You are part of something big!

As I sat in Rosh Hashana services this morning, I looked around at the crowd who had gathered.  Some were good friends I’ve known for years; others were acquaintances; and many others were complete strangers.  We were a diverse group of familiar and unfamiliar faces, people with many different stories and reasons for being in services; but we were all connected by a common bond. And our synagogue community was part of a much larger Jewish community, also sharing this common bond.  This sense of community and connectedness, this special bond, is something I cherish each time I go to services.  And then I thought “That’s part of what the Marathon Team is about too. Now I know what to write about in this week’s message to the team.”

Every week, we come together:  runners and walkers, residents alumni and community members, athletes and novices, people from all sorts of backgrounds.  We all have our own reasons for wanting to cross that finish line, but we all share a common goal.  When each of us comes out on Sunday, we each contribute to that sense of community for our teammates; and we can embrace the support that others provide for us.  We will work together over the next five months to achieve our goal, knowing that there are literally thousands of others training for that same goal.  On February 14, you will be surrounded by over 25,000 runners; the crowd support from the thousands lining the streets will be amazing; and the outpouring of encouragement you’ll get when you pass the BTS booth at Mile 19 will be so uplifting.

Next Sunday, and every Sunday until Marathon day,  I encourage you to look around at your Marathon community, and feel part of something big.  Know that as you are taking on this challenge to help yourself, you are also making a difference in the lives of all those who feel supported by your presence.  Thank you.

Shana Tovah.

I’m scared.

“I’m scared.” A new runner approached me this morning and said these words, voicing trepidation about what lay ahead and crossing the finish line.  Hopefully I provided a good response at the time, but I thought about those words all the way home. I’m sure this runner is not the only one feeling this way, so I wanted to share a few thoughts on this topic with all of you.

First of all,  it’s perfectly okay to be scared. In fact, it’s very reasonable and appropriate.  Finishing a marathon is a big challenge, both physically and mentally.  Each of you attempting the marathon for the first time is asking your body to do something difficult.  You can’t just roll out of bed with little or no running experience under your belt and expect to cruise across the finish line.  It takes hard work. It takes a lot of time. There are no shortcuts.  You will be transforming your body, one mile at a time between now and February 14.  There will be days where you get out there and feel great, and there will be other days when you won’t.  There will be days  when you are excited about what you are accomplishing, and there will be days when you won’t even feel like getting out of bed to train.

Every one of those feelings is perfectly okay. WHAT MATTERS MOST IS WHAT YOU DO ABOUT IT.  Do you tell yourself “I’m scared, or I don’t feel like it;  therefore I won’t even try?”  I hope not, as that’s a guaranteed recipe for failure.  Or, do you do what each of you did today?  Show up and do your best. You came, you went out there, and you faced the challenge.  You put your worries aside.  You believed in yourself, and look what you accomplished.  A shout-out to each of you!!!!  Be really proud of yourself.

Stick with it, and in a month from now, you’ll be thinking ‘I can’t believe how far I went today.  I remember when I thought 2-3 miles was hard.”  And, as crazy as it may sound to you now, when I am telling you in January that today we have a “short” run of “only” 12 miles,  you will be very comfortable with that distance.

Each of you can do this. Your teammates and the staff are here to support you.  Your coaches are here to guide you on this physical and mental journey.  Your job is to show up, do your best, and most importantly, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Go Team!!!

 

Congratulations on taking the first step! Now what?

Today was an awesome start of our new season, with the biggest group we’ve ever had on a team run.  Thanks to each of you for coming out.  Not only are you helping yourself, you are helping support everyone else on the team.  You each took a huge first step toward accomplishing a life-changing goal, and as you make that journey toward the finish line, you will see changes in yourself that you will be so proud of.

So what’s the next step?

Set aside a few times to get out there and get moving during the week.  Notice I didn’t say “get out there and run?”  In fact, unless you have been running routinely, we would encourage you NOT to run much this week. Your joints, muscles and cardiovascular system have a lot to get used to.  Go easy on them!  Midweek runs will come later.  At the beginning of the season, ignore any urges to get out and run fast. Save all that energy and enthusiasm for later when your body is ready for it.  Instead, go for a walk a few days this week and think about how you can best fit midweek training into your schedule for the next 5 1/2 months.

The goal at the beginning of the season is to make a commitment to yourself. You all did that by showing up today. Excellent!!!  Keep it up by going for a walk a few times this week, and coming back next Sunday.  We look forward to seeing each of you out there.

