Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mid trip recap

I am sitting in Vegas waiting to depart for los angeles, so I figured I'd catch up on the recaps I promised. Please forgive spelling errors, the keys on this phone are lilliputian!

Last sunday I returned to TNT for a 20 mile run with the group that is running the Honolulu marathon in a couple weeks. I've be reluctant to recap it because recapturing the run is not something I can accurately do. It was a great run, comfortable pace, good company ( me, chris, joe, and joe's friends dash and caspar). It took us about 3:10 to finish but it really felt like it flew by. The crude humor of 20something frat boys also helped.

I'm feeling pretty good about the Goofy race in 6 weeks. It will be a lot of miles in 2 days for me and consecutive 3am wake up calls. But I think my year long training plan will prevail.

Between now and Goofy I start my 50 miler program, but the training workouts that come before the Goofy race are not all that different from my normal routine. So it shouldn't stress my legs too much.

Speaking of not stressing my legs, today is clearly a travel day, no workout time available...nevertheless I am hungry!!

I wish Southwest offered sandwiches. Peanuts just don't cut it.

20 mins til takeoff. More posts later!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Updates on Sunday's 20 miles and today's Manchester Road Race with the family to come later tonight...

In the meantime, I'm strapping on the feedbag and putting down as much non-meat holiday food as I can.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Plan B

It's hard to be upset about a cancelled race when there are hundreds of people who have lost their homes to the fires north, west, and south of me. It's horrible, and gives a little perspective on life - running is just running.

I decided not to go back to sleep after reading the Cancellation email. Thought I might try and get in a long run down by the beach where the air might be clearer. Hopped in the car and headed west. Took the 405 south to the beach. It's a highway that climbs over the Hollywood Hills and connects the valley to the city. As I hit the top of the hill, I looked in my rear view mirror. Back in the distance, maybe 20-30 miles north of the freeway - flames. Terrifying. Bright orange masses glowing in the dark. For as hard at the media works to cover the stories (and lord knows they cover it incessantly), TV images don't compare to seeing it out your window.

Got to Santa Monica at 5:30am. Still dark. Took off along Ocean Avenue. Very quiet. One other runner, a couple valets at the hotel and the infrequent dog walker here and there. I felt the itchiness in my throat from the smoke I couldn't see.

As the sun started to come up around 6am, I saw just how pink/orange/brown and smoky the sky was. The smokle from fires in SFV, Yorba Linda, and (probably) Montecito still all converged on Santa Monica. So I was wrong - the beach was not the place to run.

Cut my run very short, only doing 4.75 miles. Back in the car and heading home by 6:30am. The sun was finally rising as I got back to Burbank. Skies were much less smoky, but decided to play it safe and run on the gym treadmill at my apt complex. I've lived here over a year and never once worked out in the gym. Too small. I sweat a lot. Took to the treadmill for another 8.3 miles.

All in all, a half marathon day. Not too bad, although since I did take it easy the whole week, I'm short on my average miles by about 8. Oh well, there is always another week ahead.

Hopefully tomorrow the skies will clear and I will have the motivation to wake up early before work and run a couple miles in the park.

Total Bummer

Total Bummer: 4:15am ... and I just got the dreaded email.

Marathon has been cancelled due to health concerns surrounding the wildfires in Los Angeles.

Tough to hear, but it's probably the right decision. I'm sure it's even more of the bummer for the organizers since this was their inagural event. I can go run another race next weekend ... but their work is much harder to replicate at such short notice on a different date.

Well, since I'm awake, I'm off to go running...depending on the air quality outside, I might hit the gym. I'll try and bang out 20 miles or so!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

20 Hours Til Pasadena...

And as if 90 degrees and windy conditions aren't enough, it appears that though we will contend with fire as well. North of Pasadena, the Angeles National forest in Sylmar is burning. Pardon my glibness at such a dangerous events, but ... there goes the clean air.

As Christine at SneakerStories remarked,

The forecast is for 90°F weather. In case you've missed tearing a few pages from the old calendar - it's November. The average high in Pasadena is 74°F; the record high: 90°F (1949). Yep, I'll be doing a half marathon in heat that Pasadena hasn't seen in November in 60 years.

