I like running on the morning of big eating days and Super Bowl Sunday is definitely one of them. I haven’t run on Super Bowl Sunday in a few years so I spent the night at my buddy’s house, a couple of miles from the start of the Redondo Beach 5k/10k, woke up by the beach and rode a bike to the starting line this year.
This is a fun race. It has a real party atmosphere. Many people were in costumes, wearing their favorite football team’s jerseys or just being goofy. That is the part of the race I participated in while the serious runners were probably already finished. Check out the video and always look for me out on the course. I’d love to put you in the next one.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – SoCalRunning.com co-founder
So Cal Noretta (in red), Family and Friends Invade No Cal for a Turkey Trot
It was a cold morning and I was worried it was going to rain just like Surf City early this year, because it rained yesterday when we picked up our bibs. It was a different scenario for me because none of my cousins have run a long distance race. They thought I was some serious runner with my pre-race day preparations, body looseners & what not. =)
There were a lot of people, young, old, group of friends, families with strollers, some wearing turkey costumes, some in their best running gear, some all bundled up. Everyone was cheerful.
It was crowded all throughout the course. I was trying to live up to the tradition of passing someone along the course so I had to zigzag my way around. I thought I was running fast but I noticed that most people are just walking. When I finally saw a photographer, I made sure no one was in front of me, gave my 2 thumbs and ran to the finish. It was awesome and I had a great time.
My cousins & I have been talking about running together in an event. Now we finally got matching shirts. Why did we pick this event? We can be done in less than an hour, the event is 30 mins away from their house and so we have an excuse for pigging out later at dinner time. Happy Thanksgiving!
Noretta – SoCalRunning.com member
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
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?
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?
You gotta watch this video.
Once they lined up, I knew I had recorded gold. This was a great way to wrap up our 5k day.
Please share this video with others and spread the SoCalRunning.com word. Thanks!
Dog Focused, Steve Mackel – Animal Trainer
This was my third time doing the Catalina Marathon.
What began as a dream a long distant goal of an island sitting out in the Pacific Ocean free from the cars, trucks, exhausts, freeways, and dirty green water of the Los Angeles. It seemed like an escape a place to get away from Los Angeles for me and my family.
My family has always had a close affinity with the Island. I have always had an affinity for islands.
My father in his twenties already tired of the rainy English weather left that Island for a sunny Island in the Bahamas when he was still in his twenties.
He arrived in tropical paradise with only $50 in his pocket, my mom, and three young kids, myself at six, and my younger brothers Jason, four, and Karl, two.
Pursuing a dream of a better life somewhere. From where these CALLINGS from is so hard to say…but I can only envision my father sitting at work or in his house looking out at the crummy English weather and dreaming of something better.
Most of his family ridiculed his decision. “You’re bloody crazy for going to a little island with three young kids”. “You’ll be back in a year”. “You’re denying your kids of proper childhood”.
But these are all trappings that you must learn to overcome when going for some rediculous goal.
I like to call it the CRABS IN A BUCKET SYNDROME. Put a bunch of crabs in a bucket, as one climbs out, others will try to pull him down.
Ever felt like that with your fitness goals? Like as soon as you say it…someone shoots it down. Your vision of running a marathon. Or running a half marathon. Or a triathlon. Or maybe even the Catalina Marathon. When you thought the idea…felt the calling…do the people in your life say “yes you can do it” or do they start finding reasons for you to fail…maybe that voice that shoots down your dreams is in your own head.
In two weeks, I will be interviewing someone on the phone, Greg Norte a peak performance Coach who will talk in detail about LEAVING THESE CRABS behind. That’s a call you don’t want to miss.
So let’s back to the story.
My father did well in the Bahamas. We lived there for six years. I grew up on a Caribbean Island. White sand beaches. Snorkeling. Waterskiing. Great friends.
A childhood a could not have asked for any better. My younger brother Jason was my playmate much of that time. We’d climb trees together…play catch for hours…kick soccer balls…ride bikes…it was amazing…and I still consider him my best friend.
