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Los Angeles 13.1 Half Marathon Race Report

Just when everyone thought I moved out of LA (including me), I came back to race the LA 13.1 half marathon from Venice to Manhattan Beach to Playa del Rey. Technically, this was a rebound race because I registered for it the week after I got back from Ironman in Hawai’i and so I was already signed up before I decided to move home to Tennessee. I was debating whether to follow through and run it but then I found a cheap flight and there I was at the starting line ready to go with the temperature in the high-30s…wait, WHAT?! Yes, the week I came back to LA was the coldest in about a decade. In fact, it was warmer back in Nashville and my family and friends there were enjoying 60+ degree weather! 

At 7:05 in the morning, the gun fired and we began running along the boardwalk in Venice as the sun rose to light the ocean and set the sky on fire. Despite the cold, it was such a beautiful day in LA. I was at the race with my friends, Curry, Tori and Garrett and had started near the front with Garrett. Garrett ran 1:19 in his first  and only half marathon (which was hilly) but he’d had the flu for the last week so we were going to pace together–my best time was a 1:31. I had been running a lot since November but wasn’t planning on actually doing this race in LA until about three weeks prior. I’ve started dabbling in CrossFit though, so I was keen to see how I would feel at this distance even after a week and a half of doing official Crossfit workouts.

We went out at a 6:40/mi pace for the first three miles, probably too hard, and felt pretty good. My pace gradually slowed but Garrett was feeling fine so he took off at mile 6 or 7. i went by 10K in just over 42 minutes and was just trying to focus on keeping my cadence at 180 steps per minute and landing on my forefoot. I’ve been researching the Pose running technique (similar to Chi Running, taught by Danny Drier), which emphasizes higher cadence and forefoot striking with your heel just kissing the ground. 

There were a few unexpected rollers at miles 7 and 8 and then a steady and very gradual rise up to the turnaround at mile 9 1/2. I’d seen my friend, Ken, aka DJ Sleeper, the night before and he said that he’d be performing somewhere on the course–Awesome! I heard some turntablism going on at the turnaround and that got me really fired up because it’s always encouraging to see familiar faces when you’re in pain. I opened up my legs into mile 10 and saw Curry as I got to the bottom of the hill I’d just climbed. 

Although my pace had slowed to around 7:15/mi, my legs and glutes were feeling stronger than I thought they should be at this point in a race (It seems even the short period of CrossFit and strength work was paying off already).

At mile 12, some guy with no shoes went sprinting by me. He was holding a pair of Vibrams in one hand and his feet looked like they had clearly developed muscles. That got me going a bit faster and then over my shoulder I saw a girl running up on me, which always lights my feet on fire–I’d already been chicked a few times today and didn’t want to let it happen again a half mile from the finish line. #justbeingreal

I hit the last mile in about 6:55/mi pace and crossed the line in 1:33:17, 14/96 in M25-29 and 86/1,904 overall. http://results.active.com/events/2013-allstate-life-insurancesm-los-angeles-13-1-marathon/half-marathon/jonathan-hippensteel.

I read an article last night and this line jumped out at me: “Pain cannot be ignored; it has be to be conquered, and when it inevitably returns, it has to be conquered again.” 

Looking forward to the next race!

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That time when I hated running…

There was a time when I said to myself that I hated running and I never wanted to run again. That time was three years ago after I finished the LA Marathon. At that point, I had been running since 2004 and gradually progressing in distance from 5Ks and one 10K that fall, to half marathons by 2007 and 2008. I’d wrestled with doing a marathon because of what I’d read about what it does to your body, especially at a younger age, but I got over that *cough* “Chicken!” *cough* and signed up for LA 2009. To my great chagrin, it just so happened that the current Stadium to the Sea course (AWESOME) would debut in 2010!

‘So much for EVER running that course,’ I remember thinking to myself, because after that race, I NEVER wanted to run another marathon again! My main goal had been to not walk the entire race—a feat that I did accomplish—although I probably could’ve moved faster during the last few miles if I had been walking. I also had high hopes of breaking four hours, a goal I missed by 15 minutes. At the end of the race, I explicitly remember crossing the finish line and actually wanting, no, NEEDING, to put my arm around one of the volunteers standing there because I wasn’t able to support my own weight. I’d never had to do that in a race before and I used to wonder with amusement as to why people had to do that. I DID NOT wonder at that need anymore, nor do I chuckle like a naïve idiot! I think I actually described the pain I was feeling in my legs as, “It feels like someone is stabbing a lot of very sharp icicles all over my legs!” The pain was worse the next morning. I am thankful to this day that I’d been sleeping on an air mattress because that morning, I literally had to roll onto the floor and drag myself into the bathroom where I crawled onto the toilet. That day will quite possibly be remembered as my most well-used sick day of all time. Frankly, I could barely walk.

At this point, I had not fully embraced my love for pain and suffering. But apparently I thought I had, because I was already signed up to run the Chicago 13.1 half marathon less than two weeks later. I was going to visit a friend, Sarah W., who actually may have been one of my inspirations for running the marathon in the first place. I’d met her earlier that year and she’d recently discovered her love for running and obvious aptitude for it—she ran her first three marathons in 2008 and then clocked a 3:37 at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in January 2009.

The half marathon turned out to be a lot of fun and I ran a 1:47 rather easily, especially considering the jam-packed day before of touring Chicago via foot, bike and car, watching the U.S. VS. Honduras World Cup qualifier at Soldier Field, eating a lot and only sleeping 2-hours after a beer and deep-dish pizza the night before! In hindsight, I think the main reason was that I’d absorbed a lot of fitness from the marathon.

So, all that to say there actually was a time when I hated running and really didn’t ever want to run for a significant distance again. But then there was the realization that signing up for a marathon 7-weeks ahead of time was not the brightest idea I’d ever had. I was severely undertrained with no coach and not too much direction! It ONLY took me about a year-and-a-half to realize that was the reason I hated it… ENTER the bike.