Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Year End Recap

Today I ran my last run of 2005. I went over to the north end of the bike path at the Santa Fe Dam, miles 35 to 37.5. My time was 39:47, just shy of 8 minutes miles. Needless to say, I was smiling. Monday and Tuesday I ran my old familar 3 mile route and did each day faster than the last. These low mileage weeks may be helping out my running in other ways. I graphed my mileage by month.

Lowest mileage week: 4
Highest mileage week: 45
Average miles/week: 28
Total mileage for 2005: 1475, 150 miles more than last year!

Why am I totalling up 2005 when there are still 3 good running days left?

Later tonight I am boarding a plane bound for Kolkata (Calcutta), India. I'm going with a group from my church, Christ's Church of the Valley, in San Dimas. Our team of 20 will be serving at the Missionaries of Charity House. This is the house started by Mother Teresa. My father-in-law sent me this article on Christmas Day that explains the trip well.,0,7964730.story?coll=inthecommunity-headlines
This is going to be a big adventure for me. This will be my first real trip beyond the my suburban existance here in the US. I have visited Canada and Mexico, but I'm not sure they count. We will be gone until January 14. This trip will give me a vacation from running that I never seem to let myself take. More importantly I'm sure will have a major impact on my life and world view. I have very little idea what to expect. I can't even image what India will be like, especially serving those most in need.

Happy New Year to all of you out there in the blogosphere. May your running dreams come true and may 2006 be a meaniful and productive year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Race Reminiscings

As the end of 2005 approaches, I began to recall my favorite races but was having a difficult time narrowing it down. I didn’t do that many races this year but each was unique and had its own special memory.

Most Scenic and Breathtaking (in every sense of the word): The Malibu Creek Trail Challenge. I did the 14 mile race with Terry from work. When we got there it was cool and foggy. By the time the race started the sun was shining bright. The views from the top of the hills were magnificent. I could see the Pacific Ocean and the Mountains from the same vantage point. The hills were tough but I was proud of myself for how little I walked. I had been trained on hills just for this race.

Fast Half Marathon: The Fontana Days Half. I had heard of this run and had even been stopped in traffic when I used to live out in Rialto. I never thought then that I would actually run this some day. This year was the 50th anniversary run. I did this run with Terry as well. The run starts up in Lytle Creek and is 13.1 miles downhill. How can you not love that? The day was cool and overcast, perfect running conditions. I just missed my 1:45 goal by seconds.

Family Affair 5K: Surf City Run, July 4th. This was my first race ever in 2003. I missed it in 2004 due to other commitments, so I really wanted to run it this year. My wife decided to walk the 5k. Then my youngest son said he would run it too. He had done a Turkey Trot with me in 2004. Since the three of us were all doing the run we coerced the oldest son into doing it as well. Neither of the boys trained at all but they were troopers about finishing. I finished first, and then got to walk back out and run each of them in, in turn, youngest son, oldest son and wife. After the run we had breakfast at an Irish Restaurant in Huntington Beach and spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach, soaking up the sun and playing in the surf. It was a great day all around.

Best Marathon: ING New York City Marathon. What a blast! 38000 of your best friends from all over the world, the whole city of NY cheering for you, the bridges, five Burroughs, finish in Central Park, and organization “par excellence”. I also got to run this one with my old training partner. He is currently living in Boston, going to dental school at Tufts. It was tough for him to fit training into his schedule but he did it and met us in NYC. I couldn’t have asked for more (except for maybe a faster finishing time, oh well). I really recommend doing your sight seeing after the marathon, not before like I did.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Favorite Training Run of 2005

Presidents Day, February 21, 2005. I had taken the day off work since the kids and wife all had the day off. It turned out to be a dark rainy kind of day. It rained alot (by southern CA standards) this year. I don't really mind running in the ran, except for the darn bloody nipples from the wet shirt. The rain is usually infrequent enough that it doesn't really mess with a running schedule.

Anyway it was raining/drizzling off and on all day. I was pacing the house like a caged animal. My wife finally said "will you please go for a run before you drive us all crazy!" I guess I need some more hobbies or something. I left the house during a dry spell and went over to Bonelli Park. I usually run the paved path around the picnic areas. For some reason I decided to go explore the trails.

