Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Week - Down the Tubes

So this week really went right down the tubes. Into the tank. Up in smoke. You get the drift. Friday's 10 kilometer row succumbed to some business matters, and today's 10 mile pace run succumbed to bad weather. This leaves me a 10K race tomorrow morning, and if I pull of a couple mile warm up/warm down, I *might* be talking 30 miles this week. How about a 4 week taper?

I did join a trail running club today - the Southern California Trail Headz. I got dressed in all my wet weather clothing glory and made my way to the New Member meeting this morning. It was raining steadily, and the higher I got in the hills, the worse the weather got. When I pulled into the parking lot, not only was it raining, but it was also foggy and a 20 to 25 mph wind whipping around. There were three or four other hardy fools souls standing around, but the whipping wind and rain was enough to chase me (and most of the others) back to the warmth and comfort of our cars. Oh well - at least I dragged my sorry ass out of bed!

Tomorrow morning - Chinatown Firecracker 10K! Hardly a PR course, but it won't keep me from trying!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Back at it

I was back on the trails last night. I put in a 10 mile slow aerobic run around the Back Bay. I purposely kept things slow and steady. My legs are still tired, although the rest of the pain from Saturday's race is pretty much gone. More important though is that I needed this run to get my head back into things.

There's something about training and weeks 15 through 18 that just get to me. Last marathon cycle I had the same problem about 16 weeks in - losing interest and suffering mental burnout as the miles start racking up. There appears to be an inversely proportional relationship between 50 miles a week and my interest level. This does not bode well for my fledgling trail running/ultra career! Hopefully, the motivational problems are more related to running the same paths and trails four or five days a week for the last three years.

Boy - I hate to say this, but I'll be happy when the L.A. Marathon is over. Time for a little break from the rigors of marathon training! Tonight I'm on the rowing machine to make up for my fun on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Unscheduled Rest Day!!!

Woot woot! So the whole idea of rowing 10 kilometers in the garage, errrrrrrr, rowing studio yesterday went out the window with one call from my wife. Her afternoon calendar cleared out, so she gave me a call and suggested that we take a drive to North San Diego County. She didn't need to twist too my arm too hard!

North San Diego County is the home of the Indian Casino. There are no fewer than ten casinos in San Diego County. Five of them are in north San Diego County, and one more is just north of the County line in Temecula:

The majority of these casinos are full blown,Vegas style casinos. Slot machines galore (Pechanga Casino has over 3400). Every table game imaginable (blackjack, three card poker, Caribbean poker, pai gow, etc.). Variations on craps and roulette. And our favorite - poker!

The one we find ourselves in most often is Pala Casino:

We like Pala for a number of reasons. First off, the have the *most comfortable* poker room of all the local casinos. Friendly dealers, friendly players. The. Best. Chairs. Ever. And, the play is knowledgeable and aggressive. Gets the blood pumping.

Second, the buffet is *excellent*. Here are some of the reasons that my blog is named what it is:

Finally, it is a wonderful drive through the country to get there. And at an hour and fifteen minutes away - heck we spend more time in our cars on our daily commute!
So there you have it. A few hours of poker with my partner of 23 years or rowing 10 kilometers? The decision was pretty simple.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Ten Miles That Turned into....

Six. Yeah - that's right. My super great Saturday experience has me living with fatigue and pain. It's almost like I had run a marathon. Wow.

I was so sore on Sunday, I sacked my scheduled 6 mile pace run. As a result, last week's mileage was only 39 instead of 51. And 9.3 of those were rowing. On the positive side, my trail run was over 3 hours, so there should have been some glycogen system stimulation there.

As far as this week - this is week 15 of my 18 week training plan (that means my goal marathon is only four weeks away!!!!):
  • Monday: Row 5 km. Stretching and core work
  • Tuesday: 10 mile tempo run
  • Wednesday: Row 10 kms
  • Thursday: 9 mile GA run
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 10 mile tempo run
  • Sunday: Chinatown Firecracker 10K race
  • Total planned: 35.2 miles run, 9.3 miles rowed

So, it's already Wednesday - let talk. Monday started out okay. Despite walking around like I had a broom stuck up my ass, I got on the ergometer and ripped off a set of 3 x 12 minutes at 26 spm, 28 spm, 22 spm with 3 minute rest for a total of 7.9 kms (4.9 miles).

