Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tres Cosas Jueves

1. Stains For Life: If you are a longtime reader of this blog, you know very well the history I have with my nipples. It's not a fun history but rather a gruesome one filled with blood and despair. On these nipples, there will be blood. And on my last bib, there will forever be blood.

Now, to be fair, I've gotten the situation under control. I use medical tape, like the kind of tape you would have put on your wrist or arm or somewhere on your skin to keep needles in, and I just take two big pieces and make Xs on each nipple. It's really hot, ladies.... Um, anyway, as long as I do that, I'm fine. But the ones I put on my left nip was just not having it that day and around Mile 5 or 6, the tape just came off. That bib is just another reminder that I need to prepare as best as possible. And really, it could have been a lot worse. Who can forget this picture?

2. Small Means Small: So, I talked recently about the differences between small races and big races. While small races have their benefits, one thing that was clearly a strike against them was the size of the medal. Here is a picture with the DVL, San Francisco and Surf City (2011) medals. Can you spot the small-race medal?

Kinda hard to spot, I know. It's kind of engulfed in the massiveness and awesomeness of the San Francisco Marathon medal. I'm proud of all of my medals, especially the marathon ones (and I'm also very fond of that orange medal in the picture above). I'm proud that I earned all of them on my own and that they are a reflection of the work I put into each race, not just the race itself but in the months leading up to it. But let's be honest, some medals are nicer looking than others. So DVL medal, I'm proud of you, but you have a face only a daddy could love.

3. On Display: I may have posted this already, not sure. But this is where I keep all of my medals.

Mrs. LB got this for me for Christmas and it's great. I had been hanging my medals around some large steins that I have on a bookcase but it wasn't the best since they all kind of piled on each other. This though lets them all breathe and lets them all have an equal amount of space to show off. Some are larger than others, of course, and there many different varieties. I have medals from 5Ks, one 15K, half marathons, full marathons and a relay race. Hmmm... I have no 10K medal. How did that happen? Oh yeah, I finished 101st (amongst men) in the Mission Inn 2009 10K and the top 100 finishers got medals. Guess I'll have to try and change that to get my 10K medal and make this collection more thorough.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Along For The Marathon Ride

If you read this blog hoping to be wowed by a spectacular marathon time, you’re probably reading the wrong blog. If you’re hoping to get some tips on how to qualify for the Boston Marathon, then you are definitely reading the wrong blog.

What I realized the most from my experience with the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon is that speed is not the end-all be-all to me. It isn’t.

Now, I will add this as a disclaimer up front: what I say from here on out isn’t necessarily an indictment on speed; nor does it mean that I don’t want to go after certain PRs at certain distances. On the contrary, I think for me those goals are healthy and important, to an extent.

But having a great time, setting a PR, knocking one out of the park is not the only thing I look for in marathons… races in general but particularly marathons.

I’ve compared and contrasted my two most recent marathons and came to that conclusion. For the DVL Marathon, my goals were to finish strong and to work on my mental state in the latter portion of the race (Miles 20-plus). I met those goals. My time suffered – 4:44:25. Yikes! It was a full 21 minutes slower than the PR I'd set at Surf City just nine weeks prior - 4:23:38.

There are factors as to why my time changed so dramatically, as I’ve blogged about already, but despite the disparity in time, I’m fairly certain I got more out of DVL than I did from Surf City.

Marathons are challenges. They truly are. Every one I’ve done has grabbed me, shaken me, picked me up my feet and slammed my head on the ground multiple times - and then they each proceeded to have their way with me. Consequently, my mind was in a pudding-like state while my muscles refused to act like normal.

And I think that’s what I enjoy about marathons. I like them precisely because they are tough, because they are challenging, because you can’t bullshit your way around one. Either you do it or you don’t. It’s the ultimate line in the sand and I’m one of the few foolish enough to cross it.

If I were to put all of my marathons in a bag, reach in and take one out – doesn’t matter which one – I could honestly say that that specific marathon was the hardest single physical thing I’ve had to endure in my life, bar none. They are each at the same level – on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most difficult thing you could possibly do, they are all 10s (I know, dropping 100-plus pounds was tough but that was a sustained period of difficulty, versus one grueling act).

And no matter how much I train for my next one or the next five or 12 or 23… they will never cease being 10s. I know that full well going in, which is why I bust my butt and train hard for them. That’s why I get up at 5:30 on Sunday mornings and go run 10, 12, 15, 18, 20 miles; that goes to the no BS’ing your way around a marathon thing. That’s why I take care of my body (mostly), why I’ve all but stopped drinking, why I have my gym membership, why I spend so much money on shoes and gear in general… the list goes on and on.

Time is only a part of the marathon experience for me. What matters most to me is conquering the distance, slaying the beast, defeating the monster. Believe me, marathons are monsters. There’s no sugar-coating it. I’ve been in the belly of the beast, and it’s as dark and dingy of a place as you can imagine.

But that’s what concerns me, delving to the depths of the dungeon and climbing out, not so much how fast I was able to escape from the monster’s clutches.

And if the journey is what matters to you, then stick around.

I’ll have plenty of those tales to tell.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Breakin' The Break

Well, I went long enough without it.

Running and I went without each other for too much time, so on Friday I corrected that.

I went on a run.

