Friday, December 31, 2010

Now For the Easy Part, or So I'm Told

If you’re still reading after the past couple of days, I want to thank you for allowing me to talk about my thought process – at least the one that I should have done when setting last year’s goals. What started out as the FAIL whale a few days ago has morphed into something that should keep me moving in the right direction.

Today I'm briefly going to talk about the final part to the puzzle - the day to day steps that will make my goal a reality. This is where we all live. Daily steps. One day at a time. The important thing is that if your plans are aligned with your strategy, and your strategy is aligned with your goals, then there is no way you can't be successful!

So let's see here - from yesterday:

Strategy: Develop an exercise plan that delivers cardiovascular benefit, hill climbing, altitude preparation, and calorie burn.
Plan: The trick here is to choose something that delivers the strategy while keeping it fun. I could row, but the thought of hours in the garage just isn't enticing. I could cycle, but that would involve an investment. Besides, ever since my little incident, I've been a bit hesitant to climb back on a seat. Really, when I look at all my choice, running is the one I enjoy the most. Not because I love running, but because I can be outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds of the world around me.

So, I will undertake a training plan starting on Monday. The first order of business is getting back into shape. My thought is selecting the Higdon Intermediate Spring Training plan for the next 12 weeks. That should ease me back into the swing of things and get my legs back under me. I will make at least one day per week on the trails to add the hill climbing into the mix. As far as altitude training - right now with the tall mountains covered with snow, I'll need to wait until spring to do anything about that.

Strategy: Implement a calorie tracking system that allows accurate tracking of intake and burn resulting in a caloric deficit of 10,500 calories per month.
Plan: I need to deliver a calorie deficit of 10500 calories per month to deliver my goal of 3.5 lbs per month. My BMR is 2900 calories per day. I burn an average of 125 calories per mile run. So to deliver my calorie deficit, while maintaining my current calorie intake, I would need to run 84 miles a month. That's (in theory) all that's required! So all I need to do is track them. So the plan is to use LoseIt! Religiously.This is something on me. It's my fault that my earlier attempts to use LoseIt! didn't happen. I guess at some point I need to take *some* accountability.

So there you go. Just in time for my East Coast readers. Finished before the New Year rings in!

To all my readers - thanks for a wonderful 2010, for all your support, and all your motivation! Happy New Year!!!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now That That is Done

Thanks for sticking with me this far. I fully expect my blog readership stats to suffer by the time I'm done, but I guess that's the price I'm willing to pay to keep 2010 from happening all over.

So yesterday, I set my two goals for 2011:

(1) Lose 40 pounds by 12/31/2011, and
(2) Make it back up to the top of Mt. Whitney by Labor Day

Today I want to touch on the second thing that will help insure success in the goal department - strategies. "Strategy" is defined as An elaborate and systematic plan of action.

I'm going to start today with a quote from my blog, Facebook, and real life pal Slomohusky

"I say all this knowing many who have met weight loss goals, changed eating habits and lifestyles just by doing the above. Without beating themselves up doing/training Marathons. Which less face it - if you do NOT like/love it - why on earth would anyone do it! Running 26 miles is HUGE! It really is and nothing short of that. I would not think about doing it, if I did not love doing all this. Complete waste of time if I did not."

Thanks for being the straight man Slomo. You are absolutely right. There are many ways to skin a cat. I can lose weight by watching my calories. Or by hitting up the gym every night. Or by taking up cycling. Or by going on Nutrisystem. Or by getting a gastric bypass. All are legitimate methods to lose weight. Each is a strategy to achieving my goal of losing 40 pounds.

The point here is there is no one right or wrong answer when it comes to devising a goal achieving strategy. One of the keys though is to realize that a strategy is a long term plan of attack. It better be comprised of things you like doing. Not only for a week or two. For example, a strategy of cutting sugar out of my diet as a means to reduce daily calorie intake isn't going to fly. Likewise, a calorie deficit that leaves me eternally hungry isn't going to cut it either.

The bottom line is that to be successful, my weight loss strategy will need to involve the following:

(1) Combine diet and exercise to create a weekly calorie defect resulting in a 3.5 pound per month weight loss

There's also a second goal that I need develop a strategy for as well. Suffice it to say, if I'm going to hoist a 30 pound backpack 11 miles and 6500 vertical feet to a 14,500 foot summit where the is 20% less oxygen, I better be in great cardio shape. So this strategy should involve:

(1) Undertake an exercise program that provides excellent cardiovascular benefits. The program should also provide opportunities to strengthen muscle groups involved in hill climbing and provide opportunities to exercise at altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet.

Combine the two and the plan is becoming pretty clear:

(1) Develop an exercise plan that delivers cardiovascular benefit, hill climbing, altitude preparation, and calorie burn.
(2) Implement a calorie tracking system that allows accurate tracking of intake and burn resulting in a caloric deficit of 10,500 calories per month.

Yes Carol (another of my blog, Twitter, and real life friends). Starting to look more and more like your suggestion.

Tomorrow: putting it all together. Tactical plans.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Goal Setting 101

We’ll start with a picture:


Got my shoes on. Standing outside. Gotta run right? Well – let’s slow down a bit (no pun intended). Why am I running today? What is my goal? Ever feel like this?

The word “goal” is defined as “the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it.” Hmm. This really means that a goal needs to be (1) achievable (intent) and (2) measurable (otherwise we never terminate the behavior and never can get better). One “goal” I see often while perusing the blogosphere is: “Eat healthy”. Is that really a goal? What does that mean? Eat one fewer French fries? Ten fewer M&Ms? A professionally developed menu? How do you know when you’ve eaten healthier so you can move on to the next goal to make yourself better?

So – to bring everything back to square one – running has become drudgery for me because I have no achievable future state of affairs and plan that involve running. I’m just running. Kind of like just going to work. My goal ceased to be back in March when I completed the L.A. Marathon. I tried later on to set another goal – running a 50 miler come May. But where was the plan to achieve that goal? Is that really achievable in my current state? How am I going to solve this problem?

Setting realistic goals requires two things. First and most important – you need to be honest with yourself. I mean – don’t lose sight of your dreams, but be honest about what you can do. For me, that means I really need to take a step back and figure out if a 50 miler (and here’s the key) by May is realistic. Second – setting goals really requires some introspection. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Really?

Personally, I’ve been thinking for the last month. The honest fact is I *really* don’t enjoy running. It’s hard. It requires a lot of effort and discomfort. I run because it beats the alternatives. But – why am I really doing this? I’m not doing this because I love travel, or crowds, or runner’s high. I’m doing this to lose weight. So – the first problem is Goal #1 is really not running related at all.

Reflecting back on my running history, I had the most success when I was getting in shape to climb Mt. Whitney. It wasn't about PRs or anything. It was about doing something I really love - enjoying the alpine reaches of the Sierra Nevada. Goal #2? Maybe another assault on Whitney?

After a month, one thing is pretty evident now. I’m not being successful in my running because there aren’t any “running” related goals involved. It’s not about running a marathon a month. It’s really to drop weight and get into/stay in shape <<raising eyebrows>>.