Then Tuesday. My quads were still very sore from Saturday. Based on that, I knew the tempo run wasn't going to happen, but I really wanted to get out and put in 10 easy miles to flush out the acid. But, when I got to 3 miles, *it* just wasn't happening. My heart started racing and my legs started protesting loudly. So, instead of 10 miles, I turned tail and made my way back to the car for a slow painful 6 miles. Oh well. Que sera sera.

Today, I'll be back on the ergometer. 10 kms. Will it happen? I hope so (I know I know. Doesn't sound real positive....)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Have Joined the Trail Runner's Club

Yep. I joined the club of trail runners this past weekend. My experience can be summarized in one word - WOW!!! What an experience! This is a long post, so if you are in a hurry, here's the not so short (8 and a half minute) summary of what is one of the highlights of my almost three year old running career:

Now for all the lurid details...

When we all left for the weekend, I had mentioned that I was doing a trail race - the WTRS 21K. After a restful Friday (scheduled rest day), I got up bright and early Saturday morning. The hills beckoned:

I drove up the mountains to the start point at Blue Jay campground in the Cleveland National Forest. The winter rains have left beauty all around:

I noticed the trail in the distance. Here's a photo of the first couple miles of trail as it climbs through the chaparral and scrub toward the high point on the course:

I no sooner parked my car when my friends, Lori and Rick came pulling up behind me. We had been up Whitney together last sumer and it was Lori who had told me about this race when we ran into each other on the Back Bay. They snapped this photo of a trail running virgin:

At an elevation of about 3,000 feet , the air was a crisp 44 degrees, and Friday's rains had cleared the air. I was already liking this. Here we were running a half marathon. No 6:30 AM start time. All 150 or so runners were there and mulling around in the cool crisp air. As it turns out, one of those runners was Lisa from Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge! She saw me first and introduced herself. She had just run her first trail race the week efore and hs obviously caught the bug! What a pleasure meeting face to face!

One difference with trail running is there can't be traffic cones and mileage signs guiding runners. So the "Race Director" Baz Hawley gave us all the skinny on where to be careful so that we wouldn't end up lost and the subject of a search and rescue (did I tell you this was exciting?):

Pretty soon, someone said "Go" (no air horn, no start gun, no load annoying PA system) and we were off!

The course was essentially shaped like a big lollipop. The first 3 and half miles or so uphill (950 feet of elevation gain) to the only aid station on the course.

From there, the real trail running started, as we descended 1500 vertical feet over 2 and a half miles through pine forest on a single track:

At the bottom of the descent, we were at the low point of the course on Trabuco Creek. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. It is hard to believe that this type of wilderness exists in the urban sprawl of Orange County:

Then, the work *really* began. My quads were pretty tired from the downhill push, but now we were going to have to climb out of the canyon, up 1400 vertical feet in 1 and a half miles. What a lungbuster!

Part way up Horsethief, the clouds came rolling in and the temperatures started dropping. Soon we were in the fog. Penny would have loved it! I was relieved as we topped out on the ridge:

This was the same place that L.A. Runner staffed his aid station for the Twin Peaks Ultra a week before:

The rest of the course was a rolling series of hills with spectacular views back to the aid station at mile 10:

By this point I was trashed. My quads were burning like they haven't burned in a long time. I had been walking the uphills and shuffling the downhills since the stream crossing 4 miles back. I pulled into the aid station and had a great conversation with Steve Harvey, who runs a series of races himself. Thanks Steve for helping us out! I'll be signing up for this race for sure!

The final two miles was back down the fire road that we started on. I shuffled on toward the finish, hitting the line in 3:21:44. And loving every minute of it! I managed to avoid the three "D's" - no DNS, no DNF, and was not DFL! Success!

