Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon

On an unusually warm Sunday before the rain set in that week, I drove up to Ventura for the Third Annual Santa to the Sea Half-Marathon. This race was featured in the calendar section of Runner's World Magazine because of its Christmas theme. Last year, Runners World caught Julia Roberts running it. I was itching for a half, so I signed up for it. I really love the half-marathon distance. It’s just long enough, and by the time you want to roll over and quit, it’s over.

Many participants dressed up in Christmas attire (knee high red stripped socks, etc.) and we were shuttled to the start line which centered around a large Santa Claus. The gimmick of this race is that you run from this huge blow-up Santa to the Oxnard Fisherman’s Wharf. Too bad this gimmick ends up handicapping the route. Mostly industrial and not very interesting, I wouldn’t recommend this course to anyone who isn’t a local. There were a few glimpses of farmland which proved interesting, but otherwise it was largely on the street. In fact, I have never done a race where so many cars went through our route. The exhaust was a little much.

I should thank all of the volunteers who navigated traffic. Without them, there would have definitely been some problems.

I finished the race at an 11:30 pace . The sea at the finish line was really beautiful. And Oxnard is a great beachy town. I wouldn’t recommend this race if you have any high expectations. But the locals are great and you could combine your run with an afternoon in town.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WeSpark 10K - A new course in Balboa Park

I agreed to run the WeSpark 10K so I could test-run the course - As a volunteer for the Center for Assault and Treatment Services, we have our Victory for Victims race in Balboa Park too and wanted to see what our course options are. I am amazed at how big this park is, all the hidden hills and valleys (figuratively speaking) -- beautiful wilderness, bridges, soccer fields, wildlife. We are truly fortunate to have such an oasis in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.

I was at the WeSpark inaugural event last year - I passed out Victory 4 Victims postcards to people and slipped them under car windshield wipers. That was a small race. Really small. Neighborhood small. Sunday's race easily had 3 times the amount of people from last year. Also, there were Students Run LA (SRLA) everywhere. Turns out that they had their own 15K race.

We considered cooperating with SRLA for Victims 4 Victims, but the truth is that they don't pay for registration, and don't raise money for the charity. It would be nice for these kids to do some fundraising for these races - fundraising/sales is a pretty good life skill, I think.

The weather was dry Sunday. Running through parts of Balboa Park is like running through a desert - it's dusty and vacant, then the landscape changes and I'm surrounded by cut grass and gurgling river beds. It would have been nice to have a water station after mile 1, but there wasn't anything until mile 2. That sure tasted good.

I was very happy with my time, 1:06. Turns out I placed 9 in my division! Going to these relatively small races boosts my runner's ego- the less people in my division, the higher up I place.

16 miles this weekend.

Happy running!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Congrats NYC runners!

My alter self completed the ING New York City Marathon today. I, however, did not. I did get "in", but opted to cancel and go next year instead. Good thing - I can't imagine doing a full marathon right now. Thankfully, training has been going well. I had to miss yesterday's 14 miles because of seasonal sickness, but had a pretty good 12 miler a couple of weeks ago.

Also happy to say that my new KSWISS running shoes feel pretty good. After all of the advertising they did this past year (not least of which was sponsoring the LA Marathon and opening up a glossy store on Main Street in Santa Monica), I decided to give them a try. I have the Konejo model which is good for correcting pronation - similar to the ASICS Gel Kayanos (which I previously wore). Interesting note, the good folks at Phidippides (who are now the good folks at Fleet Feet Encino), told me that I should always go half a size larger in a running shoe. Maybe that was my problem before?

So I'll be signing up for NYC Marathon sometime this week for next year. Since I got "in" this year and cancelled, I have guaranteed entry - just have to pay again. Small price to pay I think!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Physical therapy and the return of strength training

I saw the physical therapist this morning for my first consultation. I waited for over a month, amidst authorizations and inept office staff, and finally arrived at the beautiful new UCLA rehab suite in Santa Monica. My physical therapist is Anne, and she's pleasant and personable. I tell her about my knee pain and what I have determined as a pulled groin muscle. I also tell her I have not been doing much strength training at all. I know, I know, it's not good.

Anne's diagnosis? Weak muscles, my hips fall down when I run, and my knees buckle inward. This is why strength training is important, folks. So now that I have a doctor's note to strength train, I'll make sure to mark it on my calendar. Proof again that we are our own best diagnosticians.

Some good strength training moves:

Single leg Squats.
Single leg lifts - keep knees straight - use a full-length mirror to check yourself.
Balancing core on one of those balance boards.

Run strong, run happy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Santa Monica 5000 5K

I participated in the Lexus Santa Monica 5000 this past Sunday. The last time I did a 5K was so long ago I don’t even remember – maybe two years. Now that I think of it, I think my last 5K was the UCLA Bruin Run 5K spring 2009. It was a great morning to be outside – overcast and cool. The course is similar to the Santa Monica Classic starting near Main Street by Oceanpark and making its way to Ocean Blvd, and then looping back for a total of 5K to the Pier. I was still having some discomfort, so I both ran and walked. It felt good to do a race again. There were a lot of elites at this race too. Thanks to Valentino and his son Antonio for coming out, and congratulations to Antonio on his first 5K! We had pancakes after. The line wasn’t nearly as long as the one for the Say No to Drugs Race. The only downside was the 30 minute walk back to my car. But really who can complain with such weather and ambiance?

Thanks to anyone who has donated in support of my races to the John Wayne Cancer Institute. The Santa Monica 5000 helped benefit Saint John’s Health Center which is John Wayne’s umbrella organization. Please consider a donation to my site at before I stop accepting donations later this year.
Thanks and happy racing!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Injury Woes

So I haven't been running that much since the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon. I may have pulled a groin muscle. I decided to have an MD give me her opinion, and guess what? She thinks I pulled a groin muscle. My doctor is a runner, so she then lectured me (nicely)about all the running do's and don'ts I already know. What I really wanted was an authorization to go to see a physical therapist, and now nearly two weeks later, her office staff still hasn't managed to produce one for me. So that's the status on that.

Still, I am planning on running, walking, or at least finishing the Lexus Santa Monica 5000 this saturday. See you there!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Team CATS - Center for Assault Treatment Services Official LA Marathon Charity

I am excited to be a team captain of Team CATS this year. the Northridge Hospital's Center for Assault Treatment Services (CATS) has been selected one of 63 official charities of the Honda Los Angeles Marathon on March 20, 2011. Tonight was our initial meeting, and we had a great turnout, with 9 people registering with Team CATS! We have partnered with Alpha Running who will provide the training support on Saturday mornings in beautiful Griffith Park. I am excited to support our team in their fundraising efforts. The minimum fundraising goal is $250 - Only $250! That's a piece of cake! If running your first marathon for such an amazing program as CATS, you will find people to support you - I promise!

Please let me know if you are interested in joining Team CATS to Race to break the silence and end the abuse. CATS provides the only 24 hour, 7 a day week program for victims of sexual abuse and assault. Unfortunately, more than 50% of those treated are children. Instead of being taken to an Emergency Room, waiting around for hours to be examined and questioned by police in a hospital setting, CATS offers a comforting location with nurses trained in forensics, who are dedicated to the cause of victims of sexual abuse. We are the only program that serves San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys.

Support Team CATS!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coming Back

I took about a 5 week all-inclusive running and exercise break after San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon. It was great. I wish I had sent a postcard because I really enjoyed it! But now I'm back to some running. And you know, that's pretty good too. I have some discomfort in my knees, so I'm trying to stretch more often and do knee strength training exercises. I ran 7.5 miles this past weekend and plan for 10 miles on Saturday.

I think I am falling out of love with my Asics Kayanos. I had loved the Kayano 15 when it first came out, but I am convinced the newer version of the 15 is different than the initial product. It is definitely the shoe, and not me. Thanks to LA Marathon sponsorship marketing, fantasies of KSwiss running shoes are in my head. I'll have to wait next month and enter the running shoe dating pool again. Wish me luck!

