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.