So – here are my 2011 goals:

  1. Lose 40 pounds by 12/31/2011. There you go. Achievable (3 lbs per  month). Measurable (40 pounds, needs to be done by 12/31).
  2. Climb Mt. Whitney by Labor Day. Achievable (did it before – it wasn’t easy though. Almost turned around day 1). Measureable (make it to the top, needs to be done by Labor Day).

I know I know. So how does running factor in? Well – that’s tomorrow’s discussion – “Strategies for successful goal achievement”. Thanks for reading and hanging in!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Now It's Time to Deal With It

Sorry for being Peter Poopypants yesterday. I'm writing today's blog post as a cathartic exercise. Something to help me to get my head on straight. Hopefully this will also help others. If not, you're allowed to press the "skip" button. I'll understand.

As many of you so rightly pointed out yesterday, the real issue is that for the past couple of months, running has not been fun. Many of you have offered some pretty great ideas to get things back on the straight and narrow. Thanks! I really do appreciate your concerns and suggestions. But, I'm going to attack this a little differently.

One of the reasons for the visit from the FAIL whale was because I allowed myself to become results oriented. Being results oriented is what happens when you concentrate on results instead of concentrating on the process to achieve the results. With my mental state of being and (later on) injuries, there is no way that the results I was aiming for at the beginning of the year were achievable. Back to goal setting 101.

I mean, I should know better. In my career as a Management Consultant, I have helped numerous businesses solve their problems through a series of goal setting exercises. The basic exercise is (1) set goals for the organization (business plan), (2) create some strategies that are congruent with the goals of the organization, and (3) create the tactical plans that keep everyone marching in lockstep with the goals set and strategies created. My problem is like the cobbler's children without shoes. It's easy to give the advice. It's an entirely different issue to take the same advice.

So, tomorrow's exercise is about setting some goals for the coming year. Something that is measurable. Something that is achievable. Something that keeps the FAIL whale away. I promise the are some surprises in store...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time to Come to Grips

As we get ready to turn the page on 2010, it time for me to come to grips with the year that was. In one word - disappointing.

Everything started out pretty well. The battleship was turned the right direction and all systems were go. Out of the gate I was able to start hitting my goals. I set a new HM PR in February, followed by a new 5K PR. Through first three months of the year training was going well. My goal of 1250 miles on the ground was well within reach. Weight was down into the 2' teens. Bottom line was everything was pointing to another year of success on the trails of Southern California.

Little did I know that something had broken though in March. There was this little death procession in late May that broke something. I'm not sure what happened, but it's been a struggle ever since. First it was getting my head back on right and treating training like training and not like a job. Once I got that settled then the tweaks and niggles started. And eventually they progressed into full blown pain. Then it became the harder I tried the more it hurt. The final injustice was having to shut things down around he holidays and just taking the time to heal - both physically and mentally.

Here's the ugly truth when I look back to my 2010 goals:

1. Lose 30 pounds and rename my blog: FAIL. Not only did I not lose, but my extended time off has allowed me to put 20 pounds back on to my already Clydesdale-esque frame. At least I have my new blog title reserved...

2. Run 1250 miles and row 310 miles: FAIL and FAIL. With one week left in the year, I'm at 928 miles run. Wow! That many? That's somewhat amazing taking into account how inconsistent my running has been the past few months. I'm also sitting at about 130 miles rowed - quite an accomplishment in itself if you've ever sat on an ergometer for more than 15 minutes. All thing considered, I'm not entirely unhappy. Sure - this is well below my 2009 total of 1500 miles on the pavement, but everything considered.... So why am I 20 pounds heavier?

3. PR at 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distances: Okay. Two out of three isn't so bad.

4. KEEP IT FUN!!!! This is what has me most concerned. I can say without a doubt, running has *not* been fun for a while. During the summer it was the boredom of the same trails over and over again. Then it got worse. Drudgery followed by the pain of knees and the dejection of not
getting stronger and faster. In short a real bummer that turned a great healthy hobby into abject drudgery.

That was my year. Sorry for being such a Nelly Naysayer...

Tomorrow - what I'm doing about it....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Weather Made Me Do It!

I’m still here. I’m also pretty happy about now that I don’t have a goal race soon.

The weather has been awful here in Southern California. The rain started Friday. Today is Tuesday. It hasn’t stopped. I keep looking for the line for the ark. To put things in perspective, a “normal” rain year here would be somewhere around 13 inches. It’s rained 5.25 inches since last Friday. The forecasters are saying another 5 (inches) before the storm blows out of here day after tomorrow.

Now I know what you’re saying – “Pshah! It’s only rain!” Yes. That’s true. But my attitude of rain (and weather in general) in Southern California is “Why run in foul weather today when tomorrow it’s going to be nice?” Of course I wasn’t anticipating seven days of rain when the storm started….

There’s other good news too. My knee is doing much better. Last week I got out for three days of running (somewhere around 12 miles) and the pain that has been dogging me the day after is abating. Yes! Now all I need to do is start working off the extra weight I’m dragging along and get back into shape. One step at a time.

I’m not posting a training plan for this week because, well, it’s going to rain until Friday! Yes sir. That’s what the weather person thingy on TV keeps saying. And then, this being Southern California and all, it will take a day or two to dry out (my normal running route in the Back Bay is currently closed due to flooding, and the trails in the local wilderness parks will be closed for a few days due to muddy conditions – yes – that’s they way we roll here in Southern California). I’ll take it as it comes.

And just in case you think we don’t know what bad weather is here in Southern California, I leave you with this photo:


That’s one night’s worth of snowfall in Mammoth Lakes (about five hours north of here) where they have had a mind boggling 12 feet of snow since last Friday!

Stay warm! Stay healthy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And So Another Week begins

I’m not trying to set a new record or anything – but this is my second post in two days.

Yesterday was a non-run day. Went out with my youngest son (who is now at least two inches taller than I am) and shot some hoops instead. It’s nice having the clan home for the holidays.


(Note: This photo was from my youngest son’s High School graduation last spring. The two on the left are both at UC Irvine, youngest at UC Riverside, and the one on the right is some fat guy trying to steal the spotlight).

This week’s workouts will be more of the same of the past couple of weeks:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest
  • Tuesday: 4 to 5 easy miles
  • Wednesday: Scheduled rest
  • Thursday: 4 or 5 easy miles
  • Friday: Scheduled rest
  • Saturday: 4 or 5 easy miles. Going to see if I can handle an easy trail on Bommer Ridge
  • Sunday: We’ll see how Saturday goes.

In addition, I’m doing some quad strengthening exercises (from Cool Runnings). I’ve got to get some core work started as well. Perhaps this week. At least the cruiser is turned and heading the right direction.

One of the reasons I haven’t started the core work yet is really a lack of available time. The time suck that I’ve been engrossed in is fellow blogger Patrick’s little project. He has resurrected the Endurance Athlete Project. This has some serious legs!  I look for it to be the Facebook for the Endurance Athlete. And before you poo poo the fact that he’s a triathlete and you’re not, EAP is flexible enough that anyone who runs more than a half marathon qualifies as an Endurance Athlete. Come on over and join in the fun! Look me up (gwjones) and friend me!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hello folks. I’m still around. Been in serious lurker mode for the past couple of weeks. Couldn’t do a whole lot else that was very exciting.

