Thursday, July 29, 2010

So Here Goes Nothing

I’ll be out of touch for the next few days, but I wanted to stop in to publicly commit to my other two goal races:

There will be other races, but they won’t be goal races. A few 5Ks and 10Ks. Some trail races. L.A. Marathon? I need to see how it fits in. I’m not sure a 26.2 mile training run is in the cards so early in the ultra training cycle.

Well – it’s off to Parent Orientation for my youngest son. He’s off to college this fall. I can’t believe that I’m about to become an empty nester.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What’s Next?

So I’ve got to admit something. Ever since the L.A. Marathon back in March, I have been running without any real goal or purpose. I thought I’d be able to just run. Run for fun. Get better. Drop a few pounds. But truth be told – I don’t like running enough to just run for the fun of it. To be successful at this running thing I *need* that goal race on the calendar.

For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with this. I pulled together 3 40 mile weeks. I was ready to pull together a fourth. If I had, I most certainly would have crashed and burned on the Streets of San Francisco*. I realized last week that something is really out of whack. I’m paying for races like they are going out of style, but I’m not performing anywhere close to where I was a year ago. Then it occurred to me – an old saying from my early days in Management Consulting - “Plan the work, then work the plan.” What plan?

So here goes – I’m going to lay the foundation for the rest of the plan today. My goal race will be the Bishop High Sierra Ultramarathon. Fifty something (either kms or miles – I haven’t decided yet) in the beauty of the Sierra Nevada. May 21, 2011. 42 weeks away. Assuming that there will be a 20 week training cycle leading up to my attempt at 50 something, that leaves 22 weeks of training/racing. Which means enough time for 2 half marathons, or one marathon and a few weeks recovery. Time to search Raceplace for some viable options!

This does mean that the L.A. Marathon 2011 may be a bit suspect now – it depends how it works in. I’ll know more in a week once the whole plan is laid out.

* Special reference for us 50 somethings. Who remembers what actor got his big break alongside Karl Malden in that TV series?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Think That Was a Race…

Without further ado – five minutes from the Streets of San Francisco…

This wasn’t my “A” race. Not even my “B”. Three races in six weeks (the first two on trails encompassing 32 miles and 7,000 vertical feet gained) along with my focus on weight loss has left me sore and tired. All. The. Time. If there’s something that 3 years of running has taught me – not every race is a PR – especially if weight loss is involved in training. I did that once. Never again.

The morning started early. Like really early. I don’t think I’ve been to a race with a 5:30AM start. And with a reported 24,000 runners involved, I decided that it would behoove me to get to the start early, in spite of the advertised 6:00AM start time for wave 4. I was up at 4:15, and out the door at 4:30. I walked the six or so blocks and at the start at 4:45 AM.

100_0005_WMV V9_0001I was actually wandering around in a half stupor when I heard my name being called. It was Meg and BS brightening my morning with their smiles!

100_0003_WMV V9_0002Around 5:15 or so, I made my way over to my starting wave. I decided to push back one wave (from 4 to 5), and entered the corral. I’m glad I did when I did. I heard a lot of horror stories later on that as the start times got closer, people were not allowed into their assigned waves and were moved to the back of the pack. But – what I can tell you is that the corral police did their jobs fantastically. Just before out scheduled start time of 6:00AM, the barriers came down and we moved toward the start line. Right on schedule we were off!

Now,the first thing that hit me was that since I had scooted into my corral early, I hadn’t had a chance to use a porta potty. So, by mile 1 with a bursting bladder, I made my way off course to use one. I re-entered the mass of humanity, and immediately ran into Penny! Woot!

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The next few miles were incredibly scenic. As we came up on mile 2, the smell of fresh sourdough was in the air. It was Boudin’s! The home of San Francisco sourdough! Which meant that Fisherman’s Wharf wasn’t far behind:

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100_0014_WMV V9_0001a Next up was the Marina, where we would get our first views of the Golden Gate:

100_0018_WMV V9_0001The day was cool and foggy. No actually *cold* and foggy. I didn’t have a goal in mind for this race – other than to finish and get my California Dreaming medal. As a result, I wasn’t really pushing at all. I was running at my long run pace. My breathing was even and not labored when we headed up our first hill of any consequence. But, I was sweat soaked and the cold and damp was taking a toll on me. I had the foresight to wear a long sleeved tech shirt, but I was still starting to get cold. My hands were numb and my legs cold and uncomfortable.

