March 25, 2010

They Don't Get Any Easier

Week of March 16 ~ 21. LA Marathon.

I keep waiting for them to get easier...I keep expecting them to get easier. But they don't. This marathon was just as painful as the previous ones...which is pretty damn painful!
The short story:
3:08:17. Age grade: 83%. 1st in the M60-64 age group, out of 421. 226th overall out of 22,484. 204th male out of 13,311.

Travel to US.

AM- 6.6k easy in 38:19.
PM: On track with Pasedena club. 7.2k with 2k @MP, jog 400, 1k @MP.

5.3k easy in 30:17


4.8k easy along course down Sunset Blvd in 28:30.
Jet lag not improving at all, but feeling ok.

The day did not start out too well. Eric, my daughter Jennifer's fiance, was my driver for the trip to the start at Dodger Stadium. This should take no more than 30 mins. from the apartment. We left at 6:00, marathon start to be 7:25. Got on to the 101 freeway, which after about 5 minutes, in the two lanes for the 110 to the stadium, came to a complete halt. Lots of people going to the marathon! Inching along. Not good. Gave up, decided to go further down, get on the 5 coming back up. Looked over at the 5, also not moving at all. Now both of us getting a bit worried, Eric frantically checking his iPhone for traffic and route information. Drove around in no man's land for a while looking for other freeway possibilities, finally Eric figured a route to get me close to Sunset (which was of course closed to traffic) as close as possible to the stadium. Got out of the car a bit after 7:00, about 2 miles from the start. Jogged there at a decent pace, with lots of other people. In general, a nightmare for thousands of people. Got to the start area, climbed over a fence, and was in the 3:00 to 4:00 corral...with one minute to spare. However, they delayed the start 22 minutes (knowing that lots of people were late). So I had some time to relax.

I thought I was fairly near the front, but after the race started, realized that there were A LOT of people ahead of me, including a lot of slow people. It took 1:15 to the start. The start and first 1.4 mile was on a road/parking lot around the stadium, not so wide. Also included a hill. On the downhill the crowd finally started moving, but the first mile was slow.

I felt ok and was running very relaxed, but due to hills (not steep but rather long) and general difficulty in finding the right pace at the start, my first 8 miles were very up and down.
To describe the race in terms of splits, for 5ks (target 21:48 or 4:21.6/k) they were: 22:09, 22:13, 21:51, 21:53, 22:04, 22:17, 23:09, 22:44, 9:56.
Even though they were fairly even, within each 5k the pace was up and down, and I did not hit the target pace at all.

Per mile (target pace 7:01), the splits were:
1 7:53 Disappointed to lose 50 seconds already
2 6:43 Trying to compensate
3 6:49 Downhill
4 7:20 Uphill
5 7:44 Uphill
6 6:25 Down/uphill. Drank the Weider gel I was carrying.
7 6:56 Downhill. Finally passed the 3:10 pace group (should have started ahead of them).
8 7:10 Got 2 more gels from Jennifer
9 7:01 Hollywood Blvd. Very small kid passed me, looking great. Later found he was 10 years old, ran 3:03:40.
10 6:55 Started taking the 2nd gel, a little at a time.
11 7:04 Graumman's Chinese Theater
12 6:59
13 7:22 Uphill. Halfway about 1:33
14 7:06
15 7:04 Chateau Marmont.
16 7:03 54-yr-old guy named Frank Tai caught me and we ran together for 2 miles at a nice pace. He told me there was one 60-year-old ahead of me (he knows Cal. runners). Until I saw the results later online I assumed I was 2nd. The guy had been ahead of me, I passed him between 35 and 40k (without realizing it), as he ran 25:02 for that 5k.
17 7:08 Rodeo Drive! Bottom of left foot started to hurt. I think the shoe was laced too tight.
18 7:12 Frank picked up and I slowed, so he went ahead.
19 7:17 Approx. - missed mile mark. Foot hurting. Started drinking second gel.
20 7:17 Approx. Caught Frank. Ribcage area (muscles) hurting quite a bit. Why? I don't know. Strange.... Quads are now also sore.
21 7:47 Uphill. Lost Frank again.
22 7:11 Quads very sore. Ribs still sore. This is where I always wish I could stop and today is no exception.
23 7:39 Uphill
24 7:10 Gradual downhill. Decided to stretch out my stride and just go for it. Foot and ribs didn't bother me, maybe because my quads were so painful.
25 7:08 Gradual downhill
26 7:16 A long, long, long 1.1 miles.

