Thursday, January 31, 2008

Looking for Direction

Well - missed another day of training. Not really a big deal, because I'm in between training programs right now. I just don't want to fall out of the habit of running. I'm a little concerend becuase I'm going to have to miss today too due to some appointments in the late afternoon. I will definitely need to get back on track this weekend.

I am getting excited about my upcoming training program though. In a little over a week, I will be starting my Marathon Training Program with Cal Coast Track club. I do have some reservations about the program, but they win becuase of convenience. My concerns is that the program is a four day a week program - three days of running on my own, and then Saturday morning for a long group run. Most others I have seen are five day a week programs that meet multiple times per week. Cal Coast wins though becuase the workouts are 2 miles from home. I guess I'll learn more when I show up on the 9th.

Oh yeah - I still haven't made it very far in the Higdon book. I fell asleep last night around 7PM. Hmm.....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Few Days Off

Well - I'm back after a few days off. Had to take care of some family business up in Sacramento. I was planning on hitting the treadmill one day, and then back the next, but my business got me back to the hotel too late and too exhausted to hit the treadmill Saturday night, and I ended up not coming back home until late Monday.

So, today, back to the trails. Today I did a five mile easy run. I ran one of my least favorite trails - the East side of the Newport Back Bay. I started where Back Bay and East Bluff Rd. intersect, running an out and back south along the bay for 2 and a half miles. Now, to be sure, a lot of people like this trail, but I'm not a big fan of the trail. First, this trail is shared with bikes, runners, walkers, dogs, rollerblades, and cars. Second, it always seems like the wind is blowing. Today, I had a stiff headwind the whole way south. Of course, that means that the wind was to my back after the turnaround, but it is a de-motivator to me when I have the wind in my face for 2o minutes. Oh well.

Tomorrow I'm back to repeats. Talk to you then!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Well - I missed my entry yesterday - but I have an excuse! I was on a plane flying back home from New York. For all the grief that we get about traffic and smog and high housing prices here in Southern California, the water on the ground was liquid when I got off the plane last night.

Unlike my flight out, on this one my reading light worked. So, part way through the flight, I settled in and started on the latest Runner's World (February 2008). If you haven't bought yours yet, there are three articles that make it worthwhile. Two of the articles are about the horrendous summer that the running community suffered through - Chicago Marathon and the death of Ryan Shay. The third article is all about core strength with a number of exercises to build base strength and a number of more advanced exercises . I think I'm finally in good enough shape to start working my core, so for the next few weeks I will incorporate the base core strength exercises in my stretching and weight training days. Core strength should help me run better and be less tired after a long run. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Oh yeah - about the BRRRR!!!! I thought that being back home in Southern California would mean that I would be able to run in warm weather. Well, I went or my run this afternoon, 53 degrees, stiff wind blowing. BRRRR!!!! Colder than New Jersey - at least is sure felt like it. I put in my four miles and got into my car and out of the wind.

Tomorrow is a cross training day, so I think I'll get on an indoor rowing machine and row a few kilometers. Talk to you later!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Don't Understand Something.....

I don't understand how people who live in cold climates train in the winter. I just don't get it...

As you may know if you follow this blog, I am currently working in Northern New Jersey. Today it was quite seasonal - it warmed all the way up to 34 degrees! Most of us California types think that it is cold when it's 55 to 60! Today at the client site, I was talking to several employees about this conundrum. Turns out they were going to go running just because it was not that cold. Hmm. Crazy.

I did get back to my work out tonight. Ran my repeats. Mile warm up, 3X one mile at 10K pace (9:30), 4 minute walking rest in between, one mail warm down. All on a treadmill. Inside.....

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Reality of Making a Living

Well, I had to miss a run today. Chalk it up to having to make a living.

I'm on a business trip for the next couple of days. I was planning on getting to my hotel and hitting the treadmill, but after getting into the office at 4 AM, leaving for the airport at 7:30, getting on my flight at 11:30, getting to JFK at 8PM (Eastern Time), and finally to my hotel in New Jersey at 10PM, I just didn't have the energy to put on the shorts and put in the miles. Oh well.

