Friday, December 31, 2010

Reminiscing on 2010

It's Dec 31. What else, but yet another blog about the year that was. So indulge me and let me sum up my year in data, memories and pics.
Total running miles: 1,015 - best year since 1981, despite a 6 week injury timeout
Biking Miles: 310 miles in 22 workouts
Swimming: 7.5 miles in 16 workouts
Gym: 50 trips to the gym for circuit training
My dog's mileage: 81 miles
Races: 14 races, most in 1 year since 1980. 1 marathon 4, halfs, 3 10Ks, 5 5Ks and 1 sprint triathlon. Four age group PRs.
Memories: The Loop factored highly in my most memorable moments. It started out with my first race, the duel in Redondo, where sfschas flew out to race me and we battled all the way to the finish line. Next I published my Bangle Chronicles which summarized my 6 lifetime marathons, and my life in general, and the ensuing popularity helped me graduate to the glory of the right side. The LA Marathon in March was my first successful marathon in 9 years, so that was nice.
Later, Loopsterfest was a huge highlight, meeting 16 other loopsters in person, partying and enjoying the race experience together. Knowing I have so many "close friends" all over the country is really a good feeling. And yes, after we meet, the good feelings that we all feel from the loop on the computer actually do translate to real life - even better! I plan to keep meeting loopsters in 2011!
Favorite pics:
The family that pumps together...

The duel in Redondo

Raising my kid in running - Age 3 months

Age 5

Age 16

Meeting my idol


Happy New Year to Everybody!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What I did on my Christmas Vacation

I have been away from the loop for a bit, but now I'm back, and ready to fill you in on my week in Texas. We had a Bangle family Christmas in Austin, with 12 of us staying at my brother's house. Lots of good times were had by all. We saw a Christmas play (Santaland Diaries); we went to the movies (True Grit - excellent); we had some Texas BBQ at Salt Lick, and lots more good home-cooked food, and drank a lot of wine and other concoctions. Watched some football, opened some presents, played some games...just a really nice time for family togetherness. I am pretty lucky to have a totally non-dysfunctional family, if I may use a double negative.
But you probably want to hear about the running stuff. Well I managed to get in three runs in six days, so that's pretty good for a family vacation. Day 1 I did 10.3 miles alone along a nice bike path/trail. Averaged 8:20 with much of the run at MGP.
On Day 6 I ran 5 miles with my brother, which was fun and brought back memories of when we ran together in high school.
And on Day 4 was a 5K. Both my brothers and one nephew ran it as well and everyone else showed up to support, so that was a nice treat. Never had such a big cheering section (except for loopsterfest). I hoped to meet up with SavageTXGirl but after much searching before and after and watching everyone come in  to the finish, I did not see her. She also has not responded to my phone or email messages, so I guess she got a better offer on Christmas day and disappeared. For the record, I did not bury her in a lonely Texas cattlefield. Hopefully she will 'splain herself later for standing me up. Or maybe I just missed her. (Oddly, TexasRunningFool has also been missing from the loop. Maybe I better get a lawyer.)
Anyway, the race was fun. A little hillier than I expected. I hoped to PR under 20:54, but the hills made that a little too tough. I had to settle for beating my brothers (not too tough) and racing my nephew who is 17 and runs cross country. Mile 1 the dear nephew (DN) pulls ahead by about 50 yards, and then stays there. I keep him in my sights and we seem to be going the same pace. Mile 1 was 7:08 with 2 hills. Mile 2 started out downhill, and I briefly saw 5:45 on my Garmin - ha! Hung on to a good pace, and went through 2 in 6:48. The PR was out of range, but at about 2.3, DN started to falter up a hill and I knew I would catch him. We ran together for about 1/4 mile, but I was accelerating and pulled away with 1/4 to go. At this point I felt kind of bad because I didn't really want to beat him, but I was going to give it my best anyway, and hope it helped him push himself. I knew he probably had the kick in those young legs to catch me at the end. I'm pushing good, passing people, can't hear him behind me, but then, sure enough, he blows by me with no more than 10 yards to go and beats me. I was happy for him.
I finished with a 7:07 and the last bit at 5:49 - total time 21:48. My Dad said I was 62nd, but it was an untimed fun run. Had a nice time. Not even really tired after I recovered.
So here are some pics:
Flying in to the finish

DN flying even faster

Big Bro shows off his pump!

