Monday, November 30, 2009

Awards For LB

Sometimes I get so focused on certain things that I neglect to mention awards that I receive from fellow bloggers. Recently I was tagged with the following award:

It's the Lemonade Award because I have attitude and gratitude. Sweet. I was given this award by both Holly of 504 Main and Lissaloo of One Step at a Time. Those are great blogs run by fantastic bloggers. And I actually got a great idea for a gift that Mrs. LB would love and went ahead and bought it for her. She doesn't read my blog so I'm not going to give away secrets here, but this is what I got. It's a stamper and I personalized it with my wife's last name and our address, with the Wallace logo, in case you're interested. I am not sure that that's the one Mrs. LB would prefer but that's what I liked best so that's what she's getting. I actually tried to get one that she would like and I do think she'd like it.

Um, yeah, I said my wife's last name. She didn't take my last name when we got married way back in 1999. Just wanted to keep her last name and I didn't mind. It's cool because my daughters will keep their last name when they get married so they'll be Buenos forever! At least I hope so.

The other award is this one here. You'll have to follow the link since I'm not one to depict myself as a female :) Polly over at 5th Sister bestowed this honor on me.

I'm grateful to all of my blog buddies, both the ones who have been here since the start and the ones who are new to my blog. I know I should pass the awards along but I hate to single out blogs and bloggers.

And I'll add something to these awards. Usually you have to give some sort of unknown facts about you or something so I'll toss out five things you may or may not have known about me.

* I had Lasik. In 2003 I had my eyes operated on. I didn't really want it necessarily but the in-laws offered to pay a big chunk of it so I jumped on the offer. And after I had it, I realized that I did need it after all. I see crystal clear without glasses and it's made my life much easier. And I didn't really like the glasses look on me. Well, it may have had to do with all the extra weight I was carrying too, in terms of how I viewed myself, but still the glasses weren't my favorites.

* I didn't actually get glasses until I was 18 and out of high school. I think that may be why I struggled in my high school years with school and all that. I couldn't ever really see the board but didn't realize that it was because my eyesight was crappy. My mom used to blame television for my bad eyesight, that I had bad vision because I watched too much TV. I don't know how that's possible, maybe or maybe not, but I disputed that with her to the point that we would argue. We used to argue a lot... but that's another topic for another day.

* I don't know how to use the broiler on my stove. I know, I should really learn how to use it but I don't really know where to start.

* I don't like peanut butter. I can handle it in certain cookies but that's about it. Once I was really really hungry and we were at my brother-in-law's house and he made peanut butter toast for everyone as a snack. I was starving, like I would have eaten anything... except peanut butter toast. I had one bite and when nobody was looking I threw my pieces of toast out. Sad.

* My favorite vegetable is a sweet potato. I like sweet potatoes like how I made them for Thanksgiving, or just mashed and with some cinnamon and milk in them, or in a quick bread or muffins. I have a really great recipe for pumpkin cookies and I've thought about swapping out the pumpkin and swapping in the sweet potato. I think I'll do it. Mrs. LB is not a fan of that idea but forget her! She doesn't have to eat them, right?

Motivational Mondays (Nov. 30)

Sometime around mile seven of Saturday's 10-mile run, one of the ladies I was running with had something to ask me. She's the Loper director, pretty much the top dog, and is also the 11-minute-per-mile pace leader. She's just one of many fantastic people who are in the running group, but one I've been lucky to have had around me as I train for my first marathon.

"Every year we have a banquet," she began, "and we have first-time marathoners go up and give a speech about how they've overcome some challenges to run their first marathon and I wanted to know if you'd represent the Elevens and give a speech. Just think about it and let me know."

She went on to say how running 18 miles in Seattle was a big challenge I'd taken on and met, and how I'd done things the healthy way in terms of my weight loss and the training I've been doing with the Lopers.

I was flattered, really. I thought that maybe next year it would be nice to talk to people during one of our weekly meetings to try and encourage and motivate first-timers to see the marathon training plan through and to encourage and motivate everyone on losing weight. If someone can go from a sedentary, eat-whatever-I-want 300-pounder to running a stinking marathon (!) in four years, then surely it can be done... and probably sooner. I just didn't realize there was a runner trapped underneath the mounds of blubber I carried around.

Anyway, while I thought it would be nice to talk to people in a less formal setting sometime in late 2010, I did not expect for this honor, to speak at a banquet in front of the entire Loper group.

I haven't yet told her but of course I'm going to say yes. I'm honored and would do myself a disservice to pass it up.

Now I have something else to motivate myself during my long runs (and my shorter runs I suppose). I have a speech to write, and I have to create memories that I will use during said speech. And I want those memories to be long-lasting and perhaps motivating for others.

If that can't get me through a run, I don't know what will.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Run Down

Well, it's Sunday and I would really like to have a Cooking With Yvie episode but we didn't have time to shoot one this week. Next week, we are going to a Christmas party which I'm going to make some cookies for, so we'll have plenty of time and opportunity to shoot a new episode. I'd like to get a couple of them shot and in the can in case I don't find time to record one, you know. And I think I can get to more than one this upcoming week so we shall see.

I apologize for the barren spot here and hope to get on a more consistent schedule.

Christmas Cards

It's Christmas time and I have to admit it's one of my favorite times of the year. It's mostly because my daughters really enjoy the season that has made me like this time of year. I mean, I enjoyed Christmas before I had children but it's just different now, better. They get into the spirit right away and it's contagious.

One of the things we do is to send out Christmas cards. Oh, before I get to my point, it always seems like we send out twice as many cards than we get back. It's a strange phenomenon.

Anyway, I'd like to send you, the loyal blog reader, a Christmas card. If you want one, just e-mail me at buenodad (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know your address. If you're fine with sharing your address, I'd love to send my loyal readers a card. I'll keep it confidential of course and really the only strange thing that can happen is you get random postcards from places like Disneyland throughout the year. But aside from that, there'll be no ill effects. If you'd rather pass, that's fine. No hard feelings whatsoever.

Seattle Half

I've been thinking about three Seattle bloggers all morning. See, they participated in the Seattle Half Marathon this morning and I'm anxiously awaiting updates. I ran into two of them last weekend on their final long distance training run.

Anyway, I sent positive vibes to Kerrie of mom vs. Marathon, Zoë of Run, Zoë, Run and Amanda of 5 Miles 2 Empty throughout my own Sunday morning run. Hopefully it worked! They're all great bloggers and have awesome blogs, mostly centered on running, and I'm learning things from them that will help me along my own running path, so I'll be waiting for those updates.

Tired Legs

Okay, I'm officially tired. I ran 10 miles today (Sunday), 10 miles Saturday and 10 miles on Thursday. My body feels spent. My feet feel like they did after a 14- or 15-mile run.

I ran at pretty much the same pace during all the runs, my usual marathon pace of between 10- and 11-minute miles. I'm going to rest on Monday and probably on Tuesday before getting back on the 'mill for Wednesday (I'm thinking The Interval), might try and squeeze in a four-miler on Thursday and then Friday I might go for a tempo run. Not sure.

Next Sunday is the Holiday Classic 15K so I have to train this week with that in mind. I'm going to be blogging more about this race so I'll save my thoughts on that until those posts but I want a good time (duh) and I want to feel like I ran a good race (double duh). What does that entail on both ends? Not sure yet as I haven't given it too much thought but I'll have time to set my goals and prepare.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dip In Mileage

For the last six weeks or so, my marathon training has been a bit hectic. The mileage has increased steadily and I've not had much of a chance to look forward at too much. In succession, I've run 13, 14, 15, the Mission Inn 10K, 15 and 18 miles every Sunday. That's a lot of miles. Three of those runs held my "longest run ever" title, one the last run now currently holds.