The new LA Legger season opens next month. Don't run by yourself, run in a group! Join here:

Happy running!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First 5K and Yours too

My first 5K was a charity run in 2007. I was covering a lecture for the Sun Community Newspapers in September- An event at the El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana hosted by an affiliate group in support of the Jewish Home of the Aging. I had recently started running seriously, and the goal of a 5K two months away was both feasible and exciting. I liked the Jewish Home too and wanted to help with this worthy cause. I set up my fundraising site through and by that December, I had raised $500 and set an all time PR with my first 5K.

It isn't difficult to raise money when you are promoting a good organization and putting your feet where your mouth is. I had fun that first race, and it eventually led to many more 5Ks, 10Ks, a couple of half-marathons, and three marathons.

Would you like to set a goal to complete your first 5K? If so, I encourage you to do so at the Lexus Santa Monica 5000 on September 12, 2010 and choose the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) as your cause. Just like the Jewish Home for the Aging, the JWCI also has affiliate groups that support the mission of the institute. Partners in Progress is one of these groups. They help raise funds that promote institute functions not commonly supported by charitable donations such as lab and specimen maintenance and education & outreach.

I raised $500 when I ran my first 5K. How much will you raise?

First, register for the Lexus Santa Monica 5000 on September 12th. Then, set up your fundraising page, or use the one Partners in Progress has established for the group. Then, start contacting your friends and family. You will be surprised at all the people in your life who will support YOU and the your cause.

And let me know if you sign up!

Happy running,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


So now that I have finally posted my San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon race recap, I can blog about my regular running routine, which at the moment, is absolutely nothing.

In San Diego, I noticed I hurt my knee around mile 23, but persevered anyway. I had taken two Tylenols early in the race already, masking whatever pain was there to begin with. Maybe it was running with compression socks, but my left kneecap felt like it was screwed on too tightly and the setting was a little off.

I haven't run in 2 weeks, and still get little painful nudges when I walk too fast. I have done no physical therapy, or massage or anything else. It's nice to have a break. My mother has recommended a chiropractor/masseuse, but I have an unsubstantiated bias toward chiropractors - thinking he will contort my leg in an unnatural way when I'm not looking.

I'm starting to look at the people running around my area after work and contemplating the craziness of running. "Where are you going?" "What's your hurry?" I want to tell them. I will try to run this weekend before my running identity escapes completely and I become a grouchy vehicular bystander.

Happy running!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon Race Recap

Sunday morning, the plan is to meet LA Leggers in front of our hotel at 4:45am. Graciously, Rosa offered the extra seat in her car to me for a drop off in the morning. I sleep relatively well for a race day (relatively meaning not waking up every 30 minutes!). I get ready, wear my recently purchased at the expo “I know I said I would never do this again” headband , and meet with the other Leggers. There are doubts. Such as: “Do I really want to do this?” “Can I even do this again?” But doubts are drowned out by the morning routine and eventually, excitement. "I will run this marathon." "I have nothing to prove to anyone." "One step at a time!"

We arrive at the start line and proceed to the porta potties – the longest lines I’ve ever seen . I wait with them for about 15 minutes, and decide to save the porta potty stop for later and I leave Rosa, Gary and Patricia, and head to my corral. San Diego Rock N’ Roll is partnered with Team in Training – which raises money for lymphoma and leukemia research and organizes a large-scale training program for participant fundraisers. Let me just say this – Based on my experience at this marathon – Team in Training IS the event. Not only are they here in full force from all over the country and Canada, the crowd cheers are generally directed to them ( “go team!”). It often felt like their event and the rest of us, as Leggers Abby said, are “interlopers”. That being said, it IS nice to have motivated people around you during the race. Even if the TnT folks seemed to only talk to each other. This was a surprisingly quiet marathon.

Anyway back to the corral. I join my corral 29 so I am there by the start time of 6:15am. Somebody started at 6:15am, the gun went off, but it sure as heck wasn’t me. By the time my corral was ready to go (yes, that meant waiting for 28 other corrals in front of us), it was 40 minutes later. By now, I really did need to use a porta potty.

I start out the race relatively slow. We run through city streets downtown, and then head into the Balboa Park area. The most memorable sighting is in this very early mileage is the beautiful outdoor organ, Spreckles Organ Pavillion , with a musician playing for us. It was an awesome sight!

So this is a Rock N’ Roll Marathon, but since the bands are every mile or so, there is a lot of dead air in between the few seconds you pass them by. I can think of three instances where the musical acts weren’t even playing when I looped around. Truth be told the most memorable musical stop was the organ.

The course views takes a downward turn when we run roughly 4 miles on cambered freeway. There is no band, probably because there is no room for it, and the slanting road is annoying. Thank you to Frontrunners Gay & Lesbian running club for hosting the water station on the freeway. They are troopers! Supposedly this is the most scenic freeway in San Diego (fwy 168). I do remember foliage, but I bet you it’s way more scenic a drive than it is a run. And whose heard of a scenic freeway anyway?

Yesterday was overcast. Today is not. Actually, the sun is out by 8:30am. It’s not hot, but it’s not happy either.

I pass by my cousin Alex in front of the mall near our hotel, which is about mile 14. I earlier run into fellow LA Legger Abby a little after mile 13 , which was perfect timing. We are on a slight incline, it is sunny outside, and I am starting to falter on self-motivation. I run with Abby for a bit while we chat and continue until about mile 18. This is when we start to leave land and see water! There is a breeze, and I feel like I have energized with Abby’s help. She is hurting a bit because of the heat and takes it easy, so I head off on my own. I soon run into Gary who is determined to finish under 5 hours (by the way, he does). Mile 18-22 I am feeling really good. I don’t take my walk breaks as much and I enjoy the scenery.

Only problem? The paths around Fiesta Island are narrow and the Team in Training people are walking. THIS is the problem with corrals based on race time expectation (instead of a past race time). My impression is that this is a big first timer race. People guess they can run faster and choose a corral that is too fast for them. I spent a lot of time here zig zagging through walkers and slow runners. There was a lot of grassy area here though which was a fun change.

Around mile 23, we enter into a hot hot part of the island. Honestly, this part looks like a desert. And… things are starting to hurt. At mile 24, I stop taking my walk breaks because I want to get to the end faster. My knee is hurting, but the goal now is to finish. Around this time, I see a water stop manned by Target. Anything distracting helps!

There are a lot of crowds at the very end, and even though I finish 26.2 miles before the official finish (according to my Garmin, my total distance is 26.5), I make it to the finish line in 5:17:20. I get a little teary eyed as I go through the finisher’s section. I very nearly achieved my goal time of 5:15:00! So I am happy. We don’t receive anything to wrap around ourselves since body temperature has shot down, but the food available here is nice. I also have been running with my fuel belt (I like having it, but the fully loaded bottles meant extra bouncing when I ran faster), and I drink my bottle of Pedialyte which I keep for the end. Now it’s time to find Alex, and the finish area does not make it very easy to know where you are going.

So I would like to end my post here. I’m happy with my time, a new PR, and feel like I really pushed myself. I ran most of the marathon by myself and am happy. I want to end on a happy note. So it doesn’t bother me that much that the end was confusing as to where to go to meet your family, I had to sit on the parking lot ground in the sun, or that “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy” had already played and I missed them – since they started on-time and I didn’t cross the start line until 40 minutes later! Or that getting back to the hotel via their shuttle system was a bit agonizing because of the necessary standing (thanks Alex for standing in that one line while I sat!). But all in all, I am happy. I don’t think I will do this race again any time soon, but for what it was, it was a success.

Now taking time off from running and will soon start training again for ING New York Marathon in November!

Happy running!

