Monday, March 10, 2014

LA Marathon 2014

After six Los Angeles Marathon-s, I decided to sit out this year's event.

It was a hard decision.  For the last few years, I remember shivering at Dodger Stadium for hours before the race, wondering why I keep putting myself through this.  I haven't exactly been doing well at LA Marathon (save my somewhat-close-to-PR run in 2012), and with the growing price tag, I decided to see what would happen if I didn't run it.

View of the pier.
So "The Ukrainian" registered as usual, and I was now the chauffeur.  This was probably a boon for him, since I was able to drop him off at Dodger Stadium without having to wake up at 3 AM to park in Santa Monica and take a shuttle.  The drop-off area was kind of crazy, but I made it out all right and proceeded to take my sister to the finish area in Santa Monica so she could do the ever-important duty of passing out cold towels at the finish.

Since the day's arrangements were not known to me until very close to the day, I couldn't sign up to volunteer.  Thus, I decided to do something practically unheard of for me, which was to just enjoy the marathon atmosphere in Santa Monica.  I wound up walking around everywhere, trying to catch glimpses of the action (apparently there were good places to spectate still, but I didn't want to stay in one place too long).  At some point, I had a chia seed bowl.  Mostly, I was just enjoying a Sunday morning at a place I haven't been to for, well, a year.

I watched some people try to last on a treadmill going at the marathon record pace (approximately 12.4 mph).  Though I wanted to try, I had already eaten something, and the sun was full-on out.  Okay, and I was also afraid of making a fool out of myself in front of all those people, blah.

Must confess: the course map video that played on here made me feel a little sad...

Someone (green shorts) managed to stay on for over 12 minutes!!  Maybe he should consider gearing up to be an elite...

As the morning wore on, I was worried about "The Ukrainian," as both of us don't do well in any sort of heat.  Luckily, I had signed up for runner tracking that would send his progress to my e-mail.  I kind of freaked out when I didn't hear anything for a long time after the 10K point, but I guess half-marathon (13.1) was not a check-point.

Location Time Pace/mile

Security was definitely stepped up this year.  I got scanned when I entered the area near the finish line.  This made me feel safe, though it IS a haunting reminder of what happened April 15, 2013.

Far in the distance in this picture... is the finish line.

"The Ukrainian" and I met up at our designated meeting spot at the Third Street Promenade, and he looked amazingly good and cheerful for having just run 26.2 miles, finishing in low 70s temperature.  He says that some of the race was still relatively overcast, though.  I'm glad he had a "good-for-this-weather" kind of turnout, because I remember how upset he was at the expo.  (see rant below)

(begin rant) Although he registered really early and entered his qualifying time, he did not get assigned to a corral, and there had been NO note saying that you'd get an e-mail if your previous race time was confirmed, so he assumed it was.  The same thing happened to me last year, except I stupidly didn't notice until race day.  Anyway, he brought his proof to the expo, but they wouldn't do a darn thing.  Having seen the Solutions area of Surf City Marathon taking care of issues like these, we were both disgusted that they claimed to not have the capacity to assign him to a corral.  In the end, he didn't have too much issue starting in the general corral (besides not fitting in it and having to come in from the side), but this kind of adds fuel to my "I'm not running this next year" fire. (end rant)

LA Marathon will always have a special place in my heart, as it was my first marathon and traverses areas that I know well.  Also, with this being the 29th running, it is pretty much as old as I am!  However, I must say that given some of the things I mentioned above (and the heat, which I know they couldn't help!), I know I made the right decision.  I also wasn't the biggest fan of the logos on the medals and tees, either.  "The Ukrainian" got a medium, and it looked HUGE.  This is not to say that I won't be returning (it looks like 2016 is a possibility due to the Olympic trials), but I'm enjoying the little break.

Of course, I have Big Sur to contend with next month.  There is a lot to say already about this race, but I'll wait until I get back from Monterey...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review - Evofit's Ensō Roller

I was recently given the opportunity to try the Ensō roller by Evofit.  I have a tried a couple of other popular massaging gadgets and was excited to see one that was customizable.

Since I'm not pounding the pavement as often as I used to, I've actually been injury-free for about three years now.  However, once in a while I feel myself getting tight quads and calves.  Worse, my upper back has been an area of constant struggle lately.  I fortuitously won a spa gift card recently and used it for a massage, at which time I was told that my upper back was "really tight."  She proceeded to loosen it up -- painfully! -- and then it took a few days until I would touch the area.  Fast-forward a couple of weeks... still sore.  Carrying my stupid purse/lunch bag during my weekday commute hasn't exactly been helping, either.

Anyway, I immediately started arranging the discs per the enclosed instructions.  The discs click into place, and given that I recently saw The Lego Movie, this felt satisfying.  What I found worked best for me is cramming the discs toward the center.  The discs are different sizes, so they end up digging into different muscles.  A few of the configurations expose the bar in the middle (I call them dumbbell configurations), but I found that quite uncomfortable for most of my daily niggling pain.  I'm sure it would help with a deeper massage, though!

Another thing I noticed is that due to its short length, it is more effective to sit and roll this using your hands rather than my first instinct, which is to put it on the floor and roll my body over it.  I managed to do this successfully with my quads, but it was tough to do on my back or other parts of my leg.  I'm sure this is something that comes with practice.

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent The Ensō Roller to review but was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular type of review.