Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flexible Friday

Yesterday was supposed to be a five miler at a little faster pace. But, I took the afternoon instead and ran around with my daughter buying books and art supplies for school. So, I am going to be flexible here and exchange yesterday for today.

I think the only change is that I'm going to take it easy today to conserve some energy for Monday's assault on Baldy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Three Mile Thursday (Sorry having trouble coming up with new titles)

Yesterday was an easy three miles. Went over to Crystal Cove for the weather and the view. It seems that the trails there are *never* crowded. There are no cars. The bikes want to stay on Pacific Coast Highway. There is the occasional runner or family going down to the sand to deal with, but it's a lot nicer than the Back Bay trail. Too bad the trail isn't longer - the max run that can be done here is 5 miles. And that's if you park over in the adjoining neighborhood.

Today is a five miler. Ol' Hal wants me to push it a little - so I'm going to try to push it down toward the bottom of the steady state range according to McMillan - down around 9:45. Saturday and Sunday will be rest days in preparation for Monday's race. I can actually use some rest - my legs and hips are a little sore from this week, even though the mileage is down. There were three days I pushed the pace. The good news is yesterday's easy run really was easy and had an opening mile pace of 9:16 - at a heart rate of about 130! Looks like I'm making progress.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interval workout

Yesterday I headed over to the track at CDM for a workout that had me sucking air! Two mile warm up followed by 8 X 200 intervals with 200 rest in between. Finally a one mile warm down gave a total five mile workout. I was able to get things down to a 45 second 200. Really puts Usain Bolt in perspective!

I'm sore today, so am looking forward to a short and sweet 3 miles today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Four Miles with a View

I took it easy yesterday on my four mile run. After pushing it on Monday, my legs were feeling tired. Knowing that Wednesday's run is going to be difficult (2 mile warmup, 8X200 intervals, 1 mile warm down), I wanted to save myself and just get an easy run in. There is no better place to do that than Crystal Cove, just south of Corona del Mar.

Crystal Cove is a California State Park that exists because the State made a deal with the Irvine Company for development rights. Basically, the Irvine Company gave California the land to the south of Pacific Coast Highway and the land in El Moro Canyon in return for the rights to develop the land to the north. The land to the north is now known as Newport Coast, where folks like Kobe Bryant live. What was left for us though, is a gem in the city. There are about 3 miles of beach and tide pools, and the wilderness of El Moro. I've camped up in El Moro, and once the sun goes down, you would never know that you were less than 5 miles from civilization. You can read more about El Moro here:

The catch for us runners is that it costs $10 to park. During off season, the parking kiosks close at 4PM, and entry after that doesn't require payment. But, now during the season, the kiosks are manned until late, so it would cost $10 for a 30 minute run. But - there is a little trick. Just before getting to Crystal Cove, there is a community known as Cameo Shores. Tun right into this community, and you can park on the street right along Pacific Coast Highway for free. It adds 1/2 mile each way to a run, but so what? I can see where it is a deterrent to weekend beach goers with a lot of stuff to take down to the beach, but for runners it's a good deal. The other good deal is to purchase an annual parking pass for $120. It's good at all State Parks - so if you go to other places (San Onofre, San Clemente, etc.), this is a really good deal. At $10 a day for parking at those places, it doesn't take long to break even! Last year I even used it at all the State Parks and Beaches along the Central Coast (Big Sur, Pfeiffer Beach, etc.)!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Push the Pace a Little

Yesterday's plan was an easy three miles. The original training plan called for a 5K on Sunday, but since I couldn't find a race within a reasonable distance from home that looked inviting, I modified the schedule a bit to have normal training runs instead of a race. So, instead of doing a post race easy 3 miles, I decided I would push the pace a little. Bottom line was a 3 miler at an average pace of 9:36, with a final mile at 9:06. This isn't too bad, since I did the run to the south of the NAC, which means there were a couple of hills to climb along the run. I hit up the weight room when I was done running to do some stretching and core exercises.

