Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lots And Lots Of Miles

This year has been a good year in terms of mileage. I've logged a total of 383 miles, or thereabouts. That averages out to about 31 miles a week and that's sort of my target these days - 30 miles a week.

Now, miles aren't my only motivation. It's nice to get in five miles or seven miles or whatever miles, sure, but it's better to have a complete series of runs each week. Intervals, tempo runs, hill repeats, fartleks and other speed workouts may be short when compared to regular runs, and on paper it might feel like less of a feat - 3.87 miles is less than 6.01 for instance. But your body needs all those types of runs to progress and develop.

Anyway, I've been able to track my mileage using a couple of things. On the web, I use dailymile.com and it's been a great resource. Some of my blog buddies are on there and it's nice to see their progress and their own runs. It's a good motivator - if they're running and I'm not, I feel left behind. The site is great in that it keeps you informed with all of your running and workout details.

Also, I've kept a written log. Of course I'm too lazy to take a picture of it (one of these days I will) but it's a small notebook where I write down the distance and time of each run, and if I can the pace and my heart rate stats.

It's kind of amazing that I've stuck with both for a while since I'm usually horrible at keeping track of things like that. I'm disorganized with a lot of things like that and tax time is usually tough on Mrs. LB since I don't do a good job of keeping tabs on some of my business expenses.

But it's just much more fun when it comes to keeping track of my runs. And it's a bit necessary for me too. I feel like I want to keep myself where I am right now, running at least 30 miles a week, mixing in hills and intervals and tempo runs, as I try and maintain myself in my top physical condition which I think I'm in right now.

Since I'm at about 383, I'm going to crack the 400-mile mark pretty soon. That's quite a distance to have traversed. I'm on pace to run about 1,600 miles this year, which is insane. I did not keep track of my miles run in 2009 but I'm pretty sure it wasn't even half that. I'd guess I ran between 600 and 700 miles last year, if that.

Now that I'm here at this level, running 30-plus miles a week, there's no turning back and no slowing down.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Post Lefty's 5K Thoughts

Some thoughts now that I've had some time to digest Saturday's 5K.

Next 5K, A Ways Off?

I'm not sure when I will run another 5K. I went from June 2008 to March 2010 without running one, and now I ran two in 14 days. The way my race calendar is loading up, I'm not sure a 5K fits in anywhere. Now, I really like my race calendar and it definitely has me motivated. I've got a half marathon, a 10K, the Mud Run all in the next 70 days. And if I stop being a wus indecisive about San Francisco, I might have a summer marathon to train for. And the fall, even though it's a ways off, could feature another half, the Ragnar Relay and another full marathon!

I did these 5Ks for a few reasons. I'd decided against LA or another marathon this spring so I didn't have a big race getting in my way, but mostly I wanted to see what I could do now, what I could do with much more experience under my belt.

What I Like About A 5K

It really is a test of speed. It's long enough so you can't just go on an all-out sprint so it requires more than just physical ability, but it's short enough that you can push yourself to your limits and hold it there for a moment. I'd probably lose to a lot of people who don't run but are fast in a 100-yard sprint or something, maybe even a lap around the track. But let's go run a 5K and we'll see what you've got. Right, Danny?

It's a short race, and that's pretty cool. It won't really interrupt any sort of training you've got going on, although the risk of injury and things like that would be enough for me to skip it if I had a big race coming up. Still, I ran 12 miles the day after the ARMC 5K and ran 14 miles on Sunday.

Also, this might be the middle ground between runners and non-runners. If you don't run, a 10K might seem way too long, and forget about a half marathon. So if running a race appeals to you, or even walking it really, then a 5K might be your thing. Same thing for runners like myself who prefer longer distances. I'll run a 5K, sure, why not? It was nice being out there with all sorts of people these last two races, and maybe it wouldn't have been the same for a 10K. I mean, I was using pre-teen children to pace myself at the ARMC 5K. It's a bit humbling when I finished in a great time for myself, set a new PR and see that an 11-year-old girl finishes the race about four minutes faster than me.

What I Don't Like About A 5K

It's short. That can be good, but that can also be a drawback. I hardly ever run three miles or less. My minimum distance is usually four for a midweek run, and I like to crack double-digits every weekend. It's not so much a test of endurance for me, and that's a big allure for me in terms of racing. Can I handle the 13.1 miles? Can I survive 26.2? The 10K to me is appealing because it's a mix of speed and distance. I don't hit six miles every time out.

The only thing that really comes into play is speed. There's not much strategy. If you've trained properly - and really, even if you don't train specifically for it - then you can finish and might do well. Other races have strategy: do I start at or below my goal pace? Or do I just start fast and try and maintain it? At what mile do I try and push myself? With a 5K, if you aren't pushing yourself after .5 of a mile, you probably won't PR.

Also, the gains you make in a 5K are minimal. There are targets for the 10K and half marathons that seem attainable: for me, that would be a sub-50 minute 10K and a sub-two hour half marathon. What about a sub-20 minute 5K? Yeah, right. I was able to shave two minutes off from my first 5K to my second one, but I am not sure if I can a 5K faster than 22 minutes. Getting down to 22 minutes would be spectacular, but even still that's two minutes away from 20 minutes. So, forget it. That'll not happen.


No Looking Down

Still, I don't look down on the 5K. I know other distance runners do, but I think it's great for anyone to run a 5K race, whether you are a marathoner or are just starting out and hoping to walk the whole distance. If you're out there on the 5K course, you're taking steps in the right direction, and not just towards the finish line.

Gettin' Chicked

Good news: I did not get "chicked" at the end!

Bad news: I did get "chicked" with, I dunno, about a half mile or more to go.

If you aren't up to speed on the latest running jargon, let me fill you in. "Chicked" is when a female runner passes a male runner on the course, although I believe it is mostly used towards passing in the end of a race, and passing for good. So if a female passes me but I finish ahead of her, I'm not sure that counts as "chicked."

Anyway, that was one of my goals actually, to not get "chicked." Some blog buddies of mine were talking about how cool it was for one of them to have "chicked" some guy in a recent race and although that guy sounded like a jerk, they took a lot of pleasure in it. So I didn't want to be the butt of someone's jokes, the lame slow guy who will forever be the subject of someone's race highlight.

So somewhere between two and three miles, a female runner came from out of nowhere and blew right by me. I tried to stay up with her but I knew within seconds that that was not going to happen. She got way ahead of me and I eventually lost track of her. She must have started late or something, because she should have been ahead of me from the start.

LB got "chicked." But just by one girl. I guess that offsets the girl I passed up halfway through who looked strong but not strong enough to finish in front of me... nevermind she was about 15...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Motivational Mondays (March 29)

Since joining the Loma Linda Lopers, I've become accustomed to running with others. It may be as little as two others, but two others is not alone, and I don't often run my long runs alone.

Over the weekend, I was faced with a bit of a quandary. I could go to Loma Linda and meet up with my running friends, or I could run alone. It was only this way because most of the Lopers who have been going to run on Sundays since the end of the season ran the LA Marathon. They were going to run probably 6-8 miles, and I wanted to run 13-15. I didn't want to get thrown off so I figured a solo run was in order.

I think the last time I ran double-digit miles alone was on New Year's Day when I ran 10 miles. It wasn't that I was doubting my ability to get out there and run but it certainly was different preparing for a solo run. I remembered last year, before my half marathon, when I would just scrap runs before I ever got out there. It's different for me when I'm accountable to others. Maybe the Lopers wouldn't necessarily track me down if I stopped showing up but I'd feel like I'd be letting a lot of people down if I didn't go. And when it's just me, so what if I let myself down? At least, that's how I used to think.

Sunday morning was tough. On Saturday, I got home from work about 1:20 a.m.so that actually makes it Sunday morning, and I didn't go to be right away. I slept until 6:22. I had the Oh-you-don't-really-need-to-run feeling I got a last year, but shook it off immediately. I didn't shoot out of bed but rather took my time in getting up and getting my stuff together.

But I got up and got dressed and went out for a run. The toughest part is getting out the door, and I did that. I showed to myself that, if need be, I could train for a marathon alone. I'd rather not, would rather run with my Loper friends, but if it came down to it I could. Yeah, it might be tough, but I could do it. The solo runs I did before Surf City were one-off runs mostly, and I always felt like I needed their support, and I was grateful for it.

