Sunday, March 26, 2006

63 Across

I was working on a crossword puzzle earlier this evening. The clue for 63 Across was a four letter word for "Hip ending?" Of course I immediately thought of the RBF's own amazing super hero "The Amazing Hip" and got that one, STER, as in anaginghipster. I find it funny that things in my everyday life remind me of people and events I only know about through the "reality" of the blogging world.

I forgot to mention that for yesterday's beach run, I broke out a new pair of Brooks Trance NXR's. I had a another pair that I relegated to trail only runs when they hit 500 miles. I like to keep about 3 pairs in rotation most of the time. My other two pair of shoes have 440 and 320 miles each, so I'm actually a little late getting the third pair started in the rotation.

I started running with Trance back in 2003 and ran in them exclusively until last summer when I tried out the New Balance 765 and Saucony Grid Omni. They both worked out well. I think the 765's are stiffer than either the Trance or Omni. The Omni feels the lightest. On Saturday I realized that I really prefer the Trance. Of course they are the most expensive ones, but I have been pretty lucky in finding them online for less.

Sunday morning I ran with the 642 Running Group in Villa Park. This is a group that has been meeting every Sunday morning for years running the same route. They meet at 6:42 a.m. and run for 6.42 miles. Jesse told me about this group a couple of years ago. I finally decided to try it out. It was a nice run with some friendly competition. The group is mostly older guys, at least older than me, but they haven't slowed down much. I guess the last mile of this run often turns into a full on competitive sprint to the finish. I ran with Jay, the guy that ran the Super Run 5K and Cheseboro Half Marathon. It was a quick run. It's about an hour round trip drive for me so I don't know how often I'll do it. It is something to keep in the back of my mind.

When I got home I made breakfast for the family - pancakes, bacon, OJ and coffee. Since we've been doing church on Saturday night I somehow have gotten out of the habit of Sunday breakfast. My wife had been out of town Saturday evening, so we were on for Sunday morning church. It was nice to fall back into the old routine. After church we made a trip to Sam's Club, then I took my younger son to get a suit for my brother's upcoming wedding. I even mowed and fertilized the lawn (I threw that tidbit in for all you folks in colder climes). I haven't mowed in a couple of months but it was starting to get shaggy. Now that the weather has warmed up a bit, it will start growing faster and will benefit from a shot of nitrogen.

Miles for the week: 40.6

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Run at the Beach

Since Tuesday I thought about that morning run I missed. It wasn't a planned run and you probably can't really make up a run you missed. I feel that it is kind of like sleep; you can never really catch up. I made a conscious decision not to do it on Wednesday, figuring that my new 8 mile midweek run was enough for one day. Thursday was speed work so again I decided not to "do a double". But Friday morning, I actually woke up the first time the alarm went off. I was fully awake, not like on Tuesday when I only thought I was awake. As I lay there the idea to run crept back into the old brain. Friday is usually one of two days off, therefore no worries about the double. My youngest son had no school, therefore a less hectic morning routine. Before I had time to be lulled back sleep by the calming tones of the shower I got up, got dressed and headed out the door. I did my 4 mile Downtown Loop and got back home in plenty of time to shower and get to work.

Earlier in the week, I had put in a request with the unofficial coordinator of the CA Cruisers to run some route other than the Santa Ana Trail. I seems that we've been there for quite a few weeks in a row. She agreed and planned the run we call Two Parks, Two Loops. This run leaves from the parking lot to the Snail's Pace Running Store in Brea. Midweek, I was asked by my son to take him down to Huntington Beach on Saturday. He wanted to watch some paintball matches for the NPPL Paintball World Series. He wanted to get there around noon. That gave me plenty of time to run with the Cruisers and still get him there. Friday when I got home from work, he told me that he really wanted to get down there at 8:30 or so. He suggested I run at Huntington Beach. I did this for last year's NPPL as well.