At twelve my father moved to Southern California where we’ve grown up since. We moved to Palos Verdes.
So after moving here, my father always a lover of boats, has bought a series of bigger boats until he got boats big enough to do…you guessed it…go to Catalina Island. I’ve been over there numerous times with him on his boats. Fishing. Snorkeling. Sitting drinking tea. Eating fish and chips. Something about the island…the small town of Avalon…the clear water…the smell of the ocean all reminders of who and what my family is…and what’s important for us.
Like a trip to an Island away from all the bussle of our lives. Enjoying one another’s company…out in nature…well maybe there’s nothing better in this life.
Maybe it comes a little close to what we’d like to call heaven.
Writing this out now…so much more becomes clear to me about who and what I am and why I pushed cajoled so many runners to go to Catalina and run the marathon.
As I write this…I see now how this is so much more than just Steve and I wanting runners to go do a hard race. We’re not nuts. There is always a purpose behind what we do with the people we coach.
But now as I write this…as I reflect back on this journey…its clear that there was a deeper purpose behind this crew of people we’ve been building. A purpose to the miles on wet muddy trails. A purpose to the cold morning runs. A purpose to Monkey Hill, Del Cerro, the Bataan Death March, hill intervals, the grueling Buffalo Run.
So like I’ve written before there was a lot of special meaning to this Catalina Marathon as it was my younger brother Jason’s first marathon.
He ran with the Beach Runners a few times. Fast runner…very nimble trail runner. This was his first time with the unique training requirements of the marathon.
The Weekend…the finale…the FINAL BATTLE.
Steve and I arrived in Catalina Friday. Checked into 319 Catalina Ave, and then went to lunch with my parents for guess what?…Fish and chips.
So we sat with a view of the ocean…talking running…talking marathon…speaking to my brother and his daughter, Kelsea (my niece), excited…just glad to be away…away from LA for the day…the weather was fantastic. I bet a lollipop to Kelsea I would beat her Dad. A marathon is one race I would have a chance.
On the boardwalk of Catalina beachfront other Beach Runners began arriving…Uncle Sam, Sara, Sandy, Jake, Gwendolyn, Alex, Yolanda.
I cannot tell you much this is special for me. It’s beyond words. The feeling of being part of a team about to do a REDICULOUS GOAL like the Catalina Marathon. It is a damn hard race as the team would attest to but its like I just want to yell out loud like the Obama cheer, “YES WE CAN!”.
We all checked in. Had to walk up some crazy big hill for registration. Saw more Beach Runners…Mina, Doug, John, Bill, Keith, Pamela, Andrea.
Steve and I began meeting a bunch of oldtimers of the Catalina Marathon. Runners are religious about this marathon. It’s like a pilgrimage…a trip to a sacred foreign country…a place where you see the fellow people on your journeys.
The night before Matt and I cooked up a damn fine meal. I meditated and visualized the race ahead the next day. We had Beach Runners come by the place for last minute coaching…it was going to be GOOOOOOD.
The next morning we took a very rough boat ride at 5 a.m over to Two Harbors. A lot o f people got sick.
Then we all met up at the starting line. Like 20 Beach Runners…by far we had the biggest team there. The starting line…I kid you not…was drawn in the dirt. We waited for a little while then we were off.
My plan…well you know how those things go…was to run with Matt and Jason for while…well I think their plan was maybe to keep up with me. It’s so funny that other people see me as fast…if you guys only knew where I came from 5 years ago. Another story.
I ran with Jason for about two miles. Up the first set of hills. I really love my brother. He was always the athlete in the family…star soccer player…good at everything … now he’s a really fast runner. Even on trails. So we ran together checking out the awesome views then after the first little downhill I looked back and he was getting into his pace…I was finding mine. And I was off.
I don’t understand Beach Runners who run with other people on races. It is strange to me. I find a pace that’s good for me on that course on that day with how I’m feeling with my goals in mind…and damn if I’m going to wait for your ass.
