Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 In Retrospect

I arose this morning and headed out the door for my last run of the year. It might be fun to say that I let my imagination run wild with the route, but no, I headed out for my 5 mile Bonelli Loop. I did do it counter clockwise this morning, just for something different.

I ended the year with a nice round 1500 miles. I couldn't have planned it better. It is sad that this is the first year in my 4.5 year career that I haven't increased my annual mileage over the previous year.

Miles for 2007 = 1500
Average monthly miles = 125
Lowest monthly miles (May) = 44.6
Highest monthly miles (March) = 197.7
Number of days run = 213
Average weekly miles = 28.8
Lowest weekly miles = 0
Highest weekly miles = 50

I ran 16 races in 2007. I only set a single PR at the 8K distance. It was a tough year.

Besides the 8K, I ran six 5K's. Three of those were run side by side with Tyler, one I ran alone, and the other two Tyler and I both ran but ran our own races. At those races Tyler set PR's, makes me wonder who was slowing who down.

There were 4 half marathons, 2 of which were run within 6 days of one another and after recovering from tendonitis in my foot and a month of almost no running. The last one was the City of Angels Half with Tyler. I also ran one 14 miler on the trails.

There were four marathons in 2007 that took me from 9 Down to 12 Down.

Eugene Marathon - Oregon
Marine Corps Marathon - Washington DC
Marshall Marathon - West Virginia
Rocket City Marathon - Alabama

Each was memorable for different reasons. Eugene was the only trip that my wife joined me and I got to meet up with all the great bloggers from the PNW. MCM was run with a whole bunch of the Cruisers and it just a superbly run event in the nation's capitol - very inspiring. Marshall was fun because I ran it with no expectations one week after MCM. It was a beautiful day and my family drove down from Ohio to support me. Rocket City was a birthday present from my wife and allowed me to hang out with Joe and Wes. My favorite for 2007 has to be Marine Corps, though.
Map compliments of

Happy New Year!
Be great in 2008! – Dane Johnson

The miracle of running is that with each workout, each step, you are becoming a different person – stronger, certainly, but also more invested in life and the possibilities it holds. – Marty Jerome

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Monrovia Canyon Falls

Day two of the long weekend and my only goal was to run a few miles outside and off road. I decided it was finally time to go explore the local mountains. I'd promised myself to do that early this year and didn't make it there often except for Glendora Ridge Road a couple of times.

I finally headed over to Monrovia Canyon Falls. I took the website suggestion of parking outside the park and running in. I was a bit worried about the population density of the trail based on the number of cars encountered by the website author. I hoped that a long holiday weekend and a Sunday afternoon in December might thin the crowds down a little. I was one of only half a dozen cars parked outside.

Parking outside the park added about a mile round trip to the run. Once in the park, I jumped on the Bill Cull Trail and followed it. On the lower part of the trail I passed to women hiking in. As I got closer and closer to the waterfall at the end of the trail, the trail got more and more crowded. I came across several large groups of people going in both directions. There are two other options for jumping on the trail and I think most people take the shortest route.

At the waterfall I took a five minute break to sit and enjoy the view. I should have carried my camera but there is a pretty good photo of the falls on the weblink. On the way back I took the trail to the Nature Center and then took the road rather than the trail back to the car.

It was a fun little run for a Sunday afternoon. I'm not sure that I will do it again. It's only about a 4 mile run. Because it is easy to get to, it is a very popular, i.e crowded. There is another trail that heads off from the park that looks interesting, up Sawpit Canyon Fire Road, on up Overturff trail to Deer Park Junction and even on to White Saddle and beyond. It looks very runnable from these photos (just keep clicking for a nice photo tour of the trail).

Two more days means two more runs. The last run of 2007 and the first of 2008. Up next the annual recap.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Long Weekends

I love holiday weeks. Doesn't everybody? I don't love them just for the obvious reasons of long weekends and short work weeks, but more for the opportunity to get my runs down during the week under daylight conditions. Also thanks to the holidays things at work are very laid back. Nearly half the office is on vacation as are many of our customers, so it is a great time to catch up on the things that I just never seem to have time for the rest of the year. I've been able to walk out the door at 5:00 sharp this week for the first time in months. I was very happy to see that at 5:00 it wasn't pitch black. Only a few days into the official season of winter and the days are starting to get longer. You have no idea the smile those last few rays of sunshine put on my face. It's the little things!

Planned runs with Tyler didn't happen. He is suffering from a pain on the upper part of his shin. It hurts to run and is tender to the touch. It has flared up since the half marathon. I fear a stress fracture. Getting him to ice it and take Ibuprofen is near impossible.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day I was able to put in 5 miles each day on the trails. Both runs were very peaceful. On each of my runs there lately I've scared up a hawk. I stop and watch him fly away to a perch that makes him more comfortable. He cuts through the air so gracefully.

Thursday and Friday evenings after work I headed off to the gym with the boys. A gym membership is something I've been toying with for a couple of years now. I wasn't sure when I'd find the time to go. I'm considering a training plan with three days of running. This plan worked well for Danny, David and Charlie (if my memory serves me right). Danny has rocked a PR in every distance in 2007. My hip continued to bother me throughout the year. A gym membership will force me to run less. Bryan, son #2, has been asking for a gym membership for some time now. So the time seemed right to sign up. My upper body is SORE right now. We'll see how it goes.

I enjoyed a 10 mile run this morning with the Cruisers. We met in Brea to run the "Two Loops-Two Parks" route. I ran most of the first loop with some of the mid pack runners. I let James, Jesse and Anet go on ahead. Julie caught up with me on the way back. She had been hanging back with the back of the pack, but picked up the pace. I took the challenge to finish up the first loop at at a faster pace. I made the second loop on my own as many others opted for the "One Loop - Two Parks" option. Mary and Cathe on the other hand took the "Three Loops" option as training for the Surf City Marathon. Coffee and conversation followed.

Three more days off work means three more opportunities for a run.

Monday, December 24, 2007

By Definition

Thankfully we are approaching the end of the eating season that began back in October with pilfering from the Halloween candy bought for the neighborhood kids. It has just continued on through the food frenzy of Thanksgiving and has continued soon with the holiday potlucks and will culminate with the champagne toast next week.

My diet has been out of kilter for a while now. By diet; I mean: "the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group: The native diet consists of fish and fruit." Because I'm a runner I can get away with eating pretty much as I wish. For the last 5 years or so I've eating fairly intelligently. I took the Food IQ test in the January 2008 Runners World and scored 74 points earning me the rating of "Impressive. You must have strong knowledge - and good habits. With a couple of changes you can be a nutrition superstar." Yeah, me! I lost points for not taking a daily multi-vitamin and I missed the mark on the amount of protein and water I should be getting.

But knowing what to do and putting it into action are not the same. Usually my running makes up for any sloppiness in the diet, but lately the scale has been tipping the other way. Its time to start thinking about diet in these terms: "such a selection or a limitation on the amount a person eats for reducing weight: No pie for me, I'm on a diet."

One way I like to do this is to cut out the sweets and eat more raw whole foods. My idea of whole foods currently is along the lines of: "comprising the full quantity, amount, extent, number, etc., without diminution or exception; entire, full, or total: He ate the whole pie." I'm not usually into News Years Resolutions but committing to whole foods " a natural food especially when grown organically" might be a good idea.

On the running front things are still in easy mode: "free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care: He led an easy life."

M: Zilch

T: planned on picking up the Christmas tree. It rained. No tree, no running.

W: No rain, picked up the Christmas tree. Nada running

H: still nothing (I can't even remember why)

F: we got out of work a little early so I headed out to Bonelli for a relaxed 3.5 miles.

S: Jesse invited the Cruisers out for a run on the equestrian trails in Fullerton. This is the first time we've run here. We've been running together for 4 years. I feel like he's been holding out on us. The 10.5 mile run took us through some nice neighborhoods, around a lake, along the railroad tracks, by the golf course, up and down some hills and through the mud. After the run we met back up at Jesse's house and enjoyed coffee, hot chocolate, OJ and pancakes. Jesse spoiled us for sure.

S: back to my favorite little park for another easy 4 miler. I took a couple of spur trails I hadn't taken before.

I haven't used my watch since Rocket City. Until Friday when Tyler wore it for his run, it still read 4:07.

It’s a beautiful, sunny, 70 degree day today. I trimmed bushes and mowed the front lawn this morning. Tyler wants to go over to Bonelli to try some of the tougher trails later this afternoon.

Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Takin' It Easy

Well here I am, 9 days since Rocket City and I've run just once.

I went into Rocket City not feeling that great. My body was tired; my left hip was bugging me again and my heels were complaining a lot too. I definitely wasn't where I needed to be mentally to "attack" Huntsville. Thankfully my mood improved considerably being surrounded by so much runner pheromone. Besides its pretty hard to be a downer when you get to hang out with Wes and Joe. How the race went has been well documented.

Before I'd even gotten to Huntsville I had already given myself permission to take at least the next week off. Taking the week off was going to be made easier because I had a business trip to PA and NJ the week after the marathon. I returned to So Cal from Alabama on Sunday and headed back out on Tuesday, not returning home again until Saturday. After my first few marathons I always took a week off. I decided that I deserved, even needed, a week off this time around.

My trip would offer an opportunity to run on Friday or Saturday. I packed my gear but left it packed in the suitcase.

