Thursday, December 22, 2011

Run a Marathon, Make a Friend

Since I haven't been running regularly (if at all), this running blog has suffered from a serious dearth of postings. I realize I never completed my NYC Marathon recaps. I recently wrote a short piece on NYC for the LA Leggers newsletter. The story focused on the morning before the marathon. Enjoy the read, and I'll recap on the actually marathon soon - before the new year :)

Long-distance running is best appreciated as a group sport, and if you keep this in mind when travelling solo to a marathon, the experience is never a solitary one. I remembered this recently at the New York City Marathon.
I got into the Marathon on my first try and was scheduled to run it in 2010, but had to postpone due to injury. By the time I arrived in Staten Island at 6:15 am on November 6, 2011, it felt like a long time coming.
I was most nervous about this part - the waiting around for hours part. My corral was one of the last of the 10:40 am crowd scheduled to leave. Luckily, the weather was nice and I came prepared with plenty of items - large towel, garbage bags, pillow, mylar blanket, food, extra clothes, and even magazines to pass the time.
Amidst roughly 47,000 people, I found a great grassy area under a pitched tent. I set up camp and tried to rest. With my eyes closed, I listened to the energy of the crowd nearby - a trio of Finnish men, a large group of Team In Training runners, and eventually two women right next to me. They sounded like close friends. I got up and introduced myself.
Both from New York, it turned out that Lori and Joanie had just met. This happens at races - we runners are generally friendly people, and if we are open to it, can make fast friendships - even just for one day. Inez, a smiling woman in her 60's, soon joined our group. She came decked out in an aquamarine polyester track suit (which she later donated). Inez brought with her the sunshine. She was from Holland, and came with a huge 1000+ delegation of Dutch runners. For them, New York is the mother of all marathons. I think we all felt her enthusiasm.

Lori, Joanie and Inez in our "camping" area

Picture of Inez - she came with this smile when we first met her.

"A bunch of hippies gathered under some bridge in Staten Island" 

I mention these women because the waiting around part I was so worried about earlier turned into the highlight of the day. We took care of each other, offered food, advice, Vaseline, and watched each other's items when one of us made a pit stop. Most importantly, we offered company. We were amongst many thousands gathered under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, like a bunch of groupies waiting for their favorite band to perform. Some people sat alone on the concrete - I vividly recall one person who wrapped himself tightly in a mylar blanket ball against the fence. Not all runners are social, but you are missing out if you don't welcome the community aspect of the sport. 

Joanie and I waiting in our corral (thanks to Inez for this picture)

Lori left for her corral early, and Joanie, Inez and I set off together. We joined Inez in her corral - corral 65 - in the back of the pack. We exchanged kisses and hugs, wished each other good luck, and to the sounds of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", we were off.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New York City Marathon Expo

I will bypass the details of the evening arriving into New York City. Suffice it to say, that I will get a cab next time flying into Newark with more than one carry-on. Arriving in a crowded Penn Station and waiting for a cab may have been fun and exhilarating ten years ago, but I was over all that. For the first time in a long time, I preferred L.A. to New York.

That evening, I had dinner with my godfather and his wife. It took about five stops before we found a restaurant that had room for us and which measured high on their foodie palate (I just wanted to eat and go to sleep!). We ended up dining at a very nice Italian restaurant. The ambiance was complete with a bunch of loud New Yorkers next to our booth. Of course, I walked everywhere with my running shoes since I didn't want to exacerbate my calf pain in the name of social acceptance.

The next day, I took a cab to the site of the New York City Expo. I had big expectations but the expo did not deliver. Booth rentals must have been really expensive, since the diversity of running organizations, events, and stores, was severely lacking. On a positive note, I was very happy to see that Running Skirts was in attendance. I would plan on running in my black skirt  on marathon day. "Gone for a Run" also had a booth, and I purchased a 26.2 decal for my car. The Asics area was huge, and I bought a lovely turquoise long sleeve shirt to wear under my Leggers singlet, as well as a license plate holder, and a signature Asics/ING New York City Marathon duffel bag. 

Miraculously, I ran into a Legger friend, who then joined me for lunch at my very favorite Amish Market in Chelsea with my friend Daniel. I bought an extra sandwich since I was worried that I would get hungry marathon day. After lunch, I headed back to the hotel, and then took a cab to meet up with Heather at her hotel around Park Avenue and 71st. I was put in touch with Heather through L.A. Sports Massage since were both flying to New York from L.A. for the event. She raised $3500 for UNICEF! I was very happy to meet her, and we had spaghetti at a very old-school Italian place near her hotel. Her injury problems sounded worse than mine, so it was comforting to know that we injured runners were out there and ready to make it to the finish together.

Grabbing a cab back to the hotel was craazzzy, so I took a short walk. Looking back at it now, I can't completely recall all my pre-race rituals, but I was very thankful to get that extra hour of sleep due to daylight savings. I went over the location of the shuttle pick up on the map. I set three alarms for 3:00 A.M. and went to sleep.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

6.5 miles before New York

Back to running in my favorite route around Brentwood. No pain for 6.5 miles. This was good news. I could estimate that for at least double that - 13 miles - I would be Ok. I would leave to New York happy, but cautious.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Days Post-Injury

I read online somewhere that the minimum rest required for a calf injury is ten days if the injury is nominal (six weeks if moderate), so I waited about that long  before I tried running again. I ran with my calf compression sleeves in Balboa Park, and you know what? It hurt! This wasn't good. At some point, I removed the compression sleeve and this made it less painful. I would try one more run on Wednesday and hope to be able to eek out at least 6 miles.

My physical therapist also began taping my knee. I would run with the taping on Wednesday and see how that improved my overall knee pain.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spectating at L.A. Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon

Since my calf had "popped", I decided to take about 10 days off from running. The New York City Marathon was just two weeks away. After consulting with my massage therapist, I was convinced that I hadn't torn anything. I would go to her as well as my PT, and plan for New York.

So on Sunday, October 30, I went off to another day of spectating - this time in Downtown L.A. I took the subway and settled around mile 8/mile 12 in a central downtown location. My friend and fellow Legger Liz had met up with her group at the start, and she joined me soon as well. It turned out to be quite a warm day. We were fully equipped with pretzels, cowbells, and oranges. There was a very big Legger turnout. Oh yeah, since it was the day before Halloween, there were a lot of costumes - I also think any costumed runner received a free beer at the end (party with Brett Michaels!). I spotted at least four Waldos in the crowd, and about that many Elvi. Adam and Eve were also in attendance with strategically placed fig leaves.

