Monday, March 31, 2008

The "Week Off"

28 miles running and 20 miles biking - certainly that isn't an indication of taking time off, but relative to my usual routine, I scaled back this week. Although it was, as noted below, a slow week at work, I decided to take it easy on the weekend. I hosted my volleyball coach and a close friend, both from college, in my little studio apartment. I attended both Saturday's and Sunday's practices (5 and 10 miles respectively) but I kept Max the Bike cooped up in my kitchen. Between outings to Santa Monica, Pasadena and Hollywood, there was just not enough time to get the workouts in.

One of the most important things to training is being flexible (says the girl who worships routine). When you work hard for something, you value that work and you put a lot of expectations toward the results. Being able to step back and say, "I am going to take it easy" or "This week is about something other than physical limits" is a nice dose of healthy balance. It's something I'd been missing for a while.

That said, now its back to the wonderful grind that is training. I've officially (ie - I've announced to the appropriate coaches and affiliates) declared myself for the 2009 Vineman Ironman Triathlon. This blog and my training is all about the Goofy Challenge right now, but come September -still 4 months from Goofy- I will be picking up more triathlon tendencies to prepare for next year.

Today was an easy 4 miles. Tomorrow, most likely I'll tally a 6 mile tempo run and a bike ride to and from work. Wednesday is a hill workout. Thursday is bike only, or a short 3 miler. Friday is rest. And Saturday, with accompanying pictures, is the Great Race of Agoura Hills. It's a challenging 10K in Malibu. I am psyched. Last year the course kicked my butt, but I am all ready for it this time. Sunday finishes the week with a half marathon (13 mile) run for practice. I plan on sleeping a lot Sunday!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Atleast My Addiction is Socially Acceptable

The New York Times ran an article today about the elusive Runner's High. It coincided nicely with a ran I just completed - 5 miles of trail in 41:48. That's another blistering pace for me, and it comes on the heels of a sprint workout last night up a hill by the Warner Brothers lot.

I'm proud of the laps (mile times) I maintained throughout the evening. I almost got a negative split too (only 5 second off).

Mile 1 - 8:21
Mile 2 - 8:14
Mile 3 - 8:32
Mile 4 - 8:21
Mile 5 - 8:19

In the everlasting search for irony in the world, I find that the lower my energy throughout the day, the better my runs are that follow. For instance, work the past two days has been deadly slow. Molasses slow. Traffic at the 101/405 interchange slow. I've taken to reading Shakespeare (Macbeth and King Lear thus far), but that does little to keep my brain awake. I feel low, dull drummed and not ready to race. So heading out onto the trail at 6:45pm tonight, I was surprised to find a kick in my step. The frustration of work (the lack of, that is) and the tiredness of sitting around all day drained out of me after the first quarter mile.

I think I can attest to the runner's high experience. It's a shot of power and energy, a blanket of clear thinking and visualization that sets over you during a really good workout. For me, the high comes on hard runs, when I am pushing myself out of my marathon pace and into a 5K race pace or faster. According to the article, written by Gina Kolata (...if you like Gina Kolatas... Getting caught in the rain... If you're not into yoga...if you have half a brain):

Yes, some people reported that they felt so good when they exercised that it was as if they had taken mood-altering drugs. But was that feeling real or just a delusion? And even if it was real, what was the feeling supposed to be, and what caused it?

Some who said they had experienced a runner’s high said it was uncommon. They might feel relaxed or at peace after exercising, but only occasionally did they feel euphoric. Was the calmness itself a runner’s high?

I'd say it's the mid-run rush, cautiously realizing that you feel invincible AND the calmness and clarity of your thinking that follows that run. It lasts an hour or two, maybe. I'm still just coming down from it (and starving, by the way - no dinner yet!). With my marathons, the high lasts for days - but I suppose that is made up of much more.

