Saturday, December 26, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 10 Miles and hills!

When I arrived at the LA Leggers starting point today, I only saw my group gathered. Since it is the day after Christmas, the turnout is less than typical. I am a bit peeved because I left all of my chocolate outrage flavored Gu on my desk and am without fuel (besides H2O) for today's run. I hope the 2 waffles I had earlier will be enough to sustain the hills we are scheduled to run.

Our group has a fairly good turnout. We head north along the Ocean through Pacific Palisades and then go east on Temescal Canyon. My last experience up Temescal was difficult. I had to take breaks and work with an "interval mentality" - Walk to that tree, run to the stop light. But today is different. I pump my arms and pace myself and get to the top of the hill less weathered than before. Hooray! I continue the course on Sunset, through Pacific Palisades village and make it back to Santa Monica which includes a couple of more hills for good measure. Best advise for hills is to use your arms like they are another pair of legs. And also repeat a helpful mantra like "I love hills!" or "Hills, eat my dust!". Something to that effect.

Larissa also brought her dog Maco who, despite 10 miles, didn't break a sweat.

As far as the shoe situation, my feet started hurting toward the end. Too early for foot pain with new shoes. Back to the store they will have to go...

Happy running!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 2.75 miles in new shoes

I have been running in Asics Gel Kayanos for about almost 2 years now. I started in the 14 model and then purchased the 15 model a couple of months before the LA Marathon. I liked the 15 model immediately. But it's been almost 300 miles and the shoes have reached their expiration date. So I purchased the latest model - 16 - and went out for a run. Sadly, it isn't the same feeling as when I got the 15's. Notably, it is not as cushioned as the previous model. I called Frontrunners to see if there were any 15s left in my size and there weren't. the helpful salesperson told me not to worry about it and see how they feel the next time. To be continued...

Happy shoe shopping!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 20 miles and all's well

I woke up this morning for a 20 mile long run with the LA Leggers. I hadn't done 20 miles the last time our group met, so this would be the first time since the LA Marathon in May that I will be running this mileage. Sure I ran 18 miles last month, but once you get past 10, each mile marker is a major milestone.

Our pace team does 4:1's for long distances - 4 miles running and 1 mile walking - This adds up to a 12 minute/mile pace. We started with about 30 people at a little past 6 in the morning. I ran alongside a 12 member Terry for most of the way, which was great since our conversation made the first hour go by quickly. Our path today went from Santa Monica through Venice and through Marina del Rey. Although I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life, I am constantly surprised and in awe by the unexpected beauty I find. The run up the jetty in the Marina was fun, although once we got to the bike path, sharing a small strip with fast cyclists proved to be a challenge. I kept hugging my edge of the road, working on balance, and keeping one foot ahead of the other. Keep moving, have to keep moving.

Over the course of the run, we lost some people. They either slowed down or had to stop. At around mile 18 I thought about stopping also, but it helps when you have a group whose energy you can feed off of. In the last mile I counted on Larissa who kept giving up encouraging words. I used her words like mini fuel shots. Almost there, almost there.

One of my favorite elements of running with the Leggers is the group camaraderie. We also cheer other groups on. The LA Roadrunners did 16 miles today. Good for them! We'll be seeing them on the course in LA in March.

By the time we arrived our finish, we ran 20 miles at 4:03 hours. Thanks to Mentors John, Rene, Larissa, and runners Terry, Jeff, Bernie and others for a great run. Also thanks to the 10.5 group water station staffers (as well as Top to Top who also helped out). See you next Saturday.

Happy running!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Running for a cause

I have selected the John Wayne Cancer Institute at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA as an organization to fund raise for in conjunction with my running of the Pasadena and Los Angeles Marathons. If you feel so inclined to give during the holidays, please consider making a donation to my firstgiving page by clicking here.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Say no to Drugs Universal Backlots 10K

The rain yesterday proved to be the perfect set up for my race today at Universal Studios. Sure, it was cold, but how often do I get a chance to run through the sets for "Desperate Housewives","Whoville", "War of the Worlds" and "Psycho"? For those in the know, the course meanders where the tram only treads in addition to the perimeter of the studios near offices. There were plenty of hills - steep ones - which made this a more difficult than normal course. I am surprised at the large crowd, but given the unique course, everyone else has come out to enjoy the experience like me. This race is also one of the Students Run LA races so the course has a good number of children. Girls on the run was also here today. There was a big line afterward for the free pancakes, but alas, it was too long for me. I finished the 10K in 1:02.

Happy racing!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 4.5 mile intervals

The rain is being pushed to Saturday, so I got out for another run tonight. Anticipating long hill run saturday morning, so I will buy a throw away rain poncho although ideally the rain will come down later in the day or very little at that. Since my current shoes are showing signs of wear (i.e. my feet hurt), I ran in my last pair of running shoes tonight. And? They feel great! I have put in more miles on my current shoes than my previous shoes. So I can put off on buying new ones a little longer. For now, I am happy with my "new" old shoes. Also, intervals are a good thing. Do them :)

Happy running!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 3 miles fartlek

Got up early to do a quick 3 mile fartlek. Any burst of speed is a good thing in the long hall. And will do anything to warm up in this cold weather! Supposedly will rain the rest of the week so getting in my mid-week run now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 14 miles

Since yesterday our pace group was in charge of staffing water stations, there was a make up run today for those of us who were volunteering. We ran 7 miles south into Venice and back and 7 miles up San Vicente and back. The gradual incline on San Vicente never felt so good. It's always nice to run in a group. The weather is cold, and I'm glad we missed the pending rain storm. Great run today!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 3 miles and hills

Did a quick run around UCLA - one way up up up, and the other way down down down. I crossed paths with the guy who sells "Star Maps" on Sunset. Someone pulled over and bought one. I guess he does good business!

Running downhill is not my favorite thing; but how else are you going to get back?

Happy running!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Biggest Loser Marathon

I haven't been watching NBC's Biggest Loser faithfully like last season, but I did watch last night's marathon episode (most of it). It's unclear what kind of training they receive, since they are told of the marathon about one month or so prior to the event. Although considering that it has become a regular event on the show, they should have expected it. What they don't show is all of the off-scene support I am sure they must receive - First Aid, food, or anything else. Rudy supposedly came in first with a time of about 5:15 - which is my marathon goal. The course they run looks great - with hills, sand, oceanside views, trails. They should make this a real marathon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 5 miles

Now that it gets dark at 5pm, any after-work run requires my arsenal of night running gear. The combination of head lamp, reflective strap across my chest and the recent addition of compression leg sleeves make for an interesting outfit. The look on my cat's puzzled face said it all - I resembled a goalie/coal miner/crossing guard. But with the end of November, has come moderate beautiful evenings so that the temperature, at least, is not any kind of challenge. It's rather perfect. But running solo is not as fun as running in a group. So I'm considering doing more group or buddy runs during the week. Two sets of reflective outfits is always better than one.

Happy running!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

10 Miles and hills!

After 2 weeks of not feeling so well, it was great to rejoin the leggers this morning for a 10 mile run with hills up north to Temescal canyon and down Sunset. Thanks to mentor Glenn who helped me on that hill! After not running that long for a while, it felt great and reminded me why I love the sport! Also saw the Gobble Wobble runners at the Turkey Trot. Nice job!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Running the Universal Back Lot

Just found a race that winds through the Universal Studio Backlot. How cool is that? The race is the 9th Annual Say No to Drugs 5k/10k on Sunday, December 13. Check out more info at their website:

Runner's Almanac - Turkey Trots

With Thanskgiving approaching, consider signing up for a Turkey Trot. Eat a lot, and run a lot! Here are two local Los Angeles area turkey trots to consider:

Thursday, November 26:
The Trail Runner's Club hosts it's annual Turkey Trot early thanksgiving morning. Looks like the trail is about 9.5 miles long and registration is free. Here is the flyer.

Saturday, November 28:
Santa Monica Gobble Wobble. An inaugural turkey trot in Santa Monica. This run is partnered with the Westside Food Bank - Bring a can of food that day. Registration is about $35. Here is the website.

PLUS Dress up like a turkey! You know you want to.

Happy running!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New LA Marathon Course - Downtown not Sacrificed

On Monday, the new LA Marathon course was revealed at 6:00am to eager people like me who were counting the days for this to finally happen. I followed the online map provided by the LA Marathon website, and was very happy to see that the course, although starting at Dodger's Stadium, backtracks a bit into Downtown before continuing westward. I very much enjoyed the downtown portion of the LA Marathon and was disappointed that in looked like Downtown would be scrapped all together. So I am glad that it is represented at all. The course continues west, largely along major thoroughfares like Sunset and Wilshire, but there are some interesting twists here and there as well. I'm curious to see how all these major streets will be shut down that day. The course goes through Beverly Hills and right up Wilshire in front of the high-end luxury department stores Saks, Barneys and Neiman Marcus. I'm guessing that all the permits were required, so any disgruntled shopper will just have to suck it up that day.

So the course looks good!

See you in March...Happy running!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Runner's Almanac - A long walk and WeSpark 5k/10k

What a foggy day it was early this morning as I navigated around Lake Balboa in search of the starting line for WeSpark's Inaugural 5k/10k race. I was out to promote the Northridge Hospital's Center for Assault Treatment Services (CATS) Victory for Victims Run set to take place in April 2010. I ran into a lady promoting an other charity run taking place next week in Los Angeles called Run For Her, in support of Ovarian Cancer Research. Coincidentally, today is World Run Day. But since I did my long run yesterday, I figured that counted for me.

