I’m not really in shape. I’m totally unprepared. But hell, I have 3 months how hard can it be right? (/sarcasm) This time last year I’d signed up for the Surf City Half Marathon and was terrified of 13.1 miles. That was a LOOONG way from my couch.
This year I’m feeling the same thing only the distance just doubled and I’m staring down the cold ugly face of truth. I managed to bullshit my way through my first ever half marathon but people die attempting marathons. I’d really rather not be one of them.
Why am I pushing this when a smart person would just register for a June marathon and train properly?
Historically the LA marathon goes through some of the crappiest most boring parts of LA. The dreary roads of downtown and parts of the inner city (no not the super scary parts). But THIS year? The race starts at Dodger’s Stadium. You do a little loop and then haul ass for the beach. 26.2 miles through some of the coolest real estate on the planet.
I have read neither of these but I’m going to have to look for them because Hal won me over with the Hal Higdon training programs. There is advice on how to train for any distance (from 5K to the super hard core ultra marathoners).
And they’re FREE! (because we all know I love free)
My schedule? I’m doing a tweak of THIS one. I’ll post it when it’s finalized.
So I basically have 80 days to figure this out.
My biggest challenge?
The LA Marathon does not have a time limit however streets re-open to traffic at an approximately 13-minute per mile pace. At that time, participants still on the course will be required to move into the curb lane or on to the sidewalk and obey all traffic signals. I’d rather not fight traffic so I have to figure out how to get my slow-ass half marathon time down to 13 minute miles.
Oh and I also want to shake the hand of Bill Higgins from Fullerton, CA. Bill is in a class all by himself and that is just incredible.
Welcome one and all to the Fairplex of Pomona, the 2009 home of the Inaugural Los Angeles County Half Marathon!
Looking a little moist is it?
Why yes, I think you might be right.
What’s that you say? My race is tomorrow in this exact location?
Perhaps the best way to get used to the precipitation issue is to dive right in, so to speak. How about a slick sloping cement path into a creepy dark tunnel?
Perhaps I should share a math problem then.
What’s the difference between $9 parking and $12 parking?
A 3/4 mile hike from your car to the expo.
Saving the $3 made absolute sense to me this morning (I ALWAYS hate to pay for parking no matter what the situation) but we’re supposed to use the same parking pass tomorrow and I’m thinking the extra $3 would have been worth not walking the extra 3/4 mile back to my car on wet pavement in the rain.
And then I got to the expo. Here were the half marathon bibs ALL OF THEM.
On one hand the tiny size freaks me out. On the other hand if I were a faster runner I might actually be able to place in my age group. Too bad about that torrential rain thing.
I will say one thing though. The race loot was actually great.
We got a Christmas stocking full of stuff
And then I picked up even more free stuff at the expo. SWEET!
The sad part is that the race is actually very well organized and the staff was great. It’s a shame that this weather nightmare (did I mention torrential rain?) is supposed to go through the night and right up to race time tomorrow morning.
The roads are flooding, the course is sopping wet and the paths are very, very slippery. For a klutz like me who trips over her own feet without any weather challenges this is going to be a mess. I’m still planning to show up and give it my best shot. Hopefully my high tech $0.99 disposable poncho will help me out.
Well, October came and went and I finished another race. It wasn’t until this week that I received my reward. Let me tell you if you thought waiting for Christmas morning was painful as a kid, waiting 4 weeks to receive a medal you went 13.1 miles for is pretty excruciating!
Still without further ado *drumroll*
I would also like to take this moment to quote my buddy Steve.
A lot of people run to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.
- Steve Prefontaine
I’d like to believe it takes a decent amount of guts to show up and do a half without prior training thanks in large part to multiple stupid injuries.
Heck my feet are still peeling from the blisters. How is THAT for sexy?
So on that note I’d like to leave you with a profound thought for the day courtesy of Gatorade.
You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.
23 days: 11 hours: 38 minutes
from the time of this post
My blisters haven’t fulled healed from October but I’ve got new shoes, new insoles and new socks (the gear issue is another post) and I’m determined to cross a friggin’ finish line in time to actually receive my medal on race day.
