Sunday, January 30, 2011

Marathon No. 3 Almost Here... Already?!?

One week from today is the big day. Marathon No. 3, Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, Calif., will be awaiting that day. To say that I'm nervous a week out is, well, a bit of an understatement.

My nerves haven't been too bad. I've been dealing with this build-up well. But after today's 10-mile run, there's not much standing in the way now. A few midweek runs, lots of carbo-loading and water, and that's about it.

It's sort of like stepping up to a high diving board at a swimming pool. From a distance, it doesn't look too bad. When you start walking to it, you're excited about the jump but the closer you get, the more nervous you become because, after all, you're going to jump this really high distance. Then you get there, look down and... YIKES!!

I'm walking up to that diving board now. Suddenly, 26.2 miles seems like... well, 26.2 miles.

The part that worries me the most is once I hit Mile 20. I think I'll be okay at Mile 20 and even Mile 21, 22 but after that, every step I take is just going to add to my pain and discomfort and I'm going to want to curl up in the fetal position and die walk a lot, and while I am going to take walk breaks, I want to minimize those and not just stop because I'm in pain.

There's something I only feel when I reach the Land of High Mileage. My sides ache. It's like a slow burn on my sides and it makes the rest of me very uncomfortable. My feet also will be aching, I'm certain. The way I describe my marathon pain is that I feel like I've been hit by a truck, and next week an 18-wheeler's going to plow over me on Pacific Coast Highway.

I know come race day I'll be okay. My initial plan, well, part of it anyway, is to break the run up into three segments: Miles 1-10, Miles 11-20 and Miles 20-26.2. It's a lot easier to ingest when you think of it that way; 10 miles, 10 miles and a 10K.

It's funny because after all the build-up and all the nerves and anxiety and stress and jitters and what-the-hell-was-I-thinking feelings I'll have this week, once I get to the start line, I know I'll be fine. I'll be calm and excited and ready. But it's getting there that will be the challenging part.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Marathon Monster Has Diminished (A Little)

I have a marathon coming up! I can't believe it. I guess why I can't believe it is because I'm not as nervous as I was last year. I have a load of confidence heading into Surf City 2010 - not necessarily confidence in that I'm going to run a really fast race or anything but confidence in that I'm going to finish, I'm going to run strong and I'm going to live up to my marathoner status.

It's a stark contrast to last year when I was a ball of nerves the weeks leading up to Surf City.

How have things changed in one year? Here's where my 2010 and 2011 experiences have differed so far.


2010: I checked the weather multiple times a day... okay, it was like multiple times an hour. The last thing I wanted was rain.

2011: On Wednesday I checked the forecast once. It called for rain on Feb. 6. Thursday I checked once and rain was on the forecast for Feb. 7. While rain will be an inconvenience, I'm not worried about it.


2010: We rented a hotel for two nights a year ago. The room wasn't that great but it was within walking distance and we (Mrs. LB and I) felt it was important to have a place to stay nearby so I can get up and walk to the start line, walk back after the finish, sleep after the race and recover on a bed instead of a car.

2011: We may get a hotel but Mrs. LB is going to drop me off. We still haven't figured it out but I'm not worried about those parts of the logistics.


2010: In my final long run ahead of the marathon, I wore the outfit I wound up wearing at the marathon. I wanted to make sure that things worked out well and that I would be comfortable in what I'd decided to wear.

2011: I'm wearing my pink Loper shirt but beyond that, not sure. I have an idea of what shorts I want to wear but nothing's finalized.


2010: I decided that I wanted to run with my pace group and I ended up running the race with them. One fellow Loper and I did most of the course together.

2011: I'm going at it alone.


2010: I carefully constructed a playlist, divided it up into three separate playlists so I could skip ahead if need be. I wound up skipping the second one altogether because I didn't start listening to music until about Mile 8 or so.

2011: Four songs have officially made my playlist. I'm thinking of just throwing in about 4.5 hours worth of music and hitting shuffle on race day.


2010: I knew what it was like to run 22 miles. But I didn't know what it was like to run 23, 24, 25, 26 or 26.2.

