Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bonelli New Year

I've been on vacation for the last two weeks (partly planned, partly demanded by the economic slow down). I've spent a lot of time taking walks in my favorite place; favorite in that its close. My 2008 wrap up post will have to wait for another day. Instead I leave you with views of Bonelli on a 7.5 mile walk I took today. The temperature was in the low 70's, the sun was shining but there was a lot of haze. Enjoy the pictures and have a safe and fun Happy New Year's Eve. It looks like 2009 is going to be quite a ride. Stay calm, be diligent, plan for the future and keep running!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

December Next

There is certainly no resting on your laurels with this group. No sooner had I finished state 13 and written up the report along came the questions of what’s next in general and what’s up for next December, more specifically.

Truth be told, I really have no idea. The opportunities abound with 37 states remaining, but the choices at the beginning of December are becoming more limited year by year. With 50 weeks advance notice I’m putting out some ideas for December 2009.

Taking a look at the following 15 races are on the marathon calendar:

Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, Baton Rouge, LA
Envirosports Death Valley Borax Marathon, Death Valley, CA
Kiawah Island Marathon, Kiawah Island, SC
St. Jude Memphis Marathon, Memphis, TN
Tecumseh Trail Marathon, Bloomington, IN
California International Marathon, Sacramento, CA Las Vegas Marathon, Las Vegas, NV
Marathon of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL
Holualoa Tucson Marathon, Oracle, AZ
Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon, Charlotte, NC
Rocket City Marathon, Hunstville, AL
Roxbury Marathon, Roxbury, CT
Nexbank Dallas White Rock Marathon, Dallas, TX
Honolulu Marathon, Honololu, HI
Otter Creek Trail Marathon, Brandenburg, KY

The list can get narrowed pretty quickly. In 2005 I ran Las Vegas. In 2006 I did Tecumseh and Otter Creek in back to back weekends. In 2007 I met up with Wes and Joe, along with David, Michele and Lana at Rocket City. Most recently Joe, David and I knocked off Memphis. That narrows the list to 11 choices.

Death Valley and CIM are off the list, too. NO MORE CA marathons! 10 options left.

Tucson is off the list, since I’ve already run Rock-n-Roll AZ in Phoenix. Roxbury is off too. I did Hartford in 2005. The list is getting a little sparse.

Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, Baton Rouge, LA
Kiawah Island Marathon, Kiawah Island, SC
Marathon of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL

Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon, Charlotte, NC
Nexbank Dallas White Rock Marathon, Dallas, TX

Honolulu Marathon, Honololu, HI

As far as Texas goes, Dallas is definitely not my first choice there. Eric tells me that Dallas is a lot of concrete. My legs are not a fan of concrete. I would much rather run Austin or San Antonio. My choice for Hawaii is definitely Maui. Maui is run in September within days of our wedding anniversary, how can I pass that up – Maui on our anniversary – Honolulu doesn’t stand a chance. There are many choices in Florida as well and West Palm Beach wasn’t on my radar. I have relatives on the west coast. I was leaning towards the Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa in March or ideally the X-Country Marathon in November.

So for me that leaves only the following three states: Louisiana, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, Baton Rouge, LA
Kiawah Island Marathon, Kiawah Island, SC
Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon, Charlotte, NC

That was until I opened the January 2009 Runner’s World and read about the North Central Trail Marathon in Sparks, MD. It is run the last weekend of November, close enough to December for me. This is now high in my list for Maryland, competing with the B&A Trail Marathon in March.

Where do you want to go in 2009?
Louisiana? South Carolina? North Carolina? Maryland?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twin Peaks Ultra

In my grand scheme for 2008, the Twin Peaks 50/50, was part of my plan to thumb my nose at the “No More California Marathons Rule” and to enjoy some of the challenges that I had my eye on in my home state. The stress fracture early in the year took me out of contention for the Catalina Marathon and the Big Sur Marathon. Twin Peaks had been postponed from its original date in February, but I was already well on the way to the stress fracture on the original race day. The race would likely have just hastened the process.

When the race was rescheduled for December 13, just one week after the St. Jude Memphis marathon and 6 months after returning to running I knew there was no way I’d be in shape to complete the 50K. I had to give precedence to my primary goal of 50 states over the ultra. Instead, I signed on to volunteer again.

This time I had the distinction of manning the finish line for the entire race. I was the time keeper. It was pretty neat to see the expressions of joy and relief as people finished. The day turned out to be a chilly and windy one. For you folks in the PNW and MN it probably qualified as a light winter or fall day but most of the SoCal folks just weren’t prepared for the conditions.

The rerouted course was more difficult than the 2008 course. The highest peak is about 5700 ft. with the total elevation gain somewhere around 13,000 ft. Up on top the temps were in the low 30's with heavy mist limiting visibility to a couple of feet and reports of horizontal snow at times. Many runners commented that they couldn’t feel their hands for several miles.

Keeping the times was complicated by the fact that there were two distances, each with up to three start times. There were starters at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 for the 50 miler and 6:30 and 7:30 for the 50K. I recorded the actual time as they crossed the finish line and then did the math to determine the elapsed time. The task was made easier in that the runners never came in more than a couple at a time. The task was made more difficult in that the actual starts were really something like 4:03, 5:05, 6:02, 6:33, etc. Doing the math was a challenge especially on those half hour starts. Never the less I made it through. I know the actual times were recorded accurately. Jessica, the RD, promised to double check the math before posting the official times.

The attrition rate on the 50 miler was near 50%. The first place male came in at 9:30 hrs. while the first place female (out of two) came in at 12:00 hrs. The first place male in the 50K was somewhere near 5:38. The first runners started at 4:00 a.m. and the last guy off the mountain came through around 8:30 p.m. That's a long day. My day's duties started at 11:00 a.m.

I was glad to have been able to lend a hand as these hard core runners tested themselves at Twin Peaks. My own foray into the ultra world will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

St. Jude Marathon

It has been a long road from Huntsville, Alabama to Memphis, Tennessee. Three hundred sixty four days from the Rocket City Marathon to the St. Jude Marathon.

It was a great experience. I feel like I'm back in the game and glad to have gotten the thirteenth state done and over with. My shin held up just fine. On the other hand my right quad had potential to be deal breaker. For the last couple of weeks it has been tender and sore, possibly a pull or strain. It has hurt periodically during my recent runs. I held up OK during the 10K's last weekend but on my easy run on Monday it was extremely painful. I hobbled through those 3 miles like Quasimoto. I decided not to run another step until Saturday. I was aware of it always, especially the first few steps after getting up from sitting down.

The fun started even before the race. Joe and I were roomies for the third time. We stopped by the Autozone Park to scope out the finish line. Joe is really in his element there on the ball field. Later we shared a great dinner with David and his wife, sharing stories of our kids, careers and "just a little bit" of running stuff. And it was COLD, at least for me; somewhere in the 30's as we walked back up Main Street to our hotel.

By the time race morning came around I had pretty much decided on my race strategy. With the uncertainty of the quad situation, I decided to run along with Joe. We'd each spent 8 hours or so getting there; me by plane, Joe by car; so why spend the 4 or more hours of the marathon running alone when I could share it a fellow blogger and good friend. I had some concerns about walking every 3 minutes; I'm used to 7 minutes on my long runs; but I needn't have worried. It was really never an issue.

The wave start worked wonderfully well. It was about 20 minutes after the start that we crossed the starting line and the pursuit of state 13 had begun. From the get go my right quad was in pain. It felt weak and almost like it would collapse at any minute. I tried not to hobble so as not to worry Joe. The first mile went slower than Joe had planned mostly due to the crowds but I feared that my hobbling had effected us as well. Joe was concerned for me. I kept going, the quad didn't get any worse. A couple of miles in Joe checked on me again. I told him it was still there and that I was just going to keep going. I think we were back on track by mile 3. As we ticked off the miles the discomfort grew less and we ticked off the miles running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute. Joe kept track of everything. I walked when he told me to walk. I ran when he told me to run. He kept me up to date on our progress to the goal, 4:40, at every mile marker. I think we were always at least a few seconds ahead of schedule from mile 3 on.

We even synchronized our bathroom break. I'd been feeling like I could stop but wasn't in panic mode yet and didn't want to upset the rhythm. When Joe mentioned that he needed to stop I jumped on the chance to take care of business. The break cost us about 90 seconds which we made up fairly quickly by skipping the next scheduled walk break. We even got smart somewhere along the way and postponed or expedited the walk break on the uphills (which were really more like inclines) and the got right back on schedule the next time the watch beeped. It worked incredibly well.

It is just a hoot running along with Joe. He high fived the kids, stopped to pet a beautiful golden retriever, thanked every police officer on the route, belted out some Elvis tunes, heckled the mime, and did a great English Lit prof imitation. Joe meets a friend everywhere. We met Maniacs, Fifty Stater's, Army, National Guard, Team Weber, and St Jude Heroes. It was way more fun than gutting out 26.2 miles alone. There was no doubt I'd made the right decision.

We both felt pretty good right up to about mile 22. Around then it took me a little longer to coax my legs to start running after the minute walk. Around mile 23 my right IT band starting letting me know it was there. A mile later Joe's left IT band "started barking" at him. Very near the end it really seized up and he urged me onward. About a half mile from the finish there was a sharp U-turn to the right up a ramp. My right leg nearly collapsed on me then. I hung on and ended up crossing the finish line in 4:36:15 (official). Joe was about 30 seconds behind.

