Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Round Up

The final weekend before race day was a busy one ...

Saturday: 4:45am Alarm
Up and att'em for the annual Great Race of Agoura Hills out in the Malibu area. On my drive over there I realized that this is my third year attending the race ... which, in turn, made me realize that I've been out in Los Angeles for almost three year (two and a half right now). That was a little weird.

This was the first time I'd be supporting the racers instead of running the course myself. With a sore right medial tibia (shin splint) and the AR50 a week away, I thought it best to rest and coach instead of run the full, hilly course.

Here are some snaps from my phone. It's a beautiful, beautiful area. A lot of celebs live up here to get away from LA. Who can blame them. The place is made up of horse farms, hiking trails and green, rolling hills.

I jogged about 4 miles that morning. Up and down the final hill. Our team had some amazing times, and more importantly, some amazing finishes for first time racers. It's really exciting to help people realize that they can run road races and compete alongside people they assume are "real runners."

After the race, I made the long haul over to the gym for a couple hours of swimming. I arrived right in the middle of the Aqua Aerobics class and ended up sitting around in the hot tub for 40 minutes before being able to get into the pool. The shriveled prune I was after waiting so long in the hot water swam for about 90 minutes and completed 3200 yards. I'm realizing more and more that I enjoy swimming. I'm looking forward to building it into my recovery time next week.

Sunday: Alarm 5:45am.

Out to Santa Monica for Team in Training practice. 12 miles for San Diego Runners, 10 for Alaska and Seattle Runners. 8 for the Halfers for all races. Sky was overcast and the weather was cool, but all in all it was a nice practice. I jumped around from group to group, trying to run with everyone that I could at some point or another. We've got a really nice group of people running this season. And, bonus, my leg didn't hurt as much as I thought it might. My 5-dixie ice cup a day plan will be in effect all week, and I'm anticipating full leg health at the starting line on Saturday.

Sunday Afternoon: Target, Apple Store, Misc. Shopping

I dedicated Saturday afternoon to race and travel prep. Had to go to Target to pick up some items:

1 Large Duffle Bag - for traveling on the plane and for the gym
2 Small Duffle Bags - drop bags for the two stations. Will contain, food, clothing and other camping-like gear.
Vaseline - travel size so I can take it on the plane without checking my bag. For chafing and blisters.
Headphones - Nike now makes sweat-proof headphones. Yeah, we'll see about that...
Wet Ones - Wipes because I will probably trip and fall at some point, and I will need to clean off the dirt.
Snyder's Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels - For Mile 39 drop bag. There's motivation in them snacks.
Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate Chewy Granola Bars - I love chocolate late in the race.
Lifesavers - Hoping they live up to their name.
Market Pantry Cheese Squares - Generic Cheese Itz. Cheaper. Probably just as tasty. And salty.

These items will be accompanied by the food I buy up in Sacramento - PB Sandwich, some trail mix, some Starbursts and some Soda.

I'll be packing in mini sessions all week, and will go over the final list later on. For now, back to the ice cup, resting and visualizing that finish line.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Off to Work

The good kind of work!
As if there was such a thing as sleeping in on the weekend...

I'm up and off to the Great Race of Agoura Hills 10K to jog the course and help out our TNT Team. Then it's off to the gym to do some swimming. I ran 4 miles yesterday to shake off the cobwebs, and my right leg is a little sore. It's kinesio taped up, iced, Tylenol-ed and ready for today. But I'm being super careful because it needs to be ready for next Saturday!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taper Weekend - 12 days Until American River 50

Having to really pay attention and monitor my training sessions and monitor my energy is kind of a pain in the neck. But for all of the tapers I have completed in my running schedules, this is the one I am taking most seriously. Because if I get to that starting line with aches, pains or lethargy, they aren't going to get much better over 12 hours of running.

Last week was all about squeezing in cross training gym time. Aqua jogging, swimming, biking and elliptical. I think I tallied 8 hours of workouts over the week before heading into weekend workouts. And despite that amount of time I spent in the gym, my legs felt pretty good Saturday. The low impact workouts were doing some good stuff for these creaky knees.

Saturday's run was a quick 12 miles down in Santa Monica. It took us a bit over 2 hours, and afterwards I didn't really feel like I did anything - meaning, I could have gone for another 20 (if forced to!). I took that as a good sign - the taper is working. After the run, I met up with my friend Brett, who was in town on business. We did the short Runyon Canyon hike and went out to breakfast. Another 3 miles of walking, and half of it uphill. I woke up a little surprised at how sore I was from the inclines.

