Sunday, December 30, 2012
Marathon Leg Syndrome
A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
- Will Rogers
At 7:15, Emily dropped me off approximately 7 miles from her Santa Monica home. I donned a long sleeve, shorts, ball cap hat and carried a $5 bill. I greeted the gate keeper at Will Rogers State Park then proceeded into the parking lot. Despite the coffee I'd just finished I wasn't quite awake just yet. I shuffled over to what I thought was the trail head. I suspiciously eyed signs warning that mountain lions frequented these parts then began to run up.
The plan was to run the hill and dale of the park for about an hour before running the seven or so miles back to Emily's place. Hopefully I might be able to crank the pace once I got closer to familiar territory. After all, I'd been running the roads around Brentwood/Santa Monica since Christmas, so, by now, I sorta knew my way around...
The week had started out rather shitty. On Christmas Eve Day, I ventured out to run an easy hour, but stopped just a half mile into the run. Something in my right leg (the bad leg) was giving me reason to pause. I thought to keep running, anticipating the leg would warm up, but it was not to be. Hoping to play the cautious card, I stopped after just a mile and simply walked home.
After a pre-dawn, cross country flight on Christmas Day, I really wasn't in the mood to run once I got to Los Angeles. I also felt the extra day off would "stamp out" the fire in my upper leg (insert jokes here).
On Wednesday, I was ready to test things out. I went to work with Emily and ran from her office in Santa Monica down to the ocean (about 3+ miles away) before looping back up through some posh neighborhoods. Considering my condition on Monday, I felt exceptional near the end of the run and hammered home in a good clip. At one point I eyed my GPS - 5:42 - but I was breathing quite normal. I am definitely getting into good shape. I got in 11.5.
On Thursday, Emily and I met no one in particular at the coffee shop for a run in and around the Pacific Palisades. I ran with Emily for the first 4-5 miles, before venturing off on my own and picking up the pace. My leg only hurt on one particular stretch of uphill, but I was no worse for the wear. I got in 8. I intended to double, but decided against it at the last minute. Better to be safe than sorry.
On Friday, I did double: 10.5 and 4.5, both runs looping around near the famed OJ Simpson house in Brentwood. Felt great on both runs. No pain. Oh, and I saw some dolphins off the Santa Monica pier at dawn.
On Saturday, Emily and I met some runners (Track Club LA) at another coffee shop. It's always good to talk shop with runners from another part of the country. I was happy for the companionship. I got in 12.
I tend to be running my runs a bit too fast, it seems. Not super fast, but not slow either. They seem to fall into the same old pace and I wondered whether that might be a result of not running any speed. Marathon Leg Syndrome, perhaps?
I wanted to get a good run in on Sunday, but had trouble finding anyone to run with or a place to run. Both Emily and contacted a number of area running clubs, all to no avail. I also posted on LetsRun.com, but got no good responses. I even had a back-and-forth text exchange with the Olympian Prince Mumba (Zambia) who trains with the Santa Monica Track Club. I knew the 800m superstar wouldn't be looking to run 15-20, but was hoping some of his distance compatriots might. But, alas, they had all run long on Saturday. After much debate, I decided to have Emily drop me off at Will Rogers State Park. There, I'd spend an hour huffing and puffing and exploring trails, all in an effort to get warmed up, before gunning it back to her home. The first four miles were literally uphill on the Backbone Trail. I lumbered along at 8:00 pace. I had a sore throat, was in the first stages of a head cold, and downright tired, so at the top of the climb, I was easy prey for any wildcat. At times I had incredible views. Other sections were lonely stretches of desert trail that probably ran all the way to Nevada. I turned around at a tri-trunked tree then made my way back down the mountain.
After a close call with a bounding buck, I got back to the parking lot (8 miles/60:00), tipped my hat at the mountain lion sign and began to make my way home. Once I got into familiar territory I began to crank the pace a bit - 6:05, 5:37 - before reaching Van Vicente Blvd, a road I'd been running all week. Once I got there, I let things rip, all while keeping my biomechanics in check. I glanced at my GPS - 4:48 - damn! This was new territory. I relaxed and extended my stride hitting mile 13 in 5:08. My next mile was 5:06(!), at which point I was just a 1/3rd of a mile from home. I shuffled another easy mile and called it a day. 15.
This was definitely a breakthrough, both physically and mentally.
Three weeks until Phoenix.
PHOTO - Will Rogers State Park