Monday, March 30, 2015

I’m sitting here, holding a clear plastic bag with a drawstring and my L.A. Marathon number inked on on the front. I can’t toss the bag because it holds some of the magic of last Sunday; waking up at 2:20 a.m., getting into Dodger Stadium in black darkness, handing this “gear bag” full of post-marathon shorts and shirt, to a guy in standing in the open door of a UPS truck and then, over five hours later, limping to pick up the bag. It’s a talisman, a souvenir, a relic.

I always keep my numbers and put them in a scrap book. Years later, I turn the page to these numbers and feel deeply attached to the wrinkled scrap. I sweated, poured water on, and ran my guts out, wearing that paper. My grit, heart, and spirit, osmosed into that paper. I’m back to race day.

With my blog readers, I’ll share LA Marathon happenings  I couldn’t or didn’t put in the Daily Pilot article you can read by googling carrie luger slayback Daily Pilot March 20, 2015. 
First, getting into Dodger Stadium at 4:00 a.m. has a nightmarish quality. The lot’s not well lit, but the marathon organizers hire a bunch of people with flashlights so there’s a human light path guiding cars and runners. Inside the stadium is pretty dark too, but getting there at 4:00 a.m., I ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich. Maybe it was early enough for some of it to digest and give me energy for the race…

If you’re an endurance athlete, you know that hours leading up to the event are all about going to the bathroom, waiting in line to get in the john. One runner I know waits in line, does her business and gets in line all over again. I went twice but that didn’t prevent me from holding it in for the last half marathon. 

Runners talk about things nobody else does. Bodily functions cannot be delicately ignored. In my case, the extra pants in the plastic gear-bag were there in case I had an accident. However, butt muscles held it in as I preserved through the last half of the marathon. Still, I was fully thrilled to find the port-o-potty at the finish.

Back to the run, I’d made up my mind to take everyone’s advice and walk through the water stops, making myself drink Gatorade which, to me, is “throw-up juice.” I expected one water stop per mile but, due to the heat, extra tables were set up randomly before the mile marker, after the mile marker, between mile markers. 

My plan was to stop ONE TIME each mile, walk and drink as much Gatorade as I could tolerate. As I said, the marathon organizers had all those extra water stops. I had a bad case of runner’s brain and lost track of whether I’d stopped that particular mile, so I probably stopped more than once a mile. I did drink the sports drink and I DID NOT HAVE LEG CRAMPS EVEN THOUGH IT WAS HOT. Was it drinking more fluids, or the compression pants and socks or simple good luck? I do not know. 

For me, to run a hot marathon, have energy all the way through and no cramping was a great gift. My marathon history—Chicago, 10-10-10, a 90 degree marathon, I cramped and walked in. Last year, LA, a hot marathon, I cramped and walked it. 

Walking in is demoralizing to me. I’m not the fastest thing out there, but I keep trying all the way through. Cramps take everything away from me. 

This time I came through the finish at 5:06 which is my slowest time ever. However I never bonked and ran the last .2 miles. Walking all those stops and the heat may have slowed me down but something gave me power when I’m usually half dead. I ran in!

That something may have been chocolate. I’m not crazy about Goo’s or Chew’s with electrolytes  and vitamins or whatever they claim. I love chocolate so I had a chocolate bar and chocolate balls. I portioned them out to have a bite every mile from Mile 10 to Mile 25. Chocolate gives me a sense of well being. Maybe that was what helped me on Mile 26.
I’m not in the mood for chocolate right now. Unusual but even a good thing can translate into “too much of a good thing.”
Finally, I did not really train for this marathon. Signed up just weeks before it, did a few 20 milers, two 18’s and one 15 and I did o.k. marathon day. Gives me confidence in my weekly work-outs. I always do hills, speed work and a distance run. YES, I ran my slowest marathon but I enjoyed it. Also I got first place in the 70-74 age group for the second year. 

With all that said, I think I’m done with L.A. for a while. Maybe when I’m 80, I’ll run it again.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

LA Marathon Tomorrow--------SIZZLE

Tomorrow is the LA Marathon.