But those were nothing compared with the Westridge Canyon run Sunday. 7 miles in the Santa Monica mountains. Moderate hills (nothing like Pt. Mugu in Malibu, but enough to get you breathing heavy). The schizophrenic weather produced a rainbow, a clear shot of the ocean and downtown (at once), heavy rain, fog and blue sky. All in the course of three hours. I love that trail. It's nice to get above Los Angeles and away from the people/traffic/smog/billboards of the city.

Today, Monday, has me resting. Tomorrow I'll be back at the gym for a swim/bike/run workout before work starts. The days are winding down, my nerves are starting to wind up. It's going to be a fun and nerve-racking experience up in Sacramento!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Promised Post - Many Updates

Once again my delinquency in not blog posting must be stopped. Here is the post that will do it! Below, you will read what has gotten me busy enough to suck away so much of my free time. But first…


After KP and I ran our first 30 miler a couple Saturdays ago, we had to run a 20 miler the following day. Our normal TNT Sunday practice was moved south to MDR. So we got up a little earlier and ran from Santa Monica to practice – approximately 11 miles.
Practice down at the Marina was beautiful, as you can see in these photos taken by our web captain Marvin.

With the team, I ran another 8 miles. I stuck to some of the groups than ran 11-12 min/mile paces because by that time, my legs were feeling pretty leaden. It was good training, though. I imagine that’s going to be a familiar feeling when we get on the race course in Sacramento.

After practice I jogged the final mile to brunch at Tony P’s Dockside CafĂ© Eggs never tasted so good.


On Saturday we finished our second and final 30 mile training run. This time around, we didn’t have to run a 20 Sunday. The schedule suggested it, but we decided it wasn’t necessary. Good thing, too, because my knees were really sore afterward. The long run went well. Hit up the gas station for a soda again midway through. And once again, Dr. Pepper was a lifesaver. Very refreshing, and very sugary.

I guess completing two 30s is as much confidence as I can give myself before this race. The schedule doesn’t recommend doing any more (and I’m not really jumping up and down to get any more training runs done). Now that those are “money in the bank” as they say, its time to focus on tapering.
Sunday turned into 11 miles with TNT in our usual spot. I walked about half of it with some of the walking participants. As always, it was nice to see some new faces and hear about others’ lives. Every has a different story – what they do for a living, how they started running, why they came to TNT. Storytelling makes the time go by.

Sunday brunch was great – reunited with two of my teammates, Brett and Lindsey, as well as my current teammate Maia. Got to hang out with them for a little before heading back to the valley.


Once I was on the road back home Sunday, I kept driving past my exit and over to Glendale. I signed up for 24 Hour Fitness membership, specifically to use their pool for aqua jogging. And I’ve been a member for only 3 days, but so far, I think I’ve gotten my (birthday present) money’s worth…

As we are in taper mode for this week and next, and because my “good knee” is now sore, I’ve taken time off from running since Sunday. In it’s place: Aqua Jogging, Stationary Bike, and Elliptical. For the past three mornings, and one more tomorrow, I have gotten up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am to drink coffee, get changed, and go to the gym. I work out for 1.5-2 hours in the pool and on the low-impact cardio stuff. After that, a shower and off to work, which happens to be only a couple miles away.

I am really liking the schedule. Getting into the pool at 5:15am to jog is oddly enjoyable and relaxing. It’s quiet. There are a couple people there swimming and doing aerobics. But for the most part, it’s calm. Meditative. Admittedly I am tired from getting up so early. But it’s put me back on my schedule of going to bed earlier. I don’t plan on keeping such a strict schedule (wake up / gym time) after the race. But for now, I’m digging it.

So pool workouts and low impact stuff for the rest of the week. Taper run of 12 miles Saturday and a mountain run Sunday will complete week 17 of the schedule.

I’ll try to be more diligent about posting next week!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brief Weekend Update

More on these later...but for now...

Last Weekend: 50 of 50 miles completed. The 20 on Sunday were a challenge, lead legs and all. But running down the marina was beautiful. Pictures to follow this afternoon.

Yesterday: Another 30 mile run completed! The last peak run of the training schedule. I wasn't sure I'd ever get to this point, but here I am! As prepared as one can be for the unknown distances ahead of me. More on this run, too, later.

This morning: I'm about to take off for TNT practice. The longest distance for today will be 10 miles for the San Diego runners. I expect to get somewhere between 10-12 miles running back and forth along the route with them. A lighter back-to-back than last week. Good thing, because my knees are a bit sore.

And after practice - a reunion with summer 08 teammates Linds and Brett for brunch!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

30 of 50 Miles Completed for the Weekend!

The first longest run of the training program is complete! 30 miles today with KP over in Santa Monica and Brentwood. We completed the run in 5:26:43. We started at 5:30am and finished right around 11am. Most importantly, for me - my knee survived!

