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?