Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good luck Rock n' Rollers!

As I sit here writing, the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon is in full swing! The runners should be enjoying the heavy and deep marine layer today. In fact, it's drizzling outside here as I write. That bodes well for some of by blogging buddies running today (Chic Runner, Magazine Smiles, Rookie on the Run, I Love Steaks, On Your Left). Also, a bunch of my Tweeps, and a bunch of others from Runner's World Forums are running. Best of luck to all of you! I'm hoping that I have a ton of race reports to read this coming week!

Speaking of a deep marine layer - I used that to my full benefit yesterday to put in the 13 miles on my plan. I slept in a little and got out the door late, but with May Gray in full swing, I was pretty sure the sun was not going to be making an appearance until Noon at the earliest. I headed up the San Diego Creek trail at a slow comfortable pace.

In my search for new trails and routes, I figured something out last week. The San Diego Creek trail that I run on a regular basis is actually a route used by a couple of organized trail systems. One is the San Diego Creek trail, which I usually follow. This trail provides a 20 mile round trip through Irvine from our Saturday morning start point at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach.

I found out this week though, the Mountains to the Sea Trail uses some of the same route. This trail splits away from the San Diego Creek trail six miles from my start point and heads north into the hills. According to the trail's description, there's an additional 16 miles of trail (one way) from where it leaves the San Diego Creek trail. Yesterday, I poked my head up that trail by going about three quarters a mile on it. Looks like I will have something new to check out as my runs get longer over the next few weeks!
Final stats for yesterday - 13 miles at a nice easy pace of 10:27 with an average heart rate of 75% of max. On the schedule for today - 4 recovery miles.

P.S. - My running buddy Charlie Prokop (remember him from my last half marathon?) just passed the 21 mile point in 2:22. That's a 6:49 pace. Wow! A fifty something year old running at that pace. Makes me tired just thinking about it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Absolutely Wiped Out

That's how I'm feeling right now. It's 5:45 in the morning. I've had my first cup of coffee. I can *barely* keep my eyes open.

It all started last night. I had an eight mile general aerobic run on the schedule. I wasn't pushing too hard. Just a nice run. Heart rate was low in the aerobic range. It was cool out. Everything was going well. I got the "out" portion of the run done and turned around to head back.

Hmm. No wonder everything seemed so perfect. I had been running with the wind at my back. Okay - no problem. Put my head down and push a little harder. My Garmin was telling me that my heart rate was at 3.1 - low in the aerobic range. So no problem if I cranked my heart rate up to a 3.4 or 3.5 (aerobic range on my Garmin is set to anything between 3 and 4). I pushed a little harder through miles 5 and 6. Then it happened. A feeling I haven't had in about a year. The last time this happened was about mile 17 in a little jog I took last June. I was done. Toast. Empty. Nothing left in the tank. (I'm trying to come up with a few more trite analogies, but I'm drawing a blank).

The last two miles were *really* tough. I kept my legs moving, but each step seemed like I was lifting concrete shoes. It felt like I was working *really* hard. My heart rate was still down though, and I wasn't breathing exceptionally hard. I had just run out of fuel. I so wanted to give up and walk it in. But, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and my legs moving. I ended up completing the run in 1:19:02 (9:54 pace) and an average heart rate of 76% of max. But I was spent. I had to collect myself before driving home.

The real comedy started when I got home though. Obviously what I had done is just not eaten enough during the day. I was *ravenous*. I grabbed some dinner (BBQ'd Tri tip, wild rice, steamed veggies). I sat down, turned on the Cavs/Magic game, and promptly fell asleep! That's right folks - down for the count at 7:30 PM!

On the schedule today - rest. Total rest. (Sigh of relief)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recovery Day

Yesterday was a short recovery day. Went out and finished four slow miles on the lower Back Bay. If I had doubts that I could run on Tuesday, I should have had similar doubts for the same reasons yesterday. Ten miles of hiking Monday along with a hard eight mile workout Tuesday had left me limping and shuffling yesterday. I toyed with rescheduling, but I figured since it was supposed to be a slow, easy run, I would be better to get it over with and keep my Friday free. After all, the purpose of the recovery run is to help with recovery, right?

Well, it took a little longer to get all the kinks and soreness worked out, but in the end I put in the four miles. Put in really easy miles at an average pace of 10:15. Average heart rate was 73% of max. I'm none the worse for wear. I have some lingering muscle soreness, but nothing seems to be pulled/strained. All systems are go!

I actually made it to the gym last night and finished up my day with stretching and core/ab work. I've added leg lifts to my workout. Great. Another set of sore muscles....

Today's schedule is an eight mile general aerobic run. That means another CDM to Crystal Cove run. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whew (but a Great Run!)

One thing was for sure - after my hike on Monday, nothing was going to be easy. My hips and my calves were sore. Most of it was from the pounding that my poor old body took coming down the 4000 feet to the parking lot. On top of that, I couldn't get out from behind my desk until 5:30, so couldn't get my shoes on and run started until 6:30 PM.

I had an eight mile run on the schedule - 4 miles general aerobic followed by 4 miles at race pace. I had some doubts that I would be able to get my feet turning without pain. The first few steps were more like tiptoeing than running. But, it was clear within a quarter mile that everything was going to be okay. I settled in for the first four miles at a comfortable aerobic pace.

I have really come to like a new route that I've been running lately. I start at the entrance to Big Corona del Mar Beach and run south to Reef Point in Crystal Cove State Park. It is a four mile out and back, for 8 total miles. The scenery is great, and there is some variety in terrain - a few small hills and inclines thrown in here and there for a change of pace.

I made it to Reef Point in 40 minutes (right at a 10:00 pace), grabbed a couple swigs of water and turned up the intensity for my run back. I dialed into HM PACE (according to my Garmin). I was working, but not too hard, and the time and scenery seemed to fly past. It was one of those runs where everything seemed to click. What a great feeling!

I got back to the car and checked the Garmin - total of four miles at 9:20 per mile. The last mile was in 8:51! Wow. I never would have thought that was possible! The best part is I never broke a heart rate of higher than 85% of max. Now to just work on being able to hold that pace for 13 miles! Patrick - watch out! Those footsteps you hear coming behind you - that's me!

(I needed to give a shout out to Patrick over at My New Life on the Run - he ran his first Half Marathon this past weekend. He KILLED the course - 1:46.57. And a couple weeks ago he was worried he wouldn't break two hours. Way to go Patrick!!!!!)

