Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 800's

View of the San Gabriel Mountains from the Bikeway on top of the Santa Fe Dam

I figured I had to end the year with a bang. December 31st fell on a Thursday. Thursday is speed work day! The plan called for Yasso 800’s – 6 x 800. I’m officially at work but I’ve been taking advantage of the light work load and skeleton crew and extending my lunches a bit to get my runs in during the day. The most convenient place near work for the speed work is the San Gabriel River Bikeway, so off I went.

The calculators told me that my goal time was 2:57. That seemed overly ambitious. Following are my times for the run – warm up, 800’s, and cool down.

Mile 1 9:27
Mile 2 8:55
Mile 0.5 4:25
800 3:32
Rest 2:22
800 3:34
Rest 2:47
800 3:37
Rest 2:32
800 3:28
Rest 2:45
800 3:39
Rest 2:45
800 3:33
Rest 2:58
Mile 8 8:59
Mile 9 8:45
Total 1:18 Overall Pace: 8:41

So my 800’s were no where near the goal, but they were pretty consistent. The 800’s are typically run on a track, i.e. flat as a pancake. The bikeway is not, so I feel pretty good about maintaining the 3:3X pace throughout. I’d forgotten just how hard these things are. Using the McMillan calculator backwards predicts a 2:07 half off these 800’s. This is no where near my PR goal. We’ll see how the rest of the training goes.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

6 More Miles

At lunch, 51 degrees, heavy cloud cover, light mist. Had the bike path all to myself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

6 Miles

On the San Gabriel River bike path at lunch.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tis the Season

So many things to do during this time of the year; keeping the blog updated just hasn't seemed to fit in.

Thanks to the new economy in the 2000's I enjoyed a forced week of vacation last week. I made the best of it. I repainted the room recently vacated by the oldest son and reorganized the book shelf and closet. I took full advantage of the time off and got my runs in while the sun was shining. It was a beautiful thing.

Tuesday I ran in the late morning; 7 miles on the horse trails in Walnut. This was my go-to 7 miler last summer, but it has been months since I'd been there.

Wednesday I went back to familiar territory on my Sunday Morning Loop in Bonelli (It doesn't have to be Sunday to run the loop!) after a 1 mile warm up at the gym with back and triceps workout with the trainer.

The real work was on Thursday. I waited until nearly high noon and headed over to the bike path at the Santa Fe Dam. The plan called for 8 miles with 3x1mile repeats. The bike path is conveniently marked at 0.25 mile increments. The mile repeats were to be run at 10K pace. Based on my half marathon goal I determined that pace to be 7:13. After a couple of easy miles as warm up I took off on the first repeat. It has been a long time, since before HOA, that I've done mile repeats. I was huffing and puffing and my heart felt like it would explode. I got a side stitch, too. I almost never get those. I was ready to be done at the half mile mark. I felt like I was slowing, so I pushed as hard as I could and was shocked to complete the first mile in 6:56. WAAAAY too fast.

After 0.25 mile recovery, off I went. This time at 7:15, with the side stitch getting even worse. Another recover 0.25 and it was time for the last repeat. This time I actually stopped and took a few walking steps about half way through. I just didn't have the mental toughness to push through. I willed myself to the mile marker and a mile time of 7:06, surprisingly.

After the long run on Saturday (12.8 miles in Newport Beach under cloudy skies in the 40's) and another go at the Bonelli Sunday Morning Loop (this time on Sunday morning under clear sunny skies in the high 50's), I ended the week with 39.8 miles.

I'm one third of the way through the plan to get me to the Surf City Half. My times of the mile repeats on Thursday were encouraging, but man they hurt. I expect a PR effort at the half is going to involve some discomfort as well.

Eighth Day of Winter

The Harbingers of Spring (Indian Hawthorn) are already blooming.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Misery One Miler (and weekly recap)

Today, Dec. 21st, the first official day of winter, I ran a virtual race - the Winter Misery One Miler. Before I get to the details of that particular little jaunt, I've got to fill you in on the rest of the last week.

I followed up Tuesday's 7 miler with another 7 miler on Wednesday. I ran the exact same route - out the front door over to Covina Hills Road and back. Wednesday I was about 0:45 slower than Tuesday. No big deal.

Thursday, the weather was still on the warm side for my 8 miler with hills. It could have been hill repeats, but I did not relish the idea of running the hill in the dark. It is part of the dirt equestrian path and is somewhat rutted to the rains last week. The plan gave the option for just running a hilly route, so I took it.

Saturday was supposed to be another meet up with the old crew - Brian, Terry and Celeste. Friday evening, first one of the youngster and then the other dropped out. Terry and I went for an easy 5 miler in Bonelli.

Sunday I met "the girls" again for a run in Chino Hills State Park. We had planned on running Raptor Ridge but due to park closure we couldn't get in. We ran an alternate route on Upper Aliso for about 7 miles. I'd planned closer to 10 that day so I followed that up with 3 more miles in Bonelli on the way home.

37 miles for the week.

Roadrunner Sports has been having Daily Treat; special one day deals; throughout the month of December. Friday, the daily treat was my Brooks Adrenaline GTS10. I snagged a pair at a really good price.

Now for the Winter Misery One Miler.
It is pretty tough to call winter miserable here in So Cal. The weather over the weekend was near 80 each day. Today being the first official day of winter at least the weather cooperated a little bit. The high temperature today was in the low 60's with cloud cover all day. Actually really good conditions for a run. To at least add a little to the misery factor, I did my One Miler on the treadmill before a workout with the personal trainer. I did the first 0.25 mile with the incline set to 7 but then came to my senses and put it back down to 1. My time was nothing stellar, 10:20, but since I've never run a One Mile Race before, I guess it is a PR! I look forward to reading about everyone else's races over at RunningLaur.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This One's for Joe

Today, December 15, 2009, less than a week before it is officially winter, I walked out my front door at 6:00 p.m. in shorts and a short sleeve shirt for a 7 mile run. The temperature was 61 degrees F (16C). I wore a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 9's for the last time. At the end of the run, they'd reached 499 miles, time to be retired. The graph shows the number of times I ran the various distances in these shoes. There were 62 total runs covering most distances from 1 to 26. It looks like my fave distance to run with these shoes, the mode, was 4 miles, the median is 7 miles and the mean is 8 miles.

I started wearing these shoes on February 24, 2009 for a 3 mile run around the neighborhood. My pace that day was a nice and easy 9:25. This was when I was still in the middle of rehab for the IT Band Seize Up suffered at the St. Jude Marathon nearly 3 months before. Tonight's pace for the easy 7 miles was 9:05.

I obviously used these shoes to train for a marathon as evidenced by the nice progression of at least one run at 14, 16, 18, 20 and 22 miles, culminating with that nice 26(.2) there at the end. When the marathon rolled around, the Heart of America in Columbia, Missouri, these shoes already had 355 miles on them. By the time I realized it, it was too late to start out on a new pair. The old blue GTS9's served me well that day. Since then they've been in the rotation mostly used for 5 and 6 milers. Today, 42 weeks to the day after their inaugural run, they are getting relegated to the garage with all the other pairs of 500 mile shoes.

This makes the fourth pair of shoes I've retired in 2009. There are two others in the rotation that won't make it far into 2010 before joining the stack in the garage; a pair of red Brooks Trance 6 with 474 miles and a pair of red Trance 7 with 437 miles. The fourth pair in the current rotation is an Adrenaline 8 with a mere 185 miles and there's a brand new pair of Adrenalines waiting in the closet for their turn to join the rotation.

Do you think I know too much about my shoes?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

No candy canes or silver lanes aglow, though. Well sort of.

Friday night was the annual CA Cruiser Christmas Light Run around Eastlake in Yorba Linda. After having rained off and on most of the day, we were treated to a relatively warm and dry little jaunt through this community in Yorba Linda that really decorates to the hilt. Almost the entire neighborhood participates with each little cul-de-sac having its own motif. After the run we had a soup and sandwich dinner at one of the member's homes nearby.

Saturday morning I make the trek down to Santa Monica in a drizzle to run the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run. There was both a 10K and a 5K. The races were timed so that you could actually run the both if you wanted too. I was there in time for the 10K, but my plan called for the 5K. It rained off and on all morning. I got wet during my 2 mile warm up run. It was dry when we lined up but before the gun went off it started raining again and then stopped again before we finished.

I'd worn two shirts mostly to combat the chill from getting wet. I had intended on removing the long sleeve before the race, but since it was raining I kept it on. During the race I was really too warm for it but I didn't want to take the time to stop and take it off. My intent was to give this race all I could, but I hadn't raced a 5K since June 2007. My PR, set back in early 2006 was sub 22, I didn't think I stood a chance of approaching that.

I lined up back a ways and spent the first few minutes passing others before finding my spot. I had no way to gauge my progress until we hit the 2 mile mark. I got there right at 15:00. I was pretty happy with that. I did the mental math and figured I should be able to go under 23:00 if I didn't lose my pace. I crossed the line with the clock at 23:05 or so, but thanks to chip timing my official time was 22:53.1. Considering I haven't done any kind of speed work since before my September marathon I was pretty pleased with my performance.

