Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Dangers of Trail Racing – Part 1

This blog post is brought to you by popular demand. After my little adventure down into Buck Gully, a couple of my twitter friends/bloggers and I started talking about some of the dangers of trail running. Of course, the discussion quickly centered around that which makes us the most uncomfortable – wildlife. And I don’t mean party animals.

I thought I would dedicate a few posts to dealing with some of the dangers of trail running. I come at this not from an expert trail runner’s perspective, but from the years spend hiking, climbing, fishing, hunting and backpacking.

In today’s episode I’ll talk about the thing waaaaay least likely to happen – an encounter with a wild animal. Face it. Wild animals aren’t common. Heck, when I was a young’un and went hunting, I never had an animal get close enough to me to require me to take the rifle off my shoulder. Yet for some reason, we are all deathly afraid of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears.

Coyotes and bobcats: My last coyote encounter was on El Moro Ridge about a year ago. We have a family of bobcats that live in the Back Bay, and we had mom bobcat on our back yard deck about four months ago. These are animals that look for easy pickings. Fido’s food bowl. Princess’s dry cat food. Trash that didn’t quite make it into the trash can. Or if they’re lucky – Fido and/or Princess. They aren’t looking for you and me. They will attack us only if they are cornered and have no other options for flight. So, if you run into one of these beasts on the trail, just make a lot of noise and make sure they see you. They will run a lot more willingly than your neighbor’s pit bull.

By the way, here’s a recent (5/21) story about our family of Bobcats here in Newport Beach:,0,2470898.story

Bears: I’ll start with a caveat emptor here. In California we have wimpy black bears. No grizzlies. Grizzlies *are* serious animals that can and will lay the hurt on. If you are running/hiking where there are grizzly bears (e.g., in the Rockies), check with the local authorities about grizzly sightings. In places like Yellowstone National Park, warnings will be posted and trails may be closed if the grizzlies are active.

That being said, I’ve had four bear encounters in my life. One was from the comfort of my car (although I almost hit the dang thing as it ran across the road). The other three though were face to face encounters. And I’m still here to talk to you all. But with bears things can get a little dicey. These guys are bigger than Wiley or Bonkers. They will stand up to you to protect their bounty – whether  it’s your ice chest or trash they’ve dragged out of the dumpster (I once encountered Yogi face to face when I went to throw away our household garbage in a condo’s dumpster in Mammoth).

In those cases where they stand up to you – your action is pretty simple. Stop, face the animal and back away slowly. If you are carrying trash, drop it. They are after an easy handout. Don’t make any threatening moves. Don’t run away. Don’t make eye contact (bears consider eye contact a threat). Do yell or scream. Do puff up and become “big”. Lift your arms. Throw rocks and sticks while backing away. These are all normal responses to being scared. Keep your wits. Yogi is not interested in eating you – he is just interested in protecting his hard earned  bounty.

There is an exception to this though. Mother bears are very protective of their cubs. Try to avoid getting between a mother bear and its cubs. If you see a cub, you can be sure that the mother is close by. Stop. DO NOT continue moving. Survey the situation. Mother bear is close by. See if you can find mother bear. If you see her, try to determine if you have an escape route. If you are on a trail move off the trail and away from the two (or three – bears often have litters of multiple cubs).

Talk about feeling uneasy – one of my bear encounters was seeing a cub while backpacking in Yosemite. We never did see mother bear. We slowly backtracked a mile or so, where we stopped for an hour. Seemed like a good point for a lunch break.

And just in case you think we don’t have bears in Los Angeles – this article from 4 days ago:

Mountain lions: Here things get even diceyer. Mountain lions are capable predators that are at the top of the food chain. In the right situation (for them) they will view us as food. Luckily for us, mountain lions are solitary animals that require large ranges to support themselves. A typical cougar may travel and defend a range of up to 100 square miles. They do not take kindly to other cougars in their territory. The bottom line is because of their solitary nature and need for large ranges to support themselves, the probability of running into one in the wild is *extremely* rare. In fact, many people who *say* they have run into a mountain lion, most probably ran into a bobcat. There is some resemblance:

114527960-25112659 cougar

There are three big differences. #1 the tail - a bobcat (on the left) has a short stubby tail compared to a mountain lion’s long bushy tail. #2 color – the bobcat has a mottled appearance compared to a mountain lion’s sandy coloring. #3 – sleuth – a mountain lion is probably stalking you – it is just so *highly unlikely* that you would ever see one. He would see you – size up whether you are worth the trouble attacking (driven primarily by how hungry the cougar may be), and then leave for easier prey, before you ever realize that it was there.