I was pleased to have completed marathon 16, state 13. I wasn't back full strength but I was back. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my wife for taking the risk on me back in July and planning this trip. And a huge Thank You to Joe for meeting up for the third December in a row and allowing me to run along with him. The St. Jude Marathon was quite the experience.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Swim To The Beach

With two weeks to go before Memphis the plan called for a pretty easy week of 19 miles. Since I was on vacation and it was a holiday week I mixed things up a bit.

Monday I ran 4 miles in Bonelli in the morning. I didn’t realize until later that I had overshot the planned 3 miles. Tuesday morning in anticipation of rain forecasted for later in the week, I ran 3 more miles in Bonelli. I took a trail, Lakeview, which I hadn’t run before. It was short but sweet. Thursday morning before the turkey feast, I headed over to Bonelli once again. Tyler joined me for 3 miles on my Sunday loop. We did the 1.5 mile out & back. This was Tyler’s first time on this trail. He “complained” that the trail was one continuous hill, one way or the other. I’ve done it so many times it doesn’t seem that bad to me.

When it comes to Turkey Trots, I’m a purist. To me the only true Turkey Trot is actually run on Thanksgiving morning. In SoCal we have no less than 11 options for a Turkey Trot from the Sunday before to the Sunday after, with 8 of the choices actually on Thanksgiving Day. In the past I’ve run the Dana Point 5K, the grand daddy of them all and the Run for the Hungry twice, once with the younger son and once with the older. This year I broke my Turkey Trot Purity Vow.

Saturday morning, Lisa and I headed down to Temecula to combine two of our favorite past times into one (well at least two of mine and one of hers). The Turkey Trot was a fund raising event for a school in Arusha, Tanzania. The race was unique for me because I was running a Trot on a day other than Thanksgiving and it was a 10K. With over 5 years of running on the logs, I’ve never raced a 10K before.

The race started at the Cougar Winery and headed out onto the back roads of Temecula. It was an out and back course on gently rolling, mostly dirt roads. It wasn’t a huge race and we fell into our paces and places within the first half a mile. I maintained my position pretty well. The first three miles ticked off in 8:33, 8:42, and 8:32. After the first mile I only remember being passed by one person, a lady running with her two dogs. After the turn around I was slowly able to pick off three or four people in front of me. Mile 4 was done in 8:32. For the next 2.2 miles I didn’t lose or gain any ground. I was surprised to see Mile 5 come in at 9:40. The finish was up hill back to the tasting room. I covered the last 1.2 in 11:55 (9:56 pace). I was very happy with the 8:30 early miles and a little perplexed about the drastic slow down in the end. I didn’t feel like I was slowing and based on those around me I wasn’t losing any ground. My official time was 55:45, my new 10K PR.

on the way up the hill to the finish line, me in orange with my usual head lean to the left

After the race we spent the rest of the day in Temecula. We visited a couple of new wineries, Cougar and Frangipani, and a couple of our favorites, Robert Renzoni and Keyways. In between we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Smokehouse Restaurant on the grounds of the Ponte Winery.

A nice view of the rolling countryside in Temecula

We are cute, aren't we? (see the Happy Place post)

The next day offered an opportunity to run yet another Turkey Trot. This one a 10K as well in none other than my favorite park; Bonelli. Tyler had planned to run this one with me. When we checked the details of the race we realized that the run was on the roads and parking lots of Bonelli. The race description had mentioned trails and roads, but in reality the trails were only about a half mile of the 6.2. Tyler was none too thrilled with the 7:30 race start and truthfully I wasn’t overjoyed about paying to run where I run for free all the time. I was enamored with the idea of back to back 10K’s though. Before we called it a night we decided to skip the race and just run our own 10K later in the morning.

We got to Bonelli around 8:30. The 10K race was pretty much done, but the Turkey Tri was still going on. We put in a lot more time on the dirt, got to see the bikes go by and the last of the people finishing up the swim. We even wound our way through the finishing area. Tyler hadn’t run this far in a while and because I am technically tapering we used the run:walk method starting with 7:1 and moving to 5:1 as Tyler lost momentum. We had a great run together and saved about $80.00. I’d call that a win-win.

The week that was supposed to be 3-3-10-3, ended up being 4-3-3-6.2-6.2 for a total of 22.4 miles. Next week’s plan is a whopping 5 miles before race day. It will be a short week at work and then off to Tennessee.

(The post title was just to see if you were paying attention)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Predicting the End

With one week to go before Memphis it is time to make some predictions about finishing times. I mentioned this before but with the one year break between marathons, in many ways I feel like I'm doing this for the first time. Since the first one back in January of 2004, I gained a ton of experience and the confidence to know that I can cover 26.2 miles. This time around, although I put in a full 6 months of training, I go into Memphis with the lowest mileage base of any marathon. Since June I've covered just over 500 miles. For my first I covered 650 miles.

So what am I hoping to see on the clock when I cross the finish line? I've got several options and points of reference.
First, since this feels like the first one again, I would really like to better the time from that very first marathon, Rock-n-Roll Arizona. My time there was 4:34.

Based on the 20 miler I did 5 weeks ago, the predicting calculators give me a 4:26. If I could keep the pace just below the 10:00 per mile mark I could even eke out a 4:20.

The 22 miler a couple of weeks ago in the unseasonable hot and windy weather gives me a predicted finishing time of 4:48. I'm not really happy about that. The marathons where I've exceeded that time were all special circumstances; LA with heat in the 90's, NYC after 2 days of walking the city, and two trails marathons on muddy hills. Memphis won't fit any of these extenuating circumstances so I think I can do better than 4:48.

I have yet a third option. Memphis will mark the third year in a row that Joe and I have gotten together to run a marathon during the beginning of December. Last year we had great time with Wes, David, Lana and Michele as well. Memphis marks the end of Joe's three fall marathon challenge. Usually on race day its every man for himself. I've given serious consideration to running along with Joe, step for step, following his 3:1 run:walk plan. Joe is predicting a 4:40 finishing time. That keeps me safely below the 4:48 I dread and about equally beyond my conservatively acceptable time of 4:34. No matter the final time I will have achieved my real goal of simply moving one state closer to 50.

We'll have to see what the weather brings our way and how we each are feeling on race day. I may not make the final decision until the gun fires. Your thoughts?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ride To The Beach

I completely missed it but November 19 was the third anniversary of, currently known as Twelve Down – Training for Tennessee. In a couple of weeks that will be changing yet again for the eighth time in three years to something like Thirteen Down – Destination Unknown.

This past weekend I flip flopped my scheduled runs to 4 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. The reason for the flop was a bike ride with friends. We started deep in the San Gabriel Valley and headed to the beach again. Do you see a trend here? We rode down a different river trail than I ran last week. The weather was much different as well. We started on the Rio Hondo Trail in Arcadia and connected eventually with the San Gabriel River Trail and rode to PCH then took PCH over to the opposite end of Huntington Beach from last weekend.

We try to do these long rides at least once a year. This one was 33 miles total. Let me tell you it is not a great idea to go out 33 miles after not really riding the bike all summer long. 20 to 40 minutes on the stationary bike at the gym just doesn’t cut it as training for a 33 miler.

Since our group varies in age from teens to near retirees, the event becomes what I like to call a weakest link ride. This is as it should be. The pace overall is dictated by the slowest rider, which changes as the day progresses. We are in no hurry to get the ride done so it is a pretty easy effort. It was a much cooler day, maybe in the middle 70’s with a light on shore breeze, totally opposite of last weekend’s Santa Ana’s.

I had planned on running 4 miles when I got to the beach. I realize that I get some measure of exercise out of the 33 mile ride, but I define myself as a runner, not a cyclist. So when it comes to the end of the day, I feel this tremendous need to put a number in my log book that matches up with the plan.

But as the ride wore on, the lack of bike riding caught up to me and I reached the beach spent, thirsty and hungry (the trend continues). Not nearly as spent as last week but I still decided to trash the run. I will come to terms with the big ZERO somehow.

Now that I’ve run and ridden to the beach on consecutive weekends, does that mean I have to swim there next weekend? There's not really much water in our rivers so this could be a real challenge.

The following day I headed over to the opposite end of the San Gabriel River Trail for my 10 miler. I stretched it to 12. I have no idea how long I was out there. I kept to the 7:1 intervals as usual and enjoyed the day. I wore the shin support and had to stop at least three times during the first couple of miles to adjust it before I finally got it in a position that it would stay put and still be doing some good.

I’m sitting here at home today. I used the short work week as a chance to take a much needed vacation. As I type away, I look outside to see the beautiful day and am thinking we waste far too many of these kinds of days sitting at work, but such is the necessity of life. I’ve got no specific plans for the three days other than getting in a run or two. There are still baseboards and door trim to paint and a never ending hedge to trim. Plus I have about a week’s worth of blogs to catch up on so I think I’ll find ways to pass the time.