The Brothers Bangle (and DN)

Now I am back home and back to marathon training. Oh, my last run put me over 1,000 for the year! Best year since 1981! Woo Hoo!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Earning my BA - SoCal style

We don't have the snow and cold like most of you, and I am pretty soft what with all the year-round almost perfect weather for running. But we finally got us a nice big long rain storm so I was looking forward to getting some BA points.
Friday it was raining. My plan was to do 5 easy on Friday and 16.5 on Sunday. So while everyone moaned about the rain at work Friday, I was all braggy about how I was going to go home and run in the dark and the rain. But by the time I got home after a horribly slow commute, I had lost my eagerness. It was raining hard, and I, well, I wimped out. I started coming up with excuses and before you know it I dedided I could run 5 Saturday and still do 16.5 Sunday. And so I checked my BA card at the door and took my shameful self to bed.
Saturday - still raining, but not so hard. I took the dog out and we both got soaked and had a nice 5.3 mile run. A new DR for him (Doggy Record) for distance. Lots of fun. I felt like I got a few BA points back.
Sunday - Due to other appointments I had one window to run, 1:00 to 4:00. While I was busy in the AM it was raining hard, and I just hoped for a break later. Around Noon the rain stopped and it was lighter, but the wind was really starting to blow now. Still, I thought maybe I had caught a break! But I had just had a big brunch and needed to digest for at least an hour. Sure enough, by 1:00 the rain had returned.
So I just said, whatever, and geared up for 2 and a half hours of whatever was out there. No cutting short, no excuses. Sixteen and a half miles. Because when I make a plan I like to stick to it. I wore shorts and a tech shirt, lots of body glide, and a bikers cap to try to keep the rain out of my eyes.
It was fun. Running in the rain just does something to your psyche - makes you child-like, carefree, uninhibited, joyous. You  just get wet and then it doesn't matter any more. So I was having fun for 4 miles until I turned around and hit the wind. Oh boy. I'm guessing 20-30 mph steady blowing. Flags were straight out. i just said, whatever, and kept plugging, shortened the stride a little, pulled my cap down and lowered my head. After a little while I turned again, but I knew what was coming. My route takes me to the beach, and the last 7 miles would be directly into that wind, on the beach, where the wind is unencumbered by anything.
Miles 7-9 were with the wind on the beach, and my shirt was plastered against my back. My 8:30ish pace dropped to 7:55. Fun, but with the knowledge of the coming turnaround forebodingly present. Usually I would see hundreds of runners on this course. Today I saw 4 all day. I greeted them all, because we are all BA cousins, right? Two acted like wet rats, scowling and grumpy. One said "Beautiful Day for a Run" and was smiley and happy. One said "We're dedicated or crazy, right?" Both I think.
Heading into that wind was brutal. My pace dropped to 8:50+ even though I still felt pretty good and was working hard. It was just one step at a time and push on through. Mile after mile of rain pelting me in high winds. I just kept plugging and felt pretty darn cocky knowing I was one of the few, the proud, who were out in this scheisse.
The rain finally paused for about 15 minutes in the last 3 miles. I made it back without slowing. Averaged 8:33 overall and stayed on track for marathon training. Pretty sore and tired after, but there is nothing like a solid BA run to increase the confidence. I'm feeling awesome!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Speedwork Wednesday - Laps in the dark