Later that day, Lisa and I joined a group from the Cruisers at the Christmas Concert put on by the choirs, orchestra and hand bell choir at Concordia University. One of the highlights of that performance was a rendition of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Wizards in Winter on the hand bells. The video below isn't the Concordia choir but it gives you an idea of the complexity of the song and the coolness of the hand bells.

Sunday morning the skies were clear after raining most of the day on Saturday. I was able to enjoy a muddy version of my Bonelli Sunday Loop before heading the the gym for that leg work out, the church and then a trip to Temecula.

I ended the week with 30 miles. Two less than the planned called for because I cut the hill run on Thursday short by a mile and I missed another mile today because the treadmill was malfunctioning at the gym. I warmed up on the elliptical instead. 93.75% on the Half Marathon PR Plan is a good start, but a PR performance is going to take at least 100%. On to Week 2 of the plan.

Monday, December 07, 2009


I've enjoyed 4 weeks of pretty much doing whatever I wanted to when it came to running. Taking the first week after Harrisburg easy was understandable. The last three weeks I've run between 30 and 35 miles. I did plenty of easy runs and some reasonable distance on the weekend. What was missing was any form of hills or speed work.

The 2010 races are approaching soon, so this weekend I spent some time putting together the plan, at least for the next 4 months or so. My first planned (and paid for) race of 2010 will be the Surf City Half Marathon. I've avoided this race in the past because I saw no reason to pay to run where I run the majority of my long runs. But, I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a good hook and marketing scheme so this year I succumbed to the hype and decided to go for it to finish off the California Dreaming Series. I've will have completed the half at all three races. Besides that, the medals for Surf City have got to be about the coolest things around.

At first I was only going to run the race for fun, just to get the medal and the CA Dreamin' medal and jacket. Lately though, I've been thinking that I should actually race it and try to better my PR at that distance. That wasn't going to happen on the Wingin' It Plan. I pulled out the Yasso book again and put his half marathon (seasoned runner) plan on paper. Once again Thursdays will be hill/speed/tempo day. By lollygagging around for the last 4 weeks, I'm starting the plan at Week 4, but I should be all right. The only real challenges I see are doing the speed in the dark and keeping up the motivation to do those semi long runs that Yasso requires during the week in the dead of winter (OK, in winter on California terms, but it is still winter, all things being relative).

I put the plan to paper none to soon because it calls for a 5K race on Saturday. There a plenty of Christmas runs in the area, so I may give it a go at the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run on Saturday. I'm only following the plan, you know. I did well in Santa Monica at the 10K this fall, it will be fun to see if I can pull out a decent come back 5K this time around.

Sunday is a new race in SoCal, the LA County Half Marathon. This race initially piqued my interest. It would be fun to run around the fairgrounds, down the Pomona Speedway drag strip and around Bonelli. But I would have only run it for fun and in the end decided to pass it up in favor of a leg work out with Chris and a trip to Temecula with friends later in the day. I'm sure the $80 I saved in entry fee will come in handy in wine country.

There's more to come in 2010, but I'll save that for later.

Beginning today I'm officially a slave to the plan. Already the plan has shifted a little. We've had dinner plans with friends on Thursday night for a couple of weeks now, so everything got moved up a day. I ran 6 miles easy tonight after work. It had rained all day, but abated just in time for me to go out on my run. The temperature was in the low 50's with a fairly decent breeze. I decided to wear the wind shirt that we got at Harrisburg over a short sleeve. On the way up and out the wind shirt was probably overkill but on the way down and back, running into the wind, I was glad to have worn it.

Say goodbye to Wingin' It and hello to the Half Marathon PR Plan.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Running With The Girls

The first weekend in December has been the weekend to get together with Joe for a marathon for the previous fours years (Tecumseh in 2006, Rocket City (AL) in 2007, and Memphis in 2008). This year we got together a little earlier to run the Heart of America in Missouri on Labor Day. It was a little odd not having a marathon scheduled this time of year.

I spent most of the last week in Minnesota. This time of the years days are so short there. The sun rises nearly an hour after is does here on the West Coast and sets sooner too. With the seminar scheduled from 8:00 to 5:00 each day there was no daylight left to run in. I was able to share a run on Tuesday evening on a unusually mild evening for December in MN. Wednesday we had an official dinner after class taking up precious time. Thursday morning we awoke snow flurries and temperatures in the low 20's and a fairly decent breeze. Rather than brave the elements I took the SoCal wimp way out an ran 4 miles on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center. I had my ipod so it wasn't such a bad experience, considering the alternative.

Saturday, the Cruisers were planning a fun run sponsored by a new running store in the area along our tried and true route along the Santa Ana Bike Path. Terry and her friends were running Chino Hills State Park. I opted to go with them, then I found out the friends were Carol, Jeannie and Jamie. I almost backed out, but the chance to run a new route in CHSP won me over.

We met on the south side of the park entering from the back near the Green River Golf Course. Running with the four girls was interesting at times, especially when they, or I should say Terry, was talking about how she couldn't find the hat the matched the rest of her running outfit. The self described themselves as a princess, 2 ragamuffins and a girly girl.

We ran the Lower Aliso Trail to the Ranger Station and back. It is a gently rolling fire access road. For CHSP it is one of the easier routes. One of the highlights was getting to run with the cows, not the girls, real cows. For some reason there is a small herd of cows that roams this end of the park. We startled a couple of them as we approached. They crossed the trail in front of us several times and kept following along through the brush, picking up a couple more members of the herd as they went. The last time they came out onto the road they were joined by a couple of calves. We kept our distance as much as possible because their actions weren't very predictable.

The sunny days of a couple of weeks ago were gone. We ran the entire time under cloud cover with temps in the mid 40's with a fairly decent breeze at times. I wore a long sleeve over a short sleeve and was perfectly comfortable. Terry and I ran a little extra for 14 miles; making this the longest run since the Harrisburg Marathon.

Today I ended the week with my usual 5 miler in Bonelli, but I didn't get out until the afternoon. The weather was partly sunny and only about 58 degrees. Very nice for running. I ran the 5 miles today in 49:31, 3 to 4 minutes faster than the same loop the last couple of weekends. Running later in the day and the cooler temperatures are likely the reason.

I ended the week with 36.5 miles. November ended with 128.9 miles. I'm still using my Wingin' It Plan but realized today that I'd better put something to paper soon as my racing plans for 2010 are on the horizon and will be here sooner than later. We are expecting rain all this coming week so will see what effect that has on the mileage, plan or no plan.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Drew on the Run

I've been writing about my running here at for a little over four years now. When I first started this thing running blogs were just beginning to proliferate, thanks to the Running Blog Family. The RBF later morphed into the Complete Running Network.
One of the first blogs that I began reading way back then was "A Running Gag" by Drew. At the time he and a group of other bloggers were training for the New Las Vegas Marathon. The all even bought matching shirts to commemorate the occasion. I was also running that marathon, but was too shy to make my presence know.
I've always enjoyed reading Drew's blog for several reasons. He's a SoCal runner, he's a family guy with son's, he's about my age and I' enjoy his unique perspective on things. He's taken a few hiati (or hiatuses) from the running and blogging but I've continued to read whenever he posts.
Drew has most recently been training for the Santa Barbara International Marathon which will be held this Sunday, December 6. If you've got a minute, stop on over at "A Running Gag" and wish him well.
**The picture above is of a sticker that I saw stuck on a window at Mount San Antonio College a while back when I was taking some basic business classes. I snapped the photo with Drew in mind. I have no idea of the original intent behind the sticker, but it certainly fits well here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Minnesota Mild

After having missed my first flight to the Twin Cities and enduring the post holiday lines at LAX I arrived in Minnesota safe and sound on Monday evening.

I learned some good basic stuff about how our customers use our products. My friend that is going to run the Twin Cities Marathon with me in 2010 lives in St. Paul and works at the same big company as me, but in a different division. We had made tentative plans to have dinner on Tuesday night. During the day I got an email from him asking if I'd be interested in a run. He told me that the weather was unusually mild for this time of year. Given the choice between the run and dinner, I naturally chose the run.

He picked me up at my hotel and drove back over to his neighborhood in St. Paul. He lives two blocks off the Twin Cities Marathon course. The weather was in the very low 40's. At the hotel it was quite windy but over in St. Paul it was milder. I wore shorts, but wore three layers on top - a UA base layer, a long sleeve tech shirt and a micro fleece pullover. It turned out to be too much. It turns out I was overdressed. I did find it funny that my buddy was dressed in tights, a long sleeve, a stocking cap and gloves (and he lives here).

He took me on a little preview of the Twin Cities course. He lives in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood. He ran the route backwards; west on Summit Ave and then north on Mississippi River Blvd. Soon after the Lake Street-Marshall Ave bridge we turned around and retraced our steps. It was a beautiful little run, even in the dark. I was pleasantly surprised to see about half a dozen other runners out there. It was a fun little run and the great end to the day. They are expecting the temperatures to take an extreme dip into winter within the next day or so.

