Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blogging on the go!

I'm testing out this new feature. I've had the capability to do this for a while but just never explored it until now.

This mobile blogging feature sounds cool but never know if I'll need to. I guess my post-half post could have been easier this way.

Anyway I'm just kicking the tires a bit in case I ever need to post something mobiley (is that a word?).

I guess I'll go

I felt energized to finally get out to the gym on Wednesday and was happy to finally get back to running after a 10-day layoff following my half-marathon.

It's Thursday, and I'm not quite feeling the same.

Part of the problem is that I don't have a run to train for. Well, technically I do, but it's not your typical run. On June 13, I'm participating in the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, and I'll blog about that soon enough. That run is great and all, but it requires a lot more than just cardio and the ability to run a certain distance.

I haven't planned yet all the training I'll need for the Mud Run. I'll probably have a mix of cardio (running, both on the 'mill and outdoors), core and weight lifting. But that's about as far as I've gone.

Already though I'm picturing myself at the gym, sitting on the weight machine, longing for some running time on the 'mill.

I guess it's just a matter of changing my focus. I have to focus on the Mud Run, figure out what I need to do in order to best prepare myself for it, and go from there.

But I'm not quite motivated to do that today. So reluctantly I'll head out to the gym and... do something. Maybe I'll try the elliptical again. Or the stairmaster... no, actually, not that. I hate that thing. I like the elliptical so I'll probably go for that one. Maybe.

I'm transitioning into a different place now in my training routine and I'm, uh, so excited about it. Can't you tell?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fightin' fruits

Fruit is good.

I mean, that's kind of the general consensus, right?

But what fruit is better for you than others? And why is it good for you?

I have a sort of belief that if you eat enough fruits and vegetables, you're doing your body good. Much better than if you ate lots of cookies and chips, for instance. So as long as you're eating fruits, you're on the right track.

But The Mag put out a list of Five Fruits That Fight The Flu. This is, after all, a bit of a rough time with the swine flu outbreak sort of putting fear into people's minds. If you've done well to eat these fruits, according to The Mag then you have done well for yourself.


One apple has the equivalent to 1500mg of Vitamin C and other nutrients to help prevent heart disease and cancer.


A papaya has 250 percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C; high beta-carotene and vitamins C and E can also lessen the effects of asthma


One serving of cranberries has five times the amount of antioxidants as broccoli, and also enhance good bacteria levels in the stomach which help prevent foodborne illnesses.


High in Vitamin C, grapefruits also have limonoids, which help lower cholesterol; red grapefruits have lycopene, which helps fight cancer.


A great source of Vitamin B6; bananas also reduce fatigue, depression, stress and insomnia; also high in magnesium (good for bones) and potassium (to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure).

Now, as for my own diet, I eat loads of apples and bananas but I suppose I could do better to mix in papayas, cranberries and grapefruits more often. I found a great recipe for cranberries and made it a few times over Thanksgiving, but outside of November I'm not sure if I'd make that one. I just have a hard time with certain seasonal foods is all. But that one is hands down the best cranberry recipe I've tried (well, not counting quick breads) and I won't ever buy canned cranberries again.

Also, keep in mind that while cranberries are good, Craisins are not. I blogged about them a while ago, but Craisins made the 'Avoid' list The Mag put out with regards to supermarket items.

Back at it

Quick post here, but I'm mobile blogging.

Leaving the gym after a three-mile run. My first post-half run, finally! It felt great.

Okay, I'll be back later to write a more thought-out blog but just needed to get that out!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ocho cosas

With my daughter's illness, I haven't had a chance to work out and probably won't be able to on Tuesday. My plans of starting my training for the Mud Run and getting back at it in general have been put on hold.

So to take my mind off things, I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon and fill out this eight things list blog buddy Tattoos and Teething Rings put up on her blog.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward To
1. My trip to Costa Rica (June 1-6)
2. My 10-year anniversary weekend in Montreal (June 17-22)
3. Trips to the Disneyland Resort
4. Getting back into running
5. The Camp Pendleton Mud Run
6. Buying a new PC
7. More trips to Panera with my new laptop
8. Lazy summer mornings

8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. Took Kenna to the doctor's office
2. Cleaned up after Kennedy
3. Watched Monsters vs. Aliens
4. Watched Madagascar
5. Wrote a half-dozen stories
6. Made a video
7. Dropped off and picked up Yvie at school
8. Napped

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
1. Travel more often (my summer trips this year are exceptions, I can assure you)
2. Go to the movies more often
3. Get rid of one of my paying clients
4. Find more time each day to myself
5. More things with my daughters' hair
6. Draw
7. Make my own bread using yeast
8. Swim

8 Shows I Watch
1. South Park
2. Bizarre Foods
3. Burn Notice
4. Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello
5. Guy's Big Bite
6. Simply Delicioso
7. SpongeBob SquarePants
8. NFL Total Access

I had to struggle to come up with TV shows. I don't watch TV very much.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boys will be dads

Just an update on Kenna. She's threw up a few more times. All told... 3 a.m., 6, 6:45, 7:15, 1:30 p.m. and nothing since then (it's 7:15 p.m. or so). She started running a fever so we took her to her doctor and he prescribed her some Albuterol. We're a little hesitant, although she's been coughing pretty hard at night for the last several weeks.

Anyway, she was feeling better when a lizard was running free in our house. We had fun and made a video out of it. Her nickname, by the way, is Squirrel (like RG's daughter!).

Motivational Mondays (April 27)

I was all set to go with a motivational post that would help us all kick-start our week and help me jump-start my own back-to-the-gym routine, but then life intervened.

Kennedy woke us up at 3 a.m. crying and nearly vomiting. She proceeded to do so while Mrs. LB and I tried to calm her down, take care of her, clean up, give her a bath... in short make sure she was okay.

We went back to bed, put her in bed with us, and went back to bed. At about 5:30 or so, I came to and Mrs. LB was getting ready for work. About a half-hour later, Kennedy woke up and repeated the process. And she proceeded to vomit about three more times after that. Poor girl.

So now instead of planning a gym routine, I'm trying to figure out how to plan the day around Kennedy's needs. Went to the store and got some 7-Up, crackers, Gatorade. So far, so good. She's had no episodes for more than 90 minutes now and she's gotten her spirits up a bit now that she's home and watching a DVD.

I'm blaming dinner on Sunday (we had take-out) but my wife, well, being a worrier she's worried it's related to the massive swine flu outbreak in Mexico. There have been a handful of reported cases in Texas and California, aside from the more than 800 cases in Mexico. She's not really displaying the symptoms except for the vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy but the other cases have had more than 100-degree temperatures as well, and she has no temperature.

Sometimes, when life throws a curve ball at you, you just have to be prepared to deal with it as best as possible. And while I didn't get to work out, I'm still motivated today to take of someone. It's just not me.

ADD: Figured I'd put a picture of the girls up here. We went to California Adventure on Friday and got this picture up.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On hiatus

I've been meaning to post some Savory Sundays posts but have been met with resistance.

The culprits:

* My half-marathon. I spent a lot of time training for that, time that could have been spent making food and posting pictures.

* My laptop. I had a crappy laptop to work with but I got a new one, and it rules.

* Routine. I've gotten into a routine recently of making things I've already featured before on here. I was doing well to make new dishes up until I realized I only make the same 10-15 dishes over and over and over again. I have to start trying new things once again.

So instead of a Savory Sundays post today, I bring you.... nothing. Sorry.

Okay, well, I can't leave you empty handed so I'll let you in on something I don't think I mentioned on this blog before. I used to teach. I was a fifth-grade teacher before, back in 2003. It was the most horrible experience of my life and I have some demons from those days that I've not dealt with and have pushed into the recesses of my soul. I quit midway through the school year after the most horrible experience of my life.

In short, I'd wanted to teach for several years and thought I would be good at it. But I was terrible at it. Part of the problem was the way I got into it - I got in through a district intern program so I didn't get credentialed, much less the proper way, before I got into the classroom.

I also taught in a rough inner city elementary school, and if you aren't from there you really cannot relate to the students. It's just a different world for those children. If I would have taught here in my own neighborhood, it might have been a different story. But that's not what happened.

I've given up hope of teaching, mostly. I think far removed from the experience things have softened somewhat. Not a whole lot because if I think about it, I can really get into a depressed state pretty quickly. But I can at least allow myself to consider teaching. But - and this is a giant BUT - it would NOT be elementary school. If I ever pursue teaching, and I'd put the chances of that happening at between 5-10 percent, I'd pursue either high school math or special education. Both of those things appeal to me. I have taught as a substitute teacher off and on since 2001 and I've always been a bit drawn to those classes.

But mainstream classes or something that isn't math (unless it's journalism, I would like that) in high school, I wouldn't consider it. No way.