Sunday I woke up at home in my own bed and was ready for a run. Guess where I went? Can you all say - B-O-N-E--L-L-I! I headed over there at 7:00 a.m. and was off on my Sunday morning 5 mile loop. I had my watch on my wrist but didn't use it. I just ran for the fun of it. It was very enjoyable.

Later that day we drove #2 son to San Diego so that he and #1 son could attend the Chargers vs. Lions game. While they were at the game, the wife and I finished up our Christmas shopping and enjoyed a treat at Extraordinary Desserts (a very dangerous place).

I didn't run again today. It is still early in the week and now that Dancing with the Stars and Survivor are both over I've got my week nights completely free. I may yet get a run in this week or I may decide to enjoy another easy week, maybe even two, before I begin to crank things back up for 2008.

My first race of the year (my first ultra), the Twin Peaks 50/50, has been postponed. The postponement is a blessing in disguise for this tired soul. My plans for 2008 will require me to ramp up eventually but for now - I'm takin' it easy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rocket City Marathon

A couple of things are certain about this race. You are guaranteed absolutely flawless execution and support from the race staff and the weather in Huntsville, Alabama is pretty darn unpredictable.

This marathon trip was a birthday gift from my wife way back in July. Thanks to her I am able to chase this crazy little dream. Alabama wasn't on her 10 must see places so she sent me off to hang out with Joe, Wes (and DeeDee). A great time was had by all. I met a lot of other great people as well.

Joe and I decided to take full advantage of the complete array of marathon related events. We started things off with the Historic Runs on Friday afternoon. It was a casual run that afforded us views of some of the oldest areas of Huntsville.

Next up was the pasta dinner where Joe and I met Jeff Galloway personally and had our pictures taken. Wes and DeeDee checked in just in time for the dinner. We took seats at a table with a couple, Charlie and Cheryl, who turned out to be from the same town as Wes and DeeDee, as well as runners/triathletes and oddly enough their hotel rooms were right next door. We were joined by a couple of guys from CO, Jerry and Don, and a guy from TX, Claude, who had run nearly 40 marathons this year alone. There was no lack of stories to be swapped.

Later that evening fellow blogger David, part of the TN contingent I'd been following lately, stopped over to our hotel for a chat. He shared his experience from last year's race with us.

As the three of us discussed the race strategies for the following morning I wasn't sure exactly where I'd place myself. My expectations weren't high based on recent results and decidedly sub-par training. This was Joe's target race, Wes's first and the TN folks were all gunning for sub 4:00. Joe and Wes were focused on 4:15 and gave off the impression that they didn't intend on socializing. I wasn't sure I could hang with TN so I decided to just see what the day had in store.

The starting line was within 100 yards of the hotel lobby, as was the finish line. Joe and I positioned ourselves at the 4:00-4:15 placard and immediately found David and Michele, the second third of TN. Lana was no where to be found. Wes joined us soon thereafter.

Wes, Joe and I took off together. We were joined during that first mile by Greg from Oklahoma. He started up a conversation based on my Marathon Maniac singlet. Nine minutes into the race, Joe and Wes took their walk break and I continued on with Greg. David and Michele were somewhere up ahead.

Greg and I ran together for about 7 miles when he peeled off for a biology break. Greg gave me a lot of tips on marathon recommendations in OK, Nebraska and Kansas. We had passed, much to my surprise, David, Michele and Lana (they'd connected somewhere along the way). They wished me well as I went by. I assured them that they were likely to catch me in the end. After Greg dropped off I was on my own for the rest of the race. Greg eventually caught me around mile 11 and motored right on past.

The weather was a huge factor in this race. The course itself was 80% residential. The aid stations were well stocked and staffed. At the start the temperature was already in the 60's and the humidity level was high, high, high. The cloud cover was heavy so the moisture just clung in the air. I don't think I've seen so many soaked runners before. Because of the humidity the walking wounded began around mile 10 and continued on.

I was able to tick off miles from 8:55 (mile 9) to 9:55 (mile 1). The only mile that was over 10:00 was mile 25 at 10:01. I thought to myself at one point that this race felt like many of my training runs along the Pacific Ocean in Huntington Beach on those socked in humid days. Maybe that was to my advantage, I don't really know.

I crossed the finish line in 4:07: 49 by the clock (4:07:06 by the chip). I felt pretty good. I immediately ran into Charlie, Jerry and Claude from the night before. I went back out to the finish chute to wait for Joe and Wes. I got to see David crossing the line and missed Michele. She found me as she was waiting for Lana. Greg saw me standing there as he was pulling away in his car and hollered a good bye. Lana made it around 4:45. It was great to get to see her running across the finish lines with her kids by her sides, a very special moment.

I was beginning to get cold and was definitely hungry. If you know me, you know I can EAT after a marathon. So based on David, Michele and Lana being 30 to 45 minutes off their pace I gambled and ran into the hotel to get some food. Among other things the warm vegetable soup did the trick.

I headed back out and somehow Joe had snuck across the finish line, but I didn't know it yet. I did see Don, the 76 year from Colorado, finish in 5:02 for 1st place in the 75-79 AG. Not long after that I heard them call out Wes's name and looked up to see him coming. I won't soon forget his quote "It is what it is", obviously hurting and disappointed about the outcome. I went to meet him past the finish line and found out then that Joe had finished and was feeling nauseous. I went looking for him. He wasn't in the room which worried me, so I went back down to the lobby and ran into him at the food line. He had ducked into a meeting room until he'd felt well enough to move around.

In the spirit of soaking in the entire experience we went to the awards ceremonies, enticed there as much as anything by the lure of two random $500 gifts to a runner that was present when they called their name. Sadly no one I knew or met that day, won the money. It was awe inspiring to hear the times of the AG winners.

I can't really explain my finish time considering how the race turned out for the others, especially considering their training, etc. I was a little sheepish realizing that I'd finished ahead of them. But as Wes said "It is what it is" and I couldn't be happier with my result.

I'd say Rocket City was a success. I got to hang with Joe again, meet Wes, the man behind the upbeat supportive blog. Now when I read his blogs I hear his voice. A huge shout of thanks to DeeDee for being a great race photographer and putting up with us three guys. It was also great to meet recent blog reads David, Michele and Lana. I'm sure we'll all keep in touch at least through the blogs (until of course some of you start talking that strange triathlon language I don't understand ;-)). I met a whole bunch of other runners that convince me even more that runners are the nicest people around. I may never see them again but it was fun to spend a few hours in their company.

The next state hasn't been determined yet. Joe and I tentatively have the Memphis marathon on the books for December 2008. That will be our 3rd annual early December reunion. I'd love to see the rest of you there as well. The rest of 2008, at least the first half of the year, will be dedicated to doing some of the California races I've neglected for the state chase. I'll post more on that later.

Thanks for reading and recover well!

Monday, December 03, 2007

City of Angels Half - The Results Show

Tyler reports sore legs but has neglected to take any Tylenol.

It looks like we might have a decent finish line photo after all. 2:07:25 for the both of us, exactly the time I had on my watch. I think its pretty cool that his overall pace was faster than his 10K pace. He stayed strong to the end. I forgot to mention yesterday that we caught and passed the 10:00 pace group at mile 4 and never saw them again.

To Danny's lament I did not carry my camera along on this run. I left my Fuelbelt at home; it has the nifty little pockets for carrying such things. I insisted that we wait in the long line to get our photo taken with the medals. I sure hope Brightroom comes through for us.

I skipped today's planned 2-miler in favor of tofu and eggplant Lisa had picked up from Panda Express on her way home from work. I spent another hour at the ER earlier this evening while she got 3 stitches in the heel of her left hand compliments of picture frame glass.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The First Half

The City of Angels Half Marathon Race Report

We woke up at 4:30 to be ready to leave the house by 5:00. We were driving into downtown LA to park at the Music Hall. The race was point to point which required catching buses near the finish line to the start at the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park. The buses were running from 5:00 to 6:30. We were parked before 5:30 and waited until closer to 6:00 to catch our bus ride.

First stop at the Zoo was the Portopot. Second stop was finding a spot close to the propane heaters. I think the temps were about 45, not terribly cold but the sweats we'd worn were appreciated. We left the warmth of the heaters for a second visit to the john and then back to the heat. At 7:15 we left the heat for the last time and stripped off the sweats at the gear check. We did a quick jog through the lot to stay warm. Tyler threw in some jumping jacks and push ups for good measure. Soon everyone headed over to the start. The crunch of people warded off most of the chill.

Tyler's goal for the race was 10:00 miles, for a predicted 2:10 finish (he'd need 9:55 to really make it but 10:00 was easier to deal with. He was very pleased to see a 10:00 pace team identified with three white balloons. His plan was to stick with the pace group. During the National Anthem the balloons escaped. Tyler just threw up his hands - "What were they thinking?" I reassured him we'd be fine without the pace team balloons, I still had my watch.

Another funny thing, Tyler originally told me he didn't want to see the mile markers or know the time. He thought it would just freak him out. But as soon as we hit the first mile mark, he asked the time and continued to ask every mile thereafter. We had a laugh about that later.

The first four miles were an out and back along Crystal Springs Road in Griffith Park. The road separates two municipal golf courses. Griffith Park does a huge drive through Christmas light display. We ran by several displays. Tyler commented that it would be fun to run through here at night when the lights were on. I agreed. During those first four miles Tyler was desperately seeking a third stop at a john. Of course there were lines and he was hesitant to stop and lose time. He finally found an empty near the 4 mile mark about 100 yards off the course that no one else was willing to run to.

