I’m embarrassed to admit that exactly a year ago on the night before the LA Marathon I was sitting on the couch with my bowl of pasta crying. The forecast called for sunny 86 degree weather, awful running conditions. I felt sorry for myself and complained to Brent that it wasn’t fair. I had trained for months and put in so many miles. I knew I was ready to qualify for Boston and I hated that it had to end this way. His response was perfect. He looked at me and said, “Cristina, no race has been run!” One of the many difficulties of a marathon is not knowing what you’re going to get on race day. Unlike other distances, factors like temperature, elevation, how many hours you’ve been sleeping, what you’ve eaten and how you hydrated affect you so much more in a marathon. Runners tend to be control freaks and we can control much of our race prep, but we have no control over the weather. Those of you looking for tips for running the LA Marathon in the heat, keep reading. I’ve crashed and burned in heat, barely making it to the finish line in 4:45 and I’ve qualified for Boston in the heat. If you’re smart, you will cross the finish line strong. Living in Southern California it’s rare for me to run a race in cooler than 70 degree weather. I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. Check out my tips below.
- Bring an icy water bottle to the start. Pour the icy water on your hands and cool your face. Stay cool and stay in the shade.
- Wear a visor and light clothing.
- Drink water at EVERY single water stand. Especially the early ones. Don’t rush through the water stands. TRUST me, it will save you time. When I ran Santa Clarita I skipped the first 4 stands and was focused on running every mile under 8 minutes. That was dumb.
- Whenever possible, run in the shade on the course.
- Last year when I saw Alaina at mile 17 it was really starting to get hot. I gave her a pack of stuff the day before and she, being a rockstar, runs next to me and screams “What do you need? Jelly beans? Pain gel? Cooling wipe?” I yelled “COOLING WIPE.” It worked wonders. They’re worth ordering on amazon now and sticking in your running pouch.
- You’re really going to need to replenish those electrolytes in the heat. This is tough though, because you definitely shouldn’t try something you haven’t trained with. But if you know nuun, gatorade, powerade, salt sticks or whatever else work for you, use them. If they don’t have your electrolyte of choice on the race course, give it to a friend and have them pass it to you on the course.
- This is the part where you’re going to hate me, and you’re not going to want to listen. Start slower. The logic of making up time while it’s not hot does not work. I tried it in Santa Clarita. I thought, “I can run a 1:40 half, and cruise the rest of the way when it’s hot.” Look what happened below. At LA I hit 20 and had been hydrating throughout and was able to push it for the last 6.2. If you start slow it really is amazing how much time you can make up at the end.
- You might not hit your ultimate goal. If you were in shape for a 4:15, you might end up running a 4:25. But a 4:25 in 86 degree weather is INCREDIBLE and you’ll gain so much experience and mental toughness. I am SO glad I ran 26.2 in the heat because I know I can do it, I raced smart, and I’ll be even stronger for the next marathon. I don’t fear warm conditions because I was forced to learn how to handle it. In a way it was liberating! Ventura in September was super hot too, but I drank at every water stand and still ran a PR. And remember, there is ALWAYS another marathon.
On to my long run….yesterday Ellen and I ran 21 miles from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica. (Actually, we ran to Sweet Lady Jane to be exact…when you’re running 21 miles you have to end at a pastry shop) Check us out at 0.0 on the beach path and the route.
We met Marta, Joe and Jason for the last bit. They are tapering for next week’s marathon. Always nice to have company on those long runs.
So how did it feel?
Friday Dinner: Homemade pasta with marinara and roasted vegetables.
Friday Sleep: 8 hours. Slept like a rock. As usual.
Pre-Run Breakfast: PB&J and some water.
Post-Run Snack: Sweet Lady Jane Scone.
Long Run Fuel: Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade Chews and Honey Stinger Waffle, although I was really hungry at mile 19. I probably didn’t carbo-load enough Friday.
Long Run Hydration: Stopped for water a lot. It was hot out.
Long Run Outfit: Lululemon shorts, Canyon City race shirt, target sports bra, lulu socks, run happy hat!
How Did It Feel: I love love love point to point runs. Redondo to Santa Monica was beautiful! The last 3 miles were rough, especially because we ran up Montana to Sweet Lady Jane and it was uphill, but I think the constant water stops and fueling throughout helped. It was definitely hard, but not unbearable. One more 20+ run before Boston. Where should we run next!?
Other Notes: I drank lots of nuun after the run and didn’t experience that dreaded post long run headache. I also ate egg tacos with lots of hot sauce to help replenish some of the lost salt.
After the run Brent and I hung out with his Mom. We saw The Theory of Everything. Movies after long runs are wonderful. We then walked around Manhattan Beach (it was weird strolling on the path I had just run from start to finish) and ate at one of my favorite LA spots, Manhattan Beach Post. Here’s what we ate.
And here’s what’s happening in my kitchen tonight. I made use of my last Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers and made a huge pot of picadillo for tomorrow night. It’s gonna be a yoga day, so I want to come home to a ready made meal.
And last, what I ran last week…
- Monday- Four Miles at Back On My Feet (8:51 Average Pace)
- Tuesday- Run MDR Track (5×800)
- Wednesday- Off
- Thursday- Seven Mile Run (7:24 Average Pace)
- Friday- Four Miles at Back On My Feet (8:18 Average Pace)
- Saturday- Twenty One Mile Run (8:31 Average Pace)
- Sunday- Lululemon Run Club (Too lazy to go check the pace)
Until next week. Happy tapering LA Marathon runners!