Happy Halloween


Have a fun and safe Halloween! You know I have been writing about riding your bike and how it helps with your running. The link below is a download of short video of a beautiful bike ride and the art of riding (Inspiring)


Trick or Treat Focused, Steve Mackel SoCalRunning.com co-founder

“Yoga for Runners” Thursdays on Lululemon’s Back Patio and Coach Steve’s Latest Craze

yoga w steve
“Yoga for Runners” moves back to Lululemon Store Thursdays at 6:30 PM

Thursday! “Yoga for Runners” is at the Lululemon store in Old Town Pasadena. The store address is, 110 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105 and it is FREE!

The bummer is there is no trail run associated with the class until daylight savings time starts again but I enjoyed my intense cardio workout before yoga this summer so much I thought how could I keep it going. Here’s what I did. I bought a light system for my bike and I ride from home to Luluemon.

Night Riding is my latest craze! But be careful.

We practice our yoga on the back patio. It should be packed so get there early. Please dress in clothes that you can move freely in. Bring a yoga mat if you have one but Lululemon has community mats. Lululemon sells really cool yoga clothes and yoga mats.

My goal is to follow in my coach, Steve Ilg’s footprints, “strength before flexibility.” The class is challenging yet great for new yogis (beginners). We practice mostly basic postures. You don’t have to be a pretzel person or super flexible to gain the benefits of Yoga for Runners. You will gain strength, flexibility and a better body/mind connection if you continue to practice yoga. That’s why Coach Gary and I preach yoga as one of the best cross-training workout for all athletes. It also makes us more aware ChiRunners.

Be prepared to sweat, so dress in layers because it is getting colder.

Train Focused and Namaste, Steve Mackel – Yogi and Runner

Improve Your Breathing, Try a Neti Pot, My How To Video

Unless you have a known medical condition, your breathing hurts or always seems to be labored when exercising, (this is when you need to consult a doctor) let’s use the KISS principle when it comes to breathing, don’t think about it too much, remember to exhale fully and breathe. It takes time to build up an aerobic base and your lactate threshold when breathing during exercise. Eventually it becomes easier.

If you are working on improving your breathing start by keeping your runs at a lower intensity so you don’t have to breathe as hard and give your self time to build up your ventilation threshold.

This video shows me using one of my neti pots for nasal rinsing, which cleans and keeps my sinuses clear for deeper breaths. Something you may want to try. It takes a while to learn how to do it and can even sting in the beginning, yet it has been worth it for me.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel MarathonTraining.TV Head Coach

Steve’s Long Beach Marathon Race Report – Part 2

finish line steve
Visualizing a 4:05, I actually saw 4:08, My Adjusted Time 4:06:56

I told the Beach Runners of my intention the day before the race. Now it was out in the open, and everyone had expectations.

Race day was exciting. We did our Body Looseners as a group, left our extra stuff in the Beach Runners VIP area and headed off to the starting line. I gave and received lots of hugs, good luck thoughts and, “I’ll see you out on the course.” At the last minute mentor Vern came up to me and said, “Get up front, your going for a PR.” For some reason that meant a lot to me. I worked my way through the crowd, ended up in corral B, shuffling my way to the starting line.

I had my race plan and my Garmin to keep me in check. As I started the race I couldn’t start the timer on my Garmin but I was getting the two readings I was concerned with, “Pace” and “Heart Rate.” I kept my heart rate under 130 the entire first hour and right around 9 minute miles, right on track. Around mile 8 my heart rate started creeping up into the mid 130s. I was running a little faster and I was a hour into the race so I didn’t worry. Besides the 3 bathroom breaks in the first 14 miles I felt good and I was with the Cliff Bar 4:00 Pace group.

I decided to hang with them as long as I could, which was to mile 18 and that was the last I saw of them. The last 8 miles were all on my own. My heart rate was going up, almost 150 and I was slowing down. The one weird thing was that my legs felt like they were on the verge of cramping. I keep eating and drinking. The only thing I would have done differently would have been taken more electrolytes, and I was carrying them on me. I just figured between the food and drinks I’d be ok.

The last 4 miles were what I expected, hard. I know and coach my runner to get a training run in that is close to/or 26 miles before the race. I had gotten 23 in a training run and I hadn’t trained near this fast overall. At 22.5 I walked one hill. For some reason I thought I needed one on-course walk break and why not on a hill? Looking back, I don’t think it helped me.