At 4 miles our time was 37:54. We had a 2 minute cushion. Tyler was pleased. Mile 5 was along a wide dirt path. This was very nice section of the run. At mile 5 we still had a 2 minute cushion.

After Mile 5 we went through a tunnel under Interstate 5 and ran a mile or so along the LA River Bike Trail. During this mile Tyler removed the make shift arm warmers (old knee high basketball socks) and I pulled off the long sleeve tech top. Short sleeves were ample at this point. I should say that the day ended up being a typically beautiful southern Cal late fall day.

Between mile 6 and 7 we left the bike path and hit the streets again where we would stay for most of the rest of the race. Mile 7 was our first significant hill up Hyperion Ave into Silver Lake. Hills are not a problem for Tyler. He just chugged right on up. I don't think he slowed down at all. I missed the mile 7 marker.

Mile 8 took us down Rowena Ave. It seems like this street was home to some unique and funky shops. One thing I remember is an upscale doggie daycare. We turned onto Silver Lake Blvd and ran next to the Silver Lake Reservoir and a pretty cool neighborhood. The houses were built on a hill so the garages were at street level then the houses went up two to three stories from there with some nice 30's-40's architecture. Silver Lake Blvd was concrete but there was a really nice dirt path between the street and the reservoir. We both took advantage of the softer surface. We hit mile 8 in 1:18, still clinging onto to that 2:00 cushion.

Mile 9 was predominately down hill and increased our cushion to nearly 3:00 at 1:27:19. If I had any complaint about this race it happened here. Up to this point we had been drinking water at every other water stop or so. Here I suggested to Tyler that we should get some Gatorade. This stop had some but they had run out and needed to mix up some more. Really this was a minor issue for us but worth mentioning.

On to mile 10 on Sunset Blvd was the next significant hill. Tyler slowed a little but not much. He hit mile 10 in 1:37:18. Still looking good. It was at this point that he began showing the slightest signs of fatigue. Up to here at water stops we slowed, grabbed the water, walked a couple of steps to gulp it down and then we were off. At the 10 mile water stop he was a little slower on the return to running.

Mile 11 took us into Echo Park and Tyler was hit by a pretty significant side stitch and pain that hit him in the neck and ran across his chest. We took a walk break for at least a minute before he was able to get moving again. I missed the marker so we weren't sure how much of the cushion we'd lost. This mile also included the last hill of note. Tyler slowed some, thought about walking, but kept plugging away instead.

From here on in it was pretty much a down hill finish. Mile 12 was spent on Temple Ave. Up ahead I pointed out Our Lady of The Angels Cathedral within striking distance of the finish. It was less than a half mile away but we still had about 1.5 to go. Mile 12 was 1:58, still looking good for that 2:10 finish. It was about here that Tyler began questioning his sanity and definitely questioning whether he ever wanted to tackle the full 26.2 distance.

After about a half mile on Figueroa St., the route took us onto 2nd St. which is in a tunnel under nearly 3.5 city blocks. It was a pretty cool place to run. Soon after exiting the tunnel we turned left and the finish line was in sight. Just 0.1 miles to go and Tyler kicked in the after burners. I had difficulty keeping up with him. I almost just let him go then decided to try to catch him in hopes of a decent finish line photo of the two of us together. I'm not sure if I made it.

Tyler's finish time by my watch was 2:07:25. He rocked the last 1.1 miles in 9:21:53. That boy has a pretty decent kick. As of this writing at 8:30 PST the official results have yet to be posted. Tyler felt great after the race. This evening his legs are sore and his knees ache, but it doesn't seem to be anything a Tylenol and ice won't help.

It was a perfect day of running. Getting to share a half marathon with my son is as they say "priceless". He ran pretty much the whole thing and never really needed any prodding from me to keep going, unlike the first couple of 5K's. I'm also impressed that he was able to beat his target pace by 2:35. We made it through on just the water at the water stops and no gels or other nutrition. He never uses these things in training and today wasn't the day to start. I kind of like his low tech, old school approach.

I asked him if he ever imagined himself running a half marathon. He said he knew he would once he started the Couch to 5K program back in February. High five! Today was the day!

The course was a really nice mix of urban parks, trails, residential, business and downtown theatre district. The course is way better than the LA Marathon course. The half course wouldn't accommodate the volume of people in the full. Spectators were non existent (no big deal for us really). The water stops were plentiful and well staffed although we did only see Gatorade at the one. The finish line festival was simple but plentiful. I'll never complain about getting chocolate chip cookies at a race. There was a live band, too.

It was a perfect day.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


That pretty much describes my midweek training this week, just plain s-a-d.

I ended the long weekend last week with a 15 miler in Chino Hills State Park. For something different I headed in up Telegraph and came back out via Southrigde. I'd never been on Southridge before. It is more rolling than Northridge but also closer to the neighborhoods of Yorba Linda to the south. It was a challenging run, but I think I prefer Northridge. Sunday I joined Tyler over in Bonelli for 7. My plan called for 5. We did the Cottontail loop and added the picnic loop. I was having difficulty keeping up with him. I cut my run short at 6.2 while Tyler knocked out the full seven. My days of considering my runs with him to be "easy" may be over.

Back to this week. The time change has hit me hard this year. I've always hemmed and hawed a lot more when I have to go out for the run after work, in the dark and cooler temps. For four winters its been this way but I've always made it out the door. This week that wasn't the case. My plan called for 4, 6 and 4 on Mon, Tues and Thursday. Monday I was in a foul mood as soon as I walked out the door at work to be greeted by the darkness. Couple that with my hip acting up, yet again, and I'd had enough. Tuesday wasn't any better. Wednesday's I have a conflict but I was determined to get out there Thursday night. All day at work on Thursday I was planning on the run, but upon getting home, I'd made up my mind to scrap that one as well. I had plans for Friday night so there was a big fat nothing in the log book and nothing for me but a funk of negativity. Call me weak sauce (#6,7, or 8), call it a goofy case of SAD, maybe it's just a bad week. What ever it is; this too shall pass. No matter what - I'm really looking forward to next weekend at Rocket City with Wes and Joe.

This morning I finally got out the door before 8:00 and ran my Robert's Loop run, 6.5 miles. The sky was mostly cloudy but at least it was light outside. About half way through the run I could feel my mood lifting. It was just the run I needed. I only have a couple of runs planned next week before I take off for Alabama on Thursday. I hope to eek them out, darkness and foul moods, be damned.

Later in the afternoon the boys and I went to the mini expo to pick up Tyler and my bibs, chips and goodie bags for the big day tomorrow, Tyler's first half marathon. The weather looks to be about perfect if not a little cool, in the 50's, for us weak southern Californians. This was supposed to be an easy effort for me, but I'm not so sure of that anymore. But, tomorrow is not about me its about Tyler. So I'll keep my mouth shut and my mood in check and enjoy watching Tyler cross that finish line.

Note: I need to give my younger son due credit for the race photos in the previous post. Thanks, bud!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Back on The Streets

Six miles Wednesday night was my longest midweek run since Marshall. Bonelli trails are off limits once again due to the early departure of the sun, so it was back to the streets around the neighborhood. A quick look through the logbook showed that I hadn't run any serious streets since last March. My goal was to keep the pace around 9:30, I ended up at 8:57. I was trying to keep things on the slow side in anticipation of the Turkey Trot the following morning.

Tyler had started asking about a Turkey Trot a couple of weeks back. I signed us up for The Run for the Hungry. At one point he had his little brother talked into it as well. He and I had run this together back in 2004. He ultimately backed out but he and my wife came along to watch. They ended up walking their own Turkey Trot, a 2+ mile trip to get a Starbucks before the race started. My old running partner Celeste and her little sis had signed up for the run months ago. We ran into each other at the starting line.

I had warned Tyler that the course was a rolling course, a simple out and back down Foothill Blvd in La Canada. He was really hoping to improve on his PR time by going sub 29:00. At the start he overhead some locals discussing how this race is always their slowest 5K of the year. Between that and the fact that the first mile of the race was obviously uphill, I think he was a little worried about PR'ing. I encouraged to just keep it steady on the way out and then let it fly and enjoy the downhill finish.

Rather than running together we each ran our own race. That seemed to work out better for Tyler. My hopes for the race were to go sub 24:00, still a long way from my 21:54 PR in 2006, but that's where I'm at this year. Although the route is simple it is by no means easy. I was only able to knock out a 24:35. I headed back out to run Tyler in. He looked great. He was able to knock out a huge PR of 27:18, nearly a 2 minute improvement from his last 5K 2 months ago.

We followed up the occasion with breakfast at a little place Lisa and Bryan had smelled on the their coffee run. It was a spontaneous decision but you know how we love our breakfast.

Back home Lisa made the apple pie. The pumpkin pies had been made the night before. My mother in law cooked an awesome Thanksgiving dinner as usual. My sister in law suggested we go around the table and tell what we were thankful for. After some eye rolling by the teenager and before the whole thing completely deteriorated into silliness Tyler mentioned that he was grateful for the changes he'd made toward a healthier lifestyle and fitness. Very cool.