By mile 5 we were climbing the only hill of any consequence on the course – up a 250 or so foot gain. I shortened my stride and headed up the hill.

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I hit the top, made the right turn, and viola! There it was in its glory! The Golden Gate! This is why I was here! I have driven across, but I’ve never really been able to enjoy the sight up close. It was an eerie day – we couldn’t even see the top of the towers through the fog!

100_0026_WMV V9_0001We headed across the bridge into Marin County, around the overlook and back out onto the bridge. One thing for sure – the cold was doing a number on me. I had to stop (again) to use a porta potty (#1 due to the cold). But, I headed out onto the bridge after a few minutes and made my way back into the City.

On my way back, there was an akaAlice sighting (sorry I didn’t yell at you aka!) and a burbsonthgo sighting (sorry I didn’t get a picture Allison!).

100_0031_WMV V9_0001One thing that I never really thought about until after the race – almost one third of the race is spent on the bridge! That’s right – from miles 5.5 to almost mile 10. And worth every minute of it!

What was next was, ummm, interesting. By now my legs were hurting, and the next mile or so was about 200 feet down on paved road. I tried to shorten my stride and speed my cadence, but by the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I was pretty much dust for this race. Again. I settled back and enjoyed the view of Baker Beach and the run through the rolling hills of Richmond.

100_0036_WMV V9_0001And then I was there. The final left turn into Golden Gate Park and the finish. I mustered up what I had left and crossed the finish. My time? Nothing to brag about. 2:32 and change – a full 25 minutes off my PR. Bleh. But I got it. My California Dreaming medal!

100_0041In closing – I must say that this race was AWESOME!!!! Showing up early was totally the way to go. The corral police kept the start organized. I was originally concerned that there wouldn’t be enough water on the course (every 2 miles), but the water stops were well organized, well staffed, and had plenty of drink for everyone. The course was absolutely spectacular. The views were amazing. And the finish? It’s been a long time since I have been in a finish chute that was so well organized and executed. Plenty of food and drink for everyone. Medals and (thank God) mylar blankets at the ready. And drop bags organized by bib number. I showed up to get my bag, and a friendly smiling face was at the ready with it! Wow!

Bottom line? If you haven’t done this race – you should. It’s not flat. It’s not easy. But – it’s worth every penny paid and every second of enjoyment on the course.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Let the Good Times Begin

Well – after an extended absence from the blogosphere – I’m back. Nothing new or Earth shattering to report. I just had a couple of weeks where life got turned sideways a bit and I may have figured out some priorities that had been askew.

So – on to the fun and games this past weekend – The San Francisco (Half) Marathon! My plan was to drive up on Saturday, run 13.1, and then drive back on Sunday (SF is about a 7 hour drive from OC). Thankfully, I came to my senses late on Friday, and with a few frequent flyer miles, booked a $90 fare to SF International. I would have spent at least that in gas and parking. Score one for me!

Another score for me is that my nephew lives about 5 blocks from the start line. So I didn’t need to pay for a hotel room! And his view? OUTSTANDING!

IMG_0413I got settled in, and then walked over to the expo early afternoon Saturday. Talk about a sea of humanity! But – bib/shirt pickup lines moved quickly.


The California Dreaming Series lines though? That was a different issue. After a 20 or so minute wait, I received my jacket (pretty cool by the way) and wandered the floor of the expo. I found Danica and met Aron! Score another for me!


But, my afternoon wasn’t over yet! One of my favorite foods is Mexican. The Green Girl and Rad Runner had told me about a place that I had to try out – so I loaded onto the bus and made my way over to the Mission District. It was like being back in the neighborhood that I grew up on the East Side of Los Angeles.

100_0013100_0014I found my way over to Paplote’s and chowed on a Tofu burrito. No wonder they were featured on a Throwdown with Bobby Flay!

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My only question – is she or isn’t he?

And I think this photo says so much about the character of San Francisco. I would love to live here!


It was a shame to leave, but I eventually made my way back to my adopted home.

Next up was dinner. I’m so used to having a car to get around – using public transportation was a new experience for me. So, I got on the bus (Line 10 I think?) Luckily, I have a good sense of direction. It didn’t take too long (maybe 10 minutes) to figure out this bus was not going toward where I knew the restaurant was. I quickly hopped off and texted Penny that I was going to be late! Oh well. I finally got on the bus heading in the right direction and made it over to Il Fornaio.

