Monday, March 05, 2007

LA Marathon- sticking to the plan...

Yesterday was the LA Marathon. I had started training for it with my sister thinking it would be a good idea to do before my Ironman. My Uncle is Pat Connelly(aka Coach Pat) who is the official coach for the race and the head coach of the LA Roadrunners, a training group for the race, so he set us all up with registration for his training group and the race and my sister and I started training back in October of last year.

As I started to learn more about training for an Ironman I realized that doing a marathon wasn't neccessary and could be a mistake to do, increasing my mileage too high too soon. Also as I was training for it our mileage was going up and up and I was either getting slower or staying the same unable to work on my speed at all which was one of my goals this year, to increase my running pace from 9:30 min/mile to a 9 min/mile pace on average.

In the mean time I had signed up for the California Half Ironman which takes place in about 3 weeks. So I had to decide, could I do my first marathon and three weeks later race well at a half ironman and still be on track to complete my Ironman in July. The more I thought about it I really wanted the California Half Ironman to be a priority race for me since I did it last year. I really want to do well at it and it is more specific training for my Ironman then the marathon is. I really wanted to work on running a faster pace at the Half Ironman and felt like I just could not keep adding mileage. It was not neccessary at this point in my training to be doing an 18 mile run and 22 mile run. The LA Marathon just didn't fit in with my training plan.

So, I made the decision that I was not going to do the marathon. Now there was also the option of completing it with my sister and run/walking the whole thing at a much lower intensity then I would do on my own but I thought- Why would I do that? I also knew it would be hard to hold back and it would tap into my recovery. I know a lot of people get sick after they do a marathon and I don't have time to get sick, I have a priority race in 3 weeks! So, I decided there was no point in me run/walking the race and I knew if I put my chip on and started the race I 'd be tempted to see how fast I could do it in.

So, Did I have the Will Power to not do the race? I was going to get my bib and run like 10 miles because I wanted to go down with my sister and I needed to do a 10 mile run. The bib was like an all access pass to get in and see her and have a good run with aid stations. I was also going to run with my sister part of it but I was not going to do the whole thing. So, did I have the will power to run 10 miles and then stop and not do 26 miles? Kind of a strange question but this was very hard even though I hadn't been training for it and had decided I wasn't doing it...

The night before I started having second thoughts- "Maybe I should just complete it, then I will have done a marathon. I am going to be down there anyway and I am going to start it. " I kept remembering what my training partner had said to me which was- "What would you say if I said I was going to go do it?" And ofcourse I said that would be ridiculous and I would be very angry at you if you went and did it because it could ruin your chances at the Half Ironman. So I kept that in mind and was going to keep myself under control and not be stupid.

So, the morning of the marathon...I decided if I did not wear my chip and there is no record of me even starting the race I wouldn't be driven to finish because I will have never officially started. My sister and I went down to the race start. Thousands of people- 25,000 people at the LA Marathon! Insane! It was a huge race. We stood in line at the Andy Gumps I think 3 times before finally lining up and then the race started!

The gun went off and they played "I love LA" and the mob of 25,000 people slowly started making their way toward the start line. I did not wear my chip so never officially started. I walk/ran with my sis for the first half mile since the crowd wasn't moving too quickly anyway and then at about the half mile point I picked up my pace, hit start on my forerunner and told myself I was going to run 10 miles at a sub 9 min/mile pace. I also told her I would walk from mile 10 to mile 13 and meet her at mile 13 to say good luck and then I was going to hop on a Metro station and go to the finish line.

So, I had a very fun 10 mile run- what a great atmosphere to do a 10 mile run in, much better then by yourself- it flew by! I saw three Elvis's and the crowd cheered for me by name because my name was on my bib. I just kept thinking this is the way to do a 10 mile run! I made my goal and did 10 miles at an 8:57 pace! I felt good and could have kept going but I stuck to my plan and stopped at mile 10 and walked from mile 10 to mile 13 to give my sis time to catch up. This was so funny because I was up with the runners and already walking at mile 10 so everyone in the crowd, again calling me by name, was feeling sorry for me and trying to get me to keep going and keep running since I had stopped and was walking. "Come on Rachel, you can do it! Dig deep and keep going!" I just smiled and said Thank you and spared telling them that I was actually training for an Ironman and this was part of my plan to walk right now...

I got to mile 13 and figured my sis would be there in about 20 minutes and in the mean time I needed to figure out how to get to the closest metro station. Well, mile 13 happened to be in the middle of downtown LA, not the greatest neighbourhood. Not a place I wanted to wander around the streets in my sports bra and tights looking for a metro station in. So I asked one of the marathon officals where I could hop on the metro and they informed me that the closest station was at mile 18 and that I could take a bus to get to the metro station at mile 18...hmmm...this is starting to sound like too much of an adventure and I do not want to be wandering around looking for a bus, etc... I am safer walking to mile 18. So I look at my map and see that the way the race is set up if I have to go to mile 18, it is only another mile and a half to the finish line because at mile 19 the course turns and does a big 7 mile loop back to mile 26 which is only a half mile up from mile 19. So, I decide I am going to just walk/ run with my sis to mile 19, another 6 miles. So I find her and tell her she's got me for 6 miles...we run/walk to mile 19- she's miserable but doing great, I am feeling pretty good and I am glad that I didn't wear my chip or I would have definitley done the whole 26 after going to 19. I left her at mile 19 and she seemed to be getting a bit of a second wind to do her last 7 miles on her own and I went to the finish line.

So, I did 19 miles of the LA Marathon but I actually never officially started the race. It was a fun day! My sis finished and I was so proud of her!

I was also proud of myself for sticking to my plan somewhat, it was tempting. I am definitley feeling the 19 miles but I wonder how I would have felt if I did 7 more. The most I had done before yesterday was run 15 miles so, run/walking to 19 wasn't too much of an increase. I think if I had done the whole 26 I'd have been hurting. Hopefully I'll still have a great week of training this week regardless of doing 19 miles yesterday and I'll peak for my race in 3 weeks!