Dinner was followed up with the yummy pies and a game of Dominoes that included a lot of uncontrolled laughter resulting in much snorting and near pants wetting. But it was fun.

I hope everyone had a great day with family and friends. Here are a couple of pics from the Turkey Trot:
Me "gliding" to the finish.And Tyler rocking his PR. Check out that knee lift!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Race or Run

Hanging out over coffee after our 10 mile run along the Santa Ana River Trail, Jim mentioned that he was uncertain whether to run the Boston Marathon. He had qualified earlier this year at his first marathon in seven years. The required travel, starting line logistics, etc; all had him a little out of his comfort zone. Mary suggested that he should go and just enjoy the experience. She went on to suggest that he just run it and not worry about time. The look on his face was that of a person trying to make sense of something just spoken to them in a foreign language.

In the ensuing conversation it became apparent that Jim saw no value in just “running” the race. He’d never in 20+ years of running not raced a race. For the couple of years that I’ve know Jim I’ve seen this to be true. At every race I’ve seen him in he lays it all out there and is completely used up at the end. Jim is often recovering from one injury or the other. Jim is intense.

Mary on the other hand runs races for the atmosphere and camaraderie. She runs for the physical benefits. I can’t remember her sustaining an injury in the 3 years I’ve known her. Mary is upbeat.

Earlier in the run I had been asked when my next marathon was. I replied that I would be running Rocket City in Huntsville, Alabama in three weeks. I would be my 12th state, 15th marathon in 4 years. I lamented my recent slower times attributing them to the recent spate of marathons and continued hip issues.

Does someone who just runs a race not posses a competitive spirit? Does a racer miss the social aspects and the aura of the race locale? Of course the issue is more complex that this but where do you fall on the race vs. run debate?

I realized that I currently fall more in line with Mary than Jim. I had aspired (and still do) to running a Boston qualifying marathon. Although I think that running many marathons close together and running a BQ marathon are almost mutually exclusive goals. In my first couple of years of running it wasn’t unreasonable to expect my marathon times to improve one after the other. To achieve the BQ I think I'll have to reassess the chase for states at least for a little while.
Two weeks post marathon (recover phase?) I ran 22 miles. The next two weeks are taper (right?) for Rocket City with mileage in the low 30’s planned. I’ll be “running” Rocket City and doing my best to keep up with the other bloggers.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tyler's Longest Run

Last Wednesday I made a comment to a coworker about how good I felt after having run marathons on back to back weekends. I really did feel worse after the first than I did after the second.

That all changed when I went for an easy 3 miler on Thursday. My right hamstring was tight, and I mean tight. This was an unfamiliar pain for me. I guess the two marathons had more of an effect on my body than I initially realized.

Earlier in the week I emailed Anne of run-dmz for route suggestions for Tyler and I on Saturday. She sent me a link to a great site on San Diego running routes and gave me her own personal recommendations. Thanks, Anne! I talked them over with Tyler and he ended up choosing Los Penasquitos Canyon. He also chose the starting time of 10:00, a "little" later than I normally get going but it allowed me plenty of time for the 2 hour drive to San Diego. This being November and with San Diego's normally moderate weather I figured I couldn't go too wrong.

I did make the decision to start the run at the west end of the trail so that we ran uphill on the out portion and downhill on the back. Turns out the trail is pretty much flat except for a couple of decent rollers in the first mile or two on the west end. I did hear a couple of "I so hate you" on the couple of little hills since I had pretty much sold him on the route being flat.

The main route down the center of the fairly wide canyon is basically a dirt service road. At the west end after the couple of hills the trail goes through some sycamore groves, then through some meadows and finally through a couple of groves of live oak before reaching the parking lot a the opposite end, 6 miles away. There are many little side trails that could be added on for a fun little day of running exploration.

At one point a guy blew by us in the opposite direction and then passed us a little later like we were standing still. He had to have been doing sub 7:00 miles, maybe even less. It was a beautiful thing to see. We also found and picked up a car alarm clicker that we were able to give back to the owner who had doubled back on the trail in search of it. Call it our good deed for the day.

Tyler's plan called for 10 miles in preparation for his first half marathon. We made it to the 5 mile mark pretty much without incident. There were several other runners, some hikers and quite a few bikers out enjoying the day as well. The plan was to run out the the 5 mile mark and then head on back.

When we hit the 5 mile mark Tyler questioned whether the planned 10 was adequate as his last long run before the half. I tried to assure him that it would be fine but left the decision up to him. He decided to go the full 6 partially for the sake of preparation, partially for the hopes of the port-a-john that would surely be at the parking lot on that end of the trail.

Thankfully it was there and after a brief stop Tyler was ready to head back to down the canyon. Up to this point my legs were feeling tired but OK. Somewhere along the way back my legs started feeling really fatigued and the right hamstring was causing me some pain. Tyler was getting pretty beat himself. There were a couple of walk breaks in the last 3 or 4 miles, especially on those rollers, but we finished the 12 in 2:06:19, a leisurely 11:22 pace for Tyler's longest run to date.

My legs were thrashed and he commented on being way more tired than after his 9 miler last weekend. Some of that may be due to sprints he did on the treadmill on Thursday and Friday. I told him no sprints the week of the half. By the way I finally signed us both up for the half earlier in the week. We'll be running the City of Angels Half Marathon. This is the second running. I wanted to run the inaugural last year but instead I was in Kentucky running the Otter Creek Trail Marathon.

After the run we went back to his place and showered then when downtown to Little Italy for lunch at Zia's Bistro. I had a one of the best bowls of minestrone ever and the Tre Gusti pizza. Tyler had penne with sausage, garlic and broccoli. We should have stopped there but instead we headed over to Extraordinary Desserts for coffee and a little something sweet. I had a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake with dark cherry sauce. That one piece of cheesecake took care of all the calories burned out there on the trail but it was delicious.

I took Sunday off in favor of the hamstring. I'm probably going to baby the leg a little this next week although I'd really like to ramp back up. I've got another state to conquer here with an ever growing list of bloggers going to be there. Besides me, Joe and Wes; I now know about Lana, Michele and David (all from TN). The excitement builds. Let's hope the hamstring loosens up.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Marshall University Marathon - Race Report

Make that 11 Down - On To Rocket City!

Earlier this morning while David, Susan and Danny were tackling the largest marathon in the world I was winding my way through Huntington, West Virginia for the 4th running of the Marshall University Marathon on a much smaller scale.

I couldn’t be happier with my final time of 4:07:08 (by my watch, official times aren’t available yet).

Based on info that I heard at packet pickup; there was no expo; there were about 440 registered runners. There was also a half marathon and a marathon relay that started at the same time. My parents drove me to the start line about 20 minutes before the race start. My sisters and nieces joined us as well. I stayed on the sidewalk and chatted with them until 5 minutes before start time and simply stepped off the sidewalk into the crowd and right on time we were off.

As I mentioned earlier, my only real goal for this race to finish upright. After the desperate struggle to finish last week at MCM, I had serious concerns that this race would be a complete blowout. My strategy for finishing well was to run 9:00 miles and to walk the water stops.

The only real bad points to this race were having forgotten to grab my fuel belt from the car. Luckily because of the course layout I was able to see my parents at mile 3 and alerted them to the belt. They were able to travel the course by car since only one lane was closed and by mile 6 or so I had my belt with me. Water stations were plentiful, though small, but I really wanted my gels for the last part of the race. The other bad point was three stops at the johns. I hadn’t run a step since last week’s marathon so systems tend to shut down. Running this morning jump started everything.

The course through Huntington is billed as West Virginia’s only flat and fast course and it lived up to its names. The only real hill was the underpass under the railroad tracks that bisect the town from east to west.

I started the race off a little fast with a couple of miles around 8:30. By mile 5 I had things under control in the low 9:00’s. At mile 11 when the half marathons left the course the crowd thinned considerably. At mile 17 I had my first mile that exceeded 9:30, not counting the miles that had included the potty stops prior. By mile 20 I was still running at 9:42. I expected to hit the wall but never did. I kept moving smoothly and calmly forward. At mile 22 I saw my family in Ritter Park. This was the 4th time I saw them before the finish line.

It was at this point that I began to catch and pass some of the runners that had left me behind before mile 13. This is usually the point in the race when I am slowing down miserably and everyone is passing me. My last 5 miles were 9:40, 9:32, 9:27, 9:45 and 9:36 with the last 0.2 in 1:58. I never hit the wall or the point where I felt I couldn’t go on. No one passed me in those last 5 miles until one guy got me at mile 26.

Mile 25 took us down through the center of the campus of Marshall University. There is just something for me about being on campus surrounded by all those brick buildings that just makes me happy. As we enter campus there was a coed handing out carnations. I picked one out and carried it to the football stadium and handed to my Mom. The finish line was inside the stadium. We an the full field along the sidelines and then went to center field where a volunteer handed each runner a football to carry the 100 yards to the finish line at the opposite end.

After having expected disaster, the Marshall University Marathon was very satisfying. We ran along the Ohio River (too short), through Ritter Park (twice) and the beautiful neighborhood surrounding it, and through neighborhoods at the other end of the socioeconomic strata. The starting temp was in the low 30’s. We finished in the 60’s. The foliage was just beginning to turn colors. Having so much of my family there to support me was a huge bonus. It would have been a much different marathon without them there. My nieces can’t understand why anyone would run for fun, but I think they got into the spirit, at least a little.

