This is one of the hardest marathons in the United States with approx. 18 of the 26.2 miles are uphill. I loved every moment of it. The views, the people, the weather.
Spending three months of running trails to prepare really paid off.
Catalina Race Report
Part 1: Shine On Crazy Diamonds
“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”
Catalina 2006 was a dream come true for me. But it didn’t start that way.
The evening before, was packing my bag to late in the evening. Fuelbelt, camera, way too many books, trying to make up for the yoga studies I’m behind in, vitamins, Ultra, batteries, sets of clothing, music, PowerBook Pro. As typical, I left all that to the last second, and I was stressed out. I had tried to make the boat over the evening before to meet my parents who had a boat over in Avalon, and all stressed out, running around LA doing errands, I couldn’t make the 5:00 p.m boat.
I made the 6:00 a.m. boat out of Long Beach with my overweight duffel bag. As we left the harbor, I sat writing yoga notes into my computer…
You are what your deep driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.
Then I looked up to see the my first bit of beauty. The sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. I was listening to Pink Floyd’s “Shine on Crazy Diamond” and I had one of those moments when everything seemed so perfect–the sun on the water, the music, my Desikachar’s quote.
You see, Catalina had been a driving desire of mine for some time. In 2003, I planned to do the marathon two weeks after Los Angeles. Yet two weeks after my PR at the time (3:49), my legs were still aching. So I called it off. The weather intimidated my father from going over with his boat also.
The year after the weather turned us away again. 2004 is still famous among Catalina marathoners for just getting dumped on.
So this was to be the year. I chose to not do the LA marathon to focus my efforts on Catalina. In addition, after teaching six college classes in the fall, I got a little beat down from work, tired and unmotivated to run. Plus some other things going on my life that became those little hobgoblins giving me reasons too not run.
New Years day, like many of us, I made a fitness resolution to run Catalina. Even if I finished over 5 hours, walking, taking pictures, taking notes some long race report, I’d finish it.
My runs began short. 3-4 milers twice in the week. Then I began doing some long runs on the weekend. I wasn’t even counting miles. I train on the trails on the back side of Palos Verdes, and I had a point in my mind like the top of Del Cerro hill, and I’d run up there. I ran sporadically with my old running partner, Bob, but he was traveling up to Washington to visit a new girlfriend seemingly every weekend.
Did some group trail runs with the www.socalrunning.com community. But mostly I did some long runs by myself. I coach to not listen to music when you run, yet I really needed some tunes. I don’t care, sometimes you need company even if it is Kirk Franklin on a long run.
Before long I was running for two hours, two and a half hours, three hours on trails and hills. I figuered I should build up to a four hour trail run in preparation. I think it is important to look at the terrain for a marathon, and try to replicate it as much as possible in your training. The ideal is to actually run the course before. Of the 26 miles, something like 18 of them are uphill at Catalina. With the steepest hill at mile 18. So my big training run was 22 miles around Palos Verdes, and I made sure my largest hill was at about 3/4 of the way into the run. That run went great. And I powered the hill.
I practice and teach ChiRunning. And I tried to practice my running form with every run. Especially conserving energy going uphill. My speed downhill is still Bode Miller like, mainly because ChiRunning has taught me to move my legs faster than other runners.
After my long run, I didn’t run for a week. Then I did a couple of short runs. I so believe in rest. Most runners injure themselves because they simply do not rest after hard run. The Wednesday before the marathon I ran the switchbacks with my partner Bob. He always smokes me uphill, as he runs with long strides compared to the baby steps I use with ChiRunning. But this time, I leaned big into the hill, and used my arms to take me up the 3 mile hill of Palos Verdes Drive East. I practiced full yoga breathing. I didn’t look back.
And I got to the top of the hill before he did. First time ever. I was ready.
I had also began intensive yoga study this winter. My yoga teacher, Rosie Good, offered her teacher training which began in February. She is an amazing teacher and person. An effulgent light for many of us in San Pedro. Every Friday evening I chanted and studied the sutras of Patanjali for two hours. Then five hours of yoga Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how Yoga is changing my life but, I am changing. Of course I’m more flexible, but it goes deeper than that. Things are opening up inside of me. Creative energies. Infinite possiblities. Positive thoughts. Visions of angels. I guess this website is a channel for me to share some of these thoughts and visions.
And that morning all these memories, my life, was coming back to me with the sun coming up. All these crazy diamonds, Bob, Rosie, Chad, Witze, the Beach Runners, Steve Mackel, Danny Dreyer, Jason Smith, my father, all these people that play a role in keeping you fit and healthy, feeling strong when you feel weak, inspired when you feel demoralized, valuable when you feel worthless, I sent a prayer of thanks to everyone that helped me prepare for this marathon. Because the more my heart chakra opens in life, the more I realize that I get my strength from them and God. Without those crazy diamonds in my life, running marathons is not possible.
Part 2 (Rainbows from Heaven) coming soon.
Steve and I are announcing our first major workshop
of the year,a ChiRunning/Trail Running/Yoga Retreat
on the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula.
This will be an all day event, and clearly our best workshop
we have ever done. We are sending the details and
special pricing to our subscribers first, so sign up to
the right and look in your email over the next few
days for details.