Lake Balboa is like a little godsend in the Valley. I did my part promoting the event, and then gave my mom a call and we spent about 40 minutes walking around the lake. My legs don't feel tired from yesterday, which is good. For anyone who did run today, hope you had a good one!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 18 miles

I had been trying to mentally prepare for today's 18 mile run, including hydrating the day before and getting some good protein in. Aside from getting to sleep early though, my mental preparation wasn't at the level I had hoped for. When I got to the starting line today, it didn't feel like I was about to run 18 miles. Maybe that's a good thing. Since daylight savings had ended, it wasn't dark this morning at 6:00am, but it was cold, and it remained cold for much of the morning. Our first three miles felt pretty great, and our mentors kept us at pace, if not a little below. I became fast friends with my running buddy next to me, and I commiserated with him over the fact his iPod was acting all funny and he wasn't able to listen to the songs he had meticulously chosen the night before for today's run. Eventually, his iPod did work. When I turned my iPod on around mile 5, I was happy to have it, but about 4 or 5 miles later it went kaput. That was ok, I'm happy to run with the playlist in my head. At one point, a girl behind me was singing the lyrics to a song she was listening to, so that was enjoyable as well.

We ran through Santa Monica and into Venice and continued South to Marina del Rey. We navigated past the Cheescake Factory at Mother's Beach, and past the Ritz Carlton, where sadly, no one was outside eating pancakes over which I could salivate. We then went further into the Marina and made it just till Fisherman's village, when we had to turn around. On our back, unfortunately, my running buddy took a nasty fall and when I turned around to see what happened, I saw he had stumbled in a narrow passageway between the parkinglot and the street. When he got up his finger was bleeding badly, and he mentioned that he was afraid he had broken it, after recently recuperating from breaking it just recently. I gave him a sanitzed wipey I carried with myself and a gulp of my water for his cut. One of our helpers, Larissa, stayed behind with him. I felt aweful. Especially, since he had mentioned his wife was recovering from a running fall of her own. Hope he got better and will see him next week.

There is a point during these long runs when we seem to lose people. By the time we got to mile 17, the group seemed to dwindle a bit, and there was a point when we were less than a mile a way, when my right knee was bothering me. I thought of stopping and walking the rest as well. But I stuck it out, and after that incline from the Pier back up to Ocean, it was a good feeling to be done with the run.

The hardest part today, aside from my partner's injury, was working on my mental stamina. My body was able to do it - It was mind that I was working on. Running, even in a group, can be very singular. It's just you out there on the road.

I got home and immediately drank some post-run chocolate milk, recommended after a long session. Then the aches and pains started to settle in. All morning 18 miler, 3 hours and 40 minutes. Now I am catching up on some tv.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 4.8 miles tempo +hill

This end to daylight savings is great so far. I wake up at 5:00am, and it sure is easier than how waking up at 5:00am used to feel. Put on my new Zensah leg sleeves, gloves, and even my reflection belt that I wrap diagonally around my upper body. The combination makes me look like a soccer goalie. I open the back door to see how dark it really is. It's 5:30am and although dawn has not hit, the sky isn't dark - more of a dark blue. I take off the reflective gear and head out. I do a tempo run today, with a regular to comfortable pace for the first 15 minutes and then I take it up a notch for the next 15. I decide to veer on a rather long hill, probably about 300 m. The view from the top is beautiful. Now that dark has changed to dawn, I'm really glad I came up this hill, despite that brief swallow of nausea. I jog back down, passing a woman doing hill repeats in the middle of the road, and complete just under 5 miles for today.

I liked the Zensah sleeves. The compression isn't too tight to make it uncomfortable and it adds some warmth on a cold morning. With 18 miles scheduled on Saturday, I may just get in a couple miles in on Thursday this week and that's it.

Congratulations to all who finished the New York Marathon. And congrats to men's winner and UCLA alum Meb Keflezighi!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 4 miles and Compression socks

So although I don't normally run after our long runs on Saturdays, I felt that 8 miles isn't really so bad and did a quick 4 miler this morning. Besides, the fact that day light savings has caused us to turn our clocks back an hour, means that running in the morning is just that much easier. 7:00am is no longer cold and potentially gloomy, but sunny and even warm! After the run, I met my friend Adam for our latest Yoga adventure at Yogaco in Santa Monica. All in all, I enjoyed it, although some of the poses are harder for me than others. Really, what is the purpose of a three-legged chair anyway? Donations are suggested, so pay as much or as little as you'd like. The class was suprisingly small for a Sunday class, but the Yogaco space in general is huge. It's on the third floor above the Anthropologie store on 3rd Street.

Today marked my first day participating in National Novel Writing Month. I wrote 5052 words on day 1 for my pending 50,000 word novel to be completed by the end of the month. Hope it won't interfere with running. Interested? Sign up at the NaNoWrMo website. I also made a stop today at Phidippides in Encino in search of compression socks. I bought the Zensah brand compression leg sleeves used for increasing oxygen flow to the lower leg and aiding in recovery. I may even use them during one of my runs. They aren't super fit, but snug enough that it left a small imprint when I took them off. I was tempted to get the matching arm sleeves to warm me up during cold days, but the weather was about 80 degrees today. That'll be next on my list once it really starts cooling up.

Happy running!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Runner's Almanac - 8 miles

This week had some cold, and windy days. Luckily, it all cleared up for our 8 mile run today. No one in our group had costumes, but the Roadrunners sure did. We wrapped up with some yoga moves led by two women from Lululemon Brentwood. But after 8 miles, doing pigeon for a minute hurts more than helps. 18 miler next week.

Happy running!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Runner's Almanac - You spin me right round

Took a spinning class tonight after weeks without stepping foot into that spinning studio. I spun my wheels as fast as I could, and although I didn't get anywhere, I was able to get some cross training in. New York marathon this Sunday - Will think seriously about doing the lottery for next year. registration for NYC Marathon opens November 2!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Running in the wind

It was windy. I knew it was windy - I could hear it and see it for myself. But despite the caution flag in the back of my mind, I decide to go running anyway. I needed to get in some miles, and I was in the mood. Caution flag be damned.

I make it through my first 2 miles, and although it is barely 6:30pm, it is already dark outside. I decide to veer onto a better lit street for the remainder of the run. It is still windy, and I tell myself that I will keep running until the wind moves me otherwise...As in physically moves me otherwise. And it does eventually. So much so, that I turn around just shy of reaching the beach. I end up getting about 6 miles in. By the time I get home, I see that dirt sprinkles have covered my face and gotten into my eyes, despite the protection of glasses. And there is nothing like some crunchy dirt in your mouth. The whole time out, though, I thought of the wind as another obstacle, like a hill. It helped. But I'll defnitely pay more attention to that caution flag the next time the winds are 30+ mph.

Happy running!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Good news for City of Angels Half?

City of Angels Half-Marathon is a go, according to one of our Legger mentors who heard it from a race organizer. The race website is still non-functioning, but I will keep my eye on it. In the meantime, here are 4 races to consider around that weekend.

1. Inaugural Los Angeles County Half-Marathon starting at the Pomona Fairplex- December 13
2. Santa to Sea Half Marathon in Ventura/Oxnard - December 13
3. Santa Monica - Venice Christmas Run 5k/10k - December 12
4. Rock n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon/Half-Marathon in Vegas - December 6

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Runner's Almanac - LA Cancer Challenge

Today I wasn't a runner, but a promoter, at the LA Cancer Challenge 5k/10k on the property of the West Los Angeles Veteran's Administration. I am supporting Northridge Hospital's Center for Assault and Treatment Services (CATS) 5k/8k Victory for Victims run in April 2010. So I had a bag full of postcards and placed them on the race participants cars in the lot - Unfortunately, I was stopped rather short by a an employee of the VA who told me I would get arrested if I continued - Supposedly, placing advertising on cars on federal property is a no-no. Of course, when I returned to the lot after handing out postcards to people at the actual race, I saw my own car with a postcard from next month's WeSpark! 5k/10k, and UCLA had some sort of tri flyer on other cars. I decided not to eschew a potential federal crime, so I didn't continue. There is also something invasive about getting so close to someone else's car like that. But I know that when I had left my car parked at the Victory for Victims race last April, it was covered with advertising. I actually like getting race advertising though.

The CATS race isn't until next April, so I have plenty of time to spread the info in other places.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 70, 16 miles

It's 6:00am and I am standing in the dark beachside in Santa Monica with a handful of others like me waiting for a long 3 hour journey ahead of us. Equipped with shorts, my gear belt and my "Gu" belt, I do some mild stretches. I'm excited and ready to go. Soon, other journeymen join our group and we are nearly 30 people. Our goal today is 16 miles. A few of us will do less, and some will join us when we pass our first 3 mile mark. One of our mentors, John, will turn around for 8miles since he training for the NYC Marathon next weekend.

It's lucky that we start at 6:00am - It is early enough and still dark that I am running in a partly dream state. We make our initial 3 mile loop after which I turn to my running buddy Teresa and ask, "That was only 3 miles?" She sympathizes. Sometimes 3 miles feels more than 3 miles. But like any long distance, the beginning can often be the hardest. Once we get going, the sun will come out, our doubts will subside, and some of us may even experience a few moments of that "runner's high". And some of us about mile 14. Luckily, it can be contagious.