On tap today - an easy four mile recovery run. I'll make it to the gym for some stretching and core work as well. Talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Really Big Hill

For those who may not be familiar with Los Angeles, our metropolitan area is ringed by mountains (has something to do with all those earthquakes that we get to live through). As you travel further east, those mountains get downright tall, culminating in a couple 11,000 foot peaks. Yesterday I attacked one of those, 10,064 foot Mt. San Antonio, known to us locals as Mt. Baldy.

We started up the hill a little after 8AM. Part of the popularity of Mt. Baldy is the variety of trails to the top. There's even one option where you can ride a ski lift up to the 7,800 foot level and walk 3.5 miles to the top. Our plan was to go up the Ski Hut Trail (also known as the Baldy Bowl trail). This trail is no nonsense - climbing 4100 feet in 4.5 miles. That equates to a little over 900 feet in elevation gain every mile. From the start, the trail is up up and away, cresting at the top of the mountain.

I last tried this trail back in July 2008. That time, the trail kicked my butt. I had to abort about 3 miles in. Yesterday though, it became obvious early on that my increased cardio fitness and strength from all the running was paying off. Matt and I found ourselves passing group after group of hikers as we headed up the hill. In two hours we found ourselves at the Ski Hut - the major landmark on the trail.

The trail continues working uphill to a bench at the 9,000 foot level.

From here, it's another 1,000 feet and a mile to the top. At this point, the second factor starts coming into play - elevation. Elevation affects each person differently. For me, I start feeling short of breath and find myself gasping. Last year when I walked this trail, I was already gasping at 9,000 feet. Yesterday it was obvious that the air was a little thinner, but I was able to handle it easily by just slowing down. We continued moving up the ridge toward the top.

Just a few hundred feet below the top of the ridge, we ran into the second landmark on this trail. Back in 1949, two USMC Hellcats crashed just short of the ridge. The wreckage is still visible and easily reached from the trail.

We continued our slog up the ridge, and crested the "hill" in three hours and 8 minutes.

The weather was outstanding and the views were breathtaking. As we looked out toward the city, I thought about all those runners doing the L.A. Marathon and the Laguna Hills Half. Remember the discussion about the marine layer/June gloom? Here are a couple photos of the marine layer in action.

Somewhere back in there all the Marathoners are busy running their marathon.

That's Santiago Peak in Orange County poking out of the clouds. Close to that all the Laguna Hills Half Marathoners were sweating.

Speaking of sweating....

We spent about half an hour on the top chatting with folks and having a few snacks. We then headed down the hill

We took the Devil's Backbone trail. This is the same route that I used last year in one of my favorite races, the Mt. Baldy Run to the Top. This time though, I wasn't shredded wheat, so I was able to enjoy the trek down.

This trail's name is well deserved. A lot of the trail is along a ridge top with precipitous drop offs on both sides.

Wow! I ran up that last year?

All in all, it was a beautiful day for a beautiful hike. 10 mile round trip in 5 and a half hours!

If you want to enjoy the rest of the pictures, they are posted on my Flickr page here:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Week 2 Wrap Up

Week 2 wrapped with a 4 mile recovery run. I finally made it to the gym last night for some stretching and core work. Final stats for the week: 33.3 miles running, 7.6 miles rowing. I need to mention two other items of note. This past week I've been really fatigued. I've also been having trouble sleeping well at night. These are some classic signs of over training.

I'll keep an eye out and probably slow myself down this week. I'm only demonstrating two of the seven classic signs of over training. Other signs include increased resting heart rate, frequent colds, weight loss, impaired racing and training times, slow recovery from training, and a loss of enthusiasm for running. So far I haven't seen any of those (although I wouldn't mind the weight loss), so I'm not too concerned *yet*.

Plan for this week is another step up in the mileage column:

Monday: Rest day/cross train (probably going out for a hike)
Tuesday: 8 miles (4 mile GA, 4 mi HMP (Half Marathon Pace))
Wednesday: 4 mile recovery, gym for stretching and core
Thursday: 8 miles GA
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 13 mile long run
Sunday: 4 mile recovery

Total miles: 37. Whew!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Got it in Before it Got Too Hot

This time of year is pretty strange in Southern California. Through my frequent travels, I have come to love the East and Midwest in the Spring. The air is fresh and everything is green. Most people think that Southern California is no different. But it is. Our repayment for our mild winter is this strange time of the year.

There are two reasons that Southern California's climate is so temperate. The first is this huge radiator that we live next to, the Pacific Ocean. You might think that the water off the coast is warm, but actually, there is a huge cold current that runs off the coast. Unlike the East Coast, we are lucky if the water ever gets about 72 degrees, even in the dead of summer (in fact, today the water temperature here in Newport Beach is 64). The second is that we live in a desert (a normal rainfall year is around 13 inches - that's a little over an inch a month). Well, as the season moves from Winter to Spring, this desert that we live in starts to heat up (Palm Springs, about 60 miles away as the crow flies is forecast to be 99 degrees today). As the air heats up, it rises, and the cool air mass sitting over the ocean rushes in to replace it. This brings cooling temperatures. It also brings along dull, drab, dreary overcast. The technical term is "marine layer". The popular term is "June gloom". Sometimes the overcast extends four or five miles inland. Sometimes it extends 30 miles!

To us runners, this is actually a somewhat welcome relief. Along the coast, we can go a month or two not seeing the sun until late in the morning. Sometimes we don't see the sun all day. But, that means that if you are a morning runner, temperatures are perfect for running. Yesterday when I took off on my 12 mile run at 7:30 AM, it was a beautiful, overcast 63 degrees. Humid for sure, but at 63 degrees, who cares? I finished up a little after 9:30 AM, just as the sun was starting to peak through the clouds. Final stats - 12 miles at an average pace of 10:50, with an average heart rate of 71% of max. By the way, the sun was out in it full glory by 11AM.

Finally, best of luck to anyone running the L.A. Marathon tomorrow! Here's hoping June gloom is in it's full glory!

Friday, May 22, 2009

HTFU You Wimp

Yesterday I had a nine mile general aerobic run on the schedule. I knew from my first step that this was not going to be easy. I wasn't quite sure why, but my legs were sore and tired. My hips were sore and my lower back fatigued. I considered throwing in the towel and rescheduling the run. A bunch of folks that I know are going to be running marathons this weekend and next (Los Angeles this weekend, San Diego Rock n Roll next weekend). I thought about them. I though about me. I put my head down and put one foot in front of the other. The bottom line it was time to HTFU.

