THE WEEK OF…
Race week is finally upon us. On Sunday March 19th, myself and approximately 24,999 other pavement pounders will be lacing ’em up for the annual Los Angeles Marathon to trek the 26.2 miles from Dodgers Stadium all the way to the Santa Monica Pier.
For those of you who don’t know about the LA Marathon and its scenic “stadium to the sea” route, you should check it out. It really is quite a sight. Think of it as a running tour of the city.
Okay, actually think of it as a multi-hour sweaty, trying not to heave up your lungs and crash to the ground ending up in the fetal position, running tour of the city. As you question your worth as a human being, you’ll pass by: Dodger Stadium, Disney Hall, The Chinese Theater, Sunset Blvd., Rodeo Drive, the lovely Pacific Ocean and many other sights. Here’s the course map.
The week leading up to the Los Angeles Marathon is always a busy one for me. For starters, it’s typically the week of my birthday (it’s actually today… so woo hoo). Not to mention that I’m also usually still trying to reach my fundraising goal. Fortunately, an incredibly generous donation from a running friend last week helped push me over the top. So that’s all done.
Now I can just focus on the other things that totally freak me out in the week leading up to race day.
TRAINING- At this point I’m just tapering, but wondering if my conditioning is going to be sufficient to get me through the entire race. I used a one-on-one coach this season who has worked me hard (improving my speed). However, I’ve had some endurance issues on my last few long runs for various reasons, so I’m a bit worried about how I’ll fare in the final few miles.
PACE- This kind of goes hand in hand with training. What finish time, pace, nutrition and run/walk ratio should I shoot for on race day? I’ve been tweaking all of them the last few weeks (with the aid of my coach) and I’m still not quite certain my exact strategy for race day. My coach and I will pow wow on Friday night to make our decision.
HEALTH- On race week my inner germaphobe rears his ugly head. I don’t want to catch so much as a sniffle in the days leading up to race (hazmat suit optional). Last week, however, I came down with some harsh allergies (or perhaps a cold). Being a mobile snot factory on race day is not a good thing, so I’ve been pumping my body full of things in the hopes of turning off the phlegm works. So far so good.
FOOD- On race week my diet gets very predictable and quite boring. This is not the week to go crazy trying some new kind of food that may not agree with your system (no squid smoothies). I’m also extra wary about how my food is prepared because this is also not the week to get food poisoning (note: there is never a good week for food poisoning). Fortunately since it is my birthday, I’ll be able to enjoy plenty of comfort-foodish cake/ice cream and the sort (goes under the heading of carbo loading). Unfortunately, my no booze ban went into effect Sunday night (well, maybe one beer to celebrate the B-day and perhaps one for nerve-calming come Friday).
WEATHER- The last three years Mother Nature has decided to turn the Los Angeles Marathon into a sauna fun run. Excessive heat has kept PR expectations very low (including the year we ran the race under an extreme head advisory). So far the forecast for March 19th is shaping up nicely… partly cloudy with lows in the 50s and a high of just 70. But I’ll be checking weather.com every 12 seconds or so for the next week to see if conditions change in the slightest.
MY BRAIN- Perhaps my biggest hurdle leading up to race day is the three headed beast of me, myself and I. Self doubt is natural when taking on a full marathon and while I feel I’ve got the half marathon distance down pretty well, I’m still trying to run what I consider a “complete” full marathon (even though I’ve done 10 of ’em). Granted no one I know considers a full marathon to be a breeze and being uncomfortable in the latter miles is par for the course. But in the past I think I’ve made the mistake of listening to my negative noggin too much as well as putting too much pressure on myself. One of my goals on race day is not to wage a war with my inner doubt. Rather I’m going to try and focus on the positive energy from the crowd and my fellow marathoners.
Other than that, I’ve got plenty of other little details to deal with: what to wear on race day, when to hit the expo, managing to get a few winks of sleep the night before, parking/shuttling to and from the course and so on.
Stress, excitement, anticipation… all part of marathon week. It’s glorious stuff.
So bring it on… and run on!