Trying to Take a Long Training Run Seriously – In the Heat

Click the “View Details” to Peruse the Data

You can peruse the charts and you’ll find a some interesting data. I turned the “Auto Pause” setting OFF on my Garmin. I understand why it’s cool feature but on Long Training Runs I like it off. How long do these long training runs really take and how do I feel? That’s what I want to know.

This run included: Changing shoes, long stops at our aid stations (I ate way too much out on the course yesterday), long red lights and even a quick dip in the Long Beach bay to cool my feet and legs before I finished.

Did I mention that it was hot. The hottest run of the year so far, and let’s keep it that way.

I went out fast and my left foot was starting to hurt from the new shoes I was wearing. It’s ok to wear new shoes on a long training run. I didn’t know how I would like them so I brought and second pair and left them in the car just in case. Our run doubled back at mile 10 and that gave me a chance for some Body Glide on my feet, a shoe change, bathroom stop, food and drink.

My next stop was almost 5 miles later, the Sole Runners aid station. Thanks to Colby, Spencer and Annie who were our support. It was stocked with great food and drinks. I had watermelon, boiled potatoes covered in salt, a small cup of Coke and topped off my water. I planned on being back there 7 miles later, hopefully about an hour.

Now the heat was setting in. I got lucky and there were multiple festivals along the Long Beach shoreline. Everyone was very generous, giving me ice cold water. Half went in me and the other half went over my head.

I was slowing down and fighting those ANTs (automatic negative thoughts). I made to the Queen Mary one last time this season. I touched her and was back in the heat.

I had planned on doing this run under 4 hours and now it wasn’t looking like I was going to make my goal. I had two more miles to the aid station. Any excuse was good enough to slow down and walk. Shade became an excuse.

When I got back to the aid station I had logged over 21 miles and part of me wanted to help them pack it up and take a ride back to the park. I resisted that temptation and was back on the bike path. I had one more good mile but I had eaten too much and my stomach was not digesting the food very well. I decided that the ocean looked too good to pass up and I was going in.

At almost the 4 hour mark, my goal shot, I was in the perfect place to take off everything except my running shorts and walk into the ocean, so I did. Still on the clock, I stood there in waist deep water, it felt great. Just a couple of minutes thenI rinsed my feet and finished the last mile and a half.

I could have gone the entire 26.2 but at that point I wouldn’t have gained anything. In fact, I could have injured myself. My foot was rebelling against the first pair of shoes, my stomach was done and I was too. Still with all that I ran 25.2 miles in 4:17 and learned a lot (again). It was a good rehearsal in tough conditions. You never know what conditions you will get race so I am prepared now. See you at the Long Beach Half Marathon, Athens, Greece – I am ready for you.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Sole Runners

A Running Dialouge, Issue 6 – From the Sole Runners Mentors

ARD Cover

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Sole Runners Head Coach

Nautica Malibu Triathlon Race Report 2010 Classic

Mike P, Kimberly K, and Steve Celebrate Post Malibu Triathlon

I’m not quite sure when I started participating in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, sometime in the early 2000’s, but it was my first road triathlon and I loved it. It is well organized, a fun, fast course.

This year I wanted to get back into triathlon. I had taken a 16 month break after a crappy Wildflower. I also have been doing a lot of running but at the same time triathlons are becoming so popular they sell out in a few hours and are expensive.

This year I woke up early and signed up the moment registration opened for the Malibu Classic. It sold out in less than 3 hours. Now it was on my list and I gave myself a goal, top ten in my AG (age group).

When I singed up I thought I would train hard for this race with my AG top ten goal but I didn’t. I kept running, doing yoga and hoped teaching some tough Spinning classes would pay off. Well, here’s a snapshot of my day.

Up at 2 AM, ate, finished packing up my gear and got picked up. Easy drive and get parking spot at Zuma, thanks Mike Pusateri. Took two blankets, walked out on to the beach, made a sand pillow and went back to sleep for about an hour. Woke up, pumped up the tires and rode to transition. No one near me knew how to set up a transition area. Bikes were racked on the wrong side so I explained how to rack a bike. Picked up a cup of coffee from Mike then jogged back to the car to get my wetsuit. PRP, walked back to start line, got in wetsuit and got wet. Did some push-ups, ran into Bruce, Andy and Adam. Got in wave start position.

The swim was great, calm clean water but my face stayed cold the entire swim. It was easy but I didn’t feel strong 16:02

T1 – 2:49 probably 20 seconds slower than it should have been because I had to put on gloves (first mistake).