After the run we got to hang out at his home for pizza and beer followed by chocolate cake and ice cream. So it turns out we got in a run and had dinner to boot. Thanks, Dave!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Six Outa Seven Ain't Bad

Due to circumstances beyond my control; beautiful warm and sunny weather and a long weekend, I ended up running 6 of the last 7 days on Week 2 of my Wingin' It Plan. All 35.5 miles could probably be described as junk miles or optimistically as baseline maintenance miles. Either way each mile and each day was pure enjoyment.

The lunchtime runs on Tuesday and Wednesday made me feel a little bit like I was getting away with something.

Thursday I met up with Terry for a run through Chino Hills State Park. We met at 8:00 and as predicted it was a sunny day. The temperatures were in the mid 60's and warming. We ran some single track along the ridges. Most of the trails in CHSP are fully exposed to the sun, so even the 60's felt warm.

Friday was a planned rest/cross training day. I went to the gym around 9:00 in the morning. I rode the bike for 30 minutes and then did another 15 minutes on the stairmaster. Finally by today, my legs felt more or less recovered from the leg workout I'd done 5 days earlier. I did some lifting concentrating on back and biceps, because the personal trainer was planning a chest workout on Sunday. And then because it was such a nice day I decided to head over to Bonelli to get in a hike. Once there I couldn't resist the urge and ended up going for a run instead. I was home by noon. I showered and we went back over to my mother-in-laws to help rid the fridge of turkey day leftovers. We all agreed that everything tasted even better the second time around.

Saturday I met up with the CA Cruisers for a completely new route. We met in Villa Park and ran streets for about 2 miles and then headed into the Santiago Oaks Recreational Area. It is a beautiful gem of a place. The park is criss-crossed with trails and ultimately connects to Irvine Regional Park for even more possibilities. Not having run the route before, the fast guys headed out first and marked the trail with orange chalk. I hung back and ran with Dave and Gary and then after a pretty big hill up to the top of the dam, I fell in with Cathe and George. The orange arrows worked out well except that the faster guys forgot to mark the turn around point. After a bit of confusion and the various paces met back up together, we headed back. On the return route, I fell in with Scott. We ended up running faster than either one expected. We each thought the other was setting the pace. A couple of missed arrows on the way back lengthened our route. When we hit the roads we found ourselves just behind two of the faster guys and since we weren't exactly sure of the return trip on the roads we were forced to keep them in sight again running harder than intended. It was still a great run. We talked the whole way so we weren't pushing it that hard. It was another 12 miler for me (that seems to be where I'm stuck for the last three weeks) and the longest run for him in quite a while. The weather the rest of the day took a definite turn towards winter. The highs were only in the 60's with heavy cloud cover and the occasional drizzle.

Sunday morning was the anticipated chest/shoulder/triceps workout with Chris followed by another run around the Sunday Morning Loop in Bonelli. Bonelli was abuzz with activity due to a Turkey Day Triathlon, but the trails were deserted; just the way I like them. The local mountains were pretty with the first snow, but summer-like weather had returned with sun and temps in the 70's, making my run all that more enjoyable.

I ended the week with 35.5 miles, none of them planned too far in advance. I'm not sure what next week has in store for me as I leave late Monday morning for St. Paul, MN. I'm in training sessions from 8:00 to 5:00 so I'm not sure when or if I'll be able to get many miles in. I'm packing the cool weather gear just in case. The Wingin' It Plan is working so far, so we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Warm and Sunny

This week my workplace, like many I assume, has been a dead zone. The holiday week coupled with our companies new investor friendly (read: employee un-friendly) vacation policy many folks took the entire week off. I had originally planned to do the same thing but then with the unexpected trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania I shuffled things around a bit and decided to work this week. Working during a short week when nearly everyone else is on vacation is a very nice change of pace. No meetings, no phone calls, no e-mails. It was actually possible, at least to the extent that I'm capable of it, to focus on a single task to completion without being interrupted by the latest crisis of the minute. My carpool buddy was on vacation as well, so I was pretty much free to do as I pleased.

I got plenty of work done but more importantly I rethought my runs. Since I am not a morning runner, this time of the year I am forced to run after work, in the dark. It has been a very warm and mild autumn so getting out the door temperature wise hasn't been an issue but getting out in the dark isn't my favorite either. And while I enjoy a long run on a nice cool, cloud covered morning and I don't even mind the occasional run in the rain, I've come to realize that I'm happiest running on a warm and sunny day. Theres nothing better than soaking up the sun in a sleeveless shirt, running shorts and shoes (except for maybe hanging out on the beach in boardshorts with a good book). Thankfully in SoCal we've got plenty of warm and sunny days. It's just that for the next couple of months I have to miss out on five of the seven warm and sunny days every week.

Many, many times at lunch I look out at the weather and think to myself'; "what a wonderful day I'm missing." So this week with no meetings on the calendar, my own car in the parking lot and nobody really looking to find me I decided to escape at lunch and go for a run. A little before noon each day I headed off to the men's room and changed into my running stuff and drove over to the San Gabriel River Bike Trail. Both days were in the mid to upper 70's with clear skies; warm and sunny. I was lovin' life; out on one of my favorite running paths mid day, mid-week enjoying the day. What could be better?

Tuesday I ran 4 miles and today I ran 4.5. Both runs were at 8:25 to 8:30 pace. After I was done I drove back to work, cleaned up a little and changed back into my work clothes. I ate my lunch at my desk. With no meetings on the schedule I wasn't too worried about how funky I might have smelled. I may have to see if I can work this escape into the schedule a little more often.

Tomorrow instead of an organized Turkey Trot, I'm meeting Terry for a little jaunt through Chino Hills State Park. It won't be very warm yet, but it will likely be sunny and a run on the trails is a good run no matter the weather.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Old Crew Run

I'd been planning this run for a while. It shouldn't be this difficult to get four people together in the same place at the same time.

Back in 2003 when I started running, it was me and Brian. We ran together at least once during the week and almost all of our long runs leading up to our first marathon, Rock'n'Roll AZ, way back in January 2004. Brian was a tech aide at work. Soon we were joined by Celeste, another tech aid and Terry, sales support. The four of us ran together pretty consistently up until the point that Brian went off to Tufts Dental School in Boston and then a few years later Celeste took a position at another company (she has since returned, but works in the field). Terry and I have continued to run together on a fairly consistent basis.

Nearly a year ago after graduating from Tufts, Brian returned to southern California to set up a dental practice. It took a while but he and I were able to meet up in July for the Surf City 5K. We've been trying ever since to get together for another run. My travel schedule and mileage requirements for the fall marathon season were often in conflict with getting together. A couple of weeks ago I redoubled my efforts to get together and we were able to settle on a date, time, place and distance and best of all both Celeste and Terry were able to meet up as well. Just like old times. I was really looking forward to this run.

Terry and I met up at 6:30 a.m. to get in some extra miles before the official reunion run. Our run started in Sunset Beach. We ran south on the bike path. I snapped a couple of pictures of the sunrise. It started off as a beautiful day, with some high patchy clouds but sunny.

Terry and I ran an out and back for about 7 miles before meeting up with the rest of the group. Celeste and Brian were planning on showing up at 8:00 for a five mile run. As Terry and I returned, the cloud cover increased blotting out the sun completely. The second leg of the run was colder than the first. Here's the old group, back together again. Terry, Brian, Celeste and me.
We had a great time, talking the entire run. We had to keep pulling Celeste back as usual. Brian lagged behind near the end as usual. Catching up and recalling old training runs was a blast. One thing Brian and I almost always did was end the run with a sprint to the finish. This time it was Celeste that put it into overdrive with a couple hundred yards to go. I couldn't let her go alone. Brian made it about two steps and then fell back with Terry, who wasn't having any of it. Good times. We went out afterward for coffee. We've made tentative plans to get together again in December. More good times.
The mileage ended up being 12.8; 7.2 with Terry and 5.6 with the whole gang.
I ended the week with another 5 mile jaunt on my Bonelli Sunday Morning Loop. It was a beautiful morning, 60 and sunny. I followed that up an hour or so later with a leg work out with my personal trainer. Now that my marathon season is over for 2008, I agreed to legs again. I actually suggested it. He was a happy camper. My legs on the other hand are beat. Bench presses and curls are so much easier than a leg workout.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wingin' It

I am a man in need of a plan. I almost always have my weekly mileage planned out on a spreadsheet for weeks in advance. But right now, two weeks after Harrisburg and with nothing race wise on the calendar for the foreseeable future, I am running without a plan on paper.

I've decided that for the time being, I'll try running 4 days a week. I'll likely take one or two days completely off and take advantage of the other down time by cross training on the bike, stairmaster and elliptical.

