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.
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?
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.
Dodger Stadium Los Angeles Marathon 2017
Dodger Stadium Los Angeles Marathon 2017
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.
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.
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).
After the finish
Post race swag and 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.