The route today takes up through Santa Monica and Venice and then south to Marina del Rey. We run by the marina, pass the chic brunch crowd eating their twenty-five dollar croissants at the Ritz Carlton, and carefully navigate alongside the fancy gold colored fire hydrants on the sidewalk. Mother's Beach comes and goes, and we pass by Cheesecake Factory early in the morning. Some parts of the Marina route are less interesting that others - it's a lot of parking and pavement, but the unusualness of it makes the run less dull. On our turnaround point at the Marina Yacht club, we take a different route back and I find myself running along a canal in Venice, on a trail of packed dirt snug in between the water and the front gardens of some lovely homes. The scents of rosemary and lavendar are a welcome treat, and the stairs along the dirt corridor add some cross training. I'm really loving this part. It's hard, but I'm loving it.

After we cross the bridge and get back to Venice Beach, I see more running groups out and about including the LA Roadrunners and their large groups and a smaller AIDS running group. Just like the first few miles, the last few miles can also be difficult. We keep our brief walking breaks in each mile. Teresa and I agree that a walk, however brief, only reminds us of our body aches and pains and makes it more difficult to find our stride. It's at this point that I really feel the bones in my body. It's not soft and gentle and cushioned - but hard and skeletal. Thankfully, a runner in our group (whose name I have now forgotten) DID get a case of runner's high and passed it along to a few of us. By the time we get back to the Senior Center in Santa Monica, we are pooped. We also learn that our 16 miles measures about 15.8. But we all agree that this is only a technicality and the walk back to our cars should make up for the remaining mileage.

Thanks to all who ran in the 12 minute/mile pace group on Saturday - the group energy was really great.

Happy running!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 69, Race for Research

"World Run Day" is Sunday, November 8. If you are still looking for a run, here is another one to consider in Playa del Rey.

UCLA Department of Neurosurgery is partnering with other medical charities to sponsor a "Race for Research" with a 5k and 10k at Dockweiler State Beach. Check out their site by clicking here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 68, LA Cancer Challenge Sunday

Signed up for the LA Cancer Challenge yet? Online registration is now closed, so interested parties should arrive early at the VA grounds in West LA where the event is taking place. Runners/walkers are encouraged to wear costumes for Halloween. I will not be running, but I will be there to promote the Victory for Victims 5k/10k run in April.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 67, cross training at gym

I wake up early - not early enough to make it successfully to my 6am spinning class, but early enough to get to the gym before work. Gym locker rooms are the equivalent of a petri dish. A host of germs and bacteria cramped in a sweaty compact space. If I don't contract the flu any other way, I'm thinking it may find me in the gym locker room.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 66, 4.3 miles

I wake up and get out to run this morning before 6:30am. It is still dark outside, as in "is it nighttime or daytime?" dark. Within a minute after leaving my front door, I see a relatively large group of runners coming up the street. No one is wearing any reflective gear or lights. But I see them and I like it. It's nice to have other runners out this early. I set off and place my headlamp on. Now they have to see me - whether they happen to like it or not.

It's a different feeling running from dark to dawn than dusk to dark. At night, I slow down my pace and am piercingly tuned in to what is under my feet, so I don't trip over a rock, go hurdling onto the packed dirt, and reconsider this whole running thing. This fear still exists in me at 6:00am but to a lesser extent, and it doesn't effect my pace. I know that with every step the sky will get brighter and a day filled with possibility awaits. I am also partially asleep, so that helps too.

I complete my 4.3 miles and soon get ready to head out to work. I feel great, and full of energy...that is until around 2pm when the fatigue sets it and all I want to do is take a nap.

At least I got my run in!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 65, Clean house

After fretting over the need to clean house, I finally set aside about 3 hours to get it done. Lesson? A clean house makes it easier to find running gear in the morning. See you at 6am!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 64, World Run Day

No running today. Keep Sunday, November 8th on your running schedule - It's World Run Day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 63, 7 miles

Nice to regroup with the La Leggers after two weekends out of town. The weather was hot, and as someone in our group mentioned, at least it's hot during our shorter runs. Here's hoping the weather will cooperate for our 16 miles next Saturday. Woah..16 miles? that's right! I haven't run 16 miles since the LA Marathon...I'm nervous but excited.

Today's run felt a little bit slow at the beginning but then it picked up toward the end. Since I've been running on my own recently and did not take the standard walk breaks at the San Jose Half-Marathon, I had to re-adjust. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can be difficult to get back into a stride after a walk break - however short. But with very long runs, I think it's a good thing to do. As usual, the boardwalk was filled with Leggers and Roadrunners, and as always, nobody is friendlier than runners who run in groups early in the morning.

After our 7 miles, listened to an awesome former competitive speed walker who offered tips on incorporating speedwalking techniques when we transition from a runner's to a walker's stride. Her PR in speedwalking during a marathon was 7.5 minutes per mile. That's amazing!

Happy running...and speedwalking!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 62, Jewish Home Walk of Ages X

The Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda hosts a 5K every year in early December. This is a charity run that raises funds for the Home and its residents. This year is the 10th annual race featuring special guest actress Angelica Houston. This was the first race I completed two years ago, and I actually placed 3rd in my division (It's a small race). Participants very much interested in the organization and there also plenty of walkers, strollers and kids. If you're looking for your first race, I've adding the link the the list of races to consider on the right hand side. It takes place around the retirement facility on the streets of Reseda.

Happy running!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 61, What's the Deal with City of Angels?

I have been told that the City of Angels Half-Marathon is a great local race in December, and one that many Leggers participate in. The website has remained static since September with fallen promises of updates. Last I check, the site is still not functioning. I hear good things about this race. And now that the LA Marathon will not be going through downtown (sobs), at least the City of Angels Half will do that part of our city justice. So what's the deal? I'm still planning on doing this race, but if it doesn't happen this year, the inaugural LA County Half-Marathon is also on my horizon. Their website is fully functioning. Although considering its the inaugural, I wonder who the pictured runners are on their website. But hey, Pomona deserves to be included in an LA race, don't they?

Happy running!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 59-60

The seasonal shift from summer to autumn culminated into a cold and rainy day on Wednesday. I arrive to work with the bottom part of my pant legs nice and soaked. Not good, especially with this H1N1 flu scare going around. Although I saw some runners enjoying the pre-rain weather Tuesday, I opt out. Instead, I take it easy, try to keep the flu virus at bay, and get ready for my group run on saturday.

Happy running!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 58

Congratulations to everyone who completed the Twenty-Fifth Annual Long Beach marathon/half-marathon this weekend!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Runner’s Almanac, Day 56-57, Running in Pittsburgh

Planning for my Pittsburgh trip for a couple of months in advance, I research local running groups to join a Saturday morning run. I find a local club, People Who Run Downtown, but they meet on Tuesday nights. Like any good Pittsburgh group, they incorporate alcohol – or at least meeting and ending in front of an establishment that sells alcohol (and food) – into their runs. If you are looking for routes in Pittsburgh, the group recommends some in a past issue of Runner’s World, also incorporating local bridges into the scenery. Check it out here.

After arriving in town, however, there are so many great activities scheduled for my friends' wedding, that I decide to do a few miles around the hotel instead. Although I lived in Pittsburgh for a couple of years, I didn’t start running regularly until some time later, and didn't explore the city from a runner's perspective. Instead of managing through downtown, I opt for the hotel gym instead. I should mention that Pittsburgh does have beautiful green spaces and parks for walkers and runners, in addition to the grittier city landscapes that some prefer.

So I have the whole gym to myself and run about 3.5 miles on the treadmill. I was a habitual treadmill user over a year ago, and now that I am more accustomed to the outdoors, I find running in one place can get tedious, and even painful – with the discomfort focused in my shins. Thankfully the weather in Southern California is usually nice enough that no rain or snow or sleet prevents us from running outside.

Speaking of running on sleet, I run into my friend Dave at the wedding and we swap running stories. When he was training for the Pittsburgh marathon last year, he slipped and hurts his leg, putting him out of commission for 6 weeks. Although he didn’t participate in the Pittsburgh marathon, he is getting ready for other races coming up and recently ran in the City of Pittsburgh Great Race in September. He also tells me about an interesting encounter the forest with a naked runner from the Hash House Harriers – A drinking group with a running problem – at their annual conference. It turns out that running naked is something they enjoy doing, in addition to drinking. Interested? It is a national group with local chapters. Check it out!

Happy running in the ‘Burgh!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Runner’s Almanac, Day 54-55

No run for me, packing and travel to Pittsburgh, PA.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 53, Night run

Since I am going out of town Friday, I know I need to get a good long mid-week run in since it may be the only one of the week. I recently acquired one of the Petzl brand headlamps so I I grab it on my way out. It’s only 6:30pm, but it starts getting dark by 7:00pm, so I want to be prepared. Not only for my own safety, but so I can be seen by others. It is quite different to run from dark to dawn than it is to run from dusk to dark. At least during an early morning run, you know that the sky will lighten up. But at night, it just keeps getting darker…and darker. And with that comes the inability to see one foot in front of the other, even with a lamp stuck on your head.
My first reaction with the Petzl is that I will have to get accustomed to its constant movement. I tighten it around my forehead, but still I am very aware of the small weight on my head including the batteries inside. I put it high enough on my head to offer enough light and not be constantly reminded of its presence. The route I take is well lighted at parts, and completely dark in others. The soft glow of the light does not fare so well on a dirt path as the light reflects off the dust in a way that makes everything look blurry and out of focus. So I naturally slow down my pace in these areas, and to avoid any holes or rocks that can otherwise throw me to the ground.
There are other runners and walkers tonight and unfortunately none of them have any lightening or reflective gear on. The only lights I see are from a couple of bicyclists, and even a dog, whose owner did not have any reflective gear on themselves. At least the dog will be safe.