2011: I know exactly what it's like to be on Mile 25 of a 26.2-mile run. Every muscle in your body is aching, every step requires a huge effort, and you feel as if you are not moving any closer to the finish line. As a fellow Loper told me, the last six miles are all mental. Been there twice, survived twice. I wouldn't say I came out unscathed but I did survive. And knowing that I survived and lived to run another day has given me the confidence I have now.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tres Cosas Jueves

1. Countdown Is On: T-minus 10 days until the Surf City Marathon!!! Special moments, these marathons. I'm a marathoner and everything (it still feels funny to say that) but that doesn't mean that I'm running a marathon every month... well, I will run a marathon in February and March but let's not get off topic here... Anyway, these are special moments in my life. How many marathons will I run when it's all said and done? 10? 20? 40? 3? You never know what will happen, so I will try to treat each marathon as a special moment. For that special moment, I am excited. For the pain I will feel during and after the marathon, I'm not but let's just ignore that for now.

2. Rain, Rain, Go Away: I haven't been checking the weather much lately. I would check it but... okay, I don't know if I'm going to get much sympathy from any of you here but I'm going to write about this anyway.... as I was saying, the winter here has been anything but. Well, I checked the weather forecast for the marathon. Last year I checked it 356,887 times a week but this year it's been considerably less. Well, the only day that's supposed to have wet weather in all of January and into February is Feb. 6, day of Surf City. Nice. I'm not worried about it necessarily but come on. We've had brilliant sunshine **ducks** and temps in the 70s and 80s **sidesteps** and for it to rain on Feb. 6 would not be fun. Okay, now you can stop throwing things at me. Well, maybe not. Here's the forecast for today:

3. Look Outside At The Raincoats Coming, Say Oh: I haven't yet made up my entire Surf City playlist quite yet but I know this song is going to be on there. The girls actually like this song, as do I of course. They've listened to it a few times... they play a game called Just Dance on the Wii and they like to dance to this song. It's called A-Punk by the group Vampire Weekend. If you haven't checked them out, I highly recommend them. They're a little different but they're pretty cool. I think that's what I like about them, that they're different. This song is also at the very beginning of the movie Step Brothers, which is a hilarious movie (it's the Catalina Wine Mixer - POW!). Anyway, this song will probably make me think of my girls. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blog Honors, And An Honored Blog

Just wanted to share this bit with you.

Broken Hearted Runner compiled a list of Best Running Blogs and included yours truly in there.

What he says about this trusty blog:

Muddy Runner: He has accomplished some amazing things in a short amount of time.

Woo hoo!

On a related note, you might want to check out a new blog. It's not a new blog I stumbled upon but rather a brand-spankin' new blog. My beloved friend Tahoegirl has FINALLY decided to take up blogging! I'm so excited to be able to follow her training and antics up in frozen Michigan.

got miles? is the name of her blog and please go say hello, follow her and encourage her to continue churning out the blog posts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stick The Finish!

One thing I like about races are the pictures. I’m not going to lie – I enjoy hamming it up every now and then. That’s one thing that is tangible about races, the pictures. That’s actual proof that you ran, and also pictures can take me back to moments during races and bring some positive memories (hopefully) back in the process.

Well, the best shot of any race is of course the finish line shot. It can also be the worst shot. If you aren’t prepared for it and are looking down at your wrist or maybe even down at your shoes or somewhere else, the moment is tarnished. I mean, would you want to show off your finish line shot of you looking at your wrist?

“This is me trying to figure out my time when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.”

Yeah, no.

Anyway, I like to put a stamp on my races. I like to finish strong and try to tough it out at the end. Part of what gets me through the last few miles is to think about the finish line pose. I know it sounds lame but when your body is starting to fade, longing to quit and your mind is seriously contemplating giving in to the body’s desires to stop and sit down, any little thing can take your mind off the screams from your body.

What should I do when I cross the finish line? And then, really, you have to cross the finish line once you ask yourself that, right? You have no choice.

I like to plan ahead, and I’m planning ahead now for Surf City 2011. I won’t cross that finish line until just before noon on Feb. 6, but it’s never too early to think about the glory. Sure, I’ll have to go earn it of course but I will. I know I’ll cross that finish line. I might be a beaten-down mess of a man but I’m dragging myself across that damn line if I have to.