What was I supposed to do? Of course, I scrapped the plans for Two Parks, Two Loops and took him to Huntington Beach. I got my 10 miler in on the bike path. I usually do my longer runs down there. It's a near perfect setting for a long effort; nice and flat, plenty of water fountains and facilities, and every mile is marked (Thanks to the training group from the Fountain Valley Snail's Pace Store). I hadn't run there since my last 22 miler before the NYC Marathon. Although, I felt bad about missing the Cruisers run I had requested I looked forward to the beach run.

Running NW on the bike path, the wind was at my back. I was sweating more than I had in a long time. I was wondering if it had to do with the humidity near the ocean. Once I turned back around, heading SE the wind was in my face so I stayed more comfortable. There were so many people out at the beach; walkers, runners, bikers, beach volleyballers and even the paintballers. It had a cool active, healthy vibe to it.

After the run, I hung out on the beach and caught up on some reading. I even spent a couple of hours watching paintball matches. As an added no cost bonus I got a nice sunburn from the neck up. Although the paintball matches were scheduled until 8:00 pm, we headed home around 4:00.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Day Late

Wednesday's 8 miles went off as planned. On Tuesday I hadn't discussed with Celeste the possibility of running together like we had the week before. I talked to her first thing Wednesday morning, she hadn't really thought about it but she had her running clothes with her so we were on for after work. We did the same routine as the week before. Out 2 miles and back in 36 minutes. I went back out for the second out and back in exactly the same time. I had planned on an easier run and stuck to it.

During the day Terry and I discussed running the Inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon. According the website the race was at 90% capacity. We've been talking about it for awhile now. Many of the Cruisers have already signed up. Terry signed up on Wednesday. I didn't sign up then, who knows why. Thursday morning I tried to log onto the website to register but their server was down. I was in a meeting from 10:00 to 12:00 and as soon as I got out I tried again. I was greeted with the news that registration had closed. In 24 hours they filled the last 10%. Registration has been open since at least January. Why I waited so long I don't really know. Part of the reason I waited was the pretty steep price tag; $85 for a half marathon. Now that I got closed out, I'm bummed and could kick myself for procrastinating so long.

Today's speed work went fairly well. I finally threw in a couple of 800's in 3:56 and 3:50 pace. I'm still at only 1.5 miles of speed work, not including the slow laps in between. I didn't feel quite as good about it as last week. This week it seemed to take more effort, especially mentally, to sustain the effort. Hopefully every little bit will help. Next weekend is the second of four 5K's in the Puma Race for the Cup. I've got my work cut out for me to better my 22:36 at the last one.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wake Up and Run

It seemed like a great idea.

Tuesday morning I heard the alarm go off and could tell that it had stopped raining. The sun was shining through the blinds. I must have been feeling guilty about missing the Sunday run; that I missed again on Monday; because I thought to myself - I should get up now and go for my 4 mile Downtown Loop. My wife gets up and in the shower first. I have plenty of time for a run while she is in the bathroom. I was clearly thinking this thought but apparently I was more dreaming it than actually thinking it because I never made it out of the bed. I know I intended on getting up in my head but I never put it into action. I was in that weird "not really asleep, not really awake" state. I guess my brain and body weren't on the same page. The next thing I fully realize is that the shower has just turned off. That's my cue to get up for real. So much for makeup runs. It would have been a beautiful morning for a run.

When I got home from work, my enthusiasm from the morning, had worn off. My plan called for speed work, but I really didn't feel up to it. For some reason I felt really chilled even though it wasn't cold at all. It was in the low 50's at the worst. I even toyed with the idea of scrapping the run all together.

I think the guilt of three days off finally got the better of me because I finally decided to do the neighborhood 6 mile loop that I had done in early February. I started off feeling a little unmotivated but by mile 2 I had hit my groove. Mile 3 to 6, I felt like everything came together and I was just flying down Badillo Ave. I had started my watch at the beginning of the run but never checked it during the run. My time was 49:14, 8:13 pace. This is the exact pace predicted for tempo runs from the Runners World link I got last week. I don't know if this means anything in terms of my training or current fitness level but I was pleased. I am really glad now that I didn't back out.

I am going to make tomorrow night's planned 8 miles an easy run.

