutes. That’s not too much time, and yet many of us struggle fitting this easy exercise into our lives. It is even harder during the holidays. But finding 20 minutes for a walk (or less for a run) is not impossible. That’s why I started the challenge. Whether you accept the challenge to go a mile a day or not, I encourage you to make time for exercise each day. It is good for your body and your mind.

Pastor-Coach Nancy's Thanksgiving to Christmas Mile a Day Challenge-3

Running Our Public Lands

img_4998.jpgLast night I listened to a friend, Vic Thasiah, make a call for the running community to be more actively engaged in conservation efforts for our public lands. His presentation took place at Topa Topa Brewing Company, and since I was holding a beer while listening, I missed taking notes! I wish I had because his talk was inspiring.

img_4776He shared that, from a national perspective, runners, as a group, are not as involved in preservation efforts as are hikers, kayakers, mountain bikers, and skiers. We as runners, are not organized around this important issue as are other groups. As I listened to the presentation, I wondered how many of us runners consciously appreciate the beautiful places we can go. Or do many of us think of running as “exercise” and something to “get done” while also experiencing the added benefit of a beautiful view?

As a pastor, I pray my gratitude for this beautifully created world in our weekly worship, while also praying that we would be good stewards of all that surrounds us. I find myself envisioning some of the places I’ve run as I pray. I’ve also tried to encourage our getting outside for worship with a monthly Hike Church. This has been met with limited success… but maybe that’s because I’m not doing a good enough job of inviting people.

img_4207-2.jpgThe other day, while running on one of our paved, but in need of much work, bike trails, I wondered about the feasibility of runners and cyclists fundraising to fix the trails. That’s a good endeavor and I’d support it. But now, I’m also thinking that we, wherever we are, should involve ourselves in to caring for, and helping to preserve, and conserve our public lands.

In my area, that care can be exercised through The Ventura Land Trust. I might even use my upcoming Thanksgiving to Christmas Mile a Day Challenge as a fundraiser for this worthy organization. Meanwhile, how do you see the running community participating in care for our public open spaces?

img_3858.jpg

Consistency – You Can Do It

IMG_4366
This tattoo, with the words run, live, breathe and gratitude celebrates the rewards of consistent training. Check out the link below if you want the story behind the tattoo

As I’m approaching the San Francisco Marathon (the 9th!) I’m thinking about an important element in marathon (or any distance) training. Consistency!

While in the middle of training, or building mileage and fitness we might not notice how much or how hard we are working. But in looking back it’s easy to recognize the rewards of consistent training. It’s not the occasional good workout that will lead to a good race effort. Rather, a good race effort is found in consistently putting in the miles, week after week. It is through this consistent training that our bodies adapt to running.

All runners will have the occasional run they don’t want to do. It may be due to a busy schedule. It may be due to fatigue. It may be due to general soreness. It may even be that you just don’t feel like running. So what should you do? In most cases the answer is to run. How do you know if you should back off?

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Feeling too Busy -RUN
    Even if you have to make the run shorter, it will help you to get out there. It may even help you get through your tasks in a better frame of mind. That’s a big benefit of running!
  • On Vacation – RUN
    A wonderful way to explore a vacation spot is to go for a run.
  • Experiencing General Soreness – RUN
    General soreness and injury are not the same thing. If you have achy and sore legs, a very easy recovery run may make them feel better. Make sure you run easy (as in slow).
    If you have very sharp, localized pain, this may be injury. It also may be stiffness. If, after a few steps the pain worsens then stop. If it feels better, then you are good to go. Sometimes we have little aches and pains that come and go and we have to make educated guesses about whether to run or not.  
  • Injured – DON’T RUN
    We need to learn to distinguish between good sore (your muscles are working and improving) and bad sore (injury). A good rule of thumb: if you have soreness that affects your gait (limp for instance) then take time to recover.
  • Feeling Crummy – RUN
    Although it might not feel comfortable, you can run with a head cold or allergies. The general rule is if the congestion is above your neck then you are good to go.
  • Have a Fever or Chest Congestions – DON’T RUN
    If your chest is congested, and/or if you have a fever, don’t run. You body needs to use its energy to fight the infection so allow it time to recover.

Sometimes, we’re just not sure. It’s ok to give it a try (unless you have a fever!) and then stop early if you’re not feeling well. You can always check with your coach if you’re not sure.

Happy Consistent Running!

About that tattoo: We Made a Pact!

 

Run in this heat? Yes!

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 9.40.21 AMConsistency. Showing up. Getting it done.

These words have been my mantra the past couple days. Officially I’m tapering for the San Francisco Marathon (July 29), but that doesn’t mean all running stops. It just gets easier, or at least it should.

So far this week I’m not feeling it. Instead I’m feeling hot, sweaty, tired, and cranky. I don’t like the heat! Well actually the high temperatures are not that bad as compared to others places…but their higher (86 yesterday) than is normal for us! Making it worse is the humidity. Right now it’s 77%…we’re not supposed to have 77% humidity!

