Best Marathon Training in 2021
Running Your First Marathon: The Complete 20-Week Marathon Training Plan
Marathon, Revised and Updated 5th Edition: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons
The Runner's World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training: Winning Strategies, Inpiring Stories, and the Ultimate Training Tools
Hansons Marathon Method: Run Your Fastest Marathon the Hansons Way
Me, You & 26.2: Coach Deniseâ€™s Guide to get YOU TO YOUR First Marathon (Black & White Edition)
80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower
Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training
Simple Marathon Training: The Right Training For Busy Adults With Hectic Lives
The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer
Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes: A Cookbook
Week 13 of 2020 Los Angeles Marathon Training
This week of marathon training has us running our farthest distance yet, 14 miles. We had to deal with increasingly cold temperatures, and I had to deal with a nice pair of blisters on my feet which made this run more challenging than usual.
This week's run had us doing the equivalent of a half marathon, 14 miles. We came to Griffith Park fully prepared not just to run every one of those 14 miles, but also to deal with the increasingly frigid temperatures which continue to greet us early in the morning. The previous day's weather forecast kept advising us of the freezing temperatures heading our way, and those driving their cars up the snowy mountains were told to bring snow chains or else they would be turned away. As a result, I was expecting it to be snowing in Burbank when I arrived there in the morning. Many may find this odd as they keep thinking we're always experiencing summer-like weather down here in Southern California, but I assure you that's not the case.
Now this time I brought a pair of gloves just like I promised myself I would. However, they did little to keep my hands warm as they still felt numbed by the frigid temperatures that threatened to turn us into walking icicles. I remember being in Colorado for Thanksgiving years ago and skiing in the snow in the morning, and my hands got so numb from the cold that I started to wonder if they would ever thaw out. The weather in Griffith Park was not quite that cold, but really cold weather always reminds of that time and how my hands literally felt like ice cubes.
For today's run, we were introduced to our new coach who would be taking over for the late Coach Scott Boliver, Coach JC Fernandez. When Scott came in to be the coach for the 2020 Los Angeles Marathon, he insisted on having an assistant, and JC was it. We all came to like him immediately although there was a bit of a consensus that his "outside voice" needs improving. With this 14 mile run, JC decided not to subject us to any hills to run up and he recalled a conversation he had with Scott before he passed away:
"Scott, I can't make them run up a hill my first time coaching because they're just gonna hate me!"
Granted, we are always unsettled at the prospect of going up any hills, and that's even though it serves us well to run up them for this training. But while JC decided to have us running a flat course, he did warn us that our upcoming 17 mile run will have hills for us to ascend. Sooner or later, we will be thankful that we ran up any hills during our training at all.
In addition to running through some familiar Burbank routes, we also ran through the Toluca Lake neighborhood where the coaches joked we could start looking at the homes we wanted to buy. With the economy still in a slump, it's a wonder if any of us Team to End AIDS runners can afford to buy a home at this point regardless of what neighborhood it's in. Plus, we he had to make sure to keep quiet while running through there because the residents have complained about us being too noisy previously.
One of the nicest things about this run was running into Scott Boliver's family at Verdugo Park, and that's not just because there were plenty of peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers for us to eat. They just got through burying their beloved family member, and they wanted every one of us to know that they were not wallowing in sadness. We all took the time to greet and hug them, expressing our condolences on their loss which we all felt so deeply. His mother said that being here and supporting our efforts helped with the healing process.
I got to talk a bit with Scott's father who said that Scott worked primarily as a prison psychologist, something I was not previously familiar with. It turns out that one prison was considering hiring another psychologist until one of their key people said "we don't want another psychologist, we want Scott." I believed him when he said that his son lived doing what he loved, and we should all be doing the same.
Jessica was correct in pointing out that we were all running like we were in the military. This almost led me to start one of those chants soldiers sing like "I don't know what I've been told…" The problem is the only ones I know are from the movie "Full Metal Jacket," and one has R. Lee Ermey talking about Eskimo… Ok, I'll stop there.