 

 

 

Getting up early for the next 25 Sundays is worth it!

Sunday will be our first run.  To those of you who are returning, hurray and welcome back!  To all of you who are new, and especially to those who are wondering if you really want to get up early on Sunday morning to do this, that’s up to you.  Finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment that can be life changing.  You don’t have to believe me.  Go to the Testimonials page on this website and read what your teammates from prior years had to say.  Each of them chose to share their experiences as a way to support the new runners.  It was one way they each chose to pay it forward.

You each need a reason to tackle this huge challenge, and you will find that reason by looking inside yourself.  That will be what makes you get out of bed on Sunday morning. There will be mornings when you’ll really want to stay in bed, and that’s okay.  (Did she actually just say that?!)  Yes, it’s okay to want to stay in bed; but it’s not helpful to actually do it!  Starting this Sunday, think long term. Think about what finishing the marathon will mean to you.  Get yourself out of bed and come to the team runs.  We coaches will do everything we can to support you, and you’ll have the whole team’s support as well.

What’s New for Our 2015-16 Season

Welcome to all of our new runners, and welcome back to our running veterans.  We are very much looking forward to seeing each of you when the season starts on August 30.  Usual place, usual time; and for those who are new – that’s the cannon at the Santa Monica Pier at 7am.

We read all those surveys you filled out at the team dinner the night before the Marathon, and we took your comments to heart.  First of all, thanks for all the kind words, and also for sharing your ideas for improvement.  We’ve been hard at work during the off-season getting ready, and would like to share some of the changes with you.  There is quite a bit of new content on the website, so we encourage you to check it out.  Here’s what else is new:

1) Liddy Health & Fitness:  We will be working even more closely with them this year.  You can look forward to more education about how to prevent injuries, and if you do get injured, they will treat you in their brand new location.  Same great personal attention, in a bigger better setting.  Our first event will be a running technique workshop on September 13 to be held during our training session.  If you want to start getting educated even sooner, check out this foam rolling video they created.

2) Support from Road Runner Sports:  Road Runner Sports has generously offered to provide an educational session on proper running gear, and to host a Running 4 Recovery night at their Santa Monica location.  Discounts on running gear will also be available to the entire team.

3) Pacing Groups:  One of the suggestions made at the team dinner was to add pacers, experienced runners who would lead a group of runners at a pre-defined pace.  So, we reached out to our more seasoned runners and asked for volunteers, and we now have some pacers.

4) Running Buddies:  Each runner will be offered a wristband which will identify you as either a new runner or a returning runner.  So, if you’re a new runner and want to ask a more experienced runner for some advice, you’ll know who they are.  And, if you are more experienced and want to reach out and welcome our newest team members, you’ll be able to spot them.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.   We are excited for the new season!

 

Congratulations to all of our runners and thanks to everyone who supported us!

As I sit here in my chair typing this blog, knowing that I will need to use my arms to push myself up afterward because my quads are far too sore to do it on their own, I can’t help but reflect on the last six months. You all worked so hard, and I am so proud of each of you.  Today’s heat made the course exceptionally challenging. You all knew it would be even tougher than a typical marathon which is already hard enough, and not one of you changed your mind at the last minute.  You all faced this challenge together, and that is so awesome.

No matter how well you prepare for something and how much you plan ahead, life sometimes throws you a curveball.  What’s most important is what you do when that happens.  Do you quit?  Do you pretend that didn’t happen and push on recklessly?  Or, do you adjust your approach, then tackle the challenge head on, and still try your best?  That third choice is what each of you did, and I hope each of you is very proud of your choice and your accomplishment today.  I saw some of you after the race, but not everyone, and would be so happy to hear from all the rest of you about how the day went.  If you’d like to send me an email, my address is leslie.gold@cox.net.  Otherwise I look forward to hearing your stories at the Marathon Shabbat.

I also want to give a special thank you to everyone who made today possible – all of our runners, our volunteers and Marathon staff, and everyone who came out to support us at the booth and along the way.  You made this a special day for each of us.  I look forward to seeing all of you again during the 2015-16 Marathon season.