To be sure - this was as tough a run as I've ever done. 12.8 miles, 3100 feet of total elevation gain (and subsequent loss).

But it was an absolutely beautiful and rewarding experience. Some of my thoughts:
  • I loved that the run required concentration. I had my iPod on, but when I started down the single track after the first aid station, I had to turn the music off so I could concentrate on where I was putting my feet as I sped downhill.
  • I loved that there were trash cans that everyone used at the aid station! No cups and used gel packets all over the ground.
  • Most of all I loved the fact that I was racing to finish. No times involved. I had a chance to take in the scenery and breath the fresh air.

Thanks Lori and Rick! (Rick won his age group in a blistering 2:25:19)

I will definitely be back for more trail racing in the near future!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunshiney Day!

Irene over at Magazine Smiles has bestowed the "Sunshine Award" on me. She mentions on my blog: " Hardly the fat guy. He needs to change it to "The Running fit Guy." Glenn resides just north of San Diego, and he even came down here to run a 5k with us this past November. I hope to make it to a race in his area at some point." Thanks Irene! I'm blushing....

By the way, I've been getting a lot of comments from those I've been lucky enough to meet that my blog's name may be misleading - that I'm not really a fat guy anymore. Thank you all! I'm double blushing. The name of my blog actually dates back to when I first started running - 50 flabby pounds ago. Come to think about it, the name may have been a little misleading back then. That certainly wasn't running I was doing - that's for sure! And to answer the next question - the blog's name won't change until I lose a little more weight. Here's a photo from Saturday:

There's still a roll here and some pudge there, but at least I lost the shelf on the top of my stomach where I could rest my burger while driving. Technically I'm still a Clydesdale - 5' 11" and 215 pounds (depends on how soon after a long run weigh myself). As soon as the L.A. Marathon is over in a few weeks, I'm changing my training focus to losing weight and gaining speed. I can't help but think the two are inversely related.

Now I'm supposed to pass the sunshine award on to 12 others. Hmm. I can think of a few I would like to pass it on to. I'm sure some of these have already received the award, but here goes:
  • Lindsay at Chasing the Kenyans: I love her sense of humor and dry wit.
  • akaAlice at HefferBlog: I love her self deprecating sense of humor. Anyone who can laugh at themselves has me instantly captured as a reader.
  • Meg at Meg Runs: Always has a bright and cheery outlook. Even when the chips are down, she still smiles.
  • Jeri at Jerbear Shares: Just look at that smile. Enough said.
  • AZ at AZ Running. 64 miles or something sick like that the week after a marathon. Having a bad running week? He'll spread the sunshine
  • Slomohusky at Desert Rat Runner: Despite what life may serve, he always has time for his wife and family. See you at the OC Marathon Slomo!

Hmm. That's not 12. At least it gets me half way there.

On the schedule today is 5 kms on the rowing machine. I had to ditch yesterday's workout after my super awesome experience Saturday. Stay tuned for that race report tomorrow!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm Taking the Leap

So, it was less than one week ago that I saw my first trail rac/ultra up close and personal. Now I are one! I took the leap yesterday and signed up for my first trail race, the Winter Trail Run Series 21K. The race will be in the same mountains that last week's race but we'll be doing the easy version. The start line is at the top of the mountain. We run down into a canyon and then back up to the finish:
We'll have about 3500' of elevation gain. I'm glad I've been doing hills every now and then:

There could be a couple of hitches too. Old man winter is making another appearance. There is a 70% chance of rain staring tomorrow evening. The National Weather Service is saying moderate rain is likely. Luckily we'll be about a thousand feet too low for snow. I'm not sure that my road shoes will have enough traction on wet muddy trails. I'll be grabbing some trail shoes today. And I'll need to figure out how to keep my iPod dry. {{Goosebumps!!}}

On the training plate, I rowed a 10 kilometer piece last night on my ergometer. I kept things nice and easy, maintaining a heart rate right around 65% of max for almost 50 minutes. Boy - my arms are tired today! T minus 31 days to the L.A. Marathon!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Title FAIL

I want to thank everyone for being nice about my title fail yesterday:

It's a common problem when I'm in a hurry. I cut corners. I move on to the next thing before I finish the task at hand. Maybe kind of like the way I approach a race? I was watching my Surf City video again last night. My comment at mile 9? It's about the miles to the finish. Not the mile I'm at right then and there. Not about my breathing or my heel strike. It's about the hill up ahead.

