Early last fall, I harbored hopes of running the Los Angeles Marathon. I knew I’d have to do a lot of work to rebuild my endurance, but it was still on my mind especially as my family mourned tío Johnny’s passing in early November.
I never talked about it with Lori, but I thought it might be nice for Team Mosqueda to run LA in remembrance of our uncle. As kids, we were both awed each time he completed another LA marathon. The memory of tío Johnny running definitely inspired us through our training/races many years later. His triumphant finish line photo was even displayed in his casket during the wake.
A few weeks after tío Johnny passed away, I found out we were expecting and all hopes of long distance running went out the window. Honestly, I was a little bummed but mainly relieved. The thought of getting back in to marathon running shape was making my head and legs hurt.
At least I have wonderful memories of the LA Marathon. It’s been good to me even if the weather hasn’t cooperated in the past. Part of the reason I went for (and met!) the sub-4 reach goal last year was because I knew that with the wedding and plans to start a family soon after, LA ’12 could be my last marathon training cycle for a year or two.
While, I won’t be running from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica this Sunday, I’ll still be out on the course. I’ll be cheering somewhere in Beverly Hills, Century City or Westwood (where the course comes closest to my home). I have some friends and family running the marathon and want to be out there to cheer for them as well as thousands of other runners. I love making race signs and have already thought up a couple motivating signs for Alexis (brother’s girlfriend), Jorge, Claudia, Marlene and her Students Run LA cohorts from the high school nearby.
I do have some tips from my limited experience on the course. (Past recaps: 2011: Rain!; 2012: the perfect race day; 2012 post-script)
1. Start slow! I know this isn’t easy due to excitement, adrenaline and the downhill start. However, try to reign it in. Remember that this is the easy part. Avoid stressing out and weaving too much around slower runners. Don’t worry, you’ll pass them up at the hills on First Street up to Disney Hall and out of Downtown LA in to Echo Park.
2. Develop a smart pacing strategy. Don’t try to run all the miles at/near the same pace. Instead, plan to run the first 10K at slower than goal pace and speed every 5-6 miles or so until you get to the end. This is a great course to negative split given than the last 4 miles are downhill. I used My Marathon Pace bands which allow you to personalize a plan for the current LA Marathon course. In making my plan, I set it for a slower start, negative split and slower effort on hills. With all this said, be flexible. Bad race days happen, unfortunately.
3. Stick to your fueling strategy and get water at all the aid stations. They’ll be crowded on a warm and sunny day so pass up the first few tables and grab water at the end. Don’t forget your sunblock!
4. Draw energy from the spectators and check out their signs. The good/funny ones distract from any pain or even boredom on the course. If you elected to have your name printed on your bib, thank those who are cheering for you. Hopefully there’s a great turnout for spectators this year since it’ll be warm and sunny rather than cold and rainy.
5. If you’ll have friends cheering for you on the course, think about having them at a place where you know you might struggle. Sean, my sister and parents cheered for me in Beverly Hills around mile 16/17. Seeing them always gave me a boost when I needed it mentally. Also, make sure they know what you’re wearing so they can spot you easier. Avoid wearing the official race shirt because you’ll look like every 10th runner. Last, a bonus of coming up with a detailed pacing plan is that you can give your friends/family pretty accurate times for when you’ll be at a certain point — that is, if you stick to the plan. (ETA: Have your relatives sign up for race day tracking. You can sign up for it yourself and have your splits posted to Twitter or Facebook. Last year it was every 10K and includes an expected finish time based on your pace to that point. It feels kinda awesome to see your friends cheering you on from afar.)
6. Thank the volunteers. They’re awesome. Enough said.
7. Enjoy the course and the LA landmarks as you zoom by. It’s rare that you get to stroll down Hollywood Blvd or the Sunset Strip without any cars.
8. Load up some LA-centric songs on your iPod. I know it’s cheesy, but Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” is fitting when you’re kicking ass through LA streets. Save your phone battery for when you finish and need to meet up with friends and family in Santa Monica. It’ll be hectic.
9. Come up with a mantra that you know will help get you through the tough miles. I like “Sí se puede.”
10. Let the adrenaline take over and give it all you have left on San Vicente in the last 4 miles.