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Posts Tagged ‘REVEL Canyon City’

I ran the REVEL Canyon City Marathon this morning and while I didn’t PR in the full, I clocked a PR in the half if you count my chip time at the 13.1 mark (which I don’t, but for the record it was 1:37:19 compared to my actual half marathon PR at the REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon last year — 1:41:58). I took a gamble on letting my legs fly on the 4,000 feet of elevation loss in the first half, and it didn’t pay off. On my 20-mile training run on the course I didn’t get sore muscles when I ran at a 9:00 pace, but when I ran the first half of the race at a 7:25 I could feel it in my calves. My quads were fine, but my calves started feeling sore by the half marathon point and got more and more sore as the race progressed. I also developed a quarter-sized blister on the ball of my left foot. That’s never happened to me before in these shoes and socks, so I was surprised, but in retrospect I think the downhill running contributed to that and I wish I’d used some Glide on the bottom of my feet.

By the next checkpoint at mile 23.1 my time was 3:09:00, still on track to beat my PR of 3:36:58 from the Phoenix Marathon if I kept up the 9:10 pace I had run for those previous 10 miles. But my pace dropped to 9:43 for the last 5K of the race and I finished in 3:39:08. The good news? That is a Boston Qualifying time for me for Boston 2017 by 15 minutes and 52 seconds! While I am 44 years old today, I will be 45 for Boston 2017 and that puts my qualifying time standard at 3:55. So I’m thrilled overall!

By the numbers:

Chip time: 3:39:08
Pace: 8:21
Overall place: 293rd of 1199 finishers (top 25%)
Overall female: 85th of 536 finishers (16%)
Females 40-44 age group: 12th of 109 (11%)

I’ll be back later with a more comprehensive race recap. Right now I’m busy icing my calves and contemplating pizza for dinner!

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It’s the last week of taper here and I got in a nice four mile run on Monday morning — two easy and two at marathon pace. And it was a good thing I wore my new Garmin 220 to pace myself because I realized that when I originally set the data screens, I chose “average pace” (average pace for the entire four miles) instead of “average lap pace” (average pace for the mile you are currently running). For marathons I like to keep an eye on my average lap pace, and that will be particularly important for this downhill marathon, REVEL Canyon City, because I expect the pace to be faster in the first half than the second. In fact I used the pace band feature at FindMyMarathon.com to create a free pace band that is specific to the REVEL Canyon City course. Other marathons I’ve generally tried to run an even pace, but that doesn’t make sense for this course. It’s nice to see what the predicted adjustments to pace are for the hills — both up and down — for this specific marathon.

Yesterday I did an easy three-miler that nearly undid six months of marathon training when I got distracted and rolled my ankle on this sucker:

Marathon killer: the magnolia seed pod of doom, next to my Brooks Adrenaline for size comparison

Marathon killer: the magnolia seed pod of doom, next to my Brooks Adrenaline for size comparison

In the instant my left foot rolled on the pod, pain shot up my left ankle and the marathon flashed before my eyes. My run came to a screeching halt. I quickly took a tentative step and tried to walk off the injury. By some miracle it felt a million times better after a minute of walking and I was able to finish the run. Throughout the rest of the day it stiffened up and became sore, but I iced it before bed and this morning it’s almost back to normal. Every taper has its aches and pains and this one is no exception. Now I just need to do one more easy three miler (including three strides and not including magnolia seed pods of doom) on Thursday and I’ll be ready for the race on Saturday.

While I ran on Monday I listened to an inspiring Runners Connect podcast interview with Olympic medalist Deena Kastor. Usually before a marathon I watch the movie Spirit of the Marathon again to see Deena race at the Chicago Marathon, but this time it was nice to listen to her advice for getting ready for a big race. She suggested that a runner list five reasons why the upcoming race should be successful. That helps calm your nerves and gives you things to draw upon during the race if and when your confidence falters.

