Eventually I'd like to do another marathon but probably not for at least a year. At that point there will be more spare time for training, especially for the weekend long runs. For a second marathon, I'd also want to do an intermediate training program rather than novice. The Novice program, in retrospect, did exactly what it was supposed to do - it was the minimal amount of training to get to the start line healthy and to the finish line intact. That was fine; but if I really want to go faster, I'll need to put out the additional time and effort for an Intermediate program.
Anyway, after a couple of days, I decided to stop analyzing the finish time and instead just celebrate a first marathon.
I also found Higdon's recovery programs on the web and so that's the plan for the next few weeks.
You know all the stories about marathoners who sweat out the last few miles, but then a few days later they're thinking about the next one? Before Long Beach, I would have declared that would never happen to me, that I just wanted to do one and leave it at that. Well, I'm certainly not a career marathoner, but now looking at the race photos, I couldn't help noticing that I looked quite happy to be out there. Not just at the finish line (although those pictures are quite priceless) but at other times during the race. So maybe Pasadena in 2011? The hometown special? Well, we'll see.
After 18 weeks of training, to bootstrap from the 10K baseline to marathon readiness - time to challenge the Big Beast!
Bottom line: Finished in 4:43. Not quite burning the asphalt off the road (even for a 53 year old F, since I was targeting 4:23-4:30), but definitely did finish physically and mentally in one piece - YAY. OK, legs were exhausted at the end but I never stopped moving. The finish line says it all: at 26.2, I stepped carefully on the finish mats, smiled ear to ear and gleefully waved my arms in the air. Party time!
Race conditions were excellent - temperature in the 60's, cloudy, quite flat course - not quite as pancake flat as their half marathon, but the small hills were pretty harmless.
The first 18 mi were uneventful. Looking at the split times, I kept within a fairly narrow range (9:42/mi to 9:59/mi) for the first 18 mi. That's probably consistent with my long run training at approx 10:00-10:20/mi pace, although the 9:42 segment may have worn my legs down some. Between mi 18-22 my legs gradually stiffened and slowed. I was tensing my leg muscles to protect my knees, and that was wearing down my legs. Fortunately I didn't crash into the wall - this was like running up an incline for four miles till my legs begged for mercy. I obliged by then walking as fast as I could for about a mile, then finally dug real deep and jogged from mile 23 to the finish (which was as fast as my legs would go). It perhaps cost me about 15 min in finishing time.
But OK, it's a first marathon, ran it as hard as I could, and ran 95% of it.
Will I do another one? Don't know...maybe...I do love shorter races, and I'm better at shorter distances. But the marathon was very much of a broadening experience, as well as an adventure - taught me a very different type of running style and discipline from what I'm used to. You really have to do it firsthand!
Two runs this week: 6.2 mi run @9:18/mi midweek, and the weekend long run, 9.1 mi @9:35/mi. Elliptical and Lifecycle on the other days, shortened somewhat from earlier weeks in deference to taper.
I've been lucky to have not had any significant injuries during training. As for the hamstring problem in July that dropped me into 6 days of aerobic crosstraining - at least it didn't last long, I didn't lose any fitness, and it did have a very useful consequence (besides teaching me to not neglect proper stretching and warmup). It temporarily forced me to run with a shortened stride and lower knee lift - which taught me the type of stride I'd eventually need for the longest runs.
So now it's time to hurry up and wait - one more week till the marathon. Am I excited? Of course. Am I nervous? No. I've never been nervous before a race - always feel that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing the race. I do feel a bit like I'm jumping into the proverbial deep end of the pool, since I have not done the full race distance in training, but I have done up to 21.8 mi well. Hopefully that will be good enough to get me to a successful 26.2 next Sunday. Trust the training.
Three runs this week: 3.6 mi run @8:26/mi, 5.5 mi run @9:05/mi, and the weekend's 13.1 mi run @9:48/mi. Plus three days of elliptical/Lifecycle and a day of light weights. Technically the long run was supposed to be 12 mi, but I was going at a nice comfortable pace, it felt good, and so tossed in an extra loop to round it up to half marathon length. DID I ACTUALLY SAY THAT? I ran a half marathon distance and it was FUN? Actually my favorite was the short 3.6 mi one - it felt good to be going faster - this one was at about my 10K race pace - typical tempo run I use for 5K training. But for the next 2 weeks I'd better knock off the 5K fun and games here, this is taper time after all.