Alright then, on that depressing note... uh, let's see, um, here's something that helped me recover from that horrid time:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blank screen

I haven't worked out all week. Not once, unless you call walking around California Adventure for four hours on Friday a workout... well, maybe it is, but never mind.

Anyway, no working out has made LB a sluggish person. I'm slowed both mentally and physically. Now, while my wife might say that I'm typically a little slow about certain things sometimes (ie changing out some light bulbs around the house, laundry, you know, fun stuff), I feel like I'm in a haze.

It's taking me twice as long to process certain things. It seems that way anyway. And sadly coffee doesn't help. I feel like all I want to do is lay around and do nothing.

Hmmm... strangely, that's how I felt all the time before, when I never worked out. I always felt like I had cobwebs floating around my head. But now that I'm active, I feel more energized and have a greater drive to do different things. Like, it's not on ordeal to mow the lawn now and washing the car, while it still sucks to do, isn't taxing.

I'm not any more happier to mow the lawn or wash the care now than I was before; it didn't become less of a chorse, you know. Just takes less effort.

Anyway, I'm going to get back at it on Monday and work out. I just have to slog through another day and a half.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't down deez drinks, dude

I blogged about the Top 20 Worst Drinks in America as presented by The Mag. Actually, on Thursday I gave you numbers 20-11.

Here are the Top 10 drinks to avoid.

Disclaimer: If you like Starbucks and/or Baskin Robbin's, you may not want to proceed.

10. Worst Chai Tea Drink: Caribou Coffee Large Chai Tea Latte (420 cal, 47g sugar)
9. Worst Kid's Hot Beverage: Cosi Kid's Hot Chocolate (436 cal, 60g sugar per 12 oz. can)
8. Worst Summer Cocktail: PiƱa Colada (625 cal, 75g sugar)
7. Worst Coffee Alternative: Starbucks Venti White Hot Chocolate (640 cal, 76g sugar, 23 g fat - 15 g saturated)
6. Worst Hot Coffee: Starbucks Venti 2% Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha (660 cal, 95g sugar, 22 g fat - 14 g saturated)
5. Worst Blended Fruit Drink: Baskin-Robbins Pomegranate Banana Fruit Blast Smoothie (1,020 cal, 232g sugar per 32 oz.)
4. Worst Frozen Coffee Drink: Cosi Gigante Double OH! Arctic (1,033 cal, 35g fat, 177g carb per 24 oz)
3. Worst Smoothie: Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo'd Power Smoothie (1,170 cal, 169g sugar per 30 oz.)
2. Worst Milkshake: Baskin-Robbins Large York Peppermint Pattie Shake (2,210 cal, 281g sugar, 103g fat - 57 g saturated - per 30 oz)
1. The Worst Drink in America: Baskin-Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake (2,310 cal, 266g sugar, 108g fat - 64 g saturated)


* My wife loves the two Starbucks drinks on this list but she swaps out some of the stuff that makes it appear on this list - she gets the peppermint mocha sans whip cream. That helps minimize some of the damage. I don't like peppermint at all so I've never been addicted to that. Actually, I've never been that crazy over Starbucks but that's mostly a cost thing. I did however go to Panera Bread recently and I think I might make that a regular destination.

* I can't believe that numbers two and one each have more than 2,000 calories. That is just insane.

* Smoothies can also be a bit deceiving and that two are on this list should just serve a reminder to not take things at face value. I go to this place at the local mall (I forget the name) for smoothies (when I'm not making them myself of course) and that place pretty much tosses some fruit into a blender as well as some plain yogurt and that's it. Pretty much you're drinking mashed up fruit, not so much the 200 grams of sugar found in those other ones.

* As with anything, though, you just have to pay attention to the labels. And if you're going to Baskin-Robbins, chances are you won't have many healthy choices. So know that ahead of time. When I go to certain places (like yesterday for lunch I went to an all-you-can-eat Mexican food buffet at a local El Torito) that I know I'm going to be surrounded by less-than-healthy options, I just plan for that ahead of time and try to accomodate as much as possible.

The Big One

I've fretted about this, probably too much. You know, that 26.2 mile race.

Wondered, pondered, pictured, imagined.

Worried, fretted, squirmed, fidgeted.

Decided? Yes... but there's a but.

I want to do it. I want to tackle what many consider the biggest physical challenge us lay people can tackle. I want to train for, strive for, fight for, struggle for one.

I want to run a marathon.


I can't do it alone. So I've come up with something. For a while now, my wife has been insisting I join some sort of running club. She told me about a local running group called the Loma Linda Lopers, which I'd vaguely heard about before. The Lopers are a running club and help runners (and walkers) of any level meet running (or walking) goals. In fact, one of their big things is helping people train for marathons. Their "season" runs from July to June, so if I join it probably won't be until July.

I believe right now they are training for a marathon in late May, the last weekend in May. And that's far too quickly for me to consider running one. Besides I have a business trip planned for the following week (guess I'll mention now that I'm going to Costa Rica from June 1-6) and the last thing I need is to limp around Central America for a week.

There will be other marathons, I'm sure. The Lopers typically have trained for the Los Angeles Marathon which traditionally has been in February or March, but when that marathon switched to May, the Lopers turned their focus on the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, Calif. And that's where they'll focus for the next clinic. Starting in July, the Lopers will begin training for the 2010 Surf City Marathon.

So that might be my first marathon. I want to take this next step in my fitness journey, the hardest possible step I can take but I'm afraid that I can't do it alone. I'm also aware that this running thing is more than just a hobby but rahter an integral part of my life now. And if it's important, I should invest some time and money into it, and try to gain as much knowledge as I can. In some ways I think I've come as far as I can on my own, and now it's time to seek out some help from more experienced runners.

Now, if I didn't have this goal of running a marathon perhaps things would be different. In fact, earlier Thursday I was thinking that I should focus on 10Ks and try to get to the point where I can run a 10K in under 50 minutes. But that goal does not excite me as much as the prospect of running a marathon does.

Is it going to be hard? Yeah. Is it going to make me suffer physically and emotionally? Probably. But is it something that I feel the need to take on? Yes.

Here then I'm going to formally submit my intentions of running a marathon. Whether it's in 2010, before or after will eventually be sorted out, but that's where I stand now and that's what I want.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drink up me 'earties, yo ho!

Actually you may want to avoid drinking up this stuff.

The Mag released their Top 20 Worst Drinks in America. I've got numbers 20-11 today and will have the Top 10 for you on Friday.

20. Worst Light Beer: Samuel Adams Light (124 calories, 10g carb)
19. Worst "Healthy" Drink: Glaceau VitaminWater (133 cal, 33g sugar per 20 oz. bottle)
18. Worst Soda: Sunkist (190 cal, 52g sugar per 12 oz.)
17. Worst Beer: Sierra Nevada Stout (210 cal, 20g carb per 12 oz. bottle)
16. Worst Lemonade: Minute Maid Lemonade (250 cal, 68g sugar per 20 oz. bottle)
15. Worst Tea-Like Substance: SoBe Zen Tea (275 cal, 70g sugar per 20 oz. bottle)
14. Worst Energy Drink: Rockstar Original (280 cal, 62g sugar per 16 oz. bottle)
13. Worst Iced Tea: Lipton Iced Brisk Lemon Iced Tea (325 cal, 81g sugar per 20 oz. bottle)
12. Worst Juice Imposter: Arizona Kiwi Strawberry (360 cal, 84g sugar per 23.5 oz. can)
11. Worst Chocolate Milk: Nesquik (400 cal, 60g sugar, 10g fat - 6g saturated - per 16 oz. bottle)

Some random thoughts:

* I picked up on the Minute Maid Lemonade a while back and stopped drinking it. I just glanced at the nutritional info once and thought that the calories sounded way too high for something I thought shouldn't have been as high. I love lemonade but that's something I don't indulge on too much.

* I'm not a big fan of flavored water or energy drinks not named Gatorade. All those Rockstar and Monster energy drinks are just loaded with sugar.

* No wonder my girls always want me to get them Nesquik chocolate milk. They've had it before, at their grandma's house, so when they see the bottle at the store they always ask for it and I always say no. And that was before I read this list. Now when they ask for it they'll get an emphatic "You must be out of your mind if you think I'm buying you that" response from me. The Mag actually suggests something good as an alternative - take some two percent milk and a scoop of powdered cocoa and make your own. Sounds good to me... except I used up all my powdered cocoa making Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins.... hey, this list is about unhealthy drinks, not really-good-but-probably-not-healthy-Saturday-morning-treats, okay?

* Sunkist? That's a wolf in sheep's clothing. I used to think that if a soda wasn't dark then it was better for you. That's ridiculous. If a soda is a soda, then it's not good for you. Diet soda, Coke Zero, that stuff is passable and not as bad for you but really soda is just unhealthy in general. Not saying I don't drink soda but if I do I really try to keep it to one a day (or at least something equivalent to 12 ounces).

