Sunday, January 30, 2011

News Flash: Frozen bloggers fall off world

Today it was raining ..varying from major dumpage mode to light sprinkles so we hit the treadmill to keep from getting our prissy little feet wet. 

I won't complain about the treadmill since I've been reading ENDLESS FROZEN BLOG POSTS.......seems part of the Earth has cracked off with these guys and is heading off toward Pluto. Maybe you guys can get it reinstated as a planet if you are living out there now 8/ 

Many reports of mild injuries from running on the slippery snow, not to mention frozen faces, aborted runs, etc.  Check out my blogroll if you want to see some frozen tundra.

So, the treadmill is just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I ran 8.3 miles at 9:22 min/mile average...about 4 miles of that at 9:00. It felt pretty good...I'm not in peak condition or this would have been much easier but I'm good for next Sunday where I'm probably shooting for a fairly easy 10:00-10:15 pace...i.e. finish sub-4:30-ish.

Weather still holding for next Sunday: 47F/67F, sunny, no wind.

Friday, January 28, 2011

DOMS a no show?

After a 20 mile run, there is usually at least some DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) the day after the day after. 

But I seem to have got off scott-free after Wednesday mornings long run. I'm not sure why....there are various extenuating facts to consider:
  • Zensa calf sleeves (but why the quads ok too?)
  • Gym workouts I've been doing twice a week (weights, core, quads, floor exercises)
  • The 3 minutes or so of walking I did (10x20sec) during the run to loosen up my tight right leg/hip.
  • Wearing zero-drop shoes (my huaraches! 8) the rest of the day to stretch out my legs when walking around the office.
  • The easy pace for the run  (10:10 m/m)
  • Went in hot tub that night.
  • Did not take ibuprofen after the run (?)
Probably each of these things helped? When I start really booking the miles on for my 50k I'm going to have to remember these tricks.

This morning of course I noticed lack of DOMS, saddled up for a short recovery run...and immediately noticed how good my legs really did feel.  Absolutely no residual tightness of the leg/hip, no DOMS...hmm..what's going on? I wore the Nike Frees and they beckoned for some faster running but I said: "HEEL! Bad doggies!". 

I know that after a hard or long run there's subtle damage that you many not feel, but that weakens everything and makes me more prone to bad things. So I enjoy our nice slow run and think to myself things are looking just peachy for Surf City so DON'T BLOW IT now.

After the run I went to the gym and my usual routine there too.   I think we may let the dogs out for a tempo run on Sunday 8)

T-10 days: Weather for Huntington Beach is morning low of 47F, afternoon high of 70F. No rain.  Sounds pretty darn good..may be a bit warm at the end of the race but not too bad.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Long Run.....Yes!

This morning I had another 6am date with Venus and Luna for another try at a 20 miler before Surf City. It was 43F (6.1C) and clear and both of my companions were shining bright in the crisp clear pre-dawn sky..

Rather than running from home I prefer to do a 6.75 loop course through the Baylands from my office. That way if I have to abort (as I did last time) I can take a short cut and be back at my office in only a couple of miles at worst.

On my last long run (12 miles) and this one I tried wearing my Zensa calf sleeves. I've never worn them before during running (I bought them for wearing during long airplane flights) but I now think they may be helping...

Also visible are my white 'garden' gloves which I needed at this temp...I like them because if I lose one they are cheap ;)

I did 3 loops of my course for a total of 20.28 miles @ 10:11 pace. (117 HR, cadence 82). An easy pace for me normally, although not as easy as it might have been back when i was peaking for SF last July. 

My calf was never a problem, however my right upper leg hip/groin were pretty tight. I've been doing exercises to strengthen them and I guess I need to do more stretching there. When they got too tight I stopped and power walked 10-30s  to loosen them up and this seemed to work well. I also power walked from time to time just to (hopefully) reduce the recovery time (a la Mr. Galloway's idea) since I'm so close (11 days). Normally this would be the taper, but since my mileage has been low, I don't really need much of a taper, but I DID need the confidence that my long run machinery was still working.

At any rate, I seem good-to-go for Surf City, California Dreamin' Series Finale here I come!  Tomorrow we can check the 10 day forecast for the weather and see what we're in for.

In other news, my brother-in-law Charlie has reached the 17 mile long run mark in his Hal Higdon training buildup to LA. He doesn't own a Garmin and so really has no idea what kind of pace he's doing..probably quite fast (9-ish m/m)  He is well on track and should be good-to-go if he keeps this up.

After Surf City I have a slightly longer pause before LA (2/6 to 3/20...funny how that seems 'long' to me now) and so I can do some actual recover and then some trail running to build up for 4/20 (Skyline-to-Sea 50k)...LA just being a training run for that ;)

As I mentioned before I'm doing 7 marathons and one ultra in one year (clock started in July with the San Francisco Marathon). (This is to get Marathon Maniacs 'Gold' level award).

