Los Angeles Marathon Recap

What a weekend! From being in a commercial, to working the US Olympic Team Trials, to the running of my first Los Angeles Marathon, I had a very exciting and eventful weekend. With all that happened, it is time to take a step back and reflect on the weekend that was.

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photo: @blingwhore

I finished Sunday’s race in a time of 3:57:27 and while not a personal best, I am very happy with the mark. I went into the race with a few goals in mind but with unseasonably hot temperatures in the forecast there was no reason to go out and try to prove something on this day.

I was once told, “don’t sign up for your next marathon until you have forgotten your last marathon.” After cheering the LA Marathon in 2015 I thought I would like to run it one day but coming off a disappointing race at the Phoenix Marathon a couple of weeks earlier, I was in no hurry to make that commitment.

Having not run much the second half of 2015 I felt like it was time to get back in the groove. I started training for LAM before I had signed up but I was not ready to commit. In fact, it was not until the final day to be placed in a corral that I finally pulled the trigger but even then I was not fully committed to running the race.

As I continued to train I started to feel better about my decision and by the time Sunday was here, I was glad I had signed up.

My training was great! I really slowed down on my long runs and was very consistent in my workouts. I  even logged my highest mileage month of 201 in January. I was headed into my fourth marathon on a good note.

Despite my training I was again reminded just how difficult the marathon is and around mile 21 or 22 I found the heat to be an issue. For the most part there was plenty of shade along the course but for a couple of miles late there was no relief from the direct sun so I made the decision to back off my pace and make sure I made it to the finish line with a smile. Mother nature helped out by keeping the marine layer over Santa Monica the final two miles and it was the cooler weather which allowed me to push through to the finish line even though I was ready to be done running.

IMG_4455I cannot understate the value of having friends or family along the course to cheer you on. Just knowing that there were friends at mile 12 and the #WeRunSocial crew was waiting at mile 18 made all the difference in the world. There is just something about that friendly smile and encouraging word which gives one the strength to keep moving.

Now it is time to start focusing on the half again. I have a personal record of 1:40 and I would like to lower that time this year.  I am sure I will run another marathon but I am in no hurry.

Oh yeah, and I got victory kiss even though I did not win the race.

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Runner’s World video clip

 

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Artfully Crafted Run

IMG_4237Not all runs are created equal. With less than a week before my fourth marathon, Monday night I decided to switch up my training and join the BlacklistLA running crew for a four-mile run through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. The theme of the night’s run was #loveisrunislove and showcased the artistic impressions of four different artists.

I had run with BlacklistLA previously and had an idea of what to expect. Every so often a group of runners will navigate the streets with different street art as stopping spots along the route. As an added bonus for this night’s run they teamed up with a local lululemon store to offer a limited edition running short to runners.

First off, the run started LATE. Like, after 10 p.m. late. Runs are always better with friends so Richard, Laurie, and myself carpooled, grabbed dinner, and did some shopping at lululemon, naturally, prior to arriving downtown.

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credit: @blacklistLA

Even after all that, we were still really early but a small crowd was already starting to gather at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. By the time the run started there were at least 350 in attendance.

The run was at your own pace and with so many people it would have been difficult to really do this run at a fast pace. With that in mind, our little pack, which had been joined by Pretty and a few of her entourage, stuck together and had a good time.

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@wrdsmth

My personal favorite was the work of the LA-based street artist who goes by the name wrdsmth. When approached by lululemon about the project he was excited for the opportunity to have his work featured downtown and at the chance to have so many people see it.

“I jumped at the chance because I do all of my work in the city of LA,” commented wrdsmth. “I love Los Angeles and being able to put up a work like this in downtown LA is just awesome.”

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It is often said, “the best way to truly see a city is by running through it” and last night I did just that. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see downtown from a unique perspective. It was a sediment echoed by the rest of my travel party as we talked about making this run a monthly event.

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The vision of Erik Valiente, BlacklistLA initially started in 2013 as a way for people to explore Los Angeles street art by riding bikes. After discovering not everyone had a bike, the mode of transportation quickly changed to running. The mission of the group is “to engage the Los Angeles community in exciting athletic events that foster movement, local discovery, cultural awareness, and civic pride.” The group meets several times per week. Visit their website at www.blacklistla.city for a schedule of runs.