The excitement mounts for the St. Jude Marathon in Tennessee. I can hardly believe that it will be 364 days since my last marathon. This is the longest gap in my short running career. I’ve already been giving some serious thought to 2009. Possible states are Idaho, South Dakota and North Carolina. I’m contemplating an ultra in Ohio as well. I need to blog about it soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Happy Place

Catching up on blogs this morning I found that I’ve been tagged by Anne from Run DMZ. I thank you, Anne, for choosing my blog as “Kreativ”. I usually mull these things over for awhile and never quite get to them. I think I still owe someone the list of 6 random things. I decided to give this one some thought right away and commit it to paper.

I found it kind of ironic that I had been chosen to list six things that make me happy and to pass it along to six others. I used to consider myself to be a pretty happy go lucky guy but lately I’ve become more of a grumpy old man. I could easily think of things that make me unhappy, I was going to have to dig a little deeper right now to recall those things that do make me happy.

A couple of years ago I took a new position at work that requires much inter-departmental interaction and government regulation and oversight to get done. I find navigating all the red tape very frustrating. It seems as though no one really wants the position but they all want to tell you how to do it. Our youngest son has decided to take a path in life that is contrary to many of the things we tried to impress upon him in his youth. While we are not super rich, we have been able to provide our sons with certain advantages that the youngest one has seemed to squander away. Most recently he totaled a car we’d only made two payments on within days of getting a speeding ticket. Just recently I made the decision to leave a small group Bible study we’ve belonged to for four years after enduring one too many discussions that spiraled into hard headed non-negotiables. Then there have been layoffs and the threat of layoffs, my stress fracture, the huge losses in my 401k, the election, the whole economic mess, ad infinitum. Needless to say I haven’t been dealing well.

Before I get any further into this downward spiral I will change gears. I do realize that I have much to be thankful for and probably just need and deserve a swift kick in the pants to get moving again. Now on to the list:

Six things that make me HAPPY

1. My wife and I together. Through everything else she’s the one constant. She takes care of all the stuff I don’t/won’t/can’t. She is my biggest supporter and fan. Besides that we take really cute pictures together. I have them hanging in my cube at work and can’t help but smile when I look at them.

2. Seeing my kids succeed. They sometimes fail but when they pick themselves up and make wise decisions for themselves it is satisfying. They sometimes surprise me with their acts of generosity and brilliance.

3. Worship music. I love music in general but it is very difficult to be anything but happy when listening to and belting out my favorite church songs, old and new.

4. Comfort food. There’s just something about a plate of meat loaf and mash potatoes, a bowl of chili, Italian escarole soup, hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, even a good PB&J. The list is long. Nothing beats hearty soul satisfying food.

5. Natural beauty. I love to be outside taking in the grandeur of the landscape and the details of a leaf, a flower, or a rock. I enjoy a warm sunny day and a cool cloudy day equally.

6. Running. Of course. Running is my “me time”, my time away from all the other concerns. It also encompasses all the other things on the list. Running and the pursuit of 50 states marathons has allowed Lisa and I to get away and share some great times together exploring this nation of ours. I’ve gotten to share runs with each of my boys. Although I’ve only recently added the ipod to my runs, a song is almost always running through my head as I pound the road or the trail. As for food, comfort food, isn’t that 99% of the reason to run. Everything tastes better after a long run. And lastly running gets me out there in the middle of shoulder high mustard plants, bunnies, hawks, turkey vultures, autumn leaves, the smell of eucalyptus trees, cloudless skies, foggy skies, rolling hills, mud, live oak groves, sand and ocean waves and so much more.

Thank you Anne for giving me the opportunity to search out the happy thoughts. If you haven’t been tagged already, feel free to take the opportunity to explore your soul and create your list of happy thoughts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sneaking a Peak

Memphis, TN

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Average Temperatures: High 55°F; Low 37°F
Record Temperatures: High 76°F; Low 15°F

I couldn't help myself. I had to look. The average temps look like perfect marathon running weather.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Run To The Beach

The last long run before the marathon is complete and I am thankful for that. It was one of the toughest runs in memory. But runner’s memories can’t really be counted on when it comes to recalling the toughness of a run or race. It’s sort of like a women and childbirth.

We did something Saturday that we’ve talked about for a couple of years but just never got done. We ran to the beach. The group today was Terry, Mike, Carol and me. Many of the CA Cruisers were running the inaugural Pasadena Marathon on Sunday.

Typically I drive to the beach and run my long runs along the bike paths that parallel the beach. On many occasions I do my runs on the bike paths that parallel the drainage canals, aka rivers, in LA/OC as out and backs. Saturday we parked our cars in Yorba Linda where I first started training years ago. We hopped on the Santa Ana River Trail at the usual spot, mile marker 22.5, and headed toward the beach.

By all accounts it should have been a fairly easy run, except for the 22 mile part. The rivers all run to the beach. Rivers don’t run uphill so the whole thing was downhill, a very gradual downhill, but downhill none the less. When we arrived the Santa Ana winds were kicking up something fierce. The good thing is that the winds would be at our backs the entire way. Couple that with the downhill aspect and we had all the advantages in our favor.

The wind was actually more of a negative. The Santa Ana’s are accompanied by warmer than normal temperatures and bone dry humidity. It was already in the mid 60’s when we got started at 6:00 a.m. with projected highs for the day into the 90’s. The super arid air made proper hydration a key issue of the day. As nice as a downhill trail along a river sounds, in LA it means being fully exposed to the sun the entire time with a huge cement culvert on one side. An advantage of this type of trail is that it is nearly impossible to get lost.

The four of us are all planning on marathons the first week of December. I’m off the Tennessee of course, Terry is off to Sacramento for the California International Marathon, while Mike and Carol are off to Tuscon. Carol’s pace is slower so she had started 30 minutes ahead of the three of us. We wondered when and if we would ever catch her.

The run started uneventfully except for the wind. The three of us just marched along following Mike’s run/walk schedule of 5:30/0:45. At drank something at almost every walk break. It was so dry out there. By mile 14 I started to lag behind Mike and Terry a little bit. The mother in Terry came out to make sure I was doing all right. My shin was fine, I was just “pooped”. I’ve been pretty tired on all my runs since the 20 miler three weeks ago. I gave them permission to go on without me. I planned on finishing the 22 miles but I was going to have to slow down.

Soon afterward, Mike admitted that he too would not be able to keep up with Terry. He fell back a few yards with me. He stopped to adjust his watch timer for shorter run segments. I expected him to catch me but he never did. He kept fading further and further back.

At this point, around mile 15 or so, I had that currently familiar thought about how nice it would be to just do half marathons. I had to chuckle to myself over that. The last 6 miles we were four people running alone. Terry had continued on feeling strong, I continued to plod along, while Mike faded further. Carol was up there somewhere still to be caught. Once on my own, I set my watch to 5:1 and soon adjusted that to 4:2.

With 5 miles to go, I saw a female runner up ahead. She was walking and running as well. During my run segments I gained very little on her, but didn’t loose much ground during the walk segments. It took me a mile and half to catch her. It turned out to be Carol. I haven’t run with her often and didn’t recognize her silhouette.

With 2 miles to go, I was completely out of fluids. I had been sucking on ClifBlocks for several miles just to keep my mouth moist. About a mile from the beach I could see the ocean waves crashing under the bridge at PCH and knew I was going to make it. My pace at this point was roughly 12 to 13:00 per mile. I got to the 0 mile marker on the trail just completely spent, thirsty and hungry.

My final time was right at 4:00 for a 10:55 pace overall. I think we were around 9:30 for the first 10 to 12 miles, but I don’t really know since I wasn’t tracking mile splits. The first thing I did was wash my face at the restroom at Huntington Beach. I tried to drink some water, but at first I felt like I was going to lose it. I sat down and tried to recover. I returned to the drinking fountain and was able to get some water down. We waited a few minutes for our ride back. Terry had arranged with her daughter to pick us up and drive us back to Yorba Linda.

I told Terry that I was never running that one again! Yet I know that I likely will. The weather was just not what any of us would expect. It is the middle of November for goodness sakes and yet we are still having summer like weather in the 90’s. I’m counting on cooler weather in Tennessee.

Final mileage for the week was 33.7. Let the taper begin.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Always There

Another week in the books. One week closer to that next long awaited state. Four weeks from today I will be on a plane on my way back home from Tennessee. While not guaranteed, I am feeling pretty confident about crossing the finish line in AutoZone Park. Finishing the St. Jude Marathon will be a triumph over injury and one state closer to my goal. For that I am thankful.

This week, Week 23, consisting of 4 runs for 23 miles looked just like last week give or take a half mile moved from one day to another. I’ve come to realize that most of my mileage has been what many would classify as “junk”; just enough to get by. Reading blogs, like David, Charlie, Burger, Joe and Juls, I realize that you’ve all got a more focused training plan with speed work, tempo runs, and LT runs, while I just cover the ground.

Even with the talk of running dangerously in my last post, I’ve really been running pretty safely. I’m afraid to push it. The injury earlier this year is one reason. I frequently feel like I’m one wrong step, one pulled muscle, one pushed pace away from disaster.

I mentioned to Jeff a couple of years back that I am always keenly aware of my legs. Do you know the feeling? We’ve got a multitude of parts to our bodies. On a daily basis we are not aware of most of them. Take the spleen for example, you know it is there, but unless its causing you pain you don’t really think about it. On the other hand my legs always have some kind of twinge here or there. On any given day my quads are sore, the IT flares, my Achilles ache, etc, etc. My legs are always “there.” Before I was a runner my legs were just another part of my body. They were not constantly reminding me of their presence. Don’t get me wrong, I like that feeling of “there-ness”, but I fear that all those little pains will become bigger pains if I push beyond my comfortable pace and plan.

