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.
Yesterday was my birthday. I ran, gave ChiRunning® lessons, went out for lunch, received some cool gifts. It was special and low key, just the way I wanted it.
I finished the day by going out to one of my favorite restaurants with a few friends. It was a night of indulgence. Great food, some wine, dessert and I finished it off with a cappuccino. I don’t drink a lot of caffeinated drinks and they usually don’t keep me up. When I got home I was exhausted. I went straight to sleep.
Around 12:30 AM I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. The caffeine was working now. So I got on my computer and started reading an ebook on natural and barefoot running.
I was reading the section running injuries, specifically about Plantar Fasciitis which I have had a lot of runners asking me about lately. I can relate, I had it and it took a while to finally heal. I tried everything and I don’t have a great answer on how to heal it without trying everything. So, I started searching Plantar Fasciitis articles.
There are many methods and lots of interesting information. I’ve read most of it before but then I read an article on nutrition and Plantar Fasciitis. I started searching more on nutrition. This wasn’t new information either but it seemed the universe directed to these articles and it was time to reevaluate my nutrition.
As I read these articles one thing kept popping up as an inhibitor to healing and top performance, Refined Sugar.
I am addicted to refined sugar! There I said it.
I mean, I can’t imagine a day without cookies, ice cream, chocolate, tasty blended drinks…sugar. And, that doesn’t even include the foods I eat that are not “Sweets” that are made with refined sugar. I crave sugar, especially at night.
Waking up last night seemed to be a real “Wake up call.” I need to reduce my refined sugar intake and see how I feel.
I am also going to focus on increasing my intake of anti-inflammatory foods. Foods high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Foods high in Probiotics, more green vegetables, more juicing and more water. I’ll also be using some supplements to help my diet.
As an athlete and coach, I am always learning about improving performance. The training seems to be the easy part for me. Nutrition has been the difficult piece of the puzzle. Cleaner fuel has to improve performance. It’s time to make some different decisions.
To be honest, I’m not completely cutting out all refined sugar, but I am going for a major cut-back.
Today, the day after my birthday, is going to be like the day after New Year’s Day. It’s time to work on this new resolutions and renew my old ones. It’s time to refocus and “Begin Again” as my coach, Steve Ilg like to say. I am going to write down my goals and begin again. Let’s see what happens. I will keep you updated along this journey.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Endurance Athlete
As many of you probably are, I am watching the news, reading blogs, checking Facebok, talking to my friends (especially runners) about what happened yesterday. I am totally bummed out. I feel a hole inside me and deep sorrow for the victims, their family and friends.
As a runner, I am pissed off that some a-hole could do this, let alone on a day I look forward to every year even though I haven’t even qualified for Boston yet. Running Boston is still my goal and dream.
As a runner, I know what runners go through. All the training, time, dedication, pain, joy and sense of accomplishment.
But what happened yesterday isn’t as much about us, as it is about our family, friends and the volunteers that make our races and the experience special.
The majority of victims were spectators. Our family members, friends and volunteers. These are the people that emotionally support us when we might doubt ourselves, watch our kids while we go for long training runs, help us if we get injured, set up the course, work at aid-stations, cheer us on, put the medals around our necks and give us those meaningful hugs at the end of the race.
I am always so thankful for the volunteers, family and
friends that do all of this for us. Now, they were attacked and I don’t know what to do except pray for them and their families. This is where I am emotionally ripped up inside.
As a runner, I am thankful for the volunteers quick reaction and selflessness once the bombs exploded. The way everyone worked together and the city of Boston’s handling of this terrible situation.
As a runner, from this moment on, I will take extra time to thank the volunteers, be more courteous to everyone helping with any race I enter. I will go out of my way to thank my family members and friends that support my training and everything that takes to get me to my race. I will smile at that person on the side of the road cheering me on. I will high-five that hand extended out as I run by. I will volunteer at an upcoming race and dedicate my efforts to yesterdays victims.
As a runner, with all this in mind. I will keep running.
Stay Focused, Steve Mackel – Head Coach, Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs
52 Marathons in 52 Weeks – Mission Accomplished – Julie Weiss Raises Awareness and Funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research
Julie Weiss ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks in order to raise awareness and funds to fight pancreatic cancer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
The LA Marathon was the final marathon in her quest. She completed each one with a smile on her face but this LA marathon was special, it was her 52nd, the final race on this journey.
I was lucky enough to run the entire marathon with her and it was amazing. She enjoyed the sites on the course, talked to so many people, danced, sang, was interviewed by media and inspired the crowd. She was the spirit of this marathon.
The video is my documentary of this special day. It was a fantastic experience.
At this time Julie has raised over $170,000 but her goal is to raise 1 million dollars. She told me she’ll take a short break but will continue running marathons and raising funds to find a cure. You can help her find a cure for Pancreatic Cancer by making a donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network on her web site MarathonGoddess.com
Train Focused, Coach Steve Mackel
The video tells it all. This is important information now that we are 9 days away from the LA Marathon but this information can be used during recovery weeks in your training and while Tapering before any marathon, half marathon or endurance event.
