An epic race weekend deserves an equally epic race report! The 2014 LA Marathon will forever rank high among my favorite races I have run. Just an incredible experience from start to finish from the expo to the finish line!
Being a part of an Official fully organized and supported training program for the first time has been amazing. It also created such a huge build up for this race, so much so that I nearly blew my training! On the final taper week, I thought it a good idea to run an 8 mile fartlek workout (7 with my friend Marko) I reasoned that we’d take it easy, but no chance of that happening! Competition being what it is, we hit some blazing fast speeds that day. Thankfully that was on Monday and I still had some time to recover before Sunday. But first, the Expo!
Nutribullet is both a premium LA Marathon partner and sponsors of the Health and Fitness expo. Since I am a member of Team NutriBullet I was invited to take part of some festivities! Since those festivities started at noon, I decided to volunteer at the Ventura Marathon booth to help race director Josh Spiker. I ran the inaugural race in 2013 and had a great time so I would have no problem promoting it!
I really enjoyed working at the expo booth and having some great conversations with people about running! Not to mention I got a Ventura Marathon t-shirt and hoodie out of the deal! Thanks Josh! While I was working the booth and helping get runners signed up Meb Keflezghi was taking the stage as a featured speaker! I just had to take the opportunity to listen to my favorite elite Marathoner share the secrets to his success!
After that boost of motivation I finished up my work with Josh and prepared for the NutriBullet Festivities! Nadia Ruiz Gonzalez was a featured speaker to share her success of running over 100 marathons! During the presentation we had some Nutribullet giveaways and motivated the crowd as they answered Marathon questions for prizes! After all of the fun we took some group photos and I eventually made my way out.
So I thought I was done at the expo when I see the Asics Treadmill Challenge going on. I figured I’d watch for a little bit. “Oh”, I thought. “That guy is pretty fast. Actually he kind of looks like Ryan Hall!” Well that’s because it was Ryan Hall!
Ryan, the fastest American Marathoner was holding a conversation on the treadmill at about 4:40 pace. Answering questions and asking some back to the crowd! I answered a few questions myself but took off before it got too late. He had been on the treadmill for 15 minutes by the time I left and I later heard he stayed on for an hour! At 4:40 pace!
I got home, found something to eat and started preparing for race day. As this is my 7th Full Marathon my routine is pretty set. I laid my clothes out, prepared my morning meals and tried to go to bed at a reasonable time.
There was a lot threatening to go against me on race day, the weather, the early morning, the time change. I didn’t let any of this get to me though, somehow I was just confident that everything would work out!
Race day morning (If I could even call it that) was crazy. Crazy as in, why would you do that if you are about to run a race? I woke up at 1:30 am, gave me 30 minutes to get ready before my friend Mike picked me up at 3 am. Yes, you heard that right! No my math it not off. This was due to daylight savings time, and the clocks going forward. Yay, exciting stuff! For breakfast I had some oatmeal with chopped apple, and 2 whole grain pancakes which I carried with me in a container. I also brought a pre-made Nutriblast! I spaced out my eating, starting with the oatmeal. Since our shuttle was at 4 am I ate the pancakes and left the container in Mikes car. I brought the Nutriblast along on the bus to drink when we got to Dodger Stadium! We arrived early and I took advantage of no lines for the porta Johns. I also picked up a banana and a bottle of water for some extra nutrition before the run. I met up with my fellow Team NutriBullet runners prior to our 5:45 am festivities. The fun was about to start!
Prior to the Marathon there was a DJ on stage, NutriBullet Dancers hyping up the crowd, glow sticks, thunder sticks and loud party music! Wait, did I sign up for a Rock n’ Roll Marathon? Nope this was the new LA Marathon and NutriBullet was getting the party started right! Team NutriBullet was asked to get out in front of the stage and do the twist while a video played in the big screen of us doing the same after one of our long training runs! A video collage of the Team Nutribullet training season was also played on stage, and I have to say it felt pretty good to be a part of this group for the LA Marathon.
All of this was both getting me hyped up for the race, but also calming my nerves about the race at the same time. Usually during a Marathon you have time to sit around and get nervous, with all of the festivities, no such chance! Before heading to the corrals I made one final stop at the porta john to make sure nothing was going to throw off the race! I met up with my friends, Team NutriBullet Coach John, Luis, Marko in the B corral and had my first GU about 20 minutes before the gun went off. Game time!
