LA Marathon Daily Tip #5 of 5 Coach Gary Smith’s Top 10 Tips, “For Your Best Marathon Ever!”

Beach Runners Coaches Gary and Steve
MarathonTraining.TV and Beach Runners’ Coaches Gary and Steve Wearing Their Buffalo Run Podium Medals
MarathonTraining.TV’s and Beach Runners’ Coach Gary Smith’s Top Ten Tips “For Your Best Marathon Ever” taken from the Beach Runners Marathon Training Programs participants emails.

1. Think Positive. You’re better trained than any other marathon group out there. You’ve done these ridiculously long runs of 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, and 26 miles. You’ve practiced yoga and you use the ChiRunning® techniques

So tell yourself, “I’m ready. I’m in better shape than I have been in a long time.” I can tell by the pants that keep falling from my waist.

You’ve done awesome. All of you. Go to than mirror the night before and the morning before look yourself in the eyes and say “I’m READY!”

2. Kill the ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts). These little critters pop up the night before or even on your run. The little bastards sound like…

“I didn’t train enough.” “I didn’t do enough speed work.” “My leg is hurting.” You get the drift.

When you hear these critters, bust out the RAID and spray them to oblivion. Replace themwith their hated cousins. APT’s. (Automatic Positive Thoughts)…

“I’m well trained.” “I did great speed, hill and interval workouts.” “My leg feels great considering I’ve already run 18 miles.”

3. Keep your posture good on the race. Solid core, keep that waistband level, and that spine straight.

No hunching!!! You will lose lung capacity and you certainly don’t want to come across the finish line looking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Negative style points for that.

4. Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! In the beginning of the race. Middle of the race. When you’re tired. When you’re not tired. The last few miles. Count breaths if need be. I like to pick a number like 50 then work up to that with heavy exhales counting each one. This keeps my mind off you know what….

5. Be sure to interact with the crowd. Thousands will be there cheering you on. Yes you. There for you. There to clap and inspire you. They got up on a Sunday morning, dealt with the parkingthe crowd, the weather, all that to see you. So be sure to smile at them. Wave at them. Pump your fist in the air. Give them a big “Wahoo.” Then watch the magic that happens.

6. Eat during the race. Anything that will give you some fuel. Let your body tell you what to eat. If you feel like an orange, have one. If you feel like having a goo. That’s one philosophy. I have a tough digestive system so that works for me. As Coach Steve says, “Eat early, eat often.”

But remember Barb’s story. She ate some strange food bar given out on the race and it upset her stomach very much. So eat what you are familiar with. I will be eating cliff bars and gels. I love em and I know they do not upset my stomach.

7. Inspire the other runners. Being part of the Beach Runners, you will be passing many runners especially the last 6 miles. So don’t just pass them without saying anything like you have a better place to go.

Tell them, “Good Running!” “You’re kicking ass!” “You’re my hero” “Keep up the good work.” “Looking strong.”

And, maybe, just maybe, they might believe you. And you’ve helped them in your little way. Because running a marathon is not just about you. It’s about all of us working together on the course to help one another finish.

8. Don’t worry about your time. Go out and run your race. Let me repeat that.

Go out and run YOUR race. Run at a pace comfortable for you. Not the guy in fancy running shorts ahead of you. Or the 80 year old woman surging ahead of you. Run a nice comfortable pace the first half of the run, then speed it up gradually on the last part of the run.

Run the last few miles in style. A smile on your face. Joy in your heart. Tears in your eyes.

What time you get is what time you get. Time is a function of your training and a deeper mystical equation I just don’t get and don’t worry too much about. Hey didn’t Einstein say it was all relative anyway.

Sunday I’m notshooting for certain time, but really I’m more shooting for just running fun the whole way. But that’s MY strategy, what’s yours?

Too many people seriously hurt themselves running for time. Everything Steve and I have taught you is about running at a pace comfortable for you. Then gradually increasing it through your lean. So relax, run well, and you’ll have a “great time.”

9. Connect to your higher power. This is where I get a little preachy.

Pray the night the night you read this. Pray the next morning. Pray the night before the race. Pray the morning of. Pray with some fellow runners.

Pray on mile 20 when you’re knackered. Or meditate, or say a sutra, or a koan, or whatever you do to connect to forces greater than you. Mainly, because, you’ll need it. There will be a point, somewhere in the race, where you feel you can’t go on. That your body is kaput.

