This is a completely different race than I have ever done before and that mainly because of Luis Escobar. Here are my thoughts.
Have you read the book Born to Run? It is a fantastic book, one of my favorites. It talks about the Copper Canyons of Mexico, the Tarahumaras (the native people of the Copper Canyons), the anthropology of running vs walking, running shoes, barefoot running, insight into the ultra marathon scene, a 50 mile race and the wild ride that accompanied everything listed.
Luis Escobar is a photographer. One of his photos became the cover for the Born to Run book. Now, when he’s not on a shoot, he getting runners together to share that wild ride in the Born to Run spirit.
Even before arriving at the starting line I knew this was going to fun. There are many ways to do this race, all of them fun but I recommend going out all and camp out at least Friday and Saturday nights.
First of all, you have to find “The Ranch.” We really weren’t given the directions, just an address that isn’t painted on the curb. Of course there are no curbs where we were going. It was almost like a secret club and someone had to give you the password to find the right driveway.
Once in and driving on the dirt road you saw a sign that said “Welcome Balloonists and Visitors” and I knew I was in the right place.
You drive up a hill then drop into what I like to call the “Copper Canyons North” because you have left reality and entered into a runners paradise or hell, depending on how you look at it, with only one rule, “DON’T BE A DICK.”
The events start as early as Thursday, setting up campsites. We rolled in Friday afternoon, picked a spot, cleaned up the area (bring a shovel and or rake) then set up our tents.
At 4 PM we rushed down to the starting line for the first official event of the weekend, The Beer Mile. Thank you Patrick Sweeney.
The Beer Mile goes something like this, bring 4 unopened beers and a $10 donation. Put your 4 beers down on the starting line, turn your back away from the course, listen for the shotgun blast, turn-around open your first beer, chug it, run 1/8 of a mile to a turn around point, return to the starting line, open your second beer, chug it and repeat until you have finished 4 beers and 1 mile. That was 4 beers in about 13 minutes for me. And, here’s the kicker. You don’t feel the buzz right way ,but 30 minutes later it hits you and you realize have an ultra marathon to do the next morning.
The spirit of Micah True was among us. Maria gave a little talk about how our donations were helping the people down in the Copper Canyons. Our Beer Mile donation was just a little bit of it. People brought clothes to donate, gave money and you could really feel the sense of caring.
After some music, campfire and more partying, it was lights out at 9 PM. People were still rolling in but being very considerate. Getting to Los Olivos on a Friday afternoon can be bitch dealing with the traffic.
It gets serious at 4 AM when Luis wakes up you up. You have to be there to experience it. I was up but stayed in my sleeping bag because it was pretty cold and still way dark. 30 minutes later I’m up and getting ready. All I’ll say is a few more porta-potties would be nice but it wasn’t a deterrent. Besides this race is about being real, not paying extra for access to private honey wagons.
Speaking about being real, they only have a couple of aid stations on course, so you better carry what you need. At one point, there was a 7 mile stretch in-between aid stations and it gets hot in the afternoon. That is why the oath you take and the release you sign says, IF I GET HURT, LOST, OR DIE, IT IS MY OWN DAMN FAULT.” “AMEN”
The race starts promptly at 6 AM. Watch the video to see my actual experience on the course but a quick recap goes something like this: Run in a cool area, run with cool people, follow Luis directions, don’t get lost, if you are not a fast runner it is totally ok, stay cool, look for shade, walk the hills, support your fellow runner, get a super cool finishers medal, and smile because you are having fun.
After the race is another great experience. The party kicks into high gear. At the same time we are cheering on the runners passing through camp. Some are still working on the 50k while others are running the 100k or 100 mile race.
Because it can take up 30 hours to finish a 100 mile race the party goes all night long. Some people are taking turns pacing the runners through the darkness. While others are drinking all sorts of beverages at the bonfire. And the bonfire rocks, and it is warm when it is cold at your camping spot.
The next morning can be a little hazy as the morning fog lifts from the canyon. While people are packing up, some of the 100 milers are still out on the course and running through camp. It becomes very inspiring.
Then you are ready to roll out. But before I end this I need to emphasize a couple of things. If you are going to do this event, spend the entire weekend on the ranch. Yes, it’s a fun race and the medals are awesome. I know you are in wine country and that entire area is a blast to check out. I know real beds are great before a race. I know going back to an air-conditioned hotel with a hot shower is comforting. But, the Born to Run Ultra races are really about the total experience. Just like if you were in the Copper Canyons. Enjoy the camping, limited running water, a race where you have to take care of yourself, no showers when you finish but maybe a rinse off from the cold water coming out of a hose, cows all around you, cool runners and a weekend journey that you get to escape reality and live a little of the Born to Run experience. Thank you Luis.
The New Year’s Race Los Angeles Half Marathon at Night was a very novel idea. The promoters did and excellent job getting the word out for this first time event.
