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January 27, 2011

Wesley Visits Los Angeles

I’ve just spent 48 hours with Wesley Korir, our two-time defending champion. He’s an extraordinary person with an incredible story. I’ll share a lot of that with you soon, but I wanted to get up this video clip from this week’s appearance on KTLA Channel 5. More on the way.

Peter

January 26, 2011

Track Workout with LA Running Club

It’s officially crunch time if you’re training for the Honda LA Marathon. You’re into your long runs of 16-22 miles, hard tempo runs, and, hopefully, some speed work. Let’s talk about that last part for a minute. You may have heard speed work variously described as “intervals,” “track workouts,” or “fartlek.” (That’s “speed play” in Swedish). However, all of these words are essentially describing the same thing: training your legs to move fast by moving fast. The idea is to actually run faster, for short periods, than you will run in your marathon race. By training this way periodically, your body adjusts and acclimatizes to the needs for increased oxygen uptake and muscle fiber recruitment demanded by increased leg speed. Let’s call it pushing the envelope.

After repeating speed work on a weekly basis for a month or two, you will really start to see the results. That goal marathon pace just doesn’t seem as difficult anymore. It’s important to note that this type of training is beneficial to any runner, not just competitive athletes. It may sound intimidating, but it’s actually a lot of fun, whether you’re running 12-minute miles or 6-minute miles.

Last week, I joined Coach David Levine and the LA Running Club for their Wednesday night track workout at the Santa Monica High School track. David is a terrific coach with a deep understanding of marathon training, and he’s got about 50 runners out there on a given Wednesday evening (workouts start at 6:30 pm). There are all levels of runners there, and it’s a welcoming, inclusive, and fun atmosphere. One of my favorite things about track workouts is the social aspect. It’s an opportunity to inject group energy–like a spinning class or a master’s swim workout–into your running week. I find a track workout to be tremendously energizing. David lead us through an extensive stretching and warm-up routine, which is a good way to ease your body into the workout and avoid injury. We then ran four 7:30 intervals at 5K pace, with 2:30 rest in between. He had the stopwatch, so all I had to do was worry about running. Kind of liberating, actually!

Furthermore, running around a track with a coach is a great opportunity to actually get some coaching. One problem with running by yourself all the time is that no one gets to look at your running form. And that’s important. Running is actually a complex biomechanical movement, and it takes an expert eye to help you develop an efficient stride. Last week, David gave me tips like “knees higher!” as I ran by on the track. It’s really no different than learning a smooth golf swing, or tennis stroke. Once you get some feedback, then you can practice on your own.

Anyway, I highly recommend the Wednesday night track session with Coach David Levine. See the LA Running Club website for more details. If you can’t make that, find out about a track workout in your area–there are tons of them. Good luck and good training!

Peter

January 22, 2011

Where We’ve Been

Our Director of Training Rod Dixon with Meb Keflezighi in Las Vegas

Partnerships Director Dave Klewan and Peter Abraham about to start the NYC Marathon

Director of Operations Stacy Embretson and Deena Kastor at the Chicago Expo

Two-time LA Champion Wesley Korir signing autographs at our booth in Chicago

Our words here have been scarce over the last two months. I don’t have a credible excuse, but I can at least share with you what we’ve been busy with. As many of you know, there are two big seasons in the marathon world: Fall and Spring. Our event, along with London, Boston, Big Sur, and others falls into the Spring category. That means that Fall is prime time for us to be out at other marathons speaking to runners, sponsors, charities, and elite athletes. So we take our show on the road and set up a booth at all kinds of events. Over a 9-week period between October and December, I was at seven different events: Chicago Marathon, Long Beach Marathon, Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon, Hirshberg Foundation LA Cancer Challenge 5K, New York City Marathon, Gobble Wobble Turkey Trot, and Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon.

It was an exhausting stretch, but productive on so many fronts. We ran some of these events, had an Expo booth at others, or did both in some cases. Most of us in the office run other events year round as a way to keep in touch with our customer’s point of view. If we don’t understand that, then how can we expect to put on a great event?

