Saturday, April 26, 2008

Back to business...

A week has passed and I have now regained the use of my legs, the Sunday after race day was an interesting proposition I considered removing the tray from our youngest's high chair and using it as a Zimmer frame but didn’t in the end, oh the shame! I have also picked up a delightful “pack of cigarettes a day cough”, that gave everyone much entertainment as I reeled about in hacking fits which were muted by non functioning muscle groups. My assumption here was that my immune system had just thrown it’s hands up in despair, although it could, I suppose, be that my body was actually channeling an old age pensioner!?!

Going out for dinner Sunday night as a family proved more entertaining for the restaurant patrons, then I, as they pretended not to watch as I groaned and grimaced while sitting down to and getting up from the table. It was beyond fortunate that we live in a ranch style hours with minimum stairs as they proved, shall we say, challenging up until Wednesday as did getting in and out of the car, still I have no one to blame but myself. With hindsight I should have endured a little more pain on the finish line instead and gone through an extended stretching routine rather than the “ow it hurts, it hurts, that’s enough!” one, so let’s call that lesson #1, I’ll list the others below.

2. Think about the mileage your bag will be at when packing it; I packed it pretty well with “may need” items but on the day what I really needed was a fresh tasting drink, the Amino Vital around mile 42 would have helped earlier in the race along with more of it at that station
3. On the drink front I need to find and way of freshening up Perpetuem; maybe mixing it with a gel will help, I just read that you can mix the gels to get extra flavors; raspberry/chocolate or vanilla/coffee, sounds like a fun night in?
4. I need to try the Perpetuem paste theorem; here you fill a small, think 6 oz bottle, full of Perpetuem in a batter consistency and then chase it with water, so maybe a handheld of water and one of drink would work, the problem is that to trial this you need 16+ mile runs
5. Ensure is a great source of calories but only take one bottle at a time; I think taking two at once caused my stomach sensitivity
6. My race vest is always heavy, it’s packed with all sorts of bits and pieces but most of the weight comes from the water, I could drop a lot of weight if I ditched the water.
7. I could actually ditch the whole vest on the last leg or switch to my lighter race vest, the same goes for out and backs where I pass through the same station twice
8. The Hammer products worked well but I need to be more consistent with them, I stopped taking them when my stomach was icky, around mile 30 and I should have least kept taking the Endurolytes, my face was caked with salt by the time I finished
9. Turn off the moving time function on my Forerunner and use the stopwatch one only; this threw off my timing calculations for the first 30 miles as I forgot to allow for the time lost at the stopping at aid stations

This week I have bee re-reading Mark Vestegen’s book Core Performance Endurance and I can see where there are a lot of chinks in my amour that this can fill. I have been looking at the races that are open for me later in the year and there are a couple of ones that appeal Mt Disappointment in August is one and the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run in September is another, the latter gives me an extra 6 weeks so it has more attraction and it also gets me onto the trails of WSER which is not a bad thing either. But first I need to address the ITB and core. So for the next 6-8 weeks I’ll be laying the foundations for those and working on my running base with the remaining time working up to race day. I am going to tear apart my last training program and redesign it, as mentioned previously it’s too long for me and it needs to be paired down, I’ll post it once I have put it together. I’ve enjoyed the week off, kind of, but now it’s back to business!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Leona Divide 50 Mile Run

My alarm was set for 3:15am, apparently it went off, several times in fact, but I finally acknowledged it around 3:40, crap I was late and I hadn’t even started. I had been up late the night packing my drop bags and weighing and measuring the lotions and potions that would see me through the day. I had packed three bags but I actually only used two in the end and had finally crawled into bed around 11pm, fortunately I had been having early(ish) nights through the week in anticipation of a bad/short night the night before. I showered, dressed, had breakfast and headed out the door finally leaving around 4:20am. I had allowed 90 minutes for the drive and in fact in took 75 so I was slowly reclaiming the time. I parked my car, grabbed my bags and went looking for the registration and somewhere to drop spot them off. I collected my number, dropped off my bags and went back to the car to pick up my vest and bottles. I would, for the first time, also be running in an IT bandage, which would hopefully give my ITB some support or at least keep it tied down so tight that it wouldn’t give me any problems, so I wrapped it tightly around my leg and made my way to the start line. I readied myself for the saw blade; tradition has it that the ringing of the blade with a hatchet marks the start of the race and with an unceremonious clang we were off. As observed by Donald it seems inevitable that as the distances get longer the reports do, in an attempt to combat this I’ll break things down into nice manageable chunks.

Mile 1-10. The first ten miles slid by without me really noticing. After the start we headed up, a common theme for this race, and while the speedsters shot of I had in my mind to pace myself all the way, this would comprise of walking the ups and running the flats and downs; a typical strategy. After the first three miles of up the path leveled out and I began to run, around mile 8 I met Catra Corbett who was running with her boyfriend Andy Kumeda and we had a nice chat, Catra was running her third 50 miler in as many weekends! We passed through the first Aid Station and were directed to cross the road. The weather was proving to be changeable, one minute clear blue skies and the next thick billowing cloud would swallow me with gusts of cold damp wind. I decided to record some video as I went round the first section is here. I was surprised at how quickly the runners had spread out and looking ahead and behind you could sometimes see a runner traversing a hillside but even by mile 10 I was on my own.