That’s when you reach for something deeper. Another source of strength. And trust me, there are levels of energy out there that can help us accomplish anything. Just by asking with all your heart, a source of strength will come flowing to you making you want to dance and laugh with it as you pronuce towards your goal.

So spend a little time the day before doing something spiritual. A walk. Watching the birds. Where you can just listen and have your own private conversation with your higher power.

Tell it thanks. Thanks for your health. For the weather. For the team you trained with. For the new friends you have. For your new waistline. For all the people that believed in you. For the strength to finish those long training runs.

And then just listen. Watch for a sign. For me often it is the birds.

Then on the run, when I see the birds I get to go back to that place, that heaven on Earth, and can forget about any physical limitation I might be feeling or suffering from.

Alright, I’m getting carried away here, but do spend some quiet time the next few days praying and listening.

It will reward you race day.

10. Run with Joy.

Run with your heart out. Open your heart on Sunday. Feel the excitement of the starting line. The adrenaline of the first few miles. The fatigue of miles 10-20. The exhaustion of miles 20-26. The exuberance of the finish line.

Then cheer on the rest of your team. Give out as many hugs as you can. Tell them all what they have meant to you. How great the conversations were. How silly the coaches were. How fantastic the crowd was.

Because after Sunday who knows when we’ll all see one another again. So share those gratitudes and feelings
that day. Don’t wait.

Something magical happened to me in this training program. I grew. I grew in so many ways I don’t even understand.

Whether it was the long conversations. Or being the only one running along the sand with the birds. Or sharing stories of another crazy Friday night as you shook off the beers at mile 10.

But really I grew from meeting all of you. Hearing your stories. And seeing what I wonderful group of people all of you are.

Helping in whatever way I could to improve your technique, tell you to slow down, give you a minute to just chill and center yourself, sharing my silly rambling writing, hoping that somehow just one of you might find a little phrase that could get you to go just another mile longer.

Thank you so much for coming out being a part of this program and making it the special, and I mean really special journey it has been.

The last time Steve and I came running in together we came over that wonderful bridge and the sun was sending rays through the clouds onto the water. And we shared just how damn proud we both were of all you. Really damn proud.

You’ve gotten fast and strong. More than you know. So go out and have the race of your life. You deserve it.

I love you all,


LA Marathon Daily Tip #4 of 5 Race Day Check List

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.

Running Shorts
Beach Runner Shirt or your favorite running shirt
Race Chip
Race Number
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…
Money at least $40
Throw Away Pre-Race Clothes*
Sunglasses (optional)
Visor or Hat (optional)
Hydration System (optional)
Race Number Belt (optional)
Metronome (optional)
Camera (optional)
Tissues (optional)

After you have gone through all you stuff, checked it off the list, then made a list of what you still need, you are set. In the early hours of the morning before a race starts it is typically cold. A 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 was 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 the Fuel Belt 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 LA Marathon has well-placed water stations so I will probably only carry two small 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. 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, Beach Runners Head Coach

LA Marathon Daily Tip #3 of 5

I firmly believe in bodywork. I am seeing my bodywork mentor Lenny Parracino every week now before the LA Marathon and Catalina Marathons. As Lenny says, “Soft tissue work is like dental flossing for your muscles and all other connective tissue. You wouldn’t skip dental flossing, so as an endurance athlete, and the amount of time you put in training, your soft tissues to get worked. Why wouldn’t you get bodywork.”

Well, I know some of your answers; it is expensive or I don’t have the time. Well, Lance Armstrong got bodywork after almost every workout when he was in serious training mode or racing. I just wrote a check for $500 and said, “Let’s keep booking weekly appointments and let me know when it is running out.” I know I have to invest in my body because hey, I’m getting older and I train quite a bit.

Pre-Race – A nice relaxing Swedish, without too much deep tissue work is great. Thursday, Friday or Saturday are prime days for this. If you have one scheduled Saturday make it very relaxing, a painful massage may do more harm than good. I also get a pedicure early in my race week. I gotta show my tootsies some love.

Race-Day – A quick stimulating massage is perfect. These are only a few minutes long to stimulate the blood flow to the muscles and other soft tissues you’ll be using during the race. It also loosens you up. I’ll be out there and if you ask me, depending on how much time is available, I’ll work on you 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 too (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 very specialized sports massage techniques over the last year and I’ll offer a special post race 1-hour “Runner’s Massage” for the one-time price of $60, normally $75 Email Steve for an appointment if you come to me, in South Pasadena. This special “Runner’s Massage” that I have developed, spends most of the hour on your lower body, and at least 15 minutes just on your feet. Your feet probably need it the most because they will have just run close to 40,000 steps.