Its very weird to have all these  marathons so 'close' together. The training you do is very different. And, of course, you can't begin to run any kind of PR pace because you don't have enough time after your recovery and before your next race. Any minor niggles are a much bigger problem because you have less time to work things out. But that's's a different kind of challenge to keep it all together to toe the line and finish 8 in a year.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

DIY Huaraches!

If you read the book "Born to Run", you know about huaraches....the traditional Mexican sandal worn by the Tarahumaran.

(I read this book and found it a very interesting read, but I'll talk about that another time)

Anyway, the other day as I was closing in on the last couple of miles of my run, I saw a guy cross my path going the same way. Right away I noticed that he was wearing these sandals that were dead ringers for a pair of homemade huaraches. Curious, I sped up a bit and struck up a conversation with him.

I found out his  name was Richard Baugh, and a former HP engineer. He made the sandals himself ..riffing off of the design on the invisible shoes website.  He runs about 3 days a week in them...not bad for 73 years eh?

We exchanged emails and today I went over to his house (he lives really close to me it turns out) and he "walked me through" how to make a pair myself.

They have soles made from 4mm vibram (which he bought at Mid-Town Shoe Repair, very nearby), and the laces are made from very stylish blue polypropylene cord. 

Tools used: foot, marking pen, leather punch and mallet, scissors, lighter (for melting-sealing end of cut cordage), brain.

I walked home from his house in them and found them quite comfortable.  The bottom has a textured pattern that makes for pretty good traction on pavement. I wore them in the kitchen while preparing food and promptly forgot I had them on.

I'm not sure if I'll try running in them just yet...I'm happy to use them as a zero drop sandal at home and work to help keep the calves stretched out. If/when I do try them you can bet it will be for a very short fraction of a mile to start!

I took a few video clips of the construction process, although alas I was too busy during some of it to get any shots. I will post the links to the videos I have at some point and perhaps make some better ones when I make another pair ;)


My right calf muscle feels a lot better today..I did 3.1 miles at an easy pace just to sample the cramping. Tomorrow I'll try a bit more..perhaps 8-10?


UPDATE: I actually ran 12 miles at a 10:04 pace today.....the first 7-8 miles at about 10:20 pace then some fast running on the Paly Track until mile 10 ...with one mile at 7:50....that felt really good...then an easy jog 2 miles home.

I did feel a bit crampy near the end of the run, but I tried lengthening out my stride to stretch  out that muscle and that seemed to help. Sometimes the fast compact stride is a bad idea! 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Long Run...No, but ok.

Dawn with Venus
This morning I set out to do a final long run before Surf City in 2.5 weeks. Got up early and was out the door at about 6am.

Started out at a 10 minute pace for the first 6 miles or so and watched the sun come up (that's Venus..a.k.a. "the morning star", a tiny dot in the upper right corner).

Also got to watch the almost full moon set over the water which was rare to see. A few runners and bikers were out at this hour but not many.

I was feeling pretty darn good running in my Nike Frees and figured I just might step up the pace a bit now. I was hoping to reach 20 miles (about 3 loops of this route). I did the next 3 miles at a 9:30 m/m or so and then started to feel my right calf cramping. This is the same place that has been dogging me since a run on vacation in Hawaii. I thought it was healed up but it seems not quite.

After stretching for a while and walking a  bit I was able to negotiate a peace treaty with my recalcitrant muscle and proceeded to do a slow 11-12 minute pace without more cramping. But discretion being the better part of valor (and the smarter way to avoid injury) I aborted the course and beelined for home.

I can tell my fitness is plenty's not peaked but it's plenty good to run a marathon, so it's frustrating to be "hamstrung" from doing a long run by a piece of muscle the width of a pencil (which is about how big the cranky-crampy muscle feels). 

Obviously it needs more time to heal up..and there's no arguing with a muscle...they win. So we'll just have to do shorter and/or easier runs. It's a bit of a mystery why this happened..I'd been doing a lot of cross training and built up a lot of muscle on my quads, etc. Perhaps it's changing too many things at once? I'm really have no idea.

When we set out to test our fitness and have a setback, it's disappointing. But, on the other hand to see a beautiful dawn during an otherwise wonderful 10 mile run, I really can't complain. It's all good.

I'll wait a few days before I try a long run again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm In!

I noticed that registration opened up for the Skyline-to-the-Sea 50k and I'm now signed up!

This is a really beautiful area of California combining the tall redwoods at the start and ending up down at the ocean. The photo (which I stole from the website above) shows the teeny runners waiting to start in the redwoods.