Yes, it was a few days earlier than I'd anticipated but I was starting to feel the effects of not running. I felt sluggish, felt tired, felt like I was coming down with something. So with the urging of Mrs. LB, I went on a run. I woke up around 5 a.m. on Friday and 30 minutes later I was out running again.

It was a great run. I felt good, as good as I could have wanted to considering I hadn't run for nearly two weeks.

The best part about this run was that I feel energized to run once more. My next race will be on June 4, the Fontana Days Half Marathon, and I can now start planning and training for that in earnest.

It's nice to be back.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On The Topic Of Support

Support is a strange thing. I need it just like anyone else needs it. No matter what you're doing - running, going to school, living life - without support, things get complicated quickly.

I could not be the runner I am today without having had support from my running club, the Lopers; from my running friends I met with the Lopers; from the countless, nameless people who have helped out during all the races I've ever ran; and of course from all of you blog readers who take time every, uh, day/week/once-in-a-while to read my blog and peruse my thoughts.

The one person who has supported me the most has been Mrs. LB. Now, she hasn't pushed me to do all the races I've done; she's helped keep me grounded and has helped temper my zeal because otherwise I would probably have signed up for more races than I've run and that may have been a bad idea. But she supports me and I know that if I sign up for a race, she'll be behind me.

But the rest of my family... well, not so much. This actually sounds more harsh than it is, but that's the truth. Not so much. I mean, they all realize how much I run and how running has helped me do certain things previously thought impossible. But Mrs. LB has been the only one in my extended family even that has been to my races. She hasn't been at all of them but she's been to at least one of my 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and has been to all of my marathons.

My brother Jesse was at my last race, at the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon. He jumped at the chance to go with us to the race and was cheering me and other runners on, supporting his brother and the random strange runner in front of him as well. And that was great, knowing he was in my corner and supportive of my racing.

Now, I'm not necessarily complaining. I'm not having a sob-fest here, nor do I want to change the name of my blog to Weepy Runner. But I do find it a bit curious that there's been such little interest in just going out to one of my races. Distance running is such a difficult thing, and if all it takes to support me and my efforts during a race is just showing up, why hasn't anybody done that?

I've seen fellow runners' race pictures, mostly on FB, of races and some of them have this huge contingent of people out there with them, supporting them, cheering them on with signs and such.

Now, I get why some races wouldn't be that fun to attend. Crowds, traffic, the time commitment involved. A race-viewing experience that consists of an hours-long wait to get one glimpse at a loved one and swim upstream amongst the other salmon to find them after the race doesn't seem so appealing. I understand that, and in fact I've told and will continue to tell Mrs. LB not to go to certain races, such as the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, because it would be a big hassle for her to go - the only exception is my marathons; she's stuck having to support me at my marathons whether she likes it or not :)

As with everything, it sounds a bit rough in writing. "My family doesn't support me - waaaa!" Look, they support me, they back me because they are my family and they love me (I think, I hope, maybe not if they read this...). But I'm just struck at the disparity in the support some runners get and others don't.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marathons: Big vs. Small

I've ran four marathons (!) and three of them were similar. Well, two of them were on the same course as I ran Surf City in 2010 and 2011. I also ran the 2010 San Francisco Marathon.

On April 9, I ran my fourth marathon but it was not the same experience at all. The Diamond Valley Lake Marathon was a much smaller, much different race. In some ways, it made me long for the big-city events, and in other ways I found myself endeared to the small-race crowd.

Comparing and contrasting the events...


Big races: Before the city events, particularly San Francisco, there was a buzz in the air. You could feel runners getting focused, mentally preparing themselves for 26.2 miles and a monumentally difficult challenge.

Small race: There wasn't much of an atmosphere to speak of. I walked to close to start line, making it there with about 10 minutes to spare. While I was focused and mentally preparing myself for the marathon challenge, it kind of felt like we were waiting outside a store to open its doors, not like we were waiting to tackle the marathon monster.

Winner: Big races


Big races: There were a sea of people everywhere. This caused problems. Honey Buckets (aka porta-potties) had ridiculously long lines and people darted in front of you at seemingly every turn.

Small race: I walked right into a Honey Bucket, walked out, went to see Mrs. LB, the girls and my bro and then walked back to the start line. I did all that rather effortlessly.

Winner: Small race


Big races: Unless you live near a big-city race (and actually in SoCal there are several that fit this bill) you are probably going to need an overnight stay somewhere. Even if you live within driving distance of the race, you probably will need to get up early, figure out what the street closures are, figure out where to park and either walk to the start line or take a shuttle there, and you are going to have to give yourself plenty of time, just in case. Well, you will need time to stand in the massive Honey Bucket lines, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be such lines.

Small race: I happened to live pretty close to this race so no overnight stay was necessary. There was zero traffic and street closures weren't necessary. I parked at about 7:40 or so, 20 minutes before the race started and I had plenty of time to spare. Also, and what was best about this, I saw Mrs. LB and all of my supporters before I finished the race and they were right there after the race. It took me about 45 minutes to find them after my first marathon, and they never even got to see me before I finished No. 3 because they'd gotten stuck in traffic.

Winner: Small race.

Onlookers/Crowd Support

Big races: Hordes of people were along the course for all three of my city races. People held up signs, banged drums and gongs, handed out oranges, drinks and other assorted goodies, shouted words of encouragement and helped us at seemingly every step of the marathon.