So, here are five reasons my sixth marathon could/should/will go well:

1. With my switch to a traditional training plan that had me running five days a week, I managed to hit my highest mileage week ever (40.5 miles) and highest mileage month ever (156.3 miles in October). Not exactly numbers to write home about but pretty darn good for a 44-year-old mother of three.

2. I had that successful and joyful practice 20-miler on the course in the San Gabriel mountains.

3. I looked back over my training log (I keep one on my paper training plan and one on MapMyRun) and reminded myself that I kept consistent with the training. I didn’t miss a single run. Several times when the plan called for cross-training or rest, I rested, but I did every prescribed run. One 16-miler I cut short at 10.6 miles because I felt dehydrated and under-fueled and it was more important to set my ego aside and call it a day than continue and risk injury just to hit that 16 mile number. Sure enough I went on to have several confidence-boosting long runs after learning from my mistakes on that one “bad” run.

4. I made sure to keep up with the strength training at least twice a week. If you asked me the one thing I would recommend to other runners to improve their marathon performance, it would be to add strength training if it’s not already a part of their regimen. As little as 20 minutes twice a week can pay off tremendously in better running form and ability to hold pace in the final miles of a race when your primary running muscles are tired.

5. I nailed down my carbohydrate loading plan and race day plan. It’s not easy to consume over 600 grams of carbohydrates a day but I’m doing my best. I didn’t mind the whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast this morning!

So, if you want to see if my ankle cooperates for the race, if my training plays off, if the carbo-loading prevents me from hitting the wall, you can track me on race day (Saturday November 7 starting at 7 a.m. PST) through my participant tracking link. The tracking registers my time at the half marathon point, 5K to go (mile 23.1), and the finish. I expect the first half to be significantly faster than the second given the 4,000+ foot elevation drop in the first half, so don’t be surprised if it takes me a while to pop back up at the 23.1 mark. Cross your fingers for a sub-3:55 (BQ) and better yet a sub-3:36:58 (PR)!

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Three more weeks to go until the REVEL Canyon City Marathon on Saturday, November 7! Training for my sixth full marathon has gone relatively well. I took a chance on a new training plan (the “Own It” marathon training plan from Train Like a Mother) and while I think it’s gotten me ready to tackle the distance, I discovered that my body really, no-I-mean-it-I’m-not-kidding, does not like to run five days a week and really, yes-I’m-sure, prefers to run three days per week and ride a bike for an hour or two on the other days. My legs simply felt tired throughout the training and there have been several days where the plan called for a tempo run of eight miles and I just couldn’t do it. I could run eight miles, but not at a 7:45 pace. With that feeling and the onset of shin splints, I’m pretty sure I became the textbook case for overtraining. But that’s a lot of what I love about marathon training — each round teaches you something new about yourself, and amazingly, there is always something new to learn. Now I know what this 44-year-old body can handle and I will make a different choice next time (training for Boston starts four weeks after Canyon City!)

In spite of the overtraining, I had a fantastic 20-miler last weekend. My family and I drove up to Crystal Lake Recreation Area in the San Gabriel Mountains and stayed Friday night in a cabin there so I could preview the REVEL Canyon City Marathon course early the next day.

Sunrise over the San Gabriel Valley

Sunrise over the San Gabriel Valley

As I started out on my run at 7 a.m. and I took in the spectacular views, I got the same feeling that I get every time on race day: I am so lucky to be here.

The stately yucca stalk stands out like a sculpture in the early morning sky.

The stately yucca stalk stands out like a sculpture against the early morning sky.

I love the downhill profile of the marathon course. The top half of the course declines even more rapidly than the bottom half (see my REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon recap from last year), losing 4,200 feet over 13.1 miles. Instead of feeling like it pounded my quads though, I felt like I was cruising down the mountain. (Don’t get me wrong, I was plenty sore over the next few days, but my legs felt great throughout the 20 miles and I hardly felt winded by the end).

Much of the run down the canyon remains in the shade even as the sun comes up.

Much of the run down the canyon remains in the shade even as the sun comes up.