My strategy for the LA Marathon was to start the race at an easy pace and run negative splits. Original plan was first 3 at 7:30 pace, next 3 at 7:15 the bulk of the miles at 7 minute pace and then try to pick it up after the VA. After receiving some solid advice from Crispin Lazarit I decided to study the course map a bit more and plan to run certain miles based more on effort with my pacing plan as more of a guide.
Miles 1-6: (7:36, 7:12, 7:10, 7:17, 7:38, 7:18)
Since I was planning to run the early miles easy I figured I’d have some fun with it! I ran with John whose plan was to run with all of the Team NutriBullet runners at some point of the race. I purposefully went easy in the first mile since I knew we were hitting a downhill that could cause us to go out too fast. Dodger Stadium was rockin’ and I was the voice of reason keeping our small group in check. First mile slower than planned! Mission accomplished! There’s so much to love about the early miles! When I ran this in 2010 I didn’t run through Chinatown or Little Tokyo so the course change since then was great! Then there’s familiar favorites like Disney Concert Hall and those amazing Drummers! Echo Park also brought fond memories! Through it all I was engaging the crowd and feeding from there energy, so by that logic… Run slow to conserve energy + extra energy from the crowd = energy surplus!
Miles 7 – 12: (6:54, 6:56, 7:01, 6:48, 6:48, 6:49)
After mile 6 is when I started my focus on Marathon Pace. John and I ran about another mile together and then parted ways, me to run my race, and him to support his trainees. This is also where I really hit my stride and clocked some of my fastest miles of the race. I just went with it and made sure my effort was on par with my pacing plan. I really enjoyed Silver Lake as the mural on Sunset has always been a favorite of mine during previous training runs. I also came across the groovy 70’s Funk Soul group which prompted some high 5’s! I saw a pretty funny sign on this stretch of the course that read “Smile if you pee’d a little” It was so unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh! I knew that I’d be entering Hollywood and with that i’d get a huge energy boost! I ran into Michael Blackson around Hollywood and Vine entertaining the crowd and having fun! I ran over and gave him a high 5! I think that glitter glove sprinkled a bit of magic on me because I only got stronger from then on!
Miles 13 – 18: (7:13, 7:15, 6:44, 6:49, 7:02, 7:00)
After the turn on Orange I got back on Sunset Blvd and all I could think about was Nutribullooza! I was very hyped up thinking about it! I remembered from last time that West Hollywood had a lot of energy from the crowds so I was feeding off of that as well! When I made it to Mile 15 I took my gel and had my eyes peeled for those NutriBullet Shirts! I heard the crowd calling my name and looked back to see Nutribullet T-Shirts! I looked ahead to see our Fitness Trainer Monique cheering me on! I also saw Jeremy our camera/production guy and gave him a huge high 5 as well (are you seeing a theme yet?)! The great thing about the LA Marathon is that there is never a dull moment! Beverly Hills was a welcome sight as its always fun to run on Rodeo drive!
Miles 19 – 22: (6:50, 6:57, 7:06, 7:25)
Going into Century caught me completely off guard! I had heard about “Cheer Alley” but didn’t expect what I ran into! Cheerleaders from all sides, I felt like an NFL player running out to the field before the start of the Superbowl! It was insane and granted me yet another energy boost! At this point of the race I was still going strong and feeling great! I knew that the VA was coming up but I also knew what to expect! I was sticking by my plan to run the VA Hills by effort. My pacing had been great so I knew that 1 or 2 slow miles weren’t going to break me in any way! While entering the VA Grounds I saw Cynthia from LASP cheering on! She spotted me and yelled out some encouragement which is just what I needed before the toughest part of the course. Indeed, this was not easy but at least my legs had some life to them. While running through the VA I kept in mind my cause (raising money for Veterans) and yelled some encouraging words to the crowds! I grind-ed my way through it and got a little emotional when I saw San Vincente! I was 4+ miles away from reaching my goal!
Miles 23 to the finish: (7:04, 7:07, 6:36, 6:56, 3:05)
The final 4 + miles (My final total was 26.45 miles) was all about focus and determination! I put my game face on and the gloves literally came off! I knew from 2010 that just because I was on San Vincente didn’t mean that it was going to get easier right away, or that I could start relaxing. Nope! My legs were feeling the toll of so many miles by this point, its to be expected! I knew that if I just held things together I was going to be very happy at the finish line! I clocked my fastest mile of the entire race at mile 25 (6:36) and once I hit ocean I was overcome with emotion! I cruised in at 3:06:38 gun time (3:06:24 chip time!) I ran a 6 minute PR and my first ever BQ! Boston 2015 here I come!!!