Checked race website for assorted parking/expo/race day updates, and registered for prepaid "guaranteed" parking - in the Civic Center lot, which is about a mile from the start line. Easier to get into than the Convention Center lots, although the mile-long walk back to my car after the race will probably be an experience - (haha)
Well, actually it was 21.8 mi...YES. Since the long run 2 weeks ago was 20 mi (with last week as a stepback week), I took advantage of the 10% rule and ran 7 loops around the Rose Bowl. The Bowl has a somewhat boring but very convenient 3.1 mi loop that's relatively flat (about 160 ft elevation gain and loss per loop - well, that's flat for my neighborhood!) I was very pleased with the long run for several reasons: (1) Did each loop at roughly the same pace - and especially did not collapse in the final loop. (2) Getting onto flat ground and out of the foothills, picked up some speed - averaged 9:48 min/mi. Now when I did that speed in the foothills for 15 mi, my legs were dead afterwards. But running on flat ground made it much easier. (3) Ran well despite the humidity and heat - 65 deg when I started and about 80 deg at the end. (4) Did not hit the wall - so the wall's somewhere beyond 21.8 mi. (5) Legs were very tired at the end but intact.
So now it's taper time - YAY. I've been told that the two most important things about taper are (1) don't overtrain and (2) don't do anything stupid.
As for the rest of the week - 6.7 mi run @9:24 min/mi, and 6.4 mi run @9:11 min/mi. Plus a day of elliptical, 2 days of Lifecycle and a day of light weights.
• Your “short” midweek runs (6-7 mi) used to be a long weekend run.
• Your long run - on a stepback week! - is longer than a half marathon.
• You actually write the long run plan on the family calendar.
• You don’t hesitate to pass up a couple of very tempting 10K races, because they conflict with weekend long runs.
• You have to consciously sit on the brakes in the early miles and not speed out too fast.
• You’re eating the house down but slowly losing weight.
• Body Glide has become one of your best friends.
• If you neglect the Body Glide, you discover it’s actually possible to chafe under your arms, even though you have thin arms.
• Before you head out, you check to make sure the iPod battery has at least a couple of hours life in it.
• Stretching isn’t a minor nuisance any more – it actually feels good to do it every day.
• You’re running loops in your neighborhood, and a friendly neighbor calls out “You AGAIN?” after you’ve run past their front yard for the third time.
• You run 20 miles and are surprised that you’re still physically and mentally intact. As you’re stretching out after the run, you note to yourself in a bit of disbelief, “Wow, I actually RAN that far “
The Pasadena area air quality is back to moderate, and it feels great to be running outside again without having to drive a long distance!
This was a stepback week per the schedule. The midweek run was 6.3 mi @9:11 min/mi, and the long run was 14.5 mi @10:00 min/mi. (No, I wasn't trying for exactly 10:00 pace but that's what it worked out to on MapMyRun). Plus four crosstraining days, yet more elliptical and Lifecycle, up to 90 min for the longest crosstraining day. After the long run, I did what's become the usual drill: stretching, then cold water spray on legs for a few min before showering, then ice knees and hamstrings afterwards. 10:00 pace is on the fast end of McMillan's recommendation, but this run was "relatively" short, so to speak, so my legs felt pretty reasonable afterwards.
Next weekend will be the second 20-miler. I probably will not need to flee down to the beach for that one. In order to calibrate pace, I may be doing it at the Rose Bowl - there's a convenient and popular 3.1 mile loop - so that will be 6.5 times around the Bowl. I'd better have real good music on the iPod for that run (haha). And after that it will be 3 weeks of taper.
Fortunately the Station wildfire has moved away from the foothills areas (thank you, firefighters, for working a miracle ) but the fire is still burning in the Angeles National Forest and full containment isn't expected for at least another week. The air quality in the Pasadena area has improved but is still not great - alternating between moderate and unhealthy due to smoke and ash.