What will I do when I cross the finish line? Well, I’ve already done two poses.

stick LB and real LB celebrating after Surf City Marathon 2010

stick LB and real LB after San Francisco Marathon

There’s not too many more directions in which to put my arms.

But I came up with a few.

Arms out in front

Not as spread-eagle as San Francisco but arms out a bit wide nonetheless

Arms raised to the sky

Not sure if I'll cross the finish line with one of these poses or if I'll figure something else out while I'm on the beach path on Mile 23 or whatever, but I'll try and stick the finish one way or another.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Surf City Scouting Mission On The Cheap

I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is under warm skies.

Since there was no school on Monday, I decided to take the girls down to Huntington Beach. The trip served two purposes - first, it was a family outing, a "cheap thrill" if you will (I'll explain); and secondly, it was a bit of a scouting trip.

Huntington Beach is site of the Surf City Marathon, which will be Marathon No. 3 (and was No. 1 as well). While the memories of Feb. 7, 2010 are still crisp and vivid in my head, taking another trip down there wasn't a bad idea. And considering it was in the mid- to upper-70s in HB (and about 10 degrees warmer than that out here) I figured the beach would be a great idea.

The girls thought so too.

Now, the sun was out, no clouds, beaming, warm... but the water was quite cold. I mean, it's winter after all. But that didn't stop the girls from getting in the water. I only got my feet in the water, and I got up to just above my knee at the deepest, but my feet were blocks of ice.

At one point, they felt accustomed to it but I think they might have been going numb at that point and I confused that with warmth.

The girls liked the outing. They played in the sand, splashed around in the water, chowed down some lunch and enjoyed some ice cream.

Now, about the Cheap Thrills. My blog buddy Willoughby came up with this idea on her blog a while ago. Here's the criteria:
  • Be within a reasonable distance from home so that no overnight stay is required
  • Charge little or no fee to enjoy
  • Appeal to both kids and adults
  • Have a place to picnic nearby
Lemme see... check (about a 50-minute drive), check (paid 6 bucks for parking, for 4 hours), check (come on, it's the beach!), check (on the sand... well, on the chairs and towels which are on the sand, and we cleaned up after ourselves of course).

Aside from the six dollars for parking, I paid six dollars for ice cream and 2.25 for a couple of souvenirs. So that's 14.25. That's what my outing cost (not counting gas). Score one for LB.

She was excited about me pulling off a Cheap Thrill apparently.

Speaking of blog buddies, did I mention how totally and ridiculously awesome Morgan of Caution: Redhead Running is? Well, she is. She drew my name in a blog buddy Christmas exchange I participated in and she got me this stupendous shirt. My facial expression does it no justice.

I'm not a fan of my face here but oh well. The shirt is way awesome and I can't thank her enough.

I sported that shirt throughout HB and I will need its inspiration to help me slay this demon.

Looks innocent enough. A stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.

Well, it's not. The building off in the distance is the HB Hilton. In front of the hotel is the Surf City Marathon start line, and a little past this light here is the finish line. When I trudge past this light, this very spot from where I took this picture, I will be close to completing my marathon. Hopefully I will have some steam left in my tank and hopefully I'll be in one piece mentally.

If Monday's trip to Surf City is any indication, though, I should be fine, for the enemy is the same enemy I conquered in 2010 and while it wants revenge on Feb. 6, I will be up for the challenge.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Surf City Training (Almost) Done

I didn't get a medal or a t-shirt and there wasn't really any celebrating from any spectators, but I did something just as important as running a marathon on Sunday.

I finished my training.

Now, there are still two Sunday runs left before Surf City, but at 12 and 10 miles, these next two runs are mostly about getting the miles in and maintaining your form and fitness. All the hard work is over. All the grueling, mind-numbing, leg-killing, side-splitting, limp-inducing training runs are over.

It's something worth celebrating. I don't want to feel like the marathon will be a prance in the park because it won't. I've likened my past marathon experience as being akin to getting hit by a truck and I fully expect to be slammed head-on by an 18-wheeler somewhere in Huntington Beach on Feb. 6. However, it's just me and the monster now and I can stare at it head on with the confidence that I not only survived this training cycle but came through it strong.

