Yesterday I ran my 16th marathon – The Los Angeles Marathon. It actually sounds a little surprising to say that it is my 16th. I believe most who know me would think I have run more of them than that….
I entered this race because I needed to get in a long training run, and I figured why not run 20 miles with 25,000 of my running friends… I was NOT intending to race it. I am not at a point in my training where I would consider myself ready to race a marathon. So, once again, my only goal was to get in a nice 20 mile training run. I was not sure what to do about those other 6.2 miles… should I walk to the finish? That would take two extra hours… I figured I would wait and see when I got there.
In an effort to try and stretch out my endurance I did a little experiment. I decided to Gallowwalk the marathon. Gallowwalking is where you designate walking breaks on a regular basis throughout your marathon. Running author, Jeff Galloway is a big proponent of the practice. I figured I would allow myself a 1 minute walk break at every mile marker. It was interesting to watch it develop. At mile one I was still in a very big, very slow moving crowd since I had started way in the back with all the others who were not in a seeded corral.
At the 2 mile marker, I took my first little walk. It was hard to watch runners run past me. I took note of a few of them. Not that many went by. Once I started running again I caught those that I had noted and many more. Each mile I stopped I would notice this. Usually after a few miles these people would no longer catch me. I was averaging a faster pace than most of those in my purview. I think I skipped a couple here and there. I noted that as I went along I was averaging a sub 9 pace even with the walk breaks.
As I got into the upper teens, I was getting pretty fatigued. This was to be expected as I had not run anything longer than 18 miles, and that was back in January. I had a 17 miler on March 4. I also noted that, it seemed to me, that even though L.A. is a net downhill marathon, there is an awful lot of uphill. These upper teens miles wear on you, and then the early 20s kill you off. I am off today, so I decided to research it a little bit. I looked at the elevation profile according to my GPS very carefully and broke it up into Uphills and Downhills, and noted their distance….. not their elevation climb or loss, but their distance.
|Mile point in Marathon||distance||NET UPHILL||NET DOWNHILL|
I found out I was right. If you take away the final 2 mile descent, you spend more miles running uphill than running downhill.
Another way to look at it is you start with a one mile downhill out of the stadium – downhill. Then you loop through downtown and back to Silver Lake at 5.5 – a wash. From there all thew way down Hollywood Blvd and Sunset, miles 5.5 to 14 are rolling with NO elevation gained or lost. Then mile 15 is a big downhill. Miles 16 – 23.5 is up with the exception of 1 mile 18.5 – 19.5. It is this stretch that wears you out.
I maintained my average pace through 20 miles at which point I turned onto a street that parallels the 405. This is a new section of the race. It used to make a quick right and then a quick left under the freeway and into the Veteran’s Administration. There was a short steep uhpill there.The short steep uphill was replaced with a longer gradual climb.
I took a long walk. I considered, having finished my 20 mile training run, that I could walk it in. But instead,once I got to a downhill, I resumed my run/walk pattern. There was still a bit of climbing all the way to 23.5 miles, but I got lots of easy running in.
I finished in 4:12:29 – mission accomplished.