Friday, October 30, 2009

Change of Plans

Well, I had every intention of getting my run in on Thursday. Two mile warm-up, 3 X 1600 at 10K pace, one mile warm down. Hopped in my car and headed to the local High School (Corona del Mar) to hit the padded track (yes - elitist). As I came driving up in the car, I noticed something that I usually don't see at the track. People! Yikes! A JV football game! So much for using this track!

Oh well. I'm still in recovery, so I'm not going to sweat it.

Since I don't have anything running wise to write about, maybe it's time to answer my One-Word challenge. I've been tagged by two bloggers that I follow religiously, Zoe of run, zoe, run and lindsay of chasing the kenyans. So - here goes:

Answer the following questions with only one-word answers:

1. Where is your cell phone? Charging
2. Your hair? Gray
3. Your mother? Alive
4. Your father? Alive
5. Your favorite food? Mexican
6. Your dream last night? None
7. Your favorite drink? Diet Pepsi (two words, but one product)
8. Your dream/goal? Win
9. What room are you in? Den
10. Your hobby? Running
11. Your fear? Failure
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Home
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something you aren't? Fast
15. Muffins? No
16. Wish list item? Porsche
17. Where did you grow up? SoCal
18. Last thing you did? Eat
19. What are you wearing? Clothes
20. Your tv? Off
21. Your pets? Gato
22. Your friends? Old
23. Your life? Good
24. Your mood? Frustrated
25. Missing someone? No
26. Vehicle? BMW
27. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
28. Your favorite store? REI
29. Your favorite color? Blue
30. When was the last time you laughed? About 2 minutes ago
31. Last time you cried? 10/11/2009 (Long Beach Marathon)
32. Your best friend? Wife
33. One place that you go over and over? Bishop
34. One person who emails you regularly? Hmmm.
35. Favorite place to eat? El Tepeyac (Sorry. Can't count)

So there you go. More than I certainly want to remember about myself. (:->) Hmm.

Today (Friday) was a rest day. I'll be up bright and early tomorrow for an 8 mile slogfest.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beach Run

Things are returning to "normal" post Long Beach. Yesterday made three running days in a row, and the little tweaks I was feeling last week are slowly working themselves out. My quads and hips still get sore after a run, but at least I feel like I'm moving again and not running in wet cement.

I made it down to Crystal Cove for my planned 4 mile run last night. It's been a windy couple of days here, so I thought that I would take advantage of all of the dust in the air to capture some "Sunset on the Pacific" photos:



Once I took these photos, I dropped down from the bluff onto the beach and jogged on the sand. It was cool and blustery - not another soul on the beach:


video

One of the cool things about Crystal Cove is that in the 1920's and 30's, there was a bunch of vacation bungalows on the beach. Those were the days when this was *way* out in the country. About 5 or 6 years ago, the State of California evicted the residents and have turned the bungalows into vacation rentals. There is no other place in California quite like it:

Here is the view if you stay in one of those cabins (sorry for the lousy quality - this one was MMS'd to a friend):

video

And if you get hungry, well, there's always The Beachcomber restaurant:


If I say so myself, what a way to end a day!


Tonight I'm back on the track for some easy mile repeats.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back on Track - Literally

I was back on *the* track last night. Even if my running isn't quite back *on* track yet. Last night's interval session was one 1200 and 3 800s. Since I was a little sore and tired, I did the 1200 but then opted for three 400's (basically just peeled off after a lap):

Interval 1 (1200): 5:40 (8:18 pace)
Interval 2 (400): 1:48 (7:55 pace)
Interval 3 (400): 1:52 (8:12 pace)
Interval 4 (400): 1:58 (8:39 pace)

You can see the trend here. Basically, the 1200 wiped me out. I just didn't have the legs to get me through the 800s anyways. Oh well. I *am* still recovering (hands in pockets whistling). With warm ups and warm downs I ended up putting in 5 miles total.

Today I'm going to slow down and take it easy. I'll hit up Crystal Cove for a quick four mile run. Gotta remember the iPhone - the winds yesterday stirred up a lot of dust. Should make for a nice sunset!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Starting a Streak?

Hopefully I am off on the right foot now. I say "hopefully" because I'm awfully sore and tired today for only running four miles last night. I went backthrough my blog archives to see if I experienced the same after San Diego, but it turned out that I never got this far in a recovery cycle back then before having my cycling accident. This is really the first time I've done a post marathon recovery cycle, so I'm not sure if this is normal or not. My legs are feeling pretty tired and my lower back a little sore for running such a short distance.

Stats on yesterday's run: 4 miles average pace of 9:22. My heart rate was a little high at 82% of max, a little higher than the target 75%. After reviewing the data, I found that I spent a lt of time in the 80% to 85% of max range, so I'll slow down Thursday's workout.

Tonight's workout will be on the track with Cal Coast. If it's anything like last week, I'll be sucking wind in the first 800 yards. Oh well. No pain no gain. I guess.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Running Fail

"Welcome back to class after the weekend! Mr. Jones - would you like to share with the class what you did this weekend?"

"Ummm. Nothing?"


Yup! That was me! Weekend running FAIL! I got up Saturday morning ready to do my seven miles. But this cup of coffee started calling me - "Oh Glenn! Oh Glennnn! Why would you want to leave the warmth and comfort of the comfy chair when you can have my yummy deliciousness?" Needless to say, Mr. Coffee was quite persuasive.

Then, Sunday. More of the same. Except this time it was the pumpkin pancake mix calling from the pantry. Then I went outside for a classic Southern California fall day. Sigh.


It all came to a head when I got on the scale last night. Double sigh. I'm up three pounds since Long Beach. Which isn't too bad considering how much I've been eating, no, inhaling, the past couple of weeks. Which really points out why I need to get back to the trails. So, after my pathetic 11 mile week, I'll get back on track this week:

Monday: 4 miles GA. Stretching and core afterwards.
Tuesday: Intervals on the track. I believe this week will be 2 X 1200, 1 X 800. 6 miles total.
Wednesday: 4 miles GA. Stretching and core afterwards.
Thursday: 3 X 1600 with 400 active rest. 2 mile warm up, 1 mile warm down. 6.75 miles total.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles GA
Sunday: 35 minute tempo (about 3.5 miles)
Total: 32.25 miles

I also need to get back to calorie tracking. In the past, I've used SparkPeople with good success. When I started training for Long Beach, I put the calories counting on the back burner. Now that the mega miles are over for a while, it's time to get back on the counting wagon. My goal is to drop about 10 pounds between now and the end of the year.

I was all ready to get started up with SparkPeople again when a tweeter told me about a similar iPhone app. I thought that using an iPhone app would not only be cool, but would be super convenient. So I downloaded and started playing with the app. What I found just blew me away!