I thought about that a lot last night as I was running. On the schedule was a 10 mile tempo run. I headed on around Newport Back Bay, a trail that I often run. I think I've said before (and maybe I should be shot for thinking this), but I'm bored by this trail. To fight the drudgery, I anticipate where I'm going and praying that it will be over soon. I think ahead to the hill at mile 5 1/2. I think about the boring Westcliff neighborhood that I will run through. I think about the church at mile 9 and the warm down.
So I tried to do a couple things differntly last night. I tried to concentrate on my breathing. On my foot strike. On my posture. Basically on what was happening instead of what was going to happen. Here's what did happen: 10.5 miles in a 9:08 pace overall, 7.5 tempo miles in an average 8:49 pace (including hills) with an average heart rate just below LT. Compare that to the last time I ran this exact route under the same conditions two weeks ago - that's 45 seconds per mile faster during the tempo miles. Wow. I still need to do a lot of work on this, but maybe there's something to it.

On tap today is a date with my rowing machine. 10 kilometers. I'm already starting to sweat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breathe! Breathe!

Five weeks left to the L.A. Marathon! The butterflies are starting to appear....

Last week - 41 miles running, 9.5 miles rowing for a total of 50.5 miles. Oh - I seemed to miss a post about Sunday's 16 miler in the warmth of Southern California. Nothing particularly noteworthy about it - just an 8 mile out and back done at midday.

This week's plan:
  • Monday: Row 5km. Stretch and core workout
  • Tuesday: 10 mile tempo
  • Wednesday: Row 10 km
  • Thursday: 6 mile general aerobic. Stretch and core workout
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 20 mile long run
  • Sunday: 6 mile pace
  • Total plan: 51 miles

Then there will be 4. Weeks. Until slow death. On the streets of Los Angeles....

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'll Never Complain Again!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I can get pretty whiny at times. Ooooooo! It's cold outside. Jeez! It's wet outside. OMG! My legs are sore and my pinky toenail is too long. Well, this weekend I saw something that has me speechless and in awe. My days of complaining are over.

Every now and then I like to make it into the hills and do some hiking and backpacking. For a while, I've been eyeing the whole trail running/ultra scene. What better way to combine my love for the hills with my need to run? But, being the risk averse guy that I am, I decided that I should check things out first. After all, these races are like a long long long way right? 30K, 50K, 50 miles. Yikes! So, a couple weeks ago, I volunteered to help out at the Twin Peaks Ultras 50K/50 miler on Saturday. This baby is a real grinder - 50kms with 11,000 feet elevation gain or 50 miles with 17,000 feet elevation gain. To put things in perspective, when I climbed Mt. Whitney back in September, I went 22 miles with only 6100 feet elevation gain.

After my easy 8 mile run Saturday morning, I climbed in the car and headed down the freeway to the inland side of the Santa Ana Mountains. This is the range of mountains that separates the coastal plains of Orange County from the heat and deserts of the Inland Empire. It's pretty amazing that so much wilderness exists so close to so many homes and people.

The first thing that impressed me was the organization that goes into one of these events. This isn't a road race where course is well marked and you simply follow the runners in front of you. Somewhere out there spread out over 50 miles of trails were 200 runners. Along the way are aid stations to provide directions, water, food, first aid, and whatever else a runner may need. If you haven't done so yet, check out L.A. Runner's blog for the story of what it's like on the course. He staffed one of the aid stations up on the mountain.