Monday, March 20, 2006

LA Marathon Pictures, No Running

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My intent yesterday, after the volunteering, was to run an easy 5 miles or so. I realized when I got home that I was just beat. I took the day off, deserved or not.

Today, Monday, is normally my day off, but all day I figured I would get the 5 miles in after work. Before I got going it started to rain. I decided to use that as an excuse to not run again. Instead I'm posting some pictures from yesterday's marathon. My son took the pictures of the eventual winners as they went by us just before Mile 24. Lidiya Grigoryeva (2:25:10) was well ahead of Benson Cherono (2:08:40) at that point. These times were course records and personal bests for both athletes.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Los Angeles Marathon XXI

Sunday was the 21st running of the Los Angeles Marathon. I woke up to clear blue skies and temperatures in the 50's. It looked like a perfect day to run a marathon. But I wasn't running this year. After last year's LA Marathon I had decided that I was done with it. Of the 6 different courses I've run it is my least favorite. It seems to me to be a pretty tough course.

A couple of weeks ago I had almost talked myself into running it anyway. It is my hometown marathon and I knew I could sign up last minute and give it a go. I finally came to my senses on that one, luckily. Yeah, I probably could have finished but I doubt that I would have gotten a decent time. No sense in gutting out a marathon just because I could. Besides I already have Californina crossed off my list of states!

As an alternative to running the marathon, I had approached some friends about riding the route as part of the Acura LA Bike Tour. Nobody seemed really very interested. The idea of paying $35 to ride the streets of LA at 5:45 a.m. didn't appeal to them.

Since neither one of those ideas panned out, I tossed around the idea of volunteering at a water stop. On Tuesday evening I was discussing the possibility with my wife. Our 15 year old son overheard our conversation and asked if he could join me. I wasted no time in signing us up. Volunteers can sign up on line and choose the water station of choice. The current need is shown and is updated live as people volunteer. I signed us up for the Mile 24 water stop. Our assignment was from 8:00 to 2:00.

I got my son up just after 6:00 am and he actually got up without much trouble. I stopped and picked him up donuts for breakfast at his request. I had oatmeal at home. We drove to downtown LA and found a parking space on Catalina St. at Olympic Blvd. We were within a 100 yards of our assigned water stop.

When we first got there the bike riders were still going by from the bike tour. My son was very intrigued. He told me that he wants to do that next year. We started working just a little before 8:00. We set up trash receptacles, carried water and poured hundreds of cups of water. We were ready to go at least an hour before the first runners came by. The first people to come by were the wheel chair and handcrank athletes, followed by the elite runners. The elite runners each have their own water bottles set up on special tables in the middle of the street. It is amazing how smoothly they go by. I know what I feel like at the 24 mile mark and they sure didn't look like I feel.

It is really interesting to watch the change in the makeup of the field as the day wears on. At the beginning the flow is fairly spread out and everyone is running along at a nice pace. They all look relaxed and smooth. The elites were pretty spread out and I thought what a lonely 26 miles that must be. The real crowds don't start until about 3 hour marathoners. As time goes on you start to see a couple of people stop and walk to get some water. Then later on more people start walking. By the time you get to the 5:30 marathoners, the flow of runners is beginning to thin out an lot and more and more people are walking. There are a lot more pained expressions on faces at that point as well. The back of the pack runners are very appreciative of the volunteers and thanked us for being there quite often. We left our assingment about 2:30. There was still a decent flow of people coming by. The Captian of our water stop said that they would be there until at least 3:30.

I really enjoyed working. It was interesting to see a marathon from the other side. As a bonus there was a musical group from Altadena Baptist Church set up adjacent to our water stop, so I got to listen to worship music all day long. I loved that.

During the race I spotted Coatman and Dean Karnazes. I leave it up to you to sort our your feelings on the impact of either one of these guys on running.

