London Marathon Race Recap 5 WMM’s Down 1 To Go

This race recap is finally getting done now that I’m back home from across the pond. I didn’t have too much time to start my London Marathon race recap since my wife and I did a lot of sightseeing on our trip. London is one of the world’s most vibrant cities for a reason and we now have an even better understanding of why. It’s no surprise one of the world’s most important cities would put on one of the world’s best marathons–maybe even THE BEST.

Even though the race itself is a great experience, my performance was my worst ever. My goal was to run under three hours but the warm and somewhat humid weather, along with my minor training injuries, did me in. I finished with the official time of 3 hours, 15 minutes, 59 seconds. That’s roughly 27 minutes slower than my personal best time of 2:48:48 in Berlin just several months earlier. I’ll explain what happened, how I felt and what I can learn from this. Despite my performance, I did finish and I did complete my fifth Abbott World Marathon Major. I now have one more to go (Tokyo) before I complete all six and collect the coveted six-star medal which is given to people who finish all six majors.

I also completed my fundraising goal for Livability. I had a chance to meet some people who work for this outstanding charity and was touched by the work they do and was honored to be able to help.

Here’s how the trip started. We arrived Friday afternoon, ate and slept early to wake up to collect my Livability singlet and bib number at the expo.

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Here’s me outside the expo

The expo was well-organized and it was very easy to collect my bib.

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Me posing with my bib
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Me and the wife. It’s hard to run marathons without family support and without hers I simply couldn’t do it.  

If you notice, I’m wearing my 2016 Los Angeles Marathon shirt. I had to represent Los Angeles while in London 🙂

After the expo, we toured the Tower of London which was magnificent and full of history, both good and bad. The walking didn’t bother me and my legs felt fine. There was no groin pain nor was my shin splint issue a problem. After touring the tower, we ate and went back to the hotel for an early night.

Like most people, I get a little nervous and anxious before a big race. My sleep wasn’t great but it wasn’t horrible either. I woke up in the morning feeling generally fine. My legs felt good thanks to massaging by my wife the night before that included a roller that really works at loosening the muscles. I ate oatmeal and a banana like I do every morning of a race whether it’s a 5k or marathon. I also drank my hydration drink from Osmo. This drink helps my body stay hydrated during long races. Hydration is so important in a marathon. Of course, I was drinking water regularly leading up to the race but this drink helps keep sodium and electrolyte levels more balanced. It’s not a miracle drink and it doesn’t replace the need for water during the race but it certainly helps.

I also knew it was going to be warm. Like all marathon runners, I check the weather forecast to the hour. The forecast called for clear skies and temperatures in the low to mid-70s. Yikes! While sunny and in the 70s seem like perfect weather it is absolutely horrendous for a marathon. The ideal marathon temperature is anywhere from 45 to 55 degrees. When a race is long, cooler weather is preferred because the warmer temperatures slow the body down because the body uses more energy to cool itself rather than to make you run faster. A one-mile run in 85 degree weather can be tolerated as I’ve done it before. That race is only four to six minutes. A race that lasts two to five hours in those conditions means slower times. Plus, it was a little humid and the race started at 10am when the sun is even higher in the sky. Knowing all this, I still felt confident that I could run under three hours but probably not a personal best. I have trained in these conditions but training and racing are much different.

I also decided to wear my usual racing shoes even though they were worn out. I used new inserts to prevent them from slipping out like one did in the Pasadena Half Marathon. I felt the new inserts would help. I did bring another pair of shoes to possibly race in but I felt I would go with what I know. That probably wasn’t a good idea. My racing shoes were done. More on that later.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-9,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y
Me just before leaving to the race. I felt hopeful but it wasn’t to be. 

My wife and I got onto a bus and headed to the underground station to go to the start. We left around 7am so that would give us enough time to get there without rushing. The trains were packed with runners so I had to mostly stand. It was ok though.

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Crowded tube. We minded the gap while exiting. 

We arrived at Greenwich Park, where the race begins, a little past 8am. The park is huge and we walked uphill to the start line and runner villages. It was as sunny as it could get. Not a cloud in the sky in a city known for cool, damp and dreary weather. It was also getting warm. I could feel the sun beat on me even while sitting and relaxing. My wife went off to find a spot to see me around the 10k mark while I entered the runner’s village.

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I was thinking how warm it was already and the race didn’t even start. I had no need for my warm up jacket.