I'm also starting to get a little excited about my race on Monday - to the Top of Baldy. I'm going to try to finish in 2 hours. What makes me nervous about this is I know that the final half mile is a real tough stretch of trail - lots of switchbacks at altitude. My plan right now is to power walk and/or jog where possible, and then see where I am as I get closer to the top!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday Speedwork

Yesterday was Speedwork Sunday! The plan called for a 40 minute fartlek. I got out early in the AM after dropping my son off at the NAC for his workout, so I headed over to Crystal Cove and did my workout.

I was targeting 4 miles. Only got in 3.85, but my pace during the fast pieces was good. At one point I ran a 7:32 pace for 1/4 mile. Overall I was pretty pleased with the workout.

The best part of yesterday is that my back was completely fine! I woke up without any pain or discomfort, put in my workout, and had no pain or discomfort in the afternoon. I hoping that it was a muscular thing and not something more serious, but right now it's feeling pretty good.

I'm not travelling for the next couple or three weeks, so I should be back on track with the training plan. I am also about to start a new marathon training cycle with Cal Coast. I guess I need to decide which marathon I'm going to train for....

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Yesterday was my normal Saturday workout with Cal Coast. My Higdon plan is half done at this point (8th week is wrapping up), and I'm supposed to be running a 5K this weekend. But, I can't find anything that looks appealing close to home, so I did some juggling of the plan and put in a seven mile LSD run.

I woke up with a very sore back though, and was questioning my ability to finish the workout on my way to CDM. The pain was almost like sciatica - sharp pain in the right side my lower back right above the gluts. The longer I sat (even in my car), the worse the pain got. However, once I got on the trail, things seemed to loosen up and I was able to finish the seven miles without any pain. My goal pace was 10:45, and I think I finished in something like a 10:10. Considering all the hills I was satisfied.

But, things were just starting to get interesting. Once home, I was practically unable to move. My back stiffened right up, and to even stand was a chore. My wife has been pointing out all of these little things that I have been seeing since my cycling accident, and this is one of them. I hope I haven't done anything more serious! This is a strange malady though. There is no other pain, stiffness, or numbness associated with the presenting symptoms. If there was, I would be very concerned about sciatica. On the plane, I was reading about some of the other common running injuries. One that was described was a Piriformis strain. Turns out there is this muscle (the Piriformis) that when strained (running lots of miles on hard surfaces) presents symptoms very much like sciatica. The link here is the change in shoes - perhaps this is the problem. Looks like I'll need to see my doctor soon if the symptoms don't go away.

Travelling week

This week was not a good one from a training perspective. I had to travel to Atlanta for business. I always leave on business trips with my gear and the best of intentions, but this trip was a write off from a training perspective.

First off, my connectors got messed up Tuesday, so instead of getting into Atlanta in the early evening, I ended up getting to the hotel at 11:00 PM. Next, Wednesday was hot and humid - 94 degrees and about 60% humidity. It took my breath away the first time I went outside about 4 in the afternoon. Then, since I hadn't had lunch, I was famished and wanted dinner. One of my favorite Tex Mex chains (Pappasito's Cantina) has a restaurant in Atlanta, so it was off to dinner. I grew up on the East Side of Los Angeles on food from places like El Tepeyac. I *love* Mexican food, and don't often consider the food at the chains as authentic in any way, shape or form. But, Pappasito's has a Chile Relleno that is worth the trip! I also had a very good "Ceviche" appetizer ( in quotes because there wasn't any conch in the salad). So, once I got back to the hotel, the last thing I was in the frame of mind to do was to get on a treadmill for 5.5 miles of hill work. So, I made Wednesday a write off.

Finally, Thursday was a travel day. I do my flying almost exclusively on United, and I'm a semi-regular on fight 473 - which gets into Orange County from O'hare at 10:23PM (give or take). Thursday was my scheduled rest day.

So, it looks like this week is another partial training week. I'll put in my run on Friday, along with the weekend workouts to salvage what I can!

Five Miles of Exhaustion

Note: This entry was actually supposed to be for last Tuesday, August 19 for my run the prior day. I wrote it on a plane on my way to Atlanta:

Yesterday was supposed to be an easy 5 mile run. Strange thing was it was anything but. I don't know if it is back to back to back hard workouts (even though Saturday's and yesterday's weren't supposed to be), or just the heat and/or humidity, but I plain ran out of gas during the third mile. I did my normal north from the NAC run. The first mile was a bit fast (9:40 pace, including the hill). Second mile I was trying to slow down, so did a 10:00 pace, but by mile 3 I was spent. As in spent some time walking. My heart rate was fine, breathing was fine, but my legs had nothing left in them. The last two miles were very slow, but I got the five in.