Mile 11-20. I passed through Aid Station 2 at the 13.4 mile mark after about 2:30 .Up until this point we had been running on dirt roads and it was here we were directed onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), here we would spend the next 33+ miles. The trail is narrow and varies in surface from sand to dirt to solid rock, needless to say it’s not anywhere near flat and in parts it’s really just the least steepest section. Its narrowness makes passing tricky and you have to politely ask or be asked to pass, sometimes this can create a bottle neck until a suitable passing point is reached and this happened once or twice during this section. There was a nice five mile section that was mostly downhill into Aid Station 3 which was located at 20.3 mile mark. My first drop bag was here so I refilled my bottles, drank two bottles of Ensure, and picked up another packet of Hammer pills. I had been taking Endurolytes, Anti Fatigue Caps and Energy Surge about every hour and they were working well in addition I was taking a gel every hour or so. In addition at the Aid Stations I had been grabbing Pringles, M&Ms and, strangely, Sprite, which was really hitting the spot. My ITB was starting to niggle me now so a popped 3 ibuprofen tablets to ward it off. I also bumped into Tanya from Marc and Tanya’s Running Blog, I met Tanya at the Calico Trail 50k in January and we passed a mile or two together.

Mile 21-30. I left the Station and bumped into Xy Weiss the creator of Dirty Girl Gaiters and we had a quick chat. I pushed on up the hill, and recording some more video, this was a two mile climb and over the top for a decent of about a mile into Aid Station 4 at mile 24.5, we then had another decent, this time over 3.5 miles into Aid Station 5. It was in this section that I saw the first of the returning runners; Jorge Pachero was flying up the hill and I assume went on to win, the results have yet to be posted, essentially he was at mile 41 while I was at mile 26! All the descending was starting to mash my quads and what made it all the more disheartening was that I knew I had to climb back the same path as this section was an out and back. We were essentially going from one peak, down into the valley, up over the next peak only to turn around and come back the way we had come in. I had my second bag at this Station so I drank another Ensure, refilled my bottles again, by now the sun had some out and I um’d and ahh’d about taking off my long sleeve shirt and running in a sleeveless vest. I decided that it would be better to be too cold than too hot and stripped off the layer stashing it in my bag. I bid my thanks and farewells and headed out.

Mile 31-40. This was by far the hardest section, the addition of the heat; I managed to get some nice sunburn on my shoulders and head, proving that going to vest was a good idea, and the long climb along with some stomach sensitivity was making it not much fun at all. I eventually reached a section that had some trees that provided some welcome shade and I finally topped out. Here I saw the first female runner, Krissy Moehl, at least I think it was her she was moving so fast tearing up the trail heading down. This part of the PCT was definitely both physically and mentally challenging, you can tell it in my voice, with lots of switchbacks that hugged the contours of the hill and gave you little down and ups, normally these would be taken in a few strides but by now my legs were feeling pretty tired. My ITB was niggling again so another 3 ibuprofen were taken and I retightened the strap around my leg. I made it to Aid Station 6 at the 32 mile mark and had several cups of Sprite, here the volunteers had gone to town and had a Hawaiian theme with leis and coco-nut bras! I headed out into another wooded section that was lined with fir trees, on the floor were some of the biggest pine cones I have ever seen; they were as big as my head! I reached Aid Station 7 at 35.5 miles, this was the turnaround point, in terms of distance this was all unknown territory, my longest previous run only being 31 miles (50k) I knew that I could manage my way back. I skipped Aid Station 8, which was 6 coming from the reverse direction and set off at a steady run knowing that I could make up some time on the downhill section I got into a nice groove and the downhill section rolled by under me. I passed a female runner on the downhill and we both agreed that we were getting very bored of hills, she was looking forward to an uphill…I wasn’t!

Mile 41-50. At mile 42.6 was Aid Station 9, it was 5 coming from the reverse direction. In my bag I had a bottle of Amino Vital and I drank that, I was craving a clean taste and after 6 bottle of Perpetuem my palate was somewhat sour, I think this was why the Sprite was tasting so good. I headed out knowing that I had a little over 7 miles to go but half of it was uphill. I was in full plod mode and was making best use of the relentless forward motion mantra, here I was overtaken by the girl I had previously passed who was chugging up the hill. My stomach had settled down and apart from the obvious tiredness I was feeling pretty good. I made my way up the final Aid Station 10 at mile 46.1 here I was told that I had another mile or so up and then it was downhill all the way. I was thinking to myself which would be worse the up of the down, it proved to be the latter. I set off at a brisk walk up the hill and just after a mile I was greeted with the downhill, I really did my best to run this last section but it ended up being a walk-run-walk most of the way. Finally I could see the car park and the start line and then shortly afterwards I exited the track and was running through the finish line.