I ended up putting in 9 miles at a 9:52 pace with an average heart rate of 81% of max (150). Not too bad for a wimp who was ready to throw in the towel. Of course, I was home , showered, and in bed for the night within an hour of finishing. And I am ever soooo glad today is a rest day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hope I'm Not Boring You

But as workout days go, it was a pretty boring day. I got back on the erg last night for another 30 minute session. 5 minute warm up, 4 sets of 4 minutes on/2 minutes rest, and 1 minute warm down. Put in a total of 6.15 km. Did my crunches and some stretching afterwards - so a complete cross training day.

I did get a little excitement yesterday though! I got a call from my son (who is a Freshman at the University of California at Irvine (UCI)) about 2 PM. He said that he had just received an email that the campus was under alert because there was a report of a man wearing camos walking on the campus with a rifle! There were dozens of police cars and a helicopter circling. What the? Here in Orange County? I immediately sent a Tweet, and waited for more details. It didn't take five minutes before I had a dozen or so Tweets from others. Some from other UCI students. Some from reporters for local papers. Some from others living in the local area. It still took about half an hour to sort through what was actually happening from what was rumor, but in the end it really beat waiting for hours to hear about something on the news or in a paper. Really points out the power of tools like Twitter and why newspapers are having a tough go at it these days. (In the end it was a student going to an airsoft tournament).

By the way, if you aren't on Twitter, you should be. If you are and want to follow me, I tweet under gwjones00. Come join us on Twitter. It's sooo much better than Facebook...

I'm back on the trails again tonight. 9 miles general aerobic. Looking for somewhere new to run.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ramping It Up

The ramp up has officially started. Yesterday was eight miles at a general aerobic pace (heart rate less than 85% of max) with ten 100 yard strideouts to wrap things up. Final stats - 9:35 average pace at an average heart rate of 82% of max.

When I looked at my stats after uploading my Garmin, I had to reflect. It wasn't that long ago that my 10K race pace was 9:15, now my 8 mile training pace is 9:35. In fact, a year ago if you would have told me that 8 miles was going to be an "easy" run, I would have told you that you were crazy. The thing that is really amazing is that I am pulling off these training paces without pushing too hard. I've got to credit the consistent running that I've been able to do for the past three months.

The other thing that amazes me is that after 22 months, I still look forward to each run (well, maybe as long as it's less than 15 miles). I am finding that I'm no longer holding myself hostage to my watch. I really don't care if I take a walking break here and there. It doesn't bother me to stop for a few moments to enjoy the view or the wildlife along the way. I am comfortable with the fact that in the big picture, it's the accumulation of the miles and time that make the big difference. I think because of that, I've managed to keep things fresh.

Today I'll be back on the ergometer. I believe today's workout is 5 minute warm up (stroke build), then 4 sets of 4 minutes on 2 minutes rest, and a 1 minute warm down. This one should have me huffing and puffing!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back on the Ergometer

This three day a week rest/cross train is strange. I'm not used to not having to make a decision about where to run. I'm not used to just rolling into the garage and sitting on a machine. At least it's not a treadmill! Although the machine I use gives Lindsay cold sweats (inside joke - she rowed in college. Lindsay - my daughter reacts the same way).

I was back on the ergometer yesterday for a quick 30 minute workout. I did a series of 2 minutes on, 2 minutes rest pieces for 6.1 kilometers total. Then followed everything with about 50 crunches before calling it a night.

Today I'm out on the trails for 8 miles at general aerobic pace. And just so I'm not setting the wrong perception that a "trail" is a dirt track in the wilderness - here is an "Orange County trail" :

Monday, May 18, 2009

Week 1 Wrap Up

Yesterday put the wraps on week 1 of the new plan. Put in 4 recovery miles on the sand at the beach. Talk about a different running experience! Whew! Final stats for the week - 30 miles at an average pace of 10:18.

Now starts the mileage ramp up. On the schedule this week:

Monday: Rest day. Will probably hit the ergometer again. Stretching and core.
Tuesday: 8 miles, general aerobic. Finish it off with 10 x 100 strideouts
Wednesday: Rest day. Erg. Stretching and core.
Thursday: 9 miles, general aerobic
Friday: Rest day. Real rest.
Saturday: 12 miles long run.
Sunday: 4 miles recovery. Gym for stretching and core work.

Total this week: 33 miles.

I also firmed up my race schedule for the next couple of months. I was thinking about doing another half marathon at the end of this month (Laguna Hills), but running another half just doesn't seem that exciting right now. So, I'm going to pass on that and add a couple shorter races to my calendar. I'm going to run the Wrigley River Run 10K in Long Beach on June 6th, and then the Magic Shoe 5K here in Corona del Mar the following weekend. They actually fit pretty well - the 10K coming during a week that I build to 42 miles, and then the 5K on a step back week. I'll move things around so I get a rest day prior to each race, and move my long run day to Sunday.

Today - the erg machine! I'll follow up with some stretching and core work.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Long Run Saturday

Yesterday was the first long run on the new plan. I put in eleven miles around the Upper Back Bay. There was a rumor that it got hot inland (upper 80's and low 90's), but the marine layer never lifted, keeping the temperature cool for the two hours of my run. Two hours!?!?! Yeah - I know - slow. But my main focus right now is building mileage, not speed. In fact, it's a little strange to be running without a goal race.

Final stats on yesterday's run - 11 miles in 1:56:23 (10:36 average). Average heart rate was 75% of maximum.

But the big news! I've managed to finally get myself out of the "Obese" category on the Body Mass Index scale. Yes - I'm down 10 pounds since the end of January. That puts me at at 29.7 BMI - just out of the Obese range. But, my Body Fat Percentage (currently at 28.5%) means that I am still categorised as "Fat". Guess I won't need to change the blog name quite yet!

On tap today - four recovery miles. I'll head out to the gym afterwards to get some stretching and core work in.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wildlife Run

That's my new name for yesterday's run. I had an eight mile general aerobic run on the schedule. I added a couple miles to one of my normal routes and ran from the beach at Corona del Mar to Reef Point at Crystal Cove for a 4 mile out and back.

At this point I would normally tell you how bland and boring the run was. But, yesterday was anything but. Immediately after starting, I noticed a flock of Brown Pelicans on my right. Hey guys - I know my shoes stink, but they don't smell like rotten fish (at least I don't think they do). Must have been 12 or so all together. It is so cool how they fly in formation - from afar it looks like the Blue Angels. For the next mile and half, I ran through a quaint residential neighborhood, turned a corner to run along a busy street, and finally found myself back on familiar ground at Crystal Cove. No sooner did I hit the trail, than on my right was the flock of Pelicans again! Cool!

