It’s never been about the races for me, even without a race on the books I’ll log a 20 miler, just because I love to run. My friend and I continued to run the LA Marathon year after year. I never changed my training, I always came in around the same time.
It wasn’t until Summer of 2016 when I met some friends that introduced me to triathlon, and the heavy training they do for Ironman that I stepped up my game. I was training for my first Ironman 70.3 when I broke my foot. Cycling 75+ miles a week, swimming 3 miles a week, running 70 miles a week… Just 9 days out from the race I was confined to the boot, I couldn’t even walk without excruciating pain, I was heartbroken… I couldn’t race the race I had been working towards for months. As horrible as it was – one thing came out of that hardship – I realized I had a whole lot of potential I hadn’t even touched. After years of running 8 min miles, I was now easily running in the low 7:00s. There was something there, and I wanted to tap into it.
It took months to recover from the stress fracture, and then I had to retrain everything I built. I swam every day while my foot was broken, but as well all know – there is nothing quite like running. I bounced back enough to train for Boston, and brought home a 3:26. I was so eager for more, I RAPIDLY ramped up, jumped into winning a half marathon, back on the bike, back running heavy mileage, feeling on top of the world — and boom, broken heel bone. This one took forever to heal. I didn’t even tell anyone it was broken for months because I was so ashamed to be back there again. I promised myself I would take training seriously this time, all factors, and I would comeback my strongest ever.
Fast forward to training for this year’s LA Marathon. With clearance from my doctor, and frequent checkups, I re-evaluated my diet, my mileage, everything. I added back dairy, I revised my daily vitamins, more protein, more rest. The results were immediate.Running sub 7 quickly became my comfortable pace and slowly I built the mileage. My previous training was to just plow through miles, and if I burned out and had crappy paces at the end, I didn’t care, as long as I got the mileage in. This time I had a whole different approach. I wanted every run to feel comfortably hard, not burn out. I wanted to feel strong at 20 miles all the way through, I wanted even or negative splits, not a hard dive for exhaustion. When I saw my watch clocking 20 miles at sub 7 pace, I knew I was a new runner.
I don’t have a coach, I made my own training plan based on what made sense to me being mindful of my injury, what I potential I believed was there, and my work schedule. When my body was tired, I took rest days. When my foot was hurting, I iced it, and took rest days. If my calves were tight, I reworked my training schedule to not injure them. Logging the EXACT training you are scheduled doesn’t necessarily = success, its about listening to your body every single day. What works for me, doesn’t work for every runner, but what works for me comes from a lot of years of experience knowing my body and what has resulted in injury for me.
So how did the race go? To be honest, I wish I could do it again tomorrow, I had THAT much fun. I felt strong the whole way through, which is new for me on this course. The hills that usually kill me from miles 18 – 21, I was running with a smile. I felt like I was flying. I’m always terrible about remembering to fuel, or even drink water, but I got ahead of it perfectly this time. I DO have one big regret… My fellow marathon ambassador Haley and I were walking to the start, and we debated peeing ONE more time before the race. I thought I’d be fine and it was just nerves, so she went, I didn’t. Well – big mistake, I stopped at mile 2 for :30 to pee, and jumped back in the race (feeling a thousand times better) – but that :30 seconds cost me a sub 3 marathon! At the end of the day, 3:00:24 is still a three hour marathon, and something I never thought I would accomplish. Being the 6th open field woman to cross the finish line, and first in my division, and running with the boys, cruising mile after mile… it was an amazing feeling. I’ve said before that most people in my daily life don’t know what I do in the shadows, or see me running, so a lot of them asked me if I “ate differently the night before” or what I thought got me such a better time. Its funny to me, because I know how hard I worked for that 21 minute PR.
The LA Marathon course is tough, but its remarkable. You see the whole city, the crowd support is wonderful, and the finish line is stunning. I’ve run every PR on this course, probably because its the place I call home, and the excitement is palpable for me, but I highly recommend it!
My mind is swirling with what’s next, and I can’t wait to chase it!