Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coughing Fits

I wrote up a post for Halloween and set it to post here at midnight or thereabouts but I'm here now to post something in real time, or something.

Yvie's not been feeling well of late but she just had a major coughing fit. About 10 days ago, she had several of these in about a 24-hour period. They're severe enough that she wakes up from a deep sleep, and some have even led to her throwing up. Like the one she just had. I walked into her bedroom and she'd been in bed for about an hour but coughed herself awake and was crying, telling me "I don't want to cough anymore" before the coughing got worse.

We'd been treating it with Triaminic but it didn't really clear anything up. We took her to the doctor about a week later after she got a fever because up until then it was just cough. She didn't have the flu but the doctor said she had some sort of bacterial infection and prescribed her prednisolone and albuterol.

Nothing seems to be working, as she's been taking those for four days now and the coughing is as bad tonight as it's been.

Anyway, have any of you had any experience with this sort of thing, either personally or with your own children?

Halloween Time, Finally

It's Halloween, like you needed a reminder.

Well, actually if you don't have little ones you might. But I do remember having to run out and get candy every year around this time, usually on Oct. 30, to prepare for the 31st.

Anyway, I'm going to take you back here a couple of years with some pictures and a video, plus I have a bonus video at the end that I think you'll enjoy.

First, here's Halloween from 2007:

That is probably one of my favorite pictures, probably ever. It was one of the first times that I thought I didn't look half bad in a picture. This was at the tail end of my weight loss journey and I felt so great in that vest. I'll have to post a picture of me wearing a similar outfit just four years before that. Yowzer!

Anyway, that year the girls were a princess and a dog. In 2008 they were...

Rosetta and Cinderella. Quick pixie lesson: Rosetta is a fairy, like Tinkerbell. Rosetta and Tinkerbell both live in Pixie Hollow, and live there with several other fairies. Yvie took an instant liking to Rosetta. She's even met her.

And this is in Pixie Hollow to boot.

This year the girls are a witch and Jasmine. You'll have to wait for pics - we hope the girls are up for some trick-or-treating tonight. Before they started to get sick, we visited a pumpkin patch.

Can you believe I just noticed right now as I was posting the picture on here that Kennedy's shirt said something? I'm not the most observant dad, apparently. I hope to have some pictures of their costumes up soon, but we'll see how the day plays out.

Anyway, on the videos. I'm not sure if I've posted this video on here before or not - I don't think I have. But it's a Halloween video from a couple of years ago, 2007 to be precise. The girls are much younger then of course. We had a can of Candy Corn Soda which a friend of mine had given me so instead of just trying it out, we decided to have a little taste test on video.

So we took shots of Candy Corn Soda.



Well, this last video is not mine but it creeped me out. Anyway, if you watch it, you will get scared so don't do something dumb and have your young child next to you while you watch this because then she might start to instantly cry as you fumble for the mute button in a futile attempt to ease the pain... sorry, Kenna.

Again, you will get scared, so don't say I didn't warn you. But you have to watch it. You just have to.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Leftovers (Oct. 30)

To kick off this Friday Leftovers edition, thanks for expressing your concern over the girls' well-being. They're both doing better and improving. Hopefully Yvie does well at school today. I ended up volunteering for a couple of hours but at about 1:30 or so I had to go pick her up because she wasn't feeling well. But she was doing well in the late afternoon and evening.

Anyway, here's the rest of today's blog.

Word Association

This week's WA. Remember to go here to play along.

1. Redskins :: Chiefs
2. Show :: boat
3. Smoker :: drinker
4. Bad movie :: worthless
5. Play :: station
6. Jaguar :: prestige
7. Click :: pic
8. Production :: company
9. Sand :: beach
10. Foreign :: oil

Notes: No movie popped into my mind for number four, although if I had to choose a bad movie I'd seen recently, I think it would be the recent Lifetime movie Mrs. LB watched where a scorned woman sought revenge on her husband... wait, those Lifetime movies are all like that, arent' they? Ugh, not sure about the Jaguar one, as I don't necessarily think a Jaguar is the end-all be-all of prestigious things. I've no desire to drive one. I think it's because it was capitalized that I went for the car instead of the animal or the NFL team. And number seven is for Diego of Nickelodeon fame. "Say Click, take a pic."

Pacific Northwest

I booked another business trip, but this one's going to be a lot shorter than the other ones. I'm heading to Seattle from Nov. 21-23 to cover a game, on Nov. 22. It should be exciting. It'll be my first trip to Seattle, actually to Washington state. I've been to Idaho but that's the closest I've been to Washington.

At first, I thought of a couple of things in terms of what to do. I won't actually have as much time to relax and stuff as I'll probably be busy Saturday from the time I get in until the evening and Sunday from about 3 p.m. on. But Sunday morning I should have some time to do whatever, so of course I'm thinking long run since I'm supposed to run 15-18 miles that day. The weather might be a concern but it would be great to knock out a run of that distance in Seattle.

I thought it might also be cool to run by the All Recipes offices, even if it probably will be closed. A bunch of my blog buddies and I "met" over on AR and it's a really awesome web site, so it'd be fun to run by it, even though it probably would look like a regular building for all I know. Still, it'd be nice to give a bit of a nod to AR as I really did get to know my way around the kitchen because of that site and the people on there.

However, the only thing about running outdoors in Seattle is that it rains a lot up there so I'm not sure if the weather will cooperate. If it does, I'm in. If not, well, I guess I'll have to hope my hotel has some sort of fitness center. No way I'm running 15 miles on a treadmill but I could crank out seven, eight miles or so on there and that'll have to do.

I don't think any of my blog buddies live up there in the Emerald City but if you do or are going to be there (not likely, but you never know) drop me a line and we can have some coffee or something. Yum, coffee in Seattle. I guess that should be a must-do for me as well.

Random Thoughts

I went to the doctor's office twice this week and on the second visit I noticed something. The TV playing cartoons had subtitles. I wondered, as Kennedy told me that she couldn't hear the TV, what good is it to have subtitles for cartoons. The children who were in there watching were all rather young, and I immediately wondered what the purpose was of having subtitles on that TV.

I made gluten-free cookies for the first time. I'd wanted to make some for Mrs. LB to take to work but one of the co-workers is allergic to gluten so I went and bought rice flour. The texture was different but they tasted okay. I made these. We'll see how well they go over.

LB's Song of the Week

My weekly nod to children's music. This week, it's a mainstream band that cut a children's album. I was never a big Barenaked Ladies fan (although like most guys I don't mind bare naked ladies). They had that one song back in the 90s, One Week, but that was overplayed right away and I never really cared for their other stuff.

But I heard this song and knew that their entire children's CD would be good. And it is. This is from Snack Time. It's funny how they could write an entire song about a pollywog and make it sound good, but their entire CD is like that. They sing songs about erasers, numbers, popcorn, the alphabet... and it's all quite clever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LB's Manic Morning

For the past 10 days or so, it's been a bit rough going here in the LB house. At first, Yvie was sick with a cough, a pretty bad cough. Then Kennedy got a cough but also thought it would be fun to come down with a fever. She battled it for four days before we got in to see the doctor, who subsequently diagnosed her with croup. I'd never heard of croup until we had kids, but apparently it's a really bad cough if you're not familiar with it.

Incidentally, we waited through the weekend because most every other time I've taken Kennedy to the doctors with a fever after a day or two, I get the same "take her home, relieve the fever and come back in two days if it hasn't subsided." so it's kind of discouraged me from taking her in.

Anyway, on Wednesday morning, about 12:30 a.m. Yvie woke up hacking up a lung and she felt really warm. I took her temperature and, sure enough, she had a fever, around 102.5 or so. Anyway, no school for her as the fever didn't go down too much in the morning, so we went to the doctors. She tested negative for flu but had some sort of bacterial infection so she got something for the cough and for the infection.

She's fine and at school today. But so far that's about the only thing that has gone normal.

A taste of my manic morning:

3:30 a.m. Wake up to Yvie's loud coughs. In a half daze, drag myself out of bed.

3:40 a.m. Coughing finally subsided. Give her medicine. Help her get into recliner to help coughing subside.

