Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pictures from Water Stop #2

Sunday, April 27th

8, 16 and 17 miles for the West Side TNTers

From my view, this is how the first two hours went down....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

6, 6, 4, Floor

When the thermometer screams 97 degrees, there is little else to do than sit around in boxers and envy those crazy crab fishermen from The Deadliest Catch. But before I could get my weekend dose of good reality television (not always an oxymoron), I had to run my 16-miler. I am doing the water stop at practice tomorrow, and missing an important long run like this one would set me back a bit in training. So like the good little soldier I am, I got up early to run. And I got it done, but not without some drama.

7:45am - TJ's Oatmeal and two toaster waffles with almond butter. I feel rested, having slept in a little later than I do during the week. I set off for a 6 mile run around the neighborhood before I will meet up with Jenn for our Saturday run. I'm on the road at 8:15, and it's already hot. Maybe 75 degrees, which is comfortable under normal circumstances, but when it's this early, I know I am in for a hot day. I take it easy as I cruise around the multimillion dollar mansions of Toluca Lake. A couple for sale signs. The recession even gets the rich people. Anyway, it was an uneventual run, but I can already feel my legs getting a little tight. Should have had a little more water last night. Since it's already morning, that can't be helped, just got to push through.

9:30am - over to GP for a run along the horse trail. Jenn put in a lot of workout time yesterday, so she decides to take the day off. It's just me, for the second six-miler of the morning. By now it's 85 degrees and I have no ipod, which is actually kind of nice. I am unplugged from the world, just running along, but growing thoroughly dehydrated in the process. I do 3 miles out and back along the park and to the far edge into Los Feliz. Along the way, I run upstream through a massive group of March of Dimes walks. Sorry folks! But no thanks for all the dust you kick up. I'm all for charity events, but please pick your feet up when you walk! I make it back to my car, which is now surrounded by a large Indian family celebrating a child's birthday. Best wishes, but please don't block the water fountain, I am parched!

10:50am - I'm back at my apartment and my car tells me its about 90 degrees. No wind. I need to get these last four miles in. It's a little scorching and I am thirsty. I swig some of my water bottle and somehow trick myself out of the car and onto the sidewalk for the final leg of the day - a 2 mile out and back along Riverside Dr. I have fond feelings for this street, as I bike up and down it a lot, and it has a lot of good restaurants. But today, the street seemed to eschew any sort of shade it was being offered. The day's creeping close to noon, so I just barrel myself down and back at a slow pace, trying to ward of soreness. At each stop light I have to wait through, I bend to hold my knees. I need food quick. I downed a soyjoy bar before the second run as well as this one, but those 140-cal treats have long burned away.

I make it back and up to my apartment. I'm feeling nauseus to say the least. I alternate bending over to hold my knees with blending up a fruit, milk and chocolate protein shake. I quickly find the floor in front of the TV, down two glasses of the shake and 4 more toaster waffles. I watch the Penn Relays on ESPN (go swat!) and recover after half an hour.

The run did not get me down for the rest of the day. It certainly seemed to jumpstart not only my metabolism, but my debit card as well. I blew through a coupld hundred dollars for a belated birthday splurge. The contents? Three tire tubes for my bike, four CO2 cartridges, two 8 lb and two 10lb dumbells, a yoga mat (for situps, not yoga), a under armour tank top and some nike running shorts. And groceries.

Having beaten myself up today, I will spend tomorrow at practice just hanging out. I will try to get in a 3-mile lactic run and 30 miles on the bike around the beach. I'm bringing my camera, so I'll post pictures by the weekend's end.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Get Going

Looking for an excuse to call it in for the day and skip that workout? You won't find it in this article over at Active.com.

Time to Run: Get Motivated describes the constant struggle undertaken by all runners at some point during the their training. That challenge? Well, Grey's Anatomy is on TV. Or dinner takes 1/2 an hour to prepare. Or work sucked all the life out of you. Or it's too damn early to get up and run.

Motivation. How to get it and how to keep it. Running is essentially the same thing day after day. You can vary your scenery and you can varied you types of runs. But when it comes down to it, most runs are left foot followed by right foot followed by left foot. Run, rinse, repeat.

The article makes a couple of good suggestions about how to maintain motivations. Run at the same time every workout day so it becomes habit. Follow a ritual to mentally prepare yourself. Trick yourself into running just walking slowly and telling yourself that you'll only run for a couple of minutes.

In truth, it usually only takes about a half of a mile to warm up mentally and commit to the run. I went running on Tuesday and I was feeling particularly tired frmo hauling storyboards around our office all day. The last thing I wanted to do was run. But I jumped out of my car and onto the horsetrail path at the park. I just started going without thinking too much. I told myself I'd do 4 miles. Two out and two back.

