Saturday, January 30, 2010

Curing My Sadness

Since October, I've been a bit depressed. Overall, things have been going well. I can't complain much about how my running has progressed, the races I ran in that span, how my daughters are doing, Mrs. LB, the house...

But I've been sad nonetheless. You see, the last time I went to Disneyland was in October. November came and went. December came and went. January has come and is almost gone, and no trips to Disneyland.

Sad face.

However, we hope to go to the Happiest Place on Earth today. Depending on when you are reading this, we will either be going, on our way, there, or on our way back. Hopefully.

Our passes expired in November and we haven't renewed them. Well, the adults haven't renewed theirs. My MIL renewed the girls' passes as Christmas presents.

Now, if you are a long-time reader of this here blog you know how much I enjoy Disneyland. I never actually was all that crazy about it until we got season passes as a gift in late October of 2007. Since then, I was hooked. I loved going to the park whenever we had a chance, and not spending any money in doing so. That was fantastic. We renewed last year and will renew again this year.

A few of then and now pics (then, like it was soooo long ago):

cryin' Kenna

Kennedy did not respond well to her first ride. That whole day was a bit shocking to Kennedy. This is after we got out of the Roger Rabitt Car Tune ride (which I really dislike by the way). She bawled. She actually cried on the Winnie the Pooh ride too, which is very, very tame. She doesn't really cry anymore. She does not like some of the faster rides like Splash Mountain or the Tower of Terror (at California Adventure) but the dark doesn't freak her out like it used to. She doesn't like those rides because they move fast and drop quickly.

LB and the girls, version 2.7

Also in Toon Town, this picture is on the Donald Duck boat. It's not a ride, just somewhere for kids to run around in and explore. Notice something different about me? I could afford shaving cream back then, apparently.

at DCA

This one is from the summer of '08, which was an awesome summer of Disneyland trips. Ah, those carefree days when neither girl was in school and we could go to Disneyland whenever we felt like it. I sure cherish those days. Maybe when the girls are out of college we could re-live those days... uh, actually, maybe not.

who's the dork in the Mickey Mouse shirt?

I have a Mickey Mouse shirt. I only wear it when I go to Disneyland. I don't think I look the greatest in it to be honest because I feel like weird in it sometimes but oh well. The girls like it, and it beats wearing pink. This picture was in September, when Kennedy and I sneaked away for a midweek trip while Yvie was in school.

Hopefully I'll start to accumulate more and more pictures from Disneyland trips. I thought about going to Disneyland the day after Surf City but I might not be up for so much walking, but who knows? If anything, I will have the freedom to go if I desire, and that's going to help me cease this bit of sadness that I've had since October.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Jan. 29)

My weekly post of thwarted ramblings and would-be blog posts.

Word Association

As always, play here.

1. Food :: Network
2. Death :: Taxes
3. Cafeteria :: Food
4. Need :: Speed
5. Born :: Again
6. Stitch :: Lilo
7. Badly :: Behaving
8. Blocks :: Classic
9. Chuck :: Larry
10. Spiral :: Out of Control

Explanations: Guess what channel I watch a lot? You'll never guess. There were some strange ones on here, namely 9 (didn't like that movie), 6 (not a fan of that either) and 3 (WTF?).

Fuel Belt Giveaway

Tricia over at Endurance Isn't Only Physical is having a kick-butt giveaway. She's giving away a Nathan Fuelbelt! It's so awesome. Although I have my own fuel belt, which I like, I'd wanted to buy the Nathan one but couldn't find it cheap, and ultimately I decided to get one and expanded my options.

But I'd love to have another fuel belt, maybe because the Nathan one seems like a durable belt.

Anyway, go check out her blog. By the way, Tricia lost about 120 pounds in one year, last year. She has a stress fracture right now so she's on the mend but she'll be back out there soon enough.

Surfin' On My Mind

I usually have a lot of thoughts during the week. A lot of running- and non-running-related thoughts. But this week, it seems all I've thought about has been Surf City... well, aside from the usual home- and work- and family-related thoughts of course.

I'm trying to focus on each day one at a time but it's hard to not think about the marathon. I'm excited for it, anxious, nervous. There's really nothing I can do right now except to get there in one piece. I can't affect the weather, as much as I would like to. I can't make the days go by any faster or slower. I just have to go through each day and before I know it I'll be in HB, at the start line.

I'm sure I'll have more of these my-mind-is-on-the-marathon-and-I'm-trying-not-to-get-psyched-out posts next week so I'll just leave today's at that.

One More Thing

Forecast for HB...

NOOOOOO!!!

(disclaimer: I know this could change and I know I can't do anything but prepare for whatever weather comes my way, but I can and apparently will still complain/fret)

LB Song of the Week

My weekly nod to children's music...

The Grammys are on Sunday. Normally, I really could not care less about the Grammys. My favored music genre - hard rock/heavy metal - has never gotten as much as play on the Grammys as other stuff, so I barely ever pay attention because I don't care for the performances and the awards.

But there is at least one category I care about this time around. Best Musical Album for Children.

The nominees:

American Heroes #3
Jonathan Sprout

Banjo To Beatbox
Cathy & Marcy With Special Guest Christylez Bacon

Family Time
Ziggy Marley

Great Day
Milkshake

Jumpin' & Jammin'
Greg & Steve

Pete Seeger Tribute - Ageless Kids' Songs
Buck Howdy

I've actually only heard of the middle three. If I had a vote, I'd probably vote for Milkshake, but I think Ziggy Marley (yes, that Ziggy Marley) is going to win because I'm guessing the voters will vote for the name. Not to say his songs aren't good, but he has a lot going for him aside from the music. But what the heck do I know?

Anyway, what do you have to do to earn a Grammy nomination for children's music?

Be unique and creative, I suppose. This is Cathy and Marcy With Special Guest Christylez Bacon. Can you tell which one is Christylez Bacon? And yes, this is a song both the girls and I enjoy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Scenic Run

I don't usually blog about my midweek runs because usually they are dreary (lately on the 'mill in my garage) and shorter than my weekend runs (4-6 miles or so).

But Thursday was an exception. I got the chance to run outside as I had a couple of hours after dropping Kennedy off at preschool. I had work and stuff to do but wanted to squeeze in an outdoor run. I haven't ran all week, as I've limited my "running" to soccer refereeing. I've ran a total of eight miles or so Monday through Wednesday, though it's not true running.

Anyway, that's another post for another day.

I was just going to run around my block but then I realized, why should I? Why not go somewhere else, perhaps closer to Kennedy's school?

So I decided on running up Mount Rubidoux. It's a well-known area here in Riverside, but I've only actually run up it once. The whole park has several trails for running, walking, biking and the like. There are trails around Mount Rubidoux as well as on the "mountain" itself. It's not really a mountain but it does get quite hilly.

And it has nice views.

from one side of Mt. Rubidoux

You can actually see the area where my house is from here. That sort-of pale looking spot in the middle is about two streets over from my house. The lone cloud in the sky, of course, blocked the view of the snow-capped mountains.

It was a bit windy, though. That was the only problem.

Old Glory flapping hard in the wind

On one side of Mt. Rubidoux, the wind was pretty strong. But on the other side, it was mostly calm.

Up on top there is a huge cross and I believe several other crosses spread out.

atop Mt. Rubidoux

There's also an area there where you can take a rest and relax and take in the entire landscape.

Maybe someday I'll go back and take some more pics, but I took these with my phone and didn't want to linger too much. Total mileage was 3.89 and I did that in 34:27, or a pace of 8:51. Fast for me, but then again half of it was downhill.

All in all, though, much better than running around my neighborhood. Or the garage.

