Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Los Angeles Marathon

Believing in a possibly, Making it into reality.

Many times I’m asked: what motivates you to be so dedicated to your training? The simple answer: 1) I’m motivated by my desire to improve & 2) I train and I try to do my best in taking care of my body, which means I aim to work on every aspect of myself--my physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Some areas need more work than others, but that is what makes me human. I am a work in progress. I’m not perfect, I’m certainly not the fastest or skinniest marathoner out there, but I aim to work on all areas of myself for overall personal self-growth. Even though the primary goal is self-improvement, it is also self-satisfaction with life. It is the desire to improve that leads me on this daily journey of fulfillment. I’m not talking only about running. I’m talking about everything in life from my relationships, my family, my career, and my health. They are all tightly woven together and running has taught me how to value each realm of my life. Running has given me life because it has shown me that I am human but for one moment in time regardless of pace, I can feel invincible when I run. This is why I run.

Race Day:
         Nestled into my warm bed without one noticeable movement all night, my eyes abruptly opened wide into the darkness of my bedroom. Slowly I reached for my phone afraid to see if only an hour had passed. With a sigh of relief, it was five minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 4am. Like clockwork, unfortunately, my body has learned to wake up every 1-2hrs the night before the race forcing me to grab my phone: Is it time yet? Is it time yet now? Needless to say, it becomes a very restless night. Fortunately, this time I slept straight through. I laid there in bed for a while thinking about what was about to come. I repeated to myself over and over again: you will reach your goal, you will reach your goal… because you know pain and you do not back down to pain. With a deep exhale, I tip toed to the bathroom with my race gear that had been neatly piled next to my bed. Of course, I couldn’t sneak by the hounds. My dogs excitedly said their good mornings with a kiss and tail wag then back to bed they went. My phone rings: “Mija, we’re here. Come outside.” My parents had arrived at 5am to pick me up.

A Runner's Circle
With the last hugs and kisses, my mom wished my dad and I well as she dropped us off at the Dodger Stadium shortly after 6am. We were fortunate enough to be directed to a section of the stadium lot where 3 fresh porta potties stood alone. No lines so we are sticking around here for a while. Secret wasn’t kept too long though as the runners trickled in. Tick tock 6:30. “I need to pee again, Dad!” Back to the porta potties. Ran into Jon, "Rock it today, Nadia!" I smiled nervously hoping it would come true. Tick tock 6:50am. The time just seemed to fly as race start neared. Quick stop by the NurtiBullet stage and we ran into ARC friends, Deo, Sheryl, and Choy. Hugs, pics, ok guys good luck!!  Tick Tock 6:55am. “Papi, they’re going to close the corrals!!” We zigzagged quickly to the entrance and like little ants tried to squeeze into corral B. Over our shoulder, we saw Mitch and Casey also trying to get in.  Big waves and smiles, “Hey guys!” Once inside, my dad and I found a little comfortable spot on the side, sat, then waited. I nestled my head into my bent legs and reminded myself what I came here to do. Make it hurt. You know how to. 7:20am, get up. 7:25, good luck, Papito. 7:28, love you Daddy and I will see you at the finish!!! With one last look and nod from him, it was all I needed. My eyes glossed over and we exhaled. Today, regardless of setbacks, regardless of conditions, you will PR. “Ruuuuuunners, seeeet, GO!!” 

         Shake the arms, open your stride, time to get into your rhythm. I glanced at my garmin and knew what every mile needed to be. Reminding myself: don’t go out too fast. Relax, focus on your form, and breathe because you know that goals aren’t made at the beginning of the marathon, they are determined at the end. Yea a lot is going on in my head every single step of the way during a race. Mile 1 7:53, right on holding back. Mile 2 7:03, hello downhill! Mile 3, there you are 3:15 pacer. Now was I going to leave it all to the official pacer to get me to my goal? No. Pacers are there as guidance but I needed to remind myself, I ran Catalina the weekend before. I battled food poisoning in Phoenix the weekend prior to Catalina. Then I lost some speed from not running any speed work all of February right after Surf City because I needed to listen to my body. I had tweaked something in my foot so instead of running through that bad pain, I needed to heal and stop. Any competitive runner knows, a whole month of no speed work or tempo runs will hurt your speed but what’s worse it can hurt your racing confidence. I knew this so I knew not to go out on a 3:15, 3:10, or 3:05 pace. Last year, I ran a 3:18 being 7lbs heavier and was nowhere near as healthy and strong as I was this year so I knew what my potential could have been to open up my Spring season. Was I going to allow this to rob me of a PR? Again no. Race day, I needed to adjust so I listened to my body and ran conservatively. “Hey girl, how you feeling?!” Shannon, the 3:15 pacer said with a smile. “I’m good just going easy for now. Great seeing you!” I’m not much of a talker during a race but there is A LOT going on in my head. Mile 5, up the hill next to Disney Hall. The drummers are the absolute best here! The 3:15 pacer went ahead. Don’t panic. You're fine. Keep your effort consistent and you got this. Mile 7, there’s the pacer again. “Looking strong girl!” “I lose you guys on the uphills so might as well have some fun coming down them.” Mile 10, my ‘warm-up’ miles were done maintaining most miles between 7:10-7:30s. 5K to go, then the race begins. Mile 12, now what is that burning sensation at the bottom of my sports bra??!? Oh no… so men, you have your possible chaffing issues down there. Ladies comparably have the same possible risk up top. I always make a point to place enough Aquaphor/Body glide in possible problem areas but today the sports bra just decided to cause an issue. So what’s a little chaffing?