I got my medal and some water but the most welcome sight was an ice cold wet towel handed to me by one of the race volunteers! It was heaven! I walked way to much after the race, since my phone wasn’t working properly. When I finally got a call from my wife I was ready to go and get some food! Would have been great to meet up with Team Nutribullet post race, but my body simply wanted some food and rest!
Congratulations to all of the 2014 LA Marathon finishers! Though I beat most of the heat, I heard about the hot conditions. I hope everyone was safe during and after the race, you all have my highest respect!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?)
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! 😉
With three weeks left until the Asics LA Marathon, I’m literally in the final stretch of my training with Team NutriBullet! If you missed my previous posts and am unfamiliar with Team NutriBullet, you can read about my training here and here!
This Saturday morning was Team Nutribullet’s final long run before the LA Marathon. We ran from Joes gym to Marina Del Rey and back one of our rare long runs that did not include a tribal run or loops around a park. It served as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the LA Marathon. We were all wearing our Team NutriBullet gear, we stayed in our groups and ran our paces. I had the honor of “leading” the 8 minute pace group! I say “leading” because at this point in our training we are pretty much a well oiled machine! We stayed together and hit our target pace for most of the run, though some nagging pains forced a couple of runners to fall back a bit.
I had the honor and pleasure of running with 2 sub-elite athletes and members of the Los Angeles Speed Project (LASP) Crispin Lazarit and Cynthia V Zarate, who were both original Team NutriBullet Members! For our groups final 20 miler this was a great opportunity to pick their brains and get some great marathon advice from 2 runners who have both qualified for Boston many times. For me, personally, it was a huge boost of motivation to run with them and I just felt the positive energy and good vibes! As happy as we all were to run with them, they were both very gracious in joining our group and running those miles with us!
This 20 miler was the culmination of a training program that started in December and will bring us all to the starting line of the LA Marathon as stronger, healthier runners! As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about Team NutriBullet, we have lots of expertise at our disposal, from dietitians and nutritionists, to strength and fitness trainers to running coaches. All of this, to impart wisdom to all of our teams runners, to help us all to be more balanced as athletes. In short, all of these areas are important, proper diet, strength and core training, and running form all make for a much more successful running experience when applied!
When I was asked to be a member of Team NutriBullet, I was also asked to be a pace group leader, which was a great honor for me, and not an opportunity I took lightly! I was asked to pace the 8 minute group, which was a bit nerve racking in the beginning since I didn’t know how many runners would actually be in my group! For the first 2 group runs there really wasn’t a set established 8 minute group, but slowly the group came together! Looking at what it is now, all of the runners are exactly where they need to be! Being able to keep a conversational at a specific pace is one tell tale sign that its the right pace for a long run! As much fun as I’ve had pacing the 8 minute group throughout this training program I have been willing to do what has been asked of me! Some weeks this meant running as a “tribe” during the first few miles of our long run! This “tribal run” helped to unite the group and give runners in different pace groups, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to run together or strike up a conversation to do just that!
I have also had the pleasure of leading the 10 minute pace group for 2 weeks due to necessity by the group. I’ll be honest, in a small way I dreaded my first run with the 10 minute group because I thought it would be much too slow for me, but something happened, I settled in and enjoyed it! Actually, I enjoyed it a whole lot!! So much so, that when I was asked to pace the 10 minute group again the next week I was happy to take the task! I have learned that every pace group brings their own energy! Their own goals, and their own experiences! When I went back to running with the 8 minute group it was bitter sweet! I was thrilled to re-join my 8 minute group, but sad to leave the 10 minute runners as well! I almost wished both groups would run at a happy medium pace, but that wasn’t realistic for anyone involved!
So what’s next? It’s time to taper and rest up for the LA Marathon! We still have a few group runs left before March 9th, but the core of our training is complete! I am extremely proud of everyone who has trained with our group, and am hopeful that everyone will reach their goals! Whether its a first marathon, a PR attempt or a BQ attempt I believe everyone is now in a better position to achieve what they are set out for! For those runners dealing with nagging injuries, now is the time to heal up and get healthy for race day! I am thrilled to share my LA Marathon experience with this group, and when I wear that Team NutriBullet logo on my chest and back I will be representing the entire group proudly!