Weather Watch

Blog buddy Morgan of Caution: Redhead Running recently left a comment about how I might check the weather forecast for Surf City about 20 million times, as she did the same before her first marathon.

That's a bit of a stretch.

I'd say the figure is closer to 30 million.

I am in a bit of a helpless situation, however. The Web site I use to get weather forecasts, the one I trust the most anyway, is The Weather Channel's site. But it only goes 10 days out, so as of late Wednesday this was the forecast:

But the Surf City site has a link to another weather Web site, from AccuWeather.com. And that goes a full 15 days out.

That forecast is as follows:

I'm not exactly liking this forecast.

(Okay, I know you readers in cold- and wet-weather locales are shaking your heads right now, saying '64 degrees and he's complaining?' but stay with me)

What's mostly troubling me is the forecast for Monday, Feb. 8 by AccuWeather of course, since TWC doesn't show that. It says "rain." No "cloudy with spotty showers." No "periods of rain," as it calls for on Feb. 5. Just "rain." Plain and simple "rain."

See, my awkward thinking is this (and I'm not exactly hoping for this but this is what I think): AccuWeather is not accurate or reliable (to me, it might spot on, who really knows?) so it will not rain on Feb. 8 but instead will rain on Feb. 7.

It seriously cannot rain on Feb. 7. It can rain buckets on Feb. 6 and 8. It can rain the proverbial cats and dogs on the 5th. But it cannot rain on the 7th.

No. Rain. At. All.

Please.

Am I worried about running in rain? Not really. My cherished Cedar River Run was in the rain. So too was a 10-miler the Saturday after Thanksgiving (six days after the Cedar River Run). I've logged those runs in the rain and did just fine. It wasn't fun, particularly the former, but I did it. Some parts, yeah, it's fun. It's fun to get out in the rain sometimes knowing that the people who drive by you are probably calling you stupid or crazy or insane or something, knowing that deep down inside they're just jealous (probably not, but that's what I tell myself).

But that element of look-what-I-can-do is not part of the marathon. Well, there is an element of that I guess but not the same thing. I mean, I want/need to focus on finishing the marathon, on putting all the information, knowledge and experience I've gained in the last seven months to use, of tackling this enormous challenge that is in front of me, of conquering the beast. And I don't need rain to throw another obstacle in my way.

Also, I don't want the rain to chase Mrs. LB and the girls away. We're going to get a room near the start line so I'm not going to go by myself or anything, but it will be a bummer if they're cooped up in the motel room for four to five hours while I run.

I'm going to be checking the weather... let me see, I've already checked it about 5 million times and TWC's forecast only goes until Feb. 5 or so, so... I'll be checking the weather another 25 million times from now until race day, and I may blog about it again, so this post is definitely to be continued.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Figuring Out A Runner's Diet

Food isn't one of the main reasons why I run, but it certainly is a benefit of running.

According to running guru Hal Higdon: "The average runner training for a half marathon and running 20 to 25 miles a week probably needs a daily caloric intake near 2,500 to maintain muscle glycogen stores. As your mileage climbs beyond that, you need to eat more and more food, not less."

I had to do a double take. Near 2,500 calories a day? That's just awesome.

Since I'm in taper mode, I was looking around to some sorts of tips on tapering, specifically with food and caloric intake. My Loper pace leader sent a thing out a while ago about food, but it didn't include caloric intake. So I went looking around and figured I'd check Hal Higdon's Web site. It really has a bevy of information, and among the things I found was a story called the Runner's Diet.

In simplified terms:

* 2500 calories
* Common recommendations suggest 15-20 percent proteins, 30 percent fat, 50-55 percent carbohydrates (score!)
* Concentrate on complex carbs: fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, legumes
* Nutrtionally adequate food selection: fruits, vegetables, grains/legumes, lean meats, low-fat milk products, fats/sweets (listed in descending order of importance)

So how does that help me? Well, coupled with the list I received a while ago, it's helped formulate a plan, or least has helped give me some options. Here's the list of suggested foods my pace leader had given us.

Oatmeal (with blueberries)
Waffles, Pancakes, French Toast (no/little syrup)
Eggs
Bagels-whole grain (with peanut butter)
English Muffin/Bread-whole grain
Graham Crackers
Pretzels
Popcorn (light)
Fruit-bananas
Yogurt
Brown Rice with Chicken or Fish
Black Bean and Rice Burrito
Potatoes (baked, sweet, yams)
Whole Wheat Pasta (with marinara)
Sandwiches (with lean meat)
Salads (watch dressing)
Vegetables

I don't like eggs so that's out but I think the rest of the stuff includes things I can plan some meals around.

I can't keep bananas around here that often as I'm already helping myself to so many of them, so I have to restock often. I need to get me some sweet potatoes and bagels too. Nonfat plain yogurt is my new best friend. And also I bought some Fiber One cereals recently as they were on sale. Those things are good but so expensive.

If there's one area that I need a lot of work and practice on, it's nutrition, and to make sure I not only stay around the same amount of calories but also to make sure I'm consuming the right kinds of calories. That's not only important now in this taper but also beyond Surf City, especially if I'm going to continue running long distances.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Setting The Scene

What will Surf City look like? I have no idea. I've never actually been to a marathon. The races I've participated in have all featured a combination of 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons, but never an actual full marathon.

I don't know what the atmosphere will feel like, don't know what the energy level surrounding a marathon is like. So I scoured around online and, uh, borrowed, some pictures of previous Surf City Marathons. While we visited Huntington Beach earlier this month to try and get a feel of what it will be like, I wanted to see what the race scene might look like.

The marathon will feature a wealth of runners, so the starting line could look like this.

tight quarters at the start line

This year they are featuring a two-wave start, so there might not be such a crowd at the start but who knows.

Out on the course, it probably will look like this.

runners runners everywhere

Not sure where on the course that pictures is from but I'll be there on Feb. 7.

This next picture is pretty cool because you can see our motel in the background.

down the stretch

On the right-hand side of the street are motels, hotels, houses and business surrounded by palm trees. To the left (and off camera) is the beach. This is Pacific Coast Highway, the 1 Freeway, and these runners are heading towards the finish line. I get goosebumps just thinking about being here, going towards the finish line.

the ultimate destination

All the mile markers lined up, probably the day before the big race. To think that it will take me 10-11 minutes to see each of these. But I know I will be very happy to see each mile marker.

Another thing that helped set the scene was this post by blog buddy Lisa of Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge (a runner's journey). She's also running Surf City and is an accomplished runner/marathoner. She knocked out a 16-miler on the weekend and is now, like me, in taper mode. Taper is a Latin word meaning "sit around on your arse and don't run."

I'm less than two weeks away!! Can you believe it?!?

Filling Out The Story

Part of the great thing about having a blog and having regular readers is that I get to share my experiences with others, and hopefully they can entertain, inspire, provoke thoughts or elicit some other response.

So I am calling on you because I wanted to make sure that I didn't miss anything.

I know that running a marathon is a special thing, and I am certainly feeling so enthusiastic about it. From having read up on others' experiences from their own first marathons (such as this one and this one and this one) and having talked to some of the veteran Lopers on what to expect and how to approach my first marathon, I know it will hold a special place in my heart and soul and mind and my entire being.

The best part about this is that I will chronicle a lot of it, so it will always remain fresh in my mind. There are some great experiences that, when I'm in the midst of them, I think I will remember forever but eventually they sort of blend in with everything else. And I don't want to miss anything right now. In some ways, it's for my own benefit. But in other ways, I want for my daughters to look back and see what their dad accomplished when they were little. I don't know how they will feel but I would do anything to be able to read some of my dad's thoughts and read up on his accomplishments from when he was younger. I'll never have that chance, but I can give that chance to my girls.