I’m going to take it easy this week. Next weekend Tyler wants me to come down to San Diego to run 10 miles with him. He’s gearing up for his first half marathon. Then I’ve got about a month to get myself ready to run in Alabama with Joe and Wes.

(I’m uploading this on a very slow wireless connection at the hotel in WV, so sorry no links)

Thursday, November 01, 2007


“We all have a weakness, but some of ours are easy to identify.
We all have a sickness that cleverly attaches and multiplies. No matter how we try.”
- Incubus, “Dig”

I’ve mentioned having an unused voucher for a plane ticket before on these pages. The unused voucher from our trip to Pennsylvania in January offered me the chance to add another state to the tally. I’ve had 9 months to find the right race but no race ever seemed right and I’m just a big procrastinator.

The marathon attached to this voucher came with some conditions:
1. It had to be near an airport serviced by Southwest Airlines
2. It had to be used before December 1, 2008
3. It had to be in a state I hadn’t already completed a marathon
4. It had to be in a state that my wife had no interest in going to
5. Lastly, because I’d procrastinated, it had to be squeezed in between the Marine Corps Marathon and Rocket City Marathon on December 8.

The choices weren’t all that numerous and I narrowed it down to the following:
November 17 – The X-Country Marathon, near Tampa, FL
November 11 – San Antonio Marathon
November 3 – Marshall University Marathon, Huntington, WV

The Tampa race was eliminated due to the available airfares being nearly 3 times the voucher amount. Hotel rentals in San Antonio were higher than I would have liked especially knowing that I could go to Houston some other time and visit my brother in law (free lodging). That left Marshall. The airfare into Columbus, OH airport was reasonable and hotel rooms in Huntington, WV were very affordable.

So although it is only 1 week after MCM, I’m hopping on a plane tomorrow morning and heading out to West Virginia, state #11. The coolest thing about this trip is that my parents, 2 of my sisters and 3 of my nieces are driving down from northern OH to see me.

I think the only reasonable goal for this one is to cross that finish line in an upright position and to enjoy seeing family I haven’t seen since April 2006. Wish me luck!

“I remember when I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that phase
Even your emotions had an echo and so much space
Hmm mmmm
And when you're out there without care, Yeah I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough, I just knew too much
Does that make me crazy; Does that make me crazy; Does that make me crazy?

- Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon - Race Report

You’ve got to do this race. We were blessed with wonderful weather; sunny in the 60’s. The course is tougher than it might seem. My final time – 4:05:38 (chip).

I went into this race with less than perfect training. I’ve babied my right foot since spring which meant not doing any speed work in a long time. And although I keep running my left hip hasn’t been 100% since last August. After 18-20 miles it doesn’t so much hurt as just feels really week. Taking all that into account my main goal this race was just to keep things under that 4:00 barrier I worked hard for in 2006. At the very least I was going to enjoy the spirit of our nation’s capitol and cross Washington, DC off the list.

Julie and I planned on running together. More than once Julie told me she was relying on me to pull her through to the end. I wasn’t very confident I would be able to do that but I’d stick it out as long as I could.

We lined up that morning at front of the 3:50 to 4:00 pace group. The official elevation charts shows an incline from the start to mile 3 followed by a 2 mile decline to mile 5, then another long climb up to mile 8 and then down to 10 with a relatively flat course the rest of the way until the final 2 miles. The actual course, at least the first few miles were more rolling than the elevation chart suggested. By accident we found ourselves within striking distance of the 3:50 pace group so we decided to hang with them.

The first few miles were pretty crowded and the streets were often a little narrow for the number of people running through. Mile 1 – 11:09, huh? Mile 2 – 7:20, double huh? Up the hill to the top of mile 3 – 8:56. Crazy splits but the 3:50 pacer was always in sight so we put our trust in them to get us there.

Mile 4 was a really pretty tree lined street going downhill. The tree cover magnified the sound of hundreds of feet hitting the pavement. It was a wonderful sound. By the end of mile 5 we were even with the pace group but then fell back just a little as we worked our way the hills to mile 8.

Mile 4 – 8:06 (downhill)
Mile 5
Mile 6 – 17:26 (8:43 each uphill)
Mile 7 – 8:07
Mile 8 – 8:11

Between mile 4 and 5 is when we cross the Potomac the first time from Virginia to Washington DC. Mile 5 is also the first side by side out and back when we got a chance to see the front runners heading back at nearly mile 9.

The course was still pretty clogged up at this point. We were at nearly mile 10 or so before we hand any real elbow room. Because of the number of runners and the crowded conditions going through the water stations I skipped the first three water stops, relying on my fuel belt. I worried if this was a wise decision but to keep up with the pacers and Julie is seemed necessary. I finally stopped for water between mile 8 and 9. I lost Julie for about half a mile before I found her again. Mile 11 is where we hit the part of the route I was most looking forward too, the National Mall. Crowd support for the next several miles was tremendous. Mile 13 was the half way point right in front of the Capitol Building.

Mile 9 – 8:25
Mile 10 – 8:21
Mile 11 – 8:54
Mile 12 – 8:26
Mile 13 – 8:41

Although we were sticking with the pace group I really felt that we were going too fast. I knew in my head that I only needed 9:00 miles to get under 4:00 and we’d done many that were sub 8:30.

Just before mile 14 as we were about to leave the Mall the pace leaders changed and we were even with the pace group. The new leader slowed things down a bit. The group was about 20 strong and was holding together well. At this point I voiced out loud to Julie my doubts that I could keep going at this pace. Julie admitted that she had been thinking the same thing. During mile 15 I fell back a few paces from Julie and the pace group marched along. At mile 16 I had to visit the port-o-pot. By the time I exited neither Julie nor the pace group were anywhere in sight.

Mile 14 – 8:54
Mile 15 – 9:12
Mile 16 – 11:50

Miles 16 to 19 are the stretch around Haines Point that many people dread due to its lack of fan support. On a bad day the winds of the Potomac can be difficult. I found this section to be actually really enjoyable. It is so different from where I usually run I found it to me quite peaceful. I knew that the “Awakening” was out here somewhere but I never saw it. Ironically in one of the official race photos it is clearly over my right shoulder. I had been focused over by left. 19 to 20 takes you back over the bridge into Virginia again. More than several runner remarked that they had “beat the bridge” which I thought was a little odd since we were way ahead of the cut off pace of 14:00/mile.

Mile 17 – 8:44
Mile 18 – 9:19
Mile 20 – 9:54

Mile 21 to 23 took us into Crystal City, another area with great crowd support and an out and back section. I saw Julie on her way back; she was about half a mile ahead of me at that point. During the westbound route out of Crystal City we were hit with a cold head wind. As my legs were getting increasingly more tired and my pace increasingly slower the wind was not exactly what I needed at that point. Just after mile 23 the Pentagon came into view and I realize that this race was nearing the end.

Mile 21 – 9:55
Mile 22 – 10:03
Mile 23 – 10:36

Things were getting pretty desperate by now but I kept trudging along. I had seen so many inspiring sights along the way: the national monuments, the Marine support at the water stations, countless Armed Forces runners and family member running in memory of fathers that had served years ago or of friends and relatives that had given their lives in service; I had to keep going. Miles 24 to 26 were really odd since we were retracing our steps from the beginning of the race. The feeling was quite opposite from the hope and excitement of the start of the race. I ran/trudged along with others that looked to be in the same shape as me.

Mile 24 – 10:28
Mile 25 – 11:12

At mile 25 the finish line was just to my left. I could hear the announcer counting down the seconds to sub 4:00 finishers. I had less than 5 minutes left to get there with 1.2 miles still to cover. One step at a time. As I made the last right turn into Arlington the final hill was the only thing left to be conquered. I had no final surge to get there but the hill didn’t seem insurmountable. After I crossed through the finish arches and caught a glimpse of the Marine Corps Memorial the emotional toll of the event came to a head.

Mile 26.2 – 13:49 (11:30 pace)

The marathon seemed trivial compared to the significance of the surroundings. Being immersed in the history of the place and the reputation of the Marines was just incredible to me. The fact that my race time wasn’t what I might have liked didn’t really matter. Just being a part of such a well oiled machine was honor enough. I met up with Julie in the reunion area. She had managed to get her sub 4:00 at 3:55. I hung out the rest of the day until the last of our group of 10 had crossed the finish line at 6:50:08.

I would recommend this race without hesitation. And I’d also recommend taking the time afterward to explore all that Washington DC has to offer in terms of history and national pride. There’s no place or race like it.

Photos from

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Next Stop, Washington DC

Taper time is maddening. I've been through this often enough I should be used to it, but I'm not. All the runs go well enough, it just seems that all those little aches and pains make themselves fully evident the last week or so preceding the next big marathon.

I was able to make it to Bonelli 2 out of 3 of the weekday runs. If I change at work, leave right on time and go straight there I've been able to get up to 5 miles done before darkness sets in. Next weeks runs will likely be the end.

Saturday there was a 5K in my hometown. Running a 5K in Covina has been on my wish list for a while now but I was never aware of a race. The $30 (late) registration fee and no hopes of a PR convinced me just to get down to the river trail and run with the Cruisers instead.