Overall I heard people liked this event, although the route was not the preferred old City of Angels Half. RnR gives you big medals and usually promises good headliners. All in all, we had fun, hope they did too!

Liz giving out oranges to a grateful Legger.

Here I am in a picture taken by Legger Jennifer Fah

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


So on Saturday, I made a very early running date - probably a little too early - 5:15 a.m. I was watching the Pearl Jam documentary on PBS the night before, and perhaps too excited from that, I missed my alarm at 4:00 a.m. I got up half an hour later, and by the time my running buddy and I connected, it was about 5:45 a.m. The point here is that I didn't stretch or warm up.

Even after we started, I requested we stop around mile 2 and stretch, but that didn't stop my calf muscle from rebelling. Around mile 4.3, I felt a sudden pain, and even heard an audible noise - like a mattress coil coming undone. I pulled over. True, I was pushing the pace a little, but I blame it on not warming up. We walked the 4.3 miles back. I was sad and worried the whole time. We stopped for ice, and with Adriana's help and the help of my headband and an extra plastic bag, secured a bag of ice to my calf. Now, nearly a week later, my recovery has progressed a lot with massage and PT, but working out (not running just yet) causes my calf to tense up.

And yet....nothing will stop me from participating in the New York Marathon! What would a running life be without injury? It would be fantasy. Now I remember a Runner's World article I read a while ago that featured an elite runner who trained himself - he warmed-up and cooled-down for 45 whole minutes each. If I can get a 15 minute warm up, I'll be happy.

Spectating at Rock n' Roll Los Angeles on Sunday.

See you there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

12 miles with a new running buddy

I met Legger Adriana (first time meeting) around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday for a 13 miler. I had to be back at home base at 8:30, so I worked my way backwards and 5:30 was the earliest I could conceive starting, so that would yield about 13 miles.

We started a little late, but it was still dark outside, and continued to stay dark for about 45 minutes, when the sun came up. The weather was surprisingly un-chilly for an early morning in Santa Monica.

The first several miles went by soooo quickly - I need to run early in the dark more often. Somewhere between dreamland and reality, it all felt a little bit easier.

Adriana and I became fast friends - exchanging personal stories and sharing advice. On a long run, I have found that the mix of physical and emotional exertion results in opening up to another person. Adriana is a newbie Legger who has two marathons and 1 half under her belt (the Chips and Salsa Half-Marathon in Albuquerque - with - you guessed it - chips and salsa at the end).

We ended up running about 12.2 miles. Great run. Planning for 16-18 miles this Saturday for my longest run before NY in 3 weeks.

Happy running!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Running As a Spectator Event

On Sunday, a friend and I drove to Long Beach to watch the Long Beach Half and Full Marathon. I was prepared for a nice day of spectating, ans was fully prepared with camping chair, sandwiches, hand-made signs, and pretzels and Starbursts to hand out. The pink cowbell I purchased from the Run with Donna 26.2 website hasn't made it in the mail yet, otherwise I would have brought that too! That being said, all you really need to be a successful spectator is your presence, and your cheering voice.

We arrived at the Start Line around 6:30 a.m. I have never done this race before, and was glad to see how easy it was to park and get to the starting line. Liz and I only saw a few Leggers, so we hung out at the Start until the masses were released. We then walked about 1.5 miles to the vicinity of Mile 11 (half) and Mile 24 (full) to set up out chairs. I wanted to go a little further, but Liz thought we may get tired walking back afterward.

It was kind of funny how we had our chairs set up - all we needed was a cooler of beer and we could have been tailgating at a football game. Except we didn't have much time to tailgate since soon the lead half-marathoner came through. But we did wait about two hours for the marathoners.

I knew people in both the full and half events, and kept a watchful eye out for them. Along the way, I was happy to see Leggers whom I recognized. Here is a photo(taken by Legger Jennifer) of us spectating:

By the end of the day, all the pretzels and Starburts I brought were consumed. The day turned out to be rather hot, so the pretzels were pretty popular (necessary salt for long-distance runners). Liz even helped out with the water station at Mile 25.

Some interesting sights along the course:

A marathoner pushing a Pomeranian in a stroller - It's funny, I saw the dog at the beginning, and then again around mile 24-25. She seemed extremely happy.

A marathoner dressed as Superman, complete in tights over his running shorts.

A troupe of women dressed elaborately as witches in the bike race.

Sighting of Yolanda Holder, the keeper of the Guinness Record for most marathons completed by a woman in a single year.

Sadly, I didn't see my Pasadena Marathon friend Lan, or Legger Carol, but they did great. I was also very happy for Legger Michelle who made amazing time and cut her PR by over an hour.

Spectating is A LOT of fun. You get to support people who don't even know, most of whom are in a very good mood. I was looking at the route for the Los Angeles Rock n' Roll Half-Marathon to determine where I will spectate that day - the problem is that I'm unfamiliar with the area (all around downtown) and have to figure out the best place - Is it just me, or does the course look like it goes through South Central?

Happy running, and happy spectating!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

14 miles

The weekend's 14 miler went pretty well. The only thing - it's still dark at 6:30 a.m. I planned on wearing my prescription sunglasses the whole time (didn't wear contacts), so I had to bring my regular glasses and store the sunglasses somewhere in the back of my pants. During these long runs, I become a long-distance traveler and have to hide things all over the place. A baggie of pretzels, water, Gatorade - things tend to fall off.

I started with the 13:30 min/mile pace group running 2:1 intervals. I need to run on a pretty flat surface or my runner's knee flares up - so no uphills or downhills (however gradual). Our route was pretty good - I kept with the group for their entire 10 miles, then went on my own for 4.

Before the run, I took a couple of Aleve. I like Aleve but its use (Naproxen) isn't recommended during marathons because of its potential harmful effects on kidneys and salt retention. It's too bad since I prefer it to Tylenol, but I'll manage.

After a Leggers board meeting, I went to Ralphs and picked up a couple bags of ice for an ice bath. I have, surprisingly, gotten very good and staying in an ice bath. I can manage for about 10+ minutes. Reading material helps.