Just past mile 24, I got shut down by a cramp in my left hamstring. I mean stopped in my tracks. I let our a few curse words thinking there goes my PR and my 4:05. I had no idea where I was in relationship to my time. I used everything I teach in ChiRunning®. I took baby steps until somehow my legs were moving again. At this point, I had to use every trick I knew. I figured I had some sort of Chi blockage and probably needed additional electrolytes. At the mile 25 aid station I downed my “ProLytes” (electrolytes in liquid drop form). I kept focusing on letting the Chi in my body  flow through my hamstrings. Soon I saw Alethea cheering runners on and I yelled to her, “Run me in.” I wanted some support. We kept it steady as we approached the final down hill stretch.

I came around the final turn and saw the clock, 4:08. My visualization worked. I came very close for not really training to run a 4:05. The Beach Runners VIP area was packed and I was pumped as they cheered me to the finish line. As soon as I finished I saw Gary and Jake. They had both ran sub 4 hours. At that moment Gary said to me, “Finishing in under 4 hours is hard, you can’t really slow down, you can’t make a mistake.” I knew exactly what he was saying. Secretly I was hoping to run a sub 4 hour marathon but I couldn’t do it without the proper training. But hey, a PR is a PR and after the starting line adjustment I ran a 4:06:56.

Now that I am at the end of this long story, 6 months worth, here’s what I learned again:
It is about the journey more than the destination. My weekly runs with the Beach Runners and our Thursday Trail Runs were such an important part of this journey. I love running with other people and every week I ran with some many different people. We talked, learned and enjoyed.

To sum it up I want to quote the cover of the card Alicia gave me after training with MarathonTraining.TV program and running the Chicago Marathon 10 days ago:

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination….For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through.

First, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.” –Souza

Train Focused, Steve Mackel SoCalRunning.com Founder and Happy Camper

Steve’s Long Beach Marathon Race Report – Part 1

Beach Runners Doing Their Pre-Race Body Looseners

This is an interesting race report for me to write because I am sure many of you probably think I am a sandbagger, or why am I not faster. I know all about marathons. I don’t know the exact number I’ve done, I don’t count them but at least 15.

I started out doing them the hard way and then I started doing them a smart way, I’ve just never done them the smart/fast way, and 4:06:56 isn’t fast. Based on my 5k times I should be a lot faster but a Personal Record (PR) is a PR.

I had used my taper weeks practicing visualization techniques. I visualized the finish line clock showing 4:05 as I crossed the finish line with my arms held high in the air. I knew if I saw that time I might have a shot of coming in under 4 hours.

As it worked out I started the downhill run toward the finish line and when the clock came into view is showed 4:08 and some change but let’s start at the beginning.

Without going through all the Beach Runner training, I spent most of my time training with the half marathoners, running slow and coaching from the back of the pack. I really don’t think about PRs, I want to make sure our participants get across the finish line safely while having fun.

I knew I would run the long runs with the marathoners later in the session, just slow. After our first 3.5 hour run, I knew I had a decent base but no speed. Then I decided to get the last two long runs in working on pacing. This serves two purposes. I get to run with Beach Runners training towards time goals and it usually makes me run faster.

On the day of our 4 hour run, I started out in the 11 – 10 minute mile pace for the first hour then hooked up with Diane whom was training to go sub 4 and-a-half hours. We ran 13 miles together working on varied paces. We ran anywhere from 10’s to high 7 minute miles. I always coach my runners to work on many different paces on their long runs. We went over 19 miles that day.

A couple weeks later I ran the Beach Runners 5 hour training run mostly with Delta. Delta was training to finish her first marathon with a goal of sub 4 and-a half. A pretty lofty goal for a first timer, plus she was coming off a broken pelvis injury. We ran at varied paces, We talked along the way and supported each other when the other was getting tired. Together we ran close to 22 miles in a little over 4 hours. She finished stronger than I did. I was done for that day. Overall three good long runs, time to taper.

I kept it easy over the next 3 weeks. I practiced my visualizations of a 4:05 finish line clock reading and worked on getting in touch with the emotions I would have out on the course. I don’t run marathons fast, I just enjoy myself and run with the people I coach. The week before the race I made the commitment, now was the time to test myself and go for a new PR.