With such a grueling pace, I've not had much time to look forward too much. It's hard, after all, to overlook a 15-mile run.

But now we're going into our second-to-final bit of doldrums, if you will. They're not exactly doldrums in the sense that we don't have much going on but this stretch I'm in now is a bit of a reprieve from what I've been running and a chance to catch my breath before we hit the next grueling stretch.

On Sunday, I'm going to run 10 miles. The Sunday after that is a 15K race I'm slated to run in as part of the marathon training schedule. Then it's 12 miles.

That's pretty much the calm before the storm. Officially, the storm will hit us hard on Dec. 20. That day, I'll run 20 miles. Then, the miles look like this: 15, 12, 15, 22, 12 and 10. That leads us right into the marathon.

The marathon is not quite yet in sight - it won't be in sight until after my 22-mile run, scheduled for Jan. 17. But it's going to be here eventually, and it actually is starting to feel like that will be the case.

This dip in mileage is welcomed. All the runs of 13 miles or more take well over two hours to run, and these 10- and 12-mile runs take just at or under two hours. It's nice knowing that on Sunday I'll start the run at 7 a.m. and will be done around 9, not well after 10.

Of course, what's a runner to do when the mileage is lower than it has been? Run, of course. I'm heading out for a 10-mile run on Saturday morning. If I finish it and finish Sunday's 10-mile run, it'll be the first time I've ever ran double-digit miles on consecutive days. And counting Thursday's distance, I'll have run a total of 30 miles in four days. Honestly, I don't know if I've ran 30 miles in one week before, let alone a four-day stretch.

I suppose I just have to get used to the pounding. And I think I'm doing a good job of pounding the longer distances into my body.

UPDATE: It's mid-morning now and I got in my miles. I did about 10.16 and the run brought back some memories from Seattle. It rained for the first six miles. It wasn't quite as cold now as it was then, but I got just as drenched. It was a scenic run though as the nearby mountains had snow on them for the first time this season.

There were only four brave souls and it was a really enjoyable run as we talked the whole time. And while I was wondering why I went out and ran when we first started, I realized by the third or fourth mile that I really loved being out there despite the elements, and that aside from being with my family, there's really no other place I'd rather be.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Leftovers (Nov. 27)

My weekly post of leftover thoughts and not-quite blog posts here for yoru reading pleasure.

Word Association

1. Marathon :: runner
2. Debt :: owe
3. Turn :: left
4. Image :: profile
5. Sofa :: couch
6. Envelope :: letter
7. Cart :: shopping
8. Process :: steps
9. Question :: answer
10. Rumor :: untrue

No real off-the-wall questions, thus no real off-the-wall answers.

Thanksgiving 10-miler

Things went great on Thursday... in the morning anyway. I ate too much food (surprise!) but started the day off with a 10-mile run. I could totally see myself doing that from now on every Thanksgiving. It felt great to be among other runners, many of them more experienced than me, many of them with many marathons under their belts, and I didn't felt out of place.

I wound up running most of the run with Angie of Angie Eats Peace and time flew as we yakked about everything from TV shows to movies to Thanksgiving and running, of course. We were at five miles and before I knew it up to seven and then at 8.8. I used to have no choice but to run alone but now I look forward to the social part of running long distances, and Angie's a big part of that.

We ended up knocking out our 10-mile run in about 1 hour 42 minutes or so, a little more than a 10-minute-per-mile pace. I wasn't quite paying attention but I think we ran faster in the second part of our run than we did in our first half.

Food Galore

We went to my mom's house for Thanksgiving and while she made most of the food, I contributed. I made cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and a pumpkin pie. I'd made the first two before but this was my first attempt at pie and it worked out okay. I was too chicken____ to make a regular crust so I made a graham cracker crust and it just was a bit too thick, too difficult to cut.

I know I should just try to make a regular crust and I will take the plunge, soon hopefully. I just need to do it!

Heating Up

On the weekend I was so cold in Seattle. I needed long sleeves, a jacket and a beanie to feel comfortable.

Such was not the case on Thursday.

Here's yours truly and my brother Danny before we plunged into our turkey.

Very warm. High of 85 degrees. I wore jeans. Should have worn shorts.

LB's Song of the Week

My weekly nod to children's music.

It's fitting this week that I bring to you a song from some artists based in Seattle.

Recess Monkey is composed of three Seattle-area elementary school teachers. My girls love their songs, in particular this one. It's called Sack Lunch, and it's about a, well, a sack lunch. Funny the things talented people can sing about.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Many Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you're reading this on Thanksgiving, I thank you for taking time out of your special day to visit my blog. And if you're reading this after the big day, thanks for checking out my blog at all.

I'd wanted to make a list of things I was thankful for today, but after running through a few things I realized that list would probably not end, be impossible to fit everything in and likely inadvertently omit something or someone important.

Besides, while I enjoy today, I count my blessings every day. Not one day goes by where I take the people and the things I care about for granted.

Having said that I wanted to give thanks to you, my blog reader. Without you, there would be no blog. And I enjoy writing this blog, spending time to plan runs, reflect on runs, vent, talk about family, whatever. And I'm thankful that there are some people who enjoy reading that. Because if my readers amounted to one, this blog wouldn't exist.

And of course I'm quite thankful for my family; Mrs. LB is supportive of my running even though she does not understand the passion that fuels my runs and really supportive of everything I do.

And I couldn't exist without my daughters.

Everything I do is for them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Day Run

When I was about 22 minutes into the Mission Inn Run 10K a few weeks back, I was at or around the 3-mile mark. It wasn't too tough for me to figure out that I could probably beat my 5K PR time of 25:05. To be fair, of course, that PR is by default because I've only ran one 5K before.

After the Mission Inn Run, I thought about finding a 5K to run in on Thanksgiving, if only to beat that 5K time and wipe the slate clean of that race. For some reason, I have it in my mind that I can't beat that time even though I know I can, and Mission Inn confirmed as much.

But that 5K will have to wait after all. Turns out, the Lopers have a bit of a tradition of running on Thanksgiving. Yeah, the tradition is now in its second year. I'm actually happy that they ran it last year and are running it again this year. I think it's a great way to spend Thanksgiving morning. I've never really played much of anything on Thanksgiving morning. Some families have a football game or something to keep them busy, but I was never really a part of the in-laws' football game and my own brothers... well, we just never organized it I suppose.

Now, though, I have something to keep me busy. At least this year.

We're "only" running 10 miles. I say "only" because it's a lot less than we've been running before. We've had weekends of 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, the 10K, 15 and 18 in succession since mid-October. Sunday we're going back down to 10, and I suppose the 10-mile figure is a nice, round one.

I feel fine. I've got no ill effects from the Cedar River Run. I suppose the only things that have hampered me is a slight twinge in my groin that is strange and my right leg felt a bit heavy during my run earlier today. I did The Interval on Wednesday morning, and I tore right through it. It was nice to get out running again after recovering a bit from Sunday.

So I'll be up bright and early on Thursday, getting in my 10 miles, so I won't feel too guilty if I have a second piece of that pumpkin pie I've got in the oven right now. Nor any extra sweet potatoes that find their way on my plate, because those sweet potatoes have a way of doing that to me.

And one more thing. I wanted to wish my blog buddy Lisa of Lisa runs? Wait... what? luck on her own 10K she's running somewhere up in Northern California. Good luck Lisa!

