Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tres Cosas Jueves

I had some thoughts for this Tres Cosas Jueves post (Three Things Thursday translated into Spanish) but they became their own blog posts... sigh. Too long for quick-hit items.

So I figured I'd share three pictures with you.

Before a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth

Enjoying a sundae at Disney California Adventure

Wave 1, Yvie 0.

That was at Seal Beach, and although this wave knocked her down she stood up and took many more without falling.

Just some of the stuff we've been up to this summer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Setting The Pace

It's official - I will be the pace leader for the 10-minute pace group this upcoming season with the Lopers!

I'm quite excited about this. I had put my name in a while back and had heard afterward from someone in the know that I'd likely get to be pace leader but wasn't 100 percent certain until I got the official e-mail with the list of pace leaders, and it included my name.

I am actually one of two pace leaders. The other, an awesome gal by the name of Alex, is a pretty speedy runner, very committed and has a few more marathons under her belt than me.

I really can't quite grasp this pace leader concept yet. It's a chance to tackle running in a whole new way, to take on new challenges, to help newcomers meet and overcome challenges they may have felt weren't attainable before.

I know there will be challenges on my part. I'm kinda quiet sometimes. I'm not necessarily a grab-the-bull-by-the-horns kind of guy. I will have to be more vocal and assertive, and I suppose that leads into one of my biggest fears with this. Not all runners in my group will be newbies. The Lopers club is welcome to one and all, but there are quite a few hardcore marathoners in the club. I have fun four marathons which is freaking fantastic but there are others who have run 10, 20, 40 marathons... and I don't want to act like I know everything there is to know about marathons to someone like that.

Ultimately - and this goes for both new and veteran runners who will be in my group - I'm just going to have to prove my worth. Run strong, run hard, run run run and try and keep close to a 10-minute per mile pace.

I really do want to show others that nothing is impossible, and whether you're a first-timer or a been-there done-that runner, that's a lesson anyone can stand to gain from.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mud Run Pics, Part I

In the last few weeks, I've been rather busy, with running the Fontana Days Half Marathon, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run and taking the girls to their own Mud Run. Plus, we went camping and I was swamped with work. I've barely had a chance to breath.

So I wanted to go back to one event and post some pictures. The girls' Mud Run on June 11 was a success. The girls did well to conquer the Mud Run once more, and this time they enjoyed themselves all the way through.

Here's pictures of Yvie, followed by pictures of Kennedy (I will post pictures of my own Mud Run as well as Fontana Days later this week so keep an eye out for that):

Just gotta get through this dang water

My dad's around here somewhere... I hope he's not taking pictures again...

I wonder if I should put my mouth in the water, just for fun...

They call this an obstacle? Whatever...

I'm coming into the home stretch... yay me!

Do you see a sissy? I don't see a sissy.

Shoes? I don't need no stinkin' shoes... but I could use a hand.

Hug the side, the side is my friend.

I know it's "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" but it sounds like "while I kiss this guy." hehe

Don't step on a rock, don't step on a rock, don't step on a rock...

Which way to the finish line? Oh yeah, just crossed it with my brave barefoot self.

Who just did a Mud Run for the second straight year? The Bueno sisters, that's who.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My First Brick

On Monday, after weeks of longing for one, I finally went on a brick.

What the frick is a brick? I'm not 100 percent certain myself, but my blog buddy Michael (a triathlete) said recently that a brick is when you run and bike, or bike and run, one after the other. So that's what I did on Monday morning.

First of all, the girls stayed the night with a family member, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do it. For a good brick, you need some time.

I wasn't quite sure what to do first, to bike or to run. I know the order for a triathlon is swim-bike-run so maybe a bike-run would have worked. But I figured I could do a run and get through a bike ride, and that being tired for the end of a run would be harder than being tired for the end of a bike ride. Just a newbie thought.

I set out for five miles and of course I got very excited and energized and wound up running six. I'd run 10 miles on Sunday so I still had that long-run mentality lingering I suppose. Anyway, I wasn't too worried after the run part of my brick. I got through 6.12 miles in 59:36 (I should really have ran for 24 more seconds to have made it an even hour of running, but oh well). I got my bike and set out for.......... a ride.

I had no idea what would have made for a good distance. 10 miles? 12? 15? During my run, I figured out that in an Ironman, the ratio of miles biked to miles run is greater than 4-to-1 but I wasn't feeling a 24-mile bike ride. Not quite. I set out though, not really worried about a distance.

The first mile flew by, in about 4:50. The next mile came and went and I was enjoying myself. I got to three and then four and figured that I would get to six and then turn around. The bike path I was on was great. No cars to deal with, a few other cyclists but for the most part it was just me and the path.

