Beautiful Day For the 5th Annual Malibu Marathon Today That I Didn't Run

Today was a perfect day for running a marathon, or any race or a run of any type today. Yet another sunny, yet not overly hot November day in Southern California.

While I wasn't at today's Malibu Marathon as I was last year, photographer Suzy Demeter was and she captured this colorful wave of half marathoners running on PCH between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.


Today a course record was set by 34 year old George Kitonga in 2:35:10. A web search for Kitonga turns up he is originally from Kenya and has a marathon best time of 2:21:23 in winning the 2006 Memphis Marathon. The top 3 was rounded out by Ricardo Ramirez-Pacheco (age 42) in 2:37:01 and Shaun Maguire (age 27) in 2:37:50.

Jessica Stern (age 24) topped the women's field in 3:02:03, followed by Tammara Francis (age 31) in 3:11:00 and Stephanie Wurtz (age 31) in 3:12:29.

As for me, I've been battling a head cold that finally migrated to my chest, just in time for today's Calabasas Classic 5K that I signed up for like 10 months ago. While I actually feel fine, there's stuff in my chest that told me to back off 1 mile into the race. I was struggling to breathe so it just wasn't worth pushing through.

However, I didn't mind, as my son was running his 3rd 5K and I backed off my pace to see him run the final mile at a blistering pace to win his age group and set a personal best. My best race in the last 10 years!

Interview with John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks, Winner of 2012 Malibu Marathon

John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks demolished the course record at the 4th Annual Malibu Marathon on Sunday, November 11th. His finishing time of 2 hours, 37 minutes placed him nearly 12 minutes before the 2nd place finisher and was almost 5 minutes faster than the previous course record.

I met John several years ago at The Oaks Mile in Thousand Oaks and was impressed by his speed. In 2011 he ran the Boston Marathon in a personal best time of 2:34:45. He had trained to run the New York Marathon on November 4th but the race was cancelled on the 2nd as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

John is married, has 4 kids and at age 43 is running like he is in his twenties. I figured, why not ask him about his training as perhaps we can all benefit from whatever he's doing!

1. How do you feel about your performance at the Malibu Marathon? Were you happy with your time, given the challenging course?

I ran about what I expected I was capable of running. I didn't think the course was that challenging compared to what I was expecting in New York which would have been over 2x the elevation gain. The hills toward the end of the race were a bit challenging, but I was expecting them so I made sure I had enough left in the tank to finish well.

2. Were you expecting to win the race? At what point did you know you were going to win? Was there any point in the race where you felt any self doubt?

A couple of days before the race, I spoke with Blue Benadum (the Malibu Marathon race director who placed third in the Santa Barbara Marathon the day before in an impressive 2:28) who warned me that I would probably be running by myself. I wasn't necessarily looking forward to running by myself, but I just thought of it as a training run with aid stations. My goals were to win the race, run a course record and try to run as close to six-minute pace as possible. 

There was a point at about mile five where I thought I might not be able to finish because my hamstring started acting up. I thought, "Oh no, this would be embarrassing--dropping out of a marathon at mile six," but I was able to relax just a bit and the pain went away. Half the battle, as you well know, is getting to the start of the marathon in one piece.

I had several setbacks during the final weeks of this marathon build up. It started with a groin strain during a 20-miler I ran the day after running a cross country race with the kids I help coach. I learned it's not a good idea to run 20-milers the day after a race. As soon as I started getting over the injury I ended up catching a cold which set me back another couple of days. As soon as I was well enough to run I went out with the kids on a 10-miler and got hit by a car! I had to take a few days off of running to allow my knee to heal.

As soon as I was ready to get back to the marathon training I went out and bought some racing flats to try out on a 15-mile marathon pace run. The problem was that the shoes were a bit too small and I developed blisters on the ends of my big toes. Unfortunately, I developed a strep infection and had to take two different antibiotics to get over the infection and I had to have my toenails removed.

