Saturday, January 31, 2009

Getting Better (?)

Well - maybe. I should be out running my 12 mile LSD run. Instead, I'm still lounging around (actually taking care of some chores) at 8:30 Saturday morning. I had the intention of getting out at 7 with us left over Cal Coast runners (those not doing Surf City tomorrow). But I hit the hay early last night (9 ish), and other than one coughing fit that woke me around 3, and shutting my alarm off at 4:45, I didn't "wake" until 6:30. By the time I got my cup o' joe into me, it was too late to make it out the door to meet up at the normal time. I hope this means that I am getting better (?).

Yesterday was a scheduled rest day, but I still got out for some walking around a wonderful place near Downtown L.A. Another college visit! This time we headed toward Downtown L.A. (about a 40 mile drive) to the University of Southern California. Unlike our family's UC Irvine legacy, I am the only one with a degree from USC (MBA 1986). This was my favorite school I attended (three all together - UCI, Cal Poly Pomona, and USC). I had forgotten how clean and manicured the campus was! The interesting thing was of the three schools that we have toured in the last couple of weeks, USC came out #3 on both my son's and daughter's lists. Oh well - at least I'll have some financial relief. Guess I'll have to continue buying football tickets.

After our tour (and another hour walking around checking things like OJ Simpson's Heisman and jersey), we headed into Downtown for some lunch. I forgot how much I miss being in Downtown! Right after receiving my grad degree, I worked in Downtown L.A. for about 3 years with a major Management Consulting firm. Granted, L.A. is not a Manhattan or a Chicago, but it is still alive during the day! Anyways, we headed through Downtown past Chinatown to Union Station where our lunch awaited us at Philippe. For those of you who are uninitiated, Philippe's is the birthplace of the French Dip. Philiipe's just celebrated it's 100th anniversary in Los Angeles. If you are ever in Downtown (Chinatown/Olvera Street actually), Philippe's is a must stop for a great french dip. Repeat after me - "Beef double dip with Swiss, cole slaw, pickle and a Diet Coke please." For you Easterners, that would be like "Wiz wit, Cheese Fries. Diet Coke." At least we only need to go to one window to order everything. Plus - you notice what we end our order with (ha ha! Just kidding!)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cough Hack Wheeze (Round 2)

Well, I thought I was getting better. Yesterday started out great. Worked until about noon, and then went on another college campus tour with my kids (I have a daughter who is looking to transfer to a local school and a son who is a high school junior). The goal here is to expose my son to as many colleges as possible over the next few months so that he has some ideas about what he likes and dislikes in a campus.

In that vein, last weekend we toured UCLA, about a hour's drive from home. Yesterday it was UC Irvine, about a four mile drive from home. For those of you who may not have heard about UC Irvine, it is a medium size school (about 22,000 students) and one of the 10 University of California campuses. They are one of the more selective UC campuses, with an average incoming class GPA of about 3.9 and an SAT of around 1800. Not UCLA or Cal or UCSD, but still respectable. My family has a long legacy at UCI. I graduated with my BS in Biological Sciences (1979), my wife with her BA in Economics (1981) and MBA (1983), and my middle son is a freshman Civil Engineering major there. We are a family of Anteaters!

After our campus tour, I came home with every intention of running. Next thing I know, I was coughing and hacking again! Unfortunately I think my cold has progressed to mild bronchitis. Between the coughing and allergies brought on by the Santa Ana winds (yeah it was 80* at 4PM yesterday), I ended up falling asleep on the couch. When I woke, it was dark outside. I was a little sore from from my previous days' runs, sore from coughing so much, and tired, so I convinced myself to take a day off. I'm hoping that two days in a row (yesterday and today) will help....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

SportTracks Software

Since my four mile run yesterday went along uneventfully (10:13 pace, 80% MHR), I thought I would spend today's blog highlighting SportTracks - the software that I use as my training diary.

Like most Garmin owners, I started out using Garmin Training Center (GTC). I was in heaven to be able to record a workout and then analyze data afterwards. There is nothing that keep me more motivated than looking at improvement over time. So - everything was going just fine in GTC until I bought a new computer running Vista. All of a sudden, GTC stopped working (actually still worked but would not save new data - that's another story though). I started looking for options. At the time I was also using an online service at Training Peaks, but didn't feel that it was worth the expense ($129 a year on a subscription basis). So as I was poking around, there were a bunch of people on the Runner's World Gear and Electronics forum talking about this software called SportTracks. What I found was a piece of software that does everything that I was using GTC for (with one exception) and then some. There's been no looking back.