I also spotted some friends and took some time to run along with them for a few minutes. Congrats to Abel, who we used to see every week up on the Santa Fe Dam when we were all training for NYC. We haven't seen him lately. I ran along with Jim, a friend from church. He was hurting pretty badly. His hips have been giving him some trouble. I got to run along with Lori from work and her training partern Lorna. Lori is one of the first people I ever met at my job when I started there 20 years ago. This was here first marathon. She seemed to be really enjoying the experience. The weather was a little windy as the day wore on. I felt cool in a t-shirt handing out water, but it was probably pretty nice for running.

My son had a great time as well. On the way home he told me of his great plan for next year. He wants to park the car in the same spot, then ride our bikes to the start of the bike tour, ride the tour and ride back to the water stop to volunteer for the rest of the day. Could be fun. I'm really glad that I got this opportunity to share the day with him doing something I love and that he got into it as well. Earlier in the day, before the runners started coming along, he volunteered to walk a couple of blocks to get a cup of coffee for a lady that was working with us. I'm not sure how I ended up with such a thoughtful kid. He is a good kid, but as a parent I get to see the "demon possessed" side of him as well. Teenagers - such strange and wonderful creatures.

Another Slow Start - Fast Finish

When left work on Friday afternoon, I hadn't heard from anyone with the Cruisers about our run on Saturday. We always meet at 7:00 but the place and route were still up in the air. I made alternate plans to run with Terry at the Santa Ana River Trail. We were going to meet at Rio Java. Terry is another coworker. She wanted to meet closer to 8:00. She only wanted to run 8 miles. I had planned 12.

Terry and I ran the first 5 miles together at a pretty easy pace, about 9:50/mile. I had originally planned to run 8 with Terry then go it alone for 4 more but I ended up making a pit stop at 5 miles and Terry went on without me. I tried to catch up with her after that and somewhere along the way I caught up to some of the Cruisers instead. I never did catch Terry unitl I got back to the coffee shop. After a quick drink of water I headed back out for the last 4. My pace for the miles on my own was 8:15. Nice! As an added bonus, the weather held out. It had rained pretty hard on Friday with scattered showers predicted for Saturday, but they held off until later that evening.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Midweek 8

Yesterday, my coworker and running partner, Celeste stopped by and asked if we could run together some time soon. We haven't run together since the end of January. She has been doing the elliptical at the gym but she has been inconsistent with getting out and running. She has struggled coming back from the stress fracture and has been crazy busy at work.

I had 8 miles planned. She laughed that off rather quickly. She isn't ready for that kind of mileage yet. I had to do some pretty good persuading to get her to go for 6 miles last summer when we ran together all the time. I thought about it later and came up with what I thought was the perfect solution. We would run 4 miles together (2 out and back) at an easy pace for Celeste, then I would go back out for 4 more on my own and pick up the pace. She was agreeable. The only problem I could see with the plan is that it meant that I would have to climb the initial hill to get up on top of the dam twice. Hill repeats?

I let Celeste set the pace. I wanted to take it easy on the first four miles, especially in light of the pace calculations I had done yesterday. The pace seemed to be pretty comfortable for her. Our average pace was 9:23. That was faster than I had expected that we would be able to do without pushing her too hard. I took less than a minute break to send Celeste on her way and started back up the hill to the top of the dam. My goal for the next four miles was the 8:13 tempo pace. I pushed along pretty hard. My breathing was definitely heavier but I didn't feel like I couldn't keep going. I finished the second 4 miles in less than 32 minutes, 7:56 pace. I was pleased with this effort. It has been nearly a year since I've done an 8 mile run in the middle of the week. My max is usually 6.

Tomorrow night we have been invited over to my mother-in-law's house for lasagna. She makes a mean lasagna. I plan on an easy 6 mile run. I'm going to figure out a route from my house to hers and meet my family there in time for dinner. I'll just consider it pre-carbo loading for Saturday's long run.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Natural Air

On my way home from work a van went through the intersection in front of me. On the side of the van were the words: Natural Air Purifiers, Mother Nature's Little Helper. The thing that struck me as odd; the driver of the van was smoking a cigarette. Ironic?

