I will recap later but here they are. Desi, Ryan, Abdi, Shalane, Meb and Kara.
All posts for the month January, 2012
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 14, 2012
Hope everyone is having a great week and the running is going well. The picture above is the world-famous Mt Sac Track out in California, home to the Mt Sac Relays. Some of the most talented runners in the world gather here once a year to showcase their talent. They also have an incredible cross-country course here and I have seen greats like Ryan Hall and up and coming Jordan Hassay crush it here. If you have an opportunity I highly suggest you follow Jordan Hassay as she will be the next greatest runner in America. She is currently at Oregon and competed in the 2008 Olympic trials as a junior in high school. I also highly recommend you run the cross-country course here. I have put my time on this track many times for my next topic, SPEED WORK.
As runners training for a marathon or half marathon we tend to run a lot but run slow and steady. This is OK but the longer you continue to run slow and steady, that is all you will be able to do, you will be very good at that, SLOW AND STEADY. Do I have your attention yet? The key to great performances in the marathon and half marathon is being able to run fast for a long period of time. Speed work will help.
Speed work is a great way to teach your body to run faster. I think runners in their first year of running should stay away from speed work, especially first time marathoners. The reason is because speed work is so taxing on your body and I feel first time marathoners as well as runners just starting to run should ideally just work on getting their bodies comfortable with running and set up that foundation first. As you head into your second marathon I highly recommend getting into a speed training plan as it should have a place in your running plan and schedule.
My biggest advice is to gradually introduce it into your routine and make sure it is progressive. You don’t want to get out there and be overly ambitious and crush 15 400′s in your first day. You will give your body a shock and eventually will be highly susceptible to injury. Another bit of advice is to properly warm up before each speed session with a light jog and most importantly, cool down run after your speed work. This is always overlooked by runners in speed work sessions and is critical to your recovery from the time on the track.
SO WHAT ON EARTH IS A YASSO 800?
Yasso 800′s was started by the great runner and editor of Runner’s World Amby Burfoot who is super great and if you ever get a chance to meet him, find the time as he is really cool. Anyways the story goes that Amby met Bart Yasso, who was the organizer for the Portland Marathon many years ago, I guess I should have done my homework when exactly but we are talking a long time ago and you get the idea. Bart Yasso told Amby he had trained for over 15 years running 10 by 800′s at marathon goal time and it had helped him succeed training this way. So Amby wrote about it in Runner’s World and phrased the speed training as a Yasso 800.
So what is a Yasso 800? Well what Bart Yasso was doing was whatever time he had run his 800 meter runs ( 2 laps around a track) that was his predicted race time for the marathon. So what you do is if you are aiming to run a 3:55 hour marathon, well then you should be running your 800′s at 3 minutes and 55 seconds. The idea is to build up to a set of ten by 800 meters at your desired time. Usually you start doing these about two to three months out from your marathon date and slowly build up to 10 sets.
Does it work? Many runners over the years swear by it and it has been successful for them. Burt Yasso claimed this is how he reached his goals. I myself have used it in training runners on the track and surprisingly it has been successful in helping reach intended goal times but it wasnt the only speed work we did. Yasso’s are a fun workout because they are short but I recommend also incorporating 1600 meter repeats, that’s 4 laps around the track. Repeats at 1600 meters with short recoveries tend to get you really ready for a marathon.
Everyone has their formula and like everything in running, what works for you will not always work for someone else. The bottom line is to find what works for you and then perfect that craft. But to accomplish those PR’s and PB’s, get to that track and put the work in. It will pay off. Stay tough and strong.
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 13, 2012
Run your own race, run at your own pace and live your own life. It isn’t about keeping up with the other runners or trying to beat someone else. The real reason we run is to challenge ourselves. In running and as in life, you must go at your own pace and focus on what you can do and not what others are doing. Do what you LOVE and everything will fall into line.
Lets face it, there will always be somebody faster than you or slower than you. There will always be someone more successful in life than you. The more we focus on what others are doing you truly lose the appeal of what you are truly trying to accomplish.
For years it has always been the same story for me and probably the same story for you. There are always the nay sayers who always tell me running is bad for me and my knees are this and that and yet day after day, year after year I continue to stay healthy and live a positive life filled with such enjoyment each time I lace up.
