It’s Wednesday, 11/16/2016, 4 days after being totally obliterated at the 2016 Revel Canyon Cities Marathon in Asuza, CA.

Everything seemed to be going well prior to the race.  Packet pick-up went well as I was able to pick up my race packet after work; their race ‘expo’ of 4 booths was open until 8pm.

Race day parking was plentiful and easy; there was more than enough parking on the Asuza Pacific University campus.  Buses transported runners from the APU parking lot to the marathon start.  It was a 45+ minute luxury bus ride up the mountain to Crystal Lake.

On the way up we experienced some turbulence as our bus ran over a big rock that eventually punctured one of the buses’ tires.

It was an hour wait from the time we were dropped off to the start of the race.  It was pretty cold up at the race start but I was fortunate enough to be dressed appropriately.

This is Denise.  She totally PR’d and destroyed me!!

We were given plenty of warnings that the race would start promptly at 7am.

My race plan was to hold back and maintain a reasonable heart rate in order to finish strong.  The L.A. Marathon in February 2016 taught me that I would have enough juice left in the tank if I kept my heart rate between 138 and 142 beats per minute.  So the race starts and we get moving.

My goal was to maintain anywhere between 8:30 and 8:50 min/mile pace in order to beat my marathon PR of 3:53 from years ago. The first 14 miles were downhill and I found that the act of simply slowing down my pace to 8:40 min/miles brought my heart rate to 144 bpm.  I figured 144 bpm was only 2 beats outside my desired range and that I could get away with it.  In hindsight, I spent the first 14 miles braking to slow down my speed to prevent going out too hard,…and I paid for it.

Image result for canyon cities marathon elevation map

At the 14 mile mark, I hit my first real uphill climb after pounding my calves for almost 2 hours.  I felt a small pull in my R calf and the rest was history.  I couldn’t push off my right ankle and had to walk the remaining 11-12 miles.  It even hurt to walk because there were very few ‘flat’ sections in the latter part of the course.  I walked through sections where I would not see anyone for blocks behind and in front of me.

I finished just under 6 hours, by far my worst stand-alone marathon ever.

I learned several important things from this experience:

  • When running downhill, take into consideration the effect on one’s calves as well as quadriceps.
    • I have a prior post where I train my quads to handle the downhill but braking to control one’s downhill speed also requires a significant effort from the calves.  Mine were simply not ready to take the initial 14-mile descent.
  • It’s important to survey the course and get a feel for it, especially the crucial sections where the course makes drastic changes in terrain.
    • I feel that I was 4 runs shy of a successful run, assuming these runs were done on the course.  This race required a very SPECIFIC set of skills and competencies that I’ve never really tested.  Had I surveyed the course, I would have done a better job with incorporating more specific training.
  • I continue to be horrible with hilly terrain.
    • I hit a wall the moment I felt my first real ascent.  I’m just too weak for my weight…too fat.  Nothing else needs to be said about this.
  • I’m significantly older and cannot fake distance races anymore.
    • There’s a part of me that continues to think I can still get away without paying my does like I’ve done in the past.  I’m old and have to come to terms with it.  I find myself putting significantly more effort into speeds I used to cruise at effortlessly.

I will return to this race and have a better report.  I just gotta let all this stuff sink in…

Happy training,





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