Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Long Run Question

But first, I listen to KROQ most mornings on the way to work. I can't help but be reminded of Donald lately because they are giving away tickets to the Red Hot Chili Peppers show in August at the Forum. This morning was even odder. This guy, Doc on the Roq, does a news spot. Today he asked "What are we going to watch now that American Idol is over. Well the National Spelling Bee begins tomorrow." Is Donald programming modern rock radio in SoCal?

Now to the long run question. Two weeks ago, Week 11, of my training schedule I put in my second long run, 21.5 miles. At that time I posted that the marathon was 7 weeks and one more long run, 22 miles, away. A couple of you suggested that I get in another one on top of that if I could. My long run schedule looked like this:

21.5 - 14 - 8 - 22 - 12 - 14 - 10 - Marathon

I could have conceivably replaced the 8 with a 20, dropped the 22 to 12 or 14, replaced the 12 with a 22 and still have 3 weeks of taper before the big event. Seems doable, right?

But there's a kink, there's always a kink. This Saturday, originally scheduled for the 8 miles, I have committed to running the Fontana Days Half with Janice from work. This will be her first real race and she asked me to run it with her. I expect to be running this one nice and slow, finishing somewhere between 2:15 and 2:30. So my 8 becomes 13.1 at a pace slower than I normally run. I can't do the long run on Sunday, because I'll be spending the day in flight for a business trip.

So the question is to get my 20 miler in do I: A) grab a post race banana and water, congratulate Janice on a job well done and head back out onto the course for 7 more miles at marathon pace; B) enjoy the post race festivities for a while then finish up my long run at another location 1 to 2 hours later; or C) scrap the long run plans for this weekend and then do back to back long runs the next two weekends?

Any suggestions?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Camping and Running in Carpinteria

Carpinteria State Beach is located along CA101, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles and 12 miles south of Santa Barbara. It is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. The city of Carpinteria has a nice small town feel. The campground is tucked between the beach and the railroad the defines the southwestern border of the town. If you are going to be tent camping, I would highly recommend a site on the Anacapa circle. The Santa Cruz area might be all right too. The Santa Rosa and San Miguel areas are definitely more for trailers and RV's (basically a big parking lot). The beach is only a walk away. If you forgot to pack anything, the town is within walking or bike riding distance as well. A Sunday School class from our church have been making this an annual event for many years. It is a family weekend that grown to include a third generation these last couple of years. Although we don't attend the class, we lucked into a spot in 2003, when someone else canceled. Our group usually manages to reserve most of the 20 or so sites on the Anacapa circle. It is a lot of fun to spend the weekend with so many other families. The kids hang out, the adults hang out. There are always pickup softball games, ultimate frisbee games, water balloon wars, bike trips, sunbathing and of course campfires and s'mores.

I went up on Wednesday with my younger son. We did a couple of bike rides over to the seal rookery. About 30 of us went for a hike in Santa Barbara to the 7 Falls via the Tunnel or Jesusita Trail on Thursday. I taught my son how to play backgammon. He then taught his brother and the kids camped next to us. My wife and older son joined us on Friday afternoon. I of course got in a daily run around Carpinteria. On Thursday morning my son rode along side me for 7.5 miles along the bluffs. Friday morning I soloed back out on the bluffs and through town for 6 miles. My long run on Saturday was along Via Real that parallels CA101 out to the Big Yellow House in Summerland and back through town again. I returned along Padaro Lane, a beautiful tree lined road that borders the salt marsh. There a many estate style homes on this road. All that you see from the road are the elaborate gates. I ended up with 16 miles due to my classic inability to calculate simple math while on the run. After spending most of Sunday on the beach, I put in another 4 miles along the bluffs out to the baseball diamonds on the southern tip of town that afternoon.

All told, including my runs at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, I put in 46.5 miles for the week, a personal high by 1.5 miles. If you've been following along, I have been trying to slowly increase my weekly mileage since my posting about "Potential". The hope is that the extra miles will help my reach my sub 4:00 marathon goal. So far, I still feel pretty good. I did cut Tuesday's speed work short (only 3 halfs) but ended with a decent 2 mile "tempo" at 8:20 pace.