It took me a while to register. As much as I wanted to pull the trigger on this event I was thinking about the possibility of rain and cold the first Saturday night in January. The money I could have saved by registering early might go up in smoke since I had little desire to run on a cold rainy night. I was also already registered for the Xterra Boney Mt Trail Half Marathon the next morning and that is a must do race,
Well we lucked out since it didn’t rain, even though rain was in the forecast and it rained hours later. But, it was cold. Cold is good running weather but I still sweat and getting into warm, dry clothes immediately after the race was important to me.
Here’s where the New Year’s Race Los Angeles nailed it. They had a great gear bag check-in system and moved our gear right outside the finish line secure area. The after party with food trucks, Sierra Nevada beer tent and music was great, but it was cold at midnight when I was in thee eating and sipping a cold frosty.
The Course: When you live in LA and have run all the downtown LA races possible, what was going to make this race different from all the rest? Running inside Dodger Stadium. I think running on the warning track and just outside the base-path was the coolest part of the race. The course felt like the LA Marathon in reverse, running the downtown streets, past City Hall, Olvera Street, Chinatown then up to Dodger Stadium, the only real difference being, in the dark. The streets were safe and I din’t hit a pothole. The only downside was the maze of running in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. More about that later.
Another win was running at 9 PM. It was dark, instead of the many unusual costume and yes there were some, was the way people lighted themselves up.
Potential Improvements: The race started late. Not the biggest deal for a first time race. It was a inaugural event and traffic downtown, with a Clippers game in progress and streets closed for the race, made driving those one way streets difficult and time consuming. I found less traffic coming in from below. I came in off the 10, even though I live in Pasadena I parked south of the Staples Center. We also ran too much in Dodger Stadium parking lot. I think we made up about 3 miles inside the gates. it got to be a little boring.
IMHO The Real Fix: This is an awesome idea, a night race in LA but let’s do it in summer, when it is warmer. It was late for some but the runners I knew wanted to party. I think the local businesses would also benefit.
I will be back. I like the night race thing. I think I’ll run it purely for fun next year. I have some fun ideas but I’ll share those later. Pretty good job for a first time event.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs
Click “View Details” to see my mile splits. Here are my stats for the Athens Classic Marathon, October 31, 2010. Miles 10 – 20 were
pretty tough as you can see by the elevation chart below. What a great day! The Video for this race is below this post. Now more work to bring that 3:55 down to a 3:30 and qualify for Boston.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – ChiRunning Instructor
I don’t even know where to start but can I ever top this marathon? Probably not. Today was history. Today, 2500 years later we retraced history. Everything about the day was special and the last 2 minutes of the video are almost worth the first 10 minutes.
Once again I try to show you the course and the people running it, as well as share my personal experience with you. I met people from all of the world. What I don’t show you or talk about are the smells. International marathons, or at least this one had some smelly people. If you smell the chances are I don’t interview you. Second, more men run than women and it feels like it is the exact opposite in the States. Also, the runners are much faster. I haven’t seen the official stats but the median finishing time has to be closer to 4 hours rather than most marathons in the States which seem to be around 5 hours.
The city of Athens stepped up and this marathon was managed very well. I felt it ran smoothly and have some suggestion for race directors that I Iearned today.
I also managed to PR which added to the day and my feelings but nothing beats running into the marble Olympic stadium in Athens. The music was pumping and the people never stopped cheering. It was amazing.
Now, I can start looking for the next international marathon to run. Join the email list in the center column and it will keep you in the loop because the Sole Runners had a great time and are going to make this an annual event.
Lastly, I have to thank all the Sole Runners that made the trip over with us, Michele for making our wings that everyone loved, and all our well wishers. I’ll see you State-side soon. Look for my Madrid video at the end of the week.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach Sole Runners
The Palos Verdes marathon and half marathon have a reputation as tough races. It seems like Southern Californians are afraid of a few hills. Well, I went out to do my usual interviews but spent a little more time showing you the course. Miles 4 – 6 are mostly down hill, while miles 7 – 9 are what you just ran down, not that bad. Western Ave is a steep half mile uphill but at mile 2, and it means you get to run down it at mile 11. The last 1.5 miles are flat, fast and beautiful. And, you can’t beat the views.
This is an awesome race and they keep the entry fee affordable. A new push on SoCalRunning.com will be supporting races that keep the entry fee affordable. The Palos Verdes races top this list.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – ChiRunning® Instructor
Another great day in So Cal and another great race!
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – SoCalRunning.com Co-founder
Steve and Lucy Pose at the Starting Line of the Tahoe Rim Trail 50k
If you scroll down you can look at the elevation chart, but what it doesn’t show you is that over 32.2 miles (33.9 on a fellow runner’s Garmin) there are hardly any flat spots on the course. We were going up an down with an average grade of 10%. I forgot to mention between 6800 – 9000 feet of altitude, spending a majority of it close to 8000 feet.
This was Lucy’s first ultra-marathon. She trained for it but until you run this race you don’t realize how the combination of steep climbs and decents at altitude can effect you. I felt it.