Oh yeah, and the hills. Okay, "hills" is too strong of a word. Inclines are more like it. There were a lot of inclines in some parts, and the inclines and declines are much more pronounced on bikes than they are when you run. The uphills are so hard and the downhills.... weeeeeee!!!

I made it to six miles in about 30 minutes, turned around and headed back for my truck. I was feeling fine, save for the occasional "hill" that forced me to pedal harder. On two occasions I stopped and walked the bike. It wasn't intentional but I figured it was time to do what when I'd pedaled and pedaled and pedaled until the bike stopped moving.

I felt good until about mile 10.5. Then, I felt it. My legs weren't burning but there was smoke coming out of them. I made it a goal to finish strong. I pedaled my legs off for the last mile and change and came in at 12 miles in 1:00:51. I have no idea if that's good, bad or whatever, but I'm just happy I got through it.

All told, six miles running, 12 miles biking and one very hungry LB. I can't remember the last time I was that hungry after a workout. But hey, I did well to work up an appetite.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Disneyland Return

We did it. We broke down and renewed our passes. Even though we had decided against it, we changed our minds and splurged.

We got our Disneyland annual passes once more.

Since the girls got out of school, we've been four times already. I am determined to go to Disneyland and/or California Adventure as often as possible - once a week if I can swing it - until summer vacation is over. Even if we only go until the crowds get there, which is usually about four or five hours into the day, we can get a lot of rides in and a lot done.

In our four trips there, there have been a few new wrinkles from last time.

New Attractions, Part I: A few new attractions have opened or re-opened since we last went, namely Star Tours and The Little Mermaid. We've not done Star Tours yet because the lines have been ridiculous, and the girls aren't all into that anyway. But we've experienced The Little Mermaid. It's a really fun ride, with lots of music and singing. The line is really long but it moves very quickly. There's also a ride called the Silly Symphony Swings which the girls can go on alone; for that ride, you sit in a swing and you spin around and around and around... I can't handle it for very long because I'm old and am way more susceptible to spinny rides.

New Attractions, Part II: We are now able to do some more rides together, some new to us, because the girls are taller. We rode the Indiana Jones ride for the first time on our last trip, and the girls really liked it. Kennedy was very scared right before and she even asked to get off right when the ride was going to start, but later she was begging to get on it again (the line is usually very long for it so we couldn't go on again). We've done the California Screamin' coaster at DCA as well. That one is very fast and has a loop and the girls like it. Well, Yvie loves it. I've let her go on the single-rider line a few times (under my watchful eye of course) and she has a blast. She went on three times in a span of about 30 minutes on our last trip there. And Kennedy returned to her nemesis, the Tower of Terror. She didn't cry on that one (you sit down on this ride in a simulated elevator and it takes you real high and drops you very fast over and over again). But she wasn't exactly asking to go back on it.

Pictures: I will post pictures later since I've got them on my other computer but I've taken some cool pictures.

Costly: Yes, the passes cost us some serious change, but we aren't planning on anything extravagant this summer, or year, in terms of a family vacation, so spending this money is like going on a vacation somewhere in terms of cost. Plus the girls really enjoy Disneyland/DCA and it helps me keep them entertained as well. It's a win-win for us all, especially if we can get in a double-digit number of visits before the girls get back to school.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Camp Pendleton Mud Run: Lacking Grace

This doesn't sound like a proper pre-race song.

After a restful night's sleep in nearby Carlsbad, my brother Jesse and I found ourselves on a bus headed towards the start line of the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Madonna's "Holiday" blared overhead, in stark contrast to the Metallica songs that accompanied us to the parking lot.

As I had run this race three times before, I knew what to expect. My mind wasn't so much on the obstacles or the course or the logistics, but rather a bit free to think about things like Madonna.

The bus ride was short enough to keep us from having to endure the entire 80s hit song and before we knew it, we'd checked our bags in and were pinning our bibs on our backs. We'd met up with our other brother Danny and his brother-in-law David, the four of us setting out for our fourth consecutive Mud Run together.

It's called a tradition.

There were more casual conversations, jokes and a sense of calm around us than before. It felt a bit low-key, although everything around us was not. There were hordes of runners, throngs of stands and vendors and a field full of checked-in bags. This was no small event.

After running for about five minutes or so to get my heart rate going, I met up with the other three and waited. We weren't quite ready for the start line yet but rather waiting to be let in to get to line up at the start. Yes, a pre-start line start. If there was anything we'd learned about this event, it was this - if you want to avoid being stuck like cattle for the first stretch of the race, a good starting position was imperative.

Finally, we were allowed to go to the start line. We walked. Sort of.

This is more of a walk-shuffle-almost run.

We were in prime position to start off well until...

Um, this isn't the start line?

... we walked forward a few hundred yards to the start line. Previously the early part of the course thinned out quite a bit, and with the crowds made it impossible to avoid getting herded like cattle. To avoid that, the start line was moved up. The four of us got split apart, but no bother. I was ahead and hopefully I would finish ahead, of Danny anyway. My goal was to finish ahead of him.

