2014 Victory for Victims 5k Recap

So how does one follow up a Marathon PR and Boston Qualifier?  How about by running a 5k!?  Doesn’t sound very logical, but that’s exactly what I did and it worked out pretty well for me!

Following the LA Marathon, I recovered quicker than I have after any of the previous 6 marathons I’ve run.  Chalk it up to improved fitness, chalk it up to improved nutrition, you can even chalk it up to running a smart race.  Whatever it is I felt pretty darn good a week out from the race.  I decided to take advantage of that and move forward with doing more running and focusing on speed.  I noticed some unexpected fitness gains.  It was weird to me to feel so strong at shorter distances so soon after the Marathon, though the feedback I received from other experienced runners is, this is not abnormal at all!  In fact, it happens often.

I decided to take advantage of this and shoot for a new 5k PR!  What race would I run?  I decided to return to the “scene of the crime” of the only official 5k I’ve done.  The Victory For Victims race which I ran in 2009 (and won my age group).  At that race I set my official PR of 19:37, though that wasn’t my primary target!

Cats Vitory

Going into this race I had an A goal, B goal and C goal. My A goal was a sub 18 min 5k. My B goal was sub 18:30 (to beat my boot camp 3 mile time), My C goal was simply to PR in the distance (beat 19:37).  The sub 18:00 time had some significance.  First, has to due with my Marine Corps background.  Runners under a certain age who complete the 3 mile run portion of their physical fitness test (PFT) in under 18 minutes are awarded the max allotted points.  Even though, at the age of 34 I would not be held to that same standard, and a 5k is technically .1 miles longer than the 3 mile distance.  The other significance was something I read on the website of The Los Angeles New Years Race.  Male runners who run sub 18 minutes are eligible for “Sub Elite” status.  Though I don’t consider myself “Sub Elite” it would be pretty cool to get that treatment at least for a day!

Anyway, I made it to Lake Balboa / Woodley Park bright and early at 6:30 am to pick up my my bib and t-shirt, and to meet up with some familiar faces (and some new ones).  I met up with Jeff from Runnergy Sherman Oaks who was meeting up with The New Basin Blues Running Club.  I had run with this group a lot in the past, especially on trails!  I caught up with some “long lost” friends and made friends with those I didn’t know so well.  Its definitely a nice way to start a race day morning with some great company!

Pre Race Blues

For a local 5k it was a well organized event and we had plenty to do at the start.  It was an expo set up with vendors, food (Panera Bread supplied pre run Bagel Bites) and swag giveaways (I got a Brooks Mustache Keychain).  The Laker Girls were on hand to motivate the runners before the start, though I don’t remember them leading a full warmup as they did in previous years, but I may have been pre-occupied.  Olympian Raefer Johnson was on hand as an annual staple to this event.  He spoke before the race kicked off and stuck around for the award ceremony post race.

V4V 5k Start Line
At the start of the race everyone was jockeying for position, I told a much older woman to be careful standing right at the start line as some faster runners may try to push her out of the way. When the horn went off I fought a little to get my space and I was off like a bat out of hell. With all of the adrenaline (and a little bit of caffeine) I was flying!  When I looked at my watch I realized it was not a pace I could maintain for the entire 5k and came to my senses a bit to avoid blowing up completely.  I gradually settled down and followed up the 5:35 first mile with a 5:53 second mile. All the while I was competing with a runner named Rene Canizales.  Rene is a New Basin Blues Team Member whom I met before the race. Very nice guy, but who says nice guys ain’t competitive?!  We took turns passing each-other at different parts of the race but neither of us was ever too far behind from the other.  The final mile plus was tough! I felt like I was just hanging on at this point, but I was still giving my all!  This is where my one gripe with the race comes in.  The course, at some critical parts was not very clearly marked, and in the final mile it really made a difference! I nearly missed a vital turn but quickly recovered.  Thankfully there were some volunteers to show the way… at the last second!  I also had to dodge some on-coming runners from the back of the pack.  They were coming while I was going.  The final obstacle was a pedestrian tunnel which dipped down and then back up ending back at the park for a final right turn on the grass to the finish line.  Though I was slightly ahead when we got out of the tunnel, Rene out kicked me from there, and I had no answer!

V4V 5k Finish
My final time was 18:07 with Rene ahead of me at 18:03.  After the race we congratulated each other, I then found out Rene was not even in my age group!  He’s 37 and I’m 34, nonetheless, it was motivation that pushed us both and we were both appreciative of each other for that purpose!  I finished 9th overall and 1st in my Age Group. Rene was 8th overall and 2nd in his age group. It felt great to know that I gave it all I had out there! No doubt the friendly competition helped! I am thrilled with my new PR and still have a sub 18 minute 5k goal within reach!