SportTracks is a software application that is available at ZoneFive Software. It is not an online product. It is a product that runs on your computer (as does GTC). This is important if you want the portability of an online product. Since I always have my computer close by, having an online product is not was not important to me. The other important requirement is that it is only PC compatible (sorry Mac owners!). Downloading and installation is effortless. Best of all, the product is free (although the publishers welcome donations).

Now, I'm not going to go through all of the functions and features of the product - you can get that from ZoneFive's website. But I will go through those that were important to me. First, the user interface is very nice. Clean, simple, yet provides all of the important data that I wanted to see:

Changing a view is as simple as selecting from a drop down:

For example, changing from a summary view to a split view is as easy as selecting the "Splits" view from the drop down:

Now for the really cool stuff. One of the issues that I always had is that the way I want to perform a workout is different from the way I want to track data. For example, if I have a 12 mile 3/1 LSD (3/4's of the run at LSD pace, 1/4 at HM pace), I need feedback from my watch on pace for the first 9 miles and the last 3 miles. But, in GTC, to view mile splits, I would have to set AutoIntervals on the Garmin. This means that pace data would reset each mile as well. Well, the cool thing with SportTracks, is that I am able to capture data on the Garmin using one set of criteria, and then analyze the data using different criteria! Take for example, the aforementiond 12 mile LSD. Here is the way pace data comes into SportTracks from my Garmin:

Then, by just changing the split criteria through a simple drop down:

I get what I am looking for - pace by mile:

As you can see, this product is a very full featured rich product that anyone with a Garmin should be using. Check it out if you are looking for something that provides a wealth of data analysis tools.
The only caveat - the only thing that the product does not do is allow you to upload workouts to your Garmin. There is a "plugin" that supposedly allows you to do this, but I have yet to get the time to check it out. IN the meantime, I still rely on GTC to build and enter workouts into my Forerunner.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Six Mile Jog

Oh - and here's my right lung. If I coughed up one lung Monday night, then I sure left the other one last night! My run went off without a hitch. I kept things slow (10:28 pace, 81% MHR). I'm getting impatient because I want to run faster, but after a month off, I keep bringing myself back to the fact that I'm not where I was last December. Grrr. And, in actuality, after looking at the data from my Garmin, I'm not all that far back from where I was last month.

Just when I thought you couldn't teach an old dog (and I'm getting older by the day) new tricks, I learned yesterday how to edit data from my Garmin. Every now and then, I forget to turn my Garmin off when I'm done. When I download my watch into SportTracks, I end up with a map that has a long straight line from finish to home! In the past, I didn't know how to get rid of the data, so I would just manually enter the run. But last night I figured it out!

First thing is to download the data from your Garmin to SportTracks. Select the run that you need to edit from your Daily Activity pane. Then, select "Edit Activity" and "Split" from the submenu:

The next window is a windows where you actually split your activity into two parts. I *always* look at my watch when I finish a run. I knew that my finish time last night was 1:02.21. So, I slid the slider control until the time aligned:

This edit control will split your workout into two pieces. So, the last thing to do is to delete the second portion workout that was created:

I had to check the calories and have SportTracks recalculate those, but I was left with a map and data that looked like my run!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Four Mile Monday

Does that title sound familiar? I was able to get things rolling yesterday. Finally. Got four miles in on the bluff above the ocean at Crystal Cove. Overall pace was a little slow (10:15) but included a bathroom break. Heart rate was right on at 80% MHR. As usual, the views were fantastic the whole run!

After my run, I stopped for a while, coughed up a lung, and then made it to the gym for some stretching and core work. The core workout I've adopted was the one in this month's Runner's World magazine. If you are interested, the workout is here.

This morning my lower abs are *sore*! But it was good to get out again. Today will be an easy six miler around the Upper Back Bay.

