Monday, March 19, 2012

Race Report: 03.18.2012 Los Angeles Marathon

Chip Time: 4:05:41
Avg. Pace: 9:22/mile

12 for '12 continues on with the L.A. Marathon this weekend. It wasn't the success I would have liked, but it also could have been worse. Around mile 17 I briefly entertained the thought that dropping out wouldn't be such a bad thing. Thankfully, I dismissed it. It would have been the first time I did not finish a race had I done so. There was really nothing wrong--no injuries, no bad weather. I can't blame it on lack of training either since I was probably just a little less prepared this year than last year, and having been a regular runner all these years, I should be able to do this. What it all boiled down to, I think, was that my legs just didn't feel like running yesterday. I think they would have preferred had I just stayed in bed. But 4:05:41 is nothing to sneeze at even if it is slower than the San Francisco Marathon from two years ago and that it marks the first time I've ran the L.A. Marathon slower than four hours since my second time in 2006. If 4:05 is a bad day in the office for me, then I'd take it.

It has been taking me much longer to warm up during a race lately, so my game plan this year was to start with the pace I want to finish with. I figured with an 8:30 pace I would finish under 3:45 and gain a new PR. I ran the first mile in 8:42 then lowered to an 8:07 and 8:13 the next two miles. I slowed down the next few miles, around 8:40, which would have been perfect. A little slower than the target pace but within striking distance. However, even this slower pace was feeling like a struggle. Unlike last year when I got into a groove around mile 8, all I experienced in mile 8 were legs that were beginning to feel like lead. I wasn't loosening up but rather the opposite was happening: I was stiffening up.

Running through Hollywood, even the flat areas, was taking a lot out of me, so imagine how I felt going up the Sunset Strip. I got a stitch in my abs (a front-stitch?) during this time, so I had to control my breathing, taking dee breaths to loosen up my abs. It finally worked, but my legs were still dead. Apart from the abs, I really had no problems breathing. It was just my legs. They just didn't feel like running. From mile 13-16 I was running a pace above 9 minutes. In mile 17 I broke 10 minutes and did so again the next mile (10:30). I got myself moving again in mile 19 with a 9:27 but that was shortlived. I walked a lot of mile 20 and resulted in my slowest mile. 12:08.

I had thought about just walking the last six miles and enjoying the view. Then I thought again that I would prefer that this race be over sooner rather than later. I told myself that if I jog the last six miles I would be done in about an hour, so suck it up. I did. I only walked a couple of times after that to take a Gu and some water. It wasn't a fast pace but at least I was moving. It wasn't the relatively easy last six miles of last year, though.

The result is definitely disappointing. It's slower than the San Francisco Marathon in 2010, and it's the first time I've run above four hours at the L.A. Marathon since my second one in 2006. But again, it could have been worse. Here's where experience pays off. Were this my first marathon I probably would have just wimped out and walked, but partly out of guilt and pride I sucked it up and finished in a respectable time.

Lessons? I'm a broken record: I need to train more. I need to be more disciplined about getting my miles in. Going from 13 miles to 20 miles probably isn't ideal. Missing close to three weeks of running is also not good. Let's see if I've learned my lesson now.

As for my next race, most likely it will be the Hollywood Half Marathon. I can't find another one that works in terms of proximity and appeal. Too bad I didn't decide to sign up sooner when it was cheaper.

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