When stripped of my support group, though, I went on what was probably my toughest run since Surf City. It was 14 miles, but tougher than the other 14-miler I did because I went this one alone. But also, I tried to run at a bit of a faster pace than normal. The first two miles were more than 10-minute miles but since I ran over The Hill, I wasn't surprised or upset or anything. Once I got my legs underneath me, I felt good. Of the final 12 miles, all were in the 9-minute range save until Mile 10, which was back up the other side of The Hill. Mile 10 was 10:36, then I threw in an 8:26 mile since it was downhill and I felt like not slowing down.

But I got to Mile 12 and got that done in 10:29. At this point I wasn't sure if I could get to 14 as strong as I wanted to but I just reached down and made myself run hard and didn't let myself slow down. Mile 13 was 9:18 and Mile 14 was 9:27.

I certainly felt the run later in the day - sore legs mostly - but it was a good feeling. I finished with a 9:51 overall pace, and while that won't help me break get my sub-2 hour half marathon (Run Through Redlands is now less than three weeks away!) it will help me PR, and I'm still confident I can give 2:00:00 a good run for its money there.

After all, good runs provide such confidence and motivation.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lefty's 5K: Unrelenting Wind Won't Spoil This Day

Heading into Saturday's 5K at the California Speedway, I was just hoping to run a strong race, but the first thing that greeted me was the wind.

If you are not familiar with Fontana, where the Speedway is located, the city is notorious for harsh winds. Whenever the Santa Ana winds blow, Fontana takes a brunt of the damage. And since we live very close to Fontana - my runs over The Hill actually take me into Fontana - it is usually windy here whenever it's blowing in Fontana.

So I was glad that I'd wanted to just run a good race and not worry about trying to beat my time, since harsh winds don't exactly make for good racing conditions (later, I checked the weather for Fontana and there were gusts up to 21 miles per hour and a wind advisory was in effect for most of the day).

My brother Jesse got to my house just before 7 a.m., and we went over to the Speedway. I wasn'g going to run with my music so I let him use my phone/music player. On our way to the track, which is maybe eight miles from here, we passed by a nekkid semi lot.

What the heck is that?

lots of nekkid semis

My blog buddy Zoƫ has a thing for nekkid semis, as she calls them. Actually it's a fear thing, as in she doesn't much care for them. She had a 5K of her own Saturday morning somewhere in Washington state, so I figured in solidarity I'd shoot this picture for a fellow 5K runner.

We kept on going and eventually came across the Speedway.

it's the California Speedway to me! this is a sponsor-free blog

There were absolutely no parking issues, as you would expect. The Speedway is used to hosting mammoth events that people travel from all across the country to watch, so the parking there is vast. We zipped right into a parking lot and made our way to get our bibs.

We had time to pose for a couple of final shots before warming up.


Two 5Ks in 14 days for Jesse!


ugh, not a good picture, but I did wear my Surf City shirt
instead of my usual pink Loper shirt


I strapped the phone/camera/music player to Jesse's arms and off we went on a little bit of a warm-up. The wind was blowing hard, and the way we ran we wound up running right into the wind at the start, and then with the wind to our backs on the way back. We did that for a good few minutes before the race was about to start.

The section where we trained at was going to be the final stretch of the race so I knew that for at least one part of the race we'd have the wind at our backs.

After the usual pre-race festivities, we were off. I instinctively reached down to start my watch but I was naked - no watch, no Garmin, no music.

Now, this was a free 5K race, and the event organizers encouraged people to run, walk, ride their bikes, push their strollers, ride their skateboards or roller blades or whatever on the course, so there were several pre-teens and teens on bicycles, as well as a few skateboarders and a few younger children on scooters.

While I wondered what part of my body would take the brunt of the damage in a collision with a 12-year-old and his bike, on the course they weren't much of a concern.

But the wind was. The wind whipped and swirled, fanned the trees and flags, fluttered and flapped, and mostly just beat down on every person running the course.

The. Wind. Slowed.

Us. Down.

To. A. Crawl.

It. Seemed. Like.

I. Was. Walking.

Slowly.

I tried to make myself compact, drew my arms in and lowered my head slightly but it did no good. I felt like I was churning my legs forward but also felt like I was doing so in water, since I didn't feel like I was moving very fast.

Wind and all, the course wound through a parking lot or two, spilled us onto a small road and into the track we were headed. There were a few runners and bicyclists ahead of me but I saw the track up ahead. It was gray and immense, and sloped at a ridiculous angle. We turned a hard left and were running on the inside track, alongside the main course. Up ahead were the grandstands, filled with thousands of empty bleacher seats.

Just five weeks ago, some 72,000 people filled the stands to watch the 2010 Auto Club 500, and the venue seats around 92,000 in total. I felt like an insignificant minnow in a lake.

We curled around and were in front of the stands. In front of us now were large, individually-marked spaces big enough for cars to fit in, and I realized I was at the end of pit row. There was a large number 40 on the side, then 39, then 38 and I ran right past all of them. I tried to imagine the zip zip zip sounds normally heard when stock cars make pit stops, with the changing of the tires and all.

Once we got past pit row, the track curved some more and finally the wind died down. Opposite the track, the stands gave way to huge billboards, and these gigantic advertisements for home improvement stores, grocery stores and soft drinks kept the wind at bay.

Finally, we were on the track itself. Everywhere were skid marks, tracing a chaotic pattern with a series of thick dark lines. I was on the track and smiling, just thinking of how great it was that running had taken me to yet another amazing locale.

We exited the track and ran alongside it on the outside. Fences and the back of the grandstand blocked our view, but not the wind. It was still blowing furiously at us, giving us a reprieve only for the moments it took to take a deep breath and then blow hard on us once more. But the course curved slowly, gently and eventually the wind was our friend, blowing us on the back and helping give us a little extra bounce in our step. Maybe the wind felt bad for having slowed us down and having show no mercy on us, but whatever the case I was thankful.

I ran past silent concession stands and acres of unused parking spots before I saw the lot where we'd parked. I had been picking up my pace and was pretty much at top gear at this point. I could see the finish line and wondered what the time would be, not expecting anything close to my 23:03 time from two weeks ago.

Sprinting to the finish, I was heaving loudly and just trying to give it what I could. I saw the time at 23:55 and tried to get past the finish before the 24-minute mark. I ran through the finish line and saw 24:0-something before coming to a halt. grabbed a bag of goodies and a medal and walked around to see Jesse finish his own race, about three minutes later.

The wind was howling, relentless and unappreciative of our efforts but running on the track more than made up for it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Look

For a while, I've not liked my blog.

The layout of my blog, I mean. The actual blog is something I've enjoyed quite a bit.

But the layout... ugh.

Boring. Dull. Not what I wanted, but I dealt with it. I tried to do the best with what was offered up for free by blogger, and searches for other blog templates and designs and the like yielded little, so with blogger I stuck.

Thankfully, some bloggers had similar complaints and actually expressed them to Blogger. So Blogger listened, and now there is a way to change things around to better fit what I want.

You may have noticed the new look. Now, it's not going to stay this way forever. In fact, I'm a very restless person in general, so you probably will see this change quite a few times. For starters, the background is something offered up and is the only running-related background available so if I see it come up as other blogger backgrounds, I know I will get bored with it for me and will want to change it.

And I did like the headers I would make, with the pictures and things. It was a bit more personal that way. But for now, this is what the blog will look like. I may move some things around here and there but I like this.

The main thing I wanted was to have three columns, not just two. I had so much stuff on the right that you had to scroll down and down and down and down and down to get to some of it, so it was of course just buried. Now I can move some things around and play with it a bit, and there is less dead and wasted space.

Let me know what you think of the new look. And if you're bored with your blog, go to http://draft.blogger.com/home and poke around. It's apparently an updated version of dashboard, mostly with some subtle changes.

Friday Leftovers (March 26)

Friday's leftover stuff from the week.

Word Association

Play along here.

1. Burrito :: Taco
2. Spike :: Lee
3. Tougher :: Nails
4. Mock :: Draft
5. Slurp :: 7-11
6. Knock :: Hard
7. Conference :: AFC
8. Madness :: March
9. Minds :: Criminal
10. Connection :: W

Explanations: I've been watching too much TV lately, apparently. Even though I really don't like TV (I follow one show religiously, Burn Notice. The rest of the shows I know because Mrs. LB watches them). Criminal Minds is a favorite of Mrs. LB. I don't really care for that show because it's too bloody for my taste. (getting on soap box) I think it's funny/ironic/sad how it's taboo to say any of the seven dirty words on TV but it's okay to show people getting their throats slashed (getting off soap box).