The course hits a couple of rolling hills around miles 16 and 19 and those were tough but presented a welcome change in the muscles I was using. I switched from focusing on maintaining a steady pace to maintaining a steady effort and just kept trucking up the hills, knowing that the downhill payoff would come again soon.

The welcome sight of water in the San Gabriel Reservoir, although you can see how the waterline has dropped significantly due to the drought.

The welcome sight of water in the San Gabriel Reservoir, although you can see how the waterline has dropped significantly due to the drought.

I completed the 20 miles in 3 hours exactly and I felt fantastic. It had just been such a joy to run down that beautiful canyon. And look who greeted me at the end:

The best sight ever -- my three girls running towards me at the very end of my 20-mile run.

The best sight ever — my three girls running towards me at the very end of my 20-mile run.

My husband and girls had driven down the mountain just in time to pick me up at the 20-mile mark.

We stayed another night at the cabin and soaked up more of the amazing sights. The next day we took a short hike out to Crystal Lake.

Crystal Lake, one of the few naturally-formed lakes in Southern California. It is fed by snow and water runoff.

Crystal Lake, one of the few naturally-formed lakes in Southern California. It is fed by snow and water runoff.

While my legs felt great Saturday afternoon after the run and on the hike on Sunday, by Monday morning I was experiencing a major case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The DOMS either means it was a bad idea to run 20 miles downhill in training or it was the perfect way to build up those muscles with four weeks to go until the marathon. I guess we’ll see on race day! I’m feeling really good now with three weeks to go. Tomorrow I’ll run 17 miles and then taper will officially begin.

Downhill running: love it or hate it? Love it! Bring it on, Canyon City! And heck yeah, bring it on, Boston!

P.S. For any of you out there running REVEL Canyon City, the Glendora Ridge Runners are doing a preview run on the course tomorrow, Saturday October 17. They have said that all are welcome, not just club members, so check out the Glendora Ridge Runners Facebook page for more details.

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It’s official! This landed in my mailbox on Monday morning:

Boston Marathon acceptance

I should have been jumping for joy, but I was surprised to find that my joy was dampened by some other emotions. I remember all too well the feeling last year of getting a very different email, one that said my qualifying time of 3:44:26 did not meet the minus 1:02 cutoff for Boston 2015 and I would not get to race that year. I re-doubled my efforts and stayed strong at the end of the Phoenix Marathon last February to make sure that I qualified this year by more than the standard minus five minutes, coming in at 3:36:58 for a BQ minus 8:02. Online speculation predicts that this year’s cutoff will come in somewhere around minus 1:30 to 1:50, even harder than last year, and my heart goes out to all the people who worked so hard to beat the qualifying standard and yet will face the disappointment of that “we’re sorry to inform you” email. I hope the BAA comes up with a better solution, either by tightening the qualifying standards or figuring a way to expand the field safely to allow all qualifiers to register if desired. In the meantime, I will do my best to appreciate the opportunity to run the race. I am particularly grateful to my parents who generously offered to pay the $180 registration fee!

General Training Update

It feels very strange to be registered for my seventh marathon when I have yet to complete my sixth! I never do that! I always wait to see how I feel after a race to set my sights on my next goal and my next goal race. But this time I am in the middle of training for REVEL Canyon City, which takes place November 7, about 6.5 weeks from now! Training is going well, although I have regretted my choice of training plan this time around. I thrived on the Run Less, Run Faster and Smart Marathon Training plans that called for three targeted runs per week plus two cross-training sessions and some strength training. Bumping up to 4-5 runs per week plus training on some hills to get ready for Canyon City left me with a painful case of shin splints — medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) to be exact, which is a fancy way of saying pain on the inner part of the shin. I have managed to run through it over the past five weeks while trying many different remedies (rest, ice, compression socks, strength training) which I will be happy to share once I have beaten this overuse injury once and for all. I’m happy to report that this morning’s 8-mile run was my first completely pain-free run in a long time and it felt fabulous. I lost a bit of the joy of running when I was feeling the weight of injury, and it felt so freeing to run strong this morning (fingers crossed, knocking on wood).

