Monday, February 28, 2011

Playlist Enhancer: BRMC's Bad Blood

I've had a huge crush on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club since I discovered them last spring. I got to see them in concert last September and have all but one of their CDs.

Anyway, my playlists have recently featured plenty of BRMC. As in, 11 songs from BRMC (and 11 from Metallica) made it onto my Surf City playlist. The next biggest total was from The Killers with five.

Anyway anyway, this is a good song to listen to whether you're out on a run or at home washing dishes. I listen to music all the time, whether I'm running or doing dishes or cooking or writing. It just gets my mind to focus and helps me keep my concentration. It's always been like that, from when I was in school trying to do homework to this morning's run.

This song is called Bad Blood. Give it a listen. You'll like it. Hopefully.

BRMC, I heart you!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nuggets; Busy LB

Just wanted to get this stuff out there before the weekend arrives.

Twitter Nuggets

Are you on Twitter? I just got into Twitter earlier this year (@RunnerLuis). Wasn't really sure about it but it's grown on me. Like anything else, it can be a time toilet and it can be frustrating but there are some great upsides to it.

For me, I've been able to pick up some awesome running gems on there. If you're on Twitter, you definitely have to follow Hal Higdon, a marathon guru if there ever was one. I have two Hal Higdon books and read his web site constantly. He's a veteran marathoner and knows his stuff inside and out.

* Anyway, he posts a lot of good stuff on there, such as...

* Our goal in life should be to run as easy as a bird in flight.

* In starting to run, what do you focus on first: speed or endurance? Build your base of endurance first, and only then train for speed.

* Part of the joy in running is the realization that improvement can be achieved.

* Pace for a same-effort run might differ day to day or week to week. Weather and fatigue can affect your time. Don’t get hung up on numbers.

I'm telling you, it's awesome. Little nuggets that I snap up.

Ah, but the best nugget I came across wasn't from Hal Higdon. It was from RunningQuotes who passed this along from somewhere else:

* There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have.

Best. Quote. Ever.

Another Day At The Office

Thursday was just another day in the LB house. Just to give you a taste of what life's like around here...

Dropped the girls off at school at 7:40 and came back home to do some work. Finally at about 9 I got my running stuff on and went for a run. Meant to get in about three miles but got five and felt great. Then I changed and got ready to head out to work. Well, I don't go every day but I went out to a soccer practice. And I got my picture taken too. Can you spot me?

Who's that guy rockin' the awesome plaid brown shorts?
Yeah, I'm trying to steal David Beckham's thunder. What can I say?

So after that bit of madness, I stopped at a Del Taco to furiously bang out a story, then had to go to a Starbucks to get a WiFi feed to file it (I just parked outside one and borrowed their WiFi). Made it to my mom's house to get Kennedy, made it home just as Yvie was being dropped off, rested and then went and had soccer practice, the first of the spring season - I'm coaching Yvie's team.

Hectic, I tell you. It's fun and great and enjoyable and rewarding, yeah, but it's hectic! So when I say my schedule changes from week to week, I mean it changes from week to week. Next week I'll go to the "office" on Monday, will be down in San Diego on Wednesday and will hope to squeeze in about 15-20 midweek miles.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

26 Things Thursday

I was perusing a new blog I read and came across this. I wish that blog was a blogger blog and not a wordpress blog but oh well. Anyway, Melie's blog is cool so do follow along.

She posted this and I don't know, just had to do it I guess.

26 things about me in alphabetical order:

Bed size: We have a California King. It's an enormous bed and we love it
Chore you hate: I'm not a lawn guy
Dogs: Two small dogs, four pounds apiece. I'm not really a dog guy either
Essential start to your day: I usually chug some water very early
Favorite color: Blue
Gold or Silver: Silver
Height: 5-foot-10
Instruments you play: I took band class and played saxophone in fifth grade. I wish I would have kept at it
Job title: Freelance journalist
Kids: My reasons for existing - Yvonne and Kennedy
Live: Riverside, Calif.
Mom’s name: Raquel
Nicknames: LB. A friend of mine once called me Luis the Beast since they rhyme. I liked that but it didn't stick.
Overnight hospital stays: I was about four and got a really bad fever. I remember taking an ice bath. I don't know if I was in the hospital overnight but I'm pretty sure I was.
Pet peeve: Inconsiderate drivers will make me go from zero to nuclear in less than a second
Quote from a movie: I. Love. Movie. Quotes. I quote Pulp Fiction a lot but I also like to quote Scent of a Woman. Okay, I'll throw this one out now: "Outta order... I'll show you outta order. If I was the man I was five years ago, I'd take a FLAMETHROWER to this place. Outta order. Who the hell you think you're talkin' to?"
Right- or left-handed: Righty. My older brother is a southpaw
Siblings: Three brothers
Time you wake up: 4:45 a.m. (boo!)
Underwear: Boxer briefs
Vegetables you dislike: Not a beet guy, and as much as I hate to admit this, not an avocado guy either
What makes you run late: Sometimes........ my...........daughters..........take...... .....forever.... ......ready.........they...... ...can.......
X-Rays you’ve had: At the dentist on more than one occasion; once an x-ray showed a nerve that had burst and was causing me the worst pain I've ever felt in my life; had my wisdom teeth removed a few days later and all was right in the world
Yummy food you make: I cook. Oh yeah, I cook. The girls love it when I make Chicken Fingers, really just chicken breasts that I pound very thin, dredge in flour/egg/bread crumbs, cook in some oil (peanut if you got it) and slice into thin strips. I serve it (for the girls anyway) with a mixture of mayo and ketchup. Mrs. LB likes Bacon Tomato Pasta I make but my favorite dish to make is Orange Chicken. Dang, it's been too long since I made Orange Chicken... October was the last time. What's wrong with me?
Zoo favorite animal: Snakes. Deep down inside, I'm a snake guy :)

Well, that was fun. If you want to play along, feel free.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yvie Rides Off

We had a breakthrough here at the LB house. On Monday, Yvie officially learned to ride a bike on her own.

Now, this could have happened much sooner had we invested in some bikes before but we had hand-me-down bikes that just didn't work right but tried to use those. Luckily, though, we, I mean, Santa left some nice new ones here on Christmas morning for the girls. Parents spend the money, Santa gets the glory...

Anyway, with a nice new bike in tow, we tried in earnest to teach Yvie to ride a bike. We had some problems in the early going, spills, tears and the like - Yvie even once confessed to me while on her bike "This is my greatest fear, riding a bike."

But alas, an empty school parking lot served as the setting for Yvie's first giant leap towards self-sustained bicycling about 10 days ago, and Monday she finally did it. She got up on her bike, pushed herself off and pedaled away all on her own.

The day wasn't without its setbacks. Yvie fell hard a few times, scraping her elbow and bruising up her right leg in the process. But the gutsy and determined warrior that she is, I asked her after one of the times she fell if she wanted to go home and she immediately said "No" while still crying. And sure enough, she got up, composed herself and took off.

This breakthrough will open so many doors now, one of which I pursued immediately. On Tuesday I took the girls to Mt. Rubidoux. We didn't bike up Mt. Rubidoux but there are bike paths behind it and we cruised up and down it. That bike path was part of the course for the Mission Inn Half Marathon, so it was pretty cool to head down it once more.

So we can take family trips down to the beach now and the girls and Mrs. LB can bike along the path while I go for a run or we can all bike down the beach path together. Kennedy's bike has training wheels but soon enough she will be biking all on her own too.

Thank you, Santa.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Back To Where My Shoes All Started

When I first met with my trainer back in March '06, I used a crappy pair of shoes. They weren't running shoes... I don't know what they were but they never should have been used in a gym. But I wore those suckers every time I went to the gym for about two years. Not sure why I never invested in a new pair of shoes but I didn't.

Finally in early 2008 when I started to run regularly, I did invest in some running shoes. I don't quite remember why I settled on Asics but I did, and of course I did what any first-timer who knows nothing about shoes should do, and I bought them online. I wore those shoes in my first 5K, my first 10K, my first half marathon and my first (and second and third) Camp Pendleton Mud Run.

After joining the Lopers, though, I found out about these things called running stores. I never imagined actually looking for a running store but they have 'em. I went to one, tried on a bunch of different shoes and settled on Asics. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say? I bought the GT-2140 and ran my first marathon in them, and my first sub-2 hour half marathon in them as well.