* I guess I should be happy that I don't already drink any of this stuff so that's good to know.

Another half?

I guess I like torture. That's the only explanation I can come up with. I like to torture myself.

I'm taking a look at running in this half-marathon, the Camp Pendleton Heartbreak Ridge 13.1 Marathon, to be precise. It's on Sept. 19, which would be perfect actually. I'd love to run some sort of race in September, a longer race, and the other 13.1 marathon I'd consider is way overpriced (the Disneyland Half Marathon charges $120 compared to $40 for this one).

This course, though, is something else. It wouldn't be as easy as the Run Through Redlands... and that wasn't exactly "easy." But compared to this, it might seem that way.

From the Web site:

COURSE: 13.1-mile course, 90% gravel off-road through the breathtaking rolling hills of Camp Pendleton in the 43 area. Course is on packed fire-roads. This race draws over 1,000 runners who compete for awards in 50 categories. This course offers a little bit of everything - it’s an out and back course, including rolling hills and some flat and fast stretches intermixed throughout. Course support is plentiful with water/electrolyte replacement and medical aid stations throughout.

Um, yeah, the whole "breathtaking rolling hills" part sort of throws me off. Do they mean the view is breathtaking or that the terrain will beat you up so much that it will take your breath away? I'm guessing the latter.

I'm up for a challenge and if I do run a marathon, I don't think it will be this year (that blog post is coming so keep an eye out for it!).

I think the October Mud Run is already sold out, wait, let me check.... yeah, it's sold out. As of April 4. So that's out of the question. I'll need something to train for and dread and fear and be anxious over this fall, and this race might be it. So for now, I'm setting my sights on this half marathon. And I can tell you right now, there's no way on God's green earth that I will come close to two hours, nor will I care.

I'd be happy just to walk away with my breath intact.

Here's the course map:

Yeah, not easy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More blog biz

To kind of streamline this blog I added some links over on the right. I believe I blogged about this once before but...

I get tired of always trying to explain and re-explain certain things. Like my heart rate monitor for instance. I suppose I shouldn't assume that all the people who come across this blog knows about my heart rate monitor but still I feel like I have to explain what my heart rate monitor is every time I introduce it or it comes up in a post. So I've been calling it The Polar, and my Garmin Forerunner 101 as The Garmin.

So all that's on the right now.

And just so we're on the same page...

The Polar: my heart rate monitor, my beloved HR monitor; I've learned so much about my body because of this valuable tool. To think, I've only had it since Father's Day 2008. I lost all my weight without the benefit of this but to really get to know my body this has been an invaluable tool. It's a Polar F4 heart rate monitor. It comes with a strap that straps around your abdomen. It actually tore my sides apart during the half-marathon, pain that still persists, but I really have gotten so used to the strap that I couldn't work out without it.

The Garmin: My beloved Garmin Forerunner 101. Extremely accurate, as you would expect from a GPS watch. Between this and The Polar, I've become a much stronger runner.

The Mag: Men's Health is an awesome magazine. I much prefer it to sports magazines or any other kind of magazine really, although the one below is a close second. Men's Health gives me much more than just fitness tips. It provides info on cooking, nutrition, style, fashion and tons of other cool info. And really, it's not just for men - my wife often reads this over.

The Other Mag: I was never into running, so I never got into Runner's World magazine. Duh. But it just makes sense that if I run I get a magazine solely dedicated to running. A lot of things in there are for far more experienced runners than me, but there are a lot of excellent tips that can be of use for any level of runner. I subscribe to this magazine as well.

The Book: I wanted to get a book to help me train for the half marathon but also wanted to get something that would help me become a better runner overall and something that would arm me with a lot of knowledge. The Runner's Handbook has done that and more. It's got so many tips, so much info that it's impossible to pick it up and not get some new bit of info out of it.

Anyway, there you go. Just bit of updating on this here trusty blog.

Why the name?

From the time I completed my first-ever 10K, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in October, my readership has expanded somewhat. And I hope (as we all I imagine) to draw in more readers and to have some sort of growing audience.

So I believe some current and potential future readers probably are unaware why I named my blog Muddy Runner. It's simple, because of the Mud Run. The Mud Run wasn't my first-ever run, but it was the reason I got into running. I signed up for it at the urging of my brother and did so having not run very much prior to that.

Slowly I started to run in preparation for this and that spurned my love of running.

Well, I bring this up for a pair of reasons. The familiarize-yourself-with-this-blog reason I gave, and for the fact that this is my next race. The next time I hit the gym, it will be with this in mind.

This is my youngest brother (not the one who got me into the Mud Run) and we celebrated together. He's running in the Mud Run as well.

I'm sure I'll blog quite a bit more about the Mud Run but I just figured I'd catch up any current or new readers who wondered, 'What's with the name?'

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Final steps

The last moments of Sunday's half-marathon.

Post-half thoughts

I spent so much time and energy and mileage on the Run Through Redlands that I can't just walk away from it before getting some things out of my system. Instead of making large, rambling posts on each of these topics (because I certainly can ramble), I figured I'd do a short burst of thoughts here and give myself more fodder to consider.

Training Sked Change

My time was good. I'm not taking away from my time. Could it have been better? Yeah, maybe. I'm not going to obsess about time, but it is something that I'm going to focus on of course. It's just a bit of a delicate balance, I suppose. So, how could I have gotten a better time? Well, that's maybe not the right away of phrasing it... How can I do better in the future for upcoming half-marathon races?

I think a more effective training schedule would do well. A 12-week schedule with seven double-digit runs was ultimately not realistic, with my work schedule and Dad Duty priorities, it was difficult sticking to the schedule. I think a shorter training schedule, possibly six weeks, would do well. If I've got a solid base to build on, then it shouldn't take more than six weeks to build up to running another half-marathon.

Musical Meanderings

The music worked out great! I somehow timed it perfectly. The first four miles were great as the songs I chose served their purpose. I had songs from Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers, Flogging Molly and Guns N Roses (thanks Tats & Teething Rings for the suggestion!). Right at the 4-mile marker, the Johnny Cash portion of the playlist began with (Ghost) Riders In The Sky and four miles later The Highwayman got me right to mile 8. The last five miles were all Metallica, and Lord knows I needed the heavy artillery to finish off. The only problem was that my iPod died on me right when one of my favorite heavy songs started, Disposable Heroes. It took me about two minutes to shut it down, get it back up and running and find the spot on my playlist. Those were two horrible quiet minutes in which I heard my feet, my breathing and everything around me. Painful! The song that played as I hit my stride at the end was Damage Inc., which I couldn't have time more perfectly. That song always riles me up!

Post-Race Relaxation?

After the race, my brothers and our respective families took our mom out for her birthday. It was fun and all but I think the next time I run a half marathon, I'm going to spend the rest of the day at home, relaxing.

What's Next?

This week, nothing. No running. No bike. No elliptical. No soccer. No nothing. After this weekend, I'm going to see how I feel and get back to the gym. I have the Mud Run coming up on June 13 but that's the only race I am officially registered for as of now. With that race, I'm going to be doing more interval runs, might spend some time on the elliptical, will run a stingy hill that's near my house multiple times and will start weight lifting again. Gotta bulk up a little. Truth be told, I'd rather just run but I need to hit the weights.

But in terms of other races, I'm not sure. There are a lot of Maybes over on the right there, and I may end up running one or two of them, maybe all of them, who knows?

Okay, What About The Biggie?

Oh yeah, that. I said all along that I would consider running a marathon once I did the half marathon.


Um. Yeah. I guess I have to figure that out. Well I don't have to, but still.

Stop dilly-dallying.

Oh. Sorry. Got off topic there. Um, if you would have asked me after the half marathon about a marathon, I would have said an emphatic NO WAY. I could not have imagined running that course a second time in my condition.

But that's the key phrase: in my condition. I am not in condition to run a marathon. But I can train for one. I know I can run 14 miles, 15 miles, 16 miles... I feel it. I can do it.

But what about 26.2?

Undecided. That, actually, I will dedicate a full post to.

Will you answer the question then?

I don't know. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Run recap

I promised a longer account of the Run Through Redlands. Here goes.

I was quite nervous before the race. It was showtime and of course the last-minute jitters made me doubt myself. But I figured getting to the race early would have helped, and it did. I got to Redlands about 45 minutes before race time, which was enough for me to comfortably register, put on my bib, relax, walk around and acclimate myself to the whole environment.

But when I got to the start line, I was jittery all over again. Maybe it was the finality of it all, like the no-going-back stage was upon me. At exactly 7:25 though, I had no choice but to run. No more room for nerves, anxiety, nothing. It was on.

