Commentary: Strategies for nearing my marathon goal

Here's the good, bad and unruly in my Los Angeles Marathon preparation.

Sometime in distant memory, Jake mentioned that running 50-mile weeks built endurance.

I've run several of them, proving I can stay upright on the road for 50 miles over six days.

While accumulating miles turned out to be easy, maintaining the 10-minute pace I need to finish the marathon under 4.5 hours seemed unreachable. I developed an intense dislike for my Garmin timing watch, which read 12- to 13-minute miles.

Complaining to running pal Catherine about my snail's pace, she replied, "You suck at workouts but you have it where it counts, in races."

True, I'm better with a deadline. I remember the O.C. Marathon, where I qualified for Boston by passing all the big tough guys who'd left me in the dust during practices.

Next, I whined to Judy about my worry that slow workouts would spill into a slow marathon. Judy, an experienced 3.5-hour marathoner said, "That isn't how it works."

Racers run faster in races.

Lately, I've accumulated a tiny bit more confidence. Here's how:

•Left ball-of-the-foot inflammation decreased. When painful, I wiggle my toes, and it recedes.

•Judy paced me in a 20-mile run along Jeffrey Road through Irvine, Turtle Rock, San Diego Creek trail. She runs with a metronome's steady pace. Running beside Judy helped me achieve my first long run close to marathon pace.

•Then I did something against the common wisdom. Marathon coaches advise that longest runs be less than 20 miles because of the danger of injury and excessive fatigue.

Running out of glycogen at Mile 20 (hitting the wall) is painful, miserable, torturous, so when I Googled "increasing glycogen for marathoners," I hoped to read, "Eat chocolate-almond bars every night for a month." Instead research indicated long, slow runs.

Tossing aside common wisdom, I ran 27 miles in 7 1/2 hours. That is a long, slow run. I ran hill repeats on Tustin, Ocean View and Santa Ana avenues, Polaris Drive and San Joaquin Hills Road.

Expecting another scolding from Jake, I reported my 27-mile misdeed.

"I'm not mad; I'm amused," emailed Jake, adding, "You are crazy."

I hope running 27 miles helps me finish strong in L.A. However, the great thing is that I woke up today without one sore muscle. I went to the track and hit a 9- to 10-minute pace for eight miles, one of my best track workouts.

Just when I started to feel hopeful, the L.A. Marathon organizers emailed cheerily: "March 9 is the first day of daylight savings, spring forward!" Not only will I be getting up at about 3:30 a.m. for the L.A. drive, I will be sleep-deprived from "spring forward."

How does L.A. expect to attract world-class athletes with planning like that?

Of course, Saturday Runners going with me to L.A. are world class. I just hope I'm not a world-class flunk-out.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is training to run the Los Angeles Marathon at age 70. Read more about her adventures at

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