Even that's not a really big goal... just something to target.

As we were at the real start line, Metallica's Enter Sandman serenaded the runners...

Now that's more like it.

... and after a few more words from the host, we were off.

I got off to a quick start, was moving past runners and trying to focus on my breathing. I got wet with the first water truck that sprayed runners down.


After the first turn, we went up on the road and then the path cut through some trees. I was keeping a good pace, passing some runners, getting passed by others. So far, no mud or water.

The dirt trail weaved out of the brush and meandered uphill. We passed the first mile marker very quickly and were still going uphill.

And more uphill. And even more uphill. I looked to my right and saw runners running up another hill.

Did they add more hills too?

Of course, this part of the route was unchanged but it certainly seemed as if there were more hills. We kept going up and up and up, and when I thought we were done going uphill, there was another one.

Finally, after about four miles, we started our descent.

Okay, here comes the wall. I was worried about the wall. I'd hurt my wrist recently from a bike spill and while it had been feeling better, I feared that I wouldn't be able to get over the wall. Add to that the fact that I was tired from the hills and I wasn't exactly expecting to prance over the walls.

I sloshed through some foul-smelling water and mud...

I don't even want to know what's in there.

... and came up to my nemesis, the wall. I put my hands on top, leapt and got my right leg on top. I wanted to step up onto it and leap over but I had no energy to do that, so I sort of rolled my other leg on top and let myself fall over into the stinky water/mud on the other side.

As graceful as a swan.

I was exhausted. Wasn't sure why I was feeling more tired now than I had in other races at this point, or perhaps my memory was fuzzy.

I tried to run hard to the next obstacle, the river, but I was too tired to hit the extra gear. I just maintained my pace, got to the river, and got in. The water was about to my chest and I grabbed one of the two ropes that stretched out across the river. I tugged on the rope to keep my balance as slippery algae on the bottom threatened to knock me down.

Once out of the river, I took a few steps before starting off on my run once more. More running, another uphill, and then we were at the famed slippery hill. A water truck on top made for a muddy hill, but I went up the middle and didn't encounter too many problems. Once at the top, I encountered my nemesis once more, the wall. I got to this wall okay but wasn't sure of myself. I must have had a look on my face because one of the Marines near the wall asked me: "You got this?"

I think so.

Again, I placed my hands on top and pushed, and again I laid my leg on top. Somehow I will the other leg on top as well and as I was falling over I heard "There you go!" from the other side.

Something was dragging me forward. I sure didn't feel like I was blazing through the end of this race as the obstacles and the hills had done a number on me. Now was probably the worst obstacle for me, the tunnel crawl. I had to get on my knees inside a tunnel and crawl through. Others, like the lady in front of me, managed to stay on her feet, sort of crawling along on all fours. Not it. I didn't have the energy to do something like that, nor did I have the agility. I got on my hands and knees and shuffled forward, certain that I'd be slicing my knees up in the process. I eventually made it through, and the giant metallic worm I'd been in regurgitated me out.

I bet you looked like a ballerina, you were so elegant.

I got up and tried to reach down inside. We were a quarter of a mile away. The last obstacle was upon us, the mud crawl. I rather liked this. I got into the water, extended my legs behind me and moved across with my hands. I felt better doing it this way and actually crawling. I felt...


... quicker going this way. I got up, got out and pushed forward towards the end. Almost at the finish line, I passed someone but then someone passed me. A woman. She was gonna chick me. Wait... she was gonna chick me?

Um, NO, I'm *NOT* going to get chicked.

I went full throttle. She'd passed me up but I overtook her, and as soon as I did she picked up her pace but I was too strong for her. I finished ahead of her, glad that I wasn't some dude to be chicked.

I got past the finish chute and saw Danny.

Aw man!! What the hell?!?

My finish time was 1:07:35 and his was 1:07:10. Had I known he was so close to me, I'd have run harder towards the end.

No matter. Not even finishing behind my brother could ruin this day for me. I conquered the Camp Pendleton Mud Run once again, and again I had one thought running through my mind.

Next year's gonna be fun!

Mud Run In The Books

I'll have a full race recap later on from the Camp Pendleton Mud Run but for now, just wanted to share this picture.

I've now run that many Camp Pendleton Mud Runs - four.

The fourth one was different, as they all have been, but like they all have been as well, quite enjoyable.

I didn't bleed this time, so that's a positive. The hills were long and longer and longest and neverending but the mud and water was just as fun now as they've ever been.