So, how do you protect yourself or someone when confronted by a mountain lion? If you actually see the lion, then it’s as surprised as you are. Stop. Don’t turn and run. Yell. Make yourself bigger. Stare the sucker down and make eye contact. Then slowly back away – facing the cat the entire time. When safe to do so (after the cat has turned itself), backtrack your steps. Let the authorities know about your encounter.

What happens if you are attacked and you’re alone? Make sure you roll onto your back and face the attacking animal. A cougar kills its prey by placing razor sharp teeth in between its victim’s vertebrae and slicing the spinal cord. Your only chance is rolling on your back and facing your attacker so it can’t get to your spinal cord. Ladies – if you’ve taken a self defense course go back to your training. Gouge eyes. Rip noses. Kick gonads. Scream. Then once the cat is off you – try the best you can to leave the area and look for help. If you simply lay there, the cat will be back for what it thinks are easy pickings.

It’s also important to know what to do if a cat attacks someone in your group. There is one word. Fight. The second cyclist’s friend was able to get the cat off her riding friend by hitting it with a log. Multiple times. In another case, a man’s wife was able to beat the cat off her husband (wow, she must really love the guy) by taking a ballpoint pen and jabbing the cat in its eye. Bottom line is a lion is not going to give up a meal easily. Use what ever is there to beat it into submission. Rocks. Sticks. Make the meal more trouble that it’s worth. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Your friend’s life depends on it.

As runners we have another thing going against us in lion country. The fact that we are running may entice a mountain lion to attack. Mountain lions have an instinct to chase. Watching an unsuspecting runner *may* trigger the instinct to attack. In fact, the last mountain lion attack here in Orange County occurred in 2004 when a mountain biker was attacked and killed and another attacked and injured within hours the same day by the same lion. In the first case experts theorized that the cyclist was bent over his bike fixing a chain when the cat attacked. In the second case, the cyclist was riding past the hidden body when the cat attacked to probably protect his prey.

Why was one killed when one survived? Rider #1 was alone in mountain lion country. He didn’t stand a chance. Rider #2 on the other hand was riding with a friend who was able to fight the cat off her friend. There’s a message here. If you’re in mountain lion country, it behooves you to *not* run alone. And parents – if you are herding your small kids – you *are* alone.

And yes – we have mountain lions here in orange county:

In Summary

It’s not my intention to scare you out of trail running so I can have them to myself. But here’s the honest truth - since 1890, 16 people have been attacked and 6 killed by cougars in California. Forty were taken to the hospital in the 2010 L.A Marathon and 3 died in the Detroit Marathon in 2009. Are mountain lions really the threat we all imagine them to be?

Also – ask all of your friend who are trail runners when the last time they faced up with a mammal larger than a rabbit and smaller than a human. Some may have run into a cow at one point in time…..

But, by taking a few precautions, we can make ourselves safer on our local trails. Unlike what I did in Buck Gully last week. And yes. The thought *did* cross my mind. Rawrrrr!

Next in this series – smaller than a shoebox and probably more dangerous than a cougar (and guys – not the single 40 year old kind).

Friday, May 28, 2010

That Didn’t Go as Planned…

I’ve always had a little streak of adventure in my personality. I often wonder what's over that hill or around the corner...

I set out about 6PM to put in six trail miles on Bommer Ridge. On my way, my phone rang with an important call from a client, so I pulled over to spend the next 30 minutes on the phone. As my call wrapped up, I noticed that I was overlooking Buck Gully. Buck Gully is a bit of a mystery. It separates a couple of ridges of homes, and runs all the way to the ocean in Corona del Mar. I drive past it everyday. I know there is wildlife in the canyon (bobcats, deer, etc.), but I’ve never read a trail report about the canyon and it’s mysteries. In fact, a Google search a few weeks back returned squat! I noticed a satellite picture showed what appeared to be a fire road in the bottom of the canyon, so maybe it was time for an adventure!

5-28-2010 7-33-53 AM

I put my hydration pack on and ambled on down into the canyon. It wasn’t long before I realized why I hadn’t read any trail reports. Also – note to self – those Google Maps satellite photos *might be* a little old. Bottom line is I soon found myself moving down a narrow (like one shoe length wide) use path plummeting down into the depths of the canyon. To top it off, I soon found myself standing in a hip high field of thistle. Ouch! Especially in running shorts. Double ouch!