3:50 a.m. Settle down in couch near Yvie. Open laptop. Finish writing story that I didn't complete from the night before.

4:45 a.m. Mrs. LB (who also awoke but went back into bedroom when I went out to couch) is showering off in the distance.

5 a.m. Finish story. File. Catch up on blogs. Find awesome new blog.

5:25 a.m. Say goodbye to Mrs. LB.

5:30 a.m. Say hello to crying Kennedy. Set her up in recliner opposite Yvie because Kennedy doesn't want to be alone in her room.

5:35 a.m. Both girls are asleep. Figure I should join them. Snuggle up in couch. Doze off.

6 a.m. Wake up to dogs' whimpering. Open door. Let them out. Grab pillow and get back in couch. Wonder if I'll be able to sleep.

6:50 a.m. For the second time this morning, awaken to Yvie's coughs. Not nearly as bad. It's light out. Realize it's 6:50. Get out of couch.

7 a.m. Tell Yvie to get dressed. Wonder what to do for breakfast.

7:10 a.m. Do Yvie's hair. Of the three styles I now, I opt for the braid.

7:15 a.m. Give girls their medicine.

7:20 a.m. Give the girls a slice of pumpkin bread for breakfast. Put some yogurt and top it with granola for my own breakfast.

7:30 a.m. Help Yvie pack her backpack. Show her how to open her lunchables package she'll have for lunch.

7:35 a.m. Load girls into truck. Drive to school.

7:42 a.m. Drop Yvie off.

7:55 a.m. Pull into garage. Carry Kennedy into house.

8:15 a.m. Dress Kennedy. Brush her hair out and throw a barrette in to style her hair. It's painfully obvious that Dad did her hair, but her preschool playmates won't know the difference.

8:25 a.m. Debate whether I should go to Yvie's class to volunteer after dropping Kennedy off, go to Panera Bread or back home.

8:30 a.m. Decide against Panera (next Tuesday for sure) and opt for... nothing. Will decide once I drop Kennedy off, though am leaning towards volunteering...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

View Count

I have a You Tube account, but most of the stuff I post on there doesn't exactly have a high hit count. I've got a few videos that are in the thousands, stuff from family vacations in Mexico. But most everything else is relatively low.

Except for this.

I shot this video during a trip to California Adventure in April 2008. Ah, the good old days when I had the ability to go to Disneyland any day of the week without school getting in the way.

I knew it would get some hits because of the subject matter. It's part of a show called Playhouse Disney: Live on Stage. It's a really clever show and entertaining for the intended audience - toddlers, mostly. It features scenes by such toddler icons as Winnie The Pooh and Handy Manny, and also the group I shot below, the Little Einsteins.

It recently went over 100,000 views. In the grand scheme of all things You Tube, it's not that much. But in terms of my other stuff, it's monumental.

Anyway, here's the link. It's not really watchable unless you have little children.... or you are a toddler :D

Mission Inn Run 2009

I signed up for the Mission Inn Run so that's officially on my calendar now. I got 10 percent off from the price because I'm a Loma Linda Loper so instead of 30 bucks it was 27. Sweet. Any little bit helps.

Anyway, I've not really been thinking too much about this until the last week or so. For a while I was focused on the Ragnar Relay, then as soon as that was over my focus changed to the Surf City Marathon. But with the Mission Inn 10K part of our training plan, I've got to tackle it.

This was my first regular 10K run ever. I'd run the Mud Run in 2008 about a month prior, and that was my first 10K, but it's anything but regular. So this one was just a normal 10K but still challenging nonetheless.

I set my PR that day, ran it in 52:55. The 10K I ran this year in Seal Beach was 56:00, and I kept thinking and keep thinking about my Mission Inn time, and every time I wonder if I can beat that time. That's roughly an 8:30 pace.

Now, I know that time is slow to some, super slow to others but I don't really care. That's one thing I learned pretty quickly, to not compare my finish times to others. Because if I start comparing my times to other runners' times, I will not run any more races because I will be so discouraged. I care about time... but to an extent. I want to compare my times... to my times.

Anyway, that's a pretty good clip for me, 8:30. The Seal Beach 10K pace was about 9:01. Of course, that race was not a good race for and started off badly. I was much more prepared for the Mission Inn Run as I was there plenty early, didn't need to run back to my car and got a good spot so I didn't have to weave in and out of human gridlock.

So now that the Mission Inn Run is one 15-mile run away from having my full attention, I'm concerned about the time. Should I be? Well, this isn't exactly a distance that I think will conquer me. And I've ran 10Ks before obviously so it's not going to be a new experience. But I'm going to approach the race like I do every other race, with my full focus and attention. Once I'm at the start line, it will be the most important race I'll ever run because I'm about to run it.

Now, I'm almost close to declaring my number one goal for this race to set a new PR. I really would like to beat my 2008 time but I'm not sure if I can. In some ways, in my running infancy I was a bit reckless... well, reckless isn't the right word... more like unconcerned about certain things. It's kinda hard to describe... but it seems like the more knowledge and experience I've gained, the less likely it is for me to run a 10K in that time, or my 5K at 25:05. I want to run a 5K just to try and beat that time.

Anyway, I don't know if it's that I became more aware of certain things like heart rate and glycogen reserves and proper recovery and things like that and that's caused me to become more cautious or what, or maybe I'm just not pushing myself like I did when I was a first-time runner. Not sure.

What I am sure of is that I will try and push myself some in this race. It's strange because I have the ability to run more than 10 miles, to run 14-15 miles right now without too many lingering problems (my heels sometimes holler at me) so you would think running six miles at a faster clip wouldn't be a big challenge, or at least wouldn't be a daunting challenge. But it seems that way. It seems like if I try and run anywhere near an 8:00 pace that I'll just collapse of fatigue and exhaustion at some point early on. Of course that won't happen but still...

I ran a bit of a tempo run recently. I didn't intend it to be a tempo run but I unwillingly pushed myself. I got on the treadmill and started at about a 5.5-6.0 pace and after about 12 minutes (had run about 1.15 miles or thereabouts) I moved it up to 7.1 and kept it there. Originally I'd wanted to run that for about 18 minutes (to get to 30 minutes) but eventually I decided to run a full 25 minutes there. I should have paid more attention but I think I covered roughly three miles, maybe a little less, in that time. That's right around the pace I want/need to maintain if I want to set a new PR at Mission Inn.

And I didn't feel completely wasted afterward either... well, I did take about a 90-minute nap that afternoon but that's neither here nor there...

Anyway, with the Mission Inn Run less than two weeks away now, I'll have only a few chances to prepare specifically for that. Whatever other runs I can get to this week and whatever runs I get to next week. I'm guessing the Friday before the race, Nov. 6, I will probably not run more than three miles, and it won't be a terribly tough three-miler. I'm guessing my last real prep run will be on the Wednesday before the race, so I may try a 30-minute tempo run and see how much ground I can cover in 30 minutes. That might be a more accurate gauge of my ability to chase after my PR.

Still, I can't imagine standing at the start line and not trying to set a new PR. So it'll be LB v.2009 versus LB v.2008 on Nov. 8. I wonder who will win?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Slogging Through 14 Miles

It's been a couple of days now since running 14 miles, my longest run ever, and I think I've finally recovered. Running 14 miles, I learned, is no joke. It's about as difficult as you could imagine, and then some.

The fun part is, I get to run one more than that on Sunday. Joy!

Anyway, before I start to really psyche myself up about that run, I wanted to recount my 14-mile tale.

Instead of the Lopers' usual meeting place in Loma Linda, we had our second all-club run as the Loma Linda chapter visited the Riverside chapter. So we had to deal with a new course, which was a bit interesting and worrisome at the same time. I get used to routine and am a bit of a creature of habit, so I was worried about a new course and what sort of effect it would have on me.

Once we set out on our run, I knew I'd be in for some different scenery. The Riverside club meets in a park, the California Citrus State Historical Park. I'd been there before and it is quite scenic, though we would run most of our course through residential neighborhoods. Now, unlike Loma Linda, these residential neighborhoods didn't feature sidewalks and houses close to each other. Instead, they were disguised as citrus groves.

