Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fifteen Minutes

On my way to work this morning I got a call from a friend Mike. Mike was surprised to find my picture in the newspaper. Even more surprising is that it was on the first page of the sports section. Finding my picture in the sports pages, let alone the front page, is about the most unlikely occurrence I could expect. How did this happen?

A while back I was approached by Doug Padilla, sports writer for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. He had been researching the Internet with the intent of finding some local high school athletes that had gone on to great things at little out of the way schools. His search accidentally led him to me (Thanks, Google!). Doug and his editor were intrigued. I met Doug over lunch about a month ago and told him my story. He arranged for a photographer to meet me on my next training run the following Saturday.

The article appeared in today's paper. The Tribune is part of a larger conglomerate so the story is also in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Pasadena Star News and the Whittier Daily News. Here's a link to the story, minus the picture in the print version. I like that Doug took the angle or running with a group to insure success. It's bummer that he left Lisa out of the story. A big part of my story is her support and how we share the trips as mini vacations.

Enjoy the story. My wife bought 6 copies at lunch for various relatives. A coworker printed out the online text and hung it up in the coffee area. My father-in-law was impressed that someone in the family made the paper without dying or being in jail!

Thanks Doug for making me a star for at least a few minutes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Another beautiful morning for a race in the mountains. We have been so fortunate with the weather during this series. Just like the first race four weeks ago, it rained off and on all week and the people on TV who get paid to "predict" the weather were talking rain off and on all weekend as well.

We arrived at race start under mostly clear skies with temps on the chilly side, about 35 degree F. The 18K course was predominately a replay of the 12 and 15K course with a little extra loop thrown in. The extra loop was part of the Chiquita Trail. It is one of the most easily runnable and enjoyable parts of the entire series so far. My friends and I have finished up in the same order at each race. Jim comes in first among us and wins his age group, then Julie, me, Terry and Mike. There were 108 starters and finishers. Within the first mile we've each pretty much found our groove. For the last three miles I ran alone. There was no one in sight in either direction of me. I ran that rocky downhill alone again but this time I knew I was on the right track. By my watch my time was 2:10, about on target for my pace in the other races of this series, at 11:30-ish.

By the time I drove home and showered, it was 2:00 in the afternoon and raining again. Not a bad day at the races. As predicted in the last post this was pretty much my only mileage for the week. I did get in 1 mile on the treadmill before weights with the personal trainer on Wednesday.
Speaking of the personal trainer, I've had an appointment with him once a week for the last 7 weeks or so. When I signed up I negotiated some extra sessions and my son was taking advantage of those. Although he still goes to the gym his tolerance for being pushed a little extra by the PT has worn out after about three sessions, so for the last two weeks I've worked with the PT twice a week.

My primary goal when I signed up was to gain some upper body and core strength. Every week the PT asks what we going to work on and I always say upper body. He has tried to convince me to add some leg work into the mix. After working the upper body two times with the trainer last week (I've been working the upper on my own at least two other times each week as well), I finally decided to throw legs into the mix on Wednesday.

I've resisted leg work assuming that as a runner, my legs were strong. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. He worked my legs and it hurt way more than I ever expected it too. Thursday my legs were sore. By Friday they were major sore. Sitting down and standing up were major undertakings. I believe they hurt worse than after any marathon. By Saturday, race morning, they were still pretty stiff and sore. The first few steps of the race, I felt like I couldn't get moving. Fortunatley they finally kicked into gear and the weight session didn't seem to have much of a negative effect on the outcome of the race.

The pain between my shin bone and calf was noticeable during the race, but not so painful that I couldn't run. I iced it when I got home and for most of the afternoon it felt pretty good. By late evening it had knotted up pretty well and walking was painful, especially the first couple of steps. Today my legs are feeling a little livelier post workout and I've continued the ice and Alleve regimen for the shin/calf thing. I plan on sticking to non load bearing cardio this week with only a 15 miler or so planned for the weekend. The 4th and final race of the WTRS is in two weeks. It is 21K on completely different trails. This one includes part of Main Divide Road and Trabuco Trail, which I've run before, in the rain. We'll see what the weather dude's have in store for us this time.