Thankfully, I still had about two weeks before the NYC Marathon so my toes had time to heal. After all of the travel to New York I returned home feeling exhausted, but still wanted to run a marathon so I decided to run one last tempo run. Unfortunately, I didn't warm up properly and felt a strain in my hamstring which took several days to recover from. As any master's runner knows, running at this age is mostly about managing injuries.

[Editor's Note: HOLY %^&*!! And I thought I had a lot of setbacks in my training! Wow!]

3. The marathon started over half an hour late this year. What goes through your mind when this happens and how do you deal with a change in plans like this, both mentally and physically?

I figured it would start late having read that it started late last year. I heard they were waiting for a bus to arrive from Santa Monica. When it comes to punctuality I do not have a very good track record, in fact I'm one of the worst. I joke around with my family that we should change our last name to Feder-late-than-never! I just kept doing my warmups and tried to stay warm. Also, I was happy that I had the chance to use the bathroom one last time.

4. Speaking of change in plans, where were you when Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the 2012 New York Marathon on Friday, November 2nd, what went through your mind, and how did you end up choosing Malibu?

I was in a toy store in Montclair, New Jersey with my family when I received a call from my friend telling me about the marathon being cancelled. It was a hard thing to hear and at first I didn't want to believe it was true. So much time and effort--not to mention the travel expense--goes into preparing for a marathon that it makes it hard to think about things rationally. My thinking was that since they ran the marathon after 9/11 that they would run this year as well. However, it was just too soon for a lot of people. It was a sad time to be in New York and we returned home sooner than we had planned. I still wanted to run a marathon, but found that all of the big races had filled up. After all of the travel I felt it was best to run a local race. I couldn't run Santa Barbara because of a conflict with high school cross country CIF prelims at Mt. SAC, so I decided to contact Blue to see if he could get me into Malibu.

5. You ran a fantastic time at Malibu. Can you give us mortals some training about the most important things you did in your training?

I try to follow the Jack Daniels approach to running which breaks up training into four phases. The first is the Foundation/Injury-Prevention (F/I) phase where you just build up your miles by running easy. The second phase, called Early Quality (EQ), involves short repetitions (200s/400s) at mile race pace with long rest to work on running economy. The third phase called Transition Quality (TQ) is the most difficult phase where you run longer intervals (1000s/1200s) at 5K race pace with equal rest based on time. Lastly, there's the Final Quality (FQ) phase which focuses on race-specific workouts which for marathon training involve a lot of tempo runs and marathon pace workouts. I try to get my miles up to about 70-80 miles per week during the F/I phase so that my body can handle the more demanding phases to come. Daniels says that it's important to know what the purpose is for every run. Before I read his book, Jack Daniels' Running Formula, I really didn't understand how to prepare for a marathon other than just go out and run. I don't always follow the plan exactly because of injuries or other interruptions, but I know how to get in the necessary work so that when I step on the line I am confident that I can run my goal pace for 26 miles. Probably, the most important aspect of marathon training can be distilled down to just one word...consistency.

6. Some specific training questions: What is your peak weekly mileage, how many long runs did you do prior to the marathon, do you do any speedwork, how often do you take rest days and how long was your taper for the marathon?

For this marathon build-up I think I got up to 90 miles once, but I usually just try to hit 70 miles per week. I always hope to do more, but injuries, etc. seem to get in the way. I got in about six long runs ranging from 16-20 miles in the final three months leading up to the race. I definitely try to get in speed work in preparation for the marathon. If you want to run fast you need to run faster than marathon pace in your workouts. It's not always fun especially when you are training by yourself, but if you can workout with some runners that are close to your ability it's much easier to finish the workouts. A typical week consists of a long run on Sunday followed by two or three rest days then an interval workout followed by another two or three easy days and then a long tempo or marathon pace workout. I'm not a big fan of the long taper because my immune system lets down when I back off the training, so I usually just taper for one week. However, I was forced to taper two weeks due to the cancellation of the NYC Marathon. I actually felt like I was ready for a faster race on less rest a week before Malibu.

7. You are a self-employed graphic artist with a wife and 4 kids - how do you balance your training with work and family?