Dinner was absolutely fantastic! No better way to top off a good day than a delicious dinner with some good friends!. Penny had organized and set everything up. All I had to do was show up. I ordered a scrumptious beet pasta dish, and enjoyed my evening with the Heffers:


And I finally got to meet Meg and her husband. What a great couple! Meg – you have a real winner with Steve. I enjoyed his company immensely! He’s cooler than me! (Also pictured is Meg and Steve’s friend Graciela, and Penny’s sister from England).


But – after so many scores in one day – I had to return to my nephew’s abode for some rest. After all, a 5:30 AM start with 20,000 plus other runners meant an early morning wake up call on Sunday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Missing in Action

Sorry folks. Life has been conspiring this week. I’ve been a little MIA. I should be back by this weekend.

Everything is fine….

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Remember – Someone Might be Watching

My son’s car was stolen yesterday. The only reason I post this here is because he did something that I’ve watched runners do. Here’s the whole story….

He and a couple friends went surfing in the morning on the peninsula in Newport Beach. The got dressed in their wetsuits, got their gear ready, and then stashed their clothes, wallets, keys, and phones in the car. Then he had a problem. He drives a car with a remote keyless entry system – as many people do. You can’t get the key wet without risking the need to replace the key from the manufacturer for a cool $400. So what to do with the key? Why hide it somewhere on the car, right?* So that’s what he did. Off to the waves they went. He was sickened when he returned to an empty parking spot.

So – the next time you go off for a run and decide to hide your key on the car (let me guess – under the bumper, under the fender, behind the gas tank door, or on top of a tire) – someone might be watching. My son was only in the water for 30 minutes….

* I’m pretty sure that the way this went down was someone was watching. As soon as the guys turned onto the sand, the key was extracted from its hiding place and the car was gone.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let’s Try to Get This Right

So – last week finished with a big fail in my training book. But I think I'm learning in my old age. I took the advice of most of you and took a couple days off to rest. I’m feeling pretty chipper this morning. With a race looming this weekend, I think it was totally the right thing to do.

Last week’s mileage hit an astounding 15 miles, and this week will be a short mileage week too as I ready myself for a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco:

  • Monday: Another rest day
  • Tuesday: 5 or so miles in Shady Canyon with Cal Coast
  • Wednesday: 4 miles easy
  • Thursday: 5 miles easy
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Drive up to San Francisco
  • Sunday: San Francisco Half Marathon
  • Total: Around 25 to 27 miles

San Francisco – are you ready for us?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Runiversary! (A Week Ago)

Just in case you thought I was kidding about being a day late in my last post, here’s another a few days late. July 11, 2007. Six miles in 1 hour 18 minutes and 57 seconds. And so the Running Fat Guy was born. I had been the Rowing Fat Guy for a few months prior, but on that fated day, my direction changed forever. And I haven’t looked back since – because there are always fast people in front of me!

So it’s been three years. The numbers are staggering for someone who didn’t like running then, and quite frankly, still doesn’t *love* running now. 3,620 miles. That’s like L.A. to New York and then back past Chicago. Pretty mind blowing. .

Here is normally where I would come up with some self deprecating pithy comment, but in all seriousness, running has allowed me to join a world that I never knew existed. I did it for the health benefits. What I ended up getting was a network of friends and acquaintances that I can call on on a moment’s notice. I always get the best advice from you. I always see a smiling face at a race. In short – it’s the best circle of friends that I’ve ever had the opportunity to be involved with. Thanks for celebrating my runiversary with me!

Which brings me to a question for everyone – I’ve been really really fatigued the past few days. Thursday was an especially hot and humid day (at least for us here in Southern California), so I postponed my Thursday evening trail run until Friday morning. I went out with my son and one of his friends for what was supposed to be 9 miles at 6:30 Friday morning. By mile 2, it just was not happening. My legs were ired and sore. Everything was a labor. With the San Francisco Half coming in a week, I decided a half mile or so later to bag the rest of the run, turn around, and head back to the car. I got 5.8 miles in. When we finished up at 8:00 AM, it was already 76 muggy degrees outside, and the big rainbow that we had started to had come onshore with scattered sprinkles. We just aren’t used to this heat and humidity in Southern California I tell you!