Anyway, some of the above are sports-related. Hard Knocks is a TV show on HBO about the NFL, March Madness is self-explanatory and W Connection is a soccer team from Trinidad & Tobago. Did I ever mention that I've been to Trinidad & Tobago? It is awesome. I'll have to blog about it sometime.

Breakin' In

So how did my shoes work out on Thursday?

Great. You may have read my Daily Mile post on it (over there on the right ---->) but it went very well. The only drawback was that I forget The Garmin (d'oh!) because I'd left it in the car and Mrs. LB drives the car to work. I went to Mt. Rubidoux and figured I'd stick to my four-mile course. I've got it timed pretty good, what four miles is there. The trail is marked but at the two-mile mark I'm usually only at like 1.9 so I know where to make up the added mileage.

It felt good to just run and not look at the Garmin so much. My time for four miles was 34:17, which is about an 8:34 pace. Nice!

The shoes worked great but still need to be broken in more of course. I am not going to wear them at the race on Saturday (nothing new on race day) but will wear them for Sunday's long run. I'll probably do 12 miles on Sunday so I can't wait for that.

Cooking: FAIL

This week has been super extra busy for me in terms of work and family stuff. I've cooked exactly zero times.

FAIL

Thursday afternoon I spent running around town in search of new glasses for Yvie. She broke her glasses but we got her some new frames and even got her old glasses fixed. They don't look the same but they work, and will be her backup pair once the new ones get here.

Anyway, we went to Lucille's for dinner. Anyone been there? Lucille's serves Southern-style grub. I was adventurous and tried gumbo for the first time. I don't care for shrimp but I had to try it. Maybe it was a Princess and the Frog Cookbook I saw earlier in the day at Border's that inspired me. That cookbook had a recipe for Gumbo and it didn't look like it had any strange ingredients, except for Old Bay Seasoning. That's not something I've used or have, though I've heard of it.

So I said 'Screw it' and tried some Gumbo. I'd love to say it was delicious and that I've been missing out but it was okay, nothing great. I ate the whole bowl, don't get me wrong, but it just wasn't the holy-crap-this-is-fantastic dish I was hoping for. Oh well.

I did have a delicious dessert though - banana pudding. Wow, that was amazing. I have to find me a recipe for some banana pudding.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lefty's 5K Strategy

I pondered and pondered about Saturday's race. I wondered what sort of race I should run. Should I try and beat my 23:03 time from two weeks ago? Or should I just run an easy 3.1 miles and soak in the atmosphere?

Decisions, decisions...

After some heavier-than-I-probably-should-have-thought-about-it thinking, I've decided that this will be my strategy:

I'm going to run a nice, strong race. I will do so without three things that I usually have during races.

No Polar.
No Garmin.
No music.

I'm just going to go out there, stretch my legs, run hard and fast and have a good time doing so. If that means I break my PR, great! If I fall short of it, that's fine too. I don't have a time dangling in front of me. I'm not going to set myself up for failure by saying that I want to finish in XX:XX and then finishing a few Xs short of that.

Does this mean I don't care about my time? I suppose it might, but I'm not thinking about that. I'm not going to think about that. I'm just going to run a nice, strong and enjoyable 3.1, and whatever happens, happens.

No splits.
No HR stats.
No songs to fuel me.

It's just going to be me and the California Speedway. And whether my time is 22:59 or 27:59, I'm going to enjoy the process the same.

Shoe-in For Comfort

On Monday, I made a trip to a local running store and I was quite happy while I went there.

I was even happier when I left. And today, I will finally get the chance to let my feet in on some of that joy.

What's making my downright giddy?

makin' me drool

My new pair of shoes!

My old pair was hanging on for dear life, and I'm still going to use them a little bit actually. I've relegated that pair as my treadmill shoes, for now anyway. Eventually, probably soon, they'll be worn anywhere but on runs - although they will be my Mud Run shoes, so not quite dead yet.

Anyway, the trip to the store, the Running Center, was great. First, the staff are all knowledgeable and experienced runners themselves. It's just running stuff, so their shirts and shorts are all for runners, they've got fuel belts and Gu, socks of all sizes and a lot of other awesome gadgets.

I went there for shoes, though. And it went very well as it did the last time I went. The staff has you try on several pairs of shoes and you run lightly from one end of the store to the other and back. It's not a long run at all but enough for the staff to see how you run, how your foot strikes the ground and they will determine the kind of shoes you need because of that.

Since I wore the now-old shoes there, the guy helping me grabbed the newer version of the shoe, the Asics GT-2150, plus two comparable pairs. I tried the first two on and ran, then the third. I felt something strange on the third, like it was too rigid on the outside of the shoe. Immediately, I was told that shoe was no good for me before I had the chance to tell him what I felt.

I felt nothing but comfort with the other two. I was really tempted to buy both, and alternate one and the other on runs. I've heard that you could buy two shoes and do that, and that would last longer than buying three pairs of shoes, one after the other.

But I guess I'll have to save that such purchase for next time.

I went with the Asics over the other brand, Saucony, because I've only had Asics and they've worked wonders for me. I'm loyal, as my Polar experience shows, and I like to stick around with brands that I have faith in. The best thing is that us Lopers get 10 percent off, so that pair cost me 90 bucks instead of 100. Another benefit of being a Loper.

So now I'm drooling over these shoes. I remember feeling like that the last time I bought new shoes. I had a great run with those shoes the first time out, and I hope to have a run like that with these todays.

But what's making me most excited is to think where those shoes will take me. Redlands (half) for sure. Rancho Cucamonga (10K) for sure. San Francisco (marathon) might be there some where. Hopefully some other places that I do not have planned right now.

Either way, my feet are itching to get out and break those shoes in.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pre-5K Ramblings

This is LB's Year of Races, I can feel it!

On Saturday, I'm running my third race of the year, the Lefty's 5K in Fontana. This race is FREE and will take me on the track at the California Speedway. How is that for double awesomeness?

What might that look like?

Faster than a speeding race car...

Before I get to that, I have to share some news about two other races I've signed up for. On April 18, I will run the Run Through Redlands half marathon for the second consecutive year. Last year, I knocked out my first half-marathon at this event, and now I'm a year older, but a year wiser and more experienced, and I'm salivating over this race. I'm sure I will blog about it quite a bit more as the race approaches.

Also, I signed up for another 10K, the Run For Rescue 10K in Rancho Cucamonga on May 1. I thought that would be a fun event, a cool way to continue adding to my race calendar. I may go for a 10K PR and might try and finish at 49:59 or better. Either way, it should be a cool race, and for a good cause. The proceeds for the race go to the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department's West Valley Search and Rescue Team. Apparently, this race accounts for half of the group's revenue, and the group is a volunteer-only outfit. So, it's for a good cause and all. Now, there is another awesome element to this race that I won't share now but I will let you all know about this eventually, hopefully soon. It's really cool, trust me.

Anyway, my 5K on Saturday poses some interesting situations for me. I haven't quite decided on several of them so I will ponder about them now.

* New PR? I'm wondering if I should go for a PR or not. You race to beat your previous times, right? Well, unless you are Kenyan or some other powerful running specimen, you don't really race to win races, right? I know I don't, and couldn't even if I tried. But the point of race distances you've already ran before is to better your time, right? Isn't that what conventional wisdom says? Maybe, but I am not sure if I want to try and crank out another effort like I did two weeks ago.

Part of me thinks that it would be nice to just run the race at nice and steady pace and soak in the atmosphere. After all, this is a pretty famous track we're going to run on, and what other races offer that? I know I can finish in a good time even if I don't crank out 7-minute miles, so I could just run to have fun and not try and PR.

But part of me is afraid of shooting for the PR and falling far from it. I had a huge incentive to "win" the last race because I raced Danny, and since Danny wasn't man enough, I mean, since he was not available to come out for this race, I won't have him prodding me along the course, trying to finish in as fas as my legs and heart would allow.

Danny served as a great motivator for the last race, and without him around I might not be able to reach as deep and give as much as I did last time.

So I'm stuck here, debating what I want to accomplish in terms of time. Honestly, I think I will end up trying to beat my time but I could be wrong. I'd say right now I'm 60-40 in favor of trying to PR on Saturday. Either way, I'm going to try and not be upset at my time whether I try to PR and fail to do so or just have a nice, easy FREE 5K experience.

* Attire. The last time I raced and did not wear pink was in October at the Ragnar Relay. I will leave my pink Loper shirt at home on Saturday. The main reason why I wore it the last time, aside from supporting the Lopers and displaying my beloved running group's colors for all to see, was to draw motivation, again to try and beat Danny.

