Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good Choices

At least I think they were good choices. This was the last "big" week of training before the LA Marathon on March 21. The week included a speed session with Yasso 800's and the longest long run.

Good Choice #1: The plan called for 10 miles with 10x800. I had a great time doing this workout last summer in preparation for the Heart of America Marathon, but I haven't done much in the way of speed work since then. I find it very difficult to muster up the concentration for those types of drills in the darkness of winter. For this one I opted to run it at lunch time on Wednesday. A meeting-less afternoon was assurance that my post run aroma would not offend anyone. Ten miles in really too much to squeeze into a lunch break, even and extended one. The first accommodation I made was to shorten the run to 8 miles. With the lack of speed work leading up to this, trying for 10x800 seemed unrealistic, so I cut it back to 5x800 and ran them in an average pace of 3:51. I had a 2 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down.

Good Choice #2: The long run for the weekend was a 22 miler that I'd scaled back to 20, weeks ago since the LA training was compressed a bit. I usually get my long runs in on Saturday morning. The weather gurus were calling for 100% chance of torrential downpours on Saturday. My original plan for the weekend was to hit the gym on Friday after work, run long on Saturday and then run short on Sunday. With the predicted weather I saw no reason to chance the rain. I don't mind running in the rain, but torrential just didn't seem necessary when Sunday's forecast called for clear skies.

When I got home Friday rather than going to the gym I put in the 6 easy miles scheduled for Sunday. Then on Saturday I went to the gym during one of the respites from the downpours. We had the strangest weather (at least for SoCal). We'd have torrential downpours, often with hail followed by bursts of sunshine, then drizzle then more downpours. This went on all day. I was glad I'd run on Friday night.

This morning the rain clouds had dispersed and the sun was shining brightly. It was a beautiful day for a 20 miler. The temperature was in the mid to high 50's. My friend Terry and I ran the Santa Ana River Trail. We kept up an 7:1 run:walk ratio. Around mile 11 Terry was feeling pretty wiped out so she fell behind, switching to a 5:1. I kept on alone and finished the 20 miles in a moderate 3:23 (10:09) pace. Terry wasn't too far behind. I felt really good, but it is runs like Terry had that make you wonder why we ever thought running marathons was a good idea.

Good Choice #3: Terry and I will likely run the LA Marathon together, shooting for a 4:05 finish. This will qualify Terry for Boston a second time and shouldn't be a stretch for me or put me under too much stress running a marathon that doesn't add to my 50 state goal. I'm looking forward to the weekend as Joe will be in town with his nephew from San Diego. It will be fun to hang out again. The next two weekends are relatively short runs of 15 and 12 and then its time for the big one. I'm happy to have entered the taper phase, yet again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bonelli Haiku

A nearly full moon
Lighting the way as I run
Smoothly on the trail

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Solid and Sliding

How did I ever find time to blog. I hate to give it up but with Facebook and Twitter competing for my time its getting harder to keep up. Reading is difficult, but made somewhat easier because so many others seemed to have dropped off the blogger wagon. Posting is difficult. Twitter is my personal fave at the moment. It is short, sweet and to the point. Easy to stay in touch with a lot of peeps without any commitment to a long read or a comment.

On the running front, it was a good solid week of training miles. Four weeks to the day when I break my no-CA marathons for the new LA Marathon Stadium to Sea course.

I took advantage of my carpool situation and the wonderful summer like weather to run 8 and 10.5 miles on Monday and Wednesday during my (extended) lunch hours. It was so nice to complete those medium length distances during the daylight. The 80 degree temps were a bonus. I was definitely in my element.

Thursday I headed straight to Bonelli and got 2.5 miles in on the trails before darkness encroached and then added about 4 more miles on the pavement for a nice 6.6 miler.

Rain was predicted for Saturday morning but we were blessed with a wonderful clear and cool morning for a beautiful lap around the Newport Beach Back Bay. There were so many other runners out there, it was very enjoyable. I ran the first part with Michelle and Jay and the remainder with my friend Terry and her friend Terry. At the end to the loop Terry and I headed back out for a few more miles to bring the total to 15.

Today I headed over to Bonelli for my Sunday Morning Loop but my fave trails were closed due to the land slide that happened on Thursday afternoon. It had rained overnight and I was hoping for a little play time in the mud. The slide was on the far southwest corner of Bonelli near the 3.5 to 4 mile mark of my normal loop. I made do by jumping on the loop at the far end and doubling back a couple of time to make up my mileage.

Total for the week was 47.1 miles. Next week includes the last big long run before LA. Not sure I'll get to cool off in the ocean like last week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pulled the Trigger

Today I registerd for what may become state #17. Super excited. I've wanted to run this one for a while now. Plans are to run with a coworker from the Twin Cities area. Expectations are high. Twin Cities is billed as "the most scenic urban marathon in America". I'll let you know. Training offically starts June 14th.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Surf City Schwag

Race Banner on the Huntington Beach Pier the day before the race, a stormy, wet, windy day.