….Continued tomorrow!

Gary’s Long Beach Marathon Race Report

Long Beach Marathon

Intention From the old French word “Intendre”…”to direct one’s attention”.

Another successful marathon culminated the Beach Runner season last weekend.

As always, I’d like to share my story with you all about that day.

Let’s go back a year first though.

One year ago, training with Matt Brown, I was running my behind off trying to break 3:30. Not sure exactly why but that was a goal

I’ve had for a while to break that mark.

At about mile sixteen I began to feel the wheels coming off. If you’ve never experienced a “bonk” when running…let me describe it for you.

It begins with a little pain going through your legs, for me it’s my hamstrings, then like a virus, it just gets bigger and bigger, spreading through both legs.

Last year, chasing Matt, the virus pain began slowing me down about mile 16. He started pulling away from me and as much as I tried, I could not catch up to him.

By mile eighteen to nineteen the “bonk” was full on! The pain had spread from my legs throughout my whole body.

It felt worse than tiredness. It was an exhaustion beyond words. I mean I’m pretty fit with great running form…but the “bonk” can bring any runner to an absolute standstill.

So I ended up walking…barely moving up the gradual hills of Ocean Boulevard. Cursing and screaming at myself…wondering…”Why do I do this to myself”? And a real profound sense of…”This isn’t worth it.”

I’ve run a bunch of marathons but never had the REAL SENSE of “This ain’t worth it”. This is an ANT (automatic negative thought) in the worse sense of the word.

It really effected me that day. I pulled out of it and found my second wind about mile 24 and powered in the last two miles to a time of 3:40. Matt finished with a stellar first marathon time of 3:27.

Would I run again? Would I try to go under 3:30 again?

Eight months later…

I sat with the Beach Runner mentors in Matt’s house. We were going around telling everyone our goals for the upcoming year.

Matt shared he was going to try to qualify for Boston.

It came around to me. “I think I will try to get some runners in under four hours. That way I can coach and not be so focused on myself.”

Sub four hours. Just like that…my intention was set.

If you’ve been reading SoCalRunning for a while, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about intention from our writing.

Intention is a deeper notion than a goal. It’s the purpose behind the goal..it’s your focus…as you go through your training.

When I start teaching a yoga class, I always ask the class to set their intention.

Wayne Dyer says intention is the connecting to the higher powers of the universe…opening yourself up for a divine guidance.

Intention works at a deeper level than our goals. Its the aligning of our subconscious with our activities.

So with that that I was set for the Beach Runner season.

21 weeks of training…of coaching…of training runners every Saturday morning. I taught a lot of yoga…I slowed down and began all my runs from the back of the pack. Inspiring..motivating…doing everything I could to get runners to go another mile.

And a big thing I learned thanks to an odd tip from Steve Mackel was I listened to an amazing presentation from some top notch endurance coach on the importance of eating and electrolytes in endurance sports.

The fact is…I’ve never been too serious about these two things before. I’d eat a Cliff bar or two. Maybe have a goo. And fill my water bottles with some Ultima and be off to the races.

I learned that getting a healthy healthy dose of electrolytes is completely essential for not “bonking”. And that most long distance endurance athletes have nowhere near the electrolytes they need to replace the massive, and I mean massive sodium loss experienced in a marathon.

It is important to not only have a sports drink but also to supplement with electrolyte tablets.

And to eat! To eat like every 30 minutes during intense athletic performance. It’s so easy to do now with convenient foods like Cliff Blocs (my new favorite especially Margarita flavor with salt).

So thanks for Cliff who gave the Beach Runners lots of Cliff Blocs for the season. And to Accelerade for giving us lots of great drink mix, and with ample doses of Enduralytes from Hammer Nutrition (Electrolyte Tablets)…the nutrition/supplementation side of my training improved tremendously.

I told a few runners that I would be running a sub 9 minute pace race day.

And so Race Day was last Sunday.

This was to be the largest Beach Runner group ever.

How would we all do?

Part II Race Day

The Weekend of Race day I was nervous with having to speak at the Long Beach Marathon Expo twice on ChiRunning.
I made a pretty cool video on some race day tips which you can watch here.