Thursday looks busy and Tuesday was easier than usual, so I moved Thursday speed day to Wednesday. My plan: Jog a mile to the local track, 8 x 800 with 400 recovery, jog home. Goal time: 3:15 per 800. I've never done so many 800s, and the time would be...challenging but possible. Trying to work on my endurance.
So I trot on over after work and I get to the local high school track. And the lights are off. Apparently there are no school activities for once. But the gate is open and there are some lights on the nearby field where some soccer practice is going on so it isn't pitch dark. So it's all good, and I have the track to myself. Also, they have some steeplechase type barriers up in lanes 1-3 to keep people out of the inside lanes. Yet they have them at the beginning and end of each straightaway. So it is pretty easy to still run the curves in lane 1 and swing out around the barriers - not very good design! I am not a rebel however, so I stick to lane 4 and try to guess how far 800 meters is in lane 4. I decide on 1 and 7/8 of a lap, with 7/8 lap recovery. That should keep my brain occupied trying to figure out where to stop and start. It's too dark to read my Garmin, even with the light button, my eyes are too old, so I end up running by feel most of the night. So I would not know my spilts until I got home - and neither will you!
First one feels good. I check my Garmin a few times to make sure I am in the ballpark. But after the 2nd one, I quit checking. By the 3rd one, my hamstrings are tired and tight, but I'm doing OK. The 4th one is where I really start to get tired, and I decide I can allow myself a 100 meter walk in my recovery. At this point, bargaining kicks in. "You know, getting the time isn't as important as finishing all 8. Get the miles in and don't kill yourself." The rest of the way I eased off a little on the first 400, but still pushed pretty hard on the 2nd lap. That little concession helped me get through. Made it through all 8 and had a great sense of accomplishment. Trotted home and totalled 8.2 miles.
Now I got to check my results. First, my distance was right on. All splits were between .50 and .52 miles. Here are my splits (calculated from avg pace):
3:08   No wonder I got tired here
Total average 3:15!!!  Dang, I'm good!

I could have sworn I slowed down more than that, but the numbers do not lie!
So I feel like a total BA. I think more PRs are going to fall in 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just another week of running

Week 2 of marathon training went well. I got my 4 runs in, 29 miles, the highest week since March. Feels good to be a little sore and tired, but I feel pretty good considering the workload.
Tuesday - Running group night. 7 miles in the dark. Ran with one friend and chatted more than usual. Not too fast, recovering from last Sunday's 15.
Thursday - Speedwork, as noted in my last post. 3 x 1 at avg 6:54 pace
Saturday - Easy run with the dog day. We're having a heat wave so doggy got a little hot and tired, so I cut it back from 5 to 4 miles.
Sunday - Long, but not too long. 11 miles with a plan to get down under MGP (8:10) and stay there most of the run. Got out early for me (8:00) because it was already pushing into the 70's and warming up. Stayed relaxed and let my pace do its usual thing and gradually get faster over the first 3 miles. Found I was feeling pretty good at 8 minute pace so when I got to the big hill in mile 6 I pushed it all the way up just so I could avoid a slow split. It was like a hill interval dropped into the run. Had to recover a little in mile 7, and after that I was pretty tired, yet bangle rule #2 kicked in: "Once you start running fast, it is very hard to slow down." So while I felt like I was just doing the survival shuffle, my pace stayed under 8:00. I kept it up all the way home, and rewarded myself by walking up the last hill in the last block, off the clock, to maintain these (almost) perfect splits.
8:45, 8:29, 8:24, 8:15, 7:59, 7:56 (uphill), 8:07 (recovering), 7:44, 7:56, 7:49, 7:52
Total avg 8:07. Pretty encouraging on a hot day.
This week's plan: 33 miles finishing with a 16+ mile run.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Squeezing one more race into 2010 - in Texas!

I will be going to Austin for a week for Christmas, to stay with my brother and be with family. So the SIL writes about activities for the week, and included is a 5K the day after Christmas! So I can't say no to that, so I am adding one more race into the schedule, 14th race this year. If any of you Texans want to see a Bangle pump in person, just head over to the Zilker Holiday Tree 5K in Austin on 12/26. It is at 4:30PM and goes through a park that is covered in lights I guess, so it should be festive and fun. Not sure why they can't just call it a Christmas Tree instead of a Holiday Tree, but I guess the PC police are in charge.

So yesterday was speedwork Thursday. I haven't done any speedwork since before my injury in July, so it was time to get back on the horse. Decided on my favorite workout of 3 x 1 miles with a goal of under 7 minute pace. My course is flat and straight, along the beach bikepath. Lots of fun in the dark to be burning past other walkers and runners and bikers at full speed. Felt strong and knocked out a 6:52, 6:58 and 6:51, with the feeling that I can push toward sub 6:50 next time.
Company "Holiday" party tonight. Life is good!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Endurance Test

