LA Marathon: Decision Time


I’m running the LA Marathon in 7 days.  This was my message to Ron today…and it solidified my decision.

Let me bring you up to speed.  On January 12th, I ran my last long run of 16 miles.  I ran from Ripon to a friend’s house in Modesto.  I was on pace, and I was halfway through my LA Marathon training schedule, and the next week my feet fell apart.  I ran a couple more runs, and then called it off.  Pulled the plug.  I went to the Ortho Doc, and followed his direction-that I shouldn’t run a marathon and only smallish miles.  Over the next month or so, I went to the gym, did the elliptical, etc.  I had the MRI, and they got the results.  I have an appointment on March 17th to see them.

I purposely chose that date, because I’m pacing a runner for a 5K in Fresno on the 16th, and I have 2 other runners working on their goals that day.  I didn’t want any results before the 16th.  At that point, I thought the LA Marathon was off the table.

Then yesterday happened.  I paced a runner for her first 10K in Sanger.  After all the pre-race hoopla, we were several blocks from the race start, and the race …started. Instead of jumping into the race, we needed to get back to the start line, so this made us the last people on the course.  The whole time, the police car stayed right behind us.  It was like having our own personal escort.  In some ways, it was lovely, because there was no pressure on her.  After mile 1, I asked her if she would rather have negative splits or have the race time we initially had discussed.  She wanted the elusive negative splits.

And so we ran along under the watchful eye of the road up to Kings Canyon National Park…a place I lived for a few years with my first husband.  It was just easy and fun. I told her that I wouldn’t write her report for her, but somewhere along the way, with no pain and just having fun running, my LA Marathon dream woke up, and I didn’t even realize it.  We did not finish DFL.  We passed one lady at mile 5.  Pride was on the line, after all.  She got her negative splits, and really nailed a nice race.  I earned third place for my age group.  I got a plaque.  After the requisite huevos rancheros and back to pick up some ladies for another AA event in Visalia, I drove home to Ripon.  It was a really long day.

When I got up this morning, as I was waiting for the coffee to brew, I uploaded the data and saw that she broke 13:00, and ran the race at 12:59.  Which means that I ran the race at 12:59.  I put in my pace calculator what a marathon pace is for 6 hours, my normal pace  in all 5 marathons.  It is 13:44.  And I sort of started to focus.

Maybe I could do it.  Maybe I could run the marathon.

I’m woefully unprepared.  But I don’t care.  I started to wrestle this in my brain.  Am I insane?  And yes.  The answer is yes.

  • It’s my sixth and maybe my last marathon
  • I can run it for fun
  • I bought 3 bibs last year that went unused due to poor planning.  This would be my 4th in a year.  Waste of money.
  • I feel good.  Really good.
  • I have new prescription shoes from my Orthopedist, who happens to run lunchtime 12 milers for fun while training for BadWater.
  • I don’t have to have any goal.  Not even to finish.  I can jump off if I’m hurt.

I messaged Ron, who, early in my training had agreed to send me a schedule, and to whom I had sent all my workouts.  He’s a great athlete and friend, and an all around excellent advocate for our sport.  You may remember that he gave me the plan of his own free will, simply because he’s a good guy.  Super supportive, and someone I trust implicitly.  He’s one of the nicest people you’ll meet, and I’m lucky to have him in my corner.  Even if he’s a Giants fan.

So, I spent all day lining up my week.  Printing out my marathon checklist.  Letting my parents know I’ll be there.  Arranging with my brother in law and Dad how to get to Dodger Stadium.  Focusing my energy on this race.  This run.

It’s only 26.2.  A decision has been made.

Please don’t tell me I’m crazy.  I know this.  Please don’t tell me I can’t do it.  I know this too.  But, in the world of running…we sometimes just have to say to hell with it and go.  And that’s just what I’m doing.


Chasing The Road.


This run.  This long run.  It slays me.  All week long, I’m doing negative splits on every run.  Running around 11:00 miles, and really nailing them.

And then.  The long run.

I missed 2.5 weeks due to the flu, so I’m slightly behind, but honestly, long runs are just the most difficult for me.  This run today called for 16 miles, and I started out so great:  Exactly where I wanted.  12:30.  For about 10 miles.  I ran from my house to a place in another town, and I just ticked off the miles one by one.

And then, Mile 11.  My watch alerted me to something, and I couldn’t read because I didn’t have my glasses, and well, I was then running on sidewalks.  And let me tell you something about city sidewalks.  They are like little hills.  For miles.  Driveways.  Cracks.  Up and down and up and down for 2 more miles, when my IT band started screaming.  For the record, I used to think the IT band was a made up muscle.  Until I started having trouble with mine.  I actually stopped my watch at one point and spent several minutes stretching, which helped.