Finally - I want to thank all that have sent their get well wishes. The Running Gods have not been nice since about the middle of December. The last good run that I got in without pain was right after Thanksgiving. Right now I'm still trying to shake this cold, my lower abs are screaming, and my right groin is a little sore. I am *happy* that I have decided to not try for a spring marathon. I think I need to just put in some slow and steady miles and strengthen everything up a little!

Here's my plan for the rest of this week:
  • Today: 6 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 4 miles easy
  • Thursday: 6 miles easy
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 12 miles easy
  • Sunday: 4 miles recovery

That will put me at 36 this week. I'm going to be like the tortoise - slow and easy....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

(Cough Hack Wheeze) Food Diary Software

That's the way I'm sounding right now. I'm feeling better than yesterday afternoon, but I'm kind of like the economy - in a definite downturn. There is no way that I can put on a pair of shoes and hit the trail. Kind of a shame because the weather is perfect for running - cool, wet and drizzly. Oh well.

That gives me some time and space here to talk about my real reason for running - weight loss! I've been at this running thing for a little over a year and a half now and have dropped about 20 pounds in that time. I am sitting at 220 plus or minus a couple of pounds. I've come a long way from tipping the scales at 260, but I would really like to drop below 200 by the end of this year, and get back close to my college weight of 185 by the end of next year. I know that I'm putting in the miles and doing the calorie burning to attack one side of the equation, so that means that I need to attack the intake side to get serious about this.

For the past couple of months, I 've been using Fit Day on and off. I found that the type of reports and feedback are excellent. But the results weren't. I think it was because the data entry became arduous, and as a result, I became lazy entering my food intake.

Here are some of the pluses of Fit Day:
  1. Web version is totally free.
  2. Report feedback is phenomenal. Single click to see calorie deficit for the day or caloric breakdown (carbs, protein, fat) for the day.

  3. Food database is *huge* (this also works as a minus)

Here are some of the things I found to be a minus to Fit Day:

  1. Food database is *huge*. Enter "bread" and you get 10 pages of breads to review to enter.

  2. I found that it took me longer to navigate my way through the food database than I anted to spend.
  3. The food diary is not broken down by meal. I know this is a personal preference, but I find the Spark People report much easier to review.
  4. I have to go too many places to view the important data. Food intake on one screen, caloric breakdown on another screen, calorie deficit on yet a third

I think if you are going to be obsessive about enterring all your food in in the exaqct quantities you are eating, Fit Day can be an invaluable tool. But, if you spend time eating at restaurants and doing a lot of travel, Fit Day makes it tough to enter foods in the food diary. Not becuase they aren't there, but because of the size of the databse itself! I also like the more intuiotive interface of Spark People. It may not provide all of the data as accurately and in depth as FitDay does, but on one screen I can see what I need to see, quickly. So, starting tomorrow, I am going to switch back to Spark People. I am going to attack the intake side of the equation and drop 20 pounds this year.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Running Gods are Not Being Nice

Well, as if I haven't had enough going on, I'm down with a pretty nasty cold. I spent some time at a poker table yesterday, and by the time I left I was hacking it up pretty good. I got home in time to don my running clothes and go out for a run, but it was dark and a little cool outside, and with my coughing I decided I would be better served to stay in than to try to force something that would provide little benefit to me (other than to burn a few calories). So, I settled in and watched the Lakers on TV. I'm feeling worse today than yesterday with a lot of coughing, so I'm sure I'm going to be resting today as well.

Heck, I think I'll just hold off until Monday. Saturday morning I'm taking my kids on a tour of UCLA (youngest is a High School Junior this year and needs to start seeing different colleges, and my oldest wants to transfer there). Besides, I want to make sure I'm feeling better when I get started, and the weather outside today certainly won't help in my current state.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back to It (Again)

Well, I'm home from my travels. I was able to get out a day early. It's time to get back to my other hobby - running.

Now that I've put my spring marathon on hold, I need to set a goal race and get back on a training plan. I think I will set the weekend of May 3 as the weekend for my goal race. There are two local races that week - the OC Half/Full and the Cinco de Mayo Half. I'm going to use the Higdon Advanced Half Marathon plan again - it seemed to work pretty well before. Plugging in my goal date of May 3, I need to get things started on the week ending February 15. That means that I have about 3 weeks to shake off the cobwebs.