Then, the strangest thing. I was just incredibly tired the rest of the day. Incredibly. Nap at 3:30 PM. Another nap at 8:00 PM. Bed at 11:00 PM. Slept through my alarm (missed my long run) until 8:30 AM this morning. I’ve never really experienced this before. For the first time in several months, the brain says go – but the body says no! It’s not like I’m sporting any injuries – not even any tweaks or niggles. I’m just physically exhausted! I’m not really sure why. I’m not coming down with a cold or anything. So any help blog buddies? Should I push on through? Should I rest for a couple weeks and see what happens? Inquiring minds need to know. What I do know is that miles just for the sake of miles only leads to burnout....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Training Plan Adjustment Required!

I just realized – I have a race in a week and a half. And nothing built into my plan in the way of taper. And some tired legs. So - I’m going to adjust a little this week and next so I can tackle the streets (and hills) of San Francisco.

Tuesday: Did just over five miles (5.2) in the hills of Shady Canyon, including a 14 minute hard run for about 1.6 miles. My legs were feeling tired and non-responsive – I’m sure from Saturday’s little escapade. I struggled to put together any speed whatsoever, and just felt like I was laboring to get anything done. When I got back and checked my data, I never did get my heart rate above 90% of max – even though I felt like I was pushing *very* hard.

Wednesday: Another struggle to put together a consistent four miler. I was sub 10:00 and kept my heart rate below 75% of max, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty.

Which is why I’m going to adjust a few miles down. I don’t want to just survive San Francisco next weekend. I’m not expecting to PR, but I would like my time to be competitive….

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Midyear Checkpoint

I know I know. Everyone did this two weeks ago. Kind of like my life these days. Always a day late and a dollar short. But – as an exercise in accountability – I’m going to roll the clock back two weeks and check to see where I am with my 2010 goals.

Goal #1: Drop 30 pounds and change the name of my blog by 12/31/2010

Big fail so far. I started the year at 222 pounds, dropped to 216 for the L.A. Marathon in late March, then ballooned back up to 228 by late June. I’ve dropped three pounds in the last two weeks, but I’ve really got to get cranking if I hope to make this happen. Yes Wadia. I know what needs to be done. I just need a HTFU kick to get it done. It will happen….

Goal #2: Run 1250 miles and row 500,000 meters (310 miles)

I’ll break this down into two pieces.

Running – I’m right on track. 685 miles as of 7/1/2010. And that includes all of the inconsistency following the L.A. Marathon. My last two months are above 100 miles, and I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things.

Total distance - Month 

Rowing – FAIL. To hit my goal, I was going to need to row 10kms a week. As of the end of June, I was at 163,000 meters – or less than a third of goal. And – I’m rowing less now as my running miles are ratcheting up. I’m still going to row – but the original goal seems to be unattainable at this point.

Goal #3: PR at 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distances

This one shocked me. I’ve already set two PRs this year! 5K (Temecula Challenge) and Half Marathon (Surf City). I had no idea! At some point I guess I’ll need to run a 10K. There are a couple that are among my favs that come along toward the end of the year that I’ll use as an attempt at a PR.

Goal #4: KEEP IT FUN!!!!

I had my doubts a few weeks back. But I did what I said and mixed it up a little. Added trails to the mix. I think I have a new lease on my running life.


As a final note – I want to thank everyone who commented yesterday about weight loss and training. You are all right about ramping up miles and ramping down calories. I tried once before my first marathon and it was a *disaster* on all fronts. What I’m doing this time is a little different though. The goal is weight loss. Not a PR. So – I’ll ramp up my miles, ramp down the calories, and then be absolutely ecstatic at finishing a 19 mile trail race in 5 plus hours. Or running a 20 mile long run in 4 and a half hours. That’s why there aren’t any marathons in my short term plans. Or even halves. Heck – the only reason I’m running San Francisco is to pick up a jacket and some cool bling. PR? Probably not. Dinner and fun with friends next weekend? Definitely! Just all part of keeping it fun!

Oh – and for those of you who don’t think that ramping the miles up and the calories down is doable – follow my pal WadiaSoft. He’s averaging 39 miles and 2 pounds loss a week. Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lessons Learned

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to recover from my last race, I wanted to share a few lessons I learned about myself with everyone….

