Csaba Toth

2019 Big Bear Marathon
Published: Nov. 10, 2019, 11:44 a.m.

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  1. Csaba Toth
    Nov. 10, 2019, 11:44 a.m.

    I live close to sea level. I had to capitalize on decades of accumulated fitness to pull off my BQ. A long journey. I did workouts at elevations many times since May (drive up, do the workout, come back home). I didn't have time for altitude adjustment. I like downhill running and I did squat training, and very steep hikes at Yosemite (Mist trail or Upper Yosemite Falls trail) hardened my quads. Those out-and-backs also help dealing with running on slanted road crown. When I didn't have time to drive up to the mountains for a half day workout, I picked some smaller hills in close parks and did hill repeats: that can train you towards rolling hills.
    Knowing how much punishment I gave to my legs, I was still in the verge of cramping from around mile 19, but I could hold on. I didn't have my watch with me so it wouldn't influence me in any way and I could be present, only focusing on my body and how various parts felt.

    Reflecting to other reviews:
    0. The expo was indoors this year.
    1. It was easy to find the bus shuttle pickup area, and it was easy to park.
    2. Not sure how was before, but the start area was well lit and the porta potties have glow sticks in each of them. The wait was bearable if you picked a shorter line.
    3. The course was very well marked, some aid stations handed out Honey Stingers on top of water / powerade. On average I could run through aid stations really well.

    Overall the race provided pretty ideal conditions and it all came down to how much punishment my legs could take. Someone may think downhill running is easy. Those people probably never run such event as this. The first 10-15 miles maybe easy, but even the toughest quads start to beg for mercy after that. I've talked with a person DNFd because of a stress fracture on the bus the way back, keep that in mind and train relentlessly to harden up your body for the stress. It's a lot of stress on the body! But if your body can take it, you'll be rewarded with a BQ or better qualifying times.

    If you are competitive and wondering about the course: it's all paved, and I saw many people in Next%. Especially in the top 100 where I ran, it was a Next% fest. I was a little hesitant to go with Nike 4% or Next% because the heel landing is less stable than for example a Hoka, and I did my training most in a Carbon Rocket. I changed my mind when running the Tahoe trifecta: I realized at the end of the 3rd day how much does just a little more plush matters! That can be a breaking point when you come close to cramp up after 20 miles. If your shoe is less plush, you'd get more shock, and that's worse for the muscles. The stress is accumulated and you cramp up sooner. Just my two cents. I have a Next% (and a plethora of various Hokas, shoes), so I could have chosen those as well. I went with the 4% and not a flyknit one, because the original provides more toe room, which again your feet will thank for after 15 miles.
    I heard horror stories about cold at the start. At race day it was 8C-9C, perfect for running. While lining up at the bus shuttle someone told me it's gonna be 31F. That would be freezing. People, please check the weather very well, preferably a service which can give forecast for specific GPS points too, and hourly details. Of course it wasn't freezing (although I packed more warm clothes in my bag just for safety). You have to dress up in a way that you feel cold at the start, otherwise you'll start to overheat after a couple of miles. If it was freezing (like at the first day of the Tahoe Trifecta), all I would have done is to have a head band for ear cover, the pair of gloves and an extra shirt. These all can be thrown away without stop. All I had was a racing shirt, compression shorts, sock + shoes and a couple of arm warmers. Those arm warmers were sacrificed. As we were descending the temperature got pretty warm, I doused myself with water. Actually later that day when I was refueling at Golden Corral (that is a no-brainer destination after a marathon no one seemed to mention so far) the temp went up to 94F!

    I may come back to Big Bear, Mt Charleston or Mt Lemmon to try to make it to a NYC qualifier. 3:03 is pretty good for my BQ 3:10 with enough cushion, but the NYC 2:58 is just hard to gasp right now. I need to drop 10-15 pounds of weight and be at my old kayaker racing weight around 170, then sub 2:58 will be feasible. Every extra pounds you carry count.

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