Small race: Crowd support was all but non-existent. Aside from the start/finish area (we went one way for two miles, turned around and went past the start line on our way around the lake), there was nobody on the course save for the volunteers and race staff. Now, this may have been unique to our race since it was around a lake and not in open public land or whatever, but there wasn't a whole lot of fanfare regardless. I will say, though, that aside from one volunteer table, all the volunteers at all the aid stations were very supportive and cheered all of us on.

Winner: Big race


Big race: The expos for the three city races were large, crowded and had lots of stuff. I bought a fuel belt in San Francisco (still can't believe I forgot my fuel belt for that race!) but I didn't buy anything in the other ones, just picked up my race packet.

Small race: There was no expo. Packet pick-up began at 6:30 a.m. the morning of the race.

Winner: Push. It was nice not having to go out a day early to get my packet, but the expo gave each city race a feeling of anticipation, made me think 'Okay, this is really going to happen.'


Big race: I got some nice and unique medals. I also got some pretty cool bags that I use; Surf City bags are my grocery store bags and I use the SF Marathon bag for soccer; I carry stuff in there to practice.

Small race: I'm proud of the medal but it's pretty small. I didn't even bother getting the race swag because it wasn't a bag that was unique to the race. I don't even remember what it was, I think some ads for something, nothing that screamed unique race.

Winner: Big race


Big race: Pictures were available the Thursday after the race and there were plenty to choose from. Prices sucked, though.

Small race: Pictures were available the Thursday after the race and there were plenty to choose from. Prices sucked, though.

Winner: Push!


Big race: There were ways to follow me and my progress in each of the city races. I'm still honored and humbled that some of you followed me along my races and will be forever grateful to you! Results were in pretty much after I crossed the finish line.

Small race: No real-time results. I had to wait until Sunday to find out my official time.

Winner: Big race


Each race was unique - even Surf City 2010 and Surf City 2011. I enjoyed each and every one of my marathons and each had their pluses and minuses.

Do I have a preference? For a big-time event, nothing matches the city races. But for the ease of getting to and fro, for the lack of traffic and for a low-key approach, nothing beats the small race atmosphere.

I think I would have to run more small races, and perhaps even other big-city events like the LA Marathon and maybe an out-of-state marathon like Seattle or Arizona, to compare the two. So I can't say one way or the other definitively. I will say that if I have my family with me and they are going to be out on the course, I would probably choose the small race. But if I were to go it alone, I could probably deal with the logistics of a city race.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mad Monday Meanderings

Well, I made it. It's been more than a week since I've been on a run. I'm on a self-imposed running hiatus, hoping that when I do return to running I'll do so refreshed and recharged to hit my training hard once I start running.

Idle time has produced idle thoughts...

* Strange to not get up and have a run planned.

* Okay, that's not entirely true. I have a run planned for April 24, a week from today. But still, it's a ways away.

* I hope this time off is worth it. I know it's only two weeks but it seems like an eternity.

* I should do some cross-training but I hate lifting weights.

* 93 degrees in Riverside on Saturday. Glad it wasn't like that the Saturday before, because that would have destroyed me in the marathon.

* The most physical activity I had all week? Running a tiny but (to shag balls) before my daughter's soccer game on Saturday.

* Only two more games of the spring season for Yvie and Kennedy. Kinda bummed and happy at the same time. Happy because we get our Saturdays back, but bummed because the girls both like to play soccer.

* Yvie told me before practice on Thursday: "My two favorite seasons are spring because of the flowers and fall because of football, and by football I mean soccer. I want to call soccer football from now on." That's my girl :)

* Speaking of girls, I did Yvie's hair in a bun on Sunday and it came out well. I need to learn how to do more hairstyles though because Yvie's hair looks fantastic when it's in a French braid. I wonder if there's classes I could take to learn how to do their hair.

* What I can do with their hair: Ponytail, braid, pigtails, side ponies, bun... that's about it.

* We might have the girls take private swim lessons this summer instead of signing them up at the local pool. That would be great!! It would totally free me up... well, not free me up necessarily but it would give us all a lot more flexibility. We wouldn't be tied down to the pool's schedule like we were last year.

* Another bonus: I might actually try and learn to swim as well. The person Mrs. LB found is a lifeguard, a strong swimmer and we might see if she could teach me to swim.

* If I learn how to swim, I'm doing a triathlon. You can take that to the bank.

* I desperately need to burn some new CDs and get my Sirius satellite radio back in my truck. We've been listening to the West Side Story soundtrack non-stop for the last five days. No joke, I almost have the words to both America and Gee Officer Krupke memorized.

* Yvie says she likes the Jets but Kennedy and I like the Sharks. Mrs. LB is partial to the Sharks as well.

* We went to a musical on Friday night, watched Evita at a local playhouse. Don't let Mrs. LB tell you that I fell asleep at the end because I didn't. I just kinda dozed off for half a song... it was a slow song and I'm not used to staying up late, okay!

* We are going to try and take the girls to see Annie there in July. The girls recently went and watched Beauty and the Beast at the Pantages in Hollywood with Mrs. LB. They also watched Rango without me. Bummer. Oh well, kinda makes up for my 50-plus trips to Disneyland with just me and the girls.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pictures Are In!