After the first mile my energy found me again. at the two mile mark, I thought, okay, lets just got another half mile and make it a nice, round 5 miler.

I turned around at 2.5 miles just after a steep hill. I ran down and thought - okay, let's make this a tempo run. Faster on the way back. I picked up speed and held an 8"10 mile for the final 2.5. When I got back to my car I was beat, but I felt great. So great in fact that I decided to job half a mile past my car to add an extra full mile onto the run.

So after all of that internal whining and complaining to myself that I wasn't going to get home in time to watch American Idol, I managed to complete a 6 mile tempo run in 50 minutes, and get back just in time to watch Idol. (Ironically once I sat down and started watching, I realized that I didn't actually care for the show, just the comfort of being back in my apartment.)

So moral of the story, and of the article --- you can find a lot of external motivators like running buddies and online forums. But when it comes down to it, running is you alone, and the strongest motivation is going to be that internal drive to go a little farther past the turning point, and maybe even a little farther past the end point. You push yourself, you push your limits. You will reap rewards.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Argument Against Formulas

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times ran article about Heart Rate and Exercise Performance. (The second article by Gina Kolota that I've covered).

The article debates the known formula for figuring out your maximum heart rate - a number important if you wanted to tailor your workout to hit aerobic or anaerobic zones and improve your performance.

The article argues against calibrating your workout to these numbers, because the formula appears to be if not arbitrary, than at least inaccurate.

Personally, I wear a heart rate strap with my Garmin watch, and I rely on the numbers maybe half of the time. I find that when I run, my heart rate consistently hovers in the 85-90% range unless I really slow myself down. Funny thing is, I only feel like I am really pushing myself when I run my tempo runs. With biking, I live in the 60-75%, but because a lot of the effort is concentrated in my lower body (quads especially), I feel like I am working harder than when I run sometimes.

Either way, it's an interesting piece that reminds us to take all of the age-old wisdom of exercise and nutrition with a grain of salt.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Couple of Shots of Palos Verdes

(Thanks to Maria for taking the photos)

The Beginning of the Run

The Landscape

Group 2 Coming after 150 minutes of running

Coach Chris

Monday, April 21, 2008

Week 11 - No Bonking Allowed

It felt like the weekend really started on Friday afternoon, really. I went for a pre-lunch workout to get my miles in for the day. I was going to do 5, but on my way out the door Amie caught me and convinced me to run 4 with her after work. Excited at the prospect of a higher midweek miles, I cut back my lunchtime run to 4 miles, to round out an 8 mile day. The evening run would be slower, so I gunned the lunch run. I finished just over 32 minutes, which was a quick 8:00/mile pace for me for the whole workout. I was beat!

After work I dressed for the evening run, but Amie had to work late. So I ditched the 8 mile idea and ran just 1 mile when I got home. 5 for the day, and that was my original goal.

Saturday was a non-traditional workout in two senses. Jenn was out of town and I was planning to run in the AM with Amie. But because of working late, Amie decided to take the morning off. I went on an exploratory 5 miler around new parts of my neighborhood. Seeing as Sunday’s 15 miles was going to be hilly, rough on the quads, I took it easy in on this run. I sort of used it to “house shop” around the area. Nothing like multi-million dollar homes in Toluca Lake to make you feel like you need to start saving your money.

Sunday turned out to be a great run and bike day, and definitely one of the harder workout days I have had in a while. The 14.5 miles done down in Palos Verde were a nice change of scenery, but it was hilly enough to warrant going a little slower. No point in getting injured trying to conquer mountains. We finished in about 2.5 hours, which is a great amount of time to run and feel like you really got a workout.

Rancho Palos Verde:

I went home and hopped on the bike. I aimed for an easy 20 miles, but I was so energized by the run, it turned into a moderate to hard 24.5 miles, including a couple of Griffith Park’s steeper hills.

When I got home, I came upon an Active.com article that discussed Bonking, or rather, how not to bonk while you are training. It’s not the most technical term, but bonking basically refers to hitting a wall while in training. I usually think of it in the more long-term sense. For instance, when you are racing and you hit a wall, that is just the wall, but when you are training and you over train for weeks on end, you risk depleting all of your energy for longer periods of time. Your training suffers. And that suffering is called “bonking”.

If you recall, I referenced the “Lean, Mean, Racing Machine” from Active back when I was researching calorie count for high activity. So I looked at my weekend regime, and using the formulas from the article, I figured I’d need about 5100 calories for Sunday. 2.5 hours of running and 1.5 hours of biking seems to add up quickly. That is a calories, and although it is possible to eat that back during the day, by chowing down on these meals (which make me appreciate my vegetarian style). Alas, I can only consume so many pears, apples and eggs before my tummy explodes. Sure, a hard day of work provides me a little license to, say, have dessert. But I’m more conscious about eating what is going to make me perform at my best (and also, what tastes good … and I like fruit and vegetables a lot)

So anyway, back to Bonking. The biking article recommends that you no exceed a calorie depletion of more than 500 cal each week. Anything more than that is particularly unhealthy. Sure, NBC’s Biggest Loser show might be an exception, but those people are constantly monitored.

