Sunday, March 30, 2008

That was the week that wasn't...but was cool anyway!

This week has been a training write off, with the departure of the in-laws (I should qualify after several nominations for sainthood that they didn’t actually stay 6 months in one block, it was two 3 month visits with two weeks off for Christmas and 3 weeks where they went to Canada, Mexico and New Mexico for a week each) so it really was cool and everyone can hold off on those halos!

With spring break upon us there was a shift in the my role as part time SAHD, part time Business Consultant, part time full time job hunter (anyone need a Project Manager/Business Analyst?), the end result; no running, in fact no anything! Tuesday through Friday was spent at the swimming pool, local train museum; (what 3 year old boy doesn’t like trains?), LA's Natural History Museum (ditto dinosaurs!) and the Zoo (and a big tiger and lima (Zaboomafoo) fan as well), a large proportion of spent with eldest on my shoulders and youngest in the stroller! Anyone who has been to the LA Zoo will know that it is built at the bottom of a hill with the exhibits placed on the slopes…deep joy! But it has to be said that quality time with the boys is great and I am privileged to have it.

I did manage to stretch and foam roll the culprit IT bands several times and they are definitely loosening up. So in an attempt to start the week of with a bang, I headed out on the bike this morning. I had a little extra time in my back pocket and the plan was to tack on a loop to my existing ride and break through the 50 mile mark. The weather of course was forecast not to co-operate and I had to consider the possibility of a shower and as DCRainmaker, who was competing in the California Half Ironman experienced it was a windy day, although I am not sure why he is complaining about hills, (j/k), he did kick my butt timewise and way to go for a new PR. Anyway I added on the extra loop and spent just under four hours in the saddle for a total of just over 55 miles, 5500’ feet of climbing and an average speed of 13.9.

Here's the Motion Based data:

And there are some bad photos here.

I'll be lacing them up this week so my bike mileage will decrease as such, next Sunday I have the modestly named Great Race of Agoura half marathon, that will signal the start of my taper for Leona Divide which is 20 days away!

I am starting to think about what's next and have a couple of ideas, this is one (to be done solo) and here's another (the "Full"), you know me, I am not one to do things by half!

Here's a teaser for the upcoming sock post!

Are you?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Absent With Out bLogging

I am still alive, I know you were all wondering, I have been subject to planes, trains, the Easter Bunny and Spring Break, life has suddenly overtaken my blogging habits! A quick recap:

~Last week on the bike around 85 miles or so; ok
~Lots of stretching and foam rolling; good
~Lots of easter eggs; bad
~Departing in laws after a six month stay; good and bad all at once
~No running; also good and bad all at once
~ITB & knee etc; feels good
~Finished my PMP prep courses and scored a B or higher in all; good
~Lots of revision before the exam; bad

I came across this searching for an image for this post, it seems that easter eggs are not the only thing that's bad for your health!

OK that's it for now, sock report to follow, I know you're all on the edge of your chairs!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back in the saddle...

As mentioned on Thursday, this week I have been focusing on putting in some quality time on my bike mostly on the trainer in the garage which, as anyone who has a trainer will know, has a finite level of interest, currently about 20 miles or so, I have also concentrating on stretching and foam rolling my ITB.

I had planned to shoot for a 100 mile week on the bike and by this weekend it was well within reach:

Sunday; 17.02
Monday; Rest, I had a late night airport pick up at LAX
Tuesday; 18.01
Wednesday; 20.14
Thursday; 18.10
Friday; Rest

Total; 65.17

Saturday morning had an early start, the alarm went off at 5:15 and I was out the door by 6:00am. On the way down the hill from my house I realized that I was somewhat underdressed, I was rather glad that I had added a pair of running tights, albeit at the last moment to my pile of clothes that I had sorted out the night before. It was here that I stared at the pool of light thrown by my bike’s light and my headtorch and started to dread any form of downhill. Fortunately the first 3 miles were on the flat followed a short two mile climb, this helped to get the blood flowing, unfortunately this was followed by a short descent and then a longer one over 15 miles mostly in the dark and mostly with me gritting my teeth against the cold interspersed with me screaming in an attempt to distract my mind from my steady loss of feeling in my fingers and toes. After an hour of this daylight arrived, the sun was still behind the mountain ridge and there was little warmth in the air. I made my way west towards Malibu and the Pacific Coast Highway heading towards the last major pre-dawn downhill with gritted teeth and some yelling, this drew an odd look from a couple of early surfers who where getting into their wetsuits, I was on the flat and finally warming up from some pedaling action. The sun made an appearance from behind the mountains and I could see it glint of the spray as the waves crashed onto the sandy shoreline.