Lesson #1: I need to continue watching my waistline. I can’t help but thinking the extra 30 pounds or so I am carrying is really a handicap at this point. I mean seriously – it’s like lugging a backpack with four gallons of water uphill. I’m down about 3 pounds in the last three weeks – so at least I’m heading the right direction. Finally.

Lesson #2: Ditch the speed work. I need more long slow miles. Lots of them. Speed work where I’m going over the next couple years is overrated. The ability to go fast doesn’t matter when the need to be slow and steady is more important.

Lesson #3: Hills are not overrated. I need more and longer.

Lesson #4: I’m racing way too much. I mean with next week (San Francisco Half Marathon) I’ll have run three races in six weeks. I need to refocus on training. Pounding out the long slow miles. Getting some legs under me instead of thrashing them every other week.

Yes. I know I didn’t eat breakfast Saturday. Bad move on my part. But I’m not counting that as a lesson learned because I’ve supposedly learned that lesson before.

So – here’s my corrective action plan:

  1. Keep watching my waist. Yeah – it sucks to feel hungry. It also sucks to strap four gallons of water to my back wherever I go.
  2. More miles. I’m going to concentrate on the long run. I’ve got to get to the point where 16 plus miles is not an exercise that ends in extended afternoon nap time. If I need to cut miles, the miles that will be cut will be the shorter stuff.
  3. I’m not going to completely ditch the speed work, but it will not be a major part of my training plan for a while (at least until I set a goal marathon).
  4. More hill time on trails will be part of the agenda for the next few weeks. And I will not walk them. Even if I can walk faster than I’m “running” – I’ll slog up the hills.
  5. After San Francisco – tone down the racing. My legs and body will thank me. Not to mention my pocketbook.

I think I’ve let the cat out of the bag a couple of times over the last few weeks. In case you haven’t noticed – I’ve taken a liking to the trails. There’s something about “surviving” that appeals to me.  Five hours on the pavement seems to be drudgery. Five hours on the trails though is like an adventure.

So – expect more trail time moving forward. I’m already doing one to two trail sessions per week. I’m going to try to get long run miles in on the trails. Perhaps some peak bagging as well (like this trip to Mt. Baldy, or this one up San Jacinto). And definitely a 50K by next spring.

But – not to get ahead of myself – here’s this week’s schedule:

  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: Hills with Cal Coast. Somewhere around 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 4 mile easy run. Resistance workout of 1 set each Lying Hip Abduction, Single Leg Squat, Box Lunge, Stabiliy Ball Leg Curl, Single Leg Squat Jump
  • Thursday: 9 miles on the trails
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 12 mile long run.
  • Sunday : 9 mile easy run. Resistance workout of 1 set each Cook Hip Lift, Oblique Bridge, Forearms to Palm Bridge, Stability Ball Leg Curl, Broad Jump
  • Total: Around 39 miles.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harding Truck Trail Death March

Don’t ask me why I do it. It would be easy to just stick to short races. But there’s something about pushing myself beyond where I thought I would ever be. Ultimately I end up questioning my sanity at some point. But I end up finishing. It isn’t always (maybe even hardly ever) pretty.

Such was my Saturday. The inaugural Harding Hustle 30k Trail Run. Please note that it was advertised as a trail run – not a trail race. Less than five miles in I started understanding why. So sit back and enjoy this five minute summary of my five hour trail walk run:

I should have sensed I was in for an adventure. I had asked for an early start (for slower runners). My alarm went off at 4AM, and I turned over for just a couple more winks. 45 minutes later I woke up. Yikes! I missed out on my normal pre-race breakfast of an apple fritter! And worse yet no coffee! But, I made it to the shuttle with a few minutes to spare. This was going to happen after all.

Promptly at 6AM, the early group started. It was evident from the start that this was a no nonsense course.  Up up and up. I broke from a slow uphill jog to a brisk walk inside of 2 miles. Just past mile 4 we ran into the first aid station. 1600 feet of elevation gain. Whew! I inhaled a Hammer Gel. I refilled my handheld bottle with another 200 calories of Ultrafuel and continued plodding uphill. Somewhere along the line Billy and his pal Lori sped past. I think I burped out a hello. If not – sorry for being rude Billy!