So I want to know from you trusty and beloved readers, what things have I not hit on that you would like to know more about?

I've shared with you some of my most inner feelings about not only training for this marathon but making the decision to run one in the first place. I've shared so much already, from my really, really long runs to the shorter runs and many things in between. I've almost taken that next step, from being a sort-of knowledgeable runner capable of finishing a half-marathon to one that is on the brink of running a full marathon.

But this has all been from my perspective. I've been my own editor, if you will, and sometimes I get caught up in things that I think are important. And while they may or may not be, I might be missing something.

So what do you think I should blog about? What questions/topics do you want answered now that I might regret not exploring? Should I take some more pictures of... myself? something else? Am I missing anything? or rather... What am I missing?

Anyway, you all have been such a big boost during this whole training regimen I've undergone and I'm indebted to you for that. So even if you can't think of anything else, thanks for just being here and taking an interest.

Because you could be doing other things, like working or cleaning the house or some other menial task.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Motivational Mondays (Jan. 25)

I've still got one more double-digit mile run before Surf City.

I can't do anything stupid these next 13 days.

I have to see this two-week taper through both on the fitness and nutritional ends.

I'm not quite to Feb. 7 yet.

But 95 percent of my training for Surf City is complete. And damn, does that feel good.

When I dropped an entire person's worth of weight from my body, I proved to myself that I have the ability to do things that are extremely difficult, things I never thought would have been possible. And now that I'm on the brink of running my first marathon, I've once again shown that I can tackle something I never thought possible head on, and I'm 13 days away from conquering that hurdle.

Now, I'm not trying to brag. I don't like to brag. And I don't consider myself special or unique. But what I do like to do is take a look at what I've accomplished, hopefully to inspire someone out there.

Believe me, I was the least likely candidate to run a marathon. Until early 2006, I was your typical fat guy - I sat around, ate way too much, never exercised, had no interest in nutrition and health and fitness let alone running.

Four years later, I'm set for a marathon.

The change didn't happen overnight. It took a long time to lose the weight, then a long time to become a runner, and then a long time to train for a marathon. But the change happened, which is the most important thing. I remember sometimes (often?) during my weight-loss journey feeling anxious, like I wanted all the weight gone ASAP, and also feeling as if I would have been more dedicated or concentrated I would have lost all the weight already. Patience is important, I've learned, in both losing weight and running. You can't lose 50 pounds in two months and do it in a healthy manner. And you can't go from running 3-5 miles and run a marathon in two months either, at least not in a healthy manner.

But you can accomplish things you never thought possible. I know it sounds cliche but just take things a step at a time, take things as they come and you will get there. I never would have thought that A) I would lose 120 pounds and B) I would want to run a marathon and C) I would train for and run a marathon. All but the last part of that have happened.

The pounds will come off.

You will be able to handle the added miles.

You just have to want it and dedicate yourself.

I wanted it, still want it.

I'm dedicated.

And I'm ready.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cooking With Yvie: Jalapeño Corn Bread

Welcome to another episode of Cooking With Yvie!

In her latest cooking adventure, Yvie whips up a tasty side dish. Yvie shows you how to prepare a Jalapeño Corn Bread, right in a cast-iron skillet!

The full recipe is beneath the video.

Enjoy!



Jalapeño Corn Bread
courtesy of Cooking Light magazine

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 chopped jalapeño (seeds optional)

1. Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl; whisk together.
2. Sprinkle baking powder over batter, whisk.
3. Fold in cornmeal, flour, jalapeños.
4. Spoon batter into cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray.
5. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

(seeds will add heat, so be forewarned!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Happys

I was given the Happy 101 award by my longtime blog buddy Lissaloo. Thanks for thinking of me, Lissaloo! And sorry it took so long. I've had this post sitting in edit mode for a while :(

I've got to list 10 things that make me happy... let's see if I can limit it to 10.

1. Listening to Yvie read. It still amazes me how well she can read, and really that she can read at all. I know, she's six so of course she's capable of reading but one year ago today she couldn't read, and now she's reading books like Little Women (an abridged version). She reads a chapter each day with Mrs. LB.

2. Going out to the movies. Mrs. LB and I used to go to the movies a great deal before we had Yvie. Now, it's rare though we do go from time to time. We got to see Avatar recently (awesome movie). I'm actually very picky about what movie I go see in the movies, since I don't get to go that often.

3. Traveling. 2009 was a unique year in that I got to visit two countries that I'd never stepped foot in previous - Costa Rica and Canada. I don't anticipate visiting any new nations this year, or next, so I'm always grateful when I have the opportunity to visit new frontiers.

4. Cooking/baking something I know will turn out good. I guess I've always been a pleaser, so I like to please taste buds by making something good. Sometimes it can be a pain but it's always worth it.

5. Music. Not just any music but stuff I like to listen to.

6. Quiet, alone time. I don't get much of it, but when it's just me and my thoughts (and my laptop and crackberry) I soak it up.

7. Spending time with my parents. I like to take my girls over to see my mom and dad. Since we live five miles away, I take advantage of the distance and go over there often.

8. Having dinner set and ready to go when Mrs. LB gets home. I love to time dinner so when Mrs. LB is walking into the house the dinner has just been put on the table, nice and warm and ready to be chowed down. It doesn't happen that often, so I relish it when it does.

9. Meeting an impossibly ridiculous deadline. For my day job (which technically is my mostly-Saturday-nights-from-March-through-November job), I sometimes have to meet an impossibly ridiculous deadline. Like, the game finishes at 10 p.m. and I need to have something over by 10:01 p.m. The worst deadline I ever had was a game that finished at around 1:30 a.m. PT. It was for a big-city newspaper, and they were literally holding the presses for me to file the story. I was in Japan covering a soccer game there, back in 2002, well before WiFi, so I had dial-up. The game was 2-1 in about the 85th minute when I sent the story. We had to hold our collective breath to make sure that no other goal was scored because that would have completely ruined it. Luckily that's how the game ended. I was on pins and needles, but I got such a rush writing and filing that story. Good times.

10. A great run. Whether it's on a treadmill or a Sunday morning Loper run or a race, I love the feeling of having accomplished a great run.

Happy times.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Jan. 22)

My weekly collection of thwarted blog posts and random thoughts. Could you imagine if I made each of these a post on its own? I'd have more than 1,000 posts by now. And no readers, because you all would have gotten tired of my million posts per day.

Word Association

Play here.

1. Weak :: Fragile
2. Flashy :: New
3. Sack :: Quarterback
4. Business :: Pleasure
5. Purple :: Rain
6. Fan :: Store
7. Airline :: Flight
8. Guide :: Tour
9. Lunch :: Sandwich
10. Exercise :: Running

Explanations/details: Purple Rain is not a good running song. It would be okay if it didn't drag on at the end for like three minutes. I have Prince's Greatest Hits CD (first George Michael, now Prince... the revelations continue... I like 80s music okay?) and every time I listen to Purple Rain I skip the end because it just goes on and on and on. - The fan is in reference to our fans that keep us cool in the summer, and fall. We have them stored in our garage up in the rafters.

Coachella

When you live in a certain area for so long, you sometimes take things for granted. For instance, I was talking to a fellow runner during last week's run and she mentioned how her family has a Chinese exchange student living with them, and that the student really wanted to go to Hollywood to take a picture of the sign. I kid you not, I have never ever been to Hollywood to have my picture taken with the sign. Honestly, I don't know if I've even seen it in person. Hollywood has some pretty shady areas and I don't know how to navigate down there. The last time I went to Hollywood was in 2002 when I went to the Pantages Theater to watch The Lion King.

