Posted by: ElliptiGO Girl | June 2, 2009

The AGONY & the ECSTASY: Los Angles Marathon and State Street Mile from the FInney perspective

The Marathon and the Mile. Both start with M. Both are races. You train for them. You run them. There is a start and a finish.

Hal signed up for the Los Angeles Marathon over 6 months ago. I signed up for the State Street Mile over 6 days ago. We both dreamed. We both trained. We both ran.

Hal is a very methodical guy. Having competed in 4 half-marathons, and finally recovered from last year’s back injury, he was ready for a new challenge. He searched online, read about many different races, and carefully decided on the Los Angeles Marathon – choosing it over San Diego because that one conflicted with the State Street Mile, which I intended to run. Six months before the marathon, he started his focused marathon training. He planned. Each week was different. He varied the weekly mileage, in a cyclic pattern: moderate, long, longer, longest. He carefully planned a specific variety of  runs within each week: long and easy on Saturdays. Short tempo run, or intervals at race pace, or semi-long distance at a moderate pace during the week. Sundays off. He carefully built his mileage. He planned each run out meticulously.  He tracked everything – distance, pace, effort level.

I continued to follow my random running schedule. If it hurts , ease off. If it feels good, keep doing it. If you have time, do more. If not, do less. I added the Sunday morning Vieja Valley runs to give me some distance. Four weeks before the State Street Mile, I started training with Rusty.

I really admire my husband. He has so much persistence and self-discipline. He sets goals, and then proceeds to plan out how to achieve them. For six months Hal trained. Methodically. Consistently. A week and a half  before the Los Angeles Marathon, he was ready. He even said “I wish I could run the marathon now!

Then it happened. During his taper, exactly one week before the race. Monday, May 18th. His right hamstring seized up on him. Bad. While he was walking the dogs. The pain behind his leg did not go away. It continued to burn and tingle – and got worse with stretching. Hal took the entire week off. Resting. Heating. Icing.  NSAIDs. Massage. Jacuzzi. He tried an easy 2 mile jog the day before the race. Not too terrible, tolerable. He attempted the race. Got through to mile 13 – but then had to stop. Could hardly walk at that point. Did not finish the race.

Waiting for the start of the LA Marathon.

Waiting for the start of the LA Marathon.

To make a long story short, we still don’t know exactly what happened. His doctor says he has a pinched nerve coming from his back.  And he recommends Hal take some time off running. Grrrr!!!  At any rate, the leg is still bothering Hal quite a lot.

That was (and is) the Agony.

Now for the rest of the story.  A little over a month ago, I started training with Rusty, joining the SBAA coached track runs.  What an eye-opener!  Runners would be instructed to run at a specific pace and they could do it!  Easily. Without constantly checking a watch or GPS. We would go for a distance at a very challenging pace. Then repeat it. Again. And again. And again. Change it around a little – maybe make it more challenging.  Then go for those repeats. Rather different experience from my typical solo runs: Singing to myself, maybe doing some free-form fartleks if I felt good, then picking it up toward the end of my run. . .

To my amazement I was able to keep up with the track workouts. I decided to try a Saturday morning coached run.  I was able to do that too!  Fast, strong, hold it, there! (It was really challenging, but also fun at the same time.) So I did it again. Even more fun!

Then, last Sunday, I did the State Street mile.  I ran that race last year. My memories of the experience were of starting strong, and progressively dying as the race went on. Sucking air. Battling to stay moving at the end.

Not like that this year!  It was a total high. I didn’t die at all!  I felt strong and good to the finish. The ecstasy!  I improved my time from last year by 15 seconds – from 5:53 at age 53 to 5:38 at age 54. Cool! Reverse aging? (I wish)

Only a few yards to go!

Only a few yards to go!

Hal was waiting at the finish, camera in hand.

Next marathon, Hal, I’ll be at your finish. Camera in hand.



  1. […] the time, I knew something was wrong with Hal, especially after what happened when he attempted the Los Angeles Marathon in May. I had it in the back of my mind that this might be his last race – or that he might need me […]

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