I drank my beet juice, which has nitrates to help expand blood vessels so more energy can get to the muscles. I also did my usual warm up routine. I wore calf compression sleeves for the first time in a race. My calves felt a little tight in the days before the race so I chose to wear the sleeves to help with blood flow and prevent possible cramping. It worked. There were no calf cramps and I didn’t feel the sleeves were a nuisance.

I made my way to the red start line which is where all the charity runners line up. Like the New York City Marathon, there were different start lines that merge about three miles into the race. I was in the pen when Queen Elizabeth appeared on the big screen from Windsor Castle to officially start the race. She pressed the button and we were all off. Us charity runners had to wait a couple minutes for the Good for Age runners to start. This was no bother because I had a timing chip on my shoe so my official time didn’t start until I crossed the start line.

Once I crossed the start line, I began my run. It’s always best to run the first few miles a little slower than goal pace. My first mile was 6:29 which was my ideal goal pace. I wasn’t sure if that’d be sustainable so I slowed down on mile two for a 6:39 then picked it up again for a 6:31 mile three. My first 5k split was 20:36 which is in line with my other marathons. However, the heat started to get to me and my legs started to feel a little heavy. I was already sweating more than usual. Every time I stepped down, it felt like my feet were slipping as if I didn’t have proper traction. It was probably the new inserts combined with the worn out shoes.

My second 5k split was slower at 21:07. It was at the 10k mark that I started to think a sub-3 hour marathon was going to be very difficult. I could feel the sun sitting on top of me like a weight. My shin didn’t bother me nor did my groin so that was good. While I felt myself starting to struggle, the amazing crowds kept me going. They kept shouting my name and cheering me on. How did they know my name? It was on the front of my singlet. I recommend, if you can, putting your name on your singlet for a marathon or any race. People will cheer your name and it does help. Hearing random people in the crowd shout for you really does push you along. I should also add the crowds for London were among the best I’ve ever heard.

My mile splits started to drop in to the 6:50s before bouncing up to a 6:36 mile 8 but they were all slower after that. The course itself wasn’t hard. It’s generally flat but has some small ups and downs in many places unlike Berlin or Chicago, which are basically pancake flat.

By mile 10, I knew anything above 2:55 would be almost impossible for me. I was starting to wither in the heat. I did grab water a few times at the stations. They were small plastic bottles which you can squeeze. I thought that was great because you can carry it with you for a bit without worrying about it spilling like in a cup.

I went up and through the Tower Bridge and crossed the half way mark a little bit later in 1:28:43. That’s still sub-3 pace but I knew at that point it probably wasn’t going to happen. I felt a little disappointed but I quickly just focused on running the best I could and didn’t worry myself about a sub-3 time anymore. It was just too hot. The sun just felt heavier and heavier as it sat on me. My shoes felt as if they had no traction and I started to heel strike on the hot pavement which made my left heel feel as if it was burning. I basically felt awful. I maintained my splits in the 6:50s until mile 16 when I ran a 7:12 mile. I could feel my body losing energy and power in the 75-degree heat which felt more like 95 to 100-degree heat. It turned out to be the hottest London Marathon on record!

I slogged through the next few miles seeing more people than usual pass me. Right before the mile 20 mark, I started to walk. I was just too exhausted. My body couldn’t handle the heat. I’ve only stopped or walked two other times in races. One was for a quick restroom stop in New York at mile 11 and the other was a 51k race (31.7 miles) in which I started out way too fast. I walked/ran for the next four miles in front of the largest crowds. I wasn’t devastated but I wasn’t happy either. I walked briskly with my head down so I could still walk with a purpose. I heard people cheer me on and give me encouragement. It helped tremendously. When I got to mile 24, I ran again..slowly…very slowly. I didn’t stop running until the finish–2.2 miles later. I made it a point to finish as strongly as I could. It wasn’t strong by my normal standards but it was all that I had.

I ran past the Parliament building with Big Ben hiding behind scaffolding for maintenance work. I turned right, saw Buckingham Palace and followed the curved road until it straightened out to the finish a few hundred yards away. I saw a line of British flags on poles leading to the finish and the roaring crowd. I plodded to the finish and put my hands in the air to celebrate. I was done! I collected my medal and my finisher t-shirt and walked slowly to the meet-up area. It was still hot.

Two things that I never experienced with such intensity during a race happened to me during those final 2.2 miles. I got hit with extreme tiredness as if my body wanted me to stop and nap on the side of the road and extreme hunger. My body wanted a large quantity of food. Usually, it takes 20 to 30 minutes after a marathon before my body can handle solid foods.