Last Second Applications and A Restless Night

IMG_4132It happens all the time in the movies. Hero is in line for the big promotion, already has the speech written, and then, awkwardly, the promotion goes to a colleague. Hero puts on a smile and congratulates the person on their promotion but inside feels gut punched. But that is the movies. That does not happen in real life. Or does it?

If you were on social media at all yesterday, I am sure you noticed people celebrating their inclusion on the 2016 Rock ‘n Blog team. I am happy to announce that I am one of those select few who were chosen. But there are a lot more very deserving people out there who were not celebrating and I know exactly what that feels like.

In 2014 I completed 15 Rock ‘n Roll races and was a member of the inaugural RnR Hall of Fame. When the call went out for Rock ‘n Blog applications, I submitted mine with a smile on my face. Much like our Hero, I was confident that I would be selected.

When the list of 100 Rock ‘n Blog Team members was announced, my name was not included and it stung. Make no mistake, I was happy for those who were selected, many of whom I knew personally but a part of me still felt rejected.

Flash forward to when it was time to apply for the next installment of Rock ‘n Bloggers and as you might imagine, I was gun shy. Fearing rejection a second time I waited until the last day to fill out the application. I was so hesitant that I think I only told one person I had applied.

When the announcement was made the Team would be revealed on Tuesday I found myself with mixed emotions. Several of my friends were excited to find out if they would be included and asked if I had applied but I just avoided the question figuring if I was not selected they did not have to know I applied. After a restless night’s sleep, I stalked my email ready for the waiting to finally be over.

So now it is out and I am very excited to be a part of the #RockNBlog Team. Rock ‘n Roll races hold a special place in my heart because of the friendships forged over meet ups, expos, dinners, and miles.

While I have not sat down and planned out which events I will participate in, San Diego and Las Vegas are as close to being a given as it gets. Both races are spectacular.

For those who were not included this year my best advice is to apply again next year. I know it sucks when you have the feeling of being left out but do not let that keep you from continuing to do something you enjoy. Being an ambassador, for any product, should be icing on the cake, not the reason behind why you run.

A Month of Firsts

Can you believe January is already over? It feels like just last week we were all ringing in the New Year. I am sure by now most of you have already ditched those resolutions and life is back to being…well…life. It’s okay. It happens to everyone. The good news is, you can always start over today. After all, the calendar is just an arbitrary item used to track days and I am not convinced Earth was actually created on January 1.

IMG_4058Can you believe January is already over? It feels like just last week we were all ringing in the New Year. I am sure by now most of you have already ditched those resolutions and life is back to being…well…life. It’s okay. It happens to everyone. The good news is, you can always start over today. After all, the calendar is just an arbitrary item used to track days and I am not convinced Earth was actually created on January 1.

For me, January was a month of firsts.

With Los Angeles Marathon training in full swing I logged runs on 23 of the 31 days available. With long runs of 18 (2x), 20, 22, and 16 miles it should be no surprise that I surpassed the 200-mile mark for the first time in my running career. It was not something I set out to do and until last week I did not know I was on pace to reach the milestone. Nonetheless, I feel like this was a major accomplishment and not something I truly thought I was capable of doing until last week.

IMG_4098Luck plays a large part in reaching a milestone like this. Life, illness, or injuries happen and cause the missing of a workout or two along the way. I was able to avoid all setbacks and I think part of the reason was my new approach to recovery and long runs.

In training for my first marathon I thought the idea was to run my long runs at the pace I wanted to run my marathon. While I accomplished my goal of running a sub 4:00 race, in hindsight that probably was not the best plan of attack.

In my most recent attempt at the marathon distance I did not do a training run over 14 miles (minus running the Walt Disney World Marathon). The focus was more on speed than it was on distance and while I crashed and burned on my attempt to PR that race, I was having a great race until that point.

This time around I slowed down my long runs. By a lot. Where previously I would try and clock times in the high eight-minute-per mile range I am now running 60 – 90 seconds slower. That has made all the difference in how my body feels with just 14 days until race day. How will this plan play out come race day? Who knows. One thing I do know is that I am a much smarter runner than I was in my early days of running and if nothing else, I am going into this race knowing I am capable of following a plan to help me reach my goals.