Anyway, to a lesser extent there is the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Not sure if you are familiar with it, but this is a massive three-day event filled with live bands and all sorts of chaos. You can go to any single day or buy three-day packages, so you don't necessarily have to make a three-day weekend out of it.

I've never been, but it draws a ton of people every year. Last year, when the headliners were Paul McCartney, The Killers and The Cure, it drew 160,000. In 2007 when Rage Against The Machine played, it drew 180,000.

I'm not much of a crowd person, so those figures make me want to go less. But I always look at the lineups and see what I'm missing. This year's lineup was announced earlier this week, and the show is going to take place on April 16-18. Jay-Z is the headliner for Friday, Muse for Saturday and Gorillaz for the last day.

I know my blog buddy Christy would love to catch Muse there.

Some of the other acts that catch my eye:

* DJ Lance Rock will be there Friday. He is the guy in the orange jumpsuit (and creator) of Yo Gabba Gabba! which is a fixture in our house. If he took Muno, Brobee, Plex, Toodee and Foofa with him, that'd be awesome (if you are wondering "What the..." it's okay. I haven't lost all my marbles, just a few).

* Faith No More was one of my faves way back in the day, but either I lost track of them or they fell off the map.

* I'm wondering if one of my other blog buddies has a second career we don't know about as Zoe is one of the acts for Saturday. Hmmm... might have to do some investigating.

Here's the full lineup. I have to say that I've not heard of a lot of those acts, but that's actually pretty normal. Since I have children, I'm way out of touch with a lot of things, plus this festival provides opportunities for a lot of up-and-coming acts... (up-and-coming is a nice way of saying obscure).

Would you brave up to 150,000 people over three days?

Another Reason For No Coachella

I might have a race that weekend. In fact, there's a good chance I will run a race that weekend. April 18 is the Run Through Redlands and I might run the half that weekend. There's another race that weekend but I've sworn off talk of Marathon No. 2 until after Surf City, so I won't go there right now.

El Niño Grande

A few weeks ago, I was out in the backyard and came across a near-dead insect. It startled me because it was so big. I thought it was a bee at first but when I looked closely, it didn't look like any bee I'd ever seen before.

I left it as I'd seen it, struggling on its back, moving its legs slowly, not really trying to turn over or do much of anything.

Later, I went out and put it on top of the doghouse and figured that if it died I might as well try to preserve it. I wanted to show Mrs. LB, but I forgot all about the bug for a few days.

When I remembered it several days later, I went to the doghouse and it was still there. It was dead of course and quite stiff, but looked in pretty good shape. So I took a picture of it and sent it along to a friend of mine who is into bugs. He's actually an entomologist so I figured he'd know what it was.

Sure enough, it's a cricket. Actually, a Jerusalem cricket, or a potato bug. It's also referred to as a Niño de la Tierra in Spanish. And while they're native to the Western US and Mexico, I've never actually seen one until now. Strange.

It's now sitting in a jar in my house. I'm actually keeping it for my friend and haven't had a chance to go give it to him. I would try and torment the girls with it but they are totally unafraid of it now since I went to that well often at first.

Separated At Birth?

Remember my "pink fish" comment from a couple of days ago, when I had a gaping mouth for some reason at the end of my 22-miler?

Well, what do you think?

The Pink Fish and a pink fish

Do you see the resemblance?

Thanks to reader Jephy's Mom for passing the fish image along.

LB's Song of the Week

My weekly nod to children's music...

Last week I had a song by The Roots from the show Yo Gabba Gabba! on here. Well, because DJ Lance Rock will be performing at Coachella, I figured I might as well throw on one of the Yo Gabba Gabba! songs.

This song is pretty cool.

Brobee is singing about the party in his tummy.

Incidentally, last night I invited chili, sweet corn muffins, cheddar cheese and water to the party in my tummy. It was a rockin' party.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Polar's Return

For a while, I've been sad about The Polar. Remember The Polar? You probably don't, so let me refresh your memory or fill you in if you weren't around when The Polar was around.

The Polar is a Polar F4 Heart Rate Monitor watch, and looked like this.

Now, I say looked because I lost the stinking watch during last year's Mud Run. I tried to scale a wall and it popped right off my wrist, fell into a deep pit of mud and was never seen or heard from again.

I was gutted. Heartbroken. Mrs. LB had given me that watch as a present for Fathers Day in 2008, and that really helped me learn a great deal about my body. It took me from being a novice runner to that next step as I used it extensively in my training for the first and second Mud Runs, the Half Marathon and my first two 10Ks.

I was totally not ready to part ways with it, so that made it more difficult when I had to say fare thee well. I bought another one, sometime around July of last year, or a month after I lost it. It wasn't the greatest idea. I bought it sort-of blind, on eBay. This is what the watch I have looks like.

It never really worked. I was bummed out because the person who sold it said they hardly ever used it but the battery was low when I received it. And it wouldn't measure my heart rate for some reason. But worst of all... well, look at it. That's a woman's watch. When I say "sort-of blind" it's because the watch didn't have a picture. And this is what I get for not buying one with a picture.

I've worn it during runs but I just... well, it's just strange. Yeah, this coming from a guy who wears pink. I realize this. However, it just does.

But that was all moot because the battery died, the watch wouldn't work and I wasn't exactly in a hurry to get a replacement battery.

I'm not sure what prompted me to but I decided that I wanted to try and breathe life into the watch once more. I think the thinking was that if I could salvage it and make it usable that I could sell the two and then use the money to buy a Garmin Forerunner 305. That one has a heart rate monitor on it, plus all the features of my Garmin 101.

I hit a wall, though. The battery, which was quite difficult to take out, was not sold at the Target by my house. Nor the other Target. Nor any Target. Nor Home Depot or Staples or Best Buy... you get the point. I had put the gutted watch and battery in a little resealable plastic bag and left it in my truck so whenever I was around like a Radio Shack or whatever, I'd have it with me. Well, it slipped my mind and I just sort of forgot about it.

Until Saturday. I was by a Radio Shack, remembered the left-for-dead watch in my glove compartment and stopped by. Five dollars and change later, I had the battery. I got home, painstakingly reassembled it and !Voila! it worked. Sort of. The watch was on, set, ready to go but it still wasn't measuring my heart rate. After I put my strap around my waist, the watch blinked a 35 back at me, and unless there was something really wrong with me, my heart rate wouldn't be that low. My resting heart rate is probably closer to 50, a little above, so that was wrong.

But I noticed something. There was a percent sign next to it. Why hadn't I noticed that before? I fooled around with the settings, tried it again and it worked! It worked! I got my heart rate watch back! I was very happy and started to think about all the runs and workouts I used to do while monitoring my watch, about the way my heart rate fluctuated, about incorporating that into my future runs and trainings when I realized something.

Damn. It's a woman's watch. And it looks like a woman's watch.

Let's just forget for a moment that I wear pink. Voluntarily.

I'm not sure about the watch anymore. I don't know if it's because I've taken another step in becoming a runner/marathoner that I don't rely on heart rates as much, or if it's the watch itself.

I've worn it already during two runs this week, however. I want to start wearing the monitor and watch once more, if nothing else to see how I compare now to my previous self. Both runs have been in my garage but it's worked out fine. Wednesday's run was great, a 5.1 mile run that saw my heart rate stay in the 160s for most of the run. There is some interesting stuff for sure to learn from monitoring my heart rate.