When I sat down waiting for my wife, I drank whatever liquids were in my post-race goodie bag along with an apple and a couple granola-type bars. I scarfed those down unlike ever after a marathon. It was unusual for me but this was an usual race.

While sitting, I was ok with not reaching my goal. While I strive for consistency, there are going to be some ups and downs. It’s just math. The more you run, the more good and bad races you’ll have. But that being said, you want most of your races to be consistent.  This race was on the bad end. I reflected on what I should’ve done better though. I remembered I went through something similar after the Boston Marathon in 2014. I ran a personal best at the time of 2:49:21. I felt if I could keep training like I did, I’d push my times even lower. What happened was I didn’t give my aging body time to properly recover before I intensified training for the 51k race that August. That race was bad for me as I briefly mentioned above, but I still didn’t learn. I trained for the Las Vegas Marathon that November. My training runs started to get slower (a sign of overtraining) and I felt anxious and pressured internally to perform well. This all added up to running a 3:05:50 just a seven months after my 2:49 in Boston. 3:05 is a fine time but not what I wanted. I didn’t run a marathon again until Chicago in October, 2015. I felt better, more focused and ran 2:54. That was done after not running for six weeks in May/June due to a stress reaction.

I think part of me felt pressured shortly after Berlin to equal or rival that performance in London. I had wanted to run all six majors under three hours. Because of that, I developed a nagging injury like shin splints which caused my groin strain. I lost valuable training time.

I sat down recovering realizing no goals were shattered. I reflected on the race itself and the course, crowds, etc. The whole experience was still amazing even as I struggled in the heat. I thought I could run this again and go under 3 which would still allow me to complete my goal.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-9,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y
I may not look it but I was exhausted and sore. 

My wife and I headed to a nearby hotel for a post-race reception hosted by Livability. We met great people there and learned more about Livability’s mission of helping connect disabled people to their communities. They thanked us for raising money but we thanked them for devoting themselves to helping those less fortunate. I made a decision to run this race again in the future (possibly even next year) and when I do, I will once again fundraise for Livability.

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I posed for pictures at the post-race reception. 
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Post-race by Parliament

What’s next for me? I plan to take two to three weeks off completely from running following the race. I want my legs, body and mind to rest and recover. I’ll start again slowly with renewed vigor and excitement and without anymore self-imposed pressure. I did plan to run the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota in October but I may skip that one. I will also find some local 5ks, 10ks and half marathons to run coming up in the summer so that’ll be fun. This summer, I also have to figure out how to enter the Tokyo Marathon in March to complete my six-star journey. I will probably raise money for a charity again. I enjoyed that and think I can do it again. If not Tokyo in March, maybe Boston in April or London again. I’m excited about the possibilities. I’m even more excited about running again feeling fresh both physically and mentally.

Overall, the London Marathon is incredible. The crowds are loud and spirited, the course is fun and the weather won’t always be hot and awful. Raising money for a charity also give you more of a purpose. If you can run this race, do it!

Running With You,

Donald

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London Marathon Training Week #18 Training Is Over…Time to Race Prep

Training for this marathon has been the most difficult by far. First, I dealt with a setback in late December when I came down with some kind of nasty virus. It wasn’t the flu but it certainly seemed stronger than a cold. That derailed my training for a bit as I felt weak and awful when running. I had a decent performance in the Pasadena Half Marathon despite the setback. After the race, I was able to resume normal training until the end of March when shin splints and some kind of groin strain (likely caused by me altering my gait due to the shin splints) forced me into the pool for some aqua jogging and also onto a stationary bike. This happened just as I was about to enter my peak training week then taper. Also, as life goes, there were some things outside of my training that took my mind off of running.

I was able to run this week for four consecutive days. My pacing was good. The groin area is still tender but under control, meaning it was no bother as long as I didn’t overextend my leg. The shin splint pain is much less to the point that my gait is not altered anymore and I can run normally. However, the four consecutive days has left my legs a little achy and sore. I’ve been rolling my legs everyday with a foam roller and hand roller to loosen and relax the muscles. Yet, they’re still achy. I think three days off of running before the race should fix that.