We had perfect weather all weekend, except for a couple hours of some pretty significant wind gusts on Saturday afternoon. All in all a very nice long weekend. When I got home I probably spent way too long catching up on the blogs I read. It is now late Tuesday night and I'm off to sleep in a real bed, ahhh. I love camping, but I love coming back home too.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

21.5 in the Bank

Wow! Saturday I completed my second long run on my way to the SEAFAIR Marathon. I've been on some kind of weird emotional roller coaster since then, but right now finally writing about it I'm pretty pumped again.

The plan called for 21 miles. Many things came together to make this run a real positive experience. First of all, I had the honor of sharing the trail again with Jeff. I guess I didn't bore him or drive him completely nuts a few weeks ago. For that I'm thankful. This time we hit the bike path at Huntington Beach.

Running with Jeff has been good for a couple of reasons. For one, he's Jeff, who wouldn't want to run with him. For another, it's really nice to have a guy to run with. Don't get me wrong, I really like my female running buddies from work, heck most of the CA Cruisers are women. It's just different sharing a long run with another guy. I also realized how much I missed running with Brian, my first running partner. Brian is currently off at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. When we were running together he definitely pushed me to do more than I thought I could. For another, because I was running with Jeff, I really think I stepped it up a little. I've mentioned this before, that I usually do the "run a mile, walk a minute" system on any run over 18 miles, even during marathons. When I ran the last 20 miler with Jeff, I thought - there's no way I can ask him to walk, so I ran. I didn't really know how it would go. I kind of expected that I might fall apart near the end, but I didn't. Even though my pace was basically the same as when I walked, it was a great confidence booster to know that I could just run.

So this week I ran as well. Jeff started out on his new bike and cruised along beside me for the first 5 miles. At that point Jeff changed over to running gear and I took the opportunity to hit the facilities. Then off we went for 16 more miles. This was going to be his longest run since the Boston Marathon. We went sub 9:00 miles from the get go. We just cruised right along. The miles went by easily. The weather was definitely in our favor. The skies were overcast, the temperature was no more than 70°F. On the way back we had a nice gentle breeze in our face that kept us cool and dry but not chilled.

At mile 18, I hit my watch, looked and interrupted Jeff mid-sentence. "We just did that last mile in 8:31" Mile 18 well below 9:00 pace and I still felt good, really good. I could not believe it. Jeff wasn't pulling either. Just like last time he was half a stride off my right shoulder. I know that he could totally blow me out of the water at any point in time, but he didn't. I was setting the pace; an 8:31 pace at mile 18. I was getting pretty excited about the possibilities of that sub 4:00 marathon.

Mile 19 in 8:43. Mile 20 in 8:29. Bring it home, Mile 21 in 8:37. We ended up with a total of 21.5 miles. I ran the whole way, with the only real break for Jeff to transition from the bike. The overall pace was a little under 9:00. Five more miles at that pace and I'm definitely on track. Knowing that I finished strong, makes me feel even more confident.

Today I physically and mentally felt like I could do it. Usually I shuffle along during the last couple of miles of a 20 miler, but not today. The sun came out from behind the clouds as we chatted and cooled down in the parking lot. That was a nice touch. A lot a things were in my favor: the weather, a running partner to take my mind of the miles, and a flat course. I also think my increased weekday miles and ramping up my overall miles are paying off as well. It's too soon to be counting but... seven weeks and one more long run (let's hope that one goes well) to go before SEAFAIR.

Miles this week: 43.5

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speed - A Different Approach

At this time of year a few things all come together to make the track a very crowded place. With the time change and the onset of warmer spring weather, the local dirt track becomes as crowded as a Weight Watchers meeting or the 24 Hour/LA Fitness the first week after New Years. Last week I didn't really enjoy dodging the walkers and weaving back and forth among the joggers (as if I'm some kind of pro runner but anyway, you know what I mean).

This week for my speed work I decided to head over to the bike trail at the Santa Fe Dam my once a week after work run destination. The trail is marked every half mile. I decided to do half mile intervals with an easy half mile in between. That may be a little too long between the speed (I don't really know) but it was the easiest to measure.