It was an absolute blast. In most places the trails was overgrown with waist high mustard and only single track wide. Of course soon after I started the drizzle came back. The trails were a muddy, sloppy mess but I loved every step of it. It was only a couple of miles, but it was a FUN. I wrote in my log under "How I Felt: ALIVE" and I really did. I have done this trail since and still enjoy it but that first muddy and wet encounter was the best!

Return of the Reindeer

Grandma and Aunt Leslie came over on Christmas afternoon to find their reindeer in our front yard with my younger son guarding it. They both laughed so hard they couldn't get out of the car. At the end of the day the deer was safely loaded up into Grandma's trunk and returned home.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve with the Cruisers

Can I just say that this was an absolutely beautiful morning for a run. Temps in the low 60's, sun shining, clear blue sky, just a wonderful southern California winter day.

I met the Cruisers again in Yorba Linda for another run along the horse trails. This time we met at Travis Ranch Youth Park, on the other side of town from where we met a few weeks ago. This run was dubbed "Rochelle's Run" since the first time they ran this route it was Rochelle's day to host the run. Makes sense, huh?

This week Jesse showed up. He is way faster than any of us, but a lot of fun to run with. Teresa's husband, George, joined us too. George and I started out together but stayed within earshot of the others. Neither of us had run this route before. Jesse joined us at about 1 mile. A couple of miles into the run we came to East Lake. I was surprised to find out that there is an actual lake in the middle of Yorba Linda. There is a shopping center nearby called Eastlake Village but I never imagined there was a real lake. Half way around the lake Jesse, George and I waited for some of the others to catch up. At some point we got too far ahead so we had to figure out our own route. We took a surface street back to the park. It seemed like a reasonable run. We were on the road for 80 minutes so I figured we had run about 8 miles.

We waited and waited for the others. George and I even discussed back tracking in the cars to see if something had happened. Eventually they all showed up from the trail that we had started on. That's when we realized that we had missed the turnoff back onto the trails. I just used gmap-pedometer and got 7.6 miles for the route we took. The others had run just shy of 9 miles.
The best part of all is that I got to drive home with the top down on the Christmas Eve! Woohoo, you gotta love it.


My family had dinner last night at my mother-in-law's house. It was my wife's sister's birthday. My sons left a little before my wife and I. When we got home we found this reindeer in our front yard. It turns out that the boys kidnapped it from Grandma's front yard. We brought it inside for safe keeping overnight. So far we haven't heard from Grandma, so I don't even think she realizes that the poor thing has been kidnapped. She is coming over tomorrow for Christmas. The look on her face when she sees it in our front yard should be priceless.

I guess I shouldn't be encouraging this behavior in my kids, but frankly I think it's hilarious. Besides, Grandma is a good sport.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

3 It Is

I guess I'm stuck in a 3 mile rut. The last two days I've run the same 3 mile out and back route that I've run since the Las Vegas marathon. I still have/want to run, I just don't have the gumption to put out much more of an effort. For many of us, there seems to be a general lack of motivation going around. At least this guy has a big sense of purpose. I need to get some of that.

For me, I think it's the post marathon blahs, the holidays, an upcoming trip and the lack of a defined running goal that has me in this rut. This too shall pass, but for now I will faithfully run my little 3 mile route.

Wednesday I forgot my watch and today I got it done in 25:52, a little faster than on Tuesday. That's cool!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is 3 Enough?

3 French Hens?
Must be, besides it’s steeped in tradition and it took forever to learn that song in the first place, why mess with a good thing?
3 Musketeers?
Maybe not, it has been a while since I've read this but wasn’t there a fourth one lurking around in there somewhere?
3 Blind Mice?
Definitely, I don’t really care for mice, blind or not.
3 Dog Night?
I guess so, but I prefer a good comforter. They were a great Classic Rock band, but then I’m dating myself.
3 Doors Down?
Sadly I don’t even know the names of the people that live three doors down. Maybe you will at least recognize this Rock Band.
3 Days till Christmas?
Just kidding!