Seems like not much is going per plan today. I thought I would have an opportunity to start reading the book that I picked up last weekend - "Marathon The Ultimate Training Guide" by Hal Higdon. But wouldn't you know it? I settled in with my book in my seat, and my reading light didn't work! I still tried to get started, but the gentle rocking of the plane, the twilight darkness, and getting to bed late and up early conspired against me. Time to saw a few logs.

I hope to get the book started tomorrow. I'll let you know how it is. For now, I think I'll grab a salad and watch the Lakers...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Long Run

Today was my first long run since the half marathon. My training plan was to run 60 to 75 minutes at an easy pace.

As I do on most days when I have long runs on my plan, I decided to get the trail shoes and mosey down the coast to Crystal Cove State Park. I decided to deviate from the plan and run a loop within El Moro Canyon. Today I did a longer loop (shown in blue on the map) that shared parts of a loop that I had described in an earlier blog entry. This run is a toughie for me because of the uphills. I took off from the Visitor Center/Parking Lot and made my way to the Big F***ing Incline. One thing for sure - I'm definitely not able to run up this trail. Based on the elevation profile from my Garmin Forerunner, the climb is about 670 feet in about one mile. Definitely a sweat maker. From there, there are a few rolling hills along Moro Ridge, but the climb continues to the high point on the trail at 4.25 miles. At that point, the elevation is 1023 feet, for a total elevation gain of 990 feet in 4 and a quarter miles. The reward are sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean a thousand feet and five miles below you.

The next part of the trail is called Missing Link, a single track that goes along the back fence of the park. The thing that makes this tough is dodging the hordes of mountain bikers on nice days like today. About a mile on this piece of trail, and it's downhill on Slow and Easy. This is the long route to the bottom of El Moro Canyon. A trail called Elevator is the short way down, but this trail is so steep and slippery in places that I find it difficult to come down. At the six mile point, you find yourself down in the bottom of El Moro Canyon. From there, stands of oak and sycamore provide shade for the next mile. During wetter times, there is a bubbling stream that runs next to the trail. Drought the past few years has relegated the stream to a few stagnant pools here and there.

The final two miles are along the bottom of El Moro Canyon. A few uphills here and there, but the majority of the trail is flat, right up to half a mile from the parking lot, where a 140 foot gain in half a mile awaits as the final indignation before reaching the car. At that point, I am almost always in a walking mood. Especially today - after 8 plus miles, I didn't have it in me to hoof my way up the hill - so a final walking push, and back to the car! Whew! It actually felt good to put in the miles today.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

First Tempo Run Since the Half

Today was my first tempo run since the half marathon a couple of weeks ago. For those not familiar with a tempo run, it is a training cycle where you take the amount of time you are supposed to run and split it into thirds. The first third is an easy run. The second third is at some prescribed pace faster than the first third, and the final third at an easy warm down pace. I am still learning, but my understanding is that a tempo run is supposed to assist building anaerobic threshold(lactate threshold). If so, then I need to pick up my second third.

Today's run was a 30 minute tempo run, with the second third at my half marathon pace. I picked it up a little during the middle third. And - something seems to be working. I checked my training log and found the last time I did a 30 minute tempo run, I was only able to go about 2.5 miles. Today, I managed to make it over 3 miles (3.15) without really pushing too hard. Whew!

Also, I went out Friday night and got a book that I am going to start reading - Hal Higdon's Marathon book. I'll give some reports as I get going with the book.

Yesterday's Blog

Sorry. I did say I was going to blog yesterday. But, I had a rare chance to go out to dinner with my wife (and no one else), so I took advantage of the situation and enjoyed some great conversation and good food.

We decided to go to a restaurant that we like, but don't get a chance to get to because it usually gets poo poo'ed by our kids. The restaurant is called The Bamboo Bistro and is located in Corona del Mar. It is an Americanized Thai-Vietnamese restaurant. If you are looking for authentic Thai or Vietnamese food, this isn't your place. I think the best way to categorize the food is "California style" Vietnamese and Thai food. The flavors are what you would expect, but the menu makes extensive use of vegetables, white meat chicken, lean beef, and seafood for some unique appetizers and entrees. For example, they have a vegetable crepe that is absolutely fantastic! It is a GIGANTIC crepe, filled with fresh mushrooms, bean sprouts and shrimp. The crepe is garnished with fresh vegetables (lettuce leaves, mint, herbs) and comes with a lemon grass dressing/dip on the side. It is absolutely fantastic!

