Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catching Up

Greetings and salutations!

It's been too long since I updated my trusty blog. Didn't mean to keep you loyal readers hanging. The holidays caught up to me with family and running and then sickness... it all demanded my time and thus the lack of posts.

Did want to fill you in quickly on some of the big things that have gone on of late here...

* The streak ended. Sad, but it did. It reached 75 days before it came to a crashing and unceremonious end. However, it was fine the way it ended. I got sick. I probably could have extended it to 76 days had I gotten up early on Friday (had an early-morning errand to run, so it would have been like 5 a.m.) but there's no way I could have run on Saturday. I was in bed most of that day and it wasn't fun. I was able to referee some games early this week, have more today and have a big weekend run planned. I'm going to start another streak... yes, indeed. This run-every-day thing worked out for me tremendously. I will blog about this on its own but I want to continue being a run-every-day runner. I will start a new streak on Jan. 1. Yay.

* Christmas came and went. Sadly, it was all too fast. But it was very enjoyable. Of the running-related gifts, I got a new pair of shoes, registration for a race (Fontana Days half), two running shirts and plenty of GU to get me through for a while. The girls got tennis racquets from Santa so we will try our hand at tennis once everyone gets healthy again. Hopefully we'll be playing quite a bit in the coming weeks.

* The weather's nice again. We had a really long cold snap here recently. yes, cold is a relative term, but it was quite chilly here. We're not used to high 30s as our lows and mid 50s as our highs. But that's what a lot of the last month or so was like. Well, finally we've come out of it and the forecast for the next 10 days or so all starts with a 7. Yup, that's temps in the 70s and I can definitely work with that. The bad thing is that I haven't been able to enjoy a proper run in that, but by this weekend I will have.

* New Year's Day run. I tried to start a tradition by running every Jan. 1. in 2009, I ran five miles and in 2010 I ran 10. But on Jan. 1, 2011 I ran 0.0 miles. Why? The next day I was supposed to run 20 miles, and I did... well, I actually ran 20.11 miles... so I didn't want to throw that run off. Of course, the run-every-day LB would gladly run a couple of miles the day before running 20. This year though New Year's is on a Sunday which means I have a long run scheduled. I'll be running 15 miles on Jan. 1 and will kick start the week/month/year with a splendid run.

Thanks again for your patience and I'll be back soon enough with a more steady stream of posts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ambassadorial Post

Well, it's official.

Okay, it was a official a while ago, this whole San Francisco Marathon Ambassador role of mine. But on Wednesday, I officially became part of the San Francisco Marathon family - the virtual family anyway.

I wrote my first blog post for the San Francisco Marathon Web site. The topic: running with children.

Of course it's a topic I'm quite familiar with. I have had many challenges along the way with how to run and workout while being responsible for the girls. When I started my weight-loss journey back in March 2006, Yvie was 2 and Kennedy was six months old. I had to find time to work out and go to the gym while being responsible for them. Mrs. LB was working a lot closer to home at the time so that helped, but still it was a struggle at times.

Anyway, I put in some ideas of my own, talked to a few friends and got their input as well and wrote up what I think was a good first post. I even got a couple of pictures in there as well.

So check it out. I will probably be writing there on a regular basis so this will be the first of many posts I write as an Ambassador.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Milestones Piling Up Quickly

Last week was just another week in my awesome year of runs.

I ran 54 miles, a new high.

Sunday was the 64th day of my run streak.

After Sunday's 15.6 miles, I have run 1,339 miles in 2011, a new yearly high (six more than last year).

Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty good these days. My legs are strong and even though I haven't run more than 18 miles in quite a while, am not quite trained for a marathon I do feel as if I'm in the best running shape of my life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kids And Fluidity

I don't have time to get into this topic like I want to - ironically enough because of the topic itself - but children and running may not exactly go hand in hand.

I will delve further into the topic but for now wanted to get out some initial quick thoughts.

Now, when I say children and running I don't mean like children running but rather trying to run when you're responsible for children, your own offspring mostly. I bring this up because one of my offspring is sick. Kennedy missed school Tuesday and is home sick again today. Now, her health is way more important than my running. I'm not trying to minimize the situation or anything.

Her fever is just another reminder though of how quickly and unexpectedly things can change as a parent. One minute, I'm planning for four recovery miles and a six-mile run the day after, the next I'm serving up Tylenol and trying to make a comfortable set-up for my 6-year-old. Running? Ain't gonna happen on my terms any more.

The most important thing with being a runner parent is the ability to be fluid. Really, this goes with parenting in general - you have to be fluid because so many things happen that there's no way you can plan for them all. But in particular when you run you have to be fluid. You have to look at the overall picture versus the day-to-day grind. I didn't get my four miles in on Tuesday but I did get two miles in. I won't run six today but I will run later, and I just have to adjust my miles in the end of the week and have faith that I will get my runs in every day and that I will get my 45 miles in or so this week.

A lot of runners do not have children. Or their children are grown. Just looking at some of the runners in my pace group I know this to be true. Also by having read a number of running blogs over time I've become aware of that.