My marathon pictures are in!

Yes, the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon pics are up and I'm so excited! For this being such a small race, there were plenty of pictures of yours truly, and all the other marathoners it looks like. That alone is another huge thumbs up for this small and local race.

Each picture has a small box in the middle. It's just the watermark for the company that took the pics, so try to ignore it as best as you can.

Onto the pictures!!

Crowds? Hmmm... must be just starting.

If I'm going to run 26.2 miles, might as well have a view.

It's early and I've still got energy - smile!

This is fun! Okay, I won't be saying that at Mile 22...

Wait? I signed up for the full? Aw crap...

Why did I do this? Oh well, finishing with the girls made it all worth it.

There are actually more pictures but those were the best ones. I'll have to tell you the full story behind the finish line shot, but that's too many words for you right now.

As I said, not a bad amount of pictures for a marathon, let alone a small race.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tres Cosas Jueves: Rs, A Budding Runner,

1. Resting, Relaxing, Recharging.... Restless: I'm in the midst of a break from running. I've sworn myself to no running until April 24 at least. I want to recharge my batteries and want to attack my training plan once I get back. However, this down time is making me restless. Just seems odd not to have a run to think about and prepare for. I think I can make it two weeks but guess we'll just have to wait and see.

2. Budding Runner: Perhaps my running influence is rubbing off on Yvie. In her class, students have the chance to share things with their class during Buenas Noticias, or Good News. Her Buenas Noticias on Monday? She said she told the class her good news was that she watched her dad run a marathon on Saturday, and that a marathon is 26.2 miles. Also, she had to pick a famous person to write a biography about and give a presentation on. She picked Wilma Rudolph, the Olympic sprinter who won several gold medals in the 1950s. There was a list of famous people of course but for some reason the runner on the list jumped out at her. Nice.

3. Baggy Victory: I recently won a giveaway from my longtime blog buddy Willoughby. I got me a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores. Instead of buying something for myself, I opted to buy something for the girls.... okay, let me rephrase that.... instead of shopping around for myself, I told Mrs. LB about having won and she suggested we buy something for the girls and so we did and I never actually did any shopping for myself because I might have snapped up something quickly... BUT it's good that it happened the way it happened because the girls got something they really needed.
Bean bags. As you can tell, our living room floor is tile. We just got the tile put in late last year and their chairs aren't really cutting it anymore. Yvie towers over her chair, although Kennedy's is still good for her. But laying around on the tile floor or on our new rug wasn't the best. So now they have these bean bags (with the coupon, we ended up paying about 20 bucks for both of them, sweet deal) and they have been putting them to use.

I asked them what they like best about it.

Yvie's response: I can read on it.

Kennedy's response: It's soft and I can lay on it.

So we say thank you to CSN Stores and a huge thank you (and a hug from the girls) to Willoughby. You rock!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Speed Demon Here

I ran really slowly on Saturday.

I completed my fourth marathon in what was my slowest time yet. I completed the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon in a whopping 4:44:25.

My previous marathons - 4:23:38 (in February), 4:37:51 (in July) and 4:42:26 (last February). I ran my first marathon two minutes faster than I did number four.

I was actually on pace for a better time. At Mile 20, I was around 3:33, so had I just maintained 10-minute miles, I would have come in somewhere north of 4:30. But I faded badly the last six miles. Now, I did meet my goal of maintaining my mental strength but my body was just slow and out of gas.

Why did I finish with my slowest time?

It's tough to pinpoint one reason but I have my theories.

Weekly Mileage: I was averaging right around 30 miles a week during my training for Surf City and in the nine weeks between marathons, I probably got in less than that. I need to increase my mileage to at least 40 miles a week when I begin training hard again.

Droppin' LBs: I could stand to lose a few pounds. Less weight to carry around means less strain on the body. Simple math.

Anti-velocitation: Are you familiar with the term "velocitation?" Well, that's when you unknowingly increase your speeds you drive for a long time through a place with the same scenery. So if you drive through the desert, for instance, and you gradually get faster and faster but you don't realize it until you look at the speedometer and say 'Whoa, am I really going 90 right now?' Since there were so few runners on the course, and the scenery was pretty much the same for the last six miles, I may have gradually slowed down without having realized it.

Two In Nine Weeks: I ran two marathons nine weeks apart (!) and that may have taken its toll on me. I told a veteran marathoner friend that I was planning on running two marathons in nine weeks and he suggested to run the first one for time and the second one for fun. He may have known from experience (he's run 61 marathons) that the second one probably was going to be rough on me.


Now, I will say this, that I am proud of my marathon, proud of knocking out number four. And I hate to tease yet another post but I wrote something on this, on how time isn't the most important thing for me.

Having said that, I still want to chew on this part of the DVL Marathon, so I can try and avoid such potential pitfalls in the future.

The truth, after all, is in there somewhere.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Diamond Valley Leftovers

The Diamond Valley Lake Marathon came and went and left me with a lot more positives then negatives. And it left me with plenty to chew on as I think about Marathon No. 5, which if all goes well will happen sometime in the summer of 2011.

As per usual, there were loads of things that happened during the DVL Marathon that couldn’t fit into the race recap, so here’s some of them.