Today I planned to kick off my marathon training with a nice long run. Although I have done three pikermis in the last two months, I haven't gone more than 13.1 miles since my last marathon in March. So given that i was in decent shape for 13, I skipped over 14 and went right to 15 miles. And then I added to the difficulty factor by choosing my toughest, hilliest route; up to Palos Verdes. This route has several long hills, about 300 feet total climb. Not my normal run along the beach.
Also, this year I am doing my long runs faster. I tried the LSD approach last year, forcing myself to slow down to 9 minute pace for my long runs. Well, I didn't get the results I wanted, so this year I am going to be running comfortably, but pushing it close to MGP (8:10) for long chunks during my long runs.
It was a perfect running day, overcast, 50's. First 3 miles were flat: 8:47, 8:30, 8:14. Then the next two were mostly straight up, 9:15, 8:35. The next 5 were rolling: 8:26, 8:07, 8:09, 8:33, 8:23. I was pretty tired by this point but I had mostly downhill and flat to get home. I wanted to stay under 8:30 effort. Next two were downhill: 7:59, 7:51. Then a short break for water, and 3 miles to get home. Wanted to keep the effort up, although I was tired and the legs were heavy. But I managed to keep it going. Felt almost like race effort toward the end, that is if you are dying and just trying to survive - must not give in and slow down - like the end of my last pikermi. Last 3: 8:31, 8:19, 8:18. total time 2:06 or 8:24 pace.
I give myself a B+ on that test. Good solid effort. Long way to go to get to 26 at 8:10 pace, but I've got time and a good plan. Next time I have to remember my body glide though. Ouch!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sixteen Weeks and Counting

Well, I have been a busy little racer, with 6 races in the last 8 weeks, but now it is time to settle in for some serious training. I am signing up tomorrow for the Los Angeles Marathon, and I already have my training outline ready, with long runs scheduled. All my racing didn't seem to wear me out - on the contrary, I feel better than ever and my results have been surprising. I haven't done any speed work since June, yet I ran a 3 mile at near 5K PR pace without too much effort. So I'm feeling pretty confident and already have my goals set for the marathon.
A goal: BQ - of course - under 3:36
B goal: Beat last year's time of 3:52:28
C goal: Anything under 4:00 would still be good
So over the next 16 weeks I want to get in 4 runs every week, instead of the three I mostly did last year. I want to do some speed work nearly every week - mainly mile repeats or tempos. I want to do my long runs with more marathon pace miles (8:10) in the second half of the runs. I want to do 4 long runs of 20 to 22 miles. Then I will just pray for good weather and do my best.
Today I did 9 miles after 5 miles yesterday. I am working in my new Brooks Ghosts. They feel OK, but I do have a funny pain just under my ankle bone on one foot when I am walking. I didn't notice it running. I think I will alternate with my old shoes for a while to get used to them. Here are my splits:
8:49, 8:38, 8:34, 8:16, 7:55, 8:13, 8:06, 7:54, 7:49!
So the last 5 averaged 7:59 and felt like good moderate effort. The idea of running 26 at that pace still seems pretty tough, but you gotta have tough goals, right?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful for TWO PRs today! A TTRR