It is a little weird for me not to have a road map on paper but so far I've survived the week just planning my route and mileage within minutes of walking out the door. Tuesday I ran one of my old routes in the neighborhood, without getting into my car to drive anywhere. At 4.5 miles it was probably one of the shortest runs I've done in a while. I ran easy and relaxed. The run felt almost effortless (You gotta love those). I was surprised by my 9:01 pace over the route.

Wednesday was the cross training day. Nothing too hard core; 30 minutes bike, 10 minutes stairmaster and then some lifting (back and biceps). Tonight I did drive over to Via Verde and took off with a rough amount of time and route in mind. I ran the old familiar paths and on the way back added in a little hill loop; not because the plan dictated it (there is no plan, remember) but just because I felt like it. Even with the hill my pace over the 5.7 mile route was 8:54. Sweet!

I will eventually put a plan on paper once there is a goal race on the horizon but for now I'm just going to enjoy wingin' it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The First ... Since

I was listening to the radio a while back and there was an advertisement on for some new movie. They used the phrase starring "Sam Stud-Body" in his first action role since "some suspenseful violent movie." That figure of speech always strikes me as funny. How come every time we do something we haven't done for some significant period of time it's "the first time since..."? There can only be one real first time: first tooth, first step, first date, first kiss, first child, first marathon, etc, etc. Once we've done something once, why isn't the next time just the next time or maybe the second, third or fourth time? Why do I even think about such goofy things?

For my first run since the Harrisburg Marathon, I met up with the California Cruisers on Saturday morning. It was the first time I'd gotten a chance to run with my old group since the end of September. I was hoping to run between 8 and 10 miles. They had planned the 2 Parks/2 Loops route which is 1o miles with the possibility of 14 by adding the Summit House Loop. Today Dr. John wanted to show us how to add some more trails to include the Brea Dam.

We started off into the Parks and then headed off onto the Summit House Loop. Some of the directionally challenged members the group were unsure of the route, so the faster members hung back at all crucial intersections and waited for the slower ones. This worked out fine because I really wanted to keep an easy pace anyway. I'd start each section with the slower folks and slowly creep up to the faster ones. When we veered off the Summit House Loop to the Brea Dam, no one but Dr. John was completely familiar with the route so there were many frequent stops.

By the time we'd completed all the extra loops and returned to the first park we'd already run about 8 miles and it seemed like we had been gone forever. I'd given up trying to keep track of actual running time. Finishing up the first loop of the 2 Parks put us right at 12 miles. There was not going to be a 2 Loops today. 12 was a couple more than I'd planned on but with the easier pace and frequent stops my legs felt pretty good; a little tired maybe but no aches or pains.

Sunday morning I put in 5 miles on my old favorite Sunday Morning Loop in Bonelli. It was so enjoyable to be out there on a Sunday morning just taking it easy and enjoying the trails. I'd run this route a couple of weeks ago on Thursday when I returned from Ohio, but today was the first time I'd run it on a Sunday morning since my injury earlier this year. I've walked the loop a lot during 2009, but I was hesitant to run it. In 2008 I spent as many runs as possible on those trails. After being sidelined for the better part of year, I came to believe that the rocky uneven surface and the hills may have contributed to the IT Band issue and stress fractures of the last two years. This time around I'd stayed away during marathon training and it may just be a coincidence but I just finished my third marathon in 2009 without any major aches or pains. I'm going to continue to try to run the loop on Sunday mornings only throughout the winter and before marathon training begins again and see how it goes.

I ended up running 17 miles during the first week post marathon. That is right about my usual. In addition I made it to the gym on my own and rode the bike for 30 minutes each time and lifted concentrating on back and biceps one day and chest and triceps on the other. After my 5 miler this morning I met up with my trainer and did some more chest, biceps and shoulder work. Tomorrow I will enjoy a complete rest day. The first one since last Thursday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Harrisburg - Pix, Numbers and A Few Words, Too

Since I only made my intentions on running Hartford public the same week of the marathon, Charlie and I had never made any concrete plans to meet up. We'd commented on each others blogs and sent a couple of emails but never made a firm commitment. Race morning on City Island people were milling around. My family and I had just started walking toward the starting area when I spotted Charlie. We got to chat for a minute or two and then lined up together in the starting area. Here's a picture of us still in the crowd. I'm wearing my infamous throw away sweatshirt, which by the way I still have. I gave it to Lisa just before lining up in the starting area. Before I go any further with this report I need to back up to Saturday and the expo. Earlier in the day we had gone to lunch at a restaurant owned by my uncle and cousins in New Holland, PA. It is a home-style BBQ place, real down home cooking. My PA relatives have won quite a few awards at cook offs over the years. From there we drove about an hour to go to the Expo. The Expo was really just packet pickup. The whole experience consisted of picking up a goodie bag that contained our bib a couple of flyers and about six various types of Hershey candy bars. The candy was a nice local touch, with the headquarter for Hershey nearby in Hershey, PA. Then we moved across the room to pick up our chip and that was the end of the Expo. Hardly worth the hour drive, but I always like to have that stuff taken care of. Many folks picked up their packets on race morning, something I would recommend if I were to ever repeat H'burg.

The picture below is the starting line on the Market Street Bridge. I think it is pretty funny that you can see almost all 1000 or so people that started the race. Quite the contrast to the starting line from something like NYC. This was the first year that the race started on the bridge. Usually they start on City Island and run a loop around the island before heading over the bridge into H'burg. Things were a little chaotic at first. The road wasn't actually closed until about 2 minutes before the race start. Eventually everything went off relatively smoothly.

Lisa and my in-laws had walked across the bridge a bit and caught this picture of me soon after the start. The temp at the start of the race was in the low 30's. I was still in my racing black; including shorts, a long sleeve over a short sleeve and my gloves. Notice I'm still smilin' at this point.In contrast to Des Moines three weeks ago where I stayed in the cool weather gear the entire race, I shedded my gloves by Mile 2 this time around. The day, and me, were warming quickly. The clear skies and bright sun were to blame. The first couple of miles were the obligatory tour of the state capital building. Near Mile 3 we got to run on a street called Race Street. The east end of town took us through some older municipal works area and then onto the Capital Area Greenbelt. It is always nice to run off road, away from traffic. My times up to through Mile 6 looked like this: 8:58, ----, 17:55, 9:06, 9:22, 10:21. Mile 6 included a bathroom break where I accidentally left my gloves behind. I laid my water belt on the ground outside the port-o-pot to avoid an incident like Michelle suffered a few weeks back. Mile 6 through 9 were run along the paths between Front Street and the Susquehannah River. Somewhere along here I shed my long sleeve and tied it around my waist. The run along the river was very scenic. Around Mile 9 we took a right and ran through neighborhoods for the next 3 miles before hitting a somewhat desolate stretch along Industrial Road (aptly named) and then we entered the campus of H'burg Area Community College (HACC). HACC once again got us off the roads and many people found this a great place to gather to cheer us on. Around Mile 16 I saw Lisa and my inlaws. I stopped briefly to download the long sleeve and made the fateful comment about how tired I was. It is funny that they can't quite grasp the concept that I could stop and talk to them during a race. I think I spent about 30 seconds with them but they urged me on. My miles splits to this point were: 8:43, 8:51, 9:10, 8:59, 8:53, 9:06, 9:17, ---, 18:48 and 9:10. The shot below is me taking off after grabbing a mid run kiss from my wife. Notice the spring in my step?!

Soon after Mile 17 the hills in the course began. We entered another really nice section in Wildwood Park along with a little, hilly, detour through a neighborhood which I suspect was added in to make up for the mileage we missed at the start without the island loop. The hills continued on until Mile 20 and my times here reflected that: 9:46, 10:09, 10:01 and 10:28. From Mile 20 to the finish we were basically retracing our steps from miles 6 to 12 on a basically flat run back to City Island. For the next 6 miles I swapped places with a curly haired women who was also using a run walk technique (BTW I used 6:15/0:45 throughout the race). The last 3 miles along the river seemed to take forever. My paces from mile 20 to 24 were: 10:07, 9:55, 9:58 and 10:14. Around here I caught up to a couple from the Bronx Running Club. The woman was struggling, while the man was urging her on. She commented to another runner that the man had won the marathon. I didn't give it much thought, but it turns out he was the actual winner of the race; Michael Arnstein in 2:37:17. He'd come back out on the course to run his wife in.

Mile 25 and 26 were long, long miles. Mile 24 I slowed to 11:12. The last Mile.2 was an astounding 13.55. I was discussing the times with my family later and my mother-in-law (who is not a runner) said, "You crashed!" That's a pretty accurate description of the situation. I was reduced to a shuffle barely picking my feet up off the ground. Lisa took the following picture just as I came off the pedestrian bridge back onto City Island. I actually look pretty good in the photo compared to how I felt.

Soon after this point, the course took a hairpin right, down a small incline and then a hairpin left to the finish line. A cruel way to make us finish I thought, but at least it was over.

Another marathon in the books. Sixteen states complete. Three marathons in 9 weeks. A nice weekend with the in-laws.

