Sunday, October 31, 2010

Running Through Seattle

Saturday morning was almost like most mornings. I woke up early, sometime around 5 a.m. The only difference was that I was alone, in a hotel room. And I had the somewhat unnerving task of having to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings in order to find a trail which, oh by the way, was site of a 10- to 12-mile run.

I thought about skipping the run because the whole ordeal seemed overwhelming. But two things made me get out of bed and into my running clothes. One, I had navigated a much tougher run on a hard-to-find trail last year. Two, new blog buddy Rebecca of Running Becca had left a comment on Thursday's blog, recommending the Burke Gilman Trail. I'd asked her for more info and I'll be damned if she didn't send me the most detailed e-mail about how to get to the trail from where I was at and what to expect on the trail.

So I couldn't say no to my plans. Around 7:30 or so, I got dressed, got down to my rental car... and promptly got lost. I missed the on-ramp (my fault, not the instructions) and went around in a huge circle until I got back to where I started, and got it right. I was on the 99 North, which is a strange double-decker freeway. The northbound lanes are on top and the southbound lanes are on the level below.

After going through a tunnel, over a bridge, down a huge hill and winding through some narrow streets, I reached the Fred Meyer store I'd been instructed to park at. I ran inside and grabbed a Gatorade and some tape for my nips and went back to the car. After getting my fuel belt together and strapping on my phone, I was off. I walked up to the start of the trail, happy to start running.

Crap. I'd forgotten my Garmin. It was back on the dashboard in the car. After a short walk there and back, I hit reset on my feelings and the start of the run, and was off now for good. I had a smile on my face, probably an ear-to-ear grin. The trail was nice. Even though it wound through some industrial buildings, businesses, houses and busy streets, it was never a problem.

Right away, it was obvious I wasn't in my usual stomping grounds. For starters, it was about 50 degrees out. Also, the paved trail was nice, not too many of those down in SoCal. But the scenery was amazing. It's not every day I run next to a river or under bridges.

In her e-mail, Rebecca had mentioned the University of Washington, and I figured I was getting closer and closer to it since I saw a lot of younger runners, and younger people in general. I'm not sure exactly when I was on campus, or near it anyway. But we were. The one major giveaway: a football stadium:

I went right past Husky Stadium, and as luck would have it they'd have a game later in the day. Unfortunately for the locals, Washington lost 41-0 later in the day.

At this point, I was at around 4.5 miles. My plan was to run to 5 miles then turn around. But I felt good. I was actually healthy. I hadn't been feeling good earlier in the week and thus had been limited to just one run this week. I pushed past 5 and got to about 5.6 when I stopped to GU and turn around. At this point, I figured 11 and change would be good.

Now, I'd run past a strange sign on the way out so when I went back past it, I had to stop to take a picture.

The sign's message is what marathoners fear:

It's kind of an odd sign I have to say. I'll probably do some research on it and figure out what the heck that means or is... Rebecca had recommended I check out the Fremont Troll, which I've actually seen pictures of and have heard of but it seemed a bit too far out of the way and I didn't want to stray far from the trail. Of course, I kind of regretted it afterward because I was in Fremont and could have gotten to it but such is life.

And in case you were wondering either A) what a Honey Bucket was or B) why they're called Honey Buckets...

There was a Honey Bucket right by the Wall of Death. But it would have meant death for you had you desperately needed a Honey Bucket because it was locked.

The scenery was great. I was worried that the out-and-back would be mentally draining. But it wasn't. I enjoyed the same scenery the second time around as much as I did the first time.

Case in point:
I snapped this picture and then realized that it was right at the same spot where I took the first picture, next to the bridge. If you put these pics side by side, I'm pretty sure you can have some sort of panoramic shot.

Now, my legs were starting to feel heavy. While the run was fun and everything, I was feeling it in my legs. I was getting closer to Fred Meyer, so I was happy that my run was ending. But of course I couldn't be content with an 11.2 mile run so I extended my run a bit. I went past the parking lot, got to the end (or beginning) of the trail, went back, ran past the parking lot again, turned around at 11.9 and got in my 12 miles after all.

Panting, trying not to groan, I snapped this picture.

That was the sign that I first saw on my way out and then ran past (twice) on the end.

On my way up to Seattle, I'd intended to run the Cedar River Trail but ultimately having ran on the Burke Gilman Trail provided a similarly great experience. So that qualifies me as an experienced Seattleite, right? No? Okay, well, I have knocked out a total of 30 miles in this area so for that I'm happy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Heading North

Guess where I'm going this weekend? You'll never guess. Okay, maybe you will...

I'll give you a hint: I ran my first-ever 18-mile run there, alone, on a very cold and very wet day. It perpetually rains there but has some of the most beautiful scenery you could ask for. It's nicknamed the Emerald City.

If you said Seattle, you'd be correct!

Yes, I am going back to Seattle, and like last year I'm going there on business. That doesn't mean I'll be working the whole time I'm there. No, in fact I'll be working just part of the time I'm there. I will have some free time on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. One of those days, I am going to knock out a run, for old time's sake.

Now, I don't have a crazy 18-mile run to attempt. Part of me actually wishes I did, though. No, I've only got like 10-12 miles on my plate. I think the Lopers are running 10 miles this week but I think I'll want to run more just because I'll be in Seattle, and how often do I get to go there?

My only question is, do I re-visit the scene of the crime? I ran along the Cedar River Trail when I went there last year, and it was a nice run. Well, I'll take that back. The scenery was nice, and it was nice having a paved path that's off the road to run on. And it was also very nice to run into two awesome Seattle bloggers, Zoë of Run, Zoë, Run (who should temporarily change her blog title to Push, Zoe, Push because she's going to give birth to her first baby any day now) and Kerrie T. of Mom vs. Marathon. But the run itself was very difficult because of the rain and the cold and the distance (read about it here).

That was such a fantastic experience and I may have the chance to meet up once more. While that story will unfold over the weekend as well, I'm going to have to plan a run somewhere. And I'm back in sort of the same predicament as I had last year. Where do I run?

That's what led me to discover a slew of awesome Seattle-area bloggers. I figured, search for running bloggers from Seattle and they'll point me in the right direction. Sure enough, they did. But should I follow their advice once more? Will running the same trail make me feel as if I've got 18 miles on tap?

I'm a creature of habit though. Once I've figured something out, I like to keep things that way. So since I've already run on the Cedar River Trail, I think I'm going to hit it up once more, for old time's sake.

The forecast is (you'll also never guess) a chance of rain (surprise!) on Saturday. I don't care if it rains, though. Last year I was a bit apprehensive because of the rain and I figure, it can't get any worse than last year.

Plus I'm a much stronger runner this year and running 10-12 miles will be quite manageable, not borderline dreadful as it was a year ago. Compared to that 18-mile beast, this weekend will be a walk in the park.

Anyway, I'll fill you in on the details as I make them and will probably blog some about... well, I guess I can call it LB vs. Cedar River Trail, Part II. It will certainly be a memorable run and a memorable weekend, and who knows who or what I might run into while I'm there?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesdays

So, how'd you do it?

It's easily the question I get asked the most when people find out about my weight loss.

How'd you do it?

Sometimes I wish I really did have a secret. I wish there was something that would make people gasp, or run out to the nearest grocery store or drug store and buy Secret Weight Loss Formula.

But I don't have a secret. And it's really deflating, because inevitably there is no payoff. Question-asker goes away feeling empty-handed while answer-giver feels helpless.

How'd I do it?

There was no miracle cure. No magic potion. No pills or shots or vitamins or creams or lotions.

