Los Angeles Marathon Review

Good morning, hope your week is off to a great start! Running outside after work in the dark yesterday reminded me that daylight savings won’t happen again until March! Only about 4 months to go until longer days! :)

Last March my sister and I decided to escape the Boston winter and run the Los Angeles marathon. While running a PR was not the goal of this race, I did fit in some long training runs prior to the race. However these runs were mostly inside on the treadmill because of the weather. The race was just over three months after my previous marathon, Plymouth Plantation in MA.

015 Santa Monica Pier 

We flew to LA the Thursday night before the race. We stayed in Santa Monica, near where the “stadium to sea” race ended at the Santa Monica Pier. We loved this area of LA (like most people!), and found some great food options. Sugar Fish, Stella Barra– pizza and other carb-rich items were perfect pre-and post-race! We also enjoyed exploring the Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, and Rodeo Drive and shopping at Third Street Promenade.

Bib and t-shirt pickup were at the LA Convention Center- plenty of parking and we thought it was conveniently located in the city. After eating our pre-race meals of peanut butter and banana on bagels, we shuttled over to Dodger Stadium a couple of hours prior to the 7:30 am race start. We felt that the shuttle system was convenient, and enjoyed hanging out in the stadium until the race started. Always a luxury to use real bathrooms instead of porta potties!

019 (1)Dodger Stadium prior to the start

The race started with a steep downhill, and a few more rolling hills followed. The rolling hills continued throughout the race until mile 24, when the course veered steadily downhill until the last 0.2. Course was overall scenic, passing all of the notable LA sites including Hollywood Hall of Fame, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Palisades Park, and Santa Monica Pier.

FullSizeRender (7)Santa Monica Beach

There was also a decent amount of entertainment along the course, and adequate water stations. The issue that my sister and I had with the race was the heat—the race started with a 70 degree temperature and climbed up into the mid-80s by the time we finished. I decided early on that given the heat, I would take this race easy and enjoy the sites. The race directors pushed up the date of the race by several weeks, which I think is a great idea. Hopefully future LA marathons are met with cooler temperatures!

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Santa Monica finish line shot

My sister and I were happy to relax in the California sun on Santa Monica Beach for the rest of the trip!

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Miami Marathon Review and a Destination Half!

A couple of years ago I ran the Miami Marathon (I also ran the half marathon in January, 2016- check out the recap here!). I signed up to run this race in January with some friends, knowing that it wouldn’t be a goal race but a recovery/fun race (being in Miami and all!). I had run Philadelphia Marathon two months prior and was a bit disappointed with my finish. I crossed the line in my goal time, however did not feel physically well during the race and post-race, so wanted to move on from that as soon as possible. I have more thoughts on the idea of jumping into running another race too quickly following a disappointing performance- stay tuned for a future post on this!

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Needless to say, Miami Marathon would not ultimately be my “comeback” race (that wouldn’t happen for a couple of years), but I did enjoy my time out there.

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Boston runner feeling the Miami heat!

Positive memories about running Miami marathon include:

  1. The race is relatively flat- the only hills are the highway overpasses connecting the islands.
  2. The race had adequate water and fuel stations, and plenty of support from volunteers.
  3. Course is fairly scenic, running throughout the city and Miami beach. I was tempted to drop out and jump in the cool ocean on more than one occasion! I was also tempted to drop out and head to the clubs that were still active when I arrived to the race.
  4. Spending a weekend in Miami in January. 80 degree weather always beats 10 degrees.
  5. Excellent pre-and post-food options, including one of my favorite restaurants Yardbird, can be found everywhere in Miami.
  6. Expo is well organized and situated conveniently with lots of parking or walking distance if staying in Miami Beach.

039View of the city from Brickell

Some things to keep in mind if you are running Miami Marathon (or the Half Marathon):

  1. Even though the race is in January and starts before sunrise, it’s Miami in January. This is a hot race, and not ideal for a PR. It’s one to enjoy as a destination race. Drink water and/or Gatorade at every water station!
  2. The second half of the marathon is always tougher than the first, but even more so given this marathon’s course. Miles 14-19, the first few miles post-half marathon finish, are a bit boring, and this continues when you cross into Coconut Grove (mile 19) until mile 22 (to the start of the Rickenbacker Causeway). After the causeway, you head back into downtown, where the crowds and entertainment pick up.
  3. Wear sunscreen, even though the race starts before sunrise. Miami sun is intense, particularly if you haven’t seen the sun in months.
  4. Enjoy being in such a fun city and make sure to load up on Cuban food post-race (not recommended pre-race!)