Today was our local Turkey Trot - A nice 3 Miler (NOT a 5K) that is in its 31st year and draws over 3,000 people. Lots of walkers, dogs, families, etc. But also high school cross county teams running together for fun and the usual serious runners. It is a fun race, and the course is flat (and fast!) No chips, no scoring or placing. So Mr. G would be my official time.
Last night I pulled up my race spreadsheet to see what my course record is. This is my 7th time running this race since 1999, but I found out that my best time was 22:07 from 4 years ago! That is only 7:22 pace, and I have been under 7 for 5K's lately, so despite my post pikermi fatigue, I realized I'd better go get that course record! Not only that, but I haven't run any other 3 mile races since High school cross country, so this could be a true lifetime PR for a 3 mile road race!
So I plotted to go out at 7:30 pace and then pick it up and felt pretty confident!
This morning broke cold, but clear. Near record lows for the area - temps in the low 40s. Perfect for racing! I got down to shorts and a T and did a nice long warmup. Went two whole miles - I don't think I've ever done such a long warmup, but I wanted to get in a few more miles, and work out the kinks since I haven't run since Sunday's Pikermi. Plus it was COLD and the warmup really, well, warmed me up!
Bang! Off we went, and I felt good. Too good apparently as G showed me a 6:23 after about 0.2. Eased off a bit, and found a comfortably fast pace. But I was still in the 6:40's through half a mile. So I readjusted the goals, and decided I could go for sub 7 pace. Went through mile 1 in 6:46. Yes! Feeling good!
I got to run with and pass a couple guys from my running group, and that helped with the motivation. Mile 2 I was staying strong, and went through in 6:53. Coming into mile 3 the pain was picking up, and the legs were getting heavy, but I still had some acceleration in me. It was an out and back course and I was still going by slow walkers with only 1/4 mile to go! Huge parade of people! A really fun festive environment.
Finished strong with mile 3 in 6:40 for a final time of 20:27! (3.02 miles) PR by 1:40!
I want to talk about the feeling in that first minute after the finish line. It is a combination of complete exhaustion as I gasp for air, along with a happy sense of accomplishment. Of course there is pain, but there is also elation. As the pain fades and the endorphins continue, it is one of the best feelings. Everyone around is going through it as well, even if we aren't talking, there is a sense of camaraderie and shared awesomeness. I don't feel I'm explaining it well enough, but I love that minute.
That 2nd PR, you may ask? Well today's 5 miles put my 2010 total to 872 miles - over last year's total, making it my highest year since 1981, so that's an age-group PR for yearly miles. Boo-yah!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am ready for some well earned feasting!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crossing the Country to Run Some Cross Country - A Race Report

Hi Loopies! Well I had a fun-filled weekend, and I finally have enough time to get it down on paper, with pictures, splits, and everything.
In case you're new here, let me say that this was the final race of a busy autumn. After an injury had me out of running for 6 weeks in the summer, I had about 6 weeks to get back in shape, because I had 3 pikermis in 4 weeks! Four weeks ago was a triumphant 1:42:41 at the LA RNR. Two weeks ago I topped that with a 1:41:55 at Loopfest. And now I had one more race at the Tampa X-Country Half Marathon.
This was part of my annual get together with some high school teammates and friends. We play lots of golf, eat, drink, play poker, and always finish with a race. I flew out from LA Thursday and got introduced to the new X-ray process at security. Let's just say that somebody back there got to see the full bangle. Friday and Saturday I put in 36 holes of golf, and cemented my position as the worst golfer of the bunch. Add in plenty of rich food and alcohol and you could say my pre-race planning was not optimal. But I was having a great time.
Sunday awoke with mostly clear skies, a predicted high of 82, and I had some trepidation with my cereal. Well, we were going to have fun. Time was irrelevant, I kept telling myself. But of course, I wanted to beat my last time. Realistically, with the trail running and the heat, I planned to stay near 8 minute pace and just try to stay relaxed and see what happened. Of course there was also the competition, as I had 4 friends running with me, and as the favorite, I kind of had to beat them all. Two of them are at about the same speed as me, so we planned to run together for a while.
So we get to the course, in a big beautiful state park. Lots of trees and meadows. The course is almost all trails - some single track, mostly double. Dirt, grass, lots of roots, but no rocks. Lots and lots of turns and small ups and downs, although no major hills, unless you live somewhere flat - like Florida. I was excited to get to meet another loopster, and I managed to find catchowder before the race started. Not much time to talk but we got a pic. I must add that she seems friendlier and nicer in person than her somewhat more cynical loop persona. (And I love funny cynics) But then that's what people said about me too. Wish we had more time to talk  after the race, but I had to get going and catch a plane.

So, race time! I am going to steal Dave Schultz's RR style and go mile by mile:
Mile 1 - 7:54: About 170 people start the half on an asphalt road, and after about 1/4 mile we thin out enough to get on the trails. I am running with K and M, both of who started too fast last year, only to have me pass them in mile 11. This year they vowed to hang back with my pacing help. Garmin says 7:15 early and we ease off and try to relax. Crowded, but not too, as we hit the trails.
Mile 2 - 8:18: Hmm. Feels harder than that. I guess the trail running makes it slower. Still with K and M. Trying to not go too fast. I let them lead for a while.
Mile 3 - 8:04: Really enjoying the trails and scenery. So fun! Feeling good.
Me, M and K

Mile 4 - 7:48: A woman passed us here and we ran with her for a while. Then I hit a downhill stretch and took the lead, and started going after the next runner. I felt good, and said what the hell, let's push it for a while. K and M let me go, and I must admit I was thinking, "good, I can make a break and then they will never catch me. Bwahahaha!" Competition is evil.
Mile 5 - 7:53: Still feel good - reeling in runners, pushing the pace a bit/
Mile 6 - 8:04: Ditto
Mile 7 - 7:55: Still feel good. I am under 8 minute pace and thinking I can break 1:45. I love trails! Is that a smile?