Sunday, I ran 20 miles. It was my second 20-mile run in three weeks, which I think is a first. I ran 18 miles on Dec. 19. I've done several 13-, 14- and 15-mile runs as well over the last few months. So 12 and 10 now seem fairly manageable.

The hardest part about running a marathon is training for one. I've found that out with the two marathons I've run and trained for, and that's given me some calm now because that part is all but over.

The marathon itself will be hard. Challenging. Painful. Grueling. Torturous. But once I push past all that, there will be a medal on the other side, there will be cheers from spectators (and Mrs. LB), there will be glory.

And I've earned the right to be there and indulge in all that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tres Cosas Jueves

1. Is it cold where you live? It's cold here. Okay, it's not. Sorry. It's supposed to be in the 70s today and it's actually supposed to be in the high 70s through the weekend. Yeah, not cold. Well, it's a little chilly in the mornings, and we did have wind on Wednesday which made it a little chilly. But we don't have several inches of snow or pounding sleet or anything like that.

There are things about where I live that I don't care for, namely the traffic. But when the rest of the country is having snow days, I'm just happy that I live here where the climate is very kind to us. It makes it easier to run. I don't know how runners who live in places like, oh I don't know?, Michigan, do it. Seriously. Ice and snow and sleet and hail and wind and blizzards? No thanks.

I'd hibernate.

2. Here's a cool workout I wanted to share. I did this one on Wednesday at the gym.

Start with a 20-minute warmup. Then run 15 minutes at half marathon pace, 10 minutes slightly faster, 10 minutes at 10K pace and then 5 minutes at 5K pace, with a 5-minute rest between each segment, and by rest run at or slower than the warmup pace or walk or both. I only did one of the 10-minute segments because I had a soccer game in the afternoon.

How my workout looked:

20 min - 10:21 pace (5.8)
15 min - 8:46 (6.8)
5 min - walking + 10:48 (5.7)
10 min - 8:21 - 8:00 (7.2-7.5)
5 min - walking + 10:48 (5.7)
5 min - 7:30 (8.0)

All together I ran 6.5 miles in about 1 hour 2 minutes. It was a challenging run but it didn't seem like it would be too bad. I like that. I wasn't intimidated by it because it broke down into really manageable segments, and the best thing is the breaks in between. It wasn't a run where you have to go top gear for 3-4 miles. Instead, you just have to push yourself for 15 minutes or 10 minutes and then you know you will get a break. Those are the best kinds of workouts.

When soccer season is over, or when I can find a day that I don't have a game, I want to try the whole workout, with two 10-minute segments. That might make it closer to an eight-mile speedwork run.

3. Remember last year when I challenged my brother to a 5K, my more athletically-gifted brother? If you weren't here for that, you missed out on some awesome stuff.

Anyway, there could be a second and third round to this ongoing brotherly contest. For sure, we'll challenge one another in June, when we both run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Not only do I want to beat him on that day but I want to beat his PR of 1:03 on that course, which he set in 2009. I want to take that time and bury it in the mud and water at Camp Pendleton.

That will be round three. Round two? We've got something we're working on, a race. It's not another 5K because my legs hurt just thinking about running 3.1 miles at top speed. It will be interesting though, I promise. You'll have to keep an eye out for the details as they unfold. We don't have a time or place for our challenge but when we do I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Surf City Marathon: My Goals

With Surf City Marathon (!) rapidly approaching, I have to figure out some goals. What do I want to accomplish from the race? Do I want to run for fun? Set a PR? BQ?

hahahaahahaha... okay, you can forget about BQ, hahaha... that was a joke...


Anyway, I have one main goal: I want to set a marathon PR.

Is that attainable? Yes, very much so. I ran 4:42:26 on this course last year and beat that time in "the race even marathoners fear" when I ran 4:37:51 in the San Francisco Marathon. Surf City is a relatively flat course - there are some inclines at about Mile 7 or thereabouts - so the course is set up for speed.

So, what sort of time do I have in mind? Crack 4:30? 4:15? Go for a sub-4 marathon?