We weaved through a few streets before we set out on one long road. It was a little uphill but it wasn't too bad. We circled around to another road - and none of these roads had sidewalks or many cars on them, so it was relaxing in that sense - and went downhill. That was nice. We repeated this pattern for the first five miles or so, then went down a long street, turned on another one and reached the turnaround. We were at seven miles, and our reward was a water station. There had actually been several along the way already but I took it as our seven-mile reward nonetheless. I grabbed Gatorade and some pretzels and went back to running the route.

I'd done well to hydrate myself before the race... and in fact had done too well. So somewhere in Mile 9, I decided to relieve myself. Since there were a lot of trees and few cars, it was easy to just slip in somewhere and be unnoticed. Still, I felt strange doing so but the upside was being able to run and concentrate on running and not my bladder.

Since we were backtracking our route, I was expecting some more uphill-downhill action. Still, when I saw the street we took for Mile 10, I was a bit taken aback. Now, it wasn't the oh-crap-what-is-that? reaction I got when I saw Slippery Hill at my first Mud Run but I was still a bit unsettled.

Now, the picture doesn't really do the street justice but you can tell that it's at an incline. The problem was that once you kept running, you saw that the incline went on and on and on. And I felt the incline, felt it all the way down to my heels. I actually did well to trudge along the street, though I could feel myself struggling somewhat. Not a whole lot, but I was slowing down. I passed by a pair of runners who had been chatting earlier but now were huffing and puffing up the incline. I was wondering how this prolonged incline would affect me at the end of the run and I didn't have to wait too long - about the 11.5-mile mark to be precise - to get that answer.

With about two-and-a-half miles to go, I hit the wall.

It was sort of gradual but I knew I hit it. I was starting to slog.

slog
  /slÉ’g/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [slog] verb, slogged, slog⋅ging. noun
–verb (used without object)
3. to deal heavy blows; 4. to walk or plod heavily; 5. to toil.

Yeah, that was me. I was plodding heavily, toiling and I still had two miles to go.

I started to call in the reinforcements, namely words from myself.

"Come on man, you can do this."

"It's only two miles and then you'll be done."

"Just relax and focus, relax and focus."

I usually sprinkle such motivational/prodding sayings to myself throughout every run, whether it's three or 10 miles. Sometimes three-mile runs are tough because I'm not in the right frame of mind.

Anyway, this helped. A little. But any little help was welcomed.

After our final walk break, at about 13.1 miles, I tried to listen to myself and focused on the end of the run. I'd run 13 miles or more twice in my life before Sunday - the 13.28-mile run a week ago and my half marathon in April, in which I ran (according to The Garmin) 13.5 miles. So when I glanced at The Garmin on Sunday and saw it was 13.52 miles, I felt a jolt of excitement. It was a bit muffled by the screaming I'd heard from my body, particularly the bottoms of my feet, my right calf, my left wrist and my left nipple.

Also motivating, actually perhaps the most motivating of all, were my Lopers. I hadn't really talked a whole lot during the run (given my usual quiet demeanor, that wasn't exactly shocking) but it's great to be able to run in a group because everyone feeds off each other's energy and effort. It also helped when Lopers would run by us in the opposite direction and give us words of encouragement.

Our group, which had been rather large at the beginning (probably 25-30 runners) had whittled down to about 10. Not sure where we lost the rest of the runners, if they'd just slowed down or what, but right ahead of me was a group of six runners and a couple more had gone further up ahead to get their 14-mile runs over and done with.

I forced myself to keep up. I'd run hard then settle back into my pace only to realize that my pace was slower than everyone else's and then sped up to keep up. We turned down our final street and up ahead I saw the zero mile marker, which is where we first had started our journey.

I crossed it, completed the longest run of my life and threw up my arms. We all took turns congratulating each other and I told one of my Loma Linda Lopers that she helped me get through the run and that she'd done a great job herself. It was her first time running 14 miles too, but she looked like she had energy to burn unlike me.

It was a tough run for sure but such tough runs are necessary and important. Our pace leader told us last week that we had to get used to running long distances, to the beating such long distances can take on our bodies. This much is true. I feel these runs more than I feel a six or eight mile run. And I can run six or eight miles three or four times a week and not get the same benefit as I would running 2-3 miles twice a week and then running a long run once a week.

I feel good about having accomplished the run but I kept thinking during the last stretch of the run "I hope when I run my marathon I feel better at this point in the race then as I do now." Of course I had targeted for 14 miles so I felt the end was near and just wanted to get the run over with. Perhaps if I know that I'd still have 12 miles to go at the end of 14 miles, it won't be so tough.

But there will be many of these runs before that point. Hopefully, though, not as many walls.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Oct. 26)

** Warning: This post contains one scary image. Proceed at your own risk. **

On Saturday, I blogged about having cleaned out a large portion of my closet and getting rid of some size 36-38 pants (!) that were too big for me.

Well, that's not the last of the clothes I've gotten rid of. I still have a handful of items that I will not use ever that still takes up space in my closet. It's not that I'm hanging on to it for sentimental reasons, no way. There is nothing sentimental about my old clothes. But I still have it around because I have some grandiose visions of donating it to the right place.

See, I spent a lot of money on these items. Back in 2005, I'd pretty much thrown in the towel on ever losing weight, on ever being of normal size. Heck, I'd thrown in the towel on being anything but obese. That year, we cleared out a lot of clothes that I'd never wear again because they were too small, clothes that were taking up space in my closet because they were about two or three sizes too small.

Also, we invested in a suit, just a jacket actually.

Here's me in that suit, back in early 2006.

Oh my goodness. That's a horrible picture. Sorry to have scared you all.

Here's me wearing that same jacket today.
We also bought the shirt too, and here's me with the shirt on:
Yikes. Well, this suit story has a happy ending.

Recently, we decided to invest some money in a suit. Two actually. I don't need suits a lot but I do use them occasionally. I used each one on different days last week, for instance.

With just the shirt on:

I don't consider myself a sharp-dressed man, but at least now when I do try and dress formally I don't have to worry about being the biggest guy in the room.

Because I'm not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shedding Items

On Thursday, we cleared out quite a bit of room in our house as we purged ourselves of some things. The girls got a lot of new stuff for their birthdays so we had to clean out their play room and get rid of some things that either they didn't play with any more, were too broken to use or have just outgrown them. We took them all to goodwill.

The girls got rid of a few things, and Kennedy in particular was sad to get rid of this:


That's Yvie on the little rocking horse, and she was probably around 18 months when we took that picture. Kennedy eventually liked riding that little horse but recently she'd become rather big on it. She towered over the poor little horse so it wasn't really usable any more so we donated it and many other things. She was sad, but I tried to explain that some other little boys and girls would get to have a horsie of their own because she'd been so generous.

Something else we used to rely on quite a bit that is now gone:

That's Kennedy on the swing, probably around 7-8 months of age. The swing never really worked wonders like I'd hoped. Yvie, when she was very young, would fall asleep on this or another swing we used to have and I think that lulled me into a false sense of security, thinking that it was supposed to work that way.

Well, Squirrel here hated the swing, hated being in it and I don't think napped on it very much, if at all. It'd taken up room in our garage for a long time before I finally grabbed the pieces and put it with the rest of the stuff to take to goodwill.

Some other things that made their way to the local goodwill store were clothes of mine. Old clothes.

No, it wasn't the size 44 and 42 pants and the XXL shirts I used to rely on. Those I'd gotten rid of a long time ago. It was the size 36 and 38 shorts and pants that took up space in the corner of my closet, clothes never to be worn by me again.

I wear size 32-34 pants, depending on the brand, and mostly L shirts.

I was happy to get rid of the clothes but some of them brought back some memories. One pair of pants in particular at one point were a landmark pair. I don't think I ever took any pictures in them so you'll have to use your imagination. It was spring of '07 and I was back on course with my weight loss. I lost 60 pounds with the help of a trainer in '06 but had done little to lose weight from November 06 to February 07, and weighed around 250 pounds. But once I started to get back into the swing of things I bought myself a pair of pants. I think I was still wearing size 40 when I bought this pair of pants. It was size 38, length 32 and a different style than I'd worn. It was sort of faded in the front and dark blue in the back, kinda stylish. I hated wearing stylish clothes because I always felt that it was not possible for me to look stylish and weigh 300 pounds at the same time.