I just have to get past how it looks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Hat

I've had many, many hats in my life. When I was in high school, I preferred to wear baseball hats to school. I had all sorts of hats, and not all of them were of teams I liked. I did have rules, though, as I would not wear a hat of a team I despised (you still won't catch me wearing any Packers or Yankees gear, for instance).

While I don't wear hats every day like I used to, I still have plenty of them around. Including old and dirty hats, hats that seem to be well past their sell-by date.

Like my old LB hat.

I mentioned in Sunday's post how I'd resurrected it. I don't exactly remember when I got it, as I've had at least three LB hats (which are for sale here at the LB Online Store). The most recent one I had, I've had since at least 2005, and I'm guessing it even goes back further.

Here's me wearing it in 2006:

don't let this guy talk you into drinking beer

I weighed in at a robust 262 in that picture, and I'd already dropped more than 40 pounds at that point.

Here's the same hat on the same-but-different-looking head about one year later.

feeling good in my LB hat

I was around 210 at this point, so about 20-25 pounds heavier than I am today. Wow. Unreal. I wasn't a runner in that picture as I hadn't quite yet contemplated taking up the sport, but I was getting close. To contemplating, not to actually running.

(oh yeah, bonus points if you can tell where this picture was taken... and double bonus points for the first picture)

Anyway, I'm not sure how it happened but that hat got dirty. Real dirty. It fell behind the couch and was lost in the abyss that is behind the couch. I'm not sure why I held on to it. I guess I knew that I would resurrect it.

It was actually difficult to bring back to life. Here's what I did. Try and stay with me.

1. Put in washer along with a load of darks.
2. Set aside to air dry.

Did I mention how I never used to actually wash my hats because I didn't like how they looked after a washing? That was the quickest way to ruin one of my old hats, to throw it in the washer.

Maybe these newer hats are different. Or maybe I just don't care much anymore about how hats look after they are washed. Regardless, I have my hat with me once more.

If I have one complaint, it is this: the hat says One Size Fits All, but I could use it just a little more snug on my head. However, I think the old LB stretched it out a little bit with his big dome.

Still, I can wear it and that's what matters.

from washer to 22-miler

I bet the guy in the first picture never thought he'd run 22 miles in that hat one day.

Oh, and by the way I'm not sure why my mouth is open like that. In fact, I didn't even realize it was open until I saw the picture, which is why I took another one, the one I used in Monday's post. I look like a fish, like a pink fish. I'm only sharing this picture here with you because I like you, blog reader. So don't get smart with me and my fish mouth.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy Ain't So Easy

After Sunday's 22-mile run, I wasn't sure if I should brave a run today or if I should give my legs another day to rest and recover. At first, it looked like life would take care of that decision for me as I was suddenly swamped with work and family duties. I didn't have time to squeeze in a run, even if it was a short three-miler like I'd planned.

I had a soccer game to ref in the afternoon, so that would nix any afternoon run possibility. Since I don't like to run in the afternoon, that wasn't that great of an option but one nonetheless. However, it's been raining hard here in Southern California, and I really wasn't sure if I'd have a game or not. I called the school in the morning but they said the game was still on.

After picking Kennedy up from preschool and a quick stop at the grocery store, I came home and had enough time to eat lunch, change and get my stuff ready for my game. It was raining sideways at this point but the game was still on so I hurried to my mom's house to drop Kennedy off. She had the task of picking Yvie up, but while I was there I got the call: no game. Not sure if it was the flash flood watch, the tornado warning, the lightning or the torrential downpour that was the decisive factor but the game was called.

I went to get Yvie after all and came back home. So, I suddenly had time. And what to do, before tackling dinner?

Run.

I got the treadmill out and figured I'd take advantage of the extra time to get in my recovery run. I settled on three miles, even though I thought about four.

Lately, when I've gotten on the treadmill I've had a hard time getting off. Four miles have turned into five, 45 minutes have turned into 60 and my short runs have turned into longer short runs. But today I wanted to stick to three miles because I was sort of pressed for time but also because I've never recovered from a 22-mile run before so I didn't want to run too much and have it come back to hurt me or anything.

It was a tough run. It wasn't easy to keep the speed down. I wanted to crank the 'mill up to 6.5 or so, which is a comfortable pace for me (I think that's a little north of a 9-minute mile) or faster.

In the end, I ran three miles on the nose in 31:10. I was able to track my heart rate (more on this later this week) and it never got higher than 155. I tend to run in the 170s when I'm running normally, so that's definitely an "easy" run.

It was a tough time all the way through because I had to keep from giving in to the desire to stretch my legs. Oh well. I'm planning on a longer run Wednesday, and won't limit myself too much.

Good news is, though, my legs feel great!

Dinner, by the way, was wet chorizo burritos with Mexican Rice. YUM!

Timely Goal

So what's my goal for Surf City? Can I get close to four hours? Will I come in at 4:30 or below?

I've thought about this a long time, actually, and here's what I came up with a long time ago.

I. Don't. Care.

I don't care about time. I don't care how long it takes me to cross the finish line. I don't care how close I come to four hours.

Honestly, I think I'm going to finish between 4:30 and 5:00. That's what I've been training for and that's what I think I'll do.

My real goal is just one, and that's to finish. Marathon No. 2 and No. 3 and No. whatever may have some time elements attached, but for me to worry about time for this race will be ludicrous. Running (or slogging) across the finish line will be victory enough.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Motivational Mondays (Jan. 18)

Another Motivational Mondays that doubles as a run recap.

I wanted everything to go for Sunday's 22-mile run - my longest run ever - as it would at Surf City, from my attire to how I felt before the run to the run itself. This was as close as I would get to a marathon without actually running one so it was my chance to fine-tune things before Surf City. I took five packets of Gu, my phone, the headphones/hands-free kit, my pocketless shorts, my sunglasses and I resurrected an old friend, which I'll get to in a bit.

For breakfast I ate a bagel, an energy bar and drank half a bottle of Gatorade. It's the most I've eaten before a run but I wanted to simulate what I'd planned to eat before Surf City as well. I wanted to load up on carbs this morning but didn't want to overdo it.

I was nervous, yeah, but I was also anxious to get this done and over with. We've got 12 and 10 miles on the dockett the next two weeks respectively, so this was basically it as far as training goes.

The first part of the run flew by. Before I knew it, it was Mile 4 and I was eating my first Gu. Then, I felt my arm buzzing. It was actually the third or fourth time I felt my phone as I was apparently getting e-mails, but this time it kept buzzing. It was Mrs. LB! I'd asked her to call me and she did, and it worked great. I was able to talk to her just fine on the headphones/hands-free kit, and we might have to repeat that for Surf City.

For the next several miles, I got into a conversation with Angie of Angie Eats Peace about Harry Potter. She polished off the series over Christmas break and I'd listened to six of the seven books in the first stage of my weight-loss journey. At about mile 8, Angie split off to complete her own mileage. She was going for 12-15 she'd said and she wound up running about 13. She's training for the LA Marathon in March and is running the half at Surf City.

After that, I spent time talking with a couple of other Lopers, but since it was a dress rehearsal I figured I might as well try taking a few pictures. It took me a few tries but I managed to take a (bad) picture of yours truly.

I actually took a few more but they were not that great. The quality is fine but I kept moving the phone too soon and the pictures are of scenery and not much else.

We came across a gate as I was fumbling with the phone, trying to put it back on my arm sling or whatever that thing is called that holds iPods and MP3 players. So I took one last picture before tucking it away.

I also did something I don't usually do and started listening to music. I listened to two songs before getting back into a conversation with a fellow Loper.