Here’s a pic of my medal. Alex promises more pics will be coming soon. She’s the one that took them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon - Saturday at the Expo

I drove out to San Diego Saturday with my cousin in tow and headed straight for the expo to pick up my Rock N' Roll bib, timing chip, and various paraphenalia. This part is always very exciting. There were alot of people - full, half-marathon, and relay runners - all - I had heard that about 30,000 people were registered. My last marathon was nearly 4 months ago, so I was anxious a few days before, but now that I was at the expo, I was starting to feel good. The expo was nice. The goodie bag wasn't anything too special except for the tiny bottles of olive oil and vinegar that proved to be the best marathon swag. I love this sponsor partnership. The oil/vinegar mix complimented the artichokes that my aunt made and we brought with us. Yay!

Another highlight of the expo was taking a photo with a running elvi! (Pictures soon to follow!) There were many products represented, although I did not see that many races there. Disneyland Half-Marathon had a booth even though they are already sold out. Some more race booths would have been nice if they were giving out discounts.

So, I missed the amazing line-up of runners speaking at the expo. Ryan Hall, Dean Karnazes, the Gouchers, Meb and more were speaking in San Diego. Supposedly, SD is where alot of them are training during the summer.

After the expo, we checked into our hotel (chosen because of other LA Leggers staying there), and we carbo loaded at Cheescake Factory that night. I took the carboloading seriously, and opted for pizza. Hmm...maybe that was the cause of my indigestation the first 5 or so miles of the race?

The weather expo day was overcast and perfect. Saturday would have been a perfect running day - But as it is, we ran on Sunday, when the heat and sun began descending early, around 8:30am. More on that soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon, T-3days

When I first registered for the San Diego Marathon, I knew that there was a chance I would switch to the Half. There is a BIG difference between a half-marathon and a full marathon. And you know it when you run it. Somewhere between 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles, you go through a change. It's no longer primarily a physical challenge, it is now a mental challenge. Maybe that's why it is so exhausting afterward. The mind affects the body, and vice versa. After a grueling mental marathon, the body needs to recover, so the mind in turn can recover.

I will repost all the marathon fun after this weekend. There will be other LA Leggers in attendance and I am scheduled to carbo load with them the night before. By carbo-loading, I will probably have less pizza and pasta and more rice, potatoes, and also protein, which is very important. Wish me luck and let me know if I should look for you in the crowd!

Happy marathoning!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Running "Housewives"

So for anyone who watches the Real Housewives of New York, you too were enthralled and possibly slightly worried about Kelly Bensimon and her behavior while filming in St. Bart's. To me, she came across as someone who needs professional help, and sees everything from a child-like perspective (not in a good way). When I checked out some comments people made on her social networking sites, she received a lot of mean ones. True, she came across as completely out there and zany. However, I do want to point out that she is a runner, and ran the NYC Marathon a few year ago in less than 5 hours. so no matter what her problems, I'd like to think that running keeps her saner than she otherwise would be.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More hills courtesy of Westwood

Speaking about hills from my last post, I have gotten into the habit of running the UCLA perimeter - which you know if you are familiar with campus, is a series of ups and downs. I find that when I run, most people are running the other direction. I personally like going clockwise because I love the steep incline up Gayley to Veteran and then to Sunset. Sometimes, the Star Maps guy is there. Maybe next time I'll buy a map and run across celebrities houses. I'm slow enough, so I think I could enjoy the experience. And maybe I'll even pass by running TomKat!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

10 mile hills -

How did I get so far behind in posting? I joined the leggers for a 10 miler along the ocean to Temescal canyon, up to Sunset, and through a series of hills until we got back home. This route never gets easier, but if you try, it does get manageable.

Two words I use to mentally move and get over the hilly hurdles: "Love" and "Relax". Calm your mind with positivity, and your legs will follow! Of course, I have also used "Kill this hill" in the past, so whatever works.

Today was also a reminder that we are pretty much in summer! It was sunny already at 7:30am. Hoping for cool breezes in San Diego for the marathon in a few weeks.

Happy running,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

13 mile run in the afternoon

Venice Beach on a Saturday afternoon can be a scary place, especially when you turn a corner and you see someone in an alien mask crouched along the side of a wall, staring at you.

Initially, when I turned at the pier and headed south, I knew I would have to navigate through an unrelenting stream of bicyclists, strollers, walkers, surfers, talkers, stalkers, weirdos and street artists. I welcomed it. Distractions are always good when you plan to run for a long period of time. And hey! This is Venice , with incense and other mood-altering aromas wafting around, shouldn’t I expect the promise of synergy in the air? The answer is apparently “No”. And that was proven before I even hit Venice Beach when confronted by one of a runner’s worst enemies: Mother and stroller.

I had peeled a sliver of running space for myself and was holding the line like a high wire acrobat, happy with my achievement, when the mother in question, slowly but surely and without looking behind her to spot me, turned right in front of me and stopped. When she didn’t reply with any reaction that I existed, I told her that I was right behind, to which she replied, with plenty of attitude, that I was the one who needed to move over. I had already run off by then, so I tried for the next couple minutes to get her bad karma out of my mind. Slowly, I am realizing why we usually run so early in the morning. No babies, no mommas, no nobodies. And the people who are there aren’t wide awake yet to cause any problems.

I don’t want to say mothers and their poor unsuspecting babies are an enemy – But on the road and on the path, there are people who assume they have the right of way ALL the time. This list includes:

Women with young children and strollers

Dogs and their people (the blame goes mostly on their people, who can blame a dog?)

Girlfriends who can’t break the bond of walking side by side.

And sadly, Runners (sorry, it’s true).

I know that when I am running, I try to be courteous, but if I run into a walker, isn’t it my right of way since I am moving at a faster speed? Shouldn’t they move over?!

There was no love and no synergy on the boardwalk, especially with skateboarders and bicyclists. So I veered off into safer (and saner) waters – That’s when I spotted the alien man – ran along Speedway (much nicer in the morning), meandered through Venice canals large and small, headed down Pacific until Ocean Park, where I turned east and eventually made my way back home. .

I ended up with a 13.3 mile run – Happy that it was done, but will stray away from any afternoon run through Venice in the future.

Congrats to all who ran Palos Verdes Marathon and Half-Marathon, and the Santa Monica Classic!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Listen to the Duke

After achieving my fundraising goal of $2000 in support of the John Wayne Cancer Institute, I have decided to continue this effort in conjunction with my two upcoming marathons - The San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon on June 6, and the ING New York City Marathon in November. Please consider making a donation today. Consider donating in the following increments:

$5 - in support of my first 5K.
$10 - in support of my first 10k.
$13.1 - In support of 13.1 miles.

Please visit my firstgiving website at

Thank you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Short runs after long runs are hard runs

I had a great 18.5 miler on Saturday. Felt good, good time, and most importantly, I could have gone further if I needed. The next day, I took a foam roller stretch class at Revolution Fitness and then, upon the advise of Carri the instructor, I took a very long walk. Here are one of the rollers we used.

I took another long walk on Monday, did some strength training on Tuesday, and then FINALLY, I ran early Wednesday morning. Why are short runs so hard after long runs? I like to run...but I also like to sleep! I know I am not the only one with this issue.

Once I got outside and started going, I relied on the mental workouts I have been doing to get me through 5 miles.

Mental workouts? One of the hardest aspects of running is convincing yourself mentally to keep going. You want to stop. You need to stop. You would lie down on the sidewalk if it was socially acceptable. You want to take a break. You don't want to do this awful thing anymore. How do you get past all the self-doubt?

Give yourself a marker - like a lamp post or a tree - and decide that you will clear your mind of all distracting thoughts up until you reach that marker. It can be a real effort. Distracting thoughts are anything; from the desire to change the song you are listening to on your iPod, to wanting to scratch your leg, to thinking you are not going fast enough, to constantly looking at your watch. Remind yourself that you are now strengthening your mental endurance. It may be hard, but it's all worth it in the long run (literally, it's worth it for your long run!)

Happy running, and remember to exercise your mind while you run!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last Long run before San Diego Marathon

A month before the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon, I knew I needed to put in 18-20 miles in my training to be prepared on marathon day. The last time I ran 18 miles was a while ago, so I needed to convince both body & mind that I could do it. I headed out around 5:45am with a plan to run as many miles as I could until I met with my pace group at 7:30am around muscle beach in Venice. With that goal in mind, I was off.