Anyway, I remember wearing those pants for the first time in May 2007, late May. Might have been early June. Whenever it was, I wore them and felt damned proud of it. They were tight the first time I wore them out, but I fit in them. I fit in size 38 pants! I was quite esthatic about that.

On Thursday, they looked in great shape, as did all the other clothes I gave away. You've got to remember that I went from 42-44, XXL to 32-34, L in about 20 months so I wasn't in the 36-38, XL range for too long. But I couldn't wear size 40 pants comfortably when I was in 36-38 so I bought me some clothes at that size but before long I was shopping for 32-34 (!) as that's what fit me best.

I didn't give away these clothes here recently. These clothes are long gone, but this is about the size I was in mid-2007, from about spring to early summer.

That was Easter (duh) of '07. I didn't spend much time in that shirt and was glad to get rid of it. Never cared for it.

This was in June of 07. I used to wear a lot of shirts that style, and now I go out of my way to not wear anything like that. Just reminds me too much of the bad old days.
I did give these shorts away. You can't tell they're shorts but they are. The shorts were size 36 but a big 36, could have been 38. The shirt (which I still have but rarely wear) is an XL. I remember this day feeling very fit and slim. I wasn't slim of course but I felt good (even though I have some sort strange look on my face, like I was constipated or something; what's up with that?). I was probably in the 230s or so, 230s and dropping.

The best thing about dropping weight is the clothes. Bar none. I mean, as far as tangible things go. I have a whole new wardrobe now and wear things now that I never thought I'd wear.

It's good to have shed myself of the last batch of big clothes.

And just so you don't have in your mind that portly image of yours truly, here's a recent picture of me:

This was one week ago today. Can you believe it was 90 degrees out and we're looking for Halloween pumpkins? Crazy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Leftovers (Oct. 23)

Leftover tidbits from this week...

Word Association
This week's words. If you want to play along, go here.

1. Werewolf :: London
2. Jim :: Jack
3. 2x4 :: numbers
4. Unruly :: children
5. Component :: part
6. Prolific :: wonderful
7. Wrestler :: professional
8. Huh? :: What?
9. Dolls :: girls
10. Super! :: Awesome!

Notes: American Werewolf in London led to my first answer. I remember watching that movie and feeling quite scared, particularly with the part where the main character changes into a werewolf, and his hand extends and gets bigger and hair covers his body, yeah, pretty scary. Not sure why I was able to watch that when I was like 7 but I guess that's another question for another day... Jim - Jack is actually a song, well, part of one. The song goes "Jimmy Jack John Joe Jeremy James, these are a few of my favorite names" and I'd heard it recently so it obviously came to mind right away; it's a good song actually. If you want to hear it, go here and click song number three (Favorite Names) underneath. It's by Key Wilde & Mr. Clark.

Something's Burning, LB

About a week or so, I was introduced to a new blog called Speaking From The Crib, who was a guest blogger on This Stop Willoughby and her awesome cocktail party. In SFTC's guest post, she wrote about how she hates moths with a passion, and I remembered that when I had my own little moth run-in this week.

It was after 8 p.m. recently and the girls were already in bed asleep. I was on my bed, on my laptop, trying to get some work done. Mrs. LB was out in the living room I believe so it was just me and my HP, for a moment. I soon noticed a moth had joined the party but I didn't really mind because moths don't bother me unless they're fluttering right in my face. It was slamming its head and antennae against the wall, trying to make its way up towards the lamp, which was on and emitting its usual bright stream of light across my bedroom. We have a halogen lamp in our bedroom, so the light is not just bright but quite hot. I went back to writing and didn't really think much more of the moth.

About 10 minutes later, I got tired of sitting on the bed so I left the room and went into the living room. Mrs. LB had been in and out of the bedroom by that point so I left the light on. Shortly afterward, Mrs. LB called me back into the bedroom.

"It smells like something is burning."

I started to worry because as I made my way to the bedroom I could smell the faint stench of a burned something-or-other.

Did something short out?
I thought, and I had a horrible snapshot of the back of my TV spewing smoke in the bedroom.

Maybe the wiring has a problem somewhere, just what I need, an electrician to come out and...


But then I remembered about my friend the moth and his path towards the halogen lamp. Apparently, it made it all the way up to the lamp, and not only did the moth make it there but it also decided to touch the lamp. That was not the best idea, because halogen lamps are scorching hot. Nothing is supposed to touch it because it can burn, so you can't have those lamps near curtains or shades or anything else flammable. My moth buddy, though, apparently was unaware and ceased to exist because of it.

Anyway, SFTC would be happy to know that there is one less moth around to aggravate anyone.

Awards

I received an awesome award from a pair of awesome bloggers. Tattoos and Teething Rings and The 5th Sister bestowed upon me the Dragon's Loyalty Award. There's a picture that goes along with, but it's kind of girly because the dragon is supposed to be the blog buddy and the blogger is the female, but since I'm not a female blogger, I'll just link to the award.

I think all of my loyal blogger buddies have received this award but I'd like to pass it along to Thrashers Wife, who has been a loyal reader from the resurgence of this here trusty blog.

LB's Song of the Week

I recently had an idea where I can combine my blog and love of children's music. Well, I don't know if it's quite a love of it but I listen to enough that I've grown quite fond of it. And if parents don't go out of their way to listen to children's music, chances are they won't stumble across it.

The only reason I stumbled across it is because I subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio, and there is a commercial-free channel there dedicated to children's music.

I used to think children's music was all about Raffi and The Wiggles and other gar... I mean, stuff like that, but it's not. At all. There are so many clever songs and artists and albums out there that a lot of children (and parents) would love if only they got the chance to hear it. My girls love children's music and I can stand a lot of it as well. Some of it, of course, I don't like but that's a matter of taste I suppose. And I'd rather them listen to that than to mainstream pop music because a lot of that is A) junk that I can't stand and B) has subject matter that I'd rather not expose them to.

What's funny is that there are several mainstream artists who have put out some children's music in recent years, such as the Barenaked Ladies, Lisa Loeb and Meredith Brooks, and their songs are pretty good (I bought the BNL album and it rocks!).

Anyway, I figured I'll see how it goes for now and maybe make this feature part of the Friday Leftovers.

This song is one I recently bought on iTunes. My girls like it a lot. I know it's from a commercial too but I don't know the commercial, I only heard it mentioned on the radio.

Enjoy! And let me know if you give the new feature thumbs up :) or thumbs down :/

Colors by Kira Willey:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Six Hundred

Can you believe this is my 600th post? Awesome!

This blog has undergone quite a bit of an evolution since I first began. I started this back in April 2008 but had a three-month hiatus before picking up and writing once more for good right around the time of my first Mud Run.

I've gradually added some things to the blog, namely stuff about my daughters and Disneyland, things that don't have much to do with running/nutrition/motivation/etc.

First, I'd like to say thanks to all my readers because without you this blog would not exist.

I'd also like to get some feedback and ask you what it is you'd like to see more of, less of, stay the same with regards to this blog. More nutrition info? Less run recaps? More Disneyland? Less Disneyland? Actually, I've been toying with a Disneyland series of blog posts but the only thing is that it would be rather involved and I'm debating whether I want to commit to it given the time it would take to get it all together. But I think you would all love it so I'm just debating.

Anyway, thanks again for reading my trusty blog. It's motivating knowing that I've got some loyal and faithful readers who, even though running may or may not be part of their lives, are willing to read about my running endeavors. I do think about my blog readers on my runs, particularly my longer runs and races, and it is motivating and is among the things that helps me get through my runs.

Fueling, Recovering

What to eat? What to eat? What to eat?

That's something I often ponder. Not just in the day-to-day grind (I handle all cooking/baking duties around here as I relieved Mrs. LB of said duties a couple of years ago) but when it comes to running.