Time Isn't On My Side: So what was my time? When I wrote the race recap I didn’t know the time yet (another byproduct of a small race). My time for the race – 4:44:25. It is my slowest marathon time yet. I don’t know… I think I should dedicate an entire blog post to this but for now I’ll just give some initial reactions. Am I disappointed? No. I got a medal and I have the distinction of having run my fourth marathon. Would I have liked a better time? Sure, of course. That kind of goes without saying. Do I have some theories as to why I finished with my personal worst time? Yes… okay, that settles it. I’m going to write this up as its own blog post, so stay tuned.

In The News: I'm not going to take credit for this one... but... I had a meeting with my editors at the local paper I freelance for and mentioned that I would be running this marathon. They'd not heard of it but seemed interested enough to take notes about it. There was indeed a news story written about the day's races. The ironic thing is, they used a freelancer! I could have written the story! Well, I guess probably not since it might not have been the best thing to do, have a participant write a story on the even he participated in, but still... Anyway, one interesting thing about the story, the winner of the marathon ran it in 2:57:08, a 51-year-old guy who had just run a 50-mile race a few weeks ago. He was the only person to finish in under three hours. Oh, and the race raised more than $35,000 for Habitat For Humanity, so it's all good.

Small But Hearty: Okay, this too will be its own blog post but I know one of the things I was concerned about was that this race was so small. It had its pluses and minuses, that’s for sure. I will say that I enjoyed the small-race aspect more than I thought I would and that I would be open to participating in small events like this for half and full marathons. I’ve run small 5Ks and 10Ks but those are, of course, much different than long-distance runs.

School Of Hard Rocks: The rocks most certainly did not rock. They were like little land mines at some point. Now, the entire course wasn’t filled with rocks. The two long straightaways on top of the dams were asphalt and very comfortable but some of the parts were quite rocky. So painful were the rocks that my feet were throbbing after the race. They’d never throbbed like that before. It could have been because of the distance of course but I do think the rocks played a role in my post-race foot-throbbing.

Sold On Sleeves: I tried something new for this marathon. Now, I didn’t go against my cardinal rule of “Nothing new on race day” but it was something I hadn’t worn during a race. I wore my cool running sleeves I won from (Mis)Adventures of a Jogging Stroller Mom. I had worn them a few times already but I think the longest run I’d worn them for was for maybe five miles. They worked great! The weather was in the 40s at the start, in the 50s at the finish and the sleeves were perfect. I figured I could just take them off and tie them around my fuel belt somehow if the sun became too warm but I left them on the whole time. Around Mile 23 I thought about taking them off but I left them on and was glad I did because it was still chilly towards the end. I’m 100 percent sold on running sleeves. And the fact that Laurie is an awesome blogger, well, I was already sold on that…

Diamond Valley Lake: Funny how there is this immense, expansive lake relatively nearby and we’d never been there and hardly knew anything about it. I guess that’s what happens when you live in SoCal. The DVL I learned is a really large lake. I learned that about as first-hand as you could imagine. We will probably go back because they have a museum there and there are some cool things for the girls that they do and have, some free workshops and things like that. We’ll be back for sure. I’m always looking for things to do over the summer, for instance, so that might not be a bad outing. Plus, I can always re-live my marathon glory.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

DVL Marathon: Small Race, Big Accomplishment

We couldn't find the marathon.

After getting up early, grabbing all of my race gear and helping Mrs. LB pack snacks, drinks, blankets, chairs and other odds and ends into our truck, five of us set out for the Diamond Valley Lake on Saturday for what would be my fourth marathon.

My brother Jesse had joined us on our early-morning trek, and as I'd never been to the DVL, I was unsure of how long it would take us to get there. We found it after about a 40-minute drive, but there were no signs of a marathon once we arrived.

Small race clue number one

After a few wrong turns and one dead-end, we found a street that eventually took us into a marina, and there it was. The start/finish line and a handful of runners and their respective supporters. This wasn't what I'd been used to when it came to marathons. My three other marathons had been big-city events, with throngs of runners and wave starts and a lot of pre-race excitement and anticipation.

Once out of the truck, Mrs. LB and the others went to find a spot to situate themselves and I got myself ready. I put my shoes on, pulled on my running sleeves, my gloves, filled up my fuel belt bottles with Gatorade and off I went to get my bib. There was only pre-race bib pickup available, and the line wasn't that long. About 600 runners ended up competing in the day's events - the full marathon, half marathon and the 5K. Not sure how many of those were in the full, but the crowd of marathoners seemed quite small.

I heard some of the pre-race chatter around me and realized I was in a somewhat hard-core group of marathoners.

"The Marathon Maniacs picture will be taken in about five minutes."

"When was your last marathon? LA, and it was brutal that day." (LA was 20 days prior to this race)

"See what I told you about small races. Love this sh**."

Marathon Maniac shirts abounded in the group as did shirts from other marathons, including races I'd done - Long Beach, San Francisco, Surf City. I kind of started feeling hard core myself.

Let's do this! Let's run number four!

The race began shortly after 8 a.m. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the course other than that it would go around the DVL. We started in one direction, went about two miles and then turned back and went to the start/finish area once more. We actually had to run through the finish line as part of the course. I went around the corner and there was my support crew. Mrs. LB asked me how I was feeling (great!) and Jesse shouted words of support (Go Luis!!) while the girls cheered from atop a small hill (Go Daddy!!!).
See you in 22 miles!