If you look around at your runner friends and the running community it is like a family of mutual respect. Some of us run in clubs and it is family. We all make each other better. The fact is you inspire so many people around you, even people you don’t know. Your kids look up to you if you have any, your husbands or wives or boyfriends or girlfriends find you amazing human beings and in some way you push them to be better. If your parents are around I am sure they are proud of you and if they are no longer here they are surely looking down proud of you. Sometimes when you run on the street it may be just that one person driving by that you don’t know who you inspire to take a step and try for a healthy life. Everyone around you admires your drive, whether they want to admit it or not.
At the end of the day it is about challenging yourself, no matter how fast or how slow you are. In life it’s about approaching each day and doing something to challenge yourself. Through the challenges you take on, you grow from them no matter what the outcome is.
I always tell runners when you finish a run or especially when you run a race, you ALWAYS want to have that moment when you take off your shoes that you gave it your all and left nothing out there in the run or race. No regrets! Hopefully with that attitude, you learn to shift that mentality to life and as you lay in bed each night to go to bed you think to yourself you made the best of your day and lived it as if it was your last day.
Do what you love, dream extraordinarily big and work ridiculously hard. Anyone who ever reached their goals in life or running never were handed anything, they worked their ass off. Go get yours, A-game today, A-game everyday.
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 12, 2012
Three Marathons in three weeks. What more is there in life than a moment you feel you can do anything?
The moments that challenge you the most will define you. I am not just talking about running but also life. It’s funny how life and running are the same. They are very similar in the sense what you put into each of them, you will get out of them. I am constantly reminded on a daily basis and continue to teach to runners on a yearly basis how running can teach us to live better lives.
The marathon will humble you and is brutal. You must respect the miles and know that limits will be reached. After 20 miles it’s actually kind of magical. The physical struggle, the doubt, the mental struggle. You learn and figure out a way to push past the adversity and you learn so much about yourself, what you are truly capable of. The best part is taking those lessons into your life and applying what you are truly capable of and achieving your goals.
With that said, this month always is a special month for me. It marks the anniversary when I ran three full 26.2 marathons back to back to back. For three weekends in a row I ran a marathon each Sunday. It actually was by accident how it happened but I guess nothing is truly by accident. People always ask how I did it. There really is no secret except that I truly believed I could do it. This is my story.
I ran the first marathon at the OC Marathon out here in California. I actually helped pace a runner of mine to help him get his PR. The race was miserable and hot. I remember feeling like crap at about 24 miles because of the heat that day. Plus the course was really boring with few spectators. He got his PR and it was all great after. I was pleased to help. I finished and felt like I ran a marathon. A bit sore but feeling accomplished. It never gets old.
The following day I was reminded by another runner about travel plans for the Arizona Marathon coming that Sunday. For some reason I thought I had another two weeks and quickly realized I was about to go back to back. I had never run back to back marathons so I really didn’t know what to expect. I recovered that week with chiropractic care, an ice bath everyday for 3 days and light running. Having run 40 to 50 miles in one day in the past was my confidence that I would be okay. The problem was pacing my runner. The stress and pressure are always there as they are relying on you to be perfect. In a marathon, anything can go wrong and even though it was just a 4:15 goal time, you always have to have respect for the marathon and distance. So it was off to Arizona I went and as I lined up on the starting line that morning I was ready mentally. I paced the race to a tee with my pace bracelet and put it on the line as per the runner at mile 21 and pulled my runner in 12 minutes fast that day. It was an amazing feeling as I felt as if it was easier than the first marathon just a week prior. The feeling of back to back was very satisfying.