Regardless, I am not ashamed to say, "Hi, my name is Emily and I'm an addict". And I welcome the choruses of greetings back at me, because while a dedication to exercise can lead to obsession and unhealthy habits, if you are able to find that balance, incorporate positive fitness habits and improve your healthy, then by all means, chasing that high is a hell of a hobby.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

TNT Week 7 - The Easter Edition

Easter already and the second day of spring. Boy was it hot at the beach this morning. Arrived in Santa Monica at 7am, and it was already 65 degrees. The sun was barely coming up over the horizon. Our 8-mile run (longest so far for Alaska folk), took just over an hour, and by the time we finished, the temp was pushing 80-degrees. Clearly the "summer" part of the summer season had truly kicked in.

Out on the sand there were a couple of large groups celebrating Easter with a sunrise/beach Mass. Although the TNT group was only half represented, group 12 had a strong showing. The 12 of us run to Marina Del Rey and back. We distracted ourselves through the Speedway (miles 2.5 - 5.5) by playing alphabet games, naming drinks and movies in alphabetical order. As I've mentioned before, the Speedway is a stretch of road that runs behind the condos that are right on the sand. Small side roads run perpendicular and moving north to south, the streets are named alphabetically: Anchor, Buccaneer, Catamaran, Driftwood...etc all the way to Yawl. (There is no "z" street).

After the run, I headed back home and hopped on my bike. Took a ride to work, where I put in a couple hours prepping for a meeting we have with the company's CEO tomorrow *(Very Important Meeting). After the work, biked back. Thankfully I didn't spend too long in the sun. While the beach was hot, the valley is even hotter. We are pushing 90 degrees right now, and I am sporting a tan and a pink face.

The Weekend: 17.53m run / 32.6m bike
Week Totals: 29 m run / 55.23 bike

I'm thrilled with the numbers this week. I can feel the effort in my legs today. I'll be biking to work this week and trying to get in some quality run miles as well. I've got company next weekend, which throws my schedule for a loop, so we'll see what next week looks like. Until then ... :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


When the weeks get busy, either mentally or physically, I am faced with a paradox. You really have to make the effort to workout. The free time is there, but finding a big enough time slot in which to do the work is tricky. The irony is that, with all of the time it takes to manage my workouts, to find the time, it is the workout itself that relieves stress....make sense? Finding the time = stressful. Doing the work = rewarding.

I've gotten a bunch of running and biking miles in this week, and I plan on getting more running miles tomorrow, but I am really relying on this weekend to amp up my numbers. We've got an 8 miler for TNT Sunday morning, but I am going to squeeze in 10-15 running miles on Saturday, and atleast 30 miles of biking between Sat and Sun. So that should put me somwhere in the 25-30 run / 60 bike miles for the week.

Funny, I swear that I don't like math, but all of these numbers intrigue me. It's a game. Aim for 30 run and 80 bike, and see how close I can get each week. And within the game, I am getting a little better, a little strong, and a little more confident for Goofy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Work Out Those Workouts

New remedy for getting in the workouts without having to wake up at 6am or run at 7:30pm? Lunch break!!

An hour of lunch here is just enough time to run 5 miles, shower and grab lunch before anyone needs me back at the desk. And yes, my work provides a shower so I don't stew in my own sweat for the rest of the day.

On days when I bike in, I usually don't want to go through the change-clothes-shower-change-clothes routine more than once, so if I run those days, it's before I leave for work. But today was a non-biking day (needed to go to the dry cleaner and couldn't figure out how to get my stuff there without my car), so I took off at noon for a nice 5-miler toward Griffith Park/ LA Zoo. Blistering speed for me (5 miles in 40 minutes), a quick shower in a room that smells worse than me after the run, and then a large lunch of cereal, fruit, piece of bread with pb, and a small salad. I am ready to tackle the remainder of this slow day.

Lesson of the day - Get the miles in however you can, whenever you can, and it will pay off. And also, your co-workers will appreciate it if you shower afterward.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

TNT Report: Week 5...I think

What week is it? I'm not sure, feels like we are well into the season. 8 miles down in foggy Marina Del Rey. There is no rest for the weary thanks to daylight savings time. Woke up at the Time Formally Known as 4:50am in order to eat and get down to the Marina. I was with the Walk group this week, and spent most of the time chatting with Ciji, who is planning to walk the full San Diego Marathon. We only did 8 miles today, and I can tell you that walking a marathon is an incredible feat. It's a different kind of mentality from running because when you walk the miles don't quite fly by. You are planning on being out there for +7 hours. I think I'd rather get it done in 4 hours instead.