The day was absolutely stunning. My thermometer in the car said 77 degrees as I pulled into the start/finish line. I felt a little guilty. It was 1PM. That meant the early starters had already been on the trails for 8 hours.

My job was to staff the finish line. The job of the finish line timers (there were two of us) was to write down the total elapsed time as a runner passes the finish line, adjust that time to account for the runner's start wave (slower runners start earlier) and then write everything down on the little tear off tab from their bib for the official finish board. Which pretty much meant that I got to sit around for a couple of hours. Finally, around 3PM, runners started trickling in. One here. Two there.

Most of the folks that were finishing in the late afternoon were the 50km runners. Most had been on the course more than 7 hours. Each of them had a smile on their face that would light up the entire room. I felt privileged just to be able to share in their accomplishment.

Runners continued trickling in a few at a time. With a hundred or so runners out on the course, I was getting ready for the impending crush of finishers. Daylight became dusk became dark. What I experienced next, can only be described as absolutely awesome and inspiring. When things were slow, we would amble up the trail a hundred yards or so and look northwest up toward the peak. There would be a trail of twinkling lights coming down in the dark. Those little specs were people who had been out there for as long as 14 hours making their way down the last 6 miles of trail.

The excitement at the finish line would build when around the corner in the road the twinkle of headlamps would appear. Finishers would muster all their remaining strength and jog across the white flour finish line. These folks had been out on the trail for 13 to 14 hours - that really puts a 5 hour marathon in perspective.

We finally wrapped up the night when the last 50 miler (#170) crossed the finish line at 10:30 PM. He had been out a staggering 17 and a half hours. *This* is the classic tortoise and the hare story. As a tortoise, I think I'm hooked. Where's that bucket list?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Time for My Injini Review

When I mention Injinji to runners, most immediately know what I'm talking about. Everyone seems to have heard about them. Like most runners, I had seen them and they piqued my curiosity, but I wa never sure if they were worth trying. After all, I had a formula for socks and shoes that seemed to be working. Well, that all came to a head about three weeks ago when the organizers of the L.A. Chinatown Firecracker 5K/10K contacted me and asked if I would review a pair of Injini socks. I gladly accepted! Time to figure out whether these funny looking socks really work or not!

Now, I know most people aren't real picky about socks. At least until you have had you're feet chewed up and spit out by a bad pair (happened to me in my first marathon). For me, the farther my training run, the more important a good pair of socks . I can run 3 miles in a pair of cotton crew socks. But, once I get out beyond 10 or 12 miles, I better be wearing a pair of socks that can do the following:
  • Comfort: They've got to be comfortable. No seams or threads that rub strange places and create a hot spots.
  • Grip around the ankle: No floppy socks for me. I must be OCD, because if my socks slip down on my ankles, I'm going home.
  • Non-slip: The heels better be formed and snug. I do not want to find my socks bunched around my toes when I'm done. I do not desire blisters on my toes
  • Wicking: I sweat. A lot. If my socks don't wick, my shoes end up soaked, shortly thereafter everyone knows I'm coming from the smell of the toxic waste dumps I'm wearing on my feet.
  • Arch support: This is a personal preference. I love the feeling of a snug sock and shoe. I'm not the type of person who likes the stuff on my feet loose.

So, let's talk about how Injinji measures up.The sock I received is an Injini Tetarsock Mini-Crew. They are ankle high socks. There are two other styles, a mini (below the ankle) and a crew (calf high).

First, I did not just wear the socks once and rush into this review. I spent a lot of time just looking at the construction of the sock. I'm not sure how they do it, but the thing that was most interesting was the lack of any seams, even between the toes:

Then, I wore the socks for three weeks*. I ran through all my different training pieces with them. Short runs (4 to 6 miles), tempo runs (10 and 12 miles), and long runs (20 miler). The final test were under race conditions at the Surf City Half. I wanted to make sure that the socks were appropriately tested.