So I did the shorter midweek run, 5.6 mi @8:56 min/mi, indoors on a gym treadmill. Then the usual crosstraining on elliptical and Lifecycle. For the long weekend run I headed down to the beach - since I had a choice of locations I went to Long Beach, and did 20 mi @10:02 min/mi. The 20 mile run was on very flat ground (similar to what the marathon will be) so, as usual, I automatically sped up by 15-20 sec/mi relative to what I run in the foothills. I felt good after the 20 miler - my first ever! I ran all the way through, walking only for about 20 sec at each water stop (first one at 4 mi and then once about every 2-3 mi). Legs were quite tired but not totally exhausted afterwards, which was good. Iced knees and hamstrings that evening for good measure. It was not particularly cool even at the beach - 70 deg at 7:10 AM start and 80 deg at 10:30 AM end - but at least the air was clean. As for nutrition on the run - couldn't find any raisins in the house so instead I took a mini pack of Reese's Pieces. Not exactly conventional but it was a nice shot of sugar at about 17 mi and they worked fine for me.
This was a stepback week, and fortunately it was a stepback week since (1) I was on vacation at high altitude for part of it and (2) the Los Angeles wildfires are wreaking havoc with marathon training schedules. This week I did a 6.3 mi run @9:35 min/mi at home, and then a 7.6 mi run @9:41 min/mi (6000 ft altitude). The 7.6 mi really should have been 10-12 mi, but I didn't have access to any water along the route and so had to cut it somewhat short. Other than that, the runs were fine. Also the usual mixture of Lifecycle and elliptical for the first part of the week. After that, 2 days of moderate hiking at approx 9000 ft. Returned home to LA on Sunday night and the Station Fire has been burning out of control for several days. Fortunately my home is not in immediate danger but the air quality, especially outdoors, is poor. Don't even think about running outside for a while. I'll use a gym treadmill for the midweek run and then head down to the beach for the long runs on the weekends. May have to use a particle mask even for working out indoors...OK, whatever it takes. Could be till Sept 8 till the fire is contained and a while longer for air quality to return to normal.
Three runs this week: 3.5 mi run @8:30 min/mi on the gym treadmill (about my 10K race pace), 5.34 mi run @9:35 min/mi, and 18.6 mi run @10:11 min/mi. Plus the usual complement of elliptical and Lifecycle on all but one of the nonrunning days, and light weights on the open day.
I've been scaling up the long runs so I'm now between Higdon's Novice I and Novice II. So far so good. The 10:11 pace felt good for the long run. The weather was relatively humid but cool, which helps when running in the foothills. At this distance, it's really a test of mental discipline as well as physical discipline. The 18.6 mi took me 3 hr and 10 min, first time I've ever run over 3 hr. Towards the end I started to feel like a windup toy - just keep going on and on and on... My legs were stiffening some towards the end, especially beyond 15 mi, but no pain, they sort of reached equilibrium around 15 mi and then it was steady state to the end. I stretched them after I got home - interesting that I did not want to collapse in a heap, I instinctively wanted to slowly walk and stretch. And EAT - these long runs are calorie incinerators - after I got home, I was ready to sell my soul for some black coffee and a muffin. Guess that's good. I also did not hit the wall, so looks like the wall's somewhere beyond 18.6 mi. And...icing knees and hamstrings after the run paid off next day.
I followed the good advice I got from several veteran marathoners on active.com about not doing long runs too fast - the purpose is to build endurance rather than speed/stamina. After last week's 15.6 mi "speed session" (so to speak), I did three days of crosstraining and then went back out to run. The short run was 4.5 mi @10:30 pace, which was probably slower than I needed to do for that distance. However, I wanted to feel the pace and also needed an easy run. Then more crosstraining and then the long run, which was 16.6 mi @10:18 pace. I thought I was doing about 11 min/mi, but when I mapped it, found I was faster than I'd thought. Guess I can thank my 10K background for that. But my legs felt much better after the 16.6 mi than they did last week after the 15.6 mi. They were very tired and needed some stretching, but they didn't feel like they'd been run over by a truck. The slower pace (10:18/mi rather than 9:41/mi) made a big difference. Also I showered my legs with cool water for a few min after the run - since I don't yet have the nerve to get in an ice bath. The cool water felt great.
Two runs last week, 6.8 mi @9:11 pace midweek, and the long weekend one, 15.6 mi @9:41 pace. Plus the usual complement of elliptical and Lifecycle.