With no such motivation necessary this time around, I'm going to leave the shirt at home. I might wear my white Ragnar shirt, the one that says RUNNER on the back. It's a cool shirt. The only problem is that I bled through it in last week's Mt. Rubidoux run. Damn nips. You don't tape them once and that's what you get.

* Last 5K? For awhile anyway, this will be my last 5K. I've realized quite a bit about myself over the last few months, and one thing is that I love running long distances. Five kilometers is not a long distance to me any more. A 5K is all about speed, and despite my 7:26 pace at the ARMC 5K that is not my game. Nor frankly is it my motivation.

Let's face it, I'm not going to qualify for Boston. Ever. And I'm probably not going to win my age group either (though I came close to it last time, woo hoo!). Again, ever. I don't race to try and win races, I race because it gives me something to train for, gives me a chance to show msyelf why I train and allows me the opportunity to participate in memorable experiences, and of course to try and better my time if I can. Right? Or did I just contradict myself from my previous thoughts on time and all that? Ugh...

Anyway, I want to sink my teeth in longer race distances. I'm hoping to run at least one, if not two more marathons in 2010, and at least two half marathons this year as well. I'm not sure if there's room - or money - for any more 5Ks this year.

So I'm going to enjoy this race on Saturday because it might be my last 5K until the next free one comes along.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Rest Day

I'm changing my rest days.

Typically, Monday has long been my rest day. It made sense, since Sunday is my long run day. I figure, run on Sunday anywhere from 10-15 miles, rest Monday and get started with the next week on Tuesday.

However, life has intervened. Tuesday is suddenly my busiest work day. It's usually busy anyway but work for me picks up around this time of year, and some added responsibilities has only added to that.

Sunday, I ran a little more than 12 miles. Monday I rested and I woke up today hopeful of squeezing in at least a three-mile run. It didn't happen. It's mid-afternoon but I'm not very optimistic of finding time to get out and run with what's left of the day. It's a bummer, really.

But if I would have ran on Monday, I could have rested today and not worried about trying to fit in a run. Then that would inevitably help out Wednesday's run, since on Wednesday now I will have gone two days without running. And I hate going two days without running.

So starting next week, I'm running on Mondays. I usually have the mornings open so I will be able to get in 3-5 miles, no problem. And then I won't feel like crap, like I do today, headache and all.

I hate not running.

Write On - The First Meeting

Greetings all. It's been a busy morning and it will be a busy day, and I have lots to share with you in terms of running and some exciting things that I've been up to.

But I wanted to take time to participate in my blog buddy Nicole's Write On! series. Actually, this is the first day of it and being one of her trusty readers I bit when she posed this writing prompt and asked her readers to participate.

The prompt is simple: how did you meet your spouse?

And here's how LB met Mrs. LB:

I hadn't intended on meeting my future wife at my college newspaper. Like a lot of things, it just happened that way. I hadn't also intended on going back to the college newspaper for another semester. Back in college, junior college to be more precise, I was just meandering about, aimlessly taking classes and not really having a clear idea of what I wanted to do (and I didn't run either, I missed out on so many races!).

I was set against returning to the college 'paper for the Fall 98 semester. It just wasn't going to happen. I had gotten in some debates with the editor-in-chief and the newspaper advisor, and I didn't feel like the effort, work and long hours I was doing as sports editor were paying off. Also, I had a job in a small newspaper, working in their sports department, and I figured my time would be best spent focusing on that.

But I received an award in late spring of '98 that was two-fold. It came with money ($500 for the upcoming semester, certainly not chump change for me then, or now) but it also came with the stipulation that I needed to return to the school newspaper.

So I was back in, fate having intervened for me, only I stepped down as sports editor. I figured I'd let someone else do the job which I'd done for two semesters. I just wanted to write, and have space for a column here and there.

Sometime before the fall semester started, I heard about this wonderful sports writer who was also joining our staff. I was surprised and excited to hear it was a female, since female sports writers weren't the norm, and still aren't. But she had covered Division 1 college football and basketball and had even covered some professional sports, including the 1998 NBA Finals. With those credentials, I was impressed. Intimidated even. I had covered some things worthwhile, but nothing like those events.

I felt that this newcomer, whom I hadn't met in my first few trips down to the newsroom that semester, was probably wondering what we were all about, probably wondering what she'd gotten herself into. We were a rag-tag group of writers and editors, and some were more raggedy than others. We weren't really a tight-knit group but we certainly did spend some long hours together down there, cranking out the copy, formatting the page, trying to put out our bi-weekly editions.

On one trip down to the newsroom, I finally saw her. She was sitting in a chair and of course, being the shy person I was, I didn't say hello. Instead, I got to talking to another staff member, a photographer friend, and we got to talking about soccer. European soccer. International soccer.

"Oh, do you know Manny who works at Pete King's?"

The new writer had spoken up, and it was completely irrelevant to our conversation. Pete King's Soccer Shop was a local soccer store, but it pertained nothing to what we were talking about. We both looked at her and then looked at each other and continued our conversation, acting as if she hadn't said anything or wasn't in the room with us at all.

I didn't say anything to her that day, although my time there was brief. I didn't see the future Mrs. LB until a few days later, after I found out she'd been given the football beat. I was alone in the newsroom when she walked in, and I greeted her this time. I said "Hey football chick" and she said "hey soccer boy." I didn't know it, but that could easily have been strike two against me. Mrs. LB does not like the word "chick" nor does she like to be called names, any names, by strangers, particularly by those who ignore her.

She knew who I was (one fellow staffer had filled her in on some of the veterans in the newsroom) so I'm not sure if I introduced myself to her or not, but we talked a little bit about some things.

While ignoring her may not have been the most ideal way to her heart, it worked. She admitted that she thought I was a bit of a bad boy. Ha! .... I mean, she was dead on. The B in LB stands for Bad-ass, didn't you know?

Less than a year after I ignored her, we were married.

I don't ignore her anymore.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Motivational Mondays (March 22)

Sunday was a big day for the Lopers.

It wasn't exactly memorable out at Loma Linda. I ran 12 miles with a couple who take turns pushing their one-year-old along on a stroller. It seems tough, at least the uphill parts, but I'll never know because there won't be any more babies here to plan my schedule around (this is a good thing, trust me).

Anyway, few Lopers showed up at Loma Linda on Sunday. But that's because many of them were out in Los Angeles for the LA Marathon.

As I'd written earlier, I wasn't exactly feeling regret about the race, but I will be excited to run the LA Marathon in 2011. I believe that's the marathon the Lopers will train for in the 2010-11 season, and I'm not complaining. With any luck, that will be my third or fourth marathon!

Although I had many friends out there, the two people I was keeping tabs on the most were my blog buddy Angie and my uncle Jorge. I did receive text messages along the course of their progress and was able to figure some things out on their respective FB accounts but I haven't talked to them about their experience.

In short...

Angie set a new PR! She'd wanted to finish in under 4:30 but did not meet that goal. However, she finished in 4:33:57, which is faster than her Long Beach time.

I was worried at first because the first update I got from her was late, and at the 10K mark her projected time was more than five hours. I knew what her goal was and how she'd been training so I wondered if something had happened.

Still not sure what happened at the start but I do know she rocked the finish. The LA Marathon web site breaks down some info, and according to their system she passed 1,412 runners over the last 4.5 miles. So she certainly finished strong.

Jorge, meanwhile, finished in 3:53:03! His time in Surf City was faster but to run your first two marathons in a span of six weeks and to finish both in under four hours is amazing. Jorge battled a cold too and ran the marathon in less than his prime condition.

Jorge's early time was great, an 8:12 pace through 20K but I'm not sure if it was the head cold or just the intensity of the marathon as his pace slowed in the last half. Still, that's nitpicking. There's no denying him his moment of glory and his second marathon.

I had many other friends race in LA and more blog buddies race across the country, and it is very motivational to see all these races come to fruition on the same weekend.

Particularly, however, seeing Angie set her fourth PR in her fourth consecutive marathon, and to see Jorge face another 26.2 in the face and live to tell about it is a great driving force for anybody's ambitions.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Regret?

On Sunday, several people I know and am close to are running the LA Marathon. There are 11 people from the Lopers' 11-minute-per-mile pace group running, plus several other Lopers who are in other pace groups, plus my uncle Jorge and a few other non-Loper running friends.

Needless to say, I could have been surrounded by friends all the way from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier.

But I'm not going. I will be running 10 miles, maybe more, in the sleepy streets of Loma Linda.