Race Focused, Steve Mackel, Certified Massage Therapist

Tonight! Running the LA Marathon or Any Other Race?




Running the LA Marathon or any other race?

Then prepare the right way and attend this workshop!

Get ready physically and mentally with
Lululemon ambassador Steve Mackel

Join us for these FREE workshops!

February 27, from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Lululemon Athletica – Beverly Hills
334 N. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills 90210

Yoga for Runners – Steve Mackel, certified ChiRunning® instructor and yoga teacher. He works on creating overall balance, taking runners through a series of yoga poses and explains the correlations between the poses and the biomechanics of running. He also moves students through vinaysa flow series while he focuses on creating strength and flexibility. (50 minutes)

Unleashing Your Mental Running Strength Through Visualization and Hypnosis
– Steve is a Certified Hypnotherapist. Using visualization and other mental training techniques, takes participants through a guided visualization of the LA Marathon, increasing self-confidence and overall race day strength. (40 minutes)

Open to all runners!

LA Marathon Daily Tip #2 of 5

ONE Cocnut water
Steve, Pre-Race Drinking O.N.E. Coconut Water, His Secret Weapon

I get more questions on how much to eat before, during and after a marathon or race than any other question. Hopefully you have been practicing eating on your long runs during your training. After extensive training, reading and practicing, the following suggestions are based on my personal experience. I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, for an expert opinion seek a qualified professional.

Pre-race day– I eat a balanced diet until Wednesday. Remember that most nutritionists recommend at least 50% of your daily calories come from carbs as part of a balanced diet. I also eat proteins and fats. Of course, you should always try to make most of your carbs complex carbs with fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains.

Wednesday and Thursday, I substantially up my caloric intake and increase the percentage carbs. I am looking for complex carbs, focusing on fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. I snack all day long. Friday, I go back to regular eating. Saturday I eat light all day then I have a pre-race meal about 6:00 P.M. I am not a huge fan of “Carbo Loading” the night before the race because I already did it Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, I like some meat the night before to firm everything up inside me. That’s my routine.

Race-day– I wake up early to eat my race-day meal of oatmeal, banana and a cup of coffee. I eat this about 2.5 hours before the starting time of the race. I usually bring a Cliff Bar, O.N.E. coconut water, water and to eat and drink before the race. I sip the drinks and eat a little while I wait for the start. I have been staying away from sports drinks the hour before the race to keep blood sugar levels in check. I’ll eat between 200 – 275 calories every hour. This will be different for each one of you depending on your height, weight and gender. Most of you should try to get down at least 100 calories each hour on the course. I usually eat solid food early in the race before going to the gels in the last two hours.

RACE DAY, DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING NOW (it is too late or you are taking chances), eat what you have been practicing eating during your training.

Post-race – Try to get some food in you right away. I look for some protein mixed in with some carbs. I drink some sports drinks and walk around. I’ll wait an hour or two before I eat a larger meal.

Take notes on what you eat to see what worked for you or what didn’t. Learn a pre-race food routine. If you can do this with your fuel you can learn to take the guesswork out of your race, relax and avoid the Bonk (running out of gas).

To see what I ate this morning Click Here

Eat Focused,

Steve Mackel, USA Triathlon Coach

LA Marathon Daily Tip #1 of 5

penny the cat
Take a Cat Nap This Week

Sleep, how much do we need before race day? Ah, a million dollar question. The answer is: It depends. You can go by the medical community’s standards defined by the general population’s averages or you can listen to your own body. I know some people need more and some people need less. Some people need to be in bed early the night before a race, where I usually can’t go to sleep early. Everything is individual, figure out what you need.

Ten, eight, seven, six, five hours or less? I like around seven. Do you know many hours of sleep you need to feel great the next day? In your training, have you been paying attention to what you did the night, day and week before a great long run. Have you been burning the candle at both ends? What about napping? Nothing beats a cat nap.