The return leg of this section goes through Topanga Canyon, this is a long climb from sea level to the summit at just under 1500’ over the course of 15 miles, I thought I was making good timing and managed to push up the steepest section of the climb at a fair pace averaging around 7-8mph. I rode through Topanga Village and settled into a nice comfortable pace with a pretty good cadence, around 85rpm, then I got “chicked” I did not hear her behind me, she rode past, nodded and disappeared off around the next bend, I never saw her again yet alone caught up with her! I consoled myself by saying I was a runner anyway, but even so.

I finished the climb and dropped into the San Fernando Valley, to be honest I dislike downhills like this it's too fast and very twisty, it’s not helped by drivers who are determined to draft off of me even though I am in the little lane off to the side of the road, but I managed to get down in a fashion. I had one eye on the time and had said I would be back around 9.30 this left me 40 minutes. I had covered about 35 miles and I knew the route back would add another 5, I then thought I could push for 50 miles, this would be the longest ride since I rode the London to Brighton charity ride in 1998. A little kink on my route added a few extra miles and I rode past my turning focusing on a small loop that I run occasionally which I knew would be around 8 miles. I was against the clock now and was counting backwards on the mileage, I completed the loop and was on the home stretch which was a half mile along the main road and then a short climb back to my house. I arrived back at my house at 9:45am, fashionably late, with 47.52 miles on my Garmin, not quite the 50 miles, another 10 minutes would have done it but that leaves me wanting more.

So my final Garmin stats for the week:

I have no idea how this fares compared to cyclist or a triathlete, but for me, well, I am very pleased. My knee is sore, but a good sore, like I worked it hard not it’s injured so some ice etc will take care of that. One more week and then I'll strap on my running shoes and see how my ITB fares. It's another five weeks to Leona Divide

Here is the Motion Based data:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My mileage nemesis!

I have been taking it easy since my run last Saturday. I was trying to link up two trail runs and navigate cross country across two canyons from Las Virgenes through to Cheesboro. If you click on the picture you can see the route in Google Earth. From all the rain we had earlier in the year the landscape is so green and lush and that day my feet took a good soaking from the early morning dew, this of course means it'll all turn to tinder come the summer!

Here are the photos from the run and some video from the northern point along the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail, it sounds a lot windier than it was and the wind provided a welcome drop in temperatures, even though I had started at 7:30am it was up into the high 70's by the time I finished and this week we've seen the temperature in the high 80's, although this weekend it's forecast to rain again!

The good news was that I managed to make the link and had an awesome trail run through to about mile 11, from there I started to feel some twinges in my left knee, my mile 14 it was a definite nag and by mile 16 I was done in, I spent the last four miles run/walking it in and managed to get tiger stripes sunburn where I had missed bits with the factor 50 on my shoulder!

This knee business seems to be contagious at the moment with both Doug and Robin suffering from it, maybe I need to look at my firewall settings, is it like a computer virus; I can see it now you get an email attachment "Click here for great legs" and you end up launching the "GammyKnee" virus, ok it's late and I digress, however maybe we should all get together for a three legged race, we could just about muster up the three good legs needed between us!

With hindsight I probably maxed it out for the week, 65 miles in a week seems to be my nemesis and it gets me every time. It feels like it’s my IT Band flaring up again and I have been concentrating on my stretches and some foam rolling I have also been spending some quality miles on the trainer with over 65 miles in 40 days, I am striving for that 20miles/1hr ride average and the best I can manage is a 10 miles/31:55 or 20miles/1:12:05, so any tips from cyclists/triathletes are welcome. I am going to stick with the bike for the next 10 days and avoid the call of my new and shiny Kayano 14s that are tempting me with their new shoe smell and extra large gel insert from my closet.

Check in for my next post; it's all about socks...yes my life is that exciting!