I was running this with Lucy, at her pace. I remember thinking when we were 7 hours into the race, this is the longest I have ever been out on a course and I knew I still had close to 3 hours to go.
The last 7 miles are mostly downhill and by this time your quads feel every step while you are trying to get to the finish. It was hot, in the high 80′s. Every step was worth it. Not only finishing my second ultra-marathon, the beautiful course but sharing the experience with my close friend.
A Runumentry video is on the way. You’ll want to watch it for the beauty alone. This was then most beautiful course ever; wide open alpine meadows, wildflowers, lakes, trees and spectacular views.
In the end, this is a difficult yet good first ultra-marathon. There is a 14 hour cut-off time, so most will finish. 9 hours and 46 minutes later I took my shoes off, put my feet in a bucket of cold water and sent a thank you out to all the volunteers. This race had the best aid stations ever and I gave me a very memorable experience. Thanks Lucy.
Lucy Crosses the Finish Line
Train Focused, Steve Mackel ChiRunning® Instrcutor
Setting baselines during your training seasons are important. As I start my journey to qualify for Boston, by the end of the year, I wanted to get an idea of where I am in my training. At the same time I wanted to make another Runumentry.
Here's something I found out. It is much harder getting video interviews running 7 minute miles verus 10 minute miles. There is more space in between runners and sometimes I had a hard time catching up to people. In fact, my few on course interviews are people I am passing.
Overall I had a good day achieving my personal goals of a sub 45:00 race, shooting this video and having fun. Now I have a baseline and feel that much closer to Boston. This race is on the calendar for next year. Join us.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Sole Runners Head Coach
Always Happy Jason – Showing His Stuff Early in the LA Marathon
The night before the marathon is the time when I set up all my stuff for the morning. This is when I really know that I’m getting ready to run another marathon.
This is my 4th marathon and my first time writing about my experience at a marathon. I do wonder why it took me sometime to decide on doing a running blog. I guess I was not ready yet. I’m ready now. Here we go.
I woke up around 4:00 a.m. took a shower, and drank my Mega juice. I got all my gear and I was out the door. I was feeling pretty relaxed that morning. I was telling myself that this is going to be a great day for me to run another marathon. Boy…there were so many people up early, and at the starting line. I made sure to take a lot of pictures. I love taking pictures. It shows that you were there to experience this event and it feels good to smile. It was so cramped (that word is going to be important later) at the starting line. The horn went off and we where off on Figueroa. It was amazing the parade of people on the course, it was so awesome. While on the course I saw a gentlemen named Ed that I had seen running in my neighborhood. Before that I had seen him in San Pedro running so I introduced myself. It's a small world to see him in the L.A. Marathon with over 14,000 people. I was feeling pretty good. I was taking it slow not to go out to fast.
It was about after mile four that Coach Steve and another member of the Sole Runners saw me. It was so cool to see them. Steve ran with me for about mile and a half. We talked about how things were going and then he wanted to know my heart rate. It was around 162 bpm at the time. He told me to slow down. He suggested for me to keep my heart rate down around the 140-150 bpm range until 10:00 a.m., then see I how I felt. I took his advice and I’m grateful to have a great coach a
nd a great friend to help me out. Thanks Coach Steve.
I continued to drink and check my Garmin to make sure I was in the target zone. So far so good. While I was on Venice Blvd. I saw some more Sole Runners that had come to cheer on the Marathoners. It was great to see them and kept my spirits up. Sole Runners…You guys are awesome!
I check my time and it was 10:30 a.m. My feeling at that time was so so. The first half of the marathon was not too bad, but… (always a but) the second half was challenging. I believe at mile 15 or 16 I started feeling tight in my calf area. It was not feeling good at all. I was cramping up. This feeling has come up before but not this bad. I continued going on. One step at a time. Looking back now I should had stretched it out. I also believe that I should have drank more electrolytes. This was a learning experience for me. I worked on using my ChiWalking® for the rest of the Marathon. This helped a lot. The support at the water stations and on the course was amazing and greatly appreciated. That continued to help me to go on.
I was between mile 25 and 26 and I heard a runner tell me, ”Boy…you have a good walking pace.” Then we met in the final stretch of the race and his hands were on his knees. I came by him at told him, “You are almost there.” That helped him to continue. He told me that he signed up for this marathon on Saturday. He has done marathons before but this one he did not train at all for. I was amazed. His name was Carlos. I attempted to run the last .2 miles but my calves were still in pain.
I finished this L.A. Marathon (Yah) one minute faster than last year. The course was pretty good and the weather was great. I’m humble and thankful to have this time to share my experience on the marathon.
This marathon was dedicated to two people that I care about a lot. Pastor E.C. Carson and Ricardo Gordillo’s mom. Fight On. (LIVESTRONG).
AlwayshappyJason – Sole Runners and SoCalRunning.com member
Coach Gary of SoCalRunning.com does the Catalina Marathon with the rest of the gang from Solerunners.
It was my fourth Catalina Marathon and my most enjoyable one.
Thanks to everyone involved for such a wonderful experience.
God Bless, Gary