And I'm trying to put up four fingers but I guess I was more exhausted than I thought.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tres Cosas Jueves

1. Accommodations: Before my very first Mud Run, in Oct. 2008, I splurged and got a hotel room in nearby Oceanside. The last two years, I've gotten up at about 5 a.m., jumped in my car and driven down to the race. Guess which was better? Let's see... driving six miles to the entrance of the military base or driving 90 miles? Gee, that's a tough choice. Well, this year, I decided to splurge and got a room in Carlsbad, which is right next to Oceanside. Ultimately, I said "screw it." I will still have to get up early - and knowing myself, I won't be able to sleep past 5:30 anyway, but at least I will be much more refreshed at the start line than the last two years. Plus, my youngest brother is going with me so we're leaving a little early and catching a movie and having dinner somewhere down there. I don't get out much like that so that's going to be fun too. An awesome race weekend for sure!

2. Walking Away From My Addiction: For years, I've had a BlackBerry. I loved it. I didn't think I needed one when I first got one, which was I believe in 2006, but it came in very handy with my freelancing work. I don't know what model I had at first but I eventually upgraded to a Pearl and then a Bold. For Father's Day, Mrs. LB decided to get me an iPhone. Now, I'd been having some issues with my BB of late, mainly it was very slow. I'd go to use it and the screen would freeze, sometimes for a minute or so. It was the few apps that I'd downloaded that were slowing it down apparently. I could have gotten a newer model BB or just say goodbye and go the iPhone route. I actually had to think about it because I was so used to the BB, but in the end I decided the things I wanted from my phone went more in line with the iPhone. I used to get alerts every time I got an email or FB something or other, Twitter... but I didn't need to know that every time. Sure I had work emails but they can wait. None of them were life or death emails that demanded my immediate attention but sometimes I treated them like that. So my new phone is working out splendidly. I can do so much with it that I couldn't before, it's just insane. The one thing I need is something to carry it in when I run. My first two runs with it, I've had to just hold the phone. They were four-mile runs so it wasn't bad at all, but still would like to get that taken care of soon.

3. Apps: Here are the first five apps I downloaded in the order I downloaded them: Netflix, micoach, Flixster, AccuWeather, Facebook. I had all those but one on my BB. I couldn't stream Netflix on my BB but I can now! It's just crazy! I've only downloaded maybe 12 apps in all but that's enough to keep me busy. The worst thing I did was to get Angry Birds (and Angry Birds Rio, which is free) and let the girls play them. I've been asked a million times... "Can I play Angry Birds Rio?" already... Oh well. At least now I have the option of entertaining them when I need them entertained, like if they're waiting to meet a world-famous athlete... which they will later today...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gearing Up For Camp Pendleton

It's that time of year again.

On Tuesday, I got my bib from the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in the mail. It instantly put a smile on my face.

The Camp Pendleton Mud Run is one of my favorite races. It's become a tradition since I first ran it in 2008. It also inspired the name of this blog. When I first started blogging, back in spring 2008, I didn't intend on running marathons or becoming an all-out runner. I had signed up for this race, the Mud Run, and figured it would be cool to write about my experiences in training for the race and running it.

Like my running progressed and developed, so too did this blog. I guess the two go hand in hand. After my initial Mud Run, I caught the running bug bad and went on to run a 10K and a half marathon in the six months after.

And while I've run a lot of races and lot more challenging races (no matter how tough this race is, a marathon is more of a challenge after all), the Mud Run is very special to me.

This year is no different. I'm looking forward to running past the water trucks, trying to avoid getting soaked; trying to pick up the pace as I traverse the hills; scaling the mud pits and walls; wading my way across the river; inching my way through the tunnel and hoping I don't bleed... too much; dragging myself through the mud crawl and coming up with the inevitable mouthful of mud; and pushing myself at the end to finish strong.

Yes, this race is a challenge. It's a 10K course with obstacles. And while there are many other mud runs out there, this one seems like it's about as tough as you can get. Maybe the Tough Mudder is a challenge as well, but this course is unique. I mean, it's on an active marine corps base, and this mud run is scaled down from what marines used to run. I mean, there used to be barbed wire on the mud crawl. Yeah, you had no choice but to get down on your stomach and crawl.

Anyway, unlike the Fontana Days Half Marathon, I feel confident and great entering this race. I know what to expect. I know I have a good effort in me and I know that I will kick some major ass in this race once more.

This is a fun race and I will have a fun time there, I know it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Girls' Mud Run Done

The girls did it!

On Saturday, the girls plowed through the SBSD Mud Run and it went well.

Don't take my word for it, though. Listen for yourself.

I will have more description of the course, some pictures and other stuff hopefully on Monday so please come back for that. But just figured you'd like to hear the news from the horses' mouths.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Girls Take On The Mud Run

On Saturday, the girls will compete in their second-ever Mud Run. It will be an exciting day to be certain.

For the occasion, I decided to ask the girls about their experiences with the Mud Run and record it.

Enjoy. First, Kennedy.