Anyway, while I try and tend to Kennedy, I also will try to keep from getting anxious and stressed about having missed my run. And really as long as she's feeling better, I'm happy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another First: Volunteering

I accomplished another first on Sunday, but it had nothing to do with times or distances.

For the first time, I volunteered for a race.

My running club held their annual Loper Holiday Classic 5K/15K race on Sunday and I volunteered for the event. I was a bit nervous to be honest, wondering what it would be like. We were assigned two traffic spots. The first was the one-mile mark, then we had to get over to the 7.5-mile mark. At both spots we had to make sure cars watched out for runners and in the second spot we had to make sure runners zigged when they were supposed to zig.

It was chilly! We walked out of our house at 5:45 a.m. and after a stop at Starbucks set up at our first spot around 6:25, and it was in the high 30s. Super cold for us SoCal folk. The race started at 7 a.m. so at about 7:05 we saw runners, the 5K frontrunners. We cheered on as many runners as we could and by about 7:20 we headed out to get over to our next stop (and made a quick pit stop at a grocery store). We set up at about 7:40 and some of the 15K runners we'd seen on the way out, we saw again.

All the 15K runners/walkers on the way back passed by us once more. And I cheered for every single one of them. I clapped, and even though my claps were muffled due to my gloves, I clapped as loud as I could. I yelled words of encouragement...

"Looking strong runner!"

"You got this!"

"Way to go runner!"

And things like that.

I was particularly excited for runners in my pace group. I cheered loudest for them and for some of the my other Loper buddies.

It was fun hearing things runners would say to us as well.

"Thank you for being out here!"

"Thanks for your encouragement!"

That was the best part, to be honest. Seeing all the first-timers out there with smiles on their faces was so much fun, and seeing every runner/walker out there taking on the 15k distance was also fun. It was rewarding on all levels, and definitely something I'd do again. Except hopefully next time it won't be so chilly.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Proving Myself

Running long distances. Running faster. Running every day.

Lately, I've been putting together some things that I've not done before. I had six runs of 10 or more miles in November, for instance. And of course I closed out the month with a 53-day run streak intact.

Fueling some (a lot?) of this is a need to prove myself.

Now, bear with me a bit as I try to explain that: if I ran, say, six miles on Tuesday, it doesn't mean much if I don't follow it up with another similar or better run on Wednesday or Thursday. If I run eight miles at a 9:20 pace, it don't mean much if I can't run 5-6 miles at a faster pace. If I've got weeks of 45, 47, 50 in succession, it ain't gonna matter if I throw in a 20-mile week.

I'm a strong runner.

Prove it.

Okay there, see, only strong runners do that.

Okay good, prove it again.

It's not necessarily a vicious cycle, but maybe it is and I just don't see it that way. Maybe that's why I'm here exploring this on the blog.

Now, this whole attitude goes against my prevailing approach to running - as long as I'm running and doing what I need to do to make sure that I can get out there and run, it's all good. Yeah, this whole prove-myself thing is pretty much contrary to all of that. It's not to say that my mentality has done a 180 but I do have this sense of need when it comes to proving myself.

But... who do I have to prove myself to? My fellow runners? The ever-present and ever-anonymous "haters" out there? Who needs proof?

Honestly, I think I do.

I've done some good things in a relative short amount of time. I've run four marathons and six half marathons, as well as 10Ks, 5Ks, a 15K, a relay race, some mud runs... all since June 2008. I'm a pace leader now, a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador and am training for my fifth marathon.

Maybe the fact that all of that seems a bit... I dunno... pretty cool must mean that it wasn't that difficult. Here I go again... if I can do it, then how tough is it? Right? Talk about a vicious cycle, there's one...

I'm not sure if that's it, though. I know a marathon is tough, super tough. It's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. But still, I can't just be content with keeping marathons in my past. I do want to challenge myself and keep running 26.2s while my body still can.

Maybe my experiences as a pace leader have really gotten me into this feeling. A typical long run goes like this: I start out in front of a group of anywhere from 15-20 runners. I lead em out to the first stop light along our route, about the .6 mile mark, and when we cross the street a pack starts to get ahead of me. Now, my job as pace leader is to hold a certain pace, and I try to keep it around 9:30-9:45, give or take. So this pack typically runs at a 9:15-9:30 pace. They get out ahead. They keep going. Pretty soon, I'm around 3-4 runners, and my co-pace leader is further behind with some stragglers.

Last week, I wound up running with one other runner. After the 5-mile mark of our 10-mile run, it was just me and another guy. I "paced" one other runner.

I think that's it. In many ways I feel completely disrespected. I know... well, at least I think I know... that the other runners aren't doing it intentionally. Runners like to run at their own pace, and that's fine, right? And if that pace is a little faster than the pace I'm holding, that's fine, right?

I don't know, I suppose. Maybe I'm reading way too much into this, but I think that's where this mentality comes from.