After a mile of easy warm up, I start into my first half mile. At first I was thinking this is going to be hard. At least at the track I have a clue as to how far I still have to go. Four straight aways and four corners and time to slow down. Here on the trail I had to keep my eyes peeled for the little 8-inch numbers spray painted in the middle of the trail. Finally I see the first marks, hit the watch and look: 3:19 - Whoa, where did that come from.

I took the next half mile easy, then its off again. At least at this interval I know where the mark is because its just after a big yellow water pipe on the side of the trail. I passed the little guard shake where the man collects the entrance fees to the park and kept my eyes focused on the yellow pipe. I felt like I couldn't keep going. I even closed my eyes for a couple of seconds but opened them up because I didn't want to run one step more than necessary. The second half mile was 3:21 - Fairly consistent but it was still early in the game.

Another half mile easy. I met another runner going the other way, we both waved. I reached the 3 mile turn around point and started back up with the speed. I'm headed back toward the yellow pipe. This half is very slightly uphill and into the breeze. I begin to gain ground on the runner that I had just waved to. He heard me coming and turned around to see what was going on. I got back to the yellow pipe before I completely caught up to him. The third half: 3:25 - This half actually felt the most relaxed and easy.

Another half mile easy and off again for 3:26 - Getting a little slower but not drastically so; at least that's what I tell myself.

Another half mile easy. During this half mile I know that I have the opportunity to do one more speed half and still have a half left to cool down. The mental battle begins: I could just take the whole mile and a half as a cool down. Five halves - 2.5 miles of speed work is more than I've ever done. I know, kind of wimpy in the speed department. Five halves - I never done more than 3 halves with a few 400's thrown in for good measure. I've got a 21 miler this weekend, will this have a negative effect there, blah, blah, blah. I get to the half mile marker and decide to get on with it, suck it up. A real speed guy could run half mile repeats all day without breaking a sweat, at least without thinking about it. The fifth half: 3:38 - Oops slowed down, but I really don't think I could have mustered much more.

In the final analysis, I think I enjoyed this method a whole lot better than the crowded dirt oval. And I'm really glad I pushed on through to the fifth half.

One of the coolest things about this run is that I ran into Abel during my mile warm up. Last summer when Celeste, Brian and I were training for the NYC Marathon we ran a lot on the dam. We would see this guy nearly every day. Finally one day Celeste and I were done with our run, we waited for him and introduced ourselves. As it turns out he was training for NYC, too. How cool is that. With the time change and the resulting early darkness we stopped running the dam trail before the marathon and we lost touch with Abel. This year Abel hadn't been out on the trail. I had seen him at the LA marathon when my son and I volunteered, but I only got to talk to him briefly. He was kind of busy. But today, we stopped and talked for 10 minutes or so. We made tentative plans to meet up on the trail for some runs in the future. That would be very cool indeed.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sunday Run and Stomp

Today, Monday, I am enjoying my day off. I'm trying to get this entry in before the season finale of Grey's Anatomy at 9:00. Whew, last night was a little crazy.

I just couldn't break my Sunday morning streak, so it was off to Bonelli. It was a very overcast morning so the views in the distance were non existent, but the mustard and thistle were everyone. This week I also noticed a lot of black-eyed Susan's that I hadn't noticed before. Very nice. I'll have to enjoy it while I can, because it won't be long before everything turns back to brown for the summer.

I added a little extra trail onto the normal loop to get 6 miles. The trail leads up to what I think is a water treatment or pumping station. At the top of the hill there is a large flat asphalted area. In the center of the asphalt is a 10-12 foot tower or stand pipe. It is surrounded by a fence that looks like its made out of satellite dishes. I can't really describe it very well. Maybe I'll have to take my camera back and get a picture so someone can tell me.

I actually ran into 2 other people today. One was a runner going in the opposite direction when I was nearly finished. The other was a man walking. As I passed him I wished him "Good Morning". He was carrying something in his hand but I didn't immediately recognize what it was. As I continued on the trail, I rounded a corner and came face to face with a Rottweiller. Oddly, I didn't freak out. I just said "Hey there puppy" (he wasn't). He looked at me and trotted on past. I realized then that the man I had just passed was carrying a folded up dog leash. It could have been a potentially ugly situation, but I guess everybody is in a good mood on the trail on a Sunday morning. Whew.