The app is called Lose It! and is in the app store. As with any other calorie tracking app, you are directed to some goal screens, where you enter gender, birthdate, current weight, goal weight and goal date. The program then calculates your calorie budget and you're ready to go!



The program is easy and intuitive. Entering a food from the very comprehensive food database is simple and intuive.





Not only are there the standard foods (e.g., bread, milk, eggs, etc.) but food are also categorized by manufacturer - like in this search for Grandma's Oatmeal cookies:



Then, what absolutely blew me away? A entire database of restaurant food! I can enter my In-n-Out Double-Double!


So now I have no excuse to not track my calories, unless of course I decide to stop carrying my phone. And the best part? This application is free!!!!!

So despite my weekend running FAIL, I'm ready to get back on track here this week. Hopefully Mr. Coffee won't waft his aroma my way for a few days.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Took an Extra Day Off

Thursday was supposed to be an easy day on the track. But, I'm approaching this recovery cycle as mental as well as physical recovery. So, when my legs and hips told Mr. Brain they were still sore and tired from Tuesday, Mr. Brain decided this would be a good day to take off. So we did.

But don't worry - I'm not turning into a lazy slug. I spent most of Friday on my feet in a wonderful little town on the Central Coast - San Luis Obispo. My youngest son had a day off school, so, along with my daughter, we moseyed on up the coast to visit one of the premier schools in California - California State Polytechnic University - better known as Cal Poly SLO. Cal Poly is a unique school - there are no undeclared majors, you start classes in your major on day one, and every class has a "lab" associated with it. As a result, graduates are in high demand. Last year for example, over *all* majors, the average starting salary for a new graduate was $52,500. We ended up having a *great* tour of campus.

Afterwards, since the weather was so perfect* (how does 91 degrees in late October grab you?), we headed into Downtown San Luis Obispo for lunch and some sightseeing. Now, San Luis Obispo (called SLO Town by many) is your quintessential college town. Total population is around 45,000, of which half is the student population of Cal Poly. The town is really geared toward the school, and vice versa. It's is just so cool to be in that type of environment. Especially so close to L.A. (SLO is about 4 1/2 hours drive from home)!

Some of the unique things around SLO:

Bubble Gum Alley: Yes that abc (already been chewed) gum on the walls:



F. Mclintock Bar and Saloon: My son attempting to eat the "Baron of Higuera" - a 1 1/2 pound monstrosity. Eat it and all the trimmings and get a t-shirt and your mug on the "wall of fame".


Hmm. The kid better be working it off:


Homecoming weekend in small town California:

video

Downtown San Luis Obispo:


I'm not a drinker, but I understand that SLO and Santa Ynez Valley winery tours are the bomb for the grownups!

Later today it will be seven easy miles. Legs and hips have told Mr. Brain it's okay to proceed....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time for a Marathon Debrief

At this point, the Long Beach Marathon is legend. I look back fondly at my journey through the streets of Long Beach and laugh at all the trials and tribulations. That means that I'm probably ready to take an honest view of what worked and what didn't.

What Worked
(1) Long runs. Many of them. All in all, I put in 2 20 milers and 4 other runs over 16 miles. And dozens of runs over 10 miles. This time I had the confidence that the distance would not be a problem.
(2) Multiple dress rehearsals. I put in three runs that I would classify as full dress rehearsals. Wore the clothes that I wore on Marathon day. Down to the same socks and shoes. Practiced everything (except drinking on the run).
(3) Fuels and electrolytes: No cramping this time. So the gels and Endurolytes worked. Also, my last dress rehearsal let me know I needed more electrolytes than one capsule every 30 minutes.
(4) Miles. And more miles. Long slow ones. 750 of them. While they didn't make me fast, they gave me the confidence that despite my lat marathon experience, 26.2 miles was within my grasp.
(5) Fueling strategy. I said this before. Breaking this race into a series of 3 mile runs was key.

What Didn't
(1) 24 week training plan. Too long. Somewhere around week 16 or so I was ready for it to be over.
(2) Pfitzinger. Just too much for this new runner in an old body. About the same time I was burning out, I was also breaking down. Spent the last 5 or 6 weeks continually tired. I thought that having two rest days a week would be good, but the grind of the medium long runs during the week got to me.

When I look at the list above, there is only one thing that really stands out. 24 weeks of Pfitzinger. Just too many miles for too long for me. Interestingly, I didn't break down physically (well, except for two weeks of the creeping grunge), but mentally I was toast.

What's Changing
Albert Enstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And he seemed like a pretty bright guy. So it's time to make a few adjustments.
The big change is that I'm going to go back to Hal Higdon. I had good results with his plans in the past. I'll start with his Advanced-I Marathon Plan. The big differences are 18 weeks, and only one day a week off. With Higdon, recovery occurs using short runs (3 - 4 miles) instead of the extra day off and long recovery runs.

Then, somewhere around the midpoint, I do a reality check and see how I feel. If I still feel good, I'll continue down the path. If not, I'll step back to his Intermediate-II Marathon Plan. One of my FB/Twitter friends followed this course for Chicago and whacked about an hour off her marathon time.


For now, it's back to recovery (3 easy miles last night).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday Track Workout

Now that marathon training is over, I joined my pals with Cal Coast last night and did Tuesday's track workout. Or tried to. My plan called for an easy 4X400 session. Coach had a 1200 followed by 2 X 800. I figured I'd look like a real dunce peeling off after 400, so I went with the flow. The good news is I got that 1200 in. The bad news is I had no legs left for the 2 X 800. So I did a bastardized interval session:

Interval 1: 1200 at 7:30 pace
Interval 2: 400 at 7:30 pace
Interval 3: 400 at 7:45 pace

I was actually pretty pleased with the first interval. I didn't feel like I was really sucking wind right up to the last 100 yards or so. I ended up hitting 98% of MHR (183 bpm) at the finish line. Overall I put in 5 miles at an average heart rate of 79% of max. Average pace was 9:27 per mile. Not too shabby. I'm paying for it this morning though with sore legs and hips. I need to admit that last night was a great ego boost after spending so much time going long and slow the past weeks.

On schedule today is a 3 miler. Nice and easy. I'll keep reminding myself. Nice and easy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marathonitis

This should be a wikipedia entry: "Marathonitis is a mental disease that affects runners. It is highly contagious and transmitted through contact with other infected runners. In it mild form, it is makes people give up their lives for 18 to 24 weeks at a time while they train to put themselves through 26.2 miles of pain and discomfort. The only treatment know is to allow the patient to run said 26.2 miles, and use behavior modification a few days later by reminding them about the pain and discomfort. If successful, the patient will run fewer miles at a slower pace. If treatment is unsuccessful, Matahonitis can progress to a more serious state. In it's acute form, Marathonitis can make the subject attempt feats of superhuman effort by running multiple marathons in quick succession. . Unfortunately, while treatment may resolve symptoms, there is no cure. The only known prevention is to avoid contact with infected runners"

I am happy to report that right now I have a mild case, and am on the road to recovery. My recovery protocol this week:

Monday: 3 miles GA, stretching, core
Tuesday: 5 miles - 2 mile warm up, 4X400 intervals at 5K pace with 400 rest, 1 mile warm down
Wednesday: 3 miles GA, stretching, core
Thursday: 6.75 miles - 2 mile warm up, 3 X 1600 at MP with 400 rest, 1 mile warm down
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 7 miles GA
Sunday: 30 minute tempo run (about 3 miles)
Total: Around 27.75 miles.

