| Mile | Time |
| 1 | 8:44
| 2 | 8:24
| 3 | 8:21
| 4 | 8:27
| 5 | 8:12
| 6 | 8:27
| 7 | 8:10
| 8 | 8:48
| 9 | 8:13
| 10 | 8:13
| 11 | 7:47
| 12 | 7:58
| 13 | 7:19
| .1 | 1:41
Coming into this race, I felt a little bit unprepared, only in the sense that I didn't have a heavy month of running or training, due to it being only 6 weeks after my first Marathon. That being said, when I put this race on my radar, I told myself I would PR because of having marathon trained legs and this being only half the distance. It took about two weeks post marathon to feel fully recovered, and with the then short window I had, I was able to log about 3 solid tempo runs, and 2 distance runs, with the rest of the training being low mileage, maintenance work.
6:15am start time. Woof!!!! That's 45 minutes earlier than my earliest race start ever. The commute was about 45 mins, so I was able to be up at 3:30am, and out the door with my friend around 4:15am. Standard pre-race meal of oatmeal, water, and bananas, all consumed about 90 minutes before race start. An extra bit of coffee this morning too, because again....6:15am start 😳
I wanted to work on my pre-race warmup routine, but simply ran outta time with the bathroom line being long, and the gear check line being even longer. Luckily the sweats and hoodie I had on got me plenty warm from hustling around before the start. I had a few moments to take some pics with my group of friends that I peer pressured...err I mean, motivated into running with me, and then the national anthem hit and I was instantly locked in.
Race start was smooth as can be, a little bit crowded but the wide streets in the mall area at the start made it not even noticeable. Miles 1-2 we're hilly as ever, so I loosely had a plan to start a bit slower, allow myself to warm up, and then get to work. As it turns out I ran a bit quicker than anticipated, and laid down a (8:44, and the 8:24) to start. Looking back, I'm glad I started strong as this set the tone for the entire race. While I knew I wanted to PR, and I wanted an 8:30ish average, I didn't plan my mile times and reference points like I did for LA. Essentially, the plan was hammer all race long, and finish strong.
By mile 4 we were running through the neighborhoods, and the views are absolutely incredible. The weather BTW was amazing, nice and cool around 50 degrees with cloud cover. I rocked a black on black race kit, so the lack of direct sun was perfect. I started to settle in a bit, as I was slightly concerned that I started too fast, and didn't want to burn out. I watched the race course preview probably 10 times, and I'm putting together where I am in regards to upcoming inclines or drops. Again, I didn't put too much emphasis on it though, as the plan was stay loose, get through 6 and then turn in on and finish strong. Unlike during Surf City and LA, as I come to down hill portions, I'm actually allowing the hill to do the work, and pushing a little quicker instead of keeping myself on a set pace in an effort to conserve. This was one of the keys to hitting my goal for sure. While it may have only shaved seconds off, it at least kept my mindset on the goal at hand which was to run as quick as possible for as long as possible.
Miles 5, 6, and 7 come, and I realize we are already halfway done with this party. Its such a refreshing thought to look down, be around an hour, and know the end is already incoming. The mental load of a half marathon is honestly not even close to that of a marathon, and I am loving every minute of this. I'm hammering the inclines, and my heart rate shows me in Zone 4, confirming that I still have plenty in the tank (for reference, Zone 5 is the highest, and is 171bpm and above. I usually don't hit Zone 5 until it's redline / all out effort time). As I told myself earlier, mile 6 means GO and I make a conscious effort to push a but stronger. Earlier in the race a woman stated she was going for an 8:30pace, and I see her just ahead of me. I lock in on her and mirror her pace. She has no idea Im sure, but she definitely was a key to me hitting my time, as I stayed with her until I decided to pass at mile 8 or so.
Miles 9 and 10 are absolutely identical in time (8:13) which makes me feel confident in the final push. My legs don't feel tired at all, but instead I'm concentrating on my breathing, and keeping my heart rate in check. Mile 11 comes, and it is absolutely brutal. This was no slight slope, it's a straight up hill. Uncalled for!!! Nevertheless, I know I need to keep pounding or risk missing my goal. At the top of the hill I know it's all downhill (actually it's flat, but it feels downhill) from here. I start picking people ahead of me as markers, and begin making a game out of passing them.