How'd I lose 120 pounds? I just ate right and exercised.

The exercise part... well, that's tough. Yeah, I can explain all about where I am now, how running 25-30 miles a week is great because I actually have to eat more calories than I would otherwise in order to sustain my body and give it the ability to log that many miles. But I only took up running after I crossed the century mark with my weight loss.

I could tell them about the initial exercises I did when I weighed more than 300 pounds, about how the first gym session I had with my trainer I did eight minutes on an exercise bike and seven minutes on an elliptical and how I was sore for about three days afterward, and how I started from the ground up, but a lot of the actual exercises and pieces of machinery I used would require us to go to the gym, and maybe the answer to "How'd you do it?" wasn't really intended to include a gym outing.

But I can tell them about the first part of my anticlimactic response, the "eat right" part. Now, I can't tell them specifically what kinds of foods to eat or rather stay away from. It's easier to say "omit sodas, fast food, chips, candy, cookies, things like that from your meal plan" than it is to say "incorporate more vegetables and fruits and whole grains" and such because the latter only works if you give up the former.

What I can tell them that will work, that is something I can personally say with utmost certainty, is this: eat five small meals a day.

Breakfast. AM snack. Lunch. PM snack. Dinner.

It worked for me. And isn't that what they wanted to know in the first place?

How'd you do it?

I counted calories. I limited myself to about 1800 calories a day (I believe the exact figure was 1734). I ate five small meals a day. I had a breakfast, like a bar or small bowl of cereal, which was about 200-300 calories. A piece of fruit for a snack added another 100 or so, and then at lunch I had maybe a sandwich and some plain yogurt with fruit, or a veggie wrap and some fruit, and that was maybe another 300-400 calories. After another piece of fruit for a PM snack I had only eaten about 900 calories, so I had about 800 calories to play with at dinner. Do you know what you can have for 800 calories? Lots of good stuff, like a chicken breast with some rice and maybe a roll, or a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, or even a plate of pasta with some garlic bread.

Well, that's kind of a long answer. But that's the heart of the matter. When I feel someone is genuinely interested in how I did it, I'll give them that sort of answer. If they're just reacting to having found out that I dropped more than 100 pounds, I'll say "It was the easiest plan to come up with but the hardest to follow: I ate right and exercised." I can sometimes feel the air come out of their balloon of excitement, as if they really did want the name of the magic elixir I used. And I really don't like to disappoint people, but they wanted the response.

I think sometimes they want me to say "I got surgery" which a lot of people assume I had. In fact, some people used to ask me if I had gotten sick. Now that I run marathons and half-marathons, it's pretty evident that I'm not sick so those assumptions went by the wayside.

Still, getting sick, having surgery or having consumed the perfect weight-loss drink would likely appease people more than saying "I ate right and exercised."

Boo! That's BORING!! That ain't no kind of answer!!!

Perhaps, but it's true.

I ate right.

I exercised.

I lost 120 pounds.

What more is there to say?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Disneyland Pumpkins

It's Halloween time.

If you've been a follower of this blog for a while, you know all about my fondness for Disneyland. I've only been once this October and unless something drastic happens I will only have gone once this October, stupid school...

Anyway, one of the best things about Disneyland in October is their pumpkin display. To say they have some cool carved pumpkins would be like saying cheesecake is tasty, a total understatement.

Check these pumpkins out, and if you can identify some of them I'd be much obliged.

The Mad Hatter

Not quite sure, but love the hand

Not sure who she is but there's great detail

I believe it's the king in Robin Hood

Scary-looking character

Lilo and Stitch

The Frog from Princess and the Frog, not sure who is on the left

That be a pirate

Mr. Potatohead

Have no idea, but it looks good

Master Yoda

My favorite part of the trip was getting to spend quality time with my girls.

on Dumbo

In front of Sleeping Beauty Castle

My little ladies

Monday, October 25, 2010

Motivational Mondays: My Race Bling

It's all about the bling.

Running marathons and half marathons, you are left with lots of things afterward - a feeling of satisfaction at job well done, some pain that will eventually dissipate and race pictures that may or may not turn out.

But easily the most rewarding benefit to running 26.2 or 13.1 is the race medal. There's something about the medal that makes you feel as if your efforts were worth it. Long after you've ran the race, after all the sweat and blood and pain has disappeared, a glance at the medal can bring it all back.

When I ran the Long Beach Half Marathon, I did so for the medal. Having already run Surf City Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon, I only needed to run the Long Beach Half Marathon in order to get my California Dreamin' medal and jacket.

Signing up for and running Long Beach was a no-brainer then. I had run two grueling marathons and felt that running Long Beach would help me complete my conquest of California.

After the Long Beach half, I was immediately given my race medal. But several minutes later I walked around looking for the place where I could get my CA Dreamin' medal. A helpful runner helped me locate the tent and pretty soon I was handed my bonus medal.

I know it sounds cheesy but when I put that medal on I felt like a champ. I was proud all over again of having run Surf City and San Francisco. Surf City was of course my first marathon and I broke my half marathon PR in Long Beach but I felt like I earned my medal in San Francisco. Long Beach was a breeze compared to that.

Regardless, each race was difficult and presented its own set of challenges, and to have them all brought together with one medal makes it special for me.

After the race I was lucky enough to spend time with Katie of One Run at a Time. We posed for celebratory pictures as she had done well in conquering her own half marathon.

I told Katie that since she did San Francisco and now Long Beach, she had to complete the series and run Surf City in February. Sadly, the California Dreamin series is going away, and Surf City is the final race in that series. I'm not sure why this is, but that's what's going on. I wonder if something new will take its place.

Anyway, the series for me also included San Francisco...

... and Surf City...

My beloved CA Dreamin medal

And the four medals I earned.

I like to think that I put a lot into running, into training for races, and into the races themselves. These medals will always serve as a reminder of the blood, sweat and tears that went into each mile out there on these respective race courses.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Oct. 22)

The leftovers...

More Race Pictures

I will have more pictures, of my CA Dreamin Jacket as well as my race bling, coming up, probably Saturday so come back for that. Just didn't want to post it today or this morning, or here in this post even, because it will get lost in the shuffle.

Word Association

Play along here.

1. Freak :: Show
2. Homework :: Afterschool
3. Favor :: Ask
4. Encounter :: Strange
5. Shake it :: Booty
6. Felony :: Criminal
7. Loops :: Turns
8. Groove :: Get into the
9. Funding :: Money
10. Plot :: Thickens

Get into the groove, boy you've got to prove your love to me...

Lame. I don't even know the artist or title of that song but that's stuck in my head forever. Totally lame. I know it's some 80s song, I'm pretty sure. Some songs I can't, for the life of me, learn the lyrics yet I have useless songs like that one, that would sound strange for a guy to sing nevertheless, at the ready.

Five Question Friday

Welcome to another edition of Five Question Friday. Go to Mama M's blog to play along. It's a pretty cool thing I must say.

The five questions this week...

1. Who is the better cook, you or your spouse?

This isn't even a question around here. It's no contest. Hands down, I'm the better cook. I'm not saying that to be arrogant or anything; in fact, Mrs. LB will tell you that herself. I was forced to take on the cooking duties when she got her job that she has now, in March 2007. She started to commute so it just did not make any sense for her to cook while I was at home most of the day.

It started slowly. In fact, it wasn't until the end of '07 that I really started to take off with my cooking and actually started making things. I used the awesome site to help me because there were (and are) tons of recipes on there for all sorts of things and they were really easy to follow and the reviews on there were very helpful. So I started looking for and making recipes, and it just took off from there. And then many months later I learned there was a sort of message board part to that site and met a lot of really cool people and, well, I could write a book on all of that, but for now, let's just leave it at that.