There are several choices of marathon in PA, including the Philly marathon in a couple of weeks. I chose Harrisburg due to its proximity to my in-laws and my wife's birthday. There isn't much special about this race to set it apart from others. Harrisburg is a small city and running along the Susquehannah was pretty. Spectators were few and far between which isn't really an issue for me. If I had any issue with the race, it would be that the water stops are also few and far between, sometimes up to 3 miles apart. I carry supplemental water and used it all. I think that the unseasonably warmish day and lack of water may have contributed to my "crash." Three weeks between races and my atrocious eating habits the last couple of weeks likely contributed as well. All things considered, I am more than happy with my 4:12:24 finish time.

Now, it is rest and recovery time till year end. The only thing on the slate right now for 2010 is Twin Cities in October.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Harrisburg Marathon

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a marathon in Harrisburg, PA. Low 40's at the start, mid 60's at the finish under clear, sunny skies.

I had the opportunity to briefly meet Shoreturtle at the starting line before he took off like a Bolt (Usain). He is, as expected, a nice guy. I never saw him again, so I'm not sure how his race went.

At the half way point I was right at 2:01. By Mile 16 when I saw Lisa and my in-laws on the course I told them I was "really tired." Miles 17 to 24 were significantly slower; in the 10:00 per mile range. By Mile 25, the proverbial wheels came off. I ran that one in 11:12 and the last 1.2 was as gut wrenching 13:55. I just could not kick it into gear. Poor hydration is likely the culprit.

My final (unofficial time) was 4:12:26. All things considered, not too bad.

My son's made the following comments:
#1 son: Not bad for an old guy!
#2 son: Dang!
I'm just happy that they both were even remotely interested.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Onward to Number Sixteen

I ran 5 miles today and I'll run 5 more on Thursday. I ran tonight on one of my very first and oldest routes. With the time change, Bonelli is off limits for a few months so I was back on the streets again. I went over to Via Verde and ran the streets on what used to be my fave 3 miler on the dirt before the city paved it over (anybody hearing Joni Mitchell in their head?).

The two 5 milers in the middle of the week is reminiscent of the week just before the IMT Des Moines Marathon. I'm repeating that week because, you guessed it, I'm running another marathon this weekend. Three weeks since Des Moines and I'm going to toe the line at another starting line and work my way to the finish.

Before Des Moines I explained that I was running it in part because I wasn't going to be able to run the Harrisburg (PA) Marathon, because my wife said so (just kidding). So I signed up for Des Moines with her blessing. Before I'd even gotten to Des Moines, she surprised me with Harrisburg as a 25th Anniversary present. Sweet, huh.

I've had my eye on Harrisburg for several years now for a couple of reasons. Of course there are the obvious ones of it being in a state I hadn't run yet, but there are other even better reasons.

My in-laws live in Anneville, PA not too far from Harrisburg, so the marathon gives us an excuse to visit them and offers us a really affordable room rate. Back in 2005, the marathon was run on November 13, my wife's birthday. I always thought it would be fun to celebrate it in PA with her Dad and step-mom. Plus, I really like the idea of killing two birds with one stone. This year the race is almost a week before her birthday but we will still have a good time with her family.

I have no expectations for a finishing time, except to actually finish. There really wasn't much time between PA and IA to recover and train properly. The best I can hope for is that everything I did leading up to Missouri and then Iowa will carry me through PA. With the eating season starting last Friday, my diet has been out of control with sugar and flour. And boy could I tell the difference on tonight's easy 5 miler. I vowed on Sunday to stay away from the stuff this week, but so far the first two days of the week I've failed miserably. Hopefully I can "dry out" before Sunday.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Runners and Dogs

I haven't had a weight sessions since Monday, 10/12. I may have gotten one in on Wednesday, 10/21, but it isn't written down in my log. I've had trouble scheduling something with my trainer since I returned from Cleveland but I finally made it to the gym on my own on Saturday for a chest/triceps work out after my 12 miler.

The 12 miler was done on the San Gabriel River Bike Trail, just like my last 12 miler the weekend before Des Moines. I ran the exact same route and finished it in 1:50:31 (9:13 pace), slightly better than the 9:15 pace from 3 weeks ago. One end of the bike trail wraps around a park behind the dam. There was a flurry of activity at the park with a middle school or high school cross country meet and a dog agility course going on.One nice thing about this run is that I sped up as I went. My first few miles were in the 9:30 to 9:40 range. By mile 9 I had dropped the pace to 9:02 and mile 12 was completed in 8:14. It is not often that I can end a training run faster than I started. I am usually the king of consistent pace throughout. Because I was still pretty fatigued from the relocation trip, I moved my run:walk interval down to 5:15/0:45 from 6:15/0:45. That made the pace all the more satisfying from the previous run.

This morning, Sunday, I got up to the bright sunshine compliments of the the time change and headed over to Bonelli for a 5 miler. The route was split about 50/50 on the trails and asphalt. Bonelli was also a flurry of activity with more runners and dogs involved. Today the Muddy Buddy was being run and a crew of Search and Rescue guys were out on a training hike with their heavy gear packs and their dogs.

I ended the week with 27 miles. I tallied up 135.2 miles in the month of October.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Move Wrap Up

The drive to Cleveland, OH went off without a hitch. We arrived there in the early afternoon on Monday, after having driven nearly 800 miles on Sunday from Oklahoma City to somewhere east of Indianapolis. I have made it safely back to California after having caught the rapid transit near Tyler's new place and catching a flight from Cleveland at 6:30 this morning.

The only real snafu was trying to retrieve his stuff from the UHaul trailer. Things had shifted in the trailer and blocked the sliding door. They sent out a contracted service guy who tried for over 2 hours to no avail. We drove the trailer to the UHaul center the following morning, Tuesday, to see what they could do. They were clueless as what to do. A good samaritan happened by and took charge of the situation. He was able to wiggle his way into the small opening and move things around and bang around a little on the tracks and got the door to move up and down.

Yesterday my parents drove up from my their home about an hour south of Cleveland and spent part of the day with Tyler, before he had to go to work, and then we hung out most of the rest of the day.

I was able to get a 5 mile run in on Tuesday around the neighborhood. My planned 4 miler on Wednesday was postponed to spend more time with my parents. Leaving Cleveland so early this morning got me back home around noon. I took advantage of the afternoon sunlight and warmth and ran the Bonelli Sunday Morning Loop. I haven't run that loop in a long time.

The run was a slow run over the hilly course. It is especially tough to run as I was sobbing like a baby. I miss my son.

The 4 days driving and the finality of the move were physically and emotionally draining. Leaving Tyler there was much, much, much harder than I ever expected it to be. He is staying with his godmother for a few more days until he gets stuff settled into his place but after that he'll be there alone for a while. His girlfriend will eventually join him there.

Tyler - Good Luck, Have Fun and Work Hard. Call if you need ANYTHING! We are proud of you and love you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

700 Miles, Plus 5

The migration northward continued today. Thanks to all the kind words on Tyler's behalf. I've had him read all the comments.

We left Gallup, NM this morning and arrived in Oklahoma City, OK this evening after exactly 700 miles of driving. I drove the entire width of New Mexico and I swear that entire state is one long hill from west to east. Tyler took over in the afternoon and got us through the pan handle of Texas without any run ins with the local law enforcement and then continued on into Oklahoma. It was amazing the difference in color coming across the border, Texas was dry and brown, whereas OK was green, very weird.

Once we arrived in OKC, I headed straight to the fitness center. As much as I don't really enjoy the treadmill, it was the best option. After a day of 11+ hours in the truck sitting, it felt really good to move the legs a bit. I took it easy at 10:00 pace, except for the last mile because the hotel manager was trying to shut the room down. I upped the pace and pushed the time limit a little but got the 5 miles in.

I ended the week with 12.8 miles, which is a little lower than average for me one week post marathon. The journey continues (on all fronts).....

Friday, October 23, 2009

620 Miles

I got up this morning and instead of jumping into the shower to get ready for work, I jumped into my running clothes and headed over to Bonelli. I ran a loop that included the Cottontail Trail, out around the airport (Brackett Field), through the RV park and part of the picnic loop. The run was about 7.8 miles in 1:12. After I came home and showered I jumped in Tyler's truck with him and started driving.

Tyler, the oldest son, is moving to Cleveland, OH to begin his journey as a culinarian. He graduated in June and was not having much luck finding jobs in SoCal so he took a peek in the Cleveland area and found a couple prospects. He made a quick trip there, interviewed and was offered two different jobs. He accepted one and packed up his stuff in a UHaul trailer and now he and I are driving cross country to his new digs.

We made it to Gallup, NM today logging about 620 miles. We hope to make it to Ohio by Monday. He will be staying with his god mother for a time until he can find his own place.