In terms of a pre-run meal, I have stuck with routine for a while now, a routine I'd settled on and was reinforced by my Lopers pace leader - an energy bar and a 16-ounce bottle of water. That works and has worked well for some time, but I have a fear that it won't be enough when it comes to the longer runs, like this weekend's 14-mile run.

I take Gu and Gatorade with me on my runs and do well to load up on them during my runs but I sense that whatever calories I have in me from the energy bar will be gone well before my run is over.

So I was glad when The Other Mag had a story on the topic of fuel. Actually, the story breaks down what is recommended before and after runs of various distances, from a 5-K to a marathon. The story actually suggests what to eat before and after races, not just regular runs, but it's still good to have that knowledge so I can apply some of that towards my own training regimen.

Their (paraphrased) suggestions:

5-K

Before: Don't eat if you're not hungry, but if you are have something between 200-300 high-carb calories and 16 ounces of fluid. They recommend a slice of whole-wheat bread with jelly and a banana.

After: A light meal with some carbs about 30-60 minutes after finishing. However, it isn't vital to get something in your system to recover since you probably won't have depleted your glycogen reserves too much.

LB's thoughts: If I ran a 5-K, I'd probably have my energy bar and water meal before, and after I might have some fruit or something, but I wouldn't be too worried about trying to recover. When I run for three miles or 30 minutes or so, I don't really do much but eat fruit and drink water afterward.

10-K

Before: Small amount of protein and fat along with carbs, about 300-400 hours at least three hours before race time. They suggest a cup of oatmeal with honey and berries.

After: Eat something within the hour, preferably a meal of 400 calories, with 75 grams of carbs and 20 grams protein. Suggestion: turkey sandwich with a cup of fruit salad.

LB's thoughts: I'm running a 10-K on Nov. 8, so this is something I need to take to heart. The 300-400 calories before the race will be a bit tricky for me , but then again maybe it won't be. I like to eat about an hour before race time usually, and did so prior to each Ragnar leg. I ate my bar and drank my water about an hour before I ran, and it worked well. Eating three hours before race time may not be ideal for me, though, because I might be hungry during the race. Still, I might try it and allow myself a small piece of fruit about an hour or 30 minutes before race time.

Half-Marathon

Before: Four hours before, eat 400-800 calories to keep your blood sugar steady. They suggest two slices of French toast with some peanut butter and syrup, a pear, half a cup of yogurt and fluids.

After: 100 grams of carbs and 30 grams of protein within the hour. Pasta with meat sauce, steamed veggies, salad and whole-grain bread with olive oil.

LB's thoughts: I like the post-race meal suggestion! That sounds fantastic, like it would be worth running 13.1 miles to have that as a meal waiting for you. This is probably the kind of meal, though, that I should be targeting now that I'm running the distances I'm running. I have a feeling that I'm going to be making a lot of pasta in the coming months. And as for meat sauce, I make two kinds of meat sauces (stuff I came up with on my own) that Mrs. LB really likes, so I can definitely whip some of it up. It's just a matter of making the marinara sauce and having the ingredients. Yay for long-distance running! Eat all the pasta you can and not feel guilty about it!

Marathon

Before: Consume 800 calories over 4-5 hours before the race, with a sports drink in the last hour. They suggest a large bagel with almond butter, 1-2 eggs, a cup of apple slices and an energy bar.

After: Eat 100 grams of carbs within the first 30 minutes of finishing the race, and also 1-2 hours later. They suggest two cups of sports drink, banana, energy bar; then two cups of fruit salad, whole-wheat chicken sandwich with greens, frozen yogurt with berries.

LB's thoughts: Sounds like a lot of food, but I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Disneyland Pumpkins, Part II

Between all the relay posts and everything leading up to and afterward, I never got a chance to post some of the Disneyland pumpkins from this year that I'd meant to post all along.

Earlier, I'd posted some pictures of pumpkins from this year, so this post here is Part II. There was also the pictures I was able to share from 2008.

Anyway, here are some awesome pumpkins, the likes of which will never grace the LB household because LB is not that talented.

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Actually, I think I could make something like this. I know I could at least get Mickey's ears and replicate that part of it. Then, it's just a matter of carving the facial features... you know, the actual part that requires talent, of which I lack. But I may try...

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Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife.
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Ariel was trying to hide from the Ursula carving.
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I think that's Dopey.
I guess I could ask her who that was.

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That's a nice-looking cat but I can't place it.

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Russell, from Up, as jovial-looking in pumpkin as he is in person... I mean, in computerized images.
Carl Frederickson from Up, as grumpy-looking in pumpkin as he is in real life... I mean... you know what I mean...
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Trick-or-treaters, again something I could never hope to replicate.
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Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. Every time I say his name, I say it like Boo did in the movie.
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The Mad Hatter, though Alice wasn't around this time.
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And lastly, this one. I think this might be one of the ghosts from the Haunted Mansion but I don't really know. Maybe it's from the movie The Christmas Carol. I've no clue. If you can help place it, by all means help LB figure it out.

Kenna, Part II

I'd wanted to include this as part of Monday's post but I wrote part of that in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the other part at a school parking lot. Long story. Anyway, in short I guess I like to write when inspiration strikes.

Anyway, this stuff was on another computer and took a while to find so it's not up until today.

Here she is sleeping on Oct. 19, 2005. She is probably less than an hour old at this point. I remember thinking when both Yvie and Kennedy were born that it was just amazing how this fully-formed baby was here for me and Mrs. LB to take care of, and how just a couple of hours before that she'd been inside my wife.

Here she is some four years later, after a recent trip to Disneyland. She was exhausted.

And here's some video of her, also about an hour after her birth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Uncharted Territory

I’ve been running for about 18 months now, although running first started to appeal to me about two years ago. In that span, I’ve gone from barely being able to run 1-2 miles on the treadmill to having ran a half-marathon, a handful of 10Ks as well as an intense relay race.

But in that span, I’ve only ever ran more than 13 miles on two occasions. One was my half-marathon, a race that according to my Garmin was a distance of 13.5 miles. The other was on Sunday, when I ran 13.28 miles with the Lopers.

Thus, Sunday’s scheduled run of 14 miles will be uncharted territory for me and another first in my increasing list of firsts. It’s going to be the longest run of my life for about a week, until our 15-mile run the following Sunday.

Am I worried about logging 14 miles? Not really. I mean, it’s a long distance to be certain but I have to approach it like I do every other run, as something that will be a challenge but as long as I stay focused will be able to meet and conquer.

Part of the focus is to prepare for not just the run itself but the days leading up to it and the time immediately after. And that’s where I need to reinforce some things.

For instance…

> What is the best type of food to eat immediately after runs of 14 miles or more?

> Should I eat a meal within an hour of finishing said runs? 90 minutes? And what kind of meal should it be? Protein-heavy? Carb-heavy?

> Should I drink water? Or is something like Gatorade the better option because of its nutrients and electrolytes?

I’m pretty sure I have my pre-long run routine down, at least an effective one. And I know this because I didn’t follow it before Sunday’s run and I was dragging some on Sunday.

First and foremost, I can’t pull into the finish with a lot of Gatorade left in my fuel belt, which is what I did on Sunday. Yes, I drank water and Gatorade at the water stations along the run but I still should have drank more along the way.

Also, carbo-loading should consist of pasta, particularly on Friday night. If I make pasta for dinner Friday, I can have a nice, filling meal that night plus have some on Saturday as well. I didn’t have pasta on Friday or Saturday.

Sleep would be nice, but I was only able to get about 4-5 hours of sleep before Sunday’s run. Of course, that was due to my Saturday work schedule, but that will change here in a few weeks as I won’t be working much on Saturday nights coming up soon, thank goodness.

All of those factors combined to drag me down following Sunday’s run but I think I can do better for next week’s 14-miler. I’d really like not to drag through this Sunday so I’ll be making some pasta for dinner this week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Oct. 19)

A little more than four years ago today, Mrs. LB and I were going through a transitional period in our lives. We'd just sold our first house and upgraded to a newer, roomier house. We traded in our 1050 square-foot home for one that had about 500 more square feet, a fourth bedroom, a second bathroom and a garage that connected to the house.