Sadly, I'm not quite as adventurous now as I was then but I think part of that was because everything was so new to me. But I cook and handle the cooking duties. I like to go to the grocery store... probably too much... and like the whole process of making something. It still amazes me sometimes that I can make something like lasagna or orange chicken from scratch.

2. How often do you talk to your mom?

Multiple times a week. I love my mom to death but it seems we can't spend too much time around each other. We used to fight a lot but when I moved out our relationship got a ton better. I probably should go over more often because of the girls and I feel guilty when several days pass by and she hasn't seen them. But I do talk to her often and I am beyond grateful that she is nearby and we have a good relationship. I just have a little bit of a Mom Quota is all :)

3. Are you adventurous in the kitchen or stick to the recipe?

Aha! Thought you were done listening to me talk about my cooking. Guess again.

In terms of trying new things, I used to be more adventurous. When I am making something that requires a recipe, I stick with the recipe. If I make it enough and take ownership of the dish, then I let myself experiment. The thing about experimenting though is this: if I try something new and change the recipe around and it does not turn out well, is it because I changed something or is it because the recipe wasn't that good?

Sometimes I'll try and replicate a dish I've had out at a restaurant or something. Like recently I had a pasta dish that had some sauteed veggies (zucchini, red bells, onions, artichokes, mushrooms) and it had some diced, cooked sausages in it as well. It was delicious! I tried to make it at home and... it was just okay. Not necessarily a fail but I may try it once more and then forget it.

4. Is your second toe longer than your big toe?

No. My second toe is shorter than my big toe. Isn't that how it's supposed to be? No, I know some (a lot?) have their second toe as longer but not me. My second toe, however, is unique. On both feet, my second toenail is black. From running. They're my badges of honor. Lefty's been looking bad for more than a year now and Righty was fine (the toenail actually fell off this spring) until the LB Half Marathon. Right after the race, the nail had turned purple and now it's black. Awesome.

5. Do you dress up for Halloween? (Bonus question: What will you be this year?)

I'm not a dresser-upper for Halloween. I have dressed up before...

In 2007, towards the tail end of my weight-loss journey

Arrr... With me daughters last year...

How do I look with eye shadow?

Because I'm so original, I'm wearing the pirate stuff again this year. Yay for originality.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Long Beach Race Pictures

The race pictures are finally up!!

Here are pics of yours truly during Sunday's Long Beach Half Marathon.

"I hate my Garmin."

"Where is that stinking mile marker?"

"Have you seen the finish line?"

"I gotta keep up with all these speedburners around me."


I still have to post pictures of my medals and my California Dreamin' Jacket. Haven't forgotten, just need to take some actual pictures of them.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the pictures. I'm not that crazy about my mouth being half-open but oh well. Not sure why there's no finish line photo. I even made a point to smile. Oh well.

Overcoming Failure

I've mentioned this before but I feel as if I can never say it enough:

Nothing new on race day.

How you train prepares you for how you race. Now, it's not necessarily just with performance either. If you plan on wearing a new shirt or shorts during a race, it's probably a good idea to train with them a few times. After all, what if there is some strange stitching that leaves a nice red mark on you when you use them? Best find that out during a six-mile training run versus a 10K.

On the weekend, I had something new. It wasn't by choice of course but it was mostly a new experience. I had a total Garmin fail.

My trusty Garmin was not up for the Long Beach Half Marathon on Sunday. It was there in body but not in spirit. The lights were on but nobody was home.

I scrambled. I worried. I fretted.

I thought before the race that I would try to rack up as many miles in the 8-minute range as possible. I would try to get up some strong early miles and then see where I was at midway or close to 10, and then gauge how much distance I had left and see if I could crank it up some in order to ensure the best time possible.

All that strategy fell into a crumpled mess somewhere on the 710 Freeway.

Garmin was fine for the first two miles. I had a strong first mile, at 8:20, but Mile 2 was slower than I'd wanted. At 9:10, I tried to slow it down but slowed it down too much. Still, my average time was somewhere in the 8-minute range, which is what I wanted.

According to Garmin, Mile 3 took me 16 minutes to run.


Now, I was able to trust in myself and my training and my ability to maintain a strong pace and that helped get me to a good time.

But it goes to show that the only thing that will get you to the finish line is you. Technology will fail you. This isn't the first time it's failed me during a race. In each of my two marathons, my phone died somewhere around Mile 20. Not sure if my iPod would have died as well but that thing stopped working properly years ago. So, my well-thought-out playlist for each marathon was not all the way effective then.

There was a time when Garmins and iPods and heart-rate monitors were not an essential part of running. They are tools we use because they help us, because they provide information or support or both. Ultimately though your body determines your pace. Your mind and your will and your determination keep you going, not your music player.

Now, I happened to have my Polar heart rate monitor with me. That is a tool that I wholeheartedly believe in and have faith in, but that too has let me down. Still, it came through with flying colors on Sunday. I had originally intended to use it for the heart-rate information only but used the watch function instead. So I got lucky, not only that I wore it but that it decided to be an active participant in the race.

So I do believe I was lucky because of that. I am not sure if I would have been able to hold it together mentally without Polar's reassurance that things were indeed going well.

Since I run with a group on Sundays, my long runs are commonly ran without the aid of music. That's helped me. However, I usually have my Garmin with me. I care about my time and my pace and all those cool statistics. Perhaps if I were interested in only my distance then the other things might not matter as much and then I might not rely so much on the Garmin. But I think that leaving it at home every now and then won't be a bad thing.

After all, it abandoned me in my time of need. And if it wasn't reliable once, what's to say that it will be reliable for my next race?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesday: Scaring Away The Desire

Sometimes, it's good to be scared.

That's what runs through my head when I see worst-of lists. The worst breakfast food, the worst restaurant, the worst anything just seems like a good thing to avoid.

But then there are burgers. Who doesn't like a tasty burger every now and then?

Now, I don't mind indulging every now and then. It's better to eat something like that once in a while then to deny yourself until you get to a point where you just lose all your willpower and scarf them down simply because you have been keeping this from yourself. We're human. It happens.

But if you're going to down a burger, best to avoid one of these. You'll have to click the link to see the full list but here's the info provided with each burger.

Number 3 on the list is the Worst Fast Food Cheeseburger, and that dishonor goes to the Burger King Triple Whopper Sandwich with Cheese and Mayo.

1,250 calories
84 g fat (32 g saturated, 3.5 g trans)
1,600 mg sodium

With one of these, I'd get more than half of the calories I try to consume each day and look at all those fat grams.

With each burger, there is an alternative, and in this case it's Burger King's Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich with mayo

490 calories
21 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans)
1,220 mg sodium

Much more reasonable, though the amount of sodium is still high.

Some things that jumped out at me:

* Don't be fooled by chicken and turkey; just because it has poultry doesn't mean it's healthy
* Don't be fooled by reputation either; I was surprised to see In n Out on the list, to be honest.
* Just because something is small doesn't mean it's better.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Long Beach Half Marathon: Race Leftovers

Some things that did not make the race recap...

Medals And Jacket

I will blog about my medals and my jacket but I need pictures. So keep an eye out for a separate post on that.


This is kinda cool. It breaks down the race in terms of a graphic.

Overall I did well but in my age group, I was ahead of about 73 percent of the rest of the 35- to 39-year-olds. That's good. All of these stats are good. I know I'm never going to be an AG champion but being in the top... well, near the top quarter is something to be proud of.