So, for the next three weeks, I'll fall back on my schedule that I had written about before here:

Mondays and Wednesdays - 4 miles with some core work and stretching afterwards.
Tuesdays and Thursdays - 6 miles
Saturday - 12 mile LSD
Sunday - 4 mile recovery

This puts me at 30 mpw to start me training with! So, today will be 6 miles! If it's not raining!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ski Weekend!

Well, I'm back from my little blogging hiatus. Yes - I did spend a wonderful weekend in Mammoth skiing. No, I didn't run.

The weather was absolutely fabulous. A little warm for skiing, but bright and sunny all around. The snow was great. The only thing that was disconcerting was the lack of people. Not from my own selfish perspective, but for the economy of the area. This is an area that lives and dies by tourism. And this is the way the streets looked on this three day weekend:

On the plus side, we had plenty of skiing/snowboarding:

Mammoth is a large mountain - one of the largest ski areas in the United States. I used to go up once a month in college. The terrain is so widely varied that I never got tired of skiing the mountain:

Since having the kids though, I've only been skiing a few times. And my daughter is 20! I think after this weekend, we'll be making a couple of trips a year up here!

Monday I climbed into another aluminum tube and have been in wonderful Farmington NM for the past couple of days. Last night I got of the plane in Durango Colorado where it was a brisk 20*. I am hearing about how it's 80 back home. Can't wait until I'm back on Thursday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Going Skiing!


Put in six more miles last night. Even though the pace was slow (10:17), heart rate was 81% MHR. I put in two miles in the 9:45 range, mile 1 and mile 5. Mile 4 (with a wicked uphill) is what put the overall pace in the tank. I am happy that I've put 4 days in a row this week for a total of 20 miles. By the end of yesterday's run I started feeling like I was running again.

I'm off on a weekend ski trip this afternoon. Mammoth Mountain is the closest big ski area to Los Angeles - about a 6 hour drive to the north. It is a world class ski mountain, although the resort/town leaves a little to be desired. It will be interesting because this will be the first time I've been skiing in at least 5 years. I used to be a once a week skier in college, but with kids, sports, etc., skiing quickly dropped off the list of things to do. I'm hoping all this running over the last couple of years has left me in better shape and a little stronger when I hit the slopes.

The interesting thing about Mammoth is it is the home of quite a running community. It is at an elevation (about 6000 feet) that is conducive to altitude training. In fact, Team Running USA is located in Mammoth. Runners like Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall and Meb Keflizigi live and train in Mammoth. In fact, Deena Kastor's husband is heading up an interval run for the local running club on Saturday! The weather this weekend is supposed to be absolutely fabulous. Temperatures are going to be in the low 50's (yes - typical ski weather for California) and the skies sunny and clear. Maybe instead of skiing on Saturday....... (Yes - I am taking my running gear)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Four More Under the Belt

This is actually becoming boring. I'm glad I'm using this blog as my running diary, otherwise I would skip today.

Got in four miles late in the evening yesterday. Nothing outstanding or spectacular. Did manage to hold a sub 10:00 pace with an average heart rate of 151 bpm (81% MHR). So that was good. After my run I made it to the gym to do some stretching and core work. That was also good, since it's been a while since the last time I hit the gym (I used to hit the gym at least twice a week before my injury). The other good news is that I've lost all the weight I put on over the holidays. So, all I need is for everything else to catch up! I know, I know - patience....

The plan for today is a six mile easy run. After that my structured running will be done for a week or so. I'm taking my kids to Mammoth for skiing this weekend, and then next week I'll be in Farmington NM for business. I'll be updating sporadically while I'm gone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Postponing my Next Marathon

I'm into day 2 of getting back into things. I continue to be really surprised how much I've lost in speed and fitness over the last month. The last time I was off for any extended period of time was right after my bike accident. I came back from that injury by using a Hal Higdon Spring Training Plan to get me into shape.

This time it was a 3 to 4 week layoff for my hip strain. I had a six mile run scheduled yesterday. I don't know if it was the Half that I ran on Saturday, the heat and dryness in the air, or lack of fitness, but I *really* struggled. I ended up finishing the six miles at an average pace of 10:15. My heart rate was right in the zone most of the run (80% MHR). But my breathing was labored and the run was just plain tough! This morning my quads are tired and my lower abs are sore.

