2nd Annual Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon and Half Marathon Proves to Be a Hit!

The 2nd Annual Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon took place this past Sunday, June 3rd, under mostly overcast skies...perfect marathon weather. 

The marathon course starts near Nordhoff High School in Ojai and has a net downhill of 700 feet as it takes runners through a scenic bike path to the Ventura waterfront. My friends that ran it said it is a really nice course and that they would run it again. One friend who was targeting a 3:30 had some solid training and blew through the course in 3:10.

Both the marathon and half marathon races sold out, with 809 finishers in the marathon and 877 in the half marathon.  My friend indicated there is talk that they make some change next year to allow for a larger number of participants, given the race's popularity.

Indicative of the steady downhill, there were 24 marathoner that finished the race in under 3 hours. That is fully 3% of all finishers, which is quite impressive. Contrast that with this past year's Los Angeles Marathon, where 116 finishers out of 18,729, or just .6% finished in under 3 hours. That is a factor of five difference!

Of course, the large proportion of speedy marathons could also be in part to course organizers' reaching out to faster runners. On its website, they indicate they will give a free entry to any men and women that have recent times under 2:45 and 3 hours, respectively.  And they give 50% of the cost of an entry to men and women with recent times under 3 hours and 3:20, respectively. Nice!

The top 2 men in the race were only 37 seconds apart. Overall winner Jay Thomson of Santa Cruz finished in 2:30:16 while Clyde Behunin of St. George, Utah (also known for one of the most downhill courses in the United States) was 2nd. Blue Benadum of Malibu finished 3rd in 2:35.

Julie Brekke of San Diego won the woman's race in 2:59, followed by Shauna Rountree of Bakersfield in 3:00:16 and Amy Laughter of Ogden, Utah in 3:00:41. Pretty close race!

Top Ventura County finishers were Aaron Torres of Ventura, 6th place overall in 2:48:46 and Melissa Hernandez of Oxnard in 3:08:39.

Ojai 2 Ocean is one of only 2 full marathon courses that are run completely in Ventura County, the Camarillo Marathon being the other one. Prior to 2009, there were no Ventura County based marathons. Keep up the great work in bringing 26.2 mile races to our local area!

My First Offical DNS (Did Not Start) of the Year Was Today!

Well it's not for a lack of trying. I had some decent long run training from April 21st to May 14th and was looking forward to today's Inaugural Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon. But it just wasn't meant to be.

I've been battling an injury of some sort in my lower left abdomen now since May 7th but the darn thing doesn't let up. I've seen a general practitioner and my chiropractor, who have ruled out a hernia. There is soreness, mostly when running, in the area to the left of my navel.

My chiropractor dug around in there and said it could be the psoas muscle, which crosses over from the spine to the hip from what I can tell. No telling what it will take to heal this problem but if it doesn't go away on its own, I may need an MRI.

I'm able to run very slowly and walk, but running at a speedy pace brings to much pressure on this area and accentuates the pain. Quite frustrating, but at least I can still move around unimpeded for the most part, unlike, say, a plantar fasciitis or knee or hip issue. Always something...

So in the meantime, my buddy Dave ran the course in 3 hours, 2 minutes, good for 8th place, and another friend finished in 2 hours, 55 minutes for 3rd place overall. Was a PERFECT morning for running, with overcast skies and cool temps. Wish I could have been there.

I bailed out of the race on Tuesday, deciding it wasn't worth trying to run a full 26.2 mile marathon with pain in my belly.

Today was also the 18th Annual Love Run 5K/10K in Westlake Village for local senior services provider Senior Concerns. There were over 1,200 people in attendance, which is awesome!

Start of today's 18th Annual Love Run for Senior Concerns 5K Race in Westlake Village

Four Days Off From Running and Counting...and Just 11 Days From a Marathon

So once again, my body has gone awry in the final weeks leading up to a marathon. Though I haven't been training particularly long or intensely for the Ojai2Ocean Marathon on June 5th, I was looking forward to an enjoyable experience.

One of my cooler race take-homes...a plaque from the 2nd Annual Rock N Roll Marathon in San DiegoNot so says this old body. But this time I'm not sick at all. I feel just fine! No colds, flus, pink eye, bronchitis.

And I'm not injured in any of the typical places. My back is fine (knock on wood). My quads, hamstrings, calves, achilles, ankles, bottoms of feet, toenails, etc. are all peachy keen.

But since May 7th, I've had a pain in my lower abdomen as a result of (I believe) wearing my water bottle belt too tight around my waist. Damn.

I have no one to blame but myself, but I felt I had no choice but to continue training in the hope that, like many other injuries, the pain subsides over time.  So I ran a 21 miler on the 14th and the pain got worse, then not quite so bad by the weekend, when I had to decide what to do 2 weeks out from the marathon.

