Are you ready for a long run again? Do you need to get out in the healing power of nature?
This Saturday November 3rd I will leading a long trail run in the hills of Palos Verdes.
It has been long enough trail runners. The hills, the dirt, the rabbits, the snakes, the hawks, the view of the Pacific Ocean are calling.
We will meet 7 a.m. at Trump National Golf Course. Parking is readily available and free.
The run will be approximately 1.5 hours. It is appropriate for any level of runner. Or this is a good time to just go out for a long hike. We will be running slowly as it is the start of a new season. Don’t be intimidated. Nothing beats a long walk in the fresh ocean air.
You will be given a specific spiritual focus for the run. This is a good time to rediscover yourself after the Long Beach Marathon. How is your body feeling? What are your new goals? It will become more clear to you after your run Saturday.
We will follow the run with some yoga on one of the most beautiful spots you can imagine overlooking the ocean. Again our yoga practice will focus on setting your intention. Spiritual practice here will stay with and benefit you for the upcoming training session for the Catalina and Los Angeles Marathon (BeachRunners.org).
I will ask for a donation for the yoga class. Currently your money is going to the Smile Train which brings smiles to children with cleft palates and split lips. Your donations from my birthday party have already paid for the surgery of one child. You brought a lifetime of smiles to the world that night.
Donate what you can on Saturday. ($5-$10 recommended).
I will see you there….
Thought you might be interested in seeing my video. It took some time to figure this out & get it posted. Anyhow when you have a moment (about 12 mins.) you can check out video from my race Oct 14th. My friend edited it pretty well. I’ll post on my socalrunning.com members page shortly, too…Gotta run…
yoga helps keep people more in tune with their bodies and eating habits and aware of bad habits, such as eating because of stress, boredom or depression.”You become very sensitive to the feeling of being stuffed,” he added.The researchers collected data from 15,500 people between the ages of 53 and 57 who were asked about exercise, weight, health and diet histories. The findings, published in the July/August issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, showed that those who practiced yoga tended to avoid junk food and overeating because they wanted to respect their bodies.
Because the link between yoga and weight loss has more to do with increasing the awareness of your body from yoga practice.
When you get more aligned, when you get better balanced, when you learn to tune into what is happening in your body…
you will find that you just no longer want to eat junk like…
And yes, even meat.
Keep on practicing your yoga.
To run my marathon under 3:30 you have to average 8 minute miles. So our plan was to run 7:45 minute miles. That way I would have a few minutes to spare if I slowed down the last few miles
My tendency is run the pace of my running partners. Whether that be the fast runners like Matt or the back of the pack runners. I like to hook up with someone and cruise at their speed. I have to admit, Matt is faster than me on the flats. So this could be a problem.
Matt and I fired off our first 10K in 47 minutes…a 7:38 pace. I know what you’re thinking…thats a bit fast. I agree. I tried to slow things down. But all the excitement, the adrenaline, the desire to run 3:30 kept us accelerating. It was like we would find a pace, my lean, then I’d relax, get into my breathing, then Matt’s alarm on his Garmin would beep beep beep indicating we were going too fast. So I’d back off my lean, and the whole cycle would repeat itself.
I’m eating goos. Drinking lots of water on the course. And drinking my Accelerade.
Then at mile 8 on the bike path. I saw a flock of hundreds of seagulls lift off from the beach. I smiled thinking of God. Thinking of Jonathan Livingston Seagull…
If you have not read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, you must…especially if you practice ChiRunning.
Jonathan was a seagull who would rather practice new flying tricks than following the flock. See the flock had a regular routine of following the fishing boats around waiting for scraps of food. Then they’d come back to shore. And sleep.
The same life day after day. Just trying to get through the day.
Meanwhile Jonathan would be out over the ocean trying new techniques. He’d try to go faster and faster on his dives than any seagull before him.
“Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight–how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston loved to fly.” (p.12)
So Matt and I just flew along. Trying to pace. Enjoying this speed, like Jonathan, we had worked so hard to develop. “But the speed was power, and the speed was joy, and the speed was pure beauty.”
Then God had other plans for us.
At the halfway mark we were at 1:41. That works out to a 7:45 pace. Our speed was still cruising but I began to worry as hips began getting fatigued.
That’s where it always starts for me. The upper hips. Then the fatigue spreads like a virus through my body.
By the time we reached Studebaker (mile 17) Matt began pulling ahead and I began slowing down. Even though I was hydrated and had been eating GU’s, three at this point, drinking Accelerade, my legs were getting heavy and tired.