I am wondering if some of the issue here is that I am not spending any time in the gym after a run stretching and doing core strengthening. Since I ran out of the NAC yesterday, I did spend some time in the weight room afterwards. During my last marathon training cycle I did stretch at least twice, if not three times a week. I also had started the Runner's World core workout before vacation, but haven't done any of those exercises for at least three weeks. Time to recommit to those....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Now I've Done It...

Yesterday's run was an invigorating tempo run of 35 minutes. I found it tough to keep my pace down in the appropriate range - around a 9:30 according to McMillan. I think that's a good thing! I ended up running almost 3.6 miles on the Upper Back Bay trail - the only reason it wasn't further was an unscheduled pit stop at the porta potty at Big Canyon.

I'm starting to feel stronger and faster these days. Which means that I am pleased with my progress on this Higdon training plan. This week, I'm supposed to enter a 5K or 10K race, but there really isn't anything close to home that sounds inviting. So, I looked out one week and entered a race I've been looking at for a while - the Run to the Top at Mt. Baldy. I am a little nervous because it is about 8 miles with a 4,000 foot elevation gain according to the website . I'm hoping I can power walk and finish in 2 hours. What am I doing?!?!?!?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Humid Humid Humid

Yesterday's run was a tough 8 miles on the Upper Back Bay trail. I kept my pace down to a reasonable if not slow 10:30, but by mile 5 I was having some serious trouble maintaining that. I think there were three contributing reasons: (1) all of the time off lately with vacation and travel, (2) Friday's hard workout (still has me sore), and (3) THE HUMIDITY! I just came back from a couple of weeks on the East Coast, and the humidity back there was *no where* near what it was here this morning. All I know is that when I was done, I was *dripping* wet. I'm sure that dehydration had something to do with my fatigue as well.

It's also time to start looking for a race. My plan has me racing next weekend (5K or 10K), but there isn't anything local that looks interesting. My original thought for this training cycle was to do the Run to the Top at Mt. Baldy on Labor Day. That is looking more and more inviting....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hill Day!

As I said yesterday, I was a little too smart for myself. Knowing that I was flying on Wednesday, I moved my hill workout to Friday. So yesterday, I did my hill repeats on San Joaquin. The training plan called for 5, I was able to run 4 and walk 1. Whew. Did a 2 mile warm up and a one mile warm down for 5.5 total. Then went to dinner only to find out that one of my old standby restaurants is closed - Sumo Sushi in Irvine. With the "Order to Vacate" posted on the door, it doesn't look like they'll be back soon!

Today is a long run of 8 miles. The marathon training folks are no doubt going really long at this point, so I'm sure todays run will be up San Diego Creek.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First run back

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things after vacation. Yesterday, after much hemming, hawing, and procrastination, I drove on down to Crystal Cove and put in an easy 5 miles. Nothing earth shattering , just an easy run at a 10 minute pace. One thing for sure - it's much more humid here than it was on the East Coast the last week. I didn't expect that for sure!

I was looking forward to my day off Friday today, but I guess I was too smart for myself before leaving on vacation. I moved my rest day to Wednesday (flight day) and the hill workout to today. So, this afternoon I'll lace up the shoes and do my workout. Talk to you later today!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back Home!

Well, after 11 days out on the road, we made it back home yesterday. The flights were a bit roundabout - Newark to Chicago, Chicago to Orange County - but everything ran on time and we made it home!

I have to say that all in all, it was a fun vacation. New York was definitely the highlight of the trip. Looking at some maps today, we probably walked about 10 miles or so the two days that we were there, saw some interesting stuff. I personally enjoy the active around midtown and downtown.

We are setting our sights on next year already. I am proposing we go west from Niagara - Detroit, Chicago. We have votes to go back to NYC. What it means is that we'll be going somewhere!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vacation - Day ??

Well, this vacation is winding down. We're tired. We're out of clean clothes and my camera is out of batteries. In short, we are ready for home.