One day I'm just going to get it over with and do a race on the surface of the sun.

If I hear of any more earthquake/hurricane/tornado/hail, I'll post.


Friday, November 14, 2008

On the Course

I'm Runner #785 out on the course.
For more information about the weekend events, check out:
Pasadena Marathon

(Thanks Dena!)

2 Days Until Pasadena - The LESS/FAST strategy

I realized a couple days ago that the Pasadena Marathon this weekend will be the first race I've entered that is so close to where I live, that I can sleep in my own bed, eat my own food and shower in my own place before the race. The normal traveling-settling down-pasta partying and nervous energy that accompanies past events is (thankfully) not present. Around here, it's business as usual + a long run on Sunday.

Every endurance race I run requires a strategy, and not just "run fast." Whether it's as simple specific mile splits or as complicated as factoring in hills, and water stops and walk breaks ... there is always a plan, and naturally, it's always related to aspirations for the day.

In examining my reasons for running this marathon, I find a conflict. On the one hand, I am running this race as an extension of my TNT season, to challenge myself beyond the normal one-season/one-race and (in doing so) shrink down my recovery time between big events from a couple months to a couple weeks. With this in mind, it would seem like Pasadena is an opportunity to lay it all out there and push as hard as I can to completed the second of two big events.

But, I am also running the race as a "long run" for the Goofy Challenge in 2 months. It is definitely too soon to peak for Goofy, but considering that weekend is 39.3 miles in a 24-hour time frame, its never too early to get in shape for it. So with this goal in mind, the Pasadena run should be nice and easy. Slow, steady and deliberately longer to adapt my body into being on my feet for long periods of time.

Therein lies the conflict - go all out or run it like a training run.

Since the Santa Barbara race was a PR time and a hard effort. I'm inclined to scale back Sunday's run. I believe that I am faster and fitter than I have been in also all of my other marathons (maybe with the exception of Alaska - I had better midweek runs during the summer season). So, my goal for Sunday is to run a race in which I exert LESS effort, but also run it FASTER than my other times. In other words, I want to run at about 65-75% of my ability, and run it between 4-4:30 hrs.

Now, this is all well and good on paper. But the weather appears as though it wants some attention paid, too. It is going to be 90 degrees and windy on Sunday. It's an odd forecast more appropriate for, say, the Golbi Desert, rather than Southern California. But you work with what you are given.

The race starts at 6:30, and I hope I can be done before the true heat hits. But as the morning passes, the temps will climb and bring my heart rate with it. So for safety's sake, the LESS/FAST strategy might go out the window.

And, the final caveat. This is the first marathon I am running without external aid or support. No spectators in the crowd for me. No coaches on the course. No mentors either. It's not as depressing as it sounds, don't worry! I really enjoying going it alone on the course. It's a man-vs-nature thing. But knowing that I only have the wonderful volunteers to rely upon for help, I will definitely be holding back a little. I had a great experience running the Long Beach half, in which I ran solidly but with restraint because, again, I was by myself. If I am beaten down at the finish line, I can't drive myself back to my apartment. (But I will have cab fare just in case).

So all of these little things are factoring into my weekend. I'm confident in my approach, I'm elevating my carb and protein intake today and tomorrow, and I'll be sleeping well tonight and Saturday.

I look foward to partying with my TNT teammates at South (Santa Monica) Sunday afternoon ... if I can still stand.

To follow me along the course:
Race Results

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One Week Until Pasadena

The countdown is on for the Pasadena Marathon next Sunday. I spent this week wishing it were happening today. Tapering is tough, I prefer my worry-free running schedule, where adding or subtracting 5 miles doesn't fully impact my Sunday performance. I hope to be extra vigilant this week with my workouts. Nice and easy. A couple miles at a time, no huge runs. Rest the legs for Sunday's effort. I'll post the website to follow me on as the day gets closer.