My wife finished off with a chicken pho made with slices of lean white chicken, and I had a tofu salad, tofu browned in a garlic sauce and served on a bed of greens with a lemon grass dressing. What a way to finish off a week!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Three Mile Easy Run

Today was a three mile easy run day. According to my training plan, I was not supposed to break a sweat. I gotta be honest - if I'm awake, I'm going to sweat.

I still tried to take it easy. Today I started out along the the western side of Upper Newport Bay. There are a number of paved trails that run along the bay that allows cyclists and runners to ply their ware without traffic. Unless of course, you are talking about the traffic caused by the runners and cyclists. Today was also a day that I wished I had a camera to share the sights with you. It was a crystal clear Southern California day. The temperature was in the low 60s, bright sun, dry offshore wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Great day to take in an easy three miles.

Well, tomorrow is a rest day. I think I'll introduce you to my wrist GPS thingy.

Repeats - New to Me

Sorry about not updating last night. Just ran out of gas as the evening got on.

Today's workout was a new one for me - repeats. Falling into my normal rut, I took off north from the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC), climbed the hill and was on my way.

My workout involved a one mile warmup, then one mile at "race pace" followed by a four minute walking rest repeated three times, and wrapping the whole thing up with a slow mile warm down. My race pace is supposed to be a 10:04, but I find that at that pace I just too slow to get my heart rate up to 75% max. So yesterday, I ran my miles at 9:15, 9:30 and 9:20. I never said I was a speed demon, but I'm pretty pleased considering where I was 6 months ago. The thing that really amazes me is how weekend warriors can go out and run 8 minute miles for 26 miles. I understand how the elite runners do it, but I really look up to those folks who, while holding down a day job, manage to get themselves into good enough shape to be able to run 3 hour marathons. Oh well - gives me something to work toward.

Today is supposed to be an easy three miler, so I'm sure I'll hit the weight room afterwards for some light lifting. Talk to you later!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back to a Normal Schedule

Today was the first day back on a normal running schedule. It was my normal easy 3 mile Tuesday. I remember when first starting the training program this was a 45 minute ordeal. These days it's less than half an hour.

I've also fallen into a bit of a rut. During the week, I always seem to work out in the same places. It's driven a great deal by convenience. My youngest son rows at the Newport Aquatic Center every afternoon, so it's convenient for me to run there and then stretch and do some weights afterwards while I wait for him to finish. That's the program today. The only bummer of running at the NAC is that whether I go north or south, there's a large hill that I need to climb to get out of the place. Oh well - I guess I get a little hill work in too.

By the way - does anyone have a good resource for a weight program for runners?

Tomorrow a new workout - repeats. Catch you then!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Short Training Session Today

Today is slated to be a short cross training day on my recovery program. So I think I will visit the Newport Aquatic Center and get back on the erg machine.

Erging, or rowing on an indoor rowing machine, is possibly the best aerobic exercise and full body workout that there is. It is purely non-impact and utilizes every major muscle group. The rowing machine that most use is the Model D from Concept 2 (

Most people think that rowing is a matter of upper body pulling the handle as hard as you can. But, in reality, rowing is all about pushing as hard as you can with your legs. There aren't too many rowers that I see with legs that are not as big as oak trees.

So today, I'll strap the iPod on, and row 4 or 5 kilometers. See you later!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Training Alone - Again

Today's run was supposed to be a one hour easy run with the rest of my training group to rehash and relive last week's half marathon. So, I climbed in my car, and did my one hour training run, alone, in El Moro.

If anything, that is my beef with the way that I trained for the half marathon. It was me. Sometimes I had my shadow along, but otherwise, I had no one to share my hours of running with. Now, on the short runs during the week, that was fine. But, as my long runs got longer, I would be lying if I said that there wasn't some drudgery involved. So, this time, I am going to look for a training group to run with, especially on the long runs.