One thing for sure, at this level of fitness, I really think that it would be too much too soon to put a May marathon in my sights. A bunch of folks from the Runner's World California forum are going to run the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon at the end of May, and I was looking forward to join them for an FE (Forum Encounter). But, right now these short easy runs are too laborious to give any serious thought to starting a Marathon Training plan in a couple of weeks. So..... I'm going to put this year's plan to run the San Diego RnR on hold. Instead, I will concentrate on getting back into shape. I want to be strong enough to seriously run a Marathon. I'm going to put my sights on an October marathon instead. For now, I'll concentrate on getting back to the point where I can put in 30 to 40 miles per week. This week will be a 20 mile week (going skiing this weekend), and next week is up in the air since I will be travelling. Once I get back, I'll need to play it by ear and make a decision about whether to use a Higdon plan to get back in shape or not.

I did choose some races though to keep me focused. My tentative schedule as of now is:
  • Chinatown Firecracker 10K (2.08.2009)
  • Newport Beach Spirit Run 10K (3.22.2009) (Only because I can walk to the start line)
  • Costa Mesa Community Run 5K (4.18.2009)
  • OC Half or Cinco de Mayo Half (5.03.2009) (Still making up my mind)
  • Laguna Hills Half Marathon (5.25.2009)

Hope to see/meet some of you there!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here's Why I Live in Southern California

Well, since there's no pain in my hip, I can get back to training! Yea! And, for a first day back, the weather was absolutely drop dead gorgeous! I had read a blog from Jean in the morning about the weather in Minnesota. I have to count my blessings! I thought I would provide a little tour of one of my running spots here in Southern California for all you snowed in people across the country (by the way, we set a temperature record here in L.A. yesterday - 88*). Note: despite the pictures, the weather was not *perfect* for running - here in Orange County there was a stiff 10 mph headwind (with higher gusts) blowing offshore,meaning there was a lot of running with crosswinds.

Here is the temperature at 4:30 in the afternoon when I arrived at the beach to start my run:

My run was an out and back at Crystal Cove State Park. I ran on the top of the bluff overlooking the ocean:

Milkshake anyone?

I went down a trail to the beach and ran a mile or so on the sand:

Eventually I had to climb back onto the bluff and finish my run:

This is why I live in Southern California! (By the way - all the photos are on my Flickr site here:

On another note, I set my training schedule for the next few weeks. I've lost some of my fitness over the past month that I couldn't run. So, I'm going to pass on San Diego Rock N Roll. I'll plan on picking up the Long Beach Marathon in October. My goal race will be a Half Marathon on May 3rd. I'll start my training plan for that 12 weeks prior, or the week of February 9th. In the interim, I'll put in some 4 mile easy runs Mondays and Wednesdays, 6 miles on Tuesday and Thursdays, and 12 milers on Saturday. I finish the week with a 4 mile recovery run on Sundays for a total of 36 a week as I rebuild my base.

Finally, a little birthday cake for everyone on me! I turned 52 yesterday! Another Yea!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So Cal Half Marathon Race Report

Well, this one is a race that I had to do. Not that I was expecting miracles. Because with my hip injury, I had only put in 30 miles since December 14th. I was confident that a PR was in me - primarily because the last half I had run was a year ago. But, I hoped to finish somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15.

Last week, a few people I know only through our Internet postings made arrangements to meet pre-race. So, a little after 7AM, we met and had a great time chatting. I got to meet a bunch of folks from the Runner's World California Racing forum! I met Billy (billyburger and blogger L.A. Runner -, his girlfriend Sara (wits_end), Ingrid (travelmama) , Charlie (Charlie Pro), Emil (Pony Express), Cindy (OCMomRuns and fellow Cal Coaster), and Don (HuskyDon). And, even though she isn't (yet) a member of the forum, Danica (The Chic Runner - also showed up!