         Feeling still relatively fresh, I picked up my cadence. Zipping passed the 3:15 pacer, Mile 14 7:16, pace for a 3:11 goal. Did I notice? Yea. Did I correct it? Nope, my mistake which I would pay for later. Mile 15 7:02, now I really will pay for it. But then I saw the red clan: A Runner’s Circle!!!! Seeing the swarm of the red army on both sides of the street jumping and cheering…. I couldn’t help it, my eyes glossed over with tears. Love you guys so much for being the running family you are. Thank you! Mile 17, now the burning spread to all around the bottom of my sports bra. It was on fire. Yes, I know what was happening, but I am not going to let it be an excuse today. I pushed on. Mile 19, 7:50s where the late portion of the hills began. Then the 3:15 pacer zoomed pass me on the hills. Stay focused, Nadia. Push, push, push. The muscular burn swam in my legs but I couldn’t give in now. This is where it matters. How bad do you want it? How much are you willing to make it burn? Approaching Mile 20, in the distance, I could see a little 5’ woman holding a sign high up in the air: “GO, Chanchito!! We believe in you!” It was my Mamita! Nothing can explain the joy I saw in her eyes. She shouted, jumping up and down, “Go, Mijita, GO!! I love you!” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I blew her a kiss. I love you so much, Mamita!! Attempting to clear my eyes, I then saw a special man in my life ahead standing tall on the sidelines with the biggest smile ever: “You got this, Babe!!! Go get it!!!!” That was it. I wasn’t going to play it safe here. I was running alone. No group pacer, no personal pacer. Just me and my willingness to push forward or not. Mile 21, my pace slowed and the legs begged to walk. I will not give in. Mile 22, pace picked up just a little but I could feel my form suffering, and I didn’t know how far ahead the 3:15 pacer was. I cannot give in now. I need to make this hurt! Make it burn! Mile 23, runners one by one stepped off to the side slowing from fatigue or slowing from cramps. I wanted to give in so bad. Happily, I found Anton running along ahead. “Hey, Anton!” I shouted in between breaths. “Is that you, Nadia? Hey!” Exchanging the same smile of painful fatigue, we ran a bit together. “Stay strong, Anton. I’ll see you at the finish!” Mile 24, hallelluyah the downhill finally arrived! So let’s open that stride like you know how! But wait a minute, my legs refused. See those middle miles where I dropped down too much from pace, here is where I paid for it. Normally, I am a very good downhill runner. Normally, I can push very hard at the end of the marathon to make them my fastest miles. But here from the fire burning underneath my sports bra to the fire scorching in my quads, I could barely push 7:20s. Last year, I ran the last  two miles in 7:11 and 7:06 feeling like I cruised in. This year, a 7:22 at Mile 25 hurt. C’mon, Nadia, make it hurt. Make it hurt!!! On Ocean, there it is: the finish line. RUN!!!!! Glancing at my pace, glancing at my overall time, yes, it was going to happen! I can safely say I was going to PR!!! The crowds roared on the sidelines for the runners. With one last push across the finish line, I raised my arms high in the air and crossed at 3:16:05, a new marathon PR. I did it! I did what I said I came here to do. Today, I believed and today I made it into a reality.

