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 !