Joining the Los Angeles Roadrunners (LARR) has been a great experience. I will never forget the first morning I got to the parking area which is at the Westminster Elementary School in Venice – hundreds of runners everywhere. Seriously. Tons of runners. All ages. All levels. I figured it was about time that I start running with a group of people – I was really tired of training alone and I needed the camaraderie and competitive push.
I joined late (officially started September 12th and I joined October 17th) – during the 10th week of my 18 week CIM training schedule but made sure to keep my focus on CIM until that race was over and then look towards LA Marathon later.
LARR is the official LA Marathon training program that meets for 27 weeks – every Saturday, our only group run and our longest run of that week. The great thing about this organization is that you never have to worry about running alone, there are over 20 pace groups and you are constantly reminded why we are so lucky to live in LA: views of the ocean from Santa Monica all the way to the Marina, beautiful weather, and home course advantage (we regularly run the last few miles of the race during this run).
The morning of my first group run I didn’t really know which group to run with – I was thinking Group 3 or 4 because I hadn’t yet run CIM and I was kind of scared that I would fall off during the run. At the last second I decided on Group 3 (8:30 pace). I thought this was a fun group but I kept running into the heels of the runners in front of me and knew I should be in Group 2 if I wasn’t such a wuss. Finally, a little persuasion from a close friend (the same friend who pushes himself so hard, he barfs), I joined Group 2. The difference between each group is 30 seconds. It may not seem like much, but it is a big deal when you get deep into your mileage towards the end of the season and right before the race. It was exciting to change groups not only for the challenge of working towards a faster marathon, but for the new friends I met (small group of us communicate regularly and share our workouts, goals and even look towards each other for motivation encouragement). I started consulting with a few friends about moving again *gasp* and they were all for it. It finally sunk in when I told my friend Janel R. that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with their 7:25 pace (marathon goal pace 3:15). I would be the only woman and if I couldn’t hang, it would be obvious. She didn’t hesitate to remind me that I had given her similar advice when she decided to change groups. I couldn’t be a hypocrite, and I knew that if I didn’t at least try, I would never know what could have been. It was New Year’s Eve when I finally decided that I would do it no matter how scared I was. As soon as I got back home that morning, I called my friend Frank P. (also a Group 2 runner) and told him I was doing it. He was very supportive and we chatted about it for a while including our own separate goals (his also includes triathalons). The words were officially spoken and I had to do it. My last email about this decision was to Phil, our Group 2 pace leader letting him know that I wanted to do this and I wanted his opinion (blessing). He of course, was very positive and suggested that I try it out. He reminded me that LARR is the perfect place to try out different groups. The night before my first run with the group, I made sure to get plenty of rest, I prepared as if it were a marathon. Right before my run, I saw Frank and asked him to join me for this run and he did. (I think Group 1 was always his group, he just didn’t know it until after that run.) To date, I have only ran with this group twice – a 14 and 15-miler (the last two runs). The first five miles are kind of challenging but after that it just feels right. The funniest thing about this whole (stupid) group dilemma is that after my first run with this group, they decided to split the group into two – a 7:25 group and a 7:10 group (does that mean there is a Group 0?). This made perfect sense since there are some REALLY fast runners in the 7:25 group and I was wondering myself why they didn’t have a Group 0. Still, just when I thought I was getting there… Oh well, I will consider that my new challenge. JOKING. I wouldn’t call myself a Group 1 runner (yet)…it is too early (or too late in the season) to find out.
To say the least, I am happy with my decision, not really worried now about failing or falling off anymore because at the end of the day, I want to remind myself that I gave it all I had.
Splits from my last two Group 1 workouts (Garmin Forerunner 405):
Click here to visit the LA Roadrunners website.