So yesterday I estimate I consumed 2400 calories, leaving me about 2500 more to eat back this week. Factoring in the exercise I will be doing over the next couple of days, I am going to be really conscious about getting in those extra bits of energy. Not by way of chocolate cake and candy, but maybe and extra bowl of cereal or helping of salad here and there.

I’m tired today, and I biked into work easy. Eggs, cantaloupe, cottage cheese and cereal for breakfast. Now a quick bite of lunch (salad and soup, fruit and maybe a little froyo). Plenty of rest tonight and a longer run tomorrow. I’ll let you know how the 16 miler on Saturday works out. I’m crossing my fingers I’ll eat enough so I don’t bonk by the end of next week!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

TNT Race Report - Week 10 - Hot Child in the City

Welcome to summer in Southern California. The past two days have been +90 degrees with little wind. It's a dry, dry heat.

As I am a product of many New England snowstorms, the warmth here is always welcome. However, mixing training and heat can be a very tricky thing.

I built up a lot of running miles throughout the week and cut back on the bike for logistical reasons (no where to lock up the bike at the park when I run after work). So the numbers are a little bit skewed. But all in all, I got most of my workouts in before the heat wave hit. Here are the totals:

Running: 41.86 miles (the birthday run really boosted this - a new high for the year)
Biking: 25.48 miles (a Wednesday ride and a Sunday ride)

Yesterday Jenn and I did the usual AM park run. At 9 in the morning, it was already starting to heat up. We ran pretty quickly in order to beat the heat. I went home after that and called Amie, whom I am helping train for her first half marathon in August. Amie wanted to go for a run this week, and despite the weather, we agreed on an 11:30 meeting time.

Amie, Dan and I hit the GP horse trail at around noon, just when the sun angry. Our 5 mile trail (2.5 out-and-back) felt much, much different than my after work runs. Between the dust from the trail and the exhaust from the nearby freeway, it was a little gross to be breathing.

Nevertheless, we jogged it in about an hour. Learning from last week's sore legs experience, I decided to forgo an afternoon ride - too warm anyway.

This morning I awoke at 5:55AM to get ready for morning practice. 3 toaster waffles with almond butter and a soyjoy bar. I've started to remember, as I sit here and type, it is harder to make yourself eat when it's hot out. Luckily, it was sightly cooler at 6am (70 degrees) and I love toaster waffles.

By the time practice started at 7:45, it was already 80 degrees. For our taper week, we did a 10 mile run to Marina Del Rey and back, and then up the Santa Monica pier, along Palisades Park and back to our parking lot.

It was 91 degrees driving back from Santa Monica into the dusty bucket of smog and heat that is the San Fernando Valley (where I live). The last thing I wanted to do was eat, but seeing as I had just worked out for a while, I ate some grapes and eggs with salsa. I wanted to get a couple more biking miles in as well, so at noon (AGAIN - I choose poor times to go outside here!) I went for a quick 13.5 mile ride around the park, including my own heartbreak hill. The good news is that hill isn't getting any steeper, but I am definitely getting faster at climbing it.

Once again, I smell like the road, I am covered in dust and I need a shower. The heat is supposed to break Tuesday. Until then, I am a fan of the fans in my room and enjoying all of the ice my little tray has to offer.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Birthday Run - 24 Laps to Celebrate

I did it! To celebrate my birthday, I set off on a jogging journey. I've got a nice play list to join me on the jaunt. I choke up a bit at some of the songs (in italics). Make me wish I could celebrate back in the East Coast. But I make do in Los Angeles. I'm out of bed early and ready for the asphalt.

5AM - I am out of bed and getting dressed for the run

5:15 - Spelt torilla and almond butter for energy

5:30 - The streets are empty save for the LA Times delivery van. There is a perfect 1/2 mile loop that runs around my neighborhood. I'm going to complete 24 laps to celebrate the 24 years I've been hanging around this blue marble.

6:00AM - Feeling good. Started off slow, but picking up the pace a little.

6:30AM - Time for Chocolate Cliff Shot. Gross. Too thick. Tastes like frosting.

7:00AM - Do I really have 3 miles left? I've been listening to songs from my past that mean a great deal to me. I choke up for a couple of songs (in italics) that make me wish I were celebrating on the East Coast. But I keep on running!

7:30AM - Lap 23 - I decide to reverse my run. Lap 24 symbolic of my journey. It's tough, but within the toughness I feel strong. I had a long week of running, and my legs were like lead. They are venturing that way right now, my body is doing more work than my calves can do at the moment. But I make it. I can always find the kick at the end, the extra energy. And to finish on Seger's "Against the Wind" was really fitting.