Here's the Garmin data, it's a figure of eight starting from the rights going bottom right to top left, along the out'n'back and then bottom left to top right:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The VP of 3P

Runners Lounge Take it and Run Thursday this week is all about Gadgets, Gear and Equipment. With that in mind I wanted to introduce you to my little friend, here he is and he is little but when I have a bad day boy can he kick my butt! He is the VP of 3P; pace, performance and perseverance he is Virtual Partner! He is a duathlete; he rides a bike; both mountain and road and he runs; roads and trails and he is always just ahead or just behind me!

I admit that I am a running gadget freak, my side table drawer is laden with them; Polar watches, iPod, Nike+, several abandoned MP3 players, stopwatches, extra headphones, Bluetooth thingys and cables, chargers and batteries for all of them and more. One gadget that never gets a coating of dust, well unless I am running through the desert, which happens, is my trusty Garmin 305. My 305, you have got to love this thing, I have had mine nearly a year have piled on over 1000 miles on it and it’s never let me down. It has a feature rich menu of options which I won’t go into in depth as I know a lot of you have one but the VP is one I have only started using recently and at the moment only on my road bike while on the trainer. To do this you need to use the Garmin Cadence Monitor which is easy to fit, self calibrating and costs around $30. Another sensible option is the quick release strap which allows you mount the watch body onto your handlebars and gives you a longer strap that can go over clothing if you running in the winter, ok enough of the Garmin product placement. Programming VP is a cinch, distance and time are the two setting and it calculates you pace for you combine this with the pace alert, press start and you’re in good shape.

For the solo trainer like myself the VP provides some stiff competition, he never warms up or eases off nor does he draft! He never gets injured, well unless you really drop him and he will be there come rain or shine. For a runner he provides a sensible balance and makes getting on the bike more fun through the addition of a little competition. After you workout you can use Garmin Training Centre to compare runs/rides to see where and if you’re improving, you should be improving right?!?

Go on, press Mode and dig into that menu, your Virtual Partner is waiting to be unleashed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

XXIII Los Angeles Marathon

295:1, odds of me winning the LA Marathon? No. My bib number? No. My finishing position within my age group? Well strangely yes! But more pertinent the ratio of porta potties to runners in the starting area. Can you say “wait in line”!

It really did not bode well, I had parked my car downtown about a mile from the finish line and caught the Metro to start line at Universal Studios, I had allowed an hour at the start, this was whittled down to 45 minutes by the time I arrived, it was there that I found myself in porta pottie hell. I will spare you the details but by the time I was ready to join the starting crowd, I was grateful for the 15 minutes delay in the start and I found myself mixed in with the 13-14 minute pace group…whoops!

Apparently somewhere a gun went off, this being LA several people ducked behind cars, for myself a combination of being so far back from the start line and the traffic flying above our heads on the 101 Freeway blotted it out but with the wave momentum of 20,000 or so other runners I surged, well, stepped forward. I will say up front that this was a work up race for Leona Divide next month and was a good opportunity for a long run; going into it I had a target time of 3:58, around a 9:05 pace, and had the back up that if I was feeling strong I would have pushed the gas a little for a 3:45 finish, this was not expected as I had been nursing a tender knee for the last two weeks and had had a sore throat for the two days preceding.

I’ll spare you a mile by mile account and break it up into nice manageable chunks. The first five miles were spent rubbing shoulders with lots of other runners and walkers, there was a distinct carnival atmosphere and many friends were running/walking line abreast, a little frustrating and you had to weave you way around them, strangely around the two mile mark we were going downhill and there seemed to be more walkers than runners at this point, we passed the Hollywood Bowl, well at least we passed the parking lot of the Hollywood Bowl. The route meandered through North Hollywood, running through the junction of Hollywood and Highland along Sunset Boulevard and turning south down Vine Street. My first five miles splits were 9:59, 9:20. 8:36, 8:38 and 8:19 so after a slow start I was finding my groove. Shortly after mile 5 we took a different route, the original route had us running down Rossmore Avenue, but for some reason we were directed into a small residential street of N. Lucerne Boulevard, while the tree line road provided us with some welcome shade and the residents were out in force with mini aid stations, the problem was the classic funnel or bottle neck 4 lanes into two resulting in a squeeze. A left and a right and we were back on the main street only to be redirected again into a residential road; another bottleneck! The following five miles we weaved our way through pretty non-descript residential areas finally arriving at the half way point. My splits through to the halfway point were 8:29, 8:36, 8:30, 8:33, 8:31, 8:19, 8:16 and 8:26.