My sleeping was fairly screwed up upcoming to race day. I teach college late at night, I have to grade a lot of papers.

Despite all this madness, I showed up early race day. Got to give a ton of hugs and best wishes to the whole team. There’s not too much coaching to do on race day. Well maybe there is…

My running partners were to be big Greg…all six foot five of him…and Jake.

Greg is one of the coolest cats I know. We spend a lot of long runs together talking about spiritual/societal issues. He has been trying to get under four hours for years.

Jake is the “wild man” of the group. Even if it is 50 F outside Jake is running with a shirt off long hair flowing in the wind. He has had a strong training…staying close to my routine…lots of trail running…lots of power yoga.

After a huge Beach Runners warm up. We went to the starting line and we were off.

Funny enough we were following Matt again…this time it was a Cliff 3:50 pace setter. Follow “Matt” became the mantra. He had some balloons and was doing sub 9 minute miles so this seemed simple enough.

Unfortunately about mile 4 we lost Greg. I wanted to wait for him but wisely Jake said “no” we have to stay on pace…which was the correct call.

Then we ran into Jenny another Beach Runner. She was also trying to go sub 4:00. She was our fastest woman marathoner this year. I hadn’t spoke too much to Jenny in our training. She was moving along well.

She pulled ahead of us about mile eight.

One thing about race day for me was all the love I began to experience on the course.

After coaching marathoners and half marathoners for three years in the Long Beach community…I’ve got to know and help a lot of people…this season and past seasons.

And I began to see so many Beach Runners on the course…half marathoners. Vitza, a long time Beach Runner about mile 11, was also trying to go sub four. I said “join us” but he wasn’t quite going our pace.

Jake and I were both very focused on our ChiRunning form. Leaning from the ankles…staying relaxed…swinging our arms…moving to a metronome. I was feeling great.

At the breakaway point…the half marathoners split from the marathoners…and things opened up considerably.

It was just Jake and I at this point. We were about 3-4 minutes below target pace which I had on my wrist again thanks to Cliff.

Jake began to drag a little…I had to backtrack a couple of times and tell him to keep up his pace…he was in Garmin world and said his pace was fine…but after looking at our splits later…we were slowing down a little.

Once we got to Marine Stadium, it was way cool to see a bunch of Beach Runners just behind us including Steve Mackel who looked like he was going for sub four hours himself.

Then we came up to Cal State Long Beach and saw Matt Brown come down the other side of the road. He was shooting for Boston this year and was looking strong and very energetic.

We ran through the campus I was going nuts high fiving all the college students especially the cheerleaders. This was a major improvement over running up Studebaker from years past.

About mile eighteen running a small hill I began to feel that “hamstring” pain and some sore knees.

And I began to worry a little. I had been taking electrolytes during the whole race, but dropped about three of them on the beach path and with thousands of runners behind me was not going to stop to pick them up.

The right hamstring felt like it was going to “cramp up”. My knees felt really sore…maybe it was from the New Balance mid foot strike shoes I was wearing…”was there enough padding?”

I’ve run enough marathons now to know…this is my mind screwing with me trying to get me to walk and slow down.

So I kept going. In fact, I began to pick up the pace.

About mile 20 Jake and I were 4 minutes below pace. And it was time to pick it up.

We began to pass people like crazy. We were both amped up on electrolytes…Cliff Blocs…and with our ChiRunning form things just began moving.

We came up to Jenny who was walking. She said she had a terrible side pain. I told her to just keep on moving. That’s so important when you hit that tough part of the marathon…just to keep on moving…not to give in.

Jake and I kept on moving. We jammed up the little hills coming up to Ocean. The whole race Jake and I who are usually chatterboxes together…didn’t say much at all. It was all business. All business. I was going to get this guy under four hours.

About mile 23 I told Jake let’s cruise in. We were so ahead of pace. But Jake just kept on getting faster…faster and faster.

“Damnit Jake slow down just a bit”. But he keeps on trying to get ahead of me.

“F*^%*ker! He’s racing me!” So in a state of delusion I say “Fine, if you want to race..it’s on!!!”

So I begin surging ahead. Short fast spurts of 400 yards like on a track…trying to shake him off.

I’m flying by people left and right. People are screaming at me “That’s the way to do it. You’re looking awesome!”