Here’s some sound advice before your big day, “Lighten your schedule this week and plan your sleep.” Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are key sleep nights. As we get closer to the race, nervousness can kick in. Don’t worry about it at this point and sleep the best you can. The night before your marathon is no big deal. Restless nights are typical. I have never had more than 6 hours before a race, closer to 4 – 5 hours. I take my time getting all my stuff laid out the night before so all I have to do is wake up eat and walk out the door.

So sleep well these next few nights. Pay attention to how you really feel each morning. This is the week to rest and take it easy. Keep you runs short, quick and think about recharging. Look for Gary and I at the Expo at the Long Beach Marathon booth and/or Sunday morning.

Sleep Focused,

Steve Mackel, MarathonTraining.TV and the Beach Runner’s Head Coach

George’s Buffalo Run Race Report

buffalo run george
George Finishing Strong

Wow – what a difference a year makes. I still think that the Buffalo Run is the Ultimate Trail run and I still think it’s the hardest half marathon anywhere. But this year was very different from last year.

1. Last year – only 4 of us Beach Runners (plus Mark) ran
This year – over 20 Beach Runners ran

2. Last year – I wasn’t prepared mentally, emotionally, or physically
This year – I was ready mentally and emotionally after running last year’s race, so I knew what to expect and I knew what I was up against – the good (the scenery) the bad (the uphills and the discouragement) and the exhilaration (the downhills at sub-7 minute and sub 6-minute mile pace). And after Gary’s PV training runs, including the Bataan death march (Doug’s aptly named description) a few weeks ago – I was more than ready physically.

3. Last year – no Beach Runners were on the podium
This year – I think it was 7 or 8 people got 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in their division. Nothing short of amazing – but – when you look at our training regimen, it’s not surprising at all and it makes perfect sense.

4. Last year – kinda warm
This year – way hot

5. Last year – I saw no one cramping
This year – on the last stretch on the pavement – the last approximately 2 miles – I saw 6 or 8 people writhing in pain from cramps or desperately trying to stretch them out.
See #4.

6. Last year – very dry course
This year – multiple water hazards

7. Last year – lots of whining and sandbagging from Steve and Gary on the boat ride over
This year – no whining or sandbagging – just talk of strategy for how to start, what pace to go out at, and how hard to hit the hills.

8. Last year – Steve didn’t eat enough during the race and bonked. After the race he was down and negative. This was one of the strongest examples of how body chemistry can influence attitude and behavior. (Typically, I don’t eat much during half marathons either, but this is not your typical half marathon).
This year – Steve ate plenty during the race and was his usual upbeat, positive, and confident self after the race. Placing 2nd in his age group may have played a part in his positive outlook as well.

9. Last year – I finished about 150 or 200 overall and 20 or 25th in my age group
This year – I finished 101 overall and 11th in my age group. See #2.

10. Last year – I was at mile 5 at 1 hour 5 minutes
This year – I was at mile 5 at 1 hour – so I took about 1 minute off of each mile on the first and hardest part. See #2

11. Last year – no one almost collapsed, needed IV fluids, or went to the hospital
This year – Matt did

12. Last year – I passed very few people on the first 5 miles and tons of people passed me
This year – I passed a bunch of people on the first 5 miles and few people passed me

13. Last year – I passed over 20 people the last 3-4 miles
This year – I passed only 5-10 people the last 3-4 miles

14. Last year – no one passed me the last 3-4 miles
This year – no one passed me the last 3-4 miles – still – one thing didn’t change – on the last 3-4 miles no one passed the Great White.

O.K. – now for the mile by mile recap:

Mile 1 – About 30 yards into the race, I said in a quiet voice – “I love this race.” And two women running to the right of me heard it – and laughed – and said “Yeah, right – you’re only 30 yards into the race. Wait until you’re at mile 5 and tell us whether you love this race or not.”

I started off running with Christy, Doug, and Mina. As we made the first few turns and start running up the paved road, we were at a comfortable pace doing about 8-9 minute miles. Then we got to the downhill part at about mile 1.5 and Doug and Mina both took off – reminding me that were Beach Runners and we run fast downhill. I got to the first aid station and took some water. Then we started the trails. It wasn’t a steep as I remembered last year. Right after mile 2 I lost Doug and Mina.

This year – I thought more about strategy and I saw that the steepest mile was between mile 3 and 4 – so I resolved to run all the way to mile 3. I pretty much made it – I might have walked once or twice for 10-20 seconds before mile 3. At around mile 3.5 it really got steep – and I stopped and walked a few times – but again – it didn’t seem as steep as last year. In reality – from about mile 3.5 to mile 4.5 is actually the steepest. I also used the Danny Dryer sidestepping method several times and that really helped.