Now, this part of the trail runs through an area where I normally see a lot of lizards and rabbits, but today there was something new on the trail. Quail! Yup. I had no idea that Quail were even around in Orange County! It was quite cool watching them scoot along and run into the brush as I approached. About now I was really wishing I had brought my camera. Sorry for all the stock photos folks.

The next flock of birds were easy to sight. They made a loud thumping sound as the two flew in formation over the coast. A couple Sea Knights buzzed over the coast. Being as close as we are to Camp Pendelton, the main USMC recruiting base on the West Coast, these aren't that uncommon. But, it's still amazing that something this large and non aerodynamic can fly.

My final sighting came as I neared my turnaround point. There it was sunning in the middle of the black asphalt path. Mr. Rattlesnake! It was a small (18 inches or so) snake with a couple of rattles on it's tail. Obviously a juvenile. I literally walked right up to the snake. Eventually he woke up and slithered off into the brush next to the trail. How cool.

I reached my turnaround point and headed back. The quail were still scattering ahead of me. Rabbits were scooting around and lizards shot across the trail. And the parting shot? My flock of Pelicans were flying in formation over my left shoulder. No - I do not have fish in my shoes!

Final stats - 8 miles in 1:20.12 (10:02 pace - includes time stopped watching the wildlife). Average heart rate - 77% of max. Jean (Run Jean Run) - eat your heart out!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hello Old Friend

Yesterday was a trip down memory lane. Back in 2007 before Garmins and tech shirts and all that high tech running gear, my exercise regimen involved clicking various remote controls. I was 260 pounds and would get winded walking up a flight of stairs. It was time to get in shape and drop some el bees. At the time my daughter was rowing competitively and was getting some additional coaching by a guy at his rowing studio in Costa Mesa. I thought that maybe I could get on a machine and row a few strokes. The rest has been history.

The rowing studio is the Iron Oarsman, run by Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist Xeno Muller. Xeno is a motivator. He really knows how to keep something as boring as sitting on an erg machine for an hour fresh and fun. I rowed many a meter with Xeno in those early days, pushing through two million in a year and a half or so. Slowly I got to the point where I could run and enjoy the competition at races. Thanks Xeno!

Yesterday, I got back on my old friend. Had to dust it off and replace the batteries in the monitor, but I was able to row a few thousand meters. I ripped the flywheel for 30 minutes - 5 minute warm up, then a series of 1 minute on and 30 seconds rest pieces for a total of 6.2 km. Then since my feet were strapped in, I did about 50 crunches and climbed off. I was dripping wet. I also realized there are a bunch of muscles that we just don't work very well running!

I'll be back on the trails tonight. 8 miles general aerobic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Base Building Begins

I started my new training program yesterday. Seven miles (3.5 out and back) with 10 X 100 strideouts to wrap things up. Total time on the trail was 1:07:43 (average pace of 9:41) at an average heart rate of 81% of max. It was a really pleasant run. I wasn't forcing anything, wasn't running hard, and for the first time in a couple of weeks had the right frame of mind (the past couple of weeks it seemed like I had to force myself to run). Today is a scheduled rest day.

One thing I need to do is to figure out how to work in core strengthening and stretching. I used to hit the gym after my short recovery days on the old plan (3 days a week). On this plan, I only have one recovery day a week. I am thinking about spending half an hour or so on an ergometer (indoor rowing machine) on rest days. It is a *great* non-impact full body aerobic workout. I can even use the erg to do some basic core and ab exercises. All I've got to do is move the bikes in the garage around and dust the darn thing off. Oh, and make sure it still works....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Programming Your Garmin

Well, yesterday was a rest day. I had an enjoyable afternoon and evening in the office trying to get caught up. Boo hoo. I've got to get another hobby or these rest days are going to be my undoing. On Wednesday, I'll get back on the ergometer for some cross training.

Today I'll finish up the series of blogs on programming your Garmin. So far, we've been working with the Garmin Training Center software. In part one, I discussed some of the prerequisites for making your Garmin a training tool - heart rate ranges and speed zones. In part two, I introduced setting up workouts and some of the features that are available that allow you to set up some pretty involved workouts.

Today, I'll show you how easy it is to move workouts from GTC to the Forerunner and how to use the stored workout. First, we need to get back to the Workout screen in GTC. We're getting pretty comfortable with that, so we'll just click the "Workouts" button in GTC. We now want to expand the "Running" node so we can see all the workouts that we've programmed:

Now comes the real tough part. Find the workout that you want to use, and drag and drop it to the day on the calendar that you are scheduling the workout! Find your next workout, drag and drop and repeat. You should now have a calendar with all of your workouts on it on the day you plan to do them:

The final step is to move everything over to your Forerunner. To do this, make sure your Forerunner is on it's dock, then click the "Send to Device" button:

At this point, your workouts have been programmed and are in your Forerunner! You are good to go! The last thing we need to learn is how to use the workouts that you have stored away. We're now going to move over to our Forerunner 205/305. We're out at our starting point and we have satellite lock. Now, just press the Mode button, then select Training, then Workout, then Advanced. You should see this screen on your device:

If you select "Today's", you will load today's scheduled workout into your device. If you want to change up on the fly (like I did on Sunday), then, by selecting "View All", you can select from *any* workout that you moved to your device in the steps above.

I hope that I've given a little insight into what is possible with your Garmin Forerunner. Now it's up to you. Find your ideal training plan, load up your Forerunner, and join us as we beep down the trail!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Recovery Week over?

Today starts my new training cycle. That must mean that my "Recovery Week" is over. I wrapped the week up yesterday with another slow run - 4 recovery miles on the Back Bay. It was just about all I could do to drag myself out of the house in the late afternoon. I had six miles on the plan, but threw in the towel at the two mile point and turned tail. I ended up the week with 28 miles total.

This week I start something different. I start a slow (10 week) base building plan that will get me close to 50 miles a week. This week I'll actually get 3 rest days! Wow - what am I going to do with my spare time? Here's the plan for this week:

Monday: Rest day.
Tuesday: 7 miles general aerobic (GA). 10 X 100 strides thrown in for good measure.
Wednesday: Rest day. Perhaps I'll get on the erg machine and row a little. Hit the gym for stretching and core work.
Thursday: 8 miles GA
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: 11 mile long run.
Sunday: 4 miles recovery
Total: 30 miles

Since I won't have anything running wise to write about tomorrow, I'll deliver the third part of my "Programming a Garmin" series then. Sorry to leave you hanging!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Still Need Some Recovery I Guess...

