Los Angeles Marathon "Stadium to the Sea" Course - Is It Faster Than Previous Course?

It was a lot of fun watching the LA Marathon last Sunday. Having run my PR on the LA course "back in the day" and other solid times in the late 1990s, I was kind of curious about how fast the newer "Stadium to the Sea" course was compared to previous courses that started and finished in downtown Los Angeles.

"Stadium to the Sea" saw its first running in 2010, brought about by new owner, Frank McCourt. McCourt, widely villified as Dodgers owner, only to reap a record price for the team last year, was seen after the race with LA Mayor Anthony Villaraigoza having fun congratulating the winners of the race.

I considered signing up for the race as a last minute fun run but it was sold out. Not too many years ago you could sign up last minute for the LA Marathon, but it has gained popularity, as has marathoning in general, leaving last minute signups more of a challenge.

Did about 17 miles back here since they wouldn't sell me a last minute entry to the Los Angeles Marathon. Score a win for me!

So, about this course...is it faster than previous "loop" courses?

For the "average" runner, and by average I mean the average time for all finishers, the aggregate time for the first 3 years of the course (2013 results still not available in a manageable format) was 5:18. This compares to an aggregate average time over the previous 10 years, on various loop courses, of 5:33. (Thanks to MarathonGuide.com, my favorite website for marathon information, for this data.) This would indicate the new course is faster overall, which makes sense as the course now has a net elevation drop of 430 feet.

Something that more "competitive" running types sometimes do is compare how their time on a course would have placed them in other years. While many factors are at play in making year over year comparisons, such as weather, course conditions, the competition, it is just one of those things that we like to do.

My PR marathon time was on the 1997 LA Marathon loop course, where my 2:35 got me 35th place. That same time on average would have garnered an average place of 23 to 24 over the last 14 years, as well as over the last 4 years of Stadium to Sea. I guess when I ran the race, there was simply more competition. Last Sunday, a 2:35 would have garnered 22nd. While I'm nowhere near that kind of time today, it would be fun to go back and give the Stadium to Sea course a try. Bottom line however, is that for whatever reason, the times for non-elite age runner top 100 placer times appear to have slowed over the years.

Let's get back to the aggregate numbers. The average aggregate recent times in the LA Marathon, while 15 minutes faster than on previous LA courses, are still significantly slower than other large races. For example, the previous 5-year average times at New York (excluding the cancelled 2012 race due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy) and Chicago were 4:26 and 4:37, respectively. Those are dramatically faster than the average times in Los Angeles.

Why is this? Well, I'm guessing but I suspect that we have more marathon "walkers" and fundraisers in LA that bring the average up. Also, each year the wonderful Students Run LA charity brings 3,000 at-risk teens to the marathon, including nearly 3,200 in 2013. Nearly 100% of the SRLA high school seniors graduate high school and go on to attend to attend college. I don't know the average time for SRLA runners but I suspect it does bring down overall aggregate times to a degree.

But let's digress again. how about the overall winning times at the LA Marathon? They have definitely dropped. Prior to the Stadium to the Sea route, the average Downtown LA Loop course from 1996 to 2009 was 2:11:48. Stadium to the Sea has run for 4 years now, including the unbelievable 2:06:05 course record first-time marathon performance in 2 inches of torrential rain by Markos Geneti of Ethiopia in 2011 has been 2:09:27. Three of the four Stadium to the Sea events have been sub 2:10.

So definitely, the course has made progress, though we're still not at the level of other major U.S. courses. The average winning time at Chicago over the last six years was 2:06:39. The average winning time in New York over that period (excluding 2012) was 2:08:04. Still solidly ahead of LA...but in this case, I suspect it is because they payday at those races is substantially higher than at LA.

OK, enough of this analysis paralysis. Let's get running!

What Have I Been Doing Since Running a Marathon Four Weeks Ago?

The Malibu Marathon was exactly four weeks ago and my training has not been focused on any particular goal. And that is a good thing, as I could use a physical and mental break.

Candy grabbing with the kids this holiday season. Darn you, WalMartI've been asked a number of times what my next race is. My answer: I dunno...yet. Gotta get my head back in the game, and that may not happen until the new year. Just too tired to think about it at this point. I was hoping for a more solid marathon performance (for me) that would propel me towards a Spring 2013 marathon. But since that didn't happen, I'm in "wait and see" mode.

The good news is that I feel I'm pretty much over all my nagging little injuries...calf strain that messed with my final marathon preparation...and nagging knees. Now I'm running just fine, but tired. Physically tired due to inadequate sleep. But I'm running and happy about that!

Here's what I've done running-wise since the marathon. Warning, this is quite uninteresting.

11/11: Ran marathon

11/12: Rest day

11/13: Walked 1.5 miles

11/14: Walk/jogged 2.5 miles

11/15: Ran 3.5 slow miles

11/16: Ran 4.5 slow miles

11/17: Ran 5.5 slow miles

11/18: Ran 6.5 slow miles

11/19: Ran 5.5 miles

11/20: Ran 6.5 miles

11/21: Ran 7 miles

11/22 (Thanksgiving): Ran 4 miles

11/23: Ran 5.5 miles

11/24: Ran 5 miles

11/25: Ran 5.5 miles

11/26: Ran 4.5 miles

11/27: Ran 4 miles

11/28: Ran 4.5 miles

11/29: Ran 3 miles

11/30: Ran 5 miles

12/1: Ran 8 miles

12/2: Ran 4 miles

12/3: Ran 2 miles

12/4: Ran 4.5 miles

12/5: Ran 5.5 miles

12/6: Ran 5.5 miles

12/7: Ran 5.5 miles

12/8: Ran 6 miles

12/9: Ran 8 miles

So after 3 days of no running, a total of 133 miles down the hatch since marathon day. This holding pattern will probably continue through December...