Same thing happened to me the year before. Same point of the race. Why? Why? Why? My ChiRunning form was good. I felt relaxed. I’d trained for this pace.
Well, after speaking to Steve in detail after the race. The problem was that I’d not trained enough LONG RUNS AT THIS PACE. This is one of Steve’s key training precepts…you must train the same way that you will race.
So while I could run 7:45 miles in my sleep. And I could run 26 miles any day of the week…I had not been putting the two together. Matt had been doing his long runs fast. I had been hanging out coaching doing a more leisurely pace.
So my body by mile 20 gave out from exhaustion for about four miles. In other words, I BONKED. Pace at this point…10 minute miles?, though it felt much much much slower than that.
Absolute exhaustion. I even got some light leg cramps. When you bonk, it feels like you’re running in slow motion, like running through mud, you’re trying your very best and can only eek out a snails pace crawl.
I dug down deep. I breathed hard. I had to walk a little hill. I sent my heart out to every street corner ahead of me to keep me going forward. I prayed. I thought of Jonathan. I thought of my Grandfather. I didn’t give up.
There was no way I was going to give up.
My mile 25 mile I found my second wind and ran my ass off the last mile. Passed about 5 people in the last 200 yards.
Time 3:40. Ten minutes off my goal. No doubt due the bonk from miles 21-25. I felt the exhilaration from all the Beach Runners cheering me on.
Matt’s time…3:26. He kept the pace up. And experienced no bonk. Awesome, impressive time for a first time marathoner.
The next few runners to come across the finish line…Dave at 3:45, Kevin at 3:50, and Anna at 3:59.
FOUR out of the FIRST FIVE FINISHERS for Beach Runners were all avid TRAIL RUNNERS. All four Tuesday night Trail runners in Palos Verdes.
Our top male finisher, Matt, and our top female finisher, Anna, were both regular Tuesday night trail runners and would come to my POWER YOGA CLASS . I’ll let you come to your own conclusions on whether my trail running, yoga combination makes runners faster.
In retrospect, when I look back at my race, I did the classic mistake of going out too fast for me. It was a good pace for Matt but not for me. I tend to overestimate my abilities, because of my ChiRunning skills, so I thought I could keep up an uncomfortable pace for 26 miles.
No, I’m human like everyone else.
I did make some deep realizations out there when I was BONKING.
Running that fast with a Garmin beeping every minute on city streets trying to speed up slow down speed up slow down trying to hit some arbitrary mark of 7:45 minute miles…WAS NOT FUN FOR ME.
Everything and I mean everything on this race was focused on breaking 3:30.
For what purpose? Would it really make me a better runner? Would it transform my life? Would I find God’s beauty in a sub 3:30 time?
Or is running 3:30 more a goal of my EGO. A way of me showing how fast I am to the rest of the Beach Runners and the world. I sense the pursuit of these numbers is the source of so much dissatisfaction in this society. We chase the ideal salary, the retirement number, the ideal body weight, chase chase chase instead of…relaxing, feeling, loving, enjoying the company of others.
This goal..this obsession I’ve had for four years now. Has cost me. It’s taken me away from enjoying the very thing I was doing on Sunday…RUNNING. Because you see, I love the movement of running. I love to do my yoga breathing. I LOVE ChiRunning…the soft feet, the relaxed legs, the solid core, the opening of my hips. I love cheering on people I pass. I love cheering to the crowd. I love finding God on my runs in the smile of young child or the sight of a flock of seagulls.
And it came to me Sunday…I will no longer try to break 3:30. My attachment to this goal…my ego being all wrapped up in this goal…this thought of numbers numbers numbers every mile…was not me. Was not what I believe in. Not what I teach.
So there will be a different goal for me my next race. An internal goal. A goal based more on running well, of doing my ChiRunning, of actually getting faster each mile instead of slowing down like I did on Sunday.
Even if I finish 3:50 or 4:00 or 4:30. The time doesn’t matter. The way I run, the way I feel, the person I am on the run, is much much more important.
And what really mattered to me Sunday happened after the finish line. When I saw all you come across the finish line. My feelings of pride my love for you the tears in your eyes were worth more to me than any time I could have run my race in.
Joy came up to Steve and I with God’s tears in her eyes hugging us telling us how much a difference this experience had meant to her. Hugging her, looking around our booth, feeling this very special moment we shared together this year put my race in perspective.
And I released that goal of 3:30 to the universe with love.
So Jonathan being the fast Seagull that he is…finds a teacher named Chiang in the story.