I’m focusing now on traffic lights. Just run to this traffic light then run to next. Ticking them off. “Nobody beats me the the last two miles of a marathon!”

Mile 26 I turn around to see if Jake is there.

Surprise, surprise…he’s right there. He survived the surge. My God, we must have been doing 7:30 miles the last two miles…looking like champions.

We run to the the finish line together…crossing it exactly at the same time.

Our time 3:53. Not my fastest time but a good marathon for me. Didn’t bonk. Ran the last 6 miles like a 10K. Saw so many Beach Runners and was just pumped up from all the love and energy.

We see other Beach Runners come in…Romeo 3:59…then Jenny at 4:00:40…Damn! She just missed it.

And we see Mackel come in with his PR at 4:09. Awesome.

Later we found out that with the time delay Jenny finishes with an official time of 3:59:55. Talk about cutting it close. Awesome finish, she toughs it out the last six miles.

At the cool Beach Runners finisher area…we find out Matt qualified for Boston with a time of 3:10. Frank finishes sub four. In all we have eight runners finish with a sub four hour marathon. Great results.

I eat, I get a massage, I drink.

And more important I give a ton of hugs to as many Beach Runners as I can.

So many of our runners give it their all out there on the course…everyone is a champion race day. Everyone. It’s the most inspiring thing to see a marathon or half marathon. Especially when you are a coach. It’s really a great day out there.

So did I stay true with my intention?

Sure did.

And it was really cool to run for someone else…my good good buddy Jake…who was literally on cloud nine that whole afternoon.

He is framing his medal with picture of him of race day…his first sub four hour marathon.

I remember what those days were like.

And it feels like I’m becoming an elder now…happy to see others accomplish their goals…rather than being the warrior myself out there.

Though, the warrior days are coming up…the Island is calling.

The rigorous training of Winter will be starting soon.

Until then, I’m resting for a while. Eating. Doing a little hibernation. Resting up for my hard core training cycle which I will start in about a week.

This whole marathon was fantastic. Maybe my best marathon ever.

Isn’t that the whole point?

Long Beach Marathon Race Report and Why People Train with the Beach Runners

Beach Runner Mentor George Sets a New Half Marathon PR

10/13/08 Long Beach, California

This is what we do.
This is how we do it.

Wow – what a day yesterday was. So many people I talked with had PR’s. If yesterday was your first marathon or half marathon – congratulations – you got a PR and you took a big huge step towards fitness, health, and confidence in yourself. I remember my first half marathon and my first marathon like it was yesterday. Every mile on each race is burned into my memory.

And after you’ve done so many marathons and half marathons together – it gets harder and harder to get a PR. Everybody had a story. I enjoyed talking with so many of you after the race and hearing your stories. My goal yesterday was to get a PR – and here’s my story.

The past week was really nerve-wracking with all the ugly news about the economy, the stock market, and talk of doom and gloom. Gary talks about the Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) and we were bombarded with them last week from a multitude of sources. I didn’t even want to open a newspaper, watch the news on Television, or look at anything on the Internet. Recession. Stock market crash. Huge losses. Meltdown. Talk of the worst week since the Depression. Ugly. And the weather was really hot most of the week. And I don’t sleep as well when it’s hot. And as lots of you know – I’m a big baby when it comes to sleep. So I wasn’t exactly totally rested.

And I do believe that your mental state has an affect on your physical state – so we (or at least I) had some serious headwinds to overcome when it comes to thinking positive. Last week was a tough week to be positive. But I found a way. I connected with some people I haven’t talked with in a long time. I had some great conversations with an old high school friend Bill and his wife Margaret who live in Denver. I talked with one of our former neighbors in Walnut Creek who lives across from the house Michele and I lived in for 7 years. He’s been a mentor to me for a long time. Halvor is a retired engineer, 85 years old, and grew up in Denmark. He and his wife Inga were teenagers and young adults during World War II while Denmark was occupied by the Nazis and they immigrated to the U.S. during the 1950’s. They are fascinating people and we miss them.

Anyway – then Friday came and I always love going to the expo and getting my race bib and packet. It’s great walking up to the Convention Center – I get all energized. I’ve done this so many times and I still love it and I still feel like a little kid on Christmas every time I do that. And I worked in the Beach Runner booth for a little and hung out with John Siqueros, Steve, and Always-happy-Jason. That dude is so positive – it was great talking with him. His energy is infectious.