I know I'm in recovery because I can't tell you how nice it is to look at that schedule and *not* see any double digit runs.

I whipped out a very enjoyable 3 miler last night. And since it's Tuesday, I'll be back on the track tonight for an *easy* set of 400's. I'm back to enjoying this running thing again....

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's Next?

This was a question that I have been putting off for a while now. I wanted to stay focused on Long Beach. I didn't want to stop and think about next races and next training plans until the one at hand was done. But now it's time to change my "Next Up" sidebar.

First off, it's time to meet Magazine Smiles, Run DMZ, and aka Alice and the rest of the Herd. I've been a big fan of all of them for a long time. We've been passing each other like ships in the night at various races up and down the coast between Orange County and San Diego (about 80 miles apart). I've never had the pleasure of meeting them. akaAlice was thinking about coming up for Long Beach, but after some thought, decided against it (she has been fighting some nagging injuries for several months and made the wise choice). I made her a promise that if she skipped on Long Beach, I'd sign up for a race near her. So, I signed up for the Shelter Island 5K in San Diego on November 8th! It looks like a great course around the harbor! Of course, as aka Alice pointed out to me, the Champagne Brunch doesn't hurt either.

Thanksgiving Day is causing me some heartburn. Normally I run the Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K. But this race has just gotten bigger and bigger and bigger over time. Last year it was so crowded that I couldn't really "run" until mile 4. I hate not doing that race (I've done it 3 years in a row now), but the crowds are making it not fun. So, I think I'm moving down the coast a little ways (about 20 more miles) and running The Oceanside Turkey Trot 5K instead.

December is also up in the air. Last year I ran the Make Room for Santa 10K in Irvine and had a great time. It is *definitely* under consideration as a repeat. I'm also eyeing something a little different - a trail race. I've told you about my running at Crystal Cove State Park - well there is a 17K trail race that is part of the Xterra Series. I'll flip a coin in the next couple of weeks.

For January I need to make up my mind whether I want to race or not. The obvious choice for me would be the Southern California Half Marathon, run in nearby Irvine. I ran it last year. The course is flat and fast and definitely on the list to be run again. But, I just want to make sure that it's something that fits into my training schedule and that I feel physically ready to do it. I'll postpone this decision until early to mid December.

February is easy. Superbowl Sunday it will be the Surf City Half. Can you say Tweetup?!?!? After our Long Beach tweetup, plans were put into motion for this race. This one fills up quickly, so I will be registering in the next week or so. And, if you are on Twitter, are thinking about running this race, and the sound of an awesome tweetup sounds interesting, follow us on Twitter at @runsurfcity. Guaranteed fun for all attending!

And that leaves March. Let's call it goal month. Long Beach was such a positive experience, I think I was about mile 24 when I made up my mind. I'm running another one of these things! The only question was which one. I am very fortunate to have many many races to choose from all within a couple hours drive from home. In November it's the Malibu Marathon. In January it's all about Carlsbad. In February it's Surf City or the Pasadena Marathon. In March it's Catalina or Los Angeles. In April it's the Camp Pendelton Hard Corps Marathon. In May it's the Orange County Marathon. In June it would be time for San Diego Rock n' Roll. Choices choices choices. The most convenient is the Orange County Marathon, which starts less than a mile from home. The least convenient would be the Catalina Marathon, which would require a 2 hour boat ride to get to the island. Bottom line is they are all top notch races within easy traveling distance.

But I have to choose one, and the winner this year is going to be the 25th Los Angeles Marathon. There is a new course this year that will start near downtown L.A. (actually at Dodger Stadium) and run through Downtown, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West L.A. and finally ends at the ocean in Santa Monica. As a native Los Angeleno, it just seems like such a neat idea to run through so many neighborhoods that I grew up around!

So there you have it. Decision made. I start a 4 week recovery plan today. From there it's onto Los Angeles Marathon XXV!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Post Marathon Week

Whew. All that writing made my hands tired! I need to stop for a second and thank all of you for taking the time to settle back and relive the torture experience. I appreciate that you all are willing to give up a little of your day to read about my exploits!

The best thing about finishing a goal race of any distance, but especially the longer ones, is that you get a little time back for a week or two while recovering. I've been enjoying that this week. I have put in a few miles, but my legs still feel pretty trashed. Here's the synopsis:

Monday: Couldn't move. Should have used a hand truck to have someone push me around from place to place like a stack of boxes.
Tuesday: A little better. Quads still hurt like hell. At least I could hobble down the hallway to the can. For the first time I realize how tired my arms and shoulders are. Amazingly calves and lower back are fine. About midday my appetite turns back on. Start searching for anything that is edible. Anything. Even insects aren't safe.
Wednesday: Feeling much better. Head out for my first post marathon run. 3 miles @ 9:32 pace. Feels good to air it out a little. Actually feels better to not be running 10 miles.
Thursday: Ouch. Legs really trashed. Should do a quick three or four miler. Dodgers on TV. No way will I run if I can watch them! (P.S. - I should have run).
Friday: Feeling better than Thursday. Wife makes Costco trip. She's wondering where all the food in the house has gone. I better not get on the scale. Thank goodness for the Phillies bullpen. I can run without being upset before it gets dark. Rip off four miles at Crystal Cove (hills involved). Shocked when done becuase the Garmin says 9:41 pace. Sit down in the car and realize just how tired my legs still are.
Today: Three miles with fellow Cal Coast club members. Double check watch. It's 8:30 on a Saturday morning and I'm done for the day. What now? Drum fingers on desk. Eat some of the fruits of wife's Costco trip.

So there you have the gist of it. I've put in 10 miles this week. It is soooooo nice to not be running crazy miles for a change. And I've been eating. Scale says I've gained about three pounds. Whew. If that's all then I'm pleased.

On a serious note though - I have been *exhausted* all week. I am normally up between 4:30 and 5 in the morning. This week it's been nothing before 6. It's amazing that I've been able to delay eating for that hour.

I *did* receive a special treat this week. Wednesday evening I headed to the Newport Back Bay for my planned 3 mile run. I happened to get down to the bay just as the sun was setting:



Yeah. That's where I get to run.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Longer Half

The first thing you'll probably notice about today's installment is the lack of pictures. That's because this is where this marathon thing started getting serious. I hit the half point at 2:23 and a few seconds. This put me somewhere around 30 to 45 seconds behind goal. The growing pain in my quads was telling me there could be trouble ahead. I settled in for another 13 plus miles.