Happy training!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Running with Injuries

My 12 mile run last weekend was successful overall. I started off with the 13.5 pace group and had my first taste at 1:1 intervals. It's funny - before you know it, there's a walk break. They also incorporated mile repeats every even mile. I even didn't mind the first mile repeat. It was the second one, around mile 4, that started creating pain in my knee.

So I peeled off from the group. I applied a sample of BioFreeze which I had carried with me. BioFreeze is a cooling agent with Menthol popular for those with an active lifestyle (supposedly Chaz Bono is using it because of his dancing injury). I had taken two Alleve at the start of the day and that eventually kicked in. I did some quick dynamic stretches, and ran the way back along Speedway, and then the Venice Boardwalk, on my own.

I kept the 1:1 intervals on my watch, but ran at a 2:1. I discovered I like having my watch go off every minute. It's a nice reminder without looking at my wrist constantly.

My run went pretty well until around mile 10. I passed the walkers on the Santa Monica stairs, and ran through the snazzy Santa Monica residential streets before heading back. It was on my way back to the Senior Center (possibly because of slight decline), that I was having pain, this time in my other knee.

All in all, I was happy with the run. I came home and had an ice bath. Note to self: Need to buy twice the amount of ice next time.

I've been very cognizant of my form. In a lot of running tomes and magazines (even Shape this month), there is a big push against heel-striking. I don't think I was ever much of a heel striker, and since my stride is already pretty short, I don't think this is a big problem. But I do advise runners to notice their form when they run. Even the arm swing - back and forth, not side to side, and not too high. In race photos, I occasionally see my hands a little to high, giving myself the thumbs up (not sure why I do this!)

I also went to the Sports MD and got the official diagnosis of runner's knee. No tears to the miniscus or ligaments, thank Goodness. Back to physical therapy.

Reducing mileage for the long run this weekend.

Happy running!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Running is Group Running

My first group run of the season was last Saturday. Running with a group is so much fun, and it makes the effort so much less noticeable. Because of my injuries (which I am starting to discover the root of - including hip imbalance), I am slowing down my group pace and am running with the 13.5's. They have some interesting tactics. For example, this weekend, they will run every odd mile as a mile repeat. I am a little anxious about that, but considering the group head mentor, I know I am in good hands!

Other than that, the Long Beach Half-Marathon is coming up, and after watching a video that will be featured in a future Leggers newsletter (courtesy of John Flynn), I am tempted to register. If I don't, I will plan on going out to support the crowd as a spectator. If you have never watched a half-marathon or marathon before, do it. After finished the 5K at the L.A. Marathon in 2008, I planted myself next to some nice people in front of the L.A. Coliseum and watched the marathon. It was so exciting – I ran it the following year.

Oh, I have been reading "Run for Life", the book our group has selected to distribute to. When I first got it last year, I didn't find it as easy to read as those by Jeff Galloway (which I love) or Frank Shorter’s. The book doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles in terms of how it looks. But I tried again last night, and once you get past the lack of advanced publishing, it isn't a bad book. It is from a casual runner's perspective, not an elite’s. It actually got me to seriously consider running barefoot for a couple of miles to see how it affects my form - or maybe get a pair of those Vibrom 5-fingers.

Planning on 12 miles this Saturday. See you there!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The inflexible Runner

I used to be relatively flexible. In yoga, I could lie on my back and catapult my legs so far behind me that they would touch the ground over my heard. I would do the "happy baby" pose - grabbing my feet and rocking on the floor - a sort of massage for the spine. Well since I started running, and perhaps not doing yoga as frequently, these moves are now more difficult. I am less flexible. Poses that used to be easy, are now hard. I can't throw my legs as far back anymore, and happy baby tends to send a painful stiff feeling down my back. Pigeon pose, which is said to be a great stretch for runners, is also more difficult now.

Through running, I have gained a lot. But one thing I have lost is my flexibility. Runners just aren't the most flexible people. But as long as I keep stretching what I can, I hope to find a nice balance. I may not have a happy baby, but at least I'll have a happy medium.

happy running!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Garmin Velcro Strap

My Garmin strap fell apart in Paris, so I went on Amazon and purchased a velcro replacement. I had the watch for about 1.5 years before the original plastic band ripped, which seemed to be the amount of time other straps lasted when I read reviews on-line.

The strap is inexpensive, and a lot more user-friendly than the original plastic. Also, you can tighten the velcro easily and adjust the fit better. The only downside is that the fabric must be cleaned regularly since it can get sweaty after a long run.

So if your Garmin breaks, don't fret! You can go velcro or just buy an identical replacement online.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Running Season Back in Session!

The L.A. Leggers 2011-2012 season is almost upon us!

For me, it feels like the season never ended since I've been involved with the Board since April and have been in touch with Legger friends.

This Saturday will be the first of two orientations for new members, although returning members are welcome to join in on the new season fun. The first ever Leggers Expo will take place with our sponsors. All new Leggers should come at 7:00 AM for the timed-mile to determine what pace group best meets your needs.

When I first did the timed-mile three years ago, I ran a 9:40 mile/minute (Of course I sprinted toward the end, which you are not supposed to do). If you add about 1-1:30 minutes that that time, it gives you an estimate of what your marathon pace should be. At the time, I was doing a lot of short races, so I thought I could handle a 10 minute/mile for the marathon. Boy, was I wrong!

Register at today. The next orientation will be August 13th.

Happy group running!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Running Around and Feeling Groovy

Last night I reviewed my running log from Paris and was quite happy I managed to complete at least 10 runs there. This is significant since I am returning to the sport from injury and a two month absence. My time in Paris was a return to running, and I’m excited to have a detailed training schedule to get me from here to New York in November.

I completed my first post-Paris run last night- a full week since my last run. I went to my old Brentwood area with 5 miles in mind.

On the plane I had read a detailed article about the benefits of dynamic versus static stretching before a run, so I decided to try it out. I had also learned this lesson from my 15 year old cousin Cyrus who runs track. He even insisted on first doing his dynamic stretches at 10:30pm one night before we walked over to the Trocadero to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day.

I was a little anxious of doing dynamic stretches in public. I don’t normally see people doing a carioca warm-up down a sidewalk. But I felt good so decided to do it anyway. I jogged a little and then did a series of "Toy Soldiers" (walking with knees straight), Knee knicks, butt kicks, walking lunges, and "Hackey Sacks". After five minutes of these, I took off.
My run was very pleasant. My Garmin watch was all over the place (yeah, right, 7:00 minute/ mile?) but the out of whack fast time felt like a reflection of how I was feeling - pretty groovy. I started my adult running around Brentwood, and it felt really good coming back. I love running just before dusk, especially in this heat. My favorite part is when all the water sprinklers start working along Montana. I managed to clock in my 5 miles and felt pretty good about it.