Today, we got a late start (around 11 AM). We checked out of the hotel and grabbed a bagel. The Jonas Brothers were still around, so we had to make our way through the throngs outside of MTV.

We grabbed the #3 train and went down to Chamber St. We walked around Ground Zero. There is a *ton* of construction in the area, but there no where to really get a look at anything. We continued down to Wall St. Since 9/11, all of the stock brokerages are closed to the public, so there was no way that we could get in for a tour. Hmmph.

From Wall St., we walked down to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty out on Ellis Island.

Next was what we missed yesterday - pizza in the Village. We made our way to John's Pizzeria on Bleecker (in most surveys, #1 pizza in New York City) for some original New York pizza to draw our visit to New York to a close. We caught a cab back to the hotel, got our bags, and made it to Newark, where we are spending our last night.

Newark is not without surprises though! Tonight we were looking for somewhere to go for dinner. There was a card on the desk for a restaurant called Spanish Tavern, and they supply a shuttle. So I called them, and we went over for dinner. I had the *best* seafood Paella tonight! Wow!

Well, we are off to home tomorrow. And looking forward to it!

Vacation - Day 9

Today was our first full day in NYC. We have no plans in particular, just wander through the city and take in the sights.

We are staying in the Marriott Marquis on Broadway just north of Times Square. On our walk to Carnegie Deli, we saw a few sights - Radio City Music Hall, the Ed Sullivan Theater (Letterman is on vacation this week), Rockefeller Plaza, and other sights and sounds on 7th Avenue.

Today I wanted to take the boys for bagels, so we started by going over to Daniel's Bagels over on 3rd Avenue. Our introduction to the Big Apple was almost immediate as we exited the hotel to throngs of teen girls screaming. The Jonas Brothers were over at MTV, and each time they would appear at the studio window, the screaming would begin again!

Next stop after bagels was MoMA. We walked over to 53rd St. I was immediately impressed by the line into the place! Where else would there be a 30 minute wait to get into an art museum! But that wasn't the only wait! Once inside, we stood in line for another 30 minutes to check our backpack! But the wait paid off as we wandered through the Salvador Dali gallery! Well worth waiting in line!

After the museum, we headed back to the hotel for some rest. At this point, we had been on our feet for about 5 hours and needed the rest. But - it was not to be! My wife's cousin was in the City (her husband was in the city for a job interview) and we arranged to meet. She was in Soho, so the plan was to meet at Madison Square Park - over on 23rd and Broadway. We ended up meeting in Union Park, over on 16th and Broadway. A great walk through the heart of downtown Manhattan!

Once we met, we walked over to Soho to grab a drink and spend some time together. Soho is a quaint neighborhood. Quiet and hip, my sons were impressed by the neighborhood. It reminds me a lot of Cambridge Massachusetts - the area between MIT and Harvard. We all enjoyed some time together and then we went our separate ways.

Since we were already down close to Little Italy, I convinced the boys that we should have dinner somewhere down there. We ended up having a great dinner! That pretty much spent the day for us, so we grabbed a cab for an *exciting* cab ride back to the hotel.

Tomorrow is our last day here in NYC. The plan right now is to catch the subway and go down to the Financial District, maybe see Ground Zero, and then flex from there! Tonight we will stay in the garden spot of the world - Newark NJ - so that we are close to the airport for tomorrow's flight back home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vacation - Day 8

Days are starting to drag into weeks here as we continue our little journey. We are now firmly planted on the East Coast. Without a rental car, we are left to our feet to get around. Today we are experiencing a typical summer storm. Lightning, thunder, and rain. Sometimes heavy. We had to jump into a KMart and grab umbrellas to stay dry. At least it's warm out.

We started out a little late today. The plan was to walk to Independence Mall, then to the Rocky Steps. Eventually we need to get over to 30th St station to get a train to NYC. We spent time wandering around Independence Mall. I wanted to take a tour of Independence Hall, but the next available tour was 3:45 PM. So, we ditched that to roam around for a while. We saw the Liberty Bell, then went over to Ben Franklin Court. Eventually we found ourselves at Carpenter Hall, where the first Continental Congress convened and where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech. It is cool to be around all these places where this country has its roots.