I tackled 4 more miles of this and lots of little stoplights, and running across streets when the light was red, and by mile 15, I just decided I had to finish the thing.  And I was listening to an AA tape, and tons of good music, and then got a little sad, and I hadn’t been in a long time.

Then it became Primal.  A friend on Twitter got it:

i understand that. when i started running last year it destroyed me emotionally. it is so primal, chasing the road

Yes.  Primal.  Chasing the Road.  The rest of the miles were a death march to the end.  All I could really do was move my arms, because of all the good coaching I got over the years, I remember one who said, “Just move your arms and your legs will follow.”

I was trying to grab fire.  Looking everywhere for it on this run.  Battling my head that said, “What are you thinking, you’re going to be 55!”  What’s funny is that the first 10 miles, I was writing this blog about what a great life I have now that I’m 55. It’s amazing when your body just sucker punches you.  I mean, really.  How much KT Tape can I wrap around my legs and back?

I don’t know if my glass is half empty or half full, but I have a glass.  I’m running.  Maybe next week, the long run will be mine.  Meanwhile, if you’re counting, that’s 50+ miles in January already.

Week 8.  Halfway to the LA Marathon.

Single Digits Training Weeks.


It’s official.  Today marks that time when you go from 16 weeks to 9 weeks.  From double to single digits counting down to your A Marathon.  A marathon.  Number 6, and I can hardly believe that 2 years after my last one, I’m training again for the Los Angeles Marathon.

Today, I did a 13 miler.  I should be so much further along, but that terrific virus knocked 2.5 weeks out of my training, so today was my longest run.  It was good. Not great, but good.  I’m trying to do negative splits, and I’m able to do them on the short runs, but not the long ones.  I did get in under a previous PR, so I was happy.

And.  I had a lot on my mind.  2 people in particular, and one who last night in a drunken stupor sent no less than 35 emails to me.  I had a family member.  My kids. My house.  All of this I took to the streets.

Mile 1 & 2, I had accidentally put on a slow playlist, which worked out fine, because I wanted to start out VERY slow. I had originally planned to run to a friend’s house, 13 miles away, but as luck and circumstance would have it, that option was no longer available, so I had to punt and find a way to run 13 miles in my 8 mile circumference town.

Mile 3 & 4 I stepped it up.  It was starting to get warmer, and so by this time, I’m in my tank.  Gloves, arm sleeves and shirt are long gone.  I had no idea how to get the miles in, so I continually looped through neighborhoods. Miles 5-8 were fun as long as I didn’t think how far I had to go.  My legs were strong.

My feet have plagued me this cycle.  My left foot was the broken one, but now the right foot hurts, so I am all covered in purple KT Tape, which really does help.  But, at mile 9 the wheels just started to fall off.

I was about 2 miles from home with 4 miles to go, so my head was not happy.  I again traversed corners, making a little game with myself.  I could not run down any street I had already covered.  I ended up in the cemetery and heard myself say, “Hi everybody!” I ran up and down, adding miles.  I got a phone call from someone who needed to talk and for a mile I forgot about my feet.

By mile 11.5, I was getting close, but not close enough, so back up Main Street I went.

I am in compression socks, drinking chocolate milk and have had 2 hard boiled eggs and a bagel.  I baked chocolate chip cookies for my kids.  My life is really good, despite me always wanting to get in and fix things.  I go to the market to stock food for teenagers.  I am making their beds after 10 days gone.  I’m cleaning.  I’m reading a book and folding clothes.

It’s all so ordinary.  Except if I had missed it.  Seconds and inches, and I have the best life ever.

I took my worries to the streets.  I have answers.  Some I don’t like.  But that’s how marathon training is for me. Do the work, and everything slips into place.

Single Digits.  9 weeks to LA Marathon.  The journey continues.

Jolly Ranchers, Negative Splits, KT Tape & Week 7


It’s a thing with me.  The thing I need for each plan.  For LAMarathon 2014, it’s Jolly Ranchers.  Not blue or grape. But watermelon, cherry, apple.

One cycle it was gum.  Not any gum, but a particular kind.

A few years ago, I was hooked on Swedish Fish like they were going out of style.

When I was pregnant, I chewed pencil top erasers because I had PICA, but not the purple ones.  Green, blue.

I have a certain thing I do with every cycle, and I don’t plan it, I really don’t.  It just so happens that I was out of gum, and I had all these Jolly Ranchers, so there ya go.

I’m doing negative splits with all my training runs.  I’m really trying.  Normally, I am a 12 minute miler, and I’ve been practicing going out slowly, then reeling it in, and letting the horses go.  For me, that means under an 11 minute mile. I’m not judgin’.  I’m just sayin’.  And, it’s working.