There are so many great people in Team Nutribullet so in my next point I will try to share about some of these amazing individuals!
Its no secret that runners need to hydrate. Sometimes drinking enough water before a run is sufficient, but for long runs, or runs in the heat, carrying water can become a necessity! In my years of running I’ve had a love/hate relationship with different types of water bottles and hydration packs designed for runners. While I was in the Marine Corps, I often used a Camelback Hydration Pack similar to this to stay hydrated on hikes and long runs. I’ve also used a camel back hydration belt with a single bottle. The Hydration Pack worked pretty well, though it added a lot of extra weight to my back, it was pretty evenly distributed. The belt with the single bottle, not so much. I liked that I didn’t have to carry a bottle in my hand, but the belt moved around much too much (causing chafing) and the bottle would move around and dig into my back (not pleasant).
Carrying a bottle in hand has always been a “last resort” option. First, I don’t like having extra weight in one hand. Second, I don’t like having to grip something while running, this often times causes some cramping or discomfort in my hand.
This brings me to the Camelback Arc Quick Grip. I won this bottle in a twitter contest from @runchat. You can read all about it in my #RunChatHunt Blog Post. I was excited about winning this prize because, aside from my previous reservations about carrying a water bottle, this one in particular looked like it would change my mind and make for a great running experience. Did it? Read on to find out!
The Camelback Arc Quick Grip is a lightweight bottle made to fit snug on the hand during running. It’s essentially a Camelback Arc water bottle with a “Quick Grip” accessory attached. So, the bottle can be easily attached to a Camelback belt if that is your preference. For me the “Quick Grip” attachment is the best feature. The reason I feel this way is because I can slip it on my hand, let my hand relax and it will still be secure.
The fabric on the bottle attachment that “grips” your hand is actually breathable and moisture wicking, so no need to worry if your hand sweats during the run. There is also a strip of fabric which can be pulled to tighten the grip, as well as a quick release hidden under the pouch to loosen it up again. Finally, there is a pouch on the outside of the grip which can be used to store keys, id cards/credit cards, gels/gu, shot blocks/gu chomps, and other small items of your choice. There are 2 pockets on the pouch, 1 which can be velcroed closed, and one that can’t. There is also a little tab on the pocket with a small reflective strip.
As for the bottle itself, it is a 10 oz bottle which is a standard Camelback Arc form factor. As I mentioned, this can fit in other Camelback accessories including various belts. The top of the bottle has a locking mechanism which keeps the water in, though even if the lock is open, the “spout” of the bottle will only release water if it is bit. Think of the spouts on the end of the tubes on Camelback Packs, but on a bottle. It is quite simple and not messy at all to get water during a run, though it does get a bit tricky when the bottle is very low.
Likes: There is a lot to like about this bottle, so much so that I have actually considered carrying this in my hand during a Marathon.
- Lightweight – The light weight means no arm fatigue during running. This also allows for natural arm and hand motion, keeping running form in tact.
- Comfortable – The grip is extremely comfortable on the hand and can be adjusted as well.
- Built in storage – This makes it easy to bring some essentials along during a run.
- Secure – The locking mechanism on the lock keeps the water in, the secure spout allows you to drink without making a mess!
- Compatible – Can be used with different Camelback accessories.
- Quality materials – The quality of the bottle and pouch doesn’t feel cheap at all.
Dislikes: My dislikes are mostly areas where I feel the Camelback Arc Quick Grip can be improved, but doesn’t outweigh my positive impressions.
- Small bottle – The bottle being small contributes to its light weight, but it also limits how much water you can carry to 10 oz. This is not much during long runs, unless you are able to re-fill along the way.
- Small pouch – While the pouch is big enough to carry many essentials, it is much too small to carry a modern day mobile phone, iPhone or Android.
- Reflective? – The pouch only had a tiny strip of reflective material; could use more.
The Camelback Arc Quick Grip is a great bottle for runners who don’t mind holding something in their hand. While some runners may prefer to wear belts or hydration packs, they are not for everyone. I love that this bottle doesn’t restrict my range of motion in anyway and doesn’t weigh me down. The pouch is an added bonus but the real selling point is how comfortable it is. I can run miles with this bottle and completely forget its on my hand. While 10 oz of water isn’t much on, lets say a 16 miler, its perfect for shorter and middle distance runs and on long run routes where there is ample opportunity for a refill. If you’re going for a longer run on trails especially in hotter weather, you may want something more substantial though.
Happy Running! 🙂