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Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run for hobby. I ran my first one in Honolulu in December 2007 to prove I could actually do it (and finish something...I never finish anything). I did it again since my endurance was still up and to see if I could best myself.

Training:

I went through the Jeff Galloway Walk/Run program via the National AIDS Marathon Training Program. The program was a pretty positive experience. It gave me a structure to follow, which I absolutely needed, especially since I had never done a marathon before. My pace was for a 2:3 (2 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking) time. At the beginning, the program rep's enthusiasm definitely made me want to get involved. It seemed like it was spread out enough to make it easy for non-runners to get acclimated. The promise of "making new friends" seemed intriguing as well. For this program, though, you had a fundraising requirement. That part was almost as hard as the running. I got very lucky though and raised $4,100.

It was a little frustrating, when we started training with what would have seemed to be a nice congruent team. But one by one, they fell off. For most of the training, it was just me and another guy. Sometimes that made for lonely runs, but I think it also made us closer and we pushed each other.

All in all, I'm glad I did through a structured training program.

The best advice was that for your first marathon, it was not a race. Just finish. Yes, that sounds trite. But for your first one, they were right. I definitely went into thinking I knew it all after 6 months of training, and I didn't. So I took the good and bad of what I learned in Honolulu, and I applied to L.A. and it worked!

Race Day:

The 2008 L.A. Marathon was better than expected. I wanted to do the L.A. Marathon right after my first one because I figured with all that training, my body was still in great shape to kick another out, yet I had enough time to recover from the first one. I didn't train as well for the second though.

Since prior to the first marathon, I was in a training program - I was being forced to run every week. I was pretty good about going to the Saturday runs and doing the maintenance runs, almost religiously. Towards the end, though, I was only going to the longer runs. After the first marathon, I got sick and didn't do any sort of exercise for a month. Therefore, I only trained for about a month prior to L.A. It was mostly on the treadmill, with one or two longer runs. I honestly didn't think I was very prepared.

The L.A. Marathon reminded me a lot of Honolulu: a huge crowd of varied ages, although in Honolulu most of the runners are Japanese. It was sunny, about 60 degrees - actually great running weather. They begin the race to Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."... how fitting. The first hill was the highest point on the course (on the Cahuenga Pass separating the Valley from Hollywood), and that was rough to start uphill. I felt so out of breath. However, downhill and for the next few miles - everything seemed pretty good.

All the guys ran for the nearest shrub early on. I paced myself with water so that wasn't me (after learning the hard way in Honolulu).

The crowd in Hollywood was great, very enthusiastic. I decided I was going to try to do one shot blok each hour, because I did feel my energy waning a bit. That seemed to work. Next, the course went through some very nice areas but right around Mile 11, everything seemed to "turn the corner".

I noticed my energy was waning even more, and the neighborhoods we were running through weren't as supportive. There were crowds here and there, but some of the places I was running through I wouldn't feel safe at night in. I was pretty good with keeping my 2:3 pace for most of the race, though (I had done 1:3 as instructed in Hawaii, and it took way too long to complete the marathon).

I was pretty proud of myself, I seemed to hit a second wind around the Olympic Coliseum. I was doing okay, until Mile 22. That was the first uphill over the L.A. River and I think it just knocked the wind out of my sails. I had trouble keeping the pace after that. I dropped to a 1.5:3.5 pace for the next few miles and then I think the "haze" started to set in. Once that happened (maybe around mile 24), I just started running sporadically when I felt a burst of energy. I guess I thought if I couldn't hack it for two minutes, I would do what I could then just walk as fast as I could. I probably lost a few minutes doing that, and I was hoping I would achieve my goal of shaving two hours off my Honolulu time of 8:33. Well, I did pretty good. I came in at 6:41:40... within 7 minutes of my goal.

I'm pretty proud of myself, given I also acted like a dork at the finish. My friend said he was in front of the finish line. I saw the crowd ending and I didn't see him. I didn't realized he was like 10 feet from it, so I ran over and posed for him, almost forgetting about the finish line. It looks pretty funny on film. All in all, though, I am very proud of my accomplishments with this race especially considering I didn't think a month training after a month sitting was that stellar.

Recovery:

I'm pretty bad about recovery. I don't do the ice thing, I usually just put Icy Hot on. Then I'm stiff for about 2-3 days and can barely walk. Of course, I take full advantage of sticking anything in my mouth I want because I figure I lost it during the marathon, why not put it back on, right?

Running Gear Recommendations:

Clif Shot Bloks
These sure come in handy. I tried the gel but the second time I did, it nearly made me sick.
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Betagen
My friend works for Nutrition Express and had me doing Betagen for awhile before. Of course, I got lazy and didn't do as much as I should have but at least I had some in my system.
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Gatorade
It definitely works for me. During my training program, I did a long run without any Gatorade, just water and it seemed like my body had a hard time functioning without. Guess I should have packed my own.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

I never thought I would run ONE marathon, let alone TWO. But it is one of the greatest accomplishments I've done in my life. First, because I stuck with it. I stuck with the training and I stuck with the marathon. I think there is a quote out there like, "You made it this far, why not keep going?" It's true. Second, it does allow you to get in touch with yourself. Maybe you're not an "alone" person (I'm definitely not). But it does allow you to spend some quality time with the person you know best, noticing things about your body and what it can do. It's a great way to surprise yourself.

Plans to Run Another:

As the person who inspired me to do them says, "I'm hooked". They all seem so different... different locales, different crowds, different medals. Seems like a great way to experience a city or state or country you've never been to. Yeah, I want to keep doing them as long as my body will allow me to. Next up is the Disneyland Half-Marathon in August. My training program partner wants me to do the Marine Corps Marathon with him in the fall.

For my next marathon, I'll definitely practice more, and make more time for it. My biggest problem now is that my plate is so full that I don't allow myself time to practice. It was easier when you had a structured program, its much harder to be disciplined on your own.

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