Last time I checked, it will be 89 degrees.

THAT is my definition of a lousy marathon.

I ran last year. Heat gave me 100-jolt-leg cramps at Mile 20 and I was forced to walk in.

Had leg cramps just one time before. Chicago 10-10-10 at 90 degrees.

SO, tomorrow.

Yeah, I'll drink that vile yellow so called electrolyte juice. I'll dilute it in water to help get it down.
Yeah, I'll take advantage of every drop of shade and cool cloth handed out.
Yeah, I'll have to moderate my pace----DAMN.

I'm not that fast anyway but I had a race plan. Now I'm flummoxed. At the Expo yesterday, some "running know-it-all" was speaking and repeating that our bodies are 14 degrees hotter than the weather. SO, that makes me 104. And that's a "really bad flu temperature" NOT a "running a marathon temperature."

My friends have been beautifully encouraging.

However, I had my visualizations all in order for the race I thought I'd be running.
Now friends are suggesting new strategies that make good sense. I really listen but somewhere in my heart, I'm having a bit of trouble making the change from a good fun but, by definition tough race----to a steaming, suffering, slow compromise.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Giving a party, cleaning up the yard, planting where there’s dirt, buying margarita mix, buying tequila, cleaning up the house, buying more margarita mix, supplementing the tequila, cleaning up the side yard, ordering to the taco wagon—-ETC.

Well, I didn’t set foot in the gym for a few weeks. I kept on running, hiking, walking but I hurt all over. Mainly my back hurt, my butt hurt when I sat, my knees creaked, my wrist was more painful than usual. 

“I’M A MESS,” I told my husband. 

I’m usually the healthy one in the family. I’m always pain-free. But I wasn’t. 

Party’s happened, loved the evening. 

Post party, I’m back to the gym about five days out of seven.

Stiff as a board my first time, I could barely touch my toes. 

Ouch! ouch! ouch!!! I said as I tried the a runner’s lunge.

I usually bench press forty pounds, two sets of 15. Had to drop down to twelve.

Hey, I’m acting my age, seventy, I said to myself. 

After two weeks at the gym, I can lift, have added reps, CAN BEND, and here’s the biggest eye-opener: NOTHING HURTS.

Somehow, that old combination of weights and stretching breaks up the pain spots.

My back doesn’t hurt when I wake up

So, all those people on pills, those 70-year-olds with rheumatism, those arthritis sufferers who take pain relievers all  day—————Do you think there’s a chance they could solve some of the hurting without medication? 

Could showing up at the gym for a stretch and some weight training, take them to the next level of painless existence?

I think so.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Like a wind-up doll that slowly de-animates, my mileage since the L A Marathon in March has gone from 50-mile-weeks to 40-mile-weeks to 20-mile-weeks.

My friend Jill says, “Life intrudes when you’re not training for anything.” 
So, it hasn’t been all laziness that subtracted miles, but a new granddaughter and some long-term real estate matters that have taken me away, not to mention a few social events.

So, three months coming off lots of mileage, what’s that do to a runner?

For one thing, no more 50-mile-weeks for me.  

My fastest marathon in ’07 happened when my mileage was so low, I almost didn’t sign up. That was back when Bill Sumner coached new marathoners and I’d done only ONE 18-mile run. Before Sumner, I did lots of 20-mile-Saturdays to prepare for a marathon. Surprising myself with the results of Bill’s low-mileage program, I qualified for Boston. 

SO, low mileage worked that time.  

After L.A’s preparation including weeks of 50 miles, I had shin splints and was sick of running. 
I should have been excited about running because I took first place in my age-group and realized a dare I’d given myself publicly. 
I wrote about trying for a first and described my year of training in the Daily Pilot Newspaper.

As I said, I felt unmotivated and sore instead of triumphant. 
So, do I treat my public first place victory as the apex of my running career? 
Do I say that now that I’m 70, I’ll rest on my laurels?

