a year behind and a year ahead

A year ago I set my 2016 running goals: run 2500 miles, complete my first marathon, PR the half, 10K, and 5K. Success depended on my final goal- no injuries. My first race was in January, so I had no other choice except to dive in.

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Since I do so much training in Griffith Park, the Griffith Park Half Marathon was an ideal race for a PR attempt. I included most of the course in my training runs and gave extra focus to the hills. The result: a new record and three minute improvement.

The rest of the winter and spring was devoted to marathon training. Since it was my first time I did not know what to expect and I followed my training plan closely. The race was 100 miles north of me so I tried to match my long runs to the marathon setting and stayed near the coast and on the roads. I showed up to the Mountains 2 Beach start line well prepared but way to excited. I finished the race but spent most my energy during the first 20 miles. I’d rather not experience the last six ever again.

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With my “big” races out of the way, I enjoyed some running for fun, mostly in the South Bay. Without any preparation I ran the Village Runner 5K and squeaked in a new PR, leaving a little over five months to hit my 10K goal. My training for the MB10K indicated that I could PR handily and I was on the threshold of running a sub-seven minute pace. On race day I was recovering from a cold but held on for my PR and a 6:50 average.

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I closed out the year by sticking to a routine without any race specific training. In December I reduced my mileage by almost half to give myself a little extra recovery time. At the end of the year I ran the Yuletide 5K , my first night race.

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My mileage added up to 2250, a bit short of my goal but close enough. I made it through the year without any injuries. I reached my goals but a year later, it strikes me how performance driven I was and how much emphasis I put on my stats. It turns out that the results are not what mattered the most. Instead, it was the year of consistent running that gave me the biggest feeling of accomplishment and helped my frame my goals for 2017.

Yes, I want to improve my race times. And yes, I registered for another marathon. But my specific goals are more thematic this year:

  • Run consistently without injury.
  • Explore new running routes.
  • Strong finish to my marathon.
  • Run more trails.

Racing is a great way to frame periods of training. But training is 99% of the effort. In 2017 I’m going to focus on the journey instead of the destination.

 

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vancouver seattle portland

Our family traveled to the Pacific Northwest this Summer. I’ve always had trouble fitting in my runs during vacations but this trip was different. My son Alex joined his high school cross country team and has to maintain a weekly mileage count. So we teamed up and explored all of our stops.

Vancouver Harbor: our first run was seven-miler in downtown Vancouver. It was raining but since rain rarely visits LA it felt like a gift. We had an excellent workout. A network of paths surround the bay- leftovers from the 1986 world fair- and we seemed to join all of Vancouver’s runners this morning.

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Stanley Park: the next day we headed along the same path in the opposite direction. Our route took us north along the Seawall and into Stanley Park.

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Soon we were looking out to the Pacific Ocean and spied Victoria Island in the distance. The fresh air energized us and put some extra spring in our steps.

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Vancouver was a perfect city for running although some of the locals cautioned us to test perfection in February…

Seattle: at our next stop we stayed in the Queen Anne neighborhood, a hill just north of downtown with a great view of the skyline:

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Since we were on a hill, there was plenty of elevation change and even a few flights of stairs. As in Vancouver we marveled at the green surrounding us. Our run took us mostly through residential streets plus a cemetery and was a great way to explore the city.

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Portland: our final destination and another great running city. Portland is compact enough that on our first run we crisscrossed the Willamette river, explored downtown, and made it back home in time for breakfast.

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Exploring while running is a great way to understand the character of a place, and Portland’s neighborhoods were very green and a pleasure to run through.

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Adding running to our trip made it one of my favorite vacations ever. As a bonus I was able to train with Alex. It won’t be long before he leaves me gasping if I try to keep up with him. From now on I’ll remember to pack my running shoes when I travel.

recover and reset

It’s been two weeks since I ran the Mountains 2 Beach marathon and it seems like so long ago. To myself: c’mon, get out there and start running!  Then from my body: hey, not so fast!  One of my training goals was to listen to my body and break a habit of riding my post-race enthusiasm to injury.

So I waited. I did not run at all for 10 days and then I started some goal-free workouts this week.

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My first run back was awful. Legs felt like lead, aches and pains that were fading away spoke up: you are not ready.  I took another break and finally had a decent run, a relaxing out-and-back along the Greenbelt.

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June in Southern California brings overcast and cool mornings and that’s perfect for me. The day after running the Greenbelt I felt good enough to follow up with a short run along the Strand.