Mile 13: 11:31
Mile 14: 11:44
Mile 15: 11:12
Avg pace after 15 miles: 11:05 ugh

They say that a marathon is as much mental as it is physical. I was starting to feel like I was beat. My goal pace was a thing of the past. And I wasn't speeding up. Nor did I have the legs left to speed up. Somewhere in here "they" threw in a hill too. Not that it was really a hill, but in my state it was the final blow. It was time to exercise my brain. What follows is the honest truth. I started thinking. Not about all the miles that I had run and the hours that I had put in. About making this happen. About not giving in. About all of you who had been sending well wishes and encouragement the past weeks. About how bad this Marathon play list was that was blaring in my head. About HTFU wimp!

Then, I made the turn at mile 16 and saw her. Chicrunner was coming down the street. I can tell you she was *not* smiling. She had determination written on her face. I shouted and she turned and feebly smiled, but it was obvious that she had something else in mind. She passed like the wind - several hundred yards in front of the 4:15 pace group.

I turned and bore down. I thought about one thing - mile 18....

Mile 16: 11:44
Mile 17: 12:39
Mile 18: 13:53
Avg pace after 18 miles: 11:22

Just past mile 18, we turned onto the campus of California State University, Long Beach. I also came to the realization that there was nothing I was going to do to recover and make my 4:45 goal. It was time to enjoy the rest of this thing we call a Marathon.

Long Beach State was one of the highlights of this marathon. Students were out in force to cheer us on! I slowed down and took some video as I passed through.

video

This also had to be the longest mile on the course. It seemed like it went on forever and ever. But, I lumbered up the hill at the back of campus, came back down a steepish little decline, and popped off the campus to mile 19. And there she was again! Ingrid - this time with Renee cheering us on! I pulled up for some PB&J sandwiches and a handshake (yeah - I'm not hugging anyone either when I'm a sweat soaked mess). I could not believe what an emotional pickup it was to see their smiling faces and hear their screams and cheering! I've got to admit now. Even if I'm not running a local marathon - I'm going to be there on my bike to cheer my friends on! Thank you Ingrid and Renee!

At that point, it was time to put my head down, and get my feet moving (now ever so slow and getting slower). I was relegated to power walking and slow jogging at this point. My target? You guessed it! Gel/Endurolyte packet at mile 21!

Mile 19: 12:26
Mile 20: 13:29
Mile 21: 11:58
Avg pace after 21 miles: 11:32

I was actually enjoying myself. Now - don't get me wrong. There was pain. My quads were thrashed. My back was tired. But - I was also amazed. There were no cramps. No blisters or hot spots on my feet. I was amazed at how mile 20 had just come and gone. I was now out in that "no man's" land that we don't train for. I was slowing down with each successive mile, but, unlike San Diego, I was in control. I was passing through mile 22. Remembering that last hill before mile 23. Running (that's actually a stretch) the other direction at the split. Focusing on Mile 24 for my last gel.

Mile 22: 13:10
Mile 23: 13:01
Mile 24: 13:32
Avg pace after 24 miles: 11:45

At this point I was pretty much spent. My "running" had turned into part time brisk walk, part time jog. But there were only two miles left. I had all the motivation that I needed. I was doing it this time on *my* terms. Maybe not at *my* pace, but the Marathon Monster had not beat me down.

Mile 25: 14:24
Mile 26: 14:24
Avg pace after 26 miles: 11:58

I wish there was someway to accurately describe the last two tenths for someone who hasn't been there before. My first time through in 2008 was like a relief. I remember just being numb. I don't remember any emotion. I remember just wanting to get off my feet. I was in serious pain. Blistered feet. Cramping calves. Nauseous.

This time though was like night and day. I took my camera out and made sure it was flipped into video mode. I was aware of my surroundings. I made the left turn into the finish chute. I dug down and started running again. I started passing people. That digital clock was pulling me in. I heard people yelling. At me! For me! "Go go!" "You've earned it!" "Yeah!" I heard my name! It was my son and daughter standing right at the finish! I still get choked up reliving the final .2. Excuse me while I dab away some tears.

I hit the finish line with arms raised. This time victory! And yes. This time there was emotion. The course did not chew me up and spit me out. I had to make some compromises, but I finished. And I finished on my feet.

Final 0.2: 6:10 (This time was actually for the final .55, and can you believe it? I forgot to turn the watch off when I crossed the line!)

Final time: 5:16:31 for a 12:05 average. My Garmin actually read 26.55 when said and done. the difference of .35 miles can easily add up over the course by not hitting the tangents at the curves, zigzagging through runners, detouring to say hi to people etc.

Post Race
To be honest, the post race was just kind of bleh. I was interested in one thing. WATER!!! I made it through the chute, had a metal put over my neck, and grabbed a couple bottles of water. There was plenty of food, recovery drinks, etc., but to be honest the last thing I felt like was eating. I found a nice place on the grass and took a load off my feet. For the first time I took an assessment of where I was physically. My quads were dust. But - I had no chafing. No blisters. No nothing. Within about 10 minutes I was up to find my kids, get my bag, and hit up Roscoe's for some real food! This one was history! Next please.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh the Humanity!

I think that best describes Sunday morning. Wave after wave after wave of people. All of us with the same goal.


But I'm getting ahead of myself here. For me, the morning started out at 3:50. I woke up before either of my alarms went off. Call it pre-race jitters. It was nice and warm under the covers, and since the coffee maker wasn't set to turn on until 4:00, I did the wise thing that my years of experience have taught me and rolled over for a few more moments of bliss. Finally, around 4:15 I yanked myself out of bed and grabbed some coffee. Since everything had been set out the night before, getting ready was easy, even in my groggy state. I found the Body Glide and applied it liberally to all those troublesome places - inner thighs, soles of my feet, and, um, mid chest. I got dressed just like I had practiced the night before. My morning started nice and relaxed, and I was out the door at 4:45.


First stop? Do you folks actually think I'm kidding about my pre-race breakfast? (Gosh - they *do* look like animal turds though):


With apple fritter and coffee in hand, I headed on down the freeway to my pre-paid parking spot. I had about a half mile walk to the festivities, so I gathered by bag, put on my runner's raincoat (to stay warm) and joined the others walking south. I got to the start area just as the cyclists took off at 6 AM.


I was now officially nervous. I put the rest of my gear on and got my bag checked in. I wandered through the gathering crowds and socialized with a few folks that I knew (Ron and Paul whom I had met the night before, Cindy and Kelly from Cal Coast).

Next, I positioned myself near the back of the 4th wave, turned my Garmin on, popped a couple of Endurolytes, and took a seat on the curb and relaxed. I was actually suffering from a mean case of butterflies. To the point that I was wondering if my first dash was going to be back to the porta potties. I tried to take my mind off my situation. I noticed for the first time that it was light out. Overcast and comfortable. Perfect running weather!