Probably not. First, I still need to burn the calories. I’m a big eater and the belly is the first to bulge, followed by saddlebags and butt. 

Second, my best friendships come from huffing and puffing beside another runner, squeezing out conversation between steps. 
So, where would I find my friends if I gave up running?

Third, I’m as healthy as a 30-year-old and I can power-hike at a pace held by people 10-15 years my junior, so I’d better keep up the running.

Fourth, I like being outside. Hours spent on foot on roads, paths, beachside are the way I want to spend hours. 

My next marathon?
No plans yet. 

Will there be another?

Friday, May 16, 2014

After the OC Half Marathon, Jill and I hung over the fence at the finishing line, cheering wildly for the 85-year-old guy finishing the full marathon in about 3 hours and 40 minutes. Running smartly after twenty-six miles—that’s 26 EIGHT-MINUTE-MILES—he looked relaxed, ready for more. 

What’s preventing us from being that fast?” I asked Jill who’ll turn 50 this year. 

Jill’s answer, lost in the noise, might have been, “Our legs, hearts, brains.”

Everyone wants to come in under four hours. I did not start marathons until I was over 50 and my fastest time is four hours, 22 minutes. 

What if I just trained harder?

And there’s the problem—something called overtraining. 

Last week’s blog, I doubted my ability to run Sunday’s O.C. Half Marathon, explored staying home to rest my shin splints, didn’t even mention reoccurrence of my old knee pain. 

Did I overtrain, chasing that elusive goal of a fast marathon time for LA, exhaust myself, putting me out of the running for the OC Half? Maybe. 

The fastest marathon runners I know put in 50-mile-marathon-training weeks. 

Leading up to L.A., I copied them.  I liked the mileage, slow, and away from life’s obligations. People knew I was training and left me to my mania. In past marathons, sore muscles disappeared a few days post-race. After L.A. my shins stayed sore for weeks. Maybe I overtrained.    

Of course I also wrote my self doubts about whether I should race the OC Half with shinsplints, and moaned to my daughter about my depression over 12-minute-miles. 

“That’s the wrong attitude,” she said. “Forget finish time. Run and have fun.” 
“Great idea,” I said because it’s best to agree with my daughter.
“Baloney,” I thought. Have fun hobbling about? Protect my legs instead of give it my all? No fun.

In the meantime, I took the week off. 

Along the way, my shin splints disappeared, my knees repaired. Race day, I showed up, a changed women in legs and head. My legs liked the resting week. 

My brains are in my legs apparently because I ran the OC Marathon without a care. Didn’t run with a pace group, didn’t try for any special time and enjoyed the sensations of moving through the course with fellow runners.

The result: First Place, Females 70-74, time  2 hours 8 minutes. Eight minutes slower than usual but who cares. 

Now about that overtraining…This spring it got me first place in the LA Marathon and in the OC Half Marathon. AND, I have fifteen years to turn 85 and speed up as much as that champion 85-year-old who came in under 4 hours. Maybe I'll keep on overtraining.

Maybe I won't. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Shin splints. I’ve got ‘em. describes them as:
“…pain along the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. 
Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints often occur in athletes who have recently intensified or changed their training routines. The muscles, tendons and bone tissue become overworked by the increased activity.” tells the story of my life, (my shin’s lives) with the comment, “ Shin splints are very common. Runners might get them after ramping up their workout intensity…”

As readers might know, I achieved my pledge of March 9th L.A. Marathon, 1st Place, Females 70-74. Work-outs for weeks before L.A. included a string of 50-mile-weeks.

Expecting to come out of the experience sore, I paid no attention to the shin splints. 

Now I’m paying attention.

First, they’re not going away. 

Second, I’ve paid $128  for the OC  Half Marathon this Sunday, May 4th, 2014 


Last Saturday in what should have been my last long run before the half marathon I fell way behind other runners. Sweet Catherine waited for me. As we ran along together, I confessed, “I have shin splints. This 12-minute pace protects my shins.”