Before we knew it, we were at Mile 14, then mile 15 and Mile 16. I felt great. The carbo-loading helped and my breakfast helped. At least, that's what I gave the credit to. I felt better at Mile 15 this week than I'd felt at the end of last week's 15-miler.

I did have one minor setback, which I eventually corrected. Since I took my pocket-less running shorts, I needed to find a place for my extra Gu. So I pinned two packets on my fuel belt. I barely felt them, and I'm definitely doing that again for Surf City. But when I went for the first one, I tried to undo the pin, got it undone and then tried to tear it off but it wouldn't budge. I fastened it back up and had no further issues, but that took some time.

When I went for the other Gu a few miles later, I simply tore it off and left the top still fastened to the safety pin. That worked much better.

Around Mile 17 we had a tough stretch. The route was mostly at an incline for about an entire mile, and when we finally came out to a straightaway and took a walk break, the whole lot of us seemed spent. There were about nine of us at this point, a solid group, and I can't speak for the rest of them but my heart was definitely working overtime at this point.

I called my body back into action and off we went. Before we knew it, we were at Mile 20, then 20.5. I'd been listening to music for the last few miles and it was working great, taking my mind off of the pounding my body was taking. I think it was around this point, I started to get a little emotional. This has been happening a lot lately, to be honest. I had to choke back tears, and it wasn't because I was in pain because I really wasn't, no more than usual anyway. I guess because the marathon is so close, I can feel it and everything, and I just keep thinking to how I was my whole life before, how big I was (300-plus pounds for eff's sake) and the journey that I've taken to get healthy and take on running and all that, and here I am about to tackle the biggest physical challenge for us lay people, something that I never could have foreseen myself doing, and I got choked up. I tried to keep from really getting overly emotional and kept clearing my throat, so I think nobody noticed, but it was hard.

Eventually, that subsided and soon we were closing in on Mile 21. I felt it at that point of course. This wasn't a stroll in the park after all. My feet felt hammered and my legs were two slabs of concrete attached to my increasingly-aching torso. But I pushed forward, got to 21.50, 21.58, 21.66, 21.75, 21.88, 21.95, 21.98, 21.99 and finally 22.0... but who was keeping track anyway?

I gave a fellow Loper a celebratary high-five as I slowed to a stop. Several of us were heaving, trying to collect ourselves before going in for a stretch.

I had to take another picture. Remember when I said I resurrected something? Check out my hat.

If I'm going to wear a hat for Surf City, I might as well sport my initials.

Surf City is near, and I for one can't wait for it.

My name is LB, and I'm ready for a marathon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm done. I survived 22 miles, in 4:04:33. My body is aching, my feet hurt and I need some water, but dammit I did it. Bring on Surf City!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Open Letter To 22 Miler

Dear 22 Miler,

My name is LB and I'm going to be in your company on Sunday. I heard you can be tough on runners, especially those you haven't met before so I thought I'd introduce myself. Maybe we can become friends, and then we can have a better go at it Sunday morning.

I've only been running since 2008, and I don't think I earned my runner label until the end of '08 so really it's been about 18 months or so that I consider myself a runner. But I've come a long way since then. I've run a 5K, three 10Ks, a 15K, a really cool race called the Mud Run (twice) and a really, really cool race called the Ragnar Relay. I've also run a half marathon.

Are those strong enough credentials to be in your presence? Not quite? Okay, let me continue.

We have some friends in common. I met your friend 18 Miler in Seattle. Actually, it was in a place called Renton. He was a little grumpy. Maybe it's because it rains a lot there, and the weather was affecting him. We were all wet during the whole run, and he just sorta kicked me in the butt towards the end. I really don't know what his problem was, but maybe it was just me.

I also met your buddy 20 Miler, just before Christmas. He was pleasant enough - well, as pleasant as 20 Milers can be (don't take that the wrong way, 22 Miler) - but I could still feel his effects two days after we met.

The last two weeks I've logged totals of 27 and 33 miles, and after we meet on Sunday, if all goes well, I'll crack the 40-mile mark with your help. The week I met 20 Miler, I'm sure that was a week of more than 30 miles.

So you see 22 Miler, I've been running a lot lately and I do consider myself a runner. So when we meet up on Sunday, I hope it all goes well.

I think I know what you look like, so I'll look for you. But I'll be the guy in the pink shirt in case you wanted to say hi. Yeah, pink... I can explain. Actually, since we'll be in each other's presence for nearly four hours, possibly more, we'll save that bit of conversation for our journey.

See you on Sunday!

Regards,

LB

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Jan. 15)

It's Friday, so time to get on with the Leftovers.

Word Association

Play here.

1. Resolutions :: New Year's
2. Page :: Arizona
3. Narrow :: Minded
4. Refuse :: To Lose
5. Fountain :: Valley
6. Grunt :: Army
7. Construct :: Build
8. Nightmare :: Long
9. Inch :: Nine
10. Instant :: Replay

Ha. Page, Arizona, is where Mrs. LB's family has been going to for years, for vacation. It's near Lake Powell. Remember this run, and the Glen Canyon Dam I ran across? That was in Page, Ariz. Number 8 is a song off Metallica's latest CD, All Nightmare Long, and I'm not much of a Nine Inch Nails fan, actually I don't like them at all, but that's what came to mind for number nine.

Falling Down

Okay, so I thought I might have had an out. When I wrote about how I fell during a freshman girls soccer game earlier this week, blog buddy Amanda commented about how it might have been due to an earthquake. We've been having a steady stream of temblors here in Cali, and I thought just for kicks I'd go check it out. See, I have this totally awesome link that tracks all seismic activity in California and the area.

So I saw this entry. Keep in mind, my game was on Monday (Jan. 11) afternoon.

3.2 2010/01/11 15:33:52 33.966N 116.877W 10.8 4 km ( 3 mi) NNE of Banning, CA

My game was roughly 30 miles west of Banning, so I did some quick calculations and thought I was off the hook. I figured Amanda was right, that a 'quake had caused me to fall. But alas, the temblor struck at 3:33, and since my game started at 3:15 and I fell towards the end of the first half, it was probably closer to 4 than 3:30. Oh well. No such luck for me.

Anyway, here's the link to the site. If 'quakes scare you, then you may not want to move to SoCal.

Of course, I can't help but think of what's going on down in the Caribbean with the massive earthquake that struck there. Since we do live in 'quake central, I often worry about such a massive earthquake striking us here. I used to hear in school all the time how "The Big One" was coming, how we had to prepare for a big shaker. Not like a 5.5 or 6.5 earthquake but something north of 7.0, which would indeed be quite large. But it hasn't happened, and hopefully it won't anytime soon.

But if I spend too much time on that link (and I usually check it out once a day at least), I start to get worried. Truth be told, I only started worrying about earthquakes when I became a dad. Before I had children, I didn't think much of them. But now, I get tense when I think I feel the ground moving.

So, anyway, there are lots of earthquakes every day in California. Dozens of them. For Wednesday alone, there were 82 earthquakes (I counted) ranging from a 0.2 (which you probably wouldn't feel even if the epicenter was across the street) to a 3.3 (a decent-sized earthquake). That one was in Ferndale, which I don't even know where it is (quick Google Maps search says that's way up in Northern California, closer to Oregon than San Francisco). There are some really remote places that show up on there. Something called The Geysers comes up a lot, so you may not want to move to The Geysers unless you like to feel the ground move.

Mileage

So I wore The Garmin during my junior varsity girls soccer game on Thursday. Turns out, I run a lot during games. The Garmin had me down for 3.95 miles! Wow. Now, JV games I do by myself so I tend to run more than I do during a varsity game, when I work with a partner. But still, that's a lot of running around.