Bike – 49:12 my goal was to break 50 minutes. Despite starting my ride a little too hard, I watched my wattage and was able to maintain a solid ride with some room for a good run. That 49:12 was good enough for 37th OA in the bike and this is where I was worried about being undertrained. I do have to thank Andy. I did get a few go rides in with him this year, where we really pushed it, and he reminded me that this ride is short enough that I could hammer it.

T2 – 2:24 (note to self REMEMBER YOUR NUMBER AND RACK.) I was a joke in T2 running back and forth trying to figure out where I was supposed to rack my bike. I finally looked at the number on my arm to remember. Big waste of at least 30 seconds. That won’t happen again.

Run 28:47 – My goal was a sub 28 so I relied on my Garmin. It told me I was averaging 6:58 so I kept it right there. 7:11 min/mile pace and I know I am faster. Did my Garmin hurt or help?

The “X” Factor – I probably left something out there but not much. My focus was slightly shaken due to the fact I needed to pee before the race started and I thought I would save it for the swim. I don’t know how I forgot, maybe it due to “shrinkage” but it made the bike and run slightly uncomfortable, oh well.

Final Results – 7th in AG 50th OA. It felt like I had a good race all things considered. I accomplished two of my three goals. The triathlon bug has bitten me again. Now its time to ramp up for California 70.3 next April. Look for Sunday training rides since I can’t do Saturdays, more weight training, swimming, track workouts and yoga! I want to close in on 5 hours in April.

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Triathlete (again)

Mt Baldy 2010 Run to the Top – Race Report

Mt Baldy
Another tough part of the course. It is straight down on the right. photo by Ivan Buzik

For those you that don’t know, this is my favorite race in So Cal. It is what I call a “Baby Race”. A “Baby Race” is a race that is super tough, puts you in pain, so you wonder why you even decided to participate in it in the first place. But, an hour, a day, a week or a month later, you have forgotten the pain, can only remember the view from the top and are ready to schedule it on next years race calendar.

I skipped it last year because of the Station Fire and had forgotten just how steep some of those section are. This is a tough race, considered one of the toughest in all the states.

It was business time. I needed a test to check my inner strength and this is that annual test. This time, I never questioned myself out on the course. I ran my race, which is to stay consistent for the first four miles, no walking, take a gel at the ski lodge and run every part that is not super steep, quickly walk/hike up the steep stuff and keep a positive attitude. I succeeded.

When the race started many people ran past me. This happens every year and I know many of them will break down. I just have to stick to my race plan. But this year was different. Fewer people were breaking down I was and getting passed by some strong athletes. I think with the popularity of the Ultra scene, and the book “Born to Run” more people are up for this type of challenge and training harder.

I didn’t get discouraged, I had set a goal of 1 hour and 32 minutes to get to the top. If I could do it, it would be my second fastest time ever. I have done this race at least 6 times. It was a personal battle against Baldy’s unrelenting single track, technical climbs and altitude.

In the last four miles you get surrounded by athletes of similar ability. This is where I wanted to gain some ground, hoping my course knowledge and recent training was going to let me be stronger and know when to attack. Well, not much attacking happened, so my next thought was not to get passed and with 2 miles to go and I didn’t.

The last half mile is a climb, straight up. This year the group took a steeper but more direct route and I wasn’t thinking as much as following. At one point I passed this man, and the five steps I took to pass him took more energy out of me than I could imagine so I just got back on pace and settled back in for the last 400 meters.

Finally, I saw the finish line and heard the race official yell out 1:32:25. I did it, It wasn’t my prettiest race, but my second fastest time up that hill and 55th overall.
The plaque proves it. Dave made it to the Top for the first time

I walked up to the 10,064 ft, elevation plaque and once again was on the top of So Cal. I took in the 360 degree view, then kept walking as my body was adjusting to the altitude and cooling down.
Sole Runners long time Mentor Vern does it again and PRs

I spent the next hour and half welcoming runners to the Top and talking to new and old friends. I was proud to see Sole Runner mentor Vern PR by 1 minute. I greeted runners Kevin, Dave, Kris and Carolyn cross the finish line for the first time. They had listened to me talk about Baldy for months and now knew what it was like to join this elite club.
Carolyn and Kris emailed me last week and asked if they would be able to make it to the Top, they did!

It was time to go back down, the 4 mile walk to the ski lift, that they don’t tell you about in the brochure. Roberto grabbed an empty water jug and I grabbed a trash bag. The first mile down took 27 minutes. The trail going back to the ski lodge was like the 405 at rush hour. Over an hour later we were at the bar lifting a pint in celebration of another great Labor Day at the Top.
Roberto and I get the annual picture at the Top

Look for the video soon,

Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Co-founder

The Body is Just a Vehicle

My Tibetan Buddhism class in Dharamsala, India.