I felt good early on. I was erring on the side of caution and was going at a slow and steady pace. For the first mile or two, I ddin't get past 10-minute-miles. Of course, near the end of the second mile I realized my shoe was coming undone and had to stop to tie my shoe. It was a bit annoying and more so because I had forgotten to take care of that before I set off on my run.

Turns out, that was the only time I stopped running. I navigated through hills, long straightaways, parks, residential areas, all throughout Redlands.

After about an hour, I felt good. I was about six miles in at the point and wondered if I could knock out seven miles in an hour. At the start of the seventh mile, I decided to try and pick up the pace a little but by the time I hit the 8-mile mark I realized that wasn't the best idea. My heart rate leapt up to 178 and I knew that pushing it at a heightened pace wasn't a good idea at that point.

But no matter, I was still doing well overall. I made it past the ninth and finally 10th miles and felt good. I'd been doing well to drink water throughout the course but seemingly right after the 10th mile, I was in desperate need of water. Sunday topped out in the mid-90s here in the Inland area, and the sun was getting pretty high even at those early-morning hours.

Of course, when I needed the water, I wasn't finding the water. There wasn't much water between the 10th and 11th mile markers. But when I finally came across some water, I grabbed two cups, drank one and drizzled the other on myself.

By that point, I had passed the 12-mile marker, though I hadn't seen it. It was the only one I did not see. I made it a point to celebrate each one but by Mile 13, I was exhausted and was not up for any celebrating.

I headed down the last stretch as volunteers kept telling us "Four more blocks to go!" and "Three more blocks!" but I couldn't quite see the finish line. It was around a corner and I'd gone into my sprint before than. As soon as I rounded the corner, I saw my wife and daughters. They were happy to see me as a whizzed by them and that gave me plenty of energy to see me through. I ran hard, ran fast and gave everything I had. My final time was 2:14:50.

And I paid for it. I crossed the finish line and slowed down. I wanted to let myself fall down on a patch of grass but made myself keep walking. I grabbed some oranges available to runners and walked towards my family. I dropped to my knees out of pure exhaustion. I needed somethink to drink and thankully my wife had brought me some Gatorade. I was short of breath by that point, literally wheezing short puffs of breath so I guzzled some Gatorade and sucked those oranges dry. I also ate a banana my wife had brought me. Pretty soon, that strange wheezing passed and I gathered myself.

I felt blisters on my feet. My sides hurt. My nipples ached. My muscles were already screaming in pain. My body took quite a beating, quite a pounding and suddenly the heat became intense as I sat there, trying to compose myself. I went back for more oranges (I swear, an orange never tasted that good!) and eventually I felt okay.

My body went through a lot and if I'd have known that before the race... well, I still would have done it but it's not necessarily a pleasant feeling.

Still, it's a great achievement for myself. And I figure once the pain - discomfort would be more accurate I suppose - subsides all I'll be left with are the memories and a sense of accomplishment. I'll take that any day of the week.

Motivational Mondays (April 20)

Impossible? What's impossible?

That this person can't lose the weight?

That this severely overweight guy can't change his lifestyle?

That the fat won't come off, no matter what?

Well, I can vouch personally that nothing is impossible.

And I've got 13.1 miles to back me up.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I did it!

I am wiped out. I'm feeling some blisters on my right foot. My muscles ache, my side is tender and, yes, my nipples hurt.

But I did it! I ran my first half marathon! I finished in about 2 hours 15 minutes and change. I'm feeling every second of that right now. Actually the worst was when I crossed the finish line. I was literally wheezing. I sprinted the last half mile and sapped strength completely.

According to the Polar, I averaged a heart rate of 174 and burned 2348 calories.

Anyway I will have full details later along with pictures. Might not be until tomorrow but I'll post something.

For now, I'm going to try and enjoy the rest of the day, bloody nipples and all.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Under two hours - possible?

When I first set out to run a half marathon and actually got to thinking about the time involved, I immediately figured that two hours would be a good goal. If I could finish in under two hours, that would be an accomplishment.

Then, I wondered if that was realistic. And along with that, I wondered if I should even care about my time at all, and worry more about finishing the race than anything.

But now, on the eve of the Big Race, I've come up with an acceptable sort of compromise - if I'm within sights of two hours during the race, I'm going to go for it.

First, though, I have to get there. My race strategy is simple: build slowly and run at a slow but steady pace, build up to a strong middle portion and finish well. If I build too quickly and allow my heart rate to spiral out of control, then all hell is going to break loose. But if I can manage it well and am doing good time, I might push myself and see about finishing in under two hours.
Incidentally, if you take the times I ran for my Seal Beach 10K and translate them into half-marathon time, it's 1:58:07. I don't know if I can sustain such a pace for more than twice as long but it is encouraging.

My biggest fear is that either I'll push myself too hard and then will hit the wall earlier than I should or that I'll push myself too early and then hit the wall earlier than I should. Those are legimate concerns. I've never ran 13 miles before so I don't know what to expect. I might feel fine in Mile 11, push myself and then fall apart midway through the last mile.

Ultimately, though, I am not going to be disappointed with whatever time I get. I set out to run a sub-25:00 5K last June and I was at 25:05 but I've never felt disappointed with that time, and in fact it's encouraging and I feel as if it was a good bar to set with my first-ever race.

So if I finish in 2:00:01, I might feel like a turd... okay if I finish one second slower than two hours, I'll be a bit upset, but if I finish in 2:04:33 for instance I'll be happy, just as happy as if I finish in 1:59:29 or 2:12:09 or 2:22:17. Finishing is the key, and I want to run a race that I'll be proud of no matter what time I get. If I give it an honest effort, than everything else will fall into place.

Musical choices

All along I thought I'd have my playlist for the half-marathon sorted out by now. It's a day before and I've got little left to prepare. All of my physical activity is pretty much over and the only thing left between now and the race is a few precious hours.

That, and the composition of a playlist.

I've sort of anticipated this moment though. For most of this week, I've been abstaining from listening to anything that may end up on my playlist. On Thursday I listened to some Flogging Molly songs but not the ones I think I might throw on the playlist. Metallica has been minimal this week, as has been Johnny Cash and The Killers.

I listed to Prince a lot today. And the 80s channel on my Sirius. As much as I like The Cars, they probably won't make the cut.

So I've got about 2 hours 30 minutes worth of songs I need to come up with. In reality I probably will only need about 2 hours 15 minutes but you never know what will happen, and the last thing I want to do is to fumble around on my iPod as I'm closing in on the last mile of the race, or worse run in silence.

I think that I'll have to break down the music for the race in three parts, though not all parts will be equal amounts of time:

* Early, uppity songs. This will include Flogging Molly, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, maybe some Nirvana, Jane's Addiction, White Zombie, The Raconteurs... I can probably get in a good 30-45 minutes worth of songs from this group alone.

* The mellow middle. While I'll be hitting the middle miles hard, I want to settle into a comfortable rhythm and what better way to do so than listening to Johnny Cash? I'm anticipating a solid 40 minutes minimum of Johnny Cash. I've actually not allowed myself to listen to Johnny Cash for more than a few weeks because I want this middle part to be comfortable and not difficult.

* Heavy finish. Yep, it's all about Metallica in the end. I'll have some of their 8-minute symphonies in here (Orion, Call of Ktulu) along with some of the faster, hard-hitting tunes (Dyer's Eve, Fight Fire With Fire, Disposable Heroes). That last song... their bassist described it as a freight train and that's the perfect description. And that's what I'll need to get through the last portion of the race.

As much as race strategy plays a role in this half marathon, so to does the choice in music. I love my music and it's an important part of my running and training in general, so I've invested quite a bit of time in thinking this through. Now if I could just get to an actual playlist... I suppose instead of blogging about it I could have actually done it, but then I wouldn't have gotten to spend time on this blog...

Friday, April 17, 2009

What time is it?

I'm pretty much drained right now, all tapped out. I can't go any further until I recharge my batteries.

This song pretty much sums up how I feel right about now.

Actually, Kennedy and I. She beat me to the punch and is sprawled out on the living room floor. I'm going to lay next to her.

A pre-run through Redlands

On Sunday, I'll be running through the city of Redlands here in nearby San Bernardino County. But I figured I'd get a sneak preview of the views that await and share them here on the blog with you all.

First, a bit of background on Redlands. It's an affluent community here in San Bernardino County, and stands out from the neighboring poverty-stricken cities such as San Bernardino, Fontana and Rialto. Redlands has about 70,000 residents and is a nice little town. It's home to the University of Redlands as well as the AK Smiley Library, the Redlands Bowl and many older-style homes, not so much the cookie-cutter suburbs that dominate other parts of the Inland empire.

As far as the Run Through Redlands, here's a course map:

That's a lot of mile markers!