Let's see how they measure up:

  • Comfort: A+. Can you say cashmere? Each time I put them on, they feel a little strange. I think it's that my piggies aren't touching each other that makes it feel weird. But, once I'm running, they feel like cashmere on my feet.
  • Grips around the ankle: A. As I push forward in a workout, they do get a little heavy around the ankles, but they do not sag. But neither do they grip and hold on tight. Kind of like I'm not even aware that I have socks on!
  • Non-slip: A. Okay. I'm going to ay this fo the third time. Once they are on, I don't even feel them on my feet. They do not sag and they do not slip. Put them on and they say where they need to be.
  • Wicking: A+++. I have *never* had a pair of socks that wick like these babies. One of the reasons these sock get heavy in the ankles is because they are busy wicking away sweat. It's almost like there is a magic vacuum in my shoes. Even after 20 miles, my shoes were noticeably less moist inside. Which also leads to the asterisk (*) above - I was able to wear these socks repeatedly without washing (ewe! Gross!) *because* they wicked so well. My shoes didn't smell like thre day old road kill, and if I laid my socks out, they were dry the next day! Amazing!
  • Arch support: C. Here is the *only* fail in these socks. But once again, this is a personal preference issue. I normally wear these socks from Road Runner Sports: As you can see, there is something *just* a little extra in the arch area that pulls the socks up nice and snug and gives them that oh so comfortable feeling that I like. These Injinjis seem to be missing that. While they are very comfortable on my feet, they just do not have that snug feel that I like. I need to wear them a but more to see if this is something that I can get used to on race day.

Bottom line? If you are looking for an *uber comfortable* sock that you just want to put on your feet and forget about, then you should try a pair. If you are looking for a sock that keeps your feet dry and comfortable and don't need or desire that *snug* fit that I like, then you should definitely get some of these socks! I will be adding a couple pair to my training inventory.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mid-Week 10 Miler

So, if I was moving slowly on Monday (the day after Surf City), I'm moving even slower today. I feel like the day after a marathon! My legs and butt are sore like you wouldn't believe. A mean case of DOMs. I'm having trouble pulling my pants on. My family is even laughing at me. Anyone need some comic relief?

Seems that the hill workout on Wednesday kicked my butt. I got my 10 miler in last night, but had to keep it slow and steady. Like really slow. I couldn't help it! If I tried to speed up my butt cheeks would cramp! At least it was a steady and consistent pace. 10.3 miles at an average pace of 10:45 (I told you slow!). It was a nice way to cap off a beautiful day here in Southern California.

Today I think I'm going to savor my scheduled rest day.....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Being Flexible - Again

This week has been one of those where nature and life is conspiring against me:
  • Monday: The day after. My legs tell me they're not really interested in doing a whole lot. I sit on a little rowing machine seat and go back and forth for 45 minutes.
  • Tuesday: Supposed to be an easy 10 miler to shake out the cobwebs. Mother Nature doesn't approve. She sends down torrents of cold rain. I move back and forth for 45 minutes again.
  • Wednesday: Okay my weekly allotment of rowing is finished. Need to get out for Tuesday's 10 miler. Making a living conspires. Important conference call gets scheduled for 3 PM. Can't get out until 4:30 PM. Supposed to cook dinner tonight, so no time for 10 miles beforehand. I guess I'll do Thursday's workout today, move 10 miles to Thursday.
  • Thursday: Keeping my fingers crossed.....

Here's my point - your training plan is just that - a plan. Understand why your training plan is the way it is. Know which of your workout are quality workouts and which are for conditioning. Then, when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, or making a living rears it's ugly head, or family requires you to give some attention to what is *really* important, your training won't suffer. You will be able to stretch and flex and move things around so that you get the benefit of the time that you have instead of stressing about what you can't control. Remember - you own your training plan. Not the other way around.

For example, this week's quality workout for me was hill repeats. Not the easy 10 miler that I couldn' get to. Knowing that, I flexed my schedule and hit my local 1/4 mile 140 foot tall hill off the Back Bay. I put my head down and got the legs moving for 6.5 miles and seven repeats. Got my quality for the week in and got home in time to cook dinner.