Running Buck Gully 5-27-2010

I ended up making it two miles down into the canyon before I reached a place where, to continue, would have required some acrobatic acts through a muddy wide spot in an algae choked stream of irrigation run off. Since I really don’t need a third arm growing out of my forehead, I turned around and made my way back up the hill, and through the thistle. I added one loop around a neighborhood to get close to my planned mileage (5.25 miles). At least my sense of adventure was appeased.

Running Buck Gully 5-27-2010, Elevation - Distance

Oh. And in case you’re wondering – yes – one day I’ll be back down there to see if I can make it out to the ocean. As soon as I pull all the burrs out of my socks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Three Mile Easy Day

Last night was my “easy” day. Three slow easy miles. I followed it with my resistance training. Man am I sore. And it’s probably not from the running – especially since I barely broke the 10 minute mile barrier (average pace 9:49, average heart rate 68% of max). That tells me where I really need to be concentrating my efforts (it’s not the running….).

I’m looking forward to another easy day today. Six slow and easy miles. Now if the weather will just cooperate. It rained and snowed in Northern California today and the skies are pretty cloudy and stormy here. Isn’t it almost June?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Hill or Two

So I spent my first “hill” workout with my running club. I place “hill” in quotes because it wasn’t as much a hill workout (power up and jog down multiple times) as it was a “hilly” workout. After a warm up, we did an 8 minute BTTW run through the hilly terrain in Shady Canyon. Not exactly my idea of fun, but neither is running to tell you the truth. I managed to cover a mile in the 8 minutes (well – okay 8:26). Final stats on the run – 5.5 miles at an average heart rate of 80% of max. I managed to max out my heart rate at 92% of max, and held it over 88% of max for almost seven minutes. A reasonable VO2Max workout for the first one in a while.

Today I get to introduce a few new resistance exercises after a short (emphasis on  short) and easy (double emphasis on easy) three mile run. These stabilization exercises are in addition to the others I have been working on to strengthen and engage core muscles.

Single Leg Squat: This exercise is meant to engage the hip abductors to maintain stability when on one leg. Stand on one leg. Lower slowly toward the floor while maintaining balance. Go as low as possible without your butt swinging outward. Return to the start position. Repeat 8 to 10 times per leg.


Oblique Bridge: This exercise is a very standard one that most are familiar with. The purpose of this is to train muscles to maintain stability of the hip, pelvis and obliques. Lie on your side with ankles together and body propped up on your elbow. Raise your hips until not sagging. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat for the other side.


Lying Draw-In with Hip Flexion: This will teach the lower abs to stabilize the pelvis during alternating leg movement (i.e., running). Lie on the floor with knees bent 90 degrees and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Draw your navel toward your spine to engage the lower abs. While holding this, lower your legs one at a time toward the floor. Repeat 8 to 10 times.


Quadruped (also known as the “Bird Dog”): This exercise teaches the deep abs to remain engaged when alternating limb movements. Kneel on all fours on the floor. Draw your navel toward your spine. While holding this contraction, extend your right leg and left arm without allowing your hips to rotate. If you don’t know how to keep your hips from rotating, place a broomstick or pool queue on your back. If your hips rotate, the broomstick will roll off. Hold for 10 seconds per side.


Hmm. If all these pictures are accurate, it seems like I’ve already dropped a couple dozen pounds and have lost all my gray hair!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Quickie on the Erg

Okay folks. Minds out of the gutter please. The motion on a rowing machine may be well suited, but two sweaty bodies grunting and groaning. Hmmm. Pretty kinky…

Actually the quickie was a 3 sets of 12 minutes with a 3 minute rest. The first set was done at 26 strokes per minute, the second at 28 spm, and the final at a pedestrian 22 spm. Finished 7710 meters (4.8 miles) in 36 minutes of rowing. My arms are still quivering.

Tonight it’s the hills with Cal Coast. This will be my first time running hills with the club. I think I’ll be looking at a bunch of backs all night long…..

Monday, May 24, 2010

2 Days 0 Pain = The Right Decision

Sorry for being mysterious and disappearing toward the end of the week. I ended up taking an unscheduled rest day on Thursday. I’ve had a pretty mean case of tendonitis in my right knee. I had been icing and taking ibuprofen (at least when I remembered to take it), but by Thursday, the pain had progressed from a dull ache to a sharp burning pain.

I had a three mile easy run scheduled for Thursday. My knee was screaming as I put my shoes on and  laced up. It was about then that I had a stroke of genius  (I took special note because it doesn’t happen all that often). What if I just take a night off? After all, it’s just 3 miles. Then, with the scheduled Friday off, I would stack up two rest days. Maybe it would actually do my knee some good?

Well – it must have. Saturday I finished a six mile pace run, followed by seven miles on the trails in Peters Canyon on Sunday. All done without pain. Sometimes I just amaze myself…..