My other first? On the final run of the month, the 16-mile long run, I ran in the rain. Yes, I have been rained on a couple of times in the past but those were light, passing showers that never got me wetter than I already was from running. No, today it was El Nino time and I was soaked from mile one until the end. And it was not that bad. In fact, once I was soaked, I knew I could not get any more wet so I settled into a comfortable pace and stopped worrying about the weather. I would take a run like this over running in the heat any day of the week.

Nobody knows the actual “first” day of the year and it really does not matter because today is the first day of the rest of your life. Feel free to start anew and do something you have always wanted to do “someday.”

01 Pleasure: Awe-Some Times

On December 9th I tweeted out a link to lululemon’s #FuelHappiness campaign. The campaign is simple. “We want you to be happy. Like, I can’t-believe-this-is-my-effing-life happy!” The company’s digital marketing team replied to my tweet and next thing I knew, I had a gift at my door to help me be happy.

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The care package consisted of a blank journal, a moisturizing spray, a deck of cards, and a note from the marketing team.

So today, I am embarking on a “research-based practice to make you a little more happy.”

01 Pleasure: Awe-Some Times
“Experiences of awe take your attention away from everyday issues, helping to make you feel more satisfied. Think of a time you felt like you had an experience where you felt vast, overwhelmed or your understanding of the world changed. This could be at the top of a crazy hike or after someone shared a life-altering idea. Once you pick an experience, write about it in great detail or share the experience you had with someone on in your life.”

January 2008: I had recently moved from San Diego to Louisville, Ky. As I started making friends they would always ask me, “why would you leave California to come to Kentucky?” It was a fair question. I had never been to the Bluegrass State prior to my move and I had no family there. Basically, I had no answer for this question.

Flash forward to July 11, 2009. My stepdad, who worked in the wine and spirits industry, was scheduled to take a tour of several Kentucky distilleries as part of a work trip. He arranged to fly into Louisville a couple of days early so we could spend time together.

It was the first time he and I ever really had time to chat, just the two of us. We talked about days gone by, how things were, and where things were headed. It was a great chat. One which cleared the air about some struggles earlier in life.

I had taken Monday, July 13, off of work just in case he was able to sneak me onto the tours with his coworkers. It was a beautiful day and since my stowaway tour did not materialize, I decided to walk to work and catch up on a few things.

Shortly after arriving my phone started ringing. It was a number I did not recognize so I let it go to voicemail. Then came a text, “Michael it’s Tim from Southern. Call me.”

It’s a text no one ever wants to receive.

As I rode home from the hospital, it came to me. I finally knew why I had left California for Kentucky.

It was so my stepfather and I could have one last talk. Where we could say, “I’m sorry” and “you’re forgiven.” It was then and there that I knew the answer to the question which had eluded me.

“You are where you are, because that is where you are supposed to be.”

Often in life we complain about something we feel did not go our way. But what if everything actually did go your way and you just do not know it yet?

Since that day, when I start questioning things in life, I fall back on the feeling I had that day in July and take comfort in knowing that I am where I am because this is where I am supposed to be.

#FuelHappiness

A 24 Carrot Experience

The weekend that was SeaWheeze came and went. After almost 11 months of waiting, it was time to relive what I considered my favorite race of 2014.

The weekend started with a late Thursday-night flight to Vancouver. From the airport I proceeded directly to the convention center via the rail where I met up with Lisa, Richard, Carmen, Mikenzie, and Tracy. Anticipating a VERY large and early crowd for the lululemon Showcase Store, they had gotten in line around 10:30 pm.

IMG_2260I was shocked by how early people started lining up, the first people are rumored to have arrived shortly after 9 pm, and how long the line was just after midnight.

A trip to 7-11 for coffee with James was followed by a trip to Tim Hortons with Christina and her friends to help pass the time during the wee hours of the morning. Between the four and five o’clock hours were the most difficult for me to stay away as I neared 24 consecutive hours of being awake.

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By the time six o’clock rolled in, I was running on pure adrenalin. The line was now wrapping around the convention center and it was estimated over 4,000 people were waiting for their chance at the exclusive SeaWheeze clothing line.