Yesterday was a slow (and I mean slow) run around the Newport Back Bay. Did I say slow? Really slow. But, I'm not interested in speed at this point. I'm interested in getting miles and workouts in. It was great running weather - overcast and in the low 60's. The sun popped out just as I was wrapping muy 12 miles up.

Speaking of workouts - today we'll set up a workout on our Garmin. I hope you'll get a flavor for the flexibility that the device has!

First thing we'll do is open the Workout Calendar. Press the "Workout" button in GTC:

Next, right click on "Running", then select "New Workout":

Now it's time to setup your workout. First things first - give it a meaningful name. I've named this one "8 mi GA" for an 8 mile general aerobic run. A workout is comprised of one or more steps, with a duration and a goal for each step. In this case, our duration is 8 miles, so we will select "After I go a certain distance" for our step's duration, and will set the distance at 8 miles:

Next, we will set the goal for this step. Remember setting our speed and heart rate ranges? Here is where they come into play. Since this is a general aerobic run, we will select "Try to keep my heart rate in a certain zone". I'll then select heart rate zone 3 as my goal range. If you run by pace, then you would select "Try to keep my speed in a certain zone", and then select the proper speed zone:

Here's how the workout looks:

The GTC interface lets you set all kinds of different combinations of steps, durations, goals, and repeats. Here is an example of an interval workout (2 mi warm up, 4X800 with 400 rest, 1 mi warm down):

In this workout, I set an initial step of 2 miles at heart rate range 3 (general aerobic). Then I set up a step to repeat four times. This step is comprised of 1/2 mile duration at speed range 7 (10K pace) followed by 1/4 mile with no goal (rest). The final step in this workout is a 1 mile warm down. once again in heart rate range 3. Clear as mud?
Now that we've set up all of our workouts, tomorrow I'll show you how to move them onto your workout calendar and onto your Garmin.

Friday, May 8, 2009

That Felt Pretty Good!

You know, it's not often that I can say that one of my runs is effortless, but tonight's run was pretty effortless. Three miles out and back at Crystal Cove. The goal was a general aerobic run. I settled in and was able to maintained an average pace of 9:49. Not that unusual. But at an average heart rate of 79%! Wow! I'm used to running that pace at a heart rate closer to 85%, so my heart rate tonight was pretty pleasing.

Today I also programmed my entire training plan for the net 10 weeks into my Garmin 305. In my mind, this is where the Garmin really shines. Once you learn how to program your workouts, you will never be able to run without your Garmin! What I thought I would do is spend parts of the next few blogs here showing how the Garmin Forerunner can really benefit your training.

First step to the effective use of your Garmin 305 is knowing your maximum heart rate. Do not - repeat - do not just rely on the old 220 minus age calculation. That will give you the average max heart rate over a population at that age. It may be spot on. But then again it may be really inaccurate. For example, at my age (51), the calculation gives me a maximum heart rate of 169. My actual maximum heart rate is 185. Google "Running Maximum Heart Rate Test" and find one of the several ways to measure your max. (I measured mine using a hill test).

Second step is to know your training paces. 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon. You will use these to set up your training pace for runs. There are a number of places to do this. I find the best is the McMillan Running Calculator.

Now, it's time to set your Garmin up. I will describe how to do this using the Garmin Training Center Software (GTC).

First thing is to open GTC. Go to the User menu, and select "Profile for...".

From this screen, you can set all of your training parameters - weight, birth date, heart rate zones and speed zones:

Use your heart rate training ranges for heart rate zones. You have 5 zones that you can set. For example, since I am a big Pfitzinger disciple, I have set my heart ranges like this:

Zone 5: 93 to 98% of MHR (VO2Max workout)
Zone 4: 85 to 93% of MHR (Lactate threshold workout)
Zone 3: 75 to 85% of MHR (General aerobic workout)
Zone 2: 65 to 75% of MHR (Recovery workout)
Zone 1: Don't care.

Finally, user your training paces to set up your speed zones. You can give each of your zones a different name. I've set mine up like:

Zone 10, 9: Not being used.
Zone 8: 5K pace (7:45 to 8:30 per mile)
Zone 7: 10K pace (9:00 to 8:31 per mile)
Zone 6: Reserved for later use
Zone 5: Half Marathon Pace (9:45 to 9:00 per mile)
Zone 4: Marathon Pace (10:30 to 9:45 per mile)
Zones 3, 2, 1: Not being used.

Once you have set up all of your training zones, we are ready for step 2 - setting up your workouts! We'll talk about this tomorrow.

Twist my Arm Please

Yeah. Another day off. Hey - priorities!

After my run on Wednesday, my legs were still feeling *really* tired yesterday. So, I called my wife and headed down the road with her to my other love (actually fourth or fifth on the list) - POKER! Yes. I like a good game of poker. Just low stakes limit poker. None of that World Series of Poker style no limit stuff for me. To properly play no-limit, you need to constantly calculate your table odds and compare that to your pot odds to determine the size of your bet. That's way too much work.

I can understand why casinos love these limit games. The rake (the percentage the casino takes from the pot to pay for the dealer) is huge. I can understand why people love these games - sounds like you are limiting your upside risk since your bet is pretty well capped at the table limit. But I've got to tell you - people bet way too much money for the cards they have in their hands and on the table. That being said, I still left a small contribution yesterday. Oh well.

Today I'll be out the door in the afternoon to put in the 6 or so easy miles that I was supposed to run yesterday. I promise!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crank it Up a Notch

As mentioned yesterday, I was ready to get back to it. I headed out the door in the late afternoon and got in 6 easy miles. I kept it slow and easy because, well, it was all I could do! My legs really didn't want to move. Without a goal race, I really don't care how fast I run. I just want to put in the miles.

Speaking of miles, thanks to all of you who provided input yesterday. I credit most of my improvement (and Lindsay validates this) in the past few months with running more miles more consistently. Speed work is fun, but just running intervals and tempos without the volume doesn't help out at mile 10. One additional piece of input from fellow runner Hillcruiser (Annadel Runner) over at Runner's World is that us older folks (old? I like to think I am in the twilight of middle age) need to think about the strain of too many hard workouts. My old plan had two speed sessions in three days (quantity over quality). The issue is whether there was enough recovery in that plan.