Later that day I treated my wife and mother-in-law to a BBQ. Tri-tip, spinach salad, and rustic bread. Very nice if I must say so myself. After dinner we dragged the boys off to see STOMP at the Pantages Theatre. This was the second time this weekend that we had made them venture out into the world beyond the TV and computer. They actually enjoyed the show a lot. I have never seen this show before although it has been around for awhile. The cast of eight is really talented percussionists and dancers. The show is not just sonically appealing, but is visually stimulating as well. Although the cast never speaks, many of them develop a personality as the show progresses. It is really interesting to hear the music that can be made using push brooms, match boxes, flexible rubber tubing, folding chairs and newspaper. The show ended with an audience participation segment that had us all clapping in different ways and even divided us into sections each with our own beat. It was really a lot of fun. I would definitely like to see this one again. The show is in LA only through this weekend but is traveling throughout the country. If you have a chance go see it.

Now I'm off to see what happens to Denny and Dr. Burke.

Oh, wait - miles last week: 36.2
I passed the 4000 lifetime miles mark as well.

CA Cruiser Pics

Whenever the CA Cruisers run together, Dr. John Strand is there with his trusty digital camera to record the moments. He then sends us an email most weeks with the pictures and usually some very funny captions. I thought I would share some.

"Dorothy is telling Darrell that she already has her Las Vegas shirt, so she doesn’t have to train for that one. Lisa is telling Darrell that she already has a red Angel’s shirt, so she doesn’t have to do the Angel Stadium run next week. Darrell James is saying. “No excuses, it is time to run.”"
Who knows what we were really saying, but what's with the look on my face?

"Hey Darrell, wait for us"
OK, so they're not all funny but I liked the picture. This is a little whoopty-do incline in the first mile of the run. Janene hates the hills so she always powers right on up to the top and then waits for everyone else. I just can't let her go alone so off I go. Cecil actually ran ahead to get the picture so John could be in a few. John is the blue shirt and red shorts on the left back there.

"There is beauty to the left where the Santa Ana River, in perfect peace and tranquility, quietly makes its way to the ocean. There is beauty to the right as the wind caresses the trees to create the gentle rustling sound of leaves that calms our nerves. This is the beauty that makes my hands sweat, my breath become rapid, and my heart to pound in my chest. If men knew that they could feast their eyes on these gorgeous sights, we could triple our membership."
I can't really add anything eloquent to this caption, so I'm just going to leave it alone.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Baseball, Speedwork, Cookies, and Trail Runnin' Bloggers

Just a normal week in the life...

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: I ran what I have begun calling the Lasagna Loop. 6 miles from my house to my mother-in-laws. My brother-in-law had been in town from Rocklin, CA so we were blessed with lasagna again. During the run I caught up to two guys, mid-20's. We chatted for a bit. They were running Robert's Loop. They are contemplating the LA Marathon next year with go at the Long Beach Half Marathon. This is a great combination that many local runners put together, especially first timers. The races are spaced apart nicely.

Wednesday: I ran the Santa Fe Dam after work. 8 miles. I tried to stay nice and relaxed. I pretty much felt like I was on autopilot. I never felt pushed or tired. I maintained my long run pace of 9:00/mile.

Thursday: Speedwork. For some reason I just dread these workouts. I am way more comfortable with long runs, even 20 milers, than I am with these track workouts. I ran one 400 at 1:45 just to get used to the idea. Then I did 3- 800's with a recover lap between. The times were 3:35, 3:37 and 3:38. I definitely felt more tired on each set but I was happy that although I slowed down each time it was only a second or two. If it wasn't for the watch I would have thought that they were a lot slower. I finished up with one more 400, then took an easy run home. This Runner's World article on Yasso 800's predicts a 3:3? marathon, cool. I do need to increase the number of these I do. With that bit of information sitting out there in front of me I may look at next week's speed session a little differently.

Friday: Rest. The family and I had some cheap seats to the Anaheim Angels ball game. Our seats were in the second to the last row at the top of the stadium between home and first. We had a great view, just from what up in the stratosphere. The Angels actually won, 12-7, over the Seattle Mariners, including a grand slam by Juan Rivera. On the way to the game we drove past the two guys that I had seen on Tuesday out running again. Good for them.