Now, race day is approaching. There is nothing more I can do to improve my fitness ahead of the race. Whatever hay is in the barn stays there as the barn is now locked. How do I feel? Honestly, this is the worst physically I’ve ever felt before a race. Achy legs, shin splint, groin issue, etc. I’m optimistic my body will survive but a marathon is a long race and everything needs to be just right to have a solid performance. It’s a long grueling ordeal. Fortunately, my body and mind have experience with said ordeal. While I’m a bit nervous about my body holding up, I’m getting excited ahead of the race. Traveling to London to run a marathon is a huge treat. It’s an even bigger treat to run for charity. I want to thank everyone who donated. (you can still donate here) But I especially want to thank my brother, Matt Morrison. His substantial and generous donation to Livability is helping a lot of disabled people connect with their communities. He also said he wanted to ensure I would reach my fundraising goal so I could concentrate on training as he wants to see me perform well. I’m humbled by his selflessness. I hope I can make him proud with my performance as I’m dedicating my race to both Livability and Matt.

I leave for the airport now with my amazing wife who continues to put up with my running neuroses. To make it up to her, we’re going to have a nice vacation sightseeing in London and nearby areas.

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I’m ready to go! WMM #5! 

The London Marathon promises to be an amazing experience regardless of my individual performance. The elite men and women fields are arguably the most talented ever so racing fans are in for what could be thrilling races on both sides. I’ll get to connect with people from Livability as millions of dollars/pounds will be raised for numerous charities by thousands of people who get to run on the streets of London. The energy will be electric and the crowds will be loud. I can’t wait! Life is good! Hail Britannia!

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #16 Days 1 and 2 Dealing With a Setback

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

 

I’m going to switch up the blog format from the usual. When I last posted, I mentioned taking some time off from running due to my shin splint. I did that, taking nine days off. I spent five of those days doing aqua jogging which is running in the pool. It’s not really running though but rather mimics running. Basically, I put on a flotation belt, hop into the deep end and run as if I was on land. You do move–slowly. There’s no impact since my legs don’t touch the floor. Aqua jogging is a way to get a running workout in when injured because there’s no impact to the muscles. How effective is aqua jogging? Some studies say it’s good at maintaining your current fitness level. I believe for me it works to an extent. I will say my heart rate is naturally lower in the water and because of that it doesn’t feel like I worked out at all. I also find it difficult to elevate my heart rate substantially because I can only pump my legs and arms so fast in the water. Plus, the water resistance fatigues those muscles quickly if one becomes frantic about moving them quickly.

I also discovered a video that calls for using a roller on your calf muscles that will alleviate shin splint pain. I tried this and it works. This gave me confidence to try a run again. I  headed out the door for a 5.5 mile run. My shin, while not 100 percent, didn’t bother me too much. I was able to put the normal amount of weight on it. My pacing was good for this run for the first four miles. After mile four, I started to feel a slight pain in my inner thigh area which was the same location as the pain when I last did an interval workout. My quad and groin muscles did not hurt at all during my time off from running. I figured that was in the past. The feeling wasn’t really painful. It was more like an uncomfortable sensation. I felt it wasn’t bad enough to stop so I finished the remaining 1.5 miles. The entire run was done at 7:07 pace per mile which isn’t bad. My shin was a little tender after the run but nothing that was serious. I used the foam roller again. I also rubbed and rolled my inner thigh area.

The second day was worse, much worse. I rolled my calf muscles again and did the usual warm up routine but my shin started to hurt a little more than the day before. I rolled my calf again and it felt a bit better–enough for me to start the run. The shin was a little more painful to start than the previous day. I started the run and it didn’t bother me as much. Two miles in though, I felt a sensation in my groin area above where the pain/sensation was along the inner thigh. This sensation felt like a cramp or spasm. I stopped. I ran slowly again to see if it was just a cramp/spasm or something more serious. The initial tightness subsided but the sensation was still there. I shut things down. This is very frustrating considering there are now only 18 days until the marathon. I have no clue if my quad and groin muscles in my right leg will hold up. I’m seriously nervous if this race will even happen for me now which is a terrible thought. My plan now is to rest tomorrow. If I don’t feel any pain the next day, it’s the pool for me. I’ll stay in the pool for at least another two to three days after until I’m confident I’m ok. I’ve had some nagging soreness leading up to marathons before. The most recent time being Berlin but this is much more serious. I had nine days off from the road yet this pain still came back. I suppose the only I can do is take it easy so I don’t make it worse.

Not Running With You Again,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #14 Days 6 and 7 Rain Can’t Stop Me But My Body Can

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Partly cloudy 64 degrees, Day 2–Partly cloudy 63 degrees

Types of Runs: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Speed/Intervals

Lengths: Day 1–9.03 miles, Day 2–2 miles (2 x 1mi)

Types of routes: Day 1–three uphill climbs, two downhill descents, gradual uphill and downhill; Day 2-400-meter oval track

Times: Day 1–1 hour, 5 minutes, 40 seconds; Day 2–11 minutes, 42 seconds (5:51, 5:51)

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:16, Day 2–5:51

Reason for Runs: Day 1–This was a longer easy run. The goal is to run at a comfortable pace and build the mileage.