Topping My List

After having had time to reflect on my Cedar River Run (henceforth my Seattle 18-miler will be known as the Cedar River Run), I haven’t really been able to rank it in terms of memorable runs. I do this every now and then, to sort out what runs are my most memorable, which ones stand out in my memory as being a great, unforgettable adventure.

I did however force myself to differentiate runs between races and non-races. By nature, races are memorable. They're big occasions, things you train for and put energy into, and those memories just naturally stay with you. It’s a bit unfair to compare a race to a training run in that sense so the races would always win out.

So in terms of non-races, this run then has less competition although to be honest this was always going to be a memorable run, probably top three.

Right now, it’s definitely in my top five. Is it number one? That’s hard to say.

Among the previous memorable runs:

* Running four or five miles at the Parc du Mont-Royal in Montreal.

* Running through a sprawling, tree-lined park in the heart of Mexico City.

* Running across the Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Ariz.

* My first five-mile run, from my house to my mom’s house.

* The first time I ran 10 miles.

I think the first three and the Cedar River Run are in competition for number one

Now, had I tried to compare this to, say my Ragnar legs, my half-marathon or the Mud Runs, that would have been difficult to say where this ranked. But again, those were races I prepared diligently for and memorable for different reasons.

The Cedar River Run, of course, was one I prepared for and really approached like any other run - I'd focused on achieving my goal, determined to see it through. But it wasn't a race, obviously.

I managed to take a few pictures after the run, such as the one I posted on Sunday. I even shot a little video, but not sure if I'm going to post it. Maybe. Not sure.

Anyway, what do you think - do my hands look like wrinkled ape hands?

And this picture actually confirmed my actual finish time of 3 hours, 19 minutes, 21 seconds. When I was close to the finish, I thought about trying to make it a little past 18 miles, maybe like a tenth of a mile longer or not, but the moment The Garmin read 18.00, I shut that thing off and stopped. Screw that extra tenth of a mile.

And my feet, my poor aching feet.

This is back in my hotel room. My feet were sooo cold. I don't remember the last time my feet were that cold. The best thing about this picture is my toenail! It was particularly black. Awesome.

Anyway, compared with regular non-races, just with the conditions and the distance I ran this time around, it’s tough for the Cedar River Run not to be my most memorable run ever.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Whole New World

Some random thoughts and observations from my trip to Seattle:

I’m fairly certain that I was the only male on my plane reading Cooking Light magazine. I didn’t take a poll or anything but I’d bet good money that that was the case. The magazine, which I bought along with an Entertainment Weekly before my flight, isn’t something totally feminine like Good Housekeeping or something but it was discouraging to see all the ads for female products and the marketing towards women in Cooking Light. And worse, the cover was pink. But they have some awesome recipes in there so you take the good with the bad.

What’s up with all the numbered highways in Washington? That was strange. It seems there were more routes to take off the freeway than actual streets – WA-99, WA-518, WA-167, WA-169, WA-18… it was a bit confusing.

I’d never heard of these places before I went to Seattle: Renton, Burien, SeaTac, Maple Valley, Maplewood, Hobart, Tukwila. Some of those places seemed really rural, which is not a bad thing, just an observation. They weren’t rural like SoCal rural, where you are still part of a sizable population no matter where you live. In Washington, some of the places I passed through seemed small, quaint, lightly populated… rural. It was a bit appealing to be honest. I’m guessing the traffic there isn’t anything like the traffic we get in SoCal.

If you are ever traveling and want to find a good place to eat, you should check out I used that site when I went to Montreal and found some amazing eateries, simply amazing. And I wouldn’t have been able to make a decision on where to eat without it. I used and found a place called Angelo’s in Burien on Saturday that had some fantastic Italian food and great service. I’m glad I did so because I needed some pasta and would have just settled for the first Italian restaurant I saw, or even worse something like Denny’s. But Angelo’s had awesome service (their constant stream of coffee warmed me up), great food (the Linguini a la Siciliano was delicious) and a nice atmosphere. The thing that makes Urbanspoon great is that it’s basically user-generated reviews and such as people vote whether they like the place or not. So when Angelo’s had 66 people saying they liked it and a high rating because of it, you knew it was going to be good. I’ll have to go there and give it a positive review as well.

I liked Downtown Seattle. I really don't care for Downtown Los Angeles, and I think that's the bar that I set for other downtowns I visit. It's a pretty low bar. I felt safe walking around the streets in Downtown Seattle, felt comfortable walking around, didn't feel like there were way too many cars or people to maneuver around amongst and things were clean and well-kept. Pretty much the opposite of Downtown LA.

This was the first time I went to Washington. I've now been to: California, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. And I had layovers at airports in Florida and Georgia, though Mrs. LB won't let me count that as actually visiting those states.

Sightseeing Seattle Style

My Seattle trip was for business and I was able to get my marathon-training run in, but I also found time to do a tiny bit of sightseeing, and I do mean tiny. Originally, I'd wanted to see about doing something after my run and before the game I was in town for, but my legs had other ideas on Sunday afternoon.

So I'm glad I took the time to check out a local sight when I first got in to town on Saturday morning. I actually sort of stumbled upon this place.


I drove around downtown and made my way towards the water. I actually wanted to find a bakery and have some coffee and maybe a bagel so I just parked my car and got about 40 minutes worth of time. I ended up walking towards the Public Market Center and was immediately drawn in.

This is the place famous for fish tossing. I'd seen it on television before and I was sucked in.

Someone from behind the counter tosses fish to someone standing outside, in Saturday's case this guy...

I tried but my camera was not strong enough to snap a pic of a flying fish. But it was entertaining nonetheless.


I don't like seafood but the Pike Place Fish Market was quite appealing nonetheless. It made me long for seafood, well, long to enjoy it actually. It was one of the few times where I wished I liked seafood. I just don't.

But look at the selection!

The prices aren't cheap for a lot of what's sold here but it just looks like it would be fresh and tasty, if prepared properly of course.

Crabs just seem completely unappealing to me, but if you're into crabs this is crab nirvana. I don't even know what dungeness crabs are but whatever they are, it probably looks good to crab lovers.

Octopus... gross! All slimy and slippery... but again if you're into octopus I imagine it would be nice and fresh here.

I wanted to share these pictures in particular with one of my readers. Jephy's Mom just happens to be a big connoisseur of these.

Not sure about her prawn of choice whether it's the Fresh Alaskan Spot variety or...

... the Jumbo White kind.

Whatever the case, she'd probably love to jam both hands into this...

I'd box some up and send some to you up in Canada, JM. Just don't know in what condition they'd arrive. Probably not edible. And smelly.

Afterward, I went to a couple of places inside and picked up a few things, then went across the street to a fruit stand and had some delicious pears.

All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

And I even got a picture of me in front of the market.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Nov. 23)

I normally set Mondays aside for a Motivational Monday post, and while today is not exactly identical to other such posts, I believe this post to be quite motivational. So instead of postponing this a day to include something that is solely to motivate, I'll let this serve that purpose. It's long but it was a long run after all...

Sunday morning was not like any other morning. For one, I was in Seattle on a business trip. Add in my restless sleep and it was a unique start to the day. I first saw the alarm clock at about 3:20 a.m. and after that, I barely slept.

18 miles. And it's cold.

It had been rather chilly upon my arrival in the Emerald City on Saturday. I wore a beanie and gloves most of the day and was still rather cold. But this morning, I would have to deal with the cold and the rain somehow. I first look outside my hotel window before 4 a.m. and noticed a lack of rain, though the parking lot was quite wet. But every time I looked outside afterward, there was a steady drizzle.