Billy (billyburger/L.A. Runner) and Charlie (Charlie Pro)

Charlie (Charlie Pro) and Ingrid (travelmama)

Danica (The Chic Runner) and Sara (wits_end)

Well, time for the race. In my opinion, the race, and especially the start, was well organized. There were supposed to be a combined total of 5000 runners in the 5K and Half Marathon. Both races were scheduled to start at 8:00, so I was kind of dreading the start. But the organizers used both sides of a divided road very efficiently. The 5K'ers started on the left side of the street and the Half Marathoners started on the right. The start gun went off right on time, and the mass of humanity lumbered down the road on their respective courses. At no point did the 5Ker and Half Marathoners ever have to commingle on the course! Kudos to the organizers!

Runners in front of me

Runner's behind....

Overall, I would rate the course as pretty easy. It was predominantly flat. It was interesting how a half marathon course could be laid out in a way that we were never more than four miles from the start. In fact, the organizers only had to set up about four water stations to serve the entire course. We just kept on running past the same water stations. First one direction then the next! One band was placed on the course such that we passed it at mile 1.5, mile 2.5, mile 9 and mile 9.5 and again at mile 10. You get the drift.

Here's the band we passed four times

Despite the course being easy, my performance yesterday can be summed up in one phrase - mehhhhh. By the time the race had started, things were starting to warm up. Once the sun peaked over the Saddleback Mountains, the full force of the weather that we were going to have to live through made itself known. The temperature jumped at least 10 degrees (by the time I finished, temps were in the mid 70's). There were stiff northerly winds blowing, at times gusting in the 20 mph range. Finally, humidity was incredibly low. I ended the race more like a salt block. The only time my shirt was ever wet was when I dumped water on it to cool off. Everything was going fine right up until mile 9 or so, when my heart rate started to increase above 170 bpm (92% MHR). I think at that point my inexperience at these distances came through. I thought that I had better slow down to make sure that I wasn't going to blow up in the last four miles. So I slowed down. Then I slowed down a little more. And a little more. I managed to get my heart rate back to 85 - 88 % MHR and finished the race. I ended up with a 2:18.56, still a 5 minute PR, but slower than I was hoping. Oh well. The good news is that I experienced NO pain during the race. And in fact, sitting here typing on Sunday afternoon, I have NO pain in my hip, groin or quads at all! Yea!

But the best part to finish up the day was to follow-up with a post race FE! As I crossed he finish line, I just about ran into travelmama's arms! What a sight for sore eyes (or at least sore legs at that point)! Fellow Runner's World forumites r4ac, travelmama, Pony Express, HuskyDon, NYC and I met and got to share war stories for a while until, yes, it was time to go home to race another day.

Runner's World forumites run4acure, Pony Express, Husky Don, travelmama, and NYC-Runner

You can see all the pictures and even a short video of the start at my Flickr site:

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Story of The Running Fat Guy

Yesterday was a scheduled rest day leading up to Saturday's half marathon. Today will be as well. So, I'm going to take these opportunities to talk about related topics. Today, I thought I would rehash the story behind the Running Fat Guy.

By way of introduction, I am a 51 year old (three days away from 52) guy with a wonderful family of five. I've been married to my wonderful wife for 22 years. My three children - two in college and one a junior in high school are great kids that are every parent's dream. I was born and raised in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. My biggest move was from Pico Rivera, where I grew up and went to High School, to Newport Beach for college. My education even took place in L.A.. I moved from UC Irvine (BS Biology), to Cal Poly Pomona (BS Electrical Engineering), to USC (MBA). I am a small business owner these days, and I get to travel all around the U.S. There is no doubt that Southern California is the best place to live (not that I wouldn't mind living out of the area for a change of scenery).

As a youngster, I had always been pretty active. I was never really an athlete, even though I played basketball and tennis in high school. But, I was an avid outdoorsman (I know - how can a big city guy be an outdoorsman?). I enjoyed fishing, hiking, backpacking, and hunting. I spent many a day in the Sierra Nevada everywhere from Mt. Whitney north to the Nevada border. I used to kid that I knew the back country around Mammoth and June Lakes better than I did some areas of L.A. Needless to day, weight was never a problem in those days. In fact the problem was the opposite - how could someone 5'11" and 130 pounds be a basketball player?