So...I was very happy to win my age group and happy to run the last 5k faster than the previous 5k.
Other positives were: Fun course, running through various LA neighborhoods is great. Perfect temperature abt. 14-17C/57-63F. Great spectator support (especially nice: your bib has your name, mine said BOB, so people was always yelling, Go, Bob!, You can do it, Bob!. In the last 6 miles when runners are spread out, most everyone yells this, it is great.)
Negative was that I did not run, or really come close to, my target time of 3:04. Running 35k (at the end of a 120k week) at 5:00 pace is no problem (even feel fine the next day), but running 42k at 4:21 pace is a big problem. Today is Thursday and my quads are still a bit sore. I guess I have to do more long marathon pace runs, and maybe I will take a page from Hosaka's book and run fast up and down hills 2 or 3 times a week. Anyway, the next marathon may not be until LA next year. Not sure about the fall, I may just run a few halfs. We shall see....

Thanks for your readership and support (especially Michael B, who was there at the finish!). It is great knowing that you people are pulling for me.


  1. Well done Bob. I really thought that one was going to be easier as you were training the house down.

    Saw the splits on the website and thought for some reason you just decided on a slower pace. The stress of the last minute arrival and jet lag would account for something. Does sound like a muscular problem with the quads, and the up/down hill work should address that.

    Anyway, glad you won your age-group. By the way, I thought there was a minimum age for marathoners? No 10-year-old should be racing marathons!

  2. Thanks, Ewen. The trouble with marathons is they're just too damned long.
    I basically agree with you about the 10-year-olds...except that this kid looked and ran much better than about 99% of the adults. I mean, he was just cruising along with a nice springy stride.

    Speaking of which, I forgot to mention, myself and others saw 3 or 4 people running barefoot — all the way, with no apparent problem.

  3. Great win Bob and an impressive time especially considering the hassle getting to the start and getting into your stride. If it got any easier it just means you're not racing - like you I have no problem with the distance in training but on the day it always feels too long.

  4. I agree about marathons, couldn't Pheidippides have died at about 18 miles?

    Great job Bob.

  5. great read!! great race. cheers.

  6. Great report and great race given the heat, humidity and long inclines/declines! I died about mile 17 on Sunday myself!

    If you do this one again - just remember that in L.A., we have this love affair with our cars and antiquated freeways. I actually rode a shuttle from Santa Monica. On the bus at 4:20, and in Dodger Stadium (yes they opened the stadium so we had somewhere to sit) before 5 AM!

  7. Sorry for the delayed response Bob, been away myself.

    Anyways, I was following and looked up your result as soon as I could. I thought you'd be pleased. It was a good effort and glad you're not thinking about giving the marathons the next one could be the one that is "easy" ;)

    Just imagine the kind of pain you would have had to endure if you hadn't had such a good build up.

  8. "No snacks, no fried foods, no (well hardly any) desserts. If you're already doing that..." Ha ha! That's certainly not me! I dropped about 30 pounds a couple years ago by watching diet. Since then I haven't been. I need to get back to it this year.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog Bob!

  9. Great job on your race and your first place finish in your age group....WOW :} You are amazing!!!

  10. I'd prefer to see the parents of an obviously talented kid steering him towards 'normal' distances for that age - short track races and cross country. As well as having him try other (team) sports. Hopefully it's a one-off crazy sort of thing.