I set off with Julie and Gary. We maintained a really easy 10:00 pace. It didn't feel as easy as a 10:00 pace should feel for me. I worried that I would be too comfortable with that pace come race day. Chalk that up to more of the taper goofiness. Although Julie and I are both capable of sub 9:00, Saturday's pace felt right. My legs are still feeling the effects of the 14 miler in the mountains last weekend. About 5 miles into the run I had to make a pit stop and waved Julie and Gary on.

I finished the last 3 miles of the run on my own at 8:00 pace. It wasn't intentional, it was just the pace that I fell into and oddly it felt comfortable as well. That helped ease some of my taper anxiety.

This morning I headed over to Bonelli for an easy 3 miles. When I first woke up it was still a little dark. Since the run was going to be short I waited until 7:00 for the sun to be completely up. For anything less than 5 miles I simply head out the trail and turn around half way . I was just bopping along lost in my thoughts and ended up running past my turn around point. Fortunately just a little. I had to laugh at myself. I'm such a creature of habit I was on my way around for the full loop.

While I was waiting for the sun to come up I was checking my blogs and came upon this timely entry by Dean Karnazes. I think he's done a good job of describing the struggle of the marathon.

The weather here in SoCal is expected to reach the triple digits this week. It's the end of October folks, triple digits! So far the forecast in DC looks favorable. Even if things heat up I'm confident the Marines will be prepared.

My goals in DC are: 1) Give it my best shot at staying under 4:00 and 2) enjoy the pomp and cirmcumstance of our nation's capitol. Seems reasonable enough.

Several people have commented on the Holy Jim Trail. That is its real name. I can't make this stuff up. A cursory search of the web provided this:
TRAIL HISTORY: (From the Cleveland National Forest Website) If you expect that the Holy Jim Canyon is named for a pious, early preacher in the Santa Ana Mountains, you would be very wrong! Jim Smith was a beekeeper who settled in the north fork of Trabuco Canyon in the 1870s. It was said that: "Jim Smith was a ordinary talker... a man given to blasphemous eloquence. When he started cussing... he could peel paint off a stove pipe." When government surveyors first mapped the canyon, they chose to name it "Holy Jim" rather than "Cussin' Jim," since the word "cussing" was considered neither polite nor appropriate for a government publication.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Holy Jim! Revisited

Everything was back on track this week when it came to running. I was able to knock off two 5 milers in Bonelli; once running my favorite loop counterclockwise which I haven't done in quite a while. The other run was 6.4 over on the San Gabriel River Bike Path at an 8:21 pace.

Saturday I had one of the best runs I've had in a long while. I was lucky early in the week to get an invitation from Jessica of OCTR to join them for 14 miles. Unbelievably it has been nearly a year since I last joined the group for a run. This run was described as 14 miles near Holy Jim. It turns out it was the same route planned last year but run in reverse. I invited my friend Julie along for the run. I was really close to joining some other Cruisers at the Long Beach Half Marathon, but the trails won out.

Julie and I are planning on being running partners at MCM in a couple of weeks and had each coincidentally signed up to run Jessica's race, the Twin Peaks 50/50, next spring.

The group was about a dozen of us. I hadn't met any of them before today. No one from last year's run with the exception of Jessica were there this time. We started off in a light rain that was soaking a pretty well as we stood around before the start of the run. Once we started running the rain was less noticeable. We were only about a mile into the run before we all peeled off our jackets. One guy, Robert, commented that we were either going to get wet one way or another, from the rain for from the sweat. The jackets were just too warm. The rain ended up becoming a steady mist. The conditions were actually really good for running the trails. The rain/mist kept the dust down and the temps in control. The only drawback for me with glass in the mist is that the bill of the ball cap offers no protection from a heavy mist.

Julie and I fell in behind a strong runner, Martin, on the Trabuco Trail. He warned us about West Horsetheif Trail. The three of us ended up walking the majority of it. I still have a hard time with walking but the more trail and ultra people I hang around the more I realize that it is acceptable. I tried a couple of times to keep up a running posture and realized I was making no more forward progress than Martin and Julie walking so I walked too.

Once we hit Main Divide Road, we waited for Robert, Ryan and Sue. The others were farther back and we decided to head onward as we were getting chilled waiting. Martin lead the way again and Julie, Ryan and I kind of fell into a pack. Ryan is also signed up for the 50K version of Twin Peaks. Ryan has run one marathon and made the move to trail running. There are two official training runs for Twin Peaks in the future and the three of us hope to run them together. There is a third one planned for the week after MCM that Julie and I will miss.

A mile or so into Main Divide Martin had a sizable lead on us and we never saw him again until the end. Julie lead the way on Main Divide. I took over leadership when we began the descent down Holy Jim Trail. I've only run this trail the one other time but it has to be one of my all time favorites. The trail is superbly runnable with great views, even of mist and cloud filled canyons, and the terrain is just technical enough to keep you alert but gentle enough that you can let it flow. It is too bad that Holy Jim is not part of the 50K event.

It was a great 14 mile run in the mountains on a day that the scheduled called for 12. Thanks Jessica!

Today I ran an easy 6 miles with Tyler in Bonelli, on a mostly flat loop around the lake before the family went to Red Robin (Tyler's choice). Everyone had a burger, I had the Fajita Fiesta Pollo Salad with dressing on the side.

I ended the week with a potluck get together with the Cruiser that are headed out to Washington, DC for the MCM. We shared phone numbers, flight numbers, etc and discussed getting around and other logistics with a fellow Cruiser who had done MCM last year. We had a great time and now I'm getting really even more excited about adding DC to my list.

Weekly mileage 36.4 on a planned 32. Next week things drop off considerable to 24 for the week. That shouldn't be too hard to handle considering my recent weeks at sea and in Panama.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Fitness begins when you do - slogan on a t-shirt I saw during a long run in Huntington Beach.

When Tyler was home for the break between terms I mentioned an 8 miler that we did together over at the San Gabriel River Bike Path. I forgot to mention another run we took. Monday of that week (way back on 9/24) Tyler still needed to get his run in when I got home from work. I suggested that we give Bonelli a try. I debated which trails to take him on for his inaugural trail run and decided on the trail along the west side of the park. We could get in 3.5 miles with about half of it on trail and half on road.

I described the trail section as "a decent hill at the start, some rollers in the middle with another decent hill at the end." Tyler said "What you really mean is a really big hill at the start, some big hills in the middle and another really big hill at the end!" I got the idea that he didn't trust my judgement when it came to hills.

After about a half mile warm up on the roads we hit the trail and headed up hill. Tyler made it up the whole thing without stopping. I was proud. As we ran along we talked about school and running. About half way through the trail he said "This kind of running is fun." Huh, you think?

When we came to the last "really big hill", he motored right up the 4 or 5 switchbacks like a pro. We cruised back down the road to the car.

Tyler has been home again this weekend, since Wednesday. His birthday is tomorrow. Coincidence? He'll be 20, so we are down to one teenager and one adult (?) child. He's done three runs since he got home Wednesday and all three have been in Bonelli, one on the asphalt picnic loop and the other two on the trail. I think we've got a convert on our hands.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Return to Normalcy

Who's to say what normal is. When school started back up in September I was complaining to my son about the traffic and how I missed the normal traffic. He reminded me that there is no normal. There's either school traffic or summer traffic, who's to say summer traffic is normal? Teenager!

At the very least maybe I will get back on track with my training, I've got a marathon in less than 3 weeks.

It has been two weeks since I posted. I've been busy at work but not really keeping up with the running schedule. Here's a quick run down of the happenings in my running world:

Saturday, September 29: Tyler was home for the week between terms. He always likes to find a race to do when he's home. I found a fun 5K, the Huntington Beach Surf & Sand 5K. It is run at 6:00 p.m. on the sand at low tide heading north from the pier. We had to run about a mile to get to the start. We parked far and were running late. Tyler worried about running on the sand. Tyler wanted to try to run this one on his own so at the sound of the gun I took off. I finished in 24:44 and Tyler broke 30:00 for the first time at 29:12. Very cool for him. I was happy with my time since I hesitated a couple of times in the race wondering if I should have waited for Tyler after all. Add the fact that I ran my last 20 miler earlier that morning in 3:04. Lisa and I also celebrated our 23 wedding anniversary that day. The cruise was pretty much our celebration but we did go out to dinner the following night.

I took Sunday, the 30th, off from running.

I finished September with 150.1 miles even with the low mileage cruise week, continuing the steady increase since the crash in May.

Monday, October 1: I did a 5 mile trail run in Bonelli, finishing in the dark. It is that time of year again. It was kind of fun, kind of scary and sad for the end of another season.

Work wise I've spent all my time getting ready for the Latin America Sales Training. Last Monday our team took the red-eye to Panama City, Panama. The 6+hour flight was followed by a 2 hour drive out to the all-inclusive resort where the training was held. There was nothing else around. I made it through my portion of training on Wednesday. I think it went pretty well. The sales teams first language is Spanish obviously but they all understand English well. My only language is English. Besides product training one of our goals was making them aware of resources, and I think we accomplished that. A secondary goal of the regional manager was team building and fun. I am certain that goal was accomplished. I was able to get in two runs around the complex and on the beach for 30 minutes Friday and 34 minutes Sunday.

The training team was treated to a tour by boat of the Panama Canal. It is a fascinating engineering feat. I had Internet access during the meeting so while things were going on in Spanish I took advantage of the time to keep up with all of you.