The 6.8 mi run went fine, except for one nit, the iPod headphones failing halfway through. They’ve since been replaced.
The 15.6 mi run is the longest I’ve ever done. I switched the 15 mi and 10 mi long runs in the program in order to start stepping back every other week. My legs are going to need it. It takes them more time to fully recover from these longer runs; they feel more beat up afterwards. Ice packs have become my legs’ good friends whether I’m sore or not.
I did notice subconsciously tensing upper leg muscles beyond about 9-10 mi, almost as if trying to protect my knees at those distances, and had to make a conscious effort to relax them. Well, that may also explain why I typically slow by about 15 sec/mi beyond 15K, so perhaps have learned something useful.
So 2 days after the long run, my left upper leg is still a bit sore, although ice and taping are helping to whip it back into shape. Ironically the left leg is the stronger one. And perhaps I should slow back down to about 10 min/mi for the long runs; 9:41 pace may be a bit too fast.
But after 15.6 mi, it’s starting to now feel like striking distance of a marathon, instead of looking at it from a far distance.
Well, fortunately looks like it's back to normal. After the slow and careful 4 mi on Monday, did a faster (although still relatively slow - 10 min/mi) 5 mi on Wednesday and then 13.8 mi @10:41 min/mi Fri morning (off work 9/80 day). Kept my stride short to protect the hamstring and it paid off. With the shortened stride, I was somewhat slower than ideal, but all things considered it was good, and I'm back on schedule for the long runs. Finally on Sunday did 4.5 mi @9:05 min/mi; probably would have been faster but the temperature was approaching 80 deg.
I've been icing the hamstring after each workout and taping it during workouts, and it's given me no trouble. I also took two quick walk breaks (about 30 sec each) during the long run to stretch out. I have no history of hamstring injuries, so I suspect the problem last week was due to lack of stretching and proper warmup. I'd probably been paying too much attention to just getting in the miles.
Also did the usual complement of Lifecycle and elliptical this week. Did the leg weights, although neglected the upper body weights during the week; did get to those over the weekend. I like to do weight work (lots of reps with light weights) once a week.
Not as good a week as the previous ones. On Wed. I intended to do a 6 mi run but my left hamstring tightened up after about 10 min. Stretching and pressure helped only a little. I slowed down, shortened my stride and was able to get to just under 4 mi. However, at that point the hamstring turned from tight to painful, so I stopped running right away and walked home. I was able to walk with only slight stiffness, and then ride the Lifecycle with no pain. So I figured it was probably a hamstring cramp that would take a few days to loosen up (ref: The Runner's Repair Manual). I stretched carefully, iced it morning and night from then through end of week, and taped it up. The rest of the week was all crosstraining, no pain at all: Thurs and Fri, Lifecycle for 70 min each. Sat. walked @15:00/mi on treadmill, 15% incline for 45 min. Sun. elliptical 60 min. So at least I didn't lose aerobic fitness but I did miss a 12 mi long run. Fortunately I'm a week ahead of schedule since I did just under 12 mi last week. Hopefully I'll be able to do the 13 mi long run next week.
On Mon. I carefully ran 3.7 mi @10:41 pace with no problems. The pace felt very slow - totally aerobic - but it was good to be running again. I'll take it as long run pace calibration.
Two runs this week along with the usual complement of crosstraining. One run was 5.8 mi @8:48 pace, and the long run was 11.9 mi@9:41 pace. I'd intended to do about 10-11 mi for the long run, so I ran it by the clock, but when I measured the distance afterwards, found I was going faster than I thought! Temperature was in the high 70's to low 80's for the long run, so it was helpful to have the Nathan belt with the 2 bottles - didn't have to route past any water fountains. I carried one bottle of water and one of Crystal Light (diet noncarbonated drink). My body absolutely loved the Crystal Light. Not much in the way of nutritional value, but it was great for hydration.
When I get past half marathon distance, I'll need to start doing some sugar feeding on the run. I've read about marathoners using Fig Newtons, gummi bears, pretzels and the like. Yes, I know about energy gels, but I dislike them. And gels are a mess if one doesn't eat the entire thing at once. Last year Long Beach provided Powerade at the water stations, so I'll need to find out exactly what type if I go that route. Their website is overhauled from last year and isn't yet fully updated.