2010 Photos HERE.
Race Website HERE.
As I wogged the great new Los Angeles course, I actually passed a lot of "Legacy Runners" and thought I should of been one of those guys. I did the first couple editions of this race and did a couple in the 90s too.
Most years I thought about going every March but having three kids and a full time mom and pop record store made it hard to get in the training. As most of you know, I do not like to do something if I am not prepared. So I sat out a lot of them.
In 2008, i returned with the idea of walking the entire race and trained a lot but the race did not go as well as planned. I was flying along at a little over 13 minutes per mile till mile 16 or so. In training my feet would always start killing me at the four hour mark and 4 hours into the race the same thing happen. We walked through USC and there was a mile of concrete road that destroyed my feet. I went from 13 minute miles to 17 or 18 minute ones. I felt great but my feet were killing me.
In my head, I could calculate that at the rate I was going, I could have 3 more hours to go and I could not imagine making it to the finish. So I just cranked up my iPod Shuffle and willed myself forward. A trick I have learned over the years in major marathons is to play to the crowd. I prefer to walk right down the middle of the road where it is flatter. The camber of the road near the sidewalks can kill your legs plus how often do you get to walk down the middle of the road!
So if I am feeling good and focused i am in the middle of the road. But if things are going badly like in 2008, I head for the fans. Now that races allow you to have personalized bibs this strategy works even better. You move near the sidelines and the spectators can read your bib and call out your name. If you acknowledge them they cheer even louder.
Now most in the race are so tired or focused that they do not even see the spectators. Which I do understand, but realize these people have been out there a long time watching the race by the time I go by so they are eager to let out a cheer. Plus it doesn't hurt that I do not look like someone who should of ever made it to that far in a marathon at any speed. heck i look like I should be on the sidelines cheering on the runners.
So needless to say I get a lot of encouragement and it is a huge adrenaline rush. It always helps me lift up my pace and I run from group to group feeding of their energy. While doing this I always keep and I eye out for the kids and make sure to high five them if they are willing. It is such a rush to see how happy the kids get that a runner gave them a high five.
But often the course moves to a new area and the crowds thin and my pace fades. Then I employ another strategy: drafting. Now granted I am only at best doing 5 mph and I am usually the biggest thing out there but it does work. Again it is more of a mental thing than a physical thing. When I am feeling good and I am focused, I just run on my own for the most part.
But when I am feeling bad, I start looking around for a ride. They are easy to spot late in a marathon because they are the only ones that look like they are moving. They look like the Cullens in a field of mortals. Usually they are women and/or older athletes, that with one glance I can tell are immortals. But unlike true immortals, I am feeding of them.
What I want is their energy and speed and I make every effort to track them down and then hang on to them. Now one needs to pursue someone that you have a reasonable changes of hanging on to for awhile. It makes no sense to chase down someone who will leave in a blink of an eye.
Once you catch the train, all you have to do is focus on hanging on to them and it is amazing how this lifts your pace and your spirits. The field starts to whiz by and the two of us weave through the crowd with an ease and grace that alone can not be achieved. Plus the looks you get from the other runners pushes you forward too. You can feel them wishing that they were you moving up the road towards the finish. Pus it feels really cool to be passing so many people in such a short amount of time.
But it like crowd surfing never lasts too long. Eventually they pull away from you or they slow down and then it is time to recover till the next immortal comes into view. Often when I am recovering I will try to find an athlete who is going at the speed I am and I will start talking to them. In the latter stages of a marathon it is amazing how quiet it is on the roads.
too be contiued .....