When I got home I had no other runners to pace but It had me thinking if I ran another marathon it would be extraordinary and so I figured I would look for another marathon and try to go for the trifecta, the hat trick to show people you can push the limits of your body and anything is possible if you truly believe it. I went to Carlsbad, Ca and lined up on the start line of that marathon with no running at all during the week and at the start line felt free, no pressure, just finish, have a good run and enjoy the accomplishment. I lined up with the 4:10 pace group, huddled myself behind the crowd of runners and away we went. For the first 13 miles, I ran effortlessly and then we started a climb that would last for a few miles. When we started the climb the pack of the 4:10 group was about 40 strong, when we finally reached the crest of the climb and began our descent there were just 5 of us. It was brutal. When we reached mile 22 it was just the pace leader and myself. I was the lone survivor. I shared my story with the pace leader and she laughed, couldn’t believe this was my third marathon in a row, and quite frankly I couldn’t believe it either. Those last miles to the finish line were magical. It started to sink in what I was on the verge of accomplishing. My family was there as well as a bunch of friends there to see me in this feat. When I made the turn to the finish line they were all there screaming and yelling and it made the hair on my neck stand up.
I remember as I approached the finish line, everything seemed to be in slow motion, I kind of couldn’t hear the crowd anymore and as I stepped on the finish line I closed my eyes and felt PURE elation in that moment, and in a second with a million thoughts I thought somewhere around the world someone is experiencing this same feeling, someone else is crossing the finish line of their first marathon, their first 5k or perhaps their first time running a mile without stopping, someone is full of elation right now putting their eyes on their child for the first time or elated for some great accomplishment. The beautiful thing is in THAT moment I was part of great moments all around the world joined by others who accomplished something really great and extraordinary. And this is life! That is the beauty of this world. Look around and see all the great things and accomplishments happening on a daily basis.
After coming back to reality, I hugged my pace leader, met my family and friends and its was a great celebration. They put the other two medals on me and we took this picture. This is my story.
The revelation you now have is my advice, WHAT MORE IS THERE IN LIFE THAN THE MOMENT YOU FEEL YOU CAN DO ANYTHING?
HOW WILL YOU CREATE THAT MOMENT OF ELATION AND JOIN OTHERS AROUND THE WORLD IN BEING EXTRAORDINARY?
GET OUT THERE AND GO AFTER YOUR MOMENT! IT’S WAITING FOR YOU.
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 11, 2012
The picture to the left are a few of my sole mates which all helped me get to the New York City Marathon. One of the biggest decisions you will make in running will be the selection of your shoes, it will make you or break you.
If you are a beginner runner or a seasoned runner it is important to know and refresh your memory how important finding the right running shoes for you are and also when to let go of your shoes when they are starting to wear out. In marathon running and half marathon running, getting into the right shoe based on the form of your foot is so vital.Most beginners make the mistake of getting to the nearest sports store with a good sale or assuming by buying a pair of $100 running shoes must be good for you. Seasoned runners often make the mistake of running in shoes that are starting to wear out and lose cushion which will lead to injury.
Now I am not here to tell you what brand is the best shoe or which company has the best reputation, I am just here to bring back and refresh the principles of choosing the correct running shoe for you. When choosing a running shoe it is important to consider
1. Getting to a running shoe specialty shop. A running specialty store will generally look at the shape of your foot and determine which shoe is best for you based on the form of your foot. Some runners have a high or low arch, some have very flat feet and some really pronate inward. Without getting the correct read on your foot and just getting into a shoe that had the right color or the right cost, you are at a high risk for injury
2. Worn out shoes can lead to injury as well. Many seasoned runners tend to make this mistake and when starting to get aggravated pains look past the thought that perhaps their shoes are starting to wear out. Keeping some kind of running log will help you determine the life of your shoes. Now the question is how long can a pair of running shoes last. Generally the lifespan is anywhere from 350-500 miles. This is all really depends on a number of factors. The surface the runner always chooses to run on as well as is the runner a heavier runner or a light runner. These are all important factors. Just monitor your body and be aware. A lot of beginner runners make the mistake of deciding to run again and then grab and dust off the pair of shoes that have been sitting in the closet for months, sometimes longer. These shoes have more than likely lost all support or cushion and will lead to injury and then feeling discouraged and then deciding to give up on running again.