I felt great. Really did. I wanted to run steady at the beginning and have enough juice left to finish strong. I knew a PR was more than likely not going to happen but I didn't concern myself with that. My goals were to finish strong and compose myself mentally. I was a bit of a mental mess the last 6-7 miles at Surf City and I really wanted to get that under control this time. The only way you can work on your mental state at Miles 23-25 is to be at Miles 23-25, so my chances to work on this are obviously limited.

At about Mile 5 I started a long stretch across a dam. DVL is a man-made lake, barely 10 years old, and thus has several dams. This one was one long stretch, almost two miles worth, and I was enjoying the scenery. I was also enjoying the tranquility. I had my phone and had some music on there but I'd made myself not think about putting the music on until Mile 16 at least. So I didn't have the music on and was soaking in the sounds: the rhythmic tune of my steps and breath, birds chirping, fisherman casting their lines or carving the water on their boats.

It really is quiet out here.

There were no crowds. No supporters, aside from the volunteers at the water stops. No residents out with signs cheering on runners. No policemen/women stopping traffic to wave at. Nobody. And there weren't mass amounts of runners on the course either. On the long stretch across the first dam, there were three runners directly in front of me and another three off in the distance. It was lonely, quiet, peaceful...

This is so relaxing.

I like the big-city energy of the races I've done, when it seems portions of the town shuts down and makes way for us runners, but I was really liking this too. It was just me against the marathon.

Unfortunately, the marathon was about to land a few blows. Once off the dam, the course spilled us onto a dirt road, and on the dirt road were rocks. Lots of rocks. Big rocks. Small rocks. Rocks that moved easily as you scattered past. Immobile rocks that were jutting out from the ground. Rocks that you didn't realize you stepped on and others that made you wince in pain.
Just stay on the tire tracks.

This road had been used, but it looked like some of it was more traveled on than other parts. The part that looked like it got regular use was fine, if I just stayed on the tire tracks. But there were other parts where the rocks had taken over, and it took a good bit of focus to avoid the rocks.

A few landed direct hits on my and at one point I felt like I was thisclose to rolling my ankle. The rocks were trying to keep me from my goal.

Nothing can stop me today.

I was in a groove. Despite the potential obstacles the DVL Marathon was throwing my way - no crowd support, serenity and tranquility, rocks - I was determined to meet my goals. Miles 12, 13, 14 and 15 came and went, and I felt quite good, relatively good of course. I could feel twinges on my hamstrings, heard my shoulders and feet protesting and had to put up with the return of Bloody Nipple, but I felt good nevertheless, so good that I eschewed my plans of blaring my music at Mile 16. I wondered how long I could make it without music.

Mile 18 came and I raised my arms. I was on another dam at this point, could see two runners in front of me but neither were very close. I heard the water splashing gently down below and saw several fishermen. I saw more people fishing on the course than I did other marathoners.

By Mile 19, though, I knew music would help. I wasn't quite falling apart but the thought of Miles 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 seemed more comforting having the soothing sounds of Metallica playing in my ear.

Still feeling strong!

Just before Mile 20, a volunteer told me I was nearing the 20-mile mark and I smiled at him and thanked him for the good news. I still felt like I had energy... not energy to burn, but enough energy to finish strong. This was in stark contrast to Surf City, where by Mile 20 I was a bit of a mess.

Mile 21 came and went, although it seemed to take a long time between the Mile 20 and 21 markers. Mile 22 was approaching next, and I felt strong mentally. At Surf City, I kept thinking "Another __ miles??" when I'd pass a sign at this stage of the race. But now, I thought "Four miles, I can get those done, no problem."

That last part may have been to help soothe me as running was becoming a problem. I was stuck in second gear. I tried to run fast but every time I did that, I quickly sputtered back to slow.

An eternity passed before Mile 23. I fought through the negative thoughts...

What the hell am I doing out here again?

... and focused on the positive.

You get to see your family soon.

After trudging along, I finally came up to Mile 25. I'd seen this marker very early in the race as I'd passed the part where we had our early turnaround. I'd run this stretch of the race already.

It sure is taking a helluva lot longer this time around than last.

Finally, after shuffling and slogging through the Miles 20-26, I saw the finish area. Volunteers and supporters cheered me along, and as I smiled and thanked them, I saw my brother with the girls. I waved at them and they saw me and waved back. I heard my wife cheering for me, and her friend had also come out to cheer me on.

Once I got to where the girls were, they ran with me. We finished this marathon together, the girls and I. They crossed the finish line with me as I put my hands to my face, closed my eyes and looked upward.

While they've helped get me to finish lines before, this time they literally helped me get across one.

After running around the entire DVL, I was bushed. Aching. Fatigued. Exhausted. My body had little left to give, save for a few grunts of course. I walked, stood and got that familiar post-marathon it-hurts-just-to-sit feeling.

But it was worth it. Every ache, every pain, every muscle that protested, every drop of blood... it was all worth it.

I'm a four-time marathoner now! I'll drink to that!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Marathon Complete!

I did it! I ran my fourth marathon.

It was so tough. I think I finished in 4:40-something but that's cool. I got the job done!

Thanks for your support! Race recap to follow.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, April 8, 2011

All Set For Marathon No. 4

Wow, less than 20 hours to go before my next marathon. Crazy. It doesn't quite feel like I'm running a marathon tomorrow... but I am.