IMG_2272When the doors finally opened at 7 am, it was a mad dash for everyone to locate and secure their items.

IMG_2277Following shopping it was time to pick up my participant packet which consisted of a bag, water bottle, and runner’s bracelet.

IMG_2306I had time for a quick breakfast before heading back to the convention center to co-host the We Run Social Meet Up. Lots of people showed up but with so many people still shopping, in line, or with families most people were only able to hang out for a few minutes before heading off to their next destination. It was great to meet so many new people and see just how far the We Run Social movement has spread since its inception in May of this year.

IMG_2298By the time I finally made it to my hotel and was tucking myself into bed, I had been awake for 39.5 consecutive hours. Note, I do not recommend this if you are attempting to run a half marathon the next day.

Race morning I met up with several friends who were running the race, many of which were also wearing “TheGibblers” by PROCompression.

IMG_2330I had not run, at all, for five weeks leading up to the half marathon, again, I do not recommend this type of training, so trying to run for any specific time was out of the question. Luckily for me, the course works its way through beautiful downtown Vancouver before spitting you out along the Seawall, then through Stanley Park.

The views are beautiful. I am glad I was not “racing” because I enjoyed being with my thoughts and taking in the majestic views.

The Seawall

The final 8K (they use the metric system in Canada) was a struggle. My legs were tired, I was tired, and I was really ready to not be running anymore. Two things kept me going. First, I still had no clue what the medal looked like and secondly, I remembered the most amazing post-race waffles from last year and was super hungry.

The course itself is not one to try and go after that PR unless you are able to get to the front of the corrals. It is a very narrow course, especially along the Seawall where it is only four to five people wide and there is a very crowded out-and-back early in the run.

I collected my carrot medal, finisher’s cap, and post-race meal then met up with everyone else. The waffles alone are worth the trip. Yes, they are THAT good.

IMG_2363The SeaWheeze experience was winding down but far from over. Around 4 pm I made my way to Stanley Park where I flew through the sky on a trapeze, drank beer during the third, and final yoga session of the weekend, and carried on with friends during the three-band concert.

IMG_2429It is no wonder why this race keeps gaining in popularity. Lululemon pulls out all the stops and it is not just another half marathon, it is a weekend experience.

Vancouver is a wonderful city, one of the best I have visited, and if I am lucky enough to secure an entry into future SeaWheeze races, I will make this an annual trip. It truly is a bucket-list event.

Week Four: Seawheeze Training Recap

For the first time since the Seawheeze tacklebox training program began five weeks ago, last week I completed every day of the training. All of the pain in my leg has subsided and now I am really focusing on building up cardio stamina as well as trying to find some of the speed I once had. For the week I logged 17.16 miles.

Monday

IMG_1499Today was a steady-paced, 35-minute run along the Venice Beach boardwalk. While many of my friends are starting to feel the onset of summer, my runs continue to be cool with significant cloud cover. I remember training last year in Texas and the heat was becoming too much around this time.

Tuesday

I will say it again, runners need yoga. I cannot tell you how much better my legs feel after this light practice. There are, however, a couple of positions which are downright painful to me as a runner. The practice can be found here.

Wednesday

IMG_1498I had plans in the evening so for the first time in this training, I woke up early to get my run in. Since my leg is felling better I also worked in the six striders as I begin to build up some speed again. Oddly enough, waking up and running early was not as difficult as I anticipated.

Thursday

I was reminded as to why I struggle to make time for the cross training day of the training program. In all honesty, this should be a very simple workout, yet it is painful and I do not enjoy much about doing the exercises. It took about an hour and included core, leg, and upper body exercises.

Saturday

IMG_1496My legs were still hurting from Thursday’s workout. Today’s run of six miles is the longest of the program thus far. After using the first two miles as a warmup, I picked up the pace significantly and clocked consecutive sub-eight minute miles before using the final two miles as a cool down. The two faster-paced miles did not feel easy and I am not sure I could have maintained that pace much longer but it is all about building and this was a good place to start.

Sunday

IMG_1497Again, my legs were still sore from Thursday. Have I mentioned I hate cross training? A thirty-minute light run ended the week as I put in the final three miles of Week Four.