How to Run a Happy Marathon: Part 2

Last year I wrote a post entitled How to Run a Happy Marathon. I’ve run my fair share of unhappy marathons. Nobody should have to experience this.Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 7.38.40 AM

Monday I ran the happiest of marathons. I never felt pain, I didn’t hit the wall, I smiled the whole time, and I never wanted to stop running. You might argue this means I didn’t push myself hard enough, but I’m NOT a professional. I don’t get paid for this, this is a hobby and I do this for fun. Why push myself to the absolute limit? Now that I am officially not scared of the marathon, I’d like to offer a few more tips. This one’s for you, Ellen. One week till race day! Brent, Marta, Anna and I can’t wait to cheer you on!

1. You can’t power through a marathon. You’ll crash and burn. Change your attitude and be a little more playful about the experience. Although I don’t have the scientific evidence to prove this, when I run feeling nervous, tense and stressed about my splits I use too much energy to fuel my nerves…energy that I should be using to run. Last week I lined up in Hopkinton and took the attitude of “time to celebrate!” I was singing along to my music, saying hello to the crowd, smiling for the camera. It calmed my body, and made my running feel effortless. Here I am at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Maybe a little too happy for mile 21? FullSizeRender_4

2. Try not to notice the mile markers. This was especially easy when I ran Toronto and the markers were in kilometers. When you start the race, tell yourself you’ll be running for the rest of your life. When you get to 24 you’ll be like, “Woah, I’m almost done!? I actually don’t have to run for the rest of my life.” Sounds stupid, but it works. The moment we start counting down miles we mess up our mental game.

3. On race week, less is more. This is your excuse to be lazy. Take the escalator. Park in the spot closest the store. Take as many rest days as you need. No running or exercise will help at this point. I took three rest days the week before Boston, ran one semi-fast three miler and did a few other easy three mile runs. Rest those legs. They’ve been training hard and need to be ready for the race.

4. Graze on the days leading up to the race. I’ve carbo-loaded by eating Thanksgiving sized meals which usually resulted in me feeling completely stuffed and unable to move. This time around I ate normal sized meals, and carried around a bag of pretzels or crackers with me from the Thursday onwards and just grazed. Even race morning, because the race started at 10:25, after breakfast I just munched on pretzels to help me stay fueled without being stuffed.

5. Know you won’t have a perfect race. I’ve spent plenty of time stressing about race day conditions that were beyond my control. The week before Boston I was surprisingly calm. I was fighting a cold, race day called for 15-20 MPH headwinds the entire race, it was raining, and I slept no more than 3 hours the night before. I’d trained for four months, and I could have felt sorry for myself and though, “I trained so hard, and now I’m not going to have the perfect race. My time isn’t going to be great. It’s not fair.” But honestly, who EVER wakes up thinking, “Wow. Today would be an amazing day for a marathon. 26.2 let’s do this!”  Know that there will be no perfect race day. Embrace the fact that everyone lining up is in it together, experiencing the same conditions. One of the reasons I get annoyed when people ask for my marathon PR and compare it to someone else’s is that marathons can’t be compared from course-to-course or from year-to-year. My 2014 LA Marathon 3:28 was in heat, Boston was cold and windy, in 2013 I ran a 3:33 in San Diego in fairly ideal conditions but that hill at 21 was brutal. The closest I ever came to a perfect race day was in Toronto in 2011, but even then I slept no more than 2 hours the night before the race. In November I ran a downhill half marathon and PRed like crazy. That was a fake PR. Not sure I’ll be running any more downhill courses. Just not as satisfying. The beauty of having meh race day conditions is knowing you can achieve great things regardless, and have even MORE room for growth. One day I’ll run a 50 degree flat race with no winds, and I’ll rock it!

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Brent, Alaina, Mama and I

OK, enough about running. Here’s what happened this week in my non-running world:

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Son of a Gun on 3rd Street is amazing. Thank you Marta for the gift card and the food recommendations. Get the chicken sandwich, shrimp toast and lobster roll for sure!

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Ashley told me about this, and I had to go buy a few jars. No more mixing my flax and chia seeds into my oatmeal in the morning! Woo time saver!

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We’re at 99 completed enrollment packets! 11 to go!

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Yesterday Brent, Gabe and I hiked up to the Griffith Observatory, saw a show at the planetarium, and hiked back down. We got rained on just a few minutes after this photo was taken. Check out the clouds just barely covering the Hollywood sign.