I took that input, some input from a post on the Runner's World Forum, and some input from Advanced Marathoning to adopt a training plan. After searching through my books, I think I have found the plan that delivers. This next cycle is the 10 week Endurance building phase of the Pfitz 24/55 Marathon plan. I like the way it lays out on paper:
  1. I get two or three rest days a week. Huge bonus. (Quality over quantity J!)
  2. I slowly build from 30 miles next week to a high of 48 miles in week nine, and average 39 mpw.
  3. Every 5 weeks is a step back week.
  4. Speed work is one day a week - and alternates between strides (10 X 100) and 4 to 5 miles at Half Marathon Pace.

If you want to look at the plan, you should be able to follow this link (if the link doesn't work, let me know - this is the first time I've used Google docs to share a file). I'm looking forward to getting started!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back to Training

I'll be heading back to the streets and trails today. Physically I'm back to 100%, although I'm sure I've put a pound or two back on the last couple of days. Yup. The ole' food vacuum has been on.

I feel like I have made a great deal of progress over the last year. My 5K PR has dropped by 3 minutes (25.24), 10K by 6 minutes (55.32) and HM by 10 minutes (2:09.07). I attribute most of that improvement to running more miles more consistently. But, I want to move up to the next level of training. I would love to get into the 45 - 50 mpw range. I think that volume would go a long way to help me get to my ultimate PRs goals - break 24 minutes in a 5K, 50 minutes in a 10K and 2 hours at a HM. I also want to get back to marathons and be in the low 4 hour time frame.

So, I'm actively soliciting input on what to do with my typical training schedule:

Mondays: 4 mile easy run
Tuesdays: Intervals
Wednesday: 4 mile recovery
Thursday: 45 - 60 minute tempo run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 9 - 12 mile long run
Sunday: 4 mile recovery

A couple of other factors - I am a 51 year old male. 5' 11". I'm carting around some extra "luggage", coming in at a svelte 215 lbs. And, I don't have a goal race right now, since I need to take some weekends over the summer to go hiking/backpacking for my Mt. Whitney assault on Labor Day. What I am looking for is maintenance type plan to maintain fitness and not get stale. When I am ready to start on a goal race, I will probably adopt a Pfitz or Daniels style training plan - I just want to be in good enough shape to pickup on those plans when it's time.

Thanks to all for your input!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rest Day - Time to Answer Questions

Good morning folks. I'm feeling much better today than yesterday. Who knows, maybe by tomorrow I'll head back out for some running. I thought I would spend today's blog answering some of the questions I've received over the last couple of days. Kind of like delayed Q&A.

AKA Alice (Hefferblog) points out that I have Mojo Nixon on my playlist. I hope you don't hold that against me! In fact, Mojo is probably the only reason I still have Sirius radio. He's one of the hosts on Outlaw Country every day. Since the XM merger, Sirius has really gone downhill. I'm contemplating whether I'm going to renew my subscription. Oh - you should see the other Mojo songs that didn't make it to the HM playlist....

Girl on Top (Girl on Top) asks: "Is it bad if I don't know any of your songs?" Man - you are way too young girl. Stop making me feel old.

Lindsay (Chasing the Kenyans) asks: "umm. butthole surfers?" Yup. I've always been a little out there with my "musical" taste. I started listening to them after Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) became a fan back in the early 1980s. How can someone with the name Jello Biafra be wrong? Plus, I *do* live in Southern California.

Along the same lines, Ms. V (Gymnotes) asks: "Detachable Penis?" Yeah. Fortunately it's not mine. Plus how can a song go wrong if it's about someone who wakes up with a hangover to find his penis is missing? (P.S. - he does find it over on Second Avenue by St. Marks Place. And he's able to negotiate a $5 discount to buy it back).

Anne (Run DMZ) asks: "And so, did this playlist that ends with a wacky Frank Zappa tune get you to the end in the time you needed? And were you smiling because of the song or the clock -- or both?" It got me there. And I'm not a muffin.

Patrick (My New Life on the Run) asks: "How are you feeling these couple of days after the race? Where does it still hurt? " Today I feel pretty good. I think I could run tonight, but I need a mental break. The pain Sunday and Monday was, umm, interesting. My calves cramped as soon as I stopped moving. I found a chair and took the load off for a few minutes and was able to hobble around. But, after my post race nap I could barely move. Basically everything from my lower abs down felt like I had been hit by a car. I don't think I was that sore even after my marathon last spring. By yesterday the pain had subsided somewhat to my hip adductors and groins (both sides). It was real difficult to get up out of a chair and move laterally. Today though, I am feeling pretty much back to normal. The only thing I suffered were sore muscles. Nothing more serious than that.

Brian (A Runner's Blog) says: "Your lack of memory during mile 12 reminds me of my half marathon in January. I remember cresting a hill and passing the 11 mile sign near a water station. Then, I remember passing the 12 mile sign just before entering Epcot. I have little memory of what happened in between. I was possibly abducted by aliens, LOL." Oh yeah? Looks who's laughing now (just kidding). It was the strangest thing though. I remember seeing the clock at mile 11 and doing some pace calculations (yes folks, I really am a nerd. My nickname in elementary school was the Walking Encyclopedia. It's bad when your teachers make up the nickname). But, I can't tell you if the marker was on the trail or on the street. I remeber thinking that I could still hit 2:05, but was going to have to string together 2 eight minute miles. Next thing I know I was on the street (means within a mile and a half or so of the finish) going up hill over an overpass. I remember looking ahead and thinking "right turn left turn uphill finish." Then Charlie showed up and I came back to my senses.

Finally, Ms V (Gymnotes) asks: "Didn't I remember you had another race with the perspiration?" Yeah. That was my marathon. But, if you see me on a normal training run you would think I've been carrying a swimming pool on my back. Basically, the garden hose variety perspiration is my body telling me that it has reached lactate threshold - that point where my body starts anerobic metabolism. I have enough experience now to recognize what is happening and to start increasing my fluid intake. On my marathon last June was I didn't know what was going on, didn't increase fluid intake, and suffered greatly for it.