Do you have an opinion on the Boston Marathon qualifying standards and registration process? Are you training for anything right now?

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Random fact about me: I’ve never paid for a race photo. I am just too darn thrifty and I’d rather put that money toward another race. They’re never the best photos of me anyway. Case in point, the free race photos from my last two races:

iCureMelanoma 5K

Downtown Anaheim 5K

I’m not sure what I was pointing to in that photo. Maybe I was signaling for help in catching my breath? Anyway I’m glad to have these free photos.

Training officially starts next week for the Revel Canyon City Marathon on November 7. This week was a transition week and I filled it in with an easy 5-mile run on Monday and a tempo run yesterday. Spell-check tried to correct that to “temper” run. I did almost have a temper tantrum because I was scared to run 3 miles at 7:46 pace, but I convinced myself to just get out the door for the two-mile warm up and then see how I feel. Two miles into any run I usually hit my stride and feel a lot better. It’s like my legs give in and say, “Fine, if you’re really going to do this, I’ll cooperate.” It went well and I tacked on another two miles of cool-down for a total of 7 miles.

Today the schedule said “Rest or cross-train.” I wanted a nap and was in fact resting on the couch but my six-year-old asked if we could do one of my workout videos. How did she know I needed some motivation? We did the Insanity – Cardio Abs workout. Perfect! 17 sweaty minutes. I really believe that strength training has made all the difference for me in racing. Not only does it help with injury prevention, it also helps maintain good form in those last miles of a race where the leg muscles need the support of several other muscles in the body.

Cheryl from Why Mom Runs is also starting training for a November 7 race, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. She laid out her race goals and inspired me to do the same. I always set out several goals:

1. Sub 3:55. The best thing about aging is bumping up an age group, and with that wacky Boston Marathon Qualifying math, even though I turn 44 in August, this is the year I move up to the 45-49 group for Boston 2017 and the qualifying time jumps from 3:45 to 3:55. I’ll take that advantage, thank you very much.

2. Sub 3:36:58. It would be nice to get a PR over my time from the 2015 Phoenix Marathon.

3. Sub 3:35. I’ve set my training runs/paces to hit a 3:35 time.

4. Sub 3:30. This is the in-my-wildest-dreams time. It would require perfect training, perfect weather, and perfect execution on race day, but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. In fact, if I plug my 3:36:58 time into the Marathon Time Converter from Find My Marathon, it says I could run Canyon City in 3:22:12, simply due to the advantage of the downhill profile of the course. But that comes with its own challenges. I am going to need to be careful about not going out too fast, not trashing my quads on the downhill, and not hitting the wall. Easier said than done. Plus I am taking a chance on a new training plan. I enjoyed the Run Less, Run Faster and Smart Marathon Training plans I used for my first five marathons, but this time I am going with the “Own It” marathon training plan from Train Like a Mother.

What training plan(s) have you used? What are you training for right now, if anything?

 

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When I started running four years ago, I followed a fairly natural progression. At first I trained for a sprint triathlon. I enjoyed all three disciplines of swimming, biking, and running. While I continued to train for triathlons, I also ran a stand-alone 5K, an 8K, a 10K and a half marathon over the course of the next year. Once I had trained up for the half marathon and liked it, I figured if I was ever going to run a marathon, that would be the time to do it. Five months later I ran my first marathon and was hooked. And so began three solid years of marathon training:

4:02:39 at the Santa Barbara International Marathon – Fall 2012
3:57:29 at the Mountains2Beach Marathon – Spring 2013
3:52:42 at the Long Beach Marathon – Fall 2013
3:44:26 at the Santa Rosa Marathon – Summer 2014 (BQ minus 34 seconds)
3:36:58 at the Phoenix Marathon – Winter 2015 (BQ minus 8:02)

Those last two races took a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy as I raced to qualify for Boston. When my qualifying time at Santa Rosa did not meet the cutoff to register for Boston 2015, I felt a huge sense of disappointment. I dedicated myself to training for the Phoenix Marathon six months later. It took an incredible amount of focus and commitment to finish that race strong and not give up on qualifying with several minutes to spare. I accomplished that goal, and yet I felt an odd sense of letdown. I think I burned out on training 10-11 hours a week with three runs (a 4-5 mile speed workout, an 8-mile tempo run, and a long run) and two bike rides (20-30 miles each) and strength training (40-60 minutes per week). The training worked, but it left me ready to take an extended break from regimented training.