They call it “The Happiest Race on Earth” at least that’s what it says on the bottom of the medal you score for managing to finish the course in under 3:30. As far as I’m concerned the jury is out.
All I know is I saw this
It is SHINY
And I like shiny. The question is do I like shiny more then chocolate? carbs? and incessant portion control? because that’s what I’m signing up for.
HZ and I had a conversation the other day. My bottom half is 2 sizes smaller then hers. Her top have is 3 (or more) sizes smaller then mine. I suspect that’s what allows her to run with less frustration then I do. The top heavy thing stinks and the tummy doesn’t help.
So somewhere in the middle of all this I have to do major major MAJOR core work. If I could lose 20-30 pounds around my waist before September’s race it will make a HUGE difference for me. So that’s my goal. I’m also optimistic enough to think if I lose the 20-30 and running becomes easier the other 20-30 (*cough* 40) will come off faster. That’s my theory and I’m holding on to it for dear life.
So here is what I know: I am about to sink $120 on a race. On a race that will last less then 4 hours and doesn’t even get me free tickets into Disneyland park. WTF?!
Am I crazy? Probably
But I also know something else. I am cheap. And by cheap, I mean CHEAP. The reason I did the Surf City and didn’t just chicken out? I did it because I’d paid $80 for that and my ass was getting $80 worth of dixie cups of water and vitalyte to make up for it. Oh, and I wanted the damn medal.
Well here I am again. If I were spending the $50 that some of the SoCal races cost I might be able to talk myself out of that. It would cost me nearly $50 in gas to get to the race, after all. But there is no way you can ignore a dent like $120. That and I want medals. BIG SHINY MEDALS. Disney has definitely cornered the market on that one.
So here I go, I’m signing up for two races. The Disneyland half (which I have to run. God help me!) and the Long Beach half (which I can walk with my buddy Sabrina. WOOT!)
Between those two races I’m in for $170 not including the new shoes I’ll need between now and then, and the fortune worth of Clif bars, Gatorade and iTunes (what if that one new song is the difference between me crossing the finish line or not!).
I’m going to need a second job to pay for my new healthy lifestyle. Good grief.
I’d like to blame several people straight off the bat.
First, I’d like to blame HZ for starting this whole thing. Before that fateful phonecall I was just a lazy fat chick who kept promising to workout…tomorrow. Then we started this blog and all of a sudden looking like an ass in front of most of my friends didn’t look so hot.
So I straightened up my act and decided to participate in the Los Angeles Half Marathon which was originally scheduled for Columbus Day (two weeks from now but has since been rescheduled for MAY I might add). HZ on the other hand was going to follow right along with the Little Rock race. LA gave me a decent amount of time to get into shape *snort* and the avoiding public humiliation thing was a big motivator.
Then I found out LA doesn’t have a half marathon. I put up a pathetic-looking survey in which I asked everyone what I should do.
Most people agreed I should just do the Surf City Race. (So yes, I’m also blaming all of you).
It turns out if you finish the Surf City, Long Beach AND San Francisco half marathons all in a two year span you get
A fabulous medal in the shape of California and an exclusive California Dreamin’ Racing Series Finisher’s Jacket!
And though it is actually a pretty ugly medal considering it represents me kicking my own ass for two years… dammit I want one. I shudder to imagine what the jacket must look like.
Kinda dinky for 39.3 miles, isn't it.
Here is the problem:
I was worried about finishing the Surf City half marathon and they have a flat course with a 6 hour limit.
I’m actually excited about Long Beach because that’s the path I usually walk, also mostly flat. Plus they have a 7.5 hour limit.
But San Francisco? Those crazy bastards have a THREE HOUR time limit. And it’s hilly. So I have to figure out how the to drag my ass 13.1 miles over hills in one hundred and eighty minutes so I can score the medals.
And then I’m going to pull a Mark Spitz (just open Google images and type in ”Mark Spitz medals” if you don’t know what I’m talking about) and walk around wearing all four of them. All the time. Even to Target.