I guess I could come up with a few more, but to the point:

3 Days of Holiday Parties (and the Absurd amount of food that goes with them)?
Definitely enough! Over the last three days I’ve attended two Holiday Potlucks and one department lunch. I’ve eaten sushi, asparagus wrapped in bacon, smoked turkey, Chinese chicken salad, ginger snap cookies, angel food cake, homemade marshmallows, more Chinese chicken salad, Caesar salad, empanadas, chicken and rice casserole, baked penne pasta, ambrosia, Jell-O, eggnog cake, chocolate dipped Oreos, oatmeal raisin cookies, salad with mandarin oranges and candied walnuts, a huge slab of salmon, mashed potatoes, chocolate cake and cheesecake. Plus three regular breakfasts and one regular lunch and I’m sure I missed a few things along the way, so YES, 3 is most definitely enough.

3 miles?
Yes and No. Yes it kept my knee from hurting and NO, NO, NO it is not enough to counteract my gluttony over the last three days. It was though, a good run. The temperature was a wonderful 65°F at 6:00 p.m. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is the first day of winter. I managed a 26:05 3-miler over in Via Verde.

So for dinner tonight I had a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes and a banana. Why doesn’t the elbow develop a pain when it has taken the fork to the mouth too many times the same way the knee developed a pain after too many miles?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chicken, Amstel Light and Taking it Slow

I have been laying pretty low, trying to take it easy and give my right knee some time to heal up.

On my way home Wednesday, my wife called asked to me to pick up Juan Pollo Chicken for dinner. They have THE BEST rotisserie style chicken and their potato salad is awesome. I think it is much better tasting than their larger rival, El Pollo Loco. Of course you have to live in SoCal to know about either one of these places. With the chicken on the table, I decided to forgo the run and have myself some dinner. I justified the day off to give my knee the extra rest.

On Thursday I went back over to the Via Verde horse trail and put in a 3 miler. My knee did not complain at that mileage. I was very happy. And at 26:30 (8:50 pace) I felt like it wasn't a half bad effort all things considered.

Saturday, I met back up with my California Cruiser friends on the Santa Ana River Trail. I was hoping for a 10 miler but was keeping an open mind and letting the knee decide how far I was going to get. Songs get stuck in my head and usually whatever I hear last plays over and over while I'm on the run. Today the song that got stuck was an advertising jingle for Amstel Light. Its kind of a catchy jingle but really annoying after the first 20 times. I guess that's one benefit to running with an iPod or equivalent. At least then I would have fresh music of my own choosing, but I rarely ever wear one.

Mike wasn't there today. He and I have similar pace, but it was probably good (for my knee) that he wasn't there. I started off my run with Kevin, Margaret and Teresa. They run at a pace slower than I normally do. Since I was babying the knee and had no reason to go faster, I just enjoyed the camaraderie. I even took walking breaks every mile, which I usually reserve only for runs over 14 miles. Our average pace was 11:15 and I think my knee appreciated that.

At the 5 mile turn around, I took advantage of the bathrooms and they went ahead. I picked up my pace to catch them and just kept going. With about 2 miles to go I was passed by a bunch of bikers. One of them commented "only 23 miles to the beach." The Santa Ana River Trail ends at the junction of Newport and Huntington Beach. My response to him was "It can be done." He replied "It will be a b*tch getting back, though." I couldn't really argue with that, so I let him have the last word. I finished the second 5 miles alone in 8:49 pace. My knee started complaining around 8.5 to 9 miles, but I made it back.

Thanks to Kevin, Margaret and Teresa, I took it slow and was able to complete the full 10 miler without any major issues. It was really good to get to run with some people that I don't normally run with and to just enjoy being out there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Now That's More Like It

That’s was my original title as I started the run, but I may have gone a little beyond that point.

After my humbling 4-miler on Saturday, I decided I had better take an extra couple of days off, so no running Sunday. Monday is a normal day off. All day Tuesday I was looking forward to my run that evening. My right knee had been feeling fine. I stopped and stretched it a few times throughout the day. I had decided to go over and run the horse path in Via Verde. The path is just over a mile so I can get a three or four miler in with at least half of it on dirt. I figured the softer surface would be best for the ailing knee.

I got home, changed and then took forever to get out of the house. This time of the year, when it’s already dark at 5:00 and getting cooler, I have to coax myself into getting out the door. I never regret going, I just hem and haw way more than I do in the warm, sunny summer. I know it’s not really cold especially compared to those bloggers I read from New York, Montana, etc. Now that’s cold! Anyway, I finally got over there and started my run.