This is the culmination of all that we as parents invested into his life. While it will be tough on Mom for him to be so far away, we are excited for his success. His grandparents and a bevy of aunts, uncles and cousins live within an hour, so all things considered he will be in good hands. Exciting times!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Des Details of Des Moines

For Des Moines I packed lightly with only a carry-on. I’d checked the weather for a while and the lows in the 40’s with highs in the 60's had me packing my Marathon Maniacs singlet and a short sleeve shirt. Of course I had my shoes, shorts, socks and fuel belt as well. I’d run plenty of runs along the beach with starting temps in the 40’s so I figured a short sleeve would be fine. I had a throw away sweatshirt too and at the last minute I threw in my gloves.

When I arrived in Des Moines at 4:30 in the afternoon, I realized I had underestimated the feel of 40 degree weather. At that point, in what should have been about the warmest part of the day, the temperature was 48-degrees. The heater in the shuttle stop felt good.

I checked into the hotel and then walked over to the expo. I was staying at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. It is in an historic building. The d├ęcor was dated by had a certain charm. The walk to the expo was about ¾ of a mile. I was glad to have my micro fleece jacket with me. On the way I passed a Walgreens and made a mental note to stop there on the way back to get some Gatorade to fill my water bottles. As I walked I began worrying about whether my short sleeve shirt was going to cut it in the morning. I’d already written off any idea of wearing the singlet.

Bib and packet pick up went smoothly. The expo was about the size you’d expect for a small city marathon. I’d looked around the expo a little by then and had bought myself a new larger, zippered pocket to hold my gus on the fuel belt The race shirt was a long sleeve tech shirt. I considered wearing that in the race over my short sleeve. But then I started thinking about all the negative mojo I’d read about from wearing a race shirt before you’ve actually earned it. I finally decided to pick up a long sleeve tech shirt. I debated between an alien green, that would have matched my shoes, or simple black. The black one won out. I decided it might not be such a bad idea to channel a little bit of Donald on race day. He likes to race in black and he’s the one that put the negative mojo race shirt idea out there in the first place. (BTW, I still have the shirt from the 2008 Big Sur Marathon stuck way up in my closet. I wasn’t able to run that race and I’ve never worn the shirt. I plan on running that race some day and I wasn’t going to let that shirt get in my way).

The pasta dinner was decent. No tickets were required; they crossed your name off a list as you went in. I sat with some folks from the Chicago area. The speakers were Terry Hitchcock, Charlie Engel and Jeff Galloway. They each had some good stuff to say. On the way back to the hotel, I tried to stop by the Walgreens. It was already closed at 8:00 on a Saturday night. Des Moines doesn’t exactly have a thriving night life.

I ended up watching “I Am Legend” in my room and then laid out all my gear before getting some sleep. Since I was planning on wearing both the short sleeve and the long sleeve shirt, I pinned my number onto my shorts; something I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

I woke up a on my own just a little before the alarm went off at 6:00 after a good night’s rest. I made my traditional oatmeal by warming the water in the in room coffee pot and eating it out of the coffee mug. I’d brought along my own plastic spoon. I laid in bed and watched the local morning news and weather. Since upping the morning food intake seemed to work so well for David in Hartford I had an energy bar about an hour later along with some coffee. I got dressed and applied the Body Glide to my thighs and feet and headed down toward the race start around 7:30. I wore a throw away sweatshirt on top of the tech shirts. The plan was to run with it until it was no longer necessary. I freaked myself out a little with the 33 degree temperature the weather people were talking about all morning on the news. After using the port-o-pot I lined up in the staring corral with the 4:10 people. There was still about 20 minutes before race start.

I soon realized that the sweatshirt wasn’t going to be necessary. Although my intent was to toss it off, I have a hard time throwing away a perfectly usable sweat shirt so I got out of the corral and left it at the bag check. When I got back to the starting area the corral was overflowing and people were lined up on the sidewalks. There was little hope of getting back up to the 4:10 pace group.

The race started right on time and it took me 2:00 to get onto the street and across the starting mats. My panic goal became to catch the 4:10 pace group as quickly as possible and then hang with them throughout the race. I’d picked up a pace tattoo at the expo and had it folded up in the pouch of my fuel belt as a back up.

I was so intent on catching up to the pace group I ran right by the Iowa State Capital building and the Mile 1 marker and never saw either of them. I’d upped my run/walk interval to 6:15/0:45 and started it soon after the race started and kept with it all the way to the end. I managed to spot the Mile 2 marker at 18:13, but still hadn’t seen the pace group. Soon after that we left downtown and entered some of the prettiest neighborhoods. Around Mile 3 the half marathoners veered left while the rest of us headed up our first hill. I really enjoy hills. The hills were small in comparison to the ones in Missouri but they were hills none the less. The rollers continued for the next 4 miles or so down some nice tree lined streets. Around Mile 6 there was a female guitarist/vocalists whose beat matched my pace perfectly. I thought how nice it would have been to have her following me along the entire way.

I periodically checked my time against the pace chart in by belt. At Mile 6 I was at 55:26, a few minutes ahead of the project 57:13. I was happy to have a little cushion assuming I’d need it later on. I still had a long way to go.

Soon after mile 8 we came to little keyhole loop in the course. It was our first chance to seem some of the folks that were ahead of us. I saw the 3:30 and 3:45 pace groups heading back. I never did find the 4:10 pacer.

After that we entered about 8 miles of basic straight away on an out and back section of the route. At Mile 10 we got a good look at some of the really fast guys on their way back at around Mile 14. On the long section of Kingman Blvd it seemed like some of the locals hadn’t realized it was marathon morning. They were trying to drive across and down the course. The local law enforcement did a great job of keeping the cars out of our way. The runners were far enough apart that they could allow a car every now and then to cross our paths. Mile 12 included the lap around the wonderfully soft Drake University track A mile later I was half way done. I checked my clock. I was at 1:58:01 at the 13 mile mark. I pulled out the pace chart and saw that I was supposed to be there at 2:50. Something didn’t compute. The pace chart was supposed to be a tattoo but I was using it as a chart so I was reading the number backwards in mirror image. I was supposed to be at the half at 2:05, duh half of 4:10. I was almost exactly 7:00 ahead of schedule. I’d been running 8:50 miles consistently from mile 9 through mile 14.

There was a slight rise after coming out of the track back onto the roads. My legs felt it a lot more than I expected and I began to worry that I’d pushed it too soon. Mile 15, my longest mile of the day, came in at 10:24 and included a bathroom break.

Just before Mile 16 we left the streets of Des Moines for the bike paths. We ran the bike paths through several parks and along the Raccoon River for the next 9 miles. Miles 16 and 17 were slight down hills and I knocked those off in 8:40 and 8:37.

Since my water belt only had water rather than my usual Gatorade I was diligent about getting the Gatorade in at the water stops. I’d started my Gu’s around Mile 7 or so and had half of one every couple of miles. I used 3 gels and sucked on 2 Clif blocks.

Somewhere around Mile 12 or so, I’d taken my thumbs out of my gloves. Keeping the gloves half on, half off seemed to keep my hands at the right temp. As the day warmed up a bit, we’d hit some nice sections of the route where I’d debate about removing the long sleeve shirt and then we’d turn a corner and get blasted by the chilly wind, so I never did take it off. By the last 2 miles in town I was plenty warm enough but didn’t want to stop to take the time.

When I hit the 20 Mile marker I was at 3:01:28. I didn’t need to look at the pace chart to realize that I was ahead of the 4:10 plan. I knew that I only needed to finish the last 6.2 miles in just under an hour to go sub 4:00. My mantra became “just don’t slow down” The next 6.2 miles were done in 8:36, 9:13, 9:03, 9:00, 9:40 (as we climbed up from the river back onto MLK Jr. Parkway. That was a little discouraging but I managed to hang on), 9:12 and 2:01. At the finish line my watch read 3:58:13. I was very, very happy with that result. I never in a million years expected to run that. After I stopped running I realized just how stiff and sore my legs were. I can’t remember the last marathon that they hurt this much. I hobbled around the finish area for a few minutes.

The finish area had some great food. There was the usual water, bananas, oranges and bagels. There was also yogurt, pulled pork sandwiches, sliced apples, ice cream, potato chips and Erin Baker’s Breakfast Cookies. At the result tent, I picked up a printed result sheet like that comes from a receipt printer. It read 3:58:11. The text messages that my wife and Joe received gave my time as 3:58:09 and the official results posted on the website later say 3:58:10, a second or two one way or the other doesn’t change the sub 4:00 finish or the satisfaction.

Unexpected result notwithstanding, the IMT Des Moines is a highly recommended race. The race is big enough that you are never alone, but not so big that you spend a lot of time and energy jockeying for position. The course is absolutely beautiful. The downtown area is spotless and lined with flower pots. The tree lined streets with fall color and the houses are nice to look out. The aid stations were numerous, always well stocked and staffed. The extensive bike path system is a joy to run, to be away from traffic and a cambered street is nice. Spectators aren’t a huge factor for me, but they were plenty and seemed to be enjoying themselves. The medal is substantial. I commented to the girl that gave my mine about how heavy it was. She said I’d earned it – Nice! The post race food was plentiful and as good as any I’d seen elsewhere. Before and after the race we all got plenty of emails from the RD keeping us up to date. I really liked the finish time print out. It will fit nicely in the scrapbook Lisa has been keeping of my marathons.