Results 2 Results 1

Post race festivities were great with hot food from El Torro and Ice Cream cones from Ben and Jerry’s. There were free massages available for runners as well!  The awards ceremony was great as every age group winner were called up by name to receive a medal presented by Raefer Johnson.  For this race there are no finishers medals for all participants, so if you want to leave with “bling”, you have to place in your age group!

Age Division Winners Men

Finally a nice bonus is the race pics which were made available online for free!  No, not the type with the big bold PROOF stamped on it, but a high quality race pic that can even be personalized with your name and finishing time!

Post Race Group

Post Race Thoughts: I guess with the 5k, there isn’t as much to pick apart with such a short race.  I definitely think I could tweak my strategy a bit and run more even splits, but that’s pretty much all I would change.  I wore my New Balance Minimus 20v2 for this race and they performed wonderfully.  I didn’t feel them, or at any point did I think abut them which is great!  This also shows that I was running with good form, since in these shoes you you feel it when your form is not right!  I’m not sure what’s next for me.  I’m eyeing a Fall Marathon but will likely run a 10k, Half Marathon, or both before then!  I hope to keep the PR streak going!

Happy Running!

New Basin Blues CATS Team

 

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Strategic Focus or Taper Madness?

The LA Marathon weekend is 2 Weeks away and if reality has not kicked in for runners, it will very soon!  For me, this LA Marathon is about taking the next step!  I have, during the past few months, stepped up my efforts in training and nutrition in an attempt to finally get over the hurdle and qualify for The Boston Marathon.

la-marathon3

A Boston Qualifier has been a target of mine since I finished my first Marathon in 2009, although back then it didn’t quite seem possible!  In 2010 it was something I was striving for, and when I completed The Philadelphia Marathon only 2 minutes shy of this goal it was a full on obsession!  I came way shy in my BQ attempt when I ran The Pasadena Marathon in 2011.  To be honest, although I was telling myself I wanted to qualify for Boston I was not training like a runner who really wanted to qualify for Boston.

Boston Marathon 2014 Qualifying Times

My training schedule was a mess, with holes all over and no consistency whatsoever.  I thought I’d make it because I had some speed, but I didn’t respect what it really takes to reach that goal! There were other factors as well including a Vitamin D deficiency that I didn’t know about until before the 2012 Malibu Half Marathon.

Ventura Marathon Official Pic2

Fast forward to 2013, I ran my first marathon in 2 years at The Ventura Marathon.  At the time I needed to run a 3:05, a tall order for sure, but I was up for the task.  I didn’t have a Garmin during my training only a stop watch, which was both good and bad.  Good: I learned how run by feel!  Bad: Running by feel concept didn’t work during the race when I got swept up with Half Marathoners and went out too fast.  Despite my horrible execution on race strategy, I still managed to run a 3:16 which gave me a lot of confidence for not having run a marathon in 2 years!

EddieBridge4

There are a lot of factors in play that, I hope will lead to me reaching my goal at the 2014 LA Marathon.  I’ve posted about my experience with Team NutriBullet, and while I won’t get into all of those details again, I will say it is this training experience and change of mindset that has put me in the position to reach my goals.  Training, proper running form, proper nutrition, in addition to a smart / balanced training strategy has all paid off in a big way!

TNB Group Pic3

The final part of the puzzle is race strategy, and this is where I have been obsessing a bit!  (Okay, maybe a lot!)  Since I attribute my “blow up” at the Ventura Marathon to poor race strategy, I refused to let that be the case once again!  I have a Garmin now, so that should help me from going out “Too fast”, but what about after?  Do I just wing it from there?  No, I refuse to leave it to chance for my big race!  I just had to break down the miles, not to mention I’m also taking a college math class so I’ve been manipulating numbers for weeks!

The rough plan: Run the 1st 3 miles at 7:30 pace; the next 3 miles at 7:15 pace; the bulk of my miles at 7:00 pace, and the final 4+ miles at 6:45 pace if I’m feeling good!  I broke it down and it puts me under 3:05 (about 3:04:36), and if I cant run 6:45 for the final 4+?  I’d still come in about 3:07, still sub 3:10.

So then the question is, can I actually execute this plan?  According to my training its feasible!  I’ve been able to hold a 6:30 pace pretty well on my tempo runs so the 7 min/mile pace should be very manageable.  7:30 for the early miles is slower, but not that slow, it averages out pretty nicely after running all of them 7 minute miles.  (Does it sound like I’m obsessing?)

LAM Course Map

So then there’s the part about negative splits.  According to my plan I’ll run the first half at about 1:33:15 and my second half at about 1:31:21 (Obviously numbers are never exact)  a 2 minute negative split is not a huge stretch right?  After all I have run a lot of progressive paced runs during my training to prepare for just that!  As I continue to crunch these numbers it may be easy to second guess myself, or try to alter the strategy.  I mean even as I type this I was thinking of ways to modify the plan.  With 2 weeks left is this just another form of Taper Madness, or is it the type of Strategic Focus that I’ve been missing for my previous races.