The next couple miles of trail were the toughest. Another almost 900 feet of elevation gain. It seemed like the up never stopped. At this point I was really feeling the effects of nothing for breakfast and knew that I was in for a tough rest of the day. In standard trail fashion, I was not paying attention to my pace. I was only focused on the next highlight – the turnaround at the second aid station. And it’s a good thing. We dropped 100 feet in the next half mile before starting our ascent to the turnaround.

100_0022_WMV V9_0001I pulled into the aid station (9 1/4 miles and 3000 plus feet higher than the start), grabbed a chair, and quaffed a Clif Bar. Just under three hours since the start. So far I had 700 calories to my name, and only 200 of those in terms of solid food. No wonder I was starting to feel like walking death. Now – for those who have read my blog for a while know – normally I would be snapping pictures of the scenery. After all – we were at the crest of the mountains – pretty close to where we were a couple weeks ago for the Billy Goat. But not this time. I was only concentrating on what I needed to do to keep the thoughts of throwing in the towel at bay.

100_0016_WMV V9_0001After a few minutes off my feet and with a refilled water bottle (the volunteers at this race were *priceless*!) I started down the mountain. By mile 11 I was feeling pretty spent. I expected my legs to be spent, but by now just about every muscle in my body was fatigued. My thought were focused on that next aid station at mile 14.

I came hobbling in (well –maybe not that bad, but it sure seemed like it) to another set of outstanding volunteers. Ice water never tasted so good. They refilled my water bottle and iced me down, and I took off for my next adventure. Now – we had  been warned about bees in our pre-race briefing. I hadn’t seen any on the way up – so I figured that they had move on. WRONG!!! Just as I turned the camera off I ran right into a swirling swarm of them. Bees! Yikes! A couple of those suckers got caught between my pack and my back. Ouch #1!  Ouch #2!! The one thing I learned – even though I thought I had nothing left in the tank – I had plenty! I don’t think I’ve run that fast since my last 5K! And I did it while swatting bees and slipping out of my backpack. This was worse than the rattlesnake I had seen a couple miles back. At least that reptile was docile and just trying to get some warmth in the sun! I wish I would have had someone videoing me. It would have made for great comic relief. Thankfully, I’m not allergic to bee stings, so I sucked it up and continued down down down.

100_0024_WMV V9_0001 By mile 16 I was pretty much relegated to a brisk downhill walk. The heat was starting to turn up as I dropped in elevation. Along with that – there was no shade at all on the fire road. This whole area had burned in a large brush fire in 2007. We essentially ran up to the top , turned around, and ran back down exposed for all except for a few places where the bank provided some shade. But that doesn’t mean that it was a moonscape either. Life is slowly starting to reappear on the mountainsides that were denuded,. Such is the cycle of life in the mountains of Southern California.

100_0011_WMV V9_0001But what was more important was that I was making it down the last mile to the finish line. My focus at this point was on one thing – finishing. I could care less if I was dead last (there were two other runners still on the course).  I mustered what I had left in the tank and came jogging down the final dirt path, hung a right, and crossed the finish line. A medal was hung over my neck by Catra Corbett, the Dirt Diva herself! This is a runner who just a week ago, was pulled off the mountain at mile 85 of the Western States 100 on a stretcher with an IV. Amazing stock these ultrarunners.

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And with that I was finished. At least for this weekend.

IMG_0408 Tomorrow – lessons learned.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Garmin Woes Part 2

I’m in mourning. My running buddy passed on to the great electronics waste dump in the sky (actually in a drawer in my desk) on Saturday. Unlike most, I hadn’t given him a name – he was just “Garmin”. He accompanied my on every run for the last 2 years. He even carried the scars of a bicycling accident that had me on the shelf for six weeks back in 2008. Garmin – you did me good.IMG_0405

Okay – enough for the teary eyed drama. The important thing is what to do now? Yikes! I can’t run without my electronics! I think it was best put by my blogging buddy Patrick - “How did Roger Bannister break a 4 minute mile without a Garmin?” Funny, but soooo true Patrick. Sooooo true.

I started looking at my options. Luckily, these days GPS enabled devices are plentiful. Garmin. Polar. Suunto. Even software that runs on GPS enabled phones. But – I’m a loyal Garmin convert – so I started looking for a replacement. Even there it’s no longer an easy choice. Garmin Forerunner 205, 305, 310XT, 405. And now a Garmin that is targeted specifically to runners – the 110. Decisions decisions decisions. I sent out a tweet to the Twitterverse looking for people’s opinions on the various devices out there. Good news for Garmin is it didn’t matter which model of Forerunner people were using – they all loved them!