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So much relaxation and recreation in Miami!

Mark and I decided to head back to Miami this January and run the half marathon. It will be a great training race for Paris, and well, an ideal time of year to get out of Boston.  Can’t wait to explore Miami more!

588Miami Beach 

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Happy Monday and Thailand Do’s and Don’ts

Happy Monday! This chilly fall weather we’ve had lately (and it is only going to get so much worse!) has me thinking about being in Thailand! Mark and I went to SE Asia to visit my friend Kim for a couple of weeks this past March, it was a trip to remember. While reflecting on the experience, I have come up with a quick list of Thailand Do’s and Don’ts based on some lessons we learned while we were there.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t eat vendor food that has been sitting out in the sun for a while. This includes food from any boat cruise or long tail boats.

IMG_2111Longboat off Phra Nang Beach, Krabi

  • Don’t drink anything with ice, as ice could be made from contaminated water.
  • Don’t touch anything with your feet or point anything with your feet (note that this was not a lesson learned).
  • Don’t touch a Thai person’s head (this also was not a lesson learned).

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  • Don’t feed monkeys, even if they are cute.

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Krabi Islands

Do’s:

  • Drink water throughout the day and stay hydrated- the sun is intense in SE Asia!
  • Regularly apply sunblock.

IMG_0033Krabi

  • Do keep calm, enjoy yourself, and smile a lot.
  • Do bring maps wherever you go, but maps may confuse you more.

592View of Bangkok from Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn

  • Do dress appropriately when visiting temples- this includes wearing shawls (for the ladies), and in some cases, long sleeves. Long skirts or pants are a must too.
  • Do respect all Buddha images.

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Wat Pho temple, Bangkok

016If you forget a hat at home, there are many options for purchasing hats of all shapes and sizes in Bangkok and Krabi.

  • Do come prepared with medications from home, even over the counter drugs. Items like Pepto-Bismol are harder to come by in Asia.

013Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

We loved our time in Thailand and hope to visit again one day!

Marine Corps Marathon Review

My first MCM and marathon #13 was a great experience overall!

Registration for the race was in March. My sig/running partner Mark and I were lucky enough to secure bibs this year through a lottery system where we think only half the registrants got in.

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The MCM was held on the last full weekend in October (the 25th). Mark and I flew down to DC on Friday night, and headed to the expo on Saturday morning for bib and t-shirt pickup. The expo was huge, one of the largest I have been to! We were able to pick up the goods and grab lunch before heading back to the hotel for a relaxing rest of the day. Dinner was at Ella’s Pizza with my cousin and his girlfriend who was also running. It was a great pre-race meal and I recommend the pizza for all DC friends!

584Walking by Washington Monument the evening before the race.

Race day: We woke up around 5am, and did the usual pre-race routine:

  • Quick hot shower
  • Application of body glide to most areas of the body
  • Dynamic and foam rolling stretches
  • Coffee
  • Banana/bagel/peanut butter pre-race meal. I also had half of a honey stinger.

After this, we were off on the metro! It was crowded but easy to get to the Pentagon stop where the race started. What we hadn’t planned for was the hour-long security line to the runners’ village at the start. MCM decided to increase security this year, and therefore 30,000 people had to go through metal detectors to gain admission to the start. Fortunately we got to this point ahead of time, but we only had 20ish minutes to use the porta pots and scurry over to the start before the guns went off.

MCM put on quite a show at the starting line with a flyover and five parachuters from the sky displaying massive American Flags. It was incredible! Soon after this moment, we were off! My goal was to just enjoy this race and take it easy, given that my previous marathon (Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT) was just six weeks prior. I hoped to finish in just under 4 hours.

FullSizeRender (1)Walk around the National Mall on the Monday after the race

Instead of writing a recap of the entire race, I’m going to write what worked what didn’t work for the race. If you are considering running MCM, take note!