I saw Christy up ahead and she was walking. When did she get so far ahead of me? I caught up with her and we walked a while together. Then she started running again and she left me behind.

Once I got to the top – there were some great downhills. I totally forgot about those from last year. I didn’t have a really bad uphill until right after mile 6 on my Garmin. The mile markers all seemed to be off from about mile 6 on. I really did go fast on these downhills. At this point the race last year – my legs felt like jello. This year – they still felt strong and I was able to recover on the downhills. At the end when I checked my Garmin – it had my fastest pace at 5:36 – and it was probably right around here.

I also forgot how beautiful it was up here. The sun, the cliffs, the deep blue water – the area on the back side of Catalina was so remote and steep. If you happened to fall off of the trail – it looked like it was a straight drop about 1,200-1,500 feet.

Then there were several short downhills followed by steeper uphills. I ran most of the hills, but when it got really steep – I walked and then accelerated on the downhill. I hit all of the aid stations. Last year they had tons of the Cliff Shot blocks – and those were great – someone told me that they had caffeine in them –maybe that’s why I got the sugar buzz going last year. This year – they had something crappy called “Swedish Fish”. But they had a texture just like Gummy Bears – actually more like stale Gummy Bears – and they got caught in my teeth. I was totally not digging this and I ate no more of these “Swedish Fish.” They suck as far as race food. Hated them. Who in the hell picked that out? Why couldn’t they pick something good?

Then more up and down – I ran most of the uphills and cruised the downhills. I really forgot all these great downhill parts. I enjoyed this so much more than last year. I wasn’t concerned about time and I was so psyched out after last year’s beating on the course that this year it seemed easier. Then I felt something weird on my heels – something like a warm spot at the center of each heel. And I thought to myself – that’s weird – I’ve NEVER felt that on my heels.

I hit the next aid station, had both water and Gatorade – and saw one of my favorite race foods – mini pretzels. I grabbed a handful of the pretzels -those are always so great after long runs. The salt tasted good. I grabbed one more Gatorade – wow – it was really hot – and I had them refill my water bottle – and I grabbed more pretzels and walked until I finished them off and started running again.

Then the steep uphills started again and I had to walk on and off the next few miles. Right before the aid station – I was starting to get tired – but after walking a little – I got a second wind. At this point – it was getting hot and I passed several people. Then I saw Gary – and he was flying downhill and looking happy. He looked much better than last year. Then after that I saw Matt and he was doing well, followed by Steve, Laurie and Jake. After that I saw Christy – she was about a mile ahead of me. Then it kind of flattened out and I hit a really good stride because I knew that I was near the turnaround.

But I wasn’t near the turnaround. They moved it farther out this year. I had to climb one last big hill, then a quick downhill to the turnaround and running back up the slight hill I had just run down. What was that all about? I knew my mileage was off. At mile marker 8 – I had 8.5 miles on my Garmin. And at mile marker 9 I had 9.6 miles. Anyway – that explains why my Garmin didn’t match the mile markers. Then my heels started throbbing and I knew it must be blisters on each heel.

After the turnaround I saw John. He seemed to be doing well. Then I saw Doug and Mina and Sandy was right behind them. A little bit later I saw Sarah, then Uncle Sam and Janet.

Once I hit the turnaround – I knew I had a few slight uphills before that fantastic fast downhill. I felt so much stronger this year and I started flying down the hills. I definitely hit the downhills much harder and more aggressively than last year. This is the greatest part of the race – and probably the best 3-4 miles of any race I’ve ever run.

Then I had a sharp pain in my side. And I thought to myself – what in the heck is that?
And it turned out I had a side stitch. I haven’t had one of those in 4 or 5 years. How did that happen? Maybe I drank too much water? Or drank water too fast? Maybe I was hitting the downhills too fast? Anyway – I stopped and stretched, caught my breath and started running slowly. Then my heels started throbbing harder.

Then somehow the side stitch went away and I started flying down the hills again. I remembered every curve from last year and felt again how great it was to run so fast. I passed several people – like they were standing still – and I ran through the curve that I almost missed last year – then there’s that one flat section in the shade but I had so much momentum I just flew through that section. It was all so familiar and felt so great. I do love this race and it is worth getting up at 4:30 am for it. Then my heels started screaming bad.