I highly recommend using something in the dark. Although my light is very helpful from the front (not sure if I blinded anyone, but at least they see me coming), I would recommend a reflective vest as well.
As far as the night run, I enjoyed it. There were elements of fear and adventure when running in the dark, but the lamp gave me some sense of security. It’s also nice when the weather is cool – But no that it is getting colder, it may not be as ideal. But I got my 6.5 miles in, so there are no complaints.

Happy running!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 51-52, Run 4 Her Life

No running these days. I did find a local race in support of breast cancer research. It's a 5k and 10k October 18 in Glendale at the American at Brand outdoor shopping complex. According to the website, "Run 4 Her Life" Funds go to support USC/Norris Lee Breast Center and the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Check out the website for more information.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 50, San Jose Rock n' Roll Half-Marathon

The night before the run, I lay all my necessities out on the credenza in my hotel room. For anyone who knows me personally, you knowI don’t decide on my outfit to work the night before, or anything like that. But then again, I’m not usually excited to go to work. So onto the credenza I organize my belt (no bottle attachments, just a pouch), a hand full of Gu with a Gu belt, race day outfit, hat, glasses, gloves, kerchief, Band-Aids, tissues, a plastic baggy just in case. Now I just make sure my alarm is set so I remember to wake up in the morning.

The day of the race, I make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pack up, and head downstairs. On my way to drop off my bags and check out, I pass elite runner Meb Keflezighi and his crew in a small lounging area in the lobby. Meb looks focused and ready (he ends up setting a 20K record later that morning and winning the race). It is packed with expectant runners outside and the air is crisp and nice for a long run. I find a volunteer to help me pin the 2:30 pace bib on my back, and I go searching for the pace group amidst the crowded corrals – which are all roped off before the start. Everyone is excited to get started. Some local notables greet us and a fabulous singer delivers her rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”.

Although this is the Rock n Roll half marathon, there is no band at the start and looking back, I don’t recall any DJ or noticeable music at all. If there was a DJ, it was more background music than anything else. I also decide not to use my iPod since I want to take in all the sights and sounds. Since this is a destination run for me, I want to explore everything about my trip. Soon we start off, and it is about 4 minutes into the race by the time our corral makes it to the official start. After leaving the downtown area, the route is pretty residential and weaves through many neighborhoods – It reminds me of the pretty yet cozy streets of Pasadena actually. Although I was told that this is a popular even in San Jose, there are not a lot of fans out, compared to the LA Marathon.

The first 4 or so miles go by very well. I actually have to check myself since I want to go at a faster pace – The excitement can do that to you. But I know if I want to make it to the end, it’s smarter to stay with my pace group. I become familiar with the other runners around me. There is an elder gentleman with a biblical quote on his back about God giving him strength. It’s always good to run close to a man of God, so I keep him in my sights. At some point, Sharky who is the mascot for a local sports team, also decides to run with us. But we outrun him – Poor shark.

Around mile 7 or so, one of the other runners in our pace group strikes up a conversation with me. Her name is Laura, a San Jose local and alumni of Santa Clara University, completing her first half marathon. She had run with Team in Training before, doing a triathlon in Hawaii. Laura just had a baby 6 months ago, and although she “hated” running, it really helped her lose weight, and she was very happy about it. We ran together for about 3 miles, and I give her one of my Gu's. I’m thankful to have a buddy for these few miles, and around mile 10 or 11, she falls behind a bit and I rejoin the pace group.

I should mention that although we take walk breaks with the LA Leggers training back home, I decide today only to take walk breaks at water stops or when I absolutely need to. I end up walking for about 2.5 minutes total. I am reminded of our walk breaks at the LA Marathon and how it was more difficult to start back up again after walking even for a minute. It seems those few seconds walking are enough to register any pain in the body.

The last couple miles are the most difficult, and once I make it past the finish line, I have to hold back the tears. Any runner knows that it takes as much mental stamina to run a long distance as physical endurance, and this is no exception for me. My final time is almost spot on my goal: 2:30:05! I accept my finisher’s medal – which is rather heavy, but snazzy – and check out the booths at the finish line. I also see another LA Legger, Patricia, as she crosses in her pink LA Legger shirt. I love to cheer on runners after I’m done with a race, so I walk backgrounds and cheer and congratulate the runners and walkers who finish after me.

The best part now? An hour and a half live performance by rock/blues performer Jonny Lang. This guy is amazing.

So will I run San Jose again next year? Maybe. It is a great crowd and the weather this time of year is really ideal. I would prefer more music along the route, but I guess you get what you can get. The bands are spaced out about every mile or so, and that mile with no musical distraction is noticeable running along quiet streets. The course is also nice – mostly flat with a couple of inclines – but as it is largely residential, the atmosphere could be more varied if possible. Would love more spectators, but unfortunately, running doesn’t seem to get as many as other sports. San Jose is a lovely city and this is a great race and distance for a first timer.

Happy racing!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 49, San Jose Expo

I arrive in San Jose by 8:30am this morning on small jet plane with so little room, I knock my head on the overhead compartment area. Airplane take-offs typically make me jittery, but on today's small plane - even more so. Just one small electrical malfunction and our “little engine that could” is a big ball of fire that can't. I try and calm myself with the rationalization that such a fiery scenario is unlikely. Little more than 4 hours of sleep can have such effects on a person.

I arrive to my hotel in San Jose and it is located right behind the start for the race tomorrow. The weather is cool and crisp. I already see a few runners walking toward the expo in the convention center across the street. I'm excited. But I know what I need to do. I get to my room, unload my belongings, and take a nap.

The expo is similar to the LA Marathon expo (convention centers all seem to look the same) but with less overt attention to sponsors. There are also many groups and charity organizations represented here. These include the American Cancer Society who enable you to raise money for them without necessarily running at a specific event. I will go over the info I received and post more on that partnership. I also spoke to a very nice and dedicated volunteer at the Children’s Tumor Foundation . She first started running to raise funds when she was unable to register for a race without joining a charity team to secure entry. She is now dedicated to the cause. There aren't too many upcoming races represented with booths, except for the Rock n' Roll race series. I see the SF Marathon booth, since I follow them on Twitter, and fill out a form to receive a free registration for next year’s race. I am excited to see Women’s Running magazine here. I love their pink “run girl” t-shirt and buy one for $10. They give me a free copy of their recent issue.

As usual, there is a litany of sports drinks to try, and our sensitive runner stomachs are bombarded with everything from Cytomax to Odwalla’s new chocolate protein soy and dairy drink (highly recommend post-run). Off in a far corner, about 15 people gathered in chairs listening to a few people speak. expert talk. It turns out elite runner and Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi , joined with a sports doctor, are answering participant questions. Score! I take a seat and listen into the conversation. I had no idea an elite would be at the event and now I am even more excited.

At the expo, I grab information about pace groups, and decide to join the 2:30 pace group led by a Pacific West Athletics pace leader. All this requires is a 2:30 tag on my back and a goal in my head. I store the tag with my bib, t-shirt and other items from the expo. Goodies to explore when I get back home (also received a sample of doggie treats, so probably won’t be trying those goodies).

After the expo, I meet up with a friend and explore the bay area, including Palo Alto (where UCLA fans were all over due to the UCLA-Stanford game), and also other parts of San Jose. Santana Row is busy with Saturday night activity. But not for me. I am back at the hotel by 8:30pm to get ready for tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 48, Two days to San Jose

So much for having a good night of sleep two nights before a big race. I managed to arrive at my friend's engagement party at 10:00pm, and then off to bed at 12:30am for a wake up call at 4:45am. Sleep? I'll sleep in the morning.

By the way, today was National Denim day, in support of breast cancer research. Did anyone wear jeans to work?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Runner's Almanac Day 47, WeSpark

Today marks the first day of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have not been able to find runs focused on raising funds towards breast cancer research in the LA area for this month. There is one in November, the inaugural 10K/5K for WeSpark, an organzation in Sherman Oaks created by the late actress Wendie Jo Sperker (Bossom Buddies fame) who passed away from breast cancer. The organization provides support services for those living with cancer. Of course, you can also use any race as a reason to raise money for breast cancer research.

Here's the info:

Registration through
1st Annual 10K Run &
5K Run/Walk
Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, 8:00 AM
Lake Balboa, Encino, CA

* Official Warm-up Race for the LA Marathon
* USATF Certified & Sanctioned Course
* Chip-timed by Prime Time
* Every participant receives a race shirt
* Finisher Medals
* Fun Runs for Kids under 12
* Exciting Expo to follow races
* Raffle with fabulous prizes

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Runner's Almanac Day 46, 4 miles

Today I did a tempo run – long sections at a faster pace – probably even faster than my fastest 5k, based on my final time. It’s true, one day, a run can be hard at only 3 miles, a week later 4 miles feels tough, but rejuvenating and purposeful. I was glad to have gotten this run in today, since I hadn’t run since the 12 miles on Saturday. I also want to keep training for the half-marathon I have scheduled this weekend. San jose, here I come! Do you know the way? (That joke may elicit groans)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 44-45, recovery

The soreness I feel in my legs reminds me of the pain post-LA Marathon. It's not as intense, but every time I get up from a seated position, it hurts enough that I slow down my walking pace until, a few moments later, I am back to normal. And then I sit, get up, and put on my old lady act again. The combination of Saturday's long run, the fall, and Sunday's yoga session, had a noticeable effect on my body. Of course, post-LA Marathon, I couldn't move at all for the rest of the day. The hurt was emanating from the inside out. So I take it easy these two days, ice and elevate.

