Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Difficult Part of Starting Over

Today is day 3 of my start over as I work myself back into race shape. I'm finding the going to be difficult. Want to know why?

When you take as much time being inconsistent in training as I have the past few months, the worst part is not the weight gain that I experienced as much as the loss of cardiovascular fitness. Right now it's kind of sad to think a year ago I was *over-trained* for a marathon. These days I can barely huff and puff a mile out of my body!

So, these days the exercise is getting back into aerobic shape. The key to getting back into aerobic shape is putting in volume at a *steady pace*. And the key to a *steady pace* is running slow enough to be able to maintain that pace over several miles. It's the old adage "You need to train slower to race faster." Do you know how difficult that is?

Well, I'm finding out. Tomorrow: tricks to maintain that slow and steady pace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting the Train Moving

This week starts training for my first next race since an underwhelming performance in Long Beach last October. I’ve been pretty consistent with training over the last 8 weeks, but I’ve done nothing longer than 5 miles, and I’ve only done that once. Also, since my planned race is going to be a hill climb trail race, I’m not under any pressure to pull off any type of PR performance. So, I’m going back to square one and using a Higdon novice plan to start my long journey back to respectability

This week:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 2 miles easy
  • Thursday: 3 miles easy
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles easy
  • Sunday: 30 minute erg
  • Total: 12 miles run, 30 minutes on the erg

Monday, March 28, 2011

The “Before They Kick It” Tour

This is going to be a little departure from running, because, face it, I don’t love running that much that it’s the only thing I (would) do (come to think of it,  a lot of my blogs the past few months have been a departure from running). In fact, I’m going to expose to the whole world just how twisted and dark my sense of humor is…

One of the things on my bucket list is to see as many classic rock acts from my youth as I can before the artists kick their own bucket*. I’m being pretty selective – not so much about the acts – but about where I see them. In my youth I saw most of the mega groups in the large stadiums/outdoor venues, but time and time again, the most memorable concerts were those in the small venues (Elvis Costello at Millikan High School, Peter Gabriel at Crawford Hall (UC Irvine’s gym at the time), The Tubes at Crawford Hall, The Runaways at The Whiskey a Go Go, etc.).

So, last Thursday I was incredibly lucky and was in the right place at the right time on Twitter to win a couple tickets to see Meat Loaf Friday night at Casino Morongo! I like playing poker at Morongo, but don’t make it out there too often because it’s a bit of a drive (close to an hour and a half or so). So it was a double win for me!

Now, I’m not a big fan of rock ballads, but Meat Loaf is a guy who has cheated death a couple times already, so he has at least an honorable mention on my list. He’s been having a bit of a rejuvenation lately with his appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. Not to mention, who could turn down seeing Eddie**?


I showed up 10 minutes before the scheduled start to some awesome seats:


And, sure enough, right at the scheduled start time of 9 PM (well, okay – five minutes after) the show begins!

If you understand the Eddie reference above, you’ll like this song.

And for all you real Meat Loaf fans:

Meat Loaf’s signature hit. 5th best selling album of all time.

Yes. His voice is shot and he doesn’t move around as well as he used to, but hey, who from our generation does?

And as should be expected at a casino, right at 11PM on the nose, the last drum thunders, the house lights come on and the casino gets what they were after!***


* I can add Meat Loaf to Tom Jones at the MGM Grand, X at the Orange County Fair, KC and the Sunshine Band at the Orange County Fair, ZZ Top at House of Blues, and George Clinton at House of Blues. Up next? Bob Dylan is supposed to be playing at the OC Fair this summer. Hmmm.

** So who remembers Eddie?

*** The one thing that casino management understands is the value of a bunch of people *not* gambling. As a result, concerts tend to start on time and end on time. A casino is *not* going to let a room full of a few hundred people sit around doing nothing for half an hour while the band “preps” for the performance. They *especially* aren’t going to allow an act to end late!

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Turning Back Now

Thank goodness I'm cheap. Now that I've paid for it, I'm committed.

I guess I really will need to start training next week....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Next Up…

I need to start today’s post by thanking three people. First off, I need to thank Linda (Gymnotes) for convincing me that I wanted to run a few miles of the L.A.Marathon. The excitement of being on a race course struck a little spark. Then yesterday, I think Jay (Tri2Thrive) and Madison (I’d Rather Be Eating) conspired over a conversation on Twitter (a twitspiracy?). Anyways, by the time arm twisting was done and the smoke cleared, I found myself pretty much committed to The Billy Goat Hill Climb in June.