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Oh Playa Provisions. It’s been too long. Almond Milk Latte.

The Final Week

A week from today Brent, Alaina, Gisele and I will be on the plane flying to Boston. I feel so honored to be a part of this historic running event. The road to Boston hasn’t been easy. I’ve had one failed qualifying attempt and a qualification that didn’t lead to a spot. But what has been most challenging is the hours and hours of training. The ten mile pace runs after an exhausting day at work, waking up at 6AM for Saturday morning twenty milers, and squeezing yoga into my busy training and work schedule to build flexibility and strength. Despite my pre-race nerves I need to remember that the goal was always to get to Boston. This is the (long) victory lap. Of course I want to push myself and do my best, but showing up on race day has always been the priority. I get to be a part of this!

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I’ve been asking for pacing advice from friends and course advice from Boston Marathon veterans. The #1 course advice I get is “You’re going to want to start fast. The fast downhill will kill your quads. You’ll crash on the Newton hills, and the final downhill portion is going to be incredibly painful. Start SLOW.” I’ve been warned over and over again about just how unique and difficult the course is. It got me thinking how Boston compares to San Diego, the course where I first ran a Boston qualifying time.

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San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2013 Elevation Profile

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Boston Marathon Elevation Profile

These elevation profiles look similar. Starting downhill, evening out, hills around mile 20 and a slight downhill to the finish line. San Diego’s twenty mile hills look much more intimidating, and I was able to escape the dreaded wall. What was my strategy? I fueled early and started slow. Despite the excitement I started with 8:20s, cranked it up a notch around mile fifteen, and went crazy for the last 10K. Passing runners on that awful mile twenty hill gave me more energy and pumped me up. It made me feel stronger and able to push through the final six miles. Comparing these courses gives me confidence. I’ve done this before, I can do it again.

The big question is at what pace?

‘Twas the day before the LA Marathon

If you’re reading this and running the LA Marathon tomorrow you better be sipping on some water or sports drink. I just got back from the LA Marathon expo, and I know it’s been talked about enough but it is HOT outside. The LA Marathon is starting 30 minutes earlier this year to accommodate for record breaking heat. I thought last year was hot, but there is a BIG difference between mid 80s and low 90s. I hate to say it, but runners need to adjust their goals for tomorrow. My plan was to pace for a 1:30 half in the charity relay (shameless plug…last chance to donate is today), but because I’m running the second half and Ellen likely won’t cross the starting line until a little after 7, I won’t even start running until after 8:30. I’m going to take my own advice, and run this easier. No starting with 6:50s tomorrow. OK, enough about the heat. You can read my previous post for advice for running in hot weather. LA Marathon has stepped it up this year! Last night Brent and I walked down the street to see the mile marker marathon lights. The city looked beautiful!

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On to the expo. My favorite thing. It felt awesome sleeping in this morning and not having to wake up for a long run. Ellen, Marta and I met at the LA Convention Center around 11. Marathon expos are my FAVORITE!

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We felt like kids in a candy shop. Oh and has anyone ever tried those Lenny’s cookies? We had SO MANY samples.

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I’m usually skeptical of sales pitches, but when it comes to running I’ll try anything new. Was super tempted to get this massage thingie, but resisted. I did buy kool ‘n fit spray. Hoping it helps loosen up my muscles. Has anyone used it before?

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We went to Playa Provisions for lunch and had their breakfast sandwich and heirloom salad. A trip to provisions is not complete without dessert. We toasted with their AMAZING brownie!

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Earlier this week I made this LA Marathon Logistics Plan and sent it out to the whole running gang. I’m running for Sunny Spot!

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And a few other things that have been going on…

We sent out the acceptance letters and waitlist letters for Equitas #3 yesterday!

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We celebrated my co-workers birthday at Bottega Louie this week. Those mushroom fries. Woah!

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I’ve neglected my poor calves lately. This week I discovered my peroneus longus muscle (I just learned what this is) is SUPER tight. I got a foot massage and they pretty much just touched my calf and it felt tense. This was an icing and resting week, which worked out well with preparing for the half tomorrow. That is not a growth in the picture below. I stuffed ice in here. One of the many reasons I prefer training for shorter distances. This is what my life has come to! Compression socks, rollers and weird ice packs.

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I CAN’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW. SO EXCITED FOR THE MARATHON!!!!!! Runners, hydrate, eat pasta and go to bed!