The short answer would be I don't--if you have figured it out please let me know! Unfortunately, all of these other areas in my life take a hit because of my obsession with running and yet, running has helped keep my life moving forward. I can get down sometimes when the business isn't going well or a family relationship is strained, however the very act of just putting one foot in front of the other keeps up the forward momentum.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is found in Philippians which says, "…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Probably the best thing that has come out of running is that it can be an inspiration to others.

My wife, Adriana has been running for about a year now. Also, our daughter Bella started running cross country at Oaks Christian High School this past season and made some really good friends along the way. Our oldest son, Nathan just finished his first season of cross country with the Newbury Park youth cross country team. He's really gotten into running this past year. For example, he had an assignment in his 5th grade class to write a famous person and he chose one of America's greatest marathoners. He was so excited when he received a handwritten full-page letter from Ryan Hall a couple of weeks later. Lastly, our boy Xander said the "R" in his name stands for "Runner" in a recent school project (hey, it's a start!) and our youngest boy, Christian considers himself the fastest runner in the family because he's beaten me in a couple of "races" down our street.

Thank you so much, John, for sharing such great advice and inspiration! I think any runner will find your advice quite useful. Keep us posted on your next big race!

2012 Malibu Marathon Yesterday Was My 30th Marathon

It was "one of those days" for me yesterday as I completed my 30th marathon at Zuma Beach in Malibu. The best part of the day was crossing that finish line!

My official time was 3 hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds, or about 18 minutes short of where I wanted to be. But, as Mick Jagger would say, you can't always get what you want! But I tried hard enough to get what I needed...which in this case was simply a finisher's medal.

My strategy this race was to let everyone take off and battle it out, while maintaining a nice, easy 6:45 per mile pace.

I digress. I had set the alarm on my watch for 5:20 a.m. At 5:30 a.m. I awoke not to the sound of my watch alarm, but the sound of my wife flushing the toilet. Surprised, I looked at my watch and realized it said 5:30 a.m. DOH! Luckily there was plenty of time. (I guess I have my wife's overactive bladder to "thank" for getting me to the start of this race....shh, don't tell her I said that.)

Wish my wife's bladder had gone off at 6 a.m. in hindsight. The marathon was supposed to start at 7 a.m., but one of the busses was late, so it didn't start until 7:35 a.m. - I hate when that happens.

After the excrutiatingly longest (yet very well done) rendition of the national anthem I've ever heard, the race FINALLY started. I didn't see the first 3 mile markers but I felt as was going easy enough. But when I reached mile 4 I discovered I was at a 6:30 pace. By miles 7 to 10 I was feeling dried out. Mile 5-ish there were boxes of water and a table off to the side of a road, but no people to hand them out. Not good. Kind of like seeing a mirage in the desert.

I guess maybe I didn't hydrate enough in the morning because I was completely parched by mile 7. Up ahead I saw a port-a-john and some people. All right, water, I thought. Nope, just some people cheering. Oh well, just wasn't my day. But thankfully a buddy of mine handed me some Gatorade later on.

My body just wasn't up for the sub-3 hour challenge yesterday. Biomechanically, my lower legs were not up to the task. My feet hurt and my calves ached, and I was getting that "twinge" in my left calf that forced me to walk home on a long run 2 weeks ago. I had to play it safe and run flat footed most of the last 8 miles of the race. With one pit stop and 5 or 6 walk breaks, I pushed through the finish line in 3:17. That still got me 22nd overall out of 658 finishers.

This was my 30th marathon and 2nd slowest ever. The only time I ran slower was in 2002 at the Sunburst Marathon in Indiana, where after taking a wrong turn with other runners, I backtracked, injured myself and walked to the finish in 3:30. That said, I still was really happy to finish yesterday. Just "one of those days" indeed!

There's no doubt in my mind that I could run a sub-3 marathon with my recent 1:24 half marathon time. Self diagnosis tells me that my body had not recovered from the half marathon (3 weeks ago) followed by the long run the weekend after.  And that was preceded by a 5K, 2 long runs, another 5K, 3 long runs and a 25K race, in reverse order. My calves were screaming for relief after the half marathon and I ignored them, choosing to "squeeze in" one last long run, where my strained calf made it clear that my body needed more recovery, not more mileage.