I ended up finishing in 11:24 and change the actual results are yet to be posted.

So now a few days later I have had time to reflect. Overall I was pleased with my performance, I stuck to my original walk/run strategy and despite not having really put any significant mileage in over the last 4-6 weeks my fitness level was pretty good, one thing for sure helped me were the few months of back to back long run weekends as did actually training on the trails rather than just accumulating the miles running the roads. Running on trails is just so much more demanding. One thing I need to do more of is “train terrain” that is if I am going to race over hills, I need to train over hills ditto for mountain, I need to actually look up their definitions! My ITB held up, a combination of a slow pace and the strap (and ibuprofen) ensured that it was a relative non issue, although it was only when I got in the shower that I realized that perhaps I had had the strap too tight as it had cut into my leg drawing blood front and rear! I can say quite emphatically that the jump from 50k to 50m is a big one and a 50 miler is significantly more than 2 back to back marathons certainly from a mental standpoint. My nutrition/hydration was ok, I was, perhaps, a little dehydrated at the end and I need to think about alternatives to Perpetuem as, as mentioned, it kills your palate. According to my Forerunner I burnt off 5716 calories and I conservatively consumed somewhere between 3500-4000 so while I was in a deficit in the end it wasn’t too bad. For those of you interested; the preceding night I had chicken and mushroom risotto, followed by Greek yogurt and honey and for breakfast a bowl of Natures Path Optimum Power, a cinnamon bagel with pb&j, and a cup of coffee. I also drank a bottle of Amino Vital in the car on the way.

Looking forward I need to work on my ITB and free it off, treating the cause rather than the symptoms and in fact as a whole my core needs some attention. I am really noticing that my core is weak especially post race now that I am hobbling around the house like an old man! As they say it only hurts when I move. Additionally I need to drop 10lbs or so, the lack of any real running this year has meant that the pounds have crept back on. So the plan moving forward will be to address my ITB and core over the next 8 weeks or so and during that time construct my new training program, the last one a modified Hal Higdon lasted 20 weeks and in my mind that is too long, 14-15 weeks I feel is long enough so I can avoid another overuse injury…at least that’s the plan.

I have uploaded my photo’s here and here’s the MotionBased data:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This one's for Marcy!

After totalling my rear wheel last weekend, I have be pawing over ebay looking for a new one (set). A quick correspondence with DCRainmaker put me in touch with The Wrench over at Wrenched By Winz, (you have got to love blog networking), it’s a great blog if you’re even remotely interested in bikes and it's pretty cool if you're not. The Wrench provided me some comments and feedback on a few makes, models and sets etc that I had been perusing online namely; Mavic, ALX or Cane Creek.

Well today I scored. A nice set of Cane Creek Aerohead SGs, albeit used but in, I am told “like new” condition, complete with tires; yay, no skewers; boo. Retail price new $550, ebay price $120.09. On that note if any of you (that means you Marcy) are an ebay shopper and are fed up being pipped at the post check out Auction Sentry, it’s a very nice little snipe program. OK I am off to pack my drop bags.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Those three words...

This post could alternatively have been called the Twelve Step Program or The Edge of the Cliff is 11 Steps Away or how about What the effing hell are you doing?

After my ITB issues at the Great Race I was left to make a decision about what to do this weekend over Leona Divide. Vacillating between yay and nay, I decided that a more scientific approach was needed to arrive a decision point and with all that in mind I did a extra little research on the race.

Firstly thanks to Motion Based I found that someone had run it and posted their run, here’s the elevation profile, (on the right), not to sound flip, while yes there are a some big hills in actual fact it's not that much worse than than the PCTR Pt Mugu 50k which had this profile, (on the left), in fact there is an extra 4000' of climbing over 19 miles and they are both virtually identical in distribution ; 42% ascent, 45% descent and 13% on the flat. You can see the MotionBased Leona Divide run details here. and the PCTR 50K here.

Secondly I looked it up on Athlinks and found a few people who ran it and emailed them asking them for any advice and got some replies, I did this on the Ultra List a while back and got some good advice about the course, Aid Stations etc.

Thirdly I still had a few questions so I emailed the RD this morning and within an hour had a response. Lastly I checked the weather and it will be almost perfect conditions with a low in the high 30s and a high in the mid 50s, sunny and clear.

So after a long and protracted, period of thinking about what to do carefully weighing the pros and cons and examining the pluses and the minuses. I have decided to put all the thinking behind me and exercise those three little words…Go For It!

Here’s the 12 step rationale, never accuse me of being rational!