Happy recovery!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 43, yoga

I go to kundalini yoga today as a much needed strength training session. I still have some discomfort in my leg from yesterday's fall posted just below, so I keep in mind not to do anything that will increase the pain. Today's class participants consist of my aunt and I and about 5 women in various stages of their pregnancy. This class is open to them and the instructor keeps their needs and bodies in mind. Some of the yoga is relaxing, but some is noticeably more intense. In one particular series of movements, we sit with our legs tucked under our bodies and then perform variations of a sort of vertical see-saw. Glad I'm doing cross-training today - Always worth it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 42, 12 miles

Today was our scheduled 12 mile long run. I have not run 12 miles since the LA Marathon, and only a few times before then, so I was apprehensive this morning when I finally got out of bed. It was a “race day” like feeling – excitement mixed with a little bit of fear, mixed with a little bit of “what the hell am I doing?”. I have a passing notion of not going at all. After the run, I have an afternoon of working my second job – a lot of standing on my feet after hours of pounding on them. But in my running, I am determined, and know I need this mileage before my upcoming half-marathon. When I do finally wake up, it is about half an hour past my intended get-up time. Yikes! My mind races on everything I will need to carry – strap on here, stick in that pocket there. Water, food, sunglasses sunblock, Band-Aids, alcoholic wipes. I grab extra Band-Aids just in case. You never know.

I hope the day is not as warm as the unexpected autumnal heat trend we have been having this week. Of course it is never that hot by the beach but even a little bit of sun can make the difference between slightly pleasant and slightly unbearable. Once there, I join my group – we are about 25 today – and introduce myself to my running partner, Theresa. Soon, we are off. Within a mile of our run, it happens, what we all fear (no, I didn’t get hit by a car) but I did I trip on a rock, fall down hard and scrape my knee. Luckily, my fall did not create an avalanche of other runners becoming beachside road kill. As I get up and prepare to rejoin Theresa, a runner behind me wisely recommends I take some time. I look at my knee. Blood is gently spilling from the small wounds. Hmmm… He’s right. I grab the alcoholic wipes and Band-Aids I brought and start cleaning it up. Unfortunately, the Band-Aids don’t stick since the blood hasn’t ceased. I decide to run the mile back to the senior center and get some additional first aid. Although I would have probably just run in that condition, I didn’t want to scare any of the children with my blood spattered knee. Not a good early morning sight. So I clean up and meet up with the group at the 3 mile mark. If I had to fall today, at least it happened early in the run – Now I have 9 miles to go!

Aside from that adventure, the run was great. Really really great. I had never run to the Marina and the way the sun sparkled off the water was truly pretty. We went a little further before realizing we missed our cut off point, so our total mileage for the day was a little over 12 miles. The last couple of miles was difficult, and it helped that I played musical chairs with my racing buddies – More distractions make for running to go by that much quicker.

Once again, the route was filled with different runners, most notably the various Roadrunner groups who recently started their training. You can’t miss them with their orange shirts. And you can’t miss us with our shirts either. But I gotta say, I do like orange. I guess that’s where the extra $60 in the roadrunner membership fees goes.

After the run, I meet up with a co-worker who happened to be in the area. After that? I collapse…as in fall asleep. I have the whole afternoon to work – so much for an all day recovery! But as far as being ready for the half-marathon next week? I’m sure I won’t be the only one with a scraped knee.

Happy running!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 41, Water

It's already been 41 days since starting this blog? Wow, time flies when you're running and writing. I'm resting up today for our 12 mile long run tomorrow. Constantly reminding myself to drink plenty of water, before the afternoon. I've noticed that I don't drink as much as I should which can leave me dehydrated on run days. I remember to do this most of the morning, but realize well into the afternoon that I still have water left in my canteen, and that I have replaced my H20 intake with coffee. According to a nutritionist who spoke to La Leggers a few weeks ago, the appropriate daily water intake is measured by taking your body weight, swapping out the unit of pounds for ounces, and dividing that by half. The Mayo Clinic website addresses daily water intake here, and mentions the "8 x 8 rule", eight 8oz glasses a day. This roughly equates to the previous equation, if you weigh about 130 lbs. The Mayo website says that although this is not a scientific rule, it is a a good rule of thumb. They recommend more fluid intake for men than women, probably based on the fact that average weight in men is higher.

Happy drinking!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 40

The weather this evening had a slight smokey after taste. There are fires in Southern California, not in my area, but still the air seemed to carry that burn far and wide. I ran a little over 4 miles outdoors with short intervals. Boy, intervals aren't easy. Today was a reminder that no matter how "easy" it has become (easy is relative here), running is a difficult sport. No ball, no fancy choreography, no team members, no court necessary. In fact, its simplicity makes it harder. More focus required. Less distraction, apart from the distractions in our heads. But these harder days just make us stronger. Enjoy the ride.

Happy running!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 39, Charity groups

It is the season that two of the big charity running groups are starting their training in the next week or so. I have received mailers for both Team in Training and the National Aids Marathon training program. Team in Training raises funds for research against leukemia and lymphoma. Both groups offer mentor support and participants are usually required to raise a minimum of money toward the cause. I think $1500 is the minimum required for Team in Training. Team in Training has a variety of races and triathlons they take part in, and the Aids marathon program focuses on training for the Los Angeles Marathon. When I ran LA in May, there was a friendly group of the Aids program runners in my pace group. I don't remember noticing any Team in Training runners there, but I do remember the largest running group - Students Run LA. Anyone who was there remembers the ocean of bright green t-shirts that spotted the entire race. To learn about this group, there is a documentary about them that plays occasionally on public television.

Of note, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation also has a training program which started in August for the inaugural Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon.

Since October is national breast cancer awareness month, I'd be interested of any charity running training programs, local or national, linked to this cause. You would think there would be. Anyone familiar with a group I don't know about?

Happy running!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 38, Autumn is here

I ran outside today for about 2.5 miles mostly hills, nearly 1 mile on a steep incline, and pretty much the same going back down. Still warm outside despite the fact that today is officially the first day of autumn. I guess we can't always rely on the weather correlating precisely with the solar calendar. Nevertheless, it is officially a runner's favorite season, so enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 37

In anticipation of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month , please consider using any of your October races as an opportunity to raise money to find a cure for this disease. Or, donate an amount of money yourself that corresponds to the length of the race you are running - $5 for a 5k, $10 for a 10k, $13 for a half-marathon, and $26 for a marathon. Any little bit helps. If you are in the Los Angeles area, consider donating the money you raise to the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center or the John Wayne Cancer Institute Breast Center in Santa Monica.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 36

The map of 5ks, marathons, and everything in between has certainly grown this season in Southern California . Two upcoming inaugural events are the Malibu Marathon and Half-Marathon on November 15, and the Santa Barbara International Marathon on December 6. Both are beautiful and intriguing locales that promise spectacular views. By looking at its online promotional tools, the Malibu race already has it's own unique attitude - a blend of cool, laidback and trendy - a truly Malibu vibe. With autumn chock full of options, however, runners will need to be choosey on which races to participate in. Over-training and the cumulative cost of race frees, travel, and other incurred expenses, can make this sport expensive. But don't worry if you can't attend every race your heart desires. You could always attend as a volunteer or a spectator and cheer on your fellow runners. We all know how valuable that is.

Happy running!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 35

This morning's run with the Leggers clocked in at 5 miles. "It's only 5 miles!", a group mentor joked during our pre-run group talk, since last saturday we completed 10 (I did mine on Sunday). Although 5 miles seemed like not a lot, it had a noticeable effect on my body. Maybe it's the combination of two runs in a 14 hour period that makes today feel harder that expected. It's always fun to run Saturday mornings, even when the boardwalk is a traffic jam, as it is now, since the LA Roadrunners have also started training season. As long as everyone runs responsibly, I don't mind. And don't forget to cheer other groups on as you pass them by!

Happy running :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 34

So It is Run@Work day today. As much as I would have like to, I did not run to work, or run during work, but I did run after work. The weather had a sort of heavy monsoon-like feeling. I kept waiting for the sky to erupt and shed a few tears, but that never happened. I did feel the results of a bad stomach ache from last night. Today's 3.5 miles was more difficult than Wednesday night's run - which was meditative and carefree! Our running is like a barometer for how our bodies are feeling, inside and out.

Healthy running!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 32

The beautiful runners. I had seen them from my car window before, huddled happily on Wilshire Blvd in front of Top to Top. Tan, blonde, athletic, happy. True, this is only an embellished description of the runners who gather in front of the Santa Monica store every Wednesday night. But when glancing from my car after a long day at work, anyone running, or about to run, looks pretty good from where I'm sitting.

Today, I finally planned on joining Top to Top for a Wednesday night group run. I had chatted with fellow LA Legger Leslie earlier today about trying it out. She has run with them before and likes it. So had another girl from our group. I like Top to Top. They have good running shorts, and they give Leggers a 10% discount. But adding another running club to the one I finally committed to this training season was a tall order. Ultimately, I knew I needed extra mileage this week, so I decided to commit. If I can mentally commit to getting there, then I will get my run in. Otherwise, it's a night on the couch catching up on Seinfeld reruns...for the fifth time. So off to the store I went.