Im through miles 11 and 12 and I'm getting faster and faster. I spot a group of two that seem to be doing the same thing as me, about 75 meters ahead of me, and I put in my mind that I have to pass them. Again, while they don't know it, they were a key to me hitting my time. Mile 12 was the hardest, coming off that hill but I still managed to go sub 8. The 13 mile marker hits and I still have work to do. I honestly wasn't even looking at my watch past mile 10, but I can now feel it vibrating, letting me know I'm running faster than my 7:45 "speed" setting. This is good. All out effort now as I see us rolling into the Fairgrounds, and I can see the finish line in the distance. I pass those two I was chasing, as I make the turn for the final stretch. People lined up on each side of the final half mile, and I'm getting pumped!!! I glance down at my watch and see that I am for sure going to PR !!! I see my friends and my mom on the side cheering me on, and that provides the final shot of energy I need to finish this thing. Wings up as I come into the final 100meters, and this plane is coming in hot! One more person passed, and I lean across the line to take every second off I can. STRIDE, STRIDE, STRIDE, ANDDDDDD FINISHED!!!
"LETS GOOOOO!!!" I check my time and see that I crushed it. 1:48:52. I've dropped nearly 7 minutes off of my previous time and I feel damn good. While I listed a bunch of time barriers that I wanted to check off as goals, the ultimate goal was to finish and feel strong and confident, and I did that!!!
Great question! There is one more race left in the Beach Cities Challenge Circuit...Long Beach, October 13th, 2019. I've decided that THIS WILL BE MY RETURN TO THE MARATHON, and I WILL go Sub 4 hours. Training shall resume within the next week, and it will be GO TIME once again 😤
| Mile | Time |
| 1 | 9:34 |
| 2 | 9:16 |
| 3 | 9:04 |
| 4 | 9:13 |
| 5 | 9:35 |
| 6 | 9:20 |
| 7 | 8:53 |
| 8 | 8:56 |
| 9 | 9:04 |
| 10 | 8:59 |
| 11 | 8:55 |
| 12 | 8:46 |
| 13 | 8:51 |
| 14 | 9:10 |
| 15 | 9:03 |
| 16 | 9:04 |
| 17 | 9:32 |
| 18 | 9:27 |
| 19 | 9:38 |
| 20 | 10:02 |
| 21 | 13:15 |
| 22 | 14:19 |
| 23 | 13:21 |
| 24 | 12:40 |
| 25 | 12:33 |
| 26 | 12:33 |
| 27 | 6:35 |
While my passion for long distance running started with the races I competed in during the first half of 2018, I didn’t start the training process for the Marathon until November of 2018. Prior to November, while I was consistently running 2-3 times a week, I had never run more than 6 miles at a time, and my monthly average was only around 25-30 miles. By the end of training, I had run a total of 21 weeks, 68 workouts, and 311 miles. Averages were between 60-75 miles a month. Longest long run was 20 miles, and that took place 3 weeks before raceday.
Woke up around 4am, didn’t do much deep sleeping the night before, but I woke up with plenty of energy, feeling ready to take on the beast. I had my standard pre-race meal of oatmeal, a banana, and some water. I had my buddy drop my off at Dodgers Stadium, so I was able to eat up until around 45 minutes until race time. I’d be lying if I said I was anything but the most nervous I have ever been before a race. 35,000 people all standing around at Dodger Stadium with the same plan, complete the LA Marathon. I can’t tell you how many times I’d visualized this exact moment…me standing in the corral, bib on, brim low, shades on feeling ready….and yet despite all those countless times, it was even more amazing / nerve-wracking / surreal than I had ever imagined. I take a deep breath, turn my headphones up, my GPS is locked, anddd it's 3,2,1….LETS GO!!!