  1. My ITB seems fine at the moment, after last weeks 50 mile bike ride, where I usually have a few aches and pains I had nada.
  2. I have virtually worn out my foam roller, and again my ITB seems fine
  3. I can actually run with my Stick if I have to
  4. While I have not run since the Great Race, think of it as extended taper, I ran a 50k with no running for the two weeks prior
  5. I need a new back wheel for my bike, so without that I’ve nothing to do this weekend!
  6. The thought of five months training, albeit in a haphazard fashion, down the drain pisses me right off no end!
  7. The cut off time is 13 hours, that’s an average of 25:06 per mile, that I can manage
  8. If I can finish under 11 hours I can enter the WSER lottery, that’s a 21.12 pace
  9. You only ever regret the things you don’t do
  10. If I finish this race (or not) I have learned a lot from this training cycle which will make the next one very different, more on that to follow
  11. I can always DNF on the way round
  12. I can’t really come up with any more so this one makes 12

So now I am set, I need to quickly think about some logistics, drop bags, kit, fuel etc but having made the decision a weight has been lifted and I feel really good about it. So now it's no pressure, all I need to do is keep moving forward!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Up a mountain, down a beer!

Well I spent the week stretching with no running and no biking, just some quality time with my foam roller. The forecast for the weekend was for 90+ both days, Saturday certainly was and it was warm enough to wear only shorts and a short sleeve short at 7:30am this morning. I was feeling a bit ho hum, I had managed to finally go to bed in the wee hours and little ‘un had had a rough night resulting in a broken 4 hours sleep, but Robin’s comment about finding the time kicked my arse into gear. I had been thinking about a different ride during the week and decided to let me front wheel take me where it wanted to go. So instead of cutting through from the valley to the ocean on the first canyon turning I rode along the valley further and decided to take Kanan Road.

The first climb wasn’t so bad with a gain of about 300’ over a couple of miles, this resulted in a nice downhill and this was where the fun began. Opening it up on the downhill I go over a bridge and it’s where the two road surfaces meet that there is a bump or a pothole or something, I had my Gorilla tripod (eBay $2.50!) on my handlebars and you can see if you look at the video that at around 1:30 there’s a bump, well unknown to me I buckled my back wheel. It’s mile 21 on the MotionBased data. After the downhill there was of course the compulsory uphill! 1000’ of climbing over three miles. It was a nice steady pace and the views were stunning. At the top I braced myself for what I knew was the downhill to Pacific Coast Highway.

I opened up and we were off, seven miles of downhill dropping 1800’, it was when I reached about 30mph that I noticed the wobble, and 38mph it felt like my back wheel was coming off, I slowed down and finally came to a halt. I looked at the back wheel and placed my fingers on the spokes to spin it and immediately burnt them! A couple of minutes later it was cool enough to touch and I tried again, the wheel was completely off true, hitting one brake pad then the other finally coming to rest wedged against the first, it was bent in three places! Bugger! I reached inside my pack for my Alien, thinking I would just loosen the tension on the cables to accomodate the wobble, and realized I left it in my other pack on my mountain bike. Double bugger!! I flicked open the brake calipers and decided that all I could do was ride with no back brake! I gingerly made my way down the rest of the hill to the relative flat of PCH.

The sun was glinting on the ocean and despite PCH being a busy road, it is Highway 1, it’s plenty wide and you get a great view from Malibu beachfront all the way to Santa Monica pier. Here I picked up some company and played tag with another rider for 10 miles or so until I turned left into Topanga Canyon. An uneventful 10 miles later I was at the top and dropped back into the San Fernando Valley taking it easy on the downs and getting home after 4:23 saddle time, 52.78 miles and a little over 6500’ of climbing.

This afternoon we had some friends over for a BBQ and talked some more about the Vlog/WebTV thing and it's looking very positive. We had a great time with grilled chicken, ribs, some yummy salads; one of our friends is a personal chef so her food is always great and of course a beer…or two. This evening I am hitting up eBay for a new wheelset!

Here’s the Motion based data:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A post of lists!

I’m it, I picked this up last month from DCRainmaker and have overlooked it, sorry bud, it’s the Lucky #7 version. First here are the five rules:
  1. Link to the person who tagged you; check, see above
  2. Post the rules on your blog; check, eh yeah, got that one!
  3. Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog; check, reasonably random!
  4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs; check, these seem like some random folks to me!
  5. Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged; check, this is so much work!
Next for your viewing pleasure here are your seven “oh I didn’t know that facts”:
  1. I used to be a professional showjumper; I spent two years riding in Germany, France, Holland and Belgium in my late teens.
  2. I have bungee jumped twice, but because I never learned how to dive (think swimming) I just jumped off feet first, the biggest was only 71m or 220’! Here's a picture of the bridge.
  3. I made my wife climb Mt Kinabalu on our honeymoon, after a night in a hut with damp mattresses we pressed onto the summit, despite both having altitude sickness, happy honeymoon sweatheart…we’re still married 10 years later!
  4. I have had three motorcycle crashes and the only time I have broken a bone was when I was angry and kicked the bed in frustration…I broke a toe!
  5. Continuing the injury theme I have dislocated both knees, an ankle, my wrists, my jaw and a shoulder…ouch!
  6. I am a crackshot, in the military I nearly always got top marks for my marksmanship; so don’t piss me off!
  7. If I could do it all again I would be an architect or industrial designer.
And finally it’s my turn to pass the bug on and I get to choose seven folks…eenie meenie miney moe:
  • Audrey – she needs an excuse, any excuse from tidying her apartment
  • Robin – coming back from injury this’ll take her mind off of over thinking it
  • Frayed Laces – who was bemoaning the fact that nobody tags her!
  • Melanie – who just got a new job, congrats!
  • Laura - who needs something to think about in the airport lounge
  • Ultra Dad – who's been a bit quiet lately so this’ll get him back online and
  • Drusy – who's from the old country and is running the Flora London Marathon, go girl!
PS thanks to everyone who has cast their votes, it’s much appreciated, keep 'em coming.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Can you help?