They fly together. Jonathan following Chiang’s every exquisite beautiful movement. Just two seagulls flying side by side practicing moves over and over again to they get it right.
And they’re sitting on the shore discussing the days lesson and Chiang says…
“You’re a very fast flier, aren’t you?”
“I…enjoy speed,” Jonathan said, taken aback but proud the Elder had noticed.
“You will begin to touch Heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”
Little did I know how 3:30 became not a goal for me, but a limitation.
Larry’s in the Green Celebrating with Other Beach Runners
On sunday, I ran the Long Beach Half-Marathon. I was within 100 feet of the finish line when the runner ahead of me was announced over the loudspeaker. A 79-year-old man…..with a cane. Looking around, it was just he and I. In split-second thought, I assessed my belief system and values, respect for my elders, personal integrity and character and with a crowd gone wild cheering him on….I passed his ass!
Viva la the near 49-year-old!
“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.”
This season of Long Beach Beach Runners has been another growing experience as usual.
The seasons of my life now coincide with my marathons. I can think back to every marathon I’ve done (10 now), and see what phase I was going through in my life.
I’ve seen relationships come and go. I’ve gained new friends. I’ve lost 40 pounds. I changed into a yoga teacher and chirunning instructor. I deepened my connection with God. I traveled in exotic countries…all the while training for a 26.2 mile run.
Fascinating isn’t it? How much life happens in training for one race.
This season was no different.
I began the season fast after a stellar performance at the Catalina Marathon (sub 4 hours). I quickly found a running partner in Matt Brown aka Jackass.
We decided we would try to break 3:30. A goal I have been trying to accomplish for years. Why? Really not sure. Its just one of those running things. I’ve finished sub four hours in 5 of the 9 marathons I’ve run. But never sub 3:30. It is a stepping stone to me qualifying for Boston. Which God willing, I will qualify for one day.
That goal of breaking 3:30 has made me run more marathons than I planned to. I think I was going to quit running marathons after I did five. This was my tenth. That goal of breaking 3:30 has made me learn to run fast and efficiently. That goal of 3:30 motivates me to not give up and keep TRYING TRYING TRYING. I know I can do it.
Training went well this summer. I got strong from Tuesday night trail running followed by my power yoga class. New muscles popped out of my core that I never knew I even had.
I even ran an ultramarathon in training…33 miles…hoping that it would give me the endurance to pop 3:30. Training two amazing women Sandy and Sindy for that race was a highlight of the year for me. Your strong spirits continue to inspire me daily.
Now some of you won’t believe this but I even quit drinking. I usually don’t drink for 2 weeks before a race. But this year some drinking incidents prompted me to give it up all together. It hasn’t been easy. I’m learning to live life on life’s terms on a daily basis. Can’t say I miss it. Like my birthday evening I was able to talk to all of you with my full attention and love. I didn’t need a drink to share your company. In fact, I don’t need a drink for anything or anybody. Life is beautiful enough as is. That’s what I’m realizing.
Some Saturdays I ran with Matt. Other Saturdays I started in the back of the pack and worked my way up through the legions of Beach Runners trying to catch him…never could unless I started with him. But these were my favorite days…running with all of you…sharing stories…giving each other encouraging words…running on the beach together…buying cold Gatorades. Its always the little things that stand out on those runs isn’t it?
Matt ran 26 miles THREE TIMES on the Saturdays. All at close to race pace. Go ahead I told him. That’s a testament to his character. Certainly he is one of the hardest working runners I’ve ever met. This was his first marathon and HE WAS READY!
The last few weeks Matt and I did lots of pacing work together. We’d try to run at a consistent pace of 7:45 minutes a mile…but we never could…as we both are soooo much faster than that at shorter distances.
I ate well the week before the marathon. I had a nagging cold though for about two weeks. Maybe some of you had that nasty little chest cold going around also.
Best thing I did though, was staying OFF my feet at the Expo for two days. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you Beach Runners for volunteering and sharing your enthusiasm with everyone at that event.
I ate well the night before. I got adequate sleep. I even had some deep body work done the week before (Rolfing…another story for another day).
I was ready. Right? 3:30 should be no problem. And I had better run 3:30 because I told everyone that was my goal. I’d be embarrassed to not do 3:30.
But God had other plans for me race day…
To be continued…
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars..”
Beach Runners Team Photo
Sunday was quite a day. The Beach Runners were out in force at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon. With over 200 members competing, the Beach Runners were seen all over the course. There were many first timers that by the end of the day had achieved their goal of completing a full or half marathon.