More Stats

The race web site provided some pretty cool and interesting statistics, a relative wealth of information. The statistics that most struck me were these:

The first 6.214 miles took me 54:31 to run, which is an 8:46 pace

The next 4.586 miles took me 40:16, an 8:47 pace

The last 2.309 miles took me 20:16, an 8:47 pace

That is consistent! At times it felt like my legs were churning as they do when I'm on the treadmill, which is to say that I was in the same gear, at the same speed, holding strong and steady. I know runners hate the 'mill but it's for reasons like this that I think it's a valuable tool. I've set the 'mill on a certain setting and have just lost myself in thought or music or whatever's rolling around in my mind.

What surprises me is that I wasn't able to gauge my speed because of the Garmin Gremlins, but I was able to keep going the same speed, and that speed was about 12 seconds under the 9-minute per mile mark. Score that as a pleasant surprise.

Fading Finisher

Remember when I said that it felt like many runners were getting past me during the last part of Sunday's race?

Check this out:
So I passed fewer runners than passed me. It wasn't a great feeling, seeing runners zoom past me, runners who had mustered up more energy and determination than me in the final portion of the race.

I remember one runner who passed me by somewhere in the final mile. She came up around my right and went past me and I told myself "stick behind her and you'll finish strong." Well, she was very strong and there was no way I could have kept up with her. It seemed like she was the norm and not the exception.

But that's fine. I just have to work on my finishing kick the next time out.

Lady In Yellow

Have I mentioned that it was exciting to see Katie A at the race? Well, if I haven't mentioned it yet, I was thrilled to have had the chance to run the same race as Katie, who was decked out in yellow for the race. Originally, she was supposed to run the full marathon but decided to run the half instead. I wanted to see her before the race but didn't, so I wasn't sure where she lined up exactly. Turns out, she was ahead of me, in Wave 1.

She romped through Long Beach as she ran an effortless 1:44:56. She chews up and spits out half marathons like they were grapes and Sunday was no different.

Check out her race report here.

Another cool graphic lets you compare yourself to another runner. Now, there is no comparison between Katie and LB...


... but I tried to compare ourselves during the race. Check this out.

So the part where the big yellow arrow is pointing to (away from the finish) is where I was when Katie crossed the finish line. Pretty awesome. She smoked my ass by 1.6 miles. To be fair, she had a five-minute head start since this measures from gun time. What would have been cool would have been for me to have started first and for her to have started in the second wave. She might have caught me up!

What's Next?

My next planned race is the Mission Inn Half Marathon on Nov. 14. I have to tell you, I think it's very cool that I can run half-marathons in such close proximity as these two and not feel worried. Not sure if I'll ever get to the point where I can run full marathons within four weeks of each other and feel great about it but all in due time.

Anyway, there is a tiny bit of an asterisk near that one. Because of soccer/work commitments, I may be in Salt Lake City on Nov. 14. Lots of things have to happen before that, and we'll find out by Sunday if there's even a chance of that happening. But for now, we'll have an asterisk next to that one.

If I'm not in the Beehive State on Nov. 14, I'm going to be in Riverside, running 13.1 miles.

I have to tell you, at times during Long Beach I made a deal with myself. I said "if you PR here, then you can just relax and have a half-marathon fun run on Nov. 14."

Of course, Katie believes in me, perhaps more than I believe in myself. She claims that I can PR there too, that if I focus on speedwork the next few weeks I can get an even faster time. I think she said 1:52 but I was fumbling for a nice way to say "You're crazy!"

Not one to pass up a challenge, I agreed that I would go for a PR then. Do I have buyer's remorse? No. I know there is a strong possibility that I do not PR then, but just as I would have been okay not doing so in Long Beach I know not setting a PR in Riverside will be fine. I do want to have a bit of a carrot to dangle in front of me. This is a crucial time coming up for next year's plans. With the Lopers, we will no longer be running under 10 miles. All of our runs will be double-digit runs. I will increase my weekly mileage because of that and I will also start to get in not just double-digit runs more often but runs of 12-15 miles. I've missed that distance! I like me some 15-mile runs, and between San Francisco and Long Beach, I only had one 15-mile run.

So I will be increasing my mileage with Surf City and LA marathons in the back of my mind. That's the ultimate goal, and getting in some speedwork now while increasing my overall mileage will help me become a stronger runner. And I like strength and I need more speedwork, so what a great combination.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Motivational Mondays: PR at Long Beach Half Marathon

For me, there was both promise and doubt heading into race weekend. The Long Beach Half Marathon was upon me and while I felt confident about testing myself at that distance, I was also worried that I hadn't done enough during my training to get the time I wanted.

Nevertheless, I was set to tackle the half-marathon challenge. I'd met up with Katie of One Run At A Time on Saturday night for a carbo-load dinner (her mom and uncle were with us as well) and that was a very enjoyable way to prepare for the race. The game I had to cover afterward was not, and thus I did not get to bed until close to 1 a.m. I'd set my alarm for 5:07 but I woke up often.

I got up, felt energized, felt ready to challenge myself. I pulled into the parking lot at about 6:15 a.m., plenty of time before the 7 a.m. start. However, I was unable to find either Katie or Tina before the start. With some 20,000 half and full marathoners, it was always going to be challenging.

At about 6:45 I gave up and decided to try and snare a spot close to the Wave 2 start. I was worried also that the course was too snug at times, and that it was going to be difficult to find room to move. Since we were herded like cattle at the start, being amidst the masses did little to quell my fears.

Wave 1 left, then I found myself walking to the start. Excitement had given way to focus as I had to ensure that I run a smart race at the start in order to give myself the chance of a PR. As soon as we crossed the start, I felt relieved about the crowd. There was plenty of room. Sure, it was crowded and I had to dart in and out of packs, speed past some runners, move out of the way of others, but overall it was not the crowd I expected.

Before I knew it, I was at Mile 1. I looked down at The Garmin and saw that I'd run it in about 8:20. It was a little fast but I figured better to have that extra time to play with. I did however try to slow down some in the second mile and I was a bit upset that I had slowed down too much. Mile 2 was 9:20.

I tried to run a stronger more consistent pace for the third mile and was anxious to see what my split was. I glanced at The Garmin and it read 2.90. I approached the Mile 3 sign, looked down at The Garmin and saw it was at 2.86. Figuring I read it wrong the first time, I looked ahead. A little bit later I glanced at it again and saw it was at 2.89. There was no way. I had been running a lot farther than that.

I hadn't given up yet on The Garmin but I was sure glad I had The Polar with me, my Polar F4 heart rate monitor. I'd started it just before the start line and once The Garmin started acting up, I switched from the heart rate to stopwatch display.

At about Mile 3 and change, I took my first GU. I had four packets with me but wasn't sure if I would take all of them. I was about 25 minutes in and I did feel a little strange taking one but figured I'd best stick with my plan, so GU I took.

I'm not sure what brought them upon but the mental demons were out in full force.

"You shot too high. No way you're gonna do it." "Just run at a comfortable pace from here on and forget about the PR - that way you won't be disappointed."

I did my best to fight them off, those mental demons. I tried to keep focused on whatever was in front of me, be it a runner or group of runners, the street or the people on the sidewalks.

Also, it was nice having some scenery to keep me distracted from what was going on in my head. I remember reading how the course for the half marathon was 100 percent along the shoreline but that doesn't necessarily mean a 13.1 mile beach path. Off to my right at around 3-4 miles are what looked like oil rigs. It said "along the shoreline" not "along the beach."

