Spectating at the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon

I’m avoiding stairs today like I ran the Los Angeles Marathon yesterday. All I did were some weighted lunges and squats. Nothing awesome like hitting a 4:09 on my first marathon (go Alexis — she insists it’s her last — and Jorge!) or recording a huge PR (go Claudia!).

Even if I wasn’t running, I had to do my part as a runner. Plus, I live way too close to the course not to go out and cheer.

On Sunday morning, I woke up shortly before 7:30 feeling nervous and excited. I texted Alexis and offered a couple of tips. She seemed nervous but did fine. Mainly, don’t go out too fast and don’t trip over all the throw away sweaters.

I watched a bit of the telecast before making breakfast and heading out to Beverly Hills where Sean met me when I ran LA. It’s close and a good place to spectate since parking is easy.

Posted up at Wilshire & Rodeo (mile 17ish)

A little before 9:30 we got to Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive (~mile 17), we waited for our runners with signs and cameras. Fifteen minutes before, I’d received a text message with 20K splits for Claudia, Jorge and Alexis. They were all in the 8-8:30 pace range. Claudia was the fastest, so I expected to see her come by first. I didn’t think it would be so tough to spot Claudia and Alexis since there were fewer women runners around. I was wrong.

Claudia's sign

We almost missed Claudia. I called as she passed by and she turned quickly. I’m not sure she recognized us, but she did look great. (She held on to the pace and finished in 3:42, a huge PR!)

Sign for Alexis

We never saw Alexis even after I expected her to pass. I held her sign until I got the 30K split update. I’m still bummed I missed her. She would’ve loved our sign.

Jorge's sign

We missed Jorge as well. And he missed us too even though he looked for us. The corner where we were at had a good number of spectators, so we might have just blended in.

Last, I would have missed Marlene, as I turned to get more, but she spotted Sean. She also went on to earn a 12 minute PR. Go Marlene!

After I knew our friends had passed by, I got out the oranges and pretzels we’d packed. The oranges went by really fast, but the huge bag of pretzels lasted longer. We stayed until about 11:45. I think most of the runners at the point were well in to the 5+ hour range.

The runners were awesome and graciously thanked us for the snacks and loved Sean’s Nelson Muntz sign*. One woman told me, “You don’t know what this means.” Oh, I do. I love oranges during marathons and knew with warmer temperatures predicted folks would need the sodium from pretzels.

Congrats to the all the finishers! Can’t wait to join in on the fun again.

***

With Adrian and Alexis

Alexis, if you ever want to do it again, I have a sign ready.

*I had sign envy. Sean got a lot of smiles, “ha ha’s!” and even a few runners stopping for pictures. One guy even recognized it from last year’s marathon or 2011. I never knew it was so popular since I haven’t done the cheering thing in a while.

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Los Angeles Marathon tips

Inspired by the LA marathon

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.

Modeling our medals and race blankets at Shoreline Village

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.

The only runner that matters to me

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)

Starting line!

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.

Strategizing

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.

Chomps... they have electrolytes!

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!

Our Signs For Cindy

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.

Our Signs For Cindy

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.)

Cindy's Dad Starts Handing Out Coconut Water

6. Thank the volunteers. They’re awesome. Enough said.

Long run collage

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.

My new favorite t-shirt

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.

okiloveyoubyebye

9. Come up with a mantra that you know will help get you through the tough miles. I like “Sí se puede.”

I hope so!

10. Let the adrenaline take over and give it all you have left on San Vicente in the last 4 miles.

¡Suerte!

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Hitting the reset button on running

I’ve never been one to blog all my workouts. Lately, I haven’t had any workouts to blog. I stopped doing New Rules of Lifting for Women shortly after starting stage 3 in early August. I had excuses: it’s hot; I’m adjusting to a new job and schedule; I don’t want to get tan lines from my running clothes, those will look awful in wedding photos; I had wedding stuff to do. Of course, those were just excuses. Mainly, I was just lazy.

Being lazy gets old and boring. I miss running, racing and earning new PRs. I had a few of those last fall/winter. Despite some aches and pains that kept me from running higher mileage as I would have liked, I still managed PRs at the 10K, half and marathon distance. I feel most proud of my effort at the LA Marathon where I met my sub-4 reach goal. I didn’t recover well from the LA Marathon and cut back. I tried getting back to training, but fell off again after getting sick. I backed out of the Pasadena half marathon after fainting a couple days before the race. I thought I could use the Runner’s World early summer running streak to build my mileage back up, but it ended up just feeling like a chore.

I’m not in any kind of shape to race these days. I went out for a few miles today. I stayed away from the hills, kept it slow and easy, walked when I needed to, and left the Garmin at home. Even then it was tougher than I expected. I ran/walked 3 miles in ~38 minutes.

I know I need to take my come back slow and be patient. I do have one race goal, the Puente Hills YMCA 31st Annual Turkey Trot. It’ll be the 31st annual race… I can’t miss it.

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Silver for Leo!

Two things made me very happy yesterday:

1. Seeing Mexico beat Japan in the semi-finals to advance to the finals in men’s soccer. Mexico will face Brazil in the finals on Saturday morning (7 PDT).

2. Seeing Leonel Manzano win silver in the men’s 1500m race. He went from about 10th place with one lap remaining to passing up several men for a surprise second place finish. Leo’s is the first American to medal in the men’s 1500m since 1968. He also set an American Olympic record for the distance. [Replay of the race here.]