So I am thinking of going from Blog to Vlog or even to WebTV, I have been discussing it with some folks in the know and they think that it’s a good proposition and that there is a niche to fill, I have several ideas but I wanted to get some reader input.

To that end I have created a little survey, see right hand column which offers several choices for content. Each episode would be less than 10 minutes so bear that in mind when responding, please pick your top three, I would support it with the written blog that would provide deeper content, links, photos and the like, basically enough information to support the video.

I know am asking a huge favor for you to respond but I really do appreciate your thoughts it and it will be really useful in making decisions. Please leave as detailed comments as you would like too so I can get a feeling for which direction to drive this…stand by, this could be a lot of fun.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Running the numbers

I am covering several bases with this post, firstly it addresses my own analysis of my actual mileage vs. my training plan in an attempt to identify where I went wrong (again!) and ended up injured (again!) and secondly it hopefully provides some insight for any would be runner on how not to do it and thirdly Runner's Lounge Take it and Run Thursday this week is about Training Plans so that just seemed like great timing.

Being that I am in Los Angeles I'll give you some backstory as they call it around here. When I started training for my first Marathon last year I had been running consistently for the three years prior, I had run before that but had had a hiatus where I spent several years mountain biking. I never really kept tabs on my mileage but it averaged around 25 miles a week over three or four runs. I set myself the target of completing it in 3:30 or less, I had no real appreciation of if this was fast or not but it sounded like a challenge.

In preparation did I choose my plan after great deliberation and research, after a review of the literature of the great marathon runners and planners, Lydiard, Galloway, Noakes or Daniels and after long consultation with coaches and other marathon runners? Well no, I found one in a freebie magazine and thought “huh, this’ll do”. Of course as any new disciple of something does I immersed myself, consuming Runners World each month before breakfast and plowing through the literature, nutrition, shoes, clothing, GPS I read about it all. I did however stick to my plan…well I mean I kept using the same one. The plan itself was aimed at a newbie runner and took them from zero(ish) miles to a marathon over the course of 26 weeks.

Mistake #1; I was already ahead of the curve and should have started 4-6 weeks or so into the plan.

Along the way I picked up a Nike+ chip primarily as a means to measure my mileage, I was running a lot on beach paths and was unable to get an accurate read on the distances, from there I discovered the Nike+ forums and the challenges that people created there and jumped in feet first.

Mistake #2; I veered away from my plan, running on my rest days.

My target marathon was to be San Francisco in early July, along the way I built in several half marathons and even a full marathon as a training run despite the fact the longest training run on my plan was only 22 miles.

Mistake #3; exceeding the training mileage and extending my long runs even further.

I ran the San Diego Rock’n’Roll Marathon in early June as a training run and finished in 3:45:09, nearly fifteen minutes faster than my target time of 4:00, I thought I was set, 3:30 was in my sights and I had tone, it was a done deal, you could take it to the bank. The day before I was due to leave for San Francisco, my son was sick, not just a "brought it home from school have a runny nose sick" but full blown sky high temperature on the phone to the Doctors and monitor him closely sick. It’s at this point that everything else goes to the sidelines, I spent an hour on the phone canceling flights and hotels and cuddled up with him on the couch for the rest of the weekend, of course 48 hours later he’s a right as rain and tearing the place up in his usual manner. It was totally the right decision but it was also six months of training gone up in smoke. I signed up for a local 50k at the end of August and it was during mid July that my miles caught up with me. I had run over 1100 miles in 28 weeks and my IT Band had had enough, basically it stopped working, point blank refused to function. Not just on one knee but both along with one hip. I DNS'd for the second time in as many months.

I’ll save you the recovery story, it’s documented here, but the short version is that 10 weeks of physiotherapy put me back on the straight and narrow.

This brings me to this training cycle I find myself 18 weeks into a 20 week plan and once again I am faced with an IT Band issue. In an attempt to detect a pattern I looked at my running log comparing this year to last, and yes there is one, providing you squint and tilt your head 30 degrees to the left you can just make out the profile of some nice hills!

Next I looked at my actual running this year vs. my plan. This brings me to Mistake #4; think macro. I was actually under the impression that I was within 90% of my plan 75% of the time, that is for a big race like a 50k my mileage before and after would drop but for three out of fours weeks I was within an acceptable margin…wrong! Check out the graph and you’ll see that I was off by a mile or two or ten! A picture really is worth a thousand words. The early zero was when I was ill and the last two are projected.