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When I’m training I run solo so it was fun to take Alex today. He’s able to keep up with me and it won’t be long before I need to keep up with him. I’m looking forward to us running some 5K and 10K races later this year.

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I’m still not feeling 100%. This week was a good start and it left me wanting to run some more. I should be back to normal soon.

 

peak week 13

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Three weeks left until race day and I survived my toughest week of training, maybe my toughest week of all time. Out of six runs, three were demanding workouts with three “normal” runs in between.

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Monday: a seven miler with strides at the finish. My legs still felt the previous weekend’s long run so I started slowly, trying to stay loose and focus on my form.

Tuesday: a double workout. Over 11.5 miles I ran a two mile stretch at 10K (6:45) pace and then did eight one-minute repeats. I often do my speed work along the LA River, not the most scenic course but fast. The final two repeats were a struggle and I thought my cool down would never end. I was slightly dazed for the rest of the day

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Wednesday: an easy six mile run followed by a trip to the dentist.

Thursday: another workout; a ten mile run with the last five at goal race pace. I’m aiming for 7:45 but ran 7:30s instead. I can’t seem to get the feel for my pace and I don’t want to start too fast at M2B. I warmed up along the Greenbelt and finished on the Strand to simulate the bike path that makes up most of the race course.

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Friday: rest day!

Saturday: long run. At 21.25 miles my longest training run and my longest run ever. I’d been anticipating this workout for  weeks, at times dreading it. But as my training progressed, I began looking forward to the challenge. I started in Hermosa Beach and ran to the Palos Verdes peninsula. In the picture you can see Hermosa in the distance from the PV bluffs. I did not worry about the pace and focused on my running form and strength over the entire distance. When I checked my data I was happy to discover that I consistently held 8:00 during the later miles, and this run became a big confidence builder.

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Sunday: eight mile recovery run. As I finished I recalled how eight miles used to be a long run for me, and not too long ago.

Next week is another big effort. The same workouts but slightly fewer miles. Then a two week taper before my race. I know that I can’t prepare for everything but I’ve been able to stick to my marathon plan and I feel confident my training will help me break 3:30:00.

run photos 2015

Some of my favorite running pictures from 2015:

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Stormfront, Lake Arrowhead. April 2015. From ALA (Around Lake Arrowhead) Trail, a storm crested over the San Bernadino Mountains but stopped short of the lake.

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Blufftop Trail, Palos Verdes. November, 2015. One of my favorite runs along the PV Penninsula. Catalina is in the distance.

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Mount Hollywood Drive, Griffith Park. February, 2015. Usually the weather is clear and the views go all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Today was overcast keeping me cool on my run.

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Beach Run, Hermosa Beach. December, 2015. On a cold, clear morning the beach was empty and the sand undisturbed.

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Palo Comado Peak, Chesebro Canyon. March, 2015. While training for the Chesebro Half Marathon, I ran the course just after a rainstorm.

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Pelican Cove, Palos Verdes. January, 2015. One of my long run turnaround points.

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Vista del Valle Road, Griffith Park. February, 2015. The climb to the upper trails in Griffith Park is always worth the effort.

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Beach Run, Hermosa Beach. December, 2015.

 

 

year in review 2015

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Goals: run 2000 miles. Run six days per week. Average 50 miles per week, 55 miles max. Race three half marathons. 20 mile long run. Core strength training 3 times per week. No injuries!

Results:

  • 2K mileage: I ran 2247 miles this year.
  • Volume: I usually ran five times a week.  I did six runs occasionally and once I ran eight days in a row. Weekly volume was consistently 50-55 miles. My maximum weekly total was 61.75 miles.
  • Three half marathons: I ran two HMs this year but three in a 12 month period dating back to the Palos Verdes Half Marathon, 11/15/14. My 2015 races were the Chesebro Half Marathon, 3/28/15, and the Tiburon Half Marathon, 10/4/15.
  • 20 mile long run: Strand Run on 12/20 was 20.25 miles.
  • Core strength: I started the year doing strength work three days per week and increased to seven after my injury and rehab.
  • Injuries: I lost eight weeks of training when I hurt my IT band after the Chesebro HM. I did not take enough time after the race before resuming my full training schedule. I made a quick recovery because I went to PT for running form analysis and rehab workouts to target my weak (glutes) muscle areas.

2015 was my best running year ever. 2016 will be even better:

  • 2500 miles
  • Marathon: Mountains to the Sea, 5/29/16
  • Half Marathon PR
  • 10K PR
  • 5K PR
  • No injuries!