7:35AM - Happy Birthday Emily - time to dig into a bowl of cereal and an egg sandwich.

8:15AM - Set off to work with a calming sense of self.


Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) - Green Day
My Wish - Rascal Flatts

Don't Stop Believing - Journey
OB-LA-DI,OB-LA-LA - The Beatles
See You Again - Miley Cyrus
Real World - Matchbox 20
Hannah Jane – Hootie and the Blowfish
Daylight Fading - Counting Crows
Rock With You (Single Version) - Michael Jackson
Savage Garden - Chica Cherry C - Savage Garden
Down - 311
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Little Victories - Matt Nathanson
Total Eclipse Of The Heart – USC SoCal Vocals
Rehab (Remix) [feat. Jay-Z] - Amy Winehouse
Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
Breathe (2AM) - Anna Nalick
Forever Young - Rod Stewart
Touch My Body - Mariah Carey
The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
I'm a Flirt (feat. T.I. & T-Pain) - R. Kelly
Its All Coming Back To Me Now - Celine Dion
In Da Club – 50 Cent
You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
What's Your Fantasy - Ludacris
Switch - Will Smith
Snake (Feat. Tigger) - R. Kelly
Together Again - Janet Jackson
Faith - George Michael
Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
Against the Wind - Bob Seger

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Great Race of Agoura Hills and the Not-So-Great Half Marathon Practice

Overcast and cool, but the clouds broke early enough for the annual Great Race of Agoura Hills in Malibu, CA. About 20 of us from TNT traveled up the 101 to take part in the Old Agoura 10K race.

If you recall, I ran this event last year. It's a hilly, mountainy, trail run along the horse community of Agoura Hills. The scenery is beautiful, if not steep. Last year I finished in 59 minutes, so I was excited to really race the course and see if I've improved.

After bidding my mentees and teammates fairwell at the start line, I set off to conquer the trail. Despite tight calves (that made me worry of the fiasco I had in Hawaii), I kept a brisk 8:30 mile pace for the first couple of miles. I picked it up during the second half of the race, hoping that the hills between miles 4-6.2 wouldn't slow me down. Turns out they didn't.

I finished with a new 10K PR: 51:26. It was amazing. I was excited to improve on last year's time by almost 8 minutes, and on my past PR time by about two minutes. I finished in the top 20% overall (222 out of 1235), and 6th out of 63 in my age group.

After reconnecting with my teammates, I took off for home. Once home, tired but happy, I hopped on the bike for what was planned to be an 8-10 mile ride. Something got the best of me out along my familair path (The LA River Bike Path along the 134 and 5 Freeways), and I suddenly had racked up 17 miles). Knowning that we had a 13 mile training run early the next morning, I rested for the remainder of the day.

Sunday: My legs are not happy. They are tired. Leaden. Cursing my bike ride. It's another overcast and cool day at the beach, but there is humidity in the air, and I'll start sweating sooner than I'd like. My quads are noticably sore - and that's not something that usually happens to me after runs. Those hills kicked my butt a little more than I expected.

About 5 miles into the run, just after we run back from being out on the Marina Del Rey Pier, I realize that this is going to be a real challenge. I can't imagine doing 8 more miles. At mile 7, I cringe at the idea that we have 6 more to go. Running up the Santa Monica pier is much easier than hill training and easier than the 10K hills ... but it still sucks some of the life out of me. By mile 9, we've been out along the course for about an hour and a half ... and there is still time to go.

I don't know how I got it done. I attribute it to my teammates, whose funny annecdotes and commiserating complaints help keep my legs moving. It's a hard run, it's one of those times when - despite having run this length many, many times - feels like it is the full marathon.

Slowly, surely and with the help of some Samoa girl scout cookies at the aid station, we make it back. I wince/stretch/wince/stretch my way through the cooldown. A soyjoy bar and some water, and it's time to go home. The rest of my day consisted of a walk to Trader Joe's (1.5 miles round trip) and watching Star Wars Ep 2: Attack of the Clones.

Tomorrow is the big day. No longer a 23 year old. Will be celebrating with a little birthday run. I'll post the lowdown later on.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Some Good Running Commercials

You are in a relationship with running. A love-hate relationship. Running kicks you out of bed and into a cold, hard world. Running calls you at all hours of the night. Running gets you up at the crack of dawn and keeps you at practice long after play has left the building. Every day with running is a question of your commitment, and running’s not afraid to ask. Yes, my friend, it is a complex and torrid affair. It is a constant balance, a balance between joy and pain. Work and play. A balance between love and hate. Everything we do is geared toward tipping the balance




and my favorite one, no words needed...