That's the tricky part. I'm not experienced enough in marathons to know what makes for a good race strategy and what doesn't. In fact, I've never really had a race strategy. Surf City 2010 was all about getting to the finish line and San Francisco was, well, I thought I'd give it a go the last 6.2 miles but surviving the hills was really the primary objective. I just wanted to have enough strength in my legs entering the last 6.2 miles.

When running 26.2 miles, I don't know what works or what doesn't work for me. I don't know how fast I should run the first few miles, when to pick it up, when to ease up, how fast to run in the middle miles, the end miles, etc.

My initial strategy is to run a bit faster early on, to bank miles early on as my pal Katie so eloquently puts it, and to try and keep up that pace. How fast? I know my body and I know what works and what doesn't work on longer runs. What doesn't work is this: run slow in the early miles and then pick up the pace midway. If I run 11-minute miles early on, there's no chance I'll be hitting 9-minute miles afterward. My body doesn't work that way.

So that sort of helps me. I know that I have to run hard, fast early on and then maintain the pace, and hopefully I'll have enough left for a strong final surge.

What time am I shooting for then?

I do think a sub-4 marathon is something I will want to shoot for at some point, but right now, for my third marathon, I want to crack 4:20. I want to get under 4:20 and want to shave off more than 20 minutes from my Surf City 2010 time. I'd be happy with that.

So, that's the target. 4 hours, 20 minutes. I'm coming for you on Feb. 6.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Painful Reminder

I forget.

Sometimes I just go about my business without thinking twice about certain things.

Sunday was one of those days. A little before six in the morning, I was mentally going over everything I'd need for my 14- to 15-miler I'd planned to run.
Fuel belt. Okay, got that. Garmin. Gu. Check and check. Watch, yeah might as well take it. Oh yeah, grab the phone holder and headphones, probably going to need those.

Nowhere in there did I say "What about your nipples?"

I'd had tape on them for a few days, which usually works best for me. If I tape them just before a run, they don't always stick that great and then they become exposed. And when they are exposed, I'm susceptible to injury.

So, somewhere in between the Gu and headphones, I should have said "Well, just in case, let me check my nips."

But I didn't.

And I paid for it.

I knew I was in trouble at about Mile 7. I didn't feel the tape on my right side. I felt it on the left but not my right. About a mile afterward I noticed some blood. I had two shirts on, a long-sleeve undershirt and a gray shirt over that. A few miles after that, I noticed a lot of blood. Throughout the run, I would try and put some pressure on the area, but that didn't really work that well.

When I was done with my run - a tough 14.39 mile run - I lifted up my gray shirt and saw the extent of the damage.

My nip was in pain so I took my shirts off in the parking lot and snapped that picture.

If you haven't read this blog for a while, this is an ongoing problem. Well, it was at one point but I fixed it. Mostly. As long as I use the tape that works best for me - medical tape - then I'm fine. I just have to include them on my checklist.

It's actually good this happened now. Every now and then I need a reminder, a hard slap in the face, to keep the nipples in mind.

With Surf City just around the corner, now's as good a time as any to be reminded of that.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One Month To Go

One month from today, I will take on the beast once more, the 26.2-mile beast that is the marathon.

On Feb. 6 I'll run Marathon No. 3, the Surf City Marathon.

Am I nervous? Not really, actually. I mean, I'll have the usual pre-race nerves and jitters as the day approaches I imagine, but standing here one month out, I'm looking forward to it with anticipation, not with dread. Last year, I wasn't dreading it necessarily but I was a ball of nerves often in the weeks leading up to the marathon.

Part of what calms me, of course, is that I've already run not only a marathon but this marathon. I now the course (it's not that great of a course, to be honest), I know what to expect in terms of the mental monsters (conquered them along the beach path last year) and I know what to expect in terms of pre- and post-race festivities (the expo sucked because it rained a ton last year; lots of crowds on PCH after race).

Also part of what is calming me is that I just ran 20 miles (20.11 to precise :) ) and I felt good afterward. Well, in relative terms I suppose. I felt much better after this 20-mile run than I did after the 20-miler I ran before San Francisco, both mentally and physically.

