Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 13 – The LA Marathon

Last weekend was the LA Marathon and it was the most enjoyable race I’ve done in a long time, if not ever. I set a PR for the course and met all the goals I had hoped to achieve.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Along with Andrew Read and Narisa Wild, Julie Warren will be sharing her training experiences for upcoming endurance challenges. Follow Julie as she prepares for her next adventure – the Great Wall of China Marathon! Julie’s journals will be posted on Saturdays.

Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 13 – The LA Marathon

I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a race as much as I enjoyed the Los Angeles Marathon this past weekend. When you think about it, that’s a pretty bold statement. Running 26.2 miles is not supposed to be ‘enjoyable,’ but this really was! I went into this race with precious few expectations. My only performance goals were:

  1. Run a comfortable race.
  2. Get an understanding of where I stand as I prepare for the Great Wall marathon.
  3. Not reignite the plantar fasciitis fire in my foot.

Long story short, I successfully accomplished all of these goals.

You’ll note there were no time goals, no pace goals, nothing of the sort. That’s a really difficult mentality for me to bring to a race. I didn’t even wear a watch. I only wanted to run as I felt I could in the moment. I ran the race with my sister, whose marathon PR is within a minute of mine, so we are a good running duo, even if we train in totally different ways and geographic locations. We agreed we just wanted to run the race together and have fun while seeing how well we could do, since last year we ran it together on a whim, sans training. Yes, terrible plan. I do not endorse that method whatsoever.

I did, of course, have the benefit of running this race at sea level, while having been living and training at 6500ft+ for the past six months. Needless to say, the lungs were never an issue. One issue that surprised me though was how much my knees hurt immediately after the race. I didn’t think about it, but nearly all of my training has been on trails. I mean, why run on city roads if you can run on gorgeous trails away from everything? Oh, because if you are training for a race on pavement, and you never actually train on pavement, you’re going to feel it post-race, if not sooner. I will definitely be reluctantly incorporating more hard-surface training into my weekly runs.

Another issue that became apparent was nutrition. I still need to dial in what I’m going to consume the evening prior to the race, as well as race morning. I never had any sort of gastro disaster, but I did have to deal with a rather uncomfortable stomach for the first eight miles. I also relied on the on-course water and electrolytes, which might have been a mistake. I train using NUUN electrolyte supplements in my water, but the on-course electrolyte drink was different and tasted kind of sugary. As a result, miles 20 – 26.2 resulted in some moments where I quickly scanned for porta-potties, just in case the situation escalated. As far as taking in calories, water, and electrolytes during the race, I felt like I did a pretty good job of staying on top of all that. If I can just get my pre-race meals locked-in, and not make silly on-course electrolyte drink mistakes, I should be in good shape.

Those are the big changes I feel I need to make in the next nine weeks to prepare for the Great Wall marathon. In my honest opinion, those seem like fairly small tweaks. Prior to the race, I had some legitimate concerns about how prepared I really was for a marathon. I had only been running ‘long’ every other week, and my only long runs over a half marathon distance were a 17 mile and 18 mile. The rest of my training was banking fairly heavily on my CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance workouts. To be completely honest, there were some moments around miles 21 and 22 that I felt pretty awful. I don’t think that was my training failing me, but rather just a mental moment I had to struggle through. In fact, I rebounded around mile 23, feeling pretty fantastic, and according to my sister’s GPS watch we cruised the final two miles of the race at a sub-7min/mi pace. Not shabby after running for 3.5 hours!

I won’t bore you with all the mile-by-mile details, but I will tell you when it comes to my goals for the 2013 LA Marathon, I definitely accomplished them! I ran a very sound race, finishing in a respectable 3 hrs and 53 min. It’s not a personal PR, but a PR for the course, so I’m happy. I also know exactly where I stand just nine weeks out from the Great Wall marathon and what adjustments I need to make to my training and nutrition. And most importantly, I woke up the following morning with zero soreness and never gave plantar fasciitis a moment’s thought, because it didn’t show it’s face! All around, a very wonderful and successful race weekend!