Mile 8 - 8:20: Oh crud - what have I done? Breaking out of the trees, the rest of the race would have a lot more of the open meadows and sunlight. It's getting hot. Suddenly, I am content to stay behind runners and not pass them. The legs are getting heavy. My mojo is fading.
Mile 9 - 8:03: Still hanging on with a couple of other runners. Revising my goals to finishing without walking.
Mile 10 - 8:52: Stopping at the water breaks now, and there was two in this mile. Still moving OK, but wary of the last 3 miles. Take my one Gu.
Mile 11 - 8:40: Taking it one chunk at a time now. Over this rise, to that tree. Everyone else seems to be having the same issues. It is hot. Only a few people passed me in the last few miles. I think of the people doing the marathon, some of whom I am passing. Sounds miserable.
Mile 12 - 8:27: Feeling OK. The wheels haven't fallen off yet. Very thirsty. Still running though. Feels a lot slower.
Mile 13 - 8:35: OK, I'm going to make it. Garmin is over 13, and I see no sign of a finish. What I do see is long stretches of fine white sand that I have to run through! Anger is good motivation and I know I'm almost there, so I keep plugging, even passing some people.
A photographer and crowd noise appears! I throw up a victory pump!

I get to the finish in 1:50:19 (13.41 miles). Considering the heat and the trails I am very content with that. My buddies finished at 1:57 and 1:59, and two more behind that. Later I found I got 5th in my age group, and 32nd male. Top 30 won a thermos. Oh well.
After refueling, drinking a few gallons, and taking use of the open air shower, I felt much better. And I thought of catchowder out there for an extra hour! Ugh. Heard stories from my buddies of woods pooping, and people falling in the mud. All in all, I really loved the race. Soon we had to head back and get ready to go. Six hours later I was on a plane and heading back cross-country. Mission accomplished.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Loopfest part 2 - cause I got more to say

Picture this. You're at a party and you're chatting with Zamgirl about her awesome marathon. Then you turn to your side and talk with running chick about getting to watch a race filled with your best friends. Then you grab some awesome home made cookies from Slake and watch her goof around with Greg and a bunch of loop kids in the back yard. Then maybe you turn and chat with senior runner or atombuddy about the race they ran together, or peek in on sfschas who is working the room like nobody's business, handing out Yuenglings. Then you spend some time with the awesomeness that is mildsauce, who is not quite as crazy in person, but has an artist's gift with facial expression, and thankfully does not make up nearly as many words while speaking as when she is writing. Then maybe you listen to evansjamie talk about finishing her FIRST pikermi, or bask in the real glow of Alice's 600-watt smile. Throw in the pleasure of meeting loop spouses and hearing other sides of their personalities. A little musical interlude with a master violinist and hostess. Look around and there's more loopers - King Coffee, Junblack, ShaunP, Erhead, everywhere you turn. It is head spinning! I feel like Tron entering the laptop and actually entering the mythical Loop. But it is real. Like going to a wax museum full of celebrities, but not only do they come to life, but they tell you they are your best friend.

That's what this weekend felt like.

And it just makes me want to meet all you other guys who weren't there: Ritz and Sara and Dave Schultz and Texas Dan and oh I could go on and on.