Here are some of the places I'll be running past:

The Redlands Country Club is apparently part of the run. Not sure if it's early or late, didn't study the map that carefully and don't know my way around Redlands well enough to say where it is with regards to the rest of the course. But it looks welcoming.

Prospect Park is somewhere along the course. It looks like a nice place (never been) and it would be nice to run through the park.

And this is the Redlands Bowl. Not sure if I'll be running down this part to finish but this is where the race will end. This is where I'll collapse into a blubbering heap of nothingness after more than two hours of running. Can't wait.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tminus three days

The thought struck me on today's run, when I had barely pulled on to the sidewalk and had fired up the Garmin and the Polar, when Flogging Molly had barely started to flog Molly.

In 72 hours, it will all be over.

I had to do some quick calculations since I didn't immediately trust myself. It was about 9:40 a.m., and at 9:40 a.m. on Sunday morning...

See, I told you. All over.

Sunday's half-marathon starts at 7 a.m. and I anticipate taking between 2 hours and 2 hours, 15 minutes to finish. So translate that into actual time, race starts at 7, I'll be done no later than 9:15. And I don't know why I say that so matter-of-factly, like I'll be driving from my house to the beach and anticipating it to take a certain amount of time with little physical effort on my part.

But yes, this race of mine will be over. And I can separate myself a little bit from the pre-race preparation, the race itself and the post-race festivities. Of course, today was my second-to-last prep run for the monster that awaits Sunday. As I felt on Wednesday after a quick gym session, I felt very encouraged by the stats.

The stats:

5.07 miles, 49:07, avg HR 167, max HR 180, nipple pain moderate, fingers cold...

Okay, maybe the last two I'll have to work on a bit. I'll have to remember to take my vaseline and my gloves.

Anyway, my race strategy will be simple. Start slow but steady, build up to a strong late-middle portion and finish... well, not sure what condition I'll be in around, say Mile 11.5. I'd like to think that I'll be able to turn up the jets a little during the last portion of the race but if I'm sputtering, I'll just be thinking about the finish.

The key will be what I was keeping an eye on today and on Wednesday, and that's keeping my heart rate in check. I can't let it spiral too high too early. If I can maintain it at or around 160-165 for the first 2-3 miles, I'm going to be solid. If it's not too high over 170 by mile 4-5, that's going to be great. But if I'm scratching the 180s before mile 6.... not good.

Friday I'll do an interval run just to kind of give it one final push before Sunday. On Saturday, I'm going to spend the day dreading Sunday and being a nervous wreck in general... I mean, I'm going to spend the day preparing myself mentally for the race as well as trying to eat the right things (pasta) in preparation for Sunday.

I go nap now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Black toenails

Earlier this year, my wife and I went to get pedicures. And as I sat down, I remember th...

... yeah, I get pedicures. What? I like 'em, alright....

Uh, anyway, the lady asked me if I wanted to paint my toenails. I was like, nah, I'm cool. I like to indulge but I gotta draw the line somewhere. But as my feet sat in the hot water and as the lady rubbed my feet and my legs and sent me into a blissful relaxation, I thought that it might be kind of cool to paint my toenails black. It'd be different, something I've never done before and black isn't really girly or anything. I'm not getting a pink flower on it or something, right? So what's the harm?

Ultimately, though, I didn't opt for black. But she slapped some clear nail polish on my toes anyway, because, uh, um... well, I just said screw it, okay? It was just for shits and giggles, I suppose.

Well, my toes have started to turn black and nail polish doesn't have anything to do with it. In January or so, the second toe on my right foot started to hurt, to the point where it bothered me while I ran. For a few days it hurt, and then it kinda went away. And my nail turned black. And it's still black.

Last week, the same toe on my left leg also went through the same process. It hurt for a few days, then the pain went away. And just yesterday, I realized that my nail was all black. Nice.

I showed my wife and she was not very happy with me. I kinda just lifted my toe up close so she could get a good look, so I might understand her initial displeasure. But I think it's pretty cool to be honest. I have matching black toenails. How cool is that?

We were having this conversation last night, and I told her that I felt that sort of made me a runner, an official runner. My bloody nipples are one thing, but to have something tangible like black toenails is pretty cool, like a... well, I called it a rite of passage but that wasn't quite right.

My wife said "like a badge of honor?"

Yeah! A badge of honor! That's it. my black toenails are my badges of honor.

I went and got my runner's handbook and looked up the index.

toenails 567-69

I flipped through there and found that I probably caused the black toenail situation by not having kept the nails short. Apparently, long toenails combined with the constant friction of running can cause blistering under the toenail. Blisters can turn black, and the book says to leave them alone if that happens.

At the end of the section on black toenails, it said the following, which I got a giant kick out of:

"Most runners experience black toenails. Consider it a badge of honor!'

Gym work

Suddenly, my half marathon is looming large. Not sure if its the reality of the situation or my sense of not being prepared or what but the race seems a far more difficult prospect today than ever before.

I'm headed to the gym to try and calm my fears and get a run in. I've got some more thoughts to get down but the gym awaits. Let's hope I can maximize what precious little prep time I have left.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Motivational Mondays (April 13)

I'm actually finding it a little tough to get motivated this morning. This is the last week before my half-marathon. It's Sunday already, and it'll soon be time to show what I'm made of.

It's kind of intimidating, really. Not just the distance and the race itself but how I perform and the fact that everything I've done to prepare for it will show on Sunday. There's no hiding from a 13.1 mile run, no shortcuts, no I'll-get-to-it-later excuses.

So I just have to get back to the basics this week. Short runs. Eat right. Try and get some solid nights' worth of rest. And then as end of the week approaches, I'll have to focus and get myself mentally prepared.

It's kind of like I'm line for a frightening roller coaster. I can see the end right now but I've still got a bit to go. There'll come a point when I will be up next, and then it'll be time to step into the car, strap on the harness, buckle up and hold on for dear life.

I think I'll be strapping in on Saturday, getting myself mentally focused for the race. I can't let it intimidate me, so I can't really think about it too much or it will.

So my motivation today is for baby steps. I'll get through today, then Tuesday, then Wednesday and Thursday and I'll have gotten in three runs by then. Friday is up in the air in terms of a run/workout, but it'll probably do me some good to get a bit of activity in (I'm actually planning a long run on Wednesday) and then Saturday I'll spend the day with a knot in my stomach and eating pasta.

Baby steps, LB, baby steps. Think little or the big picture will loom larger than it should.

ADD: I just did something really stupid and officially signed up and paid for the race. I waited until the last minute, not sure why, but I signed up for it. Now or never. Breathe.... breathe.....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

From severe to mild/moderate

After my recent sleep study, I was wondering when I would receive the results. I was tempted to call the doctor's office later that same week but figured I'd just wait for them to call me, which they did earlier this week. On Friday, I had my doctor's visit and got the lo-down.

In short, my sleep apnea is gone from severe to mild/moderate. In the doctor's words:

I'm very happy you lost all that weight. It's a good thing you lost weight but the sleep apnea didn't go away.

So while the impact of my sleep apnea has lessened, it hasn't completely gone away. And my body will attest to that. I haven't worn my CPAP with regularity, okay, I haven't worn it at all, since my sleep study and most days I need to lie down for a bit of a nap. But last night I wore it and right now I feel great.

I got a copy of my sleep study and it has some statistics on it. Only thing is, I'm not sure what's good or not. According to the sleep study, I had 462.0 minutes of total bed time, which seems like an awful lot. That's just under eight hours, which honestly to me is a lot. Rare is the time I get in eight hours. It took me 14 minutes to fall asleep, took me 209 minutes to get to my first REM period (normal is 90 minutes) and my sleep efficiency was 88.7 percent... whatever that last number means. Sounds like an important stat.

Before I continue, a quick refresher course on stages of sleep:

Stage 1 Awake: this means you are not asleep
Stage 2 Light Sleep: you're out but your right at the surface
Stage 3/4 Slow Wave Sleep: also referred to as deep sleep
Stage REM: for some people, an earthquake or some other act of God couldn't jar them out from this stage. Your eyes move and flutter during this stage, and about 20-25 percent of the night is spent here.

Now, during the sleep study I slept some time without a CPAP and some time with the CPAP.

Without the CPAP

Stage 1: 5.0
Stage 2: 63.0
Stage 3/4: 23.3
Stage REM: 8.7

At 2:55, the sleep tech woke me up, put my CPAP on and let me fall back asleep. That stats (which I think might look a little distorted because I was already asleep)

Stage 1: 9.0
Stage 2: 39.5
Stage 3/4: 0.0
Stage REM: 51.5

So I slept good that last two hours (she woke me up for got at 5:09:14 am, apparently). There loads of other stats but I don't know what means what (I had 37 PML arousals, hey now). But all in all, looks encouraging.