It wasn't but 10 minutes later when the starter called the first wave to the line, and the start gun sounded. Each time the gun sounded, we would inch forward in anticipation of the start. Finally at 7:15 it was our turn. Bang! Wave 4 was off. As San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome would be saying, "whether you like it or not!" (inside joke for us Californians). I was committed. Marathon 2 was underway.

video

The first three miles of the course were out and back and looping and every which way along the streets that the Long Beach Grand Prix runs on. The number of people were amazing. Everywhere I looked all I could see were people.




The highlight at mile 3 was my first gel/Endurolyte pack to be washed down with water from the Hooter's water station. I was so focused that I didn't even realize who was handing me the water! Oh well. Next time I'll have to pay attention.

Mile 1: 10:54
Mile 2: 10:38
Mile 3: 11:06
Avg pace: 10:53. Dead on!

At mile 4 we hit our first "hill" as we crested an overpass to drop back into downtown. There were still people everywhere!
So now, cue up embarassing moment #1. I'm running along sweating like a pig. Next thing I notice, some cutie is running next to me and gives me a big hug! It was Ingrid! I guess she had been following me on her bike for a while. I had basically tuned everything out so in her last ditch effort to say hi she had to hop off her bike! She passed along the news that she would be cheering me on at mile 19 with sandwiches! I guess I was committed now!

The next two miles had us running through Rainbow Harbor and the Pike with it's restaurants and tourist attractions. And it's concrete brick paths. And with waves of humanity. Still.

Somewhere along this stretch I remember hitting a mean headwind. I also remember stepping aside and getting a picture of the old versus the new. Even though it was going to cost me some time, it's not everyday I see this kind of stuff. Man those new cruise ships are gigantic!

Mile 4: 10:38
Mile 5: 10:29
Mile 6: 11:53 (includes potty stop)
Avg pace after 6 miles: 10:57

Eventually we made it out of Rainbow Harbor and onto the boardwalk. To be more accurate, the concrete sidewalk. And more humanity. At this point I was catching up with some of the slower runners. Passing became a real problem due to the crowds on the path. I was being held back, but passing meant being like Joe Frazier and doing the old bob and weave.


Cue up embarassing moment #2 here. I'm running along minding my own business. George Clinton and P-Funk in my ears (by the way B.o.B. and DMZ - this was the *only* music that worked for me on Sunday). I look to my left and see a sign that says something to the effect "Go Danica, Ron, Zach, Shelley, Glenn". I thought to myself - how odd that someone would be cheering for a bunch of folks with names the same as some that I know. Then about half a mile later - DOH!!!!! It was Nina (@ncjack) cheering us on. How rude of me to not even stop and thank them! So thanks Nina!

Mile 7: 10:52
Mile 8: 11:01
Mile 9: 10:43
Avg pace after 9 miles: 10:55. Looks like this might be doable!

In a couple of miles we would be making the big split from the Half Marathoners. I downed a gel and popped a couple of Endurloytes at mile 9 and pushed on along the boardwalk. At mile 10 we made a 180 degree turn and headed back toward downtown. For the first time I was feeling fatigue in my legs. It was really disheartening. All the training and all the miles and here I am no different than I was back in May when I started fatiguing at mile 10. I fought on through as we made our way up the slight incline to "The Split" at Mile 11.


Then an amazing sight. As I am passing the mile 11 mark, here come the leaders going the other direction. Wow. Just wow.


I continued lumbering up the mild incline between miles 11 and 12 when there they were! Our own Runner's World cheering section! This time Ingrd had a rider (Renee) on her cargo bike and our own L.A. Runner was pedalling along! What a site for sore eyes! They were ringing bells, cheering, clapping, holding up signs. What a hoot! Ingrid stopped while Renee jumped off the bike to cheer some other people along - so that was my queue to take a quick sidetrip across the oncoming runners to catch Ingrid for her obligatory photo! (P.S. - This won't be the last you hear about her and Renee).


Mile 10: 11:24
Mile 11: 11:09
Mile 12: 10:57
Avg pace after 12 miles: 10:59

At this point we entered the Long Beach Marine Stadium. A long mile out and back. The pain was starting to be a problem. For the first time since mile 4 we were off the concrete. For the first time I also started doubting. I could feel the 4:45 leaving me. I hit the Half mark at 2:23 and change - about 30 seconds slower than goal. But the pain! The pain! Doubt was setting in.....

Tomorrow - the second half and then some.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Long Beach Marathon - Pre Race Festivities

As I mentioned in Saturday's blog, one of the things I really enjoy about big races are the pre-race festivities. I was really excited to be ambling down the freeway Saturday afternoon. I opened the windows and sunroof and soaked in the sun on my 30 minute drive to Long Beach. I was hoping that the weather was an indication of things to come.

The expo was really well organized. I showed up at 4:15 expecting a crowd (the expo closed at 6:00) It literally took me longer to park and walk to the Convention Center than it did to pick up my race packet and bib. But, since I had to pay $10 for parking, I decided I'd at least wander the expo.


It was a sizeable expo with a lot of exhibitors. The normal folks you see at all of these events were there with the requisite samples (Clif, Myoplex, Odwalla, etc.). But I was here with a purpose. I had one problem to solve - eight gel packets and a camera were not going to fit in my Nathan fuel belt. My bloggy buddy B.o.B. once again came to the rescue with her suggestion to pick up a Spibelt. This is quite a nifty contraption. As you can see from the picture below, the compartment is made of a stretchable fabric. When nothing is in it, the compartment is no larger than the belt. But, start stuffing away and voila! Six gel packets comfortably. I clipped it above my fuet belt and I was ready to go! Another lifesaver B.o.B!



I made one last circle through the expo. I guess I'm an official runner now. I can't go anywhere without meeting other folks I know. Ingrid (Travelmama in the California RWOL forums), Lori (Spandex in the same forums), and Sam dutifully manning his booth were also at the expo. Check out Sam's website at Operation Jack to benefit the fight against Autism!


With all that out of the way, it was time to drive the mile or so to the next event. Tweetup! I made it over to La Parolaccia for an evening of good food and good friends. Here's the obligatory group shot:


Right to left: Paul (@paulboth, Run for Liberty), Shelly (@smellycents, It's All About the Miles), Cindy (@262runr), yours truly, then standing - Danica (@chicrunner, The Chic Runner), Nina (@ncjack, Swim, Bike, Run and Tri), Ron (@punkrockrunner, Punk Rock Tri Guy), Rich (@richbella, http://www.richbella.com/), Jennifer (@anotorias, http://notorias.com/), Sheila (@sheilamking), Zach (@zachearl, Zach's Space) and Chrissy (@sonata31).