3:15 Pace Group (Photo: LA Times)

Mile Splits:
- 2012: Started too fast first 5mi costing me slower target splits in middle so didn't meet 3:15 target.
- 2013: Mile 5-8 slight too fast & didn't mentally hold it together at Mile 23 costing 3:15 target.
- Goal Met: Paced effectively overall to run close to 3:15 target.
- Tip: Graph your mile splits. It should match pretty close to the course elevation profile if you run the race smart. 
- Tip: If the race is NOT flat, your splits should not be even instead aim for even effort to meet time goal.

Weekly Mileage:
- Goal Met: Increased total mileage by almost 100mi even though battled 1mo of injury (no speed work).
- Goal Met: Periodization & tapering for key races DOES make a difference especially if racing frequently.
- Goal Met: Demonstrated what you do 2mo before DOES help a particular race performance.
- Goal Met: Demonstrated 35-45mpw CAN produce 3:16 result when combined w/healthy eating & cross training.
- Tip: Build a strong cardio base 2-4mo before a target race.
- Tip: Adapt & listen to the needs of your body when building mileage. You don't need to run 80-100mpw to improve. You can but you have options. Find a coach to help you develop a training plan. 

Race Start w/my #1 Fan: My Dad
Race Nutrition:
Pre-race dinner: (13hrs before race start)
1 serving of cesar salad
1 focaccia bread
Grilled Lou de mer trout
2 servings of walnut barley grain salad
2 servings of coleslaw
½ serving of chocolate vanilla ice-cream sundae w/pecans

Late Night Snack: (1hr before bedtime)
1 whole wheat bread slice
1 packet of almond butter
1 serving of trail mix

Pre-race breakfast: (1.5hrs before race start)
1 whole wheat bread slice
1 packet of almond butter

During Race:
Alternate water & electrolyte every aid station
Mile 7 (Photo: Ray)
Orange slices

Immediate Post-race: (within 30min)
2 servings of mixed fruit salad
Protein recovery drink

Results Summary: 
3:16:05 (7:29 average pace)
Slowest: 8:07 - Mile 23
Fastest: 7:00 - Mile 26
Half splits 1:37/1:39
7th in Division (F25-29)
32nd Female Overall
408th Overall of +23,000

Marathon Stats:
6th 2013 marathon
15th consecutive LAM
50th Boston Qualifier
69th sub-4 marathon

Lessons Learned
- Could I have gone faster had I not ran Phoenix and Catalina the weekend before? Maybe.
- Could I have gone faster had I run all my planned speed work sessions in Feb? Maybe.
- Could I have gone faster had not the entire section under my sports bra bled all in the 2nd half? Possibly.
- Despite above, did improving my nutrition for the past four months help my performance? Definitely.
- Despite above, did dropping a net 7lbs from 2012 LAM to 2013 LAM help my performance? Definitely.
- What is my secret? Eat healthy, train smart, and believe in yourself. If you believe it, you will achieve it.

2013 LA Marathon Finish - 3:16:05 *new PR
2013 LA Marathon Finishers - Our 15th consecutive together
Special THANK YOU to all my sponsors, friends, and family
Mile 13 (photo: Amy)
Till the next race, friends!!


  1. Fantastic race recap! Sorry to hear about the chafing... it happens. I'm planning to put in the work and hopefully if I can stay healthy, to join you among the faster runners. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Emil! Yea it has happened before slightly but this was the first time it reeeeeeally took off all the skin from the lower region. You can imagine when I showered I screamed to high heaven. My husband felt so bad but hey we do what we gotta do. lol

  2. Thank you for sharing :) You have the best advice and such motivational words. I got teary eyed reading such devotion, especially when you mentioned seeing your mom. When I saw my mom and my daughter at the marathon, I felt so overwhelmed from happiness. Running has made me feel alive and has made me a better person overall because I am able to push myself and overcome obstacles (both in running and in daily life). I still have about 50lbs to lose and I'm slow, but I am not willing to give up. You have shown me, and many others, that with determination, anything is possible, so thank you! You go girl and keep inspiring us with your amazing dedication and athletic feats! Kick ass in Boston!!! Si se puede!!

    1. Aww yea that was the part I got teary eyed writing it. Love my mom & dad so much as they are the huge source of inspiration for me. They are the reason I continue to work hard & go after my goals. They have sacrificed so much in their lives for me... all three of us so I cannot find it in myself to make excuses bc it would only belittle their sacrifices imo. Thanks girl again!

  3. Love your race report. Very insightful. Great work!

  4. Super story about a super gal! See you at my hometown Santa Clarita Marathon. Stay ahead of my 3:40 pace group. I'm sure you will!

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