Thursday, March 20, 2014


WHY I WAS ACTUALLY FIRST PLACE IN THE LA MARATHON AND WHAT HAPPENED TO MAKE ME SECOND FOR 10 HOURS


Where are you located? I asked the voice on the phone. The flat vowels were reminiscent of Prairie Home Companion. 

“I’m here in Duluth,” he told me.

The voice belonged to John Magnuson whose business, MTEK, times races, “from Dallas to Duluth and Boston to L.A.” I’d called to interview him about my experience of being in first place, deposed to second place and then back in first. 

John told me he reviewed the first place holders who were within 95% of a world record and found that the runner who “beat my time” had no chip times from the start to past the half. 
He disqualified her. She’d run less than half the race. He put me back in first place. My chip times reflected my 10 minute pace for the first half, slowing to 10:25 at Mile 18 and then down to a snail’s pace when leg cramps jammed my legs down to a walk to the finish. 

I asked John, “Do you get many runners jumping in?”

Youbetcha,” he answered. “Sometimes they want the finisher’s shirt, are injured and can’t run the whole race, or run a friend in the last few miles.”

“So you were in L.A. last week-end and you know how hot it was,” I said.

“Oh yah, when it’s winter in Duluth, I pray for races in warm places, and LA was one of them.”

Saying good bye to John, I knew that the peaks and valleys of the L.A. Marathon ended up in a peak. 

I’d taken a risk, told the readers of my local newspaper that I was trying for first place the year I turned 70, and I’d made it in spite of 85 degree weather and debilitating leg cramps. 

Here’s the real truth: The Saturday Runners made the win possible.

1. Jill and Jake drove me to L.A. to get my bib. Jill planned the meeting point. Jake had to put up with anxiety producing L.A. freeway traffic. I was care-free

2. Caroline and Catherine rented a van for marathon morning with JohnO driving. JohnO dropped seven Saturday Runners off at the start. No parking challenges, I was care-free.

3. I forgot my pre-race peanut butter sandwich so Catherine shared her PBJ sandwich with me, Judy gave me a power bar. I was nourished, pre-race.

4. The week before I used Jill’s advice: NO fruit or vegetables. I’d eaten several cups of white rice the day before. No potty stops needed.

5. I’d followed (most of) Jake’s, Caroline’s advice on work-out mileage and taper—no running the week before. I was prepared but rested.

6. JUDY PACED ME THE WHOLE RACE. She and Caroline got me water, creased the cup for drinking on-the-run and kept me on the center of the street, level ground. Judy stuck with me at a regular pace which kept me from surging ahead or looking at my Garmin. I looked at Judy.

7. When leg cramps struck and I willed myself to run but a solidly cramped leg nearly toppled me into face-plant, Judy gently encouraged me. 

When I knew I couldn’t run safely and said nasty things, Judy gently encouraged me. She responded sweetly to my despondent rantings.

I came in only about 2 minutes ahead of second place runner. 

That two-minute-advantage, I owe to Saturday Runners. 

Besides, they gave me lots of material for column after column and I didn’t even tell the all the racy parts. 

Stick with me for the off-color future.  

XXOO to Saturday Runners from Carrie



Monday, March 10, 2014

LA MARATHON DAY: MARCH 9, 2014-----------SIZZLE

The phone rang as I was getting in bed at 8:30p.m. the night before the marathon. My running friends’ rented van was picking me up at 4:30 a.m. which was really 3:30 a.m. due to daylight savings change marathon morning.

I answered the phone and heard the quiet voice of my responsible, reliable, reserved marathon pacer, Judy. 

“When I got off the exercise bike at the gym, my leg felt terrible. I hate to say it but it feels like it did when I had a stress fracture. I want to be with you tomorrow, but…” Judy’s voice trailed off

“Judy, rest and get better whether you pace me or not.”

So, I tucked myself in wondering if I’d have a pacer, about the effects of sleep deprivation, and what the 81 degree weather forecast would do to my run.  Oh, and if I’d have dreaded port-o-pottie stops slowing my marathon. Turned out, only one of the problems would matter.

Awoke at 3:40, dressed, polished off the last morsel of a pot of white rice (anti-poo medicine) and runners gathered at my door. 