2012 ING New York City Marathon on November 4th Has Been Cancelled

Today, Friday, November 2nd, it was announced that the 2012 New York City Marathon on Sunday, the 4th has been cancelled as a result of the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The announcement on the NYC Marathon website is below:

The City of New York and New York Road Runners announce that the 2012 ING NYC Marathon has been canceled. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful as this -- to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to help New York City recover from the storm. New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead and we thank you for your dedication to the spirit of this race. The Expo will remain open tomorrow.

Not surprising to me given the devastation of Sandy. Many are criticizing the timing though as they indicated the race would go on a few days ago. To me this was a no-brainer. Either cancel the race or reschedule it. They did the right thing.

Australian Hurdler Michelle Jenneke's Warmup Dance; You Can Get Away With This if You're Good at What You Do!

After sucking in some oxygen, I thought, is this too overtly sexualization of sports? But I paced myself, watched the whole video...29 times...and though, heck no. This 19 year old Aussie Michelle Jenneke demolished the competition so if she wants to do a little dance show to warm up, by golly, let her!

While she won't be at the Olympics in London next month, perhaps we will see her smiling face and wiggly, jiggly moves at the 2016 Olympics in Spain.

More at www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/michelle-jenneke-dancing-australian-hurdler-video_n_1686230.html.

With 2012 Men's Olympic Marathon Around the Corner, the 1968 Event Comes to Mind

One of the most memorable scenes from any recent Olympics marathon came not from the winners' finish but from the last placing marathoner's finish at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

74 runners were entered in the event and 57 finished, with winner Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia finishing over 3 minutes in front of the next closest runner.

But the story that filmmaker Bud Greenspan brought a lump to our throats was about the last place finisher, John Steven Akhwari of Tanzania, who limped to the finish in 3 hours, 25 minutes, over an hour after the winners crossed the line.

Mexico City sits at an altitude of over 7,000 feet. If you haven't trained at that kind of altitude, running a marathon can do a number on you. Before the halfway point of the race, Akhwari was jostled by other runners and fell, injuring his knee and slamming into the pavement. Most would have stopped at that point, but he decided to keep running.

Interviewed at the end of the race he said something along the lines of "My country didn't send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish it." Truly inspirational.

Novel Approach For Eliminating the Dreaded Nip Chafing Issue While Running a Marathon

A good friend of mine recently finished his first full, official marathon, the Taipei Expressway Marathon in Taiwan. If running an entire marathon on a highway ain't bad enough (sounds dreadful to me), it was over 80 degrees and humid. Call me a wimp but I'm not flying over to Taiwan anytime soon to run a marathon (though truth be told, I signed up to run the Singapore Marathon, which I ended up not going to).

In any case, one of the photos my friend shared was the one below. The dude with his arms in the air while reaching the finish line is wearing a shirt that could (theoretically) be the solution to runners' chafing of the nipples. Simply cut out those sections of the shirt and, wallah!! No more chafing issues, no more bleeding, no need for bandaids on the nips or other strategies for addressing this particular issue!

My thinking is, perhaps women should first try it to see if it catches on. I'm sure at least 3 of the 7 people reading this are women. Try it out and let me know. And send pictures :>

Boston Marathon Organizers Indicate 2012 Race to Occur in "Red Zone" Not Safe for "Unfit and Novice Runners"

Boston Marathon organizer issued another precautionary email today with a more direct recommendation that "anyone entered in the marathon who has not met the qualifying standards for their age and gender strongly consider not running, and that they strongly consider deferring until next year."

That is very strong wording. They are obviously taking this weather very seriously. As mentioned yesterday, I think a deferment of this magnitude is unprecedented. Of course they still will ask those not running this year's race to pay for next year's race, thus giving up the $150 they paid this year. But it gives these runners another chance to run should they decide to take a pass.

Here is today's email from Boston Marathon organizers:

Update to Entrants in Tomorrow's Boston Marathon®

Sunday, April 15, 2012 as of 4:30 p.m.


Running any marathon involves risks

  • The weather conditions that we will be seeing on Monday, April 16 will involve even more risk.  It will involve an increased element of risk to all participants due to the heat.  Only the fittest runners should consider participating.
  • We have put in place a broad array of services and support for our marathon participants, but the risks that will be presented on April 16 will be higher than
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2012 Boston Marathon Organizers Urging Caution on Monday Due to Extreme Heat

If you've been reading this blog you would know I signed up for the Boston Marathon but due to an eye surgery lost 5 1/2 weeks of training and thus opted to skip the marathon. My surgery was 2/6 and I started running again on 3/18.

Today I received the following email (excerpted below) from Boston Marathon organizers. WOW! I've NEVER seen this before. Race organizers telling runners literally "YOU SHOULD NOT RUN." They are definitely urging caution due to projected heat going into the mid to high 80s with 50% humidity.

Glad I'm not going! I strongly dislike running in heat and doubly so adding in humidity. Sounds miserable! And the race doesn't start until 10 a.m. Uggh. Well good luck to all that ARE running! Stay cool and hydrated! Thanks Phill for picking up my Boston Marathon race shirt!

Organizers take what may be an unprecedented (I haven't

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