Join me for a new LA Leggers season starting up soon! Sign up today at

The LA Leggers season is starting up soon! Sign up today here.
Happy running!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Running in Paris

In Paris, I have started running again. There is still knee pain, but the Bois du Bologne forest is so enjoyable, that I put that on the back burner.

The weather so far is beautiful – not like the last time I was here when I ran in the cold and snow, keeping a cautious eye on the ground under my feet so that I didn’t slip on any hard icy patches. Paris is actually a big running town. I see them all over the place, in the bois, on the street, complete in skin tight running clothes and fuel belts. There are more men than women runners – and everyone looks pretty fit. At Decathlon, the French sporting goods store, I took a stroll through the running section. There are different brands here, but a lot of the same. I notice that the French fuel belts are a lot cheaper than the American ones.
My sights are set on the New York Marathon, and I hope to come to Paris next year in April for the Paris Marathon.
For now, I will slowly increase my mileage to only 6 miles, practice my strength training exercises, and hope to heal my knee. It would help if I lost a few pounds, after not running regularly for several months, I have come to appreciate how the sport helps in weight maintenance.

The Los Angeles Leggers official training season starts with orientations on July 23 and 30. Check out our new website at to register.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Springtime Recap on My Runner's Almanac

Since I haven't posted anything in two months, I am going to summarize some of the key related events that have transpired since May.

First, I attended the Pasadena Marathon in an official capacity as an L.A. Leggers representative, complete with L.A. Leggers big blue canopy, snacks, blue bedazzled hats, and plenty of cheer and high-fiving enthusiasm. The incredible Rosa (also a board member), her amazing husband Floyd, and two volunteers and I handed out support, chips, candy, and Band-Aids at the 18 mile (marathon) 10 mile (half) marker. Lots of Leggers were out, and I was lucky enough to see Lan Bui - my friend who I met at last year's race when we walked to the start line together from the parking lot. Lan completed the Palos Verdes Marathon just the day before, and she along with some other ultra runners, were the debut class to complete the Palos-Dena Challenge. Rosa was at Palos Verdes yesterday and recognized several people.

I really love the Pasadena Marathon. Sure, it was hard last year, but witnessing it from the day's vantage point as a volunteer, everyone seemed to enjoy it, and the coziness of this small race offeres all the hometown warm feelings that a larger race can't provide. Rosa and I were so entranced, we said we would run Pasadena next year. Actually, she said we would do the Palos-Dena Challenge, and I told her she could do that one on her own!

Another running related activity has been my involvement with the L.A. Leggers board. I remember last year, when the season ended, and it felt like forever before it was August and we were ready to start training again. Being on the board erases that - since we meet regularly either for monthly board meetings, committee meetings, or mandatory early morning senior center desk duties. I have enjoyed being on the board so far, and encourage everyone to join when the season starts July 23 with our first of two orientations. Stay tuned for membership info on our soon to be new website at

Early June, I participated in a very long walk, or rather a big stroll, with Legger John Flynn, his father-in-law, and a host of other good-natured people as we walked about 16 miles along the entire length of Santa Monica Blvd. Stops included the Hollywood Forever Cemetary (where a stranger introduced me to astrology via playing cards - I'm a 7 of clubs), theater row, the Slut Walk, and part of route 66 where deciphered all of the 66 related lamp post ornamentals. I received my first black toe from this endeavor, and learned that if you walk in L.A., and have a swagger that only comes from walking 10+ miles, then you make friends with the local homeless. We were offered discounted bus tickets.

I haven't been running much since the L.A. Marathon because of injury, but I did join a gym and have been attending regularly. I'll be off to Paris next week, and hope to run in the Bois de Bulogne as often as I can. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bosu Ball Madness

I went to the gym last Friday, armed with a barrage of BOSU Ball exercises and an iron will to do them all.

I joined a new gym recently, allowing me to perform crazy looking exercise moves on fun contraptions any time I like. The BOSU Ball doesn't come cheap, so it saves me the possibility of purchasing it and not using it at home (like my STEP purchase two years ago). At least when I'm at the gym, I am forced to do it.

Now although I had several exercises prepared to try on this stabilizing ball, very few came easily. My sit-ups included a lot of wobbling, and hardly looked as effortless as this picture:

Who is this amazingly coordinated lady? My version included rolling all over the place.

I also tried squats on it, which was an easier move. I also like using the flat surface for planks, and push-ups like this:

The most difficult move was lunges. This meant standing on the BOSU ball, and lunging backward. If you aren't embarrassed by falling all over the place willingly in front of other people, go ahead and try it. Lunging forwarding onto the ball, would be a better alternative:

Next time, I will try these side lunges:

I don't see the BOSU Ball used often at the gym. I think it is because people just don't know what to do with it. Good news for me, since I plan to use it regularly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Disney Race - Complete with Wings

Run Disney is adding a new race to its repertoire - If you are shut out of the already sold-out Disneyland Half-Marathon labor day weekend, put on some wings and flutter through the new Tinker Bell Half-Marathon debuting January 2012. This one goes through the Disney resort and the city of Anaheim.

Penned as a women's race, I've been told that men can also participate. The press release claims that the event will attract 10,000 participants. Since it is a winter race, maybe Disney will consider free or discounted park entry during the off-season?

Only if we believe fairies really exist.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No pain, no gain - Not!

Today was my regular physical therapy appointment with Kristy at Paulseth & Associates in Century City. I am always pumped up after these session – Yes, I will do my PT exercises at home. Yes, I will strength train regularly. Yes, yes, yes! But once I get home, all my “yesses” turn into big fat lazy “nos”. One reason? The lure of a nice comfy couch and realty TV after a long day at work.

Kristy is treating my calf pain and a more recent knee pain connected to my IT band. After today’s session, I rolled up and down a hard black foam roller under the guidance of an aide. “How does the black one feel?” she inquires, as there is also a softer white foam roller. Kristy had massaged my left IT band and it was left sore, so the rolling hurt. “No pain, no gain!” I tell the aide. “Um, that’s not really what we stand for.” True – pain is a big no-no for someone who sees injured people all day.