Please read my Daily Pilot Commentary to fill in details I’ve left out of my blog. Turned out Judy did show up. Her leg was “better,” and she was determined to get me to the finish at a ten-minute pace. We got to Dodger Stadium, the race started and I ran behind Judy, matching my step to hers, except when she scouted cups of water which she handed me. 

I’d planned to run to the mantra, “You are strong, You are fast.” but the night before I opened Galloway’s book, RUNNING TO 100, and read of the importance of relaxing, so out of Dodger Stadium and through Echo Park, I repeated, “Relax on the track,” to the rhythm of my feet. Lost Judy at around Mile 5 but kept up the pace. In fact, all the way to Mile 13, my pace was 10 minutes, exactly as planned. Found Judy about the time the sun broke the cloud cover.

The sun burned down on me. My family’s joke on hot vacations was, “Carrie’s wilting in the heat.” I hate heat. Turned out it was 85 degrees Sunday, probably more with heat radiating up from the asphalt. and 21,000 runners panting hot air. We climbed hills which did not bother me, the swelling on the ball of my foot hardly hurt, no stops for an over-active intestine, but the heat killed,sending 91 runners to the med tent and a dozen to hospitals. 

By Mile 24, my pace dropped to 12:22. That’s because I was walking. WALKING, felled by grabbing, squeezing, seizing leg cramps that almost caused me to crash down on the pavement. Some kind of electrolyte imbalance gets me. Yes, I took my gatorade-shot-blocks, Yes, I drank a lot. No, I didn’t take salt tablets. I had salt but couldn’t stand the thought of swallowing it. 

So, while the start of L.A. under a fairly cool cloud cover was glorious, the steaming end was a detestable disappointment. And I complained to Judy who stood by me, offering to massage my rock hard leg. I made a real spectacle of myself muttering “bullsh*t” to the crowd who called out, “You’re lookin’ good!” 

Then to cap off a the L.A. experience, I got home, I looked up my time and saw a FIRST PLACE by my name. I’D ACHIEVED WHAT I PROMISED MY NEWSPAPERS READERS IN SPITE OF THE HEAT AND A TIME ONE HALF HOUR SLOWER THAN I HOPED. I’D DONE IT!

Opening up the site a few hours later, I’d been demoted to second place. Sinking feeling, double disappointment. I hate L.A.
………………………………………………………………………………………..
I’ve had an attitude adjustment since. I’m lucky to be 70 years old and healthy enough to endure 26.2 miles anywhere. AND the sweetness of my running friends who facilitated the whole race for my success and gave hours to work-outs and running wisdom which benefited me.

Love letter to Steve(s), Caroline, Catherine, Jill, Judy, JohnO, Mark and all the Saturday Runners. Team support=more than first place. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

OF UNFULFILLED PLANS FOR RETREAT

This time next week, I’ll be done with the marathon. I will not be as tired as I am today.

My brother and family, plus my own kids and grandkids just spent a week-end here. They all left Sunday a.m. and I collapsed into a nap with the chihuahuas.

Woke up, cleaned the last stack of dishes, picked up the Sunday paper which put me back to sleep, so I put the paper down and rounded up the chihuahuas for a second nap.

I’m never this tired after a marathon.

However, due to driving to L.A. at 4:30 a.m., and Daylight Savings time, I decided to train myself to get to bed early last week and the coming week. Plans for early bedtime last week evaporated with the family visit and now they are evaporating for next week. 
-I’m taking friends to an exhibit of California artists which closes Marathon Sunday. So, it’s now or never. 
-Then another friend got free tickets for the Duck’s hockey game, dinner and a car to transport us. This is too big to pass up. 
-A third friend’s begging to fix me an early, healthy dinner which I hope I can put off until next week. However, if it it’s our last chance to see her husband before he leaves for a long absence, we’ll go.

The point is that life keeps happening. There’s no money riding on my marathon time so why not have fun with friends? 

True, I’d rather have seen my brother, family, and assorted friends AFTER March 9th, but Iet people take priority over sleep.  

The taper, on the other hand is something I can make a priority. And I must. Running shorter distances last week made me conscious of how tired my legs were. Up until now, I made myself ignore my shin splints and sensitive knees because I had to be out and on the road for fifteen to twenty miles.