The Start (Miles 1-3)
IMMEDIATELY upon crossing the start line I think I have to use the restroom. There’s a chance to hit a portapotty right before we head out of the stadium, but instead I ignore it, and chalk it up to just being nervous. Anywho…these first 3 miles are CROWDED. Unbelievable. It was damn near impossible to get through some of the groups, and the twisting and turning route through the beginning made for some tight, squished turns. The beauty of this overcrowded first portion is that in this large group, it’s so easy to see all the diversity in this race group. Running is such a unifying event! I keep reminding myself to keep it conservative, as a fast start could ruin the whole race. This is definitely easier to do since it's so crowded here, and that helps with the frustration of having nowhere to run. Mile 3 is the first mile under the goal pace (I ran a 9:04), and I am to this point I am just starting to relax, and still feeling very confident and strong.
The Shakeout (4-7)
4 miles in, and I am checking pace and time and see that I am a bit off the pace. I feel strong, but am definitely cognizant that I am exerting a bit more energy than planned just getting through all the traffic from the start. By mile 5 it starts getting a bit more open, as people spread out, fall into their paces, and the race really sets it. By mile 6 I get to my first reference point that I have written on my hand as a guide. The writing on my hand says “6 – 54:55”, and when I check, I am at 56:05, so not too bad considering the crazy start. I make a quick decision to get back that time sooner than later, and I'll work to be right on pace by mile 13. Note, during this stretch the fastest mile was Mile 7 (8:53). I knew that majority of the big hills were gone by mile 7, so I put my head down and get to work.
Along for the Ride (8 – 12)
These miles were without a doubt the easiest for me, and probably the most effortless miles I ran all day. The crowded nature of the race was no more, I was fully warmed up, past my first marker, and was essentially just clocking the miles trying to get to that mid reference point at 13. Along this stretch I realize that I still very much need to use the restroom, but I am so locked it that I cannot, and will not let myself stop at all. At this point the goal is still very much in reach, and I am not backing down. At mile 9 I see my boys on the side cheering me on, and of course that send me through the roof!!! BOOM a burst of energy and I keep on working down the road. A short 1 mile later and I see my beautiful daughter, my wife, and my mom all cheering me on. A quickly pull over and give babygirl a kiss on the cheek, laugh to myself as I know she has no idea what in the heck is going on, and away I go. 10 Miles in and I honestly am in a blissful state, enjoying the beauty of this day, and welcoming the challenge ahead. I check my hand for the 10 miles reference point, see “10 – 1:31:32”…I check my watch and see 1:31:59” just where I need to be, not quite spot on back, but a nice change from where I was at my 6. Ahead we go! My quickest Mile through this stretch was Mile 12 (8:46).
Halfway Home (Mile 13-16)
Ahh yeas…the halfway mark. Two hours of hard work, and yet still only half way there. It's crazy to me that on this day I am cruising by mile 13 with still 13 to go, and yet a month and a half before this race, I had never touched the distance before. Of course, this perspective is only visible now once I’ve completed and I’m writing this, but in the moment, I take it for what it is. Mile 13 of 26, and still a ton of work to do. I check in on my reference time and I am VERY surprised. I check in with a time of 1:58:32, and I see that I have not only caught, but I have passed the pace that I need to be at in order to finish this thing at 3:59:59. I do a body check during these miles, trying to be cautious and really start listening in to how I am feeling. The temperature is certainly rising a bit, I can feel the sun beaming on my back, I don’t feel thirsty, I do still have to pee (smh), but all in all I feel confident and poised to bring it home. When you read about marathons, they say that Mile 13 is not really the halfway point at all. Instead, I should be focusing on Mile 20, as THAT is the halfway point. I keep that in the back of my mind, as I continue to press on. The fastest mile during this stretch is mile 13 @ 8:51.
Turning Point (17-20)
Oh boy…here we go. Mile 17 is the first mile that I feel a bit tired...or maybe it's the first time that I am actually allowing myself to acknowledge the way my body is working, and I know this is going to be a battle like never before. At the end of Mile 16, I tried to push strongly into 17 as I felt myself lagging a bit, and while I didn't cramp up, I definitely felt tightness creeping into my left calf. Luckily, I am able to “ease” outta the push, and keep going without any problems. That being said, these miles we're rough, and the dream of a sub 4-hour race starts fading away. My mile splits are getting slower, and the worst part is, I feel like I am powerless to do anything about it. It's a strange feeling when your mind is saying “GO”, but the body just doesn't respond. That being said, I’m all in at this point, because I know that IF I can just overcome this rough spot, I can still finish strong and hit the goal….at least that's what is going through my mind…..the reality, is that the goal has now changed to FINISH THE RACE.