So as you can see four classic mistakes leading up to what I am almost sure will be a DNS for next weeks race, I have yet to vocalize that decision but in my mind it's almost made.

In conclusion I hope that this post helps someone in their planning and that they can learn from the mistakes I have made, I certainly have!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Being social

This internet thingy is pretty prevalent isn’t it! I amazed myself by listing my running presence; I am on Facebook, Athlinks; for my results and kit reviews, although it’s a little out of date, I host my photos on photobucket and on flickr. I am trying to curb my Nike+ forum habit, I am on Gtalk and normally have a chat with at least one person about running once a day, I have my blog, I am on Runner+, I have an online training log at and my Garmin/Motion Based account! I am a member of Runners Lounge and recently Josh pointed me in the direction of Peak, so now I have an account there as well.

There are probably a couple more that I have forgotten and to be honest some sites get more attention than others.

More recently I found ligit, it allows you to add your blog roll and build out a network of who you’re following and who’s following you, it also allows you to build you own search engine which searches the social networking sites that you’ve help build; Facebook, flickr,, digg etc. It’s free and it’s actually pretty dynamic in the way it works, I guess it just appeals to the technie nerd within. You can find it in the right hand column just above the Nike widget, click on the littel bubble icon and see what happens. I’ve added everyone in my blog roll and a few others that aren’t there, if you do likewise there will be a pretty big network of bloggers following each other.

It’s no wonder there are not enough hours in the day! Anyway if you’re on any of the above look me up and ping me as a friend.

I think this is word for word the mostly heavily linked post to date, to be honest I cheat and I never follow links I use a mini browser from SnapShots that allows me to look at another website without leaving the one I am on, try it, you might like it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The beauty of our body

Sunday we headed to the California Science Museum to look at the Body Worlds 3 exhibition, this is a touring exhibit which showcases the human body in a unique way. Using “plastination” a technique where the actual tissue or organ is impregnated with polymer, positioned and hardened to stabilize it in its form. This allows the viewer to actually see the body in action without the obscurence of skin and fatty tissues. You can get a better understanding of this process here.

It’s a fascinating way to study the human body and if you’ve ever been interested in anatomy or physiology or have ever been injured or broken a bone you can get up close and personal to it. Endurance Planet's Kevin Patrick talks about this exhibit here. In addition to the usual skeletal presentation, something that we are quite familiar with, many functional areas of the body are presented including the intestinal, vascular and sensory and if you had ever considered retreating to the couch with nothing but a bag of cheesy puffs and a coke there is a complete sectional from head to toe of an obese women. Many off the exhibits are posed doing sports or activities, walking, gymnastics, dancing etc so you can really see the mechanics of the musculature and view the beauty and complexity of the human body from the inside out.

Currently there are four exhibitions around the world; Baltimore, Milwaukee and Los Angeles in North America and Manchester in England. I highly recommend that you go if you get the chance.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Great Race of Agoura Half Marathon

The Great Race of Agoura is actually a series of races during the morning of, usually, the first Saturday in April. Offering various distances; 5k, 10k, Kids 1 Mile, Family 1 Mile and Half Marathon, there is a huge expo and it has won numerous awards. The first and last three miles of the Half Marathon is run on the streets and the middle seven miles is on some well worn trails through Cheseboro Canyon. I ran the race last year and have run extensively through the park so I am very familiar with the course, there as some photos, non race day here. Going into this race I had two expectations; if I felt good to go for a course PR, if not go sub 2:00. The backstop was just to finish as I would have to walk it home anyway. What was going to be the unknown race morning was how my ITB etc would hold up, as you can probably tell from the preceding post; it didn’t. I’ll spare you the blow by blow account but here are the high and lowlights.

Miles 1 – 3. As mentioned the first three miles are on the road, you start and the top of a short sharp hill and then run a couple of loops around the neighborhood. I arrived with only 10 minutes to spare and had to run to the start line, while it is a chip timed race but there is a lot of single track on the trail section so passing can be tricky and who wants to be at the back anyways? What this did mean was that I had to skip my stretching routine; did this have any real impact at the end of the day? Probably not but I may have been pain free for a little longer. Anyway the first three miles were fine and I was plodding along at a nice steady pace M1 8:22 M2 8:21 M3 8:34.

