2017 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Summary of the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon

Intro

The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of the biggest marathons in the country and a huge celebration of all things running and all things America. This was my third marathon, my first being almost exactly one year prior (3:09 in Baltimore), and I had high hopes for this one. My aggressive goal was somewhere in the 2:46-2:48 range, but leading up to the race I wasn’t very confident in my training so I decided to shoot for that in the first half and play the second half by feel.

IMG_0061

The morning went according to plan. I got to the starting area in plenty of time, ditched the hoodie and sweatpants I was wearing to keep warm (that I got from Goodwill the week prior), and when the gun went off it was ON.

IMG_0219

Race Recap

0-5k|Net Time: 20:00|Section Pace: 6:26|Overall Pace: 6:26

Part of this section I took a little faster than I should have because I spotted Mike Wardian (legendary marathoner / ultra marathoner) and wanted to hang with him for a little while. I wish I said hi to him but keeping up with his pace at the time was a struggle and he eventually pulled away from me. After crossing the 5k mark I felt good and was happy with my pacing.

5k-10k|Net Time: 39:33|Section Pace: 6:17|Overall Pace: 6:22

Much of this section was downhill and I threw down some fast miles. I could tell going downhill at the speed I was would be something I’d be feeling later in the race, but it felt so good at the time that I couldn’t slow down.

10k-15k|Net Time: 59:03|Section Pace: 6:16|Overall Pace: 6:20

Still feeling strong, still feeling fast.

15k-20k|Net Time: 1:18:38|Section Pace: 6:18|Overall Pace: 6:19

Still feeling good but pace is slipping a little.

20k-25k|Net Time: 1:38:31|Section Pace: 6:19|Overall Pace: 6:20

I passed the halfway mark here in 1:23. I knew that was fast, and since I could tell my pace was already starting to slip my aggressive goal of 2:46 was out of the question, but was hopeful 2:48 was still in the running.

 25k-30k|Net Time: 1:58:48|Section Pace: 6:31|Overall Pace: 6:22

The pain and suffering has begun…

30k-35k|Net Time: 2:19:47|Section Pace: 6:45|Overall Pace: 6:25

I think this part of the course went around some of the monuments in DC. Couldn’t take any pictures but I tried to soak it all in as my legs were screaming at me. It also started warming up by this time, but I was doing my best to stay hydrated and cool at each water station.

35k-40k|Net Time: 2:41:47|Section Pace: 7:05|Overall Pace: 6:30

My hopes of 2:48 were gone by now, I was just hanging on for dear life. The internal struggle of whether to throw in the towel and do some walking was growing as the pain in my legs grew stronger, but I’d regret it if I did so I kept marching onwards.

40k-Finish|Net Time: 2:51:30|Section Pace: 7:07|Overall Pace: 6:32

Towards the end there isn’t much crowd support which made the pain even worse. The finish line is at the top of a short but significant hill, and I did my best to run up it as fast as I could. I high-fived a marine and limped across the finish line.

(Strava Data)

IMG_0076

Reflections

I know I was capable of a better time. The temperature towards the end probably played a factor (it was up to the 70’s by the time I finished), but there were a couple of things I think I should have done differently for this race that would have helped my performance.

  1. Not start out as fast. This was is obvious but worth stating. It’s always better to start a little on the conservative side. I knew that but stupidly didn’t follow it.
  2. Wear better shoes. This was another dumb mistake I made. I’m long overdue for a new pair, the shoes I ran in have about 600 miles on them and I could tell early on that they’re best days were long behind them.
  3. Focus on training 3-5 weeks out. Right when my training should have been peaking I started changing things up and not putting in the quality workouts I should have. This probably affected my performance on race day but also my confidence.

Summary

Overall I still managed to get a PR and I’m happy with that. The course had some really beautiful sections which were nice to see along the way. Despite feeling awful by the end of the race I gutted it out and didn’t get injured, and for that I’m grateful.

For the next week or so I’ll be recovering but I can’t wait to ramp the training back up and start prepping for the next race.