Day 2–An interval workout is meant to improve speed, running efficiency and race-specific performance. This workout was supposed to be 10 x 1-mile done at half-marathon to slightly faster than half-marathon pace. The goal of this workout is to work on pushing myself to handle the intensity and duration of a longer race.

How did I feel? Day 1–Ok. I write ok because it’s the day my lower right leg started to bother me even more. I’ve been dealing with what appears to be shin splits or pain/inflammation along the shin bone. I’ve dealt with shin splints before a long time ago and had to stop running to let the inflammation go down because it’s painful to run, at least to start. The pain ends up decreasing though usually as the run progresses. I also dealt with a stress reaction three years ago on my right shin bone. A stress reaction is a sharp pain in the bone that can lead to a stress fracture. I had to take six weeks off of running on the road. Since I’ve dealt with both issues before, I’m certain I have shin splints because the pain decreases and increases versus being consistent as with a stress reaction. I figure I could just tough it out, especially since there’s only a month until the marathon. The pain bothered me a little more during this run. I did finish it but I felt my leg bothering me a bit more. Why run and not rest? This quote sums it up best:

“Runners are notoriously tenacious and defensive about their fitness.They don’t want to lose what they worked so hard for! It’s this attitude that often gets them into trouble in the first place.” –John Davis, Runners Connect.

 

We’re a stubborn bunch and I’m not different.

Day 2–I shut it down. I planned to run 10 x 1-mile repeats with about two minutes rest between each rep. My right shin was bothersome but I figured after a mile or two the pain would subside. I completed two repeats but my gait/form was altered to compensate for the pain which puts more stress on other muscles. To start my third rep, I felt a pain deep inside my groin area as if it was a pull or cramp. I really didn’t know. But I did know to stop. I tried to start again but the pain came back so I shut the workout down. I couldn’t continue and risk injury. I’m fairly certain the groin pain came from overcompensating due to shin pain.

I went home and took NSAIDs and iced my shin. The icing didn’t really work but the NSAIDs seem to have some effect. This is a huge setback one month away from the big race. To say I’m nervous, concerned and upset is an understatement. The shin pain started a few weeks ago but it was always something I could deal with because I figured it was only shin splints. I really was too stubborn in ignoring this. Why did I get them? Shin splints can be caused by overuse so basically a result of running too much. If I continue to run and tough out the pain which I can do, it could lead to a stress fracture. That would be awful and something I can’t risk before the marathon. So I have to shut things down and change them up. But for how long? Well, I’m taking two days off. The groin feels fine. It’s not a pull so I’m not worried about that. The shin still hurts. The pain is on and off. It only hurts when I walk on it. My plan is for aqua jogging for at least a week or two. Aqua jogging is ok because there’s no strain or resistance for the leg since I’m in water. How will that affect my training? If I aqua jog consistently and for the same length as my running workouts then I should be able to mostly maintain my current fitness. How long will I have to stay in the pool? At least a week, maybe up to everyday until the race. I’ll assess when the pain starts to decrease. This sucks but I can’t risk worse injury ahead of the race. We’ll just have to take it day-by-day.

Not Running With You Today Sadly Enough,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #14 Day 5 A Wet Run in the Rain One Month Until the Big Race

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperature: Rain, 60 degrees

Type of Run: Semi-long

Length: 12.65 miles

Type of route: Gradual uphill and downhill around Rose Bowl 5k loop, two uphill climbs, more gradual downhill

Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes, 44 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:06

Reason for Run: The semi-long run helps build endurance and strength. It’s semi-long because it’s longer than a usual run but shorter than the long run. I like to think of the distance as between 10 and 14 miles. The semi-long run should be done at a pace faster than the long run pace unless you’re not feeling it that day in which case a comfortable pace will do. Remember, much of running is about how you feel that day. The semi-long run at this point in training helps the body run long periods of time without wearing it down. If you can finish this run without feeling exhausted then you’re on the right track in training.