So now that the day is so close, do I regret not signing up?

No. I don't.

I'm happy with what I did at Surf City, and am happy with what I've done since then. Not just last week's 5K PR, but with my runs and the quality of my runs, and how I've been feeling. Lately, I've just been feeling really strong, feeling like I can run all day. I like that feeling.

Maybe it's just being relaxed. I don't really have a big race to train for. I plan on signing up for the Run Through Redlands half marathon, and hope to do so soon. I do have that free 5K next weekend, and of course the Mud Run. But none of those races require the kind of commitment a marathon does. Now, that's not to say I'm slacking at all or not taking my training as serious. I feel I am as focused now on my running as ever, so not having a marathon hasn't affected that.

But I still think that LA would have been too soon for me. I still have pleasant memories of Surf City and had I signed up for LA, I would have pushed those out of my mind and would have had to have re-focused on another marathon.

What's best for me is to continue along the way I've been, with strong training runs and my weekly Sunday long run, and pick the right marathon, not the next marathon.

I'm still thinking about the Las Vegas RnR Marathon in December, but lately I've been more and more intrigued by the San Francisco Marathon. July would be a good time for me, in terms of having enough time to get properly pumped and prepared for it, and would allow me the chance to recover in time for my fall racing schedule. I don't have any races planned for August or September, but I plan on Ragnar and the Mission Inn Half Marathon in October and November.

Anyway, while those races are still far off, I don't feel like I'm missing out on LA. After all, next year my first marathon will probably be the LA Marathon, so I only have to wait one year to enjoy that one.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Leftovers (March 19)

Word Association

Play along here.

1. Children :: Kids
2. Saddlebags :: Horse
3. Restraint :: Constraint
4. Awake :: Early
5. Blood :: Oil
6. Shutter :: Fly
7. Posted :: Up
8. Corn cob :: Elote
9. Flagrant :: Foul
10. Fart :: in the Wind

Explanations: Yeah, I awake early every day. It's funny how your body gets adjusted to it. Usually I beat our alarm by about 10-15 minutes. Our alarm is set for 4:44 a.m., and sometimes I roll over and it's 4:38, other times 4:41 or 4:35. Those ones I remember from recently. The worst one recently was the 4:41. I rolled over, grabbed the blanket and was just about to settle back into a warm cocoon when I though 'Let me look at the clock first.' I saw 4:41 and instantly wanted to scream. A great moment, spoiled. Now, I don't have to get up that early necessarily but Mrs. LB does in order to get on the freeway before morning rush hour. So I get up with her every morning. Sometimes I'd rather just sleep through the alarm but I like spending time with her so I get up with her.

What's This?

When I went to Seattle in November, I picked up some things at the Pike Place Market. Not a whole lot, since I didn't have a whole lot of time. But still got a few things.

One of the things I got was this... well, it's actually two things but you get the point.

liquid stuff

I'm not sure what it is.

It's one of those things where your eyes are bigger than your stomach. I thought that it would be cool to get this stuff and experiment with it, but so far it's just sat in my cupboard for all these months.

I figure I may as well try and use this, if I can figure out what it is.

I thought it was some sort of extract type stuff, since it's a liquid and it kind of has a potent smell. But I'm not sure. I suppose I should just get adventurous and test it out - what have I got to lose? But before I do, just wanted to see if anyone had an inkling of what this is and how I should go about using it.

Thursday's Missive

My post yesterday was an instant reaction. I usually try to leave the house in order to be at school 30 minutes before the bell. The earlier the better, because there is less traffic and thus fewer morons breaking the rules. But every day this week, Yvie's gotten up late because of the time change so we've been leaving later than usual. And of course that means long lines, dozens of drivers doing the wrong thing and one very frustrated LB. So I was enthused when I saw some CHP officers out there. I had nothing to worry about since I'm among the responsible drivers, but obviously there has been a bit of an issue if the CHP is out there.

I hadn't had a rough morning necessarily but I wasn't feeling great. I woke up, needing about another hour of sleep to recover from a hectic Wednesday, and was pretty busy in the wee hours of Thursday morning. But those CHPs out there got my heart going! I got home and fired that "letter" off. Tickets for the masses! I hope that will keep people from breaking the rules at will. It probably won't but we can all hope.

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

I was looking for a song to put up as a song of the week and came across another song that would so not fit that category.

The song I was looking for is called Dragon Puncher, by James Kochalka Superstar. I searched on you tube and came across another song by James Kochalka Superstar and, uh, well, it's not a children's song. At all.

I have to say that I thought the song was funny and catchy and I actually have come to like it, but I can't really sing it in front of the girls. I'll swap out a word and sing "You've got to wash your hands" instead.

What's the song? Here's a link to it. Just be forewarned, it'd kinda crude... or it could be a bit of a PSA. No nudity or bad language or anything, it's not that bad. Just nothing the girls should listen to for a decade or two.

Incidentally, that Dragon Puncher song is not anything like this. That one we actually bought on iTunes and the girls like it. Well, we all like it, except for Mrs. LB.

Last Hurrah

This is the last and final week I'll give a shout out to children's music. I just feel like dedicating this space to something else... what that something else is, I'm not sure. There are some obscure (well, maybe obscure is too strong of a word) movies that I really like so I might share them here. Or maybe I'll just put songs in here that I'm into or listening to at the moment, or maybe none of that. Who knows? I just wanted to mix things up a bit.

And before the song, if you ever have a question about children's music, feel free to let me know.

This last song isn't really a children's song specifically but it's played all the time on Sirius 116, the children's music channel.

It's called The Saga Begins by Weird Al Yankovic, and it's about Star Wars. I think it's a cool song but it seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it song. Either you like it or you hate it, there's no in between.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Word To The Irresponsible

Dear Fellow Elementary School Parent:

We would all like to teach our children how to be responsible, to follow the rules and to have a sense of order. I realize this is a difficult concept for you, particularly the part about following the rules. After all, I see you every morning not following the rules, parking along the red-colored curb to wait for your child after school, or simply blocking traffic to let your child in or out, with no regard to the people behind you.

However, I feel I must reach out to you at this time for your child's sake. See, if you teach your children that it is okay to break basic traffic laws for your own convenience, then that is a lesson they will learn and apply in other parts of their life. This is school and they do learn things at school, but those things are not limited to what happens inside the classroom.

I know we are already 115 days into the school year (or so my daughter tells me) and that the 2009-2010 school year is running out, but now would be as good a time as any to start following the rules.

Here are some suggestions to things I would like for you to stop doing:

* A red curb means that you can't stop there for any reason, particularly the one that leads into the entrance of the school's parking lot. God forbid, but if something were to happen and an ambulance needed to get to somewhere quickly, chances are they'd need to stop there since it is right in front of the school and all. Anyway, as long as you continue to park there, I'm going to continue taking my time in entering the school at your inconvenience. Yeah, I could probably have scooted my truck up a little to let you out the other day, but I didn't. I would apologize for it but I'm not sorry about it at all.

* When there is a line of cars behind you, don't stop in the middle of the street to let your children out. Oh, you are in a hurry? Well, I guess since none of us behind you are in any more of a hurry it's okay... actually, I take that back. I don't care if your house is burning down. Do you know how dangerous it is for your children to get out like that, especially that little girl who looked smaller than my four-year-old?

* Just because there are a lot of cars lined up to go inside the parking lot doesn't give you the right to zoom past the line of cars, particularly after school. Children aren't always the most aware, and they tend to dart out into the street sometimes.

* We're both pulling into the same parking lot, cars coming in from the other direction. No need to cut me off, and don't give me a dirty look either. It's called taking turns.

In closing, I hope you - the irresponsible parent - were not too upset that the California Highway Patrol had two units out there in front of the school this morning, particularly you, Mrs. Ford Explorer. Oooh, I would NOT have liked to have been you. That officer did not look very happy when he was pointing at you, and the flashing lights and siren and all on his motorcycle, well, that must have just made things more uncomfortable for you, much like the money you will have to fork over for your moment of impatience.

I don't feel sorry for you, though, and none of the other similarly irresponsible parents who were ticketed this morning. After all, if you didn't break the fucking rules in the first place, none of that would have happened.

Sincerely,

A Safe Driver

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Muddy Runner Q & A: Surf City Only The Beginning

Among the many great things I was able to experience during the Surf City Marathon was having the opportunity to run my first marathon with another first-time marathoner, my uncle Jorge.