So, I took the month of March off formal training. I went skiing with my family at Whistler (where I still took advantage of the trails to get a few runs in) and I engaged in marathon housecleaning sessions rather than marathon training sessions.

Rest is great, and there’s lots of research that says muscle memory and endurance make it easier for you to get fit again after a break than it was the first time you got fit. However, I have to say that it took me a good two months of regular training before I felt back on track again, so to speak. I held off signing up for my next race because I just wasn’t sure it was worth putting myself out there. Finally I decided I was just being chicken and I signed up for the Downtown Anaheim 5K a week from tomorrow.

After that, I will start training for my sixth full marathon, the REVEL Canyon City Full Marathon on November 7, 2015. I had such a fantastic run at the REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon in 2014 that I couldn’t resist putting the full on my calendar this year. The challenge now is to train for the net -5,134 feet of downhill on the full marathon course. I take that very seriously and I plan to do at least a couple of long runs on the course to make sure I can handle the pounding on my quads on race day.

What’s up next for you? Have you ever taken a break from running? Do you like to have a training plan in place or do you enjoy the flexibility of some time off from formal training?

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The day started with a 3:45 a.m. wakeup call after about four hours of sleep. I wasn’t nervous about the race but I think I had a little too much salt at dinner and it kept me awake longer than I would have liked. Or maybe my body just wanted to test the theory that it’s not the sleep the night before the race that matters, but two nights before the race. Spoiler alert: the theory is true in my case! I had a great experience at the inaugural Revel Canyon City Marathon & Half Marathon.

About three hours before the race start, I had my usual banana, oatmeal and coffee with a splash of milk, plus 20 ounces of Gatorade. The 35-minute drive to Citrus College in Azusa was uneventful. There was a bit of a line to get into the parking lot, and I had to park in the far lot and walk back to the buses. No big deal but I was desperate to find a bathroom at that point. The race information said the gym bathrooms would be open, but by the time I made it to the buses at 5:30 and asked where the gym was, the gym was too far to get to in time to get on the last half marathon bus at 5:45. Fortunately, some of the buses were tour buses with a bathroom, so I finagled my way out of the school bus line and onto the tour bus. In a second stroke of good luck, the woman in front of me in line gave me a tissue from her pack when she discovered the bathroom didn’t have any toilet paper.

On the bus drive up the canyon, I sat next to a lovely woman who had just run the NYC Marathon two weeks before. We chatted on the half hour drive up Highway 39. I enjoyed getting to preview the course that way, seeing where there were uphills and downhills along the course and enjoying the scenery. When we arrived at the start about 10 miles up into the canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains (recently designated a national monument by President Obama), I put on the warm gloves we’d been given at the expo and made a beeline through the brisk mountain air for the porta potties. There were enough for the number of runners (888 finishers in the half marathon). By that time it was about 6:30 and we had half an hour until the start.

Perfect temperature in the low 50s at the half marathon start.

Perfect temperature in the low 50s at the half marathon start.

Before I knew it, it was time to trade my sweats for the mylar blanket we’d also been given at the expo, and load my gear bag into the truck. After another fifteen minutes, we got treated to a beautiful, live version of the national anthem, and it was time to line up on the course, self-seeding ourselves by the pacers of our choice. I got up close to the front, behind the 1:40 pacer, as I planned to go for a 1:45.

That turned out to be the right spot for me and I quickly settled into a 7:45-8:00 minute pace without any runners to dodge in front of me. There are some rolling hills in the first few miles, nothing too challenging and still plenty of downhill to get your pace up. In fact I’d planned to go out a little slower at the start, an 8:15, but my first mile ended up at 7:45. I just felt great and I went the pace my legs wanted to go on the downhills as I repeated my downhill mantra “light, quick, light, quick” in time with each step (as opposed to my mantra on the flatter sections, which turned out to be “put the hammer down, stay strong.” I have no idea where that came from but it worked!)