There is one thing that this little tour made quite clear to me. All of those guys who started this country - they weren't your normal guys like our history books have us think. They were the Bill Gates of their day. I didn't know - but Ben Franklin was able to retire by the age of 43! They were all wealthy, and I'm sure a lot of the motivation to declare independence was to save the fortunes that they had amassed here in the New World!

We were going to go over to the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but with the rain coming down harder, and the time approaching 2 PM, we made it as far as Love Park, and then decided it was time to go back to the hotel, grab our bags, and get to the train station.

Our last adventure in Philly was riding the subway (the "ghetto train" as my younger son put it) to the Amtrak station, where we caught the Keystone Express to Penn Station in New York City. Penn Station happens to be Madison Square Gardens. When we got off the train, we saw hordes of teenage girls. Turns out the Jonas Brothers were playing at MSG! We grabbed a cab and got over to the Marriott Marquis in the heart of Broadway and Times Square. Finally, it was off to the Carnegie Deli for Rubens, Cheesecake, and Lemon Chiffon pie!

Vacation - Day 7

After the storms of yesterday, this day broke like a spring day. Today we are in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. While we are technically still in Ontario, there is a lot of French spoken here. Our plan for today was to catch the changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill, get some Beavertails for breakfast, and then hoof it to Philadelphia.

Ottawa is a very interesting city - small in city terms (about 250,000 population), but still large enough to have all the entrapments of city life. I find it an interesting mix of European architecture and North American charm. One thing for sure - small cars are king here. And with gas at $5.00 per gallon I can see why. It's interesting that a country that has so much oil (Canada is the #1 exporter of oil to the US) has such a high cost for gasoline. I can;t wait to get back across the border later today to fill up the rental.

One other thing about this city, and Canada in general - much of the pomp and circumstance from England is safely stored away up here. The changing of the guard is much like it's counterpart in the UK. It is also interesting that everything here is being done "in the name of Her Majesty" or for "HRH, the Prince of Wales". Say - isn't Canada an independent nation?

The changing of the Guard was very cool! From the parade to Parliament, to the drill of the change - very interesting. Nowhere in Washington DC are we as ceremonious as this!

After the changing of the Guard, we made our way back to Byward for Beavertails. A Beavertail is nothing more that some fried dough, but it is a true Canadian food - so we had to try. The Byward was going full tilt when we got there. Very reminiscent of a farmer's market back home - I was impressed with the fresh fruits and vegetables available.

We were going to go on a tour of Parliament, but by the time we got to the Info Centre (yes misspelled) the next available tour was going to be at 1:30PM, which would place us way behind plan for our drive to Philadelphia, so we decided to forgo the tour and start south toward Philly.

The drive to Philadelphia was long but uneventful. We stopped for lunch in Syracuse, where gasoline was a more reasonable $3.84 a gallon. The highlight was driving through (well actually around) Scranton. We looked for Schrute, but he was nowhere to be found.

After 7 plus hours, we were finally at our destination - Residence Inn on Penn Square. We had two more things to accomplish that night. First - Geno's for Cheese Steaks, and then return the rental car. We made it to the south side of Philly and got our Cheese Steaks. I don't know what these folks do to get such tender meat, but the sandwiches and cheese fries were as good as ever. From Geno's, we drove over to the airport, returned the rental car, and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel. A long day for sure!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vacation - Day 6

Well, since we are done rowing, we stayed in the sack this morning. I was up early to get some work done, and was thinking about the other rowers when I looked outside and saw the skies had opened up. It poured for a while this morning.
We are using our early exit from rowing to move on down the road. After some discussion last night, we decided to change our itinerary and leave Niagara a day early and spend two days in New York City. So, we checked out of our hotel to move down the road to Ottawa. But, before we left, we had one more thing to do. Yesterday, my oldest son was a little disappointed that we did not get close to the falls, so in the morning, we hopped on the Maid of the Mist ( and took our obligatory trip to the base of the falls. For all of the grief I give Niagara, to be at the base of the falls and see the volume of water coming over is absolutely stunning!