The race medal is one of the coolest ever. The surf board is wooden with the metal medallion attached. (Try as I might I couldn't rotate the top picture, sorry)
The California Dreamin' metal for completing some combination of the Long Beach, San Francisco and Surf City Half or Full Marathons. I did the half option - no more California marathons, remember.

The logo on the California Dreamin' jacket.

The final official results are in:

1:45:11 (8:02 pace)

Splits were - 3 mi 24:13 (8:05 pace) and 8.2 mi 1:04:48 (7:55 pace).

925 out of 11783 overall. I'm still jazzed.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Surf City Half Marathon

I signed up for this race last July. Yes, a little over 8 months ago. I don't normally plan quite that far ahead, but the race sells out early and I wanted to be sure to get in on California Dreamin' Series. At the time I had no real goal other than to finish and collect the really cool metal and the California Dreamin' schwag.

After my PR performance at the 10K in October and without the high mileage of a marathon training program facing me done, I thought I might try to better my half marathon PR. My current PR, set back in 2005 at the Fontana Days Half, is kind of a "soft" PR in that it was set with the benefit of a really nice downhill course. A PR is a PR, but I wanted to legitimize it a bit.

Then I started training based on Bart Yasso's plan in his book "My Life on the Run". I'd used the full marathon plan with success. Unfortunately I found it difficult to complete the quality workouts during the dark and cooler evenings of winter. The couple of half marathon pace runs I did try during the daylight did not go well. To achieve a PR I'd have to run the race at a steady 8:00 pace or less. I'd also heard from others that the course is unusually crowded further complicating PR attempts. A few weeks back I'd pretty much given up any hope of a PR effort at Surf City.

Then race morning dawned as a new day. We'd just had two days of scattered showers with heavy rains, winds and gloomy conditions. This morning the clouds cleared and the rains moved on. The temperatures were in the mid 50's. After the rain everything looks brighter and clearer, even the air is clean for a few days afterward. I decided to line up as close to the front as could. I decided to give it all I could for as long as I could and let whatever happened happen.

The race sent the full marathoners off over an hour before the half. With the half they employed a wave start that went off without a hitch. I was only able to work my way into the 2:00 corral. The 1:30, 1:40 and 1:50 were ahead of me. Being in the 2:00 corral actually worked to my advantage. From the get go I was passing people and that never let up throughout the race. The mental boost from gaining on and then overtaking other runners was huge.

I kept a close watch on my mile splits and was shocked from the get go. The first 5 miles went like this:
8:23, 7:26, 8:25 (including a pit stop), 7:58, and 8:01.
During my training I hadn't been able to sustain an 8:00 pace for more than 3 miles. I'd gone 5 so I just kept on chugging away.

The next 3 miles looked like this:
8:08, 7:40 and 8:00
Incredible. I was even stopping at every water stop for a drink and walking through until I'd downed the liquid and then got right back to it. I'd planned not to use a more formal run/walk schedule.

The 8 mile mark was the final U-turn and it was a straight shot down Pacific Coast Highway to the finish line. I figured 5 more miles at this pace and I'd be done in less than an hour. I hoped I could hang on.

Mile 9: missed the marker
Mile 10: 16:52 - I was a little concerned here, the pace had fallen to 8:26
Mile 11: 7:39
Mile 12: 8:06
Mile 13.1: 8:34 (7:47 pace)

Final time on my watch 1:45:13. Live results on the website show 1:45:11 (still unofficial at this point)

At any rate the 1:45:11 is a surprisingly unexpected PR by nearly 30 seconds. I'm really at a loss to explain it. My training wouldn't have predicted it. I guess being slightly under trained and the near perfect race conditions all fell together to make it possible. With no downhill assist on a basically flat course at Surf City, I'd say I now have a legitimate half marathon PR! And some great schwag to go with it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Return to Bonelli

Run.GPS Community Run.GPS Mobile Sports GPS Software
The ground hog may be able to keep spring from coming but he can't keep the days from getting longer. It has been noticeably lighter each day when we leave work and remaining lighter once I'm home.

Today I make a quick change and then a bee line for the park and ride near Bonelli. I left the parking lot at 5:35. It was probably already after the official sundown but there was still plenty of light to see the trails.

I ran on of my shorter routes that combines trails and roads. The first 2.25 miles or so are trail with the rest pavement. I had plenty of light to navigate the trails, but by the time I hit the asphalt it was definitely dark.

I used the new phone/gps and was a little disappointed to see the distance came in at 3.8 miles. I've always called this route at 4 miles. I guess its close enough for government work, as the saying goes. That 0.2 miles haunts me just a little, it is the end of a marathon. Who wants to only run 26 miles and take credit for 26.2.

I'm not quite obsessive enough to go back an change my running journal, but I will only take credit for 3.8 today and I'll measure it a couple more times to see what I get. Regardless I enjoyed the midweek foray back into Bonelli.

Four days to go before the Surf City Half and the weather forecast seems to have improved, thankfully.