Then I had a great dinner at home with Michele Friday night and we slept in on Saturday. Aaahhhh. How great is that? Sleeping in on a Saturday – that is the best. It was windy Friday night – extra windy – and the wind woke me up in the middle of the night. And not only that – it was so cool. It was warm all week – so we sleep with the windows in the house open – and when we woke up Saturday morning it was 63 Fahrenheit in the house. Is that great – or what? That’s also why I slept so well – when it’s so cool. And I thought to myself – this is Catalina weather. When I ran the Catalina marathon in March 2008 – it was so windy the night before – and when I woke up it was so cool and clear and dry – about 50-55 F. Perfect running conditions and I had the run of my life that day. That was an exceptional run that day – one of the best days of my life – but that’s another story and another race report. Back to Long Beach.

Anyway – I just hung out Saturday and tried to stay off of my feet. I tried to avoid newspapers and any kind of bad news. We had a great dinner Saturday night and I got to bed early.

When I woke up Sunday – it was so cool – in the low 50’s – and I thought – if there was any day for a PR – this would be it. So I got ready and drove downtown and parked. I brought along some Gatorade to sip while we did body looseners. I felt so rested. And I get so energized seeing everybody in the dark at 6 am on race day. That gets me fired up every year.

Then we went to line up. Usually with all the people and the crowd – I get separated from the people that I plan on running with – but this time all of us stayed together. My PR in the half marathon was 1:49:55 – and to beat that I had to do roughly 8-minute miles. I set that PR on Super Bowl Sunday in 2004 in Huntington Beach and I’ve been trying to break that ever since. So this really has been a 4-year quest for me. I’ve had a lot of fast runs the past few weeks with 8-minute miles and some sub-8-minute miles – so I felt like I was properly trained.

I ran with Jennifer, her friend John, and Alicia. We got really near the starting line before the race which was critical. The crowd started moving and we crossed the start and we were running. After talking with Steve – we were shooting for an 8:30 mile the first mile – then drop down to 8-minute miles the rest of the way. The first mile we ran in 8:46 – so we were tracking pretty closely. It was so cool and I felt great. Then we got to mile 2 and we were at 17:02 – so we picked up a little time and averaged 8:31 for the first two miles – so we were tracking well. Then at mile 3 we were at 25 minutes and something – so again – we picked up some time and averaged a little over 8-minute miles.

At mile 4 – our time was 33 minutes and change – so our average was getting closer to 8-minute miles. At mile 5 – we were still together – incredible – this NEVER happens – and our time was 41 minutes – so we were right on track. I felt so good. The cool, dry air was such a relief after all the hot summer runs. It must have been 10-20 degrees cooler than our typical Saturday runs. After mile 5 we got separated. Alicia took off and Jennifer dropped behind me. John ran ahead to go to the bathroom and I never saw him again until the end of the race.

Right around the 5 or 6-mile mark – right around the lighthouse – some guy was yelling word of encouragement. He was yelling, “This is how we do it, Long Beach. Way to go, good job” and he kept going on and on. And you hear all those chants and yells the whole way. But something in there just clicked with me. This is how we do it. This is how we do it. And I couldn’t get that phrase out of my mind. It really resonated with me. And I thought to myself, this is what Beach Runners do. We run. We run half marathons and full marathons. And this is how we do it – with style and class, and fun, and a cool positive attitude, and we bring everybody with us no matter what your running experience is or fitness level or speed. And everybody gets better and does more than they think they can – no matter what your running experience is or fitness level or speed.

I stopped for the first time, caught my breath at the water station, and then started running again. Right around there – Jennifer caught up with me and we ran for a while together. At mile 6 – our time was around 51 minutes – so were still on track. This is where Jennifer fell behind me and I ran the rest of the race by myself. Then I leaned forward a bit and picked up some speed – and I was at mile 7 at 58 minutes – which is right about where I wanted to be. I knew I had to be at mile 7 in under an hour. Then I pretty much kept right around 8 minute miles until I got to the end of the bike path and I started to slow down. I saw Mark and Connie on their bikes, then Larry. I ate a GU and washed it down with some water. Then I started slowing down to 9-minute miles and it was tough to even keep that pace and then I slowed to a 10 minute mile pace. Then I hit the hill by the Vons store and felt like I hit the wall. I knew I should conserve my strength – so I started walking. I took some water, then splashed some water on my head, and looking at my pace and looking at my time and how far I had to go and I did some quick math – I knew that 9:30’s wouldn’t cut it. I started to see my PR slip away. But I was determined not to leave anything out on the course. I didn’t need to pace myself and I had nothing to save myself for. If I was going to do it – I had to do it now.