We got to an area where there were some restaurants on one side and a lot of boats on the other side, and I inhaled the unmistakable aroma of fish.

All along, I felt strong, though, felt good, regardless of what the mental monsters were trying to convince me. I got to Mile 6 at about 52 minutes, which was right around the time I wanted to be at. At Mile 7 I was just under an hour and that's when I was thinking that my PR was possible. I figured, if I ran the next six miles in about the same time as I'd run my first six miles, I'd be fine.

The course took us to some familiar territory. In 2009, I ran along the a paved path on the beach with my brothers on two occasions so that brought back some good memories of those runs.

Once I got close to Mile 9, I decided I'd take another GU. I'd taken GUs at Mile 3 and 6 or so, and even though I wasn't exactly craving one, I wanted to stick to the game plan of taking GUs every 25-30 minutes or so. I walked a little, caught my breath and took off once more. I had given up on The Garmin's help. As Katie later said, the Garmin Gremlins got the best of the device.

We ended up spilling off the beach path and onto the street. I saw the Mile 10 marker up ahead. I reached it at just under 1:27, which still had me on track to PR. I figured even if I couldn't hit the high gear, if I just ran a little better than a sub-10 minute pace the rest of the way, I'd PR.

I felt empty, though. I felt like I was moving as fast as syrup running down the side of a bottle. I tried to pick up the pace, but there wasn't much there and what was there was tough to maintain. More runners passed me by than I was passing. But my watch told me that I was doing fine. Mile 9 took me roughly 8:30 or so, as did Mile 10 and 11. I had to do quick calculations in my head so it may have been more or less.

At the Mile 11 sign, I stopped, walked for a bit and took my final GU. I really didn't feel like taking it but I wanted to stick with the plan. I didn't want to not PR and then use that as an excuse. When it came time to run once more, I wanted to run hard, fast and strong the rest of the way.

I wasn't quite feeling it, didn't have the afterburners going then but I pushed myself. I figured the pace that seemed slow to me was stronger than I thought so as long as I would get in some bursts of speed here and there I'd be good. I also reminded myself that I was here, I was in the throes of a race and that I had the PR in front of me. All I had to do was get it.

I got to Mile 12 at around 1:47 and figured that even a 10-minute mile-plus would get me my PR.

There was a gift waiting for us close to the finish. The course suddenly went downhill. Not sure what was going on with that but I didn't care. All I saw was the street slope downward and knew that a PR was mine. I raced down, picked up the speed and felt my legs respond. Up ahead, I saw the Mile 13 sign, and then just past that the finish line.

I sprinted. My legs didn't have much left but I didn't want to leave anything in them. I churned and churned. The time read 1:59:xx but since I started in the second wave, I knew that I was going to set a PR. I crossed the finish line, raised my hands, smiled and made sure to not look at my watch until I was well past the finish line.

Shortly afterward I talked to Mrs. LB who congratulated me on the time. She forward me the text-message alert that read my official time of 1:55:03. I was ecstatic with the time. Hobbling around after the race, I knew that I had earned my time.

Eventually I got my California Dreamin' medal and found Katie and her mom. Katie had also run the half marathon (she came in at 1:44:56!) and we swapped our stories and just relaxed for a while.

All in all, quite an enjoyable time in the LBC.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It was tough, didn't feel like would do it but I got me PR at the Long Beach Half Marathon!

I finished in 1:55:03, almost a full two minutes faster than my previous PR.

I'm wiped out but I feel good. I got my bling too - my LB Half medal and my CA Dreamin medal.

Thanks for all your support! Full report to follow :)
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Test E-mail


I am testing this feature out. I'm e-mailing a post to check it out and see if it works. I'm going to try and send a picture too so we'll see what happens.

I opted to try the e-mail feature because the texting sucked. Not enough characters or space to talk about anything. This e-mail feature seems cool but I will have to see what it posts like.

There are paragraphs and stuff, so hopefully its not all one big block of text.

Well, here goes nothing...

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Eve Of Long Beach Half

Why can't I relax?

Friday night before a big race on Sunday is the night you're supposed to get your sleep in. You might not get much sleep the night before the race but the Friday night before isn't supposed to be much of a problem getting to sleep.

Unless you're me of course.

Funny thing is, I seem to do well when I don't have much sleep. Now, I'm not talking sleep-deprived but I can sleep a couple of 4-5 hour night's sleep and then knock out a strong run. At this point, that's what is going to have to happen.

Anyway, here's the latest update on the race. I'm feeling better and better about my chances to do well. I'm not banking on a PR by any means but I do think I'll give my current PR a run for its money, if nothing else.

I'm going to update you either way as soon as I can after the race. I'm trying to send a test email post to see what happens but so far nothing. If I can do that then I will send something a little longer, otherwise it will be just a "I'm done, my time was" update.

not sure how many of you will be around Sunday morning anyway...

I also hooked it up so where it will post updates to my Facebook account so if you're my FB friend hopefully it will send updates a few times during the race. We'll see how that works.

I'm heading to the expo on Saturday afternoon and then am meeting up with Katie of One Run At A Time. I met her in San Francisco, the day after the marathon. We're switching roles; instead of her doing the half and me doing the full as in SF, she's doing the full and I'm having the relaxing, kick-back half... well, I gotta admit I was a bit envious during SF that she was only running half the distance as I was and that she didn't have to run through all those hills like I did. Anyway, Mrs. LB and I are meeting up with her and her mom so it should be pretty fun.

So that's it then I guess. Unless that stupid e-mail test post comes through, I'll be running my race Sunday and then we'll see what happened.

Thanks for all your support. It really does mean a lot.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Oct. 15)

It's Friday. It's official that in less than 48 hours now I'll be running my second half-marathon of the year, third ever, and my first race since the San Francisco Marathon. I'm getting pumped! Anyway, more on that either later today or tomorrow and then of course a race recap Sunday night or Monday.

For now, the leftovers...

Word Association

Play along here.
  1. Intruder :: Alert

  2. Repelled :: Projected

  3. Trench coat :: Long

  4. Lipstick :: Red

  5. Humongous :: Gargantuan

  6. Oven mitts :: Baking

  7. Case :: is Dismissed

  8. Daughter :: Girl

  9. Attorney :: General

  10. Shaken :: not stirred

Good stuff as always.

Five Question Friday

And another Friday fixture, the Five Question Friday hosted by the awesome rockin' Mama M.

1. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Oh, candy. Well, I try to avoid it as much as possible but Smarties would be my favorite. They're actually not too bad calorie-wise. They only have 25 calories per roll, so even if you eat two you're not exactly killing yourself. Three or four or five... well, then it adds up. When I open a Smarties roll, I always try and eat just one or two at a time but inevitably I jam all the pieces in my mouth. Oh well, what are you going to do?

2. Do you fold your socks?

Yeah, I do. Well, Mrs. LB folds them since she folds laundry but she folds them I think because I was so picky about that. I guess it's just that that's how my mom used to do it and it does help you keep track of them better. So yeah, even my running socks which are pretty small to begin with are nice and folded up.

3. What is something that you wish you had been warned about?

Interesting question. After much thought, I think I'd have to say that I wish I'd been warned about how a female goes to the bathroom. I have daughters, you see. But I never had sisters and never EVER had an interest in anything bathroom-related when it came to the ladies. But with daughters, you pretty much don't have a choice but to take an interest. And really, that's not the right word. It's more like you have to arm yourself with knowledge, however disgusting it may be.