A RACE IS A RACE. Some of y’all got to get this into your heads a little better. A RACE is not a training run where you kick back and talk about the crumpets and tea you’re going to have at the finish line.
It’s a chance to spill your guts out on a course against people that have been training for months just like you have. A chance to run until you’re damn tired then you gotta run for many more miles.
A chance to GET ON THE PODIUM. Any which way you can.
So leaving my brother behind, I was off. The first six miles for me were frisky to say the least. A big long downhill took us down to Little Harbor and a series of big hills began.
I did notice I was getting a little tired by this point. Not good. My fear was that doing th e LA Marathon a few weeks earlier would effect me. This was turning out to be the case. Screw it…I was still going to run hard.
I passed mile 13 at 1:53. About five minutes faster than last year. Pretty good. Then a long straight section goes through the middle of the island. I got into a groove here and just plugged away. In retrospect I felt good here…but people were certainly beginning to pass me. With some fatigue starting to show in my legs…I kept just one thought going through my mind…just do each mile better than the mile before…just do each mile better than the one before. GRADUAL IMPROVEMENT.
I had to walk up the first third of nasty Pumphouse hill at mile 18. But I always feel guilty walking hills on a race, so I finished it up running. At the top of the hill my legs cramped up for a few minutes. Strange. I had been taking lots of electrolytes the whole race.
The rest of the race I was tired. I have to admit. A few reasons for this: the traveling to Orlando/San Francisco with lots of luxurious foods, the dropoff in training after Buffalo, not enough sleep in the nights leading up to the race, and running LA two weeks before. The last few hills were tough. I was beat ass tired. But hanging in there. Plugging away. Not giving up. No way was I going to give in to this course to my competitors no way!!!!
Then the downhill came and I was much slower than I usually am on the downhills… but still doing 6:30 miles. I got on the road and decided I was going to go all out for the finish line…the last five miles had been a trudge…and I wanted to go under four hours. So I gave it my all. Passed about three people. Everyone is sooooo fast at this pace.
Saw the finish line and cranked it. My parents cheered me on. My niece cheered me on. Bernice and Noretta cheered me on higher up on the road. I was going to leave nothing out there on that course.
My time…3:59:55. Whew. That cut it a little close.
Matt came in eight minutes later. Then Laurie with a smoking 4:09 (she should have won a podium spot but they got the paperwork wrong…more on that later).
Then we waited. My niece was getting anxious but finally Jason came down the road to an awesome time of 4:25 for his first marathon.
The rest of the Beach Runners came in. Some did better than expected. Some a little slower but all of that is irrelevant. Everyone just loved the course.
There were wildflowers everywhere. The air was clean and crisp. A tail wind helped us through the middle of the island. The views were magnificent. The food was tasty on the course.
The course is tough…it’s challenging…for most of us…it’s the hardest thing you might ever do athletically…but EVERYONE of our runners finished.
I cannot even begin to put into words how proud I am of everyone of you.
That you all choose to not just do a marathon but a damn hard one because you knew that through these kinds of challenges it makes you grow into a stronger more determined person than you are already.
And that you know how beautiful that Island is. Especially this year…especially with all the wildflowers that were out there.
Your friendships mean the world to me. All the days on the trails of Palos Verdes…talking about our lives…our dreams…the flowers…the mustard…how to run uphills and downhills…getting lost…getting our asses kicked by Monkey Hill.
I loved every single moment of the whole journey. And I’m bummed it’s over already.
So that night we had a party at 319 Catalina Ave. We gave speeches. Mine was on my real goal…no it wasn’t about going under four hours. Or winning the American Trail Championship for my age group (which I did but paperwork, again, not correct).
The real goal was to be like the old timers we met over there. The ones walking around with bars showing 20, 26, 27 marathons done year after year on that island. Because its a chance to go to a beautiful place with good friends, do a hard race, and celebrate.