Today I got back to speed work. There had been no rain since Sunday so the track had pretty much dried out. Corner #3 was a little rutted with footprints from people using the track when it was too wet. This corner seems to collect more water than the other three. I took my warm up run over there nice and slow. I tried hard to keep my breathing easy.

I did 6 440 repeats, followed by 6 easy laps. The speed laps varied from 1:56, my first lap to 1:47, my last lap. I felt really good. In the past I was beat at the end of each lap and walked around the first curve before beginning the easy lap. Today, I had no problem getting to the end of the lap and just kept right on with the easy lap. I didn't feel like I was gasping for breath or that my legs were about to fall off. I definitely enjoyed the fact that this seemed to be getting easier and that my body was getting used to this kind of training. I didn't realize until now that it has been a month since my last speed session. I definitely want to try to keep this up since I have the 5K's coming up the first weekend of the next months.

Today someone sent me a link to a pace calculator in Runners World online. The calculator determines the pace that you should run specific types of workouts based on a reasonable time for any given distance. I put in my time for the 8K race from a couple of week ago and come up with the following suggestions:

Your easy run training pace is: 9:51 min/mile
Your tempo run training pace is: 8:13 min/mile
Your maximum oxygen training pace is: 7:25 min/mile
Your speed form training pace is: 6:52 min/mile
Your long run training pace is: 9:51 - 11:06 min/mile
Your Yasso 800s training pace is: 3:48 min/800

I don't naturally run any of these times. My normal pace is 8:30 to 9:00 most of the time. Based on this table most of my runs are approaching tempo pace. I'm not sure I could make myself run 9:51 on an easy or long run, unless I was running hills and trails. Does an nearly 10:00 pace seem reasonable for a long run. I'm afraid that if I trained at that pace, then that's the pace I would run in a marathon. When I recalculated using my best marathon time, all the paces get even slower by about 30 seconds/mile. Should I try to do my long runs at a slower pace? Would this mean that I'll have more "race" left in my legs come marathon day?

Running can be so simple and so complex at the same time.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Boys Republic

Sunday morning I ended up meeting up with Terry from work and her friend Carol for a run through Chino Hills. I was awakened at 7:00 by my wife. She woke up all panicked. She thought I had overslept. I wasn't meeting Terry until 8:30 and my alarm was set for 7:15. She rolled over and went back to sleep.

After the rain yesterday, today dawned bright and beautiful. The sky was bright blue with big puffy white clouds. Over in Chino Hills I got a really nice view of the San Gabriel Mountains. The rain down here had brought snow up there. The view was spectacular. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me. I could have gotten some really nice pictures.

Our route through Chino Hills is quite familiar to Terry and Carol since they both live in Chino Hills. Carol left us around 4 miles because she had an appointment to keep. Terry and I continued on for another 2 miles. Part of our route took us through the grounds of Boys Republic. The actor, Steve McQueen, was once a resident of Boys Republic.

After I left Terry, I continued on for another 4 miles alone. I got back home about 10:30. By 1:00 p.m. the sky had clouded back over. As I'm typing this, it is pretty dark, chilly and gloomy out there. I just finished throwing together a pot of chili. With this weather it will be a perfect dinner. Oh, and don't forget the cornbread.

Weekly miles: 34

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I Dodged the Bullet

I got SO lucky this morning.

All week the weather forecast predicted a huge winter storm. It was supposed to start raining on Friday and continue all the way through Saturday. The forecast called for thunderstorms, temperatures in the 40’s and snow down to the 1500 foot level. This was going to be the biggest, coldest storm we had encountered this season. I checked periodically throughout the week. Always, Saturday called for 80 to 100% chance of rain. The Cruisers were planning on running - rain or not. They had decided to meet at Rio Java coffee shop rather than the usual Yorba Regional Park. A cup of coffee after the run would be a nice after getting cold and wet.

Friday night I obsessed about what to wear. I pulled out a long sleeve shirt and a short sleeve shirt for warmth and I pulled out my gloves and stocking cap. Normally if its just going to be a little cold I wear a sweatshirt, but a wet sweatshirt was not going to work. I also threw in my trusty baseball cap. I even packed a towel and a change of dry clothes for after the run.