I bought a new pair of shoes at the same running store there last March, and - SHOCKING - went with Asics, the GT-2150. Those shoes lasted much longer than they should have - I ran two marathons, two half marathons and a few other assorted races. I don't keep track of how many miles I put on my shoes but it's safe to say this recent pair has more than 1,000 miles on them. Probably more than 1,200. I know, I know, what was I thinking?

Well, not to get on too much of a tangent here but I read the book Born to Run and while I'm not ready to run barefoot quite yet, that book did make me think about running shoes more and about how more injuries occur now than ever before and how before the advent of the running shoe, some injuries that are common now weren't really common then. I just kind of soured on running shoes a little, to the point where as long as my shoe was in one piece, I felt it was fine.

So at Surf City, I did realize that my shoes needed to be replaced as I felt every single rock and pebble on the beach path. And while everyone needs rocks and pebbles under their feet at Mile 23 of a race, I figured that wasn't all that great.

On Saturday, I finally dished out the cash and bought a new pair of shoes.


Went back to where it all started,

I actually got a good deal. I bought the GT-2150 again, but instead of it costing me more than 100 bucks like they did a year ago, I got them for 76. And the shipping was free. And they got to my house on Monday, about 48 hours after I clicked the "submit order" button.

Why online? Well, I know the GT-2150s I had before worked well, so if I don't need to change it then why change it? I have faith in Asics and that works for me. I know if I would've gone to the running store again I would have asked for Asics and probably would have bought some similar shoes to what I ended up with.

I would recommend for running shoes if you know what you want and have bought shoes from actual physical stores before but even though I got lucky the first time, I wouldn't recommend buying 'em online if you're just starting out. You could buy the wrong shoe and feel uncomfortable, maybe even get injured and you might not realize it's your shoe. But if you're an experienced runner, save yourself some bucks and get it at online.

Also, if you want to invest some time, go to the running store, try on a bunch of shoes you like, write down all the pertinent info and then go to Zappos and buy them from there. I don't know that I would do that, time isn't something I have a lot of, but they do have some shoes for under 50 bucks on Zappos, so you never know how much you can save.

* While it may seem like paid me to write this blog post, I did not receive any compensation from them whatsoever, aside from great customer service. However, if they would like to give me a new pair of shoes in order to write a similar post or perhaps even host a giveaway, I'm all ears.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Marathon No. 4

I did it. I signed up for my fourth marathon.

Marathon glory will come again for me on April 9 at the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon in Hemet, Calif.

I signed up on Saturday night, although I hesitated on hitting the Pay Now button after filling out the online registration form.

Deep breath.

So, what's the Diamond Valley Lake? Well, I'll probably get into that in more detail in the coming weeks but here are a few photos I stole borrowed from google.

Diamond Valley Lake looking pristine
Diamond Valley Lake is a man-made lake and isn't even 10 years old. Looks like it's been around a while, doesn't it?

I have get to run all the way around this lake.
It's nestled in the midst of some hills/mountains but the course itself looks relatively flat.

What the scene may look like come April 9

The terrain seen in the last picture looks like what could be the terrain for most of the course. I did see some pictures where it looked like the runners were running on a paved road, but that was probably an isolated part of the race, near the finish.

Anyway, the deed is done and I will run my fourth marathon on April 9. I am excited and I have a jolt of confidence from Surf City that I can get a marathon done and come out in not too bad shape on the other side.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fountain Valley 5K: A Demanding Race

Earlier this week I signed up for a 5K. I hadn't planned on it but a friend of mine had signed up and wanted me to run it with him. Not one to pass up a chance to run with a friend, I registered and found myself driving down to Fountain Valley at 6 a.m.

I had spent the better part of Friday psyching myself up. Since I'd just run the Surf City Marathon not two weeks ago - and having spent 4:23:38 on my feet - I was more than prepared for the shorter distance and shorter time. Thus, I was set to give it my all for the race.

I swung by my buddy's apartment complex and he jumped in my car, and 10 minutes later we were at the site of the race. After putting our bibs on, running about 10 minutes to warm up and sitting through some lengthy announcements, we were off, walking towards the start line.

I had the usual pre-race jitters, the usual pre-race self-doubts but I tried to focus. I didn't want to start out too fast only to crash and burn the last mile but I also knew that my margin of error in this race was razor thin.