Then I saw Christy stopped on the trail. I told her that this was the best part and that she needed to run and run fast. She said she had a side stitch and I suggested that maybe she should just walk it out before running again. Then I took off again and passed several more people. My heels were hurting – it felt like they must have rubbed against something and created these monster blisters. So instead of landing mid-foot I started landing on my toes – but that didn’t really help.

Then I finished the trails and started on the paved section. I was still running fast but my heels were killing me. So I stopped at the last water station, and walked while I drank my water. And walking didn’t make my heels feel any better – so I figured I might as well run – at least the race will be over faster if I run. I continued to pass people. Lots of people were really running out of gas – or were covered in sweat and just trudging and shuffling along. I felt strong, focusing on my form and keeping my pace below 7 minute miles.

Then I came up to the golf course and the horse stables. I saw an ambulance with its lights flashing and I thought to myself that inside there was probably some old golfer guy that had a heart attack or some kid that fell off his skateboard or scooter or bicycle and cracked his head open. Then I thought – maybe there’s a runner in there. I hope it’s not someone I know – but I knew that was silly because Beach Runners all know about hydration, pacing, and body sensing.

Little did I know at the time that it was Matt Brown inside the ambulance. I only found after the finish that he was the one in there.

Then I hit the last little turn left followed by the quick right before you go down the final half or quarter mile stretch. I love the end of this race. Last year – I passed 2 people in this final stretch. This year – I saw one solitary woman in a teal colored shirt but she was way too far ahead for me to catch her before the finish. Then I kept running and finished and actually heard the announcer call out my name and city. I never hear that – always other people but never me.

Then I grabbed some Gatorade, a banana, and some orange slices and hung out and waited to see other people finish. I saw John finish, then Christy, and then Sandy.

Then I went over to the Drug Store windows to look for statistics and saw that Gary won his age group and that Mackel got second in his age group. I walked back over to the finish to congratulate them and Gary told me about Matt.

Then I saw Doug and Mina finish and hung out with them for a while. Doug showed me his extremely ugly blood blisters – yuk! – and he told me how Mina was going to enjoy lancing them that night. That’s almost too much information. We were talking about all of the Beach Runners who were going to get a spot on the podium and that the three us all ran a good race but that were just regular schmos who ran a good race and had fun. Then we found out that Mina got 2nd or 3rd in her age group – which makes her no longer a schmo – and that Christy placed in her age group as well – so then we had to hang out for the awards ceremony.

I’ve never run a race where I knew so many of the podium finishers. Gary and Mackel and Sarah and everyone got their 5 seconds of glory and applause – especially Gary – he was really hamming it up on the steps – that was great. Then when they announced Christy – the announcer paused when he got to her city – and he said “Pasadena? There’s Beach Runners that live in Pasadena?” That’s when Mackel chimed in and said that he lived in Pasadena and that there were Beach Runners from all over the Southland – Arcadia, the Valley, Orange County, blah, blah, blah.

Then I thought to myself – it’s not where you live that makes you a Beach Runner – it’s where you train and how you train and especially who you train with that makes you a Beach Runner.

Awards –

O.K. – now for the award section of my race report.

For the Leading by Example award – this goes jointly to Steve and Gary for their podium finishes. I was truly impressed – and I’m not easily impressed. Steve was #2 in his age group. Gary was #1 in his age group and #12 overall.

The Inspiration Award goes to Barb and Cece for sticking it out and finishing the race after all the aid stations and crowds were gone.

The ugliest feet award definitely goes to Doug Rokowski. He had these gnarly blisters on the sides of both feet. They were both about an inch and a half in diameter and raised up about a half inch. And – they weren’t just regular fluid-filled blisters – they were blood blisters. Yuk!

The most improved award goes to Christy. She’s never run a marathon and this was only her second half marathon and she reached the podium on this incredibly challenging course. Nothing short of amazing.

The “What am I doing here” award goes to Nato. This was his first half marathon. I can’t imagine if this was my first half marathon – if it was – I don’t know if I would have quit endurance running. Way to go Nato – all of the other half marathons you’ll do in the future will be much, much easier.

The education award goes out to Matt Brown – for the education he got on race day on the perils of endurance running and importance of recovery. It’s a lesson for us all. We run these long runs, and it seems that mind over matter works, and all this Chi running stuff really, really works – and that we can do anything we set our minds to and train for – but that while we may have reached a very high level of fitness and performance – we’re still human and we do have limits.