I do feel bummed out about how Sundays typically work out. I would love to have a group of 10 runners behind me at Mile 8, but usually by then I'm around 3-4 others at most. I haven't done any races since June save for the one on our training schedule. And I don't plan on running anything until the LA Marathon (with Surf City half a possible exception). I've set aside my year basically for this, to be a pace leader, to be a strong pace leader, to be a rock, to be able to guide runners through 5, 10, 15, 20 miles at around a 10-minute pace. I've given up a lot of myself and it seems lately that I've been asking myself if it's been worth it.

I ran a combined 400 miles in October and November, all to stay on top of this pace leader responsibility, and for what? For everyone to take off and ignore me?

I hope things change soon. We're set to run 14 miles on Dec. 11 and 15 miles on Dec. 18. We have 18 miles on the schedule for Jan. 8 and Jan. 22. I know for an absolute fact that I can handle those distances but I also know that some of the frontrunners can't. I'm going to be there for them and anyone else who wants to run with the 10s on those days and any days, that commitment on my end is not going to waver.

I take pride in having the ample leg and mental strength to get through such distances.

And I suppose I'll just have to keep proving that over and over again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November recap

Miles ran: 206

Rest Days Planned/Taken: 0/0

Highest-mileage Week: 51

* Long runs planned/Taken: 6/6 - 10, 12, 12.33 (my "half" marathon), 13, 10, 10

Favorite run: Running 10 miles on Thanksgiving.

Least favorite run: I ran a windy 10-miler on Nov. 2. At one point, the wind was so bad that a crow flying next to me was pretty much staying next to me. It looked like it was floating but it was trying to fly, just like I was trying to run.

Most hardcore run: A seven-miler up and down Mt. Rubidoux. It was hardcore I believe because it was three days after I ran at an 8:43 pace over 12.33 miles at the "half" marathon.

Current Reads: Just got my new Runner's World magazine.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Storage Wars. Do I love that show? Yuuup!

Current Obsession: Twitter. I have to wean myself off of it.

Current Drink: I've been drinking coffee like crazy lately.

Current Song: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire. It's an insanely awesome running song.

Christmas Wish-List: A new laptop, preferably a MacBook,

Current Need: A new camera.

Current Triumph: The girls like to run. We went running recently and they joined their school's joggers club (which I call Runners Club). I see a 5K in their near future...

Current Bane of my Existence: Reffing high school soccer games. Pay is nice and helpful but everything else stinks.

Current Goal: To extend my run streak through the end of the year and into 2012.

Current Indulgence: Pumpkin Roll. Have made a couple of these lately and... damn.

Current Blessings: My babies.

Current Excitement: Christmas is going to be fun this year.

* I count any run of at least 10 miles as a long run.

Tres Cosas Jueves - Dec. 1 Edition

It's already December. I can't believe how fast time flies by. I swear just yesterday was Labor Day...

1. Mad Month of Miles: In October, I cranked out 194 days and was so close to 200 miles I tasted it... or maybe it was all the Halloween candy I had on Oct. 31.... Anyway, I wasn't quite sure who i would be able to do in November and I didn't necessarily have 200 miles as a goal but I broke the 200-mile marker after all. I finished the month with 206 miles, having run every day in November. I enter December with a 53-day run streak intact and am determined to close out the year with that run streak alive. Not sure how many miles I will log this month - with a 14- and 15-miler on the schedule it could be quite a few - but for now I'm content with having broken through with a 200-mile month. If I achieve that again in December, I'll have closed out the year the way I like to close out my runs - strong.

2. Debate Solved: I'd been debating lately whether or not to log the miles I run during high school soccer games. I referee HS soccer games and the season started on Tuesday. The decision I made: even though I do walk during games, I also run a lot and sprint at times so if I track my distance during the games I will include them in my mileage. I've already altered my training a bit to accommodate the games so it does affect me in more ways than one. I tracked my mileage for Wednesday and it was 3.06. I refereed a girls varsity game and in the second half I was racing up and down the field quite a bit. With all the stop-and-go and sprinting, it's really like I'm doing speed workouts. I had to wear my phone on my arm like I do when I run but I wore it high so I don't think anyone could tell that I was wearing something up there. Just have to make sure that I have it on silence lest someone calls me during a game and my phone goes off on the field.

3. Race Volunteers: I recruited Mrs. LB and the girls to help out on Sunday for the Lopers' race. The Lopers put on a Holiday Classic the first Sunday in December and this year I'm volunteering for it. We're supposed to volunteer for it, by "we" I mean veteran Lopers. I ran this race as a first-timer back in 2009 and had a lot of fun (check out the race recap). There are two distances - a 5K and 15K. I think it's cool that they offer a 15K. It's a tricky distance. I've only done it once in a race, but it's more challenging than a 10K (duh) so to me that makes it more appealing. It's kind of the perfect distance if you have not done a half marathon to get you into the half marathon mode. You might be intimidated by the half marathon distance but running a 15K would give you the confidence necessary to approach a half since the 15K is only six kilometers shorter than the half. Anyway, we've been assigned traffic control. Not sure what that entails as that is all I know but I will know more on Saturday. I anticipate getting out there super early and staying out there a while. Hopefully all the drivers will cooperate with us.