 

My last bit of advice before the big day

As I’m sure you’ve observed, I am not a big fan of running with headphones on.  I could try to convince you of the benefits of running without them on Sunday, but I know that’s not going to fly.  So, let me suggest instead that you either turn the music down low, or run with just one earbud in.  I encourage you not to miss the opportunity to fully take in the sounds and the energy of the crowd.  If prior years are a predictor of the crowd support we’ll have on Sunday, it will be amazing.  Enjoy it to the max.

There will be people lining the entire course, supporting you in so many ways.  The Japanese drummers will power you up the hill at the Disney Concert Hall, a long line of Dream Center folks will cheer you on in Echo Park, drag queens will welcome you to West Hollywood,  hundreds of cheerleaders will be shouting and jumping as you run through Cheer Alley near Mile 18, the BTS booth is at Mile 19, and the crowds along Ocean Boulevard will be huge.  You’ll feel  like a rockstar as you run those last yards to the finish line. There will also be dozens of bands all along the course, and regular people who  blast their stereos.   You will  also see all sorts of  inspirational signs.  Some of my favorites from prior years include “the only reason your feet hurt is because you are kicking ass”, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”, “I don’t know you, but you inspire me”, and, at mile 20, “Humpty Dumpty had wall issues too.”  (That last one wasn’t particularly inspiring, but it made me laugh, and I sure needed a good laugh by then.) And, if you are ever feeling low on energy, run over to the side with your hand up.  People will give you high fives, and many will call you by name, assuming that’s what’s on your bib.  It will be incredibly uplifting.

You all worked so hard to get here.  Have an incredible day that you will always remember.

Plan ahead so you will be prepared on Marathon day

Hi,

Over the next two weeks, we will be sending you information about what to eat and drink, and how much running to be doing between now and the big day, but there is more you need to think about so you will arrive ready to do your best.

1) Decide what you’ll wear when you are running:  Twenty-six miles is a long way, and as you probably discovered on your longer runs, those minor annoyances can become bigger problems.  For example, choose your most comfortable socks so you can avoid blisters.  If some shorts chafe, don’t wear them.  Guys, if you need bandaids, make sure to pack them.  And, don’t wear running shoes you just bought, unless it is the same model you’ve been wearing.  It’s also good to have a plan if the forecast calls for rain.

2) Decide what you’ll carry during the race and how you’ll carry it:  Race day is not the time to try out that new belt you bought at the expo to carry your keys, GU, money, credit card, ID, cell phone, water bottles, or whatever else you’d like to have with you.  Remember, while there will be water and sports drinks every mile, and some other snacks at various points, this may not be what you want to eat and drink, when you want to eat or drink it.  Think about what you’ll want with you and how you’ll carry it, then go out and run a few miles carrying it all to be sure there are no surprises.

3) Have a plan for getting your recovery drink at the end of the race: Will a family member or friend meet you at the finish line and give it to you?  Will you buy something at the expo or in a nearby store, and if that’s the plan, will you have money?  Last year, I incorrectly assumed that they’d be handing out protein drinks as I crossed the finish line, like they did the previous year, but if they were, I never found them.  I waited at the finish line for a few hours for people to finish and didn’t get any protein into me until almost 4 hours later.  On Wednesday that week, I went to the gym and it was a struggle just to step up onto the treadmill.  I had to use my arms to pull myself up, and it was pretty embarrassing. Talk about a lesson learned the hard way.  I can assure you that I have a much better plan for getting that post-race recovery drink into me a whole lot sooner.

4) Avoid scheduling any late night activities a few days before the run:  To those of you staying at the hotel Downtown, we will need to be out the door and on the bus well before 6am.  If you’re not normally an early riser, you may want to consider going to sleep early for the last few nights before the marathon so you can get up earlier.  Then, by Marathon morning, it will be easier to wake up feeling full of energy and ready to go.

5) Non-residents, figure out your transportation and parking.  How will you get to Downtown and how will you get home?  Will you take the shuttle back to Downtown and return home from there, or will you leave from Santa Monica?  Overnight parking Downtown isn’t cheap, and  overnight parking in Santa Monica anywhere near the finish line is not easy to find, if it is exists at all.  Consider making arrangements with friends or family to drop you off and/or pick you up, or check into the public transportation.  Also, if you will leave from Santa Monica, and you stayed at the hotel, you may wish to bring your belongings to the pre-race Gear Check to pick them up at the end.  If you are doing the half-marathon, be asware that there are no mid-race shuttles, so have a plan if you won’t be taking advantage of BTS transportation.

6) Get your throwaway warm clothes: Read my post from last week.

