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August 16, 2010

2010 Champion Edna Kiplagat Visits LA

Gilbert, Edna and LA Marathon's Dave Klewan

Edna bringing the heat!

Edna with Autumn Reeser from HBO's Entourage

Edna enjoying the streets of LA without her running shoes

On Thursday, August 5th we hosted 2010 Honda LA Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat at Dodger Stadium, where she threw out the first pitch against the San Diego Padres.  Edna was joined by her husband Gilbert Koech, himself a 2:13 marathoner.  Edna has been traveling the US all summer from her home base in Boulder, Colorado.  She’s compiling an enviable record in some of the most prestigious road races in the country, including 3rd place finishes in both the Peachtree Classic and the Falmouth Road Race.  We were excited that she could fit a visit to LA into this busy schedule.

While she was here, we set her and Gilbert up on a training run with local athlete Karla Alburez.  As was the case for Wesley Korir’s visit in June, we had to find someone who could keep up with Edna, which is no small feat.  Thanks to Karla for taking Edna and Gilbert on a morning run in Griffith Park.  Edna really enjoyed getting to know a local runner during a low-key training session.

Edna and Gilbert spent time describing to me their home and farm in Iten, Kenya.  They met as high school runners from rival schools, and they have two children.  Their house is high on a hill with beautiful views of the Rift Valley.  The two of them share the dream of opening a running lodge on their property.  I can only imagine how great that would be.  Based on their warm personalities, it would surely be a popular destination.

I was of course worried when it came to game time:  Would Edna, a Kenyan with no background throwing a baseball, even get her throw to the plate?  We aired a congratulatory video on the big screen for her, and she strode confidently out to the mound.  Without hesitating, she ripped a strike right down the middle!  Counting Wesley Korir before her, the Kenyans are now two-for-two throwing fastballs in Dodger Stadium.  I suppose if you’re a great athlete in one sport, your gifts can translate to other sports.  Who knew?  It was an exciting night for both Edna and her husband, and we hope to see her back next year at the 2011 Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss.

Peter

August 16, 2010

Tips from Coach Rod – Starting a Running Program

It seems like everyone is ‘thinking about’ starting a fitness running program.   That’s good if everyone thinks about it, but how many will actually do something about it?  Maybe less than 5% of people throughout this great nation will do something about it.   Nonetheless, participation in 5 &10k’s, half-marathons & marathons are at an all time high. Wonder why? It’s about people taking their health and wellness a little more seriously than ever before.  For some it’s that waist line expanding.  And for others, concern that if their health at this stage of life is only average then what’s the next 20 years going to present to them.  OK, so where does running fit into all this?   Running has for a long time been considered the most difficult way to get into a fitness routine because it’s very tough to get motivated on your own, to step up and out to begin a running program. 

When I was growing up in New Zealand, everyone belonged to a running club, almost every town or city had one, and this club system created a ‘family’ atmosphere where people from all walks of life could come together and share in the love of walking and jogging together.  Another real benefit of this system is that there were all levels of runners’ abilities from slow through to the very fast, and from the slow walkers to Olympic race walkers. There was a pace for every ability.   And the information and coaching came with the variety of the clubs members.  Some of the members of these clubs were center (?) or provincial level runners through to national and international level. In my running club we had a 1948 Olympian 10,000m athlete who was the president of the club and a 6-time Australian cross country champion who was our club captain.  This was a wonderful benefit to the club members because these two great athletes were always available to give advice and coaching to the everyday club runner.

The point of all this is that, yes you might be thinking of starting to train for a marathon and have asked yourself where do I start?   If you live in Southern California you can join one of the two LA Roadrunner programs.  If not, my advice is to get into a running program that caters for all levels of ability, through pace groups designed and proven to be the ideal training pace for each runners goals and ability. From Walk groups, Run/Walk pace groups through to run groups, from beginner to intermediate and Advanced groups. 

Next week I’ll take you through how the LA Roadrunners program works for you and how it can take you from the Couch to the Finish line of this great LA Marathon.

Hold onto the Goal and let go of the time.

Rod Dixon

August 11, 2010

Ask the Race Director – The Evolution of the Marathoner

Someone recently asked me what year was it that I first worked a marathon?  Well, that’s not really important but it has been some time. Back than the equation of men to woman in marathons was 90% / 10%.   Today it’s closer to 55% / 45%.   Back then we were celebrating that the International Olympic Committee finally believed woman were strong enough to compete in the marathon distance.   And we celebrated again when Joan Benoit took home gold for the U.S. in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon. 