I think the real problem is that the heat is trapped and we’re not getting our nightly cool down. As you can see in my photo, our low should be a nice cool mid-50 degrees this time of year. Instead we’re hanging out in the high to mid 70s. This makes good sleep in our non air-conditioned home elusive.

So that’s my whining!

Yesterday I woke up and thought, “it’s too hot to run.” Then I drank my coffee, changed my clothes, and did my 7 miles. My method for keeping my easy runs easy is to use my heart rate as a guide. My goal is to stay between 130-140 bpm. Yesterday my average HR was 133. My average pace was 9:51. Not bad for a hot morning!

At lunch time, I needed to do a strength workout. I do these in the gym at the back of my local running store, and there is no air conditioning at the back of the store! I thought all morning, “maybe I’ll just do it tomorrow.” But tomorrow (today now) I have a massage scheduled, so better get it done! Other than sweating so much that I could see wet spots all over the floor, the workout went well. Yeah!

Last night I went to bed hot. Woke in the middle of the night hot. Woke up this morning hot. I sat with my morning coffee (too bad I don’t like iced coffee!) and thought, “gonna have to skip today’s run.” I even had a second cup, which I never do before running.

fullsizeoutput_10aa.jpegAnd as I drank that second cup I remembered Des Linden’s advice, “keep showing up.” I thought about the inspirational Western States Endurance Race where athletes ran 100 miles in temperatures that topped 100 degrees. With these thoughts, I put the coffee down, changed clothes, and set off on my easy 5 miles. It went well!

Consistency. Showing up. Getting it done.

That’s what it’s all about. In running. In life.

Happy Tuesday.

Fun? Endurance…Is it fun?

This morning I listened to Mario Frailoi’s podcast interview of UltraMarathoner Dean Karnazes.   https://www.themorningshakeout.com/category/podcast/

As are all The Morning Shakeout podcasts I’ve heard, this one was insightful, inspirational, and informative. I love how the conversation continued to draw new questions out of Mario, as he said something like, “one more…”

One part of the dialog reminded me of a blog post I meant to write after Boston.

img_0094
I showed this photo to the clerk at the Sam Adams Brewery to get a free glass. He asked, “why are you smiling?” Because I just finished!

In the immediate aftermath of the race, whenever someone would ask, “How was Boston?” I’d immediately reply, “It was fun.” Then if we had time for conversation I’d go into a description of the horrible weather (freezing temperatures, torrential rain, grueling head winds My First Boston Marathon – The Race ).

Usually the response was, “you call that fun?” At one point I decided that maybe I need to come up with a better description of my experience. Hard? Tough? Laborious? Strenuous? Maybe these are all good descriptive words, but they don’t get to the reality of the experience.

As I think of my response to the question, “how was it?” on other races, I realize that I most often say fun.

img_0012
The immediate aftermath of my first 50K! My husband didn’t want to take the photo because I looked so awful. I wanted it so I could remember. Yes, it was fun

My first 50k, The Ray Miller 50/50. This took just over 8 hours! For the last hour I suffered with the weird feeling of being simultaneously hungry and having a stomach ache. This race was exhausting in a way different than a road marathon. And as I think back, it was fun. I’m doing it again! Race Day – Ray Miller 50K Recap

Every marathon I’ve ever done has been HARD. Boston was maybe the hardest, because of the weather. But I can say doing them was fun.

The 5K. I have a love/hate relationship with the 5K. This is the hardest race distance for me. It’s the only race where consistently, I contemplate quitting. Usually just past the 2-mile mark. And yet, every summer I participate in Boogie Nights, a series of 10 Wednesday evening 5Ks. I love it! I hate it! It’s fun!

Here’s a definition of fun according to Dictionary.com:

[fuhn]
SynonymsExamplesWord Origin

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com

noun
  1. something that provides mirth or amusement: A picnic would be fun.
  2. enjoyment or playfulness: She’s full of fun.

I can definitely say a race is not the kind of fun you would equate with a picnic. Maybe the second line gets at it with the word “enjoyment.” Certainly not in the sense of playfulness, but rather in the sense of enjoying the accomplishment.

Mario and Dean talk about this near the end of the interview with the discussion of a phrase Dean seems to be known for, “It’s supposed to hurt like hell.” Mario asked about this and Dean told the story of his Jr. High running coach saying this to him (listen to the podcast for the story!).

My own coach transformed my running when I wondered when I’d get fit enough that my long runs would be easier. He responded with the words, “It’s supposed to be hard.” Ohhhh….once I knew this, my running improved immensely! Filling our minds… or finding a mantra

So how can “it’s supposed to hurt like hell” and “fun” go together? They just do, for runners. Struggling and making it through are fun. Maybe not in the moment but certainly after.

Outside of my Boogie Nights 5K attempts the next three Wednesdays, my next chance to “hurt like hell” while having fun will be the San Francisco Marathon, July 29th. Yeah!