I may have told this story before but I will share it again because, well, because I want to :)

I took my daughters to Disneyland in early 2008 and we were just starting to potty-train Kennedy. She had on a pull-up and it was the first time she wore one there (we had just gotten season passes for the first time and I'd already taken them several times before then). So Kennedy tells me she has to go to the bathroom. I took her quickly, went to the bathroom right around the corner from Alice in Wonderland. We go to the handicap stall (my stall of choice because it has plenty of room for me and my girls, well, when I used to take both of them into the bathroom together) and I had Kennedy sit on the toilet.

Now, this was one of her first times sitting on a big toilet, not the tiny potty-training toilet at home. She needed to have adjusted, but she didn't know. And since I was nowhere near skilled in those arts, I didn't know either. She sat kinda close to the edge of the seat and I figured the pee would just trickle downward.

Imagine my surprise then when it shot out, like a fountain. All over her pull-up. And part of her pants. I'd been leaning against the wall but leaped off it, blurted out a startled 'Oh no' and pushed her back towards the middle of the toilet. I think I needed to have adjusted her hips too, I don't know. It was like the blind leading the blind.

Someone should have warned me.

4. What is the most significant difference between you and your significant other?

TV viewing. Mrs. LB likes a lot of TV shows and likes to watch TV in general and I don't. In some ways, that's great because we don't fight over the TV at all. I guess since I don't hardly watch it, when something comes on that I really want to watch (and it's usually a game of some sort) then she is very cool with it. But those must-watch games or shows are few and far between. I honestly don't care about television. I'll watch shows with her and I'm not completely ignorant about TV shows. I even enjoy watching some shows with her... but not Hoarders. That is the most infuriating show ever. I feel like yelling at those people "Just throw all that crap away!" but it's not that easy, I know. Still, it's beyond infuriating really.

There are basically two shows I like to watch and follow: Burn Notice and South Park. I don't watch SportsCenter (ESPN bugs me). I don't watch the evening news (I get my news from the Web). I don't watch sitcoms. I don't watch crap. We could get rid of our TVs and I'd be fine (except we would need a place to play our Wii I suppose).

5. What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Three words, three qualities that I possess, or at least three qualities I think I possess


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Long Beach Half Marathon: My PR Plan

I've been excited about Sunday's race for a while now, since I registered. But now that the race is just a few days away, I've got another feeling coming in.

I'm nervous.

And you know what that means? I'm ready. Ready for the race. Prepared for 13.1. Set for chasing a PR.

If it's Thursday and I'm not nervous about the weekend, that means I don't have a race coming up. It's just a fact of life. I get nervous about races. I know I'll finish the race, that much I've learned in the two-plus years I've been racing, but the nerves don't go away. Maybe that's just how I handle things. So I wanted to blog about my race plan here in order to try and quell my nerves and try and really picture the race.

According to the Long Beach Marathon Web site, the half marathon course "is flat and fast and runs 100 percent along the shoreline."

Key word: flat.

Of course, my half marathon PR was on a hilly course, so I'm hoping since I don't have to account for hills that I will be able to run a strong and consistent race. I'm trying to PR, which means a finish of under 1:56:58. I think the strategy that will work best for me will be to run some strong early miles and try and maintain that throughout the race. That's what normally works for me as opposed to trying to pick up the pace late, which doesn't.

The carrots I'll be dangling in front of me are the split times at the 5K, 5-mile, 10K and 10-mile marks. I hope to hit splits of...

5K - 27:02-27:36
5m - 43:30-44:30
10K - 54:04-55:19
10m - 1:27:00-1:29:00

To be honest, that does not seem unreasonable. I have run at that 10K time during training runs before. In fact, whenever I crack the six-mile mark I generally think to my worst 10K which I did in 56:01 and see how I compare to that. Of course, the challenge is to run seven miles beyond that and maintain that pace. By mile 10 I'll be able to know if a PR is realistic or not.

By the way, the above times are between an 8:42 and 8:54 per minute pace.

In Redlands, my plan was to get through the hills strong, which I did, and then finish strong, which I mostly did. I seem to remember the last mile taking a long time. I knew my flat miles would have to be strong no matter what, and they were, but that was a bit of pressure for me. This time I might be able to relax more and focus and hopefully that will translate into a strong, consistent pace.

Physically, I'm recovered from my fever. I had a strong four-mile run on Wednesday and am ready for one or two final training runs before the real deal arrives. I got a plan, but will I get a PR? We'll see on Sunday if I can follow through on my plan.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesday: The Debut

For a while now, I've been neglecting the blogosphere. I've been hiding my knowledge about weight loss. I didn't do it on purpose so please don't hold it against me.

But it's true. I haven't blogged much about nutrition or weight loss or anything of the nature. Maybe I ran out of ammo and shared all that I know about the subject before. Or maybe I just chose to write more about things such as my running escapades and have not been injecting more of what helped me get to where I am today.

Well, I'm trying to change that. I wanted to dedicate some time and space to nutrition. In some ways, it's nice to have a dedicated day where I will do something. Otherwise it tends to be sporadic and then it can get lost in the shuffle.

For now, that dedicated day is Wednesday, if for no other reason than both Wednesday and weight loss begins with a W.

Why am I doing it? Well, it's to share the knowledge and hopefully give readers a reason to think about their food choices. It's also to keep me on the straight and narrow. I've strayed from some of the things that got me here and I want to get back into the good habits I had for so long, that now are seemingly hit and miss.

To start off this Weigh-less Wednesday, I wanted to share a link with you. It's a cool little quiz about breakfast foods.

Do you eat breakfast? I do. I think it's essential, and yet so many people skip it. To me, the biggest problem with skipping breakfast is that it could lead to poor choices later in the morning. Not sure about you but if I skip a meal I get hungrier earlier than I would otherwise. So if I were to skip breakfast, I'd be very hungry by 9 or 10, and then if I hadn't eaten then by lunchtime I'd be ravenous. And you know by that point I'm not going to be picky about what I jam down my throat.

Anyway, breakfast presents challenges as well. Just like any other meal, there are good things to eat, bad things to eat, bad things disguised as good things and good things you might think would be bad.

Here's the link. It's a bit of a quiz. Men's Health put together the quiz and asks you to pick which of two similar items is the healthier breakfast option.

For instance, the first one it asks you to choose between pancakes and waffles. Hmmm... tough choice. Honestly, I felt like that was a lose-lose situation but I chose... and chose wrong. I should've known better, but I went with my gut and apparently it was the gut I had a long time ago.

I'm not going to spoil it for you because I want you to choose correctly.

I actually did pretty bad on the test overall. I think it's because long ago I whittled down my breakfast choices to energy bars. Then I slowly added other things, notably bagels and Fiber One cereal. Lately I've been alternating between bagels and Fiber One because I have them but also because I don't want to go to Costco so much. Damn Costco. I buy Clif Bars from Costco so if I run out I'm going to have to go back to Costco, and I can't leave Costco without dropping 100 bucks. Grrr...

So I'm not quite up to speed on pancakes vs. waffles, yogurt vs. cottage cheese, bacon vs. sausage, etc.

Anyway, take the test and feed yourself with knowledge. And I'll be here every Wednesday trying to give you more healthy info to arm yourself with.

Also, if you have any suggestions to future topics, please feel free to suggest topics.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Challenge

The last couple of days have been trying physically.

In the last 48 hours, I've ran 10 miles, laid in bed for hours, felt my body temperature rise and fall like a yo-yo and, for good measure, vomited.

Nothing like a good little illness to prepare for the Long Beach Half Marathon.