See ya.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Loopsterfest and Marshall University Pikermi RR

Well, there's already been lots of gushing, and there will be more to come, and I'll just say it's all deserved. The Loop has created a community like no other, and when we get together it's just magical. Outsiders may not understand when we say we're flying across country to meet a bunch of strangers we met on the internet. But we know. We're meeting up with some of our closest friends - the people we "hang out" with every day - the people who share our passion, understand the craziness, know what it means when we break PRs, or suffer through downtime, or celebrate just finishing your longest run ever. I was incredibly happy, emotional, and just kind of astounded at how amazing and just FUN this weekend was. After finishing my race, I had a huge runner's high, and sharing it with all you folks and seeing you finish was just crazy fun!
OK, now let me tell you about my race.
Race day forecast kept getting colder and colder and it was 20 something at dawn. Made this thin-blooded Californian a little nervous, but without any significant wind, and a little sunshine, it turned out to be nearly perfect conditions. Sure I actually had to wear long pants for once, but I ditched the extra shirt and the gloves by mile 2 and rocked my Team Pikermi shirt the rest of the way. (I got one Pikermi convert who liked my shirt)
Race plan was to go out at 8 minute pace and see how I felt and then do my best. Sassafras and I started together with the same plan and settled in at the same pace. It was great to run together with him. We were talking and having fun. The pace was reasonable and I felt good. Check out these Junblack-esque splits: 8:05, 7:50, 7:51, 7:51, 7:51, 7:49, 7:58, 7:50.
Sass and I were just cruising along. We got to run with ShaunP for a mile or two. The course was littered with loopsters! The only thing that would have been better was if there was an out and back where we could cheer each other.
Eight miles down. Felt great - almost like a training run. The course was virtually flat, and a little bit down for the rest of the way, so I felt comfortable starting to push it. Nine and ten were 7:38 and 7:36. Feeling the effort now but still in good control. We pushed it up a little more. Mile 11 was 7:23. Now I was hitting max effort, but I felt good I could keep it up. However Sass had an extra gear in his back pocket and pulled away. I tried to draft off his energy as long as I could but he disappeared like the Road Runner in a puff of dust! Sand Bagger!
Mile 12 was 7:26 and I hit mile 13 knowing I was looking at a good time. I hung on and posted a 7:22 for mile 13. Just before I reached the stadium I passed a guy in a Batman suit. Because no one likes to get beat by a freaking costume. (Later I found out Spiderman ran a 1:30 or something crazy) Entering the stadium and hearing and seeing Loopster cheers was fantastic! I got to do the finish with a football and run down the middle of the football field to the finish - very cool! Final official time: 1:41:59! A nice 42 second improvement from 2 weeks ago! I'll take it! And I felt good - no wall or significant torturous suffering. The mojo was back!
For over two hours we hung out on the field and cheered for loopster finishes and enjoyed the warming day. Did I mention it was an awesome experience? Later we all partied again at another wonderful spread of food and drink and got to hear SR sing and just had fun as long as we could although we were all getting pretty pooped out.
A big thanks to everyone who made this weekend work! You know who you are. I'll drop some pictures in later once I get home.
Oh, I went out for a Five Guys Burger tonight - my first. Awesome!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Missing - One Mojo - Reward Offered

I'm starting to think 3 pikermis in 4 weeks is a bit more than I can handle.
Fresh off a very satisfactory pikermi on 10/24 (see report here), I had high hopes for a repeat performance two weeks later in West, by God, Virginia. But all of my runs since then I have felt sluggish. I rested three days, did an easy 4 on Thursday, then tried 9 on Saturday, and it was just dreadful! No fun, slow, wanted to quit. I managed to finish, but it wiped me out for the day.
Took two more days off and ran 7 last night, but again, I was sluggish, and it felt a lot harder than it should. I guess that is normal after a hard race that I wasn't exactly properly trained for. But for the week BEFORE a race, it just WILL NOT DO!
So I am trying to convince myself to just make it a fun run. Trot along with some loopers and enjoy myself. Sounds better than pushing myself, suffering alone the whole way and probably not getting a great time anyway. So, fellow loopfesters, please hold me to this strategy! Unless of course I feel mojo-rific after the first mile...
Trying to figure out what to wear in 31 degree temps. Dang cold! It is over 90 today in LA. Wish I could box up10-20 degrees and bring it with me.
If you find my mojo, the reward will be of equal karmic and monetary resale value as one black market mojo.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Halloween Pictorial Tribute to my Dear Wife