And just for you B.o.B - chicrunner and me:



I was supposed to make it to a Runner's World Forum Encounter, but after having a great time at the Tweetup, figured I better make it home to finish up preparations for the morning. I couldn't leave anything to chance - it wasn't like I was staying just down the street in a hotel or could call someone in a panic in the morning to bring my Garmin down. I had to be self sufficient. So I spent the next couple of hours going through my stuff. Are you ready?

Bib got pinned to my shirt. Shorts were out of the drawer and placed next to the shirt. DTag placed properly on my right shoe. Nine gel packets with taped Endurolytes (8 for the race and one extra) were taken out of the bag they were in. Six in the Psibelt. Three in the Fuelbelt. Water bottles were found and filled. Socks were put in the shoes.

Now that the clothing and footwear were taken care of, I got dressed and just made sure that it all fit right. No little kinks in the belts. Make sure my bib was on straight (sorry - I'm funny that way) and *below* the nipple line (one of my mistakes in San Diego). Make sure there were no little creases in the socks or pennies in my shoe (Nope! Never happened to me before!).

Next was the gear. Garmin charged and in the bag. HRM strap in the bag. iPod charged and in the bag. iPod armband in the bag. Headphones there. Bodyglide found. Camera charged and in the fuel belt. Check, check, check and check. Marathon shirt for after race and a beach towel in the bag. Fnally, I grabbed a runner's raincoat (30 gallon trashbag - sorry Billy - no empty Gatorade bottle) and stuffed it in my bag. Then, just in cast you thought I was kidding in my last post, I dumped my bag on the floor an checked everything again. (I found 50 cents for my trouble).


Only then did I feel like it was time for bed. I got the coffee maker set up and the timer set to go off at 4 AM. Finally, I set my alarms (yup - two of them) - one for 4AM and the second for 4:15, and drifted off to sleep.

Maybe next time if I spend less time getting prepared I'll have more energy to run with! And think about this - you *could* be my wife and have to put up with this all the time!


Tomorrow - the first half.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long Beach Marathon - First Thoughts

There is just so much going through my mind and emotions today. It's actually tough to be writing here. Seems I've been staring at the screen for hours. I haven't read any of my fellow runner's blogs yet, because I really want to process my feelings first. I'll start with the first thought that comes to me: "Well - marathon #2 is officially in the books. The results were a little disappointing but the experience wasn't."

This has been a difficult blog to write. There is just sooooo much to talk about and share - whether you want it or not. To be honest, I haven't had a chance to fully process all my thoughts and emotions yet. Today I thought I would just document my initial thoughts before time heals all wounds:

The things that worked:
() Preparing the night before: Definitely the way to go. *Everything* was predone. Bib pinned to shirt. D-Tag on shoe. Gels/electrolytes in belts. Water bottled filled. Put everything on to make sure that it fit and looked right. Cell phone charged. Garmin charged. iPod charged. Towel, dry shirt, sandals in bag. Headphones, iPod armband in bag. Double check everything. Then dump bag out and check it all again. All I had to do in the AM was get up, grab coffee, put on clothes and shoes and head out the door.
() Nothing new on race day: I ran this one unscathed. No chafing. No blisters. Believe me, at mile 23, you don't need any of those other problems.
() Leaving early enough that you have some time to relax before the race: I was on the freeway at 5AM for a 7AM start. Got to Long Beach, parked, walked to start, checked bag, socialized and still had time to find a seat and meditate for about 15 minutes before the hubbub began. Call it Zen. I call it not tossing my cookies.
() Gel and Endurolytes every three miles: This was *THE BOMB* idea. This marathon became a series of three mile races. I *never* thought about how far and long this race was. All I thought about was the next gel break. At mile 10 it was about mile 12. At mile 16 it was about mile 18. I was amazed how mile 20 just came and went because I was focused on 21. Same with miles 22 and 23 (even though I had to resort to a brisk walk by that point). And at mile 24, it was about two more miles. Amazing.
() Having the right mindset: On Saturday I said I would go with the flow. So I went with the flow. When it was apparent that I wasn't going to hit my goal time, I backed off and enjoyed the experience. I was able to stop and chat with friends on the course. I enjoyed the entertainment. I enjoyed the peanut butter sandwiches (thanks Ingrid!). This made the *entire* difference from a pain filled torture session to a pain filled run in the park.

Things that didn't work:
() Too much running the final week: My legs were shot by mile 9. If it wasn't for focusing on every three miles, this would have been a *looong* miserable race.
() Starting at the back of the wave: By the time I got to the 10K split, I was about 15 seconds behind my goal pace. I caught up by the half, but when you think about it that means I was running 30 seconds faster than goal pace for 7 miles. That's where I lost making my goal.

Bottom line is yesterday as a *totally* different experience from San Diego 2008. I am disappointed that I didn't make my goal. I am disappointed I didn't break 5 hours. But - Long Beach has some really quaint neighborhoods! And I saw my kids as I ran past the finish!

Starting tomorrow I'll provide a much more detailed race report. For right now I'll leave you with a couple of pictures.

At least I don't look like death warmed over:

Here's what the final .2 looked like from my unique perspective:






Sorry I didn't get crossing the finish line in the video. This watery stuff kept falling out of my eyes.

Final stats: 5:16:31 - 28 minute PR. Looking for the elusive 5 hour mark in March. And this time, I'm not thinking ahead to my next marathon as "get even" for the last one. Can you say "I Love LA!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Long Beach Marathon - Live Tracking

Live tracking of runners is available here: http://www.liveraceresults.com/liverc2/Default.aspx. If you know anyone racing, you can search by bib, first name, and/or last nme. I'm bib 1644.

If you have an iPhone, make sure you use the whole url so you don't get taken to the mobile website.

Off to the expo!

The Home Stretch

Well folks - it's here. I'm coming down the home stretch. Got a *great* night's sleep and I'm feeling good. I put in my last run of this training cycle last night - 4.25 miles at uber slow pace. I kept my heart rate down around 70% of max and just concentrated on what it feels like to run at that pace since it's probably pretty close to my goal pace tomorrow.

The real fun starts later this afternoon. I'll mosey up the freeway around 3 or so, pick up my race gear at the expo, and then it's PARTAY time! Tweetup at La Parolaccia at 5PM (will be meeting up with tweeting and blogging luminaries such as @paulboth (Run For Liberty), @chicrunner (Chicrunner), @smellycents (Shelley Centis), @punkrockrunner (Punk Rock Tri Guy), and a host of others), followed at 6 PM ish (emphais on the ish) Runners World Forum Encounter at Ninos in uptown Long Beach. This is the part of these large races that I really enjoy. Nothing like getting together with a couple or 20 friends with the same goal for some fun and food!