Besides the 50 State goal I have other goals – a sub 4:00 marathon and a Boston Qualifier, currently at 3:30 for me. A couple of years into running I was able to achieve that sub 4:00 at SEAFAIR with increased experience and mileage. I even pulled off a 3:40 with the help of a net downhill at St. George. Since then things have gone in the other direction. The BQ is going to take a more focused effort.

For now I’m going to stay the course through 2008, but 2009 is time for re-evaluation. Let’s hope this body can take the heat and even more that I will have the mental fortitude to do what needs to be done.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Filling Holes and Painting Doors

Finishing the painting of the doors was the official reason I gave for taking the day off on Monday. I had an extra company paid personal holiday left to take along with over 6 weeks of vacation in the bank and a huge hole in my work calender that needed filling.

But a day off can't be all work and no play. A day off during the week is a day to run, a day to run free, to run wild, to run a little dangerously.

Before I donned the old painted shorts and t-shirt, before I gathered the blue tape and the brush, I donned my trusty running gear and headed out to Bonelli.

I had the whole day in front of me. I decided that I'd played it safe long enough. I've run in Bonelli all summer but only on the flattest, easiest paths. Monday was different.

I had plenty of reasons not to run dangerously. I'd come so far from not running at all in the spring. I was only 5 weeks out from my one and only marathon in 2008. Now was not a good time to blow it. But there are no guarantees, so I headed out.

I strapped on my trail shoes for the first time since the Winter Trail Series back in February. I did put in the orthotics. The Cascadias felt good. I planned to run my beloved Sunday Morning 5 Mile Loop for the first time in months. I was excited.

The trail was in perfect condition. The light rains that we'd had over the weekend had knocked down all the dust but not soaked the clay soil to the point that it clumped mercilessly to my shoes. I started the run under cloudy skies with an ever so slight mist. It was a perfect re-entry, energizing run.

During the rehab process I've run this trail up to the 2 mile mark but have always turned around and retraced my steps. Today I cruised right on by that mark and kept going intent on finishing the entire loop.

As a nod to sanity and prudence, I stuck to the 5 minute run/1 minute walk routine. I thoroughly enjoyed running the back part of the loop. I'd missed it. The big hills at the end were still steep but I has thrilled to be moving up them. By the time I hit the 4.5 miles the sun was shining brightly; perfectly reflecting my mood.

Post run, all seems to be well. I indulged my running inner child and still got the doors painted. I think I'll check my work calendar for some more holes.

picture credit:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Other Chino Hills

Same town, different route.

Usually when I run in Chino Hills it means Chino Hills State Park. The park is a haven for mountain bikers, hikers and of course trail runners. Next to Bonelli it is one of my favorite local places to run. I haven't been in the park since the beginning of the year. I still haven't. Today I met Terry and Mike near the entrance of the park but instead of going into the park we ran a 9.5 mile route through the streets and neighborhoods. It was a nice morning for a run. The weather forecast had called for intermittent showers but they didn't materialize until the afternoon.

The rest of the week went well. Last Sunday I found out how my legs really felt after running 20 miles for the first time in 8 months. All day Saturday and even up until the point that I started running Sunday afternoon my legs felt really pretty good. Once I started running I realized how tired and worn out they were. I made it through a meandering 33 minute run in Bonelli and called it 3 miles. I put off Monday's 5 miler until Wednesday to give my legs a couple of extra days to recuperate.

Wednesday, I headed over to Bonelli after work for the 5 miler and finished just before 7 o'clock. I finally came to the realization that "that" time of the year was here again; the time when it's just too dark to run in the park after work. I made it to within days of the time change so I can't complain too much.

On Thursday I was able to leave work about an hour early. I took advantage of the time and ran on the trails in Bonelli. About 3/4 of the way through my shin was whining just a little. I realized I had forgotten my brace and was wearing my oldest shoes. The miles on these shoes had probably reached the point of early retirement.

Back to Saturday – Mike and Terry had met earlier for about 5 miles. I joined them at 7:00. We used Mike’s run/walk schedule of 5:15 run/0:45 walk. He likes this better than a minute walk break as he finds he stiffens up too much after a minute especially during the last miles of a marathon. About a mile before the finish Terry split off for some extra mileage. The final score was Darrell 9.5, Mike 15, and Terry 18. We met afterwards at Peet’s for coffee. There is a significant running community in Chino Hills. During the run we must have seen close to 50 other runners, as singles and in groups of up to 10, pretty cool. I’ve run all over Covina and never come across more than a single runner at a time and rather infrequently at that.

I awoke this morning a little after 6:00/7:00 depending on if you go by body time or clock time. I did the green thing and headed straight out the door for a familiar 4.5 mile loop. I decided to run the entire thing and actually time it. Other than the long runs I haven’t been timing myself on the come back trail. I’ve only been using the watch to keep track of run/walk intervals. The 4.5 miles took me 42:38 for 9:29 pace. I think I’ll go back to not timing myself for a little longer.

Now some accounting:

October – 103.5 miles – easily the highest mileage month of 2008, aided by the 20 miler. That same week of the 20 miler was my highest mileage week of the year by 0.1 of a mile at 32.4.

This week was an easy week at 23 miles. Next week will be the same. The following week will include the last long run before Tennessee.

Five weeks to the big day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

While the Miles Roll Away

I remember the days when getting a run in was a simple affair. Yesterday morning I felt like a pack mule as I gathered all my necessities for the long run. I had water bottles (half water, half Gatorade G2), a couple a gels, the belt to hold them, sweat cloth, ipod and earphones, Body Glide, shin support, medical tape, and a banana. Plus my keys, wallet and cell phone. I stuck all that in a grocery bag just to carry it to the car. I also had a small cooler to keep my new favorite recovery drink, chocolate milk, cold.

I had originally agreed to meet Mike at 6:00 a.m. I normally start my runs at a reasonable 7:00, he likes to get going by 5:00; we split the difference. Mike called on Thursday with a work committment that was going to preclude his run. I could have joined the Cruisers at 7:00 but decided to stick to the 6:00 plan since I had already scheduled the rest of my day around that time.

Than plan had originally called for a 22 miler today. When my shin began acting up again, I scaled it back to a 20 miler. This would be my first of two for Tennessee and my first since February 16. Eight months between long runs. I felt like I had to prove to myself that I could actually cover the distance again.

Finishing was my primary goal. Pace and time were secondary. I had set a loose expectation of staying below 10 minute pace. I set my watch for the 7:1 run:walk intervals that I've been using. I also started the chrono but didn't really monitor it. I started off in the dark on a street so I kept the ipod off. Once I hit the beach path and the sun began to rise I turned on the tunes. I've only recently began running the long runs to music and I am actually enjoying it.

I took sips from my bottles at most of my walk breaks. I hit the 10 mile turn around point right at 1:39:21, as close to 10:00 pace as I could hope for. I just hoped I could maintain that, since I hadn't given myself any leeway, but I reminded myself of goal number one to finish.

Once I hit about 13 miles I stared questioning marathons. The half distance is so much easier to do. I wondered (not seriously) if I could adjust my goal to half marathons in half the states. The music became a dominant force in the run during the second half. My playlist had mostly Christian pop/rock but I had added Jackson Browne's Running on Empty as well. The album showed up around mile 13. I hoped the title was not prophetic. I was still feeling pretty good at that point. "You Love the Thunder" has a great beat to run to. A couple of songs later these words in "Load Out/Stay" rang true - we've got the time to think of the one's we love while the miles roll away.

A couple of songs later during mile 15 or so the lyrics were - I'm tired of putting one foot in front of the other. The song "A Breath or Two" by Jimmy Needham is more about the status quo and self centeredness but was appropriate at the time.

Mile 16, my new favorite song came on, "Today is The Day" by Lincoln Brewster. I know I picked up the pace pretty significantly during this one. I debated for a second about keeping it looping but doubted I could keep up the pace for four more miles. It was one of the best four and a half minutes of the run. Although this isn't a subject I normally breach on this blog, I thought I would include a video of the song here.

Along the way I had taken half a packet of gel at mile 10, 13, 15 and 17. Although I was getting pretty tired I stuck to my 7:1 schedule and was pleased beyond pleased at my final time of 3:20:42, a 10:02 pace overall. Darn good after an eight month hiatus. After the banana and the chocolate milk I drove home to start the rest of my day.

Tennessee is lookin' better all the time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

PA in Pix


Clock near the rail station in Lititz, PA


Rolling vistas


Autumn Mosaic


Lisa and her Dad at Longwood Gardens


View from a treehouse window, Longwood Gardens




Lisa and me at the Harrisburg Airport - Where else do they have country rockers at an airport?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

LOL in Blogland

I've been reading Nick's blog for a little while now. About a week or so ago I discovered that we had both run the NYC marathon in 2005. One day last week Nick put up a short synopsis of his marathons. The NYC marathon account included a run in with Sponge Bob Square Pants. Nick suffered an abrasion from Sponge Bob. I felt compelled to tell Nick of my own experience with the Sponge Bob sponge as a comment which I will copy below:

"Sponge Bob suffered a bad fate with me in NYC. Somewhere after picking up the sponge, I needed to use the john. There was no toilet paper so poor Sponge Bob was pressed into service. Needless to say that was one souvenir I did not bring home."