A real pilgrimage. Like I told everyone that night. You will see me in Catalina every year doing those two races. I’ll add in the fifty miler this January (my new goal). But no big copywriting jobs, no chasing the almighty dollar, no luxurious hotels, can even begin to compare to the joy and the pride I felt watching all of you come to that finish line.
I look forward to training you all again next year. On the trails.
We finished the evening off similar to the way we did last year. Matt, Jason, Sandy, Anna, John, his girlfriend, and Uncle Sam, well we went to the Karoake bar. The Chi Chi bar was closed…the girls wanted to dance…and Uncle Sam being the gentleman he is showed us all a bunch a nifty dance moves.
Thanks to all the great mentors that helped out in Palos Verdes this season…Uncle Sam…Keith…Matt…Janet…George…LaTonya…John. You folks were the real reason behind the program’s success. You all are the most amazing people.
If I’ve forgotten anyone please excuse my A.D.D.
I still have no clue if it will be a two or three part Runumentry. I just wanted to get something up ASAP. The sub-plot is about a first time marathoner and Beach Runners, Christy, running this fantastic marathon. She is also running to win the American Trail Championship, in her Age Group, which is the lowest combined time of the Catalina Buffalo Run half marathon and the Catalina marathon.
I met some great people and some footage I had hoped would make the movie wound up MIA. If that was you, I am very sorry. This movie provides a great look at the course, the wonderfully kind participants, volunteers and staff.
Watch Focused, Steve Mackel – Catalina Marathon Videographer
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.
Long Beach Marathon, 10/14/2007: And so ended another chapter in the epic history of the Beach Runners, associated with socalrunning.com, aka “SoCal’s Funnest Running Group.” So many Beach Runners (“BRs”), so many stories, so many outstanding experiences, and so many personal records (“PRs”).This report is not about PRs, and not about typical BRs. We are the Rebel Runners (or “RRs”).
To assist in this story, here are a couple of RR concepts—or really, fictional characters—who played a big part in RR amusement during our training season.There are “Bad Idea Bears,” derived from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q.”Bad ideas for training are, for example, going out drinking the night before a long Saturday run, missing scheduled runs, or focusing on things like weddings instead of form while running.Bad ideas sound, well, bad.But Bad Idea Bears sound really cute, cuddly, and socially acceptable.That’s why the RRs like the term Bad Idea Bear.
Bad Idea Bears—Aren’t they cute?
And (surprise!) there is the “Good Idea Bear.” Avenue Q doesn’t feature such a creature. After all, Avenue Q is a comedy, and good ideas are not nearly as funny as bad ideas. So the RRs just made this bear up.
The RRs stuck together throughout the training season, sometimes rebelling from the BRs. Like when we decided to make up our own RR course on Saturdays. I guess that course was a Bad Idea Bear, in the sense that we didn’t get to meet as many BRs as we might have. But it kept us particularly motivated to run (especially seeing the numerous jellyfish floating in the Marina Pacifica residential area). So, on the whole, the RRs thought that course was a Good Idea Bear. (See “A Different Sort of Run Report,” posted earlier on socalrunning.ning.com.)
The RRs also had a lot of distractions this season. Especially weddings. Lani got married to John (not me, but some other guy named John) in August. Kristin will marry Wade in February 2008, and Mina and Doug marry each other in May 2008. I can say from personal experience (married to Laura—not BR Laura, but another gal named Laura) that getting married is definitely a Good Idea Bear. But wedding planning is certainly a Bad Idea Bear when concurrent with marathon training. Especially for the women. I can’t say how many times the female RRs started going too fast in training while talking excitedly about wedding planning.Thus, the RRs did not feel particularly prepared for the LB marathon. Thus, we set our race goals as: (1) finishing, and (2) no barfing. We thought pacing ourselves at a 11:00/mile pace would do that trick. (And, that’s one great sign of an RR. Coach Gary complains that he “bonked” when he was running 10:00/min miles. RRs, in contrast, think it’s better to run “bonked” for the whole marathon.)Shortly after we started, some of the RRs soon started rebelling from the RRs.After about 4 miles, BR Jim (aka Uncle Sam) passed us up with a group of other BRs who were doing about 10:30s. Right at that point RRs Mina and Doug decided to take off with them, leaving the other RRs behind. For awhile, we kept the rebelling RRs in sight, but around mile 14 they were nowhere to be found. Also, around this time, RR Randy fell back a bit.