Once I get there, a large group of people were chatting, stretching, and getting ready. Standing amongst them, it turns out that they all looked, really, just like me. They were just happy to run. Besides, aren't all runners beautiful?

I signed in, grabbed free Gu (bonus!) and took a little browse through the store. Outside, there were a few exhibitors including Saucony who had loaner running shoes available. As I waited for the "go", or however they planned to coral everyone into the 5k, 5 mile, and 10k groups, I spotted a familiar face from La Leggers. Good!

6:30pm came and went, 6:35pm, 6:40pm. Our start time was delayed by sales (which in the retail world is always #1 priority). The store rep gave a longish report of sponsors and other promotional tie-ins. Then, he started sending groups out like spitfire, first with the 10k group: "14 minute/mile, go!...13 minute/mile, go!" I looked around. No one was going. Was there a store representative supposed to lead them? Apparently not. I waited for the start for the 5 mile group. Before I knew it, my familiar face from Leggers grabbed my arm and commandeered me to join her friends in the 10K. I didn't want to do the 10K since I knew I would be stuck running in the dark with no light or reflective gear. But at this point, she took no excuses, besides "this way, you get to see the ocean!". So we started running north bound on a small incline. The group expanded from there, and soon about 12 people were spread out across the street. The familiar face pumped her arms telling me she likes to run hills fast to get them over with. So I let her. My mid-week run was about to become a 10K race! 14 mile/hour runners these folks were not! Runners slowly passed me as I kept to my roughly 11 mile/hour pace. I was just about 5-6 seconds behind the nearest group when they crossed a major street, or rather "jayran", to the other side. Oh oh. This group just committed my biggest pet peeve. I decided to continue in a different direction. My once upon a time running buddy Salome can tell you that I believe strongly in adhering to traffic laws. Run on a crosswalk, avoid jay walking, and wait for the appropriate cross signal. This is not only important safety wise, but it also gives runners the respect they deserve. If a runner doesn't abide by traffic laws when running, then that's one more person who thinks runners shoudn't be on the road, period.

So I detached myself from the group and went on my own familar route and back to the store for a little over 4 miles. night had already fallen, and numerous runners were navigating the dark streets, many of them solo. I later learned from Leslie that she too often ran on her own but simply adhered to the route set out by the store.

So my impression of the Top to Top running group? It's a good place to meet up with your friends, grab some free gu and be a beautiful runner adored by the passerbys driving on Wilshire Blvd. It is not an organized club with leaders and set pace groups. If you are looking for something structured, I would suggest looking elsewhere first.

For runners who do run the Top to Top run and for store managers as well, I advise two things: First, mind traffic laws, and second, wear reflective clothing or carry headlamps/lights. And please don't cross the street unsafely in the dark, now that would not be a beautiful runner.

Happy running!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 31

At the cusp of autumn, the weather is just too perfect not to go for a run. How lucky are we? I did some steep hills around UCLA. If the inclines on some of these were any steeper, and if you were watching me from a helicopter, I may have looked like I was just walking really fast. Hill training is a special process. I actually love to run hills. It's a rewarding challenge that not only strengthens us mentally, but improves our speed and endurance. I ran about 4 miles, completing the last mile or so at about my 10K pace, since I had to run to a meditation class. Turns out, running and meditation goes hand in hand. Or hand on foot. Whatever works.

By the way, Friday, September 18 is the National Road Runners Club's Run at Work Day. The website recommends 35 minutes of running or walking before, during, or after work. So run to it!

Happy running!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 30

I took a 10 minute break this morning to do a quick browse of the Westwood newsstand. I already have Runner's World and Fitness magazines since they are home-delivered, so I did a quick survey of the health mags and found the next magazine I keep in my mental reference that covers the sport - Women's Running. I leafed through quickly and saw that one of my favorite elite runners, Kara Goucher, is featured in an article. Great! Yes, I'll take it! So, I take the item over to the owner to ring it up, who glances at the magazine. Below, is a recreation of our conversation:

The newsstand owner, let's call him Lou (Imagine a middle-aged Caucasian man with dirty blond hair and a laid-back beachy attitude, a nice guy) in a relaxed semi-focused conversational tone, says: "It would be nice to find some time to go for a run"

Naz: Yes, the weather has been good for it.

Lou: I think it's both, you know, a mixture of the mind and body, more about the mind actually.

Naz: Yes, I agree.

Lou: You may not think so, but that's how I feel.

Naz: Yes, it's both!

I don't know if Lou is a runner, but his remarks, infers that he probably is - or at least has contemplated about it. I found his remarks to be almost Zen-like and very appropriate on the mental aspects of running. I think the mind-body running connection is important for at least two reasons. First, in order to run, to pick up that heavy foot and thigh and throw it, cautiously, in front of the other, the mind has to be strong enough to support that function. And not just the physical function, but the mental function. When you're running in the heat for hours, or just entering your second mile, how do you erase thoughts like "Why, am I doing this hellish act to myself?" It's easy to stop, and fall short of your goal. Your mental focus gets you to that place you need to get to. Second, running, especially long runs, are times when you can exercise your mind. I like to think of it as a time to meditate, but other runners may enjoy this time to reflect on anything from their daily task lists to the meaning of life. Truly is the skilled and peaceful runner who can pound the pavement and mentally multi-task at the same time.

Thanks "Lou"!

Also, I'm adding two new runs to my "Races to Consider" section that are new to the scene. The first is a nationwide half-marathon series called 13.1 Marathon featured in cities around the country including Los Angeles. The second I found in Women's Magazine - The Inaugural Women's Half Marathon series in St. Petersburg, Florida. Check them out!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 29

I used to get together with my friend Salome on Sundays when we were preparing for the LA Marathon. So since I had to miss running with the group yesterday, it was nice to reclaim my Sundays as a day to run long. The cool weather this weekend has been ideal. You can sweat all you want but you may never show for it, except for the redness in your face and the determination in your eyes. My goal was to run 10 miles today to keep on track with the group. I decided on my course in advance - A 10 mile expansion of my usual neighborhood route. Now I have not run 10 miles in a long time, so I felt the difference between 8 miles and 10 miles easily in my body. I just started to feel tired- not hallucinogenic - believe me, that'll come later - but just the beginnings of fatigue. Mental games are useful when your body isn't too happy - Mind over matter, one foot in front of the other, you're one stop closer.

My favorite part was running past the farmer's market - Once, twice, three times. Fruit, olives, flowers, coffee, arts and crafts - It's nice to look at something to change up the scenery. Next time, I'll by a flower and stick it in my fuel belt, but that'll mean I would have to stop. If I time it right, I could stop exactly at one of my one-minute walk breaks.

Afterward, I determined that the route was actually more like 10.6 miles which I finished in an average pace of 11:20. Now I'm icing my legs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 28

I was at Phidippides running store in Encino today to restock on the Bonk Breaker peanut butter and jelly energy bars I have been raving about. Saturdays seem to be theit busiest days at the store - There is always a highly concentrated area of customers trying on shoes, or waiting to try on shoes. I ran into one of the ladies from the Moving Comfort bra clinic from several weeks back today. She had told me about track runs tuesday nights at Birmingham high school that I have been eager to try. Just recently she tripped and fell at a track practice, hurting herself to the point of needing to go to the hospital ( I think she said she had a concussion, but don't remember the specifics). The moral of the story is, no matter what surface, runners, on occasion, fall. So whether it's around in a circle on the track, between tree branch stumps and rocks on the trail, or even along the sand on the beach, watch out! It happens all the time. And for the possibility of cuts and scrapes, carry a few bandaides with you. It is also handy in the event of a painful blister on a long run.

So at Phidippides, I purchased my box of Bonk Breakers (12 in a box plus discount) and learned about a new charity race in Pasadena called Race for the Rescues, benefitting seven non-profit animal animal organizations. The hillarious Jane Lynch from the new tv show "Glee" and the popular film "Best in Show" will be one of the hosts. 5K run/walk at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on October 4.

Check it out!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 27

No running today. And since I have to miss my group long run tomorrow for a dentist appointment, I have begun to mentally prepare myself for a 10 mile run solo on Sunday. Here's hoping that I wake up early enough to get out before my other Sunday commitments.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 26

After a few days off, I went for an early evening run outside. Using my internal GPS, I ran 5.25 miles. When I verified the route online, was happy to know my internal GPS is pretty right on - the online tool measured it at 5.29 miles.

Happy running!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 23 thru 25

Took a needed hiatus - Besides some strength training Monday, no running.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 22

It's Labor Day weekend. My plan was to get away on a road trip somwhere up the coast like beautiful Cambria or laid back Monterey. My friend Adam also has planned to get away this weekend to Mammoth with the hopes of cross country skiing. For our separate reasons, our weekend California adventures were not to be, so we decided to enjoy a daylong California trip somewhere nearby. We may not beHuell Howser, but we were both eager for get away for a few hours somewhere new in California. So Adam picked me up around 9:30a and we headed south, to Orange County.

Although a little over an hour away on the freeway, we both agreed that Orange County was foreign enough territory to be considered a mini-vacation. For me, it was the multitude of tanned blondes. For Adam, it was men in untucked Hawaiian shirts. But like Los Angeles, Orange County is a pretty diverse place. We were mainly in Alisa Viejo/Laguna Niguel so maybe the percentange of blonde Hawaiian shirt wearing locals is higher than the OC population as a whole.

Our trip focused on three activities. Hiking, yoga, and "other". The "other" consisted of checking out a popular Orange County natural foods store that Adam raved about called Mother's. If you are ever in the area (they have a ton of OC locations) and you are a health food afficionado, this place is awesome. Try the green goddess juice on the menu. I'd ask for extra spinach if I were you.