So, training starts in earnest next week. I’ll finish up this week’s training calendar first:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Run 35 minutes
  • Wednesday: Run 45 minutes
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Run 40 minutes
  • Saturday: Run 30 minutes
  • Sunday: Run 50 minutes

Then, because I’ve had such an extended period off, I’m going to start back up using a Higdon Novice Half Marathon plan. I’ll get started next week. Yessiree. Twelve weeks until “It Ain’t But One Hill.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Glad I Wasn’t the Wicked Witch of the West!

Los Angeles Marathon XXVI. In sunny Southern California. Sun. Beaches. Convertibles. Well – anything but this year!

The forecast was for rain. Well – let me tell you – it RAINED!! To put things in perspective, a normal rain year for us in Los Angeles would be around 13 to 14 inches of the wet stuff. On Sunday it rained 4 1/2 inches in Beverly Hills – miles 15 through 17 on the route. Add to that 30 mile per hour winds (thankfully to our backs) and it was a cold, sloppy, miserable day.

The day started out great. I hopped in my car for the drive out to Beverly Hills. The streets were dry. I met up with my twitter pal @ridgeley at Lulu’s CafĂ© for a scrumptious banana walnut filled pancake (oops! Forgot the picture!). It was blustery out, but it was dry. Then about halfway through breakfast the sky opened. Dang. All of a sudden I was glad I brought my tights along!

The next part of the adventure was finding parking in West Los Angeles. If you don’t live in West L.A., parking can sometimes be a challenge. Certain streets are permit parking only for residents. Other streets have no parking. Add to that the fact that major East-West thoroughfares were closed for the marathon. I was anticipating grid lock and parking hell. Instead, I pulled up at the corner of Overland and Santa Monica Blvd (right at Mile 19) and found a parking spot. For free. Street parking. With no restrictions. Winning!

From there I braved the elements to make my way back two miles to Mile 17 at the corner of Rodeo and Wilshire (even Paris Hilton wouldn’t have been out in these conditions). But I’ll let the video tell that story:

L.A. Marathon 2011

Huge props to all who finished this marathon! It was cold, wet and ugly out there. You deserve to hold your head high!

P.S. – Yes. I know I misspelled “Zeppelin” in the credits. But it YouTube is the *slowest* upload in the world. I’ll live with the legacy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time to Start Thinking About What’s Next

First off – I need to congratulate all those who braved the elements and ran the Los Angeles Marathon yesterday. The conditions were *horrible*. News reports say that hundreds were treated and a couple dozen people hospitalized for hypothermia. I never equate Southern California with hypothermia, but mix in rain, a brisk breeze, and a 26.2 mile death march, and I supposed it could happen. So – congratulations to all those who braved the elements and hit the pavement!

I’m down to the final two weeks on this little recovery plan that I’ve been executing for the last five weeks. The good news is that all physical and mental systems appear to be “Go”. This week, I’ll run three days back to back to back, and just shy of an hour on Sunday. I guess it all means that I need to start thinking about what’s next. Maybe something in the middle of June?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time for us Californians to Take Note

No doubt, most (if not all) of us have been glued to the news about the tragedy in Japan. I’ve been especially interested for a couple of reasons. First, I have two aunts in Japan. They are both fine (one lives in Sapporo, Hokkaido and one is Osaka) and out of danger. The second, and much more selfish reason is, I live in California.

Yes. I’ve been through a few earthquakes in my time. Most of the time, you kind of wonder what a truck is doing driving down the street in front of your house. Then, before you have a chance to do anything, a little shake rattle and roll happens. Five maybe ten seconds. It’s usually all over before you even realize what’s going on.

The aftermath of a minor earthquake. A 4.0 about 8 months ago.

Some are much larger though. The most terrifying I’ve been in was probably the Northridge earthquake in 1994. From a pure magnitude perspective, it was major, but not catastrophic (6.7). It lasted a whole 20 seconds. 20 freaking seconds. It felt like a lifetime. But, its proximity to where I was living at the time (about 30 miles) made the shaking pretty terrifying. Books flying off shelves. Paintings off the walls. Cupboards dumping out their contents kind of shaking. Ever watch a cupboard door open on it’s own?