Next fall if you are looking for a nice little city marathon to run, I would highly recommend you consider Des Moines. Just be sure to visit the local museums on Friday, Saturday or Sunday because they are all closed on Monday. And bring your own Gatorade or buy it early. It's all good!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

IMT Des Moines Marathon

The quick update:


Inexplicable, unbelievable, ultimately satisfying.

All the gory details when I get back home.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


In two days I'm off to the middle of America, to Des Moines, Iowa, to run another marathon. So why Des Moines? And why now? There's a few good reasons:

1. I really wanted to run the Harrisburg Marathon in Harrisburg, PA in November (the why of that I will explain in another post). But with the big Anniversary Party for my parents we deemed it out of the question this year.
2. I really wanted to run more than one state in 2009 to capitalize on my Yasso directed training plan.
3. My wife wasn't going to be able to join me wherever I went so I went on the lookout in states that she had little desire to visit. Iowa fit the bill.
4. Des Moines in in Iowa.
5. Iowa is a state I haven't run a marathon in.
6. Lisa didn't mind missing out on Des Moines.
7. I found a decent airfare and hotels are relatively inexpensive in Des Moines. (compared to places like San Francisco, New York City and Washington, DC).
8. Seven reasons are enough.

This last week of training was an easy one, just two 5 milers to be run at an easy pace. Tuesday I had the chance to run in the rain. I ran the picnic loop in Bonelli and ran through the middle of a high school cross meet that had just recently finished up. The run in the rain was a rare opportunity and I enjoyed it. At least up until the point that I got home and looked down at my shirt and realized I'd suffered the dreaded BNS (bloody nipple syndrome). Oh joy.

Wednesday we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate the oldest son's 22 B-day. Tonight I headed back over to Bonelli for what may end up being my last after work Bonelli run of the season. It is that time of the year where the daylight starts to run out faster than I can. I ran the Cottontail route in an easy 53:31 for the 5 miles.

I packed my bags tonight. I'm working tomorrow and catching a flight out on Saturday to arrive in Des Moines just in time to hit the expo and the pasta dinner and then call it a night before race day on Sunday morning. I've played with a race predictor and that little PR at the Santa Monica 10K would predict a sub 4:00 marathon. It is doubtful that I could do that, but I'm thinking I might try to shoot for a 4:10. When it comes down to it I will be happy just getting across the finish line.

Fifteen Down.....coming real soon!

**scoop - hang on for details on Sixteen Down, sooner than you might think.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Santa Monica 10000

What a race it was. I signed up for this event back in the end of July, long before I ever considered running Des Moines. It wasn't until recently that I realized that the two events were on back to back weekends. Running a 10k the weekend before a marathon probably isn't the wisest choice based on conventional training wisdom but that's the way it goes some times.

I originally signed up for this event with the hopes of bettering my 10K time. My only 10K was run late last year, again just a week before a marathon. By then my right hip was already in a bad state. That 10K was on rolling hills in Temecula and my 55:45 time there was pretty indicative of my training and physical condition at the time. Back in July when I registered for the SM10000, my training was going pretty well. The Santa Monica 5000/10000 has some pretty slick marketing and they promised the "fastest road race in Santa Monica." The clincher was the race t-shirt designed by Ed Hardy Sport. My wife signed up as well to walk the 5K, so we made an event of it.

We got up at 5:00 a.m. and left the house by 5:45. We got to Santa Monica around 6:30 and parked, for free, near the finish line. The start and finish were about a mile apart. We walked down to the starting line to get our bib and chip and had plenty of time to mill around before the race start. The 5K started at 7:30. Once Lisa had passed the starting line I jumped in with her and walked about a 1/4 mile with her before heading back to the start of the 10K.

My race started at 8:00 after the kids 2.5K. My goal for the race was to run 8:30 pace to achieve a finish time around 53:00. This seemed like a good idea in light of the marathon and would be a solid improvement on my 10K time.

I started off a little too far back in the pack and worked my way through the starting line crowd for a Mile 1 time of 8:25. We ran down Main St. in Santa Monica but I didn't see much. My second mile came in at 8:11. I settled in to a rhythm after that and Mile 3 and 4 were 8:24 and 8:25. Those two miles were a consistently gentle uphill. At the 4 mile mark made a u-turn and headed back down the hill to the finish line at the pier.

Mile 5 came at 7:41. When I saw the time I actually said out loud, "Oh, crap!" I hadn't meant to run that fast. I didn't need to run that fast to be assured of a PR. But at that point with the PR pretty much assured unless I completely fell apart I just decided to give it all I could and see how much of an improvement I could really make. I knew that I might pay for it next weekend, but I had the take the chance. I kept right on pushing the pace and passing a few folks and ran mile 6 in 7:25. At that point the finish line was clearly in view and I could hear the announcer urging runners on to get in before 50:00. I gave it all I had for those last two tenths. When I crossed the line, the clock read 50:12. My watch, which I started when I crossed the start and finish mats, read 49:53:47. The race was chipped timed so once the official results are posted I will update the time and post it over there on the side bar. At any rate I made a significant improvement in my 10K PR and had a heck of a fun time doing it. (By the way, Lisa walked the 5K in about 50:00.) **Official results are in at 49:52.2!

We hung around the post race events for a bit and then headed out to find some breakfast. We ended up at Norms, locally renowned for be opening 24/7 365 days a year. The hotcakes, scrambled eggs and bacon hit the spot. Now I will take it easy for the next 6 days and see what happens in Des Moines.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


When I first decided to add Iowa to my 50 state goal I hadn't even finished Missouri and I needed a plan. I looked at Hidgon's multiple marathon schedules (for those folks doing marathons close together) and I cobbled together a schedule using Yasso's plan that seemed to work well in Missouri. I basically had 6 weeks between the two races, so I divided the schedule into 3 two week sections. The first week was Recovery, the second Go and the third was Taper. During the Go and Taper weeks I used Yasso's weekly mileage and compromised between the two for the long run. Two weekends ago Yasso would have had me do a 22 miler, instead I used Higdon's 18. Last weekend I gave myself a goal of 14 to 16 and ended up with the 16. This weekend the goal was 10-12 miles.

During the week I held to Yasso regimen fairly well. Tuesday and Wednesday I made it to Bonelli before sundown and did 5 and 4 at an easy pace, about half on trails and half on roads. Thursday called for 6 miles on a hilly route. I knew right where I would go, but my right IT band has been acting up a little lately. I remember the PT telling me, when the thing was really bad, No hills and No concrete. Many of my runs in Dallas and last weekend's 16 miler were on concrete. Since I'd pushed that rule a little and was paying for it, I decided to turn the 6 miler into an easy-ish run rather than the hills. I ran the streets of Covina at a 9:04 pace. It seemed like a good alternative.

I was pretty much on my own today for the last long run. The CA Cruisers were going to be a huge presence at the Long Beach Marathon and Half Marathon tomorrow so they were taking the day off today. I slept in and didn't get started until well after 9:00. It was of course a beautiful day for a run; overcast and in the 60's. I headed over to the San Gabriel River Bike Path and clocked my 12 miles in 1:51 using a 6:1 run:walk interval. I was pretty happy with the 9:15 pace. It would be really nice to be able to keep that up next weekend in Des Moines.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Go/No Go

As heard during my long run late Sunday morning: I was on the Marvin Braude Bike path sharing the road with various forms of perambulating individuals. One couple that passed me on bikes were over heard saying, "Don't even go there!" Only a few minutes later a different couple went by, again on bikes, and were over heard saying, "You've got to go while you got the chance." I had to smile about the opposing views on Going.

I was on the Marvin Braude Bike Path because I had just returned to Southern California from Dallas/Fort Worth. I had been in Texas since Tuesday at a Users Group Meeting learning all I could about a new to us product. The conference was over Saturday afternoon, but I hadn't scheduled my return flight until Sunday morning. I boarded the flight at 7:30 CDT and landed at LAX around 9:00 PDT. After gathering my luggage and taking the shuttle back to my car I headed straight down to Dockweiler State Beach for my long run. After the 16 mile run, then I went home. Some people thought I was crazy for doing that, but I call it efficient use of time and location.

I was able to get 3 runs in over the 4 days in Texas. On Tuesday I ran 7 miles in Dallas starting at my hotel near the Galleria in North Texas. I ran along some major roads without sidewalks in many places and no bike lanes. I made it into a nice neighbor near the Northwood Club.

The other two days I was in Fort Worth. One day I ran around town and then headed out to the Trinity Trail and headed north east for an 8 miler. A couple of days later I went back out to the Trinity Trail and headed north west. That end of the trail was nicer than the other. It runs into Trinity Park. It was Saturday morning, so I was joined on the trail by the local Team in Training group and ended my run meeting up with a couple of the orthodontists at the Users Meeting.

I had started the week at home Tuesday morning before my flight to DFW with an 8 miler that included 3x1 mile repeats. All in all, I was able to get in all my runs and ended the week with 46 miles.