A few days later, while I watch catching up on blogs I came across this on Nick's site. I was in PA for the weekend and my mother-in-law was right there when I busted out laughing. I just couldn't bring myself to reveal the whole sordid details to her, but it was a funny moment.

Thanks for the laugh Nick!

The rest of my running week went like this. I did the 5 mile in Bonelli on Monday before the doctor appointment. Monday night I did a leg workout with the trainer at the gym. My legs were killing me until Thursday. The next time I got out there was on Thursday evening. I headed over to Bonelli for 4 miles. I took it pretty easy.

Twelve hours later, I was back out on the road at 6:00 for a 10.5 miler from home. I got the run in before we left for PA. My wife and I were going there to celebrate my in-laws 25th wedding anniversary. The weather took a turn toward chilly when we arrived after having been near 80 earlier in the week. I had planned not to run on Saturday, but skipped the run Sunday since it was only in the 30's when I had the time to go around 7:00 a.m. The rest of the day we were gone. We had a great day at Longwood Gardens.

When I got up Monday morning it was 27 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. I waited until almost 11:00 for the temps to finally break 40 before I went out for about 4 miles on the country lanes in PA. The vistas are beautiful. You can see a long way on the gently rolling terrain of south central PA.

We arrived back in SoCal at midnight last night. After a day a work today, I am off to take a test in Marketing. Never a dull moment.

Monday, October 13, 2008


The doctors appointment scheduled for the middle of the morning allowed me to get in my run first thing. I got up at my normal time and headed over to Bonelli for 5 miles over the dam onto Cottontail Trail. I did feel a little guilty taking a parking space in the Park&Ride lot during the morning rush, but felt better when I got back and there were still empty spaces.

The sun wasn't quite up when I got started. The weather has definitely taken a turn towards cooler. It was interesting to feel the different areas of cool and warm air that collected in the valleys and rose up from the lake. During the run I actually saw two other runners at different times going in the opposite direction. I came across both of them during a walk break. I hate when that happens. I did see the one guy on the return trip and this time I was running - redeemed.

I went to the appointment with the orthopedist. I described the pain and my history of diagnosis, treatment, physical therapy and release, mileage build up and return of the pain. He had a look at my orthotics and my old x-rays. They took new ones for comparison.

Thankfully I liked what he had to say and what he didn't say. He didn't tell me to stop running. He did pronounce my case to be unremarkable - classic shin splints. Treatment includes doing the things I'm already doing, albeit on a more regular basis. Stretching, ice, OTC anti inflammatory meds and the shin support. He suggested a source of OTC inserts when my current expensive prescription ones wear out. He also gave me his email and told me to use it if I had any questions in the future. He answers all his own email.

I was impressed with him and relieved that my "condition" is not more serious. Shin splints are annoying but ultimately dealt with. I will stay the course and keep to the plan for Memphis and then try to ramp things up ever so slowly to the levels of 2007 and see where I go from there.

I've got to plan a marathon someday in Idaho to meet up with Eric, Michelle, Rob and whoever else wants to join us. And there's always the fourth annual blogger reunion to plan sometime at the end of 2009. [Note to Joe - we are running out of choices the first week or two of December, what do you think about OBX in North Carolina on Veterans Day weekend in 2009? Just a thought. ] Anybody else have a good ideas.

Movin' forward and lookin' ahead - Remarkable!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thirty Percent More....

…at no extra charge.

The scheduled long run this week was 10 miles. Back in June when I first put this plan on paper, I penciled in many of the local races to see where they would fit it. Back in August I ran the Run through the Pines half on a weekend that called for a 12 miler. That race went well. A couple of weeks later I faced the choice of adding other races to the schedule and I added the Long Beach Half Marathon to the plan. I sent in my registration on 8/29 before the price increase. This was a Friday. No sooner had I done that than my shin started hurting again (at the end of week 13, training for my 13th state, hmmmm). I also had to make a critical decision. That day was the last day to send in my early entry for Big Sur in 2009. As much as I really want to run that one, I just couldn’t send in that check for $108 and risk not running it for the second time.

Meanwhile this weekend, my friend Terry was running the full at Long Beach and many of the CA Cruisers were running the half. Terry asked me to pace her for the first 11 miles before the half and full split up. She was using LB as a training run for a shot at a BQ at the California International Marathon the same weekend I’m scheduled for Tennessee.

After some traffic snarl ups we made it to the race start with only a couple of minutes to spare. I had no official time goal but was hoping for something less than 2:10. Terry was shooting for a 4:15 – 4:20 marathon. We were trying to keep the pace between 9:30 and 10:00, hopefully toward the longer side while we were together and then Terry would kick it up later as necessary to meet the goal.

Our first few miles were on the faster end of the desired pace.

Mile 1 – 9:35
Mile 2 – 9:22
Mile 3 – 9:21

I pulled back a little and told Terry to set the pace. I joked with her that I didn’t want to be blamed for the end of the race falling apart because we’d gone too fast at the start.

Mile 4 – 9:32
Mile 5 – 9:30
Mile 6 – 10:01

We’d finally slowed down a little. At this point, as seems to be the case with me a lot lately, my gut needed to take a break. I’d even taken care of business before the race started. I had to let Terry go on without me at the next set of port-o-johns.

Mile 7 – 10:48 including the bathroom stop

I tried like crazy to catch up to Terry before she reached the mile 11 cut off to the full.

Mile 8 – 9:27

I passed quite a few people but didn’t really gain any ground. I shortened my walk breaks. We had been using 7:1 up to that point. In my attempt to catch Terry I missed a couple of mile markers before 11.

Mile 9, 10, 11 – 27:35 (9:12 pace)

There was no hope of catching Terry. At this point I reminded myself that this was just a training run and tried to settle into a more leisurely pace. As I ran along, I felt good and continued to pass people.

Mile 12 – 8:48 the fastest mile so far

Mile 13.1 – 9:34

I ended up finishing the race faster than I started it. That was pretty cool. The clock read 2:04:45 when I crossed the finish line. My watch had 2:03:33 (9:25 pace). The official results will be posted later this evening.

I hung around after the finish and got to see many of the Cruisers coming in. I was at the finish line when the first marathoner crossed the finish. It is amazing that he just ran a marathon in about 15 minutes longer than it took me to run the half. I also got to see a guy with a fairly good sized cheering section get to announce that “I’m going to Boston!!” He’d qualified with 30 seconds to spare somewhere in the 3:15 time frame.

I decided to head up the course to wait for Terry. I picked her up with about a mile to go and ran her in to the finish. She came in at 4:12, faster than planned but at least I wasn’t on the hook for the fast early pace.

It was a beautiful day for a race. Besides the parking hassles due to the fact that there is only one freeway that dumps you into Long Beach and the number of walkers on the course that is on a 12 foot wide bike part for part of the time, the rest of the event is well organized. The half marathon course is pretty interesting I think and before I knew it I was done. I would consider doing this one again if it fit into the schedule again as nicely as it did this year.

Burger, another LA blogger was there as well, gunning for a PR effort at the half. I hope he was able to achieve his goal and look forward to reading his take on the race.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor that I made the Monday after Black Week 13. Since then my shin has felt so much better. I’ve run an 18 miler, another speedy run earlier this week and the half today with no apparent ill effects, but I’m going to keep the appointment anyway since it took a month get in. I’ll let you know what he has to say.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Little Taste of the Old Me

Until today running has sucked this week. Pretty much everything has sucked this week. The economy has resulted in some of my coworkers losing their jobs or corporately speaking "their positions were eliminated"; whatever. My (and your) 401k took a huge dive. On the home front I am finding it increasingly more difficult to deal with the 18 year old who seems to have no motivation or direction. Even the shortest contact with him ends with me being pissed off. Life!

I didn't run on Monday, although I can't remember exactly why. The initial plan was to run Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday I had class - Intro to Marketing, so no running. Wednesday I'm blaming on the kid, but in reality it was my reaction to the kid that kept me from running.

Today I finally got out there and it felt G-O-O-D! I headed over to the San Gabriel River Trail right after work. It was just like old times. Brian, Celeste, Terry and I used to have a standing 5 miler every Thursday right after work. Today it was just me but the trail was familiar.

I got started right behind another guy. I fell in behind him as he slowly crept further and further ahead of me. I took note of the time at a mile marker and realized my chasing had me running nearly 8:00 pace. Just before the 2 mile mark my rabbit turned back. I ended up doing that mile in 8:20. It has been a long time since I'd done that. My heart and lungs felt nearly ready to burst out of my chest. At that point I took a 30 second walk break to catch my breath and then kept on going without my rabbit to spur me on.

I tried to keep the pace under control. I had no need to run fast. I've found though that once I've started a pace I have a hard time changing it up. The next mile came in at 8:40 which included the 30 second walk break. The next mile was 8:06. I was huffing and sucking in as much air as I could but I couldn't slow down. It was during mile 4 that I realized that I was running the whole time. For some reason I didn't even think to take walk breaks. I've been using 5:1 on shorter runs pretty routinely lately. I guess I was enjoying the trail and the little burst of speed too much. I took another 30 second walk break at mile 4.5 and tried really hard to take easy into the finish.