WHAT ABOUT BAREFOOT RUNNING? the newest craze is barefoot running. The question whether it is good for you or not. Many have argued in the past 2 years during this popular craze that barefoot running is the natural way the body is supposed to run and will prevent all injuries. This picture to the left is a picture I actually took of a runner in the Chicago Marathon in the West Side of Chicago as we passed the home of the Bulls. I pulled up next to him and asked him how long he had been running barefoot. He went on to tell me he had started running barefoot almost a year and a half. He had always worn running shoes but as soon as he started to run barefoot he started running injury free. But studies and reports are starting to show up across the nation with injuries to barefoot runners with plantar fasciitis. This injury is accounting for more than 90% of all injuries for barefoot runners. The fact remains that running barefoot requires very strong Achilles and calf muscles. Many runners I know who give it a try, even in Vibrams which are the rubber glove for feet, suffer very sore Achilles and calf strains and then revert back to running shoes. I think the bottom line is it is not for everyone. I also feel if runners tend to have a high or medium arch with a normal foot strike with no pronation, these runners are better off at being succesful barefoot runners. If you choose to go barefoot, keep these issues in mind. Evaluate how your body responds and make the necessary changes if any.
My main message here is running shoes may be everything in the success of your running. Running in the wrong shoes or worn out shoes are the number one reasons why shin splints or runners knee pain starts. It is often the reason hip problems start to show up. But it is not the ONLY reason! Remember we are running and putting our bodies through a lot of stress on each strike. Have a great day and great run!
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 9, 2012
All my morning runs and mornings before a marathon consist of the same routine. Water, a sports drink, food and the most important thing, COFFEE. If I get to a run without coffee or a race without it, watch out, step aside because I will not be pleasant. As some of you may know me I really wouldn’t be like that but I need that cup of joe in the morning. So the question is always posed to me, is coffee good for you prior to running? OF COURSE IT IS. There have been many studies on how caffeine can increase your endurance. Look at many gels on the market today loaded with a shot of caffeine to aid in your performance. But some argue caffeine doesn’t help them and it is a diuretic and can contribute to loss of fluids. I think the key is moderation. So can running really enhance your running?
There is a study on the effect of caffeinated coffee on running speed, respiratory factors, blood lactate and perceived exertion during 1500-m treadmill running JD Wiles, SR Bird, J Hopkins and M Riley Department of Sport Science, Christ Church College, Canterbury, UK. Using a motorized treadmill the study investigated the effects of the ingestion of 3 g of caffeinated coffee on: the time taken to run 1500 m;the selected speed with which athletes completed a 1-min ‘finishing burst at the end of a high-intensity run; and respiratory factors, perceived exertion and blood lactate levels during a high intensity 1500-m run. In all testing protocols decaffeinated coffee (3 g) was used as a placebo anda double-blind experimental design was used throughout. The participants in the study were middle distance athletes of club, county and national standard. The results showed that ingestion of caffeinated coffee:decreases the time taken to run 1500 m; increases the speed of the ‘finishing burst’; and increases VO2 during the high-intensity 1500-m run. The study concluded that under these laboratory conditions, the ingestion of caffeinated coffee could enhance the performance of sustained high-intensity exercise.
I still feel as a runner drinking coffee or adding caffeine to your regimen it is still important to be responsible and make sure you are staying hydrated and your body is properly fueled. You can’t just rely on this information and just go with the idea caffeine will give you the boost and increase your endurance. Like everything else in life, you must have the right balance. Having a few cups of coffee in the morning before a run probably isn’t a good idea so watch your intake and enjoy a nice cup of coffee in moderation. So the next question is in debate. Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee? Have a great day.
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 8, 2012
The weekend is finally here and I hope everyone is having a great Saturday. Chances are you are gearing up for your long run today or resting today to tackle your long run tomorrow on Sunday. For years I have heard the debate about the longest run you should complete while training for the marathon. Most marathon runners follow the conventional way of training by putting in a 20 mile training run once or twice and sometimes up to three times during their training leading up to their race. Some runners and programs I have seen, even take their longest run to 23 miles. Yikes. In essence their really is no right or wrong way to train for a marathon, while in terms of trying to convince you that one 20 mile long run versus two is right or a 23 mile long run. But I just ask you to open your mind and think about a few things.