The weather forecast had called for temperatures in the low 40s, rain and wind.

Great. As if I need something else to deal with.

The thought of the wind jarred me out of bed sometime around 6:30. The wind was supposed to start blowing hard where I would run, the Cedar River Trail, sometime around 10 or 11 that morning, so I realized that the sooner I left, the more likely it would be to avoid that.

Time to get dressed.

Pushing thoughts of how drenched I would get aside, I got dressed. First, I taped the nips. Last thing I need is to have that rear its ugly head again. Then, I put on my skin-tight undershirt. On top of that, the moisture wicking shirt I picked up on Friday. Then, my brand-new jacket I got as a gift on Saturday at the stadium. I wore my running underwear, one of my better pairs of shorts, a new pair of socks that was supposed to keep my feet dry and my shoes. Got my gloves as well, a hat, Gu, The Garmin, fuel belt.

I walked outside and was surprised to feel that it wasn't the blast of cold ice I expected. Counting that as good fortune, I got in the car and zipped off to find the start point.

Now where is that place?

I was looking for a road that I ultimately must have passed up. Two freeways had spilled me onto the road I was on now, but there was no sign of the next street. But I spotted my destination, the Cedar River Trail, and remembered reading how there were parking spots all along the course, so an opening ahead adjacent to the trail was where I finally parked the car.

You ready for this?

It was around 7:20 or so by the time I parked. The rain had not let up but it was mostly a drizzle, nothing like Ray Bradbury's Hard Rain. I turned on The Garmin, got my Gu together, filled up the fuel belt bottles with Gatorade and stepped outside.

Aw, this ain't bad.

Initially, it wasn't. Yes, it was cold. Much colder than I'm used to during my Sunday morning runs. But I wasn't quite a ball of ice. I felt good. Prepared.

Let's do this.

After several steps along the trail, I took off. I didn't want to run fast but I guess I couldn't help it. My pace was under nine minutes when I looked at The Garmin the first time, so I slowed down. I suppose it was the anxiety and pent-up energy I was releasing.

The trail cut a path between the road I'd taken and a series of houses. Above, the sky was a gray canopy of moisture. Beyond that, there were unconfirmed reports of a sun but I never was able to verify the existence of said sun. The canopy couldn't hold all its moisture so we benefited from that underneath. Leaves covered the trail, but aside from a few puddles the trail was visually enticing.

Somewhere, my Lopers are running under sunny skies.

Of course, the Lopers were running their own 18-mile course, and while it was the same distance as I'd run, my run was not quite like theirs. Still, I felt strengthened knowing that they were out there tackling their own 18-run monster.

Oh my. Look at that.

There up ahead, loudly announcing its presence, was the Cedar River in all its glory. This wasn't the streams we have at home. This was a bona fide river, slicing a path between evergreen trees and other weathered vegetation. I felt humbled by the river. I wanted to salute or somehow acknowledge the mighty river, but just kept running. I wondered how many people had depended on this river, in this very spot, 400 years ago. 500 years ago.

Aw man, don't do this now.

Jarring my memories of some scantily-clad natives taking fish out of the river was silence. I'd had my iPod on but suddenly it ceased playing music. The iPod is almost four years old, and it's been through a lot so it goes out on me often. But this was not the time to be left alone. I ran about a half mile when I decided that it was worth the effort to take it off and try and reset it. Careful not to allow water on my shirt, I zipped open the jacket long enough to take the iPod out of the carrier and reset it. Once it got going again, I placed it inside the jacket pocket.

Stupid thing.

Up ahead, I saw a figure. I'd been alone on the trail the whole time and wondered if anyone else was out there somewhere, running towards or away from me. But this confirmed that indeed I was not alone. The figure ahead was moving quickly towards me, running at a much faster pace than me and we said hello to each other when we crossed paths. I smiled broadly.

I'm not the only crazy guy out here, I guess.

I was past the six-mile mark and had not been running an hour yet. Probably too fast of a pace but figured I'd start to take it easy. The trail now had snaked underneath a bridge and spilled me out on the other side when...

Hey, that lady looks familiar.

Coming to a halt off her own run was someone I'd seen pictures of just recently. Kerrie of mom vs. Marathon was smiling, saying hi and I smiled back, surprised to have seen her. She introduced me to her running partner, Zoe of Run Zoe Run, and we chatted briefly about the weather. It hadn't really rained on Saturday but of course now it was raining.

"It's okay, though. I might as well experience Washington and what it's all about. Bring it," I told the two local ladies.

We posed for a quick picture or four. Kerrie's phone couldn't quite get us all in frame but finally a sideways tilt of the phone worked wonders. She was gracious enough to share the picture with me.

We parted ways and I was once again on my own. I was not quite yet at seven miles but I felt energized, invigorated, enthralled by having ran across Kerrie. It's a moment I'll carry with me forever.

And she has no choice but to run in this crap.

Quite true. Kerrie and Zoe and the other Seattle bloggers I'd stumbled upon have no choice but to run in the rain. Next week in fact is a half-marathon that I believe they are all training for. Kerrie and Zoe had already ran about nine or 10 miles by the time I'd caught up to them. I'm lucky. And I felt guilty telling them that my marathon was going to be in Huntington Beach. The low that day is usually 48 degress, in other words, about eight degrees warmer than it was when I stepped out of the car this morning.

Okay, that really sucks.

The iPod had stopped once more. I tried to resuscitate it but no luck. The screen looked strange, and since it couldn't and wouldn't last even half the distance, I decided to scrap it and do the run myself. Quickly, I came upon a gazebo that was off the path a bit. I was at around 8.92 miles and figured I'd run to it, and when I got to 9.0 miles, I stopped to take a drink and gather myself.

Now you just have to run back to the car.

While it wasn't that easy, that's what I needed to do. The scenery had changed a bit. I was still near the river but I'd taken a path under a bridge so I was on the other side of the street from where I'd started. The rain was still a pleasant companion and had started to take its toll on me. My shoes had been fine up until that point. My feet were becoming increasingly cold and I don't know if it was water and cold or just the cold temperatures but they were certainly cold.

Soon, I had gone underneath the bridge once more and was back on the other side of the street. I wondered where Kerrie and Zoe had gone off to. I pictured a dry, warm setting with coffee and conversation... precisely the opposite of my own experience.

swish swish, swish swish, swish swish, swish swish
thud thud, thud thud, thud thud, thud thud

Who needed the iPod when I had my own jacket and shoes to make a unique brand of music? Okay, it was sound, not really music, but it was rhythmic.

I was slowing down. I was nearing Mile 12 and was at or close to two hours. By the time The Garmin read 12.0 miles, I was on the north side of 2 hours. My thought of finishing the run in under three hours was gone, and even though it wasn't much of a goal, I wondered how long I'd run.

You've never ran more than three straight hours before. You gonna make it?

My feet were increasingly colder. No longer did I have shoes and socks but rather a mass of cold. I tried to ignore it until, at around mile 14, I couldn't any more.

My feet hurt.

I admitted my pain but I didn't want to think about my feet. I didn't want to think about my legs or my back or my arms or anything. I tried to stay focused, tried to use the bill of my hat as a target, to keep my eyes directly underneath and pointing forward. No use in worrying about my feet. There would be time to worry about them afterward.

Three more miles. Come on man, you laugh at three miles.