Chris shared his story today. As always, it was very emotional and motivational. If you haven't read about Chris Wilno's journey to TNT and his subsequent achievements, dig through the archive of my old blog ( and read it.

Got back up to my apartment for lunch. Ate quickly then headed out for 20 miles on my bike. Puts my weekend total to 15 miles run / 8 walk / 20.5 biked. A little skewed because of the walking, but my legs are definitely sore from Saturday. It's good to know that going into Goofy Weekend, the day before the marathon will only be 13.1 miles on my legs, not 15. I could have done a marathon today...very slowly, no doubt. But this gives me hope that I will be well prepared next January if I keep on track.

Virtually, I am almost made it across the country:

Fitness Journal

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I Smell Like Road

Finally summer has come to the Valley in southern California. I went out for three runs today, and with each of them, I added another layer of dirt, smog and farmland to my skin. I smell like a dusty road right now.

Got up this morning and run 4 miles to wake myself up. Toaster waffles and almond butter to fuel the beast. After the run, ate another waffle, a Go Lean bar (really good!!) and some coffee. Headed over to Griffith Park after breakfast to run the usual Saturday morning miles with Jenn from TNT. We went up into the hills of GP, but it was a little too hilly for an easy Saturday run. We we turned around and ran Los Feliz Blvd, a beautiful stretch of street on which you can forget that you are in LA. Chalked up 3.2 miles total.

Southwest side of Griffith Park

Los Feliz Boulevard

It started getting hot around 11, which I got back to my apartment, but I had committed today to being one with a long run, so I knew in order to hit double-digit miles, I'd have to hit the pavement once again. So I chomped on a nectarine, a pear and half of a Hammer Bar before getting back out there.

I ran what has become a normal medium-distance route from my apartment, to the north side of the park, around near my work and then back on Riverside Drive (which I bike to and from work a couple times a week). Unfortunately, it started getting really hot and I wanted to jump in the fountain at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetary

The Fountain

A little side note about Forest Lawn - it's a beautiful stretch of land on the north side of GP. Interred there are some famous Hollywood personalities including Lucille Ball, Clyde Beatty, Bette Davis, Roy Disney, Marty Feldman, Andy Gibb, Joseph "Buster" Keaton, Ernie Kovacs, Liberace, Ozzie Nelson, Freddy Prinze and Jack Webb. I've never gone up into the park, although there are roads leading in, and tons of cars coming and going. Perhaps it would make a nice hike on a slow day.

Anyway, back to the road ... so I ran and ran and ran, and it got hotter and hotter and hotter, and by the time I got back to my apartment (chiding myself for not bringin water out with me), I dove right into the fridge and finished off my pitcher. Tired and hot, but another 8.1 miles to add to the total.

So I finish my regime for the day with no bike miles, but +15 miles on my feet. Not to bad. Tomorrow I head out to Marina Del Rey for TNT week 5! I'm leading the walking group, so it will be a nice break for my legs. And I'll get a chance to chat with some people I haven't met before. With the exception of daylight savings time stealing my sleep, I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Now it's time shower the road smell off me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


...Link to the Past...

Run Against Cancer
Even more motivation to hit the pavement

The Ultimate Pool
My Next Bed

Single Servings at Trader Joes are easier

The iHam
I appreciate a sense of humor

TNT Race Report: Week Four

7:15AM on the day of the Los Angeles Marathon. The streets of Burbank were quiet, but just down the road, thousands of runners were prepping for their own 26.2 journey.

I, on the other hand, ventured west into the Santa Monica mountains for a 7 mile trail run in Westridge Canyon. As you can see, it was a beautiful day. I climbed up a hill to snap these pictures before practice started. I'll update the site once Chris puts the team photos on our West Side website.

The Trailhead

The Parking Lot

Sun's Coming Up

West, Toward the Beach


More Hills


More Mountains


And last but not least, something you can't actually see from these photos. This is the elevation map of where we ran. 3.5 miles uphill, then 3.5 miles down hill. My legs are definitely feeling it.