Here’s where things stand – I’m back to running. Sort of. First off, if I try to run every day right now, I end up paying for it by the end of the week. So – I’m running every other day. Second, since I have been a little (okay – a whole lot) less than disciplined with my diet, the extra poundage I’m carrying around makes it difficult to go a whole lot further that 4 or 5 miles at a time. But – I’m at least moving.

One other thing I learned is that right now I’m not in shape to do anything serious. As a result, I passed on my opportunity to run the Crystal Cove XTERRA 17K on Sunday. Luckily TeaTime was able to take advantage of my absence in the race. All was not lost though – if you ran the race I was the guy behind the table at the first aid station (just past mile 3) filling the water cups. Hope you had a great time running!* I know I did just helping out:

* Note: We had an unseasonably warm weekend here. At our aid station, the temperature was pushing 75F when folks started showing up around 8:45 AM under sunny and breezeless skies. We heard of two cases of heat exhaustion, and while the ranger was driving us back to the start area, we had to stop and assist a hiker who was in heat distress. Glad I was just volunteering!

Monday, November 29, 2010

In the Dumps

I can’t say anything more.On Saturday I decided to give the trails a short tryout. 3.5 miles or thereabouts. Slower than 14:00 per mile. And by Saturday night my right knee was in a ton of pain and discomfort. I tried to head out mid afternoon Sunday, but was unable to make it more than a few dozen yards before the pain had me throwing in the towel. This does not bode well for my next few planned races. If I can’t do a couple trail miles without pain, how do I tackle 10?

I supposed there’s always a silver lining. From Cool Running:

“The pain often feels worst when running downhill or walking down stairs, and the knee is often stiff and sore after sitting down for long periods. You might hear a crunching or clicking sound when you bend or extend your knee.”


“How did your knee get off track? Probably because of relatively weak thigh muscles and a lack of foot support. It's your thigh muscles that hold your kneecap in place, preventing it from trying to jump its track. Running tends to develop the back thigh muscles (hamstrings) more than those in the front (the quadriceps), and the imbalance is sometimes enough to allow the kneecap to pull and twist to the side.”

Okay. How do I fix it?

(To treat and prevent runner's knee)

Standing Leg Lifts
Stand with your back against the wall. Lift one leg up as high as you can with the knee straight. Hold for five seconds, then bend your knee to relax, hold for five seconds. Straighten your leg again, and do five of these before switching to the other leg. Over time, see if you can build up to ten seconds.

Foot Turns
Lie down or sit in a chair and stretch both legs out, knees straight and feet pointed up toward the knees. Tighten your thigh muscles and turn your feet out as far as you can, holding for ten seconds. Now turn your feet in as far as you can and hold for ten seconds, keeping your thigh muscles tight for the entire exercise. Do three of these sets.

Foot Press
Either sitting or lying down, put one foot on top of the other and pull up with your lower foot as you push down with the upper foot. Hold that for ten seconds, and then switch feet and repeat. Try five sets of these.”

Which means there is hope. And I should count my blessings that it’s a whole lot better that some of my blogging/running buddies with legitimate injuries.

On tap for this week:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest day. I’m going to give my knee one more day of rest. (It’s feeling much better today).
  • Tuesday: 5 easy miles. Quad exercises. Core exercises.
  • Wednesday: 3 easy miles.
  • Thursday: 5 easy miles. Quad exercises. Core exercises.
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day.
  • Saturday: Schedule calls for 10 miles. I will reassess on Saturday morning. At any rate, if I’m physically okay, I’ll put in at least 6 miles.
  • Sunday: 3 easy miles. I’ll need to try the trails again. If this goes better than this past Saturday, then I’ll do my race the following weekend. If not – anyone want a bib to the Crystal Cove Xterra 17K?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Now That the Gluttony is Done

Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house, every creature was scurrying, even the spouse….

The Cuisinart was chopping on the counter with flair, getting the stuffing and cranberries prepared….

Yes sirree. Thanksgiving is a big deal around our house. This year the RSVP list was around 20 or so (my wife comes from  a big family). And yours truly is the executive chef (translation – I get to clean up the mess and crash when everyone else is eating).

The festivities usually start the evening before when we get the food processor going to chop onions and celery for the stuffing:


And Glenn’s cranberry relish:


People commanded “Let there be pie”


And yea, there was. Thanks to my daughter:


The big deal around here (actually the reason that Thanksgiving and Christmas are at our home) is the chef’s BBQ turkey. It all starts early in the morning with a clean and dry bird:


There’s twice a year that I use a charcoal BBQ. You guessed it. Thanksgiving and Christmas. I get the coals nice and hot, and then place some soaked hickory shavings on for that smoky flavor:

And a few hours later (like 4 hours for a 20 pound bird), viola!


And in case you think I was kidding about crashing when everyone else is eating, please note the lack of a photo of the final table just before we glomped onto the feast. Fail!

And a Fail on the running front too. On Wednesday, I was ready to head out of the house when I realized that I was out of a lot of things that were necessary for later in the day when we started prep work. I tried to use my best Gordon Ramsay impersonation (“What the f*** do you mean we’re out of celery?” “How the f*** do you plan on baking pies without ground cloves?”). In the end, those who rule my life (wife, daughter) handed me the keys to my car and sent me on my way. Along with the order for more knives, forks, a tablecloth and candles. Two and a half hours later I made it back home. Folks – if you think parking at the mall on Black Friday is bad, have you ever gone grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving?

Then on Thursday, between getting the turkey on the grill, the prime rib in the oven, the green bean casserole and stuffing prepped and in the other oven, the giblets cooked for the gravy etc., etc., before I knew it it was time for tryptophan overload. Waddle waddle. Yum!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Running Route in the News

One of my tried and true running routes is the Newport Back Bay. I know I’m really really spoiled when I say things like “I’m so bored of this route.” I mean after all – how can you get bored running in a place like this?


Over the weekend, there was a little excitement in the Back Bay. Turns out a small private plane ran out of fuel and tried to ditch in the bay. It was big time news around here:


Unfortunately, the pilot and his two passengers did not make it. What’s even more unfortunate is that while the airport (John Wayne) is about 5 miles away, there are two golf courses within a mile that they could have landed on if they were only more familiar with the area. Here was the view Monday from roughly the same place the first photo was taken:


So sad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I’m Officially Training

Another week successfully in the books. That means at this point I’m going to become official in my quest for my goal race this upcoming year – the Bishop High Sierra Ultra in May. Sorry ergometer. It’s back into the corner for you for the time being.

This week:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest day
  • Tuesday: 4 miles run. Start a core regimen.
  • Wednesday: 4 miles run.
  • Thursday: Run 4 miles. Try to control the Pumpkin Pie intake valve.
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day. Allow the l-tryptophan to work it’s course.
  • Saturday: 9 mile run.
  • Sunday: 3 mile pace run. Core workout.
  • Total mileage: 24 miles.