Fast forward a few years. I had fallen into the trap that the comforts of life bring. I was "too busy" doing the things that were "important" to do the things necessary. I knew I was putting on the poundage because I had to keep buying new clothes. But, I wasn't really paying attention to the amount that I was packing on. I had turned into a rotund mound, huffing and puffing to climb a few stairs. Finally, I hopped up on a scale in January 2006. What the? Hey - the needle is supposed to stop! It's not supposed to move so quickly! Well - it finally did - when it hit the 260 mark! Wow. I caught my breath (because I *did* have to climb up on the scale) and decided that it was time to do something about all this nonsense.

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. 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.

So, in July 2007 I started running. A few miles a week at first was all I could manage. But I kept up with it. I ran my first 5K on October 2007, followed by a 10K in November. Then the first week in January 2008 I ran my first half - the OC. I found that even though I struggled to finish the run, I enjoyed myself immensely. At that point I was hooked. I joined the Cal Coast Track Club ( and started training for the San Diego Rock N' Roll marathon. I ran and finished (although it wasn't easy)! It was after that I started getting serious and started reading all that I could about exercise physiology and running in general. Since then, I've made some big leaps in my training, cutting my PRs by minutes, and enjoying the fitness that comes from running the right way!

So, that's the story behind The Running Fat Guy. Oh yeah - I'm still on the "large" size, coming in about 220 these days. I will be watching my diet a lot closer the coming months to try to shed another 20 pounds or so by the end of the year. Maybe then I can think about renaming my blog....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Three Days in Row

Okay - last night was the final test to see how things are holding up. I got in the car and drove down to Crystal Cove for a four mile run. I should have brought my camera because I ended up doing a beautiful four mile run partially on the sand at sundown. And it was beautiful sundown!

I can't really analyze my stats because there is construction going on and I had to spend at least five minutes walking and climbing over barriers to get to the trails to get back to my car. But, today I have no pain at all!

This of course means that the Southern California Half Marathon is back on the schedule! (Yay!) I'm not holding out for anything spectacular, and in fact am targeting a 10:30 pace (which would put me right around 2:18). But considering where I thought I was a couple of weeks ago, I'm not going to complain.

And for those who might be interested - a few of us from the Runner's World California Running Forum ( will be meeting up before the race on the steps in front of Ruby's Diner. Come join us and put a face to a name!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Six Miles on the Pavement, Looks Like Saturday is Go!

Yesterday was the test. I wanted to see how I would feel this morning after running two days in a row. I put in six easy miles in the evening on the Upper Back Bay. It was back to huffing and puffing to get the run in. I felt good and had to keep slowing down to maintain my heart rate in "Zone 3" (70% - 80% MHR). Average pace ended up being 10:34 over the six miles. Eehhh.

After I got back and started analyzing my data (can you tell at heart I am a digit head?) I noticed an issue. My easy runs should be happening in the 75% to 85% MHR, which should equate to 138 to 157 bpm. My run averaged a heart rate of 149. So, while I was slowing down, I really didn't need to. It also looks like I need to figure out how to update my profile on my Garmin!

But, the good news is that I am feeling pretty good today. Sore - yes, but not where I am glad that I'm not sore (if you catch my drift). It looks like Saturday is a go at this point. I'm going to do 4 miles easy today, and I'll be able to make a final decision tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Good Run (For a Change)

I drug myself out of the door just before sunset yesterday. I had four miles on the calendar. Frankly, I wasn't looking forward to running because it's been quite a drag to head out for slow and labored runs.

I decided that because of the late hour, a run up the San Diego Creek trail toward UC Irvine was in order. The trail is wider and there tends to be less bike traffic after dark. I donned my reflective vest and headlamp and was on my way.

The first thing I noticed was the feeling that I was running! Actually running! Not plodding or slogging along. Pace was good, breathing wasn't labored. I watched my heart rate, and it settled into Zone 3 on my Garmin (75 - 85% MHR). I had that feeling that I was making some progress! I did have to slow down on the return as my heart rate went over 150 bpm, but I ended the run satisfied for the first time in a few weeks. Yeah I know - it was short, but it was a start!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting It Back Together

Four miles yesterday. Really frustrating if you ask me. I am amazed how much fitness I've lost in the last three or four weeks while on the shelf. The good news is that I have no pain in my hip or leg. This after last week's 18 miles. The bad is that I am really struggling to make it through the easy runs. Just a couple of weeks ago I was running 9:45 easy miles. Right now I'm struggling to make it through 4 miles at 10:20 pace. There is *no way* that I am ready to start a marathon cycle.