Stacy Embretson, our resident ultramarathoner, even went up to Marin County to run her first 50-miler. Impressive! Furthermore, while I manned the Expo booth at the Chicago Marathon, she was up at 1:30 am on race day to work with their starting line crew. How better to learn one’s craft than to spend time with folks like Chicago Race Director Cary Pinkowski who really have logistics figured out?

In November Director of Partnerships Dave Klewan and I both ran the New York City Marathon. It was an unforgettable experience, and our first time participating in that event. What struck us both was the international nature of the race. You see the 25,000 foreign runners walking around New York for days before the race. It’s extraordinary. The non-running New Yorker might not notice all the track-suited runners from Russia, Thailand, France, Italy, Holland, Mexico, Chile and other countries (111 of them!) walking around the city, but as a runner you are aware of them. I felt like a Wizard in Harry Potter who could see the other Wizards that were invisible to the Muggles. This event made me understand that, as runners, we’re part of a global tribe with shared interests and passions. How great is that?

I also spent a lot of time working our Expo booth. This duty goes beyond recruiting runners for the Honda LA Marathon. While that is one of the goals, I also see our Expo presence as a chance to hold open office hours right out in public. And you never know who’s going to swing by and say hi. I had interesting and meaningful conversation with an amazing number of people. Some highlights of the Expo trips include:

• Marathon legend Frank Shorter stopped by to say hi at one event. I loved hearing his stories of racing in Europe against our own Rod Dixon and Steve Prefontaine.
• At the Long Beach Marathon Expo I met a nine year old boy who first ran our race when he was six. Yes, I said six years old! (His time that year was 9 hours)
• In Las Vegas I spent time with K-Swiss athlete Josh Cox, who went on to win the race, and Meb Keflezighi, who signed his inspiring book for me. Both of these guys are gracious, smart, and interesting people who are marvelous representatives of the sport.
• Our own two-time champion Wesley Korir graciously signed autographs in our booth at Chicago, then went out the next day and ran to a gutsy 4th place against a stacked field in oppressive heat.
• I watched the Chicago race from the side of the road, having never spectated at a marathon before. I always wondered what a 4:50 pace feels like, so on an empty stretch of road at Mile 15, I got out and ran alongside Wesley and eventual winner Sammy Wanjiru. Let’s just say that 50 yards was about as far as I got with them!

The learnings from our Fall Field Trips are many, and we hope to use these to improve the quality of the Honda LA Marathon for all of you.

Peter

January 14, 2011

Thoughts on Our Mission Statement

Here at the headquarters of the Honda LA Marathon presented by K-Swiss, we’re proud of many things. Things like our iconic Stadium to the Sea course that travels down Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Strip, and Rodeo Drive before finishing at the Santa Monica Pier. We’re proud of our 65 Official Charities that hope to collectively raise $4 million through this year’s event. And the scholarships we offer to 2,800 middle and high school kids who run the full Honda LA Marathon as part of Students Run Los Angeles. All of these things are exciting components of our race.

However, what we’re most proud of is the chance to live up to our mission statement: “We inspire athletes and connect communities.” We are the stewards and curators of the LA Marathon experience. That’s a privilege, because it means we get to help people change their lives through running. No matter if you’re an elite athlete flying in from Kenya or running your first marathon, we get to build an experience for you. That, to us, is exciting, and we take great pride in the quality of that experience. From our online conversation with you months before your race right through your training and your race day experience, we’re here to make the totality of your Honda LA Marathon journey a memorable one.

We talk a lot here about the “transformational power of sport.” And that is something that potentially affects every single participant in our event. And by “participant” we don’t mean just runners. There are so many people who come together and make the Honda LA Marathon a reality: Volunteers, Spectators, Brand Partners, charity participants, city governments, local law enforcement, fire, and safety personnel. It’s a long list, and there are few events that pull together that many people from that many communities. The sum total of this group energy is a powerful connective tissue that unites an entire city for a day. As a runner in the Honda LA Marathon, you’re the lifeblood of this event. You supply the kinetic energy of the event as you travel from Stadium to the Sea.

Looking forward to Sunday, March 20th, our goal is to inspire every athlete and connect every community associated with the event. We hope you all enjoy the experience.

Peter

SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2014