One mile into the run my knee was holding up fine. At the 1.5 mile mark it was still OK, so I decided to go for the 2-mile mark. At the 2-mile mark, my knee began to give me a little bit of a talking to. I made it back to the car for 4 miles in 36:27. My knee held up but the ITB needs a little more time before it will be back to normal. When I got home I iced it. In retrospect I probably should have turned around at the 1.5 mile mark before the knee started hurting, but…

One bit of good news for the day, my running buddy with the stress fracture got the OK from her doctor to start running on soft surfaces, not asphalt. It has only been 6 weeks since her diagnosis. I think she’s considering a go at the LA Marathon. We’ll have to talk more to see how she really feels.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

On the DL?

Here it is Saturday, nearly a week after the Las Vegas Marathon. I have been itching all week to get out there and run again. After a marathon I usually take the next week off, no running at all, then get back to it with an easy 6 on Saturday, then right back into the schedule the next week. That plan was worked after 6 marathons, so there was no reason to think it would not work again.

I drove down to Yorba Regional Park to meet up with my California Cruiser friends. We run along the Santa Ana River Trail. Tricia and Jaymi were off running the Honolulu Marathon. It was good to meet up with everyone else and swap Vegas stories. I started off my run wearing a sweatshirt, the temperature was around 50°. The group was planning a 12 miler, I hadn't really committed to a distance yet.

I ran with Mike G. At about 1.5 miles my right knee began to bother me again like it had in Vegas. This was a new thing for me. I usually feel great after the marathon aches wear off and never miss a beat. I got to the the 2 mile mark and stopped to stretch. The Cruisers told me to take it easy. I decided to take their advice, the knee obviously wasn't right. I turned back and ran/hobbled back the 2 miles.

I am a little frustrated with my knee but I've decided not to stress too much since I have no marathon plans in the future. A little rest, a little ice, a lot of stretching and maybe some Tylenol. A scaled back schedule could be good.

Speaking of marathon plans; Tara at work suggested St. George, UT. Its not that much of a drive past Vegas. It is not until October. St George uses a lottery system so it can't hurt to throw my name in come April 1st. Let's see!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The New Las Vegas Marathon

Overall I’m pretty happy with my performance at Las Vegas considering:
· I only had it on my schedule for 3.5 weeks.
· I ran NYC four weeks prior.
· I had a cold and fever 4 days before.
· It was 30°F and windy at the start.
None of these things are deal breakers; it is just that for me they were unknowns.

I wish I could write one of those mile by mile recaps of the race, but I just don’t remember them that way. The race start was memorable. The announcer likened the marathon to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nobody ever thought that would happen either. In the grand scheme, a marathon is pretty insignificant, but it was fun to think that we were making history. The fire works were cool since it was dark when we started (a first for me). It was also pretty darn cold and windy for this 22 year resident of sunny SoCal. I didn’t really mind it, but I did feel it. I wore my gloves for nearly 8 miles and my stocking cap for 15 or so. I normally never wear a hat unless it’s raining.

There were next to no spectators on The Strip. It was kind of surreal, considering I am used to seeing it packed with people. I got off to a fairly slow start, 10 minute miles for the first 7 miles or so. I really don’t know why. I had fun running through the Fremont Street Experience. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was playing through the loud speakers.

If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change

Finally at mile 8 I knocked out a 9:26 mile without any perceived increase in effort. I kept that pace up through mile18. I remember Carey Avenue being ever so slightly uphill and I was just methodically passing people one by one. I remember feeling really confident at this point. I took a bathroom break between mile 13 and 14.

Around mile 19 my right knee/ITB started bothering me. This is the same one that seized up on me in Los Angeles 2004. My right knee never bothers me in training runs, even the long ones, so I’m not sure where it comes from during races. I shortened my stride but kept plodding along. My pace slowed to 10:30. Once we turned onto Frank Sinatra Drive you could see Mandalay Bay, but it never seemed to get any closer. My knee was bothering me more and more. My pace slowed to 12:30. It felt like my knee wouldn’t support me when I tried to run normally, I had slowed to an “old man shuffle”. I realized that my “running” speed wasn’t getting me any more forward progress than the guy next to me who was walking. I decided to walk a little more myself. I made myself run the last half mile or so. I was able to finished my 7th marathon in two years and my 5th state in 4:35:50. I always feel great right after finishing a marathon, I think that’s one reason I get so much enjoyment out of running them.