Actually, that also reminded me of a scene from "Hot Shots" where the soldiers are running and singing the theme song to "The Brady Bunch." Now how great would it be to see us all sounding off to the following lyrics?
"Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother…"
Well it might look a little silly, but anyway…
I thought I handled this run well, but my feet were quite angry with me long before I got to the finish line. Then again, I did spend this past week working a temp job that had me on my feet all day long. Along with a dozen other workers, I helped to relocate the Hallmark store in the Culver City mall from its upstairs location to its new one on the ground level. It involved me walking back and forth, hauling boxes full of merchandise and trash that needed to be tossed in the dumpster conveniently located under a freeway overpass. When the work was all done, I had some nice blisters on my toes to show off. Having said that, it was nice having any kind of job during this unending period of unemployment and I am thankful for the opportunity.
But having gone through this marathon training a number of times before, I had no real worries about running all 14 miles. Still, those last couple of miles felt longer than they should have and when I got to mile 11 it felt like I had already finished. I still keep having visions of approaching the finish line at Griffith Park only to see it get further and further away from me. Running a marathon is painful on the legs and feet, but it can also be psychologically torturous. It all makes me think of Robin Williams who joked about how running a marathon is cheaper than doing cocaine:
"You don't need cocaine to get really high, you know what I'm saying? There's another way to get high and it's really cheap, just run 26 miles! Have you ever seen the look on a marathon runner's face? It's the same look like (laughing maniacally), 'I'm alive!' Yeah, and it only costs you a pair of fucking shoes! It's the same thing because his body is pumped full of endorphins. It's the brain saying 'if you keep this pain shit up, I'm gonna hurt you!' The first couple of miles you go 'I'm fabulous!' After about 8 miles you're going 'I'm not too good!' After 26 miles you're all 'why the fuck did I do this?!' And you have that look like (laughing maniacally). And you never see a man at the track going 'my man… you need a pair of Nikes? Try one shoe on, do this for a while…'"
For a number of runners in the Lucky 13 pace group, this was their longest run ever and us marathon veterans made sure to applaud them on their latest accomplishment. It's always a great feeling when you challenge yourself to go farther than you ever have before and actually succeed in going the distance. Looking at those newbie runners crossing the finish line was very fulfilling, and we all shared in their success.
There was a feast waiting for us at the finish line which included hard boiled eggs, bagels with cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, jars of pickles, chocolate milk, Gatorade, and loads of other stuff which we didn't hesitate to gobble up. Coach Ashley was astonished at just how much we ate, and that included a dozen of those hard boiled eggs and an entire jar of pickles. Furthermore, all the chocolate milk either evaporated into thin air or was consumed by the other pace groups which finished before we did.
I am proud of myself for completing these 14 miles, but I still wonder if I am doing anything wrong. I am always conscious of my form while running, making sure not to swivel my hips and not lean forward too much, but I'm always convinced that I'm missing something that will help me run this marathon far more efficiently. Hopefully I will figure out what I am missing before the big day and not screw up too badly.
The only major downside of this run is that the pouch on my water belt where all my snacks were was impossible to open. The zipper broke off and the pouch was practically cemented shut by some sticky substance, but at least it gave me a good excuse to eat as many of those peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers as I could. Looks like I'll be shopping for a new pouch soon as I'll have to cut through this one which is sealed like the tunnel Indiana Jones got chased out of by the enormous boulder in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
I also want to take the time to say good luck to those Team to End AIDS runners who are about to run the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon at Disneyland next week. They have been training with us these past few weeks and we will miss them as they make their way to "the happiest place on earth" to run 13.1 miles. Here's hoping that Tinker Bell herself drops a lot of pixie dust on you so that you will fly off into the sky like Peter Pan. If nothing else, it will be a lot easier on your legs and feet.
FUNDRAISING UPDATE: My deadline is approaching and I need to reach my fundraising goal of $1,000 really soon. Currently I am at 52% and have raised $520 to date. Even if you can only donate just $5, that will still go a long way to helping those who are seeking much needed assistance from AIDS Project Los Angeles. Seriously, any support you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Don't be shy.