Yes, it’s been some time, and running a marathon has come a long way.  Back then it was generally understood that participation came only from those people who were extremely fit and would finish in 3 hours or less.  Today running a marathon is accepted as a life goal, or a way to lose weight, get in shape, and perhaps train and run in tribute to a friend or loved one. Whatever way or for whatever reason you choose to train and run, we’re here to celebrate your accomplishment and hopefully help you along the way.

So don’t wait, sign up today.  And if you’re looking for some help or guidance, and you live in Southern California, we have the world class Roadrunner Marathon training programs in Venice and the Inland Empire. 

Take the challenge and be part of something special!

Nick Curl

August 9, 2010

Tips from Coach Rod – Meet Rod Dixon

We’ve received many positive comments from runners about the new weekly feature Ask the Race Director on our blog. Given those positive responses, we thought there was another one of our staff who could provide real insight, advice and leadership to prepare you for a successful 2011 Honda LA Marathon.  We’ve worked, played and laughed with “Dix” for over 20 years, and we believe you’ll not find a better friend and coach in the running business.  So, here’s some information you might not know about Coach Rod Dixon.

Rod was internationally regarded as especially outstanding for the length and versatility of his career as a top-flight runner. He set world class times in all events from 1500 m (3:33.9) to the marathon (2:08:59), won bronze medals in the World Cross Country Championships in 1973 and 1982, and was one of the more successful athletes on the US road racing circuit in the early 80s, including wins at the Falmouth Road Race (1980), Bay to Breakers (1982 & 1983) and the Lynchburg, Virginia 10 miler (1980, 1981 & 1983). Rod garnered the bronze medal in the 1,500 meter competition at the 1972 Olympic Games.  His gradual move to longer distances was climaxed by his 1983 marathon victory in New York City in one of the most dramatic finishes the event has seen, when he came from behind to catch leader Geoff Smith at the 26 mile mark and won by 9 seconds.

Rod has been a lifelong advocate of healthy living.  Whether it is regular exercise, proper diet and positive mental outlook, he walks the walk and talks the talk.  For the past three years he holds the title of Director of Coaching and Training for the Marathon, and starting in September can be found every Saturday morning, bright and early teaching, training and running with the LA Roadrunners marathon training program. 

A lifelong advocate of the Lydiard method of training , Rod will lead the 2,000 strong Roadrunner preparation program.  Running, walk / jog or just walking, Rod will get you from the couch to the finish line.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to connect with New Zealand’s national treasure, and our favorite mentor. 

Every Monday morning we’ll post Rod’s thoughts and advice on how to properly train to participate and finish the Honda LA Marathon.  You’ll get advice and tips on eating, training, and foods & fluids to fuel your body and mind.  And, he’ll reveal one of his secrets that set him apart in the hyper competitive world of world class running, how to relax and get the rest your mind and body need to perform at your best.

Nick Curl

August 6, 2010

Five Questions: Deena Kastor

This week’s guest is one of America’s greatest ever distance runners, Deena Kastor.  She won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics, and she’s won both the Chicago and London Marathons.  This sort of resume qualifies Deena for legend status among active runners, but I’m equally impressed by her mission to use running as a tool to improve people’s lives.  I recently sat down with her to catch up on what she’s up to.

Tell us what inspired you to start running?

My parents are very social and they wanted me to join the local track club in Agoura Hills where I grew up. Our first run was in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains and I remember not wanting to turn around.  It is no coincidence that my passion for running and the success I had immediately fed off one another.  I have loved this sport since the first day 26 years ago!

You’re something of a running pioneer in Mammoth.  What’s so great about the training up there?

I remember coming to Mammoth in High School for summer running camp.  I loved it here.  When Andrew and I were choosing a place to live 10 years ago, I immediately thought of coming to Mammoth.  If it was a great place to visit, it would be an awesome place to live.  We have traveled the world for races and competitions and haven’t found a place  we like better than home.  As a distance runner, training at altitude is our greatest weapon.  Summer is such a fun time of year as the High School, College and Junior College teams continue to use Mammoth for running camps.  Andrew and I try to give them a great experience by offering Thursday night talks in the park during the month of August, in which we chat, answer questions, feed the runners watermelon and give away free ASICS stuff.  We also have a few races throughout the summer months that our local running club, High Sierra Striders, organizes.  For visitors wishing to join in on their team practices, they meet every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and welcome runners of all ages to join them.  It is my greatest wish that the positive experience here gives these student-athletes  some success, but moreover has them yearning to make Mammoth “home” some day.

I know that you’ve been instrumental in getting the Mammoth Track Project off the ground.  Can you share that story with us?