To be honest my training has been very solid and focused, my mileage has been the highest, and most consistent that it has been since, ever? And once again the x-factor is my nutrition!  All of my previous marathon successes have come despite my training shortcomings, now its time to see what I can do when I’m doing things the right way!  Who knows maybe writing all this in my blog will get it all out my system.  Yep, then I can move onto obsessing about other things, like the the race day weather! 😉

LAM Weather Forecast!

Happy Running!

How can I achieve success in running?

Success means different things to different people, and its a motivating factor many areas of our lives.  Before one can strive for success, the individual must first define what that “success” looks like.

Since this is a running blog, we’re focusing on success in running.  There are many tips and training programs out there that promise to elevate your performance to new levels, but what’s right for you?  That depends on what you want to accomplish!  Every runner has different goals, for example:

  • I want to lose weight; get fit; etc.
  • I want to run at least once a day #runstreak
  • I want to train for my first… (5k; 10k; half marathon; marathon; ultra; etc.)
  • I want to achieve a time goal… (PR or PB; qualify for Boston; etc.)
  • I want to run faster; longer; more often
  • I want to run to promote my charity
  • I want to race more frequently (12 races in 12 months, 1 race every weekend, 2 races in a single weekend, etc.)

As you can see (and probably noticed if you’ve been in the running community for some time), many runners run for different reasons.  But what is success and how do you achieve it?

First lets look at what success is.  Success can be defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  In running there is not just 1 singular aim or purpose, every individual has to define what it is they want to accomplish.  For many, success is measured by achieving specific goals.  But depending on the goal it’s recommended that runners have an A goal, B goal and sometimes a C goal.

Lets be honest, every Olympic athlete has a goal of winning a Gold medal, but does that mean they wouldn’t be happy with a Silver or Bronze?  For example if you have a goal of qualifying for Boston, you may come up short of that goal, but set a PR in the process.

Once you set your goal(s), its time to determine how you will work to achieve them.  A specific training/nutrition program? Calendar reminders?  Joining a running group/community?  Hiring a trainer?

One of the best ways to learn how to achieve a goal is to learn from someone who has already achieved that goal.  Better yet from someone who has an established track record of success in that area.

For many runners success is not about achieving a single goal, rather several goals over a period of time.  Resist the urge to tackle too many things at once.  Focus on 1 goal at a time, and/or make sure your multiple goals make sense together.  It may be easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing but the runners who are successful focus on what is necessary to ensure their own success.

Personally, I don’t sign up for very many races throughout the year because my focus is to train for a fast marathon to qualify for Boston, but  someone who has a goal of running 12+ marathons in a year may decide not to race every one in order to ensure they will successfully make it through them all.

Finally, sometimes to achieve success it’s necessary to take a step back.  If you are an often injured runner for example, or always coming up short of your goal in races, it may be a wise decision to step back and analyze your strategy.  Do you need to adjust your running form, add or subtract from your weekly mileage, add cross training, modify your race strategy? It’s said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, don’t let stubbornness hold you back!

I’ve seen many runners achieve amazing things!  Make sure your goals are realistic and you are willing to what it takes to reach them and you can achieve amazing things as well!

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Runner’s Confession #2: The Turkey Trot

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(turkey runner by freedigitalphotos.net)

When I think of Thanksgiving I there are many traditions and memories that come to mind.  The food (Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Pie, etc.), being around family and friends, having everyone share what they are thankful for, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV!  For runners, there is another tradition: Turkey Trots!

Turkey Trots are all the rage, and is a tradition as old as running itself.  The Buffalo Turkey Trot, for example claims to be a few months older than the Boston Marathon.  It’s the reason why Thanksgiving has overtaken 4th of July  as the #1 day for Road Racing in the US.  Chances are there’s a local Turkey Trot in your area.

Turkey trots are seen by many runners and non-runners alike as a way to have a guilt free thanksgiving meal.  The 5k distance, fun environment and non-competitive atmosphere is especially appealing for beginners.

Living in Los Angeles, there is no shortage of these races available to me.  Still, I have yet to participate in an organized Turkey Trot. I know, blasphemy right?!  To be honest, it’s never been high on my list of priorities!  Even still, there are reasons (or excuses as some will say) as to why I’ve never run a Turkey Trot.

      • Too close to Fall Marathons
      • I am out of town
      • Family is in town
      • I’m helping to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner early in the morning

The closest I’ve come to running a race on Thanksgiving was The Philadelphia Marathon, after which I stayed in NJ to spend Thanksgiving with family.

This year has the potential to break that trend.  My wife and I celebrated Thanksgiving early due to family being in town.  I’m not planning to go anywhere, and Marathon was in September.  I already have my eye on a couple of local races, and if I do, in fact, break my no Turkey Trot streak, I’ll be sure to share my experience!

In the mean time, I want to hear about your Turkey Trot experiences, let me know what I’m missing!