Boston is only 6 months away!

Running Summary: Week Of 9/11/17 – 9/17/17

Running summary of the past week of training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

General Reflections: This week I officially registered for and was accepted into the Boston Marathon! As for training, I planned to cut back on mileage but I wound up putting in more miles than I wanted to.

  • Monday: 8 easy miles
  • Tuesday: 12.2 with track intervals | 4 easy miles | Tennis
  • Wednesday: 10 easy miles
  • Thursday: 13 miles with a few at Marathon Pace to NYC | 2.6 | 2.5 | 2.4
  • Friday: Easy 8
  • Saturday: Easy 13 | Easy 2
  • Sunday: Easy 10

Weekly Totals: 88 miles. 3,199 ft of elevation gain

Favorite Workout(s): Tuesday’s track workout

On Tuesday I had my first track workout in a while (Strava info). This was also the first track work I’ve done for months where the temperature was fairly mild. It’s crazy how much of a difference the cooler weather made.

My heart rate was able to recover much quicker than in the past on sweltering hot days, which led to being able to keep my pace up on the intervals. My intervals / times were:

  • 8x800m ~2:48
  • 4x400m ~1:18
  • 4x200m ~0:37
  • 1×1 mile ~5:40

Each rep had a recovery jog of half the previous rep’s distance between them (besides the final 1 mile rep). Normally I check my heart rate between reps to see what it recovers to, and for these intervals I found it getting to about 10 bpm lower than it usually gets.

Biggest Issues: I spent all day Saturday in NYC, and the new cable I brought to charge my phone with my portable battery wound up being a dud and not working. The only way I was able to keep my phone juiced was to go to two different Apple stores to plug it into the cables they used to charge the products on display… That was a stressful experience. I did a couple other runs and long walks that day but couldn’t track any of them because of my phone being in a constant state of low battery.

IMG_1684

Lessons learned: Test everything before relying on it.

Next Week: Lower the mileage a little more and but have a good long run. 5 weeks till the Marine Corps Marathon!

Running Summary: Week Of 9/4/17 – 9/10/17

Running summary of the past week of training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

General Reflections: I was in Los Angeles for half of this week. I set a new weekly mileage record, topping 100 miles for the first time, and a new weekly elevation gain PR.

  • Monday: 4 easy miles | 4.5 easy miles
  • Tuesday: 17.8 trail + road miles
  • Wednesday: 1 easy mile | 18 trail + road miles
  • Thursday: 7.6 easy miles
  • Friday: 10.1 mile workout | 5 easy miles
  • Saturday: 20.3 miles
  • Sunday: 13.2 miles

Weekly Totals: 101.8 miles. 5,883 ft of elevation gain

Favorite Workout(s): My Wednesday long run

On Wednesday I took a train to Hollywood, and did a trail run up and around Griffith park (Strava info). The views were phenomenal and fortunately it was a more frequently trafficked trail system so I didn’t get really lost (like I did the previous day).

IMG_1499
Biggest Issues: On Tuesday’s trail run I got dangerously lost.

Lessons learned: Bringing an emergency little flask of water (I have a 7oz one I used) on runs that may be longer than planned is a good safety precaution to take.

Next Week: Lower the mileage and get back to more speed work

Running Summary: Week Of 8/28/17 – 9/3/17

Running summary of the past week of training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

General Reflections: Most of this week I’ve been in Los Angeles, just in time for a little heatwave.

  • Monday: 12.5 easy miles
  • Tuesday: 6 easy morning miles (before flight)
  • Wednesday: 13.4 progressive miles
  • Thursday: 12 easy miles
  • Friday: 5.3 easy miles
  • Saturday: 10 easy miles
  • Sunday: 16.6 mile long run

Weekly Totals: 76.2 miles. 3,340 ft elevation gain

Favorite Workout(s): My Wednesday and Sunday runs.