I am feeling better though. As of Monday night, I no longer have a fever. My headache is still lingering but I'm wondering how much of that is due to me not having stepped outside of my house for one second on Monday.

My plans for a PR might have gone out the window. I'm not giving up hope on them and in fact this little bit of rest time might be good in that I was off my feet for nearly an entire day. My body overall was a mess but my feet were not being put into use so that counts for something, no? I know, it's a reach but I'm trying to find a silver lining here...

I hope to run on Wednesday, a short 3-4 mile run. If anything, I wasn't going to run a ton this week anyway. I had hoped to run either Monday or Tuesday, then run something with a bit more intensity on Wednesday and then another run on Thursday and that's that. So I'm not going to miss out on many runs this week.

I do think I will be okay to run Sunday. If I get under 1:56:58, I will be happy. If I don't, I will be happy. I just like racing, like the atmosphere around big events like this and like the fact that I can participate at all.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up hopes of a half-marathon PR. After all, I fully intend to run a strong race at the Mission Inn Half on Nov. 14. So even if I do get a PR on Sunday, it's only going to last less than a month anyway.

Well, those are my plans anyway. And they tend to change often so we'll just let this week play out and go from there.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Motivational Mondays (Oct. 11)

On Sunday I will run my third half-marathon. The Long Beach Half Marathon will be a special race for me because it will conclude my California Dreamin' Racing Series, which means I'll get a jacket and special medal. Having ran the Surf City Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon, this race was almost a no-brainer in order to get the jacket and medal.

But this race isn't special just because of that. Like all the other races I run, this race is special because I am participating. For me, showing up and running the race is a victory.

It's been right around three years now that I completed my 120-pound weight-loss journey, and about two years now that I became a runner, but I never take anything for granted. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday that I was wearing XXL shirts and size 44 pants.

When my wardrobe featured such clothes, I never thought I'd run a race. Never thought I'd run a marathon. Or a half marathon. Or a 10K. Or a 5K. Or a mile. Or anything.

In 2005; after my first marathon, in Feb. '10

Now, distance running is part of my life. It encompasses so much of what I strive to do and what I try to emulate in my life - perseverance, determination, motivation, grit, mental strength... so many things that I can and try to carry over to my personal and professional life. And I get a nice set of runner's legs for no extra charge.

Still, what running races reminds me the most is that I have come a long way, and I know that if I can get to the start line of a half marathon for the third time, that there are others in a similar situation that I was at who can do so as well. All you have to have is a little faith in yourself and a little determination.

Crossing the finish in San Francisco; in 2004

So when I set out to conquer Long Beach and try to get my PR, I will walk away with my glory no matter what time I finish in.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Oct. 8)

Friday rules. Particularly today. I'm taking the girls to Disneyland. It's been a LOOONG time since I've had the chance to go first thing in the morning. Definitely taking advantage of it.

Anyway, the Leftovers...

Word Association

Click here to play along.
  1. Panels :: Wood

  2. Repetitive :: Repeat

  3. Pancakes :: Syrup

  4. Quarterly :: Monthly

  5. Impulsive :: Controlling

  6. Episode :: Six

  7. I am :: You are

  8. Horrendous :: Terrible

  9. Inhumane :: Treatment

  10. District :: Nine

District Nine is a good movie. Kind of strange but definitely worth watching. Not sure what Episode Six is... Star Wars, Return of the Jedi? Maybe.

Five Question Friday

Here we go. Another Five Question Friday, courtesy of Mama M.

1. What do you listen to while driving?

Great question. I listen to a ton of different things while driving, from Metallica to Sound of Music, but not all of it is stuff that I select. Since I do most of the driving duties around here, I am with the girls a lot of the time in the truck. I'd say about 70-80 percent of the time they're in the truck with me, I put in something for them. Lately they have been on a Sound of Music kick. Mrs. LB asked me to get the soundtrack and I found it at the local library, burned myself a copy thank you very much and it's been Do-Re-Mi and 16 Going On 17 ever since.

Just a quick list of the CDs and/or music groups that have graced my CD player in the last 2-3 days: Alvin and the Chipmunks Squeakquel Soundtrack, Wolfmother, Sound of Music, Metallica, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, They Might Be Giants, Secret Agent 23 Skiddoo, Flogging Molly, Mumford and Sons, Mana.

2. What is your least favorite thing about Fall?

The weather. I always seem to get sick when the weather changes. Not sure why but when it goes from hot to warm to chilly in the span of a few weeks like it does here in SoCal, my body crumples. It can't handle the rigors apparently and it just falls apart.

One of the things I dislike a lot about the fall here is that the sun still shines even when it's chilly, so I'll get in my truck and it will be very warm in there because the sun's heated up the inside of the truck. But it will be chilly so I'm dressed for such weather. So I'm driving in jeans and long sleeves but I've got the air on because it's pretty warm inside the truck. That's quite annoying. Does that happen in other places? I've always been curious.

3. What does your dream house look like, inside and out?

Neatly manicured lawn (manicured meaning no brown spots and someone else mows it), a big and clean garage, six bedrooms (a master, one for each of my two girls, an office, a guest room plus an LB room with a mix of sports-bar type theme and workout center), a neatly manicured backyard (again, no brown spots means manicured like a mother to me) but the most important thing - a big kitchen. I want an island. I want room enough for all of my pots and pans and plastic containers to fit and co-habitate effectively, a new refrigerator, the kind with the freezer on the bottom, and a big pantry, preferably a walk-in pantry, with loads of spices and the like.

4. Would you ever own a minivan?

I would rather have a regular van than a minivan. I would rather have a 1960s-style VW van than a minivan. I would rather have a station wa... um... well, I wouldn't drive a station wagon either.... so I guess my answer is NO WAY.

5. Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

I love the smell of new clothes and am sad when new clothes is dirty and needs a wash. No, I don't wash new clothes because that would be like killing their spirit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last-Minute Tips For First-Time Marathoner, Anyone?

What to wear? What to bring? What's the weather going to be like? Is it going to be okay? What if...

I'm sure these thoughts are racing through my friend tahoegirl, aka Anne, as she prepares for her first marathon.

Anne will be part of the large crowds in the Windy City on Sunday as she runs in the Chicago Marathon, her first marathon. I'm quite excited for her and honored to have been helpful to her along her way. I realize my help has been rather minimal but it's still fun to have been able to help out.

Anyway, her mind is probably racing faster then her legs ever have or will. I figured I'd see if readers would chip in with any last-minute tips and/or last-minute words of encouragement.

I'll start.

Anne, you are going to ROCK the crap out of Chicago! I'm so happy and excited for you! Sunday will be a day you will remember for the rest of your life so soak it all in. As for the race itself, pace yourself at the start. The last thing you want to do is to crash and burn midway through the race. Just know that you can get this race done no matter how bad the last miles might feel. I have faith in you!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Muddy Runner Q & A: Reaching New Heights In Long Beach

When you get to know marathon runners, you quickly realize that all of them have tales to tell. There is a reason to this marathoning insanity after all. However, not all marathoners' stories are readily available because not all marathoners have blogs, and thus some motivating stories remain unknown.

Tina, marathoner extraordinaire
One such marathoner's tale that has not been shared online is Tina's tale. Tina will be among those running 26.2 miles in Long Beach on Oct. 17 as Tina is running the Long Beach Marathon. Tina, a fellow Loma Linda Loper, ran her first marathon in February 2009 - Surf City in Huntington Beach - and Long Beach will be her 10th marathon. Her goal now is to run 11 by year's end.