“No pain, no gain” needs to be qualified for runners. Physical pain is never a good thing. Soreness is OK, but not pain. That’s the sign that the body is overworked, underprepared, and on the threshold of going from “not that bad” to “bad”. Mental pain is OK, but hopefully with consistent training, that gets better.

I know I am the culprit for my problems. I have been lax on strength training, stretching and cross-training, thus resulting in more pain and less gain. The IT band, a common issue for runners, came up during the marathon, disguised as knee discomfort. My calf issue stems (amongst other things) from a tight Achilles tendon and stiff ankle. The ankle and foot exercises Kristy has taught me are very helpful, as are regular ultrasound and icing. I have already seen the benefits. I had no discomfort in my right calf at the 10K on Sunday, but still have the IT pain. Recovery doesn’t happen over night.

Now I just have to remember to do my stretches and exercises during the week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Victory for Victims 5k/10k Race Report

Sunday was my third year participating in the Center for Assault and Treatment Services (CATS) Victory for Victim 5k/10k in Balboa Park. I even had a team! Here we are:

At the start line, Julio insisted we recruit a few other people so that our team looked bigger than it actually was. These three gals – one of whom was a Pasadena Pacer – were cool enough to pose as Team Naz members:

The weather was beautiful. The crowd felt smaller than last year, but the atmosphere at this community race is always great. It attracts a lot of dedicated runners and running group members. Before the race started, we were approached by an older gentleman who asked “So who ran the Agoura Half-Marathon 6 days after the LA Marathon?” The answer? He did! It’s fun when runners brag about these things to each other. I was about to tell him that I ran the Safari Park Half-Marathon the weekend before, but he had me beat.

The course was nice. I ran into Legger Ellen who is on her way to the Boston Marathon. Julio, Susan, Sanjeev and I finished within a few minutes of each other. Great Team! After, we had multiple servings of the free rice bowls provided by the Los Torros Mexican Food booth.

Happy Running!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Los Angeles Marathon 2011 - AKA "Monsoon Marathon" - Race Report

Well, we did it - About 17,000 of us finished the Los Angeles AKA "Monsoon Marathon" of 2011. We, the dedicated, passionate, finish-line-focused, who walked, ran and swam through sharp winds, blistering cold, rain, hail and hell. We battled aches, pains, clothes drenched, gloves soaked, minds numbed. Looking back on it, I am awestruck. A new PR was even established for this race. Yes, it was miserable at times. But we all pulled together. Around mile 5, while standing in a non-moving line for a port-a-potty, the rain picked up, my clothes got wetter, my joints ached, and I wondered if it was all worth it. I looked at the other faces around me for some confirmation of my doubt, but found none. I wasn't about to be the only one dissenter. Yes, together, we can do it!

From the beginning...

The day starts very early. I arrive at the Doubletree Hotel in Santa Monica at 4:00am where the LA Leggers have reserved the ballroom. I drop off my post-marathon bag which amongst other necessities, includes dry clothes, as well as a ZipLock bag of dry socks, dry insoles and food which will be sent to the 16 mile Legger support station. I check in with the front desk, and wait for Legger Julio so we can walk together to the 4:30am shuttle together just across the street.

I had hoped that Paulselth & Associates would be here to tape up my calf, but I am told they ended up not coming. I consider taping up myself, but this may produce more harm than good.

Julio arrives, and we board the 4:30am shuttle which leaves promptly for Dodger's Stadium - Highly recommended mode of marathon transportation!

We arrive and I am very excited. But as we start walking toward the green field and bright lights, I feel a discomforting pinch on the side of my right knee. This is a new ache. Although I am not thinking about it at the time, I later realize that my joints are forecasting the cold wet weather to come. Hopefully, not a sign of bad joints in the future.

We make our first porta-a-potty stop and then head out in search of beautiful Legger faces atop third base. It is thrilling to be here - all us marathon walkers and runners pack a stadium which is usually occupied by quite a different crowd of hot dog and beer guzzling baseball fans. I don't usually like to battle the mayhem of Dodger games , but today - I am thrilled to be here, in this bleacher seat.

With Julio at Dodger's Stadium:

I am loving hanging out at Dodger's Stadium so early in the morning, with the roving camera catching everyone's excitement on the big screen. There is a fierce wind tunnel directed at us, so I take multiple opportunities to warm up by standing in the restroom line and hanging out where it is warmer.

Note the Hot Dogs sign in the background. Dodger dog anyone?

Here's a picture of Rene and Glen near a really long line for the men's restroom.

I see Chicrunner sitting with her friend looking cold and unhappy. I love her blog! My only pseudo-marathon-celebrity sighting (sorry no pic - but she has plenty on her site).

Since we arrive so early, we must now wait for about two hours. Around 7:00am, a large Legger 12 crowd heads out. In my head, I hope to run about a 13 minute/mile. Of course Rene thinks that I am fine, my aches and pains are normal, and insists that I run with the group. He is so persuasive! So I start with them - happily.

Here are Jim, Jenn and Rene uber-excited about the start. Jim and Rene are extra pumped to get our watches synchronized.

Before we even cross the start line, I feel the expectant droplets of rain. I am quick to put my garbage bag pancho back on as my temporary shield.

I break off from the group early - around mile 2 or 3 around the Music Center. My calf still bothers me, and I am on the lookout for the first medic tent I can spot. There is one steep downhill around this area - so I take a long walk down. I love running through Downtown though, and this is followed by the prettiest sight along the course - the lake in Echo Park!

Around mile 5, I stop and stand in line for the port-a-potty. It is really pouring now. Rene calls me and asks where the group is - I tell him I have fallen behind, and give him Julio's number. I use the port-a-potty, and chuck my garbage bag - I feel it is weighing me down.

Around mile 6, I spot a medic tent. I am suspicious of the training of the volunteers here, but I am happy to sit down and receive some rest. A nice volunteer wraps my calf in two ACE bandages, and then tightens that up with Saran wrap. Another volunteer tells me not to push it if it hurts, and that I can always do the OC Marathon in May. I surprise myself with my answer - not so much the content but the tone. I am in good humor and laugh when I tell them that there is no way I am not finishing, since I missed out on the marathon last year. I sound so upbeat! I get up about 10 minutes later. My newly packaged calf is highly constrictive, and I eventually pull over and remove the excess layers and keep one of the bandages. It doesn't feel so bad. I make it to mile 7 where I see plenty of friendly faces.

