Training Update + LA Marathon Race Review

I called last week my “ease back into training” week. I didn’t want to immediately jump back into tempo runs or 20 milers, so I focused on lower mileage, easier running, some core work and time on the trainer.

Here’s how the week went – there was more treadmill running than I wanted but with my husband away for business all week, I was grateful to just get the miles in! The boys have been really great with staying occupied while I run on the treadmill so I was able to do the running while they were awake:

Monday: 8 miles outside (8:07 pace) – strength and core at night

barre

Tuesday: 8 miles on treadmill (7:55 pace) – 5 easy, 3 progression (7:30, 7:17, 7:00) followed by 30 min on trainer

Wednesday: 10 miles (7:38 pace) – which included the descending ladder workout I talked about last week.

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: 10 miles (7:31 pace) with a descending interval workout. In 2007, I was a member of the FT Hood Army 10 miler team. We had weekly track practice (which I loved – which I had access to a track!) and our coach had us build up to 3 sets of 1600, 800 and 400 with a short active recovery + rest period. This ladder workout was the first real “workout” I ever did!! It’s a good mix of distances and you don’t feel absolutely exhausted by the end despite doing over 5 miles of speed work.

  • 1600s (2:30-3 min recovery): 6:37, 6:33, 6:26
  • 800s (2 min recovery): 3:08, 3:07, 3:05
  • 400s (90 sec recovery): 1:30, 1:30, 1:30

Saturday: 8 miles – some on the trail, some on road. Easy paced (8:12) and comfortable

trails

Sunday: 14 miles with 2 fast finish (7:35 pace). I really wanted to run 16 or more but felt that I had asked my body enough for the week. With 5 or 6 weeks of training before the race (5 weeks until NJ, 6 weeks until LI), I still have enough time to get in a few longer runs and didn’t want to overdo it right off the bat. I also really want to get back in the habit of finishing long runs fast – something I feel I didn’t focus on enough in the weeks leading up to LA. My legs felt like they were turning over well and even though I spent the first 12 miles dreading the last two, I was happy with how the last two miles felt (they weren’t as fast as I was hoping, but being only two weeks out from LA, I will gladly take it). Splits: 8:02, 7:42, 7:37, 7:38, 7:32, 7:42, 7:36, 7:37, 7:36, 7:33, 7:36, 7:35, 7:19, 7:08. 

Total: 58 miles for the week (with a few hours of “extra” things – strength, barre, pilates, abs)

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I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the LA Marathon. Please keep in mind that there were some things that made my experience a bit different from most of those who participated in the 2014 Asics LA Marathon due to my participation in the Asics Blogger Challenge. I do not know how pre-race or post-race was since we spent part of the morning in a suite in Dodger Stadium and were able to head to the post-race tent straight from the finish line (no walking through the water/fuel/baggage areas). Overall, I thought it was a really well-run race with great support, spectators and a fun and entertaining course!

Pros

  • Race Size – I always love the concept of large races but then when it’s time to deal with crowds at the expo, transportation to the start, race start and first few miles, I vow to never run another one again. The LA Marathon is definitely a large race – with over 20,000 runners, it’s one of the larger ones in the country. But I never felt crowded or claustrophobic (as I often get) during the race or at any of the events leading up to it.
  • Expo – The expo was held in the LA Convention Center. It was open and spacious. There were a good mix of brands and the pre-race necessities were all there.
  • Race Start – I started in Corral B (seeded corral based on qualifying time) and didn’t have any issues with crowding along the course, even in the first few miles. There were definitely a lot of people running around me early on, but it wasn’t so crowded where you had to constantly dodge slower runners or run around them to speed up (Note: this could also maybe be from accurate corral systems which required a race time).
  • Water Points – They were located every two miles early on and then every mile. One thing I liked about the water points was the spacing and location – they were always on both sides of the road and were spaced far enough out that if you missed a cup or wanted two, you had plenty of time to get another one further up the road.
  • Mile Markers – This was one of my favorite things about the LA marathon!! Almost all of the mile markers were huge orange archways that you would run under. It was easy to see and gave me something to run towards during the later miles when I was tired and ready to walk.