The Tarzan and/or Wild Man award goes to Jake. No explanation needed.

The happiest couple award definitely goes to Doug and Mina. They got engaged around mile 21 at last year’s Catalina Marathon. I saw them start this half marathon together – I ran the first 2 miles with them, then I saw them near the turnaround and I saw them finish the marathon together holding hands. I can’t believe they’re leaving us and moving to Michigan. I’m going to miss them.

George White, Beach Runner Mentor and Member

You Can’t Cram for a Marathon – Stay Positive No Matter Where You Are in Your Training

Keep Your Head Up

The LA Marathon is coming up in less than two weeks and the Catalina Marathon is 13 days after that. We have a lot of members and readers participating in these two races. Now is not the time for those ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) to start creeping in. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

All of you have been training, some better than others, and you are where you are. Like I tell the Beach Runners, “You can’t cram for a marathon or half marathon.” Don’t try to cram in a lot of training now to catch up, it should be quite the opposite, now is the time to rest and recover. You should keep doing your taper routine and it should have some shorter, higher intensity workouts. They usually have a higher payoff than long workouts at this point in your race preparations.

It is flu season and there is a lot of stuff going around out there. If you get a cold, cough or something worse, take a few a days off from training. Training is meant to stress the body which decreases your immunity system. With this short amount of time left, a better focus is getting better than pushing through. This is the same if you have some type of nagging injury. Also consider body work, massage and/or a visit to your sports or regular doctor.

Remember, you are too close to get completely derailed. Having trained well over 1,000 athletes I have seen it all happen before the race and had it happen to me. Here’s my story: A year and a half ago I herniated a disc in my back two weeks before the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon. I couldn’t even walk. I had to give up my plans of running even a 5k that day. I was very depressed. I had coached almost 300 athletes to complete this race and ran with them every Saturday for the last 21-weeks. On, race day I had to limp around, in pain, and cheer on my athletes. It was a great lesson. I can’t plan life. There is always another marathon and in the next year I completed 3 full marathons and my first ultra-marathon. If you can plan for it, don’t do something stupid this late in the game.

Stay positive, think smart, listen to you body and pray for perfect weather. In reality that’s about all you can do. And, when it all comes together you’ll have a great race. This was written especially for you first timers. Relax, Empty and Let Go then Let’s Go. See you at the marathon expos and races.

Think Focused, Steve Mackel, CMT – Head Coach MarathonTraining.TV

Gary’s Buffalo Run Race Report 2008

Interestingly enough, I was speaking to someone the other day about this race and said that it felt weird…because I did not have a lot to say.

Certainly I have never been at a loss for words but after this race I was. It’s taken me a week to get some perspective on this.

Let’s go back a year.

I had just got back from four weeks of heavy partying in Thailand/Cambodia. On two nights rest, and while still jet lagged I went out and ran this race last year.

First five miles were tough trying to keep up with Steve but I did, and was able to take advantage of four miles of downhill to finish with a decent time of 1:57.

A year later I chose to not travel anywhere this January, to focus on my copywriting (I am trying to switch careers).

But more importantly, I wanted to stick around here to train myself and others for the American Trail Championship…the Buffalo Run and the Catalina Marathon.

Beach Runners began training in November. We have done hills, hills, and more hills every Saturday up in Palos Verdes.

And to be honest with you, it hasn’t been for everyone because running so many hills is not for everybody.

It’s tough on the body. The heart beats at high rates. You can’t keep any kind of pace. And the knees get sore from many downhills.

We had days of mismarked trails, mudbaths, freezing cold mornings, and small turnouts throughout the holidays.

But despite all the challenges a core group of runners kept on showing up on Saturdays.

A different type of runner. Runners that liked the challenge of a Monkey Hill. Or the uselessness of pacing a mile. A runner that liked scraping mud off their shoes. And believed that a panaramic view of the Pacific Ocean is so much better appreciated after climbing for three hard miles.

Meanwhile somethings were stirring in me athletically. I was quite competitive when younger having two very athletic younger brothers. But I was the non-athlete of the family. The book worm…the writer…and during college…the championship speaker and debater. Meanwhile my younger brothers were winning many soccer tournaments.

I ran here and there and loved to play racquetball but that was about it athletically.