BAM! The gun sounded and we were off. I didn't cruise onto the course at all. I immediately demanded a lot from my legs and they responded. Since I was towards the front of the crowd, I didn't have to do much weaving and after two turns, the runners really thinned out. This was a smaller community run so there wasn't a mass of speedsters out there. I wasn't towards the front of the pack but I wasn't far behind, for the first half-mile or so anyway.

My legs felt good, which was a good thing since I was being quite demanding of them. My chest was heaving hard, though, and I tried to control my breathing. I didn't want my lungs to burn out and have a freak jabbing pain in them like I had at the end of the marathon two weeks ago.

Mile 1 was ahead of me and when I passed it, my Garmin read 7:08. Holy hell!! I was simultaneously excited and worried - excited because, well, it's a freakin' 7:08 and worried because I didn't know if I'd be able to keep that pace up for the entire race.

My friend, Martin, hadn't run a race in many years, he said. In high school he ran cross country and said he ran a 5K once in about 19 minutes but was just easing his way back into running. He didn't know what a good time for him would have been on Saturday but he used me to gauge himself. At about the 1.5 mile mark he appeared next to me. I wasn't sure where he was since I got ahead of him early but I had a feeling we'd see each other on the course.

I felt as if I was slowing down but I was keeping the same pace. I suppose I did slow down a little since my second mile was in about 7:30 but I was feeling good. I wasn't feeling strong as I like to feel during races (I wasn't quite a gazelle loping effortlessly across the course) but I wasn't struggling either.


Okay, I didn't hit a wall but I was expecting to fall apart. I saw the finish line a bit off in the distance, picked up the pace and tried to maintain it. Martin skirted past me and I just tried to keep my focus. I wasn't necessarily racing him or anything and I honestly didn't care that he got past me, but I didn't want to lose ground.

I looked at the ground in front of me instead of the finish line, which didn't appear to be getting any closer.

Finally, I turned a corner and was heading straight towards the finish line. I kept my pace until I crossed the line, saw 21:50 on the clock and was surprised. As soon as I stopped running, I realized that I had in fact been giving it my all. I gasped for air. I was in some discomfort and felt like I was a minute or two from falling over. I sucked down a water bottle, inhaled some orange slices and plowed through another water bottle.

Martin and I were all smiles, though. He was proud of himself for having just ran a race and I was feeling good about my effort and my time. Martin kept saying "I can't believe it's over" as he'd been preparing for this even for some time.

My body certainly believed it was over as it didn't have much to give afterward. Even though it was "just" a 5K, I gave it my all, gave everything I had, wanted to leave nothing on the course. And I'm pretty certain that I didn't.
Got a new 5K PR - 21:50 at the Fountain Valley 5K! Details later, rest and recover now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

26.2 Around The Lake

I haven't registered yet for the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon but it won't be too long before I do. I've decided I suppose, unless this feet-dragging is more about not having made up my mind than anything else.

The course is interesting. It's entirely around a lake, interestingly enough. The entire perimeter of the lake isn't 26.2 miles so they had to go out a little bit and come back and then we can go on our way.

Check it out:

Since it's all pretty much right on the water, the elevation isn't bad. A few parts look to be at an incline and a few parts are the other way but it looks pretty flat.

It's funny because I'm not quite nervous about this. Oh, I'm sure from the safety of late February I can say that but I know once April 9 comes around I might be singing a different tune, but having run Surf City in a time I was happy with and, more importantly, with an effort I was happy with, I have some confidence.

There was a time I feared 15 miles. Hell, there was a time I feared 10 miles. You run enough 10-milers, enough 15-milers and you begin to see that they aren't monsters, and you are more than capable of running them. More than see, really, you begin to feel that you can knock them out regularly. I'm not there yet with the marathon but I'm beginning to feel that I can knock these things out.

So, when I finally do get around to registering - and it could be this weekend - I'll have a new target and some confidence to go along with it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Change Isn't Always Progress

So I spent some time Wednesday night trying to write a post on the new Boston Marathon qualifying procedure, but I was losing my nightly fight with Mr. Sandman earlier than normal so I wasn't able to string a few coherent thoughts together.

Instead of writing some really long post about it, though, I'm just going to hit some of the highlights.