Wednesday was my first run in Cali, and I had a great progressive run to the beach (Strave info). I felt fast, and timed it well so I caught the sun setting:

LA Sunset Beach

Sunday’s run was the long run (Strava info), and while the heat was exhausting, I climbed a mountain and enjoyed taking in the sights.

IMG_1358

Biggest Issues: It was way hotter than I expected, and while climbing the mountain my water supply got dangerously low.

Lesson: Don’t be stupid on hot days when in a new area, make sure you have enough water!

Next Week: Miles. Lots and lots of miles.

Running Summary: Week Of 8/21/17 – 8/27/17

Running summary of the past week of training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

General Reflections: This past week started off strong but had a disappointing finish.

  • Monday: 10 easy miles
  • Tuesday: 12 (hot) miles. Some 800 and 400 track intervals
  • Wednesday: 8 easy miles
  • Thursday: 12 mile fartlek, then 3 easy miles later that evening.
  • Friday: 8.6 trail miles
  • Saturday: 21 miles, half on trails.
  • Sunday: 6 recovery miles

Weekly Totals: 81.4 miles. 4,587 ft elevation gain

Favorite Workout: My Thursday and Friday runs.

Thursday I had a fartlek run (strava info), rotating between 2 minutes of fast running and 2 minutes of easy running for the first part. I finished the run with 3 fast miles, with 0.5 miles of recover between each one. My times for those fast miles were 5:35, 5:45, 5:40, and I was very happy with those miles especially because I had just run 8 miles of fartlek right before them.

Friday (strava info) I ran around a state park and got lost, and it was a blast. I talked a little about in this post.

Biggest Issues: Saturday’s long run was pretty good. My knees were really sore after it but I was able to finish without issue. The problem was, that night I wound up eating a ton of junk food. I used the calories I burned from the long run to convince myself it was ok, but I went way overboard (for the day I went over 5,000 calories including a carton of ice cream…). I also was up late that night because of the Mayweather – McGregor fight, which led to more eating. But, excuses excuses. I messed up.

On Sunday I was feeling sluggish and could only manage 6 recovery miles. So my eating mistake on Saturday cost me a decent run and left me feeling lousy all Sunday. I’ll probably take it very easy today (Monday) also.

Lesson: Having cheat days and overeating occasionally is not a big deal but going overboard can potentially cost you a couple workouts. So even when giving in to temptation, be careful.

Next Week: I’ll be in Los Angeles most of next week, so I’ll hopefully get a ton of mileage in with new scenery.

Marine Corps Marathon Training Strategy 2 Months Out

Training strategy for the Marine Corps Marathon

With just about 2 months to go until my next goal race, the Marine Corps Marathon, I wanted to quickly check in with my training and talk about my progress leading up to that race.

Rock The River Race Photo

For my previous marathon, the 2017 Los Angeles Marathon (check out my race report here), my training was lower mileage (peaking at a 71 mile week), and focused more on speed work, with lots of progressive and fartlek runs.

For the Marine Corps Marathon, my goal is to beat my LA Marathon time and finish somewhere around 2:46. To do this, I’ve decided to try focusing on elevation gain and higher mileage. My last 2 weeks of running have been my highest recorded mileage weeks ever according to Strava, at 95 and 90 miles respectively. I’ve also been averaging about 3,500 feet of elevation gain per week for the past month or so, which isn’t a ton but it’s almost triple what I was averaging in the past.

My overall average pace has been slightly slower than in the past, but I’m not worried about that. I’m hoping that speed will come with the mileage I’m putting in. I still get out to the track for a little speed work, and add some fast marathon pace miles into some of my runs, but as a whole I’m less concerned with running fast during training.

We’ll see if this strategy works out, but I have a good feeling it will. I can tell that my legs are much stronger than they’ve ever been due to the miles and elevation. My only concerns are staying healthy, and whether my legs will remember how to go fast.

 

What do you think is more optimal for marathon training when trying to get a fast time: more speed with fewer miles, or less speed with more miles?

 

Thanks for reading!