I know - as much as I preach patience, when it comes to me I'm not the same. Why should I be? With this little injury I am really beginning to understand the lure of running. I can't think of things that are much more humbling than having to come back from an injury - even such a minor one as mine!

I know, I know - patience grasshopper. I checked the calendar and I have about 22 weeks before the Rock n Roll in San Diego at the end of May. I need to start the training cycle on January 26th in order to get to San Diego in decent shape (assuming an 18 week cycle). That gives me three weeks to see if I can *comfortably* get my base back up to 35 mpw. If I can't, then I will put RnR off for something later in the year. Time to practice what I preach!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Run of the Year

Made my first run of the New Year yesterday. It was cold. It was wet. It was perfect running weather! The only thing that wasn't perfect was me! The goal was a 12 mile run around the Back Bay with the Cal Coast club. But, I was kind of like a football team committing a penalty in the red zone. Whistles. Flags. "Half the distance to the Goal" Yup - I made it out and back six miles.

It was a tough call. I was well within my target heart rate. I was having to slow down all of the time (a good sign on my LSD). But I just didn't feel right. It seemed that I was putting in a lot of effort. About two miles in I started feeling tightness in my right gluteus and thigh. That wasn't a good sign. There wasn't any pain, but just a lingering tightness.

As I was running, I was remembering Coach Sumner's topic of discussion before we took off - coming back from injury. As Coach put it - there is an overriding desire that most have to pick up where they left off prior to their injury. All too true! I am finding myself frustrated that I'm not back at where I left off, even though I've been off for two weeks and have cut back mileage going on four weeks now. So, I hit the three mile point and decided that it would be prudent to turn around and head on back.

I'm sitting here now on Sunday morning with a little overall muscle soreness, but my hip and right leg seem to be fine. I'm also understanding Sumner's point. I'm glad I didn't push too hard yesterday! At least now I can go out and try another four to six miler this afternoon!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Looking Forward to 2009

My last blog was about some of my accomplishments during 2008. I was thinking back to how I really had no goals for the year once I completed the RnR marathon. It's a bit of a wonder that I accomplished what I did while just wandering down the path!

So, it's time to set some running goals for 2009! Here they are:
  1. Build my base to 35 - 45 miles per week
  2. Put in 1500 miles during the year
  3. Run one marathon
  4. Keep it fun!

Shooting low? Maybe. But of the four goals, I think #4 is the highest priority for me. Over the last year and a half, I have come to really enjoy running. I have come to grips with the fact I will probably never win an age group award. And, being a results driven person, I know I've found something that I like because that doesn't bother me. More importantly, I haven't burned out even though I know I'm not going to win. As long as I am able to keep running fun, I'm pretty comfortable that I won't burn out. And, if I don't burnout, the rest of the goals will take care of themselves!

Now, on to 2009! I will putting my tactical plan together on a month by month basis to achieve these goals....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! A look back at 2008

If you are here, then you've made it to 2009. Happy New Year!

Yesterday was 2 days in a row without pain! Yay! Four more miles! I hope I'm back on track. I still feel slow, but afterwards, I analyzed my run data and noticed that my recovery pace yesterday was *exactly* the same as the same runs three weeks ago. Maybe all isn't lost after all.

It's also time to look back at 2008. I entered the year with only one running goal in mind - running a marathon. I managed to do that in June. The rest of the year was icing on the cake! The amazing thing is here, six months after achieving my goal, I am still running and still enjoying it. Up until my hip episode a couple of weeks ago, I felt like every run was making me stronger and faster.

I am also happy about other running accomplishments this past year:
  1. Continued to set PRs at every distance (means it all worth it)
  2. Learned a whole lot of new stuff about running, exercise, heart rate training, diet and the like
  3. Set weekly and monthly distance records
  4. Was set to hit 1000 miles for the year (fell short by 43 miles because of my injury)
  5. Only spent two weeks on the shelf due to running related injuries

Now that I've been at this for a while (close to a year and a half) I think it's probably appropriate to set some goals for 2009. I'm going to put my thinking cap on and make that the subject of my next blog tomorrow. Thanks for reading along and Happy New Year!