Anyway, one other good thing. My blood pressure the previous time I'd gone to the doctor's was 144/70-something but on Friday it was at 122/68. I guess it means I wasn't as stressed as the first time, which is strange because that time I went alone and on Friday my daughters went with me.

But the kicker, last time I weighed at 189.8 or so, just under 190, and Friday I weighed 185.9. Sweet!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reading rainbow

(I said I was going to post about family stuff, well, here goes)

My wife and I are very pro-education. We're very pro-reading. School is important to us, education is important to us and we always knew that we'd be actively involved in our daughters' schooling.

Yvie's in Kindergarten now, and she's doing well. She loves school, loves learning and is doing well in school because of it.

In our local school district, there's a dual-immersion program in which she's enrolled. The program teaches the students 90 percent of the day in Spanish and 10 percent of the day in English in Kindergarten. In theory, it would increase to 80 percent Spanish, 20 percent English in First Grade, 70-30 in Second, 60-40 in Third and would top off at 50-50 in Fourth. I say in theory because the district is in its second year with this program, and only has K and First. But this program has been around in other parts of the state and country so it has some track record.

We just felt it was a great opportunity for her to really learn Spanish, learn a second language, and it's working out well. I can speak Spanish but never took any classes, so it's at a pretty rudimentary level. With any hope, Yvie's won't be. And there's plenty of hope, to be honest.

In terms of reading, in Kindergarten they have only taught her the alphabet and everything related to reading in Spanish. She's been taught nothing in English. No th- makes the "th" sound, no long or short vowels, nothing. That's part of the program. We knew that going in and I was never bothered by it. Some parents were a bit puzzled by it, wondering how and when their child would learn to read English.

Now, I can't speak for other parents but we've been reading to Yvie since before she was born. We started to read to her when she was negative-two months old. Alright, not sure if that exists but before she entered the world we read to her. We read to her when she was an infant. I would get so excited to pick out books to read to her when she was 3-4 months old. Now, her first 2-plus years I only spoke to her in Spanish, hoping she'd learn the language, so I would only read to her Spanish books while my wife read to her books in English.

So not surprisingly, Yvie had a love of books at a very young age. When she was one, she'd sit in front of the bookcase and pull out all the books, sit on the pile and slip through some of them. We tried to read to her every day of her life, and we did a good job of that for the first 2-3 years. I think until we had her sister we did well with that.

Fast forward to Kindergarten, and Yvie's learning the Spanish alphabet, trying to learn the act of reading. She'd always ask me what signs said, what certain words were and things like that when we were out in public or wherever. It continued well into her first year of school, as she wasn't quite reading for the first four or five months of Kindergarten.

But then recently, it was like she flipped a switch in her head. Everything made sense to her. The methods her teacher used to teach her to read worked. She blended sounds and was able to make out words. At first it was a few, then it was more, and now it's quite a bit. Long words are difficult for her, but she can make out short words, even if they're complicated. And she can spell out some words too.

Funny thing is, she can read in both languages. Although she had no formal lessons in how to read English, she was able to pick that up on her own. I've never once sat down with her and said 'this is an -e and at the end of the word it makes the vowel say this" or whatever. I'll answer her if she asks me what a word is, but I don't try and teach her that ph- makes a "f" sound or anything like that.

She developed a base of reading and was able to use those tools and translate them into reading into another language. Probably because we spent so much time reading to her as an infant and toddler, she was familiar at some level with reading and words and everything that goes into that. So when it was her time to read, once it got going, it got going quickly.

Anyway, here's a sample reading. I still think it's strange/funny/exciting to hear her read. I mean, she wasn't reading anything but a few basic words in January and into February.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Running/Disney shoes

Used to be, my running shoes were my running shoes and only my running shoes.

My shoes are oh-so-comfy but seemed like cushions when I first got them. I'd never had such luxury shoes before, and all other shoes I've had, including my other cross-training shoes, cannot compare.

Once upon a time my shoes looked like this. Now, they are a bit faded, a bit used but still very comfortable. It wasn't until recently that these shoes were still my exclusive running shoes, not to be used for anything but runs. I resisted the temptation to wear them anywhere.

Until last week.

I went to Disneyland with Kennedy a week ago, and I wore them. My rationale was that I would be running in a race the next day, which I did, and the last thing I needed was to have sore feet that morning, which I didn't.

Now, Disneyland walking is a lot of walking. You have to have your theme-park legs to be able to maneuver around the park effectively. I have theme park legs. My daughters have theme park legs. My wife does NOT have theme park legs. When she goes with us, she gets tired quicker than my daughters do because she's not used to walking around so much. No theme park legs.

Well, although I have my theme park legs, it's nice to have cushioned shoes to walk around in as I discovered a week ago. Normally, I'm a bit worn down after a day at the Disneyland Resort. I've mapped it out before and it's around two miles of walking, plus the standing in line things like that that just take a toll on your feet.

But when I wore my running shoes, it made a huge difference. I was surprised by how my feet felt. I was walking just fine at the end of the day.

So today, I'm taking Yvie to Disneyland, just her and I. I'm looking forward to it, and so is she. It's her Spring Break and Kenna's was last week, so daddy-daughter day at Disneyland and DCA (Disney's California Adventure). And since I have my half-marathon (gulp) coming up in less than two weeks now (already?!?) I figure, why not wear my runners to the park?

My feet will thank me for it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Race pics!

Easily one of the best things about races are the pictures.

Accomplishing a goal, achieving something, setting... yeah, yeah, yeah, where are the pictures?!?

That's usually the thing that people are most interested in. I try and describe my race to someone and the challenges I faced and some of the tougher parts and they're semi-engaged but when I show them pictures, I suddenly have a captive audience.

Anyway, here I post the pictures to my captive online audience. Five shots in all, three of me, two of my overachieving brother.

This is my least-favorite picture. I'm not buying this one (I probably won't buy any of them, but if I do, this one won't be included). This is during the stretch run. I noticed the photographer as I was passing him; otherwise I might have tried to look less haggard.

Here's Danny, about three minutes ahead of me. There was a really long bike trail here that took us from one major street out towards another, back to the start line and around a block to the finish line. This is probably about a mile before the finish.

Not sure where this is. I haven't gone through the 4,000-plus pictures but I doubt you'll find any other male runners with pants AND gloves. LB, setting the fashion standard once again.

More eye candy for the females. When I was about 15, I used to own Danny and I'd make him cry. A lot. He wasn't an overachiever then, just a little punk.

This is probably my favorite picture. I actually didn't mean to wear my sunglasses, but when I went back to the car and put all my stuff inside, I forgot to leave my sunglasses behind. I didn't realize I had them until I was almost back to the start line.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Solid as melting ice

Now that the Seal Beach run came and went, I can focus again on the now-daunting half marathon that stands in my way some, what?, 14 days from now.

Actually, counting today, I have exactly 12 days of preparation left before facing this monstrous challenge. 13.1 miles ain't nothin' to sneeze at. It's not quite nervous time yet, although soon I know I'll get to the why-the-hell-did-I-ever-think-this-was-a-good-idea phase. Probably two to three days before the run, and then all morning of the run itself.

Still, I have some time before then to continue training, but some of the time has been taken for me and is called for already. These last 12 days of training may or may not run smoothly, and judging by my life, it'll be the latter and not the former.

Today is all but out. So is Thursday. This actually wouldn't be the case - at least for today - if I actually ran in the afternoons or evenings. But I've found that because I perform so horribly to afternoon runs that it's actually counterproductive - I get tense before I run, I can't focus and don't seem to ever really gain my focus at any point during the run, I feel twice as physically drained as I do during the morning, and it's really really not an enjoyable experience at all.

(Quick side: I sometimes think that if I wasn't able to have done my workouts with my trainer in the mornings, I'd still be a heavy guy)

So afternoons are out, and that's too bad. I might try and change this at some point in the future since sometimes running in the afternoons might be the only viable option I have.

Wednesday I'll need to run, probably an outdoor run. Friday I'll have my girls with me all day so probably a gym run. Saturday will be just me and the girls again until the early afternoon (wife's traveling for work) so my 10-mile run now became a six-mile treadmill excursion. But I'll split that up with another 5-6 miles on Sunday, instead of 10 on Saturday and none on Sunday.

Now, keep in mind, this plan is about as fluid as the water I'm working on right now. It can change at a moment's notice, or my daughters' whims.

Next week seems more open to me, with possible morning runs likely for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The only problem is, I'm not about to put any excess miles on my legs leading up to the race itself. I'll have to figure out how to properly enter the race, although I'm thinking of a long(er) run on Wednesday, about 3-4 miles on Thursday and maybe intervals on Friday, at which point I'll be wondering why the hell I ever thought this race was a good idea.

So there's my plan. Funny thing, just thinking that this plan is setting me up for a half marathon makes me nervous. It's kind of like getting dressed to go see the doctor or something, if you're nervous about seeing doctors. Like, these clothes will transport me to the dreaded doctor.