My final time was 42:03 for an 8:25 pace overall. Like I said it felt really GOOD. I'm not sure where the little burst of speed came from but it was fun while it lasted and for 42:03 life didn't suck quite so badly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Its Fall Y'All

Its Fall Y’allsign at a nursery/garden store near the start of my long run.

The last minute trip to Toronto changed the running plans a little, maybe even for the better. I was able to get a 5 miler in on Monday morning before my flight at noon. It was very nice to run in the morning on a weekday with no big rush to be anywhere. Just before I left, we had a short rain shower. It was the kind with the great big drops, that if one hit you you’d be drenched. The shower didn’t last and I was rewarded with a beautiful rainbow in the western sky. The 5 mile run was more of an effort than I expected. It was my third run in three days, which is something I don’t do too often anymore.

The trip to Toronto went well. The weather was alternately gloomy, raining and then clear; typical for the region. I was able to spend a short amount of time downtown. There is a beautiful running path right on Lake Ontario that I would like to take advantage of if I ever get another chance to visit Toronto. I also was able to see Niagara Falls before one of the customer visits. It is just magnificent. I didn’t run a step in Toronto.

I was back home and at work on Friday and planned my 18 miler for Saturday. The CA Cruisers were mostly running a local 5K, so I was pretty much on my own for the 18. Thankfully, Terry my old running buddy from work was looking for a partner for 10 miles. So I headed out to the river trail in Yorba Linda and put in 8 miles beginning at 7:00. It was a perfect day for a long run. The forecast had called for scattered light showers. They never materialized; they rarely do around here, but the cloud cover, cool temps and light breeze made for great day. I used my shin guard and stuck to my 7:1 run:walk routine.

The first 8 miles ticked off pretty easily. Terry was there to meet me and I never missed a beat on my way for the second part of the run. We continued the 7:1 schedule. Terry was up for an easy run since she is running the Long Beach Marathon next weekend. She lamented the fact that the weather would have been great for the marathon this weekend, while next weekend is forecast for 78 degrees. I made it to the turnaround point, 13 miles so far, feeling pretty good. By the time we hit mile 16 I was relishing the walking breaks. I struggled a little to get the last 2 miles done. I felt better if I paid attention to my posture, but my hips and knees were definitely feeling the effects of the 18 miles. We finished up just seconds shy of 3 hours for a nice round 10:00 pace. I’d be ecstatic if I could keep that up for Memphis, but it doesn’t seem realistic considering the struggle to get to 18.

The shin felt really good so I’m feeling pretty good about getting to Memphis. Right after the run Lisa and I left for Laughlin, Nevada. Laughlin is a 4 hour drive. We were going to catch Journey in the last stop of their 2008 Revelation Tour. Journey was the first concert we ever saw together way back when we were dating so it was going to be a nice way to celebrate our 24 wedding anniversary. Fiscal year end inventory at her work and my flight to Toronto on the actual day prohibited celebrating any sooner. The concert was a lot of fun, but it sure is odd to see all those grey haired, pot bellied folks at a rock show. I just don’t see myself that way. A lot of people were there as families with their teens which was kind of cool and the new lead singer who is from the Philippines drew a significant number of Filipinos.

I did get in a short 2.5 mile run on Sunday morning, but the previous days run and the bone dry conditions in Laughlin made it a difficult run. I called it quits at 2.5 and planned on finishing up the run on the treadmill at the hotel but then didn’t want to pay the $5 usage fee, as if the casino/hotel isn’t profitable enough.

I ended the week with 25.5 miles. Between the flight, the long run and the drive to and from Laughlin, I’m worn out. Good thing this week is a step back week, but then again is it????

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crystal Fog

The shin seems to be holding up. The shin support, affectionately known as the "shin thingy" seems to be helping out immensely. The right leg was diagnosed with the stress fracture earlier this year. It seemed OK until I had a couple of weeks above 25 miles in the books and then it started hurting again. I got a little aggressive with the ice and self massage and things seemed to get a little better. I even have some pain in the left leg as well. I am almost considering going back to the regular insoles from the orthotics to see what will happen. I've decided to stay the course for now, either through Memphis or after the doc appointment I have in a couple of weeks.

Monday I headed over to Bonelli after working out with the trainer. I ran the picnic loop 2x. Thanks to the changing seasons I finished up in the dark. While I am always happy for the cooler weather, the early onset of darkness is always a little bit of a bummer. I had forgotten to pack the shin thingy so I ran the 4 miles without it. Everything seemed OK.

Thursday was 3 miles on the equestrian trail. I wore the brace and used a 4:1 run:walk ratio.

The big run for the week was the 11 miler on Saturday with the CA Cruisers in Crystal Cove State Park. We met at the Sherman Library in Corona Del Mar. The run takes us over the Goldenrod footbridge to Ocean Blvd, then to Coast Highway and eventually onto the beach at the Crystal Cove State Beach. About 5 miles of the run is actually on the sand. We usually do this run in the summer months. Today the tide was higher than in the summer which left us very little hard pack sand to run on. The other big factor today was the fog. It was so thick you could barely see more than 100 yards ahead. The fog collected on my glasses making visibility even worse. I had to continually wipe them off to be able to navigate the beach. While tech shirts are good for keeping the body cool they are worthless for cleaning glasses. Besides the fog the temperature was just about perfect; not too warm while running and not too cool when standing still. The turn around point is the promontory at El Morro. The tradition is to touch "the wall" before turning around and heading back. There was an abundance of plover running around the surf and we got to glimpse a seal near the shore playing in the waves. The sand running kept the pace well over the 11:00 mark for the second weekend in a row.

Because of the shin pain, I've been trying to avoid hills. Running downhill aggravates the pain noticeably. This morning trying to decide where to run my 4 miler, I gave into temptation and ran an out and back route over in Bonelli on the trails. I kept the pace easy (I'm not sure at this point if I can really handle much of anything but an easy pace, but that's OK) and avoided the bigger hills on the back part of the loop.
This is the first week in the last three that I did all four planned runs. Next week I am taking another business trip so I think I will only get in three runs for the week. The weekend holds an 18 miler so giving the leg a little extra rest may be good.
With my run tomorrow morning before heading out to the airport I will finally break the 500 mile mark for the year. I hit 500 in March last year and in April in 2006. Ten weeks to Memphis.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Running Late

I started for bed around 10:00 last night. Then I checked the blogs and found I had missed a couple of people when I transferred from bloglines to blogger's list, so I fixed that. Then I decided to update the play list on my ipod shuffle, so by the time I hit the pillow it was nearly 11:30. I set my watch alarm for 5:30 with plans to meet the CA Cruisers for another go at the 2 Parks-2 Loops route. We had last done this route four weeks ago.

I awoke this morning on my own to more daylight than I expected. I jumped up to find that it was already 6:20. I never even heard the alarm. 6:20 still gave me enough time to get the bare necessities done - brush the teeth, eat a pb&j, get dressed, grab all my stuff and be on my way. I would still make it to Brea to meet everyone at 7:00.

I was about 3 miles from home, about to get on the freeway, when I realized that I had forgotten my new shin thingy. So back home I went. I had used the support on my 5 miler on Wednesday with good results. I didn't want to try to run the 16 miles without it. With the extra trip there was no way I was going to make it to Brea on time. I considered going to the beach or to the Santa Ana River Trail instead but finally decided to go to Brea and see if I could catch up with anybody. The 2 loop course offers a couple of chances to run into folks on their way out and back.

Apparently I was not the only one running late today. As I drove into the parking lot, Michelle was just taking off. I gave a shout but she didn't hear me. We've run together before, our paces used to be about the same. Just as I was about ready to head out Renee pulled into the parking lot so we joined forces.

She wasn't familiar with the route so I took on the guide dog responsibilities. Renee is coming back from little running over the summer and with kids in school is struggling to find time to run mid week. She was afraid that her slow pace was holding me back, but in my current situation it was just fine. She even took walk breaks with me on the 7:1 schedule I was using.

We did two circuits of the 2 Parks-2 Loops route, about 10 miles, and she called it a day. We did run into a couple of the other Cruisers out there. I then headed off on my own and added the Summit Hill Loop and another lap of park #1 (Craig Park) to get in my requisite 16 miles.

I didn't keep strict time overall, but by pace was somewhere beyond 11:00 minutes per mile. This is slower than I'd like but the good thing about it is that I had plenty of gas in the tank at the end of 16 miles and the pace and run:walk combo seems to be good for the leg.

I'm really happy with the shin thingy. My only complaint is that I had to stop a couple of times to get it tight enough to stay put on my calf. It tended to drift down toward my ankle. I think a little medical grade tape might fix that. I may need to consider strategically shaving that leg, a la Donald, to make the tape removal a little less painful.

My primary focus is staying healthy and maintaining the gains with the leg and crossing that finish line sometime before they dismantle it in Memphis. Today's run makes me feel better about that possibility. Today, running late was just what I needed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Clean Sweep

Too many hours in a hotel can be a dangerous thing. I occupied way to much of my down time catching up and cleaning up my blog lists. I've used bloglines for quite a while to keep up with all the blogs I like to read. Over the time I've subscribed to far more than I can keep up with on a daily basis. I don't know how Marcy does it, but I see her everyone commenting. I can't keep up with that as hard as I try.