My wife's favorite holiday is today, so I will honor her by showing you some of her greatest hits. Not all of these are from Halloween. She delights in dressing up for her day job, at a primary school. Any reason is good enough to dress up.
She is not the girl that picks out the "Sexy Nurse" or the "Sexy Kitten" costumes. In fact it seems like nothing remotely sexy ever comes out of the dressing room. The more hideous the better. And then she "accents" it with facial grotesquery.
Our first Halloween she went as the "before" picture for Extreme Makeover, and I got big points for just admitting I was her date all night long and not slipping out the back door and making a run for it.
So without further ado - my lovely wife!
Ready to do the thriller dance!
Did I mention she was from Kentucky?
Just frightening.
Looks like the Cat got into a bottle.
OK, that's kind of sexy...
One trashy zombie!
Very groovy!
Who's that guy?
What's that, a smile?
Just for fun
What a turkey!
What a joker!
My favorite costume!
I love you, honey!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Rolled and I Rocked! L.A. RNR Pikermi Report

I don't know why I still get so nervous for every race. After over 200 of these, you would think I would get a little nonchalant. But no, I was waking up every hour the night before. Had the queasy stomach. Ugh. But it's all part of the deal. I love racing! 
Goal today was to run a strong 13 miles and prove I have the endurance. I told myself to get under 1:45 which is almost exactly 8 minute miles. I wanted to start easy, maybe 8:20-8:30, then get down to 8 minute miles and finish strong under 8. The course is net downhill, with a few steep hills, but the last 3 miles mostly downhill. Felt pretty confident going in. Like this guy.

Out of the house at 5:15. Here was the sunrise view as I boarded a shuttle bus at 6.

The organization for this race was awesome! Everything ran smoothly. There were hundreds of port a potties, so reasonable lines. 20 corrals helped separate the runners by time, so I had no poky walkers to dodge around. The finish area was huge and ran smoothly. Parking was easy. Shuttle buses to the start worked fine. Kudos to RNR!
So mile 1 is downhill. I'm trying to relax, and I kept it to 7:49. A little quick, but not bad. Mile 2 was 7:51, so I had apparently "found" my comfort zone. Then miles 3-4 were more downhill at 7:37, 7:41. Oh boy, I am banking some time here! I'm kicking myself a little because it feels close to 10K pace, and there is a LONG way to go. I try to slow down, but oh it is so hard! The sun came out here and I started to feel tired in mile 5. Tired, already!? What have I done?! I kind of figured it would be a tough last 5 miles at this point. And then I felt a blister starting up under my toe. Shoot Feathers!
And then we hit the first of several good size hills. Maintain effort, I tell myself. Just keep it steady. Pace goes up over 8 on the hills, but there are many downhills too, so it evens out. Miles 5,6, 7 were 7:50, 7:50, 7:52. Strangely as I go over the hills I start to feel stronger. Mile 8 I got my confidence back. Oh, I was hurting, but I still had forward momentum, and was passing people, and had the feeling I was going to make it. By now I thought sub 1:45 was in the bag unless I bonked, and 1:44 was likely as well! Maybe even under 1:43! Mile 8 - 7:37!
One 1/2 mile long hill at mile 9 was the worst, but I was maintaining pretty well and I knew the last 3 were downhill so I kept pushing. I had run this course two years ago, but it is slightly different now, so what was mile 12 is now mile 10. Two years ago, once I crested the last hill it was a short downhill to the finish, but this year there was still almost 3 miles to go. Ugh! Miles 9 and 10 were 7:42 and 7:52. Nasty short steep hill at 10.5, which 2 years ago brought me to a walk, but I trotted over it and regathered my oxygen for the finish. I was flailing my arms and banzai-ing down a long steep hill here and knew I just had to cruise it in, but my body was not very happy with me! Mile 11 in 7:54.
In mile 12 they throw in one more nasty hill amidst all the downhill, but I still had enough to get over it in good form and head to the finish. Then it was just holding on and saying, you got this, just keep it going. I matched up with one guy who helped me push the pace a bit for about a mile, and i pulled away from him in the end. Big crowds at the finish made for a great wall of noise and I cruised into victory. Mile 12 was 7:53. Mile 13 was 7:35, and the last .23 was at 7:03 pace! Total time 1:42:41! Woo Hoo! It's Banana time!

Here I am at mile 12.5, wearing the colors.

The blister didn't turn out to be too bad - just an annoyance. I'm pretty wiped out, but very happy with the race! On to Marshall!
Here I am with Smiley.