Then – a tweet from @oldtrailrunner - “my 305 died too but for $86 I sent it back to the factory to get it refurbished.” Now my interest was piqued. I started digging through the support pages at, and there it was – Out of Warranty service for Garmin devices:

imageSo maybe my Garmin *can* be resurrected after all. I sent an email to Technical Support requesting a return authorization. The response to my request?


Three days to answer an email? Yikes! In the meantime I bought a new Forerunner 305 for $190 at REI. My plan is to repair my old one. Then I’ll have a backup and/or a second one for those really long runs I’m planning on tackling next year. Ooops! I may have let the cat out of the bag…..

Speaking of running – I hit the trails last night with my son for a quick four miler in Laguna Coast. Rest day today. Then 30 kms in the Santa Ana Mountains. Harding Hustle here I come!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garmin Woes

So on Saturday, about 14 or so miles into my trail run, I noticed that my Garmin 305 had stopped working. Oh well. Out of battery. Or so I thought. I got home and cradled the device – but it did nothing. Nada. Blank screen. No “Battery Charging in Progress” message. Not a big deal. I’ve seen this before. Time to dust off Garmin Forerunner 305 troubleshooting guide:

  • Trouble charging: The symptom is you plug your Garmin into its cradle and it does nothing. No messages. It appears that you running buddy in fundamentally dead. Panic? Nope. The first thing to check are the little brass contacts on the back of your Garmin. Perspiration (okay okay – sweat) will cause them to corrode and turn dark/black in color. If this is the case, take a pencil eraser and clean the contacts. Plug your Garmin back into it’s cradle and voila! Everything should be back to normal!


  • Soft Reset: That didn’t do the trick? No problemo. Time to pull the old Soft Reset out of the bag. To reset your device, you are going to need to press the “Mode” button and the “Reset” button simultaneously. Hold them down for three seconds and then release the buttons. Press the “Power” button. Your device should turn on with all data still intact.


  • Hard reset:  Okay. That didn’t work. Now things get a little trickier. The next thing to do is to perform a Hard Reset. But – one word of warning – if you perform a hard reset, you *could* lose all of your data on your watch. To perform a hard reset, press the “Power” , “Mode”, and “Reset” buttons simultaneously for a few seconds. When your device powers up, it will be in it’s pristine out of the box state.


  •  What else? Or maybe you can be like me. All of these tried and still nada. I have found Garmin support most helpful. Frustrating to get to, but helpful. Give them  a call. Just be  ready to wait 30 minutes or more to speak to a person. So – make sure you’ve tried all the cleaning and reset sequences first. It would be ashamed to make contact and be  sent way to try this stuff!

Up tomorrow – replacement options. Unfortunately this tells you what happened to my Garmin.

Oh – on the running front – work and family kept me from getting out yesterday. Oh well. Once in a while the family deserves it…..

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Streak Ends

So – everything must come to an end sometime, and my “Execute The Plan” streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday.

But, I do have to report that Saturday was as good a run as I’ve had in a while. Seventeen miles on the plan. Seventeen miles executed on the trails in Aliso-Wood Canyon Regional Park here in Orange County.

A couple of new things really helped spell success on this run:

  • Changed my fueling regimen: Up to now, I’ve been relying on gels as my primary source of fuel, and I’ve pretty much ignored fuel on my long runs. Saturday I mixed up an handheld of Ultrafuel (maltodextrin) and tested it on my run. It worked quite well.


  • Changed my electrolytes: For a while now I kind of suspected that the cramping and fatigue that I usually suffer is a sodium issue. I sweat. Like buckets. And that means that I’m probably (definitely) losing a lot of sodium in the process. I have been using Endurolytes as my electrolyte replacement, but each tablet only provides 85mg of sodium. After reading a great blog post by Aron, I thought it might be high time to try a different electrolyte replacement tablet. I took two of these guys per hour (at 285 mg of sodium each) and they seemed to do the trick:


The bottom line was I finished 17 miles on the trails and felt pretty strong afterwards. It was a real confidence builder for Saturday…

Which brings us to Sunday. On the schedule was an 8 mile easy run. I woke up with a mean case of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). My back was tired. My quads and hips ached. Heck – even my arms were sore. Everything felt so good! But, with a race coming up this Saturday, sore and fatigued muscles, and a BBQ and fireworks to celebrate the 234th birthday of the USA, I sacked the run. Sigh. I remember celebrating the bicentennial in 1976 – a year after graduating High School. Man. I’m an old fart.