Below are pictures that Legger extraordinaire John Flynn took from the mile 7 Legger support station:

GO 12's!

After John takes this picture, I tell him "I'm not doing too good." The act of simply telling this to someone must have been enough to get me over my hurdle. Soon I start to regroup. The support of the Leggers station really helps. I start setting goals. First goal? Get to mile 13! No whining until then!

Soon after I broke from the group, I changed my regular 5:1 interval (running to walking) to 6:1. If I feel good, I skip a walk break, and if I need it, I walk longer. The walking is good, but not when it is pouring. I notice a lot of people walking very early on. I hear Legger Mentor and Board Member Rosa give some good advice to someone from Students Run LA - Keep running as much as you can since it warms the body up. Good advice! Later, I find out many people are diagnosed with hypothermia.

The trek through Hollywood is sooo wet. I am very cognizant of how wet my clothes are, especially when I stop and stretch. The tops of feet hurt. I stop multiple times to loosen my shoelaces. I have a strange stinging in my lower back but I choose to ignore it. My knees bother me, even more than my calf at this point.

There are many puddles on Hollywood boulevard and my shoes get soaked. I am glad John recommended we have a pair of dry socks waiting for us along the course!

There is a climb up to Sunset Boulevard and it is around here that I find Legger 12 Melissa, and we run together for about a mile. She's in a good mood - even though she is hurting too. Good to know we are all in this together.

Because of the weather, there is very little of the expected entertainment. So I am VERY PLEASED to see the drag queen cheerleaders in West Hollywood - YOU ARE AWESOME!

I soon reach my mile 13 goal. Next goal is mile 16! The mile 16 Legger support station is like an oasis in the desert. I pull over and hang out here for 5-10 minutes. I change my socks and my insoles. I remove my wet arm warmers and the ACE bandage, and spray my leg with Kool-Fit. I eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had prepared. I also take another Tylenol. I check my cell phone - A lot of people have been trying to reach me, especially my mother. I am worried about this - if she sees how drenched I am, she will insist I stop. The plan was to meet her around Wilshire near Neiman Marcus. Part of me is worried, but a larger part of me is looking forward to a loving face.

Here I am running along Rodeo:

Once I arrive at Wilshire, I try and reach my mom, but she is not here. Now, I start trying to get in touch with my aunt and cousin - They are waiting for me in Brentwood. My aunt tells me that I am going to catch hypothermia - I tell her, "Me and 25,000 of other people!" I should also mention that around mile 16 is when my iPOD stops working. No worries - Over the course of my training, I have strengthened my mental stamina and it is all I need to finish.

It is around here that I run into Leila - This is her first marathon, and she is walking now because of her knee problems. I feel for her. She is a trooper! I also run into Legger Mentor Glenn numerous times along the course, as well as Legger Mentor Saeed and his brave band of 14's, and Legger Mentor Jennifer and the 13's. It's good to see their familiar faces and I feed off their energy.

There are many volunteers along this area with cooling sprays for sore muscles and joints - and I get sprayed as often as I can.

It's a long way on Santa Monica Blvd until we finally reach the VA, which is muddy and flooded in several areas. There is a narrow path where we run along the sidewalk to bypass all of the water. Someone behind me says that we should get two medals for this. I tell them, we should get our registration free for next year!

Here I am running in the VA:

Coming out of the VA, we head into beautiful Brentwood. I now look out for my aunt and cousin - they are at San Vicente and Bundy around mile 21.

When I reach them, I break down in my aunt's arms crying. She says I can go home with them. No way! I feel like I am in a pit stop at a NASCAR race. I take off a wet layer of clothes and replace it with a nice dry one, and put on a new garbage bag . I lighten my load, and with a hug and a lot of love, they send me off - with a ton of energy. I really pick up the pace now. It's only 5 miles to the finish - no problem!

The last 5 miles feel easier than the first 5. All I need now is heart and determination. I whiz past people, and have my goal firmly in place. If anyone is around me at this point between mile 23-26, they would hear me talking to myself repeatedly - I know that I can do this. I have done it before. ....And I do...

Marathon 4 is in the books! At 6:10, I am happy with my accomplishment. By the time I get to the finish, it is really windy now, and feels like it is hailing. The finish line area is in shambles. I grab a banana and start heading back to the Doubletree ballroom where my aunt and cousin are waiting for me.

The walk back is long, but it's nice to see my loved ones and Legger family there. Of course, post-marathon, I catch a horrible cold, which I am now recovering from.

However…now that we are approaching a heatwave in L.A., I have to say I would take cold and rainy over hot and sunny.

Thank you to all the Legger and LA Marathon volunteers and everyone else who cheered us on along the course. It was hard enough running in that weather, let alone standing in the crowd. Thank you.

Happy running!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Safari Park Half-Marathon Race Recap

After Sunday’s half-marathon, I now know why Kenyans are such amazing runners - Running through a quintessential African country landscape must be beautiful. San Diego is no Africa, but it came close in the Safari Park on Sunday. The morning haze, the mountains, the greenery, the lakes, the animals...It is all very Gorillas in the Mist. While running on a muddied trail, I look twice - no three times - at the postcard imagery to my left - a small vaporous lake, a beautiful sunrise, birds floating along, a mountainous backdrop – this is definitely a drop in the runner’s high bucket – this is why we run.

Let me start at the beginning. My friend Salome and I drive down to San Diego Saturday - My goal is to arrive at the Roadrunners store for packet pick-up by 3:00pm. I drove to San Diego last year for a race too –rock and roll – but the memory of the long drive was lost along the way or in my cramping haze. With my desire to get there, I deny Salome any food detours (except for a 7/11). We ran our first marathon together in 2009 – so if anyone understands a runner’s "crazy", she would (and my cousin Alex, who I drove much crazier last year).

Roadrunners is a monolith of a running store - somehow both large and empty-feeling. Here, there is a lot of show – large ads of happy runners and their signature brightly punctuated Dalmatian, several mannequins in runners clothes. There are a few treadmill stations hooked up to monitors for foot/gait determination and proper shoe selection. There is also a long line. I buy a new hand-held bottle since the strap on the one I raved about a few posts below, broke.