On the plan today - Tuesday's 10 miler. It's bright and sunny out, so Mother Nature can't get in the way. I think I'll break my phone.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I Put Up With the Crowds

Last Friday, I espoused my feelings about large crowds at large races. There is something about small neighborhood races that is nice. Pull into a parking spot next to the start line, pick up a race bib and goody bag, tighten up the shoes, and take off. Run for a hour or two, get your medal, water, banana, bagel, and then walk back to the car and be out of there. Indeed, I put a lot of value on the convenience of those small races. They certainly appeal to the lazy streak in me.

Large crowds and large races, on the other hand are filled with hassle. No race day bib pick up. It's show up the day before and fight the hordes of people:

Then there's race day. No showing up 15 minutes before the start. Parking shuttles. Bag drop lines. And what always seems like the minimum 20 minute line to use some smelly blue monster with barely enough room to turn around in:

Once your all done with that, it's the mass of humanity trampling plants, medians, and other people to squeeze into a start wave. The jockeying for position at the start line. The impatience of listening to starting waves being let loose while you get to stand around wondering if you'll make it to the next porta potty:

Then the start. Bobbing and weaving through the mass of bodies in front of you, only to make it to the front of your wave and run smack into the back of all those people who should have been in the start wave behind yours. More bobbing and weaving:

Six miles. Seven miles. Won't the people ever thin out? What the heck! That's right! Stop right in front of me and start walking jerk! Finally, the finish. Get out of my way people! PR coming through! Don't zig left slowpoke! Zag right!

What? Where's the food? Porta potty lines still? What? Where did all these people come from?

Okay. Now that I sound like a Nattering Nabob of Negativism (how's that for a Spiro T reference?), let me tell you why I do these mega-races.

It's for the pasta dinners the night before:

It's the joy of seeing people having a great time on a beautiful day:

It's for rekindling old friendships:

And for forging new ones:

Yes. I really do enjoy these social events!

Oh - my nose is also back to the grindstone. I rowed 7.6 kilometers Monday evening, and with a cold heavy rain beating down last night, I put in another 7.7 kilometers on the erg last night. Today is bright and sunny, so I'll be out for 10 miles this afteroon. Back Bay here I come!

P.S. - I'm sorry if I missed you on Sunday. I had an eye peeled for a bunch of people that I missed. To my blog budddies: Slomohusky, Rookie on the Run, Chicrunner, L.A. Runner, Discovering the Meaning of Stonhenge, Runner's Rambles, Love2Mags. To my fellow Tweeps: @ChrisSchauble, @LJ3000, @cowhaternation, @chrisin140, and all the others I'm leaving out - hope to catch you soon at a race up or down the Left Coast.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surf City Half - All the Gory Details

If you're in a hurry, I present you my version of the 2010 Surf City Half Marathon in 3 and a half minutes:

Now for all the gory details....

In my humble opinion, this race can be summed up in one word. People. Make that 20,000 times that one word. I live less than 10 miles away, so my plan was to steal a few extra minutes of sleep in my nice warm bed. The Half was scheduled to start at 7:45, so figured I was safe leaving home at 6:30 for the short dive. Luckily I left at 6:00 AM. 10 minutes to park. 10 minutes waiting for the shuttle. 15 minutes riding the shuttle. 10 minutes getting everything together and getting into the bag drop line. 20 minutes in bag drop line. 20 minutes in porta potty line. Start time? 7:45AM. When did I make it to the start line? 7:50!! I wanted to get in with wave 4 (2:00 to 2:10) but here was absolutely no way that was going to happen. Talk about being a stress puppy! I got as far up as I could, and snuck with the 2:30 wave.

As it was, no big deal anyways. Wave after wave after wave was called to the start. We didn't budge. Finally at 8:05, Wave 11 was called. We inched to the start and with the sound of the holy compressed air horn we were off. Start time? 8:08 AM.

