Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 @ASICSAmerica @LAMARATHON RACE REPORT - 3/9/14 #BetterYourBest

The 2014 ASICS LA Marathon is in the books for this runner.

When I think back to the whole experience of getting connected with ASICS and getting to run the 2014 LA Marathon, the words that stand out the most is the hash tag they wanted us to use on social media (which is one of the very things they really requested of us to do for the chance to run besides training and running).

#BetterYourBest

I had my lofty Boston Qualifying time goal for LA.  The best marathon time I had ran was at Kansas City last October at 3:48 before this race.  BQ time was 3:08.  Sure, cut out 40 minutes, no problem.

I had a plan from Coach Andrew Kastor.  I had the logistics of getting there and training gear taken care of from ASICS.  LA was going to be my first event since KC last October so 90 percent of my training was dedicated to making LA spectacular.  The table was set to focus on running and capture the holy running grail, while at the same time setting a huge new marathon PR.

If only the LA Marathon course knew what I wanted to do and would have cooperated.

The stage was set with perfect weather and a perfect and interesting course.  The sad part was how much I took for granted the climbing on the course.  If I could handle KC, surely this would be a breeze.  Not really.  Another factor when you train and race in freezing temps and on treadmills and then race in a warm/hot climate, you can overlook the heat factor by the excitement of running outside with shorts and a shirt only instead of 5 base layers.  But enough foreshadowing...

I had a awesome dinner of lasagna the night before and gazed upon the finish area being constructed the night before.
Dinner for adults!  No Chipotle here.

Sleep tight LA Marathon finish area.
I had my gear all lined up.  I did have a new shirt from ASICS, new visor and had to pick up a new set of sunglasses at the Expo since I left mine in KC.  But, nothing extremely unfamiliar for gear on race day.
Nice and vibrant to see me in a crowd.
I even brought breakfast from home to make sure race day morning was as standard as possible.  The bus ride to Dodger Stadium provided a chance for a cat nap and then some time prepping in the stadium club.
If I only I knew what was ahead.  How about the ASICS lite show reflective gear!?
I opted to leave my phone at the hotel and use the Gatorade Endurance provided at aid stations with PowerBar Gel blasts every 45 minutes.  I wanted to be as minimalist as possible to achieve the best time I could get.  I was on a mission.  Semi-spoiler alert : I opted to not chug as much water and gatorade pre-race as I usually do.  I hate having to pee every 10 minutes leading up to the start and wanted to avoid the 4 pee stops during KC last October.  I tried to hydrate like a mad man the day before and sipped Gatorade up til 30 minutes before the start.  With the cloud cover, I was banking and getting close to the finish before heat became a factor and I would need more electrolytes.  Bad move.

After sitting in the corals for what seemed hours, we were off!  This was by far the biggest race I have been in (Dublin marathon in 2004 was larger, I think, but that was before I had any clue about endurance sports and paid attention).  The start was crowded, but opened up right out of the stadium parking lot and I had very few issues staying with the pace group I targeted.

Speaking of pace... for BQ, I would have had to been at 7:12ish minutes per mile.  I shot to stay with the 3:15 pace group and figured I could determine if I had a shot for a BQ.  If I felt good and could hang with them comfortably, I was going to calculate where I needed to make a break to catch up to 3:08.  If I wasn't feeling it, it would at least give me a good start to a sub 3:30, my backup goal.

And they are off!
Here's where it gets interesting.  Miles 1 to 6 I hung with the 3:15 group and was doing pretty good.  No wild heart rates, but the hills were pushing it to stay up with them.  Then, at mile 6 I needed a full bio break.  By full... I mean a sit down.  It was quick, but I lost the group and knew that if I tried to catch them, I'd be in the pain cave for the rest of the race.

I opted to drop back to 7:30ish pace.  Keep that 3:30 alive.  I felt good, but it was full effort to stay with 3:15 with no walk breaks.  BQ was not in the cards, and you know, I was ok with that.

Off I went with dreams of sub 3:30, until mile 12.  I opted to take a walk break at the aid station, take in some gel blasts, gatorade and walk for a moment to re-collect.  After that, my pace feel dramatically.  I was now 7:45 to 8 min/mile and knew I was going to have to dig a little to pull out a sub 3:30.

I targeted a walk break every 3 miles, which was what I did during training to take in hydration and nutrition.  Stop 18 was pushing it.  We had run some tough inclines and the course has ups and downs, but the overall trend was uphill from around 12 to 22 miles.  I was feeling it.  And, the sun decided to come out.  It was amazing how much difference there was in sun and shade in the temps.  Full sun was actually getting brutal.  We rounded a climb around the VA hospital and at the peak, it hit.  Cramps.

Sh*t.  Tires started going flat and rubber starting flying off and the wheels were holding on by a lug nut.  I had to stop, stretch and walk off left hamstring cramps.  My forearms were also cramping and that's when I realized I was covered in salt from my sweat.  I mean COVERED.  I was taking in gatorade at every station it was offered, but in moderation.  I avoided the sloshy/bloated gut situation, but at the expense of electrolyte depletion.
Would you like some salt for your margarita?

From 19ish miles to 22 it was a cramp fest.  Both hammys, arms, sides, and a full on right leg lock up at mile 22.  The only thing I could do was slam a banana, fluids and stand there and wait for it to subside.  After what seemed like forever, I started walking it off.  I actually got back to a decent trot and walked when I felt a cramp coming back.  I wasn't hearing the volunteers asking if I needed medical.  I could at least finish the damn race.

Sub 3:30 was out of the window.  Heck, sub 4 hours was in jeopardy.  My pride was the only thing that kept me moving to the finish line.  That, and the spectators giving walkers a hard time at the finish chute.  "It's only a few hundred feet, run it in!"  Ease up there cowboy.

It was a very painful conclusion to a great trip and experience.  I ended up with a 3:41:31, which is a new marathon PR by 7 minutes.  I was so aggravated with the cramps that I probably came off as dismissive about the accomplishment given my goals were so lofty.  But, when a race goes bad, you have to retreat and decide on what's attainable.

But, it embodied the mantra for the ASICS blogger team #BetterYourBest.  I may not have reached BQ time, but I did Better My Best by 7 minutes.  That in itself was a great accomplishment with a course that it no joke and some pretty nasty heat at the end.  Endless streams of ambulances were taking overheated runners to the hospital.  It was carnage, but I pulled it out.

It's in the books.  Marathon 7 and it was memorable.  Afterwards we got dinner down the street as a team and said our goodbyes.  We all headed our separate directions to resume our "normal lives".

Pretty cool bunch of people. Ignore the flashing by Shut Up and Run in the Front - she'd be ok with it.
ASICS LA Marathon - Epic
Dear hotel toilet, I'm sorry what I did to you post-race.

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