After my purchase and acquiring of bib and bright orange (favorite color!) tech tee, Salome and I forage(drive) in search of food, shelter and rest. After dinner amidst drunken St. Patrick’s day party-goers in Pacific Beach, we head back to the hotel. That night, I set two alarms (three including the front desk wake up call), and mentally prepare to wake up an hour early (thanks daylight savings). I end up waking up every 15 minutes or so - hotel alarms can be oh so confusing.

Sunday morning, I board a shuttle from our hotel at 5 AM. It is packed. We are at the Radisson - the official hotel for the half-marathon - occupancy of about 180 rooms - 170 of which are occupied by crazy people like me. The hotel is out of the way, nestled on the top of a hill in an office park area up the street from a Hooters.

The shuttle slowly enters the Safari Park (formerly Wild Animal Park) compound around 5:45am. I am a little worried. The race doesn't start until 7:00am. And it is cold. Shivering cold. Why didn't I bring my arm warmers? Or a disposable long-sleeved anything? I have one pair of gloves I rub together waiting for that fire to spark. I hope I can stay in the shuttle until the last possible minute. But the shuttle driver has no intention of hanging out. I deplane and go in search of warmer ground.

Insert Naz shivering for an hour here

This is the inaugural Safari Park Half-Marathon and the uniqueness of the course draws a sold out crowd – for both the half and the 5K. As I wait around listening to the announcers, I am thrilled by the sight of a happy looking group of Legger gals, including Board Member Rose and 11 mentor Michelle (who just ran the Napa Marathon last week!). It’s good to see some familiar faces, and I see more along the course.

The race soon starts, and I take it extra slow. I couldn’t find my Garmin charger the night before, so I count 5 minute intervals on my wrist watch. Whenever I feel like I want to turn up the motor, I hold back. I am not here to show off to anyone. I take extra walk breaks, especially on the downhills.

This course is beautiful, and rather hilly - steep hills, rolling hills – I remind myself that Naz love hills and this is good training. I pass a family of horses who are very curious as to what we are all running from. Is there a cheetah back there? Actually there is. The cows don’t seem as troubled.

My first 8 miles goes pretty well. I am surprised to see a large crowd of spectators cheer us on – unexpected and delightful. The course then proceeds to pass through the same areas, so the novelty wears out. I think we passed the yellow hot air balloon three times. I am re-energized by the end and finish at 2:51. It is my slowest time by 21 minutes, but I am fine with it. I have been having a lot of calf cramping since my 24.5 miler at the end of January, and my confidence had been shaky. My goal today was to finish, and to prepare my mind for next week. Mission accomplished.

After I receive my medal, I weave through the maze to get back to the front of the park and board the shuttle back to the hotel. Later, Salome and I return and spend the afternoon there. My registration fee included a free entry and her spectator ticket was $15 (down from $40). The Safari Park is a lot of fun. Especially for families – there was a bar and patio area around every corner!

Now I am getting ready for LA – the Safari park was beautiful, but the LA Marathon route will be a whole other level. The scenery is largely predictable - a lot of roads and buildings, but I am looking forward to the people. This is one of those few moments where Angelenos come out en masse as advocates for each other – That alone will propel me through Downtown, along Sunset blvd, and Hollywood, past the Walk of Fame, down Wilshire and Santa Monica, through the VA, down San Vicente and to the ocean. I hope I see your face amongst the cheering crowd. I can’t wait.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weeks before the marathon and the doubt begins…

I am sitting in my primary care physician's office one early evening as he looks over my chart on a hand held computer. My feet dangle over the paper covered examination bed. I have just shared my most recent health worry. On an otherwise relaxed stroll that afternoon, my heart pumps briefly a rapid succession of baseballs that thump on my chest wall. I am not unaccustomed to strange flutterings. I went through a small battery of tests last year when these first started – (was told one of my heart flaps is a little loose – but later found out this is pretty common). But what I felt today left me momentarily winded. I come for an immediate visit. That is why I see this doctor – He can always see me right away.

My doctor’s office is in what is known as the “Iranian building” on Ventura Boulevard in Encino. Iranian doctors, dentists, businesses, TV stations, and other occupants reside here like it is downtown Tehran. When I enter, the nice man behind the desk (I wish I knew his name) asks me how my mom is doing. He knows I haven't been here in a while since I’ve been seeing another doctor across town. I cover up my ethnic guilt with an excuse based on geographic accessibility.

My doctor reminds me that I came in last year around the same time with the same complaint. Is it because I'm excited about Nowrooz - the upcoming Iranian New Year? This now reminds me of another time when another Iranian doctor remarked to another complaint by inquiring whether I was in love.

No, it's not Nowrooz, I tell him now, and I wasn't in love then. But I am about to participate in the LA Marathon. This all sounds very familiar since last year he suggested not run in the marathon. He had also told me not to run much at all in fact. What is wrong with me? Days away from the marathon and here I am, again, thinking there is no way I can do this .

Long story short – I am hooked up with a 24 hour heart monitor. Like a robot with multicolor electric veins, some sneaking out, others taped securely to my chest peaking out from the top of my shirt, I eat, sleep and work in this manner. I return to the doctor next day, same time. I know I didn’t have any symptoms - there were no strange flutterings, no missed beats, no baseball thumping moments, no moments that took my breath away. I am disappointed.

The amicable ambiance at my doctor’s office at night is like a small Iranian cocktail party, but with thermometers, blood pressure machines, and disposable needles instead of a cold drink. I sit in the waiting room while I hear a patient talk and laugh about how the best medicine is a serving of good kabab.

Finally, after the 24 hour stream of information from my heart box has been digitized into an electronic file, the doctor goes through the pages and pages of results. Apart from a less than 1% high heart rate (what was I doing around midnight, he asks?), I am within normal limits. There are some areas where my heart beats a touch too soon – but there is nothing he sees that I should worry about. Great? Great!

I guess I can run the marathon after all.

Now I just have to wait on the verdict next week regarding treatment of my too too pained shin. There is always something.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Victory for Victims 5k/10k

It's that time of year to join TEAM NAZ for the Victory for Victims 5k/10k in Balboa Park. I ran the new 10K course that will be used this year, and it is lovely. Race is on April 10th - The official cool-down of the LA Marathon. I can't believe it's been a whole year since the last one. What are you waiting for? Sign up! And make sure to register as a team member for my team at .