I have to keep myself grounded though. I can't approach this race with any sort of overconfidence. I have a lot going for me but all that can come back to bite me in my arse if I think that that will make things easier. There hasn't been anything easy about either of my two marathons and I don't expect that to change ahead of Marathon 3, Marathon 23 or Marathon 43 or whatever.

The experience I've amassed has to work for me, not against me. But so far, if these lack of nerves are any indication, it's working well already.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Playlist Enhancer: Locnville's Sun in my Pocket

Often, I hear pleas of help with regards to music. Many people out there are always looking for something new to listen to, myself included. I think I've finally discovered enough new (to me) artists that I'm feeling as if there's hope for music after all.

Anyway, if you're looking for something new and different to listen to, check this song out. I heard this song on a video game I have. The game, FIFA 11, has a ton of songs on it and this is one of them. It took me a while to realize that I liked it because it was catchy.

Now, normally I listen to hard stuff and this is not in the same category as my typical musical tastes. This is like dance music - I think the term I came across was electro dance.

Anyway, these guys were born in New York but raised in South Africa. Locnville with Sun in my Pocket...

And just to counter the effects of any "electro dance" songs that may make it onto my blog, here's an oldie but goodie that's more along the lines of what I usually listen to.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Setting A High Bar

I didn't make it out for a run on New Year's Day. I was kind of bummed about it. The morning saw me getting up late along with Mrs. LB and we got up and went to get the girls, who'd stayed the night at their grandma's. We went over to my mom's immediately afterward, then straight to a birthday party and then... well, by then the day was all but gone.

But it's actually a good thing. Instead of saying that my first run of 2011 was a two-miler, I can say that it's a little longer than that.

I knocked out a 20-mile run. And just to put an exclamation mark on it, I did what blog buddy Lisa suggested, and ran 20.11 miles.

The run was tough. There is such a huge difference between 18 and 20 miles. You wouldn't think that; I mean, it seems like anything above 15 miles would be tough, but my sides hurt much more, my legs were heavier and harder to move after 20 than they were after 18.

I ran with my Lopers group, however, it wasn't all smooth sailing. I ran the first 14.75 with them, and the last 5.whatever by myself. That was the hardest part of the run. Just when I needed the support the most, they were gone! It was my own choice, though. I could have either run earlier or stopped at 15. But neither were options because we all set out for 18 miles, but some aches and pains flared up for others and I was the only one who elected to run further than 15.

The hardest part was going all the way back to our start/finish point and then having to go back out. Oh well. It gave me some mental preparation for Surf City, which has huge out-and-backs along PCH and the paved bike path.

Anyway, in 2009 I ran five miles on New Year's Day. In 2010, I ran 10 and set a high bar each time. On Jan. 2, 2011 I ran 20.11 miles, and while it wasn't on New Year's Day the bar was set high nevertheless.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I made New Year's Resolutions. Okay, no I didn't. But I'm going to make some right now because I have to. I think it's some sort of law...

Uh.... well, er....

Okay, I tried. I sat here and looked at the screen and drew a blank, the same blank that I've been drawing the last few weeks when thinking about goals for 2011. Well, I mean I have goals for next year I suppose. I mean, I'm racing several races in 2011 so my goals will to train well for them. I know that's kind of vague, and you're not supposed to be vague with your goals, but I don't know that I need to change anything up with regards to my runs.

I tried to be all motivated for 2011 but then I think I'm already doing well to motivate myself. I'm really pumped for Surf City, am excited about trying to run two marathons in six weeks, am looking forward to the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in June, to the San Francisco Marathon in July... it's going to be a fun year, and that alone motivates me.

So, I guess I don't have any resolutions to make. I think the only real resolutions I need to make are personal, don't involve running and kinda dull really (I need to use my office more often, for instance; I tend to use my laptop in the dining room or living room... I know, zzzzzzzzzzz). So yeah, I think that's it. I don't want to force any half-assed goals down my throat, don't want to set targets when they're already set, don't want to do something just because everyone else does it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect. No effing way. But things are going well right now with my fitness and all that good stuff, and so I don't need extra resolve when it's already there.