PLUS the SF half marathon route goes over the Golden Gate Bridge. SWEET!
So you see my problem. And here I thought this was going to be over after one half marathon. *sigh*
Just so you know this is going to be really long and detailed and probably several parts.
What do my shoes and my half marathon finisher surfboard medal have in common? They’re both MINE! (WOOT)
What’s the difference between my shoes and my surfboard medal? When I bought my shoes they came home with me immediately. When I passed the half marathon finish line they had already run out of half marathon medals and I had to give them my mailing address so they could send it to me. (Bitter much?)
I earned a medal, and two feet full of ginormous blisters (ow ow ow!) but missed all the day-of-the-race bragging rights of walking around with a medal. That’s a SERIOUS pisser.
The good news is, they could take my prize but they will never take my stories! So here is how it went down:
First of all I slept like crap the night before the race. I’ve been having alarm clock problems and I was so worried my alarm wouldn’t go off I woke up every 45 minutes all night long. In fact, I was up like a shot at 3:30am convinced it was really 9am and I’d missed my race window. Note to self: buy a new f***ing alarm clock. Insomnia bites the big one.
I finally threw in the towel at 5am, and ate breakfast. This was also an interesting challenge. What do you eat the morning before a race? Do you carb load? Do you eat only protein? These are the little questions I should have asked in advance but I was so worried about would I even finishing the race I never thought about food. I decided to make myself a eggwhite/kraft single/whole wheat english muffin sandwhich which I washed down with 8oz of low salt V8. I like to pretend that fulfilled a number of my daily nutritional values.
I got to the race around 6:30am. It would have been earlier but I had conveniently forgotten that the route I took to get to Huntington Beach from my house was going to be closed due to the fact that a nice chunk of it was along the race course. So at 5:45am I ended up doing a 30 minute zigzag through the back streets of Huntington. Oops.
Race parking was an interesting challenge. I found a structure that was $9 a day which is a decent price for the area. There was free parking, of course, but I didn’t get there early enough (the marathoners start an hour earlier). The problem with my parking spot was that it was at the one mile marker which meant I had to walk a mile to get from my parking spot to the start of the race. Was walking a mile a big deal? No. But it WAS a big deal when I realized I’d be walking another mile to get to my car after the race was over.
The good news about walking that mile? I started walking just as the gun went off to start the marathon. There is something about watching a wave of enthusiastic people carrying flags, waving their arms, walking with CANES (yes, canes) that makes you realize not everyone is going to have 2% bodyfat. Considering I spent most of last week seriously wondering if I could walk 13 miles when I’d never done it before that was a pretty big deal.
I got to the race location and immediately started looking for the bag checkin. I’d like to take this moment to send out a HUGE shout out to HobbitGrrl whose blog saved my ass. Big time. I knew what to look for, I just had to ask where to go. I also discovered most race volunteers are totally clueless.
All in all it was a beautiful day. I mean PERFECT. It was cool in the morning but not freezing cold. It was warm in the afternoon but there was a nice ocean breeze so it wasn’t crazy hot. Still people had various strategies for keeping warm. (If you’re a runner in minishorts and a sports bra you need SOMETHING). People wore trash bags poncho style to keep in body heat and ditched them along the course. They also brought “throw away” jackets and tops. These tended to items purchased at the goodwill to be worn and discarded along the race route in hopes that after the race they could return for it and have it still be there. Quite brilliant really. I wore running pants and a tshirt and felt just fine.
The races also went out in waves. 18,000 people means an ocean as far as the eye can see.
The ocean of people in front of me (the little balloon arc up ahead in the distance is the starting line)
The ocean of people behind me
And all of these people? They were in my wave of the race.
My wave marker
See this sign? It saved my sanity. When I signed up for the race the slowest wave you could sign up for was 2:30 minutes. I knew there was no way in hell I was finishing the race in under three hours. I also figured I’d be walking for big chunks if not all of it. But there was no walking option. I could just see myself hobbling along as everyone else ran past me.
There was no greater feeling then knowing I wasn’t going to be the only walker. WOO HOO!