“Get off the trail,” Catherine commanded. “I raced with shin splints which led to a stress fracture which ended in a broken leg. We want you running with us for a long time. That means rest now. NO RACE.” 

I listened to her, turned and ran the grass around the Corona del Mar track where cushioning left me pain free.

Further reading of WebMd describes;

-“Irritated and swollen muscles, often from overuse. That’s me

-“Flat feet —when the impact of a step makes the foot’s arch collapse. That’s me. 

-AND both sites say: Rest, ice, arch supports, occasionally use of anti inflammatories, range of motion exercises, physical therapy. 

WebMD says,”You’re not recovered until you can exercise without pain.”

Wondering whether to run the OC Half, I looked for a compromise.
I told my Saturday Runners, “I will run the half marathon with my number but without my chip. Therefore, I won’t be tempted to race.

Murph, a former champ said, “Relax, take the slow time. I used to tell people that the day I ran a 4-hour-marathon, I’d quit. Then I had the car accident and broke my leg. Now I’m glad to be out running 4-hour-marathons.” 

My friend, Geoff, a doctor, said, “Do not race injured.” 

Annie, a hiker, biker, golfer, said, “Race the half marathon and then rest for a month.”

Returning home after all this advice, I found my husband at breakfast, and said, “I don’t know whether to run the O.C. Half next Sunday. I’m running so slowly protecting my shin-splints.” 

“Here’s what you should do, but you won’t like it,” he said. “Don’t hike Monday, don’t run all week, and don’t race.”

I know when I’m really injured. I postponed Boston for a year because I could hardly walk, I missed Marine Corps Marathon because I couldn’t straighten my leg. Both times, I took a few months off. Today, I can power hike, run slowly, walk without pain. 

I’d say this is a minor injury, one that will affect my time but not exclude me from the fun. So, who’s advice do I take? 

I’ll wait until Sunday morning to decide.  

Friday, April 25, 2014


I’ve paid my money—lots of, $110.00!—to run the Orange County Half Marathon next Sunday, May 4th.

Why did I do that?

My legs are still tired from the L.A. Marathon. I have shin splints. First time I’ve ever had sore shins for a whole month after a race. 

My top speed seems to be 11-minute-miles. Terrible pace for a half marathon. 
I’m in the habit of finishing half marathons at the two hour mark. That means I used to do nine-minute miles. 

My enthusiasm, after L.A. decreased with every week. At first, I kept my mileage up around 13 miles each run because I knew I had this half marathon coming up. My enthusiasm decreased with every week. Last week’s runs have been 8 miles, no more. Next week I’ll do less. 

Perhaps I’m having trouble recovering from L.A. due 50-mile-weeks I put in as I trained for the marathon. That’s a lot of mileage. 

Its true that the 85 degree heat at the L.A. Marathon killed me in the last few miles, but I don’t think the leg cramps I suffered weeks ago would be responsible for my present dead-legs.

AND HERE IS THE KICKER: Jake my coach, an engineer does exhaustive research on everything. A few weeks after L.A., he ran along beside me and went over the figures proving that people slow with age.

I can’t quote him exactly, but I remember too well the point of his statistics. There’s a downward curve for all runners past a 60 and even steeper tumble past 70. 

Another coach, John, fell apart at 70, saying he just couldn’t get his legs going any more. I ignored John’s pronouncements of doom because I thought he wore himself out racing  too much. I figured all those fast miles were responsible for his running demise. We never see him anymore.

In my case, one bad sign is the fact that I’m falling behind younger people whom I used to beat. Today I ran with Muffy and Jan who always out-ran me for the first two miles, but, in the final stretch I would pass them by half a block. 

I’d walk back to meet them. Now they walk back to retrieve me. 

Have you ever wondered if your head was playing tricks on you? Maybe I heard Jake’s and John’s comments on aging too clearly. Maybe my mind is slowing my legs.

However when my head commands me to move fast, my legs don’t respond. 

My time at the O. C. Half Marathon will tell the tale. I’m not looking forward to the finish.