We took a class at Core Power Yoga. Now, Core Power yoga is one fancy studio. The bathrooms alone are spa-quality. The not so nice surprise was that all of the yoga classes are held in the heat. I had never done a heated yoga class before, so I was expecting passing out somewhere between the sun salutation and the namaste. Although we both made it through the induced heat exhaustion, I felt that the class was lacking in enough instruction especially for more beginner yoga practitioners. The teacher didn't offer enough variation for those of us who couldn't balance our body weight on our hands. New customers do receive a full week of classes for free. So if you're in the area and can pretty much do your practice on your own, check this place out.

After our yoga class, we headed for more fun in the heat, this time outdoors. We trekked nearly 4 miles in the Aliso Creek trail in the Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Park which has approximately 3,900 acres of open land. In addition, it is home to plenty of many plants and animals. For me, the highlight of our walk was the delightful and unexpected sight of a beautiful deer up close and personal. The deer was so still when I locked eyes with it, it looked like a statue. Once I got out my camera phone, here's a a picture I took of the creature walking away from us into the cooler shade of the trees:

Despite the labor day weekend, we were one of very few walkers that afternoon and the trail was more popular among bicyslists. It was a hot summer afternoon but thankfully we were helped along with several cool breezes. Finally, I committed to a long walk after Saturday's long run. Orange county has many areas for hiking in the form of parks, trails,and marshes, all of which can be explored at the excellent website OC Check it out;

Happy walking!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 21

I look forward to Saturdays for one reason and one reason mainly - the group run with the LA Leggers. This is why I go to sleep early on Fridays and look forward to the weekend. Otherwise, I don't even like Saturdays. It's a day of recovery for me. I have activities and chores I would like to do, but the recovery aspect usually weighs out the chore aspect. I don't like to feel useless, but Saturdays have this effect . So when I go running early in the morning, I have accomplished and received more joy than the rest of the day will ever offer. And today was no exception.

Our goal today was 8 miles. I had re-stocked on the Bonk Breakers peanut butter and jellys from Phidippides and found, again, that it provides enough substance to fuel me up prior to a long run (and I didn't even eat the whole thing!). That and a few bites of an apple, and we were off and running at 7:00. Despite the long weekend, there were about 30 people in our pace group. The oceanside was also filled with various other running and walking groups (the roadrunners will start their training program next weekend and join us too). Although this high capacity can create traffic, it is also a treat to run past other groups in the morning. I have found runners to be a happy bunch, so we all wave and greet each other - strangers and friends alike.

The portion of our run through Venice beach is especially flavorful in this respect since it is full of the colorful locals. Whether you are a runner or not, most people out at the beach in the morning seems to be pretty happy. This includes one man, whom a runner behind me referred playfully as "the king of venice", who, shirtless, jogged along side us with his tall walking stick while singing something gleefully, though indecipherable. We ran as far as the Sidewalk Cafe and Smallworld Bookstore, and turned around back to Santa Monica. Thank you to the store proprietor who took a break from hosing his store front to spray us with some mist. It was hot this morning even though it was still early and Santa Monica is normally blessed with relatively fair weather. Our goal next week next week is 10 miles. Until then, happy running!

Also, this weekend is the Disneyland Half-Marathon race. I just finished reading Sue Ann Jaffarian's "Thugs and Kisses", the third installment of her enjoyable Odelia Grey mystery series. Jaffarian walked the 5K portion of that course. Check out her blog entry about it. And if you like mysteries, read her books - Her heroine is a walker who enjoys early morning treks in Newport Beach.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 20

The Pasadena Marathon registration fee is a steal at $72. Registration at this rate is available through labor day only. Pasadena is a lovely place to run. Here's hoping that this year's event will not be tampered by rain as it was last year. Check out the Pasadena Marathon website for registration information.

Also, I just received October's issue of Runner's World magazine. I was pleasantly surprised with September's cover which featured a gorgeously chiseled male runner, who is a local elite from Southern California. Most of my delivered issues feature women on the cover. Is this a marketing strategy, where women subscribers receive more women on their covers than men, or do most covers just feature women? October's issue is a great read so far; including an article on healthy eating from PBS and New York Times food writer Mark Bittman (turns out, he's a runner too). Blog readers may recognize him as one of the chefs who travelled with Mario Batalli and Gwenyth Paltrow to Spain for a PBS cooking documentary program. Interestly, this new issue mentions that the Sarah Palin "I'm a Runner" interview from a few months ago is now the most popular online story in history. Check it out here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 19

If you live in Los Angeles or the vicinity, the warm weather and smoldering heat due to the firestorms may have affected your regular outdoor running plans. Though the fire has not affected the air quality around UCLA, the heat is strong enough that my planned lunchtime running was not to be. Instead, I opted to go on the treadmill at the gym. Treadmill running is useful since you can gauge your pace and distance and also add hills. I ran about 25 minutes between 10.5 and 11 minute miles with some fartleks (speed play) at my 5K pace which is 9:40. In the evening, I did some pilates at the Absolute Yoga Studio.

Happy running/strength training!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 18

It turns out Wednesdays are one of my favorite rest days, so no running today.

I have added two races to the "Races to Consider" section on the right. These are brand new races making their inaugural debut this fall. First, Women Against Gun Violence presents the "Victory over Violence" 5K/10K in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills (the site doesn't mention that the shooter also killed a Phillipino postal worker on that day). The race will be held October 4, 2009 at CSUN. Interesting that the title is very similar to another Valley-based charity run called "Victory for Victims", a run that supports the Center for Assault Treatment Services, held in the spring.

The other debut run is in Riverside - The 5K/10K Citrus Heritage Run on September 26, 2009. The event supports "Smart Riverside Digital Inclusion Program" that provides computers and technology education for undeserved communities in that city.

Check it out!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 17

Ran 4.2 miles outdoors - Mostly interval training. Mileage estimate courtesy of It's not my favorite mileage tool since the advertisements get in the way of the map, but it is still useful. As far as other online tools, I used to use which is now part of Their mapping feature is good except you need a username and password to login. In both of these sites, routes can be saved and shared with other online users. You can also purchase a Garmin watch with GPS, which continues to be on my Christmas list.

Happy running!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 16

The training schedule provided by the LA Leggers written materials recommends the first midweek run on a Tuesday, so I decided to cross train today instead with some spinning.

Also, in LA Marathon news, they have now posted a video on their new route here. The video is fun, but it lacks any specifics except what we already know - Dodger's Stadium, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica. There is no information on streets or elevation except that it includes the hilly twists and turns of Sunset Blvd. Since the new management of the race, I have noticed its evolution into more of a commodity for customers than a marathon for runners. Fees have gone up to $125 with no early bird discounts, and the new route is more geared toward the commercial aspects of Los Angeles (and now the cities of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica) such as Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and gasp, Rodeo Drive - The video even pans to the Louis Vuitton store in Beverly Hills.

The LA Marathon's owner, real estate developer Frank McCourt, also owns the LA Dodgers; so his handiwork at bridging these two entities is not lost on us. Just visit the LA Marathon official website and the first image is a panoramic view of Dodger's Stadium. Since his plan to purchase the Boston Red Sox in his native Massachusetts failed, he is creating a monopoly of athletic organizations in our city. I support runners' excitement about the new course- but I'm hoping that this great event for our city isn't overshadowed by the corporate powers that be. Registration for the 2010 LA Marathon opens September 1st.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 15

Did my cross training today at The Absolute Yoga studio. I did two classes - Pilates bar and Kundalini Yoga, and now for the first time in a while, I am sore! Planned on walking for 40 minutes but the air quality was like a barbeque all over the San Fernando Valley sky. Good day to cross train indoors. Please check your air quality in your area before running outside.

Happy running!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 14

Today was my 7 mile long run with the LA Leggers. I was watching my emails the night prior in the event that it was cancelled due to unhealthful air quality from the firestorms. Our weather in Santa Monica is seldom tainted by this though, and it went as scheduled. The weather was sunny and warm by the beach at 7:30 am. For the first time this marathon training season, I felt in tune with our pace, step by step, so much so that I could envision myself running forever. This is what runners refer to as their "forever pace". Heading back from Venice towards Santa Monica, I turned my iPod completely off and tuned into the pat pat pat of our feet as we ran in step with each other. Although our formation was not as straight as a training army, I felt proud of our regimen. Looking forward to the next 7 miles!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 13

A challenge for every runner is to decide what forms of cross training best compliment your training. I used to enjoy indoor rowing the day before a long run - It works your arms and legs and gives that burst of energy that fuels into the next day. Yoga and stretching can also help. I had lunch with my friend Kathryn today, and although she is not a runner (currently!), her exercise regimen consists of jump roping, which I believe, is also a valuable cross training exercise for runners. In running magazines and websites, I've noticed that plyometric exercises such as jumping, leaping, "grapevining", and any movement that requires coordination and strength, will help with speed.

Kathryn jumpropes 20 minutes or so each session interpersed with quick periods of walking in place. I used to jump rope as a quick cardiovascular activity in between weight training, usually about 200 jumps in total. I always thought of it as a a compliment to a larger program. When jumproping is brought as the focus, however, it is a powerful pop of strength that additionally puts focus on the arms and also on the balance required not to trip over the rope.