There is only one thing missing in Mammoth to make us the premiere running destination.  A track.  We have 7 Track & Field Olympians in our Mammoth Track Club yet have to travel to Chula Vista, California for a period of time during track season so we can get in specific training.  Andrew and I have worked diligently in the past two years to prepare for a synthetic track and infield.  The Mammoth Track Project is close to breaking ground.  The facility will be green in that we are using recycled tires in the material for the track and infield as well as not needing water to irrigate a grass field.  The stadium will be made of concrete and natural rock and we are working on solar power for the locker rooms and concession stand.  The track facility is also at the center of many trails in which runners can choose to explore the surrounding terrain or stay on the oval to train.  We are wrapping up a daunting pile of paperwork which needed to be signed by involved entities, and we’re working hard on fundraising.  As much as I look forward to breaking ground next Spring, I am really anxious for the programs we have lined up once the facility is completed. It is my mission to keep the track well utilized with a variety of camps, all-comers meets, soccer matches, concerts and other events.  I want to get the entire community of Mammoth using the facility, but also lure people from around the world to choose Mammoth as there running vacation destination. From recreational runners to elite athletes of any sport, I believe all can benefit from training at altitude.  I also believe running can make you better at anything you do whether you are a skier, martial artist, rock climber or stay-at-home dad.  Our Track Project motto is  “Elevate your fitness, stay on track”!

What do you see yourself doing when you’re no longer running professionally?

Running will always be a part of who I am, long after my professional career is over.  I hope to be instrumental in keeping Mammoth a destination for so many athletes.   I will continue to dream of what a perfect running world would look like, then chase it down and offer it to those who live and visit here.  So much of what I love to do is involved in making running a good experience for children so they can incorporate running into a healthy lifestyle.  This simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has so many benefits.  WE know this and it is our duty to share this secret with others in hopes to enrich their lives.  All one has to do is witness the starting line of a major marathon, walk through a marathon Expo, or visit a group training on a Sunday morning to feel the positive effects this sport has on those committed to it.

Do you feel that running can be a source for positive change in the community?

Running can be a great source of positive change in any community.  I have seen it first-hand here in Mammoth with how so many locals joined Andrew’s running club when he started it back in 2003;  the membership has grown substantially every year.  The running races Andrew organizes continue to be family events for those who live here as well as visiting families.    The residences and business embrace the 20,000 runners that visit each summer, and we have had the entire community support the Mammoth Track Project since it began as a pipe-dream.  I look forward to next summer when the track is complete and children run and laugh around it’s perimeter as their parents look on.  That day will be the beginning of a healthier future for each one of those kids and all we had to do was offer them a place to run wild.

Peter

(Photo:  John Barnhart/StyleCraft)

August 4, 2010

Ask the Race Director – Wave Starts

Last week we addressed the course changes we’ve made in the goal of improving your race day experience in 2011.  We’ll here’s a bigger change for race day and one we’re excited to announce – Wave Starts will be part of next year’s race.  Although they’ve been around for 30 years in triathlons, most marathons have only embraced them in the last few years.  

For those of you who’ve participated in a major city marathon, the starting line is perhaps the most energized portion of the entire 26.2 miles.  But, it can also be the most confusing and crowded on race day.  Wave starts are designed to reduce the congestion and improve your experience.  The general idea is that there will be corrals inside the two wave starts, and the first wave will have 3 corrals for those runners who’ve completed a marathon in the past year under  3,  4 or  5 hours.  The second wave is an open corral with minutes per mile signs to help seeding.  This qualification helps seed everyone in the pace they’ve run previously.  Less passing others and or being passed.   Don’t forget, if you’re wishing to gain admission to the first corral you must show proof by January 1, 2011 of having run a Marathon in the past year in sub 3, 4 or 5 hours.  There are no exceptions.  We’re still fine tuning how much time they’ll be between waves, and how we’ll handle the staging and loading.  Nonetheless, when we’ve worked out these and a couple other details, we’ll send out the specifics to everyone. 

I’d like to thank Scott Cline for his recent email suggesting we incorporate a shuttle only lane from the Freeway to the Stadium.  We understand the shuttle and parking situation did not work properly on race day.  And  we continue to meet with the folks from Caltrans, MTA and LADOT to make this operation smooth and successful for you ‘all on race day 2011.  We’ll keep you apprised of our progress and plan.

And, thanks to all those folks who contacted us with their insights and experiences from race week and race day. By communicating your experiences to us, both positive and negative, it helps us fix the areas that need improvement and build upon those areas that were successful.

Nick Curl

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