Took it easier this weekend - two 8 mile runs and a 30 minute bike ride comprised the days off. Nothing too strenuous, although I seem to be running my longer runs faster than expected. This isn't necessarily a good thing since long runs are about getting time on my feet. After Pasadena I will be switching my training approach to accommodate this new philosophy - more time on the feet, less thought toward improving speed. I think it will benefit me during the ultra. That's a race that is truly about endurance rather than speed.

Morning running is going well. About 5 minutes after I get out of bed I wake up, so I'm only wrestling with myself for a short time. I've found that if I take my time and have coffee before I run, I feel much better during the workout. So I've built in a 30-minute bed-to-pavement cushion that takes some of the shock out of me when I start running. It means I have to get up a bit earlier to account for this time, but it's worth it.

Last random thought of the day - I crave coffee after I run. I think I've mentioned this before. Today proved it. Coffee, oatmeal a toaster waffle and a small granola bar before my 8mile run/8mile bike today. And when I got home (around 2pm) I made more coffee. It's Pavlovian conditioning I think. Coffee means warmth, sitting and comfort - basically the opposite of exercise. I've come to associate with post-workout rest so it signifies more than a caffeine boost in my head. And man does it taste good.

Around the Blogosphere - The Safety Edition

A look at what I've been reading around the blogosphere over the past week:

The New York Times takes a look at the truth behind stretching. For as long as I have played sports (going on 20 years now. Wow, I'm getting older...), there have been differing philosophies behind stretching. Before or after working out? How intensely? How long? The article concludes that dynamic stretching is the best way to prepare for a workout because it adequately increases blood flow to your muscles and warms up your joints (increases range of motion). I was never a fan of our dynamic stretching during college volleyball season (something about walking like a crab across the gym was more embarrassing than intimidating for our opponents), but it looks like you were right, Coach!

NYT also looks at Runner Road Rage, or when runners and cars almost collide. As an outdoor runner, I have hyper trained myself to be careful of cars, people, dogs, cracks in sidewalks, curbs, bikes and anything else floating outside of my personal being. Nevertheless, as a runner, you can't control everything out there. You can't give people the benefit of the doubt. You have to be alert. The article puts it aptly:

Changing this mind-set, for most runners, simply requires acknowledging the right for both parties to use public roads. “You have to remember the driver is another person,” said Dr. Stosny, which is sometimes forgotten because of the enclosed nature of most vehicles.

My hometown paper, The Hartford Courant, drew my attention to some sad news on the East Coast. Two deaths occured during the New York City Marathon. It's a scary reminder that endurance events may not be the safest hobbies. While running a personal best is thrilling and gratifying, you have to know your limits. After all, it's just running.

The Light and the Dark of It: seems to write articles specifically to me. The debate between night running and morning running. It's the soap opera of my life. I am in the midst of the transition (Three morning runs last week!!) but it's still a chore to roll out of bed. I'd rather run at night, but for safety's sake, I'll stick to the mornings.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Back from 2 Week Hiatus

Sorry to be brief, but I am in the middle of election coverage-watching at the moment.

To recap the 2 weeks I went MIA from the blog:

I completed the Santa Barbara Half Marathon in a personal best, 1:55:23 on Saturday! Thank you to all who helped me raise $1600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Santa Barbara

In less than two weeks, I will completed my 39.3 challenge with the Pasadena Full Marathon event, Nov 16th.


I've gotten into the swing of getting up early for morning runs since the clocks have changed. This morning's 5 mile run will get an encore tomorrow morning, hopefully bolstered by the news of a regime change in Washington DC.

I've gotten back on a lifting program to balance out my running and biking. The Biggest Loser Power Sculpt DVD sometimes kicks by butt. I like to do all three workouts at once, for a 45 minute cardio-weight session. I'm usually really sweaty after. Hopefully it will make me stronger and less prone to injury.

As the months creep closer to The Goofy Challenge and the American River 50 miler, I have to start strategizing my workouts. I'm going to be hitting the pavement more and focusing on running rather than biking. Rest becomes a huge issue, because doing 50-70 miles a week in not currently in my schedule. After Pasadena, I will slowly start to ramp up my weekly mileage to 40-45 miles a week before beginning what I consider THE BIG TRAIN (ie. the 16 week session that leads up to the race)