I enjoyed the spectacular views down the canyon along the partially closed course. We stayed in the left lane while the right was open to traffic guided by police escorts. Only once, though, did I see one set of cars pass by on the first 10 miles of the course. No spectators were allowed there either, which didn’t bother me at all. It was just peaceful and beautiful, with a sprinkling of runners along the course and helpful aid station volunteers about every two miles.

When I hit the halfway point, I did a quick self-check. At that point I was ahead of my target pace and I was still feeling great. I decided to maintain my current pace and reassess at mile 10. Incredibly, I still felt really good at mile 10 too. It wasn’t easy, but it was easier than the tempo runs I’d been performing in full marathon training (ah the miracle of taper and the wonder of what a little rest can do for the legs). I passed the first timing mat on the course at mile 10 in 1:18:19.2 for an average pace of 7:50. From that point on I looked at the race as a 5K to the finish, “only” 3.1 more miles to go. I tried my hardest to keep the pace around 7:45 without burning out before the finish. Much to my surprise, I got a surge of energy when I could hear the finish line announcer, and then could see the finish line arch. I ended up averaging a 7:38 pace for the last 3.1 miles, for a 5K split of 23:38.8, which happens to be a PR in the 5K! I guess I’d better get out there for a stand-alone 5K soon to see what I could do at that distance!

My final chip time was 1:41:58 for an average pace of 7:47 (which happens to be my 10K PR pace for my very hilly local La Habra 10K). I stopped by the timing tent and got a printout of my official results, only to find out that I had placed 3rd in my 40-44 age group out of 104 women! 27th female of 576 and 76th of all 888 finishers.

Huge finisher's medal on the left, "bronze" medal for 3rd place F40-44 on the right. My chip time ended up being one second faster than shown here.

Huge finisher’s medal on the left, “bronze” medal for 3rd place F40-44 on the right. My chip time ended up being one second faster than shown here.

I celebrated with a heavenly massage at the Massage Envy tent, then made my way to pick up my gear bag. The truck had been delayed on the course so instead I started the long walk back to my car in the parking lot. That took 15-20 minutes and while it made an effective recovery walk, I would have liked to be back in my dry clothes for that (and really, I would have liked a shuttle bus). I drove back to the gear pick-up just in time to see my bag being sorted by bib number.

On my way back out of the parking lot, I spotted Andrea, a friend I hadn’t realized would be at the race as a spectator to cheer on Pavement Runner (and she hadn’t known until the last minute that I was running the race also — and when she heard she made a sign for me too!!) During the race I had heard people call out my name at mile 12 (a HUGE boost at that point because I was putting everything into staying at my pace by then) but I just marveled at the fact that these ladies could read my name on my bib. It never occurred to me that it was someone I knew!! I was so in the zone I just gave a double thumbs-up and kept my eyes on the road. So I was especially glad we connected after the race. It was particularly nice of her to be out at the race this morning when she is headed off to run Disney Avengers early tomorrow morning then hop on a plane to go run the Strip at Night in Vegas that evening!

I never imagined the day would turn out so well and that I would be celebrating a full 6-minute PR on my Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon time. Long-time readers can guess that the first thing I did when I got home was to plug 1:41:58 into the McMillan pace calculator to see that it predicts I could train to run the full marathon in 3:34:36. That would be a 10-minute PR for me for my fifth marathon, so I’m skeptical, but gosh darn it how much would I love to run that at the Phoenix Marathon in February?!

Overall I am very impressed by the Revel Canyon City Half Marathon and I would definitely recommend it to friends. (Note that the full marathon has a net loss of 5,134 feet compared to 933 for the half — I’m curious to see what people think of the full marathon and that serious downhill run).

What’s your next goal race and what is your goal for that race?

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