The largest I’ve experienced was Landers in 1992 – out in the desert sorta kinda  near Palm Springs. It’s about the same distance from where I was living as Tokyo was from the quake in Japan. We rocked and rolled for pretty close to two minutes. Because of the physical distance, the shaking was not severe. But, I had to physically hold a 30 gallon fish tank to keep from having a minor gold fish extermination event. The worst part was the shaking just kept going on and on and on. And on. Forever. That was a 7.2 magnitude quake.

Any of my fellow Southern Californians remember those quakes? Well, let’s put Japan in perspective. 3 plus minutes of shaking. 9.0 magnitude. Since the moment magnitude scale is logarithmic, that means the quake in Japan was 2818.382 times stronger than Northridge. Hell – there were aftershocks in Japan larger than either the Landers or Northridge quakes.

The scientists say we’re due*. Just remember how Los Angeles ground to a halt in 1994. If you’re not prepared  just keep in mind - there are no riots or looting in Japan. Let’s not wait until it’s too late. It can happen here. It probably will.

* The good news is that the type of quakes we have here in California (strike-slip) makes tsunamis unlikely.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

The L.A. Marathon is next Sunday. That means that it’s been about a year that something broke. For two years running had become a bit of a religion. 30, 40 sometimes 50 miles a week. I was at a point where I felt that I was wasting my time if I wasn’t going to run 6 miles. Then came March 21, 2010. Sitting on a curb in Brentwood hoping a golf cart would come along and whisk me in anonymity to the finish line. The 5:30 pace group happening by. Latching on and finishing under my own power with my tail between my legs. Humbled.

My plan was to return to the scene of the crime and get the monkey off my back. But, by the time I was able to get back to training, the window to be ready for L.A. 2011 had long come and gone. I was relegated to waiting another year. And we all know what happens with wounds and the passing of time…..

Fast forward. March 3, 2010. The talk on Twitter was tapering for L.A. I was sitting at my computer feeling sorry for myself in general. Then, a familiar name popped up in my gchat window:

Linda: about running me through Century City? Maybe mile 17-20?”

Linda is “Ms. V” in the blogosphere and @MsV1959 on Twitter. I’ve been following her blog and tweets almost since the inception of my blogging and tweeting days. It’s been so long, I don’t even remember how I happened on her blog – Gymnotes. And even though she lives 400 miles away, whenever she’s in town she always makes an effort to include me in races or tweetups. How could I turn her down?*

So let the therapy begin. I’ll be on the course. Rodeo Drive. Century City. West Los Angeles. The Veteran’s Administration. At that point I’ll hand her off to Shiloh, who will be running her into the finish.**

Maybe it’s not the return that I had envisioned eight months ago. I won’t be able to stop and spit on the ground at mile 22 in Brentwood. But I’ll be out there rain or shine. In my running shoes. Linda – THANK YOU for asking!!!!

* Now that that is public knowledge, I’m also planning on meeting a ton of other blog/twitter friends out on the course. The list right now includes @ridgeley, @nobel4lit, @borntorun77, and @tri2thrive. There’s even a rumor that @b2squared may make an appearance.

** The only thing I can’t figure out is how a die hard Dodger’s fan could let a Giant’s fan pace her into the finish. Linda? Are you losing your mind? You should have made her pace you the first few miles. That way she would have had to set foot in Blue Heaven!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Head Down, Nose to Grindstone

Sorry I’ve been missing from blog land. Nothing much exciting has been going on. I’ve been like my title says – head down, nose to the grindstone – trying to work myself back into injury free shape. Last week was the fourth in the Pfitzinger recovery plan that I’ve adopted, and I’m up to a whopping 30 minute run. Not that I can go the whole 30 yet without a break somewhere in the middle, but hey,  it sure sounds good!

This week I have four days of running – two times two days back to back:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest.
  • Tuesday: 25 minute easy run.
  • Wednesday: 30 minute easy run.
  • Thursday: Scheduled rest
  • Friday: 25 minute easy run
  • Saturday: 35 minute easy run
  • Sunday: Scheduled rest.

Other than being tired and woefully out of shape as I tackle these easy peasy flat runs, the rest of my body seems to be faring well. No more knee pain, no more back pain, no more groin pain. Maybe – just maybe – I might be ready for trails.