So I fell back on my Chi running skills and leaned forward as much as I could and really cranked up my arm swing. At the top of the hill – I dropped below 9-minute miles and I knew that I may have a chance at getting my PR. I started running behind some kid – she must have been 12 or 13 – she had these huge feet and her shoes were way larger and way out of proportion to her body – and I ran behind her for a while.

Then I really didn’t have anything left – and I wasn’t saving my energy for anything – with 2 miles to go – all I could do was just go all out. My total elapsed time was 1:30 at that point – so I calculated that if I could do 8:30’s – that would be 17 minutes for 2 miles – and that would put me in at 1:47 – so that’s what I focused on. So I ate my last GU, drank some water, and pushed on. This is how we do it.

But I just couldn’t get there. I checked my Garmin and the best I could do was 8:35 or 8:45. Then I would push a little harder and get down to 8:10 or 8:20 for 20 or 30 yards – but I couldn’t hold it and I would have to slow down to an 8:45 or 9 minute pace or so. I took another Enduralyte and drank a swig of water and knew that that would be my last drink until I finished. And I knew that after that last left turn – there was a good downhill – and with gravity and the crowd noise – I could speed up and I thought that might do it as well.

Then I just quit looking at my Garmin the last mile or mile and a half. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to look at that stupid Garmin and see how much further I was falling behind. In my mind – my Garmin ceased to exist. I just focused internally and I made sure my posture was good. I leaned forward as much as I could. I picked up my feet as fast as I could. This is how we do it. I cranked up my arm swing, made sure I maintained my cadence, and just focused on pushing as much as I could. I made the last left turn, heard the crowd noise, and let gravity pull me down that last part of the course. I lengthened my stride, opened up my hips, and let my legs kick out behind me and I flew down that hill. Then I saw the finish line, I was about 20 or 30 yards away – and I looked up at the clock – and it said 1:49 and I didn’t want to look at the numbers after it. I had this sinking feeling down deep inside. I didn’t make it. I didn’t want to look up and see the clock click over to 1:50.

So I kept my head down, I crossed the line – then I remembered – hey – I’ve got to stop my Garmin – and I was about 15 yards past the finish line and I looked down – and it said 1:48:48. I saw it click over 1 more second – and I shut it off at 1:48:49. I did it. I really did it. I didn’t beat my previous PR time by a whole lot – I was shooting for 1:45 or 1:46 – but a PR is still a PR. And I felt so relieved and happy and glad and satisfied. I’ll take that 1 minute. (I checked my official time on the web site – I finished at 1:48:37 so those 15 yards past the finish line were about 11 seconds).

And I saw John. He was waiting for Jennifer. I said hi to John, and then I felt sick to my stomach. This was the first time I’ve ever felt like that at the end of a race. And it’s the only time I pushed that hard at the end of a race either. That last mile and a half I went all out and gave it everything I had and then some. I thought I was going to hurl and I wanted to make sure I didn’t splatter on anyone – this is so NOT how we do it – so I leaned over the rail but I didn’t puke.

Then I did some calf stretches and quad stretches leaning against the rail, and I started to feel better. Then Jennifer finished around 1:55. John had finished in 1:44. This was Jennifer’s first half marathon and she was pumped up. We got our medals, went through the crowd, and got back to the Beach Runner area. Walking it off and drinking some water made me feel O.K. again. I was so spent. I left nothing out there. Going through my Garmin – my average pace was 8:12.