It's a point to point race so you really have that feeling of traveling from A->B under your own steam (and all the views on the way are new).

This will be my second trail race and my very FIRST Ultra. There is a lot of up-and-down so I plan to walk all uphills and run slow pace (11 min/mile) for the flats (if any !).

I'm thinking 6 hours might be doable but I don't really care too much about the time, I just want to finish reasonably "easily". ...i.e. no death march. The timing limit for the course is 8 hours so I should be ok there.

I need to do more hilly trail runs and more quad strengthening so I don't have problems with all the downhill.

I'm really looking forward to this run! I will probably lose 15 minutes just from taking so many pictures ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Surface Diving as Cardio?

When I was a lad there was this guy on T.V with these cool one hour specials. Perhaps you've heard of him..his name was Jacque Cousteau, the co-inventor of SCUBA and he was the leader of the "Voyages of the Calypso". 

Like eleventy-zillion other kids I REALLY WANTED TO BE A CABIN BOY ON THIS BOAT. They had such cool adventures on all the worlds oceans...whoa. Sigh. Instead I became an engineer. (I actually thought I'd be an ichthyologist but my high school biology teach cured me of THAT).

Toni catches me 15 feet down.
My friends and I, lacking access to the sea, ended up snorkeling in every large body of water (i.e. ponds, lakes) in a radius of biking distance. I learned how to snorkel really, really well. We even made our own "poor man's wet suits" by wearing a full set of pants and shirts and sealing the cuffs and sleeves with rubber bands (to keep the warm water ...ahem..such as it

I'm not anywhere near an elite runner for my age..but if there was some kind of competition for breath-holding diving I'd be way ahead of the game. Most people that go snorkeling do NOT do any surface diving. The ones that do, are pretty feeble at it from what I've seen.

Now that I'm a runner and lean and mean, I'm really really good at it. When we go snorkeling on one of these boat dive trips (as we recently did in Hawaii) I'd be first place if there was some kind of competition.  I like to look into all the caves and crevices for interesting critters you'll never see from up on the surface (e.g. octopus). And yes, I am certified for SCUBA, but snorkeling is so much more light and unencumbered.

It's quite a good cardio working doing these surface do a bit of hyperventilating, then dive down (my limit is probably about 35', which doesn't sound like much but is freakin' deep).  I love diving down on the mooring or anchor line for the can use the line to sit at the bottom. Normally you are floaty, and so you have to work to stay down..but with the line you can hang on and use no energy. I love looking around for a few seconds and see the world from a new perspective..look up and see the mirrored surface (so far away!) and see all the creatures swimming around, etc.

It's awesome. Like being on another planet. 
Toni looking down and giving me the hang loose..
When you finally come back up you're heart is working pretty hard (i.e. triphammer) and you have to be comfortable with the fact that you REALLY want some AIR ;)..

But it's all over in seconds. Not like a marathon!

After one or two hours of this, you are pretty wiped out and want to rest like a seal on the beach. It's like an interval workout, I think. Alas, there's no cross-training entry on my 'logyourrun' widget for surface diving 8)

Lucky for me, my dear spouse Toni turned out to be and even bigger fan of snorkeling than I am. She'd never done it until I introduced her to it..her first time was out of site of land, off of a dive boat. She'd never worn a mask or snorkel, even off a beach. She did great, saw an eagle ray in the first 10 minutes and was completely hooked. Alas, she can't clear her ears with depth (problems with Eustachian tubes) and so like most folks does her viewing from the surface. But she doesn't let anything stop her from seeing as much as she can every dive. Long after I'm cold and tired she's still gung-ho to see more.

On this trip, something really special and cool happened. I dove down about 15'-20' and as I was looking around I suddenly froze: I heard a plaintive sound...a very sad, almost moaning kind of song.  I dove down again and again to hear it and the deeper I dove the louder it became. 

Normally when diving you only hear things like shrimp crackling noises and boat props...turns out this sound was a Humpback whale singing (They come to Hawaii to have their calves). The sounds propagates better the deeper you go (for many miles)..and this is the first time I've heard it with my own ears rather than over a hydrophone or from a recording. Awesome. To be filed in the "Never will forget this" folder. 8)

If I lived in a place like Hawaii, I think I'd do surface diving a few times a week. If I could get a decent wage teaching people how to snorkel I'd really love it...I think it's as close to traveling to another world as we can get on this earth.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hood to Coast Movie Review

Like a lot of running bloggers I heard this was showing on 1/11/11...I'd seen some previews and didn't think I would go, but at the last minute I thought it might be fun...Toni was willing to go too which helped ;)

Hood to coast is a 197 mile relay race from the lodge area on Mt Hood to the ocean. There are 12 runners in a team (6 per van and 2 vans typically) , and each runs 3 legs of 6 miles.