Die Hard (21-25)
Mile 21 and I've now entered uncharted territory. Everything up until this point has been relatable to what I did and felt in training, but seeing as I never went past 20 in training, I'm not sure what this is supposed to feel like. What I do know, is that I am hurting and this is feeling borderline impossible. It's during Mile 21, 3 hours and 15 minutes into the race, that my legs are officially tapped out. Donezo. With ¼ of a mile until I hit Mile 22, for the first time during any race in my life, I start to walk. Heartbreak. Frustration. Disappointment. I was so close, yet still so far from the goal. By the middle of Mile 22 my legs have completed seized up, and I cant even “run” in full stride because everything is tight and hurting. Talk about a humbling moment. The silver lining in this extremely frustrating moment, is that there is a portapotty, with no line, and I can finally use the restroom!!! From 22 through the end, it’s a combination of walking and jogging as quickly and for as long as I can before having to walk again. My mile times are absolutely terrible and there is honestly nothing I can do to make ‘em faster. I am literally out of gas.
The Finish (26)
The home stretch has arrived, and yet I can barely muster up enough of a jog to try and finish strong. I told myself when I first started walking that I would at least run the last mile no matter how bad it hurt. Yea…about that…its impossible to run when you can’t move your legs, SO I walk as little as possible, and jog as quickly as I can towards that finish line. Again, this is one of the things that I had envisioned and thought about plenty of times throughout the training process. I always thought that during this 26th mile, I would be running one of my fastest mile of the day, pumping the arms and racing the clock to beat the 4 hour goal time! Instead though, this 26th mile is all about taking it in. Watching and being thankful for all those that ome and support, and make this event happen. While my body is hurting more than ever before, during this mile, I am still thankful for the challenge that this race has put me through. Usually as I finish a race, I bust out my flying jet pose, but I pass this time around. That finisher is used for when I complete dominate a race, and I don’t feel like that’s the case here. So, I put my hand in the air, throw the deuces, tip my cap, and cross the finish line.
Post race feels. “Man…I just got my ass kicked!” ….”That was so ridiculously hard” …….”Do I want to do this again?!?!” All these things were going through my mind, as I took in my post race snacks, and tried to process what in the world just happened. Legs are in pain, toes and feet are hurting, my knee is feeling all kinds of jacked up, but the task was finished. At this moment, I am happy to officially be a Marathoner! I have completed THE LA MARATHON, and as my medals are draped over me, the sense of accomplishment sets in. Despite the pain, the disappointment with the time, the confusion my body is going through, I am a marathoner. This is easily the hardest physical thing I have ever done, as am in the finishing chute, taking in the scene….I am not sure I want to ever do this again. Perspective comes back to me though, and instead of dwelling on the negatives, I soak up the fact that I am blessed to be able to even do this event, and am thankful to the Man above for getting me through it from start to finish!!!
Well, my goal for the year was not just to complete a marathon, but to actually finish in less than 4 hours. So, its time to get back to work! 6 days post race I can finally do something close to running workout again, so I take a nice recovery run (3 miles), and then a week after that I am back into 45 minutes to and 1 hour long runs again. It’s amazing to feel the recovery process and watch the body repair itself from such an extreme event! It’s been about a month now, and I have reintroduced weight lifting back into my training program, and while I am sorer than I’ve been in a while, I know the long term benefits will be worth it. My next race is event number 2 of 3 in the Beach Cities Challenge circuit, the OC Half Marathon on May 5th 2019. The goal is to increase my endurance, extend the length of my second half “kick”, and finish with a new personal best time (current best is 1:54:30). The first half marathon a run in February was just a benchmark, and I was not aggressive because I wanted to be healthy for the Marathon. This race, is now about redemption, and it will be an all-out effort to see where I’m at right now. There is a chance of Marathon number two in October…but for now, I’m focusing on the task at hand, and trying to get better each and every day!!!!