Once done, we took off down the road to Ottawa. Ottawa is reached by taking the QEW to Toronto, then the 401 east from Toronto. According to Google Maps, this was supposed to be a 5 and a half hour drive. But, traffic in Toronto was as bad as I've seen it anywhere. Top it off with pouring rain (the news said a waterspout was photographed over Lake Ontario) and we were in the car for almost 7 hours to drive the 500 kms to Ottawa.
We settled into our hotel (the Westin Ottawa - a very nice hotel by the way) and eventually made it out to look around the town. One thing I enjoy about places where winter is an issue is that they tend to be pretty compact towns - meaning everything is within walking distance. My goal the first night in Ottawa was to find a deli to get a couple of things that are uniquely Canadian - smoked meat and poutine. We walked down through the Byward Market, and not finding anything, continued a few blocks to the east. I was looking for Nate's Deli - highly recommended. When we got to Nate's, we found them closed, so started walking back to the hotel. As we were wandering back ,we stumbled on Dunn's - one of the better known delis in Ottawa. So we were able to get our Montreal smoked meat and poutine.

After dinner, it was off to Parliament Hill for the light show and then to sleep in another wonderful hotel bed!

Vacation - Day 5

Today was my youngest son's big day. His future at St. Catherines this week is based on how he does on this day in his heat. So, we spent most of the day on the island to cheer him on.

The morning started as a muddy mess as the skies opened up. Kyle rowed his heat and did well - bettering his time from earlier this week by almost 20 seconds. But, the times in the Junior B event were simply blazing. Heat times in the 7:30 range were not uncommon. So, we are done rowing this year.

But - we took advantage of his early exit to do some more touristy things in Niagara. We headed over to the Whirlpool Jet Boats to run the rapids in the Niagara River in a 1500 horsepower Jet Boat. Absolutely fantastic! Like to log ride at Disneyland on steroids. At one point, we were plowing through 10 to 15 foot waves in the boat ( We left absolutely soaked! And had a blast doing it!

This also gave us a first opportunity to roam Clifton Hill. The boys and I had a great dinner at the Keg Steakhouse, then went to the Fudge Factory, walked the shops of the Hill, enjoyed a couple of games of pool at the midway, and relaxed in our room. A nice day for us to do some bonding.

Vacation - Day 4

Wednesday - Day 4 - was spent primarily at Henley Island. Most of our rowers had events today, so time was spent in St. Catherines. It was an absolutely stunning day - bright, a few white puffy clouds, a gentle breeze, temperature of around 75F.

St. Catherines is a nice community about 15 minutes to the northwest from Niagara. It is a typical upper midwest bedroom community. The largest employer in the region is General Motors, which has a plant in St. Catherines. All of the normal comforts of home are available here - Costco, Home Depot, Staples, etc. In the summer months, the breeze off the lake can keep things comfortable.

The rowing venue is a lake that is an offshoot of the St. Catherines canal between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The closest that those of us in California would relate to would be Lake Natomas in Sacramento. Organization for this regatta is top notch, and things run smoothly considering all of the rowers and all of the boats.

I still couldn't keep my phone quiet today, so I was back at the hotel by 1PM to field calls. My youngest had to stay on the island for afternoon practice, so he got back to the hotel around 1PM. I cleared my calls and headed back to the island for the afternoon.

Wednesday afternoon we decided to do a little sightseeing on our way back to the hotel. Instead of taking the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way - the main freeway in the area), we drove the lakeshore back from St. Catherines through Niagara-on-the-Lake. I call it the La Jolla of the Great North! A quaint little town with a ton of boutiques, restaurants, coffee houses and b&bs. All of the buildings are out of the late 1800's which provides character. Now, imagine La Jolla mixed with Napa! That's right! The southern shore of Lake Ontario has a climate that is conducive to fruit orchards and vineyards (the heat from the water keeps the southern shore area warmer than the north). Drive along any road in the area for winery tours and tasting, fruit orchards, and farmer's markets!

We spent the rest of our day driving through this very interesting area and back to the hotel. Wednesday nights is fireworks night, so we enjoyed the fireworks from the comfort of our hotel room!

Vacation - Day 3

The third day of vacation was a working day for me. I headed back to Buffalo for a meeting with Erie County.