Saturday: Long run. Today my wife actually got up before me on a Saturday morning. She was walking the Revlon Run/Walk 5K for Women's Cancers. She had to catch a bus at 5:30 a.m. from the local medical center along with 203 other participants for the ride down to the LA Coliseum. This is a huge event. She heard that there were about 5500 55000 participants this year. It took her and her friends over 2 hours to walk the 5K course just because of the shear volume of people. The finish is inside the Coliseum. So there is a huge bottleneck to get 5500 55000 people through one tunnel and onto the floor of the Coliseum. Last year I ran the 14 mile Malibu Creek Trail Race in less time than it took her to do 5K.

This year the two races fell on the same day again. I opted out of Malibu Creek this year because of the marathon training. I would have liked to do it, since three local blogging buds were all participating. Jeff, Jessica and Matt all did the race today. Matt's write up is all ready up. I'm sure Jeff and Jessica's will be there soon. Speaking of trail running bloggers, Rob ran the McDonald's Forest 50K today. Reading about that will be cool, I'm sure. Rob loves these crazy long runs.

I went down to Yorba Linda to run with the CA Cruisers. It has been over a month since I last ran with them. Between vacation, long runs, and races before you know time flies by. I ran 10 miles with Cecil. Some of the others were running 14 miles training for the Saddleback Half on Memorial weekend. This is one I've have wanted to do. It would have fit nicely into the training schedule. Instead, we will be camping at Carpinteria State Beach with a big group from church. That is always a very fun weekend. I finished the run just seconds shy of 1:30.

After the run, I did yard work. Then I cleaned up and went shopping at Trader Joe's for a Mother's Day BBQ. My wife's mom is coming over for lunch. I finally got the propane tank refilled too. It has been empty since last fall sometime. I used the excuse that it was too dark outside to see to cook anyway. This time of the year I don't have an excuse, plus some things just don't taste the same cooked indoors in a frying pan. By the way, if there is a Trader Joe's near you, don't buy the Dark Chocolate Chunk and Almond Cookies. These are bite sized and delicious. The problem is they seemed to disappear. I don't know where they all went. Six hours after buying them they are just gone. (In my defense, I didn't eat them all. I only had a few, really)

Off to Bonelli tomorrow morning for a counter-clockwise loop.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

We're In

The CA Cruisers put three teams of runners into the lottery hat for the St. George Marathon in Utah. I just checked the website on a whim. (I've been checking periodically since Wednesday when they held the lottery). All three teams made it into the marathon. I'm totally excited.


I really enjoy my Sunday morning Bonelli loop. I got started relatively early today, at 6:35 a.m. and did the loop clockwise. It was just me, the birds and the rabbits. I could make a habit of this.

Miles for the week: 40.1

Next week my Saturday "long" run is scheduled for 7. I plan on bumping that up to at least 10 and probably increasing Sunday's run a little too to push next week's total from 31 to between 35 and 37. This is my attempt to increase my average weekly miles to closer to 50. I have done 45 miles weeks in the past so I know I can handle a 50 mile week. I'm just taking it cautiously since I don't really know if I can handle stringing a few 50 mile weeks together. I don't want to burn out before my marathon. I know I won't get to multiple 50's this time around but I'm building up for the next training cycle.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I'm an Elite Runner, Not!

I picked up my bib this morning at the Lutheran High School 5K and I was #7. #7!!! The low numbers are for the elite runners not an over 40 midpack marathoner. But hey, I'll take it. Jesse, Jim and Jay were there too. Their numbers were 3, 4 and 6. They all thought that the numbers may have had something to do with our standing in the Puma Cup Series. I'm not sure, but it was fun to be elite for a minute.

The field for this race was pretty small. The official results show only 65 finishers. I really wasn't sure what to expect. The course was not the best layout possible. We circled the parking lot of the Block of Orange, a shopping mall, twice and then doubled back for a third lap. There were a lot of turns in the course and speed bumps to be on the lookout for. I made sure to either step completely over them or right on top of them. I just decided to run and not worry about the clock.