And there were no runners at the Beach Runner area. So I took off my fuel belt, sat on the grass, and started stretching. I was a little sore and tight. I really pushed it the last few miles. Then Alicia showed up. I asked her how she finished and she said she got a PR – 1:45 and I congratulated her and I hugged her. Then Jennifer and John showed up and we hung out on the grass for a while. More people started trickling in. Don White showed up – he was fired up – he finished at 2:02 and that was 5 minutes faster then his previous PR. We did a lot of runs together this summer and he’s been working on his speed. Then a lot more people started arriving and the area was getting crowded. Christy and Marie showed up and I high-fived them. This was Marie’s first half marathon and she was so happy. Then Michele Pusatari showed up. And it was my turn for a massage – so I was worked over by two people at once – heaven – and that felt great. Claudia was on the table next to me. I finished stretching and I was looking for Joe and Cecilia and I found them. I knew Joe was ill the week before but he managed to grind out something like 1:56 or so. Cecilia finished a little bit after that. I grabbed some pizza and a beer and sat around and ate and drank and felt fantastic. Life was good. And I had lots more high fives, fist bumps, and hugs. And it was such a gorgeous day.

Then I saw Matt finish and that was inspirational. Matt did his first marathon last year and finished around 3:20 or 3:25 – which is unbelievable for a first marathon. We ran together a lot in the winter program training for Catalina. But he wanted to qualify for Boston – and he had to finish around 3:15 or so. For 26 miles!!! And at a pace that was about 1 minute per mile faster than I ran my 13 miles at. I think someone said he finished in 3:10. Not only unbelievable – that is just crazy – but he did it. He was tired. Laura was happy for him, too, as we all were.

Steve Mackel had a PR – I think he took about 10 minutes off of his best marathon time. Jake finished his marathon in less than 4 hours – a first for him. Way to go Jake! And of course, he wasn’t wearing a shirt. And he didn’t wear a shirt at Catalina, either. 50 degrees outside and no shirt. Go figure. Jake – you are a wild man!

Then I was walking around and talking with so many runners and asking them how they did and how they felt. I talked with lots of first timers who said they felt great. More high fives, fist bumps, and more hugs.

I’ve been with Beach Runners since the beginning. This was my fourth Long Beach Marathon/Half marathon with Beach Runners, and my 7th race in total (2 Buffalo runs and the Catalina marathon) with Beach Runners. I’ve met a lot of great people and made a lot of friends here. There is something really special about what we’ve got here – and I’m glad I’ve been able to be a part of it.

This is what we do.
This is how we do it.

This is who we are.

George – SoCalRunning.com, Beach Runner Mentor

Yoga for Runners – Moves Back to the Lululemon Store at 6:30 Tonight

yoga w steve
“Yoga for Runners” moves back to Lululemon Store Tonight and most Thursdays at 6:30 PM

Tonight Yoga for Runners is at the Lululemon store in Old Town Pasadena. The store address is, 110 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105 and it is FREE!

The bummer is there is no trail run associated with the class, or the beautiful outdoors.

We practice our yoga on the back patio. It should be packed so get there early. Please dress in clothes that you can move freely in. Bring a yoga mat if you have one but Lululemon has community mats. Lululemon sells really cool yoga clothes and yoga mats.

My goal is to follow in my coach, Steve Ilg’s footprints, “strength before flexibility.” The class is challenging yet great for new yogis (beginners). We practice mostly basic postures. You don’t have to be a pretzel person or super flexible to gain the benefits of Yoga for Runners. You will gain flexibility, strength and a better body/mind connection if you continue to practice yoga. That’s why Gary and I preach yoga as one of the best cross-training workout for all athletes. It also makes us more aware ChiRunners.

Train Focused and Namaste, Steve Mackel – Yogi and Runner

Long Beach Marathon 10-12-08

Coach Steve’s Quest to PR at the Long Beach Marathon

I’ll save my comments for my Race Report. There is a lot to report because the camera didn’t make it out too often. I was focused on my run. Thanks to my visualization practice I did it!

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Beach Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Program

Coach Gary’s Marathon Race Day Tips

These are some of my best race day philosophies.

1. Think Positive. You’re better trained than any other marathon group out there. You’ve done these ridiculously long runs. 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. As Coach Steve says, “Eat early, eat often.”


7. Use Electrolytes. Your body will need them to keep the muscles firing.

Supplement with an electrolyte tablet or Prolytes PLUS Sportsdrink every 30 minutes.

8. 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.

9. 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.


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.”

10. 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. Remember the wild strawberry story.

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.

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.

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,


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