I've done a bit of scouting for training groups around here, and being in Orange County I actually have several options. I think though, the one that I will try is the Cal Coast Track Club. First and foremost, it's close. They run out of Corona del Mar High School, less than 2 miles away. Also, I have some personal experience with the guy who runs the group - Coach Bill Sumner. My oldest son ran Cross Country at CdM as a Freshman. Of all of the sporting programs that I have been involved in at the High School (one daughter and two sons), Coach Sumner's Cross Country program was by far the most positive experience that any of my kids had in athletics. He was a constant positive force. The goal of the program wasn't to win, but to make sure that you made a personal best each time you went out and ran a race. Even if it was only one second. There was constant socialization and team building. Compared to the other experiences I have had there, his team is far ahead of most of the other programs. I do have some concerns though. His program is rather high priced. I am also a little concerned about the "typical" Newport Beach runner. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Back to today's run, though. Today was one of those days that we live for in Southern California. Sunny, warm, dry breeze blowing, not a cloud in the sky, 70 degrees. Perfect running weather. Today's time was a little slow, but that's because I decided to run on the ridge top. So, I took off in the canyon, and in a mile and a half, reached the "East Cut Across". East Cut Across is a little longer than a mile, and takes you from near sea level to the top of El Moro Rodge at about 800'. Needless to say, there wasn't much running for me up the trail. Along the ridge though, I got to enjoy views past Catalina Island, Santa Cruz Island, and the breaking waves hundreds of feet below. I need to get a cheapo camera to spice up these blog entries with some pics. I then got to run down "BFI" (the Park's brochure calls this trail Big Fat Incline - don't believe them. I heard that it's really called Big F***ing Incline by the locals) and back to the parking lot to finish my 4.9 mile run for the day.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

El Moro Canyon

Today was a 3 mile easy run on the recovery program. So I laced up my trail shoes and headed over to one of my favorite places to run - El Moro Canyon. El Moro is a beautiful canyon on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway on the border of Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar. It is part of Crystal Cove State Park.

I realize how lucky I am to be in Southern California. There are many places to run and the weather is always decent. But, sometimes I just want to run off the pavement and away from traffic. El Moro is one of my favorite places to do that.

Today's run was three miles (an out and back) in the lower canyon. Unfortunately, the majestic part of the canyon is back a little more than 3 miles back, so I didn't get among the oaks and sycamores. But the rolling fog banks, mist, smells and sights made it a good break from the bicycle trails and traffic of my normal runs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Training Program

I have to admit - I was a real newby a year ago when it came to training programs. Especially in running. I had always thought that to train you needed to run as fast as you could as far as you could. I think that is why I never enjoyed running as a teenager. My coaches (basketball and tennis) had us run farther and faster to "become more fit." Puke puke!

I learned about actual training plans early last year. When I first decided that I needed to do something about my weight and fitness, I started rowing at the Iron Oarsman ( ), an indoor rowing studio run by Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Xeno Muller. After rowing for a while, I started attending a class run a couple times a week by one of Xeno's assistants, Luis Rubio Tapia. Luis was a member of the Mexico National Rowing Team, having competed at the World Championships the previous year. Luis would bring a different program to the studio each night we rowed. He was quite adamant that I didn't row as hard as I could and that I follow his plan. When I asked why, he started explaining that the purpose of each workout was different. As certain times we would work on building aerobic base. At other times, we would work on strength. At other times on speed. It was all part of the overall "Training Plan" that he had for us. He went on to explain that if I deviated from that plan, I would not reap the benefits of all of the hard work. Under his tutelage, I started seeing real weight loss and conditioning results. I still chalked it up more to my hard work and less to the training plan.