This event supports the important work done at the Center for Assault and Treatment Services (CATS).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Firecracker 10K Race Recap

Photo taken by Legger extraordinare John Flynn!

This was my third year at the Firecracker 5k/10k in Chinatown. It is a hilly course - almost straight up for the first 3 miles. I like the hills - it's a challenge - and good training for both LA Marathon and Big Sur. My least favorite part of this course is actually all of the downhills - so I took them especially slowly.

Chinatown is a lot of fun - I have to plan on coming more often and practicing my Chinese. The views are also beautiful from atop the hill in Elysium Park from Angels Point. Another highlight is running through Dodger's Stadium. I cued "I Love L.A." in my head while I fantasized about running the LA Marathon in about a month. Last year this time when I ran the Firecracker 10K, I still expected to run LA, but I was still physically exhausted from the Pasadena Marathon the week prior. It was a big disappointment not running L.A. But today, I feel confident that I'll make it there - and I can't wait!

Happy running!

My Racing Story in LA Leggers Newsletter

So I wrote something for the LA Leggers newsletter this past week. Here it is!

In the past two years as a Legger, Nazbanoo has run 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, and is currently a mentor for the 12s. During this time she has shared her experience as a runner in her blog,

We all know running is an individual activity - but I only started taking it seriously when I appreciated it as a group sport. My first race is a 5K in December 2007 in support of the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda.

The participants are a small dedicated bunch, so small that I even place 3rd in my division. The course is simple, just a loop around the Home's facilities, but I cherish the feeling of community - something that is often lacking in our sprawling metropolis. So I sign up for my next race, and soon I get hooked. It gives me a chance to visit parts of Southern California that are new to me, or to which I never offer more than a passing glance from the comfort of my car.

It also gives me a chance to meet some really interesting strangers. At the Pasadena Marathon last year, I meet Lan. She is a running enthusiast (now marathon maniac) dim-sum lover who approached me in the parking lot. From our brief encounter walking from parked cars to port-a-potties, we form a running friendship that continues largely online - she is often one of the first people to give me any encouragement or advice.

Or Laura - a Bay Area local whom I meet around mile 8 of the Rock N' Roll San Jose Half-Marathon in 2009. During our 3 mile conversation, I learned a lot about her - how she recently had a baby, used to hate running, but how it helped her lose the baby weight. This is her first half-marathon. San Jose is an even friendlier race because of her.

My favorite stranger-turned-running-buddy is John - a 75-year-old member of the California Cruisers, an Orange County running group. He started running in his 50s, has completed 115 marathons, and is a 50-stater (his most memorable being the Delaware Marathon). He is on his way to Athens in the fall. I meet John at the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon in Irvine in May 2010, and we run together for a couple of miles. Technically, he is running with his wife at this race, but when I ask him where she is, he replies "I left her for a younger woman". Meeting John is one of the reasons I love races.

I also have had other buddies too - the kinds you don't actually meet, or even talk to, but whose energy pushes you through to the home stretch.

And my favorite running buddy? LA Leggers. People in my pace group may be surprised that I am not as chatty in real life as I am during a run - But the fact is, few things make me happier than Saturday mornings. This is especially true at events where Legger shirts flood the course - like at the recent 13.1 Marathon where we all cheered and rooted for each other. At events like these, no one is a stranger, everyone knows your name, and your name is "Legger".

Friday, February 4, 2011

24.5 miles and I need some new shoes…

So Saturday was our extra-long training run with an extra-groovy route through Brentwood, back to the beach, and along our usual route down Venice and Marina del Rey. There was a 5k/10k at Dockweiller Beach, so both Leggers and Roadrunners changed their route accordingly. Ever since the 13.1 Marathon race, my KSwiss shoes have been feeling worn out, but there was really no time to buy new kicks before Saturday. I expected a bit of pain here and there.

Legger mentors John and Rene ran the first 12 miles and then, sadly (because they're such great company), turned around and left me in charge. Rene will be running the full Surf City this weekend and John - the half. At this point, I was informed that I needed to take the group out a little further since we turned around early in Brentwood, but we ended up running an extra 0.5 miles. Let me tell you, when you run as much as 24 miles, you can really feel that extra 0.5! My knee was bothering me around mile 16 onward, but I persisted – the group started to get smaller and smaller, but a strong solid few kept a strong pace – stronger than me – and I finished a few steps behind. I’m happy to know that my main problem was knee pain – mental motivation was the same as always – and there was no other issues that hindered me otherwise.

After the run, I was completely wiped out and my appetite was on the fritz for a good 24 hours. I haven’t run or done anything at all this week -- and I feel OK about it. Need some time to mend.

I have decided that 22 is the MAX I will run from now on for a training run – I’ll probably do 16-18 in a couple weeks when our training calendar calls for 26. 26? Hmmm...I don't think so.

So as far as my KSWISS Konejo's go – like a new love affair, they were good for a short while – but the thrill is gone. Feel Fleet doesn’t even carry the brand anymore. I was told that the ASICS Kayano’s have come out with a 17 model – much better than the awful disappointing 16’s. New love affairs are novel and fun, but the trusty mainstays are here forever.

Happy running to those out there this weekend – I’ll see you next week!

Stickers can be purchased at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My New Favorite Running Tool

I love my new Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus Water Bottle. My previous struggles with heavy fuel belts are over. For long runs, I used to pack up my fuel belt like I was going on a mini-vacation. The four water bottles were too heavy, and often my whole belt would come undone and fall off.

I started considering other options. I don't like the idea of something strapped to my back, so I looked to hand held bottles. This never appealed to me. I like having my hands free – As it turns out I like to run with a thumbs-up gesture, something I didn't even realize until I saw myself doing it in all my running pictures. But I was willing to try something new.

I went to the folks at Feet Fleet Encino, and a friendly salesclerk referred me to the popular model pictured. She said it was the most popular.

I took my new toy out for a test drive for our 16 mile rain run. The beauty of the bottle is that there is no grasping involved – By tightening the hand-strap, it fits snug in your palm. It takes a little getting used to, but I love it! I don't even mind the extra weight from the water - it's like a bonus bicep curl with every step. I also like it because if you notice, those fast fit long distance runner guys never have fuel belts – they always run with these bottles – So naturally now I think I’m a fast fit long distance runner guy - if only in my head.

That being said, I still carry my fuel belt for electrolyte drinks on long runs, but I won’t need to carry as many now.

Go buy it!

Happy Running!