I wonder if that counts as cross training. I hate cross training but I know I have to get back into it at some point.

Oh well. I logged the mileage for that game down as mileage for the week. Hey, I tracked it, right? So I get to count it, right?

Shout Out

In case you missed it, blog buddy Christy ran her first marathon on Sunday. She rocked the socks off Disney World, and she is a bona fide marathoner now. Congratulations.

Check out her race recap here.

One cool thing about her race that isn't part of mine is that you were able to track runners. I signed up for alerts, and when I woke up Sunday morning she'd just crossed the halfway point. I got an update right before I had to leave the phone in the car as I had just pulled up for my own run with the Lopers. It was at 20 miles, and I think she was at around 3:30 or 3:40 in regards to her time.

Some of the bigger races have such updates, which you receive by text or email. Surf City does not, however. Oh well.

LB's Song of the Week

Back after a brief hiatus (ha! you thought you were done suffering through this!) my weekly nod to children's music.

This song has made it onto my Surf City playlist, for obvious reasons.

I'm not a big fan of The Roots necessarily, though I have seen them in concert three or four times I believe. Each time, though, they were part of the opening acts for Rage Against The Machine, and they were enjoyable. Definitely better than the Wu-Tang Clan, who I've suffered through on more than one occasion. Not sure if The Roots play this song now (it's sorta new) in their shows... I'm guessing not.

One thing... if you're not familiar with the show Yo Gabba Gabba! pay no mind to the strange looking characters. We are big fans of the show so we enjoy them, but they do look a bit odd to some people... and when I say "we" I mean the girls and I - Mrs. LB? NOT a fan.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Makes And Misses

Sunday is my 22-mile run. I've been trying not to think too much about it, but when I do I can feel my legs get all tense and I can feel the butterflies in my stomach.

Our pace leader told us last week to consider this as a dress rehearsal for the marathon, which includes some of the carbo-loading and midweek stuff. Well, I haven't laid off the running entirely this week but I'm trying to follow a carb-filled diet.

But I am taking the "dress rehearsal" part to heart. I am going to dress like I am going to at Surf City. That way, I can feel if the clothes I wear are proper or not, if they work for me or not. So, some things have made the cut for this weekend and others didn't. The ones that made the cut for Sunday's 22-miler may or may not reappear at Surf City. I'm testing things out after all.

Made the Cut:
my fabulous BlackBerry Bold in my running thing, whatever it's called

Doesn't my phone look so great in there? The only thing is the headset connects from the side so I have to kind of put it in there a bit off, but trust me that's nothing. I've ran with my phone twice already and it works great. I do have to figure some things out though because it kept pausing on me, well, like three times in about 40 minutes, but that's minor stuff that I'll figure out. The headset/hands-free kit is another issue. The things wouldn't stay in quite snug enough and the last thing I want to do at Surf City is hold an earpiece to my ear for 26 miles. That is up in the air.

Missed the Cut:
my old trusty iPod, beat up but still working

Perhaps as a reminder that it was not the best thing to take to Surf City, the iPod crapped out during the end of Wednesday's run. Well, not entirely crapped out but I could only hear out of ear for the last song. Not good.

Made the Cut:
light-as-air running shorts I got for Christmas

These are my No. 1 running shorts. The only issue, and this is a small issue in the overall scheme of things, is that they have no pockets. For Surf City, I'm planning on taking at least five packets of Gu with me, and I'm not sure if I can cram them all in my fuel belt pocket. I shall try that before Sunday's run. But I'm probably going to pin one or two of the packets on the belt and have three in the pocket.

By the way, you like my Dodgers blanket, don't you?

Missed the Cut:
great pair of shorts, very light as well

I'd like to wear these or another similar pair if my No. 1 pair doesn't work well for me on Sunday. I like the pockets on these as you can't really feel what's in the pockets when you run.

Made the Cut:
blood, sweat and tears have poured on this

Notice the stains by the word "Riverside" and the 2009? That, my friends, is blood. From my nipple. I will actually tape them up before Sunday's run, so I won't be adding any more fresh blood to this shirt. I actually haven't worn this shirt a lot lately. I wore it for every run through December or so, plus during the Mission Inn 10K and the Holiday Classic 15K. But that's the last time I wore it. I decided that I want to wear it for Surf City, so I'm going to wear it on Sunday.

Missed the Cut:
black Nike dri-fit shirt, veteran of the Mud Run and Ragnar Relay

This is probably my favorite running shirt and probably what I would wear for a race if I wasn't set on wearing pink.

Made the Cut:

warm gloves that stay dry as well

It's going to be cold on Sunday morning, probably in the high 40s if the previous weeks' temperatures repeat on Sunday. Surf City will also be cold at the start, so I need gloves. Well, right now I think I need gloves. We'll see if I change my mind because I'd just as soon not wear them, but for now the gloves stay.

Now, what's up with the gloves? Shouldn't I try and match the gloves with my shirt?

Missed the Cut:
Yvie's gloves, hearts galore

No.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thrills And Spills

I've been running a lot this month and last. Okay, that's not a complete shocker, if you've visited this blog at all since then.

However, not all of that running has been for mileage.

My referee duties are in full swing this month and will be until the week after Surf City. I've already officiated... I don't know? 10? 15? games this season. Probably more. Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably closer to 20 games.

My most recent game was on Monday as I reffed a freshman girls game. My next game is Thursday as I'll be doing a junior varsity girls game.

While I'm not quite as nervous as I was before the start of the season, I'm still not overly excited about these games. It's money, and it's something I can do so I do it, but I'm not doing cartwheels on my way to the games either. Actually, it's more like me taking deep breaths on my way to the field, hoping things go my way, hoping I don't blow too many calls, hoping to get out of the game alive.

I've actually not heard too much from coaches and players and parents about my calls. Of course, every game you hear at least one complaint. Monday's complaints were somewhat minor. One coach yelled "she's pushing her in the back" and the other coach said something about a throw-in, but that's all I heard. Nothing major. Even when I called a penalty kick against the orange team, the orange team's coach didn't say anything, maybe because it was a clear penalty and there wasn't anything to be said.

But that's not to say that my entire season has gone smoothly. In fact, I've taken a lot of heat for some calls, or non-calls. I've had games where as soon as it ends, I made a run for my car because I didn't want to stick around any longer than I had to.

So, freshmen/JV games are each 70 minutes long (two 35-minute halves) and varsity games are 80 minutes in length (two 40-minute halves), and before most games I tell myself how I'd much rather be running for 70 or 80 minutes than reffing a game, but that's the way things go.

Oh yeah, one quick story about an experience I had on Monday. Fields for the most part have been favorable. I've done a few games on artificial surfaces and that's quite soothing to my feet. And the grass fields I've been on have been mostly grass, as opposed to dirt and holes... well, except for that one game when I reffed in the mud.

But Monday's game was on an awful field, easily the worst I've had this season. The JV game was going on at the same time, up on the nice artificial turf field, so the freshmen game was squeezed out down on this horrid, uneven patch of grass, dirt, holes, etc. (by the way, most schools around here don't have freshmen teams, but these two schools are the exception).

I had my cleats with me but I wore my older black sneakers. They don't provide the greatest support but they're black and comfortable, and you need black shoes to ref. And last season, my cleats destroyed my heels, and I certainly don't want that to happen this time around since I'm training for a marathon and all.

Anyway, it was near the end of the first half and I'd been doing a lot of running around. The girls were quite active and they kept knocking the ball from one end of the field to the other, so I was trying to keep up. I'm not sure if I was tired because of that and my 15-mile run the day before, if I was just not paying attention or if a gopher reached up and grabbed my foot, but what happened next floored me. Literally.