How did I feel? Good. This was a brisk run in the rain. Why would I subject myself to running in the rain? Great question and one I’ll answer. First, I usually don’t like running in the rain. I don’t like the idea of getting wet while running. There are two options to avoid this. The first option is not to run. That option at this stage in training won’t work for me unless I’m sick or otherwise tied up with very important life obligations. I need to get the mileage in and prep for the marathon since it’s exactly one month away. Now is not the time to skip a run if it’s not absolutely necessary. The second option is to run on a treadmill at a local gym. While I did utilize treadmills while away for work last year in Oregon when it rained, I wasn’t a big fan. Treadmills work just fine but I can’t stay in the same spot starting at the same things for more than an hour. I simply don’t like it. Some people can deal with it and that’s great but treadmills are not for me.

I then decided to run in the rain. I did last week and it wasn’t that bad but it didn’t rain hard either. It also rained lightly during the Berlin Marathon which also didn’t bother me. I checked the hourly forecast and it showed lighter rain for the time I wanted to run. I figured I’ll just deal with getting wet. I put on a baseball cap and a windbreaker jacket (I live in So. Cal so I don’t really have rain gear). I also sprayed anti-water chemicals on my shoes then opened the door and left. This storm isn’t cold and as I did my warm-up run, I got warm because of the jacket. Since the rain was light at the time, I made the decision to ditch the jacket on my real run. I started the run and the light rain was of no bother. Perhaps, my body heat helps evaporate the rain quickly because I didn’t feel wet. That feeling ended abruptly as I headed down into the Rose Bowl loop. Usually, there are dozens of people walking/running/cycling around the bowl from 5am to 10pm. Not today! I saw one lady tough out the rain. That’s it! It was just the two of us around the bowl. The rain picked up and I started to get soaked. My shirt and shorts were sticking to me. I did use anti-chafing spray so that was of no issue for me, fortunately.

The rain let up and then got heavier before letting up again as I finished. I think the anti-water spray helped my shoes to some degree because my feet weren’t soaked. They were wet but not soaked. After getting soaked above my feet, I just toughed it out. It wasn’t pleasant but it didn’t bother me enough to entertain the idea of stopping the run. I just dealt with it and continued. Now, had the rain been heavier, I would’ve used a treadmill. I’m happy that I could tough out the rain. It gives me confidence that I can deal with adverse conditions which could happen during races. If you’re wondering, it’s a myth that being out in the rain will give you a cold so I wasn’t worried about that.

Did I perform adequately in the rain? Actually, yes. My pacing was much faster than I thought. I did’t set out to run hard but I noticed my pacing was quicker than a usual semi-long run. Maybe it was my subconscious telling me to hurry so we could get out of the rain. My legs felt good and the pace didn’t feel as fast as it was which is always ideal. That all being written, I was happy to finish the run, get out of my wet clothes and into something dry.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #14 Days 3 and 4 Increasing the Tempo

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Mostly cloudy  72 degrees, Day 2–Cloudy 59 degrees

Types of Runs: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Tempo

Lengths: Day 1–6.2 miles + 5 strides, Day 2–10.03 miles

Types of routes: Day 1–Two uphill climbs with two downhill descents…some flat; Day 2-gradual uphill and downhill with one uphill climb and one downhill descent

Times: Day 1–45 minutes, 51 seconds; Day 2–1 hour, 4 minutes, 58 seconds

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:24, Day 2–6:29

Reason for Runs: Day 1–This was a typical recovery run done after a long run. I chose a route with some significant hill climbs to boost leg strength and endurance. The pace for this run should be relaxed and comfortable so as not to stress the legs. The strides work on leg turnover and efficiency. They’re done at 75 to 90% of full speed for about 70 to 100 meters.

Day 2–The tempo run is designed to boost stamina and strength because the effort is more intense. One of its purposes is to mimic a race in which the effort is intense also. To race well, your body needs to be able to handle the effort. Conventional thinking is that the tempo run should be comfortably hard. That’s a vague term but it means it’s an effort that’s tough but not one that should completely exhaust you. For me, that point is between half marathon and marathon pace. That’s where I try to be for most tempo  runs. Because I’m in marathon training mode, I’m increasing the length of the tempo runs so my body can get used to running longer intense efforts again. The longest tempo run I do before a marathon is 12 to 13 miles. This week it was 10.

How did I feel? Day 1–Good. The pace was easy and my legs didn’t feel terribly exhausted. The strides felt good too. The hill climbs weren’t bad at all either.