I myself have run 24 marathons and as a coach for many years in a huge running city, have trained thousands of runners to cross the finish line of a marathon. I have seen many runners train to 20 miles and have great training runs on those days and put up impressive times. Weeks later when they show up to the start line of their big race they can’t produce the same result on race day they excelled at just weeks ago on their training run. As you can imagine they were pretty disappointed. When they were able to run two 20 mile runs in their programs it was even worse. Many of them showed up to the race completely comfortable in their heads knowing they were ready but their bodies weren’t. Again most of them would all put up times far from their 20 mile training runs. The 23 mile training run is one I really never understood. A lot of programs will take their runners all the way up to 23 miles. Unless there is some serious volume of miles being run along with the credentials of an experienced advanced marathon runner I don’t understand how this works especially for a first time marathon runner. I have seen first time marathon runners make this mistake over and over. Perhaps you have done these runs and have been succesful and you are thinking this guy here is out of his mind, I myself have done these runs and been succesful but also unsuccessful. As runners we never really truly know everything but sharing information with each other is what we do and we are constantly learning and evolving with what we learn, that is what running is and that is what life is. So what if I showed you a different way to train and idea of marathon training. You want PR’s and PB’s? Check this out.
So who said we have to do a 20 mile training run? Did you know in Europe they only train to 30 kilometers? That is roughly 18.6 miles. In the United States we are the only ones who train conventionally to 20 miles in every training schedule printed across the internet or many training programs in organized running clubs across the nation. Lets go back to Europe for a second. So since they only take their training to a 18 mile long run does this mean they are less ready for a race than us? absolutely not. Have you ever run in a big major road race like New York or Chicago and a European is crushing you on the course while stopping to horse around on the side to take pictures with the crowd? It’s quite a site and frustrating if you are hurting, If you happen to be in the starting corrals with the Europeans at the start of the New York City Marathon in Staten Island it is an interesting site. The race doesn’t start until 10am but somehow you are sitting at Staten Island for 4 hours waiting for the race. To watch the Europeans all chain smoke for hours waiting for the gun to go off is amazing. The worst part is when you are cruising in the race at a great pace and they are passing you. Now I am not endorsing smoking and running but my point is we are no ready than they are even with a 20 mile run under our belt.
The biggest message I am trying to bring you is in marathon training it is all about QUALITY over QUANTITY. The Hanson Brooks Distance Project is a perfect example of the quality over quantity training. For some of you who are unfamiliar with Team Hanson, as they are known, is a program in Minneapolis created by brothers Kevin and Keith who are training some of the best marathon and running athletes in the United States. The runner below is Desiree Davila who runs with Team Hanson and has posted the fastest marathon qualifying time for the Women in next week’s Olympic Trials in Houston. ” The necessity of the 20 miler for a marathon is a farce” says Kevin Hanson, noting that it’s one of the first things he and his younger sibling Keith tell aspiring marathoners at clinics they sponsor at their suburban Michigan running stores. “It’s just a convenient round number that people have endowed with some mythical properties” To prove his point Keith notes that European training plans top out at 30 kilometers(18.6) miles. “Does that mean they’re 1.4 miles less prepared than Americans? It’s ridiculous.” There philosophy is quality with their long run topping out at 16 miles. No that was not a typo, 16 MILES! Their program tops out at three 16 miles run. How can running 16 miles prepare you for a marathon? They explain it is the residual training effect. It takes 10 days for the benefits of a workout to appear in the body. So when you set out on a 16 mile long run there are already 3 workouts, from the week, of fatigue in your legs. So it’s not like the first 16 miles of a marathon it’s more like the last 16 miles of a race.
Ok so does it work? I firmly believe it does. As I mentioned earlier I have seen runners run 20 mile training runs and do exceptional on them only to show up on race day and produce sub par results. maybe you have been a victim of this. The reason? Possibly you peaked at the wrong time and you showed up to the start line fatigued. 23 mile long runs? Sure you did them but did you possibly run down your body going to the start line as opposed to showing up strengthened? Did you post a great time even with the 23 mile long run? Possibly but imagine what you would have done without that 23 long run?
A few years ago I was leading a huge group of runners into the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon and I changed up the schedule and 18 miles would be their longest run. Many of the runners were seasoned runners with the usual 20 mile training run as the norm. But I noticed a lot of them were at a stand still and not producing PR’s even though each race was to PR. So if you could imagine they went into a panic, they argued ’how could they be ready for a marathon with just a 18 mile long run’. I convinced them to buy into my philosophy that we would focus on the quality of the mid-week runs, and on the long runs we would use the last three miles of the run when the body was really fatigued to run at marathon pace. They all bought into it and on race day almost all of them PR’d. I believe they showed up ready as opposed to run down. It was an amazing day that day. I think besides the long run being to long for first time runners and aspiring marathon runners trying to get a PR, they sometimes put too much emphasis on speed on those long run days instead of the importance of VOLUME which will wear you down week to week leading up to race day.