Until then, run happy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Word to the Wise

After applying Biofreeze gel to your sore calf, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before using the john.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Twenty near LAX

Last weekend's 20 miler was the only run I got done last week. I did make it to the gym twice during the week and put in some good crosstraining efforts on the elliptical and the bike.

Just for something a little different, for the run I headed to the LA county beaches. I started out near the Los Angeles International Airport at Dockweiler Beach and headed north. I only had a rough idea of landmarks for a turn around point, so I mostly ran for by time. Since I run naked (no Garmin) the 20 miles may be a little soft but not by much.

I ran around the marina at Marina Del Rey and then through Venice City Beach and up past Santa Monica State Beach before turning around. On major con of this route is all the concrete and that the bike path is marked "Bikes Only" but the bikers were in a mood to share. The pros included the carefree nature of the run and on the way north I ran into many large groups of runners from the LA Road Runners. There must have been 8 to 10 different pace groups of runners with up to 20 or so in each group. It was pretty cool to see that many runners training en masse. The Los Angeles Marathon is only two weeks away. It is NOT my next marathon.

I was out there for 3:09 so the 20 miler distance better not be too soft. The 9:27 pace is still among my slowest paces in a very long time. At the end of the run I felt like a zombie. Luckily after a cool down walk, some light stretches, some food (a power bar and banana) and some cold water I felt human again in no time at all.

I haven't mentioned it much lately but the left hip is still a nagging issue. I've gotten used to it. Stretching and massage seems to help a lot. Now I've got another thing that is bugging me even more. There's a pressure, sort of a large knot, between my tibia and my calf muscle that I feel with each step. I've been running through it, but now it hurts even walking. I've been trying to self massage and ice but the pressure is pretty deep. As much as I dislike the idea, I may need to seek professional advice.

This weekend is race #3 of the Winter Trail Run Series, an 18K. It may be the only run I get in this week

As Sarah note, the 20 miler likely indicates a marathon in the future. Hopefully this latest injury won't be the end of those plans.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Another weekend, another trail race. Saturday was the second in a series of increasing distance on the trails in the Cleveland National Forest, Blue Jay Camp. This week the distance was 15K. We ran most of the 12K course with a little extra added on at the beginning.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was the Winter Trail Run Series. Based on the calendar it is technically winter, the 70 degree air felt a whole lot more like summer. Such is the difficulties we face here in Southern California.

David brings up the point that last week's 15K mudfest in Mission Gorge can't really be called a race. There's no doubt that for me, and probably a few others, these runs are just a chance to be outside on some trails that we might not get to be on otherwise and to share the fun with a bunch of other like minded individuals. On the other hand for some, the race is on, no matter the conditions of the trail. Trail racers are some of the fiercest competitors out there during the race and then the best cheerleaders for the rest us afterward.

This week's race was flawless, there were no trail marking snafu's this time. This time we all knew exactly when to turn right. The RD had sent out a scout on foot and another on bike to check the markers prerace. He is quite a colorful character and I get the feeling that he wouldn't be shy about disemboweling the culprit of last week's escapade.

I got my new 15K PR at this one, coming in at 1:46:35, good enough for 56 out of 129. The RD has put a nice write up about the race, here, if you care to read it. I carried my camera with me and took a couple of shots of the winter wonderland around me. (Thanks to Trail Scat for the Smilebox link.)

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Along that really rocky section I was running alone. I couldn't see or hear anyone in front or behind me. The trail looked familiar from the last time but I wasn't sure. I stopped a couple of times, not sure if I should keep going. I finally just kept going downhill hoping to see ribbons at the end. Thankfully they were there because I wasn't really lovin' the idea of going back up to find the right trail or that I was right all along.

It was a nice run. There's nothing really to complain about that.

