June 1, 2011

Going Long On Memorial Day

The last long run before Grandma's marathon is done! I decided to run this last one at the beach since my last several long runs have been on hilly routes through city streets. I had intended to get started a little earlier than I actually did because it was Memorial Day. I knew that Santa Monica and the Venice boardwalk would be packed with people in the late morning hours.

Image credit
Hubby and I always begin our runs at the same beach park. And I ALWAYS have to use the restroom there because a) I have the world's tiniest bladder; and b) it takes about 30 minutes to drive to the park from our house.  This time, I was almost running from my car to get to the restroom - only to find for the very first time ever that the door was locked! Don't freak out Vera. Just get going and see if the next restroom stop (less than a mile from where I was) is open.  No luck.  I see 2 guys in a Beach Patrol truck in the parking lot pull up so I ask when the bathrooms are going to be open (it's almost 7:30am already!!).  One of them mutters something about maybe in 15 minutes. Moderately irritated, I asked if they knew if the bathrooms at the Santa Monica pier were going to be open.  "Oh I wouldn't know about the pier". I find that hard to believe since you all work the same beach patrol and the pier is 2 miles south of where we are, but whatever. I'm just wasting precious time here.....

Luckily, the city has been completely remodeling all of the public restroom facilities between Will Rogers State Beach and Venice along the bike/pedestrian path. I say luckily because it meant that there were porta-potty's everywhere. I had completely forgotten about this (thanks for the reminder Beach Patrol guys). I thought I might have been hallucinating a porta-potty oasis when the first set came into eyesight. What a relief! Literally!

The path was eerily void of the usual early morning runners and cycling clubs. The Santa Monica pier was close to being a ghost town. Aside from some activity at Muscle Beach where it looked like there was going to be a competition later on, foot traffic on the Venice boardwalk was almost non-existent. I continued on, veering off into the streets of Venice and Marina Del Rey, through Playa Del Rey to El Segundo.  I have never run that far out before. By the time I got out towards my turn around point, the sun was feeling much warmer. The path is completely exposed and most of it is surrounded by sand. Hot, sun and heat-reflecting sand. This part was much nicer..... a nice cool breeze through the bay.
Running around the marina out to El Segundo. This is a great path!!
View of the bay from the path
Even though the temps are heating up, I am still feeling really strong.  I had gone out a little too fast but I was feeling really good. I was enjoying running by families who were claiming their spots on the sand and the parking lot with blankets, towels, sun umbrellas and BBQs. Inspired by the day, I decided right then that today was going to be the day I run the longest distance I've ever run, even if it was only half a mile, but a mile would be awesome! Okay Vera, let's not get ahead of ourselves here, you're training for a marathon, not an Ultra. Slow down and chill out.

I turned around at 13.37 miles, just as I hit El Segundo beach. That was surreal. It probably took me the same amount of time to run there as it would have been to drive the same distance in traffic. Crazy! The beaches and the bike/ped path were really jumpin' now that it's close to 10:30am. By the time I make it back to Venice, the path is a zoo of people and animals alike. I decided to stick with the bike path and risk being run over by tourist on a cruiser than weaving in and out of stationary humans (especially the ones who have dogs on barely visible leashes who let them run back and forth across the path!!!). I literally almost fell on my face when I tripped over a woman's invisible dog leash. I kind of laughed it off with her but I'll admit to a fleeting thought of sharing with her my feelings about her complete disregard to anyone or anything around her.

View of the Marina Del Rey Marina from Playa
Sticking with the bike path adds extra mileage as it curves in and out behind the boardwalk, closer to the water. The pedestrian path is a straight shot. I hoped this would add just enough mileage to get me to 27 miles total. The paths become one in Santa Monica but there are less people milling around and I'm able to get through the pier pretty easily.

The last few miles on the path were tough. I wore compression socks (CEP) for the first time on a long run. I could definitely tell my feet and calves weren't nearly as swollen and achy as they have been in the past towards the end. I wasn't sure how close I'd come to hitting 27 miles when I got back to the park where I started because I reset my Garmin at the turnaround point. My final mileage was 26.81 (4:59), Not 27, but still my farthest run to date by half a mile. Despite the rising temps and floods of people and bikes to weave through on the way back, I managed to hold an 11:13 pace. My average pace for the first half was 11:05.  I actually ran the marathon distance faster my current marathon PR - but that was on a very hilly course and I've stepped up my training tremendously since then.
Promotion for the new X-Men movie. There were X-Men clouds all over Santa Monica! :-)
I have a really hard time (mostly mental I think) between mile 23-24 for some reason. A mental block of sorts that I just became aware of Monday afternoon as I was thinking back on my run. I realized this has happened on the last couple of long runs. I'm so glad I recognized it before race day. I know if I can just push through that 1 mile I'll feel much better and ready to finish strong!

Garmin data
First half: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/89232741
Second half: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/89232732

I downed 20 ounces of Endurox on the drive home. I came armed with recovery sustenance knowing I'd be sitting in THIS on the Pacific Coast Highway with all the other crazies in Memorial Day traffic:
Sitting in traffic on the PCH.
Needless to say, after a 50 minute drive home, my legs and core were whining and my stomach was growling big time!! I'll take the Brontosaurus ribs with 5 baked potatoes and a 64 oz amber ale - whatever you've got on tap.

The taper begins.....


Johann said...

Wow, that is some long run, well done! You will certainly have a good marathon. Enjoy the taper!

Ken Kopasky said...

Wow, impressive endurance! I love the pics you posted. The people getting in the way would have been annoying to me, but other than that, what an awesome place to run. Thanks for sharing.

daffodilgirl said...

Awesome run! I've only biked along that area but running it might be in my future!!