While I don't think of three-mile runs as a joke, I do quite often run more than three miles. Actually, most every time out I cross the 3.0-mile mark. But this time, of course, I'd already had 15 miles under my belt. And then there was the rain. The relentless rain. It was mostly a drizzle to be honest. A drizzle that at times grew a bit stronger. And other times it even cleared up. But it would have taken a long time to fill a bucket with rainwater under this sort of drizzle.

But it was enough to drench you after it pelted you for nearly three hours. And drenched I was. I couldn't feel what part of my face was sweat and what part was rain. My hat had served its purpose, taking the brunt of the rain and keeping it out of my eyes. I never got a drop of rain that hit me in the eyes.

The river was now more audible than it was when I'd had my iPod but I couldn't hear it too much over the shouts from my body. The trees and vegetation that had greeted me on my way out were now encouraging me to finish despite the rain's attempt to slow me down.

Two more miles. That's nothing.

I had been stopping for short walk breaks every mile for the last few miles. It grew harder to do so, simply because I had to start running again, usually with an audible grunt. My cold feet were not responding well to the constant pounding and my pace was slow. But I had to power through that. I thought of my blog buddies, my loyal readers who are there to support me in all my running adventures. I thought of the new Seattle-area bloggers I found, how helpful and encouraging they'd been and how great it was to have met a pair of them. I thought of the Lopers, who were probably done at that point, celebrating their own conquest. And I thought of my family and how Yvie had wished me good luck on my run on Friday before I said bye to her.

There was absolutely no way I was going to let any of them down. Nope. Not a chance. I might have been in pain, might have been cold and wet and tired and achy but I was going to finish this run no matter what. That's one thing I've learned throughout my running. I don't do this just for myself. I feel it's an obligation of mine to see my runs through for my friends and family. I refuse to fail, to fall short and then have to explain myself to anybody. That's just not an option.

Like a carrot dangling in front of a horse, I saw my car up ahead. I knew I could do it. The Garmin had read 17.55 the last time I'd looked at it but I did not let my gaze wander down until I got to a bridge very close to where I'd started. I slogged to the bridge, feet aching.


Oh my God! I'm so close.

A few more painful steps later and The Garmin read 18.0.

Oh, I'm done. It's over.

I shut The Garmin off, panted audibly and groaned a few times as I tried to gather my footing.

You did it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

18 Cold, Wet Miles

I did it! I got in my 18-mile run here in Seattle this morning!

It was not easy, let me tell you that. I'm still shivering, and I've been done with my run for more than 40 minutes. I'm back in my hotel room, trying to get warm, but it feels good to have done it.

I will have a full run recap probably tomorrow so please keep an eye out for that. But for now, I do want to hit on some of the highlights:

* The rain and cold were tough challenges, but once I was out there running, I didn't really mind them too much to be honest. It wasn't until after I took my first few steps after I crossed the 18-mile mark that I realized "Oh, I'm quite cold now." I realized I was drenched well before that.

* I ran into one of my blog buddies! Kerrie of mom vs. Marathon had initially recommended the Cedar River Trail, and lo and behold she was on it! She was running with Zoe, another blogger whom I shall now follow. Kerrie took a picture and I'm anxious to see what it looks like. It was around the 6.5 mile mark so I was still fresh. Had she taken it at the 16.5 mile mark, I would have looked like crap. But they were awesome and it was a real treat to meet them.

* I'll describe it more in detail later but the Cedar River Trail is stunningly gorgeous. I ran right next to the Cedar River, a real river, not like the rivers we have in SoCal which are glorified streams.

* I managed to take a few pictures of myself but I'll share this one right now. It was about five minutes after my run and I was starting to feel it pretty bad alright.

I think my biggest mistake was not taking a change of clothes with me, or at least a change of socks. My feet are still blocks of ice right now and I think causing me to shiver. And that new (free!) jacket really worked wonders, although it's probably a size too big. But I really didn't care. It protected me well and is now my official rain jacket. The hat was also a god-send. I never got rain in my eyes, not once, and it probably rained about 80-90 percent of the time during my run.

Oh yeah, I finished in about 3 hours 18 minutes. A snail's pace, I know, but under the circumstances that was a great time for me.

Anyway, just wanted to give you the news now. I'll give you the details tomorrow so please come back for them.

In the meantime, I'm going to try melt my blocks of ice that are at the ends of my legs.

UPDATE: I warmed up okay but am still feeling it. I get winded easily after short walks, especially up stairs. Whew.

Also, check out my "guest appearance" in Kerrie's write-up on her blog! Awesome stuff!

Cooking With Yvie: Chili and Corn Muffins

It's been too long!

Here is our latest installment of Cooking With Yvie. Since the girls are fine and their usual selves, we wanted to get back to our little cooking show here. And since it's finally dipped down into the 70s and 60s in Southern California - yes, true fall weather for SoCal - we wanted to make something a little hearty, a little warm and definitely a lot tasty.

So what better hearty, warm and tasty dish than chili? This is our preferred chili recipe, and truth be told we only recently started using the meat the way Yvie does in the show. It seems to add some flavor but you can't go wrong using all ground beef. Also, Yvie doesn't really mention it at first but she also shows you how to make corn muffins to go with chili, so it's a perfect combination for a nice dinner... or three. This makes a lot of chili, but it freezes well.

The show is a little longer than normal but figured since we've been absent for a bit that you might enjoy the longer-than-usual footage anyway.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Night Update!

I'm in Seattle, probably going to bed soon but just wanted to give you an update.

It's cold! But the great news... it wasn't very rainy today. That is awesome news for tomorrow. It was drizzly at times but mostly it wasn't even raining... at least in the morning. As the day grew on, the water started to come down but it wasn't pouring rain like I feared.

Of course, that could all change in the morning but let's all keep our fingers crossed on that one.

I also caught a bit of luck today as I was able to secure a jacket, a nice jacket to run in. How awesome is that? And best of all - it was free! I'll have to tell you the story on that one later, but for now I'm just relishing my good fortune. I had brought a jacket with to run in, but I feared it would be too bulky and too warm, but this new one is perfect. It might be a shade too big - it's a size large but it feels bigger than that - but it will work for Sunday morning.

Anyway, just wanted to give you an update on my day. Let's hope the weather cooperates tomorrow morning, but rain or heavy rain, I'll be out on the trail tomorrow morning.

One more thing: I was able to get in a little bit of sightseeing this morning.

But that will be for another blog post in the near future.

Up And At 'Em

I'm packed and ready to go.

My flight leaves around 6:30 a.m. PT which means a really early morning for me, but that's fine. I don't mind really. I've got all my gear with me, plus all my work stuff and I should be pretty much set for a weekend in Seattle. I even went out and bought a moisture wicking shirt for about 10 bucks and it will immediately get thrown into the rotation.

I must say, I feel very prepared for Sunday, for the 18-mile run I must get through on Sunday morning. Having found some awesome bloggers who are based in Seattle has really helped, as I've reached out to them and they've been friendly in answering my questions. They're probably 'Who's this crazy guy from California?' but have been kind enough in answering my questions and helping me out.

Two of them suggested the Cedar River Trail, and you know that means it has to be good. I'd found another trail but this one popped up twice so if it's been doubly recommended, it must be good.

Best part is, it's very accessible from my hotel.

Point A is my hotel and Point B is a parking spot along the trail. There are several but that's one on the one end of it that seems accessible, so I'm going to ahead and try to park there.

The whole trail is about 17 miles, and 12 of it is off roads. This end appears to be the one of the starting points and I could conceivably run out nine miles and turn around and go back. That way, I could avoid the part of the trail that runs alongside a highway.