In true gritty marathoner spirit, I felt I had no choice but to run a shorter, 13 mile slightly faster paced run to give my body a little more taste for marathon pace. Well...that was Saturday. Today it is Wednesday and I haven't run a step since then.

Four straight days of walking is normally only reserved for my post-marathon recovery and vacations. But as a last ditch effort to address the injury, I'm walking. In the streets, on the gym treadmill, wherever. My ass hurts as a matter of fact because I'm not used to using those muscles.

My self assessment is that I bruised a stomach muscle or perhaps my intestine. It normally doesn't hurt but gets irritated with the movement of running. Walking doesn't have the same impact.

So...I'm hoping and crossing my fingers that this thing will go COMPLETELY away by the weekend so I can at least have some recollection of what running feels like in time for the marathon on June 5th. If it does not go away soon...might have to wait for another marathon. ARRRGGGHHHHH!! Always something!!

Training for a Marathon Only 6 1/2 Weeks Away

Nutella on a toasted bagel is not a bad pre-run snack, though I encountered this empty jar recently.On April 20th, I committed to running the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon on Sunday, June 5th. Generally speaking, this is not something I normally do. Usually I give myself 4 to 6 months to train for a marathon. In fact, the only times I've given myself such a short amount of training time is when I've already run a marathon, feel recuperated, and decide to use the mileage base to run another one soon thereafter -  like running the Tucson Marathon just 4 weeks after the Malibu Marathon late last year. That didn't work out so well for me!

But this race sounded fun and it is a first time event. Plus it has a nice downhill. So without any particular time goals in mind, I'm signed up for it.

One thing I do have going for me is that my base mileage year to date is a consistent 40 miles per week, which to me is enough base to be able to ramp up my long runs to get a few 20 milers in before race date. I did 15 on April 21, 18.7 days later on the 24th, then another 18 miler last Saturday, April 30th, on a windy day. 

Tomorrow it sounds like I'll be blessed again with overcast skies and cool temps in the morning as I seek to get a 20 or possibly 22 miler out of the way.

With 6 1/2 weeks before a marathon, I really only have 4 1/2 weeks to train, factoring in a bare bones minimum 2 week pre-race taper (usually I taper down the mileage over 3 weeks).

So with only 4 1/2 real weeks to train, a decent 40 mile/week base, but no long (16+ mile) runs on my body since last year's Tucson Marathon, my strategy is to focus on getting 3 or 4 long runs in. There's not much time to consider speedwork or a 10K tuneup race. I'd love to fit a 5K or 10K into my training, it probably will hurt me more than help me with the marathon just 1 month away.

News Flash: Training for the Inaugural Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon on June 5th!

Nothing better to get motivated to run a marathon than to commit to a race. Well I did last week. I'm running the inaugural Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon on Sunday, June 5th.

As many of you know, I compile local Ventura County area running events year round to help people find a local race quickly and easily. Most races are repeats from years past. Most races are 5Ks and 10Ks. So I was shocked to discover just a few weeks ago that a brand new full 26.2 mile marathon is planned in June.

The Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon (and Half Marathon) is the brainchild of Tom Taylor and Ben DeWitt, co-owners of eco-friendly local endurance event planning company, Complete Green. Both avid runners, they decided it would be great to organize local events that promote sustainability and environmental awareness.

I spoke with Ben about this new marathon and was impressed by his passion for creating something genuinely different for runners in Ventura County. Sounds like they have their act together and I decided it would be fun to run this inaugural event!

While I haven't been focused whatsoever in my training this year and in fact have not run a single race, at least I've been running consistently. I have base mileage of about 40 miles a week on my body. So why not, for fun, train for a marathon only 6 1/2 weeks away.

Motivated by the commitment, I went out last Thursday after work and ran my longest run since the Tucson Marathon last December, 15 miles. Then on Sunday, pleased to see cool temps and cloud cover above me, I slugged out an 18.7 miler over 2 hours, 21 minutes. So with a couple of 20 milers over the coming 3-4 weeks, I should be fine to run this marathon.

So I asked Ben what distinguishes the race in terms of being "green." Some interesting things were mentioned, such as awards made out of recycled materials, race shirts made out of recycled polystyrene (e.g. old water bottles), using a solar generator for finish line needs and salvaging old surfboards from Walden Surfboards for the mile markers.

This is a first year event and I don't expect a huge turnout, but I do expect it to be fun. Starts with a 10K loop in Ojai, then takes the bike path 10 miles, with a nice downhill grade, to the ocean, where it ends at the Ventura Pier. Starts early (6 a.m.), downhill and ends at the ocean. Sounds pretty good to me! The only negative (which for some is a positive) is that I suspect crowds will be very sparse.

So who's joining me? Or how about trying the half marathon (which starts/finishes near the Ventura Pier).  www.ojai2oceanmarathon.com