The second half could have been a different race altogether, by my calculations I was about 6 minutes ahead of schedule and everything was going pretty well; a nagging hot spot on the bottom of my big toe took my mind of things for a few miles, this would turn into a blister but I tuned it out around mile 20. We headed through Exposition Park and ran past the Coliseum, of ’84 Olympic fame and home to USC’s Trojans, this kept my interest through to about mile 16. My pace was pretty consistent and I was playing the math out in my head, my splits for mile 14 through 20 were: 9:02, 8:59. 9:03, 9:16, 9:19. 9:53 and 10:10 and I was slipping behind schedule for the sub 4:00 finish. It was around here where I got hit by boredom; the constant plodding through incredibly boring concrete landscape combined with low crowd support just switched my brain off. I kept thinking mile 16; 10 to go that’s 90 minutes and when I get to mile 20 that’s a 10k left. I seemed to work and before I really knew it I was at Mile 20, I took a short walk break through the aid station and likewise at 21, 22 and 23, my splits reflect the drop in pace; 11:22, 11:25 and 11:17. By this time the temperature had picked up and we were running threw mostly unshaded areas. At mile 24 I managed to shrug off the funk knowing that there was about 20 minutes to go, the scenery had improved and we had run past the Staples Centre and several entertainments stands with Japanese Taiko drummers banging out the beat to give you that extra push to the finish.

The mile 26 marker straddled the street and was followed by a right hand turn and saw the last point two uphill to the finish line. I switched off my Garmin and while wandering through the chutes collected my medal. I stopped by the usual finisher’s stands and contemplated waiting in line for a massage; I changed my mind when I saw the number of people in front of me, continuing the theme from the start of the day. My last splits were 10:01, 9:54 and 10:03. My Garmin clocked in at 4:08:04, my chip time; 4:08:21 and the gun time: 4:20:21, reflective of the number of people in front of me at the start line. I found a patch of floor and went through my stretching routine finally able to enjoy the warmth of the sun and then exited the recovery area.

I stopped by a Robeks stand and grabbed a frozen smoothie, some relief for my throat, (and the compulsory brain freeze!) and walked the mile or so back to me car, threaded my way out the multiple road closures and diversions and was back home in half an hour.

Looking back on the day, several things went well and several went bad, some were in my control some not. So good things first, a finish, never assumed or underappreciated, keeping to pretty even pace for the first half, my knee held up well, in fact it feels better for having run and my sore throat was kept at bay with Chloraseptic strips. Nutrition/Hydration wasn’t an issue, I had a fuel belt filled with Perpetuem and a flask of Hammer gel which contained 5 gels consuming 1 every 45 minutes or so added to which I took water externally at most stations to cool me down. I was also popping Hammer Electrolytes at the rate of one an hour. Bad things; the biggest one was going too fast albeit even for the first half, I was running about 20-30 second too fast per mile, a blister; never good but as I mentioned I switched it off at mile 20. Things that were out of my control, well the porta pottie issue I have touched on as well as the bottle necking, I had assumed that arriving 45 minutes early would be sufficient, it wasn’t!

My recovery has been pretty solid, my legs had the usual aches, but I biked 10 miles Monday night, did the same Tuesday morning and ran an easy 7 miles Tuesday night. So several days later the question is I am I glad I ran the race, well yes, getting the distance under my belt was good. Would I run the race again, to be honest probably not, a combination of too many people and too dull a route is enough to send me back to the trails, so that’s where you’ll find me.

I was tasked by DCRainmaker to take photos and to that end I invested the grand sum of $9.99 in one of those tiny cameras you see at the local pharmacy, well suffice to say you get what you pay for, but for those of you who are good at figuring out what pictures are from blurs here they are, of course they are in reverse order??? Thank you to everyone for you words of encouragement last week.

Here you can find the official MarathonPhoto photos, I won't be buying any they are just too expensive, although there some pretty good ones, if I say so myself.

And finally here is the Garmin data.