The other thing that was pretty amazing is I ran both days without the muscle fatigue that I had been feeling ever since the L.A. Marathon. I had talked to a friend  about it a few weeks back and he assured me not to worry. As he put it, “One day you will go out for a run, and voila! Everything will feel normal again.” I’m not quite normal, but I feel like I’m getting there. A word of advice for anyone anyone else running their first marathon – in the following weeks if you feel physically and/or mentally exhausted for a while – don’t worry - one day you will go out for a run, and voila! Everything will feel normal again.

Of course, all this rest left me a little short on miles this week, with only 27.5 in instead of the planned 32, but if it means my knee is on it’s way to recovery, I’ll take the fewer miles.

On the plan this week:

  • Monday: Row 4 miles.
  • Tuesday: This week we’re changing from intervals on the track to hills in Shady Canyon. About 5 miles with the club.
  • Wednesday: 3 miles. I’m swapping Wednesdays and Thursdays so I follow Tuesday’s hard workouts with an easy one. I’ll follow this with a resistance workout: One set each: Single leg squat, oblique bridge, lying draw-in w/ hip flexion, quadruped. Two sets each: Lying Hip Abduction, Cook Hip Lift, Kneeling Overhead Draw In, Knee Fall Out, Single Leg Squat Jump
  • Thursday: 6 mile easy run.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 13 mile long run.
  • Sunday: 6 mile pace run, followed by a resistance workout: One set each: Single leg squat, oblique bridge, lying draw-in w/ hip flexion, quadruped. Two sets each: Lying Hip Abduction, Cook Hip Lift, Kneeling Overhead Draw In, Knee Fall Out, Wall Jump
  • Total mileage: 37

This week’s proprioceptive cue: Pulling the road. I will imagine the road is a giant treadmill with the road moving away from me. This should force me to plant my foot and then pull the road backwards. This forces a couple of things: (1) stiffen in anticipation of impact, and (2) pull. The result is minimizing ground impact time and pulling into the next stride, which is supposed to make me more efficient. Of course, I’m supposed to do this in concert with the previous three cues as well – falling forward, navel to spine, running on water. This for a guy who has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time….

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lengthening Out a Little

I’ve been around long enough now to tell when a marathon training plan is getting serious. It’s when those midweek runs start getting longer. And longer. And longer. Well – that started last night as I added a mile to my Wednesday evening run. After Tuesday’s track workout, last night was all about keeping my legs moving. It was an *s* *t* *r* *u* *g* *g* *l* *e*. Thank goodness I’m doing this cycle for fun.

To be honest, I don’t remember three weeks into a marathon plan where I had so much pain and fatigue. But – I’m doing a *ton* of new stuff. Proprioceptive cues. Resistance workouts. The latest has been folding in relaxation techniques and deep breathing that I’m trying to learn from my current on going date with Chi Running (thanks Meg!)

Last night was a mind numbingly slow six miles (10:50 pace, 69% MHR) nose breathing the entire distance. Needle in cotton. Running on water. Lot’s of things to think about. I’ll let the pace take care of itself for the time being.

One last thing – my days (and evenings) have been real hectic lately. I’ve fallen way behind in paying attention to my bloggy friends. Sorry folks! In the next few days you should see a flood of comments from me!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Track Time Tuesday

Yesterday was Tuesday, so it was time for the track with Cal Coast. I got there in time to put in a 2 mile warm up before circle fest started. I finished all six intervals, but my times were all over the place:

  • Interval 1: 800. 3:37 (What? Are we sure the stopwatch isn’t broken?)
  • Interval 2: 800. 3:48 (That’s more like it)
  • Interval 3: 400. 1:48
  • Interval 4: 400. 1:53
  • Interval 5: 400. 1:43
  • Interval 6: 400. 1:56

I was able to manage a two mile warm down shuffle with the group to fill out the day at 6 miles.

Then it was back home to ice my right knee. My tendonitis is flaring, but not so bad that I can’t/won’t run. In fact, my knee feels better with use – it’s a couple hours later that it hurts. At this point, my therapy is ibuprofen and icing after use.

Which brings me to this little trick I learned a few years back when my son ran cross country. Ever need an ice bag for a knee or elbow? Looking for a solution that is a little less awkward than a bunch of ice cubes in a zip lock bag? Here’s an idea. It requires some isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, water, and a couple large (not sandwich sized) zip lock bags. Measure two cups of isopropyl alcohol, and one cup of water and put in one of the zip lock bags (I add a drop or two of food coloring so that I can easily spot the bag in the freezer). Make sure the bag is well sealed, then for safety, place it inside the second zip lock. Throw in the freezer. The big benefit with this is that the alcohol keeps the water from freezing solid – giving you a frozen mush that you can form around the joint needing the ice. Plus, you don’t end up with smelly frozen peas.