And up next, Yvie.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fontana Days Leftovers

A few tidbits from the race that didn't make the race recap...

Down, Down, Down:
How much of the course was downhill? Was I merely exaggerating about the downhill? Are race organizers exaggerating? Look for yourself:

Starting elevation is 3,291. Ending elevation is 1,289. That would be a nearly 2,000-foot drop over 13.1 miles. And that's why it's considered the fastest half-marathon course in the world. As I mentioned in the race recap, I really felt the downhill at first, the first six or seven miles. After that, it kind of felt more flat than anything. But the figures don't lie. It was still a raging downhill at six miles, seven miles, eight... all the way through.

I've had some time to digest this a bit more... Does the fact that it's a downhill course make my time a bit disingenuous? Should I put an asterisk next to it? I think the conclusion I've come up with is that no, and no. I ran my butt off. Nobody gave us roller skates or skateboards at the start line. We had to run every step of that on our own. And let me tell you, the way my muscles ached for the rest of Saturday, ALL of Sunday and well into Monday, I certainly did run a lot and exerted a lot of energy in doing so.

I ran the course that was provided, plain and simple. We all did. The winner of the race came in at 1:03:41. The first female runner came in at 1:20:08. Compare that to another local race, the Run Through Redlands, where the winner this year came in at 1:13:39 and the first female at 1:25:19 and you can see the disparity.

Now, the course was favorable but the course isn't everything. And if you're going to put disclaimers on courses, that doesn't make sense. I mean, would you put an asterisk next to a hilly course time and say 'Well, if it wasn't hilly my time would have been different?' Of course not. The course is the course is the course and it's only one part of the race. I'm proud of my time and I may plan on beating it next year when I'm in better shape and have logged more training miles leading up to the race. And if you are in the area (or even if you're not) you may want to consider signing up for the 57th edition of the Fontana Days Half Marathon. A PR is waiting at the bottom of the hill.

Splits: I can't believe I ran these, but here are the splits.

M1 - 8:05
M2 - 7:49
M3 - 7:57
M4 - 8:29
M5 - 8:14
M6 - 8:31
M7 - 8:24
M8 - 8:14
M9 - 8:28
M10 - 8:22
M11 - 8:36
M12 - 8:17
M13 - 8:02

That's a lot of 8s. And that's a good thing.

No Wall: I wasn't expecting to hit a wall necessarily but I did think that I'd lose some steam along the way. I thought it happened in Mile 7. I was looking for the Mile 8 marker and couldn't see it. There were blue and white balloons for most of the mile markers so they were relatively easy to spot. But Mile 8 was nowhere in sight. I'd run a bit after Mile 7 and I thought it should have been coming up so when I didn't see it, I figured I was slowing down. My running app is on my phone and I can't see the exact distance I was at so I thought I'd slowed down and was running a 10-minute mile or something, but in the throes of my budding disappointment, my running app blared in my ears that I was at Mile 8. There was no Mile 8 marker, which explains why I didn't see one.

Fontana Days Redux? I always felt I was a bit spoiled having run the Fontana Days 5K back in '08 as my first race. I believe I paid $25 and for that I got a t-shirt, a pin, several bags of goodies like chips and bars, and after the race I got a medal - seriously, a medal! How cool is that?!? There was also a place to drop off your bags for storage and stuff. Also, since you had to be bused up to the start line (for both the 5K and half) they would take bags back from the start line area to the bag storage area. I was very spoiled. Of course, I figured every race had those things and learned the hard way that some 5Ks/10Ks don't offer a place to store your bags. Grrr...

Anyway, I was equally impressed with the race this year. I paid total of about $38 to run this half marathon. How does that price compare here in my neck of SoCal? The next day in Ontario, which is very close to me and to Fontana, there was a half marathon and the price for that was $75. Also, the Fontana half is part of the city's celebration. There is a parade involved and there are lots of booths and music and the main street is shut down. It is a real festive atmosphere there after the race and you can hang out and relax and it feels like a big party. And with everyone setting these ridiculous PRs, you have reason to join in the celebration!

The race had 1,200 participants and sold out for the first time in 2010. It sold out again this year and the trend will likely continue.

So am I running this again in 2012? You better believe it! Maybe I can get a half marathon finish time in the 1:30s... now wouldn't that be something....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fontana Days Half: Descent Towards Glory

My good omens and positive premonitions for Saturday's Fontana Days Half Marathon began sometime Friday.

Blog buddy Jim left me a bit of gold here on this blog when he commented: "Brotha you're a marathoner!" I had been, of course, doubting myself and was not feeling as confident as I had before other races, but Jim's comment, like the other comments I received, helped settle my nerves. I took that comment, stowed it away, and went on with my day.

Friday night, I finished work in record time and was home by 12:20. I glanced at the clock at 12:45 but the next thing I knew, some music stirred me awake.