When I woke up at 5:30 I was surprised at how light it seemed outside. I looked out the kitchen window and found that the roads were relatively dry and the sky was cloudy but not ominously so. So where’s the big storm? It had rained on Friday and was raining went I went to bed. I drove down to Yorba Linda and it still didn’t look like it would rain for certain. It wasn’t even that cold. It was about 40°. Last week at this temperature I was freezing, but this week expecting to be cold and miserable it didn’t seem that bad.

I started out with everyone for a nice easy warm up. After the first half mile or so we all hit our own stride and break up. I ended up running with Cecil. We headed south on the River Trail from the coffee shop for 5 miles out and 5 back. Just after we turned around Jesse was coming up. I fully expected that he would catch us in the next half a mile or so. Cecil had to make a pit stop so I went on ahead. I could hear Jesse behind me, but he never quite caught up. I ran the last 4 miles alone. I’m not sure why Jesse never caught me, but it was a huge confidence booster to be able to stay ahead of him. Both he and Cecil were complimentary after the run. Nice!

The weather held out the entire run. It was pretty overcast and in the low 40’s; actually ideal conditions. I had so over packed anticipating the absolute worst weather. My time out was 43:41 and back was 41:16, for an overall pace of 8:30. I didn’t feel like this was overly difficult. I felt pretty relaxed most of the way. Cecil and I talked for the first 6 miles or so. I had no difficulty keeping the pace and comfortably talking. The last couple of miles I tried to pick up the pace a little. The last mile includes a little dip and I really tried to crank back up the other side. I feel like my pace at this distance has decreased since the first of the year. I know that my normal pace for longer runs, say over 16 miles or so, used to be around 9 minute/mile. It would be nice if I could keep going longer at or near the 8:30 pace.

After the run we all gathered at Rio Java for coffee and bagels. I even played a game of backgammon against Jesse, he won. It was a good time. When I left Yorba Linda the sun was shining. About half way home I got poured on and it had been raining at home. While I was typing this the sun was out but I could hear thunder off in the distance. Now it’s cloudy and raining here as well. Like I said, I got lucky with the weather today.

I don’t remember if I mentioned this before but one of the women from A Snail’s Pace running program was chosen as for the LA Marathon Saucony 26. It was interesting to hear her story. I always remember her from my early days training with ASP. For my first 6 miler, Arcy (Arcelia Palafox, #10) was there at the turn around point to encourage us. Back then (July 2003), 6 miles seemed like such a long way. She has been there every Saturday morning with a smile and positive attitude. Now that I know a little bit more about how she got into running I have even more respect for her.

The rest of the week, running went well. I got in all my planned runs and felt better than I have in a while. I was a little sluggish on Thursday but I ran in the morning before work. I usually run after work during the week. Because I ran in the morning I didn’t do my speed work session this week, but I may still try to do it on Sunday. The dirt track will be a mess though after this rain.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Nine and Half with a Dip

Sunday morning I took my younger son out to SC Village, a paintball park in Corona. The paintball park is only two exits away from Chino Hills State Park. I planned to go hit the trails again. My legs were feeling pretty good after yesterday's half. Unfortunately, the park was closed due to "adverse conditions". I opted not to run the trails anyway. I really wanted to do trails so I drove back over near home to give Bonelli a try.

I had no real plan but decided to basically run the long way around the lake. At one point there is a stream crossing. The recent rain had swelled the stream considerably. When I had checked it before the Cruisers came up the stream was easily crossable. Today it was 6 feet wide and calf deep. I met up with some mountain bikers coming from the other side. They had taken off their shoes and waded across. I decided to do the same. I guess, not exactly rugged trail runner behavior, but I was just out for an easy training run. Why get my shoes wet if I didn't have to. The bikers also warned me that at the other end of this particular section the lake had risen and covered the trail nearly waist deep. Someone had built a rickety bridge from 2x6 and logs. When I got there I decided I would just take the bridge over. Three steps into the bridge my foot slipped and in I went. I basically sat down, so I got wet up to my armpits. Quite refreshing! So much for keeping my shoes dry. The first few steps after that were pretty squishy but I had no choice but to keep going.