Anyway, before I ramble on, just wanted to say thanks for the comments on my last blog post. I wouldn't say that was hard to write but it definitely was an emotional post for me to write. In that sense, then, it was tougher than most post I write. I'd been thinking about that post for a while and what better way than to use it to springboard me into Marathon No. 4?

And now onto this post...

* Why doesn't it feel like I'm running a marathon? The three others I've done have involved an expo and an overnight stay somewhere. This one has no expo. Packet pick-up starts at 6:30 and the race starts at 8. The half marathon starts at 9. It seems like a more of a casual race that way, I guess all part of the small-race thing.

* This will be my first Saturday marathon... actually, my half marathons have all been on Sundays too, so my first long-distance Saturday race.

* The weather will cooperate: forecast calls for clouds and a high of 59. The hour-by-hour forecast on Accuweather calls for 44 degrees at 8 a.m., warming up to 56 by noon. Awesome!

* As far as following me along... uh.... no tracking of course. I mean, this ain't Surf City. I don't even know my bib number. I will post my time here (and FB and Twitter) when I'm done so the best I can tell you is to start checking around 12:30 Pacific time.

* What will I do for the finish line pose? Hmmm... haven't decided. I actually want to do something different, but not quite sure yet. If that plan falls through (and I'll let you know if it worked or not) then I'll have more than four hours to ponder how to pose at the end.

* I'm not sure I have a PR in me, but what I do have in me is the spirit and will to run. So many people can't run who would like to, and so many people - like my father - can't stand up or walk, let alone run. So I'm going to celebrate running tomorrow. I have the ability to run, the desire to run and the motivation to run. I'm a runner. I'm a marathoner. That's what I've become and that's what I'll live up to on Saturday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Do I Run?

Why do I run? Why do I get out there and hit the asphalt or treadmill or dirt or what-have-you? What's the purpose of all of this?

Is it for my health?

Do I enjoy the sense of accomplishment?

Or maybe it's because I have a few loose screws?

All those may be true but that's not the real reason why I run, the real reason why I set out on my fitness journey five years ago.

The little girl next to me is Yvie, and the one in my arms is Kennedy. At the time, Yvie was 2 and Kennedy was all of 3 months. And I was obese.

I had always felt bad about my weight, and it spiraled out of control. I didn't care about the weight anymore. Sure, it was rough but I tried to lose it and it wasn't going anywhere. Nobody said anything to me about it anymore; they just accepted me as a big guy and that was that.

But that was the problem. Acceptance. I was overweight. That's what people saw me as, an overweight guy, a *fat* guy. And that's how my daughters were going to see me. They'd grow up seeing their dad as, well, their dad. They wouldn't know any different. They wouldn't know that daddy was hopelessly overweight, that underneath those mounds of fat, he suffered from self-esteem issues.

My daughters would love me for who I was, I tried to make sure of that. I tried to give them unsolicited affection and love and kisses and hugs and anything I could to show them how incredibly happy I was to be their daddy. I wasn't so much worried about them not loving me. But I was worried about embarrassing them, about them having the *fat* dad, about being the really really big guy picking up his girls from school.

I did not want that... for them, for me, for anybody. That's the last thing I wanted.

So with the help of my wife, I got serious about it. I got serious about the one thing that I never thought I would be able to be serious about - my fitness. I set all the doubts and negativity, all the feelings of despair and helplessness and went for it. I went after my health.

Not for me. No, believe me. If I would have set out on a fitness journey for my own betterment and nothing else, I would not have come close to seeing it through.

I did it all for my daughters.

I wanted to be able to keep up with them. I wanted to be able to have fun with them. I wanted to enjoy life with them.

Now, I didn't exactly picture running races and getting them involved in racing. I set out to get fit and healthy but where that would ultimately take me, I had no idea. I just wanted to get fit and healthy.

And I did. I dropped more than 120 pounds over 20 months, and I showed to myself that I can achieve things previously thought impossible. I have been able to show my girls that life is fun, that being fit and active is enjoyable.

Sure, I'd like for them to be proud of their dad, but really all I want is for them to know that nothing is impossible, that nothing is out of reach, that if they try their hardest, they can achieve. All I ever ask from them is what I couldn't do for so many years, to try their hardest. No matter what happens, I tell them, if they try their hardest, they can take pride in whatever it is they're doing.

On Saturday, when I'm running my fourth marathon, I'm going to think about them a lot. They are going to get me to yet another finish line. They've been able to make me go places I didn't think I could go, to do things I didn't think I could do, and now they're going to do that one more time.

And I promise you, my babies, that Daddy won't let you down.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Diamond Valley Plan

Well, here we are. The Diamond Valley Lake Marathon is staring me in the face. I've got 26.2 miles standing in between me and marathon glory.

I have all the confidence in the world that I will complete this race. I've run three marathons and have survived to tell the tale after each one. Whether or not I finish with a good time remains to be seen but I am hopeful of finishing with a time I can be proud of. Will it be a PR? Suppose we'll have to wait and see on that one, but I do have a bit of a strategy.