But I get it, we want to be better and faster, but this thing we do called marathon running requires PATIENCE AND LEARNING TO TRAIN AND RUN SMART. Thanks for hearing me out. Continue to run smart and stay tough.
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 7, 2012
2008 LA Marathon
It is 8 hours into the race and I am running on the course AGAINST the runners. I am somewhere in the 22 mile mark and they are starting to shut down the course to allow traffic back into the streets and there is the shuttle van picking up runners slowly riding opposite the runners waiting for any takers to get on to end their long day and get a DNF, did not finish. At this point there are only walkers, run/walkers and the injured doing everything they can to get to the finish line. And there I am running right next to the shuttle yelling at the runners “don’t even think about it, don’t even think about getting on this shuttle, you are there, dig deep, stay tough” This is my constant message over and over as the shuttle and I pass hundreds of runners.
That day at LA marathon was an amazing journey to say the least. I did run the race that year. I ran with my training partner Erika. That year I was pacing her to a beat a 4:30 marathon. We had worked hard with long training nights mostly due to work schedules. That year was the first year they changed the course from Universal City to downtown L.A. The race in the later miles turned into quite a hotter day than usual. I remember getting to the 18 mile mark and feeling the heat. That seems to be the problem for most marathons in Los Angeles. The weather out here is gorgeous. But for marathon running, this presents its challenges along with an unusual start time of 8am, it can get pretty hot out by the 15 mile mark. The race was pleasant and as Erika and I turned the corner at mile 26 to the finish it was clear we beat our goal time and this part of the race was a success. We crossed the line and it was all smiles.
For me the real work started after this point. After completing the race I quickly ran back into the course and started finding runners I knew and started running them in back to the finish line if they needed help. Some did and some didn’t. At mile 21 I ran into my first challenge that day. Michelle was a runner I had been training and coaching through the roadrunner program in Los Angeles. When I found her she wasn’t in such a good place. She was having bad cramps in her stomach from what appeared to be problems with the digestion of the sports gels and combinations of water and Gatorade intake. She was struggling badly and we were running and walking and she was grimacing. Soon we were stopping completely and she was doing everything she could to keep herself from throwing up. We would walk and she would stop. Things got worse as she started to feel very weak and before I knew it I was holding her by her waist. As we were standing in the middle of the course I was telling runners to go around. I was holding her hair from her face as she was really sick. She would muster enough determination to run a good 40 yards and then we would stop and repeat, holding her so she wouldn’t fall and holding her hair from her face telling runners to go around. This was our process for the next couple of miles to the finish. As we approached and got close to under the 26 mile mark I told her you made it and she was instantly out of her funk. I told her if she booked it she could beat 5 hours and she went into tears because all she wanted to do was beat her time from last year which was over 5 hours. At that moment Michelle put it in top speed and raced to the finish and that day despite our last miles of struggle and pure determination, Michelle got her time.
So I began my run against traffic once again from the finish line. I ran into a good number of friends and ran back and forth between the finish line and mile 21. I did this for a good three hours. It was quite an adrenaline rush. I also helped strangers besides the people I knew. My second challenge came with a stranger, a girl from the SRLA training program. I found her at mile 21 and she was in a really weak state with her arm around her Mom and her Mom carrying a lot of her weight. When I ran towards them it was pretty important for me to convince her Mom to let us sit her down so I could evaluate what kind of state she was in. The girl was not injured she was just really dehydrated and very weak. The girl barely had enough energy to look at me. I asked her Mom to wait for me and keep her there so I could get her some kind of salt in her body. Luckily I had put a $20 bill in my shorts that morning. I ran into one of the convenience stores along the course and grabbed a Gatorade and a little salt shaker and poured a healthy amount of salt into the Gatorade and ran back out to the girl and had her drink. Very quickly she was reacting to the salt going into her bloodstream and was starting to become very alert. Her Mom quickly wanted to get her up and get going and I advised pretty strongly that her daughter needed medical attention and she should wait for first aid to come help. The girl was in tears telling me she wanted to finish and her Mom was telling me she would be fine. I walked with them for about 100 yards just to make sure she was a tad better. Her Mom insisted they were fine. I told her she should go to first aid first chance she crossed the line. I told the girl to stay tough and she put smiled at me, put her hand out and grabbed mine and squeezed it really hard. She could barely talk and I knew she was trying to say thank you through her hand. I watched her until she turned the corner. That was a tough one to leave.