In case you haven't heard, the Boston Marathon organizers will offer up registration not on a first-come first-served basis but rather will open it up to qualifiers who had the fastest qualifying times. Those who finished at least 20 minutes faster than their BQ time will get first dibs, followed by those who finished 10 minutes faster, 5 minutes faster and then everyone. Each group will get a few days to register and all registration will take place over the course of two weeks.

I didn't realize initially what was going on but then I read a lot of the fallout from runners via blogs, Twitter and Facebook. My conclusion? It's inequitable and just plain wrong.

* Double Qualifying: You have to qualify for Boston, but now you have to hope your qualifying time is fast enough. So in essence you have to qualify twice. The point of qualifying is to get somewhere. Once you qualify, then you should be on even footing with everyone else. Such is not the case.

* Knee-Jerk Reactions: This all is in response to last year's registration, which sold out in 8 hours. But the year before, it sold out in 65 days. Who is to say that last year was a fluke?

* Created Their Own Mess: Do you know why last year sold out in eight hours? Partly because marathon organizers made a huge push to get qualified Boston marathoners to register.

* Stomping Dreams: The Boston Marathon is the gold standard for marathons, an event only the strongest can compete in. However, part of the allure was that the average runner had a chance to compete in it. Now, the average runner will be weeded out and this marathon will turn into an elite event. It might as well become the Olympic trials.

*Stomping Dreams, Part II: Running has become really popular in the last several years, with record numbers of participants in marathons and races in general. Sadly, this is the Boston Marathon's response to that surge of popularity, to make their event an even more elite, harder-to-attain race.

* We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Race: There are plenty of other races to train for and enjoy. Boston is great and running Boston is a great accomplishment but that doesn't mean you are any less of a runner if you aren't fast enough to reach Boston. If you need a list of races, check this out. I know it's but a lot of those events have full marathons as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One More Picture

I haven't bought my Surf City pictures and not sure if I will. Kinda want to but it's also kinda expensive.

Anyway, one of the benefits of being a Loper is that we get pictures taken of us. One fellow Loper spotted me on the course, told me to smile and snapped this picture of me.

Two thumbs up!

I think this was somewhere around Mile 21. I was already on the back part of the out-and-back on the beach path.

Free pictures rule.
I hadn't planned on it but my second race of the year is coming up soon. As in Saturday.

I signed up to run a 5K in Fountain Valley, Calif. The race is scheduled for Saturday morning at 8 a.m. After running a marathon, why bother with a 5K? Well, a friend of mine is running this race and it's always great to hang out with him. He's not a runner but used to run back in his high school days. He signed up for this race and has been asking me if I would run it with him so I finally caved and said that I would.

What are my goals in this race? Well, I want to go for a PR. Why not? My buddy will probably run it pretty fast so I might try and keep up with him. My 5K PR is 23:03 set in March of last year. Not sure if I can run that fast but giving a 5K all of my effort and energy shouldn't be a problem. I mean, I just finished running a race that took me more than four hours to complete, so 20-something minutes seems simple and digestible.

The only hitch now is rain. It could rain on race day. Probably wouldn't be a heavy rain but either way I'm not too worried about it.


I ran 12 miles on Sunday. Hadn't intended to but when I showed up for our group run Sunday morning, that's how much the group wanted to run, and that's how much I ended up running. Wasn't the easiest run but I came out pretty good, considering I ran Surf City the previous Sunday.

The distance helped push me over 200 miles for the year. I'm at 201 miles for 2011. Just something else to feel good about this year.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breaking Down Surf City

It's been more than a week now since I ran my third marathon (!) and I've had some time to chew on and digest the race and my performance. Now, I'm not obsessed with time. I'm proud of what I did in Huntington Beach regardless of my time, but I do think it's important for me to look back at the race to pick out what went well and what didn't go well so I don't repeat the same mistakes. And who knows? Maybe some of you awesome readers will pick up a thing or two.

The Wall: My wall was the 24th mile. The more I think about it, the more I know that was it. It seems kind of odd on one sense, that two-plus miles from finishing I'd be completely mentally wasted, but that's what happened. I was fried. I couldn't push past through it. I ran up to The Wall, leaped shoulder first and caromed backwards onto my butt. I think mentally I wasn't as strong as I could have been the last six miles, and that depleted mental state caught up to me at Mile 24.