There are a number of bridges over the border from Buffalo. The bridge closest to Buffalo is the Peace Bridge, accessible from downtown Buffalo. This bridge drops you into Fort Erie, where there is an easy drive from the crossing to Niagara Falls. The bridge closest to the Falls is the Rainbow Bridge, which is within view of the Falls. Trucks are not allowed over this bridge and because of its proximity to Niagara, this is the busiest of the bridges. The third bridge is north of Buffalo by about 20 minutes at Lewiston. I headed over the Peace Bridge, got to my meeting, and went back over the Rainbow Bridge later that afternoon.

Tuesday afternoon gave us a little weather too - afternoon thunderstorms were keeping things wet and rowers out of the water in the afternoon! Little did we know what that would bring in the next couple of days.

Vacation - Day 2

The second day of vacation broke hot and humid (what's new) in Niagara Falls. The rowing is actually taking place in St. Catherines Ontario, about 10 minutes west on the QEW. My youngest is the rower, so he had to meet his teammates in the hotel lobby at 6:30AM.

My older son and I got to rest a while longer and start transitioning our body clocks to Eastern time. We eventually made it out to Henley Island in St. Catherines where we were able to watch our guys practice. This is the second year that we have rowed in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, considered the end of the season Championship Regatta in Canada. Last year we were here with two rowers (both under 16), one coach, and a couple of dads. This year, our club, the Newport Aquatic Center, has sent over 30 rowers, so we are well represented this year. This is no minor commitment too, as we have to trailer and send boats across the country to compete.

Unfortunately for me, this is a bit of a working vacation. I was back in the hotel room by noon Eastern so I could field phone calls and do the other things in a normal work day. Once that was done, we "hit the town" in Niagara Falls. Now, Niagara Falls is a *huge* tourist trap. Everything here is expensive, and is tailored for tourism. Everything has a charge associated with it, from horrible exchange rates (85 cents CDN for each USD exchanged), to parking in near empty lots. Food is atrocious - dinner for 3 at TGI Fridays runs $100! A half liter bottle of water runs $2. In the past, this was still not too bad, but with the weak dollar these days, we are not getting a favorable exchange, so when put in dollars, everything is 5% more expensive than the price in CDN. But, at least everything is within walking distance here. So, we set off for Clifton Hill (the main tourist area), and the falls (lighted at night).

The walk up and down Clifton Hill is like going to Downtown Disney. Flashing lights, touristy type stuff. There are some things that are most apparent here - everywhere you turn there are midway style "Haunted Houses" and sideshow style museums. You can go to the Criminals Hall of Fame ($6), or the Guinness Museum of World Records, or Movieland Wax Museum, or Louis Toussaud's Wax Museum, or (you get the idea). For $10 CDN, you can ride the Falls View Ferris Wheel. For a couple of bucks you can do just about anything!

But, we bypassed all of the "attractions" and went to the falls, where we enjoyed the views and fireworks.

Rowing in St. Catherines Day 1

As mentioned in my last entry, I've been on vacation for the last week. I feel a *little* guilty for not running, but I'm watching my food intake (as much as one can on a vacation), and I have not been completely sedentary...

I'm going to go back and reconstruct some of my vacation here - for posterity. These aren't running related entries, but so what!

We left last Sunday, August 3rd from LAX. My daughter was going to France for a few weeks and flew out of LAX, so it was a convenient trip for my wife to drop everyone off at once. We left the house at 3 AM and got to the airport at 4. Lines weren't too long yet, and we made our way through check in and security in a reasonable amount of time. One of the great things that United Airlines has done at LAX is to have a person with a microphone guiding people to the next available kiosk. Also, being a Mileage Plus Premiere level helped as we were able to bypass the security line. I got my daughter to her gate a little before 5AM (yeah - Starbucks was not open yet), and the boys and I went over to the Red Carpet club, where we had to wait 30 minutes for the club to open. Our flight was not scheduled until 9AM, so we had some time to kill in the club. The boys settled down for a little nap.