So I finished out last week at 34 miles. And finished out June at 4 miles shy of 120. I feel like the cruiser has finally turned the right direction.

This week I’m going to mini taper for Saturday’s race. I was originally going to just treat the race as another training run, but I think I’m going to treat it more like a race (more on that later). So that means this week’s schedule will pan out like this:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 8 mile easy
  • Thursday: 4 mile easy
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Harding Hustle 30K (18 - 19 miles)
  • Sunday: Rest
  • Total for week: 30 miles or thereabouts

Then, once this week is over, it’s back to 40 miles. Per week. Without fail….

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A New Toy

I picked up a new toy on Thursday. My old version of this same toy has served me well during my training and racing in the past. But, it had gotten old and decrepit. It once ran out of juice and turned off the middle of a race. The buttons weren’t easy to see or easy to press and had fooled me once thinking that everything was set and  turned on, only to disappoint later. And the quality of the output, while quite good when my toy was new, is now falling short of expectation. In short, it was three year old technology – great at the time it was first purchased, but now old and obsolete.

Yes. Thursday I retired my old Olympus 850 SW Thursday*. In it’s place – this baby:

0900688a80c47a32_EKN036801_PLAYSPORT_black_front_645x370A Kodak Playsport HD video camera. (Thanks Running Green Girl!) Capable of  1080p HD video. Capable of 5MP still photos. Waterproof to 10 ft. Capable of withstanding a 5 foot drop. All in a package smaller than an iPhone. And all for less than $200!

Come join me for Thursday evening’s run in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park in 720p HD:

ETP Day 18 (Thursday): 7.6 miles in Laguna Wilderness Park. 0.4 miles short of plan. Calorie budget of 1762 BMR plus 1140 exercise allowance. Total consumed 2999 for 97 over budget.

ETP Day 19 (Friday): Scheduled rest day. Slept through my alarm again. Obviously the rest day is needed. Calorie budget of 1762. Calories consumed – 1999 or 237 over budget.

Weekly variance:

  • Training budget: 0.9 miles short of plan
  • Calorie budget: 427 over budget

On tap today – 17 miles. I’m waiting until a little later in the day to train in the sun. One week until the Harding Hustle (gulp.)

* Don’t worry. My old  camera has been willed to my daughter, and will have a wonderful time in Europe!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I’ve Missed a Day. Or Two…

I noticed today that I missed a day or two of blogging. Ooops! Oh well. That’s what happens when nothing exciting is going on.

ETP Day 15 (Monday): New rest day. Sorely needed. BMR allowance – 2012 calories. Calories inhaled – 2258. 247 calories over budget.

ETP Day 16 (Tuesday): Hill workout with Cal Coast. It has been uncharacteristically cloudy and overcast here in Southern California, and because of that, my Garmin took over 30 minutes to lock onto satellites. As a result, I missed some warm up miles. I ended up putting in 5.5 miles total, 1.4 miles during the 12 minute hard run. Half a mile less than plan. FAIL. I never got my heart rate above 90% of max. I just couldn’t get my legs moving without pain in my quads. DOUBLE FAIL. Calorie wise – this is the first day of my throttled down intake budget – I’m allowed 1762 for BMR plus 814 for exercise. I ate 2143 for a deficit of 434 calories.

ETP Day 17 (Wednesday): Easy four mile run in the late afternoon at Crystal Cove. My legs felt like toast. Nonetheless, I managed an average pace of 9:45 at an average heart rate of 72% of max. Performed my resistance workout. I was allowed my normal BMR of 1762 plus 652 calories for exercise. I ate 1856, which puts me 94 calories over budget.

Variance week to date:

  • Training budget: 0.5 miles under budget
  • Calorie budget: 93 calories under budget

On a related note – I’ve been incredibly fatigued. Normally I’m up at 5:30 or so, lounge with a cup of coffee, catch up on blogs, etc. This morning? Up at 7:00! Add to it sore quads and sore hip abductors – I need to watch myself the rest of this week so I don’t really screw something up. And with that – I’m off to the hills for 8 miles in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park this evening….