My freelancing business had expanded greatly (yay) and so had my waistline (boo). Mrs. LB was enjoying some prosperity at work as well, and our lovely two-year-old was increasing her vocabulary tenfold, daily it seemed like.

But clearly the most anticipation we'd felt and had been feeling for a while, in October 2005, was the impending birth of our second daughter. We'd wanted to have two children close together in age, and were pretty anxious about the whole experience, that it was finally going to happen.

Yvie, for the most part, had been a pleasant baby and toddler. She was easy-going, didn't cry too much, didn't throw tantrums and did well on trips (we'd gone to Germany in April 2004 and she did wonderful the entire time). So of course we were hoping/expecting her sister would turn out the same way.

Unlike Yvie, though, we knew all along that our second child would be a girl. We'd picked out the name Kennedy Raquel, to honor family members on our respective sides of the family. And unlike Yvie, we knew Kennedy would be a c-section. So we scheduled it on a day that would be the most convenient, knew from the previous ordeal what to expect and figured everything would run smoothly.

And everything ran smoothly, from the delivery to the time when Mrs. LB recovered from the procedure to taking our new daughter home.

And for roughly three years and 360 days since, Kennedy Raquel has been a challenge.

For example:

• She had jaundice very early on, and it was severe enough that she needed some special equipment brought over to our house so she could sleep in (some sort of blanket that emitted light that she needed to be wrapped up in). The jaundice went away without any lingering effects.

• She only responded to bottles, and was almost exclusively bottle-fed.

• She had GERD (gastro intestinal something-or-other) and would not take regular formula. Of course, it took us many months to figure this out.

• She preferred a formula called Nutramigen, which of course was the most expensive brand; we were spending a couple hundred dollars on formula each month easily, and she didn’t really eat a whole lot.

• Very early on, she was a restless child and earned the nickname “Squirrel,” which has stuck.

• At about seven months, she was strong enough to walk around with our help, only with our help. She was not content with sitting or crawling (she barely crawled) but was happy when we held her hands and she was able to walk. And when we didn’t do that, she was upset and let us know she was upset. Quite verbally.

• She took her first steps and was pretty much walking on her own on Aug. 18, 2006. I remember the date because it was one day shy of her turning 10 months.

• She climbed on tables. She climbed on chairs. She could climb out of her crib. I have visual proof.

• She was (and is) very stubborn. Once she makes up her mind, she has made it up.

• She hates sleeping in her own bed. She prefers to climb into her sister’s bed and sleep with her.

• She has never napped well. She will fight through her sleepiness so she doesn’t have to nap. This has led to many upon many difficult afternoons.

• One of her favorite princesses is Princess Jasmine because “she shows her belly.” I sense a fight about a belly-button piercing in about 10-12 years.

• She has wanted to go to Yvie’s school when Yvie started kindergarten. Almost every day, Kennedy expresses some sort of sadness or disappointment over not being able to attend school (nevermind she goes to preschool twice a week).

• She is happy about her birthday but wanted to turn five or six instead of four.

Those are just a handful of the ways she’s been a challenge. I’d continue but I’m sure that I can be here for another three hours listing more reasons and still not list them all.

Ultimately, though, I am not upset about these things (well, maybe the special formula that cost us a lot of money…) but am happy. I am happy she is much different than Yvie. I am happy that she is her own person, with her own personality, her own character, her own likes and dislikes. I am happy that she is assertive, that she is independent, that she thinks of the future, that she has desire, that she has passion. She is her own person. And I am lucky that she is my daughter.

I am beyond motivated to do things for her, to change my ways, to remain fit and active, to learn and try new things (cooking, doing hair, etc.), to work every day to try and guide her.

Happy Birthday Kennedy. Without you and our family, I am nothing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Race Calendar

Now that the Ragnar Relay is in my rear-view mirror, I can look forward to some upcoming races. I have three ahead of me that I'll participate in, and beyond that some other potential races as well.

Nov. 8: Mission Inn Run, 10K

I ran in this race last year and will make it two consecutive years running in the Mission Inn Run. I like it because it's very close to my house (start line is about six miles away) and it's been the big (only?) race in Riverside for a while now. I remember back before I ever was interested in running how I'd hear about the race and just thought it was another one of those things that wasn't for me.

There is a bit of a new wrinkle in the race. This year, aside from the 5K and 10K course, there is a half-marathon. As much as I'd love to run a half-marathon, my Loper pace leader recommended only running the 10K. The Sunday before the race and the Sunday after, we're running 15 miles each day so she said it was best to stick to the shorter distance on race day. They apparently had created our training plan without knowing there would be a half-marathon at the Mission Inn, otherwise we might have been slated to include that in our regimen.

Dec. 6: Lopers Holiday Classic, 15K

I've never ran in this race but it's the Lopers' annual event so I'm going to go for it. A 15K is roughly 9.3 miles (or three 5Ks), which is a distance I feel great about. It seems like a bit of a challenge, not just in completing the distance but in trying to get a good time. I have some strategy for the 10K and would have one for the 5K but not sure about the 15K. For instance, what kind of pace would I try to keep the first couple of miles? How do I incorporate the fuel belt and the Gu? I think I'll leave my fuel belt off for the 10K but it seems it would be a necessity for the 15K, because those extra three miles will take about 25-30 minutes to run.

Feb. 7: Surf City USA, marathon

Obviously, the big race on my calendar. I've already registered for this one and I'm looking forward to it already. It's still a ways away but I'm confident I'll get there in one piece, physically and mentally. I don't want to psyche myself out but we've barely completed a third of our training for it with the Lopers. We haven't ran more than 12 miles, and we'll be hitting 15 miles soon enough, 18 miles and then in January I believe we have a pair of 20-milers. Those will be fun.

I guess I'm figuring that once I get to those longer training runs I can start to really feel up for the marathon.

April 23-24: Ragnar Relay, Southern California

I'm hooked on the Ragnar Relay. Truth be told, though, Mrs. LB is NOT a fan of it. She was worried something would happen to me out there, and while there was the sad and unfortunate death during last weekend's race, that was an isolated incident.

There are literally Ragnar Relay races all over the country, and to have one in my own backyard is rather enticing. I'm not sure if any of my Desert Tortoise teammates would be up for it - haven't really asked, though some had said they'd do it again - but I've just been toying with the idea of running it. The route is basically down Pacific Coast Highway so there would be some awesome views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean. Plus, we could use houses for our rest stops! The path runs through Long Beach, and my brother Danny lives pretty close to Long Beach, so we could use his house as a rest area. I think he'd even be up for letting me catch some zzzs on his bed... or not...

Anyway, at this point it's sort of like window shopping. I'd love to participate but not sure if it'll happen.

There's also another Ragnar Relay nearby, in Arizona. That one seems awesome too since it's kinda like Vegas in that it was out in the middle of nowhere. The Arizona one starts in Prescott and finishes in Mesa, and a lot of the running is through stretches of nothing. It's in February, about two weeks after my marathon, so I'd definitely be up for running the distances.

Still, more window shopping. Hey, a guy can fantasize, right?

Camp Pendleton Mud Run

Not sure about the dates of this one but I'm there. I'd love to run in two maybe, so I might consider running one in June and another in October. I assume the dates will be the same as they were last year and this year, in June and October. Whatever the case, I'll sign up for the one in June for sure and then consider the one in October. Just depends on what else I might have going on that year. Ragnar Relay Las Vegas is already set for Oct. 22-23, and the Desert Tortoises might be back for more, but who really knows what'll happen.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Leftovers (Oct. 16)

I'm kinda tapped out this week from writing, both for here and my paying sites.

Ugh.

So here's my I'm-tapped-out-from-writing version of my Friday Leftovers.

Word Association

This week's list:

1. Your trick :: my treat
2. Bell :: Tinker
3. Five :: Fighting
4. You're crazy! :: Oh my
5. Disgust :: gross
6. Tempest :: Bledsoe
7. Bummer :: Too bad
8. Brim :: filled
9. Hose :: water
10. Lollipop :: Guild

Alright, number 4 is in reference to Guns N' Roses' "You're Crazy" at least the acoustic version, which is my preferred version... And with number 10, can you tell what movie we watched recently at the LB house?