For my final tune up, I am reviewing my race strategy. This is taken directly from Bob Glover's book, The Competitive Runner's Handbook (found the strategy online at the New York Road Runners ):

Pace: This is where I blew it big time in San Diego. Went out way too fast for too long. For my reward, I got to walk the last seven miles. Tomorrow I'm doing three things. First, I'm going to start at the back of wave 4 instead of the start of wave 5. I figure it's better to go out and stay slow. Second, I'm going to target a 10:45 pace (4:41 finish) and see how long I can hold that. If I find myself going out too fast, I'll walk through the water stations (thanks @sheilamking!). Finally, I'll be watching my heart rate. According to Glover, a marathoner should maintain 70% to 75% max heart rate and increase to 85% by the end of the race. I'll be watching the ol' Garmin and making sure my heart rate zone stays between 2.5 (start) and 4 (finish).

Crowded Start: I hear that this is a big problem in Long Beach. For the first ten or so miles all of the Half Marathoners and Marathoners are on the same bike path. Based on what I've heard, I'll be going out slower (crowds). I'm not going to panic this time. As long as I'm still in the same time zone as my target pace I'll just go with the flow.

Walking: Yes I will. At least every 3 miles when I pop a gel and a couple of Endurolyte caps.

First Half: Here's where I've got to be careful. My past experience in San Diego I was felt *great*. Up until about mile 12. This time I'll just run within myself and stick to the plan. At the halfway point (2:22:30), I'll to assess how I feel. If my long runs have been any indication, I should be okay. If I'm significantly ahead of target, I'll slow down. If I'm at target, then I'll continue at my target pace. If not, well, time to HTFU.

Second Half: More of the same. I'll keep watch on my pace up to about mile 16. Then I'll lose myself in my iPod. One foot in front of the other. Everything else is out the window at that point.

Third Half (also known as 10K left): Also known as 3:37. Here's where the mind games really begin. Heck we've all run a 10K before. Pretty easy right? I'll think back to the Jet to Jetty 10K where I ran a nice easy race without a lot of effort and almost PR'd. I'll take Glover's suggestion to heart. Each mile marker will get ticked off in my mind. I'll concentrate on the runners around me. I'll get out my virtual lasso and grab a runner in front of me and have them pull me along. The goal will be to complete each mile - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26.

The Finish: Glover's suggestion - I'll use the digital clock at the finish to pull me over the line. I figure the last 375 yards will be in the 2:30 range. I really hope that I don't see something like 4:42:40 with .2 left to go! As they say - the difference between a 3:59:59 marathon and a 4:00:00 marathon is an hour!

So - the Garmin is charged. The iPod is charged. The camera is charged. Long Beach here we come!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Are the Paddles Ready? Breathe. Breathe.

The time is near. Butterflies are fluttering. Nervousness is setting in .

What? The marathon on Sunday? Heck no! My Los Angeles Dodgers! They have their act together for a change! Last night's 2 out 2 run rally are the moves that winners make. An interesting stat provided by fellow Dodger fan Ms.V - this year the Dodgers have won 23 games in the last at bat. Go Dodgers!

Baseball is my favorite sport. I can watch baseball anytime. Anywhere. And not just the Majors. I've spent many a hour in minor league parks while on the road. One thing I miss about my middle son being in college is I don't get to watch high school ball games anymore. (Proud dad moment - here's a picture of him in action:)

I live for this time of year. World Series baby! All the better this year because the Dodgers may actually have chance! And no - I'm not an Angels fan. In fact, I'm not really an American League fan - but we'll save that for some other time.

Oh running? I took out my copy of The Competitive Runner's Handbook by Bob Glover and started revisiting the chapters on Marathon Countdown. I'm taking it pretty easy - scheduled rest day yesterday, emphasizing carbs without cutting the protein and fat, staying off my feet as much as possible (as my Twitter friends will attest to). But, it's always great to revisit the books - if for no other reason than to reduce anxiety. Some things left to do before Saturday:

() Figure out the parking situation: I can't tell you how many stories I read of people almost missing a start because of parking. Add to that that about 20,000 of my close friends will be running Long Beach - and parking can become a problem. I'm thinking about parking three of four miles away and taking the Metro Blue Line to the start.

() Figure out gear drop: This marathon starts and finishes in the same place. I just need to figure out what I'm going to put in my gear bag an make sure it's all there. My list so far: Dry clothes, dry shoes, dry socks, electrolyte tabs/powder, cell phone, wallet with cash, keys, towel, neosporin (for chafing). I'm sure I'll expand the list tonight.

() Visit the start/finish line: This will happen tomorrow when I go to the expo. I like to just take a look at the whole setup. That way, if I *do* end up short on time, I know where to drop my gear bag and then where to rush to to hit the start.

() Sleep: Sleep the night before any big event is always fitful. That means tonight's sleep needs to happen. No online poker until midnight!

Am I ready? Oh yeah - I'm ready!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Woo Hoo! Marathon Weekend!

I've got to admit it folks. I'm getting excited. By this time on Sunday, I will have started and should be a couple miles into my second marathon. Yesterday I received the email with my bib # (1644) and starting instructions. I have a decision to make - I'm targeting 4:45 as my finish time (I keep on telling you guys I'm old and slow). That puts me either at the back of starting wave 4 at 7:15 for 4:26 to 4:45 finish times or at the front of wave 5 at 7:20 for 4:46 to 5:20 finish times. This is an interesting conundrum. Do I start at the back of a wave and deal with the crowds (marathoners and half marathoners start together), or do I start at the front of a wave and risk going out too fast?

I also will be re-reading parts of Glover's book (The Competitive Runner's Handbook) today to review race day and race strategy. I am *not* going to repeat San Diego. In that marathon, I felt way too good and went out way too fast for way too long (pretty standard for a Marathon Virgin). I need to figure out how to hit my goal pace and maintain it for almost 5 hours. Yikes!

Here's an idea. Maybe I'll give Jobu cigar and rum and ask him to take fear from feet:



As far as yesterday's run - 7 easy miles. My legs were heavy, so I did some strides over the last couple of miles to knock the rust off. That pushed my average heart rate to 77% of max, and I'm a little sore this morning, but with three days until the big event, I'll recover.

Actually 3 days 8 hours 45 minutes and 42 seconds.......

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Legs - You've Done Good

I put in a nice, relaxing run yesterday. I kept everything slow and easy, concentrating more on heart rate than pace. One thing for sure - my legs did not complain. No siree. For a change, not one complaint at all. They *have* been complaining lately. A lot of little tweaks and pains here and there. Tight hammys. Tired quads. Sore joints. All those things that signal the end of a training cycle and spent shoes.

But yesterday they were along for the ride. To be honest, I've got to give kudos to my legs, knees and feet for sticking around for this long. Head and chest rebelled a couple weeks ago and tried to put the kibosh on this marathon idea, but you guys have always been there. For twenty four weeks now - almost 900 miles - you have responded. Not always fast and not always without a little complaining, but two more days and we'll be at our destination. And you want to hear something really impressive? Sometime Sunday while you guys are slaving away, you will have taken the rest of us along for over 1,200 running miles this year! Thank you legs, knees and feet! I promise that I will get you guys some new cushions to land on in the next couple of weeks.