Today is a take it easy day. Six miles later this afternoon. Nice and slow…..

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Row row row my not boat

That’s the best way I can describe yesterday. I had some plans in the evening, so I hurriedly got up on my ergometer (my not boat) when I got home and did a 30 minute program consisting of 6 sets of 4 minutes on, 1 minute rest, 16-18 strokes per minute (slow and strong – a real strength building set). Total distance rowed was 5500 meters (about 3.5 miles). I should have gone 3 more sets for 45 minutes total, but I’m experiencing some knee tendonitis (old high school injury) that I seemed to have aggravated with my traipsing through the hills on Sunday. So, I decided to take it easy (a little) and shut it down early.

Speaking of shutting down early, my lack of planning for Saturday left me a couple miles short of plan last week – 29.5 miles (5.5 miles rowed, 24 miles run) instead of the planned 33. I did get in my two days of resistance training though, so all is not lost.

This week is more of the same:

  • Monday: Row. 45 minutes/5 miles.
  • Tuesday: Intervals at the track with Cal Coast. Around 5 miles total.
  • Wednesday: 6 mile easy run.
  • Thursday: 3 mile run. Resistance training consisting of three sets of Lying Hip Abduction, Cook Hip Lift, Kneeling Overhead Draw In, Knee Fall Out, Squat Jump
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: This is a step back week, so 8 miles easy.
  • Sunday: 6 pace miles. Resistance training consisting of three sets of Lying Hip Abduction, Cook Hip Lift, Kneeling Overhead Draw In, Knee Fall Out, Broad Jump
  • Total planned miles: 33

Other than my knee, all systems are go. I’m feeling good for the first time in several weeks. And for my knee – it’s nothing that a little ibuprofen won’t cure.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday Trail Run

Well, this weekend I had a bit of a scheduling snafu. Late Friday, the Social Director (aka The Admiral, The General, The President, etc.) reminded me that we had a graduation to go to Saturday morning. Ummm okay. I usually give my wife all kinds of grief for trying to remember appointments instead of calendaring them. I guess the shoe’s on the other foot.

Instead of spending Saturday on another boring long run around the Back Bay, I switched things up and did a longish trail run on Sunday. I headed back to Bommer Ridge but ended up on a trail that I hadn’t been on before – Emerald Canyon. This is a pristine canyon wedged in between the mountain biking paradise of El Moro and the artsy paradise of Laguna Canyon. Most would not even know it exists.

Entrance to the canyon is limited from below by the exclusive community at the foot of the canyon (Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach), so the only way in is from the north off Bommer Ridge, a few miles away and a few hundred feet up:

P5160022 P5160023

The trail quickly heads down hill into the canyon:

 P5160025 P5160027

Once down off the ridge top, the real beauty of the Coastal Oak covered canyon opens to those willing to work a little and adventure off the more popular paths:

P5160029 P5160031 P5160032Amazingly, some wildflowers are still in bloom. I say amazingly because we are starting our transition into summer, where the hillsides take on a brown hue as everything dries out:

P5160036P5160020 P5160021 P5160026 P5160028 Even a wild rose bush was in bloom:

P5160034 P5160033

About 4.75 miles from the start, I popped out of the lush canyon into coastal scrub, and eventually to the end of the trail:


Which meant only one thing. Back up up and away!

Since I wasn’t really relishing the though of heading back up to the top of the ridge, at 6 1/2 miles, I headed on a spur trail to Emerald Falls. I ended up in a little meadow – very unique for this area:

P5160039 P5160041

I eventually found the “falls”. I can just imagine them in all their glory. All 1 foot high. (You need to understand that flowing water in Southern California is a real anomaly. This winter was a *very wet* winter for us. With all 15 inches of rain.):


From there it was up up and up to El Moro Ridge:


And the uneventful 3 miles back to the car. Total mileage – 9.7. A little short of the 11 on the plan, but what I lacked in mileage I think I made up in elevation gain:

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 5-16-2010, Elevation - Distance

Just another successful trail run in the backcountry of Orange County!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Three Miles and a Cloud of ….

Okay okay. Maybe I’m getting a little carried away. I put in a quick and easy 3 miles last night. I concentrated on this week’s proprioceptive cue – navel to spine – engaging the lower abs to stabilize my hips. Short story even shorter – I looked at my Garmin at the turnaround point – 8:43 pace. And I hadn’t even really broken a sweat yet. I took it easy on the way back (and into the wind – doh!) and managed a 9:06 average over the three miles at 75% of max heart rate.

