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.