I didn’t start following professional running until last year, maybe the year before. I was looking around the USAAF website’s diversity page and checking out their list of Latino athletes. Leo Manzano was there. I looked him up and immediately took a liking to him just based on the Guanajuato roots. Mexicans are really big on home state and hometown pride. I added him to my short list of running heroes.

As a four year old Leo migrated with his family (sin papeles according to some stories) from Dolores-Hidalgo, Guanajuato to Texas. That migration story reminds me of my father and his family. Dad was just a couple years older when my grandparents uprooted the family from Salamanca, Guanajuato to south Texas.

I was nervous as I watched the runners lined up yesterday afternoon. I found it endearing that Leo crossed himself and said a quick prayer. He may be one of the fastest Mexicans out there, but he’s not that different from the rest of us. (Okay, his pre-race ritual does make him a little different.)

I teared up watching Leo’s amazing kick. I would’ve yelled and high-fived someone, but no one was around. I settled for fist pumping.

Reading stories about the race and watching post-race interviews made me even happier for him.

About his faith

“I felt like I was 10th or 11th,” he said. “I knew I was in the back. I just kept praying, saying, ‘Heavenly Father, help me. Push me. Give me the strength to keep going.’

“My kick has always been there. Ever since I was maybe 12 years old, I’ve had this major gift from God. I guess sometimes it’s just been kind of overlooked.”

In an interview with Flotrack he admitted to being very religious. He talked about his short prayer and said, he felt a surge of energy for the kick in the final 60 meters or so.

I could relate. I’ve felt something — adrenaline, energy gel kicking in, God, spirit of my grandparents… who knows — kick in late in a race and help me to finish strong. I even made a line from a hymn I heard in Mass my motivational mantra (“we will run and not grow weary / For our God will be our strength”). It worked.

About his roots

Leo admitted in post-race interviews that he planned to hold up the flags of his adopted country and birth country if he won gold or silver. Sure enough, he took the American flag first and then held up the Mexican flag while jogging his honor lap around the stadium.

The U.S. is my home, and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he said. “But my roots are still in Mexico. I love both countries. They both have a piece of my heart.

I think it’s fitting that Leo won silver. After all, his roots are in a state with a silver mining history.

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Runner’s World running streak recap

Prior to joining the Runner’s World summer running streak, I had never run more than 4 or 5 days in a row. I didn’t feel any need to go out every single day. I like my rest days. And more than that, I don’t want to have to wash my long hair daily.

Got in a super short trail run during the hike

That changed from Memorial Day through Sean’s birthday, also known as Independence Day/Fourth of July. I was looking for a way to come back from my post marathon slump when I’d been putting up 50 and 25 miles total for April and May, respectively.

The rules of the running streak were easy enough: run at least one mile for the 38 day stretch between the two holidays.

I didn’t find the challenge tough to follow, but that’s probably because I did the minimum half the time, especially in the last ten days or so.

General observations:

1. My neighborhood is generally safe enough for short late night runs. (Of course I say this with a sample size of one and a few late night runs.)
I’ve always been a night runner, but had never pushed it past 9-10ish. If it got late and I didn’t get my run in, oh well. That wasn’t an option if I wanted to keep up with the streak. I could’ve gone to the gym, but that would’ve added more time and didn’t really seem worth it for a mile or two.

The first time I went out after 11 pm was after a Dodger game. I did it a few more times after parties or when the day was too busy.

I took precautions for my late night runs. I went out for only a mile to keep it short and close, took my phone, stayed on well-lit streets and let Sean know where I’d be. Once I took out the family dog, VR. The only odd thing that happened was getting startled by a dog’s barking and almost tripping on the sidewalk.

2. The treadmill is okay for short runs and warm-ups.
There’s really no reason for me to rely on a treadmill. I can understand that if it’s very hot, but summer in west LA is generally nice. If I was a day/morning runner, I’d consider taking it indoors since I want to avoid sunburns and odd running tans this summer.

3. Short runs are okay on off days from New Rules of Lifting for Women workouts, but not in the first week.
I would’ve preferred resting on the off days from the first few NROLW workouts. After the initial week or two, I wasn’t really sore anymore, but my legs did feel heavy and I tired easily.

4. I’d consider another running streak challenge, but only if it doesn’t coincide with marathon or half marathon training.
If I’m doing long runs or speed training, I’d definitely like to have the following day off. Additionally, I like the flexibility of being able to move a run from Tuesday to Wednesday if needed. Last, the time commitment to a running streak isn’t much compared to all the long runs.

5. Night running in summer really gets in the way of a social life.
There’s so much going on in the evenings, but I ignored it because I had to run every evening after work.

14. Time for today's run. It's sad this is a "long run" these days.

Running streak by the numbers:
61.4 miles for the 38 days, not much I know
15.2 treadmill miles, done as a warm-up for NROLW workouts
9 runs after 9 pm, 1 was lit up by Fourth of July fireworks
4 runs after 11 pm, (I procrastinate, just a little)
18 runs that were just one mile
4 miles = long run (done once)
1 downhill mile run during a hike with my mom and sister in the Angeles National Forest
1 mile run after eating and drinking way too much at Mamá Toni’s 90th birthday part

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