Relax Focused, Steve Mackel Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs Head Coach
Marathon Training Tip – Running with a Metronome – Great for Beginners and Advanced Runners with Coach Steve Mackel
Training Tip – Learn to Love Your Metronome
Whether you are new to running or a seasoned veteran, using a metronome can help you in many ways. As Danny Dreyer says, “Start out focusing on your form to build a strong running foundation.” Well, your running form is partially dependent on your cadence. Unless you have perfect rhythm, let a metronome set your cadence (how many times your feet hit the ground per minute).
A metronome is objective. It doesn’t lie and doesn’t get tired.
For the beginning runner, the metronome can help set up good running form. Using a metronome usually helps a new runner keep their strides shorter, making it less likely that the stride will lengthen in front of their bodies setting up a heel strike. The metronome can also have cardio-respiratory benefits. When you move your feet and legs faster your heart rate tends to rise. If a beginner can be patient and work in the 170 – 180 strides per minute (SPM) range , after several week the body tends to adapt to the legs and feet moving at that speed and the heart rate and breath rate begin to adjust downward. In the adaptation phase, the new runner should expect to take frequent walk breaks when heart/breath rates rises. A benefit with be breaking a sweat and burning more calories. As the beginner adapts to the metronome they will enjoy the benefits of less braking, better form, and will burn a bunch of calories.
For the seasoned runners a metronome can make you faster. Remember speed is a mathematical formula: Stride Length x Cadence = Speed. Read any long distance running book and almost everyone agrees that 180 SPM is the gold standard. But running at 180 SPM for hours takes training. It took me almost a year to run an entire marathon at 180 SPM. The fact is, most people run at much lower/slower cadences. Imagine if each of your strides were 3 feet long, taking just 3 more strides per minutes would add 9 extra feet of road covered each minute. In 10 minutes you would cover an additional 90 feet, and in 1 hour 540 additional feet. This translates into speed, and by only taking 3 extra steps per minute.
Plus, the metronome helps you pay attention. I know it sounds tedious and many of you would rather run with music but remember, each song has a different tempo or cadence. Yes, there are websites that say they mix their music so each song has the same tempo but it is pretty difficult to keep the songs sounding good as the pitch is increased or decreased.
Every race that I have set a personal record has been while I was using a metronome. When I get tired it reminds me to keep my feet moving to it’s exact cadence, rather than my foot turnover slowing down . It also reminds me to check in with my body and focus. It is a great tool to help you with your ChiRunning®. Give it a try.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Senior ChiRunning Instructor
Don’t miss Danny Dreyer’s FREE Talk next Thursday, Feb 7, at the Alpert Jewish Community center at 6:30 PM. Reserve your seats at: Reservations@SoCalRunning.com I’ll be posting some nuggets from that only I have on video over the next 5 days. Check this one out and keep coming back.
Steve Mackel, Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking Instructor
Here are all the details. WE are putting together a cool goodie bag. We will have special pricing (lowest of the year) on the Sole Runners Spring/Summer Full and Half Marathon Training Session in Long Beach. Pre-season starts Saturday, April 20 at 7:00 at Marina Vista Park. And local Sponsors, Runner’s High Running Stores, Phiten, C20 Coconut Water, Dr Michael Day – Day Wellness, Lisa Fillis ND – Restoration Health, Dr. Allen Arnette – Living Naturally
We have limited seating. Please let us know your name and any of your guests names. Please RSVP to:
See you there!
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Senior ChiRunning® Instructor
I'll let the video do the talking but I love this race. In fact, I think it may be the premier trail half marathon in Southern California. Located in Newbury Park, these trails offer challenging climbs, steep decents and beautiful views. It has some technical parts but most of the trail is straight forward.
It starts out in the base of the parking lots with bathrooms. Once you get running you go about a 1/2 mile until you hit “Concrete Hill” which is straight down for 3/4 of a mile. From there it is a single track until mile 5. At the water station you open up onto a fire road down to the ranch. It flattens out here. There are porta-potties and an aid station.
After taking gel head up toward Boney Mt. The next 4 miles are straight up at a gain of about 500 feet per mile. At mile 10 you reach the top and you hit a fast down hill section. At mile 11.5 there is one more real hill with an aid station at the top. Then it's back home.
The trails are on National Park Service land and the race is managed by Generic Events. This race, as with most the Xterra races brings out strong runners and people who love the trails. This was my second year running this race, plus I did the preview training run two-weeks before. I can't recommend this race enough but be warned, It Is Tough.
Put this race on your schedule for 2014. Below are my Garmin stats. When reviewing my stats, please remember I ran the New Year's Night Half Marathon the night before so I kinda fell apart around mile 9.
Train Focused, Steve Mackel – Founder MarathonTraining.TV
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