Race Splits [Mile | Time]
| 1 | 8:49 |
| 2 | 8:58 |
| 3 | 9:01 |
| 4 | 9:01 |
| 5 | 8:36 |
| 6 | 8:43 |
| 7 | 9:00 |
| 8 | 8:46 |
| 9 | 8:39 |
| 10 | 8:24 |
| 11 | 8:40 |
| 12 | 8:30 |
| 13 | 7:49 |
This is my first Half Marathon, and I completed this race as a warmup (race day environment, and test my current conditioning) for the LA Marathon in March. I’ve been training consistently for 14 Weeks now, and this Half Marathon matches my longest distance run yet. Up until a week before this race, I had not run further than 10 miles.
In an effort to help things be as smooth as possible on race day, my wife and I opted to stay the night at the beach, just down the street from the start line the night before race. It definitely was the right choice since 6-month-old baby Brielle was with us, and this was the first big race since her birth. Jess was also running her first race since the baby (5k that started before the Half Marathon ½), so we wanted it to be as smooth as possible the morning of. Thanks for Grandma for coming to hang with Brielle during the races. It’s worth noting that the weather was absolutely terrible here in California all week. Rainy, cold, and windy. YUCK. It was raining all the way till about 10 or 11pm on Saturday night, and the forecast looked bleak. I was prepared for downpour during the race, and I accepted my fate, and closed my eyes for the night. I only slept for about 4 hours the night before, woke up around 5am, and saw ZERO rain in the forecast! It was a (late) Christmas miracle!!!
My strategy to hit my goals was to keep it cool, run a comfortable pace through 7, then let it flow and finish strong. Also, since this is really a training experience for me on the road to the LA Marathon, I wanted to get used to thousands of other people, and not get caught up in their pace. RUN YOUR RACE!!!
I started in wave 2, and that was fine because it would’ve been probably that much harder to keep my pace if I was in 1 with the elite crew. I was able to run the majority of mile 1 with my buddy, which was dope because his goal time was around 2:30ish, so it was either Mile 1, or just waving at the turnaround points. Hitting that first mile marker felt like it took forever!!! I was a bit shocked when I heard my pace, because I was a bit nervous I had gone out too slow. Chalk it up to race day adrenaline!
Fast forward to mile 3, and I am feeling great. I preemptively eat a Gatorade chew here, just to keep the body fueled up. The sun is peaking through just enough to keep my hands warm, and my body feels nice and comfortable. My pace was spot on for my goals. There was an uphill portion around this time, that took us up off of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), and through a neighborhood. So glad I’ve had some hills to train on, because my pace didn’t slow at all. Crazy looking back mile 3 and 4 were exactly the same time, even with the slope.
Mile 5 is downhill and takes us out of the neighborhood, and back to PCH. I’m being passed by a lot of runners on this downhill stretch, but I maintain my strategy, and don’t push hard here at all. We get back to the flat ground and I still feel strong. My mind then starts playing some tricks on me *is your hamstring tight?* *do you have to pee?* *did you hydrate enough?* All nonsense, but at the time I contemplated all 3 and so much more. During this stretch is also when Mother Nature decided it was time to shower on us a bit. It maybe rained for 2 minutes, or so…if that, so it was more like a light reminder of what could’ve been. Anyways….Music is flowing through my headphones, I skip to the next song, and keep on chuggin.
“Seven Miles completed, Avg. pace, 8:53/ mile” Nike Run Club (NRC) app relays the perfect message. With each mile I grew more confident that I would hit my goal, and after 7 at that pace, I was confident as ever. At this point I told myself to go negative split. Speed it up just a bit, and finish strong. I started to open up the stride, focus more on my form, sing a little louder, and remember that my training prepared me for these next miles, and I was ready.
The finish line is getting closer and closer. 10 Miles in, and I’m getting faster and really feeling strong. I’m singing loud as ever (sorry not sorry), and I can hear NRC’s message that my avg mile time is dropping. LETS GO. Really enjoying catching and passing people that started too hot, and are now slowing down big time. There are some people I recognize that blew past me, and this provides validation for my strategy so far. PCH starts to narrow, and on the sidelines the amount of people holding signs, and bells is increasing. Our hotel room overlooked the race route, and I look up and see my wife, baby girl, and my Mom all waving and cheering as I kick towards to end. HUGE moment. I can’t contain my excitement, and it’s like I took a double shot of expresso straight to the veins. I’m HYPED. Time to finish this thing.