This plan will be the vehicle for which I will participate in an extremely unsettling experience.

And since I'm not running today, you'd think I'd be able to relax. Instead, it's the other way around. I'm going to have to try and not be grouchy and feeling negatively about my inability to run today.

I'll have to think happy thoughts. Well, at about 10:30 a.m. on April 19, I'll be happy. But then I'll probably do something dumb and sign up for the Camp Pendleton Half Marathon, which will kick this thing off all over again.

Because I like torture. I think that's the best way to describe it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Motivational Mondays (April 6)

After running my 10K on Saturday, I should have felt great - at least mentally and emotionally.

I should have felt like I accomplished something, instead feeling like I fell short. Should have felt proud instead of just feeling tired.

But I didn't. I was tired, yes, but I was also a bit disappointed to be honest. I felt that my 56-minute finish was too slow, that I had perhaps set my sights too high by trying to beat me 10K PR.

But now, two days later I have a different view, thanks to my encouraging readers.

So, I didn't meet my goal. I didn't set a new highwater mark. So what? The comments were right on, as usual. I didn't meet my time but I accomplished something. I ran another 10K, my second in the last six months. And when in my life had I ever even thought about running any race, at any distance?

Um, that would be never.

What I've learned most from these last 48 hours - aside from planning and signing up for races in plenty of time - is to keep yourself grounded. Yeah, I have accomplished a lot in the last three years, things I never thought possible. I came a long way and have worked incredibly hard to get to where I am.

So why should I ever feel that running a 10K is a disappontment, let alone finishing it under an hour?

Have I become complacent? Did I forget about all those pounds that used to physically and emotionally weigh me down?

Thing is, I try very hard to never forget where I came from, to always remember the sacrifices I made to drop my weight and to become a runner. Three years ago I couldn't walk 10 kilometers at once. One year ago I had never even ran six miles at once.

And now I'm worried because I "only" ran it in 56:00.1? Am I serious?

My reaction is a bit of a slap in the face. It's almost like saying that my effort was in vain, that what I accomplished Saturday was not noteworthy when in fact its the exact opposite. Every race, every run, every mile should be an achievement. It should be something I'm happy about.

A 10K in 56 minutes? Yeah I did that. Damn proud of it too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Savory Sundays: Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Greetings! Welcome to Savory Sundays. This first recipe is fantastic. It really is. When I saw it on the Food Network, I knew right away that I had to have it. I had to wait until the right day presented itself to make this, and that was finally this week.

Now, here’s a link to the recipe. The list of ingredients is too long to place here, but the vegetables are really the only important thing. It calls for zucchini, summer squash, cremini mushrooms, red bell peppers and an onion.

Just quarter the zucchini and squash and cut them into half-inch pieces or so. Cut the red bells and the onion into thin slices and the mushrooms as well, although I bought mushrooms already cut up. Place them all onto a cookie sheet, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle salt, pepper and some Italian seasoning on them and pop them into a 450-degree oven for about 15 minutes.

I may have used too many veggies though. They almost overflowed the cookie sheet. Almost. While that’s in the oven, cook the pasta for about six minutes (it has to be undercooked) and grate up a cup of fontina cheese and a cup and a half of smoked mozzarella (though I used regular mozzerella). Add some Parmesan cheese and mix them all in a large bowl. Then, toss everything (roasted veggies, cheeses) and about three cups of marinara sauce in another large bowl and put everything in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Of course, I stowed my camera during this part because everything was pretty hectic but here’s the final product.

It made so much! And it was good! I had leftovers for lunch the next day, dinner two days later and there was still some more. I am not sure if it would freeze because of the vegetables but the next time I probably will half the recipe. Either way, it’s one I’m making again for sure. And next time I won’t wait for the right day, I’ll just make it when I feel like it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Race day

Well, I finally found some time and energy today and got a chance to write about my race.

We hadn't pre-registered for the race but my brother and I had gotten there early. Still, I had a bit of a bad feeling for some reasons. My first clue was our inability to find the registration table. Something told me that we should just skip it and go jog on our own. But we found the place, and so did scores of other people. We signed up and when I did so I asked if they had any sort of storage places so I could throw my jacket and some other things I had with me.

There wasn’t, so of course I had to go all the way back to the car and all the way back to the start line. I had to run there, a light run, and then went back to the start line. It was about a mile, maybe a little more. So of course I was already more than warmed up by the time I started the race, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

I found my place behind the masses, and there were masses out there running. The streets were somewhat narrow so the crowd did not thin out much for the first two miles. And as I had been on a mile run beforehand, my heart rate jumped up pretty quickly. About a half-mile in, it was about 170.

My biggest problem with the race was the amount of people and trying to maneuver around them. It was quite a chore, and perhaps if I had started closer to the start line (it took me three minutes from when the race started to actually cross the start line). I tried weaving in and out of people but it got tiring. About a mile in, I knew my PR goal was shot so I tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm.

Now, the race featured a 5K as well as the 10K and we all ran the same route at the start. When the 5K runners diverted away from us, the crowd became a little less congested but it wasn’t completely barren. I believe it was around the two-mile mark when that happened, but by that point I grew tired of trying and not being able to pass people so I was just trying to maintain a good pace.

My Garmin read 9:12 for a good chunk of the race. It got as low as 9:08 that I saw but probably didn’t get lower than a 9:00 until the very end.

I felt good though. I knew I would finish the race and knew that I could give it a push at the end, which I did. I tried to run fast down the last straightaway and maybe that effort kept my time close to 56 minutes. My official time was 56:00.1. Now of course I wish I would have ran just a little faster somewhere to have gotten it under 56 minutes but oh well.

I suppose my main question would be why I couldn’t get near my PR time of 52:55. In some ways, the masses slowed me down. But I can’t blame them on everything. My heart rate was pretty high. Part of the reason too that I kept my body in check was because of my heart rate.

Here are the stats for the race:

Avg. HR: 176
Max HR: 190
Cal: 1015

That’s quite a lofty average heart rate, and to be honest I forgot to stop my watch right after I crossed the finish line. When I stopped it, the heart rate dipped into the high 170s, so those few seconds may have brought the heart rate down a notch or two.

Quite high, which means I exerted a lot of energy. I was very tired throughout the rest of the morning, and I did not think I would be as tired as I was.

Still, not sure if the tone of this is a bit on the negative side. If it is, it’s because a purchase of a new laptop fell through. Grrrrr. But I am glad that I ran the race. I learned a lot, ran yet another race (fourth in one year, which is four more than I’d ran my first 32-and-a-half years), and accomplished yet another milestone in my running career.

Of course, the big race is now two weeks away (yikes!) as the Run Through Redlands Half-Marathon is on April 19. I will not be in the same predicament before the race and will in fact be relaxed, comfortable, in a good frame of mind and won’t have run more than a mile before the start (a few trips up and down a street or something might do the trick).

What I can’t do is run at the same pace as I ran on Saturday. I cannot maintain such a high pace for 13.1 miles. And I can’t be so concerned with the people around me when I first start the race. I’m going to have to monitor the Polar and the Garmin closely at the start of the race.

Anyway, that’s still to come and I’ll be blogging quite a bit about my race strategy as we approach the half-marathon (I can’t believe it’s almost already here).

Well, here are a couple of pictures of today’s race.

I think I was the only guy who wore sweats. I didn't see any other guys long pants on, but it was cold and I was comfortable. I also had gloves on.

That's my brother Danny, who finished in 52:04. Punk.

Tough race

Okay, the race is over and I'm back - sort of. I'm mobile blogging so I won't have as detailed a recap quite yet, but I did want to get something up.

I didn't beat my PR. That was the bad part. I'm chalking it up to lack of planning on my part. Had I planned to run this race, signed up well before race day and gotten to the start of the race early, things may have gone better. Even still, my pace was slower than I wanted it and it took me a couple of miles to feel in a groove.

However it was a good experience. Running races are fun and the whole race-day atmosphere is exciting. On that end the race was enjoyable.

Not sure of my exact time but it's probably around 56:30.

I'll have much more details, including some pictures, later tonight.


No, not back yet. Just setting this to post automatically.

In case you're wondering, my playlist for the run is/was all Metallica. Grr!

King Nothing
Hero of the Day
Don't Tread on Me
Fight Fire With Fire
Ride The Lightning
The Call of Ktulu
Damage Inc.
To Live Is To Die
Dyer's Eve

If I don't/didn't set a PR, I can't blame the music.

In lieu of race post

Greetings all. Today is race day! How exciting!

I'm actually either still asleep or on my way out to the race, so I don't have much to blog about but I felt like blogging about something.