Prior to leaving for DFW, I had only been back in town for 4 days. That Saturday I got in an 18 miler and then on Sunday I ran an 18k Trail race; the Pt Mugu Trail Run. I'd done this race a couple of years ago when it was called the La Jolla Canyon Legend. Everything was the same except for the name. I was slower than I was then at 2:04:28. It was a fun and challenging course. That week, the Ohio week, ended at 48.2 miles and the month of September came in at 143.4 miles.

I'm actually back home for 2 weeks straight, the taper weeks, before boarding another plane this time bound for Des Moines to tackle state #15.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mo Better Trail Runs

I've been back home since late Thursday night. Lisa and I had a wonderful time in Mohican reliving our honeymoon. The weather was gloomy and wet, just like it was 25 years ago. The weather didn't matter then nor did it matter now. We went out and visited all the sights in the park, including the Covered Bridge, the Falls, the Fire Tower and the Gorge Overlook. We had dinner one night in the nearby town in one of two "fine dining" establishments. After chatting with the waitress it turns out it was the same restaurant from 25 years ago, just under new management with at new name. We definitely enjoyed our time there.

Of course the two days in the park weren't all romance and nostalgia; I had to get a couple of runs in. One of the first things I did was send an email out to Nick. I know he runs in Mohican regularly. I has hoping we could hit the trails for a 6-8 mile run. Unfortunately the logistics didn't quite work out but I was able to get in a couple of shorter runs on my own.

Wednesday morning I parked at the dam and ran the trails to Little Lyons and Big Lyons Falls out to the covered bridge and back to the dam on the Pleasant Hill Trail. It was raining but the tree canopy is so dense that I didn't get all that wet. The second day, I parked at the covered bridge, ran through a campground and out the Hickory Gorge Trail to another camp ground and back. About 4 miles the first day and 6 the second. They were probably some of the easiest trails in Mohican and its wasn't exactly what the Yasso program might have called for, but it was fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Findley Run

The 50th anniversary party was a great success. My parent's were very appreciative of the travel certificate for an Alaskan Cruise.

Monday, we went up to the east side of Cleveland to visit a good family friend. The wife gave a reading at our wedding and she is our oldest son's godmother. And she's Italian. So we ate the whole day. We got there in time for lunch of chicken soup, homemade pizza and eggplant parmesan (from home grown eggplant), Texas caviar and cranberry orange bread. A few hours later we had dinner of veal, spaghetti, garlic bread and any leftovers from lunch and a wonderful tiramisu for dessert. Between the 8 of us we killed the entire desert.

Today is our last day at my parent's house. We are taking the kids back to the airport later this afternoon. Today offered me the most time to get in the 10 miler that was scheduled in the middle of the week. Back on the Yasso plan that would have meant the week with the 10 x 800's. My original thought was to try to do this workout on the track at the local HS football stadium. Other options were the marked trail at the Wellington Reservation I'd run on Sunday.

I drove all the way across town, less than a mile, to find out that the track was locked up and had a no trespassing sign. In the end I decided to head out to Findley State Park and run the Thorn Mountain Bike Trail. I always enjoy that run. It was a humid one this morning. The trail was the driest that I'd ever run it. Usually I'm slipping and a sliding all over the place. Along the way I saw at least 9 deer bounding off through the woods, an owl, a group of about 12 wild turkeys, 2 great blue herons and a mushroom about the size of a football helmet.

I ran about 9 miles total in 1:28. After the run I did some push ups, sit ups and tricep dips since I haven't gotten to work out at all since last Tuesday.

After dropping off the kids at the airport, Lisa and I are heading down to Mohican State Park. We are spending two nights in the lodge before heading back to California. 25 years ago we spent our honeymoon in the lodge for two nights. It will be a nice way to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Our actual anniversary is September 29.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mirror Image

We made it to Ohio with only an hour delay due to bad weather in Atlanta. The kids made it it this morning after taking the red-eye into Cleveland.

I got up this morning for a 12 miler on the rails to trails path near my parents home. I'd checked the weather when I packed and was pleased to see the daily highs in the high 70's - low 80's. I packed my running gear accordingly - a couple of sleeveless and a short sleeve. What I hadn't given much thought to was the overnight low and the cool temps I'd be starting in.

I headed over to Kipton to jump on the same trail I'd run when I was here in June. When I got out of the car the temperature was 47 degrees. The only thing that was really cold were my hands. It took a couple of miles before they warmed up. Otherwise, the cool Ohio air was pretty nice to run in. I ran the same 12.5 miles as I did back in June. This time around it took me 1:53:14 compared to the 1:57 in the heat of June; a nice little improvement aided immensely by the cool temps.

I will likely get up tomorrow and continue the mirror image theme by running 4 miles at the Wellington Reservation I discovered in June. The rest of the day on Sunday will be spent at the Golden Anniversary Celebration.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vote For Pedro

Being that I work in the Oral Care sector of the Health Care Industry, I am pretty adamant about getting my twice yearly dental cleanings. I had one the other day. The hygienists at this office do a general health screening that includes blood pressure and pulse. My BP was 114/68 and my pulse was 43. This was two days after running the HOA marathon. They seemed like pretty good numbers to me.

This week is still kind of a recovery week but also kind a week to get back into training for Number 15. I did an easy 5 miler in Bonelli on Cottontail and for the second time recently didn't see a single bunny.

I moved that run up a day, so that I could do a leg work out with my trainer on Tuesday night. Have I mentioned before how much he loves doing leg workouts, I should say making me do leg workouts. He even let me do dead lifts but threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't keep the form right. I was a good student.

Today, Wednesday, just before leaving work, he and I had the following text exchange:
Chris: How are the legs feelin'?
Darrell: Haha. A little sore. What were you expecting?
Chris: Paralyzed. Haha
Darrell: Almost, but not quite.

I'm still loosely following Yasso's plan, so today was 7 miles with hills and not to be treated as an easy run. With somewhat sore legs I decided to keep the distance the same and dialed back on the intensity and the hills. Rather than running the long hill I did the rolling hills in Bonelli. It was a good run and I took a good long time, 1:19.

I'll be up early tomorrow for a 4 miler and then I'm catching a plane to Ohio to for my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


With the completion of Heart of America, state number 14 on my quest for 50, some changes were in order on the blog. First and foremost was the change from Thirteen Down to Fourteen Down. I know you probably already noticed. We lived with that last title for 9 months, it was time for it to go. I also updated the blog layout back to one available in Blogger. I really wanted something that takes advantage of the whole page. I tweaked the colors to my liking. I guess I have a thing for that brownish-orange color. Its was also time for the WxDx almost daily postings to go as well. I do like the idea of posting more frequent, yet shorter posts. We'll see how it goes.

You may also have noticed the countdown over there to Fifteen Down. Yes, the next marathon has been booked. I was feeling pretty good going into Missouri and really wanted to take advantage of that and the air fare war that was going on a couple a weeks ago. I scoured for something that might fit the bill. My wife really has no vacation left, I was going to be traveling alone. For some reason she has little desire to visit the middle of America, so Des Moines won out over Albuquerque. In 5 weeks I'm back off to the IMT Des Moines Marathon.

It has been an odd week mileage wise in that the HOA marathon was on Monday. Last week was oddly low, at 13, and this week was oddly high, at 40.2. It all evens out in the end but it looks, well odd, in the books.

I ended the week with an easy 4 miler on the Picnic Loop in Bonelli. In, 2X around and back out gets it done. I wore a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline 8's I'd had stashed away in the closet. The pair that I wore at HOA had over 350 miles on them. Although I update the shoe mileage log semi regularly I wasn't thinking. Ordinarily I wouldn't have used 350 mile shoes for a marathon but my other choice was completely unused shoes which seemed like a less wise choice. The new 8's will be broken in nicely for Des Moines.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Powder Canyon

I guess this is why they call it Powder Canyon. My legs were covered with this fine dust half way up to my knees.

The recovery schedule I put together for myself had 6-8 miles on it today. I decided to head on over to Powder Canyon. This is a run the CA Cruisers did back in May. I had a note in my log that read, "LOVED THIS RUN!!" Today was a good day to go back and give it another shot. The basic route is about 8 miles, with many options to change it up or down.

Last time I was with a group of folks some of who had scouted the route. This time on my own, I took a wrong turn and went down a long section that dumped me into a neighborhood over a mile from where I needed to be. I thought the trail look unfamiliar and I didn't remember running such a steep downhill the last time. The lack of bike and foot prints should have been my clue but I stubbornly kept going. I turned around and walked back (off the clock) up the incline to get on track.

The rest of the run went off without a hitch. I ended up running for about 90 minutes and will call it 8 miles of running. The legs are a little sluggish but otherwise feeling good.

An HOA update: Joe sent me a link to a photo essay on the Heart of America Marathon in the Missourian. Pay close attention to the photo of the dudes in the ice tub. There's also a great shot of the young guy I mentioned at the finish line.