About a mile or so left, and I’m maybe starting to feel my legs doin work. Not so much that they are tired, because I still felt plenty strong, but I do notice them now. Push on, and finish strong. The crowds are blocking out the curbs now, and things really turn to tunnel vision. I can see the finish line up there, and I promise myself to give it all I have now. Music’s up, smile on my face, and I am loving every minute. I put my hands out like a jet (preplanned race ending pose), crusin’ in for a nice smooth landing, and I’m now running as fast as I have all day. In my head, I’m happy I did all that tempo work, and ran those distance repeats to simulate this moment. Through my headphones I hear a muffled race announcer, clapping, and bells, and I give it my final three strides and finish with a lean through the imaginary tape at the finish. BOOM!!! I hit my phone to stop my timer, and am overjoyed to hear the results. I take a quick knee, thank the Lord, and soak in my PR moment.
After getting my medal, I start doing inventory on my body. I still feel explosive, I have some bounce left in the legs, I’m not tightening up, and not a cramp anywhere in my body. Awesome. At this moment I know, that I am well on my way to that twenty-six point two, and I immediately start visualizing that race in my head. I remember all the do's and don’ts of postrace, and continue to walk around and stretch while I wait for my friends to finish. I mentioned the singing earlier, and I’m not kidding I had at least 3 people come up and let me know they appreciated it! “You sang your way through that one!” “Thank you for showing me its okay to sing and Im not the only one!”, “Your playlist must’ve been on point” :) …What a time!!!
LA Marathon is 7 weeks away. And while this was all kinds of awesome, I know the big fish still needs to be captured. This race was the perfect addition to my plan, and I am fired up for the final leg of training before LA. My goal is to finish nonstop, sub 4. Let’s do this!!!
My plan was to run every 3 days for 4 weeks, and increasingly get to a longer distance, capping it at 5 miles. Somedays would be just distance, and others would be two stacked runs, to simulate the start and restart that happened during this event. My first run was 1.5 miles, with the first mile being around the track, and walking a bit, and then jogging a half mile. That was in December, and I felt slow and tired. My normal workout routine was weights (2-3x a week) and playing softball once a week. Cardio was not in the picture at all. I knew this needed to change for me to get better.
To improve upon this, I worked in the weight room on more speed / endurance exercises with less weight, and more reps. Outside of the gym, I was making sure to stay hydrated and help my body recover from the long (relatively speaking) runs. What ended up happening was the weight room plan eventually fell off, as I found myself struggling to fit a lifting day in around my running schedule. I didn't want to lift before a run and risk being sore and hurting my performance during the training run, and then I didn't want lift right after a run, and risk injury....so I cut it out.
First was the 5K, with a 5pm start time, and I was hoping to run between 8:30 and 9 minute miles...which was my training pace.....and then the adrenaline and my boy pushing me a bit helped to squash that goal, and finish in a quick (again, relatively speaking) 7:51 avg pace. Talk about starting fast!!! I was a bit worried that we'd gone too quick, and possibly burnt ourselves out for the upcoming 10k...but I shut that thought out, and focussed on the next task at hand: staying loose, and hydrated for the next race. We had about an hour in between the races, but it felt like no more than 15 before we were ready to run again! As the 10K started, my legs were a bit sleepy and took about a mile and a half to get back in the groove again. I was at a 8:50something pace through 3 miles, and knew I had to keep up the pace to stay within my goal time. Then mile 4 hits, and my legs are getting a bit tighter. No biggie, I think to myself just keep the playlist going, and DO NOT STOP RUNNING. Mile 5 hits, and now my legs are thinking of just stopping, but I see DODGER STADIUM all lit up on the top of Chavez Ravine, and the music was hittin', and I HAD to keep going!!! With heavy legs, headphone blaring, and that logo on my chest, I finished the 10k, at an avg page of 8:37, which was RIGHT ON TARGET!!!