Oh crap, is it 5:15 already?

For a second, I wanted to roll over and get back into that glorious warm cocoon I'd carved out for myself but I popped out of bed in half marathon mode, happy that I'd gotten more than four hours of sleep after all.

I threw on the clothes I'd carefully set out for myself, got my GU, fuel belt, phone and everything together. Mrs. LB joined me, although she was less than chipper at that hour of the morning. The girls had stayed the night with their grandparents so it was just the two of us.

After a brief trip to Starbucks for Mrs. LB, we found the start area, parked and I got out, leaving Mrs. LB to drink her coffee and eat her bagel. I got in line for the buses as all runners would be bused to the start line. The ride was not necessarily something I enjoyed. All things being equal, I would rather not drive along the very course I'd have to turn around and run.

This is a loooong way up.

The elevation changed somewhat as we were now more than 3,000 feet above sea level, not necessarily a drastic change but it did present one noticeable change.

Wow. It's very cold.

I'd worn a sleeveless shirt and my barren arms felt like popsicle sticks. No matter. After a light five-minute warm-up jog, I was in good spirits, good shape. I also saw a familiar face. Blog buddy Lisa of Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge was there and we chatted for a couple of minutes. I was excited to have seen her there and hoped some of her speedy vibes had rubbed off on me.

Finally, I was at the start line, with someone saying some inaudible words into a bullhorn. Before I knew, I was off.


My warm-up had helped get my heart rate going and had started to pump blood into my legs. The course was, of course, billed as all downhill, and right away I felt it. The street knifed its way through cabins, trees and rocky foothills in a downward motion.

Before I knew it, I had one mile under my belt, racing downhill in 8:05. When my running app notified me that I'd done two miles in under 16 minutes (15:55), I couldn't believe it. Three miles in, I was at 23:52, which wouldn't have been a bad 5K time.

You might be able to do this after all.

I felt good, didn't feel heavy legs like I've felt all too often recently. I knew this pace was fast for me but I didn't feel as if I couldn't maintain it. I had gravity on my side, and I wasn't going to turn my back on it.

But it wasn't just the steady and friendly downhill that lifted my spirits.

Brotha, you're a marathoner!

The next few miles markers came way before I'd expected them to and when I finished six miles in 49:06, I felt like a PR was close. I knew without a doubt then that I would be able to finish the race strong, that I would definitely finish in under two hours and that I would give my PR of 1:55:03 a run for its money. I knew it, I felt it. There was no "maybe" or "if things go well" or none of that. No quantifiers necessary.

I am a marathoner.

As I was preparing myself for miles 7-10, I took more notice of the runner in front of me. Tall and lean, probably in his mid-40s, he was running close to the shoulder. Next to him was a lanky girl who despite arms that swung a bit erratically seemed quite in control. They'd been running in front of me for a mile or so, but now I watched more closely. The older runner, who I assumed was the young girl's father, was a few feet in front. He held his left arm out and opened his hand. She sped up slightly, held his hand and the two ran side by side, hand in hand.

Oh Yvie, I love you.

I wanted my Yvie there with me, at that moment. Wanted to give her a big hug. Since the girl in front of me had glasses, Yvie popped in my head.My Yvie has glasses and I'd love to hold her hand during a race someday. Now, I've shed tears during runs and races but this was the first time tears welled in my eyes during a half marathon.

Daddy's gonna make you proud.

With more motivation under me, I sped past the father-daughter team and sped up to Mile 7. Mile 8 came and went, Mile 9 was a blur. After the 10th mile marker, I was at 1:22:35. I knew I could PR. I allowed myself to dream about a PR. There was no failure today, no letdown, no near-miss. There was just one thing to do.

Go get your PR.

I'd felt strong up to this point so I asked more of my body, more of my legs. They churned and churned and when I asked more from them, they churned more. I felt like I had energy. I felt strong. I started to do some math. Worst-case scenario, I'd hit the wall and run three 10-minute miles. That would be good enough for a PR.

But I didn't want to back into it. I didn't want to feel as if the only reason I PR'd was because the course was downhill. I wanted to put a stamp on this race and finish strong.

Mile 11 was my slowest mile (I didn't know that until well after the race) but I really got my legs under me in the penultimate mile. Mile 12 - 8:17. I wanted that PR. With 1:39:28 gone and one mile and change left, I knew that I would PR and I even toyed with the idea of getting my sub-1:50. Barring a complete collapse, that was possible.

I started to pick off runners. I put my crosshairs on one runner and passed her. I targeted another and passed another. I did not want anybody to pass me either. I was finishing strong and wanted to keep it that way. Two women came up out of nowhere and tried to pass me. I surged ahead.

I ain't gonna get chicked, sorry ladies.

