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.