The question remains then.... how do you push past The Wall? Unfortunately I think the answer to that is to figure it out during races. It's easy for me to say a possible solution now, when I'm resting at home, but when I've been on my feet running for close to four hours, that's a much different story.

Six-Mile Slide: I could have gotten underneath my goal of 4:20:00 had I run the last stretch in under an hour. Six miles in under an hour usually is not a problem for me, but this time it was. I divided the race into three "thirds" - the first 10 miles, the second 10 miles and the last 6.2. I was in a favorable position at the 20-mile mark but it was ultimately too much to ask.

How do I work on that? I need to run more during the week. Now that soccer season is over (hallelujah!) I won't have to save myself for anything and I can crank out some good, longer runs on weekdays. I think my legs just weren't strong enough to maintain the early pace I set. Also, I could stand to lose some pounds. I'm at the high end of my comfortable weight range, not good!

Good Start: The early pace I mentioned was this: at the 13-mile mark, I was at about 2 hours 3 minutes. Double that and you get 4 hours, 6 minutes. Even with a slight drop-off, a finish of around 4:10 or so is within reach.

Here's how my splits shaped up
3 miles - 28:17 = 9:26 pace
6 miles - 56:30 = 9:25 pace
12.2 miles - 1:56:49 = 9:35 pace
20.9 miles - 3:24:04 = 9:46 pace
26.2 miles - 4:23:38 = 10:04 pace

I know I pushed myself early, probably too much for the experience I have. But in some ways, that's what I wanted to do, to push myself, to see where I'm at and to go from there. I felt myself slowing down at about Mile 14 or 15. My Garmin kept splits and the first mile that was not under 10 minutes was Mile 17. The Garmin got a bit unreliable afterward so I couldn't really compare it to other miles early in the race but sub-10 minute miles were scarce in the last 10 miles. I think maybe Mile 26 may have been under 10 minutes but that's about it. Maybe Mile 21 since I ran through that one at a pretty good clip (it felt like it anyway).

I'm not disappointed in that I faded, really. As I said, I want to push myself to see where I'm at and where I can improve. Now I know what I've got and I can build from there.

I don't want to BQ or anything, I can't. That's for elite runners and I'm not there, but I do want to run a strong race the next time I head out there, so breaking down my time will help me get there. If that translates to a PR the next time out, cool. If not, that's fine too. Just gotta have something to build off of and I've given myself that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Surf City Marathon: Pictures!

Pictures for the Surf City Marathon were posted on Thursday. As always, I've been able to secure some to share here. I don't know, I might actually buy the pictures but we'll see. For now, here are some of the pictures.

Excuse me, but I was looking for the beach

Remind me why I wanted to run this again?

I could be having a bagel with some coffee right now. Sigh.

I don't see any mile markers. Sad face.

Watch out now - LB's got his shades on

And the best pics of all...

Put your hands up!!

Yay me!

I did it! Three marathons!

Well, there you go. There are a lot more pictures of mine. I may break down and buy them all since there are so many of them. And it would be great to have that finish line shot as well.

Regardless, there they are, pictures from my third marathon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Marathon No. 4

Okay, I've started this blog post twice already but it keeps getting to places I don't want to go. So I'm trying this again...

My next marathon will be:


the Los Angeles Marathon on March 20


the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon on April 9

I had thought about LA for the longest time, since that's what our running group is training for. I will have a lot of friends running the race that day and it would be great to run it with them. I think I can handle the race because I think I'm a stronger runner now than ever. Surf City didn't totally destroy me this time around and I think mentally that I can handle the rigors of 26.2 once more.

However, work could get in the way of LA. It could work out better for my work schedule to run a marathon on another day, and April 9 is the closest date of a marathon around this area. Diamond Valley Lake is near here and the marathon is smaller. The best part and the part that is most intriguing is the convenience. I get headaches trying to think about how to get myself to the start line in LA. Diamond Valley Lake (DLV) would be so easy to get to. The race starts at 8 so I would have plenty of time to get out there, so no hotel necessary.

Money also could play a role. I need new shoes desperately. I felt every damn rock and pebble on the beach path Sunday. DLV is 80 dollars cheaper than LA. That's pretty significant. Considering I already spent more than 100 on Surf City (the entry fee alone, not counting hotel) and will drop another 130 or so on San Francisco, I'm not sure about triple figures for LA.