We ran from Westridge entrance to the Nike Tower, which isn't named for the shoe company, but rather was a Missile Tower that was supposed to help bring down enemy bombers in WWII

Finished in about 80 minutes, then headed to brunch with a group of runners. Back home I hopped on the bike, putting in 15 miles or so. Finished the weekend with 14 running miles and 39 biking miles. I didn't aim for 39 bike miles, but I realize that's the magic number for Goofy Weekend! Seems like a LOT of running!

The "Dear Jon" Letter

Dear Jon,
Your epicurean heart will continue to bleed for me after reading this post. Hope you are enjoying all of the Luger steaks and Vietnamese pork and fat sandwiches that NYC has to offer :)


Back in Philadelphia, my friend Jon and I bonded over food. Any food. At Sharples, our college dining hall, we bemoaned the pasta bar. We'd escape to the Media, PA Chinese-Japanese restaurant Margaret Kuo's for lo mien, sushi rolls, edamame and peanuts. We'd head into the city to for real Mexican Food from Tequillas or we'd just order the usual college delicacy, pizza, from Renatos.

But since moving to California, things have changed. Jon is in NYC. I am in LA. He's a med student. I am in entertainment. And food wise -

1. I no longer eat meat (seafood excluded)
2. I cook dinner for myself almost every day
3. The preparation for my meals must take significantly less time than it does to eat, or I will not cook it at all.

So when Jon hears of my limitations and my ridiculous patterns of eating, I think he dies a little inside. had a great article on Maintaining Your Learn, Mean, Racing Machine, It provides a formula for how much and what athletes should be eating.

Here is the formula, although keep in mind these are not hard and fast rules:

Your weight in kgs (X pounds / 2.2) x 30 = How many calories your body needs each day. This figure approximates how much energy your body needs in its base state. Eating, sleeping, walking around, breathing. All the "little things" you do unconsciously that require energy.

On workout days, you have to factor in the extra effort.

For running you want to add .19 x (minutes of running) x (weight in kgs) to your total caloric need. The .19 varies from person to person and with your effort level. The article gives a range of .15-.29, saying that .15 is a jog and .29 is a 5min/mile.

For biking, add .15 x (minutes biking) x (weight in kgs) to your total caloric need.

On weekdays when I run before work (usually 3-4 miles) and then bike to and from work, the formula says I need about 3000 calories. On the weekends when I put in double-digit miles for both running and biking, I am looking at upwards of 4000 calories.

You'd think this would give me free reign to dip my head into a half gallon of ice cream. And while that isn't an unappealing idea to me, it seems that the more I work out, the better food I want to eat.

Right now, my breakfasts are cottage cheese and cantaloupe and 1-2 cups of Muselix cereal. (Free from the caf at work! My job feeds me!) Occasionally during the week, and definitely on the weekend, I go for a bowl of oatmeal. 2-3 cups of coffee between breakfast and lunch keep me going.

Lunch is veggie salad, fresh fruit salad, tuna (twice a week), soup and a cup of frozen yogurt. I am very addicted to the *free* frozen yogurt (and all of the free food) the movie studio provides its employees. Thank you JK.

Dinner is eggs and salsa and a Cesar salad. Sometimes it is shrimp and salad or a salmon Cesar salad. Microwaved or steamed veggies always work too. Spelt tortilla and almond butter (for protein) are a handy dessert, as are the 5-8 pieces of fruit I eat throughout the day.

Okay, so it doesn't look like all that much, but trust me, the amount of food I am eating puts me well into the 2500-3000 cal zone. Ha, calzone. I like those too.

I like routine. At work. At exercise. And in my meals.I've been riding Max for about a month now and I can really tell that I am working hard, because, man, I can't stop eating! The goal over the next three months is to get more grains and more protein into the tummy. I'll be experimenting with some new plates that will hopefully fall into this routine well.

But pork fat and noodle soup or Crif Dogs will not be one of them.

(yes, I've eaten that)

Sorry, Jon.