Day 2–Decent. I ran this run early in the morning to avoid the rain since I hate running in the rain. Because I worked at night/early morning I came straight home and ran without sleeping first. In fact, I didn’t sleep at all between the recovery run and the tempo run. Did it negatively affect me? I don’t think so. Maybe it did but I didn’t consciously feel it. My pacing was generally consistent. I didn’t feel exhausted running that hard for that long. My legs felt fine too mostly. I use “mostly” because my legs are always worn out to some degree in the middle of training. I’m hoping I can run my tempo runs a little faster. For some reason, it seems like my body is holding back. Maybe it’s a subconscious defense mechanism against getting hurt and exhausted. I don’t want to overdo it but I do want to get the most out of my training. How do I solve it? Is there anything to solve? We’ll have to look at some possible factors and go from there. But that’s for another day.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #14 Days 1 and 2 Another Long Run Finished

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Mostly sunny 61 degrees, Day 2–Mostly sunny 73 degrees

Types of Runs: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Long

Lengths: Day 1–6.01 miles, Day 2–21.1 miles

Types of routes: Day 1–gradual uphill and downhill with one downhill descent; Day 2-gradual uphill and downhill with three uphill climbs and five downhill descents

Times: Day 1–43 minutes, 53 seconds; Day 2–2 hours, 38 minutes, 52 seconds

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:18, Day 2–7:32

Reason for Runs: Day 1–This was a short, easy run. The goal is to just give the legs and body some work but not too much. I like to keep the mileage low for this run as it’s between an interval workout and a long run. I don’t want to stress my legs any further.

Day 2–The long run is a staple to marathon training. In fact, if you had to choose only one difficult weekly workout to do while training for a marathon then the long run would be the one to keep. It’s the run that will boost endurance and help the body adjust to the distance and length of time on its feet. Generally, the long run is done at an easier and more manageable pace. Sometimes it helps to throw in some miles at marathon pace but  not during every long run. This was my third of four planned 20+ mile long runs. Why 20? Part of it is a mental thing for runners. If they can get to and above 20 then that can give them the confidence they can complete the race. Also, it’s important for the body to feel what it’s like to run that far so it’s not a shock come race day. The body makes changes after long runs. It learns to burn glycogen and fat better. Capillaries grow to allow more blood/energy to reach the muscles. The heart gets stronger too and learns to pump blood efficiently.

How did I feel? Day 1–Good. I took it easy and made sure I was comfortable with the pace. My legs felt fine a day after an 8-mile interval session. I met up with my wife who was walking. I ended my run near her route for a nice walk back home.

Day 2–Fine. My legs felt good mostly. Of course, they started to wear down toward the end of the run which is normal. The weather was a little warmer than it has been but I don’t think it was much of a factor in my performance. My pacing was generally good and consistent considering the route had almost 1,000 feet in total climbing. It was a hilly route so mile splits can vary, especially if you have a big climb in the middle of a mile. My perceived effort never really changed during the run. 21 miles is a long way to go. Sometimes I get bored on my long runs and anxious to finish them. That’s not always good as they can seem uncomfortable when the focus is just on finishing. Today, I was more patient. I took it mile-by-mile until I was done. Of course, I was counting down but I wasn’t anxious about finishing. I think if you focus on each particular mile at that moment and running it a certain way (fast, easy, etc.) then the long run will seem less grueling and time consuming. Easier said than done but that’s why you practice it. Hopefully, that advice can help with your next long run.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #13 Days 6 and 7 A Rainy Run Followed With A Long Interval Session

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperatures: Day 1–Rainy 54 degrees, Day 2–Partly cloudy 59 degrees

Types of Runs: Day 1–Easy, Day 2–Intervals/Speed

Lengths: Day 1–9.08 miles, Day 2–8 miles (4 x 2 miles)

Types of routes: Day 1–flat with some gradual uphill and downhill; Day 2-400-meter oval track

Times: Day 1–1 hour, 5 minutes, 14 seconds; Day 2–47 minutes, 58 seconds (11:56, 11:57, 12:03, 12:02)

Paces per mile: Day 1–7:11, Day 2–6:00

Reason for Runs: Day 1–This run is designed to be comfortable. Not every run during the training week needs to be difficult or long. Some runs should be easy to give the legs, mind and body a chance to recover from the more difficult workouts. The distance of 9 miles rather than 5 or 6 is to help improve endurance.

Day 2–This interval workout is meant to improve race endurance, meaning it’s designed to get the body used to running fast and long. 2-mile repeats allow the body to adjust to a hard pace for a longer duration. This improves mental strength as well because you have to keep the pace for 2 miles rather than just 400 meters or 800 meters. For marathon training, the pace should be between half marathon and marathon pace.  You want your body to feel what it’s like to run that fast for that long. I gave myself rest of between 3 minutes and 3:30 between each rep. This gave my body some rest but not enough to make things comfortable.