In all seriousness folks, I want to thank each and every one of you for your support of my running "career". Each of you motivates me each day - not only to run, but to make lemonade. Some of you I've had the pleasure of meeting. The rest - I'm going to make it a goal to physically meet each of you at a race somewhere across the US someday. Thanks again!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon Race Report

Back when I used to work at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), we had a saying - "Plan the work, then work the plan." So, Saturday I laid out the plan. What did I do Sunday? Well, suffice it to say the best laid plans of mice and men aren't worth the keystrokes if not followed.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect since this was the inaugural running of this Half Marathon. But, I've been to a couple other races organized by Renegade Racing Series, so I had confidence that they would do the best they could. And they delivered. Tech shirt for Half Marathoners. Plenty of free parking just a short walk from the expo. Porta potties without long lines. Chip timing. Mile markers every mile with accurate clocks every two or three miles. Well staffed water tables with cups just the right size for a drink on the run. And some darn nice scenery along the way!

Everything started great. It was the *perfect* day for running. Temperature was in the low 60's and nice overcast (typical this time of year). I lined up in the starting chute. My best guess is there 500 or so runners for the Half.

Here's a shot of the runners in front of me at the start:

And those behind me:

When the gun went off, it took me about 30 seconds to get to the start mat. As Cindy (my running buddy from Cal Coast) and I ran past the start, we were warmly greeted by Charlie Prokop from the Runner's World California Forum (charliepro). He had driven up from San Diego to run the 10K. More on Charlie later. The start was downhill for the first mile. About three miles in , I still felt strong, so I started pushing a little harder per the plan. The only problem? I was running way too fast. I would end up paying later.

Mile 1: 9:02
Mile 2: 9:11
Mile 3: 9:18
Mile 4: 9:03

In no time, we were off the streets and onto the trail along San Diego Creek. A mile or two after that we hung a left and made our way along South Lake in Woodbridge. The scenery and weather were still outstanding. I still felt strong. Heart rate was a tad over goal (about 155 or so). Pace was still way too fast. I passed the six mile marker and looked at the clock. 54 minutes. Hmm. This could be trouble. I was essentially running at 10K pace. Oh well. My body was telling me to push on.

Up to this point, we had been on the old OC Half Marathon route. At mile 7, we turned into Mason Wilderness Park. More great scenery. We started a long uphill grade for the next mile. I slowed my pace as my legs started feeling some fatigue. The next thing that happened was almost comical in nature. All of a sudden, I started perspiring like someone was spraying me with a garden hose. And I started slowing. And slowing. My legs started feeling my earlier push. Fatigue. Lactate threshold reached! Woo hoo! I tried to push. My heart rate was a little higher than the plan (in the mid 160s at this point) and breathing was still okay. The only thing that was a problem were the legs.

Mile 5: 9:26 (Potty stop)
Mile 6: 9:18
Mile 7: 10:01 (uphill)
Mile 8: 10:29 (Lactate threshold reached!)
Mile 9: 9:59

I settled in and tried best I could to continue pushing forward. I stopped looking at my pace and watched my heart rate. The rest of the plan was just going to have to go by the wayside. I had no legs left! I was in serious pain at this point. I shuffled best I could through the final couple of miles toward the finish.

Mile 10: 10:29 (Pain begins)
Mile 11: 10:24

Remember my mention of the downhill start? Well guess what? We were back on the streets again. That meant a mile and a half uphill finish. Not too steep, but at this point I was drained. I passed the 12 mile marker and started my final push. I don't remember a whole lot past this point. I have no idea what my pace was. I have no idea what my heart rate was. I was hurting. I was well aware that my 2:00 goal was out the window. I was also aware that unless I ran a 5 minute mile, my 2:05 threshold was also gone. But, I wasn't disappointed. I felt that I had left everything I could out on the course and I was making my final push. Right here and right now.

Mile 12: 10:41 (Pain pain pain. Don't really remember much about this mile)

And then, like an angel from heaven, I noticed someone was running next to me. It was Charlie! He asked if he could run me into the finish chute! I gladly accepted and we picked up the pace. The amazing thing is I was able to manage to carry on a conversation! Now, Charlie is a fantastic runner. He is my age (51) and has been running for years. He had run the 10K. He was saying that it just wasn't his day today. All he did was finish 8th overall, 1st in our age group. 38 minutes and change. Wow. And he still had enough to find me and give me the push I needed to move into the finish. We dropped down into the 7:50s for the final 800 meters. Thanks Charlie! I needed that final push.

Mile 13: 10:01 (Final push begins)
Mile 13.1: 7:53 (Heck for a tenth of a mile anyone can do it)

I ran into the chute and followed blindly what I was being told to do. "Half marathon? To the left." "Here's your medal." "Let me remove your timing chip sir." At this point, my calves were cramping. I was only interested in two things. Water and a seat. I had no idea what my finish time was. I grabbed a couple bottles of water and made it back to the Cal Coast tent and collapsed into a plastic chair. It was only then that there were high fives all around. My time - 2:08.14 by Garmin, 2:09.07 officially by chip. Officially almost a 10 minute PR! Yeah - I missed my goal and my threshold, but I left everything I had out there. I was happy. I was tired!

After a couple of bottles of water, I hobbled around the expo for a while. There was something for everyone. I hadn't noticed, but somewhere along the line the Sun had made it out and it was a prime, beautiful Southern California day. Petting zoo. Rock wall. Kiddie rides. Free Taco Bell. Free recovery drinks. Jamba juice. Beer garden. There were several thousand people enjoying the post race festivities. Well done Renegade Racing!

So, what did I learn yesterday? A few things:
  1. Plan the work then work the plan. I went out way too fast. I ended up paying for it.
  2. Lactate threshold is a reality. Almost on queue. 8 miles in I went from an average pace of 9:14 to a 10:30 mile. I ended up at a 9:50 pace for the duration.
  3. I need to run more miles. My last training cycle I averaged around 32 miles a week. I need to ramp up and build some extra strength and conditioning. 45 mpw here I come!
  4. A well organized race makes running it a lot of fun. You can bet I'll be back for this one next year!
I'm now going to take a couple days off. Run today? Heck, I can barely walk!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Half Marathon Playlist

Okay folks. I normally don't post twice a day, but I just finished putting my iPod playlist together for tomorrow's run. Are you ready? Here it is:

Bitter Sweet Symphony -The Verve
El Cascabel - Mariachi sol de mexico
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
Take Me to the River - Talking Heads
Once In a Lifetime - Talking Heads
The Real Me - The Who
Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy - Devo
Love Shack - B 52's
Private Idaho - B 52's
Detachable Penis - King Missile
Who Was In My Room Last Night - Butthole Surfers
Goofy's Concern - Butthole Surfers
The Annoying Song - Butthole Surfers
Redneck Rampage - Mojo Nixon
I Can't Surf - Reverend Horton Heat
Right Here, Right Now - Fatboy Slim
The Rockafeller Skank - Fatboy Slim
Hey Boys, Hey Girls - Chemical Brothers
Do It Again - Chemical Brothers
Galvanize - Chemical Brothers
Gone In 60 Seconds Megamix - Chemical Brothers
2 many DJs - Chemical Brothers
Radioactivity - Kraftwerk
Aero Dynamik - Kraftwerk
Tour de France (Original 1983) - Kraftwerk
Tick Tick Boom - The Hives
Walk Idiot Walk - The Hives
I'm In Miami Bitch - LMFAO
Get Crazy - LMFAO
Hot 'N Cold - LMFAO
Aero Dynamik - Kraftwerk
Latin Sagebrush - Down To The Bone
Muffin Man [Live] - Captain Beefheart/Frank Zappa & the Mothers

There it is. Two and a half hours of tunes. I especially like the last one. If I hear it then it's lyrics will ring true - "Girl, you thought he was a man, but he was a muffin!"

Setting an Appropriate Goal

(Sorry about being late here today. Power went out at home this morning. It's amazing just how reliant we are on electricity! Even the pilots on the gas appliances are electric these days! Hmph.)

I'll start today's blog with the answer to yesterday's question. The question was - other than "The Last Tango in Paris", what were the only X-rated movies to receive Oscar nominations? The answer - Midnight Cowboy (1969) and a Clockwork Orange (1973). Now for a little more useless trivia - Midnight Cowboy is the only X-Rated movie to win an Oscar - Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. AKA Alice got one of the two (I want her on my Jeopardy team).

Okay - back to today's topic. First, to all of you who have sent me emails, tweets and blog comments wishing me luck tomorrow - Thanks! I appreciate the thoughts and wishes. I am humbled by how good and speedy some of you think I am. But, I'm also going to be realistic. My current Half Marathon PR is 2:18.56. I would love to lop off 19 minutes. The McMillan Running Calculator predicts somewhere between 1:57 (based on my recent 5K) and 2:04 (based on my recent 10K). To get to 2 hours, I would need to average 9:09 over 13.1 miles. Can I do it? Maybe. I think the only thing setting me back is having to cart my svelte 216 pounds for 13 plus miles.

So, here is what I'm going to do. I am going to set a goal. That goal is 1:59.99. Appropriate? The data says so. If I make it, I'll be on cloud nine. Then, I'm setting a 2:05 threshold (9:30 pace). If I hit this, I'll be pretty happy with where I am now, but I'll know that I still am working toward my ultimate goal.

I need a race plan. For that, I am going to refer back to The Competitive Runner's Handbook. I should plan on running somewhere between 85% and 90% of lactate threshold. LT occurs at about 93% of max heart rate (185). So, I'll keep my heart rate around 150 for the first half of the race, and then push it later. I know I can run effectively for a few miles up around 170, and can put a finishing spurt on as high as 180 to 185. I'll let that dictate my overall pace.

I'll also follow Glover's suggestions about pacing. I'll go out a little slower than goal at the outset of the race. I'll try to settle in at a 9:30 for a couple of miles just to get warmed up. Once I'm past the first couple of miles, I'll settle in to a pace that puts me at a 150 heart rate. I'm not sure how many people are running this race (remember there is another HUGE race going on close by), so I'm not sure if I'll be able to run with a group. If I can, I'll settle with one for six miles or so. At this point, I'll be about 8 to 9 miles in. If everything is going right, I'll push the pace just a little to drive my heart rate into the 160 to 165 range for the next 2 to 3 miles. I'll look for other runners close by, throw a virtual lasso around them and reel 'em in. This is important because most will be slowing down at this point. I can't let myself stay with the flow. Finally, at 12 miles, I'll give whatever I have left, drive my heart rate up to 170 for the final mile, before a final push at 13 miles. Whatever the time is the time is.

Here we go! Woo hoo!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thank You AKA Alice!

AKA Alice of Hefferblog was the only one who publicly admitted to understanding my obtuse movie reference in yesterday's blog! I owe you a mimosa when we meet (and you know it's just a matter of time before that happens at some race along the coast). Thanks for playing along!

Alice also pointed out that the Half that I'm running on Sunday looks like it's pretty flat. Yup! I'm no dummy! I was disappointed at my last Half back in January (but I was also injured). I wanted to run another Half that would give me a chance at something in the low 2 hour range (more on that goal tomorrow). Also, I wanted something local. Not that I won't drive, but with so many close races to choose from, there is no reason to schlep very far. I basically had three races to choose from.

I could have chosen the Palos Verdes Marathon (and Half). This is a smaller race with a local feel - kind of like the last couple of races I've run. It is also has a reputation as one of the tougher in the Los Angeles area with hills galore. This means harder work for my goal. Unlikely.

Sunday is very interesting. The Orange County Marathon (and Half) starts literally one mile from my front door. I can walk to the start line. But, the Half runs most of my normal, daily training trails. Kind of boring if you ask me. Also, while the course does not have a bunch of hills, it is not flat either. So - convenience got a huge plus, allowing me to reach my goal - not as tough as PV, but could also be a challenge - especially the hill at mile 11:

The third race to choose from is also on Sunday. The PCRF Cinco de Mayo is a Half/10K/5K option that starts at the Irvine Spectrum, about 10 miles from home. The only "hills"on this course are the overpasses over the freeway. Nice! The negatives - runs through some pretty boring residential and industrial neighborhoods. Plus, this is the first year that this race includes a Half Marathon option. But, it is flat and it is close to home. Two for two.

The choice was tough, but I ended up choosing PCRF. The OC was a close second. Being able to walk to the start line was very enticing. The crowds would be nice (right now the OC Marathon has about 10,000 registered runners). But running for two hours on the same trails that I train on would have been the ultimate in boring. I'm sure the crowd support won't be there on my Half - which means it's just me and my running partner me. Kind of like a normal training day.

As far a training, I put in my last three miles on this cycle last night. Now it's two days of rest (that's right Patrick) and some reasonable eating leading up to Sunday's race.

Oh - and the obtuse movie reference? 1973. Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. The movie was the highly controversial "Last Tango in Paris". One of only three X rated movies to get Academy Award nominations (Brando for Best Actor, Bertolucci for Best Director). What were the other two? Guess you'll need to come back tomorrow!