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Sunday, February 12, 2012

LA Marathon Training Diary: Without Limits

My apologies for not updating the last few weeks. It's been a crazy couple weeks. Let me try to get caught up in one post.

January 28, 2012 - Water Station (13 miles marathon race pace)
I actually didn't run this day. I ran 8 miles on Friday with a friend and didn't want to overwork my body. I figured I would come out and support my pace group and the other runners, so I worked a water station. Besides waking up a little earlier than I normally do on Saturdays, it was a lot of fun. The water station was run by Alan, who happens to have a wealth of knowledge and experience. In the future, I will definitely consider volunteering again if I need another Saturday off.

February 4, 2012 - 10 miles
It was back to work this day as I headed to Dodger Stadium for hill training. We ran in the neighborhood near the stadium and did three loops. It was a nice change of scenery and it was nice to focus on running hills. Venice is pretty flat, so it's important to get in those miles on hills.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but by the third loop I was started to get a little more exhausted. We were actually running the flat areas at aerobic pace, but running the hills at MRP (marathon race pace). We won't be doing that on the day of the marathon, but the goal was to attack the hills.

February 11, 2012 - 20 miles
This was the run on the calendar that no one was really looking forward to. 20 miles is a big distance and I knew I was going to be running for over four hours. That's a long time. I also didn't really have the greatest week of training, so I had no idea how well I would really do. I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I mentally came into this run really confident. Why not? I have to run 26.2 miles in a month. I can't be afraid of running 20 miles.

One of my favorite moments of LA Roadrunners happened before the run. Coach Rod Dixon brought everyone together (a couple hundred people) and was carrying this big American flag. Then, one of the pace leaders sang the national anthem while Coach Dixon held out the flag. I know it was just a training run, but it was really cool and really special. I'm not even that patriotic, but I was pumped after that. Hearing the anthem before going out to participate in an athletic event is a great motivator.

I wasn't really planning on it, but I ran at the front for the first time in a month or so. It felt like no one wanted to be in the front, so I jumped at the opportunity. Plus, I was wearing a shirt with Steve Prefontaine's face on it. That guy always ran in the front, so part of me felt like I had no other choice.

I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that I've been training since September or if I'm just more confident, but I had a really good run. I experienced very little difficulty. We ran at aerobic pace (12 minute miles). I did experience a few times when I felt a little tired, so I took a couple energy gels. I have been mostly using the GU brand and the chocolate and vanilla flavors. They work well when I need that extra boost. I don't know if it's possible to run 20 miles without some energy supplement.

Running for four hours was also not as bad as I thought. Running in a group is definitely helpful. We can each other company and we occasionally entertain one another. I may have written this in a previous post, but I hate running by myself. I don't think I could run a marathon unless I was training with a group of people.

The best part of the 20 mile run was I felt like I still had stuff left in my tank. I could have kept going and that felt great. I wasn't the only one that said that either, so I guess that is a testament to this training program working. They say the marathon is two parts. The first 20 miles and the last 10k (6.2). The second part is supposedly all mental, so I think I have the physical toughness to get to 20, then have my mental toughness carry me the rest of the way.

After the run, Roadrunners provided ice baths for runners. They filled large trash barrels with ice water and people stepped in them. It was really cold, but actually felt really good on my legs. I was starting to feel a little sore after finishing the 20 miles, but this definitely helped. My legs actually felt great the rest of Saturday and I experienced very little soreness or pain in the following days. I almost want to take ice baths after every run. They really work.

Now, with the 20 mile run done, I am really in the home stretch. There's about a month of training left. I can't believe how quickly the time has come and gone. We are going to start to taper soon, but there's still a couple big runs coming up in the next few weeks. It's crazy. It will be March 18th before I know it.

Until next week... 13 miles...

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