Monday, January 17, 2011

Race Recap: 13.1 Marathon - Los Angeles

On Friday night I flew down to Long Beach, California to begin my weekend extravaganza with Rad Runner. In effort to not write an entire novel in one post, I will write more about our adventures later. For now, I'm going to cut to the chase: The 13.1 Marathon we both dominated!

When I found out I won an entry into this race thanks to runner's rambles' giveaway, I immediately set my sites on 1.) convincing Rad to run this race (she was hesitant to agree since she hates the course), and 2.) attempting to run a sub-1:50.

Winning Rad over wasn't too hard. Attempting a sub-1:50 from a 1:54:30 (my current PR) in the span of 2 months was going to be harder. I knew the L.A. course was flat, and a few promising workouts gave me hope I could do this ... as long as the weather held out. I printed off a 10-week training schedule that I was 3 weeks tardy in starting, and I went straight to work with hill sprints, interval runs, tempo runs, and speed workouts through the holidays.

Rad and I started my trip to Long Beach with a run in her backyard on Saturday morning. She and her husband live close to the water, and we went on a quick 2-mile jog so I could get a feel for what the weather was like at 7:30am, the time of our race the next day. I brought a couple outfit choices and settled on running in my Punk Rock Racing shirt -- the shirt I PR'd in at the U.S. Half Marathon in November. I was sure it'd bring me good luck again!

A brief sunrise jog along the beach path in Long Beach.
I definitely wasn't awake yet.
My main strategy for attempting 1:50 was to hoof it at the beginning. I always start races too quickly and was hoping to bank this time (yeah, yeah, I know this is not the best strategy to have faith in). The sun would be in full force early on and it would most definitely zap me a bit -- I discovered this from being outside for a few minutes on Saturday. The sun down south sucked the energy out of me so quickly and I slept like a rock that night! I wanted to get some fast miles in while the conditions would let me, and then hope I wouldn't burn out under the crispy SoCal sun for the rest of the race.

I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up at 4:29a.m. on Sunday morning, after my alarm was set for 4:30. I mean, come on... who really likes waking up that early by an alarm? A natural rise made for a much better morning! I got my race bag ready, packed up my iFitness belt, made my breakfast, and we navigated our way to Santa Monica. Parking was easy, I ate my breakfast in the car, and we then hopped in the Biffy line before lining up at the start.

Sunrise from the Santa Monica Pier.
Almost race time!
After making our way to the starting area and lining up by our paces, we heard a killer non-traditional rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed on trumpet. Just like that, we were off! The first mile was along Venice Beach, and the remainder of the course was a 6-mile out-and-back along Venice Blvd. -- an extremely flat, very boring route with tangents that would be hard to mess up.

The Boringest Route Ever

Mile 1 (7:43), Mile 2 (7:48), Mile 3 (8:08) -- I want to go fast, but this is too fast! Pull it back -- I can't do this for long and hope to complete the race.

While I should have lined up in the 8-minute mile section, I pushed my way to the end of the 6-minute mile section. Based solely on judging books by their cover, I knew only a few runners were actually there to follow those pace guidelines. I hoped the faster people would be my rabbits, and I wouldn't trip over some of the more ambitious runners who just happened to be standing too close to the front.

Mile 4 (8:20 -- first gel), Mile 5 (8:22), Mile 6 (8:29) -- My legs kind feel kind of funny. Holy cow, the sun is bright. Am I getting heat stroke?

My mental games started realllllly early on in this race, when I first though I had something in my left sock, and then thought my right foot was going numb, and then thought my legs were turning into jello. I tried my hardest to keep my pace steady, tune out the voices in my head, and listen to the on-course entertainment.

Mile 7 (8:16), Mile 8 (8:14), Mile 9 (8:13 -- second gel) -- How did I conclude that wearing all black was a smart idea?! I am frying! I need to dump something cold on m--- oooooh, there's a water stop.

Once I hit the turnaround point, I started checking my Garmin often. I was wearing a pace band I made, and I kept trying to monitor how much time I had in the bank. Mind you, my math skillz suck so I didn't have a definite number, but I knew roughly where I wanted to stay to be able to finish out the race. I was feeling very warm and pretty tired, and every once in a while I would cash in some seconds and pull a mile split back to conserve energy. I liked knowing I had a bit of a window in case I needed to refill my handheld -- or if I needed to stop and black out for a couple minutes. At one point I had about 3 minutes in the bank, but I saw myself losing a few seconds per mile when I began to conserve. Nothing to be concerned about... I was still attempting (and succeeding at) a pretty outrageous goal.
Mile 10 (8:25), Mile 11 (8:17), Mile 12 (8:09) -- WHO IS SPITTING ON MY CALVES? Oh, that's actually just my knee sweat. Wait ... knees can sweat??