As she prepares to run Long Beach once more - she ran this race in 2009 - Tina took time to share her story with me.

Question: What do you expect from the Long Beach Marathon? What do you hope to accomplish from the race?
(L to R) Claudia, Natasha and Tina, a trio of stars
Answer: I’m pacing my friend (Claudia) who has never run (a marathon). She was hoping to run Surf City or LA but she was injured and couldn’t finish and so we’ve been training, and it will be her first one. I’m not setting a PR here so I’m going to bring my camera. She runs probably a 12- to 13-minute pace so it will be a little slower. I’m going to enjoy this, where I get to be her coach and taking photos. You do feel stressed because you want to get her to a certain point but not the stress where I have to make sure that I beat my last time or my best time. I just have the stress of getting her to the finish line. I think it’s going to be exciting to get to see her cross. You know how it feels that first time, where you put all these miles into it and then you hit that finish line and no one can ever take that away from you. One of the speakers at the Lopers talked about feeling that medal hit your chest. It’s the best feeling ever. For me I’m excited to see her finish. That’s my big goal. It’s the first time I’m pacing somebody and I get to experience her crossing the finish line.

Q: With this being your 10th marathon, how is it for you now looking forward to such a race? Do worry more? Do you get more excited? Less excited? Is it more of a chore? How has that evolved?

A: I still get excited and I still get nervous and I tend to worry about things anyway. You know every bad thing that can happen because you’ve probably experienced it at least once in the runs that you’ve done whether it’s training runs or marathons so you think about those but you also know how to alleviate them. You’ve taken all the stuff you’ve learned in the past and bring it with you. You want to make sure you’re eating right, you’re still worried about the week before that you don’t want to put something in your system that’s going to make you feel ill when you’re running. But I’m still excited to run every single race. This is my second time running Long Beach and I actually PR’d in Long Beach last year and it will probably be the longest race so I figure I’ll have the most amount of hours on my feet running a race but I’m still just as excited. I haven’t had that experience where ‘Oh, it’s just another marathon. It’s not a big deal.’ Every marathon to me is a big deal and every medal I get and every shirt I bring home is like ‘Yes, I got another one!’ I feel like I do it for the medal and the shirt!

Q: Most people don’t understand why anyone would want to run a half marathon or a full marathon but you went above that and ran an ultramarathon, the Shadow of the Giants 50K in Yosemite National Park in June. From the time you started training for that to when you crossed the finish line, what were the biggest challenges you faced along that whole experience?

Pirouetting her way through an ultra
A: Training was hard and I basically had to give up my weekends because you had to do two back-to-back long runs. Some of those long runs were running a marathon and then waking up the next day and doing a 10-miler. Training was similar – you still ate similar types of foods. I was out there (on the course) for seven and a half hours. When I walked I felt like I was hiking. You don’t have cars and the fumes. You’re out in nature… When I knew I was close to that finish line, it was like re-living running a marathon all over again. We didn’t get medals. There were only 200 people who ran it so there was only a small group of people at the finish line but they still were out there cheering for you. They’d been out there just as long as you’d been out there whether they were cheering for you or waiting but there’s not as much publicity at the end of that so it’s kind of like you’re done and you say ‘Oh I’m done, I can’t believe I finished that.’ It’s all this hard work, all this prep and then it’s done. But then you’re like ‘I did it. I ran 32 miles and how cool is that?’

Q: Two years ago you hadn’t done one marathon. Take us back to then, before you ran the first marathon. What made you want to run a marathon and why did you decide to do it?

A: It was one of those bucket-list things. I was like ‘I’ll run a marathon before I’m 30.’ I had a second job and I couldn’t give up my weekend work until I was 30 and then I said I just needed to run one. In my head I was just doing one, it was just to cross it off the list and say ‘I did one marathon!’ They say 99 percent of the world hasn’t done one marathon so that was exciting. Waking up on Sunday mornings thinking that at 6:30 I had to be up and ready and out the door, it was hard in the beginning but I felt like, being a Loper, having people – not that they rely on you, but you start missing people when they’re not there because that’s when you get to spend all this time. You spend hours talking to these people that you don’t see during the week but you see them on your Sunday runs but you look forward to it. That was motivating. I ran my first half marathon a week before I ran my first full marathon, and at that half marathon expo I signed up for my second marathon so I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. We had done training runs but I had gotten injured so I never got to run past the 20-mile mark. The biggest thing was that I signed up for it, a few other people had signed up for the second marathon at the same time so it wasn’t like I was alone in this. The friendships is probably the biggest reason that I can still run, that bond.

Q: How many marathons did you intend on running?

A: Did I want to run nine? No. That wasn’t what my plan was at the beginning. It was to run one marathon. It became addicting. It became where when I didn’t run, I didn’t feel good. Whether it was frustration or whatever, running helped make you feel good. Those endorphins get you going.

Q: What do you remember the most from your first marathon?

Tina and Art crossing the finish
A: Seven of us ran almost 15 miles together. A couple of people fell behind, a couple of people ran ahead but then there were five of us for 20 miles. I had some IT band problems. It bothered me the whole race but at mile 20, 22 I just couldn’t stay with the group anymore. I kept falling back and I tried to run ahead with them and I fell back. I asked Art (a veteran Loper) if he would stay with me and so we finished the last four miles together. The biggest thing I remember about it was, I had a text on my phone that said ‘I’m at Mile 24’ and I had it to my fiancé and my mom and so I hit the button and both of them were like ‘We’re right at the finish line.’ I was expecting to see them to get me to the next hurdle and when I got to Mile 26, there was my family and friends. I had 15 people come out and support me and they had signs for me and when I saw them, that last two-tenths of a mile was euphoric. I was like ‘I finished. My family is here and they’re supporting me.’

Q: As far as Long Beach, what are some of the things you remember from last year’s race?

A: What I really liked about Long Beach was they closed the bike path down whereas in Surf City they don’t and you run quite a way along the beach. It’s so nice to get that fresh ocean air. I went to school at Cal State Long Beach and you do a little bit of a run there. They have the fraternities and sororities out there and they’re cheering for you and that’s really awesome because they’re up early in the morning cheering for complete strangers. That means a lot to us. Sometimes you just need a little motivation to get you through and you’re probably in the 15- to 18-mile mark when you’re on campus and I thought ‘Oh, look. I used to walk from here to here.’ Also I set a PR there so that for me was good because that was my fourth marathon last year. To set a PR was a great accomplishment. I had (Lopers) Natasha and Angelina finish together and that was very cool. At the very end, once you cross they had these unbelievable cupcakes and that was the best part! I’m looking forward to having some cupcakes at the end!

Q: What is your favorite marathon course you’ve run?

On the Bridge, in 2009
A: San Francisco is my favorite. In San Francisco, they close down part of the (Golden Gate) Bridge for you, for runners. We’re out there running, people think we’re crazy but they close the bridge for us. I would never see San Francisco like I do when I run. The hills are hard but you know what? If I was going to run an easy race, I would go run a 5K or just go run for fun. It’s a challenge in itself. People are like ‘Are you crazy? Why would you want to do that?’ It’s just another accomplishment that you feel, like ‘I can do this.’ Yeah the hills are hard but I’m running 26.2 miles, I’m not necessarily looking for an easy course. Plus you’re in San Francisco and the weather is always good. People are out there cheering for you. You hear Rocky and other songs on the Haight-Ashbury area and people are cheering for you. San Francisco is definitely a marathon that I would continue doing. It’s an accomplishment, to run through Golden Gate Park, to run through The Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf – I would never experience San Francisco any other way.