Isn't it interesting that jumproping is usually associated with grade school girls during recess? But that's where we can glean its benefits. Just consider the high degree of coordination required for jumping rope, and especially double dutch, a feat I could never accomplish. Out of curiousity, I checked to see whther jumping rope is actually done competitively. It turns out that many established organizations promote it as an athletic sport. This includes the American Double Dutch League and the International Rope Skipping Federation. As far as cross training activities, it is inexpensive, easy and you can fit it into any portion of your schedule. Jump to it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 12

Rest day - no running. Did plenty of icing and caught up on the new season of Project Runway. Also found out that the Los Angeles Marathon is looking more commercial and less runner-focused with each new update. For some reason, they have decided to drop the bicycle portion. There is also no longer an early bird registration fee discount. I'm not so thrilled with the new course since it goes through areas of town that, frankly, I see enough as it is. Also, since when is West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica part of the city of Los Angeles? I liked last year's course and hope that in the future it will return to Downtown. The Pasadena Marathon is looking more attractive ( as long as it doesn't rain again this year). Also, the folks of the Firecracker Run have posted their date for next year, and this way cool logo for the year of the Tiger. I did the 5K run at Firecracker in 2007, and boy, is this course hilly. But you can't beat the ambiance in Chinatown.

Happy running!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 11

I ran about 2.5 miles this morning outside before heading off to work. I usually eat something before running, but today I decided to run on an empty stomach. The mileage wasn't too high, and I thought I could burn off whatever I ate the night before. I had done this one another time and was happy with the result. This morning, though, I started getting stomach cramps about halfway through. My shin soreness was also compounded by a slight pain in the knee and ankle. Around the point I usually make my less than one mile climb back to the end of my route, I stopped and stretched. This helped. But I will take it easy, ice and elevate my legs, until the long run on Saturday. I don't mind taking some time off now so that I can run more in the long run. Besides, I'm starting to feel that biting tenderness in my upper abs - even my lower rib cage - from pilates yesterday. Wow!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 10

Today I did some cross training at The Absolute Yoga Studio in Woodland Hills. This was my first class at the small yoga/pilates studio. Newcomers pay $20 for any mat-based classes their first week. The studio is warm and intimate and and the staff is also friendly. I appreciate this quality when at a new exercise facility since the experience has the potential of eliciting jittery nerves or yoga intimidation. You know, when everyone else seems to know what to do and where to go and what to do with their foot and what that block is used for. Even the lady at the front desk knew many of the clients' names by memory.

I enjoyed the mat pilates class and the instructor Monika. Newbies may find the class just a tad short on in-depth technical aspects of pilates such as appropriate breathing and body gait, but our class had a couple of recent pilates practitioners (my mother and aunt, respectively), and they seemed to be doing just fine.

Pilates helps strenghten the core, a good tool for the long distance runner.

Happy pilates!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 9

Today's mileage: 4.5 miles outside in the early evening. This took me about 55 minutes. Note to self: Add a Garmin watch to your wish list for Santa. It makes it much easier to remember exactly what time it was when you started.

I enjoy running this time of day. The sun holds on to its final sky-high prominence but with a honey dripping slow downward turn, met with the cool breeze of dusk. It's a little slice of heaven when you're running on your favorite leg of your favorite route. At this time of day, my run is a combination of fun, hardwork, and peace. I remind myself often how fortunate I am to be able to use my legs in this way and, as runners, we have to be thankful everyday that we can. That being said, I've been noticing some pain in my shins recently. So a massage, or more calf strengthening exercises may be in order. I'll keep you posted.

By the way, if you haven't tried Gu yet during your runs, take them with you if you plan on running 40 minutes or more. Gu is, well, like energy-fueled goo. It's easy to carry and no chewing is required. Recommended 15 minutes before your run, and every 45 minutes in. I had half a tri-berry Gu about 40 minutes in and it helped. Find it at your local running store. Or if you go to REI, you get 20% off if you by in large quantities.

Happy running!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 8

Today I didn't make it for a run. I was supposed to go for a walk - A nice long walk - After yesterday's long run. And it would have felt good. But I relented to the comfort of my couch in the late afternoon while something unbelievably funny was on the television. It doesn't matter what was on. That's not the point. Only that sometimes the lure of the couch beats the lure of the road, and well, there is really nothing we can do about it.

I did get in some virtual running this morning, however, watching parts of a documentary on the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. That was the inaugural year the women's marathon made it in the games. Maine native and Bowdoin college alumni Joan Benoit was the event's first ever gold medalist. As Benoit did a commentary about that day, running through the tunnel that opened up to the LA Coliseum, she was shocked to see so many fans fill the stadium seats, waiting to see her and about 50 other women achieve such a goal. Who would come out to see a woman running, she had thought? Benoit continues to participate in the sport, even having trained Lance Armstrong for his recent marathon efforts. I later watched a segment on the Joyner siblings and their story growing up in poverty-stricken conditions in East St. Louis, Illinois to achieving track and field glory in their careers. Although I was living in Los Angeles at the time of the Olympics in 1984, my memory of it is mostly of Mary Lou Retton - It was a very popular costume that Halloween for us kids. Who knows, maybe they'll bring the games back to L.A; revamp the Coliseum, for another history making running event.

Happy running!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 7

Now that my long runs are early on Saturday, my Friday nights consist of little more than reading a book and taking it easy. I am still getting accustomed to this - not to the early nights, but to the early Saturday runs. For a while, Saturday mornings were golden - I could sleep in or watch TV. Now that I get up early, I need a nap after my morning exertion. Then the day is halfway shot. But today, I was a little more productive. I went to REI and purchased some resistance bands, restocked my kitchen, and partook in the ubiquitous Saturday acitivity of walking around third street Promenade. All of this after a 7:20am run start time. I also did get in that nap.

I ran today with the LA Legger's 12 mile/hour pace group. It's beautiful running by the ocean, and that initital view running down toward the Santa Monica Pier with the sleepy ocean view makes it all worth it. Since we just started the training season, we are only at 6 miles - plus the half mile I jogged to arrive at the start on time. The weather has been really beautiful this time of day - overcast and cool. We started off fast and ended slow, with a little bit of drama in between. Two runners (one being Leslie to my left) tripped and fell sometime after a large black dog walked by us. The action seemed to trigger another runner to fall further ahead of us. Note to readers: Always handy to have some Band-Aids just in case. They are useful for blisters or for unexpected cuts.

The run south toward Venice Beach is really crowded even just at 8 in the morning. The path is jammed with various running groups, walkers, bicyclists right next to us, dogs and their masters, and the requisite homeless population. Leslie was a trooper, and even though she had a cut on her hand, she got it taped up and caught up with us. I've fallen once or twice myself - It's one of road hazards of being a roadrunner.

So I tried the peanut butter and jelly snack from Bonk Breaker I mentioned on day 5. Prior to my run, I could only rummage some toast (hence the need to restock breakfast supplies mentioned earlier), so I ate about 3/4 of the Bonk Breaker. The outer crust reminded me of those commonly found on Nutrigrain bars, but a bit thicker. It has a nutty taste, but there isn't a lot of peanut butter. It's not slopped on the way I would normally eat a PBJ sandwich. But that's what makes this a twist on the lunchtime favorite. In fact, the bar (which is about half the size of a run of a mill bar but wider) is very compact, and the lack of excess peanut butter goo proved to be a good thing. I couldn't even finish it and found it provided enough to sustain the 6 miles. So I would recommend it. I also had half a Gu about 50 minutes in (tri berry!).

Good luck to anyone doing a race tomorrow. Happy weekend.

Runner's Almanac - day 6

Rest day - no running today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 5

My lunchtime run on Monday created such a welcome jolt of energy in the afternoon, that I decided to do a repeat today. Instead of a treadmill run, however, I trekked around UCLA for a total of just under 3 miles. The interesting aspect of running around campus is that there are few areas of flat terrain with a lot of steep hills and even more going down. There are unexpected areas of dirt and a lovely tree lined run along Veteran that makes the whole lunch run effort worthwhile. The tall branches overhead and cool breezes along various parts of the route brought some respite with each step of working a slight incline.

Tonight was a "women's only" sports-bra clinic geared toward the Moving Comfort line at Phidippides running store in Encino. I initially assumed there would be a short talk on the importance of choosing the correct bra by a Moving Comfort representative. The event was actually more sales-focused, typical for large department stores like Nordstroms who open their doors after hours to select customers to drink champagne and shop with the promise of a gift with purchase or other discount. Although I expected something with more of an educational element, I wasn't disappointed. As a runner, I enjoy being around other runners. What is also special about Phidippides is that the ambiance feels like it's not just a store but a family run operation. The women there who assisted us actually look like hikers and/or runners, as opposed to the younger bunch of salespeople who work at certain other running shops. Don't get me wrong - I shop at places like Frontrunners in Brentwood (got my last 3 shoes there) but feel like the staff at Phidippides don't just sell running equipment, they use it themselves and can comment about it from experience. In March, when I went shopping at Frontrunners after my 5K at the inaugural Pasadena Marathon (which I blogged about here) , I was rather surprised to hear the salesperson, a runner, didn't go to the race that day because it was too far. Really? Pasadena too far for a race? Didn't sound like something an avid runner would say.

The bra clinic ended up being quite interesting (and frustrating at times) but I left with a small assortment of store items and 10% off. This included some sort of peanut butter and jelly snack from Bonk Breaker that I am eager to try out. I always think that peanut butter and jelly is a great pre-run snack, so I'll give my review when I inject the small 250 calorie slice of heaven before a long run.

Happy running!