At mile 12.5, I got the worst side stitch in the history of the world. Really, it was the worst in the whole wide world. I could only manage short, labored breaths and I must have looked like I was practicing Lamaze breathing. The only way I could alleviate the pain was by slouching over and shoving my fingers under my rib cage... or to walk, which I didn't want to do. I saw that I still had something like 1 and 1/2 minutes in the bank, so I decided to power through it. I must have looked like a fool since I was running with my hand pressed into my gut. I turned the last corner and I saw the finish line. I began running harder, just as I had during the first few miles. The side stitch disappeared with the end in site.

Caught on camera in the final tenth of a mile. Don't mind the derp face -- I was really excited that I had a massive PR in the bag. And I also just take really crappy pictures.
Mile 13 (8:08) and Mile .15 (1:03) -- This is amazing!!! I am awesome!! I want to run it again, but harder!! (Proceed to gag violently for a number of minutes after finishing.)

Unofficial victory.
Not only did I nag a sweet PR, so did Rad!!! She ended up with 5-minute PR to her name (Read her recap here: Rad Runner Record Town!)! Are we one anothers' good luck charms or what?! I can't wait to run the San Francisco Marathon with her this summer -- I know we'll both be setting awesome new times.

Rad loves photobooths. We couldn't find an open bar after the race to take a strip, so we made our own. Celebrate good times!
We had this post-race treat just for you, Ron. Wish you could have been here!

Official Time: 1:47:44 -- a 6:49 PR!
Average Pace: 8:11 min/mile (7.3 mph)
Overall Place: 485 out of 2,539
Gender Place: 115 out of 1,314
Division Place: 18 out of 248
Air Temp: 74F, no clouds to be found

13.15-mile splits:
1: 7:43/7.8 mph
2: 7:48/7.7 mph
3: 8:08/7.4 mph
4: 8:20/7.2 mph
5: 8:22/7.2 mph
6: 8:29/7.1 mph
7: 8:16/7.3 mph
8: 8:14/7.3 mph
9: 8:13/7.3 mph
10: 8:25/7.1 mph
11: 8:17/7.2 mph
12: 8:09/7.3 mph
13: 8:08/7.4 mph
.15: 1:03/8.5 mph

(P/S: Happy birthday, Aron. :) I hope your day was as good as the race you gave me!)


  1. Who's amazing AWESOME FREAKING A IS!!
    I love it, every single word of it. Im glad you could still taste the race memories, I knew with every ounce you'd dominate!
    P.S. We are even cute in the morning when we are delirious and sleepy
    P.P.S We are running Many races together I can SMELL it wait wait, ok.. I can taste it too. mujelos.

  2. You did such an amaaaaaazing job!!!! Way to stick it out with the side stitch, too! I am so so happy for you!! And 74! That is way too hot for me. Now to find you a flat, COOL half to run ;)

    And I have to say that is one sweet medal, too!

  3. Awesome PR, you two look like you had a blast!

  4. Great time, and great pacing. I think you need to remove that whole "average" part from your blog title.

  5. How freaking amazing are you to PR so hugely in that heat? WTG girl! You give me hope!

  6. much i loved about this. first the PR!! awesome! love the medal, pics and the post race treat! OH, and the spitting on the calves. nice!

  7. That's an INSANE PR! Y'all both rock!

  8. Great job! Awesome report. Way to go with your time and PR!

  9. I also love a natural rise!

    That is a HUGE pr girl, congrats! It's also pretty cool (from a selfish point of view) to read about your mind games and your stitch. If someone of your class suffers from stuff like that, then there's hope for the rest of us!

    Happy 2011 eh :-)

  10. You kicked some MAJOR booty down there! Congrats girl!!!!

  11. Yay to your awesome PR! Love the medal!

  12. WOW, what an amazing day/weekend you had!! Congrats on an excellent new PR!

  13. Awesome - way to rock that PR Ms A!!! Very nice cupcake, too. Glad you are enjoying the racing in CA but could you please send that 74 degrees our way for a few days??? Have a great week!

  14. I read this right when it went up and have been meaning to comment - YOU DID SO FREAKING AMAZING!!!!!! I couldn't have picked a better person to win :) holy PR - 7 minutes on a half is so huge!

  15. All I know is it’s a good thing I didn’t run this one with you. You would have lost too much time looking over your shoulder wondering where the hell I was and why I ever thought I could even try to keep up with you.

    You have truly become an amazing runner and, lucky for me, you’re one of the cooler people on the planet. I’m sorry I missed the cupcakes and I plan to make it up to you and her royal “Radness” in July.

    All the best,


  16. Wow! That was a super run - CONGRATS on your PR!
    I loved reading the recap. It was so exciting and that you ran through such a bad side stitch.
    I would LOVE to break through that 1:5+ half. Fingers crossed for Feb. 19th!

  17. Fantastic! Congratulations! You had a perfect race and such a fun time as well. That post race treat is perfect.

  18. That sounds like my kind of race! Flat! Awesome new PR! That looks like a pretty cool medal too!

  19. amazing!! Great time and glad you had fun :) Your form looked great in that photo!