Miles 4 – 10. Around Mile 4 you enter the park and the trail section. At Mile 5 I felt it, it started as a dull twinge but every bend in the knee amplified it. Miles 5, 6 and 7 were spent trying to ignore it. By mile 8 it was really kicking in and I was trying to ease it with some self massage as I was running, it felt very familiar and while not as bad as it had been I knew exactly what it was. Strangely it was worse on the flat and up or downhill was reasonable comfortable also the terrain is such that you’re often breaking your stride so that eases things as you're mixing up your repetitive motion. The terrain is really quite varied, you go from almost a grazing pasture, through woods then pop out into a dusty desert scene and it's actually a really engaging stretch of trail and you have to concentrate on not face planting, which judging by the gashed knees and dusty clothes several people did. Rain from earlier in the week had left some of the streams with water in and I picked up a set of wet toes at a backed up stream crossing, I confess to smiling as exited the bank and from behind me heard a splash and the cry of "my new shoes" from someone...whoops! From Mile 2 through Mile 8 you’re climbing, it’s quite imperceptible until the end where it’s quite a steep incline; from here you have a nice two mile stretch of down hill on a fire road so you can open up the throttle and in my case make up some time. M4 9:17 M5 9:11 M6 9:53 M7 10:08 M8 11:18 M9 8:00 M10 8:06 Having long legs really helps on the way down, running fast downhill is something that needs practice and can be a little worrying for some but for me it was pain free and fun.

Miles 11 – finish. Once you bottom out there was a few squiggly bits and then a sharp right hand turn and quick uphill section. There were a lot of people walking, the sun had broken through the clouds and it was warming up, I downshifted into my patented uphill shuffle, faster than a walk and slower than a run and made it to the top, from here there's about 100 yards or so and you are dumped onto the road. By now I knew I would finish and I also knew that there was a large section of flat from Mile 12 onwards and then an up and down. I fixed my sights on a group of runners ahead and made out to catch them up. It was about here that I started going backwards; at least that was how it felt. I was passed by many runners that I had previously passed on the downhill stretch and I was in full teeth gritted and determined mode, my knee/ITB felt like someone was jabbing me with a broken bottle with every step. I rounded the third from last bend, a short uphill and basically limped up, I heard my name being called and looked over to see my wife with our boys cheering me on. Never underestimate the boost of family in the closing miles. The last half mile or so was downhill and as I made the last turn I could see the clock counting 1:59:36 I amazed myself and pulled out a sprint finish crossing the line in 1:59:54. I walked through the chute, was "medaled", with rather a nice piece of hardware and had my chip cut off; I found a very appealing piece of grass and sat on it! My last splits: M11 9:11 M12 8:24 M13 8:47 and the last 0.17 (according to my Forerunner) was 1:07 with a top speed of 12.5 mph!

Post race. My chip time was 1:58:54, a bit quicker than the gun but that’s usual, I was 334/1266 overall and 41/121 in my age group, so all thing considered a pretty good showing. I could have run faster had I been injury free and would have probably got a course PR (sub 1:49:31) but hey there’s always next year. Now a day or so later and my gimpyness has gone. I spent the rest of Saturday with a neoprene sleeve on my knee to keep it supported and warm. Looking back despite the pain I am glad I ran (and finished) the race, it’s a real early alarm for what I can expect in two weeks and I have to decide what to do. Three weeks of no running with lots of stretching and foam rollering has helped but it’s not cured the issue, my cycling has helped maintain my CV fitness, my HRM peaked at 182 but I averaged at 165 which for me is Zone 4 (149-167) and for race day that’s fine. Put me in Zone 3 (131-148) and I can go all day. I am going to go back over my training logs and try and identify any patterns that can be followed or avoided for the next training cycle and spend the next week self-rehabing with a view to making a decision next weekend about Leona Divide.

Here’s the MotionBased data:

An hour later I ran the family mile with our 3 year old, I actually thought that it was going to be a quarter mile, so I was rather pleased, shall we say, to discover its true length, anyway it was a slow pace, thank you! followed but a bit of shoulder work and then a sprint finish at which point the batteries went on the camera, so no pictures of the father and son team. There were plenty of photographers on the course so there should be at least one picture of me somewhere if not well like I say there's always next year.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


… "things seem to be pretty good"…you know what these are don’t you; famous last words.

My legs have been filleted! At least my left one has. Put me on the list for replacements. It would seem to be official but I am the recipient of a nice (read nasty) case of ITB! Merv I’ll take southern provinces of Thailand for 10; Phuket (Hard T; keep it pseudo clean)!

I’ve some serious thinking in the next week and one big question to answer, but it ain’t looking good, check back for my Great Race report ran this morning…exits stage left kicking dust and cursing under breath.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shhh don’t tell…

Robin, Doug, Audrey or Zanne or the several others who are suffering from early season injuries, but I’ve been running.

I didn’t make it out Tuesday night but got runs in on both Wednesday and this morning, nothing fantastic in either distance or pace but they were all pain free and once the cobwebs were blown away things were bedding in quite nicely. All three runs were on the treadmill so it’s not really a fair representation of what’s going to happen once I get outside let alone on the trails but it’s nice to get the legs turning over. I am of course I am over listening but things seem to be pretty good. My glutes and TFLs are a little tight but some stretching and rolling should work that out. Here are the highlights, interesting to note that my running cadence is pretty close to my cycling one, coincidence...maybe?