    Start line arch - almost all the mile markers were like this! (Pic courtesy of Kristin)

    Start line arch – almost all the mile markers were like this! (Pic courtesy of Kristin)

  • Course Profile – From what I remember (I was pretty far into the pain tunnel for a few miles and paid no attention to the route or sights along the course), there were three significant hills. The toughest one was towards the end – around mile 19/20 when you are running by the VA Hospital. The first two are early enough where they don’t feel so hard. The rest of the course was mostly rolling hills or flat which kept my mind occupied. The last few miles are almost completely downhill which will allow for a speedy fast finish if you still have something left.elevation2
  • Course – The race start at Dodger Stadium, heads through Chinatown, then downtown LA, through Hollywood, Beverly Hills and eventually to Santa Monica. There are a ton of iconic things to see along the course including the Hollywood sign, walk of fame, Rodeo Drive and Sunset Blvd.
  • Crowd Support/Energy – There were a TON of cheer zones and spectators along the course cheering and offering water/orange slices/etc.

Cons

  • Location of Expo – if you are traveling from out of town and opt to stay closer to the finish, you will need to take a taxi, rent a car or utilize mass transportation in order to get to the expo. It’s located at the LA Convention Center which is about a 30 minute car ride from the finish (but closer to the start)
  • Early Race Morning – This is a con, but it’s an obvious and necessary one when you have 25,000 runners participating. Shuttles from various points around LA were leaving beginning around 3am (or some crazy time like that). Also factor in that it was daylight savings and now it’s 2am. Early morning for a lot of people.
  • Port-o-potties in Corrals – Not the biggest deal, but definitely could be an issue for a number of people. The corrals were closing at 7am so Kristin, Monica and I go into corral B around 6:45am. 40+ minutes is a long time on race morning to have to stand around with no access to a port-o-potty. I’ve run several races where a handful of port-o-potties were put into each corral which allowed emergency bathroom visits after the corral closed. (Note: I found out later that they were letting runners into the corrals after the 7am cutoff – but definitely not something I would want to test out!)

Recommendations

  • Stay close to the finish – our hotel was the host hotel for the race and was located at the finish. It was so nice to literally walk from the finish, right to my room to take an ice bath and start the recovery. If you are coming in to town for this race, I would definitely recommend a hotel closer to the finish than the start so you don’t have to worry about post-race transportation.
  • Be prepared for early morning - If you are coming from the east coast for the LA Marathon, race morning won’t be as tough on you. Wakeup was at 4am (but because of daylight savings, it felt like 3am) but since my body was still on east coast time, it felt like 6am for me – later wakeup than normal mornings!
  • Utilize race transportation – The marathon offered bus transportation to the start line (from various pickup locations) to alleviate vehicular traffic. We left the hotel around 5am and didn’t deal with much traffic as we were approaching Dodger Stadium.
  • Use the LA Marathon website – There was a ton of useful information for the expo, start, finish and offered tips and the recommendations were spot on (the ones that I used!).
  • Get into a corral if you can – You do not have to be an elite to get into a seeded corral on race day (I know when I hear the word “seeded” I think it is for elites). If you’ve run a 5:00 marathon (or faster), you qualify for a seeded corral. From the website:

Start Corrals A, B, C, D and E are seeded placement of the fastest 7,300 participants based on their recent marathon finish times.  To qualify for seeded corral placement, you must have completed a full marathon no earlier than July 1, 2012 and no later than January 15, 2014. The Open Corral is self-seeded placement of participants by expected minute per mile pace (ie: 8:00 min/mile, 9:00 min/mile, up to, 13:00 min/mile).

Start Corrals Qualifying Time Max. Capacity
Corral A (1) <3:00:59 300
Corral B (2) <3:50:59 1500
Corral C (3) <4:10:59 1750
Corral D (4) <4:35:59 1750
Corral E (5/6) <5:00:59 2000
Open  N/A N/A

Have you run the LA Marathon? What were your thoughts?

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    29 thoughts on “Training Update + LA Marathon Race Review

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