Now for anyone who is a newbie, please know that the first 2, 3, 4 miles are always the least fun. Actually, it wasn't until I hit mile 6 that I started to feel good. The first 4 miles are definitely still a warm-up. This is the "joy" of long-distance running - You have something good to look forward to. It may be hard at the beginning (and hard at the end) but the middle is usually worth it.

So I ran to the Marina. Parked alongside the water around 7am, I spotted people sitting behind the wheel of their cars, enjoying the sun glistening atop the Marina water. It was really beautiful. I should do that too. Drive to the Marina in the morning and sleep in my car drunk with the beauty of the view. Then again, these people may have actually been drunk.

So I turned around at the Marina and caught up with Legger 12's at around my 9 mile mark and their 2.5 mile mark. I joined them for 7.5 miles north into Santa Monica/Brentwood territory and back to the beach. I added an additional two miles on my own.

The run felt good. I averaged about a 11:50 min/mile pace which I am happy with. Of course, all I did the rest of the day was eat, lay around, watch TV and sleep - basically mirroring the activities of Victoria, my cat. That's the one drawback of running long miles, it leaves me exhausted. But sometimes, it's soooo nice to just lay around and relax.

Happy running!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon Race Report

I will say right now that I love the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon. It started on time, the weather was perfect, the scenery lovely, and for a charity race, this was very well-organized. I am not affiliated with the race in anyway, but I must say it's my new favorite half-marathon.

Okay so I have only done 2 half-marathons (the other being San Jose Rock N' Roll Half), and don't have a wide base of comparison, but all expectations were exceeded with this May 2 race in Irvine.

I signed up for the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon back at the Pasadena Marathon expo in February. I loved the theme and the promise of mariachis on the course. Their booth was decorated with sombreros, and since I had been following their twitter account already, I decided to go for it.

A little over two months later, I leave my place at 5:15 am taking the long but fast drive to the Irvine Spectrum. I should go to Orange County more often - It really is pretty. The day's race is schedule is packed starting with the half-marathon about 45 minutes before the 10K, which starts before the 5K run, which starts before the 5K walk. The crowd is small, but the energy is positive. The national anthem is sung,we set our watches (although mine doesn't catch the satellites right away, what's new?) and we start exactly on time, almost to the dot!

I meet two people pre-start. First, I meet relative race newbie Sylvia who completed her first race at Surf City (my new trend is meeting people in parking lots). And second, Andrea from my Leggers pace group finds me at the starting line! She had seen from our website that I was running this race, and I'm glad that she found me. What a coincidence, since earlier I thought I had spotted Andrea and her sister while walking toward the start. You think it, and it happens.

As promised, there are mariachis along the course, and volunteers wearing sombreros, although some of the teenagers are too groggy early on a Sunday morning to actually put them on their heads ( still commend all teenagers who volunteer at races, what would we do without you?). There are also cheering fans, all of which is more than the sideline entertainment we had at the Pasadena Marathon. Until I find another, I will continue to use the Pasadena Marathon as my point of reference regarding dearth of non-water station entertainment (if you consider water stations entertaining). But in time, they too will continue to grow in the right direction.

The beautiful course through Irvine is huge plus. I can't tell you exactly where we went, but we crossed bridges, residential areas, tennis courts, rivers, hills, a freeway overpass, fields, many of which had the option of running on road, grass or dirt. As we passed over one bridge, I enjoyed watching a tai chi class down below. It was a course that kept you interested.

Also, I meet John - A 75 year old member of the California Cruisers, a running group in Orange County. He is the kind of person whose energy just draws you in. I run alongside John for a little over a mile. When I ask him who he was running with, he said his wife. ME: "Where is your wife?" JOHN: "I left her for a younger woman." John is so funny and positive, that he was another big plus for this race. He mentions that he had run the OC Half-Marathon last year, but thought this race would be more fun.

So I chat with John. He started running 22 years ago, and has since run 115 marathons in all 50 states and 7 continents. His favorite (or at least most memorable) was in Delaware, which includes a trek through a river. Next, he is on his way to the Athens Marathon in the fall. He is flying out on Thursday and running on Sunday. I asked him if he plans to adjust to the time change in advance of the marathon, and he replies "I have never fallen asleep during a marathon". Meeting John is one of the reasons I love running. Hopefully I'll run into him again sometime in the future.

For a charity race, these folks knew what they were doing. They started exactly on time, the course was gorgeous, the running crowd was serious and energized, and at the last quarter mile of finishing, I got to run alongside a marching band playing "Don't Stop Believin'". Sure, we ended up running into the 5K walkers at the very end, but it's also fun to dodge through people. With a half a mile to go, I was ahead of schedule pace-wise and feeling pretty good about it.

Something I forgot to mention - I was wearing BRAND NEW SHOES. Crazy, huh? Possibly not the smartest idea, but it was time for a change. These may be my last ASICS Gel Kayanos too - I'll be searching for a new brand soon.

All in all, this half-marathon far exceeded expectations. I also enjoyed the mariachi entertainment at the end, and sang along to "Cielito lindo" although I only knew the Ay ay ay ay part. And if I had $10 in cash, I would have also enjoyed a burrito and some beer in the beer garden if had known I needed more cash - so that was a small tiny negative.

Congrats to all the race weekend warriors - OC Marathon, Pittsburgh Marathon, Flying Pig Marathon, Vancouver Marathon - You did it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 mile Tempo run with Legger friends at Top to Top

I finally met up with Shannon for a run, at the Top to Top store on Wilshire Blvd. Every Wednesday night, the good looking people of Santa Monica meet here for a a loosely organized weekly gallop through the beautiful streets of north Santa Monica with the store as it's anchor. Options include 5K, 5 miles, 10K, and just standing around (never really an option).

Shannon, Legger 11 mentor Jim, Legger Rose, and Shannon's friend (whose name I am totally blanking on - but who will be running with Shannon in San Diego with the goal of a 4:40 PR)and I headed for a 5 mile run in the "old" route. Somewhere shy of mile 3, when my knee rebelled every now and then, I backed off, stretched, and continued at a slower pace behind them. Our initial pace was wavering between 9:00 and 10:00, which is OK because it turned into a tempo run for me when I slowed it down to a 10:30 towards the end - my ideal comfort pace.

Back at Top to Top, I was pleased to find oranges and bananas. So I devoured a few.

It's a good looking crowd as I've remarked in a post in September which you can read here), but I couldn't hang around.

My only pet peeve with their run is that there is jaywalking involved - There are a few things that I am pro-rule pro-government pro-law crazy about- And not jaywalking is one of them. Of course I did it anyway.

Happy running!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

16 long miles

The last time I ran 16 miles was 2 months ago. Those 16 miles were followed by an additional 10.2 miles, a medal, and a bout of exhaustion that lasted nearly a month. It was called the Pasadena Marathon. I read recently about instances when runners start losing it during a taper before a big race. I was in a taper for the LA Marathon. Things started to hurt, my mental game declined, and I was in a guilt-ridden mania about what the hell I was doing to my body. So I didn't run LA Marathon. But I ran 16 miles today, and I will run 20 miles the week after next, and then I will San Diego Rock N' Roll, and then New York Marathon. So help me, I will.

So back to the subject of this entry- 16 miles. I joined my LA Leggers pace group for the first 10 miles planning on adding an additional 6 at the end for myself. Our route was 50/50 = 5 miles south and 5 miles north. It's always nice running in a group. Mentor John talked about his Japanese language background and I talked to myself about how I should pick up my Chinese again. He also told me how Los Angeles is the biggest theater scene in the country, which makes sense, since there are all these actors here waiting for something to happen. His dog Sol-Leks also ran with us, putting us all to shame by reminding everyone that running is an activity in which dogs surpass humans. Another activity is being joyous all the time, and not being ashamed to pee in public.