2017 Los Angeles Marathon Race Report

My attempt at going sub-3 at the 2017 LA Marathon

On March 19th, 2017 I ran my second ever marathon, the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon. This race holds a special place in my heart as I’ve made frequent trips to this city to visit my friend who attends UCLA. Already being somewhat familiar with parts of the course, and having trained harder than I ever had for any other race, I was confident I could improve upon my previous marathon time of 3:09 and hopefully manage a sub-3. At the very least I wanted to avoid blowing up in the last few miles like I did at that prior marathon, but that’s another story.

My training loosely followed the Hal Higdon Advanced 1 marathon training program. I basically did easy runs on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, speed work consisting of track intervals hill repeats or fartleks on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a long run and medium long run over the weekends. My mileage peaked at a 71 mile week during this training block, and I had a 1.5 week taper leading to race day (I’m not a fan of tapering, it’s so boring, but important).

The day before the race my two friends Adam and Marissa and I attended the expo / packet picket. This was quite an ordeal. After jogging the mile to the train station to keep my run streak alive, taking the train to downtown LA was fine and finding the expo was a breeze, but man was that place packed. The actual packet pickup section was ok, but the expo… that expo was like a beehive of runners buzzing around. I wound up waiting on line for 15 minutes to buy a Skechers Los Angeles Marathon branded hat and a singlet (I’m a sucker for functional souvenirs), but we didn’t stay around for too long after that. There were some snack freebies (not too many disappointingly), and I picked up a couple of GUs for the race, and then we got out of there. If you’ve ever seen the movie Finding Forrester, it started to feel a little like the scene when William gets separated from Jamal at the basketball arena and hides under a staircase. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, hydrating, and focusing.

Waking up the next morning at 3:45am wasn’t so bad, and I took a Lyft to Santa Monica City Hall to catch a shuttle bus to the start of the race, Dodger Stadium. As luck would have it, our bus driver missed his exit and got lost! But with a little help and direction from a passenger we got to the area we needed to be with time to spare.

After stretching for a bit I just sat on the ground and waited until it got close to race time, to save my legs for the hell they were about to go through. Fortunately I got to start pretty near the front in corral A, so passing and bumping into people wasn’t an issue.

Los Angeles Marathon 2017 Start Line
Start Line of the 2017 Los Angeles Marathon

After the gun went off (or was it an air horn, I can’t remember), I settled into a comfy pace. Miles 1-13 consisted of some pretty steep downhill sections, and a long uphill one that was tiresome but since it was towards the beginning it wasn’t a race-breaker. There was some good crowd support and the aid stations were all nicely stocked. I passed the 13 mile marker right around 1:28, so I knew my pacing was pretty on point.

The second half of the race was where I realized my time could be better than I thought possible. Running through Hollywood and Beverly Hills was really cool; I wish I could have taken more pictures but settled for looking around at everything.

Beverly Hills Los Angeles Marathon
Somewhere in Beverly Hills

Around the 20 mile mark, my friends captured this quick video of me passing by, and I just couldn’t resist the opportunity for a couple high fives!

The race ends with a gradual downhill section for the last few miles, so I decided that if I felt good that’s where I’d open up my pace, and as luck would have it, I felt great. I closed the race at about a 6:10 pace over the final 4.5 miles (5:40 pace from 40km – finish), and finished with a time of 2:54:21, easily surpassing all of the goals I had for the race.

After crossing the finish line and walking what seemed like another mile to the finish festival area, (seriously, that walk needs to be shorter, we just ran a darn marathon), I got my medal which was awesome and super heavy, and met up with my friends again. I got myself a free beer and a ton of random free swag (bottle opener, thunder sticks, chapstick, and a bunch of delicious Clif bars, amongst other goodies).

And thus concludes the story of my 2017 Los Angeles Marathon adventure. Almost everything went smoothly, the course was great, and I smashed my goal. I’ll be trying to improve upon my marathon time this October at the Marine Corps Marathon, and I’ll be sure to post about that race leading up to and after it.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about this race or my training (or whatever) feel free to drop me a comment.