I try to keep up as best I can, but for some of you who post often once your posts surpass 4 or 5 I put you off until I have some more time to get caught up and before I do then the post total rises to 10 or even 20 before I get back to you. I hate not reading everything, but sometimes I just can't. This last week I was able to get caught up with everyone.

I even went through my list and deleted people that haven't posted in months in an attempt to streamline my list. I also took advantage of the new "My Blog List" feature and added that to my side bar to replace the old list I had. There have been some additions and deletions from the old list. I then used that feature to add myself as a follower on all your blogs (if you are with blogger). Officially Wes is the my only blog follower. I followed his lead and decided to follow along (yuck, yuck). It would be cool if you decided to add yourself to the list so your little pics would show up in my side bar right next the the Code Geek over there.

I'd like to think that now that I'm caught up I will be able to keep up, but if history is any indication I will be playing catch up more often than I'd like.

I've also read some Internet resources on my leg pain. I ordered a shin brace from that should arrive soon after I get home. Hopefully that will help some. I also made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor in the clinic we use. His practice is busy so I couldn't get in there for a couple more weeks. My hope is that he will be able to give me some kind of diagnosis and treatment plan that will bring me back to 100%.

I will do an easy 4 to 5 miles tomorrow afternoon upon my return to California. I've got 16 planned for this weekend. Memphis is getting ever closer.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The past week has been a flurry of travel.

Airplane to Newark
PATH train to NYC, subway around NYC
private car to Long Island
Amtrak train from NYC to Providence, RI (my first time on an Amtrak, I was impressed)
taxi and airport shuttles as well
and finally another flight to Philadelphia.

I started the week off with a 4.4 mile run by hitting the Bonelli Picnic Loop twice. I did the 4:1 walk thing. I took the remainder of the week days off as a way to give my leg some time to recoup.

Saturday morning was a cloudy, humid morning in Providence, RI. I had mapped out a tentative route here before I left home. I took off from the hotel and ended up on Angell St. This street runs near the campus of Brown University. I was headed out to Blackstone St. but I missed it at first but I go a little section along the river and made my way back. Blackstone is a great running destination. It is old town street with a large greenbelt running down the middle with lots of trees and benches. There were quite a few other runners out there. I headed back to the hotel by going down Hope St. Hope is great because there are a lot a smaller, eclectic neighborhood restaurants. I broke the run up with 5 minutes runs and 1 minute walks. I saw a pretty cool looking dog. The owner said he was a mutt, but that he was mostly Sharpei and Dachsaund.

I really enjoyed this run. Providence is an historic city. There are a lot of trees and many varieties compared to my usual SoCal neighborhood. The larger homes on Angell and Blackstone were predominately stone and brick, usually three stories. As I moved to the interior of the town the houses changed noticebly to mostly wood siding, only 2 stories and much less land.

The run around Providence gave me 7.3 miles on the books. I completed them in 1:11 or 9:44 pace.

I awoke to ran in Providence today, Sunday, but I was leaving for Philly. I had no official duties today so I was definitely planning on filling the day with a run. I arrived in Philly around noon. The temp was in the high 80's and very humid. The heat index put it well into the 90's but I couldn't let the free day go without getting in some semblance of a run.

Because of the heat I modified the pace for sure but started to the 5:1. In my research before the trip I realized that my hotel was within 1.5 miles of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. I headed out at 1:30 in the afternoon. There's well kept trail that encircles Lake Brady in the refuge. The run over was hot and wet. Once I hit the park the first part of the trail was shaded. That helped cool things down a little but the humidity was huge. The second half of the trail is more exposed. By then the heat and humidity were taking their toll. I took some liberty with the 5:1 schedule, even modifying it to 1:1 for the last 0.5 or so. After the completing the loop I decided that I'd accomplished my running goal for the day so I walked the 1.5 miles back to hotel.

The final numbers for this run were >90 degrees between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. I'm giving myself credit for 4.7 miles (not counting the walk back) in a little less than an hour for an 11:42 pace. Considering the conditions and add in the fact that I had little sleep the night before and nothing to eat today, I'll take that.

I won't run again until I return home on Wednesday. As a travelogue note, Providence is a great little city. It is very easy to walk around, although somewhat difficult to drive around. The restaurants are plentiful and good. Saturday night was Waterfire in Providence. It is a very cool experience. I had a great time with my colleagues, but would definitely like to go back with Lisa someday. I wonder if they can make Waterfire and the marathon coincide?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Old Black Water

I pretty much stuck to the plan this week but I threw in a lot of walking and dialed back the Saturday long run from 16 to 12. I've pretty much decided to condense the schedule a little. The original planned called for 3 runs of 20 miles or more. I'm dialing that back to only 2.

With my first walk/run of the week happening on Monday, that gave me a good 2.5 days of rest before my Thursday run. It has been pretty warm around here lately so I waited until after 8:00 p.m. to hit the roads. It never seems to fail that school starting brings on a heat wave.

I went over to the equestrian trail in Via Verde for 4 miles. To extend my usual 3 miler I add on a nice quite street on a ridge in the hills of Via Verde. The street is a dead end so traffic is always light and there's a great view of the mountains in one direction and of the valley and downtown LA in the other. The houses on that street are well above the million $ price tag. There have been several empty lots on the street since I've started running there 4 years ago. I was surprised to see two new mini-mansions being built. I used a 2:2 ratio. I was surprised at how out of breath I was at the end of the 2 minute run. I'm not sure if I was running faster since I was running shorter or if I've just deteriorated beyond comprehension.

Saturday I went down to Huntington Beach and ran with my friend Terry and Mike. We all ran the Winter Trail Series together earlier this year. A couple of years ago Terry and I ran together almost twice a week, but it has been a long, long time since we've run a training run together. We kept the pace to something around 11:00 utilizing a 5:1 schedule. The leg had the usual pains around the shin and some extra added bonus tightness on the inside just above the ankle. Grrrrrrrr.

This morning I went over to Bonelli (I just can't give that place up) for an easy 3 miler on the trail. I set the watch for 3:1. I have no idea how long it took, but it felt pretty easy.

When all was said and done I passed the 7000 mile mark for lifetime miles (June 2003 to present).

Next week I will be traveling for work. It is a multi destination trip. The traveling will offer me the option of giving my leg some R&R. I do enjoy getting my run on when I'm out of town though. So, I will pack my running clothes and see what kind of opportunities present themselves.

The post title refers to the Doobie Brother song. On the way to the beach I was listening to classic rock. I always loved the harmonies of that song. The song brought back memories of buying 45's at the Ben Franklin downtown. My sisters and I would listen to those records over and over and try to figure out the lyrics. I laugh now thinking about how scandalous the band name was back in the day. Compared to some of the music of today the whole thing seems sort of tame and mellow.

Monday, September 01, 2008


18A - Stick with it
24A - Never say die
41A - Keep on keeping on
51A - Hang in there
63A - Don't quit now

Perseverance was the theme of the August 28 crossword and as usual I'm running behind so I just got to it today, September 1. The five phrases above all had the same clue - "Persevere!"

I took advantage this morning of the Monday holiday and did my training "run" this morning. I've got school tomorrow night and I couldn't pass up the chance to run on a work free day. The schedule called for 5 miles. This would be the first time I've gotten back to that distance midweek since the injury.

To not cause any further stress to my leg I decided to go super conservative and did the "run" at a 1:5 ratio. Yes, I walked for 5 minutes and ran for 1. It was probably a little over kill but it worked. At first it felt awkward doing the run:walk backwards but after a while I kind of fell into a rhythm.

I "ran" my Cotton Tail Trail in Bonelli and even took a cue from Joe's friends Dick and Marilyn and picked up trash along the trail during my walk segments. At one point I came upon 5 mountain bikers on the trail coming toward me. The lead rider yelled out "Runner!". The funny thing is I was on one of my walking breaks. So although I walked most of my "run" I guess I still looked the part.

After the "run" I hit the gym for some upper body work before heading home. I spent the rest of the day cleaning out the garage. Lisa was able to get her car back in there for the first time since I started the bathroom remodel in April. I replaced the last two doors, the hall closet and Bryan's room, the day before. Just trim work and painting to go.

I've reevaluated the plan. I haven't taken any distances out yet but I may minimize the number of 20+ milers before Memphis. I've definitley given new thought to run:walk or walk:run; whatever it takes. I did check the website and Memphis is walker friendly, so one thing hasn't changed - I WILL be in Memphis. If I have to walk half the darn thing I'm getting it done and moving onto to state #14. Someday.

*Thanks to Joe and the crossword for the inspiration.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Abridged

Has it really been three weeks since I threw up a decent post? I’ve been hitting my weekly mileage goals since Run Through the Pines, Week 10. I’m now at the half way point in the plan to get to Tennessee. I finished up August with 95.5 miles.

Week 11 was a grand total of 17 miles with the long run of 7. It was one of the hardest 7 miles I’d run in a long time. I’d done 6.8, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 6.7 on my way to RTP without issue. I used an 11:1 run:walk ratio for this one. I rationalized that since I was running shorter I could take less walking breaks. I reported after RTP that my leg felt good. It really did. But that was the last time it felt good.