How did I feel? Day 1–Good. I felt fine despite rain during most of the run. Usually, I don’t like running in the rain. Maybe it’s a southern California thing. Since I’m so close to the marathon, I’d rather not take a day off because of something like rain. I put on a hat and a jacket and opened the door. It didn’t rain that hard so it wasn’t all that bad. My pacing was good despite the weather and I felt comfortable which I was most pleased with. I ran a generally flat route around the block near my home just in case the rain become too much for me to tough out. I wouldn’t have to go far to get home. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue. I wouldn’t recommend running in the rain if it’s moderate to hard unless you’re experienced running in those conditions. You don’t want to get hurt by slipping or run the risk of getting hit by an out-of-control car whose driver is having vision problems.

Day 2–Fine. This interval session tests mental strength as much as physical because 8 laps around a track gets boring. It’s easy to slow down and settle into a comfortable pace. I remember running track in high school and I disliked the 3,200-meter race at the end of the meet because it was so boring and anti-climatic to run that many times around the track. Of course, looking back on it, I wish I would’ve taken that race more seriously just so I would know what I was truly capable of in that event. Now, we’ll never know. Oh well. Back to the matter at hand–I wanted to run these four reps at half marathon pace. I was able to do that. I could feel my body getting used to longer interval workouts now because my legs held up well after the workout. I probably could’ve pushed through another rep but I don’t want to overdo it. My pacing was generally consistent with only seven seconds separating my fastest and slowest rep. The cooler weather was nice. There was some wind which wasn’t nice. I have at least two more tough and long interval sessions and hopefully a 10k race before the marathon. It was nice to complete this session feeling like gains are being made.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #13 Day 5 Cool Conditions = Nice Run

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperature: Partly cloudy, 56 degrees

Type of Run: Semi-long

Length: 11.8 miles

Type of route: Gradual uphill and downhill with two uphill climbs

Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes, 46 seconds

Pace per mile: 7:11

Reason for Run: The semi-long run helps build endurance and strength. It’s semi-long because it’s longer than a usual run but shorter than the long run. I like to think of the distance as between 10 and 14 miles. The semi-long run should be done at a pace faster than the long run pace unless you’re not feeling it that day in which case a comfortable pace will do. Remember, much of running is about how you feel that day. The semi-long run at this point in training helps the body run long periods of time without wearing it down. If you can finish this run without feeling exhausted then you’re on the right track in training.

How did I feel? Good. In fact, I felt better today than during my tempo run this week. The weather was nice and cool so I think that made the run much more comfortable. I didn’t have to worry about feeling hot. The effort felt easier today than the actual pace. That’s a good thing.  My pacing was good. I was able to run much faster than my long run pace this week. I probably could’ve pushed it more but I want to save my legs for tomorrow’s run and my interval workout the following day. I have to keep something in the tank.

Running With You,

Donald

London Marathon Training Week #13 Day 4 A Tough Tempo Run

NOTE: For those of you interested in donating to the charity I’m running for in London please click on this LINK.

Location: Pasadena, CA.

Temperature: Partly cloudy, 63 degrees

Type of Run: Tempo

Length: 9.08 miles

Type of route: Gradual uphill and downhill around Rose Bowl 5k route, one downhill descent and some flat

Time: 58  minutes, 8 seconds

Pace per mile: 6:24

Reason for Run: A tempo run is a workout done at a comfortably hard pace. The purpose is to build stamina and strength. You want your body to be able to handle the intensity of a race. For that to happen, it has to get used to running hard. A tempo run prepares the body for what it’ll feel like during a race because, unlike an interval session, there’s no stopping to rest. I think the pace for a tempo run should be between half-marathon and marathon pace depending on the route you’re running and how you feel that day. If it’s slower than marathon pace, that’s ok as long as the effort feels challenging.

How did I feel? Ok. My legs are feeling the fatigue of increased mileage. This tempo run was much better than what I attempted last week when I had to stop because of fatigue, possible dehydration, lack of sleep and anxiety. That was a terrible run. This tempo run was completed at around marathon pace so the slower end of what I want. Considering my leg fatigue and distance, that’s not bad. Plus, my mile splits were fairly consistent. There was no wild swing. It’s hard to push the pace when your legs only want to move so fast. However, that’s good preparation for a marathon because you’ll have to push when the legs start to fatigue noticeably after about 15 miles. If I can handle it now then I can handle it during a race. If you’re wondering, this leg fatigue is a normal part of marathon training, especially when boosting weekly mileage and extending long runs past 18 miles.

Running With You,

Donald