I started out too fast, but settled down about a quarter mile into the race. A little ways into the second lap I passed one guy. For the next mile or more I slowly crept up on a couple running side-by-side. With about a half mile to go the girl dropped back. I almost caught the guy, but never did. As I rounded the last corner of the mall, I could see the finish line, but I wasn't paying any attention to the time clock. Jesse came running back out and yelled, "Go, you're going to break 22:00." I gave it all the effort I could. I could hear Jesse calling out the time, "21:43, 21:44, 21:45" His voice faded away and I pushed as hard as I could and crossed the finish line in 21:54. I broke 22:00 and set another PR. I couldn't believe it. I probably wouldn't have done it, if it hadn't been for Jesse coming back out to cheer me on. Thanks, Jesse. Jesse finished in 19:32, a PR for him and improved from just a week ago. Go Jesse! There's only one race left in this series and it is billed as an "almost 5K". I don't know if its short or long, but it looks like I'm done setting 5K PR's for a little while.

I still had some running to do. My marathon schedule called for 14 miles today. I have tried to modify my schedule some to see if I can increase my weekly mileage from 35 average to 50 average, following the general rule of not increasing mileage more than 10% per week. I'm calling the 5K the 10% increase this week, so I kept the original schedule as well.

After the race in Orange, I headed over to the Santa Ana River Trail. I jumped onto the trail at the 18.5 mile mark at Riverdale Park in Anaheim and headed south. I ran 7 miles to a little past Chapman Ave. before I turned around. This is the exit that I took to get to the Block of Orange. I had run back to within a half mile of this morning's 5K . I hadn't realized where I would end up when I started the run. I had to run over Katella Ave and under the 57 freeway and thought of Drew's run there when he and his family visited Disneyland a while back. South of Katella the trail takes on a different vibe for sure. The trail goes past the Arrowhead Pond and Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The underpass of the freeway was littered with race bibs from the Catalina Marathon. How they got there I don't know. I finished the 14 miles in 2:07 ( 9:04 pace). Not bad, I felt, after the 5K.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


After I posted tonight, I went to the Running Blog Recents to check out all my favorite reads and the 2nd and 3rd post titles were:

"I Want to Run Faster" and "**SUB 22:00**"

That's just freaky weird!

What's So Magical?

Jesse broke 20 minutes last weekend at the Donate Life 5K, 19:46! He whipped that challenge. Let's see what he can do this weekend at the Lutheran High School 5K.

Two of my CA Cruiser friends, Kitty and Margaret, are on their way to Canada for the Vancouver Marathon. Send Kitty and Margaret all the good vibes you can muster up. Kitty never stops smiling. She's also coming up to Seafair to run the half in July.

I'm smack dab in the middle of my 18 week marathon training program. I've used this program before for the long run progression but never for the midweek miles and for what ever reason, I've never actually been able to start at week #1 and proceed right on through the entire schedule. I like this schedule for a couple of reasons: 1) there are three 20+ milers, 2) the long runs are separated by a medium distance and a short distance week, and 3) the last long run is 4 weeks before the marathon.

The midweek mileage this week had me puzzled. 5 miles Tuesday, 7 miles Wednesday, and 6 miles Thursday. Seems like an odd progression for some reason. Maybe just because it's different. From the beginning of the schedule the midweeks have been 6-8-6. Why the change this week? The obvious answer is because it follows the 20 mile run. But what's so magical? What would be the effect of switching them around, or adding a mile or two each day, or subtracting a mile or two? I played it safe (that's just me) and did exactly what the schedule called for.

From the advice I got last week I really want to try to increase my mileage a little to assure I break that 4 hour mark at Seafair. The other thing I got going on this weekend is the third race of the 5K series. I have no idea how that's going to go. My focus has been the marathon. Last week I skipped my speedwork Tuesday because of the cold. In fact I didn't run at all. I didn't want to do it then Thursday, two days before the long run. And this week I didn't do any figuring I needed to save any speed I've got for the race. I'm still hoping to break 22:00. What effect is the 5-7-6 going to have on this. I don't know. It's easier to just run and not think about these things. But on the other hand if I don't think about them, then I'll never achieve my goals. In the end, the marathon training is right on track and the 5K will just have to be whatever its going be.

Finally I concluded that there really is nothing magical about the 5-7-6 progression. The important thing is just getting out there and putting in the miles. Mission accomplished, no hocus pocus required.