Actual race details will be posted tomorrow for anyone still curious. Pre/Post race tips and FYIs included.
CarbKiller note: I was going to call this “how not to look like an idiot or maim yourself permanently on race day” but the title was too long. I would like to take a moment to give a ginormous THANK YOU to our very own HobbitGrrl she has done fantastic things for my piece of mind…except for that butt crack comment that still freaks me out a bit. You’ll have to read the post to see what I mean. You rock H! SERIOUSLY!
What to expect on your first race…..From one nube to another….
First of all, understand that there are two kinds of races.REALLY REALLY big races with tons of entrants and usually high mileage routes, and really really small races, which are usually small town, local yocal 5Ks, 8Ks, or 10Ks.Big races seem intimidating but there is a certain amount of anonymity with them that the really really small races lack.In a small race, if you are the last one, everyone knows it, and the local police are likely following you, which is really embarrassing after a few miles – not that I know.In a big race, you will most likely not be the last one.There are usually enough people less prepared or worse off than you to keep your ego in check.
Second, do not fret.Whether you feel you are completely and totally prepared for your selected race, or if you feel, like most of us do, that we could have done just a little more, or in my case, a lot more to be ready, the fact is, you are part of 0.00015% of the population that has even attempted to try.Which you should be very PROUD of!!!!You can do it.You won’t win, hopefully you won’t be last, and you will hurt a lot.But, you will pass the finish line.Everything is going to be alright.
With this in mind, try to take care of the details you can control:
-Know your race, know your route.Look up the race, look at where all the mile markers are and where landmarks match up, get to know where the aid stations are.If you are anal-retentive like me, this makes the time go faster and helps you plot out your own course of action.IE.Where you are going to take a potty break, when you will take the Gatorade, and when you will take the water, etc.NOTE:Make sure that your race allows for personal music devices.Some don’t and they have been cracking down lately and disqualifying runners after the race if they were seen wearing one.
- Lube.If you are going over 6 miles, I STRONGLY suggest you lube all the bits that rub together.Trust me you will NOT be sorry and everyone does it so don’t be shy.Get your heels, between your toes, under arms, and where your arms rub your shirt.For ladies: where your sports bra digs in under your dirty pillows. For guys: vaseline on your nipples will prevent really sore chafing and bleeding.And DO NOT forget your butt crack!!!!
- Gear.Decide what gear you are going to need to get ready or have with you and have it all ready and all in one place at least the day before the race.Here is a quick checklist for you to consider:
-Ponytail holders/hair band
-Race day clothing
-Race bib already pinned to shirt
-Shoes with timing chip already clipped on
-Fully charged iPod with Playlist ready
-And any other related accessories you plan to have on your person during and before the race. Nothing is worse than running around looking for your iPod sleeve when you should be on your way, it can really mess with your mental focus.
Water & Peeing.Assuming you drink adequate amounts of water throughout each day, 16 oz. over a couple hours before the race will be sufficient.When you get to the race, get in line at the port-o-johns, and when you finish, get in line again.Repeat until you absolutely have to get in your corral before the start.Along the route, water intake can be tricky.Take too much and you will be in a world of hurt, take to little, and, well, same thing.My advice, rotate between water and Gatorade and take a cup whenever it is offered. You don’t have to drink the whole thing but at least swish it around your mouth because it will get dry, and spit it out if you have to.Listen to your body, it will tell you when hydration is necessary.
Corrals.For high mileage races, when you submit your registration they ask when you think you will be finishing.Then they assign you to a corral according to how fast you run.Your race bib should have the corral you are assigned to on it.With 15,000 runners this can seem chaotic, but it really isn’t that big a deal.It is really just to keep us lesser mortals out of the way of the Kenyans.
Stretching.Assuming you plan to get to the start with a couple hours to spare, do familiar stretches as much as you can while you are waiting.Rotate between stretching and bouncing or running in place to get your muscles nice and limber and warm.It will make the first few miles that much easier.I promise.
