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The Lazy Marathoner makes the Huntington Beach Pier

March 30, 2009 |  9:25 am

Pier_2 The pier! The pier! The Huntington Beach Pier!

I learned my lesson from last week and hit the road on Saturday for my long run. And I'm glad I did. If I had any doubts about training for the L.A. Marathon, they were put to rest this weekend. That's because two things happened: I made it to the Huntington Beach Pier. And I ran double digits. The significance is all in my head, of course. I do my daily runs in my local neighborhood, but I drive to the beach for my long runs. I start in Seal Beach and head south. So hitting the pier was a symbolic accomplishment. And granted, I still have several long training runs ahead of me -- I hope to get to at least 22 to 24 miles before race day -- but I feel like working my way up to Mile 11 was the hard part. Now there's no looking back. (It was also a reminder of how out-of-shape I've become: When I was regularly in the marathon groove, a weekly 10-mile run was nothing but maintanance, and I would log those after staying out late and drinking the night before. Those were the days.)

That's all the good news. There is a bit more good news -- and some bad news. The good news was that I ran 13-minute miles for the first half like clockwork. Boom, boom, boom. (I know 13-minute miles are incredibly slow, but as I said before, I am lazy.) The weather was gorgeous at the beach, sunny with a gentle breeze, and I was completely focused and relaxed. It all felt so easy that I considered pushing it to 12 or 13 miles.

Now for the bad news.

I stopped for a bathroom break. And then I had to find someone to take a picture to document that I did, indeed, make it to the Huntington Beach Pier. That seemed like a good time to stretch out the legs. And drink some more water. And dig around in my fanny pack for dried cranberries.

When I couldn't think of anything else to do but turn around and head back, I was right back to my slow-poke, wandering ways. Thirteen-minute miles turned into 14- and 15- minute miles. I just could not retrieve my focus. I kept thinking how much easier this would all be if I weighed about 30 pounds less. (Running past all those half-dressed, fit-trim-and-tanned types on PCH will do that.) Then I started fretting about how bad I'd feel if I didn't run a sub-six-hour marathon. Then I started wondering why I am even bothering. Six hours? Really? Six hours? I might as well just walk the L.A. Marathon course backward.

So it all went downhill from there. But I finished, and I felt good, and I feel recovered enough to head out for another run tonight. So that is saying something. I guess.

How do you stay encouraged, focused, and on-point? I could really use the help.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: The Huntington Beach Pier! Credit: Some nice guy who stopped because I asked him to.