My Tibetan Buddhism class in Dharamsala, India.

Always as a marathon date comes closer and closer, I feel not a relaxed calm and confidence in my abilities but instead a never ending anxiety about training.

My sleep becomes more restless in the evenings as I battle through my subconscious asking me questions such as: “Am I training enough?”, “Am I doing enough speed work?”, “Am I on pace?”, “Will I make my time goal?”, and “Will this damn Plantar Fasciitis ever go away or will it derail my marathon?”.

Talking to all my fellow runners seems to make the anxieties worse. They all want to know things like about my pace, my goals for race day, even what I plan to do after race day.

Often my job seems to get its busiest right before the race. Just adding to this ongoing stress level.

Well I was thinking about all these things this morning.

A brief update. I am in Dharamsala, India (Home of the Dalai Lama). My dream for many years was to run a marathon. I kept on believing in that dream. Kept learning, kept making daily little progress. It came true seventeen fold. Even helped a few others complete a marathon.

My next major dream was to travel around Asia, especially to see the Himalayas.

That is what has taken me to India. Dharamsala is the spiritual gateway to the Himalayas. I look out of my guesthouse window to the beginning of the mountain range. They are huge and majestic.

Interestingly enough, I have been attending Buddhist philosopy classes the last few days.

They are held in a classroom next to the Tibetan Library. Most of the great Buddhist texts and scholars were destroyed by a tumultuous Indian History. The Tibetans, however, translated all of these into Tibetan. Then through their devotion to the monastic life and scholarship, kept the teachings alive through the centuries.

In other words, when you study Tibetan Buddhism you study some real authentic, old teachings. Some say the “real stuff”.

So this old scholar comes in in the morning, we all bow, say a bunch of prayers which I can’t even seem to read the English translations of. Then he begins talking. A lovely funny older English woman gives the translations. They have been working together for like 30 years. Translating like 10 of his books or so, to give an idea of his scholarship.

So he is giving a talk this morning which is part of bigger talk on some sacred text, which is a commentary on some other sacred philosophies.

And in the midst of it, I thought of people training for the Marathon.

The main theme of the talk is about how to be a Bodhissatva. This is a very holy Buddhist term to describe someone who doesn’t go off to nirvana in order to devote their life to care and compassion of all living beings. Like a Saint.

One of the essential characteristics of such saintly work is PATIENCE.

Here’s where it gets interesting. He says we all suffer. And some like the Tibetan people have suffered a great, great deal. And the more you persue a spiritual, or in my opinion, an athletic path, the more suffering, and enemies you will encounter.

It shouldn’t be that way. It should get easier right? Your training should get easier as you get closer to the goal.

Well, hogwash according to the spiritual master.

It gets harder so you can develop some patience. And this he defined as a calmness in the face of suffering. A faith in the direction of your work. A willingness to face your hardships. A certainty in the teachings of your coaches or spiritual masters.

Because this patience will allow you to learn. This patience will shatter your overblown pride as athlete so you can begin listening again. Listening to you body, your coaches, the old teachings.

And ultimately this patience will be your greatest teacher. To teach that you WILL get through this anxious time in your training. And you WILL survive those long training runs with that bunk ankle. And someway, somehow you find the patience in others to juggle all those people in your life so that you can just show up on Saturday morning.

Well when you get through all these little hardships, you will get some real patience.

This spirital master taught us to imagine that you are experiencing all of this in order to help all the other marathoners out there. To imagine that you are experiencing all of this to demonstrate to you family that you can stay strong in the face of adversity. And to imagine that you are experiencing these pains to show your friends and colleagues that great things are possible.

The Bodhissatva way is to experience all of this so we can develop the greatest of all human qualities…COMPASSION.

Because on race day, you will need some compassion. You’ll need to be compassionate and loving to your body and mind in that great battle of 26.2 or 13.1 miles.

Or even more important, and this is the part I love…

You’ll need that compassion to lift your head high to look around you and motivate the runners around you. You’ll need that compassion to share a joke when they look sad. To share an inspirational story when their spirit seems down. You cheer on every honorable runner you pass to let them know how awesome they are doing. Because YOU KNOW what they suffered through to just get there on race day.

And even better, when you develop more and more patience and compassion your performance, your race day time, your goals will just dissolve away into the practice of something deeper….seeing just how many people you can help on race day.

And in that, you will find happiness beyond your dreams. That by making others happy in training, before the race, and on race day you will find….happiness.

So hang in there, be patient, this time like all others, will pass.

That is why you suffer. So you can help others. So simple and beautiful.

This was the teaching I heard today, that has been taught for over 2,000 years and just might help you in your journey today.