The ball was down towards one penalty box and I was just outside of the box. With about two touches of the ball, a defender cleared the ball and launched it up towards a teammate for a quick counterattack. I turned... well, let me rephrase that... my head turned, my shoulders turned and my arms turned but my legs were slow to react. My right foot dragged on the ground, and with my body turned towards the ball, my legs slow in reacting, I fell. Hard. But not on my ass. No, I my knees took the brunt of the damage.

Of course, everything was in slow motion. I felt my foot not turning properly, felt my balance knocked off, felt the ground rush up to meet me.

I looked up to see the ball and tried to keep my gaze on the ball and the action even though it was off in the distance. I heard some giggles behind me, which of course I would expect. I didn't hear anything from the sidelines and I prayed that everyone was looking towards the ball and not the stupid referee who just ate it.

At halftime I put my cleats on and wanted to burn the other shoes. I placed the blame not on a gopher or my tired legs but on those stupid shoes.

I had no problems during the second half with the coaches, parents, gravity or otherwise.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seven Hundred!!

Can you believe this is my 700th post??? I'm a regular blabbermouth apparently.

Anyway, just wanted to take the time to say thank you to all my readers, those who have been with me from the start (or rather re-birth of my blog) and all the new(er) readers who have come along and joined me on my journey. I hope I'm keeping you entertained and I hope you continue to come back for more.

I wish I had a cool giveaway, as several other bloggers tend to do when they hit a milestone. I just don't really know what to give away, you know. Hopefully some day I'll have a Muddy Runner giveaway, but for now I'm just going to celebrate 700.

I guess one last thing in my celebratory post is to ask all of you what you want to see more of, less of, in my posts. I'm hoping Cooking With Yvie will become a fixture on Sundays as it has been. I actually got her a cookbook of her own (have I mentioned this?) for Christmas. I got her this one from Paula Deen and it's just awesome. It's right up her alley because she can read the recipes now, and there are drawings with all the recipes' ingredients list. And actually it has more than just ingredients but also the tools you'll need to make the recipe (muffin pan, measuring cups, whisk, etc.) so she can really visualize it. We've made one recipe thus far, some Apple Raisin Muffins last Saturday, and guess what?, they were delectable. So I have high hopes for some of the other stuff in there, and I hope some of that will become fodder for CWY shows.

Lately, though, it seems like my posts have been more about running than before, and there's not quite as much balance between that and some other things, but I think that's because Surf City is dominating my thoughts so naturally it comes out on the blog. And it doesn't help that we haven't been to Disneyland in for-e-ver, but all that will change soon hopefully.

Thanks again blog readers!

Phoning It In

I inadvertently put Mrs. LB through a lot of anguish recently. I didn't mean to do it, but she struggled because of me.

See, she knew I needed a new phone and she knew I'd kinda been wanting an iPhone. But she also knew that I have enjoyed both of the BlackBerrys I've had. So when she decided to get me a phone for Christmas, it came down to the iPhone or a new BlackBerry. And she couldn't decide.

I'm actually glad I didn't have to decide because I'm not sure what I would have chosen. On the one hand, the iPhone sounds cool because it has so many gadgets and can do so much. But I've had great success with the BlackBerry so there really was no reason to change.

Ultimately Mrs. LB went with the BlackBerry Bold, and the more I figure out how it works, the more I love it.

Now, I realize some of these things may not be so new, but the last time I went phone shopping was 2007, and we all know how fast technology changes. Like my old phone, this new phone has a music feature so I can store songs on there. I never actually got a memory card for my old phone but this one came with one so I have two gigs of space on there. So I figured I'd play around with the music feature, and I was able to upload songs on there and listen to them. The sound quality is amazing - it sounds just as good as my iPod does.

Then I got to thinking. The phone is about the same size as the iPod, and I have one of those carrying cases that straps on my arm which I use when I run. So I tried my phone in there, and it fit perfectly. I made and uploaded a playlist and used it on Friday when I knocked out 6.5 miles. It worked great! Now, I used my regular headphones as they fit perfectly into the phone. I used them mostly because I'm comfortable with them and was unsure of the headphones that came with the phone.

But on Monday I played around with those headphones, and my love for my phone went higher. Not only do those headphones have a great sound quality, but they double as a hands-free kit. So basically I can be listening to music on the phone and when I get a call the music stops and all I need to do is push a button on the headset and I'm talking on the phone. When the call ends, the music resumes.

How awesome is that? Again, it might be old hat for some people but this is all new to me.

The best thing about that particular feature is that I can take my phone with me to Surf City, but not only will I take it but I'll be able to use it as a music player and not worry about it dying on me like my iPod has been known to do. Plus, I can recieve calls on it without having to take it out of my sleeve or pocket or fuel belt or wherever I'd planned on carrying my phone.

I hope I don't get random calls during the marathon, but I will have Mrs. LB call me while I'm on the course. Hopefully it's not too loud and hopefully she can hear me. Now, I don't plan on having lengthy conversations with her but it will be nice to be able to hear a voice on the other end, and possibly get some encouragement that way. Plus, it will be nice for her because she'll be able to tell exactly where I'm at.

Originally, I was worried about the iPod. For a while it's been acting up. Often times, the iPod will be so where I can only hear through one ear, and that's a pain. Also, as it did during the Cedar River Run, the iPod will just freeze and shut down for no good reason. It's so frustrating.

But now I don't have to worry about that, as I'll be taking my phone/music player on the race with me and it's going to work out great. The fact that it has a camera (3.2 megapixel) on it is simply icing on the cake.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Motivational Mondays (Jan. 11)

Next Sunday will be the culmination of our training for the Surf City Marathon.

Technically, it is the third-to-last Sunday training run we'll have ahead of my first marathon. This journey that I began when I joined the Lopers back in July will come to a close soon enough, but next Sunday is the final gigantic obstacle in our path.

22 miles.

That's two miles longer than my previous "Longest Run Ever."

Honestly, I wasn't really dreading it nor was I nervous about it. After all, I'd done 18 and 20, and what's 22 compared to the 26.2 I'll face a little bit after that? On Feb. 7, I'll wish I could stop after 22 miles.

But after Sunday's 15-mile run, the amount of mileage in front of me sort of hit me head on.

My next long run will be 22 miles, what my pace leader called a dress rehearsal for Surf City.

Stomach, begin churning.

I'm worried about it for a few reasons. First, it's a distance I've never scaled before. Second, it's as close as I'll ever get to running a marathon without actually running a marathon. I imagine the marathon will have a lively atmosphere, there will be people cheering you on and the thought of my family and friends at the finish line might carry me the final mile or three. But this 22-miler is all about work, all about training, all about getting the mileage in and the distance done. There will be no glory on Sunday, no pictures at the end of the run. No medals.

But that's where the real glory lies, in the training. The race is a culmination of your training, and that holds true for shorter as well as longer races. And really, that holds true of anything, not just racing. What you put into something is what you can expect to get out of it.

I've put a lot into my training, so I expect a lot in return. I expect to finish Surf City. I expect to get through this 22-mile run. Is it going to be hard? Yes on both counts.

But I know I can do it. Soon, it will just be time to show it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cooking With Yvie: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

It's been too long.

Here is the latest episode of Cooking With Yvie.

This time, Yvie shows how to make a fantastic dessert by one of her favorite chefs, Paula Deen. The recipe is here, and while Yvie doesn't show it, it's quite tasty to drizzle some caramel on top. Since we weren't actually going to use this for two days after we made it, we decided to save the caramel for later. And the bars went over quite well.

Anyway, here's the video. Enjoy.