But the fire was always in me. Steve Mackel began stirring it up with all his exploits up Mt. Baldy. And last summer I tried beating him up that mountain to no avail but I did train. And my Catalina Marathon last year was fast…sub four hours…which got me thinking by the end of the year…

Could I be a competitive trail runner? I mean I have the downhill speed for it. I have trails in my back yard. So the ingredients were there…but I needed to get much faster on my uphills and get better race endurance. Could a non athlete like me get competitive at the age of 39? What would it take?

And like all great questions…the answer became the journey. I made the DECISION TO COMPETE at the Buffalo Run and Catalina Marathon.

Now a decision like this has some ramifications. And I think many Beach Runners need to take heed of this…competing means some ass kicking hard work in training. No longer would a long run on a Saturday suffice for the heart of the training. No, I needed INTERVALS AND TEMPO RUNS. And hard ones during the week.

So back in December I began doing hard runs in the week. I trained with three partners…Anna, Matt (jackass), and later on, Jake. And lots of solo hard runs. But bottom line…I did ONE HARD RUN a week. And according to Tim VanOrden, a very competitive runner I interviewed last year, that is sufficient for most runners in training. Of course I still did a long run, and one other run. And hard hard power yoga. Also I ate a lot of carbs, drank green juices, drank 0 alcohol, and paid way too much money for body work to get my muscles relaxed.

So I came into this race trained. I was. I expected a good result. How well I would do, who knows? I mean it’s funny all the talk runners do about their expectations for race day…when there are a million factors at play that can influence your performance…weather, mindset, level of competition, injuries, etc.

So I’m learning to keep my expectations more to myself. I get a little quiet race day. Way more serious. I get a “game face”.

I did have a strategy. I would be the first Beach Runner to the top of the first five mile hill. That meant staying ahead of Matt and Steve. Matt is getting faster and faster but ran a marathon the week before at Surf City so I figuered I’d be fresher. Steve I just hadn’t seen much on Saturdays so I figuered I just might have him on the uphill.

Bizarre thing was because I was attacking this first hill, not that many runners were ahead of me. In fact, not many runners at all were ahead of me. If I could just hang in there…

At the end of a vicious first five miles that were all uphill, I had them both. Yet they were both within fifty yards of me. This was my strategy. Crank the uphills all out and then use my skills downhill to recover then lengthen the lead. It worked like a charm.

I did the last four miles smoking fast…and finished with a 1:53 which was only four minutes faster than last year…but all the garmin geeks told me the course was .5 miles too long…so maybe my time was more like a 1:48 in relative terms. All the interval and tempo training runs paid off as I did not bonk out at all and could recover midrace on the downhills.

Then I waited around and watched runner after runner come in…Steve who told me Matt had collapsed due to dehydration trying to keep up with me after doing a marathon the week before…Duncan…Jake…Laurie…Beach runner after Beach runner. The finish line is very intimate in Catalina. Its fun. And the runners were so exasperated from the tough course and the searing heat for a February.

It turns out Matt was okay. Then my hero, Barb, with her friend Sissy, came in like six hours later. The biggest warriors of the day in my opinion. Because Barb didn’t let the toughness of this race intimidate her, just like Baldy last year, she gave it a shot. I mean what’s the worse that could happen? You might finish last? Who cares. Just finish!

The awards ceremony was like something from my championship debate squads. Beach Runners took home EIGHT MEDALS (top three finishes in their age groups). It was soooo fun cheering on team member after team who went up there. Many of our runners like Jake, Uncle Sam, and Janet finished fourth in their age group. Which means we were real close to finishing with 50% podium finishes.

Other runners like Sandy and John had their own personal victories on the course.

I began to see something emerge that ceremony…a competitive trail running team. And it excites me to push this team even harder in the upcoming years.

How did I do?

I finished 12th overall. 1st in my age group 35-39. This was my first FIRST PLACE finish in anything athletically, EVER! The hard work paid off. If there is one thing I learned from this experience, it is you must PUSH YOURSELF IN THE WEEK if you want to get faster. Ask Steve and I how you should do this and we’ll guide you as coaches.

And coming back sitting on the back of the boat, getting to know Nikki who just ran her first trail race, sharing our experiences, looking at the ocean, at the rest of my team, fingering my medal, everything seemed so very…well…perfect.

See you at the Catalina Marathon.

Actual Race Photo…



Originally uploaded by socalrunning

Next Page »