No Letdown

I came back from the relay race on Saturday and took two days off from running. But on Tuesday I ran three miles and Thursday I ran another three. It felt great to get back to running, to get on the treadmill once more and continue running.

I'm going to try and squeeze in another run today, maybe a four-miler, before Sunday's 13-mile run. One of the things I thought might happen after the relay was to have a letdown, to kind of feel like there wasn't much to run for, to prepare for but it's quite the opposite. I am more focused now than I was before the race. I guess I kind of feel like if I can conquer this, I can do a 10K, half-marathon and even a full marathon and be okay.

So, no letdown here.

Camp Pendleton Mud Run

A year ago, I was preparing for the race of my life. I was preparing for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, the fourth of four held a year ago.

It's crazy to think how far I've come since then. While I haven't run a marathon yet - that will happen in February - I am a much better runner now than I was a year ago.

The fourth and final Camp Pendleton Mud Run will be held Saturday, and while I did not sign up for it, I'd love love love to run it. But that enthusiasm will have to wait until 2010.

Anyway, anyone look for any last-minute Mud Run tips can check out my previous Mud Run posts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ragnar Odds and Ends

For the last week or so, I've been pretty much blogging exclusively about the Ragnar Relay. And if you are about ready to see more posts about other topics, don't worry, I'll be getting to other things soon enough. This relay race has been a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience than I could have imagined, so it's carried over into my writing. I'm kind of an emotional writer, at least when I feel something I can write about it for days, so that's kind of what's going on here.

Anyway, there are some things that didn't make my previous Ragnar posts, as well as some new tidbits.

Inadvertent Guest Blogger

After my post on Wednesday about the fallen Ragnar runner, I was contacted by the blog Running Relays and asked if I'd be willing to share my post over there. I was honored so I agreed. Check out the blog if you have a chance. I have a feeling I will be since I'm kinda hooked on the ideas of relay races. And who knew there were so many relay races out there?

Preparing For The Race

Here are some pictures of my pre-race preparations. They were actually from the day before the race, when I was getting all my gear together.

All the clothes I took with me to the race. I actually only used one of those shirts, the black one, during the race. Ragnar hooked us up with some nice shirts and I ran with our team shirt as well.

Some of the provisions I took. I used two of the Gu packets, and handed two more out, so I came back a lot of the energy gels. I used the Body Glide on my thighs, of all places. I'll have to explain that one. One of the trail mix bags came back full but the other served well as a snack.

I donated the apples. I don't know where they went, and I didn't have any apples. Didn't feel like them. Jorge and Fausto stocked the van well so I didn't need to bring these apples. The Clif bars did well as my usual pre-run meal (along with some water). I used the tape for my nips, and there are some Aleve in there with the band-aids that were used as well. This bag ended up being my bag of dirty clothes.

What it all looks like packed in. Fuel belt and iPod were each indispensible, as always.

Tortoise Green

Danny and Mychael were awesome throughout the whole relay race experience. They first came up with the idea of entering into the race, organized pretty much everything that had to be done before the race and were vital parts of our Ragnar effort.

They also ordered us these awesome shirts.

They are nice quality shirts and I'll use mine again. Not sure if I want to throw it into the rotation right away or save it for special runs or whatever. We'll see.

Decorations

We had to decorate our van, of course. Some vans were all done up, and our own Van One (which was actually an SUV) looked great.

Our effort:

Fausto drew these on either window. They looked great, and identical to the tortoise Mychael drew on all of our hats.

We all drew our names on the back of the van window as well.

Fly Like An Angel


This team that we ended up running along with for several of our legs wore some outfits. We joked with them that they were cheating because they had wings. According to the Ragnar site, they were Goofy Runners - Bradley's Angels, at least that's what their team name was.

This particular runner was running along Alex's first leg, the most grueling leg of 'em all. But the wings didn't seem to faze her during her 8.6-mile run.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Relaying Sadness

I didn’t know Jeremy Kunz. I never met him, nor any of his Ragnar Relay teammates. Maybe the Desert Tortoises and Team Wannabes crossed paths somewhere out in the Valley of Fire State Park – it’s really tough to say.

But his death really hit hard nevertheless.

Jeremy was the runner who died during the Ragnar Relay in Henderson, Nev., the unfortunate victim of an alleged drunk driver. It’s still unclear whether the driver was intoxicated, though he is suspected of driving while drunk and has been charged with, among other things, DUI with death. The pathetic excuse of a human who killed Jeremy got out of his car and ran away from what he’d done only to get apprehended by police minutes later.

Jeremy’s loss is quite saddening. It’s not just because he died while running – such deaths sadly are a somewhat common occurrence. Just two weeks ago, during our weekly Loma Linda Lopers meeting, a fellow Loper who is a California Highway Patrol officer talked to the group about safety and how Runner vs. Automobile confrontations are sad but common situations. And then over the weekend, a local jogger died after he was hit by a drunk driver early in the morning.

What really has gotten to me, though, and really eats away at me is that Jeremy’s life was taken away from him while he was doing something exciting, something that he apparently loved doing, something I quickly became infatuated with. Ragnar Relay Las Vegas was his third such event, as he’d twice ran the Wasatch Back relay in his native Utah. His team in the Las Vegas relay was filled with family members, including his wife Melinda.

Jeremy was mowed down while helping out his teammates. He wasn’t running at the time of his death, as he was standing on the side of the road helping cheer on and keep his teammates hydrated.

It really could have been many of the 2,400 participants. After all, many of us were out there on the course when we didn't need to be, cheering on our teammates and other runners, handing out water, helping those on the road.

If I learned one thing from Ragnar Relay participants from other teams, it was the spirit of camaraderie, of kinship. I talked to some members of other teams, didn’t really get to know anyone outside of the Desert Tortoises, but still felt a bond, a connection with other groups, with other runners. Sure, it was a race, and sure, you want to challenge and test yourself. But we were all there for the same thing, to participate in what should have been a memorable experience, the kind that can mold and shape your life.

Quite often during our time out there, we were cheered on by other teams and other runners, even those who passed us by during our respective legs. It was contagious. I found myself clapping for and cheering on runners who passed by me, even though I had no idea who they were.

"Good job runner!" and "Almost there, you got this!" were things I blurted out often, and I'd either get a "thanks" or a thumbs up in return. Encouragement is necessary during races, but in particular during something as challenging as the Ragnar Relay.

The relay race really was a unique experience in terms of other races I've ran in. Usually, I'm trying to do something for myself, to either set a new PR or to finish a certain distance.

Finishing the relay race really did give me a sense of what it means to be on a team, of pushing yourself to the limit, of giving everything you’ve got for the greater good. I suspect Jeremy learned that during his previous relay races, and that that was the reason why he ran more than one.

So when I heard of the accident, when I think back now about what happened, I am still choked up. I can’t help but shed tears of sadness for a man I never knew, a man I never met.

On Ragnar Relay’s Facebook page, one commenter summed it up perfectly:

“You only beat us to the next exchange, brother.”

So true.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rangar Relay, Part III: The Desert Tortoise Society

Part three of three of the Desert Tortoises' Ragnar Relay experience. Here are links to Part I and Part II of this three-legged journey.

Ragnar Relay, Part III

Following the completion of our respective second legs, Van Two members were in a bit of a whirlwind. Physically, we were spent. We'd run a combined 75 miles already, and all of that since 2 p.m. Friday. It was about 6 a.m. Saturday, so we'd exerted a lot of energy in a short amount of time.

The recent accident that took the life of a fellow runner was also fresh in our minds, and while we tried to focus on our experience, I couldn't (and haven't been able to) shake off the sadness.

We tried to recover physically by going to breakfast. We drove around and around until we finally found our destination: the Green River Valley Casino, home of the Original Pancake House. At the time, I didn't care if it was the Original or the Copy, I just wanted to eat.

The seven of us ordered our food (another Ragnar team ate nearby and we waved hello to them) and while we waited, I stretched. I thought the waiters/hostesses might think it odd to see someone doing full-on stretches in the middle of an empty restaurant, in the wee hours of the morning, but I could not care less. I was on the ground, thinking about the Loper who leads our weekly stretches after our Sunday runs, trying to reach for my ankle while I sat on the ground.