Monday, October 8: I returned home at 2:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. Panama time) this morning.
I ended up taking a vacation day. I was just too tired to go to work and it was a beautiful day. I caught up on some things at home since I had been gone for a week and most importantly I headed over to Bonelli for my 5 mile loop at 4:00 to take full advantage of the daylight.

Tonight at 8:00 we had to flip back and forth between Dancing with the Stars and the Cleveland Indians/NY Yankees play off game. Yeah Indians. I don't follow sports too much but we do keep up with things when the play offs come around. Besides it is always fun to support the old home town team. I do feel for Joe Torre though. His sense of normalcy looks like it will be taking a new direction with this loss to the Indians. About DWTS, can we terminate Wayne Newton's contract, please?!

Anyway, 17 days to the Marine Corps Marathon. It won't be a PR by any stretch, but it will be a very memorable marathon, no doubt.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Well Prepared?

Since the middle of the week we’ve been hearing about this big summer storm that was about to hit So Cal, with the worst of it planned for Saturday. We did wake up to wet streets on Thursday and Friday but the remainder of Friday was the sunniest and warmest day we’d had all week. We had received one email planning a Peter’s Canyon run, followed a day later by a reschedule to the Santa Ana River Trail to avoid the possible mudfest on the trail. I liked this option better since I had up to 20 miles scheduled; Peter’s Canyon in a 7.5 mile loop.

I awoke Saturday morning to cloudy skies and damp streets but no falling rain. Since the storm hadn’t live up to its potential yet, I wasn’t sure what would happen as the day progressed. I planned for the worst and brought my hat and even brought some Band-Aids for those areas prone to damage from a wet shirt. I drove through a couple of spots of light sprinkles on the way to Yorba Linda but arrived to an overcast but dry trail.

Julie was there this morning and glad to see that I was back. She was glad to have a running partner. She is capable of running much faster than me, but has been taking a more laid back approach after several years of training hard and racing to AG honors. She and her husband Gary part of the Cruisers group heading of to DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. Julie was planning a 20 miler. I explained my dilemma so we decided to run together as far as we felt comfortable and go from there.

We settled into an easy pace, somewhere in the middle nines, following James and Michelle. The rest of the group faded further and further behind as the miles progressed. The conditions were ideal with overcast skies and temperatures in the low 60’s. Just as we finished up the south leg, at 10 miles, the skies opened up. Within minutes we were soaked to the skin. It continued to rain pretty heavily for the next mile or two and then it began to let up. My hat had been fastened onto my Fuelbelt and I was very glad I had brought it along.

Around mile 13 Julie admitted that if she had been running alone she would have bagged the run. We had discussed at a couple of points just how far we were going to run that day. We had settled at one point to at least run to the wooden bridge where the trail moves to the opposite side of the river. That would have given us 16 miles. My max (based on the majority of votes from last post) was 18. When we got to the point of turn around Julie was determined to get the full 20 done so I hung in there with her.

The last 5 miles got increasingly harder for me. Julie still seemed to be running strong although she said she was tired. While we had run side by side for 17 miles I now starting lagging behind a little. At mile 18 everything below the waist was hurting, especially the weak points of right foot and left hip. My left knee was expressing a degree of unhappiness as well. All my normal signs of fatigue were present: head dropped to the left and my left foot dragging along Lurch-like.

Even with the wet shirt I suffered to tissue damage. The Band-Aids and a little Body Glide did the job. Gary on the other hand wasn't as fortunate.

In keeping with my current training method of not stressing over pace I barely glanced at my watch and only hit the split four times during the run. It wasn’t until I got home that I determined the pace. We hadn’t started right at a mile marker as usual so the first split was 32:26 for something more than 3 but less than 4. The next 2 miles were at 17:44. This was the turn around point for the south leg. The next time I hit the split button was at mile 15. 10 miles in 1:30; right at 9:00 pace. Running with Julie had me going a little faster than I might have gone alone. The next 3 miles were at 29:47 and had incorporated a couple of walk breaks. The next full mile was 9:28 and the whole run was completed in 3:05:54 for 9:18 pace.

To stay under 4:00 at MCM I will need to maintain a 9:09 pace throughout. After struggling today I’m more than worried. I do admit that I haven’t tackled this round of training with my normal zeal. The nagging injuries have really put a damper on me mentally. I want to run, but feel like I can’t perform to my expectations.

Thanks to all who voted on the long mile schedule. I guess by running 20 on Saturday, I’ve made some kind of choice. Even now though I think I will attempt another 20 miler next Saturday and then enjoy a long taper into MCM.

This is getting long winded but I wanted to tell you about my run today. Tyler is home for a one week break before the fall semester begins. It is hard to believe that he’s already completed his first year at culinary school. Tyler has kept up his running since this spring when we ran the 5k’s together. He has worked his way up and had 8 miles on his schedule. Right after church we headed over to the San Gabriel River Bikeway. Bryan came along too and road the bike. Tyler knocked out the 8 miles, without a walk break, in 1:27. Pretty cool, huh? 8 miles was more than I really needed but I had a blast running along side my son for 8 miles. I’m hoping to get him over to Bonelli some time this week before he goes back to school.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sheduling Conflict

I mentioned a big project at work that I’ve been preparing since just before I went to the Caribbean and I’m still working to pull it together. At the end of August I was given the opportunity to travel to Panama City, Panama to conduct technical training on our newest products for the Latin America Sales Team. Pulling together the presentation has been exciting and yet very stressful; a month notice is not really enough time to pull it all together. Add in the fact that my vacation interfered with one week of the preparation. I will get through the presentation. My real predicament is my running schedule.

The Panama trip takes place over the week of October 2 to October 6. I won’t get back home until late on Sunday night. I’ve been following Hal Higdon’s intermediate program so the long runs leading up to MCM starting this weekend look like this:

20 – 12 – 20 – 12 – 8 – 26.2

The second 20 miler falls on the weekend I’m in Panama. It is doubtful that I will be able to run a 20 miler in an unfamiliar place. I’m afraid that 20 miles in a foreign country could put in places I might not want to go or shouldn’t be. I’m seeking advice from my blogging friends on the correct adjustment to be made to the schedule. I have a couple of proposed scenarios below. Please cast your vote:

A: (12-18) – 20 – Panama – 12 – 8 – 26.2
B: 20 – 12 – Panama – 20 – 8 – 26.2

Assuming that I will be able to run 5 to 10 somewhere near the hotel in Panama City. Basically I have the choice of an overly long taper or an abbreviated taper. I appreciate your input.

Have a great run!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Lack of Valor

The cruise was a blast. It went off pretty much as expected. We drank rum drinks, ate great food, took taxi tours, sat around the pool, shopped, drank rum drinks, ate great food, kayaked in a lagoon, snorkeled, enjoyed wine with great food, and great desserts, napped, sat in the sun, swam in the clear blue Caribbean Ocean, drank rum drinks, ate great food, watched some great entertainment, took formal portraits, shopped, rode a catamaran, rode a jeep, made a quick visit to the clothing optional beach, and don't forget, napped, drank a rum drink and ate some great food. No kids, no work, no TV, no cell phones, just the two of us enjoying our private time together and our public time with friends. Coming back to reality on Sunday night was not a pleasant experience.

We were on the Carnival Cruise ship, the Valor. Our ports of call were Nassau Bahamas, St Thomas US Virgin Islands and St Martin/St Maarten West Indies. We pretty much agreed that St Martin was our overall favorite island. The excursion on St Thomas was a lot of fun, kayaking and snorkeling, but the shopping was too contrived. We had far too little time on each island to really get a feel for them. The locals, at least those employed in the tourism trade, were all super friendly. I was surprised to see so many US and European citizens that had set up shop on the islands. We enjoyed near perfect weather in the 80's with reasonable humidity. Brief rain storms came through 3 or 4 times but only lasted 10 minutes or so and returned immediately to beautiful sunny skies.

The running didn't go quite as well as I might have hoped. The trip started out well with a 5.5 mile run in Miami on Sunday morning before we boarded the ship. I ran across the Venetian Causeway from the mainland over to Miami Beach. The temps were in the mid 70's and a light sprinkle was falling. I really enjoyed running across the causeway, island hopping as I went.

Once on board ship, I was pleased to find out that the track was actually 0.111 miles long; only 9 laps to a mile. Monday morning I got up a little early and headed up to the "jogging" track on Deck 11 and off I went. There were about a dozen other people up there but they were all walking. I was the lone runner. I tried to keep track of laps in my head but by the third mile I resorted to holding up fingers as I went around, 5 fingers on the left hand and 4 more on the right. During the 4th mile I was really losing focus. I struggled mentally but made it through 45 laps to meet my 5 mile goal.

The next day I decided to give the treadmill in the gym a try. Without headphones I watched a show about a girl boxer on the TV. I could occasionally lip read but mostly had no idea what was going on. I made it 3 miles and struggled just to make it to 4 before I called it quits. The numbers on the readout wreaked havoc with my brain. I could not compute mph into minutes/mile nor could I ignore the numbers and just run. I was drawn to watch each tenth of a mile tick slowly away, ugh! This was only my second treadmill experience and it just confirmed to me that I am not a treadmill kind of guy.

I had planned not to run on Wed. and Thurs. I slept in on Friday but headed back up to Deck 11 on Saturday. This was supposed to be the day I attempted the 13 miler. Sad to say I only made it 3 miles before I called it quits. I wasn't physically tired, I just did not have the mental stamina to go round and round, one finger, two fingers, three fingers.... nine fingers, repeat.

