The Students Run LA 18 Mile Friendship Run is a qualifier for the LA Marathon, they must complete the course in 4:50:00. Fortunately, SRLA allows the public to take part in this race, which is also what I did last year. (2010 Race Report) The course is two 9 mile loops starting and finishing at the Hansen Dam Park.
I arrived at Hansen Dam around 6am and headed over to find Craig Moss and the Mt Gleason Runners. We got things set up and then I headed over to get registered and drop off some old shoes at the Nike tent. I did a bit of stretching and then it was time to walk over to the starting line. I stood there for a few minutes and without any fanfare or the like, the race started and we walked up to the starting line. My goal for the race was A) finish under last year's time (3:20:00) and B) try the run/walk strategy that Melissa and I will use when we run the LA Marathon. My plan was to run the first 9 miles at a 10:00 min/ mile pace and then use a run/walk strategy of, run until the garmin beeps at a mile, then walk for 2 minutes, then resume running. I tried to start out slower and not get sucked into the crowd at the start. I think I was pretty successful although my first mile was the fastest. By mile 2, I was settling into a comfortable pace and continued on through mile 9. I ran until the garmin beeped 10 miles and then I started the run/walk plan. Miles 11, 12, 13 and 14 seemed to go by ever so quickly and using the run/walk method was working. At mile 15, I was starting to feel fatigued, probably from the heat, so I took my 3rd GU and continued on. The last 2 miles I changed from basically running 9/10 mile/walking 2 min, to running 1/2 mile and walking 1 min. I hit the end of the dam and the last water stop and headed for the finish. I was concerned about my foot and calf since this would be the longest run I have done since the injury occurred on January 1. I had absolutely no issues...until the last 100 yards. I started to feel my right calf cramp a bit, but it wasn't the normal tightening feeling...it was like the muscle was loose and flopping about inside my calf. Very strange feeling. I hobbled my way to the finish and crossed the line in 3:03:37 (Official Time) 795 out of 3138, 32 out of 64 in the 40-44 age group...and a 17 min PR over last year.
Garmin Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/67024436
I got my medal (handed to me in the plastic packaging it came in) and headed to get some post run food and a t-shirt. I made my way back to the Mt Gleason tent and hung out for a while before heading home.
I really enjoy this race and running with the kids. SRLA puts on a good race, it was very organized, the water stops were well stocked and manned with some great volunteers. The finish area was organized and the post race food was better than at some races. I do have some issues with this race, first off, the course was 3/4 mile shorter than advertised. (17.34 vs 18 miles) When I looked at the data from last year, the turn around on Wentworth Street was about 1/4 mile further last year making the race 18.36 miles. Second, I believe that the National Anthem should be played before the race, which I don't believe it was last year as well. Lastly, it would have been nice to have the medal placed around your neck as opposed to being handed to you in the plastic packaging they came in. There is something special about someone placing a medal around your neck and I think it is important for these kids to have that feeling, after all 18 miles is an accomplishment.
Again, thanks to SRLA for putting on a good race...see you at the LA Marathon.
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