However it ends up, I feel this will be a great experience for me and will make for a great story (hopefully). I'll try not and pretend that I'm running towards the elusive and possibly non-existent Sun Dome, as was the case in The Long Rain. Well, I think the Lieutenant finally found one but it took quite a long time.

Anyway, thanks to Kerrie of mom vs. Marathon, Mel of Tall Mom On The Run and Amanda at 5 Miles 2 Empty, a trio of Seattle-area based bloggers who were very helpful and all of my regular readers for their support and suggestions.

Now all I have to do is get out and run!

Oh yeah, and I do have some actual work to do when I get into Seattle on Saturday. So I guess I have to do that first and then I can get out and run!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Leftovers (Nov. 20)

The weekly leftover thoughts and thwarted blog posts here for your reading pleasure.

Word Association

Remember to play along here.

1. Grace :: God
2. Shower :: curtain
3. Alice :: Wonderland!
4. Purple :: haze
5. Apartment :: rent
6. 3 :: 4
7. Car :: automobile
8. Pregnant :: ugh
9. Counselor :: school
10. Discretion :: secret

You knew number three was going to end up that way. And pregnant :: ugh... well, just the thought of that around here is enough to make me grumble. We quit while we were ahead, or even, I guess. No more diaper-changing days for LB!

No Summer

We got notice this week that the next school year will begin on Aug. 11, 2010. That's one month earlier than this year, when it started on Sept. 10. Part of me is worried about this but another part of me is excited.

I'm worried because this leaves only six weeks of a true summer break. Yvie's last day of first grade will be around June 20-something, so she will have about a week off in June, all of July off and 10 days of August before starting second grade. She'll be rarin' and ready to go I'm sure but it doesn't leave a lot of time for family vacations. But I'm sure we'll figure something out. Maybe trips to the beach and more trips to Disneyland. Last summer we didn't go to the Happiest Place on Earth as much as I'd have liked because the girls had swim lessons, but maybe we'll dedicate next summer to Disneyland.

But on the other hand, I'm elated that school will start in August. Kennedy is dying to go to kindergarten and she will be off and running on her adventure in August. And that day, Aug. 11, 2010, Mrs. LB and I will go out to our favorite eatery and have a long, quiet, worry-free breakfast for the first time in a long time.

Running Fantasy

Another part of next school year that excites me is finally having some LB time. I seriously fantasize about having the girls at school and having the ability to plan runs and workouts on my own time, and not around preschool and trips to and from there. If it's the same as this school year, I'll be getting home before 8 a.m. next year and won't have to pick Kennedy up until 11:25. That's plenty of time to get in some nice outdoor runs. I'm lucky if I run three days during the week now, but next year I can really plan some runs and really put together an effective workout plan, that includes running and resistance training.

I know, that might sound a little selfish, to want Kennedy to go to school already. But believe me, she has been dying to go to school for more than a year now. And I only want to do what's best for her :)

Smile! ... or not

What's up with this?
I think it's a great picture and everything but I can't help to think that Yvie was worried or something.

She went through a phase last year where she had somehow gotten a fake smile, and every time we took pictures of her she posed in her fake smile. It wasn't until she saw her soccer pictures I believe that she realized it was fake and she didn't really like it. So since then she's been smiling normally. So maybe she was worried about her smile and somehow let it affect her.

By the way, this day I had to do her hair. Now, I do their hair a lot, most every day, and I enjoy doing their hair, but when it's for special occasions or something of the like, I usually choke because my cosmetology days are in their infancy. But this was a work day for Mrs. LB so I had to do something. I was not happy with how I sent her to school this day but it doesn't look too bad now.

I do wish I was talented enough to do this sort of hairstyle on her, and I'm sure Yvie does too. But for now, we suffer.

CWY's Return

We shot an episode of Cooking With Yvie earlier this week so keep an eye out for it on Sunday.

LB's Song Of The Week

My weekly nod to children's music.

I don't know if I have a favorite children's music artist per se but I do have several ones that I enjoy listening to more than others. So when their songs come on Sirius 116 or on the iPod at home (the girls love listening to their nearly 200 songs on shuffle played through their iPod player), I can enjoy it along with them.

They Might Be Giants, though, is probably on the short list of favorite artists. For one, they compose a lot of Disney songs. The theme for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a song of theirs as well as for the show Higglytown Heroes. Also, their songs are witty and a bit educational. This song is off their 2008 CD called Here Come The 123s, which is a follow-up to Here Come The ABCs. They just released Here Comes Science which I may get for the girls soon.

Anyway, this song here is called Triops Has Three Eyes. What the heck is a triops? Well, it's some sort of creature, kind of like a shrimp. It lives in the water and it really does have three eyes. Who knew?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Seattle Plan

As you know, I'll be in the Emerald City this week. And as you know, I have to run a long ways on Sunday. As in 18 miles. As in three miles longer (okay, 2.62 to be precise) than my previous longest run ever.

Am I worried? Kind of, yeah. The distance alone intimidates me, but having to run it in a city I've never been to, in a state I've never been to, well, that kind of compounds the uncertainty. But what most worries me is not the locale but rather the weather.

I've been following the weather for the last week or so and it's been fairly consistent: lows in the low 30s, highs in the upper 40s and rain.

Sunday's forecast calls for rain with a 40 percent of precipitation. In fact, the forecast says showers are possible. Now, I don't know what the rain is like in Seattle, if it's a steady drizzle or steady downpour or what. I'm hoping that it will be off and on, so that at least during part of my run I won't be running in a straight downpour.

Actually, I hope the skies clear up on Sunday morning but I know if I hope that I will only be disappointed if and when I run through the rain. It'll be discouraging.

With rain of course comes the chance of being drenched from head to toe. Not that I don't necessarily mind that but it will change things up for me. For instance, I'm not quite sure what to wear. And I'm not quite sure what not to wear. Should I take my iPod and The Garmin, for instance? People in Seattle run all the time and from what I've been reading of the blogs I've been paying close attention to this week, runners there seem to be able to manage their electric equipment just fine in the cold and rain.

Actually, one blogger suggested the following for me: "for the cold... ear covers, gloves, tights and layers. In the rain you need moisture wicking fabric and a hat."

I don't have ear covers per se but I have a beanie, and I'm going to take it with me. I have gloves and layers, but no tights. Hmmm... I wonder if Yvie will let me wear some of her tights... oh, not those kind of tights. I don't have any moisture-wicking fabric but I do have a hat. Lots of hats. I just need to find the right kind. Although, a beanie and a hat? Well, I guess it's for the best. I suppose I could wear a small hat under a beanie and then that wouldn't look too strange.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll figure it out. I've thought about a couple of things for the run. I have to fuel up of course and my hydration belt will make things easier. I've got plenty of Gu packets to hold me over. I just wonder if the bottles will be able to hold me over. I've thought about running past a convenience store or something and stopping to rest and refuel but we'll see.

Still, no matter how I picture it, I keep going back to the rain. The dreaded rain. Why must it rain? It's probably not going to be as bad as I think it will be, but still... I imagine it being pretty bad. Maybe it's the short story I read in high school, Ray Bradbury's The Long Rain. You ever read it?

Well, here's the first paragraph of the short story:

"The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men's hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped."

That's kind of what I picture Sunday's rain to be like. It probably won't be that bad, but I have an image similar to that in my head.

I suppose that's one way to look at it, make it seem like the worst thing ever and then when it doesn't bottom out like you thought, it won't seem so bad.

But as long as I get in my 18 miles (!) I should be fine. Even if my hands look like wrinkled ape hands.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Daddy LB

I've been slow to post some awesome awards I received from my blog buddies, so I apologize to them for not having acknowledged them until now. And I also wanted to go on a bit of a rant here (unrelated) so stay with me.