This also means that the following races are on the calendar at this point:

  • Crystal Cove XTerra: 17k trail race 12/10/2010
  • Baz Hawley Winter Trail Series 12K Trail Run: 01/09/2011
  • Baz Hawley Winter Trail Series 15K Trail Run: 01/23/2011
  • Baz Hawley Winter Trail Series 18K Trail Run: 02/06/2011
  • Baz Hawley Winter Trail Series 21K Trail Run: 02/20/2011
  • Los Angeles Marathon: 03/20/2011
  • After LAM, I’ll be concentrating on hikes/climbs that provide elevation gains at higher elevations to get acclimated to the near 10,000 foot altitude that Bishop will throw at me.
  • Somewhere in the April/May timeframe I’ll need to throw in a 30K and maybe even a 50K trail race.
  • Bishop High Sierra (Goal): 05/21/2011

This training cycle will be about time on my feet. No speedwork. It’s going to be about being able to stay on my feet and moving for 10 hours. Or (most likely) more.

Here we go!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another RunRow in the Books

Well – the frequency that I’ve been updating this blog has pretty much gone in the tank the past few weeks. Not to worry – I’m still here and my knee seems to be holding up to the low mileage that I’ve been exposing it to. It’s just that I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut right now. With my running. With my life.

Here’s the prime example:

  • Monday: Rest day. Whistling dixie…
  • Tuesday: 4 easy miles. And I mean easy. 10:56 pace over a flat course. Yuck.
  • Wednesday: 5000 meters on the ergometer. Broke a good sweat. Watched the white walls in the garage as I moved back and forth.

You get the idea.

On the calorie front:


  • Calorie Budget: 1821 calories
  • Food calories consumed: 2192
  • Exercise calories burned: 0
  • Net calories: +371


  • Calorie Budget: 1821 calories
  • Food calories consumed: 2372
  • Exercise calories burned: 677
  • Net calories: –126


  • Calorie Budget: 1821 calories
  • Food calories consumed: 2363
  • Exercise calories burned: 395
  • Net calories: +147

Time for some portion control. Or more  exercise. Knees – how are ya feeling?

Monday, November 15, 2010

“Listen to What Your Brain Tells You”

If there is advice that I would relay to anyone who is asking themselves whether they should take some time off from training – it’s the title of today’s blog.

It’s taken me a long time to get here, but it’s something that I should have done long ago. I started this blog back on January 8, 2008 as a diary of my exploits to lose weight and run myself into shape to do some things that I never thought possible. And I did. I ran my first marathon that June. Along the way I found myself running distances that would belie my couch loving body with the strongest remote control fingers in the world just a few months earlier. The gains (both speed and distance) were motivating. I tackled my next marathon a year later and make an amazing 30 minute improvement in my PR. Along the way I saw other PRs smashed and completed a Pfitzinger Training cycle, maxing out at 55 miles per week. What a transformation! I was pumped.

I set my sights next on the new and improved L.A. Marathon – through the streets of the city I was born and raised in. I trained. Hard. Along the way new PRs were set. The miles stacked up. I was ready. I hit the road out of Dodger Stadium and made my way to the Sea.

But somewhere along the way something broke. Not physically, but mentally. I finished. And then wondered – “What Now?” I tried to train, but the spark was no longer there. Many of you gave me some pretty sound advice – take some time off. I especially remember lindsay being quite adamant with that advice. You would think that 50 plus years on this planet would make me wise in my old age. But nooooooo. I dug my heels in and decided that I was going to fight my way through the doldrums. Bottom line is I watched my 2:07 HM PR become a 2:40 HM in Laguna Hills, a 2:32 on the streets of San Francisco, and a bone chilling 3:07 in Long Beach. I step back and look at some of my blog titles over the past few months:

Well, I think you get the point. I’m sitting here on the 15th of November, 20 pounds heavier than last March and unable to clock a 10 minute mile.. Hell, I haven’t seen 10:30 in forever. The bottom line is I’m exactly where I would have been if I would have just admitted that I was sick of training, sick of putting in the hours, and sick of the routine and just stopped for a couple or three months. Hmm. And I probably wouldn’t be almost two stone heavier.

So kids – don’t do like Dad does. Do like Dad says. Listen to your brain. If you’re asking the question, the answer is “Yes”. Discretion is the better part of valor…

*There is some hope. I put in a 5 mile training run on Saturday. It was invigorating. Made me look forward to getting out of the house on Sunday for 4 more miles. No pressure. No worrying about pace. Just checking to make sure my heart rate stayed in the aerobic range. I’ve got to admit – it’s been a while since I had the feeling I had after Saturday’s run. I finished last week’s training as well, and put 20 miles in the ledger. And feel fine.

This week:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest day
  • Tuesday: Run 4 easy miles
  • Wednesday: Row 4 or so miles
  • Thursday: Run 4 easy miles
  • Friday: SRD
  • Saturday: Run 7 easy miles
  • Sunday: Run 3 easy miles
  • Total plan: 22 miles

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Short Post for a Short RunRow

So this will be a short and quick post.

Tuesday: 3 easy miles on the Back Bay. It’s really kind of disheartening that I can’t break 10:00 per mile. I know I know. Patience

Wednesday: 7 kms on the rowing machine – 5 minute warm up, 1000 meters each at stroke rate of 20/22/24/26/22 and a 5 minute cool down.

I’ve fallen off the wagon on the calorie counting. I have an excuse for Monday*. For Tuesday and Wednesday not so much. Gotta get back on track today.

*In case your wondering – on Monday my wife and I celebrated 24 years of bliss. I don’t care if I’m counting calories. I’m not for that day….

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ramping Up

So far two weeks of work out have gone relatively well. My knee seems to be holding up well. The issue now is one of fitness instead of pain. I went out for a short three miles on Saturday. Not because of time, but because by the time three miles was done I was dust! How embarrassing! Oh well. It’s good to know that I can still gasp and wheeze with the best of ‘em!

So this week I’m going to start ramping up a bit. Instead of erging (rowing) more than running, I will  run more than row:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest day
  • Tuesday: Run 4 easy miles.
  • Wednesday: Erg somewhere around 4 miles
  • Thursday: Run 4 easy miles
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day
  • Saturday: Run 5 easy miles
  • Sunday: Erg somewhere around 3 miles
  • Total: 20 miles

From this point forward, I will be increasing about 10% per week until I get a reasonable volume (35-40 miles per week) back under my belt.

And you know  why I do this? Check out this video from one of my blogging friends – Lauren – from On the Run. She ran the Saddleback Mountain Marathon this weekend:

Have a great week! I’ll be catching up on your blogs over the next couple days…

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Week two is officially underway.

Tuesday: 5 minute warm up, 14 X 1 min with 30 second active rest pieces on the erg, 5 minute warm down for 6.1 km total.

Yesterday: Easy three miles in the Back Bay. The issue with yesterday was the heat. I got my run in right  at dusk when it cooled down to 85 degrees. And that was at the ocean front.

On tap today: Back on the erg.

On the calorie front:


  • Daily budget: 1821 calories
  • Food calories consumed: 2277
  • Exercise calories burned: 494
  • Net: –37 calories


  • Daily budget: 1821 calories
  • Food calories consumed: 2274
  • Exercise calories burned: 527
  • Net: –74 calories

So far so good. I have a little pain in my knee right after finishing, but a little ice seems to do the trick.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cautiously Optimistic

Week one is in the books. My knee seems to be recovering/recovered. I have full range of motion and no pain. So far so good. I got in one less day of workout than I was hoping for, but ended up putting in somewhere around 15 miles -  12 rowing, 3 running.