The road to the 2008 LA Marathon started at the end of August in 2007. I was a coach for the Roadrunner Program which was the official training program for the LA Marathon. Through this program beginners and seasoned marathoner’s are encouraged to run and train with full support for the 6 month program with coaching staff, clinics, pace leaders and water and bananas every Saturday. The program has a 99.9% finishing rate and prides itself on this. Every Saturday I stood on a stage prior to their long runs and talked and motivated them with different topics and ideas. Trying to inspire the inspired sometimes seems like a lot at times and often as I knew of an important training topic to bring up and educate I really had a lot of fun inspiring the troops Naturally every week I spoke from my heart and often went along with what I saw and observed from the questions of the runners. My goal was just to leave them with something inspiring and I think I did that week in and week out with stories of struggle and commitment and inspiration. Little did I know these stories would set the stage for what really was awaiting on race day several months later and I personally would have to draw everything I ever said and spoke about to complete that day in March.
After leaving the SRLA girl and her Mom I made my way back running towards runners. My goal was to find a run/walker in my training group who would be the last one coming in. I promised her I would come back for her at the start line at the beginning of the race that morning. Along the way as I kept running back I was inspired by the amazing stories out there. Runners who were injured holding their legs struggling to make it, runners in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. There was a man I ran into and he must have been in his late 70’s and he looked beat up, leaning to one side and walking with his daughter. I asked him if he was OK and he yelled at me as if I had insulted him, it was very clear he was determined and OK and had been here before. His daughter smiled at me and said he is good but thank you. I continued on and found a man on a wheel chair hunched over on his seat and stopped. His hands were taped up with the tape coming undone and blood on his fingers. I asked him of he was OK, he was just really tired and exhausted in this 10 hour day he had put in at this point. I told him to let me help him and I pushed him for about 5 minutes and asked him what was his story. Why was he here? He went on to tell me he was a war veteran in Iraq. He had lost his leg in combat and was here trying to do this marathon for the fallen soldiers who were his friends and doing this for them. As he told me this story we were both brought to tears and he continued to cry as I pushed him in the dusk of the downtown skyline. He asked me to stop and told me this was his struggle and he needed to continue on his own with his own power. I agreed and shook his hand and watched him as he wheeled away slowly with his little American flag taped to the back of his chair.. I was touched and saluted him before I turned around and headed back out for my runner. I am sure his men and friends were looking down at him from above with smiles and admiration.
I finally found my runner and we are walking/running but mostly walking on the sidewalks with other participants struggling to finish. At this point all mile markers were gone and there were no more water stations and it was a mess, we are in the dark now mingling with the homeless and its starting to get weird. As we are approaching runners I am telling them to stay with me, soon enough we have a little group of 9 or so runners/walkers. We are all sharing water just trying to get into the finish. I am about 50 plus miles in from running back and forth all day after my marathon and I am starting to feel a bit disoriented. My runner is hurting and is starting to lean to her left because her back is going out. Its been a long day for her and I start to think I may have to carry her in.
Eventually we made it to the final turn and this part of the race is closed off so we get to the middle of the street and we all come in, complete strangers all holding hands to the finish line. The camaraderie is apparent along with the mutual respect. I hunch over and my body is in pain, it’s fatigued, it’s done and the only thing I can think about for some reason is ice cream. I make my way to my car and find the nearest store on the way home and I get a frozen ice cream and sit on the curb near the front door of the store and this little boy is walking with his mom and as they pass me the little boy says “ Mommy, that man stinks” I laugh to myself, continue to eat my ice cream and think to myself, “ if he only knew how good this ice cream taste and yea, I do stink” I completed 68 miles in the City of Angels that day and everyone in my training group crossed the finish line. This was my 2008 LA Marathon.