My next exposure to training plans was when i started running. Remember when I mentioned that running would mean I could buy one of those wrist GPS gizmos? Guess what? While setting up my Forerunner, I decided to try out one of the commercial websites being advertised to track my training results. So, I tried out Training Peaks ( ). The more I started using Training Peaks, the more I was impressed with some of the functions and features of the product. Among the cooler features is a training calendar which allowed my to start planning my workouts. Once planned, I could then use the calendar to update my Garmin with my weeks worth of workouts. What? Sounds like a Training Program to me! As I dug further, I found that there were several commercially available training programs that, when purchased, could be loaded directly into Training Peaks. I started looking and found that there were programs available that could help me prepare for the half marathon! So, why not? I downloaded and used the Hal Higdon Intermediate Half Marathon program.

My next 12 weeks were following the program. I noticed that my times started getting better and I just felt less tired at the end of a race. And, you know what? I was training less, running less. I think the real key is that in 12 weeks of training with long runs up to 13 miles, I suffered no injuries! A little soreness, but no injuries to speak of. Maybe there is something to this stuff!

So, I'm now off to try a marathon (jeez...) and am in search of a good training program. One of the downsides of an online training program is the loneliness of the long runs. Sure, an ipod can keep some company, but after about 8 or 9 miles, it would be great to have someone else to share the experience with. There are several options around where I live, but I think I'll give Cal Coast a try. More on that later....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The First Day Back

Today was my first day back at running since running the Half on Sunday. According to my training program, I was supposed to run a nice easy 2 miler. I was eager to get back to running, and decided that running along the trail at Crystal Cove State Park along the ocean would provide some good scenery. I started work pretty early this morning, so decided to shut things down in the late afternoon and headed over to Reef Point. I strapped on my GPS, put on my new Sauconys and did my little jog.

I have purchased another Hal Higdon training plan - a five week marathon recovery program. I have found that his programs are pretty reasonable from a physical perspective. The one thing that know with the last program, in 12 weeks my times and physical condition seemed to improve quite a bit. In fact, today I ran the 2 miles without my heart rate going over 150, and did it at less than 10 minutes per mile. Compared to where I started back last July, I think that is progress.

In fact, one of the problems that I am running into now is that 10 minute easy mile seems soooo ssssllllloooowwww. Every time I run now, I have an urge to go faster. That was my problem this past weekend. The one thing I learned this past weekend in the Half is best summed up in an old adage I learned in my days with Andersen Consulting, "Plan the work and then work the plan." My plan this past weekend was to run 10 minute miles. This would have put me at 2:10 for my first half marathon. Instead - what did I do? How about 8:42 a mile for three miles. I slowed to 10 for the next three, but it was downhill from there. By the time I got to mile 11, my legs felt like they were full of lead. In fact, the thing that was amazing at mile 12 was even though my heart rate was a steady 160, my legs did not want to move! I was really shocked that I needed to almost tell them to pump to get me to the finish. That is what I was alluding to in yesterday's blog entry. If you stuck to your plan then you most certainly passed me in the last mile and a half. I was the guy in the long sleeved blue shirt barely moving. The result was a 2:24 instead of my target 2:10. I had read about this happening, but I felt so good at the start, I really thought I was in much better shape that I was in. Thank God I didn't run the marathon!

Speaking of the marathon, I am committed at this point. For all of the grief that the OC Marathon gets, it was a great experience! There is no way that I would have run 13 miles six months ago! I now have a total of four races under my belt - the Harbor Heritage 5K, Tustin Dinosaur Dash 5K, Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K and the OC Half Marathon. Next stop - the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon in June! Right now I am searching for a good training program to get me there. More about that tomorrow....

The Title

Well folks, sorry about not making it in last night, but I think Sunday's run finally caught up to me. I pretty much had trouble keeping my eyes open after last afternoon, so I hit the sack early last night and had a good sleep.

So back to the topic at hand - you may be asking "What's with the title?" Well, let me explain. It all started about 2 years ago.... Oh sorry - that's a different movie. Actually, it really did start a couple of years ago. I was noticing that things had been fitting tight for a few years, but I was at the point that I was getting winded walking up the stairs to my office. I had always been an active type of person when younger. Never much of an athlete, but really found my peace strapping on a backpack and walking 20, maybe 30 miles a day.