About three quarter into the run, I ran into the same bikers. I guess they were circling the lake as well but in the opposite direction. I stopped and told them about my little adventure crossing the bridge. Later, with the help of Google Maps I figured the run was about 9.5 miles. My time was 1:40. I was taking it easy but I didn't realize quite that easy, about 10:40 pace. Still a nice way to spend Sunday morning. When I was finished I got a call for my wife asking me to pick up my son at the paintball park, so it turns out I ran just the right time and distance after all.

Weekly miles: 35.6
2006 miles: 218.7
Lifetime miles: 3665

Chesebro Half Marathon

The race location was about an hour from my house. I wanted/needed to get there early to pick up my bib, chip and goodie bag. The website had made it clear that is was about a 10 minute walk from the parking area to the registration area. I wanted to make sure I had enough time so I got there at 6:00 a.m. The race started at 7:00. Let me just say that it was cold. I felt like it was freezing. In reality it was 40°, but I couldn't warm up or convince myself that I would.

On the way back to the car to dump off the goody bag and get out of the sweats I had worn, I ran into a coworker. I had just met him a week earlier at someone else's going away party. He's only been in southern CA for about 4 months. This was going to be his first race since he got here. It was very cool to run into someone I knew, even a little bit, since I had signed up for this race alone. He has joined a local running club and is getting involved with the running community in his neck of the woods. We talked about meeting up for a week day run now and then. Cool, another possible running partner. About 5 miles into the race I passed one of the guys that had run the Super Bowl 5K with us. I never expected to see him. He was very encouraging. I ended up running into both of them again at the finish line festivities as well.

Because I felt so cold I opted to keep my gloves and thermal shirt on for the start of the race. This was a mistake because by Mile 2 I was looking for a place to ditch them. I ended up carrying the gloves and just took my arms out of the sleeves and had the shirt draped around my neck.

Miles 1 to 3 were on the roads through the neighborhoods of Agoura hills. After a downhill start we made quite a few turns through the neighborhood. I got off to a slow start, 9:30 for Mile 1. But Mile 2 and 3 came in at 8:22 and 8:18. Just after Mile 3 we left the pavement and hit the trail. Because of the recent rain, the race organizers had opted not to truck in water for on trail aid stations so they handed each runner a bottle to carry throughout the next 7.5 miles. I ended up with my hands full. There were also no mile markers on the trail. This wasn't really a big deal to me. I knew that the highest point of the race was around the 8 mile mark. Then pretty much down hill from there.

The first part of the trail was fairly flat, but because of this it was very muddy. It didn't stick to your shoes too much but it was pretty slippery. It was quite the challenge to get through that section. Then we started a long slow ascent up pretty much a single track trail. It was very easy to just fall in behind someone and keep going. This is a nice tactic on a training run but dangerous in a race. I had to keep reminding myself to find away around and not run someone else's race. On the way upno onee passed me, but I was able to get by a quite a few people. I was feeling pretty good about that. The last of the uphill was the steepest and toughest. I had to stop to tie my shoe (not to self, always double knot, especially in a race) and lost some ground on a few of the people I had just passed. Much of the trail was rutted from water runoff so I had to keep my eyes open and jump back and forth across the rut. It made the run a little more difficult but a whole lot of fun.

When we hit the downhill, I was able to pick up some speed, but downhill is not my strong suit. I got passed quite a few times on the down hill. I passed one man that was older than I was, but the next thing I knew he caught up to me. We ended up talking most of the way down. A women tried to pass us. He said to her "You're not in my age group, so you can go by. If you were I'd have to trip you." We all got a laugh out of that. There was one more uphill before we hit the pavement and I left him behind, but I assumed he would be right behind me again in a minute.