Now for the bad news. It’s Friday. Up on the scale. Total weight 224 (up one pound – gah!). 28.5% body fat (down from 29.2%), which means:



   162.4 pounds of pulsing muscle




   61.6 pounds sinking the ship


I have GOT TO get more diligent with tracking. Starting today folks. Yup. Starting today…..

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Easy Miles

I’m executing in theme with my plan as laid out last week. Yesterday I put in an easy 5 miles (10:11 pace) around the Upper Back Bay. For anyone who ran the OC Marathon or Half, you would be familiar with my run. I started at the top of the big hill where you climbed out of the Back bay and continued 2 1/2 miles toward the finish line. C’mon. You don’t think I’d climb that hill if I don’t need to do you?

Today is an easy three miles (almost not worth lacing up my shoes) followed by some resistance and power training. Since I don’t have a whole lot else to talk about, I thought I would introduce some of the cross training that I’m doing.

The first set of exercises involves core conditioning. After seeing some of my recent race photos, heaven knows I need this. For example, please note the wonderful slouch in this photo taken at the end of the Long Beach Marathon:


Now, normally I think of core conditioning as doing crunches and planks and all those difficult exercises that makes my stomach hurt. But, the Brain Training approach is a little different. For the next three weeks I’ll work on a set of exercises that (supposedly) isolates the important muscles that I need to use for running – lower abs, hip adductors, hip rotators and glutes - by doing a set of exercises that trains the connections between my brain and these stabilizing muscles.

Lying Hip Abduction: This particular exercise conditions the hip adductors and external hip rotators.

Lie on the floor with your head in your hands. Bend your legs to a 90 degree angle. Now lift the top knee maintaining foot contact 12 to 15 times. Switch sides and repeat. You should feel fatigue in your buttocks. I feel like I’ve been paddled by the Boy’s Dean when I’m done (old people – remember corporal punishment in public school?).


Cook Hip Lift: This exercise conditions your lower abs, hamstrings,and buttocks.

Lie on the floor on your back. Draw one knee to your chest. Then, contract your hamstring and buttocks, lifting your butt off the floor two to three inches. Repeat five times and switch sides. I *always* feel the fatigue in my hamstrings when doing this exercise.


Kneeling Overhead Draw In: This exercise teaches the lower abs to engage and remain stable.

Kneel and put both arms overhead. Then, draw in your lower abs and reach an extra inch or two. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times.


Knee Fall Out: This exercise teaches the lower abs to remain activated as the hips rotate.

Lie face up with feet flat on the floor and knees touching. Contract your deep abs by drawing your navel to your spine. Then, without relaxing the deep abs, let you knees fall out toward the floor. It’s tougher than it looks! Repeat 10 times.


In addition I’m doing plyometric exercises. This week, I will be doing Split Squat Jumps (today) and Wall Jumps (Sunday). The purpose of these power exercises is to teach my legs to activate before hitting the ground – which should result in less time spent on the ground and more time in the air (effectively lengthening my stride and increasing efficiency). I’ve often wondered why in most of my race pictures I have both feet on the ground. By the way – I’m finding these exercises, ummm, challenging.

Split Squat Jump:

Start in a squat with one leg behind the other. Lower yourself into a deep squat,  and then jump as high as possible. In midair, switch legs, landing so the other leg is now behind. Immediately lower into a squat and repeat 10 to 20 times. (Umm – more like 3 to 5?)


Wall Jump:

Face a wall with arms extended. Bend your knees slightly and jump as high as possible. Repeat 10 to 20 times like a human pogo stick.


Here what I can tell you. After one week, I have the sorest abs and quads that I have *ever* had since starting on this quest a couple years ago. I have *no choice* but to run slow!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Track Time Tuesday

Tuesday night! That meant it was track time with Cal Coast. I wandered over to the track a little after 5:30, put in a 1.25 mile warm up and then time for the fun and games.

  • Interval 1: 1200. 5:59. Rest 3 minutes. If you call staring at the ground doubled over rest.
  • Interval 2: Pant pant. 800. Started waaaaayyyyy too fast. Crash and burn at 300. Hit the eject at 400. 1:55. Rest a little longer
  • Interval 3: 400. Rested. Sub 100! 99 seconds. Booya!
  • Interval 4: Last one. 400. Good. Not sure puke threshold was going to be able to handle much more. 1:43.