The finish line was close. So close. Two more blocks to go and I felt great. I scanned the crowd and saw Mrs. LB, shouting "Go Luis!!!" as I ran close. I raised my arms, smiled broadly and said "I'm gonna get my PR!!!"

As if on cue, my legs shot me forward. I wasn't just running at a good pace now. I was sprinting. I demanded everything from my body and my legs responded. I felt in control. I felt strong.

I saw the clock as I approached the finish line.

1:48:52 (my official tag time would be 1:48:34)

Wow! You got it!

As I crossed the finish line, I smiled in disbelief. I was in awe, not quite coming to grips with what had happened. I wasn't confident in myself, wasn't feeling it in the weeks leading up to the race and yet here I was with a new PR. I'd shattered the old one by more than six minutes. I'd gotten what I thought was not yet possible, a half marathon in under 1:50.

There is one possible explanation to this all.

Brother, I am a marathoner.


Unreal! I got a new PR!!


I got a sub 1:50!! My old PR was 1:55:03. I seriously cannot believe it. It does help that the course was all downhill. I just put my head to the grindstone and went for it and look what happened.

Thanks for your support!

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fontana Is Almost Here

Woo hoo!!!!

I'm ready for my half marathon!!!

Fontana Days Half Marathon, here I come!

Okay, I think I've drummed up enough enthusiasm. I am actually excited, not trying to exaggerate or anything. The only thing holding me back from really feeling great is the fact that I have to cover a game on Friday night. I'm about to head out and I'm hoping to be in bed by 1 a.m.

I did pick up my bib today though so I'm actually feeling great about the race. It's real now!

Before I get to the pictures and stuff, one thing. If it's Saturday and you're following this along, or you want to come back on Saturday after the race, here is a link that will have race results. Not sure when they'll be up but this is something to go on. I will try and update you all on how I do and hopefully will have a race recap up sometime over the weekend.

Onto the pictures...
Number 210!!

Check out the cool race t-shirt. Lovin' the colors.

Couldn't resist taking this picture of Kennedy :)
And here are some songs that I've added to my playlist in case you're wondering what's going to get me to the finish line.

Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Feel It Now

Metallica - Battery

And if all goes well I'll be coming into the finish listening to one of my all-time favorites...

Metallica - Damage Inc.

With that, fare thee well. Until Saturday! And thanks as always for your support.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lead-up To Fontana Days Half

Breathe deeply.

That's all I have to do on Saturday. Well, in the hours leading up to Saturday anyway. That's when I'm running my next race, the Fontana Days Half Marathon. It will be my first race since the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon on April 9, and also my longest run since.

For several reasons, I'm coming into this race in a less-than-perfect mental state. Consider...

* I've been running a lot fewer miles than I am accustomed to. In April, even running a full marathon, I ran 75 miles. In May, I ran 85.

* I've only gotten in two long runs in my training for this race - one 10-miler and one 12-miler. And neither was what I'd call a memorable, confidence-boosting long run.

* I'm carrying extra weight. Ugh. I guess that's what happens when I run less than 100 miles a month.

* My damn chest hurts. My wrist and knee are, for the most part, okay, but the longest-lasting side effect of my recent bike spill is my chest. It comes and goes, but Thursday the discomfort has not been going away.

* I ain't gonna sleep on Friday night. I have to cover a game that starts at 8. I rarely get home less than five hours after kickoff, so that would put me back in my bed after 1. I have to be at the finish line before 6 a.m. to pick up my bib and get on a bus to the start line, so that gives me about 4.5 hours to sleep, and that's if I'm lucky.

* About the only thing going for me is the weather. It was supposed to have been in the mid-90s but now it looks as if it will be quite a bit cooler than that. So, score a tiny victory for LB.

* Also, the course is all downhill so it's not exactly demanding.

I usually feel nervous and anxious before races but usually I have good training to fall back on. I can usually reflect on what I've done during my training and gain confidence. But this time around, my training is exactly what is making me feel under-confident. Ideally I would have logged over 30 miles a week during my training and would have gotten in 4-5 double-digit runs.

But still, this is yet another learning experience. Just as I know first-hand how beneficial proper training and nutrition are in preparing for races, I will also find out what it's like to come into a race under-prepared. I've done that before actually, prior to my first half marathon ever (Run Through Redlands '09) and a 10K I ran in early '09 as well. I finished the races but neither were great efforts.

Still, I have goals for this race. Adjusted goals.

Goal No. 1 - Finish in under two hours. For all my doubts and hang-ups, I think I can still accomplish this. The course is downhill, and I have to believe that I can at least maintain a 9-minute per mile pace.

Goal No. 2 - Finish in under 2:14:50. This is my slowest half marathon time, my first half ever, and the only half which I ran in more than two hours.

Goal No. 3 - FINISH!!!!