But when I climb up to my island peak,
Escape awhile the maddening world of strife
I envy not an earthly thing, this life,
which sometimes galls, is swept clean of cares,
by friendly winds, and once again I smile.
Ay, truly, life seems sweet–a thing worthwhile.
A majestic marathon. Maybe the second hardest but second most beautiful in the U.S.
Time 4:20. Finished 9th in my age group (35-39). Best age group finish ever.
This marathon was perfect for me. Hills, trails, ocean views, outdoor minded people.
I will post a full race report shortly.
My photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/garysmith/
Run with joy
I started doing yoga about two years ago. Mainly to relax but also to stretch out my hamstrings which were getting terribly tight from training for marathons. As I did more yoga, my hamstrings began to get more and more limber. But also my recurring shoulder pains from years of poor posture began disappearing. As well as the tightness in my lower lack.
And I was far more relaxed. The best benefit, however, was I began to feel comfortable in my own skin. The more I practiced it, the more I got from yoga, and wanted to study it more and more.
I had the opportunity this year as my teacher, Rosie Good, began a teacher training program. I enrolled this February and have been studying/practicing yoga for 15 hours a week, if not more. And what a difference it has made in my life. I’m finding some much needed peace and serenity. I’ve lost weight and my running just keeps getting faster and faster with less and less recovery time needed.
I taught my first Yoga class the other night in San Pedro. Largely about 30 minutes of Ashtanga or Power Yoga, which I am quickly falling in love with, as well as Kundalini, Hatha, and of course Raja Yoga. The class went really well. My next step is to research and put together a yoga routine directed towards helping the flexibility and recovery of runners. At our workshop next month, Steve and I will lead runners through this custom routine. I’m excited. Not only to help my yoga practice, but to help other runners experience the same flexibility and relaxation I’m loving through my yoga practice.
Here is another article I found that points out the benefits of yoga for runners.
Hope to see all of you soon,
22,000 runners is something special. You will see more runners than you ever seen in your life. Runners of all kinds.
One runner always stays in my heart. I don’t know his name nor have ever met him. But I did past him. He was doing the marathon with no legs. Yes, no legs. He would lift his torso up and place it back down. It took him three days to do the marathon. But he did it…all 26 miles. I was back at my house relaxing when I saw the story on the news.
So when you get tired think of someone inspirational like this. Someone with much greater strength than you because strong thoughts give you strength. But you will also see junior high school kids running along with you in this amazing program they have in LA for inner city kids.
I ran alongside a mother of three kids running her first marathon the last time. And she was running at the brisk pace I was. I have run alongside teenagers who had to play a tennis tournament the next day. And a marathoner trying to run a marathon in over 100 countries.
Just amazing people. Marathoners are the most amazing people in the world to me. And to be in the midst of 22,000 of them is well…maybe…a little like heaven.
So be sure to talk to as many people as you can on your run. Take of the headphones and start a conversation. You will surprised at who will be sharing the special moment of this life with you.
And be sure to wave and cheer at the crowd. They came out to see you. Yes you. So give them a hand also.
I, on the other hand, will be running the Catalina Marathon which is Saturday. I have run the Los Angeles Marathon four times, so it is time for something new.
Plus I am training to do my first ultra marathon this year, so I want to spend as much time as I can on trails. Catalina has 15 miles of uphill, making it one of the most demanding marathons in the U.S. But with flower covered undeveloped hills and trails with a view of the Pacific Ocean, it should be just amazingly beautiful.
My parents are over there waiting for me on their boat. I should be getting ready but I had to do a couple of errands here at school.
It’s going to be a year of peace, joy, and new love. I’m experiencing it already. I hope you are too. Good luck everyone.
Run with Joy,
ps Steve and I will be doing a ChiRunning Trail and Yoga Retreat this April 8th in Palos Verdes–join our list to get the first opportunity to sign up. We will advertise to our subscribers first, and it will fill fast. The only ChiRunning/Yoga/Trail Running workshop in the country. This will be our finest workshop yet.
Watch him run down a double diamond trail (Suicides). Watch how fast his feet move. And he does all this in regular running shoes. Also listen to him explain tips on your shoelaces, shoulders, arms, learning to relax, and how ChiRunning has made him a faster runner in his 30’s than he was in his 20’s.
You’ll enjoy this video. You’ll get an idea of the kind of wonderful fitness influences I have in my life.
I love you forever and forever Jason. You and your wonderful family, Stacey, Kelsey, and Evan. You are truly blessed.
You can now subscribe to our video runcasts by using iTunes. That way the videos will be downloaded automatically and then you can even play them on your video iPODs.
1. Open the link to our SoCalRunning Feed.
2. On the right hand side of the page you will see a link to subscribe to our podcast using itunes. Click that and you will be subscribed. Its that simple.
If that doesn’t work then you can try this:
1. Open iTunes.
2. Click Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast
3. Enter this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/Socalrunningcom
That’s it. You’re subscribed to the beginnings of a show Steve and I have high hopes for.
We hope to make a show that promotes health on all levels; physical, mental, and spiritual.
If you are curious about the sudden proliferation of multimedia on this site, well, that’s what happens when you get a MacBook Pro. Maybe, possibly the finest laptop ever made. This machine makes it easy to make videos or audio. So I look forward to making many more videos for all of you.