Then came marriage, kids, and lo and behold, the professional lifestyle. Strapped to my chair in front of my computer, I literally went 20 years without any exercise or diet program. I had fallen into the entrapments of the good life. I went from my high school weight of 130, to my college weight of 160 to my high point at 260 lbs! I decided to do something about it. (Then, six months later finally did).

Now, I never really liked running. So guess what? My first step was not running. Instead, I had a daughter who was rowing in high school at the time and a son who was interested. So, I got him off his butt and started out on an Indoor Rowing machine at The Iron Oarsman, a Costa Mesa based indoor rowing studio run by Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Xeno Muller. If you live in Orange County and have never been to Xeno's, you don't know what you are missing. Xeno is truly one a of a kind motivator. He knows how to make exercise truly enjoyable. Slowly I started working my way back to physical fitness. But the best part was - I was enjoying the sweat! The pounds started coming off, muscle tone started appearing, and I was no longer huffing and puffing to walk up a flight of stairs. Slowly I started amassing the meters on the ergometer. First a million, then on to two million. Drop from 260 to 230 to 220. Wow! Feeling good again!

With all of the rowing, there was only one thing missing. A little competition. I have always been a competitive person - not so much against others, but against my own goals. So, I set out on my own competition - to climb Mt. Whitney and get back down in one day. I continued slogging through the hours and kilometers on the ergometer. But alas it was not to be. I was finding that my work and family schedule along with the unavailability of wilderness permits was working against me. So, I started looking for something that was doable, close to home that would be a physical and mental stretch. Say - what about a marathon!?!?! I started reading about the trials and tribulations of runners that had finished. About hitting the wall. About finding the port a potty before it found you. The more I read, the more I thought that I found that challenge that I was looking for. Besides - if I did a lot of running I would be able to buy one of those wrist sized GPS toys.....

But, baby steps first right? So I thought maybe I should try a half marathon. Living in Orange County, the OC Half looked like something that was close and challenging. So I decided that that was it. Off to train. By this point, my youngest son was busy becoming an elite junior rower, so I had some idea that you can't get to a high level of performance without a training program. I bought Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program. I went to my local Road Runner sports and was fitted with a pair of shoes. My first steps on the running trail took place on July 11, 2007, my daughter's 19th birthday. Six miles, one hour and 18 minutes. I was unimpressed.

Now, while I was figuring out that this running stuff was for me, I unfortunately managed to put a few pounds back on. So, here I stand at the start of my program. 50 years old, 5' 11", 230 lbs. The running fat guy. But I continued and put my nose to the grindstone. And you know what? Last Sunday I finished the OC Half Marathon. I hope you didn't blink though, you may have passed me as you did. But you know what? I got my medal! I got my finish! And, I got my next goal. I am hopelessly hooked! That's my next story.....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hello World!

Well - that's how us computer guys learned how to program. It doesn't matter what language you are learning, "Hello World" is always your first program.

This is my first time in the blog world, so I thought that I would start with my own "Hello World". So there - "Hello World".

I will be making this my daily diary of, as the blog title says - the Running Fat Guy. I am hoping that eventually I can change the title of the blog - at least that is what I am being led to believe.

So here goes - today was day 2 off day after the OC Half Marathon. I am a lot less sore and stiff than I was yesterday, but I am glad to get the rest. I did retire my old Asics Gel Kayanos today. They were *really* comfortable to start with, but I think my 220 lbs and 200 miles took their toll. For the last couple or three weeks of my half marathon training program I suffered the toll of shin splints. I just think that the midsoles have worn out. So off to my local (actually not so local) running store to try shoes to find a worthy replacement. I had purchased my old shoes at the Costa Mesa Road Runner Sports. They seem to do a good job, but I was a little disappointed at how quickly the shoes wore out, especially since they were the most expensive in the place. So today, I decided I would try out the Fountain Valley Snail's Pace running shop. I got to try out many shoes and settled on a pair of Saucony ProGrid Hurricanes. I'll let you know how these do as I tack on the miles starting in a couple of days.

Well - time for the sack. Tomorrow is another rest day, so tune in for a little about my background and why I am The Running Fat Guy.....