Enough about ME already! John Fedoroff of our own Thousand Oaks demolished the course record in 2 hours, 37 minutes! To my knowledge he's the only person that has run sub-2:40 on this course! John had planned to run the New York Marathon that was cancelled after Hurricane Sandy hit.  John previously ran a 2:34 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Only 6 runners managed to dip below 3 hours yesterday, telling of the challenging nature of the course. Benjamin Atkins of Westlake Village was 4th place overall in 2:53. Steve Smith of Newbury Park, top finisher in the 50+ age category, came in 10th overall in 3:07:56. Nice job!

And getting back to me again to finish this out...the good thing about this marathon for me, other than finishing, is that I'm only moderately sore today. That means quicker recovery and time to start pondering my next running adventure!

Three Days Until Yet Another Marathon

Hard to fathom that I am 3 days away from yet another marathon, my first marathon in nearly 2 years. It took 4 complete days off and a week of light running to get me here, but it appears the sharp pain in my left calf that ended my plans for a final 18 miler on October 28th is final gone.

The timing of that injury I guess was not such a bad thing. It literally forced me to take it easy, with 2 weeks remaining before a planned marathon. I guess having 5 17+ milers between September 2 and October 5, followed by a 5K on October 14 (as well as September 23) and half marathon on October 21, was reasonable training. I didn't exactly blow the doors off with my buildup, but I've set myself moderate expectations for this Sunday.

My goal is anything below 3 hours. If I average 6:50 pace for the entire race, I can do it. Given my middle-of-the-road training, I am DETERMINED this time not to go out too fast. The first 18 miles of the course are pretty flat/downhill. With fairly cool temperatures expected over the weekend, I'm hoping I can average about 6:45 pace up to mile 18. That would get me to mile 18 in 2:01:50. I could then target no slower than 7:00 pace over the final 8.2 miles to achieve my goal.

Malibu Marathon Elevation ChartIf it doesn't work out, no big deal. I'll be happy enough to finish this one in one piece after what I've been through the last few years. I just need to run smart and not worry about others around me.

I ran this course 2 years ago on a hot day and after training that was severely impacted by colds and  bronchitis. My time that year was 3:05 but I was generally faster then, able to run a 5K in the 17:30 range. Now I'm running closer to 18:15 in the 5K.

I'm o.k. if I give it my best shot and can't get my time goal, but run a solid race. I'll be bummed out if I pull up lame with an injury. Crossing my fingers...

Waiting Until the Last Minute to Register for a Marathon This Fall

I'm biding my time right now. At the (hopefully) tail end of a heat spell that has brought record temperatures to the Southland, I have managed to slowly but surely ramp up the length of my long runs to the point I'm comfortable I can run a full marathon in a few months.

But what marathon do I run?

That I don't know. Yet.

So awhile back I signed up for the Bulldog 25K trail run on August 25th and had a reasonable performance for where I was at in my training. That was a nice mental boost. But still no marathon plans in my mind at that point.

A week later, after a 5 month wait, I finally retrieved my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt from my friend who picked it up for me since I couldn't run the race. Yes, this shirt cost me $150 (the price tag on the shirt actually says $30...but of course the $150 includes the cost of entry into the marathon).

So I'm thinking, what's next. I haven't run a marathon since December 2010 and am not signed up for anything at this point. Then I thought, it has been many years since I ran the Los Angeles Marathon and I've never run the latest "Stadium to the Sea" course.

The L.A. Marathon is March 17, 2013. There were nearly 19,000 finishers in the 2012 race. I've run L.A. a total of 9 times over the years, about 6 times "seriously" and 3 times as a "paid training run" for another marathon. My first L.A. Marathon in 1994 was my first ever marathon, in a wet, rainy 3 hours, 3 minutes. My last L.A. Marathon was a "training run" run/walk/jog in 3 hours, 13 minutes. In between those races, 6 of the other L.A. Marathons were under 3 hours.