The run was not without pain, for sure. My knee was hurting between miles 18-22. It was at this same point last week (24 miles) that my knee started to hurt a lot. We were at the exact same point in the route. The dread zone.

I contemplated turning around, but the appearance and disappearance of the pain was too unpredictable. I thought it might fade, which it did. The catalyst for the pain relief? Caffiene. At mile 21, we stopped at a corner Chevron. KP had a coke, I had a Dr. Pepper. I'm not a soda drinker by any stretch - I don't think I've had more than 2 cans of soda in the past 3 years. But in need of sugar and something non-fruity (I was getting sick of lifesavers and starbursts), I downed about 12 oz of soda.

Magic. Pure magic. My blood sugar rose, bring my pain tolerance and spirits with it. The remainder of the run (still 9 miles to the end!) went much, much better than those middle few.

After the run, I drove back, grabbed some groceries, called home and ate three bowls of cereal. I've been snacking all day, but my appetite waxes and wanes. Tomorrow we have 4 hours of running to do, or about 20 miles. Of those, 8 will be with our Team in Training group down in Marina del Ray. I'm excited to get back our there with the runners! I'm probably going to take it real easy and run with some of the groups I don't usually get to chat with. The other 12 miles we'll get before practice, or I will do on my own after practice. Either way, it's nice to be back in the swing of things!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Top of the Mountain, Sort Of...

Tomorrow is the longest run I've ever done. 30 miles. I'm nervous, but not for my endurance. More for my knee. I am wearing the brace today. Ran two short runs (3, 4.5) this week. But basically stayed off it. It feels good, but then again, it usually feels okay until I run long distances. I really hope this is the end of the semi-chronic pain for good.

We'll see.

In preparation for the run, the car will be stocked with pretzels, Teddy grams, Go Lean bars and Kashi chocolate-cherry granola bars. Gatorade for during the run. Endurox for after the run. We will hit the cars as aid stations three times before finishing the route.

My pack will be carrying electrolyte pills, starbursts and maybe a pack of shot blocks. Electrolyte-enhanced water as well.

Wearing long sleeves, shorts and a visor. Knee brace, kinesio tape. Weather will be from the 40s to 60s. Sunrise around 6:30am (about 6 miles into the run).

Nervous, yes. But excited too. I'll twitter immediate results post-run, with a longer blog post to follow.


And then another 20 miles on Sunday if my knee holds up. If not on the ground, then aqua jogging in the pool.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More About Kinesio Tape

My fingers are numb from holding a dixie cup of ice, making this post much harder to type...

But I thought I'd share with you my spiderman-esque web of leg wrapping to which I credit the reduction of swelling in my knee. (That sentence was not grammatically correct, I know). This stuff is Kinesio Tape.

Again to recap - my wonderful teammate Liz (who is a Physical Therapist) hooked me up with Kinesio Tape, this magical stuff that purports to take away swelling and improve circulation to injured areas. I had no choice but to be optimistic that this tape would work because I was that desperate.

Liz taped me up last Sunday, and I immediately felt a difference. I kept the tape on for four days (until last night). I knee was feeling much better.

Last night I went over to Marina Del Rey for strength training with team (which was a lot of fun. The Spectrum Club gym is unbelievable! I wish I lived closer!). Liz reapplied the tape (see pics above), I was sore through the training session but iced when I got home.

In the middle of the night I woke up with shooting pain in my knee. I fell back asleep, and woke up in the morning with no pain at all. Not even a twinge. Must have worked something out over night.

I was able to run this morning. Only 4.5 miles. Not the 9 I was hoping. But after icing just now, the leg is feeling pretty good.

Saturday is our longest run of the training schedule - 30 miles. I think I'm going to make it thanks to this tape and a Neoprene knee brace. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm going for a walk

I was able to complete 24 of the 27 miles of our long run saturday before my knee gave up. It just hurt a little too much so I turned back early. Sunday my knee was sore and I manned the water stop at practice with two of my teammates. Monday and Tuesday I have totally taken off from running. This morning I planned to try and run three miles, but my knee is still bothering me.

One of my teammates Kinesio-taped me up on Sunday and that has done wonders for the swelling. All of that swelling is basically gone. But there still is a bit of soreness around my kneecap and patellar tendon. I'm going to Strength and Conditioning practice down at Marina Del Rey tonight where I'm hoping to aqua jog and get re-kinesio taped. I bought an aqua jogging belt at lunch yesterday and I'm itching to try it out.

Since I'm not running this morning, I'm going to go for a walk. It beats sitting around and at least I get to listen to my ipod for a while before work. There is something very drab about going to work without the prospect of getting to move around for an hour before or after I'm at the office.

So a walk this morning, some upper body lifting tonight, and maybe some pool work. Still trying to heal up for Saturday's peak work out - 30 miles.