My story started Friday at the LBIM expo. It was a good expo with many informative booths for the runners and their family members. Gary and I gave presentations both Friday and Saturday. We also met many potential new Beach Runners and ChiRunners.
Saturday is usually a day to rest yet I was working the expo. Thanks to Janet and the Beach Runners that volunteered to help work the booth. Those concrete floors can take their toll if you have to stand there for more than a few hours.
It was Saturday night that I realized I wasn’t totally prepared for this race. I had been training primarily with the half marathoners and really hadn’t put in the long miles I would have liked to before a marathon. What I did know was that even with limited specific training, with the MaraYoga training system and ChiRunning® techniques I could finish if I played it smart. That meant expect a slow race.
One principle in the MaraYoga system is “Often, your best efforts come when you least expect them.” This principle is based on the idea of performing with less pressure on yourself. If you had been reading my articles lately you probably noticed how much I talk about “emptying and letting go.” It is all in the same line.
Beach Runners Waiting for the Start
My Sunday started perfectly, all the Beach Runners got together to do the ChiRunning® body looseners. It was beautiful as we warmed up to a magnificent sunrise. After lining up for the start, we passed out hugs and good wishes. I was running with our group and was practicing what I preach, “Go easy the first hour.” It also gave me the opportunity to run with many of our athletes. After about 1 hour I found Mentor Chris and I told her how good I was feeling. She said she was feeling good too. I decided to pick up the pace a little and see if I could catch any other Beach Runners.
This is when I first realized how important my metronome was going to be that day. I played around with a few different cadences and ended up settling in at 85 or 170 strides per minute. Mile after mile I kept it steady and passed hundreds of runners, slowing down to visit with any Beach Runners I found along the way. My next goal was to keep running to mile 20. I figured if I could wake up and run 20 miles pretty much non-stop, that would be a strong performance. I ran with many different people for the next two hours.
When I reached the 20-mile marker I was way ahead of schedule. I looked at my watch and noticed I was on pace for a new PR. I sad to myself, “Run one more mile.” Finally near mile 22 I reached the Clark Ave hill. I took my first walk break. Why work hard on the uphill? At the top it flattened out then went down. Downhill running is always to the ChiRunner’s advantage. I flowed down the next section and decided to keep going since I only had four miles left.
It was at mile 24 I noticed that if I wanted to explore my inner feelings I was getting stronger. I find there are these moments in races, the moments that you can make a choice, to go for it or give-in. I have given-in many times but not this time. I knew I needed to shorten my stride length so I turned my metronome up to 89 and I was flying past people. No one passed me in the last two miles. I was running a sub 8-minute mile pace for the first time that day.
With a quarter mile to go I really kicked it in and with sounds of the crowd and Beach Runners at the finish line I came in at 4:16:16 for a new Personal Record and a negative split. Hey, I never claimed to be the fastest marathoner, just a good coach. Sometimes though it happens and you get that extraordinary performance. I was even happier with that fact that I barely walked during the 26.2 miles race I know there is a sub 4-hour marathon in my future.
The day finished with congratulatory hugs and many tears of joy as Beach Runner after Beach Runner came in. So many first timers inspired me. There are few experiences like completing your first marathon or half marathon. You have to look back at you training, your dedication, your life and it says a lot about who you are.
Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend! Please send me your race report and a picture so I can post it. Email Steve
Focused on Happiness, Steve Mackel – Head Coach, Beach Runners Marathon and Half Marathon Training Program.
Beach Runners and Coaches With Medals
Time to get prepared before the night before. If you need anything it is probably for sale at the marathon expo. Go down the checklist and see what you need.
Beach Runner Shirt or your favorite running shirt
Body Glide or anti chafing and blister protection
Sunscreen already applied
Fuel – Gels, Bars and/or other food
Any other running gear – knee wraps, patella straps etc…
Throw Away Pre-Race Clothes
Money at least $40
Visor or Hat (optional)
Hydration System (optional)
Race Number Belt (optional)
After you have gone through all you stuff and checked it off the list and made a list of what you want to get, you are set.
In the early hours of the morning before a race starts it is typically cold. Another good idea is to wear some “Throw Away” clothes. Beach Runner’s Mentor Jim, aka Uncle Sam, goes to a thrift shop and picks up some sweats for a couple bucks then tosses them off out on the course when he has warmed up. Stay warm before the race.
Here’s my race day gear story. A learning experience from my first marathon, yes, it is a memorable day yet carrying a bunch of stuff around for 26.2 miles can suck. My first marathon I had a hiking waist belt. I called it my Batman Utility Belt. In it I had Power Bars, camera, cell phone, bandages, gels, money and in a separate section it had a water bottle holder, to hold one the size that fits on a bike. All that added up to one heavy belt. On top of that it was not a tight fitting belt like a Fuel Belt (that I use now).