One thing that I realized last week is that the reason that I had Mondays and Fridays off when I was into heavy training is that it fit well into my life schedule. So, this week, I’ll fall back into that schedule:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest
  • Tuesday: Row. 4 to 6 miles depending on the daily workout from the Concept2 website
  • Wednesday: Run 3 to 4 miles. Most likely on the road in the back bay
  • Thursday: Row. See Tuesday.
  • Friday: Scheduled rest
  • Saturday: Run 3 to 4 miles. Should I try the trails? I’m a tad hesitant since I’m not 100% confident that I won’t aggravate my knee on the uneven surface.
  • Sunday: Row. See Tuesday and Thursday.
  • This should put me somewhere around 18 to 20 miles. If I can hold this up for another week or two, there might be hope after all.

The hope I’m talking about of course is my race schedule. At this point, a Turkey Day 10K is pretty much out of the question. I’m hoping to be able to keep my appointment with destiny in mid December.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On a Related Topic...

There are two reasons that I run. One is to get outside and stay in shape. The other is to fight the ever expanding waistline. This post on on the reason for the latter.

I live close to a major shopping center here in Orange County California – Fashion Island in Newport Beach*. Business student should study Fashion Island as a case study in market niche segmentation. In a time where the trend was to be a mega indoor mall, Fashion Island has been able to improve it’s place in the pecking order of malls in OC by becoming a high end specialty mall focused on atmosphere. It’s not out of the question to walk into a jewelry store and see $25,000 watches and $200,000 diamonds on display. The designers also took advantage of our outstanding weather to architect a wonderful outdoor shopping space – using courtyards, fountains, and koi ponds to make Fashion Island more of a destination than a shopping mall.  Bottom line is that Fashion Island is often the place that hip spots and marketing experiments take place before being institutionalized and put in other malls around the country.

One of those is taking place these days at a restaurant called True Food Kitchen. To be honest, I had seen the signs for the restaurant, but wasn’t really planning on setting foot in the place since it took the location of one of my favorite old seafood restaurants (Blue Coral). But after reading Madison’s blog yesterday, and with my kids planning on being home for dinner**, my wife and I decided to try it out.

The first good sign was the lack of parking as we rolled up a little after 5PM. We found a spot and walked in to a bright and airy expanse. Minimalist design was accented with touches of bamboo and soothing colors. A great place to sit around and catch up with friends and family.


Since this was our first time, our server gave us the rundown on the place. True Food Kitchen is a new concept restaurant based on Dr. Andrew Weill’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. There are two locations – the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix and here in Fashion Island. The  Fresh vegetables. No butter. Tuscan olive oil. Purified water. See what I mean about marketing experiments?

The sounds, sights, and story were compelling. But in my mind, the real litmus test is, that’s right, the food.

We started with an order of Shrimp Dumplings:


The dumplings were served in a soy based sauce and garnished with steamed celery and bok choy. Normally I’m not much of a shrimp fan. I find the little crustaceans bland and boring. But, these were different. The dumplings were freshly diced shrimp and ginger in a delicate wrapper steamed perfectly. Yum.

Next up was a salad. I chose the kale salad:


What can I say? As close to collard greens as you can get here on the West Coast. They had a light and nutty flavor and were garnished with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and dressed lightly with lemon juice. Absolutely wonderful texture and flavors. Just like eating healthy potato chips. (My wife and son had the summer chopped salad. I sampled a bit. I ‘m choosing that the next time…)

Then to finish out the night – main course. I love thai food, especially curries. So for me, selection was a no brainer – a Panang Curry. I special ordered with tofu instead of the on menu item with chicken. Of course the kitchen was easily able to satisfy my request:


One word – scrumptious. Just enough of a kick to satisfy my spicy side, just enough sweet to satisfy my sweet tooth. The richness of the coconut juice was balanced perfectly by the crunchiness of the vegetables. Everything was cooked to perfection.

There was only one problem with last night – by the time I finished my main course, I had no room for dessert! Dang! I was eyeing the flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream….

Bottom line – this place will give some of our other health food themed restaurants around here a run for their money. Unlike a couple of others (Veggie Grill, Native Foods) the menu is not exclusively vegan/vegetarian, but there vegan/vegetarian selections on the menu. Where True Food wind hands down though is in the atmosphere department. We were there for almost an hour and a half and thoroughly enjoyed every moment and every bite.  The only downside is cost (dinner of rabbit food for 3 – shared appetizer, salad, main course, non-alcoholic drinks – ran $64).  If you are in the Newport Beach area and are looking for delicious, healthy food in a great setting, stop by True Food Kitchen in Fashion Island. We’ll be back!

* Trivia alert: Fashion Island is located on the spot of the first Boy Scout Jamboree held in 1953.

* Trivia alert #2: For us OC’ers (or for anyone who drives in OC) - that same event is the source of the name for Jamboree Avenue – one of the major north/south routes in Orange County.

** We *thought* we were going to have the whole family. Daughter and youngest son were last minute cancellations. Look at what they missed!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Three R’s

Sorry all teachers who might read my blog. We’re not talking about reading, writing and arithmetic. We’re talking about the three legs that comprise my exercise regimen these days – rowing, running and rest.

So far this week, I’ve completed two of the three. Last night was another rowing session in my garage. Five minute warm up followed by 6 sets of 500 meters at a challenging pace (2:05 – 2:10) with a 3:00 rest period. Total distance rowed – 4.5 kms (including a three minute cool down).

That means today is the third leg of the triumvirate. Rest. After three days – so far so good. My knee seems to be okay. Taking it easy certainly has something to so with that I’m sure.

I’ll pick up back up with a rowing session on Friday, a run on Saturday, and a rest on Sunday. Then the fourth “R” – repeat again next week. I just might be back.

On the calorie front:

  • Base allowance: 1821 calories
  • Exercise allowance: 452 calories
  • Caloric intake: 1941 calories
  • Net: –331 calories (just right for a rest day)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


That’s what I feel like blurting out at this point. Time for a redo. Time to get back on the wagon and get things moving in the right direction.

Monday night’s re-start was on the ergometer (rowing machine). After taking a few weeks off, the loss of fitness is *noticeable*. After a 5 minute warm up, I did a pyramid workout – 3 minutes at a challenging pace followed by 3 minutes at a rest pace, then 4/4, then 5/5, then 4/4, and a wrap up at 3/3. Total distance rowed – 7.7 kilometers in 43 minutes. And shaking arms and legs to pay for it.

Tuesday I headed to the Back Bay for three quick easy miles. Turns out the only thing it *was* was three miles. It *wasn’t* easy or quick.

I’m back on the ergometer today for another workout.

On a related subject – I am going to resurrect my daily calorie count. Ever since my knee started bothering me a couple months back, I cut way back on training, but not on my diet. The excess poundage is astonishing. WadiaSoft – this time I’m giving you a run for your money!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting Back to Business

So my week of recovery ends tomorrow. And hopefully my month of knee pain as well. It still doesn’t fell 100%, but I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s not 100% or if I’m being a (synonym for) kitten because I had an owie. (BTW – if you haven’t read Patrick’s blog post yet about this subject, I highly recommend you do). The bottom line is if I don’t do  something soon, I can pretty much write off next year too.