Week 12 totaled 25.5 miles on a 14 mile long run. I ran the 2 Parks-2 Loops plus Summit House Hill route with the CA Cruisers. I took the first 4 miles really easy on the Summit House section staying back with the slower runners. Back on the 2P-2L section I stepped things up a bit. I used the 8:1 ratio this time.

This week, Week 13, the mileage stepped back to 19.5 with the long run of 8. All week long the leg had been bugging. The muscle tightness was back along the shin bone. With finger pressure along the shin I could find a pain spot without much trouble. I ran the 8 miler at the river trail along the Santa Ana River where I trained for my first marathon. It has been a long time since I’ve run this particular section. I went back to my tried and true run a mile, walk a minute routine. This is what I expect to use in Memphis. The one really nice thing about this run was my pace. I consistently held 9:30 miles without any perceived increased effort. This is a significant improvement over most of my recent long runs.

Later that day my leg was bugging me. The physical part is bad enough, but the mental side of it is even tougher. Sunday morning I got up to do my 4 miler. I had decided ahead of time that I would just walk the first three miles and only run the last one. I stuck to my plan and had some tough conversations with myself during those 50 minutes of walking. When I got home, Lisa was awake. She noted that I had been gone for quite a long time. I told her how I had walked most of my run and told her why.

She asked me, “Are you OK?” It was a simple question, but I don’t have a simple answer. Truthfully, right now I’m not OK. Admitting defeat to your own body is tough. It’s too much to think about and definitely too much to blog about.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's a Dean Thing

I had the opportunity tonight to spend some time with like minded people at a book signing by Dean Karnazes for his latest book 50/50, Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days - And How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance. I'd seen Dean before at a signing for his first book Ultramarathon Man. I've even had the chance to run along side him, for a short period of time, at the St. George Marathon in 2006. S. George was marathon 21 of the 50 for him. Although he finished well ahead of me he was still around the finish area when I got there and my wife was able to snap a picture of us together. I admit it, I'm a fan of the guy.

He spent only a few minutes talking about the new book and then graciously answered questions for at least 30 minutes. He insists that he's just an average guy with a passion for running. His hope for this book is to encourage the rest of us mere mortals to pursue our passions, whether they are running related or not.

A few days ago Greg; a runner, a blogger and a journalist; got to spend some time on the road with Dean. Greg interviewed Dean for his newspaper. Some of the out takes can be found here on Greg's blog. I’ve had the opportunity to run with Greg on the trails in the Santa Ana Mountains. He is a laid back long mileage trail runner. If you poke around his blog very long you’ll see he likes the long runs. One of the coolest things I think he’s done has been the Coastal Challenge, a 6 day stage race in Costa Rica.

While standing in the line to get the book signed I chatted for bit with a young guy behind me. He runs the marathon distance regularly, usually in the middle of the night, as part of his regular training, yet he’s never run an actual marathon. He is planning on running the inaugural Pasadena Marathon later this year as his first official. I should have asked him more about what motivates him to run so far at such odd times.

A kinda cool side note to the book signing was that I got to meet, Billy of L.A. Runner. I’ve been following his blog for the last couple of months. It is always cool to run into virtual folks in person. He just finished the San Francisco marathon a couple of weeks back in sub 4:00 time and is on his way to the next one, California International in December.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Of Canyons and Pines

After last week's easy - cut back week, it was time to ramp things up just a little bit more on the way to marathon #13. The plan called for 3-3 milers and a long run of 12. With some lucky placement of distances in the race schedule I pushed the planned 21 to nearly 24.

Thursday I went back to the OC to run the third installment of the Peters Canyon Summer Trail Race Series. The CA Cruiser contingent was thinned out considerably, being down to 5 of us. So much for all my big talk after the last one about gunning for Dr. John. He handily beat me (after having run the San Fran marathon just 4 days prior). This time the loop was run clockwise, leaving the rolling hills until the 2nd half. Some of the down hills are pretty steep, by no means my strong suit. I'd much rather go up than down. The weather was warmer but didn't seem to be a huge factor. In the end I was a few seconds slower than a month ago with a 49:46 for the 5 miles. This accounted for 2 of the extra miles for the week.

Saturday, I was back at the starting line for the Run Through the Pines Half Marathon. The half fell on the weekend of my 12 miler. The race is held in Crestline and is run as laps around Lake Gregory. Crestline is the closest and maybe smallest of the mountain getaways in the San Bernardino Mountains about an hour from home. Lake Gregory is a small lake at 86 surface acres at an elevation of 4520 feet. Lisa and I drove up Friday afternoon and spent the weekend there. It was a great excuse to get out of town and spend some quality time together. I was joined by 6 other Cruisers, 4 of which were staying at the same hotel by coincidence.

I wasn't going to "race" this one. I just wanted to get the miles in. I stuck to a 7 minute run/1 minute walk interval for the entire race. I started my watch at the beginning and used it only to track the intervals. The half marathon was 4 loops around the lake plus some extra to get the 13.1 distance in. The lake is encircled by a 6 foot fitness path about 3 miles in distance. I did have to check my watch once to determine if I'd made three loops or four. Although I didn't mind doing four loops, it was somewhat difficult to keep a mental count on just how many I had completed. Running the loops had the benefit of crossing the three on course aid stations for times each and you knew exactly when to expect the little up and downs of the mountain road. The course was about 50% shaded. The loop course also afforded multiple chances to see Lisa. She was the unofficial race photographer and caught nearly all of us each lap around.

I was the third Cruiser to finish, behind Randy and Cathe. I came in at 2:10 for a 9:55 pace, a satisfying pace for this point in the return/training. I had nearly caught Cyndee as she completed her third lap. Lisa and I waited and cheered for Denis, Dr. John, Dorothy and Cyndee to finish. It was a fun little event with only 75 finishers. The finisher award was a hand crafted cutout of a pine tree with a small nameplate affixed to the base.

We spent the afternoon reading and just generally being lazy. I read "Endurance, Shackleton's Incredible Voyage". It is pretty amazing what he and his crew accomplished in the Antarctic in 1915-16. We did take a pedal boat out on the lake which probably wasn't the best idea after having run 13.1 miles. We did enjoy some good grub while we were there. The shrimp penne at The Stockade was tasty and a great carbo load the night before the race. The fish tacos at La Cocina de Tony #2 were some of best I've had and went down really well with the celebratory Dos X's Amber. The homemade pasta cannelloni and manicotti at The Cottage for dinner were also very satisfying.

I got up Sunday morning and ran another lap around the lake to bring my weekly mileage total to 23.8. We couldn't leave the mountain without one good breakfast and Billy Bears fit the bill. We lingered over our coffee for a while not really wanting to come back down the hill to reality, teenagers and work.

Next week, things ratchet back a little with the long run being "only" 7 miles. The 7 miles reminds me of a shoe slogan I saw recently that said "Our short runs used to be our long runs". I'm getting back to that point and feeling good about it. My shin held up really well. The stress fracture and any lingering pain has subsided for now. Earlier in the week the physical therapist released me. Good news, yet a bit scary to be going it alone.

One little piece of trivia about Crestline I read in a brochure by the Crestline Business Council - "In 1921 Los Angeles real estate developer, Charles Mann, purchased a major interest in this area and began promoting Crestline Village as a year-round resort destination." Imagine that!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Magazine Wisdom

I’m not really aware of a runners’ high, but I think it keeps me from getting the human low – Jim Kravets (in Trail Runner magazine)

First off some numbers keeping:

79.2 miles for July. My third highest month for the year, but well off my average of 125/month in 2007.

This week was a step back week with only 15.7 miles, 3 - 3 milers and a 6.7 mile long run on Saturday. I did the long run at a 6:1 ratio. I felt really strong on the second half and could have easily run more but stuck to the plan.

I read an article that resonated with me in the May 2008 Running Times. It talked about adult-onset athletes. The definition pretty much fits me to a T. The closest I was to being an athlete as a kid was the manager for the junior high basketball team. Even with that I broke by little finger throwing passes during practice.

The chord that really struck me was the tendency of AOA's to train non stop; not taking into account training phases - conditioning, competing, peaking, and recovery. "Unfortunately for adult-onset runners, the sport of road running has developed into an endless, year-round competitive season." (Running Times, May 2008).

Since I started running I've trained year round. Living in Southern California just made me even more susceptible to this. The weather is almost always good and the local race schedule is plentiful year round. Combine this with the 50 state goal and someone like me can easily run themselves into the ground and apparently I did. The article predicts that 4-5 years into this year round schedule an injury could occur. This ultimately leads to an unplanned recovery period, 13 weeks in my case.

My best year was 2006 after having taken most of January off and then having a 6 month build to my first sub 4:00 marathon, my 8th marathon after starting from 0 three years prior. I've read about recovery periods but have never taken more than a week after a marathon, sometimes as little as three days, before getting right back at it again. I assumed my midpack efforts only required that little rest.

My body was obviously trying to tell me something different. The question is am I smart enough to listen.
In other news, my friend and lab rat, Janice, ran her first marathon this weekend. We ran the Fontana Days Half together back in 2006. She is currently up in San Francisco at dental school. She trained with a race sponsored training group and finished the San Francisco marathon in 4:17. I'm really excited for her.