By mile 16 my hips were raw from that belt bouncing around. Thank God for my friend Jason, who met me at mile 16 to run with me. He asked if I needed anything and I said, “Please just take this belt.” He said yes and within moments I felt 100 pounds lighter. It was as if a cross was lifted off my back. I am still thankful for his help that day.
The moral of the story is less is more. The LB Marathon has well-placed water stations so I will probably only carry two water bottles. I load the pack pocket with $40 and food. I will also put some more food in the other two water bottle spaces. I’ll have a camera so I can take some picture of all you. Since I am not running the entire marathon, I’ll pack some emergency items in case I run into you can you need some help. It is a good thing I grew up in the Boy Scouts because it reminds me of their motto, “Be Prepared” and go lite if possible.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel, USA Cycling Coach
LB Marathon Tip – Bodywork and Its Benefits Before and After Your Marathon
I firmly believe in bodywork. I am seeing my bodywork mentor Lenny Parracino every week now before the Catalina Marathon. As Lenny says, “Soft tissue work is like dental flossing for your teeth. You wouldn’t skip dental flossing, so as an endurance athlete and the amount of work you do training your soft tissues to get you through the race, why would you not get bodywork.” Well, I know some of your answers; it is expensive or I don’t have the time. Lance Armstrong gets bodywork after almost every workout when he is serious training mode or racing.
Pre-Race – A nice relaxing Swedish, without too much deep tissue work is great. Thursday or Friday are prime days for this. If you have one scheduled Saturday make it very relaxing, a painful massage may do more harm than good.
Race-Day – A quick stimulating massage is perfect. These are only a few minutes to stimulate the blood flow to the muscles and other soft tissues. I’ll be out there and if you ask me, depending on how much time is available I’ll set you up, for free! Call it Karma.
Post-Race – I have read different opinions on when after your race you should get a massage. Well I won’t have my table with me, so if you can manage the lines they offer massages at the finish line. An easy 20-minute session is great. If they’ll work on your feet (they can get kinda gross after 26.2 miles), better for you.
Sometime over the next week, while you are recovering a thorough full body massage is a great idea. I’ve been training in specialized sports massage techniques this January and I’ll offer a special post race 1-hour massage for the price of $50 if you come to me, in Pasadena. Whether you see me or someone else, treat yourself, you deserve it.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel, Certified Massage Therapist
Pre Race Items and things to consider
O.N.E. Coconut Water or Sports Drink to carry around with you to sip before the race
Depending on the temperature, a throw away shirt to keep you warm. You may even wear this the first mile or two and a big smile.
This is a special event and your chance to ask ChiRunning® founder, Danny Dreyer your questions. Be sure to to check out the link below. Once the program is finished you can download it to a podcast.
EVENT: Steve and Gary’s RunCall #12
GUEST: Danny Dreyer DATE AND TIME: Monday, Nov. 8, at 6:00 PM PDT
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast — it’s your choice)
TO ATTEND THIS EVEN, CLICK HERE NOW
Listen Focused, Steve Mackel, Certified ChiRunning/ChiWalking® Instructor
My Birthday poem…
On this birthday I look out
at the landscape of my life
And have come to believe
Belief in myself yes
Born from miles of sweaty
bike paths and dusty trails
Belief from marathons when
my God and my breath would
protect and push me through
the last tough steps
Belief from ultramarathons where
the call of birds chirping celestial
tunes sang me on for mile mile mile
But here tonight
I talk of a much stronger faith
For a young man who spent so
much time running alone
And traveling alone from Morrocco
to bookstores in Paris to Ancient Ruins
of Monte Alban to the Buddhist halls of Angkor Wat
Here I found the belief
that has so eluded me
A belief your fellow spirits along this fitness journey
Fellow travelers on long bike paths
Comadres in our own little fitness revolution
Belief in the power of a dirt trail
to heal any scars of a 405 work week
Believers in the Truth to bubble up
from the sweat of a yoga mat
Believers in thinking BIG
thinking yes I CAN do it
knowing with our unity
anything is possible
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Believers in building the Kingdom of Heaven
in this earth in this group with these people
Believers in each other that with
God’s love and God’s guidance
And God’s will for us
And your encouragement for each other
And the cheers of our families
And the majesty of a fall sky above us
And with us running hand in hand
with this family with this love with this belief
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
(especially 26.2 miles)