As you can see, running is magic and running will inspire. The human spirit is strong. It was strong in each of those runners I ran into along the way back to my runner. Keep aspiring to be great and continue to push your human spirit!
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 6, 2012
What is your mantra? If you answered in your head, good for you. If you didn’t answer, chances are you don’t have one and you are out of your mind for not having one, lol. When you are training for a race or running in a race your personal mantra will get you going and keep you pressing forward when nothing seems to go right. The picture to the left is what I wrote on my fingers before a hill repeat workout some months ago while training for the New York City Marathon. That day I did 15 400 meter hill repeats with just 30 second rest at the bottom and as soon as I got down the hill from a surge up I really felt like how am I going to pull that same effort back up again. The words CALM and STRONG really evoked the feelings to stay calm and to remind myself how strong I really was. And it worked. And continues to work. I usually mix up what I write on my fingers such as the date of the next race I am running or the time I am shooting for. But there is a psychology behind this.
Gloria Balague, PhD, a sports Psychologist who consults with USA Track & Field athletes insist ” The purpose of having a mantra is to evoke a certain feeling or sensation that will pull you along, the words have to be right to draw the right response from inside of you. The wrong words will have no emotional echo, no emotional resonance. Self-awareness is an important psychological skill, you have to know what works best for you.”
Some mantras used by elite athletes? Meb Keflezighi silver medalist in the Athens Olympic marathon. “I talk to God. I say ‘Hey, you gave me this talent, I work hard at it and try to do my best with it, so please let me use it now,’” “Sometimes, in a close race, I will also tell myself, ‘Stay relaxed, stay smooth, and you’ll be fine. ’” Kate O’Neil, a member of the 2004 United States Olympic 10,000-meter team who ran her first marathon in Chicago’s ’07 heat, managing a 2:36:15. “I had a fifth-grade teacher who loved alliterations and encouraged us to use them as much as possible. So my mantra is ‘fun, fast, fluid and focused.’” BILL RODGERS, four-time winner of the New York City and Boston Marathons. “I have a photo of myself in Boston in ’79 and underneath, it just says ‘Relentless.’ That was kind of my mantra. I would say something like, ‘Relentless, be relentless. You are the one who will win.’ Deena Kastor Olympic bronze medalist & U.S. women’s marathon record holder “Before I won the Chicago Marathon in 2005, my coach, Terrence Mahon, said, ‘Today, define yourself.’ This was so powerful; the entire race I repeated, ‘Define yourself.’ I’ve also used ‘Go faster’, ‘Push harder, and “Extend yourself”.
Find that mantra and see how it works for you. Some days you will realize that the mantra you used and worked for you just last week will not work this week. Mix it up and see how the power of the mind will help you in your efforts.
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 6, 2012
The Olympic Marathon Trials are next week on Saturday January 14th and it is looking to be a pretty great day in Houston as both the Men’s and Women’s races will be run to determine who will represent the USA in the Summer Olympics in London this year. NBC will show a 2 hour telecast starting at 3 ET. If you want to watch it live at 8:15am I am sure it will be streaming live on Universal Sports. The top three finishers in each sex will go to London. The course will do a 2.2 mile inner loop through downtown Houston and then on to a 8 mile outer loop three times to complete the 26.2 marathon course.
For the Men, Ryan Hall has qualified as the fastest three times for qualifying and I am sure will put up a pretty good race considering he pulled off a 2:04 marathon this past April in Boston. The big question is whether the risk of running the NYC Marathon just this past November will hurt or have no effect on Meb Keflezighi who has posted the the next four fastest times after Hall’s first three. He took a big gamble by running so close to next weeks event. Dathan Ritzeheim is running strong and should put up a good fight. It could be anybody’s day next week between these three.
The Women’s race seems to be a matchup of last April’s duel in Boston between Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher. Desiree beat her down the stretch but I am sure Alberto Salazar, who coaches Kara Goucher, will have some tactic to secure a spot either on top or in the top three. It will be a great race here between these two.
See you in Houston!
Posted by ryanmichaelruiz on January 6, 2012