It's the opposite of my Surf City plan. For Surf City, I wanted to test myself and see if I could hold a strong pace for the duration of the race. At the midway point, I was at 2:03, but I started to fade around Mile 16 or 17... well, fade is a strong word. I started to slow down a bit by that point and by Mile 20, 21 I found the going difficult. I finished in 4:23, a time I'm happy with. However, I left a lot of room for improvement having run the final 13 miles in roughly 2:20.

My goal will be somewhat the opposite. I'm going to start off with an easy pace. Now, not easy as in 12-minutes-per-mile easy, but easy as in as-close-to-10-without-going-under pace.

I want to try and push in the final miles. I want to have enough left in the tank - both physically and mentally - to attempt a push in the final miles. How many miles left will I try and make a push for it? It won't be before Mile 20, but I want to have energy left in Mile 20 so I can then decide when to go for it. I don't want to reach Mile 20 feeling worn out.

I'm going to ask a lot from my body, as I have in the other three marathons. But this time, I'm also going to try and stay mentally sharp. I know I wasn't mentally sharp in Surf City in February and the other two marathons, well, I was just learning what it takes to be mentally sharp. I fear, though, that I won't be able to really be able to deal with the marathon's mental monsters until I have a few more under my belt.

Still, this is another proving ground for me. This race will come down to me being mentally sound enough to pull out a strong effort in the home stretch. The longer I go feeling strong, sane and happy, the better off I'll be.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marathon Differences

Saying there are differences between my first three marathons and marathon number four is like saying there are differences between

I suspect that once I get to the race, all those differences will smack me in the face and it's up to me to embrace them or suffer. Good news is, thus far, I'm embracing.

Just how different are the races?

* This will be the first time I see Mrs. LB before a race. Honestly, Mrs. LB deserves a medal for supporting me. Not counting the girls, Mrs. LB has been the only person in my family who has expressed any interest at all in attending any one of my marathons, and she's been at all of them. So seeing her before a race will be a treat.

* No hotel stay the night before - the race is 30-40 minutes from my house.

* No fears of getting to start line as this is a small race, not a big-city event.

* 8 a.m. start, easily more than hour later than the other races.

* Course is mostly through dirt roads as opposed to city streets and paved beach paths

* Race day is Saturday, not Sunday

* No expo; bib pick-up starts at 6:30 on race day

* No crowd support; the course will take us one direction for several miles and circle us back towards start line so we'll have plenty of support there, but afterward we are on are own. The lake is, well, a lake, and a lot of the places we'll be going past don't have people because they're not easily accessible.

* I didn't pay more than 100 dollars for this race - 65 bucks, baby! (LA would have cost me 145)

There will be more differences, I'm certain. For now, though, these are the ones that have stood out, but I am embracing them and looking forward to new challenges.

In the end, there is one similarity between the other races and this that remains the same.

From start to finish, the distance is 26.2 miles. And ultimately, that's all I need to concern myself with.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Change Of Routine

I'm a creature of habit.

I get used to doing things a certain way, it's tough to break the habit.

My long run days is something I'm used to doing on Sundays. However, because my marathon is on a Saturday - next Saturday, officially one week away now - I'm doing my final long run on Saturday... well, later this morning. Yeah, I'm still up after midnight. Grrr...

Anyway, I'm not exactly looking forward to this run and I've been feeling like that all day but just pinpointed the reason now - because it's out of my routine. It's breaking up my routine and I dont't do well with that. I suppose the one thing that I have going for me is that I can sleep in on Sunday (!) and we can go out for breakfast (!!). So I'll just have to get through this run and then I can relax on Sunday.

And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I'm going to run about a 4-mile loop around my house - well, just down to the end of one street and back, which is roughly 3.8 miles or so - and I think I'll do that twice, and then get to 10 afterward. Why the extra anguish? Why not just run out and back for five miles? Well, because next weekend my marathon will be like that, a lot of mental anguish. The course will be lonely, there won't be many other runners so mentally I might feel pretty rough. So why not try and challenge myself mentally?

As usual, if I can make it out the door I'll be fine.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Recap/Stats

March Recap/Stats

Miles Ran: 115

Highest Mileage Week: 36

Long Runs Ran - 3 (18, 10, 20)

Favorite run: My 20-miler on 3/20

Least Favorite run: None stand out, just happy to have the ability to run

Most hardcore run: Running 10 miles on a track during 20-miler

Race(s): None in March.

Current Reads: Started The Long Run recently

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Tecmo Bowl. I bought it on the Wii virtual console. I played it all. the. time. when I was 13 or so. It was awesome then, it's awesome now.

Current Obsessions: I love playing board games. My favorites right now are Ticket to Ride and Dominion.

Current Drink: Water.

Current Song:
Relying on my number one running song, Orion by Metallica, to come through for me in my upcoming marathon.

Current Wish-List:
The Seaside expansion for Dominion (sounds geeky, I know, but it's a great way to spend some time)

Current Need: To figure out where to put all my running clothes. The drawer I have them in has never worked; it's overflowing constantly.

Current Triumph: I overcame my mental issues and am now prepared for Marathon No. 4.

Current Bane of my Existence: Gas prices. I think I paid 4.01 for a gallon last weekend.

Current Goal: To finish my fourth marathon.

Current Indulgence: Naps.

Current Blessings: My little girls; they are my life.

Current Excitement: I might be getting a new tattoo! Details to follow at the appropriate time!