How late did we start? Before I hit mile 2 the 3:30 marathon pace group, being led by Sam from Operation Jack passed us going the other direction:

I worked my way through the mass of humanity. I felt like Muhammad Ali - bobbing and weaving. In no time, I found myself at the front of the wave, an within a few minutes hit the back of the previous wave(s). I started running into some of my Twitter and Bloggy pals.

JT and Allison:


Afterwards I found out that akaAlice was trying to catch up with Penny and me. Sorry Alice!

I had race strategy in my head, so I was trying to hold back just a bit.

  • Mile 1: 8:57
  • Mile 2: 9:20
  • Mile 3: 9:22

This course is pretty flat, but it's impossible on the coast of Huntington Beach to be flat like a pancake. Miles 4 through 6 had us looping through a residential neighborhood and some rolling hills. I was desperately trying to find a group of runners to glomp on to, but everyone was going just a bit too slow for me to meet my goal time. In retrospect, maybe they weren't:

  • Mile 4: 9:43 (uphill)
  • Mile 5: 8:55 (downhill)
  • Mile 6: 9:05

At mile 7 we were back on Pacific Coast Highway moving north. I realized that we were going downhill, which meant that there was going to be a little push at mile 10 or so. I was still looking for people to latch onto, but everytime I thought I found someone who was moving at a comfortable pace, it was too slow. By mile 8 a full bladder was starting to create a problem. I hopped into a porta potty at mile 8 (no lines!) and got back on the course. It was a stunningly beautiful day (yes - that's snow on those mountains in the distance):

  • Mile 7: 9:38
  • Mile 8: 10:49 (potty stop)
  • Mile 9: 9:32

I was at mile 10 now. Here's where the race was supposed to begin. Back up the hill that I had run down at mile 7. In reality, it wasn't even much of a hill, but it was enough. I was physically tiring. In the morning I had thrown on a long sleeved underarmor shirt, and I was now baking in the sun. I was trying to push, but i was just going flat. Somewhere in here I saw Kathleen on the other side of the road. Sorry it took me so long to recognize you! Things were becoming a bit of a blur. I slowed down and quaffed my last set of Endurolytes and Hammer Gel a little prematurely to try to get some energy. I was draining:

  • Mile 10: 9:51
  • Mile 11: 10:49 (ugh)
  • Mile 12: 9:59

I sucked it up and tried to muster all I could for mile 13, but I was pretty much dust by then. Whose idea was it run this GD race? Jeeezus! My heart rate was pretty much in the 170s at this point and 2:00 was out the door. I started feeling pretty despondent and actually slowed down. WHAT A WIMP! Luckily I came to my senses because a PR was still in he cards. Seeing 12.85 on my Gamin I got a last little shot of adrenaline for the finish. I must have gained 10 places in the last 400 yards:

  • Mile 13: 10:09
  • Mile 13.1: 1:24 (8:09 pace)

Bottom line - 13.1 miles (13.17 on the Garmin) in 2:07:38 (officially) for a 1:29 PR. Not bad. Not great. On the one hand, I PR'd, so I didn't have to visit the med tent. But I was a little disappointed that mile 10 was once again my downfall.

Will 2:00 ever be in my future? Probably. Maybe I just need to mellow out. I'm not one to make excuses, but the reality is this was *not* my goal race. It was on my training schedule as a 13 mile tempo run (which I *was* able to accomplish). I was stressed at the start and overheated on the course. I seemed to be constantly speeding up and slowing down to try to hit my pace. While the slowing down helped, I'm not so sure on the speeding up did. But, the real eye opener was when I got back and put the video together. I couldn't help but notice how easily I was talking in both bits. At the time it sure seemed like I was working real hard, but the pictures don't lie. I'm not even huffing and puffing. At the same time though, I was slowing down. Mental block? Anyone have any ideas? All I know is success does no occur from complacency. And I was reminded of some valuable things for my adventure through the streets of Los Angeles in 6 weeks!

On tap tomorrow - why we should all really run these mega races, or hello to all my running buddies!