Not all is lost though! While I’ve been sitting around enjoying my visit from the spreading stern syndrome, I did some research on Runner’s Knee. It turns out that in most cases, runner’s knee is caused when your kneecap does not run neatly up and down in a small groove in your thigh bone. The two most likely causes are improper foot stabilization (shoes) and weak thigh muscles (synonym for kitten).

Since I’ve resolved item #1, the next step is to work on item #2. And for that, I have this machine in my garage exercise studio that can do wonders for quad strengthening – my Concept2 ergometer. So – starting Sunday for the next month, I will row a 10K three times a week and add a couple short runs (3 to 4 miles) to break up the boredom. Hopefully I won’t go brain dead watching the walls.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirteen miles is a Long Way

An appropriate observation for someone who tries to run a Half Marathon while inadequately trained….

Long Beach Half Marathon 2010 from Glenn Jones on Vimeo.

Now for all the sordid details…..


My adventure started on Saturday afternoon. Expo time! This time one thing was different. My oldest son was joining me on his first Half Marathon. We arrived at the expo a little after 4PM. A tribute to the Run Racing organization – for a major race (25,000 or so participants), the expo was incredibly smooth. We were literally in and out in less than an hour. There were *just* enough of the *right* kind of exhibitors to make the expo interesting. We walked through the aisles, collected some samples, and had a chuckle at the people buying new shoes for Sunday’s race (really).


Next up was the highlight for any Running Fat Guy. Pasta! Long story short – I found out this year that the restaurant that we used for last year’s Long Beach dinner is owned by an old junior High School friend’s husband. So – after a little phone tag, I set up dinner at La Parolaccia Osteria Italiana a couple miles from the expo. Blog pals Running Green Girl and a friend, Penny and her dad, akaAlice along with Walter the the herd, Jay, Mags and twitter friends @ridgeley and @tanyamr and her husband all settled in for an evening of friends and food.


Finally, with a full stomach and a couple of yawns, my son and I hit the sack for a few hours of sleep before the big day.


Race Day

The day dawned early. Not bright. Just stinking early. We were out the door at 4:45 for the 40 minute drive up the freeway to Long Beach. We hit our prepaid parking spot a little after 5:30 AM, geared up and walked the roughly half mile to the start area. We hit the porta potties (there must have been 50 of them) just as the bikes were starting at 6AM. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a big race where there weren’t 20 minute lines for the porta potties an hour before start time!

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The morning was overcast with a slight drizzle at times and temperatures in the low 60’s. Really a perfect day for a race. My son and I sat for a few minutes on the grass and discussed race strategy. Finally, about 20 minutes before start, he moved up to the front of wave 3 with the 4:00 pace group, while I moved to the back of wave 4 with the 5:00 runners.Who did I run into? No one other than my pal Slomohusky! (By the way – I now know the secret behind the name “Slomohusky”).We had a great time visiting. Then at 7:00 AM the elites started. Fifteen minutes later, Wave 4 got our starting horn. Five minutes later I crossed the start line. We were on our way.

Excitement – Miles 1 through 6

My plan was no secret. Keep it easy. Keep it slow. So it wasn’t long before Slomo left me in his dust. I ran into Jay in the first couple of miles and wished him well. The first three or four miles of the course goes by pretty quickly as we ran several loops through the harbor. At mile 4 we climb the only “hill” on the course as we headed up an overpass and back into Downtown.

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The next couple of miles run through Downtown and Rainbow Harbor, where the crowd support was outstanding!

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Throughout this part of the race, I had been watching myself and holding my pace down. I had been averaging around a 10:30 at this point. My knee, which had been the subject of  much consternation the prior weeks, seemed to be behaving with my new knee strap. I was sweating pretty profusely though – something no doubt brought on by lack of conditioning and the near 100% humidity.

Mind Numbing Boredom – Miles 6 through 9

A little past the 10K point on the course, we moved onto the beach path. In my opinion, this is the worst part of the course. For the next three miles we ran, sometimes four abreast, on a beach path to never changing scenery. If you’re not from California I can see how this part of the course might be interesting – after all you are running along the beach. But, to be honest – the water isn’t really the open Pacific, but just the inside of the harbor. So – no crashing waves, no dolphins, just man made islands hiding some oil wells. Oh well. Head down.

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It was about mile 8 that I first started feeling pretty fatigued. About mile 7 or so I broke out into a brisk walk, and had that sinking feeling in my stomach that the end was near. Sure enough – by mile 9 I was toast. My body was telling me how foolish I was for doing this. Even the soles of my feet hurt from some obviously work out shoes smacking the concrete for almost two hours.

The End is Near – Miles 10 through the Finish

Just as mind numbingly boring as miles 6 through 9 were, miles 10 and beyond are probably the most exciting on the Half  Marathon course. We once again picked up crowd support and the closer I got to the finish, the more electricity there was in the air. Unlike last year where I was on my death march on this part of the course, this year I was walking/jogging and enjoying the sights and sounds. We approached “The Split” past mile 10 where the marathoners hang a right to visit the sights of the rest of Long Beach and us halfers continue to the finish.

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All I know is at this point I was pretty much mentally done as well. At my pace the  finish was 3 miles and 45 minutes away. You’re sooooooo far away from me! But – there wasn’t a whole lot I could do except grin and bear it. So I grinned. Finally in the distance the last left turn into the finish. I remembered that last push into the finish at the end of last year’s full. The feeling of exhilaration as I got my feet moving. This year? Not so much. I broke into a jog and watched my heart rate spike into the nether regions. So – I had to back off again and so gingerly traipse into the finish chute. But hey. I finished. I earned my medal. Bling!

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Post Mortem

I first started running two and a half years ago. My first marathon was two years ago this January. At that time I was not in shape at all. I had no idea what a training plan was. I went our and ran three or four days a week. And I finished my first Half Marathon in 2:24. This weekend? How does 3:07 grab ya? But, I’m not disappointed because I was able to make sure my #1 goal was achieved – I finished in one piece. Three days later I’m sitting here with a pain free knee. So I think I accomplished what I set out for.

What’s next for me is to take the remainder of this week off. On Monday I’m starting my road back to fitness. Most likely with a rest day (par for the course)….

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Just spent hours working on my Long Beach Half video only to have the audio content blocked.

Check back tomorrow. I should  have the video redone by then.

In the meantime I’ll leave you the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good

Great race organization, great weather, great dinner with friends the night before.

The Bad

My performance. I knew it wasn't going to be my “A” race, but I didn’t think I would be 3 hours to finish.

The Ugly

Me past mile 10. Pathetic.

But the best part? It’s two days post race and my knee is pretty much pain free.

Details tomorrow….

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Night Before…

In the past I’ve always written a pre-race blog filled with race plans and strategies to carry me through the coming event. But, since tomorrow won’t be an “A” race by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just leaving an open invitation – come join us at the back of Wave 4 tomorrow morning. Long Beach here we come!

IMG_0557The list right now includes me, Penny, akaAlice and the Heffers, Mags and a special appearance by akaAlice’s husband Walter. Anyone else? You’re more than welcome to join us!

Decision Time

So – I’ve taken the week off and have managed to sit around on my ever expanding derriere (and it *has* been expanding). Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement this past week. I realize when I look back at the picture, my knee looks worse than it really is. Some of that swelling is actually left over from a high school injury. But – it felt every bit as bad as the photo looked.

