Glad I didn’t bail: SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run

17th Annual 18-Mile Friendship Run

I almost bailed on the SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run at Hansen Dam earlier this week. I’d forgotten to register and saw that the late fee was $75 ($15 over early registration). That’s pretty steep for what would essentially be a long run with course support. I sucked it up as I like supporting the race host, Students Run LA.

I went in to the race this morning a little hurried. I didn’t get much sleep after a friend’s party and then fixing up the blog to prevent more hacks (hence the new look). I woke up this morning at 5:30 annoyed that I had to leave the dinner party I was dreaming about. Instead of digging in to a giant bowl of arroz con pollo, I drank coffee and ate my usual pre-long breakfast, peanut butter and banana toast.

A couple hours later, Sean and I were at the Hansen Dam Recreation Center. I jokingly asked Sean, “why is running so white?” while walking past a crowd that truly represented LA’s diversity. One of the reasons I love SRLA is because they bring a lot of diversity to the running community. I picked up my bib, took care of pre-race necessities, told Sean about the best spectating spots near the start/finish line, squeezed into the crowd of SRLA students and got my podcasts ready.

Finishing the first 9-mile loop

I didn’t have much of a plan or a goal for this race. I wanted to finish <2:50 (9:27 pace), but would be fine a few minutes over. A 9:27 is a little fast for a typical long run, but I figured it’d help me gauge my fitness and figure out a marathon race pace. I know I can run sub-9 without a problem for 13.1, but what can I do for 26.2?

At the half

We started promptly at 8. I kept the first mile easy and slow. It’s nearly impossible to run a fast first mile with congestion at the start. I mostly succeeded in my goal of not getting stressed by runners blocking me and slowing me down. I settled in to a comfortable pace and ran about 9 minute miles for the first loop. I finished the first half in ~1:21. I pulled over for a bathroom stop and lost a couple of minutes, but didn’t stress. I also stopped to remove a pebble from my shoe, and at most of the water stations. It was easier that way, otherwise I’d miss the water or crash into another runner walking as I tried to pick up/grab a cup. The second loop was more challenging. I got tired, the sun bugged me more, and I hated running on the dam. I really needed water up there, but was saved by volunteers with oranges. I managed not to slow down as I knew I was within reach of my goal.

Danzantes at the finish line

As we exited the dam and ran the final half mile stretch, I sped up slightly. I got another boost when I heard the beat of Aztec drums and saw danzantes between me and the finish line. Unfortunately, they ended the song just as I passed, but it still energized me and made me feel even better about the race. I felt great when I finished. I didn’t feel fatigued or more achy than expected. If I had to, I could have gone a few more miles despite mild IT band pain.

Despite the stops and slowing down a bit, I met my informal goal. I finished in 2:47:56 (9:20 pace); 5th in female 30-34 age group.

Finishing strong

Last year, this race was tough mentally and physically. It was the first time I’d run 18 miles. I also made the mistake two weeks before the race of donating blood. I’m all for donating blood, but was too dumb/inexperienced at this wannabe athlete thing to know it’d affect my performance for a couple of months.

This year was much different since I knew what to expect and overall have become a stronger runner. Eighteen miles isn’t easy, but I know it’s doable. It was a sunny morning, but much cooler than last year. The climbs in Shadow Hills (miles 4-6 and 12-14) didn’t feel as challenging as when I ran them last year.

Preparing for another LA Marathon

Overall, I’m really glad I didn’t skip the race. I’m getting excited about the LA Marathon. I’m beginning to think that what McMillan calculators say I can run for the marathon is in reach, especially on the familiar Stadium to the Sea course. I needed this race. I’ve felt a little unsure thus far since I didn’t feel like I was training in earnest until two weeks ago. I’m 6 weeks out and have only done one 18 miler. I trust that Marc, my online coach, will get me to the start line healthy — my number one priority.

Two notes:

  1. My Garmin had me at about 17.3 miles. It clocked a similar distance last year. I don’t think the race is short, but I think the reading on the dam is inaccurate. I was matching up with the mile markers the first half until the stretch across the dam.
  2. If you take water every mile, you might want to carry a bottle or fuel belt. There’s no aid stations on the dam. The race organizers let people know about this, but I underestimate the length and the need for a quick sip. There are aid stations right before and right after the dam.
  3. My bathroom stop was my first during a race. Glad I checked that off during a low key event.

9 thoughts on “Glad I didn’t bail: SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run

  1. hippierunner

    Good job Cindy! I remember that course can be a pretty miserable one- dry, not as much support as there could be, not the prettiest landscape… Great that you’ve got that long run done and in good time!

    Reply
    1. cindylu Post author

      Yes, it’s not the prettiest landscape and the area up in the Shadow Hills smells a little like the horses. It is good practice for LA with those hills.

      Reply
  2. Kara

    I laughed at your “Why is running so white?” comment because I’ve said that exact same thing all time (and I’m white). I don’t understand why I never see diversity, especially in ultras. I guess wanting to run all day and night is a product of relative wealth and free time…or white people are just stupider. One of those. :)

    Reply
    1. cindylu Post author

      Did you see the Runner’s World article with the same title? I wrote about it late last year. I think road running in southern California is a little bit more diverse. Don’t know much about ultras or trail races since I have no experience there, but I know it’s not all white based on photos from local ultra runners’ blogs.

      Reply

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