This relay started a long time ago and has become very popular..they limit it to 1000 teams (12,000 runners!.

The movie starts with no's can see the headlamps of runners and there's one runner just visible in some dim lighting from the camera. She's going along at a good clip fast for can hear her breathing a bit and suddenly an elite runner blows by like she's standing still..she lets out an "Whoa!" in surprise...and the audience is also woken up a bit ;)

It's a good beginning shot can totally imagine yourself there and it gets the juices flowing right off the bat.

The movie follows the exploits and history of 4 teams....I'll leave out the details to prevent being a spoiler.

Things I liked about the movie:

  • It got me excited the same way I am pre-marathon. It's a big physical challenge. The running is not that many miles, but remember you are racing. Imagine running 3 back-to-back all-out 10k races with no sleep riding in a van for 24 hours.
  • It's a group challenge....the team aspect was different from usual "just you and the road" aspect of running. After seeing the movie I get that and I'm interested in experiencing it.
  • The photography was great. Oregon is beautiful and the course looks pretty interesting.
  • The personal stories were each interesting and sometimes moving.
  • WARNING...TEENY SPOILER: When the slacker-type girl from Thunder and Laikaning finishes her leg with the 1100' of climbing you can tell she's totally hooked...after all the slacker-talk, she's practically speaks like a religious convert down off the mountain. Fun to see.
Things I didn't like:
  • I think the movie should have had about 15 minutes cut's a bit too long. But hey, how many running movies are there? 
  • The pre-movie patter from Bart Yasso etc was basically content free (or redundant with the movie) and didn't add anything..sorry Bart. We didn't stay for the post-movie interviews as it was getting late.
  • The teams they followed must have had 12 members each, but we didn't see most of the members at all. i.e. they focused on just a small part of each team. That was weird in retrospect when I started wondering where they all were.

It's not a "great documentary" but  it's worth seeing so I do recommend renting the DVD when it comes out.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

One more orbit..

Sunbeams over Kohala
Toni and I are back from a wonderful trip to Hawaii, (the Big Island, that is). 

Now that I'm back and before it's too late I want to recap some of the events of the year. 

2010 Running Related Recaps

  • I finally learned how to keep Achilles Tendinitis at bay.
  • Ran 4:06 PR in San Francisco! In retrospect I was pretty well peaked for this race (but not perfectly....)
  • Did not race my yearly all-out 10k....caught a bad cold. A bunch of peaking for that was wasted.
  • Tore my left calf while stretching 6 weeks before Long Beach and didn't get healed up fully first cramp-up during a race at mile 20-ish.. pulled off a 4:25.
  • Ran the Zombie Runner Trail Marathon in mud, rain, wind..took it easy..slowest race ever at 4:42 but second place in age group (50-59)!
  • I completed my 55th orbit of the Sun 8)
  • My weight and cholesterol numbers are still fine with diet and exercise...
I'm reasonably happy with this year's running. Obviously one can't fret about catching a cold but I can fret about being a moron and tearing my own calf muscle...oops....

I ended up not running *any* short (i.e. less than marathon length) races in 2010. I didn't intend to do this consciously...but I do find running marathons ever so much more interesting. 

I guess I'm a bit scared of getting injuries trying to push myself to run short, fast races for a  PR..and push come to shove I love being able to run a lot more than setting PRs. 

This has been the year I started reading a lot more  running blogs and I was struck by how many people (basically eventually everbody) gets injuries. I know how crazy and miserable it is to not be able to run and to lose this ability for a time just to run 10% faster on one race seems really, really dumb to me right now.

So, as I mentioned in my Marathon of Marathons posting, I'm turning away from peaking for any of my races until after spring 2011...instead I'm slowing down a bit and having fun running them. Marathons are a challenge at any speed! (Ultras coming next...?)

2011 Goals
  • Run Surf City and finish California Dreamin' Series trifecta with 3xfull.
  • Run LA marathon with my brother-in-law and have a great time and make sure he has a great time ;) Love those point-to-point courses! 
  • Run my first 50k trail run (Skyline-to-the-Sea?). Think about a 50 miler if that goes well? (?!)
  • See our old friends and run Copenhagen marathon in May.
  • Run a June/early July marathon to get 8 marathons in 12 months for Marathon  Maniacs silver level.
  • Rest, then peak for a marathon in the a few halfs or 10ks in process of peaking for a fall marathon
  • Stay uninjured....slow down and run long!
Have a great 2011!

PS: Congrats to Jenny a.k.a "Running Bubby" on her first marathon!!!! You are now a marathoner.