Happily, I wasn't left to do the remaining 6 miles on my own. Jeff joined me for a run along the beach toward Temescal Canyon and back. Flashback to Pasadena Marathon when he and I were running. I don’t know how I managed to finish that one, but if Jeff wasn’t there, I would have left at mile 20 with my mom and step-dad who were there cheering us on.

Today we finished 16 miles. But I was having a hard time visualizing another 10. That may be the most difficult thing. Because once I visualize those extra 10 miles, I know I will be able to do them. There will also be a lot of sideline entertainment at San Diego at New York. Nothing against cow bells, Pasadena.

Next weekend is the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon in Irvine. Beer garden at the finish line and mariachis along the race. See you there!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

4.5 Tempo/Interval/Whatever

My goal for tonight's run was a tempo for 6 miles. But I started out too fast. Recently, I've been starting out too fast. Running at a 9 or 9:30 pace never felt so easy for me. So I figure, why not go with the flow? Because I can't maintain it. And then, my heart does this strange flutter thing, like it's trying to keep up with my legs and it's pumping out "Slooowww...dooowwwnn". The doctor says sometimes our heart makes funny noises. Do you really need an MD to determine that diagnoses? The heart flutter scares me enough into slowing down and does affect my mental game. Does this happen to anyone else?

So I made my first lap around for 2, and then toward the end of my second lap for 4 (I had 3 planned total), when I decided that was good for today. Now I have to remind myself to slow down at the beginning for next time.

Happy running!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

14 mile run in the sun

My initial plan was to run 14 miles this week. I was supposed to go Saturday, but sleeping in on Saturdays is SO much more easier than waking up (but much less
satisfying in the long run!). It may also have had something to do with going to Cowboy Palace the night before. I have yet to see a marathoner with a cowboy hat on, but if you have any pictures, please send them to me!

So I got up for a 14 mile run on Sunday...fully equipped with my brand new Nathan 4-fuel belt I bought from Top to Top. Since we don't have our official Leggers water station support during the off season, I knew I needed this extra gear. It was between this, or buying one of the bottles that you strap on your hand. I know people like those - but I have big hips, so why not use them?

I'm also a sucker for spending money I don't have at places like Top to Top, or Phidippides, or Frontrunners, or anywhere else. So I packed my new fuel belt with another NEW thing - GU Electrolyte Brew - in addition to a salt tab I bought at the LA Marathon expo. I also had my regular GU gels, and a Bonk Breaker peanut butter and jelly bar, because I love them so much.

Sundays are busy days at the beach. Amongst the regulars, the crowd was peppered generously with people totting a Meals on Wheels t-shirt - so I'm guessing they were having something kind of event. I spotted a few runners here and there, but not nearly as many as I'm used to seeing during training season on a Saturday morning. In fact, the run up Speedway to the Marina was very bare - And it was just at that time, walking along the Marina, that the culminating effects of GU Brew and salt tablets created havoc on my stomach. I haven't had much luck with these powdered energy drinks - Maybe I should dissolve them with more water? Next time, I'm going to eschew the urge to try my free Cytomax sample (Cytomax will be featured drink at San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon), and just go with some watered down Powerade.

I was happy with my pace - But unhappy that I was running alone. Times like these that remind as long as your are healthy physically, running is truly a mental sport. And the only person you really have to enjoy running with is yourself. So don't be crabby,

Run happy!

Next up I'm planning 16 miles this Saturday.

Happy running!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Team Naz Group Picture

This is only the beginning. Next year my team will be huge - And YOU will be a part of it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Victory for Victims 5k/8K

Finally...The Victory for Victims 5K/8K race day arrived on Sunday, April 11th after months of promoting the event to friends, strangers and anyone else who would take a postcard . I ran it last year in the heat and decided I liked it so much I wanted to volunteer to promote it the following year. As a volunteer, I was an administrator on their facebook site and helped increase the fan base, created and manned the twitter account, and started my own team - Team Naz. Some great Leggers also came out for the run!

So first, the good part of the event - The weather was about 20 degrees cooler than last year - This may be cold for standing around, but pretty perfect for running. And even though the weather Gods flirted with drizzle, it never did rain on our race parade. Another good part was my team! Yes, people actually joined ! Team Naz included 14 people total, including first time racers co-workers Milton and Valentino, running buddy Jeff and his wife Chandra and first time 5K walker, my mom! She was happy to find out that 5K wasn't 5 miles. (A group picture is forthcoming)

Another good part of the day - The landing of the Pepsi Jet Ranger. If you live in Southern California, the Pepsi Jet Ranger and Commander Chuck Street are well-known for sky-high traffic reports on Channel 5 and Kiss FM radio. Another positive? Country DJ Shawn Parr. What a trooper! He really knew how to go with the flow and keep the event moving. Of course the Kids Run may have been moved a little too much - about 1o minutes early - but as I'll mention later, it is extremely difficult for a non-profit organization to manage a large event like this without enough support.

So after all the 5Kers left about 15 minutes past schedule, Jeff and I got ready to do the 10K and waited around for "G0". We made some fast friends with another Legger and a woman who seemed to have a bad experience at San Diego RnR two years ago (I kept my ears closed). Somewhere along the waiting and the praying for no rain, I heard some strange news. The 10K had been switched to an 8K. Wha?!?! I thought it was a mistake. But no. The 10K was changed to an 8K in the last minute. The reason we were given was "safety concerns". The real reason I found out the next day? A federal injunction at the 11th hour against us runnng through the wilderness restoration area that we had been banking on going through. I guess protesters do sometimes get their way.

So once we got going, Jeff and I ran together for a little over a mile before I gave him the OK to take off since he had an energizer bunny in him revving him to go. I'm glad that I ran with Jeff for that first bit since it got me going at a faster pace - Hmm...Maybe I would beat my previous race times! I kept the groove going and in the last half mile, when there was enough space in front of me to do so, I experimented with shutting my eyes while running for a few seconds at a time. You know what? I ran faster and freer during those few seconds. It was exhilerating, liberating and I loved it. Maybe I can run with my eyes closed more often?

My final time was 47:49 - at a pace of 9:36/mile, this is my fastest race pace so far. Not bad. But now that I have run longer distances, I prefer longer races that I can take things slower and really enjoy the experience. The best part of the race was having a team who is now motivated to do more races! And hopefully, the kids who participated will be pumped to do more organized kids runs or 5Ks in the future.

This race shows that when a not for profit organization takes on the task of putting on a race for runners, that it is no small feat. This event attempted to be a race, kids run, and community event all in one. I hope that this year's participants will not be put off by any of the last minute changes, and will come back next year. And if you had any of the Los Toros Mexican food that was provided free at the end, you will come back. That stuff was good!

Here are some photos of some of team Naz on race day (Thanks Valentino)

After trailing this girl, I sprinted to the end and beat her by 2 seconds! We weren't in the same age division but I used her as motivation.

My Mom!

Friday, April 9, 2010

NYC Marathon - Are you "in" or "out"?

If you follow running news, then you know this past Wednesday afternoon at 12:30pm EST was a big deal. If you don't follow running news, then you have no idea what I am talking about, and are far more interested in more important matters of national concern. But for some of us who are less interested in matters of national concern and more interested in running, then 12:30PM on Wednesday was when those of us who applied to participate in the NYC Marathon, were given an answer: Accepted, or Not Accepted.

I had applied in early January, priming my credit card to expect a whopping $185 registration fee. At the time I applied, I had ambitious marathon plans. I was already planning for the Pasadena and LA marathons, and was high on the idea of doing about 4 other marathons. A runner's high can make you have these kinds of crazy thoughts.

Well after Pasadena, I experienced a whole body smack down. It lasted about 5 weeks, and I just started getting over it recently. I didn't participate in the LA Marathon after all and I even started re-thinking this whole running hobby. Maybe those(non-running) people are right. Maybe I should just walk. What's my hurry anyway?