Jorge has been influential in my life in many ways, ever since I was in my teens and he would always one-up me and my brothers in basketball or tennis, our sports of choice back then. Much like Danny is in our family, Jorge has always been the athletic one among his own siblings. Jorge has four brothers and five sisters - one of whom is my mom.

While Jorge has always been athletic and an adventure-seeker - he has traveled to numerous locales across the globe - I've only recently become one. He had run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run before I did, and we've ran the last two together as part of our larger Mud Run contingent. So for me, to have run a marathon at the same time as the most athletic person in my extended family is an honor. For me, a highlight of the marathon itself was having the chance to greet Jorge during the marathon - we gave each other a high-five when we crossed paths near the beach.

Jorge finished Surf City at 3:46:34, with a pace of 8:39 per mile, impressive statistics for any marathoner, particularly a first-timer.

Anyway, Jorge was gracious enough to take a few moments to answer a few of questions for the first (and hopefully not the last) Muddy Runner Q & A.

This is a bit of a timely post as well - Jorge's second marathon will be Sunday, when he joins the masses for the Los Angeles Marathon.

***

Question: What made you want to run a marathon?

Answer: It was one of those things on the back of my mind for the last 15 years or so that I wanted to accomplish. The urge became stronger when I met others who had run one or were training for a marathon. For the longest time I'd start training and gave up, so I started doubting myself wondering if I could ever run a full marathon.

Q: What are some of the things you remember the most about Surf City?

A: Being nervous driving on PCH on our way to the marathon. I could not believe the day had come. Then when I got there talking to you I relaxed a little and just tried to enjoy the moment. I stretched to calm my nerves. I had run a half marathon before but this time it was different. I kept telling myself I was prepared. Then a few minutes before the start I realized everything felt right. I felt peaceful, my body felt rested and my mind was cleared of thought. I was just focused on the race…I was in the zone.

Q: What was the most difficult thing about Surf City?

A: I would have to say Miles 19-22. My legs were feeling the stress and I started doubting that I could finish but like they say, mind over matter. I was able to overcome that stress and kept telling myself 'Just a few more miles. Don’t give up now.' And being the competitive nature that I am (as a Valenzuela I think you have a little bit of it too), I was able to push myself and finish.

Q: What went through your mind when you crossed the finish line?

A: It was so surreal. I put my head up and said to myself 'You did it!' Overall, I was just happy with myself, thinking how proud my dad would have been if he was still with us, since he loved to watch all sorts of sporting events on TV.

Q: How did your body feel in the hours and days after the marathon?

A: I could barely walk but made sure to alleviate the stress and soreness and avoid cramping up. My body felt warm as if I had a fever for the next 4 – 5 hours after. The next couple of days I felt soreness in my legs mostly but not as bad as I thought was going to be. I think all the stretching I did before and after the race helped.

Q: After you got home from Surf City, you immediately signed up for the LA Marathon. What was it about the marathon experience that prompted such a response from you?

A: I wanted to experience what I had just gone through again as soon as possible. And just running the LA marathon, I knew it would be a totally different experience altogether.

Q: What are your goals for the LA Marathon?

A: My training between marathons didn’t go as planned, with my skiing vacation and all. I’ve only trained the last two weeks consistently with a few runs here and there prior to that. I’m hoping for a time of 3:50 or better.

Q: Are you looking at any other marathons in 2010? If so, what do you hope to achieve in any subsequent marathons?

A: I’m hoping to do at least two other marathons - San Francisco and Long Beach - this year. Then I would have four under my belt - not bad for the first year, right? My goals are to better my time every time I run a new marathon and ultimately to inspire other family members to take up running.

***

I would like to thank Jorge for taking the time to answer my questions and to have shared his experience here on my blog. I hope you all join me in supporting Jorge this Sunday at the LA Marathon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Post 5K Thoughts

Another race is in the books, and as I like to do after every race, I'm going to take some time to reflect on my experience and blog about what's coming up for me.

* Here is a link to the official race times. My official time is 23:03! With a pace of 7:26!! I finished third in my age group! How awesome are those stats?!? Part of me thinks it would have been better to have finished in under 23:00, but that's just nitpicking. I shaved two minutes off of my 2008 5K time.

* I gave everything I had on Saturday. My legs were churning hard and my heart rate was elevated throughout the race. There were moments during the race that I felt like I was slowing down but it wasn't for lack of trying. I was just pooped and my body was slowing down. But I overcame those moments. I didn't want to end the race and feel like I could have ran another mile or two. I wanted to end just the way I did, by feeling completely wasted.

* While the 5K wasn't necessarily daunting to me in terms of the mileage, I felt the effects of the race all day Saturday. I felt like I usually do after long runs, and honestly I don't feel that way after many long runs anymore. I wasn't caught totally off guard by that but I was a bit surprised. But the cool thing about the 5K was that I was still able to run 12 miles on Sunday. So I had the best of both worlds - a race and a long run in one weekend.

* When's my next race? I signed up for the Lefty's Family Fun Day 5K on March 27 at the California Speedway in Fontana. The cool thing about this race - aside from the fact that it is FREE - is that the course is on the track! So the same track in which Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, et al., have raced on, we'll run on. That is too cool. I'm not the biggest race fan - well, to be honest I don't really care for the sport, but having the chance to race on the course is definitely not lost on me.

* Will I try and set a new PR then? Well, I challenged Danny to a re-match, and he simply said "My next race will be the Mud Run." Thus, I won't have him pushing me that day. Does that mean I can't run a 5K in the low 23s? I have no idea. Part of me wants to relax and just run easy that day, but another part of me wants to try and break my PR. I don't know what I will decide on, but I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

* Some pictures that didn't make the race report:

The Bueno boys after the race

Celebrating with my girls

Well, there you go. A couple of pictures along with several thoughts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Motivational Mondays (March 15)

If you haven't read my 5K race recap, go here to check it out.

Long story short, though, I accomplished two things. First, I beat my brother Danny for the first time in a race, and for the first time in any sort of athletic competition in a long time. I don't recall the last time I beat him... maybe a game of basketball back in the day.

Second, I destroyed my previous (and only) 5K time of 25:05. I got a time that I feel more accurately reflects the runner I am today. Well, it might be a bit too fast for me, but you know what? I'll take it.

After my marathon, I wasn't necessarily thinking of setting new PRs. I suppose that's what my challenges are, since I've already ran a 5K, 10K, 15K, half marathon and full marathon. I've proven I can handle those distances so now it's a matter of besting them and my previous times.

It may not sound like much fun, to try and beat certain times, but it certainly is motivating. Running is not something you can just do every now and then and expect to do well. Last year's Seal Beach 10K was testament to that. I wasn't really running on any sort of regular schedule and hadn't logged a ton of mileage and I finished in 56 minutes, and I was trying to do well. I finished the Mission Inn 10K in 50:24, and that was more accurate of where I was with my training then. If I run a 10K next weekend, I'm confident that I could beat that time.

I wondered on Sunday morning why I should go out to the Lopers. After all, most of the Lopers that have been going to our Sunday runs are training for the LA Marathon, and I'm not. Most of them had to get 10 miles in this weekend, and I didn't. I ran a race on Saturday and was tired for most of the rest of the day. I could have called it a weekend and stayed home to relish in my accomplishment. Add in the blowing wind gusts we had at our house and the time change, and I could have stayed in bed and nobody could have said much to me about it.

But those doubts lasted about two seconds.

If I want to continue feeling good about my races and feeling good about my chances to PR in those races and just finish strong and run them the way I want to run them, then I had no choice but to get out there and run. That's what I do. I'm not good at basketball or soccer or tennis or whatever. I'm good at running. I'm not going to qualify for Boston or win my age category (although, dang, I came close to doing that on Saturday!) but I'm going to have fun trying to beat my times.

So what if I don't have a marathon to train for? That doesn't mean I should slow down any. So what if I ran a 23:09 5K? That doesn't mean I can let up.

My times are a reflection of the miles and effort I put in during the week, so if I want to continue having good performances in races, then I need to continue logging the miles and train the way I have been.

That's the best way to keep myself honest.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

ARMC 5K: The Pink Flash Strikes Again

When I got up on Saturday morning, a few minutes before 5 a.m., it didn't seem like race day. I got on my computer and did some work, then made muffins like I do every Saturday morning. Just before 7, though, it started to feel like a race was forthcoming, which it was. I went and got my clothes on, made a playlist on my phone and started to mentally prepare. Since I had challenged Danny to the 5K, my intention was to beat him. Thus, my nerves were on high, thinking about both the prospect of a race and having to fare well and finish ahead of my younger brother.