Due to the size of the race, organizers have 4 start corrals after the "elite" athletes. I will run L.A. only if I can manage to get into the 1st corral, which requires a sub 3:01 time no earlier than 7/1/11. Gulp. I haven't run a sub 3:01 since my 2:48 in Long Beach in October 2004. However...since then, I've only run 4 marathons, none of them with all cylinders on.

So my predicament is that, I need to run a sub 3:01 marathon this fall if I want to run L.A. But I don't want to travel far for the race. And I still need to train. That brings me back to the Malibu Marathon on November 11th. A race that in 3 years of existence, has brought a measly 14 sub-3 hour performances.  My 2010 time was 3:05 but it was unseasonably warm and I cramped up due to lack of electrolytes. I feel I can run sub-3 at Malibu if 1) the weather is unseasonably warm temps and Santa Ana winds and 2), I can run a 1:24 or faster half marathon prior to then.

Huh? Why 1:24? Because I use a 2.1 multiple in deriving projected marathon time from a half marathon. In my book, a 1:24 half marathon equates to a 2:56 marathon, leaving enough cushion to pull it off.

Next step? Keep doing long runs, possibly a 5K/10K or two, and run the Inaugural Marla Runyan Half Marathon in Camarillo in October. And think happy, positive thoughts to keep illness and injury at bay. Then I'll decide what should be my Fall marathon...

Malibu Marathon Went as Well as I Could Expect

It is now Friday night, 5 days post-Malibu Marathon.  Other than some subtle residual soreness in my lower calves, I'm feeling little effect of Sunday's marathon.

Must have been the dip in the ocean 30 minutes after the race, but I've been able to recuperate from this marathon extremely well. Monday and Tuesday I was sore. My strategy on Monday was to simply walk a mile or so in the morning to get the blood flowing in my legs.

On Tuesday, I walked 20 steps, then jogged 20 steps, walked 20 steps, jogged 25 steps, and so on. The jogging was very slow and deliberate so as not to cause an injury. It felt good.

On Wednesday, I was able to run slowly, pain free. I ran about 4 miles and was amazed at decent it felt.

Thursday was even better and I ran 45 minutes. Today I was slightly more sore in my lower calves, so I took it a bit easier.

One day pre-marathon I tipped the scale in the morning at 138.5 lbs. On Tuesday, I was back up to 144 lbs. I've been eating a lot. I like to splurge a bit after a marathon and eat whatever I want, as often as I want.  But today, I started eating healthy again.

My overall place in the Malibu Marathon was 9th out of 481 finishers. While my 3:05 was one of my slowest finishing times (heck, my first marathon ever was 3:03), I was pleased with my performance given the course, the conditions and my fairly low key training.

The winner of the race, James Nielsen, I discovered was the 50th male in the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon in Fall 2007 and has a personal best of 2:21. A year ago he ran several marathons in the low 2:30s.  The fact that his time here was a lot slower confirmed the challenging nature of the course. I'd estimate this course in Sunday's warm, breezy conditions is 10 to 15 minutes slower than a flatter course.

All that said, I will soon be pondering my next marathon. This marathon was a positive overall experience and told me that I CAN do a reasonably paced marathon even on mileage less than what I'm used to doing.

Malibu Marathon Was a Success

Well today I ran the 2nd Annual Malibu Marathon in approximately 3 hours, 5 minutes (still awaiting the "official" time)!

I'm thrilled with this performance taking into account my month-long battle with colds, bronchitis and other ailments, average training mileage of 45 miles a week and course conditions.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day today! But beautiful days don't necessarily translate into good marathon weather! The darn wind was still out there, with some pretty major gusts on PCH near Mugu Rock!

Today was a day that everything seemed to finally go "right" for me. No potty breaks during the race, no logistical fumbles like at my last marathon and no big mistakes!

My race strategy was to start nice and easy and work into it. Easy to say, but not always easy to do if you feel good at the start of a marathon. But given my sparse training, medical trials and trevails and the dry, windy conditions, I didn't want to chance screwing up another marathon!