7) Plan a good lunch for Saturday and eat it:  Don’t arrive at the Expo on Saturday afternoon thinking you’ll enjoy all the free samples they’ll be handing out.  Do you really want to find out on Sunday morning that something didn’t agree with you?  Have a good high carb lunch with foods you know your body likes.

Various things I want to tell you

No catchy title about the theme for  this week’s post, since the things I want to tell you are all unrelated.

1) At some point during the next two runs, please remember to thank our volunteers.   This is the most support we’ve had in the 3 years I’ve been on the team, and it’s great.  It would be so much harder to go those long distances without the knowledge that cheerful people will be waiting with food, water and moral support every few miles.   We wouldn’t be able to do those one way runs to familiarize ourselves with the course without them.

2) Start planning for how you will keep warm on Marathon morning.  We will be getting to Dodger Stadium at least an hour before the start of the run.  It will be dark, and it is not likely to be warm.  Walking around shivering for an hour is not the way you want to start your day.  Consider going to a thrift shop to buy some sweats or a blanket, something you won’t mind tossing to the side when you start running and never seeing again.

3) Please pay attention to any aches and pains and take care of them appropriately. At least two people didn’t show up today due to injuries; at least one stopped midway through the run; and yet another had painful leg cramps at the end.  Everyone who stopped, or didn’t start at all, due to their pain, did the right thing.  Do NOT try to “run through the pain”.   We are too close to the Marathon to risk hurting yourself. Don’t let one bad decision ruin your chances of achieving something you have worked so long and hard for.  It’s better to have to go slowly on Marathon day to cross that finish line than to be unable to walk more than a short distance.  If anything isn’t feeling right, remember that Elevation Fitness is eager and willing to help.  They regularly reach out, encouraging me to send any injured runners their way.  I encourage you to take advantage of this generous offer.  And of course, you are welcome to reach out to me or Craig as well.  We are all here to help and want to see you succeed.

Next weekend’s run is “only” 16 miles, since we are now starting to taper.  Remember when 8 miles sounded like a lot?  Look how far you have come!  Congratulations to all of you.

Tips for Running in the Heat

According to the historical records, the average high temperature for Downtown LA in March is 70 degrees; but if the last few weeks are any predictor of the weather on Marathon day or on the 3 Sunday runs until then, our upcoming runs are likely to be quite a  bit warmer.  If you are under hydrated, not only will you slow down, you’re also likely to feel less than your best.  With less blood volume and thicker blood, it’s harder for the body to cool itself off, and if you haven’t adequately replaced the electrolytes you lost by sweating, it will be that much harder for your body to absorb the liquids when you do drink. We’ve all heard Coach Craig say “if you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s too late”; now you know the science behind that.

So, here are a few tips to help you avoid the effects of under hydration.

1) Drink before you start: When you get up in the morning,  drink at least 8-16 ounces of water.  Start the run with a full tank, so to speak.

2) Drink at every stop:  Have at least a cup of water and gel, or a cup of Gatorade, at EVERY stop.

3) Consider carrying water:  Given how well supported our training runs are, if you stop at each water stop and have either gel and water, or an electrolyte drink, you may not need to carry fluids.  Whether or not you do is a function of your own body. Over these weeks, hopefully you are learning your needs, but here are a few facts to help you decide. Males sweat more than females, and faster runners sweat more than slower runners.  Also, as you plan for Marathon day, please keep in mind that our volunteers won’t be staffing these water stops during the Marathon.  Last year, the heat caught the LA Marathon staff by surprise.  Runners out on the course longer than about 5 hours reported that they got to stops and there were no drinks left.  Maybe the staff learned and will adjust the amount of fluids offered; maybe they won’t.  I don’t know.  I therefore recommend that if you expect to be out there longer than 4 1/2 to 5 hours and it’s going to be a hot day, carry your own water or sports drink.  You can start practicing now by carrying fluids on our training runs.

4) Pour some water over your head.  It will cool you down right away, and as it evaporates, it will continue to cool you down.  It’s a great way to feel instantly refreshed.

5) Run on the shady side of the street. No point running in the hot sun and sweating even more than you already are.  If you run on the sunny side of the street, not only are you getting the direct sun, you’ll also be feeling the heat radiating up from pavement that’s been heated by that direct sun.  Why do that to yourself?  It only takes a few seconds to cross the street.  Your body will thank you.

Go Team!