I wrapped up with an easy 2.25 cool down for a total of 5 miles. The plates are spinning…..

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Plates are Teetering

I’m going to age myself a little with today’s post. Some of us old folks out there might remember a weekly television variety show called the Ed Sullivan Show (back in the day when TV was a family event since there was only one in the whole house).  Well – there used to be a guy named Erich Brenn (a semi regular on the show) who would wow the audience with his plate spinning skills:

That’s kind of the way I’m feeling these days. In terms of my training, the plates are up and spinning. I finished last week at 31 miles (4.5 rowing, 26.5 running). I also worked in two days of resistance training – so there are a bunch of big check marks on last week’s plan.

This week is more of the same:

  • Monday: Erg 45 minutes – about 4 miles
  • Tuesday: Intervals with Cal Coast – about 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 5 mile GA. 2X20 seconds of “high knees”. 2X20 seconds of bounding.
  • Thursday: 3 mile recovery run. Resistance workout consisting of one set each: Lying Hip Abduction, Cook Hip Lift, Kneeling Overhead Draw In, Knee Fall Out, Split Squat Jump
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 11 mile medium long run. Take it easy.
  • Sunday: 5 mile MP run. Resistance workout consisting of one set each: Lying Hip Abduction, Cook Hip Lift, Kneeling Overhead Draw In, Knee Fall Out, Broad Jump
  • Total miles: around 33.

I’m just hoping the plates keep spinning:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back to Basics – Part 2

Well, after Saturday’s 12 mile jaunt around the Back Bay, it’s apparent that fitness packed it’s bags and left during the last few weeks. No biggie. It’s not that I didn’t expect it to leave. Too bad there’s not a “fitness” vault where we can make a deposit when we have a little too much fitness (if that’s even possible), and then make a withdrawal later on. Oh well.

After discussing it with Coach Sumner, the plan to proceed is pretty simple – slow down and keep moving. Building fitness involves proper training. Proper training involves slowing down and not running every training run like its a race. For me that means training at these paces:

  • 5K pace (short intervals, VO2Max workouts): 7:45 to 8:30
  • 10K pace (longer intervals, tempo run): 8:30 to 9:20
  • Easy pace (general aerobic runs): 9:20 to 9:55
  • Marathon pace (pace runs): 9:55 to 10:44
  • Long run pace (long runs): 10:44 to 12:00

(These come directly from the McMillan Running Calculator, with my last Half Marathon time plugged in.)

There is one issue – when I trail run (like I did Sunday – 4 miles in Deer Canyon/El Moro), I can’t easily hold to a pace range. I’m just too wimpish and don’t really relish the scrapes and bruises that come with rushing on a trail. Ooof!

For trail running, I’ll fall back on heart rate ranges – if I’m substituting for a long run, I’ll keep my heart rate below 75% of max, and if I’m substituting for an easy run, I’ll keep my heart rate around 75% to 80% of max.

For now though, it’s back to the basics. Slow and easy miles. And more miles. And more miles.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Upcoming - Boring Posts

Well follks, there will be a bunch of boring posts on these pages for the next few weeks. I have no races on the calendar until San Diego RnR (June 6), and with that I’m just doing six miles in the relay. In the meantime, it will just be the drudgery (for you) about reading about my training. A few miles here. A few miles there.

For example, yesterday’s run was five miles along the ocean at Crystal Cove. My goal was to raise my heart rate into the general aerobic range (75% to 85% of max). FAIL! I averaged just below aerobic range for the duration. And just likemissing my goal, the rest of the run was overall uneventful. In fact, the only thing that I’ll remember about yesterday’s run is the pain in my legs! Wow! It’s pretty apparent that I need to slow things down and rebuild.

Oh. And I’ll try to throw in a trail run every now and then for some variety.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back to Basics

The new plan is being executed. Uh, not “bang bang” executed, but hard work executed. You get my drift. One thing for sure – all this workout has sure left me tired! I was in bed last night by 9PM!!!! Back up at 6AM. And I’m still physically tired.

Here’s all it took to drive me into the depths of fatigue:

  • Monday: Up on the ergometer. 5 minute warm up, 20 sets of 1 minute on, 30 seconds off (stroke rate progression of 24 spm (5 sets), 28 spm (5 sets), 22 spm (5 sets), 30 spm (5 sets)). 5 minute warm down. Total distance rowed – 7750 meters (4.8 miles). I followed this by a resistance training routine.
  • Tuesday: Intervals with Cal Coast. 1.25 mile warm up. Intervals of 1X1200 (5:53), 1X800 (3:55), 2X400 (1:58, 1:48). 1.75 mile warm down. Total distance – 5.1 miles.