Our end goal for the day was Buffalo NY, right across the border from Niagara Falls Canada. We had to fly through Philadelphia, so we settled in for a lengthy flight on the small plane. As a frequent flier, I am used to the little glitches that can hammer plans, and this day was no different. As I was trying to resolve a seat problem with my son (I had asked us to be seated together in Economy Plus), the agent notified me that the plane to Philly was bein delayed due to mechanical problems! So, I got the seating changed and settled in for what I feared was going to be a long delay. To my amazement, the problem was fixed and we were still able to board on time! We got off about 30 minutes late, and were on our way across the country.

Once in PHL, we had to change carriers to USAir to make the quick flight to Buffalo. It's been a long time since I've flown an airline other than United or Southwest. I was absolutely flabbergasted to find that you had to pay for drinks on USAir! Let me mark in my book that I want to avoid that airline!

The rest of our flight was uneventful - we picked up our car in Buffalo and drove across the border to our hotel - the Courtyard in Niagara Falls. We were comfortably in our room by 11PM Eastern. In total, we spent 17 hours in transit to get to our destination - hmm.... we could be in Frankfurt by now!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Well - I meant to run each day while on vacation here on the East Coast, but I haven't been able to with all else going on. Oh well - I'm not going to sweat it!

What I've been doing has been attending the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catherines Ontario. Yeah that's right - up in Canada. My youngest son rows a single, and was in a couple of races here. I'm going to post my stories that have been going back home and have been posted over at here as well.

I thought I would have time to run each day, but we've pretty much been on the go almost the entire time here:

Sun 8/3: Fly LAX to PHL to Buffalo NY. Pick up car in Buffalo and drive over to Niagara Falls. We got to LAX at 4:30 AM, and got to Niagara a little after 11 PM.

Monday through Thursday: Stay in Niagara Falls, Ontario and commute back and forth to St. Catherines Ontario (about a 10 minute drive). Also, I had to spend some time working (able to do so remotely).

Friday 8/8: Drive from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Ottawa, Ontario. Traffic was horrible through Toronto! Leave Niagara about Noon, get into Ottawa about 6:30 PM.

Saturday 8/9: Do some sightseeing around Ottawa (capital of Canada) then drive to Philadelphia for Cheesesteaks. Turn in rental car.

Sunday through Tuesday: Independence Mall, Rocky steps in Philadelphia. Train to NYC. Sightsee around NYC.

Tuesday: Spend our last day in NYC. Move to hotel at Newark airport late.

Wednesday 8/13: Fly home!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Long Run Saturday

Yesterday's run felt pretty good. After taking a day off, I woke up refreshed (especially after getting to bed at 9:30 Friday night), donned my running gear and went over to CDM to meet with the group for our normal Saturday run. There are a bunch of new runners joining the club (Coach had a special on membership that expired on Thursday), so our numbers have swollen.

The run was a nice Lower Back Bay out and back. My Higdon training plan called for 6 miles at LSD pace. But, at the halfway point I was feeling pretty good, and since I put the kabosh on yesterday's speedwork session, I decided to go the extra two that was on the plan for all the half marathoner's. I ended up doing an eight mile at slightly faster than LSD (10:17 instead of 10:40).

So, after three weeks on this Higdon training plan, I am feeling pretty good. My times seem to be getting better and my fitness (at least to this layman) appears to be getting better. Today I was even able to continue jogging up the hill on the last mile of the Lower Back Bay trail - something that I had never done on long runs before today.

I am now off for the next week and a half on a mini-vacation. My youngest son (the rower) is in a regatta in St. Catherines, Ontario. So, my older son and I are tagging along. We will be staying one week in Niagara Falls, Ontario, followed by a day in Ottawa, Philadelphia and two days in New York City. I am planning on following my training plan at each of these spots - even if it is just a treadmill session. I'll be providing some reports (sorry - no pics) as I melt in the heat and humidity.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day Off

Okay okay. But I've been really tired for the past couple of days and after a night of fitful sleep it felt good to just turn on the TV and crash Friday afternoon. I'm going to write this week's speed workout off and get some rest instead.

Thursday was an easy 3 miler followed by some time in the weight room stretching and working on some core strengthening.

Today is a planned six miler. Tomorrow's workouts will be pre-empted by my flight to Buffalo for vacation. IN fact, it looks like my next couple of weeks will be heavy on the travel, so I'm going to need to flex my training schedule accordingly.