Either way, I have faith in myself. Proper training or not, I can do this. I consider myself a marathoner, a runner, and I have learned a lot by completing all the races I've done. I have, after all, run two full marathons this year already, and even though I've not run as many miles recently as I would have liked, I've still logged more than 540 miles in 2011.

I have a strong will and am determined, particularly in races. I tend to ramp things up in races and perform to the best of my talents. Mentally, I know that no matter what happens, no matter how little I sleep or little I've run, I will still be confident once I am the start line. I can't promise you that I will feel confident at any point from now until then but once I'm there and once it's showtime, I will be.

And while my training is all but over for this race, there is one thing left to do to help me prepare for Saturday:

Breathe deeply.

Tres Cosas Jueves

1. National Running Day: Wednesday was National Running Day. I'd only heard about it a couple of days before but I wasn't going to pass up the chance to get out and run and have others run with me. I went to the HS track with my daughters. Yvie took her bike but Kennedy's is at the bike shop being fixed so she didn't have hers. No matter. I ran three miles while Yvie rode her bike and Kennedy entertained herself. Kennedy ran with me as I went past her at one stretch and she was barefoot. Her shoes weren't the greatest to run in, so I had told her if she wanted to take them off that would be fine. So she ran total about a half-mile barefoot. Then, Yvie walked towards me to tell me something and I grabbed her hand and had her run with me also. All in all, a great outing.

2. Race Within The Run: After three miles, I raced Yvie around the track. She was on her bike, and I was running. It was one lap, winner take all... well, one lap anyway. We started and at first I wasn't quite flying. I was running faster but not at top speed. But Yvie threatened to zoom past me so I had no choice. Around the first turn she was out in front but since she was in the number 8 lane and I was entrenched in the number 6 lane, I was able to make up some ground (she insisted on staying in 8 so I told her I'd stay in 6 because anything else, like the 1 lane, and it wouldn't have been fair). We hit the straightaway and I started to pull ahead but that only made her want to give more and by the time we hit the last turn she was in front. She pulled in front but then I went into a sprint, but it was frustrating when I saw her bike get further in front of me. I checked on my micoach app and I was running that lap at about a 6:30 pace. Yvie won fair in square. But that's cool though. I challenged her to a rematch.

3. Fontana Days: I can't believe I have a half marathon on Saturday. I haven't blogged about it much probably because I'm not all that confident in myself right now but I will dedicate a post to it before the race. I think the worst part is knowing I won't get any sleep before the race. If I'm lucky, I'll get five hours of sleep but it will probably be closer to four. There's a game I have to cover on Friday that starts at 8, and that is super lame. The only Friday game of the year and it's right before a rare (for me) Saturday half marathon. Anyway, sleep issues aside, there are some challenges to this race that I haven't had to face in a while, namely this feeling of unpreparedness. But I'll save those thoughts for later.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Recap/Stats

May is over! Unreal. Where did May go? I knew it was going to zoom past us but wow.

Anyway, here is my recap of May.

Miles Ran: 85

Highest Mileage Week: Ran 28 miles the first full week of May

Long Runs Ran : 2 - 12, 10

Favorite run: A four-mile speed workout on May 11 that I blogged about here.

Least Favorite run: None stand out.

Most hardcore run: My 12-miler since I did an out-and-back, reaching the top of Mt. Rubidoux and then coming back home.

Race(s): None

Current Reads: Um... I read a lot of blogs :)

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: FIFA 11.

Current Obsessions: Dexter. Mrs. LB and I started watching Dexter a couple of weeks ago on the Netflix Watch Instantly and we are through Season 1, two episodes into Season 2. Great show!

Current Drink: Water.

Current Song:
Ich Tu Dir Weh by Rammstein

Current Wish-List:
Season passes for Disneyland :(

Current Need: To drop some pounds.

Current Triumph: I put together a slideshow on a DVD, with pictures and some video, of Kennedy's kindergarten class since I volunteered there almost every Friday. The teacher played it in the classroom after their little promotion ceremony and parents/grandparents/family members loved it. They all clapped and cheered loudly after it was over. The last day of school, I burned copies for all the kids and gave them all away. It's a nice way for the kids to remember their kindergarten days and for them to share some moments with people who were unable to be there for things like Halloween and Cinco de Mayo.

Current Bane of my Existence: My wrist. It's getting better and better but still, I think that I might have done some long-term damage. Could become my trick wrist that flares up every now and then.

Current Goal: To finish the Fontana Half Marahton in under two hours.

Current Indulgence: Sleeping in. I've been doing a little bit of that lately.

Current Blessings: Kennedy and Yvie, Yvie and Kennedy. However you say 'em, they are Daddy's little angels, and I am lucky they are in my life.

Current Excitement: The Camp Pendleton Mud Run is on June 18!!!!!!!!!