But when you get to the bottom, that's when you start building yourself up again. I went to the doctor, OK more than one, and found out that apart from a possible strange eye movement condition, there probably isn't anything wrong with me. I even went so far as going to a cardiologist, after an EKG taken at my primary care physician's office came out with a blip. Turns out that sometimes EKG's have a mind of their own and their only purpose is to scare the crap out of you. I started to feel better. And any runner those, that running is as much, if not more, mental than it is physical. If I didn't think I could run, then I couldn't.

So after all of that, I have come to the conclusion that my symptoms were probably nothing other than the result of stress and exhaustion. So I may just have been exhausted (don't we hear about celebrities coming down with exhaustion all the time?), but I still don't regret not running LA. The fact was I listened to my body, and my mind, and neither were waking up that day. But now I have new goals.

First, I signed up for the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon before it sold out. I was initially going for the half, but the gorgeous course lured me in and I could always switch to the half if I choose to. Also I feel that about 4 months between two marathons should be enough time to recover. Rock N' Roll races also have, duh, rock n' roll. So that should distract me more than the cowbells and pot banging that was considered entertainment at Pasadena.

Second, and back to my original reason for this post, it was finally 12:30pm EST on Wednesday when I logged into my account at the ING NYC Marathon site. I was prepared for disappointment, lying to myself that I really didn't want to go to New York anyway and would be happy and dandy doing the many local marathons or halfs in October. Besides, $185 and a flight to New York isn't chump change, in addition to all that traveling. Part of me didn't even want to be accepted.

Yeah right! Once I logged in, my profile read the highly hoped for but impossible "Accepted". The joy I felt erased any crazy idea that I didn't want to go to New York. Suddenly, work became a lot more interesting through the happy fog I experienced that day. I was "in"!

Now that I have this additional NYC Marathon goal, I feel like I was meant to receive this happy news.

Dear running,

We may have had a hard time recently, but you really came through when I needed you. I knew we could make this work. Can't wait till New York.


Happy running.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Honey as workout fuel

SO I was reading an old issue of Women's Running when I came across an article about good foods to eat pre-run, during, and post-run. Before Gu's and gel blocks and other assortments of runner fabricated "foods", what did runners ingest during a long run? Could it have been packets of honey? According to this article, honey offers a good combination of carbs, sugar and protein for a long run. Has anyone tried this before?

Sounds good, but sticky!

5 mile intervals

I forgot how FUN it is to run fast! Especially at sunset! And thank you daylight savings! It's nice to be out at 7:30pm and not have to navigate like I'm in a dark cave (even with a headlamp, it's still dark out there. Can the City of Santa Monica please give us runners more light at night in the "running and walking" areas? Jeez). I did an interval run interchanging between my 5K speed and something a bit slower. It's so hard to go out running after a day of work...But in the end, it's always worth it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

First 10 miles in weeks

I did my first long run in a while. In the past couple of weeks, I hadn't run more than a few miles. When I heard that my pace group was running the Temescal Canyon Route (beautiful, but hilly), I thought I would join another group and do something nice and flat. A couple of days later, I thought I would do the route but turn around early. In the end, I did the full 10 miles and now I'm beginning to feel like I'm back in training mode. And for the first time in a long time....I am sore! But a good sore. Nice.

Victory for Victims 5k/10k

You still have time to register for the Victory for Victims 5K/10K, and I am still looking for more team members! Register and mention Team #3 in the appropriate field.

This is a great community event, and a lovely route in the Valley.

Favorite Free Expo Item

So there were plenty of free goodies at the LA Marathon expo. But my favorite is the Naked (think Naked juice products) lip balm with spf 15. Did anyone else get one of these from the Naked booth? It's silky, long-lasting and has an attractive scent and texture. I looked it up online but can't figure out whether this product are sold in stores or not. Naked lip balm - Favorite expo item. Least favorite item? That coconut water made me gag!

Monday, March 29, 2010

LA Leggers Celebration Party

I attended the LA Leggers celebration party on Saturday at the Moutaingate country club. We leggers sure clean up nice! After only seeing each other in workout gear, while sweating and complaining, it was as if our better more appearance-conscious selves came out to party. I missed the cocktail reception but made it for everything else, INCLUDING, winning a raffle for some goodies at YAS. I was amazed by Legger extraordinaire Shannon who had OODLES of awesome fitness-related raffle prizes as well as non-fitness related gems like a stay at the Doubletree Santa Monica and teeth whitening!

Hope to get back running soon for some fun runs. And can't wait for next season's leggers to start again. In the meantime, I'll enjoy going out on a Friday night or two without worrying about getting up the next morning!

Also great to see other Leggers Vera and Jacob who were able to get me dancing for a few songs towards the end of the night. They are hoping to get permits to climb Mt. Whitney later in the summer and show off some more of their mad fitness skills. I told them I'd pass on the hike. That's too crazy for me!

Happy running.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

LA Marathon

After all, I decided not to run the LA Marathon this year. It wasn't really my decision. My body did the deciding for me. Joint and knee aches aside, I have been battling other symptoms, including dizziness, lightheadedness, headache,and other ailments that I won't mention here because they can not be explained easily. Whether these symptoms are or aren't resulting from the exhaustion from the Pasadena Marathon, I don't know. In the meantime, I am waiting to go to different doctors, get my results, and in general, have mini panic attacks trying to figure out what's wrong with me.

BUT, I did go watch the LA Marathon from the 23 mile marker on Sunday. Standing around was tiring, but I enjoyed cheering on people - mostly strangers - and reminding everyone that despite the fact that roughly 24,000 other people are doing it too, participating in a marathon is completely CRAZY. I hope my makeshift "WTF 23 miles?!" sign helped - And I did get a few chuckles.

After more than three hours of watching, I started heading back home when I ran into 2 of my neighbors, who thinking I was running that day, had a bag of goodies waiting for me. How sweet! I'm glad I ran into them and hung around a little longer (despite my headache) because that's when I saw some other Leggers including Liz, John and Sharon. Good job!

Congratulations to all who did the Marathon. What I enjoyed most about the LA Marathon last year was that much more than an individual accomplishment, it is an awesome ass-kicking community event. You may be running/walking alone, but you are part of an amazing group. Crazy, but amazing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Join my team, and get leied

Haven't been leied in a while? Join my team for the Victory for Victims Walk/Run, and I will personally lei you! All of my team members will receive leis to wear while walking, running, or strolling through the lovely 5k (or 10K) course on April 11, 2010. When you sign up, be sure to register for team #3 - Team Naz.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinatown Firecracker 10K, Year of the Tiger Official welcome

After my not so great week after the Marathon, I decided not to run Saturday and helped out with water stations for the Leggers instead. But I did go to Firecracker 10K on Sunday. How could I not? This event is crazy. It's crowded, packed with people from all races, ages, and abilities, and starts off with a bang of hundreds of firecrackers going off. I didn't actually see the firecrackers; but I heard them, smelled them, and saw the smoke. There was also a lively dragon dance - Just the right amount of cheesiness and fun.

I did the Firecracker 5K 2 years ago, so I knew to expect hills. And after that race, I vowed never to do it again. But I've worked on hill training since then, and I started off pretty slowly - running - but slowly. The 10K started half an hour after the 5K, and since I got there very early, I was eager to go. The hills were just as I remembered them, steep! But I was prepared and was able to run up them at a relaxed pace. The views were beautiful. Gorgeous clear day. Now the parts I wasn't as crazy about? The downhills. Steep steep downhills. Running with brakes at full force downhills. So I took little walk breaks there. No need to muck up my knees. Once I got to Dodger's Stadium, a little over a mile away from home base, I notched up my speed. I was feeling good and heading to the finish. My final time was 1:09:21 . And after it was done? I went home. Too crowded!

But I did spot the Tiger. He looked beautiful, happy, strong and hopeful. Happy Chinese New Year everyone.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pasadena Marathon!!