Now, I realize I’ve beaten up my legs a bit. NOT BAD. But enough so that I see the wisdom of the taper. I’ll run only a few miles Tues, Wed, Fri this week. 

So, while I CAN do less running and repair the legs, I can’t seem to extract myself from night socializing and do more sleeping. I just hope it doesn’t catch up with me March 9. I want to wake up EARLY marathon morning with the endurance to put out a good pace for all 26.2 miles. 


Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 1, 2014



SLEEPLESS IN THE SADDLE*

Here’s a problem with the taper: I’m used to knocking myself out with long runs and getting in bed at night, all used up.

Now I can’t fail asleep and when I finally do, I wake up after a few hours, ready to get up and go.

I recognize the feeling because I have it on Sunday nights. I’ve slept past my usual 5:15 a.m. wake-up time that morning. All day Sunday I do yard work, busy myself around the house, possibly make a trip to the gym but I do not run on Sundays, nor do I power-walk or hike. I look forward to Sunday for the change-up. I don’t sit around but still, not having my usual level of activity, I lie awake.

Well, I just did one little slow mile on Friday, it’s 2:25 Saturday morning and I’m up. This is especially troubling because I resolved to train myself to go to bed earlier next week to experience the dreaded day-light savings before race-day. 

As I wrote in my Daily Pilot article of February 26th, the marathon takes place the first day of Daylight Savings. My ride to L.A. pulls up at 4:30 a.m. marathon morning. I will get up that day at 4:00 which will be 3:00 to my poor addled brain. What a way to start a marathon—sleep deprived to the maximum.

Now add to that, this syndrome of sleeplessness due to low-exercise. I don’t get nervous with anticipation of the marathon. However, I’m p o’d about this situation.


Yeah, and I’d celebrated because I’M IN MY TAPER! No long hours on the road, but what a mean trick. No sleep either.
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*One of those crazy meaningless 2:49 a.m.titles. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

OF SCRAPED CHEST, LEG CRAMPS AND RAW TOES


Cutting back for a few days. 

I’ve run three “twenty mile jaunts” in the past two weeks. 

My chest bears two red lines where my running bra etched scrape marks. A leg cramp hit with the sudden impact of a gun shot, jerking me up from a nap. My little toe is rubbed raw. 

So, I cut back to eight miles Saturday and twelve miles on Wednesday. Of course, I sneaked in a twenty on Tuesday. 

Why the heck go so many miles? I ran my fastest marathon when I’d completed just one 18-mile work out.  

This time, my volunteer coach, Jake, told me that I’d gain endurance with 50-mile-weeks so, for the first time in my life, I’m counting miles. Turns out I can make myself stay upright for enough hours during the week to total 50 miles, but let me tell you, many of those miles are barely faster than a walk.

On the other hand, I notice that running five miles seems like nothing. Even ten miles is a vacation. So, maybe the weekly drudgery is paying off IN ENDURANCE but WHAT ABOUT PACE? I almost never run 10-minute-miles and I’m supposed to run through
 26 of them to complete my marathon with a time of 4 hours and 24 minutes.

I am able to run four ten-minute-miles during speed-work on the track, but then I rest. On marathon day, I don’t  plan to rest. The point of race-day is to keep on running. Will I find the energy somewhere?

OK getting back to the chapped chest, sore toe and leg cramps, guess what! The day off helped everything. Not saying I’m back to normal but, as I type this, nothing hurts. I’ve heard that we rip up our muscles with activity but with rest, the muscles repair and become stronger. 

I sure hope muscle repair is what’s happening because it it’s the opposite, my doctor will be correct. One year she entered the room where I waited for my annual check-up, saying, “You know, Carrie, marathoners die younger. 

Cutting down on mileage makes me happy. I’m counting on getting stronger AND hoping to live a long life…



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wednesday LONG-Distance Work-out


NOTE: I'm writing a newspaper series about turning 70-years-old and trying for a first place in the L.A. Marathon. 
Below is an account of a 21-mile-work out, semi disaster. 
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WEDNESDAY LONG DISTANCE WORK-OUT

All I can say is that I hung on. 