My knee is responding, but a lot slower than I had hoped. I’ve stayed off it this week. No running, no exercise since my last trail run.  The swelling is down, I’m able to bend it, and there’s no pain. But, there still is a little discomfort.

Which brings me to my decision. Sunday. Long Beach Half Marathon. I’ve been hemming and hawing all week. Some decisions are simple. This will *definitely not* be an “A” race. Which is a little sad. Last year this time I had just come off a successful Pfitz 18/55 training cycle on my way to a successful marathon. This year not so much.

The tough decision though, is the “go/no go” decision. Should I even be out there on Sunday morning? Am I risking a lengthier recovery by aggravating my knee? Am I too cheap to let the registration I paid for go?  Well – the way I see it, since the answer to the third question is yes, the answer to the first question is a definite yes, and the answer to the second is probably yes. But the decision is made. Long Beach here I come!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

The knee on the left of the picture is the one that is not painful. The knee on the right is. And that’s after a week of not running….


Things are really depressing at this point. I didn’t run all week. I didn’t run yesterday. My knee is stiff and swollen. I can probably run without pain today, but am  not sure it’s worth it. I mean seriously. It’s not I’m going to gain any speed and/or fitness before my half marathon next Sunday.

I think a reset is in order. Long Beach HM next Sunday then two weeks off to let this sucker heal for good. Then I’ll hit the restart button. As from the beginning.

But, for the time being, I’m following the suggestions from

  • Apply RICE (Rest, ice compression and elevation) after activity. This will help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Rest until there is no pain (this is very important).
  • Use a knee support or heat retainer (with an open knee and patella buttress).

(P.S.: If you haven’t checked out that website, you should. There is a wealth of pertinent information on ortho injuries and issues.)

I think it all serves me right. If you recall a few weeks ago my plan was to run shorter and more frequently. I came to this conclusion after What do I do? Run longer less frequently. And I’m the one usually preaching patience….

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Missing in Action

Man. How life changes. A few months ago I was a six day a week runner, a five day a week blogger, and a daily blog reader. These days it seems I’m a twice a week runner and a once a week blogger and reader. Shame on me!

Not to worry. My health is fine with the exception of my knee. My knee was okay after my last run, but a couple days later it started bothering me (no pain, but just that swollen feeling) so I figure some time off will probably do it some good. Also – don’t worry about what I’m doing with my spare time. My poker hobby seems to have taken off in the last month or so, so I’m finding plenty to do in my spare (used to be running) time.

The only downside is my waistline is not finding all of this lounging around to be productive. I think I’m up 10 pounds from where I was in March for the L.A. Marathon. Yikes!

So, I’m still around. I’m still reading all of your blogs. I’m still updating here, albeit on a much less frequent basis until training starts in earnest. When will that be? Give my knee another week and we’ll try it out. Until then, I’ll leave you all with my adventure from last Sunday – 10 miles in the local hills. Hope you enjoy it more than I did running it (not really!)…

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Two “I”s …

...seem to have done the trick. When I got home after my run yesterday, I iced my knee and popped some ibuprofen. No pain today. Yea! Thanks Anne!

The run itself was just bleh. It was great to be out in the hills. On the other hand, it was pretty obvious that my training has been lacking. Granted – this was a 10 mile run with almost 2000 feet of elevation gain/loss. But 2:45 for 10 miles? Pretty pathetic. Just check out all the pauses:

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 10-3-2010

Most of those were to grab my knees to make sure they were still there or to look for quarters on the ground. In fact, the last mile had me reduced to a walk. Any attempt to run brought a heart rate spike that, frankly, served no training purpose.

As long as my knee is going to respond to the two “I”’s (ice and ibuprofen), I’ll get some training discipline back on track. This week’s modified schedule:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest day.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles. Will seek out a short trail run.
  • Wednesday: Rest day. This should be a 5 miler, but I need to take it easy on my knee for a while
  • Thursday: 4 easy miles. Hit up the back bay?
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day.
  • Saturday: 12 miles. Aliso/Woods Canyon?
  • Sunday: Rest day. See Wednesday
  • Total: 21 miles. I’ll see how my knee responds before making some adjustments next week.

Of course – this also does not bode well for the Long Beach (Half) Marathon on October 17th. But – I’m signed up, so I’ll make the best of it. It definitely won’t be an “A” race. At least Saturday night dinner should be good!*

*Note: The plans are in the works for dinner Saturday night. I have a couple phone calls to make to solidify everything, but if you’re going to be running the Long Beach Marathon/Half on the 17th and have no dinner plans – come join us! 6PM Saturday October 16th. Let me know you’re interested and I’ll forward the plans to you. We’d love to have you!

** And I do have a video that I’m  working on. Seems that I went crazy and took about 20 minutes of video on Saturday. I’m trying to reduce it down to three or four minutes of highlights. Unless I hear from you all that you’re suffering from insomnia….

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Snake Check…

I’ll post an entire video of today’s run tomorrow or Tuesday. I wanted to just check in real quick to introduce you to my friend* – all four to five feet of him. Enjoy!

* Seen on the Serrano Trail, north side of the 73 freeway about 1/2 mile from where it goes under the road. It was pretty cool out, so he was pretty lethargic. I had to get pretty close to him to elicit any response.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You Asked….

Thanks for all the feedback on my 10 random factoids. Ten must be about the right number to keep everyone interested. I’m sure if I expanded the list to 20, I would have heard a lot of snoring.

And I promised I would answer your questions. So here’s why I traveled to Iran. Two reasons really. First, my wife is from Iran. Her family moved here in the early 70’s so her siblings could finish their educations here. She has family there. That’s how I got my visa.

Second, I’ve always had a bit of a rebel streak in me. Death to disco and all that kind of stuff. Maybe that’s why I was a Conservative Republican in High School growing up in a blue collar community. Which come to think of it makes for some real conflict. How can I be rebellious and still maintain my conservative image? Simple! Go against the flow. Why go to Europe when I can go visit a *real* exotic country?

So that was it. In October 1992, we packed up the three kids (a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 3 month old) and boarded a plane for a 26 hour journey to Tehran. I expected a third world country with rampant shortages of good and services. People living in fear and under government repression. After all – that’s what was being portrayed by the media at the time.

What I found was anything but. The first question that I was asked by the cabbie at the airport? “Is ‘SC going to beat UCLA this year?” Tehran was a bustling metropolis surrounded by mountains – very much like home here in L.A. The economy was booming. Streets were full of cars. Everywhere I went people were vibrant and bustling. They were smiling and enjoying themselves. Families playing in the park. Goods and services in abundant supply. No shortages were evident – at all. At a time where big screen TVs were just making an appearance in the US, Sony and Samsung TVs were in abundance in the shops. How could people who were living in such a repressive and backwards economy afford these things? The simple truth was that the reality was much different that what we were being told.

And any fears of being part of the Great Satan? Well, once people found out I was from the US, the red carpets rolled out. Every restaurant we visited, every store we shopped, I was greeted with respect and a friendliness that was unbelievable. In fact, my brother in law and I visited Isfahan, about an hour’s flight away. When the cabbie taking us to our hotel found out I was from America, he offered (in his best broken English) to be my personal tour guide for the weekend. Sure enough – who was waiting for us the next morning outside our hotel?