What worked:

  1. The enthusiasm displayed by the Marines handing out water and along the entire course was incredible!!
  2. The race was run very well overall- loved that we could take the metro straight to the start and finish. Post-race food was great and water and Gatorade were plentiful during the entire course. Starting line had some great effects. Mile markers shown throughout the course.
  3. Crowd support along the entire race was incredible! There were a couple of areas with no spectators, but crowds did line the majority of the course.
  4. Medal, tech t-shirt, and other race swag were great.
  5. Running along the “blue mile” was incredibly memorable- this was a memorial for fallen soldiers, and their photos lined a stretch of the course.
  6. Course was overall interesting, passing many monuments and other interesting areas of DC and Arlington.
  7. Plenty of porta-potties throughout the race!
  8. My race nutrition worked well- my pre-race meal combined with three GUs and Gatorade at every other water station throughout the race kept me from bonking (for the most part!). I usually have 3-4 GUs throughout a marathon, but found 3 to be sufficient this time.
  9. Receiving my medal at the finish line from a Marine was amazing. Made me feel so hard core!

What didn’t work:

  1. Long security lines at the start did not allow us time to use the porta pots more than once, so I had to use one along the course (around mile 2). Check out runnersworld.com‘s review on the long security lines.
  2. The pouring rain at the start until mile 8 made the beginning mentally and physically tough!
  3. The course was hillier than I had anticipated, particularly the first three miles and the last few (miles 21-22 were on a highway that was not flat), and there’s a fairly steep hill right at the end. I had not trained for this.
  4. The course was crowded throughout the entire race. There was not one moment where someone wasn’t running beside and in front of me, which resulted in a lot of zig-zagging and ultimately running over 27 miles according to the GPS. Water stations were a bit of a cluster too.

Overall, Mark and I each had a great race and would highly recommend this marathon to anyone. I met my goal of running sub-4 hours (3:58), and felt strong in the hours and days following the race. Looking forward to some rest before I start training for my next!

Relaxing Weekend and Race Morning Routine

Happy Sunday! It was so nice to gain an extra hour this morning, despite the fact that it will start to get dark at 4:30PM where I live! Hope you all had a fun Halloween yesterday- we sure did! We ended up dressing as a tree and a treehugger. As the treehugger, I sported a comfy flannel, whereas Mark was covered with leaves. I think I got the better deal :)

My Halloween started off by sleeping in (it’s been awhile!),  and then my sister came over to visit before heading out on a long run. She is training for the Philadelphia Marathon, and yesterday’s 20 miler was her last before taper. My sister often comes in to the city from the suburbs so she can join other runners or enjoy her favorite running paths in Boston!

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I also went out for an nice 7.5 mile run, first run since last weekend’s marathon! It was a perfect fall day outside. I wore my new favorite running shorts, favorite long sleeve, and compression socks. It was the best weather for running!

I wanted to completely recover before I jumped back into my running routine. As I was getting ready to head out the door, I thought about my typical pre-race routine.

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My typical routine on the morning of race:

  1. Wake up EARLY with plenty of time to stretch, eat and wake up before you head out the door
  2. Take a quick hot shower to warm up the muscles
  3. Foam roll routine
  4. Stretch routine, with dynamic stretching
  5. Apply body glide to most areas of the body
  6. Eat my banana-bagel breakfast, sometimes with a honey stinger
  7. Drink one cup of coffee and a lot of water. If you are a coffee-before-race drinker like we are, check if your hotel has a coffee machine. If not, buy cups of coffee the evening before (Starbucks usually isn’t open at the early hour of the race, especially if it’s on a Sunday!). It may be cold, but cold coffee is better than no coffee before a race! You want to stop drinking fluids about an hour prior to the race, otherwise you will have to use a port-a-potty along the course. Now is the time to drink!
  8. Put on my throw-away, make sure I have all my gadgets (ipod, phone, garmin), and head OUT!

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Packing List When Travelling to a Race

Good morning and happy weekend! Given that I recently ran a race away from home (Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC), the logistics of running a destination race are fresh in my mind. Destination races/”runcations” are one of my favorite parts of running! You don’t want to be without the essentials for race day, so I have developed a list of things you should bring with you.


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Seattle Review

A few months ago, my sig Mark and I jetted off to Seattle for a long weekend. We loved our time in this beautiful northwestern city- including the food and coffee,  and access to amazing national parks!

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Trail runners/hikers/outdoors enthusiasts: I’m sure you’re aware of Mount Rainier National Park. A roughly two hour-three drive from Seattle, the park offers many hikes of different durations and difficulties. Mark and I drove out to the northwestern section of the park for a two hour hike which started at Mowich Lake– an unbelievably crystal clear and majestic sight!

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