I made it home, had dinner and settled in to watch the Lakers and Dodgers on TV (this time of year is wonderful for a sports nut – even the NHL is on!). A few minutes later (at least it seemed a few minutes later) I noticed a big wet spot on my t-shirt’s left shoulder. Drool! I know when I’m beat – so it was off to bed. Yeah – getting old sucks.

Actually – I can’t tell you how nice it is to be physically exhausted because I should be!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Race Report

The only problem? I didn’t race it!

For us OC’ers, this past Sunday was our local race – the Orange County Marathon and Half Marathon. About 13,000 folks lined up for the “privilege” of running the streets and trails of Coastal Orange County. The day dawned bright and beautiful (sorry Penny!). The temperature at the start was in the low to mid 50’s  - a perfect day to show off the beauty of Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.

Have I mentioned this race was literally in my back yard? These are many of the trails that I train on daily. The thought of running with the pain and pressure of racing wasn’t exactly appealing. But – I figured I could at least offer my support to my pals running the race. And there were a ton of them! So, I packed up the gummy bears and pretzels, filled up my hydration pack, got on my bike, and left the door at 5:50 AM.

To show how close the start line is to my house, I was there by 6:00 AM. And that included a stop for a red light. My first order of business was finding people. This race was a *lot* bigger than when I ran it back in 2008. People stretched for about a half mile from the start line:

P5020021It wasn’t very long before I ran into our fellow blogger Slomohusky! Just like he told me, he was dressed in my school’s colors (yea cardinal and gold) ! It was soooo cool to finally put a face to a name:


Kudos to him for being there despite all his little tweaks and niggles the past few weeks.

Next up, I ran into Jason and Penny near the start line:


This was the first time I had met Jason! We chewed the fat for a few minutes and then I let them go as the start was near. For a change, the race actually started on time! I caught the excitement as a spectator this time:

P5020026My plan was to pedal around and catch the runners at about three or four points on the Half Marathon course. Even though *they* were running 13.1, I could catch them at the start, three different places on the course, and then ride the last mile in for about 7 miles or so on my bike. So, I took off from the start and pedaled over to mile 6 1/2:

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I got there just in time to see the lead runners pass. Man! These guys were booking!


While I was here, a ton of pals ran by. Wadiasoft stopped and shook my hand, then continued oh his superhuman effort (sub 4:00 PR in the full). Billy came by with his purported shuffle (yeah right – he was ahead of the 1:50 group) . Billy’s friend Lori came scooting by head down and all business. Next up was Jason, Penny, and a ton of my fellow runners from Cal Coast!

P5020041 Knowing that these folks now had a little over three miles to scoot to my next vantage point, I climbed back on my bike and pedaled the hills over to mile 10, where the runners would be coming up the only sizeable hill on the course. I got over there, situated myself as a spectator, and got out the gummy bears to feed the runners finishing the “climb”:

P5020046These folks were all looking a lot stronger than I normally look coming up that hill! I wasn’t there but 10 minutes when I saw a familiar face!

P5020047I scooted on down the trail a mile to my next cheering point at mile 11. The runners must have been a little tired at this point judging by how quickly the pretzels I offered went:

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From there I hopscotched another half mile by bike to mile 12 on the course. I tried to offer my moral and verbal support from the seat of my bike as I went back and forth the last mile with the runners. This can be a tough part of the HM course, as the runners can see the finish area from a mile away. I tried to remind them that Chuck Norris never ran one of these!

 P5020052 P5020055

Next up, the runners entered the Orange County Fairgrounds for the finish. Normally being on the other side of the barriers, I could completely empathize with these folks – especially when “that” sign showed up. I tried to offer as much cheering as I could – but I was actually getting hoarse!

P5020056 P5020057

Just in case you haven’t had enough, here’s a little video scripted to one of Orange County’s house bands, Social Distortion:

I loitered a bit at the finish line where I ran into Slomohusky again, this time with Mrs. Slomohusky and the Slomohusky kids. What a delightful family! I’ll be looking you up for coffee the next time I’m in your town!

One thing for sure – all this cycling around sure worked up an appetite! And since I still had a 7 mile ride back home, I opted for breakfast with Penny and another blogger/tweep that I finally got to meet Yas (and “the bean” and she lovingly refers to him)!


All in all, this was *as much fun* as I’ve *ever* had at a race. It was so rewarding to see the pain turn to smiles and thank you’s – especially that last mile when there was a lot of pain to be had. Will I do this again? Absolutely! But not too often. I need to set some PRs this year….