So there you go. Me and my rebellious ways….

Friday, October 1, 2010

Weird Weather

Just wanted to share a picture of the strange weather we’ve been having this week…

IMG_0519Thunderstorms and rain are not common this time of year. Heck. We only get about 13 inches of rain all year – so I guess rain isn’t too common period!

On the running front, my knee was a little tender after Wednesday’s run, so I took it easy yesterday. I’ll be out for four road miles later this afternoon.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Up for the Challenge

The weather was somewhat cooperative yesterday so I headed out onto Bommer Ridge in the mid afternoon. It was pretty warm and sticky (almost uncomfortable), but I put in an easy five miles on the ridgetop.

And just in case you thought *that* was the challenge – you are sooo wrong. A few days ago I was tagged by Patrick at The Road to list 10 random things about me. Sounds like fun, so here goes:

  1. I am a second generation native Los Angeleno. My dad was born here in 1930. My grandmother moved here at the age of 6 in the early 1900’s. Snap. Almost a third generation native
  2. My first choice for colleges (UC Irvine) was made based on my opportunity to surf everyday.
  3. I don’t surf anymore.
  4. I once played blackjack at the old Stardust in Las Vegas for 30 straight hours on $20.
  5. Speaking of Las Vegas – the only time I left that town with more money than I started with ($3 net profit), I got a speeding ticket on I-15 on the way home. Net loser again.
  6. My first car (a new 1975 Toyota Celica) cost less than my last big screen TV. It lasted 3 years more than the TV did. And when I sold it it was still running strong.
  7. Speaking of cars, I used to do all my own maintenance (oil changes, brakes, heck, I even replaced a clutch in my first car). These days I won’t even open the hood.
  8. I love to eat. In my college days I once hit up a Vegas buffet for 6 full plates of food. Then I hit the dessert bar. Maybe that’s why I have a name for this blog.
  9. I’m not much into touristy travel. I’ve never been to Europe or Asia. I’d much rather spend a week camping/fishing. But I did take a three week vacation to Iran in the 90’s. It took almost three months to get a visa.
  10. One of my bucket list items is to set foot in all 50 states. I’m up to 38. Trying to figure out how (or why) I’d get to the Dakotas (sorry Jerbear) or Maine (sorry Caratunk Girl).

So there you go. And I might as well play the other game too. If there’s something you want to ask me, go ahead – now’s your chance! I promise I’ll answer your question!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hoping to Get Back on Track Here…

New shoes – check. New attitude – check. Weather – WTF?!?!?!?!?!

In case you haven’t heard, the weather here in Southern California has turned on us. Summer is officially here. With a vengeance. As of September 27th. Monday was the hottest. Day. Ever. That’s right. Ever. Since records first started being kept back in the late 1880’s. 113 degrees at 12:15PM. I live at the beach – which means it should be cooler. It was. The thermometer topped out at 107. Now, folks like Adam or Slomohusky might be used to running in those temperatures out in the deserts of Phoenix and Las Vegas. But I’m not. And for folks who aren’t used to the heat, running in these temperatures can be downright dangerous. So – I took a pass.

Tuesday wasn’t much better. While is it cooler, it was still 93 degrees at 3:00PM with a lot more humidity. You see, us Southern Californians (okay - *this* Southern Californian) don’t run in this weather is because we don’t need to. We just wait a day or two when everything returns to normal – sunny 80 degree days with 15% humidity. Eat your heart out Midwesterners. And Southerners. And Southwesterners. We are weather wimps and proud of it!

Today the weather is supposed to return to something more normal. Assuming my knee cooperates (I was able to bend it more than 45 degrees yesterday – the swelling seems to be down), I’ll finally get to try out the new shoes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Shoes or Rest?

Okay folks. I need to come clean. I’ve been fighting a nagging – I don’t want to call it an injury, so let’s call it a – “condition” for a couple of weeks now. Yup. Runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome) is paying me a visit. I’ve been trying the best I can to ignore it. But, after Thursday’s run, not only did my right knee hurt, but my left quad did as well. Which is a sure sign that I’m compensating for the pain in my knee. Not good.

The good news is I can trace this all back to the trails. Before my recent journey off the pavement, I had none of these problems. Right now I’m almost exclusive (okay – that meant only two days last week) on the trails. And the one thing I’ve noticed with my current trail shoes (Asics GT2150 Trail Runners) is that my landing platform going downhill is not very stable at all. My feet slip inside the shoe, and my shoes are slipping on the surface. When you look at the most likely causes of runner’s knee:

Your foot, meanwhile, may not be giving you the stability you need. It's likely that your feet are making a wrong movement every time they hit the ground, and you're feeling the constant pounding and repetition of this mistake in your knee. Maybe you're overpronating (rolling your foot in) or supinating (turning it out too much) when you run.” (

The bottom line is I bought my trail shoes back in February in response to a last minute decision to do a trail race. They are not the most technical shoe – really made to run a mix of roads and dirt trails. More and more I find myself running on more technical surfaces – rutted single track, rocky down hills, etc. So yesterday I decided to upgrade my platform:


The only downside to the shoe? I failed my Man Test yesterday. It took almost two hours of trying on this shoe and that shoe, running through the aisles of REI and jumping on a ramp to make a decision. I was waffling between the La Sportiva Wildcat, the Salomon XT Wings 2, and the La Sportiva Raptor. In the end, the Raptors won out. The leather overlays should provide the upper stability I’m looking for, and the tread design should provide the traction I’m hoping for. Al Bundy – where were you when I needed you?

On the running front, even with my knee pain, I had every intention of running this weekend. But, summer appeared in Southern California. I was involved on a conference call Saturday morning. By the time I got off of that, the sun was high in the air and the temps were nearing 90. Then the heat really got turned up yesterday. 96 here at the beach at 5:45 PM. Supposed to get to 100 today. I have no goal race at this point, so there is no need to face the insanity, and frankly, face the dangers that go along with heat and dehydration. Besides – my knee will thank me….

I’ll report after my run Tuesday…..

Friday, September 24, 2010

Back to Running

So, despite the trials and tribulations of life, I have been hitting the trails on a more or less (ummmm, maybe less) regular frequency these days. Monday and Tuesday had me celebrating mourning my new found freedom*. But Wednesday I laced up my shoes and  headed out for a 5 mile jaunt through Shady Canyon. There are a couple of hills that are in the mix here. For whatever reason they seemed a little easier.

Running Shady Canyon 9-22-2010, Elevation - Distance

Then Thursday, I laced up my shoes and headed back to Laguna Coast Wilderness for 5 more miles. I dropped onto a new single track that I had not done before. The trail dropped me into the upper portion of Laurel Canyon. Dang! Am I sorry I left my camera at home!

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 9-23-2010

The operative word here is “dropped”. That’s 500 feet down in a mile and the impending climb out. No wonder the hills in Shady Canyon seemed a little easier.

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 9-23-2010, Elevation - Distance 

This weekend I’m planning on around 10 miles on the trails on Saturday, and another 5 or so easy miles on Sunday. I think I’ll actually break 20 miles this week…

*In case you missed it, my wife and I became empty nesters this week. We celebrated by having a date night. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. For the first time in 10 years (or so it seemed). Woo hoo!