Kristin, you’re too slow. Mina and I are going to speed up!” “Okay Doug, but remember—NO BARFING!”
Thus, RRs Kristin, Lani and me were alone when we approached Studebaker Road, around mile 18. Ugh. That part of the race is the bleakest, ugliest, and (with the bridge over 7th Street) the hilliest section. The RRs were dreading this part of the course the most. I guess the advance dreading was definitely a Bad Idea Bear, because that’s where we started bonking and walking. (I’m sure Coach Gary would’ve advised us that we should’ve been chanting “Studebaker Road is our friend.”)
The week before the race, Lani had a Good Idea Bear regarding this part of the course: tell a story to help keep our minds off the dreariest part of the race. So Kristin came up with hers, about the time she ran the Honolulu Marathon under trying circumstances. I told my story about how I shouldn’t be running marathons post-knee surgery and post-orthodics, but ChiRunning® keeps me going.Then, Lani decided story-telling was a Bad Idea Bear and she refused to tell hers. That was an admirable rebel trick for an RR.
As we passed to the north of LB State, I was looking for some inspiration to get through the run. I then spotted people passing out FREE BEER!! How ironic: much earlier in the run I was telling the RRs that it would be a Good Idea Bear if on one of my training runs, I filled one of my Fuel Belt® bottles with beer. I could then swill it down after, say, 3 hours, and see how my body responded. That way, I’d know if I could drink a beer during an actual marathon.So, here was my chance to test the theory, but during the run instead. I knew what Coaches Steve and Gary would say: if you haven’t tried something in training, then DON’T DO IT DURING THE RUN!!! Thus, the thought of drinking beer now was definitely a Bad Idea Bear.Since I am an RR, I had to drink some. Mmmm, beer….Meanwhile, Mina and Doug’s decision to run ahead of the other RRs was definitely a Good Idea Bear—they
finished ahead of us.
“Mina, I don’t believe in ‘ladies first,’ okay?” “Aw, Doug, you’re so romantic.”
I know what the BR coaches are thinking right now: Mina and Doug’s decision to do all that trail running for the March 2007 Catalina Marathon and the September 2007 Mount Baldy run paid off for them; that’s why they ran faster. Sorry guys. The official RR position is that trail running is a Bad Idea Bear. There’s a possible exception when the RRs need beautiful scenery in the mountains for purposes of getting engaged, which is what Mina and Doug did in March.At around mile 22, I felt like I had more energy than my RR buddies, and I sped along. I walked through the rest of the water stations, but otherwise kept up the pace, and I actually ran the last mile in about 9 minutes. (I’m guessing, because I had another Bad Idea Bear that day: I forgot my Garmin.) am certain that I finished ahead of Lani and Kristin because of the Good Idea Beer.
“Woo, a strong finish—must be the beer!”
After the run, I headed off to the BR tent where BR helper Laura was greeting a whole lot of BRs, along with my next-door-neighbor Suzanne, and Lani’s sister Maile. Laura was waiting with a lot of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for me to scarf down. So I achieved my goals: finishing, and no barfing. All of the other RRs finished also. But I’m not so sure about the barfing.
John Siqueiros – Beach Runner and Rebel Runner
Thought you might be interested in seeing my video. It took some time to figure this out & get it posted. Anyhow when you have a moment (about 12 mins.) you can check out video from my race Oct 14th. My friend edited it pretty well. I’ll post on my socalrunning.com members page shortly, too…Gotta run…