The strategy worked PERFECTLY!  From mile 1 on, not one person passed me and I passed roughly 20 people, nice and steadily. I did not do stupid things like speed up for no reason (a lot of people do this and it does you no good at mile 9 of a just hurts you).

In my more youthful marathon days, somehow a song would come to mind that carried me through the marathon. Not something planned, but usually just some catchy tune on the radio with a cadence that would help me maintain my pace. This happened today. One of my Facebook friends posted this video of her niece covering Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" and she does such a nice job with it that it became "that" song for me today. The 1-2-3 cadence in my mind helped me maintain my pace even through the brutal 3 hills in the last 6 to 8 miles. Here it is...thanks Julie Lavery!

I was fine until mile 22, when I started getting cramps in my quads. If I have one complaint about the race, there was not enough fluids. We went miles at a time without water and the advertised coconut water seemed sparse. I could have used Gatorade or some other electrolyte drink badly. It was way too dry out there.

I managed to merge into the half marathon right after it started, which was both good and bad. Suddenly there was a massive tide of people in front of me that I had to veer around. But the good thing is that after running completely alone for miles, I got to wrong with people again...until the half marathoners veered right at Leo Carrillo.

At that juncture of the race was a daunting hill, but after having absolutely no idea where the other full marathoners were, suddenly the course was clear and I saw 2 targets up ahead of me. One was "road kill" - he was walking. I waved to him. I've had days like that. The other guy was slowing and I was able to reel him in around mile 21 or so.

Physically I was fine the entire race until mile 22, when my quads started feeling like they were gonna cramp up, mostly on the uphills. I fought them off and made it to 24 mile mark, where most of the rest of the race was downhill.

It wasn't pretty, but I made it. I'm sore, but the beauty of finishing a race at Zuma Beach is that you can cool off your legs in the Pacific Ocean afterwards, which I did. My final smart move of the day.

So while this time is 30 minutes slower than my personal best from 15 years ago, I had an excellent day overall and am thrilled I was able to complete this marathon. Things generally went right for me.

Looking forward to finding out my place! Now off for a beer!!

The Day Before the Malibu Marathon

In the good old days, the day before a marathon I'd stay in a hotel room, lounge around and drink Gatorade and read and watch TV all day, then go out for an early dinner and continue relaxing.

That was then. Today's routine was more like...get kids fed and dressed, go to soccer game to coach the last game of the season, break up fights, go to Jersey Mike's with the kids, break up more fights, go to Roadrunner Sports to buy something last minute only to have to leave because the kid were...fighting, stop by the house, drop off one kid, take the other kid out for multiple errands (went to Future Track Running Store instead), came home, jumped on the trampoline w/the kids, bathe the kids, brush their teeth...the list goes on. Now it is 9:30 pm and I've got an hour til bedtime to myself. Alarm is set for 5:30 am.

I'm relaxed, I'm not taking this marathon too seriously. If I can come close to a 3 hour performance I'll be happy.

On Friday I drove the course from Camarillo Airport to Zuma to pick up my bib number. Boy does 26.2 miles seem FAR when you drive it.

Roughly 2/3rds of the course is along PCH, which means this is probably one of the most scenic marathons in the world and I can't imagine many races with more oceanfront.

The last 6 miles though look pretty challenging, with some pretty significant hills in the Leo Carrillo area. I will make a note to save plenty of energy for that final 10K...meaning don't worry about the first half marathon. Just take it easy and enjoy the ride.

The liquids served on the course include water and Zico Coconut Water. I tried Zico for the first time at the race expo, but since I've not used it at all during training run, it probably isn't a good idea to try it during the race. But it did seem to go down pretty nicely.

My purchase today was a very small waist pack that fits 4 GU gels. I decided to try something other than pinning the gels to my shorts. This pack is so small that it should not cause me any problems tomorrow. Those GUs may come in quite handy.

It has been windy now for a number of days, but they say the wind will die down tomorrow. Wind is my biggest enemy in the marathon as it dries me out.

So on that note, I'm off to relax a bit more so I'm off and running tomorrow morning...