When we finally hit the pavement at about Mile 10.5, it was a nice long downhill. There were mile markers on the street but I forgot to hit my watch, so no splits. When the course flattened out I just ran out of steam. The older guy caught me around mile 12 and beat me to the finish. I wasn't even in his age group. I kept plodding along and watching the time tick away on my watch. I had hoped 1:50, but would be happy with a 2:00, Considering the conditions of the race, it's not an accurate comparison to regular road race times.

We finished on the track at Agoura Hills High School. That was pretty neat. The 10K guys were finishing at the same time and came barreling around me at the curve on turn 3 and 4. I looked like I was standing still. I felt bad for being in their way. They should have asked the half marathoners to take the outer lanes. The two 10K guys finished in a dead heat at 4:57 pace. Now that's flying!

My official time was 2:01:48. Just a little more than I had hoped for. I guess that'll teach me not to carry so much with me and to double knot my shoes before hand!

The post race party has been voted #1 in a poll conducted by the LA Sports and Fitness Magazine, the last four years running. There was a lot a variety in food and pretty good bands too. I had Cold Stone Ice Cream! I've never had that at a race before. I'd cast my vote for this party based on the ice cream alone.

This race was a whole lotta fun!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Darn Cookies

About three years ago I lost a fairly significant amount of weight. I used Weight Watchers at Work and walked, alot. I achieved Lifetime status in August 2003. I continue to weigh in on a monthly basis, usually the last Monday of the month. So Monday evening after work it’s off to Weight Watchers I go.

I was hoping to have lost a couple of pounds but lo and behold I had gained again. Not any amount that most rational people would be concerned with, but then again…This upward trend has been going on since last August. Yea, I know we had the holidays in there and my trip to India in January, but in February I was back on track with my running and hoped to finally see a loss. It’s not exactly unknown to me why I’ve been on the slow road upward. I have been eating way too much chocolate and snacks. I’ve even succumbed lately to the Friday donuts at work which I religiously avoided for nearly three years. I was hoping against hope that the return to more regular training would counteract the gluttony. I guess there’s only so much exercise can overcome. I committed myself to start counting the Points (WW method for counting calories and portion control) again starting Tuesday morning.

When I got to work Tuesday morning I went to the coffee cube, which coincidentally is right next to mine, there was a nice big plate of Pecan Sandies cookies there just staring me in the face. At 2 points per cookie; 11 cookies and I could be done eating for the day. I summoned up my will power and left the cube. I came back twice more just to check how many were left but I never did eat one. Why do I torture myself?

Just as I had gotten over the Pecan Sandies, a coworker delivers 4 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that I had ordered. Ugh! I refused to open any of the boxes. An open box of GS cookies is as good as an empty box of GS cookies. I’ll figure out the Points for them some other day. On her way home from work my wife stopped by her Mom’s house. She sent her home with a plate of brownies. I did eat a couple of those. I do get some extra Points to play with, but I was hoping to save them up for the weekend.

Wednesday morning at work, more cookies! This never happens. Someone had brought in oatmeal raisin and peanut butter cookies. The cookie gods are out to get me. I am weak and succumbed to an oatmeal raisin. I figure I got some fruit and some fiber, that can’t be all bad. There goes 3 more of my extra Points. Then, I received 3 more boxes of GS Cookies from another coworker. I know that makes 7 boxes of cookies, but hey it’s for a good cause and who doesn’t love GS Cookies. Thin Mints, anyone? How about a Samoan?

Man does not live by cookies alone, but I could sure give it a good shot this week. It just figures that this would happen once I decide to buckle down and control my intake.

On the running front, I stopped by the dam after work on Tuesday. This time I had actually remembered to put my backpack in the car. I did 5 miles with 2 half mile speed bursts in 3:31 and 3:33. I thought I was about to die on the second one. I considered a third but didn’t. Wednesday evening, I went over to Via Verde and ran the horse path for a rather easy 4 miler. The Chesebro Half Marathon is Saturday. I’m still unsure what the weather conditions will be like. Rain is probable Thursday and Friday maybe even Saturday, making for some fun conditions on the trail portion of the race!