Today, I nailed a 4 miler right in the mouth, and Sunday, I’m running a half marathon.  It so happens that there isn’t one in town, so I’m running to a Friend’s house…13.1 miles away.  It’s amazing and fun, and I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but I do know that this is the end of week 7, and 2 months from now I will be toeing the line in LA.

I’ve discovered KT Tape.  My feet are in love.  But, I’m going to be 55 next month, and I just envision my body covered in it because I feel like I’m falling apart some days.  I’m 5 pounds from SLO Marathon weight, and I gotta stop thinking that’s okay, and get it off.

It’s Friday.  I ran a lunch time 4, a sweet 5 miler the next day, and today 4.  I don’t want to think about March 9.  I just run the mile I’m in.

I only had grape Jolly Ranchers today.  They weren’t too bad, but I head out in search of red and green.  Happy weekend.


Running Into My Memories



Shake out runs.  Those short, easy jogs priming our muscles.  Supposed to be easy.  I’m in week 3 of marathon training, and the last 2 of these were absolutely murderous.  Okay, that’s a little dramatic.  But.  They were hard.  Last week after 6, I felt like I was running through mud.

Which brings me to tonight.

On Sunday, I ran 8 miles, and after a weekend of LA and 650+ miles of driving, I had to lace up at night after driving home.  At mile 6, I was dead.  Got some relief (sorry, hat), and jogged, I mean really jogged the rest of the way home.  So I wasn’t looking forward to tonight’s shakeout of 3 miles.

I’m told I am going to need my faster miles at the end of the run, so I’ve started to challenge myself to do that.  First mile was 10:48.  Then 10:36.  Then…my stomach hurt, my lungs started to work.  And, I thought.  I simply cannot make myself run FASTER.

And then a song came on.  And it jogged a memory.  During an Udder Run, Kim and I were running a 5 miler in Hilmar, and as I turned the corner, Low Rider, by War came on my iPod.  And I looked up, and there was one long row of just cows.   For a long time.  Cow after cow, all watching me as I ran to Low Rider.  And, I remember that I started to laugh.  And of course by that point of the race, I thought “Who the hell puts together a race in Central California, in June, through a dairy?”  And somehow, that song, that memory…it got me through tonight.

My last mile.  10:35.  One second faster.  One.  But, I’ll take it.

On a sidenote, I thought this.  Someday, I’m going to be an old woman.  And I will have these memories.  Of the cows, and the song, and about a hundred other just like this.  Because, I love marathons and marathon training.  I do.

Tonight, I came home, and my child wanted to participate in the chili cookoff for his church group tomorrow.  And, I’m a week out of payday, and I said, of course.  I went to the market and spent $45 on his cousin’s chili recipe.  And, we all pooled our dollars to put in a safe place.  Because, my kids are awesome like that.

I’m cooking chili until 9 at night, and they come in from Scouts, and the kitchen is clean, and they just don’t know.  But they are excited, and feel like this pot will be a winner, and these are the memories that make up their childhood.

But my memories.  Running through the streets of this town.  Running in wind and cold.  And running just one second faster than the last mile.  Well.  Who could ask for anything more, and how did I get so lucky?

Running Journal. Old School.

So.  Tonight was my first 3 miler on the plan set up for me by Ron…you’re gonna get tired of hearing how much I appreciate him, because you know, he just wrote this plan for me.  He didn’t have to.  I asked him because of his amazing IronMan skills, and he just cranked this out, and mailed it to me. Told me he would just cheer me on, and we would connect after my long runs.

Tonight, I had exactly 30 minutes to come home from work, throw something in the oven for my son’s soccer banquet, run 3 miles, get re-dressed and go to the banquet.  And so I did that.

And it started to rain.  It was as if the weatherman was reminding me that I ran the LA Monsoon Marathon, and I should actually maybe remember that.  It was sort of perfect, and I kinda laughed a little at the first rain drops.  But the run was great, and even though I always feel a little overwhelmed about a plan, and what am I running next week, etc., I just sort of sunk into those moments that runners know.  When your heart and lungs and feet are all in sync, and there’s good music on the playlist.

I came home.  Picked up a pen.  Wrote in this journal.  About the run, the weather, the music.  As much as a social media maven and a data driven runner I am, I still like to write.  To feel my pen sink into a pile of paper and make that smooth, rich cursive I love, is a joy.

So we start.  Marathon Training begins.  Number 6 on the horizon, but a long 16 weeks away.  For now, I will enjoy the smallish miles of this week.  Happy Tuesday. 20131119-200005.jpg