A little bit of doubt is always a good thing. It's like going into a blind date with low expectations with a back up plan if he turns out to be a loser, and happily discovering that he's not. For whatever reason, I had no doubts going into the Pasadena Marathon. I had just gotten back from an exhausting overseas flight about 6 days before, went back to work immediately, and still had no doubt about completing the marathon without a hitch. I must have caught some running confidence bug. I figured I did 24 miles not too long ago, so what should be the problem. And for the most part during the race, there was no problem.

Pasadena is a runner's race. Not a lot of fluff or sideline distractions (and by distractions, I mean supporters, cheerleaders, music, something..) There were a few people who did provide music courtesy of pot banging and cowbell shaking, but apart from that it was you and the road, about 1000 other runners in the marathon field, and nothing else. I decided not to take my iPod with me too, so mind games helped also in a pinch, as well as some helpful banter with my running partner. And towards the end, the music from his cellphone helped too. Sure, I didn't really know much Warren Zevon, but it sounded good at mile 22.

So I was more cognizant of the mental and physical challenge because there was not much else to take my mind off of it. My left knee started bothering me at mile 10, and the hills were no picnic either. Somewhere along the course, there was a sign posted on a tree that said "Remember what you are running for". Hmm...What am I running for? This is the first time since I started running that I really began to question what I am doing to my body. But I did finish, at 5:24:03 (12:22/mile pace). Almost 40 minutes faster than my first marathon last year.

A couple of days post-marathon, I didn't have the joint and body pains I expected, but a whole slew of other problems. I was feeling woosy, nauseous, bloated and dizzy. I couldn't eat anything without getting uncomfortable stomach cramps. My doctor claimed I had an abdominal flu and sent me home with some pills. I took the pills and drank Pediasure for a few days. Easy fix for him, but not for me. My symptoms have continued on and off for the last few weeks since the Marathon.

So, naturally, I have been hard on myself. Initially, I was mad for not getting enough electrolytes during the race. Since I got bad stomach cramps during LA Marathon last year from too much Gatorade, I decided not to drink any. I wasn't drinking any during training, so I thought it was OK. But boy, did that cup of Gatorade taste good around mile 20. So I thought that I had diminished my body so badly, that now I was paying the consequences.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that although I enjoy running, a marathon is still a MARATHON. It's hard, challenging, grueling and a major challenge to the human body. A reminder that as strong and resilient as the human body can be conditioned to be, it can also be vulnerable, hurt and defeated. This was a reality check for me.

Externally, my knee still hurts, so does my back, and my side. I feel like the machine I have been working so hard on now needs a major tune-up. So naturally this doubt is effecting my mental game for the LA Marathon. I am taking it easy until then, and if push comes to shove and I don't feel like jeopardizing my body, I won't do it. After all, isn't this supposed to be fun?

Now times to re-group and get my motor running again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pasadena Marathon Expo

I have good memories of last year's Pasadena Expo. To the eyes of a young runner, it was big impressive and exciting. That day was also pinched with apprehension about the rain forecast for race day (downpour). I also had my car serviced and was left to wander Colorado Blvd until the Toyota people picked me up. So it was a bit of an adventure. I don't get out to Pasadena very often, and when I do, it's like a little treat. So this year, I was looking forward to attending again, but this time as a marathon participant and not the 5K.

The Pasadena Expo was OK but now having attended a couple of other large expos, the experience wasn't as novel as that first time. My main goal was to obtain all that I needed, do a quick sweep of the booths (including finding the LA Marathon booth and sharing my worry of the whole shuttle situation) and leave. A stop at Sephora in the lovely open air mall across the street would also be included.

So I picked up my bib, t-shirt, bag and toured the booths. I wasn't in the market to buy any gear but it's always fun to look. I did stop at the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon booth. I have been following them on twitter and thought that if they had a nice expo discount I would register for the half - So I did. Same day as OC Marathon and same general area, I will be running the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon on May 2. I'm told mariachis will be at the starting line!

It took a while to navigate through the maze of booths, but I finally found the LA Marathon table. I had scheduled for the 5:30am shuttle to get from Santa Monica to the starting line at Dodger's Stadium and after doing that worried that an earlier shuttle would probably be safer given that this is an experiment of sorts. She assured me not to worry. Nevertheless, I emailed the LA Marathon folks and they moved me to the 5:00am shuttle. Which works out since the Leggers are meeting at 4:30am for a royal Legger send off.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

6.5 miles back in LA

I did my first run back in L.A.; a few laps around the Brentwood Country Club. Last one before Pasadena on Sunday!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Last Weekend in Paris

On my last weekend in Paris, I ran 8 miles on Saturday and 4 walk/run with a family member on Sunday. The Bois was FULL of people on Sunday. The weather had warmed (probably 35 degrees!) and the lake area was packed with runners, walkers and the most adorable dogs. the French have a love obsession with their pets and there are some doggie daycares that bring dogs to this area all the time. Always fun to watch them. I'll miss running in Paris. Paris Marathon 2011 here I come!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mid week runs in Paris

While I was in Paris, I had two "mid-week" runs in the Bois de Boulogne - the large forest to the west of Paris. Both days were cold, around 30 degrees, and the second day had snow. I was running against a cold sharp wind. I kept telling myself that running in the cold is good training!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10 miles dans Le Bois de Boulogne

I had been preparing for my winter running in Paris for a few weeks. How would I handle the rain ? and the cold? I arrived in Paris on Saturday and headed out to the nearby Bois de Boulougne, the huge forrest on the western part of the city, on Sunday. I was planning a 10 mile run. The weather was cool, but not cold. I had va thin windbreaker and a long sleeve technical shirt and I was good to go. And there were a ton of runners and walkers out and enjoying the day. It was lovely. If I only came to Paris to run here, then the violently turbulent flight from New York to CDG was well worth it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

24 Miles

24 miles – For the first time in our training season, we are running 24 miles. For the first in the past few days, it has hit me that I will be running the Pasadena Marathon. Now that's 26.2 miles. I have already started to feel the race day jitters.

I arrive at the start for our Leggers run in a bit of a huff. I can’t find my other water bottle to stick in my fuel belt. Long run mornings have recently started this way - Searching for something. Searching for Gu. Searching for my new arm warmers. Searching for under eye sunscreen. Before very very long runs, I also have additional steps. I eat oatmeal. I throw some salt in my mouth. I pack on everything and then some. I leave my iPOD. We received an email that some runners with iPODS or other music devices were accused of not paying attention to the road. I always have my music on fairly low, but since I wear headphones, I don't want to give anyone the impression I am not alert. I leave the iPOD. It's almost 6, and I'm already late!

Luckily, my group doesn't leave on time. But soon enough we are getting in line for the run. I had wanted to safety pin some sort of handmade sign on my back today with something like "24 or bust", but that would alienate the people doing less miles. I also just didn't make the time. And it's true - Although we started with about 25 people, many of us had different distance goals in mind.

We start our slow and I remark to Jeff who I am running with that it would be better to run faster since we are already partially asleep. He tells me that we should because some of us are still completely asleep. Also, we will have to make up for our pace later on, which we do. I try to use my new watch, but I must not have set it right, because it is continuing from another workout. So the distance is ahead by a couple of miles, but the fact that I can see my current pace is a good thing.

Our course leads us south - south south south until we practically reach the airport. We go through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, up Ballona Creek and into Playa del Rey. One noticeable omission from today is that there are no Roadrunners, anywhere. I later find out that they are doing hill workouts at Dodger stadium. Very good idea!

I have some tough spots today - At our turnaround - About 16.5 miles in - My shin start to hurt. Now, I have had shin pain before, but usually after a run. So I decide to take a couple of Alleve. And just like pharmacological magic, my pain eventually subsides.

Around Marina del Rey, one of the Iranian doctors who has been talking with a friend throughout much of the run, switches places with Jeff just after the water station. I have noticed that we all play musical partners, so I'm used to changing place or having things mixed up. I hope Jeff didn't mind. The Iranian doctor seemed to be curious whether I was Iranian; and once my ethnic identity was confirmed, the conversation poured. Luckily, it was completely distracting and made the next mile or two easier.