An added bonus: Mrs. LB and the girls were going with me, so I had the added motivation to show well for them.

We got to the hospital that was putting on the 5K, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and the line of cars was massive. We spent about 10-15 minutes looking for a parking spot, which cut into my warm-up time. I'd intended on running for about 10 minutes to get my legs moving and my heart rate up, but by the time we checked in and got our race bibs, we had some 20 minutes before the start of the race.

Not only was my younger brother Danny running the race but our youngest brother Jesse was running too. Jesse is not a runner necessarily but he did Rangar Relay with us last fall.

After a quick bathroom break (we went into the actual hospital to use the bathroom as the porta-potties - aka Honey Bucket - line was way too long), Jesse and I warmed up, running probably a total of a half-mile, about a half-mile less than I'd intended on running.

Still, there was precious little time left and we had to cut it short. We went back to the start line and saw Danny, so the three of us got into the massive crowd and made our way as close to the front as possible.

I'm not sure you can do this.

I had some nerves in my stomach. The ever-present doubt filled my head, and I wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could have chewed. Danny looked ready to run a good race, and I didn't know if I would be fast enough. But there was only one way to find out.

On your marks, get set, go!

The race started, and for the first portion I had to play Dodge The People. Women pushing strollers, small children, walkers and slower runners all tried to stand in between me and personal glory. I could see Danny up ahead, running along effortlessly with few obstacles in his path while I tried (unsuccessfully) to avoid tripping people. We rounded the first corner and Danny was ahead of me.

It's early still, so don't worry.

Danny zooming along the first part of the race

I was in close pursuit, trying to ignore Danny and focus on the race.

Excuse me, coming through

It was still quite crowded, and even though we were kind of close to the start line I was surprised how many people I had to get around during the first stretch of the race.

Somewhere up ahead was Danny.

Part of the salmon contingent swimming upstream

I saw Danny up ahead and wondered briefly about whether I should stay behind. I figured my best strategy would be to stay behind him for a bit and maybe force him to run faster than he should be running. Then, I'd overtake him after about two miles and he wouldn't have the energy to reach me.

Instead, I figured that I would throw him off by running in front of him. I got past him, figuring he'd seen the guy in the pink shirt lumbering in front. The course spilled us out onto residential streets and we quickly zoomed downhill.

I was going fast. I knew I was going faster than I normally run but I didn't want to keep looking down at The Garmin. I just figured it would be best to keep running at the speed I was running, and assumed Danny was right behind me. I did not want to stop and turn around, nor did I turn around too much, but when I glanced back I didn't see much.

The first mile came and went, and I hit the "Lap" button on The Garmin. It shot a 7:10 at me.

Wow!

Yeah, but can you keep it up?

I was running fast, a lot quicker than I usually do during my training runs. Heck, I haven't hit 7:10 running downhill on Mt. Rubidoux. I wondered if I'd hit the wall soon.

stomp stomp, stomp stomp... that's Danny.

Danny had a dark-colored shirt on, and every now and then I'd try and sneak a peek behind me. I'd see dark-colored shirts but couldn't tell if it was Danny. Still, no matter when I heard footsteps, I expect to see a hard-charging Danny breathing down my neck.

I pushed myself. Had to. Didn't have a choice. I am so used to running 10, 12, 15 miles that three miles to me is nothing. So of course I had to give everything I had, and wanted to leave everything I had on the streets of Colton.

Mile 2, 7:11... dang! That's consistency!

I felt great. My legs were pushing me forward and I was doing all I could to keep my pace. It also helped me hat Danny was right behind me... well, I wasn't sure if he was, but I didn't want to take the chance. I didn't want to relax and then have Danny zoom past me.

Since I had The Polar working, I knew I had some gas left in the tank. It was straddling the mid-170s, and I knew that if need be I could hit the gas and get to my top gear if Danny did come up from behind.

The course was meandering back towards the hospital but there were two small inclines. I figured these would help me because they could slow Danny... since he was right behind me.

Coming close to the 3-mile mark

I came up around the bend, saw my sister-in-law and wondered about asking her if Danny was close behind me or not. I didn't, and kept assuming he was.

Oh look, there they are!

Mrs. LB and the girls were situated on a grassy spot just around the course. The girls looked excited and Mrs. LB gave me a loud, enthusiastic cheer.

Feeling strong, but close to exhaustion

I was unaware but Danny was coming in well behind me

Jesse, trying to stay focused

There was nothing left to do at this point but to hit the gas.

Push it!

I could feel the energy leaving my body, knew I was near the end and knew that I had about as much energy to get me to the finish line, and no further. I half-expected to see Danny charging past me, so I tried to run as fast as I could. There was no way I was going to lose the 5K in the final steps.

We reached the finish line and I almost couldn't believe the clock. It shot 23:09 past me when I got to the finish and finally allowed my legs to relax. I breathed loudly, almost painfully, as I tried to reel my heart rate in (it'd gotten into the low 190s, quite high) and I took a few breaths before I finally started to feel relaxed.

There was no sign of Danny. As I exited the finishing chute, though, I saw him. He was just coming in, and I smiled. I was satisfied with my performance, thrilled that I'd beaten him and surprised by my time. Mostly, though, I felt once more that I was doing thing the right way, training the right way, approaching each run the right way, and focusing on everything I needed to focus on. After all, there was no way I could have taken nearly two minutes off my only other 5K time without it.

I tried not to rub Danny's face in the dirt but I did have to brag a little bit.

Who's number one?!?

I reveled in my victory and walked over to the results board. We found Jesse, then Mrs. LB and the girls, and recovered briefly. The first page of results was up, and the winner had done the 5K in about 16 minutes. The last person on the first page had finished in about 22 minutes so I figured I was coming up on the next page. But impatience got the best of us and we left. I wondered if I should count the time as 23:09 or what The Garmin read, 23:02, since I'd started it as soon as I crossed the start line.

Later that night, I got an e-mail from my blog/Loper buddy Angie. She said her mom was at the race and heard my name called during the awards ceremony. Apparently, I'd finished second in my age category and I would have gotten a medal had we waited. I was instantly upset with myself for not having stayed longer but then I was happy that I had placed so high. I may contact the hospital that put the race on to see if I can get my medal. If not, that's fine. I ran one of my best races ever, and I'll be able to draw strength from it for a while, medal or not.

**Special thanks to Mrs. LB and my SIL (Danny's wife) for taking along their cameras and capturing some of the day's moments.**

Saturday, March 13, 2010

5K Race Report To Follow But...

I won!!!

I was going to write the race report right now, full with details and pictures but I will take my time with that instead.

But in short, I WON!!!

I finished in about 23:09 and Danny came in about a minute later.

It was tough. I was very tired at the end, but I ran the race I wanted to run and only saw Danny at the start.

My splits were 7:10, 7:11 and 7:35, not sure what the final .1 mile was. But I WON!!!

Bragging rights belong to LB!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Leftovers (March 12)

Weekly thwarted blog posts rolled up into one leftover post.

Word Association

Play along here.

1. Detective :: Inspector
2. Bangs :: Cut
3. Consultant :: Advise
4. Puzzle :: Jigsaw
5. Learn :: Alphabet
6. Necklace :: Earrings
7. 184 :: Bottles of beer on the wall
8. Stimulation :: Excitement
9. Layered :: Cake
10. Police :: Officer

Explanations: I've been thinking of playing the CD Yvie got in Kindergarten with Spanish-language songs and things for Kennedy. Actually, Kennedy likes that CD since she heard it a million times. It's got a really good thing for the alphabet on it. I've not played it recently but I should so Kennedy can absorb all that info and maybe learn the alphabet in Spanish before she starts school. And even if she doesn't, it'll be a good head-start for her anyway.

And Kennedy needs to have her bangs cut. Or we need to let her grow them out. They're in the in-between stage and only serve to cover her eyes and block her view.

The People Have Spoken

And it looks like LB wins in a landslide.

Over on my little poll there, I'd asked who you guys thought would win Saturday's showdown between myself and my brother Danny, and out of the 15 people who voted, 13 chose yours truly.

Woo hoo! Looks like I'm going to win by a lot!

Well, I suppose the race won't be won by the number of supporters I have, which is too bad because then I'd bury him early.

Saturday's 5K Race Recap

Since Saturday's race will be short (twentysomething minutes as opposed to nearly five hours of Surf City) my plan is to come home and write a race recap. Usually I'll mobile blog the results or some post letting you know that I finished the race but this time I think I'll wait to blog about it all at once. I'm hoping to have something up in the early afternoon, so just wanted to give you a heads up in case you wanted to come back and see how yours truly fared.