I appreciate all the more the joy of the open road or trail so much more. My routes are always out and back or the occasional loop. I almost never cut the out portion short or shortcut a loop so I'm forced to come back as far as I went out. There is no getting off early or just walking off the track. This also explains my struggle with speedwork at the track. It is far to easy to just walk away. Walking away from the middle of an 8 miler puts me 4 miles from the car or home and if I've got to get back there anyway I might as well run.

So not counting the Miami run (which really counts for the prior week) I ran a whopping 12 miles on board the Valor, something I sorely lacked when it came down to boldness and determination in getting the runs in. But running was not the focus of this trip; enjoying the vacation was and I'd have to say "Mission Accomplished".

I'd like to say its good to be back but catching up at work after a week away is crazy, especially with the pressure of a big presentation looming in two weeks that wasn't on the schedule when we planned the trip.

I have gotten two 5 milers in over at Bonelli on Monday and Tuesday and never once considered cutting either one of them short. It will take me another week or so before I get caught up with you. I hope your training and racing has gone well. I look forward to reading all about it.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I ran my 18 miler this morning in 2:48:51, or 9:23 pace. This pace seemed easily sustainable and I could have keep going but the schedule called for 18 so I did 18. I ran today at the Santa Ana River Trail in Yorba Linda where we used to always run with the Snail's Pace training group. It seems like I haven't run there in forever.

I ran today because tomorrow morning my wife and I get on an airplane to Miami. On Sunday we are boarding a cruise ship along with two other couples, friends of ours, for a week long cruise in the eastern Caribbean. I'm not sure how much running I'll be able to get in. The ship has a gym with treadmills, yuck, and an outdoor track that is a whopping 0.10 mile long. That's a whole lot of laps to get the scheduled 13 miler done on Saturday. Saturday is a "fun day" aboard ship, so we'll see how it goes.

Take it easy on me while I'm gone. I finally got caught up on almost all your blogs over the long weekend and a dare to think how far behind I'll be in my bloglines when I get back.

See you in a week. I'll be the one with the nice Caribbean tan!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oh! The Places I Could Go

The heat wave forced me inside most of the weekend so I spent some time cleaning up my pile on the desk. In addition I received a phone call from my bro-in-law that prompted me thinking about future race plans.

First I found note about some races I wanted to run next year. My initial intent was to finally run some of the California races I've put off in favor of the state goal.

Apr 27 - Big Sur Marathon
I of course checked each of the sites today and was freaked to find that there are only 9 spaces left for Jessica's little 50K romp through the mountains. I better get on it soon. Earlier this evening I received this email from the Cruisers:

Big Sur has multiple races on Sunday, April 27, 2008.
They have a marathon (6 hour drop-dead time limit), 21 mile, 10.6 mile, 9 mile, and 5 K race on that day. And they also have a marathon relay.

Monterey is about 6 hours driving time and 360 miles from here. You can get more information from this web site.

Please email us with your interest in this event. The 21 miler will probably fill in a few weeks.
Is there any other suggestion you have as to what event 10 to 20 of us can do together in 2008?

Dorothy and John

Sign me up!

My brother-in-law just spent a week with his Dad in Pennsylvania. Dad is convinced that we are coming to PA in Nov 11 to run the Harrisburg Marathon. Unfortunately my wife can't get away from work then and I really would rather she go with me. We've told her Dad we will be there someday but probably not 2007. He uses all the tricks he can to get us to come for a visit.

In addition, the BIL is moving his family to Houston and has invited us over whenever I'm ready to run TX. The Houston Marathon is January 13, 2008. It fits into the schedule nicely. I confirmed with Eric that Houston is a "concrete jungle"; not my favorite running surface but it will be hard to pass up the free lodging someday.

Not done yet. During the desk cleaning I came across a left over ticket on Southwest that needs to be used before Dec 1. I checked the calendar at so see if there was any thing I could sneak in between Marine Corps (Oct) and Rocket City (Dec).

I found a couple of races that look interesting:

Nov 18 - The X-Country Marathon, near Tampa, FL
Nov 17 - The Louisiana Trails Marathon, Shreveport, LA
Southwest flies to Tampa but not to Shreveport.
If I was a Marathon Maniac worth my stuff I would do all these races, one a month for six months. All that still only gets me to the next level, 2 Stars - Silver. This could be fun.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


If nothing else, I am at least predictable. Come Saturday morning with 17 miles staring me down I headed down to Huntington Beach. It seems like this summer if I'm not at Bonelli I'm at HB. Just to change things up a little I parked at the far north end, actually Bolsa Chica, at the 10 mile mark. I usually park farther south at the 4 mile mark.

With the recent frustration over my pace and with the hip acting up I decided to ignore the mile markers as much as possible. Just running seemed to work out well a couple of weeks ago when I ran south into Newport Beach. Running south first and then heading back north later was a smart decision. There was a nice cooling breeze in my face on the way back when I needed it the most.

My left hip starting complaining around mile 10 or so. My right foot even complained a little. After I finished I headed down to the ocean and took a dip (I told you I was predictable). The cool water sure feels good on tired legs. I sat on the beach for awhile, had some water and food and watched the surfers and paddleboards. I could have sat there all day, all weekend even.

I was very happy to see my final time of 2:33:07. Almost dead on 9:00 pace. I'm happy with that. It is a little maddening though when I think back to my training for SEAFAIR last spring. I distinctly remember the moment when I was running 20 with Jeff and realized that at mile 18 I was running 8:30 miles. That was an ego boost beyond compare!

I really don't know what to expect at Marine Corps. 9 minute miles still keeps me under a 4:00 marathon, but certainly not where I had hoped to be. I had originally thought that marathons 5 months apart would give me plenty of time to recover and rebuild. Instead my body (and mind) has revolted.

The hip started hurting last year about this same time. I was running a lot of my runs on the hills in Bonelli then too, taking full advantage of the long days and off road running. I wonder if there is something inherently wrong with my gait that all those rolling hills just aggravates. My left side is my weaker side. Another contributing factor to the slow down could be my weight. I weighed in Friday. I'm Lifetime at Weight Watchers. The end of August marked 4 years at goal...but this time I was 2 pounds over. I'm up 10 pounds from this time last year. That's got to be a contributing factor. Time to renew the commitment. No ice cream and cookies at least until after MCM.

Sunday morning was 7 in Bonelli; hills and hip be damned. It was hot even at 7:00 in the morning. It has been well over 100 for almost a week. If Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, I expect the temperatures to cool down come Tuesday morning. Can I get a second?

I ended the month of August with 135.6 miles. A nice steady increase from May's all time low of 44.6. The plan calls for 18 next weekend which I will do on Friday. Hope everyone is enjoying the long (hot) Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Tuesday I headed to Bonelli yet again. I went out my usual route for 2 miles out, 2 miles back. I do a lot of my midweek runs here. I sometimes think about switching things up a little and running elsewhere, but then I think why? I'll be back on the roads in the fall.

The way these runs usually go, I walk to the freeway overpass, hit the watch and take off. For the 4 miler I get to turn around point and head back. Once I'm back over the freeway overpass I hit the watch again to see how long I was gone. I can't get much simpler.

I usually have the roads to myself. I occasionally see mountain bikers, other runners, hikers and even horse riders. Tuesday within a couple of hundred yards of my turn around point I came upon 2 horse riders. If I turned around as usual I would be running right back past them in a minute or two. So instead I decided to keep going. At the far end of the park or about half way around the 5 mile Sunday morning loop version of this run I am very near the main road through the park. I decided just to head back via the road.

About a half mile down the road I began to notice a trail just off to my left. Upon investigation I found a sweet little single track. Three years ago when I started running Bonelli much of it was singletrack. As I've mentioned before most of those have become wide fire roads due to extremely dry conditions. The little single track was a whole bunch of fun to run. It was more technical than the fire roads, although still really easy to run. All the rocks gave the eyes and ankles a nice little work out. The singletrack eventually came to an end on a little section of fire road I usually don't take. That particular road is a short cut of my normal loop.

Tonight I headed back over there with the intent of finding where the single track really begins on the opposite end. So I took the short cut fireroad to where I had ended on Tuesday and ran the singletrack in the opposite direction. One cool thing about tonight's run is that I was the first person to run the trail today. I know that because it rained last night (yes we had a freak thunderstorm overnight, believe it or not) so all the previous tracks were wiped clean. Mine were the first prints on the trail. It was kind of like being the first person to walk through fresh snow.

It turns out the singletrack comes out at about the 3 mile mark of my usual route. The trail connects at an acute angle over my left shoulder so I wouldn't really notice it. There is even a sign that says Parkside Trail 1.0 mile that I've never really noticed before. I guess I was just focused on going where I knew I was going and not really paying attention.

Wednesday I took the day off due to another commitment. I may on Friday night, I may not. We are in the middle of the hottest week all summer, 110 degrees Wednesday, so skipping the run isn't very hard to do. 9 miles so far this week.
So the big question of the week is what did I bring for goodies last Friday? Nothing too terribly exciting. My wife happened to be making a trip to Sam's Club that evening so she picked up a couple of trays of those big muffins for me. They usually have a variety pack. Each muffin is probably a good 400 or more calories. I bring them on most of my days because not a lot of other people do.