One other note, San San, a running partner from the past, fell early on in our run. I hope she is OK. I was surprised that none of the doctors or nurses in our group (and there were a lot of them) stopped to check. Don't medical professionals take an oath for this kind of thing? Then again we were told to keep going, and I imagine that if it had been really bad, then they would have stopped and helped. Let's only hope.

The end of these runs are always the hardest (along with the very beginning!). Rene, one of our mentors, suggests we do mile repeats for the last 2 miles. It was pretty much him and I for the last 3 miles or so, although we have a few runners who went ahead (if they stop, they can't start again) and the Iranian doctor and a few others are behind. I zone into Rene's pace, a faster clip (closer to 10:30) and make it back home. The last hill incline up from the pier has me wishing it is over, but mentor John is at the top cheering me on, so it is all good.

My 24 mile run today took about 4 hours and 52 minutes. Now I'm getting ready to run in Paris since I'll be out of town. More updates from there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My First Track Workout

I have been waiting to try the UCLA track, and finally, after the summer to fall resurfacing and my re-interest, I tried it today. For a speed workout, the track is excellent. I started at a moderately easy pace and got faster each lap for a total of 4 laps. Then I started from my base pace again. I tried to use my new Garmin 205, but alas, I am still learning how to use it. The track material itself is so buoyant that I had to slow myself down from going too fast. It is such a forgiving surface that the only way you go is up!

The track is great too because there are other people in various stages of movement. Some were walking up and down the bleachers – a feat that I have yet to attempt.

My rating for the track workout iss 4.5 stars – It would be 5 stars, except that the track does get monotonous after a short while. But for speed/interval works, or for foot and knees pain, it is the best!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

11 Miles and a Gorgeous Slew of Hills

The rains cleared, there is a light layer of sand packed on the path along the beach, the air is chilly, fallen branches decorate dirt routes, and we are out running. I have not run since Monday. The rains were enough to prevent me from going out with the expectation of completely unexpected downpours. I saw those runners in the street. One minute it's drizzling and the next there's hail. No thanks, not for me. Although my runner's dream is to be all geared up one of these day's and in ship rain running shape. Fearless, unweathered, and frankly, a little bull-headed. But today there is no rain.

Our route today takes us north along the sandy beach toward our eventual uphill climb on Temescal. Before we get there we are first tested with a couple of little hills - more like slopes in the path - but it is enough to remind us that today is a series of ups and downs - large and small - shallow and steep. There are about 20 of us today. The view along the beach here is lovely, but all eyes are on Temescal. We will kill this hill, oh yes we will. We run in two's, we run by ourselves, we run until we can't run anymore. We all make it to the top. Some think the worst is over, but it's not. We still have about 6 miles to go!

This part of the course takes us through Pacific Palisades and past some lovely homes - although we must dodge the vines and plants and flowers that want to touch us, poking us with their arms. There is also the after rain effect in the ground, in the trees, and in the air, that makes it seem that we are in Oregon, or a rain forest - except that it is not humid but cool and breezy. It's full of green, and often it is only when you are on two feet exploring a city, that you realize how lush and beautiful and pristine L.A can be.

Hills are good for us. We know this. And next time our mentors suggest we do this route again, we will cheer and beg for it.

Personally, I had one small blip toward mile 8 or 9. I bought a packet of powder to mix in my water meant for endurance athletes. Other walkers or runners use powders and I thought I would give it a try. For me and my body, it proved to be a bad idea. The mixture of the drink and my usual created a deep cramp under my upper right ribcage for a good 10 minutes. So now I know. I like my Gu and it looks like it will stay that way.

Next week, 24 miles. Flat.

Happy running!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

11 Mile Run

Today was our 11 mile group run - Exactly half the distance from last Saturday. Beautiful day - Just what you would expect before a heavy rain storm. I read my Garmin booklet last night and was able to set up the interval function needed for our long runs. The only glitch was that it stopped working exactly 1 hour and 51 minutes into the run. For some reason the training regimen stopped at 37 laps even though I had it programmed for 99. In other news, I am yet to discover how to tell time on the thing. Maybe that's why some runners have 2 watches - One for training and one to know what time it actually is! Today's run was very fun, except for the faint pain emanating from my right knee cap. A runner's aches and pains never seem to go away. There were a ton of roadrunners today. Always fun to see them. It's also always fun to run 11 miles before most people wake up on a saturday morning!

Happy running!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Raising Money for the John Wayne Cancer Institute

I am raising money for the John Wayne Cancer Institute in conjunction with both the Pasadena and Los Angeles Marathons. Thank you to everyone who has already donated. I am halfway to my goal of $2000! Please consider donating in the following increments:

$13.1 - In support of half-marathon
$26.2 - In support full marathon
$52.4 - In support of both marathons

Visit my charitable website at

To learn more about the John Wayne Cancer Institute, check out their website by clicking here

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cross training fun and my Garmin is Here!

Tonight my awesome cousin and I did some spinning at Revolution and took a large dose of yoga at Yogis Anonymous, both establishments located in Santa Monica. Because it was a new moon, our yoga movements varied according. I can't tell you how exactly the new moon affected our yoga routine, but I can tell you that we did a whole lot of twisting. And yoga on a Thursday night only means one thing - Unbelievable soreness on a Saturday morning.

In other uber-exciting news, I received my Garmin Forerunner 205 in the mail today. I was debating between the 205 and 305 model and decided on the 205 because I didn't feel like I would really use the heartbeat monitor accessory that the 305 provides. And if my heart was beating really fast, couldn't I just feel it? Charging the watch for Saturday's run. Excited!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

4.75 miles and a Wrong Turn

I went out for an evening run. Sometimes I'm not in the mood to run at night because, well, it gets really dark. Sure, I have a headlamp and reflective gear, but that doesn't mean I can't trip over a rock, or get attacked by a. tree b. person c. evening woodland creature. But there were more runners than usual tonight and I feel better running at night when there are other people as crazy as me out there doing it. Toward the end of my run I took an atypical turn and started on a hill loop. Funny - I was in my own neck of the woods, but everything is so different at night - The streets, the houses. Close to home but i might as well have been miles away. But the result was finding a good hill loop for future training.

Happy running!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Runner's Almanac - 22 Miles

16 miles? 18 miles? 20 miles? 22 miles? Once you get to 20 miles, is 22 really that much of a difference? Here's what I told the lady who I ran with in our Leggers training run Saturday. The first 2 and last 2 miles are the hardest. Really. It takes a while to get into a groove, and then well, you yearn to reach the destination so you can fall out of that groove. There are tough spots along the way, sure. But by then, you have already committed.

I had a good run. We started a little fast, got a little slow, and then finished with about a 12:11 pace on average. Supposedly, we should train at a slower pace than the one we intend for the marathon. I like my pace group, they are good peeps, so I had no intention of switching it up. But now that I have finished the run, I'm thinking that I should probably aim for a pace a little bit faster than a 12 minute mile. So for the Pasadena Marathon, I think I will aim for 8 minutes less than the estimated 5:15 (time for 12 minute/mile).

Something else I told the lady I was running with (so sorry forgot your name - although I do remember our discussion about you running a 50 miler in Catalina with a couple of Mountain Goats) was that although we started with about 30 people, we would probably end with 5. And guess what? We did! Everyone else came in eventually, not that far behind.

I also signed up for the Firecracker 10K the week after the Pasadena Marathon. I did the Firecracker 5K in 2008 and this is one big hill of a course. So I decided to do the 10K - More hill. Good training for LA.

Happy running!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Runner's Almanac - 11.5 miles make up run

Having been out of town for a few days, I missed my first group long run of the year so made it up today - 10 miles plus change. I did do some running while in Las Vegas on the treadmill - no more than about 2.5 miles each day. I used to run all the time on the treadmill, but it is so much more fun to run outside. Next up is 22 miles on Friday. Here we go !