Yesterday's run stats - 6.1 miles at an average heart rate of 72% of max. Yep. Nice and easy for sure......

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More on Week 24

As I mentioned yesterday, this is Week 24 of my training plan. And.... since it is a 24 week plan, that means one thing. In a couple of days this journey is over. Here's this week's plan:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 6 miles recovery pace
Wednesday: 7 miles total, 5 at recovery pace, 2 at race pace
Thursday: Rest
Friday:5 miles recovery pace
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: The streets of Long Beach for a long jog
Total for the week: 44.2 mile

Preparations are still continuing in earnest. I built all my fuel packets this past weekend. The weather forecast is saying warm weather on Sunday (sunny and 77 degrees), so I'm including two Endurolytes on each gel pack. I decided to do my fellow runners a favor and washed my fuel belt last night (peeee yew!). Which leaves the last and most difficult task - figuring out an iPod playlist. I've spent my running time the past couple of weeks waffling between this group and that group, this song and that song. I think I have a list of bands that I'll include:

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (yes B.o.B - I have at least an hour and a half selected)
Daft Punk
Banarama
Bangles
Cyndi Lauper
Butthole Surfers (of course)
Pink Floyd
Fatboy Slim
Chemical Brothers
ZZ Top

The goal of my music this time is not to speed me up, but to keep me slow. I'm still kicking around a few extra songs. Decisions decisions decisions. I'm glad a training plan isn't as difficult!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Closed Trail? WTF?

I wrapped up last week just a tad short of my planned mileage. On Sunday's schedule was a 12 miler - the last long run before this weekend's festivities. It was a busy day, so I wasn't able to get out for my run until 6 PM - which pretty much meant running in the dark. I broke out all the night running gear - fluorescent yellow shirt, headlamp, reflective vest, red flashers (man I'm a dork!) and took off for what I was figuring would be a run around the Newport Back Bay. Little did I know the surprise that awaited me!

Well - I guess you learn something new every day. I had enjoyed a great sunset and was waiting for the full moon to appear from behind the bluffs I was running along. I was keeping within myself, running a little harder than a typical long run, but still clipping along at a heart rate right at 75% of max. I turned onto the trail that runs behind the Newport Dunes Resort (anyone who has run this trail knows where I'm talking about) and ran right into a .... LOCKED GATE! WTF? Well, the portion of the trail that runs behind Newport Dunes must run on an easement on private land. There was a big sign on the gate stating that the trail was open between dawn and dusk. Okay. But a locked gate? And it wasn't one of those little road gates that you can just walk around - it was a full 8 foot chain link fence gate! I had no choice but to turn around and retrace my steps. At least I got to run back under a wonderful, bright, full moon!

Final stats - 11 miles with the first 8 at marathon pace minus 30 seconds. Success in my book. I ended the week one mile short of plan at 31 miles.

Week 24 of my training plan begins today. This week - nothing further than 7 miles. Nothing faster than molasses. Nothing else needs to be said....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Five More Miles - Winding It Down

I just wanted to stop by on a Sunday for quick update. I put in an easy 5 miles yesterday. The weather seems to be cooperating this weekend - even though it was a brilliant, sunny day, the temperatures were in the mid to upper 60s. Perfect for a run along the coast.

The realization is setting in. The long training journey is almost over. Yup. One more week. Then it's time to collect my reward. It's MY reward. For MY hard work (sorry for being selfish!)

If there is one huge difference between this marathon and my first marathon - this time I *really* could care less about my finish. Yes - I have a time goal. But that is secondary to enjoying myself. And as long as the weather is nice (and right now the extended forecast is saying so), I will do that.

Yessiree. I am ready. Ready to be allowed to join my fellow runners who deserve to reap the rewards for THEIR hard work. I think I'm beginning to understand the lure of the marathon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nine Days - OMG!!!!

I came to a sudden realization yesterday when @anatorias sent a tweet. Nine more days. I really *am* coming down the homestretch. I should be saying things like "nervous", "taper madness", "obsessive weather checking", so on and so on. But I'm actually feeling pretty peaceful. Of course that's because I'm an old fart and know that nine days is waaay too far away to panic about. Yet. Check with me about Thursday of next week.

I put in my last speed work session of this cycle last night. 8 miles total with 3 one mile intervals. My hamstrings felt tight, so I held back just a little. My times:

Interval 1: 9:22
Interval 2: 9:26
Interval 3: 9:40 (slowness caused by friction of tongue dragging on the track)

Today is a scheduled rest day.

This weekend I need to do some important things. I need to hit the Nutrition Superstore here in Costa Mesa to buy gobs of Hammer Gel. I need to break out the painters tape and prepare some gel/Endurolyte packets. And I need to start thinking about my iPod playlist. I'll probably pull together about 3 hours of music. I'm going to try to not use my iPod until I get sick of running (around hour three or so). I really want to enjoy this one. I want to be able to smile for the finish line picture!

And thanks everyone for your opinions and experiences regarding the Saturday 5K. I think I'm going to pass. If there was a 10K option, I would probably go and just run it for fun. But I don't think I can run a 5K "for fun". So, I'm going to play it safe here and not tempt myself to do too much a week prior to my goal marathon. Besides, last year's t-shirt *was* pretty boring.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back to the Task at Hand

It's tough to get back on the trails and put in the miles after an invigorating hike like Sunday's. But, it time to fine tune, so I put in seven miles at Crystal Cove in the late evening. It was interesting to feel how fresh my legs were after a couple days off. I guess that's what taper is all about. Final stats: seven miles with 6 100 yard stride outs at an average heart rate of 77% of max. And I got to enjoy a wonderful sunset.

This week's schedule is a little strange. Lots of rest days:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 7 miles GA with 6 100 yard strides
Thursday: 3.25 mile warm up, 3 X 1600 intervals with 400 yard rest, 1 mile warm down for a total of 8 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5 mile recovery
Sunday: 12 mile long run
Total: 32 miles

I'm a little up in the air about Saturday at this point. When I started this whole running madness back in July of 2007, the first race I ran was the Harbor Heritage Run 5K. So, there is a place in my heart for this race. The 23rd running of the race is this Saturday - and I sort of kind of would like to run it. But at this point in my training cycle, I should be taking it easy instead of running a 5K. Not to mention that I've no doubt lost some speed over he past few weeks. Advice anyone?

I'll be hitting the track this evening for some 1600 intervals. I'm supposed to run these at 5K pace (around 8:10), but I think I'm going to target something like 9:15 to 9:30 miles and will be taking the warm up/warm down easier than normal as well. It was nice running on fresh legs last night. I'd like to keep things that way for a couple of weeks.