I hope to have good news, and also to have a good recap for you guys to read regardless of how I did.

Musician In Training

Can you play a musical instrument?

I can't. I took saxophone in the fifth grade but quit after a few months. I really wish I would have stuck with it because it would be cool to play a sax. I took guitar lessons once too, as an adult. That was hard and I didn't really learn anything except that I wouldn't make a good guitarist.

Anyway, Yvie started taking piano lessons on Thursday. It was her first lesson and she seemed to enjoy it. We have had a piano for the longest time - it was Mrs. LB's old piano - and we never used it, so we finally decided to put it to use. We had someone come tune it and then signed Yvie up for piano lessons.

Not sure how it'll go - I don't expect her to play Bach or something anytime soon - but hopefully she'll stick with it and take a liking to music. And if she doesn't take to it, that's fine too. I just think it's cool when people can play instruments.

LB Song of the Week

The girls really like this song. Actually, I think Yvie is the one who digs this song.

This is called Free Like A Bird by a fella with the strange name of Caspar Babypants. Yvie asked me who sang that song and when I told her his name, she laughed and said that he had a strange name. I told her it probably wasn't his real name but she seems to think it is.

Anyway, Mr. Babypants spared no expense for his video.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three-Day Stretch

I've been having a string of great runs lately, and I think part of that is my excitement for Saturday's 5K (scroll below for some of the build-up posts in case you missed 'em).

Just wanted to try and recap them briefly here since it's been such a strong week.

Tuesday - Interval

I was worried about this run since it was an afternoon run and I just don't do well running in the afternoons. However, I figured that since I was able to ref just fine, and most of those games started at 3:15 p.m. that I would be fine.

And I was. It went much better than expected. I knocked out about four miles overall, but about half of that was walking in warm-up and cool-down. I counted 3.53 miles towards my total, and it took me roughly 32 minutes to get them in.

Now, of those 32 minutes I walked eight of them but I didn't discount that mileage. Not sure how much it all equates to but that's what my interval consisted of. I pushed myself at the end as I set the treadmill at a 9.0 for Minutes 35 and 36 of the interval, and I felt great. I had a bit of a hulk feeling, as in the Incredible Hulk. I felt like tearing out of my shorts and shirt, growling like a bear and run even faster. Since I was at the gym, though, I thought better of it.

Wednesday - Tempo

I had intended on running six miles at the gym on Wednesday, and to do a bit of a tempo. It wasn't quite planned out, but I figured I'd start at about a 9:40 pace and some distance at around or under an 8:00 pace. My first mile was a 9:35, then I slowly increased the speed. I felt strong and the second mile was at 9:13. I upped the speed a bit more and got to an 8:46 mile for the third mile. I'd run about a half-mile or so, maybe less, and just increased the speed on the 'mill.

My next splits were as follows:

Mile 4 - 8:30
Mile 5 - 8:08
Mile 6 - 8:17
Mile 7 - 9:04
Final .37 - 9:38

Time: 1:05:07
Overall pace: 8:50

Heart rate stats: Avg. 172 (92.5 percent of max); Max 186 (100 percent of max).

Thursday - Mt. Rubidoux

Since I'd just run the two days before, and both fairly intense workouts, I didn't feel the need to run longer than four miles, or two miles up Mt. Rubidoux and two miles down. Plus, I didn't want to over-extend myself since I do have a race on Saturday and all.

Still, I felt good and wanted to have a good run so I didn't ease off the gas too much. My splits:

Mile 1: 9:53 (uphill)
Mile 2: 9:28 (uphill)
Mile 3: 8:15 (downhill)
Mile 4: 7:24 (downhill)

Total time: 35:01
Overall pace: 8:45

Now, this is where the Polar comes in handy. Not even a half-mile into my run Thursday, my heart rate was at 165. It took me about two miles on the treadmill Wednesday before my heart got to a 165. When I was coming up to the top I was about .1 miles short of an even two miles so I went downhill for about .05 miles and sprinted to the top. In a matter of .07 miles or so, my heart rate jumped from a 177 to a 185, and I felt it. I just felt empty and drained once I got to the top, and was happy to head downhill once more for the final two miles. It took me a bit to regain my composure even though I was going downhill. The last mile was great. It felt good to be able to touch a 7:24 mile, even if it was downhill-aided.

Another cool thing about Thursday's run: I crossed the 300-mile mark for the year. I've now ran about 303 miles this year.

Strategies And Tactics

What's my race strategy going to be on Saturday?

It's funny because of all the races I've ran, I've not set out with an actual goal of winning. Of course, I won't finish in first overall in this Saturday's 5K - some skinny guy or gal with long gazelle-like legs usually ends up winning - but I am set on beating Danny. Thus, I have to have an actual race strategy.

I've thought about what kind of strategy to have and am leaning towards one. Which one, I won't say because I don't want to tip my hand. Danny lurks around here sometimes and can easily throw a monkeywrench into my plans. But since this is my blog and this is where I can think about things and brainstorm, I still wanted to write about my race strategy.

So, one of these strategies is probably what I will use on Saturday.


Strategy No. 1

I've been running non-stop for a while I'd say. Since September or so, I've probably logged at least an average of 20 miles a week, and today I will pass the 300-mile mark for miles logged in 2010. So I will put my faith in my training, run my race and let everything fall into place without paying too much attention to Danny.

For a 5K, I can handle a faster-than-usual pace. I think what I'll try and do is to divide the race up into thirds, and try to get my pace ever so faster with each passing third. So, I'll try and start out with my first mile in the high 7-minute-per-mile or so and then push it higher for the second mile.

By the third mile, I want to have enough gas left in the tank to maintain a pace that will be under 7:30 overall. During my interval runs of late, I've done two minutes at a 6:40 pace, at the 35-minute mark of the interval, so I feel I have one great late surge in me. I'm hoping at the 2.75-mile mark to do that, to give it all I have.

I don't think Danny will be able to maintain those kinds of paces, so I don't anticipate seeing him during the last part of the race, unless I look behind me.


Strategy No. 2

I want to stay close to Danny. I want to let him get out in front and set the pace. He's going to try and run really, really fast to try and bury me. I will push him hard and then when he thinks he's going to try and take a surge at the end, I will blow him away with my own speed.

The fastest mile I've ever ran was a 6:57 mile. Eight of us split up into teams of four and we ran a relay race on a track. Danny and I started and he was out in front of me. I didn't have a plan other than to stay as close to Danny as possible. He beat me in our leg but just by a few seconds. I stayed with him all along and I was encouraged by how I responded. And that was in 2008, before I had even run six miles at once.

I will enact the same tactic, draft off of him but this time my training and experience will allow me to blow past him at about the 2-mile mark and leave him behind. I figure Danny has two good miles in him, and if he pushes himself too hard he will crash and burn soon enough.

I'll make sure and wave at him as I go by.


Strategy No. 3

I'm going to keep an eye on Danny but I'm not going to obsess over him. I want to balance two things: 1) managing my own race and the things I want and need to do in order to finish with my best time possible, and 2) my ever-present supposedly-superior brother.

How will I do that?

I just have to be aware of where he is in the first mile or so. If he shoots out way in front and I lose sight of him, I don't necessarily want to take off after him. If I plan to run my race, I want to stick with that. If I try to zoom after him, I will hit a wall and won't finish in a good time. I need to maintain my focus and concentration.

I have certain milestones I want to hit - Mile 1 in under 8 minutes, Mile 2 in about 15, Mile 3 in about 22 or 23. I'm not sure how close I can get to them but I'm going to try and stick to those. If I start out too fast, I'll be gassed by the 2.5-mile mark.

Conversely, if I pay too much attention to Danny and start out to slow, I could be playing right into his hands. He might try to lull me by staying slow or maybe even running slow in front of me, and then he might try and turn on the jets. In a 100-meter sprint, I can't win against Danny. If he wants to turn the race into a 1-mile sprint, I probably wouldn't win. So I can't shorten the course by allowing him to relax and give him strength to push forward when he feels like it.

***

Well, there you have it trusty blog readers. My strategy. Which one I choose will be revealed after the race. Of course, I'd be happy to e-mail you my race strategy. If you have an e-mail address in your profile, I can shoot an e-mail right back when I get notified of comments via e-mail, so I'd be happy to send you a 1, 2 or 3 to let you know just what's inside my head.

I'm confident enough though that if I were to employ any of these strategies I could get the job done. I just happen to have more faith in one of them.