Tomorrow I am on the bike and then Saturday I have the Great Race half marathon and the family run with my eldest, I think it's a quarter mile so I should beat him (j/k). It's his first fun run, he was sick for the last one and he's super excited, he has his running outfit and shoes and everything is "all special". I actually thought it was the next day and had I not got a reminder email it would have been a very lonely Sunday morning! I picked up my race packet today and got a nice bag thing and the usual shirt although this was a technical one, but wait a minute, black c'mon this is southern California, black shirt, are you kidding me, have you never heard of reflection! Anyway I was able to replace last years shirt (in white!) which got a lovely tear in it from a thorn bush sometime during the last 12 months.

Distance wise it’ll be a bit of a jump from two weeks of nothing to a bit of running this week, oh well, in for a penny as they say.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sock it to them...the post you've been waiting for!

Here it is the post you’ve all been waiting for! Go on admit it you’re amongst friends. Every runner knows, or should know (I still see people running in all sorts and in fact consider Lorraine Gersitz who ran the Orange Curtain 50K and won wearing Crocs! So it just goes to show that I know absolutely nothing about what I am talking about) the importance of having good shoes but we often ignore the base layer; the sock. For the past couple of years I have been rotating a half dozen or so pairs of Reebok socks, 1800 miles later with nearly 500 miles on dusty trails they are all pretty much dead. I have also thrown into the mix a pair of Injinji socks, which come in a practical brown color, although I did run the LA Marathon in a nice white pair which I picked up at the expo along with a pair of Injinji gloves, which you’ll have to wait until next winter for a write up on unless we get a cold snap! The great thing about Injinji’s is the individual toe fit the downside is that they are pretty thin, actually they are very thin with no on the sole cushioning, now I am not a huge guy (6’1” 170ish) but I’m not a 120lb Kenyan either and a little cushioning is always welcome! So the quest was on for a pair of socks that could meet the following demands:

~Some cushioning; cushioning is good on those long long runs
~Good fit; to minimize hot spots and blisters, these are bad
~Wicking; who wants toasty toes or worse hot sweaty feet!
~Snugness; support to your foot actually minimizes fatigue, you knew that right?
~Sensible color; white socks and trail running are not a good mix, no siree not even Oxyclean works on Cali dust

An article in Runners World gave me a good head start on where to look, so I had a rummage around the internet and based on what I liked the sound of paid a trip to a few local stores to “feel the quality”, to be honest there were some that I discounted straight away based on the field trip, this left me with two that I couldn’t go hands on with; Darn Toughs Back Roads and Bridgedale X-Hale Speed Demon I couldn’t get the Bridgedales in my size and color choice, I was disappointed as I really wanted a pair of socks called "Speed Demon", I ordered two pairs of the equally inventively named Darn Tough Back Road (Cushion) from In addition to having a pretty cool name "Darn Tough" they obviously have a large marketing department as they boast the following unique selling features:

~A high density cushioning on foot bottom (I have to confess to not knowing that my feet had bottoms; soles yes but bottoms, well who knew!) but the high density thing sounds like it came straight off the space shuttle
~An invisible seam on the toes, have a look you can see it, it's just there and
~They are made from merino wool so they are soft, which is good because my feet are really quite delicate!

So they are technical, have a sense of humor and are gentle; my kind of footwear.

Now when you look at a sock it’s smaller than your foot and I have a little test for socks, call me anal retentive, it’s ok I am, but if you put a pair on and take them off and put them on again they should feel as snug as the first time, the Darn Toughs do, for reference the Injinjis do as well but they're just not as snug. I trail tested the Darn Toughs on my last run long run, a 20 miler, some three weeks ago and they preformed flawlessly, no hot spots, in fact my feet were darn cool, snug, supported and cushioned, smiley, happy feet you might say.

I have to admit they are not the cheapest, $30.00 for two pairs plus S&H, socks out there and I don’t know how long they will last or how quickly I will get bored of “air” drying them or forget to pick them out of the wet pile of clothes before they get thrown in the dryer (being wool they will be prone to shrinkage; never a good thing!), but they have my won my sole, at least for now. Now talking of shrinkage…

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Everybody's doing it so why can't I?

It seems that everywhere you turn in the blogosphere there are pictures of blossom, well not one to miss the band wagon and now that we have had the first day of spring, here are a couple of snaps from our back yard. The first is on the bank behind us, it's open land that leads up to a State Park, not possessing green fingers in fact I have to admit they are downright brown, I have no idea what the plant is but it is over every hillside at the moment giving everything a gold hue.

The second photo is off one of the many varmints to be found in our yard, he's actually standing on a regular sized brick so he's not quite as man eating as he seems, along with the gecko populous we have million or so rabbits, there are days when it's like living on the film set of Watership Down, and squirrels, but it's not too bad between the owls, coyotes and rattlesnakes, all of which have been in the yard at one time or another, the animal population is self regulating...such is the nature of things.

On a running note, I hopped on the treadmill for a 20 minutes session this morning, I was certainly not setting the world alight but it's a start, my knees took a mile of so to remember running but seemed ok after that, I hope to repeat it again tonight for another 3 miles or so.