To the beach and back

Views like this -- sans clouds and haze -- can induce a runner's high 13ish miles in to a 20.75 mile long run

I just ran my final long run of my training schedule. I still have three weeks before the LA Marathon, online but I’ll be tapering down my mileage and my long runs will be much shorter (<10 miles).

I ran today’s 20.75 miles with the Hamilton HS Students Run LA group plus some adult ringers. [Sidenote: I can’t stress how great it’s been to tag along with SRLA groups. I doubt I’d feel so positive after a long run if I wasn’t running the SRLAers and had snacks/water/Gatorade from the parents at the aid stations.]

The exact number of miles for today’s run is less important than the way I felt while running them. I ran 21 miles on a tougher course last week. I knew I could complete today’s run, but I didn’t think I’d feel so great. I expected a rather crappy run given where I am in my cycle. Menstrual cramps suck more while running.

Nevertheless, I felt awesome today. I had flashbacks to the Long Beach half marathon last fall, probably because I was doing oceanside running for a portion of the run. I remember feeling strong, fast and thankful that I could run. I reflected on how far I’d come in my fitness. It was more than enough to make a chillona like myself a little emotional as I neared the finish line and achieved my goals.

This morning, I felt happy, fast, strong and thankful once again. I felt comfortable at a sub-10 pace for most of the 20ish miles. I loved the course which began with the last 10.2 miles of the marathon (Wilshire -> Santa Monica -> Sawtelle -> Ohio -> Federal (for the marathon, we’d go through the Veteran’s Center, but we went around) -> San Vicente -> Ocean). I loved running down San Vicente, which I just learned is a perfect street for running (slight decline, shady, nice sidewalks, bike lane, wide grassy medium for those who want a softer surface, plenty of runners and bikers, especially today as folks training for the marathon got in their last long run before the taper). I enjoyed the beautiful view as I ran down Ocean Blvd, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier. I wanted to stop and send a photo to my sister saying “wish you were here” but kept going. And I was thankful for my abilities and a sunny yet cool morning. [The photo above is from August ’09. If I took it today, the skies and beach would be clear.]

The run back from the beach wasn’t as scenic. I kept getting caught at stop lights, which was annoying because I’d have to stop mid-stride. On a bad run, I hope for red lights, but not today. I wore a light jacket, and got a little too warm in it as I expected, but I’d rather be a little warm than too cold at 7 am when we started.

Now I get to recover from my run for a few days. I’ll enjoy the taper and try to patiently wait for the marathon. But it’ll be tough. I can’t wait wait to run through my city.

Stats:

Today’s total: 21.4 miles (20.75 long run, .65 warm-up)
Time: 3:27:10 (9:59 pace), no walking!
Fuel: banana & peanut butter toast for breakfast; GU packs (gross!) at miles 4.5, mile 9, mile 17; orange slices (mile 4.5), homemade shortbread with chocolate (mile 14), some Cheez-Its (mile 16) all from the parent volunteers on the course; and plenty of water

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