Anyway, on Friday I spent the day preparing for the race by walking a lot. I went to Disneyland/California Adventure with my youngest daughter Kennedy. It was our first trip together, just the two of us. Yvie was off with her grandmother after school (my mother-in-law) so I took the opportunity to head out to the Disneyland Resort with Kennedy.

She has never been able to get on the big rides before, as she's not quite 40 inches. Well, she is now I think. I had some high-soled shoes on her and that seemed to push her into the 40.75-inch range.

We did a lot of great rides and had a really pleasant time, more enjoyable than I'd thought.

So until I come back to blog about my latest race and share either a tale of triumph or a tale of woe, I wanted to have Kennedy's smiling face up on here to welcome everyone this race morning.

We sat down to eat a hot fudge sundae, and Kennedy ate quite a bit of it.

Afterward, she was quite pleased with herself.

You'd be smiling too if you just ate some hot fudge and a warm chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Seal Beach plan

It's now less than 48 hours from the start of my next race and I'm excited. Getting amped for it, and in doing so have to figure out some goals and challenges and some more pre-race planning things.

I've done all the physical planning I needed to, have run three times this week - two interval runs sandwiched around a 5-mile run. Now, the only thing I have to do is prepare mentally and eat right the next day-plus.

I have a goal. I want to beat my Mission Inn Run time of 52:55. Of course, that's what you do in races right? Try to beat your previous best time, your Personal Record. My 10K PR is 52:55, not exceedingly fast but not a snail's pace either.

What do I have to do to set a new 10K PR? Well...

According to my cheat sheet chart from Runner's World, I have to maintain a pace of 8:30 or faster. I know to some more experienced runners that doesn't seem difficult - the chart goes as low as a 5:30 pace, and that's a pace I'll never run at.

I suppose it would be nice to run the 10K in under 50 minutes, and perhaps that's what I should shoot at, but I want to see if that's realistic. Shaving three minutes off my PR time might not be realistic, and the only way I'll know is completing the race.

Now, since I've been running with the Garmin, I have noticed that I typically run at or above a 9:00 pace, so keeping up a more intense pace is something that may be different for me. Obviously, I can do it and have done it, and I'd like to think that I am a better runner now than I was in November, when I ran the Mission Inn Run. But that doesn't necessarily mean I'll be able to keep up the pace for an entire race.

My running book suggests some tips for running a 10K.

In short: run the first mile or two a little above my goal pace; run a strong middle portion of the mileage and hit the last half-mile or so hard. It says not to worry about passing runners or preventing others from passing you early on, and suggests picking runners during the second half of the race to follow and use them as targets to pass.

I don't know if I can follow that. I am convinced now more than ever that I am meant to run long distances, 10 miles, half-marathons, distances like that. When I've tried to run hard early on, I run out of steam. My heart rate gets really high and then it's tough to bring it down. I like to ease into a run, to let my heart rate increase slowly.

For instance, when I run hard for the first mile or two of a run, my heart rate can be in the 180s by mile three. For me, anything above 180 is close to or at exhaustion. If my watch reads 185 or more, I'm gassed. Forget it. But if my heart rate is between 165-175, I'm perfect. I'm good to go. And I can keep it there for many miles. When I ran my 10-mile run, I was pleasantly surprised with how my heart rate climbed. It wasn't climbing into the high 170s early on, and in the middle portion of my run it was in the low 170s, whereas I would have thought it would have been much higher than that by then.

Of course, I'm going to have to run at a faster pace during my 10K then I did for my 10-miler. According to this chart, I ran it at a 9:45 pace or so, and I'll need a much faster pace than that on Saturday to set a new PR.

But as I said earlier, I feel I'm a stronger runner now than I was in November, have done well to run this week and (mostly) over the last two months, so this should be a great race.

Training times ten

There's just no way.

I got my new Runner's World Magazine and there is a story on the Boston Marathon, which is about as prestigious of an event as there is in the world of running. Unlike Saturday's Seal Beach 10K and most of the other races I plan on participating in, you can't just roll up on race day morning and sign up to run. You have to qualify for Boston.

For the 18- to 34-year-old males (of which I barely qualify these days), I'd have to run a marathon in 3 hours, 10 minutes.

There's just no way I could run that. Ain't gonna happen.

For women in the same age group, it's 3 hours, 40 minutes. Now, if I were to train for a marathon, and to be honest I'm strongly considering trying for one here in the next year or two, I might be 35 by the time I get to running in one (me, 35? shudder) so my time would have to be 3 hours 15 minutes or better.

There's just no... well, you get the idea.

There is a story on an athlete, Kara Goucher, who is apparently a big star in the running world - Olympian, NCAA champ, an elite runner. Her training regimen is intense and insane.

Mon: 20-23 miles w/weight vest during last 4-5 miles; 15-20 minutes aquajogging
Tue: 10 easy miles; 30 minutes weightlifting
Wed: Track workout: 4x800 meters, 8x200 meters uphill, 4x800 meters, hurdle drills
Thu: 10 easy miles, 30 minutes weightlifting
Fri: 8-10 easy miles
Sat: Track: 8x1600 meters; OR 19-mile tempo run; OR 12-mile tempo run, 5:10 - 5:30 pace.
Sun: 8-10 easy miles.

Yikes! Unreal. Oh yeah, that's just in the am. In the pm, she typically runs at least five miles. Every day.

That's just insane. Now, of course she's a professional athlete and has the time and ability and dedication. But holy crap, that's just a different universe altogether from where I am now. Maybe not that dedicated but that's the kind of training regimen I worry about having to train for a marathon. I did bad in keeping up with my own half-marathon training and while I think I will still do fine during the half (fingers crossed) I still have to re-assess my plan and see how it really worked for me (it didn't) and what I can do to improve that (lots) when I run my next half-marathon (September, fingers crossed again, might do something stupid and run two in September).

But things like Ms. Goucher's training make me, well, they make me feel like a 2-year-old child trying to keep up with a pro. It gives me a bit of perspective, when I struggle through a short run, you know, a short eight-mile run, the distances that Ms. Goucher eats for breakfast. And a 5:10 pace... I don't even run that fast in my dreams.

Still, that really only drives me. I really only get excited about my own races and my own runs and my own training routine, however haphazard it really is. So I'm never going to qualify for Boston. That's not what drives me. I'd like to run a marathon, would like to go through the experience, maybe more than once. I'd like to run half-marathons and 10Ks and Mud Runs and be able to do them often and build up for them and train for them the way I like to train, the way that suits me best.

Yeah, it's intimidating, but will seeing the amount of work it takes an elite runner puts in scare off a novice runner like myself?

No way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No fooling

I figured since today is April 1, instead of turning my blog into a joke blog (which I'd thought about, you know, running phony items to get a laugh) I figured I'd throw some common dieting myths and debunk them, tear them apart and blow them up so you don't go on believing such lunacy, if indeed you haven't debunked them yourself.

These are two of the most common beliefs held by people and logic might seem to follow these beliefs. In fact, I still held on to these thoughts up until I got with my trainer and he educated me.

* Eating before bedtime will cause my to gain weight since all the food will sit in my stomach and turn into fat.

Uh, no. Actually, as my trainer told me, the body works on a 24-hour clock. Just because you lie down for 6-8 hours... or in my case 5-7... doesn't mean that the food sits in your stomach. There is no evidence to suggest that the body digests food differently when it is immobile.

But don't just take my word for it. Here's a story about the myth which throws in some good statistics. For instance, the author points to a study done on 2,000 middle-aged men and women, of which nine percent of the women and 7.4 percent of the men got up for middle-of-the-night snacks, and there was no difference in weight gain in those who did and those who did not get up to indulge. No difference.

(Incidentally, I've never once in my life gotten up in the middle of the night to snack. Not that I'm saying it's a bad thing or anything, come on now, when I was 300-plus pounds I had plenty of unhealthy habits; I'm just saying that midnight snacks have never appealed to me.)

* If I skip meals or eat just twice a day, I'll lose weight.

Actually, no, you won't. This is pretty common. Don't eat and you won't gain weight, right? Well, no, the body doesn't quite work like that. If you don't eat regularly, then you don't give your body the chance to build up its metabolism and it won't be efficient in getting the food in and out of your system.

Here's a story on the bad effects of skipping meals. One fun fact: In a study, men and women ate three times a day for several months, then skipped two meals but ate the same number of calories in one evening meal. The result - test subjects showed elevated fasting glucose levels and a delayed insulin response. Those are precursors to diabetes. Yikes!

Forget it. The best way to avoid weight gain is to eat small meals throughout the day. Stick to a calorie limit and break the calories down by meal. Eat 300 at breakfast, 100 at AM snack, 500 at lunch, 100 at PM snack and 600 for dinner, and you'll still have 100 or so to play with, if you stick to around 1700-1800 calorie limit per day.

And you can even eat that last 100 calories right before bed. Go ahead. Indulge.