Thursday, I was on vacation and had planned on getting the speedwork done on the 'mill at the gym during the day when the machines would be less busy. The 'mill seemed to work out well for me a couple of weeks back. Instead, the beautiful day beckoned me to run in Bonelli. I heeded the siren's call and left the speedwork for another day.

Sunday was equally as enchanting, weather wise, so I justified another trip to Bonelli even though my plan is to run three days a week at the moment. In my weakness I justified the extra miles as making up for the 15 miler on the schedule that was only a 15K. Still nothing to complain about.

I've got a 20 mile training run on tap this Saturday. Winter is still on vacation, the predicted high is 74F. (OK, now I'm just gloating.) Have a great week, be nice to your Valentine.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mission Gorge Trail Run

This past weekend found me racing again, a trail race even.

After my 18 miler on Saturday I headed down to San Diego for the Mission Gorge Trail Run, a 15K race. This race is put on by the same folks that put on Boney Mountain a couple a weeks ago. I probably wouldn't have gone done for the run except for the fact that #1 son lives there. This weekend was supposed to have been the Twin Peaks 50/50. It had been postponed due to the fire damage last fall. I'm sort of glad it was postponed. At this point I don't feel ready, but of course my training would have been different if it had been on the horizon. Instead I've been having fun doing these shorter trail races.

I spent the night at Tyler's place. The night before we'd gone to The Oceanaire Seafood Room for a great seafood dinner as part of Restaurant Week in San Diego. Being a culinary arts student, Tyler had been aching to go there. I didn't realize until later that the executive chef, Brian Malarkey, was on Season 3 of Top Chef. If you are every in San Diego, I highly recommend it. I think reservations are required. Ask to sit in Ishmael's section. He will take very good care of you.

The superb weather that we enjoyed last weekend was no where to be seen for this race. We awoke to a heavy mist that turned into a light rain as the morning wore on. Tyler had wanted to run the 15K with me. An injury down graded him to the 5K and then ultimately to volunteering. He was definitely chomping at the bit for a chance to go run in the mud.

Run in the mud we did. The rain was steady the entire race. There was no escaping the mud. The trails became mini rivers. This course was one of the toughest course I'd run. The rain and mud made it even more challenging; a heck of a lot of fun, but challenging. There were two really big hills that we pretty much ran straight up. No switchbacks here. Running down the hill around mile 3 was more like sliding down the hill. I didn't see anybody fall, but each step you took was accompanied by a slide of 6 to 8 inches. My back got a great workout trying to maintain balance. Listening to the girls behind me going down the hill and screaming and laughing with each step was fun.

The biggest hill was another big straight one up, but this time with stairs. There was no running those babies. We ascended the stairs into the clouds. The wind on top was tough to take since we were all soaked to the skin. I was very glad that we weren't going back down the stairs.

After we'd made most of the descent back to the valley floor for the last couple of miles of the race, we crossed back and forth across a river about 4 times. There were rocks available to cross but at that point just crashing through the water couldn't get you any wetter. Besides it washed off some of the mud.

It was fun to cross the finish line to see Tyler there taking the tags off the bibs. He was soaked to the core as well. Someone had at least given him a trash bag as a rain coat. After some food, I began to cool down quickly. I went to the car to strip off the wet jacket and shirt and sat in the car in my shorts and my leather coat. Tyler worked for 20-30 minutes more before they relieved him of his duties.

When I was waiting for Tyler I had called home to let Lisa know I'd finished and that it had taken me 1:50 to run less than 10 miles. Her response was, "you suck!" We both got a laugh out of that. 12:00 pace is pretty slow for me but considering the hills, the mud and the rain, I guess it wasn't half bad. This was my first 15K, so setting the bar low assures a PR next time around. Right? After a shower and dry clothes back at Tyler's place, we went out for breakfast and then I headed home to a Super Bowl party.

At the race I saw an advertisement for the Big Bear Marathon, an inaugural event. You all know how I feel about inaugural events? It also fits in nicely with my other race plans for 2008 (which I still haven't had time to disclose).