Raoulysgirl of Who Has The Thyme? passed both of these on to me, and I'm honored. While I don't share all of Raoulysgirl's political views, I respect her passion and wish everyone cared as much about what goes on in the nation's capital and as she does, because our country would be a better place if our population had one-tenth of her passion.

Also, Nicole of Tattoos And Teething Rings passed on the Badass Blogger Award. I won't share the picture because I don't really resemble the female in the portrait ;) but if you want to see it, here it is. I'm touched that a badass mom considers me a badass blogger!

And the latest award I picked up was also grand.

Polly at the 5th Sister gave me this one. This is the THETA award, or The True Authentic Mom.... wait, what? I'm not a mom, though many people have called me a form of mother before. See, you start wearing pink and flaunting it, and look what happens.

No, actually I was touched by this for what it means. I do consider myself an authentic parent, and while I'm honored by the fact that people think highly of what I do in terms of taking care of my girls, I'm also upset by the low bar set by many husbands and fathers. I mean, sometimes a guy changes a diaper and wants a parade held in his honor for doing so. Give me an effing break.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I changed the vast majority of Yvie and Kennedy's diapers. Yvie may have been 50/50 but I changed Kennedy's diapers at least 75 percent of the time. Easily. And I didn't want a parade. I just wanted some disinfectant spray because little Kennedy could brew up some nasty stuff.

I didn't exactly set out in life wanting to be a stay-at-home dad (and let's face it, while I have a career and work outside the home, I'm a SAHD for all intents and purposes). When we had Yvie, I worked. I was a teacher, a miserable failure of a teacher (I'll exorcise those demons at some point, not quite ready for that now), but I worked full time. In 2004, I was no longer a teacher but rather split my time between substitute teacher and writer, and once my freelancing picked up in 2005 I was bringing in some good money doing that and subbing.

Mrs. LB meanwhile had taken off within her company and was climbing the ranks. Eventually, we added another child to our family, and after Mrs. LB's maternity leave ran out, she went back to work and I stayed home with Kennedy most days. I still had to sub so my mom was able to watch the girls but I was around a lot for Kennedy's infancy.

Since Yvie started school in fall of '08, I haven't been able to sub at all, so since spring of '08 I haven't subbed a day. Which means I've been here at home most days, handling the bulk of the day-to-day responsibilities of running a household. I cook and clean and... well, I don't do laundry (another topic for another day, but in short I was relieved of those duties a long time ago). I take Yvie to and pick her up from school every day. Same with Kennedy when she has school. I try and volunteer in Yvie's class once a week. Mrs. LB leaves for work around 5:30 Monday through Friday so I have to do all the morning duties every day by myself. Yvie can dress herself most of the time but Kennedy can't. And neither can do their own hair, so that part is fun.

Yeah, it's tough sometimes and I really don't have much time for myself in the mornings and afternoons. And, oh yeah, I have to fit my freelancing in there somewhere. And running. And blogging.

But I chose to have children. I wanted to have children. Since I was young, I knew that I'd have children some day. So I'm trying to live up to my responsibilities. The last thing I want is for my daughters to have a negative image of their dad. I would be destroyed if that was ever the case. I'd just consider myself a failure and go live my days in a cave, in shame.

So if I chose to have children, then why would I hide from the responsibility of being a parent?

It really irks me when people don't take interest in their children's lives. One thing in particular that gets under my skin as well is when guys "babysit" their children. It bothers me when people - usually other men - ask me if I'm "babysitting" as if my girls are just some random girls that I happen to be watching.

The dictionary defines babysitting as "to take charge of a child while the parents are temporarily away." Thus, if you are a parent, then you cannot babysit your own children.

But that's the low bar I'm talking about. A guy takes care of his own children and is "babysitting" them. Like it's not his responsibility to care for his kids when the mother is around.

It all comes down to being a responsible parent for your children, plain and simple. Working long hours and commuting like Mrs. LB does is one way of doing so. Staying home and caring after them from morning to night like I do is another way. Just show them love and put them first. It's really that simple.

I don't know, maybe I'm off base. Who knows? There's no right answer, of course. I just try and do what I think is right.

And I'm honored that Polly feels I'm doing things right.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ragnar Florida!

I'll be going to Seattle this weekend for business but I wish my plane would divert down to Florida instead.

This weekend is the latest installment of the Ragnar Relay as Ragnar Relay Florida will go from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. That sounds awesome. It begins in Clearwater and ends up in Daytona Beach and passes north of both Tampa and Orlando.

The map says it's 203 miles but the site says it's 191 miles. In the end, it's a lot of miles no matter how many miles are running.

I recently stumbled across a new blog by looking for Ragnar Relay posts and came across Christy's blog with the awesome title of It Just Looks Like Slow Motion. She ran in the Wasatch Back relay earlier this year and is now on Ragnar number two. According to her blog, she'll also run in the Ragnar Relays in Utah, Seattle and D.C. in 2010. How great is that? So I'll definitely be sending some positive vibes to Christy, who is Runner 12, will run legs of 8.8 miles (very hard), 3.8 (easy) and 7.6 (hard) and will have the honor of running the final leg.

Since I ran the Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas last month, I've become not really addicted but certainly quite open to running in another such event. There's a race in Arizona in February, and I've toyed with the idea of seeing if I could join a team. I'd just have to convince Mrs. LB that that would be in the best interests of our family even though I'm not sure it would be. But a happy LB is a happy Mrs. LB, right? No. Okay, well, I guess I'll try another approach.

Anyway, I'll be following along as much as possible to the goings-on in Florida this weekend. The race starts Friday and ends Saturday, and it'll be an exciting time for all participants I'm sure.

Cheap Thrills, With The Monkeys

Cheap Thrills are awesome.

Cheap Thrills, if you need a refresher, is an outing that meets certain criterion: A) is within driving distance so no overnight stay is necessary, B) costs 20 dollars or less (minus the price of gas), C) appeals to children and adults, D) little or no fee to enjoy. My awesome blog buddy Willoughby came up with this idea, and I've tried to implement it.

I did just that last week on an outing the girls and I took to the Santa Ana Zoo.

If you're not too familiar with Southern California geography, let me fill you in. Santa Ana is in Orange County. The rest of the county is fairly well off, but Santa Ana is kind of an exception. With some exceptions, there are few places in Santa Ana that I'd like to live in. But I did live in Santa Ana, from the time I was in an infant to when I was about five, then again for one horrible year in the late 1980s.

The Santa Ana Zoo is a fairly small zoo. I actually visited some family that lives about two miles away, right there in Santa Ana, and they referred to it as el Parque de los Changos, or the Monkey Park. It's not even a zoo to them, just a park.

It's cool though precisely for that reason. It's small enough so that not too many people know about it so it doesn't get too crowded but big enough for me to make the 40-minute drive there. And the best part is that it didn't cost anything to park.

So what about the price? Well, I was not sure what the price of admission was, but one of my good buddies got us annual passes to the park so we got in for free. Can't beat that! The actual price of admission is 8 bucks for adults and 5 bucks for children 3-12, so it might still have met the criteria for the Cheap Thrills.

Now, the thing with this zoo is of course the monkeys. It's tabbed as the "Home of the 50 Monkeys" for good reason. Originally, the land it sits on belonged to a fella named J.E. Prentice, and he donated the land to the city of Santa Ana to be used for a park, the only stipulation being that it needed to house 50 monkeys at all times, no less. Apparently, this Prentice guy liked monkeys and wanted to spread his love of the primates around.