Checking stuff.Most races have a way for you to check items to be picked up once you cross the finish line.If yours does, bring some warm fleece to snuggle into after the fact in case you need it. Your body will be over-warm from running and once you stop, your body heat plummets even in fairly decent weather.If not, see if you can arrange for a friend or relative to meet you at the finish line area to give you something warm.Also, have some Aleve or other pain reliever ready and take it as soon as possible after you cross the finish line.
Getting through the race:
Pace yourself.It is exciting to start out, but if you go too fast at the beginning you will have nothing left at the end.And that is the most important part!
Find a person at your pace and strike up a conversation if they are willing.I met this lady named Tigres and we got to talking and the next thing I knew I had passed mile 10.Awesome!
The first 3 miles and the last mile are the worst.Deal with it and move on.
If you start to feel like you are floundering or doubt yourself, and you will, start counting your foot strikes up to 100 and then backwards to 1.This is a technique I learned from Runner’s World, it works to distract your negative-nelly mind to get over the hump.Other techniques: count your breaths or focus on a point in the distance, imagine you are Rocky, recall a funny, happy, or entertaining memory from your childhood, think of all the things you would do if you won a million dollars in a lottery, tell yourself a story about unicorns, etc.You get the picture.Just don’t allow your mind to dwell on the horrible pain.
Remember what you are doing.Remember how rare and wonderful a person you are.Savor the moment.Smell the smells of the course, see the sights, soak up the atmosphere.
Racing is mental more than anything else.Remember that we are all crazy together.
If nothing else works, just remind yourself that you can have whatever you want after you are done, including ice cream, desserts and beer.Yay!Beer!
A little bit on etiquette:
Slow runner and walkers should stay to either side, not in the middle of the course.If you are with friends and are trying to stay together, walk or run no more than two across and stay as tight as you can.It is awful and unsafe when big groups of walkers are all walking together across the road and runners have to work that much harder to get around them.
Pay attention when aid stations are coming up and slowly ease your way over to a side.They usually are on both sides, and will have tons of volunteers from local groups with cups held at shoulder level. Just grab a cup, take as much as you need, and throw the cup to the side (try not to hit anyone).This is expected, the volunteers clean it all up.
At first, this process seems a little bit like the trepidation of your first time getting on the ski lift.You get used to it.Use your aid break to slow down for a minute.
Don’t stop willie-nillie.Plan when you slow down or stop and make sure you are not “braking” in front of someone or cutting someone off.It is a lot like traffic.Be courteous!
The finish line:
This will be the most amazing sight of your life.Whether you are running a 5K or 26.2, the finish line is a sweet sight.Relish that last half or quarter mile, give it everything you’ve got, and make sure you look up, note your time, and smile for the camera!
If you are a 10Ker or a half-marathoner, that is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself!!!Bask in the glow of your accomplishment for a little while.Stay around the finish line and cheer the other runners and marathoners on.Not only will they need it, but it is really fun and inspiring to see them coming to the finish.If you are a marathoner, try not to hate on the halfers. I once considered getting a shirt that said, “I Eat Half-Marathoners for Breakfast.”But I’m now in a much better place emotionally.
Lastly, go eat a big huge dinner and drink yourself a big ol pint of your favoritest ale.Wear your finisher’s medal and tell everyone you see that day that you just ran a race. It’s OK. You’ve earned it!!!J
Seriously, I’m in major carb-craving mode. Chips, cookies, rice, bread, cereal–you name it, if it’s mainly a carbohydrate, it is not safe around me at this time.
yes, I’m getting close to that time of the month again. Why does this happen? It’s totally unfair. We gain weight, get moody, eat everything within reach, have cramps and we’re expected to carry on like we haven’t a care in the world.
Plus, we’re supposed to be exercising during this time of chaos. What a fucking joke.
I did it last month. Actually, I was quite proud of myself last month because the week I started the program was the week I started. And usually, that’s my best reason not to exercise. But I ignored my desire to use the best excuse and faux-jogged my way through it.
I’ll do it this time too, but let me tell ya. I won’t like it.
And I’m not going to stop eating this damn loaf of bread either. I don’t care what you say.