In 2015 I took on my first marathon here in Los Angeles. At the time the farthest I had run was sixteen miles but I had the opportunity to toe the start line that year. A knee injury left a team-mate of mine unable to run so he handed down his race bib to me. That year I was able to finish the marathon in four hours and twenty-six minutes, since then I ran a few marathons but never raced one. I used them more for my Ironman training and Ultra training. Running them steady and finishing safely, never pushing my body to see what I had. This stayed with me, how fast can I run a marathon? If I trained properly can I go sub four hours?
This year, the 2017 LA Marathon was the race to answer those questions. I registered for the race with a solid training plan and the full intention on running my best marathon. Three months of training and fine tuning nutrition would be tested on March 19th. The goal was to finish in three hours and forty-five minutes, that’s an 8:30 pace per mile.
Race morning was here and my wife and I were heading to the finish line to catch the shuttle to the start line. I told my wife I was nervous about the race and unsure how the day would go. I was beginning to doubt my ability to hit the time I wanted. I’ll never forget what she told me, “If you don’t think you can do that time than you’re a dumbass.”
I kissed my wife good-bye and meet up with Mauricio & Ricardo in coral B before the start. Mauricio told me that he would pace me a few days before and Ricardo was there getting in a training run before his upcoming race in Boston, I was in good hands. The plan was to stay right in front of the 3:45 pace group with Mauricio on my side and never pass Ricardo who ran in front of us.
We were off heading out of Dodger Stadium and making our way towards China Town. The excitement and energy were high, we saw a lot of our friends everyone screaming and cheering each other one. We seemed to going faster than planned in the first few miles, this is typical in most races but I had to remember to pull back and save my legs. We did want to bank some time in the beginning but not aggressively, I’ve been there before when I blow a race by going too fast in the beginning.
My nutrition plan was simple and what I had figured out was the most effective for me. I was to take a Honey Stingers Gel every 4 miles, a lick of Base Performance Salt every 2 miles and I was running with a bottle of Base Rocketfuel. Rocketfuel is a mixture of Base Hydro, Amino and Salt. That stuff packs a lot of energy and calories. The bottle I carried was twenty-two ounces and I planned on tossing it once I finished it. Every now and then I would take a cup of water from the volunteers to balance everything out.
I arrived at mile eight and felt good, we were now running through Silver Lake and the weather was perfect. A bit overcast so the sun wasn’t burning us just yet. Eighteen more miles to go and I felt good. A few weeks back I ran the last eighteen mile of the course as a preview and was very familiar with what was a head of me. I started recognizing specific areas of the course, when a hill was coming up and when to start conserving my energy. Getting to this stage was check point number one and I felt awesome.
At the thirteen mile mark I was one minute ahead of schedule and my legs felt great. there were times when I found myself running a bit too fast but I was disciplined enough to pull back. Mauricio was no longer next to me as he had dropped back to join the pace group, I hadn’t realized this as I was in my own zone monitoring my watch but after the race he filled me in on why he changed his strategy. He said that the entire time he kept me in his sight and knew I had a hold of my own pace. Ricardo was doing a great job keeping me honest with my pace and checking in on me. At mile fourteen I finished my bottle of Rocketfuel and tossed the bottle. From here I switched to water and Gatorade that was provided on the course. This was always the plan, this way I could balance out all that sugar. Running through Beverly Hills is always awesome, the crowed changes and that’s when the weather starts to shift letting out glimpses of the sun. At mile 18 is where you find all the local high school cheer leading volunteers, they always have so much energy to get you pumped up during those annoying little climbs.
My next mental check point was waiting for me at mile twenty-two. My friends Alex & Paul were there cheering on runners and they had the bottle of Rocketfuel for me to get me through the last four miles. Paul ran with me a bit and checked on me. I told him that I could start feeling tightness on my quads and i knew that cramps were going to come soon. He suggested taking HotShot to fight the cramps, Holly crap that stuff tastes nasty but works wonders. I was back in business can ready for the last stretch.
Racing a marathon is all about respecting the distance and conserving energy. I was out for a twenty-three mile warm up run and racing a 5k after. With three miles left I didn’t have the legs to pick up the speed but I did have it in me to maintain. That’s what I did, I held steady as I turned the corner on Ocean and saw the water. I could see the finish line in the distance and the line of cheering spectators. Ricardo gave me a high-five and congratulated me on my PR. I ran and saw my friends Natalie & Liz and I ran passed them to give them a high-five. I crossed the finish line at 3:42:05 three minutes under my goal time. I got a little teary eyed when they put the metal around my neck. I looked for some water and a place sit so I can take it all in.
Mauricio came in two minutes after me and he told me that he had me in his sight the entire time, he hung back so I wouldn’t fall behind him. Ricardo meet up with his girl who was doing a training run in Santa Monica. And my wife got a PR as well. she ran her first sub five marathon with the help of my buddy Mando who was pacing her. It truly takes a team to get this done. thank you to everyone who helped me get to my marathon goal.