Hence, the zoo's full name: "Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park."

The girls were enthralled by the monkeys, but my camera wasn't. So I got a lot of pictures of blurry things and the like.

Not sure what species this is. Might be some sort of tamarin. They had lots of tamarins. They also had ring-tailed lemurs, which are especially popular around the LB house because of King Julian, from the movie Madagascar. Unfortunately, all the King Julians were on their throne somewhere as we didn't see any of them.

Oh well. It'll be a focal point for our next visit.

The girls did get to pose with a frog.

I guess each of those pictures could be captioned "The princess and the frog." We're really looking forward to that movie, by the way.

The park also featured a playground, and that was one of the highlights for the girls. The playground was, well, a playground and there were lot of other children on there as well. Not a ton because it was Friday during school hours (Yvie's school was not in session; parent conferences) but enough so the girls had some company.

I splurged for lunch there and spent about eight bucks for lunch. Yup, big spender I am. The food was just okay, though. But still it kept us under our 20 dollar limit, hence making it a Cheap Thrill indeed.

And it will be a Cheap Thrill for a year, until our passes run out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Nov. 16)

I never used to be much of a risk taker when it came to clothes and fashion.

Before, I used to dress as anonymously as possible. When I went out of the house, I simply wanted to be unassuming and tried to blend into the background as much as possible. However, it was hard to do because of my size.

That was a fun trip to the Hearst Castle in Cambria. I like looking at the pictures from that trip, just not the ones of me because, well, because I look like hell.

I ruined a lot of good pictures, such as this one with Yvie when she was a year old.

Yikes. Both of those were pretty bad. Sorry to have subjected you to that.

But that was me (shudder). And that's what I used to dress like. Most of my attire consisted of solid, preferably dark, clothing.

Things have since changed.

I'm not dressing in anything too bizarre but I am wearing a lot of things that I normally wouldn't dream of wearing. When I was big, the last thing I wanted to do was to call even more attention to myself, and some things just don't look good on bigger guys, let alone really big guys.

Since I've had to buy a whole new wardrobe over the last two years, I am constantly open to trying new things. This is my latest new purchase.

You never would have caught me wearing something like this before, and even though I'm not entirely sold on such an outfit, I feel fine in it and will feel fine wearing it out. I'm not sure though if the bottom of the white long-sleeve shirt should be folded underneath or left out like that...

I don't think I look like a runway model or anything but I feel confident in myself, in my new clothes.

So if people wonder why I run, that's why. I'm running away from the top guy and running towards the bottom one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fine Fifteen

Before I get into my post, I have to say that I'm hoping to get back to shooting some new Cooking With Yvie episodes this week. I apologize to you loyal readers/viewers for no new shows. The girls got sick and were sick for a while and that ruined a good Halloween show I'd planned on doing. I thought it would be nice to have the girls dress up in their uniforms and make a Halloween recipe. Anyway, I really will make it an effort to shoot a new show this week as Yvie and I both need to get back to that.

I just got back from my long run. We were scheduled to run 15 miles today, and that's what we did. Actually, it was 15.38 (I can't cheat myself out of those .38 miles, you know). I think this was officially my longest run ever. The last time I ran 15 miles, The Garmin gave out on me during Mile 5 so I wasn't able to properly record the distance that day. Today, though, The Garmin plowed right through to the end, just like I did.

Actually, The Garmin wasn't the only thing that wasn't up for 15 miles two weeks ago. I remember dragging through the last couple of miles and by the time we were done, I was done. I was spent, drained, exhausted. I remember collapsing on the grass out of sheer fatigue. But today was different. I felt strong, very strong. In fact, I felt so strong that I thought about getting in some extra mileage today but decided against it. See, next week I'll be up in Seattle and I have to crank out an 18-miler that day as part of my marathon training.

Today started off pretty chilly. Temperatures were in the mid-40s when we met up and that's ice-cold for me. To me, anything under 60 degrees is quite chilly... yeah, I get no sympathy from my out-of-town readers, I know. Anyway, it was cold this morning but the only difference I made was to wear my gloves. I didn't wear long pants or a long-sleeve shirt or anything, just my gloves. I figured that if I started running and got hot, it would be easier to just take the gloves off.

And I like wearing gloves. I wore them a lot last winter, and today was really the first day I needed them since then as it's been a warm fall... if you can even call it fall... thus far. But today was definitely fall weather, although the sun was shining on us throughout the run.

I felt good, never felt cold, never felt the weather at all. I was surprised when we reached the turnaround mark, right around 7.7 miles or so, because I felt reallly good. I had used a Gu packet at Mile 5 and another one at Mile 10 (Vanilla Bean, yum!) and started to wonder if I'd hit the wall at around Mile 12 or 13. But we got to 12.9 miles when we got to the last water station and I was surprised that I felt like I had energy to burn.

One of my Loper buddies I'd been running with and talking to was complaining of stomach pain so I stayed with her as the rest of our diminished group went up ahead. But she fought through it and by the last mile or so we were running good. She sprinted down the stretch but I still had the foolish thought in mind that I wanted to keep running so I held back for a moment until I reached the end, and then I just figured it would be best to quit while I was ahead.

We finished our 15.38 miles in just under 2 hours 44 minutes, and I think the difference in how I felt today from last time was the weather. It wasn't boiling hot two weeks ago but it was a lot warmer than it was today.

Even though I know I could have ran more, I figured it would be best to bottle up that energy and take it with me to the Emerald City. In fact, while I was originally worried about the weather (forecast for next Sunday is a high of 47 degrees, possible chance of rain) I'm now encouraged by it. If a 10-degree change made such a difference in how I felt, I think I could similarly benefit by another slight dip in temperature.

The best part about having to figure out how to run 18 miles in Seattle was stumbling across new blogs. It seems the running blogosphere in the Northwest is quite strong. I came across mom vs. Marathon first and then went on to read Lisa runs? Wait... what? (she's actually in Northern California) and then Tall Mom on the Run and 5 Miles 2 Empty. Awesome blogs and I look forward to keeping up with their own running exploits. And there are even more blogs they all follow so I'll be busy checking out new running blogs. Sweet.

Anyway, I'm pumped now about knocking out what will be my longest run ever (I have a lot of those lately) in a new city. About the only thing that kinda bums me out is that the Seattle Marathon/Half-Marathon is scheduled for Nov. 29, a week after I'll be there. How awesome would it have been to run a half-marathon in Seattle?!? Oh well, maybe another day.

For now, I'll have my own little 18-mile party in Seattle. And that's not a bad consolation prize.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Pink Flash

The pictures from the Mission Inn Run are up on the photographers' web site.

Since there were no actual pictures of me taken by my own camera, I might spring for one of these two pictures.

I think it might be cool to have one of these action shots of me in my awesome hot pink shirt. Well, I have the pictures but they have that water mark. I'm going to get one though. Why not?

This is at about the 2.5-mile mark. I can tell because my shirt isn't quite drenched with sweat yet. I was doing pretty well here, feeling good and strong.

This is at the same point during the second go-round, so I have about a half-mile to go, probably longer. I was doing well at this point, and trying to finish strong. But right about here was where I started to feel that if I would push myself hard, I wouldn't have much left for the sprint down the finish. I was in maintain mode.


One other thing: in looking at my time again, it seems I somehow improved my position in the overall male finishers. It seems that I now finished in 101st overall. Not sure what happened to finishers 101 and 102 as I'd originally finished 103rd. So now I was just a couple of seconds away from a medal.