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