Wednesday I ran 21 miles.

Naturally, it was the hottest day of the so-called winter. 

In the coolness of the early morning, I did have six sub ten-minute-miles on the track, but as soon as I got out on the street I ran twelve to thirteen-minute-miles.

How do I expect to run a 4 hour, 24 minute marathon or anything close if I can’t pick up my feet when I’m on the asphalt?  4:24 is a ten-minute pace. 

I told the world or at least the newspaper-reading community I was going to get a first place in the LA Marathon which is about 8 weeks away. 

As I said, I hung on Wednesday. 
At mile 19, I stumbled into a restaurant and asked for water. Stood there gasping and gulping ice water until the lady at the counter asked, "ARE YOU OK? 

“I just ran 19 miles and I’m tired,” I told her and left before she called paramedics. 

The good thing is that I wasn’t tired or sore the next day. 
I am faster in races than in work-outs, but how can I even think of being 3 minutes a mile faster for 26 long tedious miles?

I’m probably going to embarrass myself. 
Flunk out, come in at 6 hours and reveal the little old lady 70-year-old I really am.
Good Bye.


Monday, December 9, 2013

 BEFORE

AFTER


THE ARTICLE I DID NOT SUBMIT TO THE DAILY PILOT:

Private by nature, I was at first put-off by runners recounting their problems with natural functions. 

Now I’m fully initiated into the discussions of “tossing cookies,” and “sitting on port-o-potties,” but Daily Pilot readers are not, so I will attempt to be delicate with the following.

Today I ran the Long Beach Half-Marathon, a disaster.

Long Beach brags of a flat course and cool October weather, predictors of a good race. 

Now returning to the topic of natural functions. For my first marathon I was neither afraid of 26.2 miles nor injury. I was afraid I’d vomit. 

Since beginning running 30 years ago, I had no a hint of digestive problem, nor the need to stop for a potty break. I used to be smug because my toilet needs turned off when I ran. Then last year, my intestines turned on. I tried Immodium for the Huntington Beach Half and finished in 2 hours, when I sat down in the curb and threw up.

No more Immodium. Since then I experimented with a half Lomatil in practice runs so I’d be accustomed to the medication on race day. It worked nicely on workouts. At the Long Beach Half Marathon, I had my half Lomatil, but a few things were added.

First, Evie and I spent the night in Long Beach in a no smoking motel room which smelled like the last tenants snubbed out 100 cigarettes in the carpet. 

No other rooms available so we breathed stale cigarette all night. I awoke with a headache. Next I told Pilot readers how well chocolate worked for a pick-me-up during the OC Half Marathon so I ate it again at mile 7 and ten. 

Hoping for an added kick, I drank cold Starbuck’s coffee for the last three miles. I finished the race in 2:05 for a second place, without a potty stop: Good.

Post race, I jumped in Evie’s immaculate pure white Mercedes which is just like her immaculate-white house and her immaculate white Swiss Spa in Corona del Mar. 

We returned to the motel to check out of our room and complain to the managment. Besides the cigarette smell, we needed a toilet plunger that morning. Manager unavailable, we jumped back in Evie’s immaculate white Mercedes to leave Long Beach behind. Only we couldn’t. Looking for PCH, marathon roadblocks sent us in half-hour worth of circles.  

Finally sighting a 405 onramp just north of Seal Beach Blvd, we sped homeward. Right then my queasy headache became an emergency. Desperate not to sully Evie’s perfectly immaculate white car, I untied the long sleeved shirt I’d worn around my waist, and opened the bottom, trying very hard not to use it. Impossible to stop, the shirt functioned like the bags in airplanes.

In the meantime, listening to me apologize between “events,” Evie opened the windows.

I called my husband to meet us with a bucket, rags and he added vinegar. Evie called Don to ready their other car for a birthday luncheon they were due to attend. 
To my credit I’d only splashed a bit on the seat belt and my finisher’s medal. 
Demoralized, I came home, showered, took to my bed, worrying about how I will manage a full marathon.  


Later, I emailed my woeful story to Saturday Runners. They emailed back, “We’ll see what kind of a friend Evie is by whether she ever lets you back in her car."