I wasn't quite thinking about my third and final run because I knew if I would have started thinking about it, I would have become overwhelmed. It was supposed to start between noon and 1 p.m., in other words, right as the sun was overhead. My first two runs were run in the darkness, so that would be a new and different experience. I didn't want to start psyching myself out, so instead I just chowed down five pancakes and a plate of potatoes (hash browns, not really hashed... or brown).

As we dragged our legs out of the casino, we were suddenly surrounded by a mass of runners. Except they weren't Ragnar participants. No, they were there for a 5K. I couldn't help but laugh. A 5K? That's it? I don't look down on race distances or anything like that, but the thought of a 3.1-mile race seemed so insignificant at the time. After all, we'd just finished running 70-something miles.

With stomachs filled to the brim, we piled into the van and made our way to Exchange Point 30. There, we would begin our journey and each of us would run our final legs.

But would we rest?

This Exchange Point was at an elementary school, and there were plenty of vehicles there. Still, I was interested in only one thing, and I soon spotted it. Behind a chain-link fence, on the other side of the street was a place to sleep. I grabbed a sleeping bag, the towel that served as my pillow and bade farewell to my van-mates. They were welcomed to join me, but nobody did. I found a spot about 20 yards away from other runners/sleepers, unfolded the bag, crawled inside and closed my eyes. The sun was already shining down on us, so I put on my sunglasses and crashed.

About two hours later, my stomach woke me up and I had to go find a bathroom. The porta-potties ranged from gross to really, really, really gross but I didn't care.

I felt refreshed, ready to begin our final trek, ready to help the Desert Tortoises along to the finish line. But even though I felt refreshed and ready to go, we wouldn't be going for another hour. Van One had hit some problems as blisters and fatigue set in. We were running about 1 hour, 40 minutes behind our projected time, though we'd been behind when we handed the bracelet off to Van One a few hours back.

I wasn't so concerned with our finish time, though. I was only disappointed in that because it meant my run would be later in the day and the heat might start to have an impact on me.

Meanwhile, Jesse was starting to regain his health. He said he shook his knee around and felt it pop, and afterward it felt good once more. He said he was willing to try his leg but I wasn't sure if that would have been a good idea or not. He seemed determined and some of the other van-mates supported him so I figured I'd support him to.

Eventually, Van One pulled into the Exchange Point and we were a team once more, albeit for about 15 minutes. Vanessa (Runner 6) was within sight and we gathered at the Exchange Point to cheer her on. She handed off the bracelet to Jon...

... and after a quick photo-op, he began his final leg.

And that was it. Van Two was off. Jon tore through his 4.0-mile run, finishing in under 40 minutes.

Next up was Alex, and he had 4.2 miles to scale. While Alex was on the course, Jesse was preparing himself for a run. I did not know if he was really ready for it or if he just felt like he had to step up because the rest of us had run so much.

Whatever the case, as Alex approached the end Jesse took his place in the Exchange Point. Alex finished his run in about 40 minutes...

... and off Jesse went. We first passed him after he'd been running around half a mile. He seemed okay, and at the mile mark we got off to give him some water. He kept chugging along the course and seemed determined.

Jesse was close to the finish line as we passed him for the last time and we cheered him on from the van. He seemed determined to finish strong as he increased his speed, passing a few runners along the way.

The last stretch, he'd tell us later, was quite tough but he saw the run through, finishing his 3.5-miler in about 30 minutes. Excellent time if he ran it healthy and under normal circumstances, but given that his knee had been in pain and he'd had little sleep in the last 30 hours, it really was remarkable.

Elvia took off, and so did our momentum. Jesse's effort and the two previous successful runs were really contagious, and Elvia's grit and determination only added to that.

Now, originally she was only supposed to run 3.1 miles and my leg was slated for 6.3 miles, but once we got to the penultimate Exchange Point, we were told that Leg 34 (Elvia's) was increased to 4.1 miles and Leg 35 (mine) had been decreased to 5.3. I was quite enthused that I would not have to run more than six miles. I would have been able to do it, I believe, but the sun and the fatigue could have done damage, and I suspect that was the reason the change was made.

While I felt bad for Elvia - she was expecting to run three miles but would have to run a fourth without knowing/preparing for it - I couldn't help but celebrate my good fortune.

Still, the last thing I wanted to do was to lose my focus. I had done well to prepare myself mentally for the run, had stocked my fuel belt with Gatorade, had a packet of Gu ready, had my iPod set on my third and final playlist, had my sunglasses on (oh, what glory not to have to wear the headlamp!) and even got some sunblock sprayed on me.

I kept an eye out for Elvia.


When I finally spotted her, that was it. I was on. Five miles separated me from the final runner, the final leg, the run that would culminate the entire team's journey. The last thing I was going to do was to fail, to let my team down, to bring to a crashing halt the momentum started by Jon, carried on by Alex, elevated by Jesse and now moved forward by Elvia, and supported all along by the unyielding efforts of our beloved driver and teammate Fausto. We had all worked as a team from the moment we got together and I had to see my end through.

So when Elvia slapped the bracelet on my wrist, I was ready. More than ready. Letting my team down was not an option. It just wasn't in my plans.


I set off on my final 5.3 miles of the Ragnar Relay. Despite not getting much sleep and having run some 14 miles already, I felt good. Felt great. I got into the run pretty quickly and tried to keep myself from running at a too-fast pace. I did, after all, have to battle the conditions.

A few runners passed me by, and I had to especially stay focused when that happened. I did feel bit more competitive at this point than I had in previous times during the race, mainly because it was the end and I always feel the need to finish strong. But I did well to keep my emotions in check.

Before my run, I'd told my team that I would need some assistance in the form of water. Since I had my fuel belt, I wouldn't need it to drink but I wanted some water splashed on me to keep me cool. So at the three-mile mark, Jorge complied.

Feeling refreshed and enthused at having seen the Tortoises showing me their support, I knew the finish would come soon enough. And when I saw the "One Mile To Go" mark, I was raring to set a new mile PR.

Of course, that was never going to happen. Fastest I've ever run a mile was in about 6:57, and there was no way that was going to happen under the circumstances. But I upped my pace down the last stretch, off a road from the one I'd run the first four miles. The terrain was fine, the sun was hot and I was close to the finish. I even passed a couple of runners.

I got close to the finish, took my bracelet off and tried to slap it on Jorge's wrist. Instead, I fumbled it and had to hand it to him to send him on his way for the last five miles of the race.


I was thrilled to have reached the finish line. It was a glorious end to a long journey. But the journey wasn't over quite yet. Jorge, after all, was still on the course. And we needed to meet him at the finish line.

As we made our way to the van, Jesse had relayed a story to me. While they waited for me at the Exchange Point, an older lady had asked him if they were part of the Desert Tortoise Society. See, on our van we'd painted tortoises and written "Desert Tortoises" in large green-and-white letters. Jesse said he was surprised by the question and that he told her that we were part of a relay race team named the Desert Tortoises.

It's funny though, because we did form some sort of Society during the race. Ragnar Relay participants, we quickly found out, were friendly, willing to help out, and all there for the same thing: to have fun and to have a memorable experience, all of which made the tragic loss the night before more difficult.

We were a society, though, a unit. A team. That much was evident during the final run. By the time Jorge had crossed the finish line, we had shaved off about 40 minutes from out deficit. We tore through that last set of legs as if it was our first, as if we had fresh legs and a full night's sleep behind us.

All in all, Van Two ran about 98 of the 171 miles, and did so in about 25 hours. Overall, our team finished in 28 hours, 15 minutes, 3 seconds. We finished 130th out of 182 teams. But those were all details. We were happy with having finished the race, having met a tough challenge head on and come out better for it on the other end.

Members of Van One here: Chris, Mychael (my sister-in-law), Danny (my bro), David, Jennifer and Vanessa.

My beloved van-mates: me, Alex, Elvia, Jesse, Jon, Jorge and Fausto kneeling in front of us.

We ARE the Desert Tortoise Society.

And damn, does it feel good.