I was impressed with the medal. When I got home today, both my teenage sons said that it was “bling”. I took that as a good thing. I was going to pass on the obligatory post race photo op, but then realized that they had Showgirls for us. That was just too Vegas to pass up. The photo will make a great Christmas gift for my Dad! I’m sure the boys will want to see that one as well!

We stayed at Mandalay Bay. Getting to the start and getting that post marathon shower was a breeze. I highly recommend staying close to the start and/or finish if at all possible. Thanks to my running friend, John Strand, for hooking me up with the room. Thanks to my wife for letting me take these two trips for marathons. I missed you in NYC and was glad that you were here in Vegas to share this one with me.

On the flip-side, I am somewhat disappointed with my 2005 marathon times. I did four marathons in 2004, with the last one being my best at 4:06. I have not been able to better this at all in 2005 despite having more time to train. Los Angeles 2005 was not about me as much as it was about helping my friend Celeste. I got her through 22 miles before she insisted that I leave her behind so I was happy enough with my 4:20 time. NYC was 8 months later. I began seriously training in June and ramped up my weekly mileage to 40-45 miles, an all time high. I thought the higher mileage would translate well into achieving a sub-4 marathon. NYC ended up being a disappointing, near 5 hour marathon. There were many things on race day that I could attribute it to so I just moved on and hoped to redeem myself when I got the chance to run Las Vegas. And still I am no closer. I’m not sure why. Am I doing too many races? Not the right kind of training? My diet hasn’t been as good this year since I could get away with eating pretty much anything I wanted because of all the miles. I have no real desire to run LA again and the budget isn’t going to support travel to another state until at least the second half of 2006. I think I will just take it easy and build up my base and maybe finally try that speed work I keep threatening to do after reading Jeff’s blog.

A big congratulations to the other RBF'rs that ran Vegas as well. I kept a lookout for those orange shirts but never saw any. Now that I've checked your times, I see why. I've only been a blogger for a while but I had been reading your blogs and had wished you all the best. I look forward to reading about your next big adventures whatever they may be.

Truth in Advertising

Now that I finished the Las Vegas Marathon, I have officially completed five states. When I started my blog, I named it Five Down, … knowing the Vegas was on the horizon. I felt a little dishonest but I didn’t want to have to change the name only a couple of weeks into this, considering the name changing potential of a fifty state count down. I do hope you will forgive me.

What’s next? At this point I really don’t know. My friend Terry, who was considering Napa Valley is now considering Los Angeles as her alternate Boston Qualifier. She says LA has always been good to her. I really have nothing to gain by doing LA again, so I think for now I may take some time off from the marathon quest.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Maybe I shouldn't have, but I HAD to!

I went out for an easy 3 miler today (27:36), no big deal right?

Well if you aren't a runner you will probably think I'm crazy. If you are a runner you might not have done it but at least you'll understand. You know that I had to do it.

This being the taper week for the New Las Vegas Marathon, I had planned a couple of easy 3-5 milers just to keep my legs from stiffening up. Unfortunately on Monday I started coming down with this cold/flu thing that seems to be zapping everybody currently. I always take Monday off anyway so no big deal, but there was no way I could run on Tuesday. I came home 1/2 day sick from work with a 102 fever. I spent that evening in bed under all the covers I could find. I took Wednesday off from work still a little feverish and achey. This thing sure magnified every little ache and pain that I've had in the last couple of months - ankles, knees, hips, you name it; it hurt.

Today I felt better so I went to work. Besides, I don't think I could take another day of daytime TV. Where do they find these people? I felt pretty good most of the day, not 100% by any means, but OK. When I got home I had to make a decision - go for a short run or not. Since Monday I had been worried that I wouldn't be well in time for Vegas. I felt better but would a run drive me back to bed? I decided to go and felt good. I am tired now but I think with two more days rest I will be good to go for Vegas. I already knew that Vegas wasn't a time goal marathon, having just done NYC 4 weeks earlier. Vegas was all about the experience of running The Strip. Besides I remember my wife telling me a couple of months ago that you can only run the inaugural race once and she's rarely wrong! So I have to go run Vegas on Sunday and I had to go for a run today.

What would you have done?