I'm debating all these things right now. I very much want to run LA but it will be here next year and I'm not sure I'm going to want to do Surf City next year. DLV is intriguing, the course isn't bad and I might have some family other than Mrs. LB out there cheering me on (you feelin' me, Danny?).

I haven't given myself a deadline yet but I want to decide soon. Maybe by this weekend the decision will be finalized. But when it is, you'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Surf City Marathon: Race Extras

Some of the things from Surf City Marathon that did not make the race report:

* The weather was perfect. It was overcast until about Mile 23. The sun started to come out then but really wasn't all the way out from behind the clouds until I was almost done. I know those who came in after me, both the full and half marathoners, were running in sunlight for a bit of time but for the most part us runners lucked out on Sunday morning.

* Three marathons, three times I used my phone as my music player, three times it messed up on me. Ugh. Next marathon, I'm not going to listen to the phone the entire time... actually, for last year's Surf City, I didn't listen to it the first 10 miles and it still crapped out on me. Ugh. On Sunday, Mrs. LB called me a few times on it and she couldn't hear me. After the race, it took me about 15 minutes to get a signal. I couldn't even text or anything, but that may have been because of so many people around there all probably trying to use their cell phones. Still, I'm a little perturbed by my phone.

* Speaking of music, the playlist was fine but I turned off the music the last few miles. It's like if you're on a road trip, you need a change of pace. Maybe you, dear reader, can but normally I can't listen to four straight hours of music, even if it's music I like. For roadies, I like to listen to talk radio or news or stand-up or something, to mix things up, along with music.

* Supporters are awesome. I had a ton of supporters. Tahoegirl was among my virtual supporters - check out her set-up. All the well-wishes, be them in comments on here, FB, Twitter, texts, in person... all were appreciated. I wish I could take the time to thank each and every person individually but please know all the support is appreciated even if I didn't directly respond to you.

* The supporters for this race were out in full force. I remember having a lot of supporters cheer me and the other marathoners out there last year but this year, it seemed as if there was more support. The middle-schoolers who manned the aid stations and dotted the course during the part that took us through a park were back again. It's great to have hyper middle-schoolers jumping up and down non-stop cheering you on as you run a marathon. Maybe it's not so great to have them in a classroom acting up but that's a problem for their teacher. I embraced the hyperactivity on Sunday. Also, there was a group of about six or eight women, probably in their early 20s, with some, uh, unique signs. One of them read "Runners have great stamina (call me)" and another "Keep it up (that's what she said)" and another "Runners do it longer" and I can't remember the other sings. There were about five signs in all and I hope the race photographers captured them on film because they were great to look at... the signs too ;)

* The course wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, mentally I mean. I didn't know what I was getting into last year but this year I knew what the course would be like. There are two long out-and-backs, about three miles up on PCH and three miles back, and then five miles up on the beach path and then a little more than that all the way back to the finish line. I though the mental pain would be a lot worse than it was on the beach path. I mean, I dealt with a lot of mental issues but they weren't because of the out-and-backs.

* I learned a lot from my pace leader last year, when I was training for my first marathon. I mean, a lot. And I keep learning from her. One of the things she said was to make a list of things, like sit down and write an actual list of things, and check them over before you A) leave for your race and B) when you get ready the day of. I didn't listen of course. Also, one of the things she mentioned to take with you during races as money. Her rationale - you never know. Again, I didn't heed her warning. Guess what would have kept me from my timing chip disaster? A list. And what would have been my safety net? Money.

* Okay, okay... I know you're all wondering what's next. I'd thought about and had planned on running the LA Marathon on March 20, which would mean two marathons in six weeks. Well, there's been some movement on that front. However, seeing as this post is already really long (I'm wondering how many readers already hit the eject button), I will save that for another day. Sorry to be a tease but that's the life of a blogger sometimes, gotta give you a reason to come back.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Surf City Marathon 2011: Raising The Bar

Before my first and second marathons, I was barely able to sleep. I got about four or five hours of sleep each time, but on Saturday, the eve of Marathon No. 3, I was good to go. It was 9 p.m. and I was tired. About 20 minutes later, I drifted off to sleep along with the rest of the LB clan in our Huntington Beach hotel room.

I'd secured a spot on a 5:30 a.m. shuttle so I was a little at ease with the pre-race logistics. While I woke up twice feeling wide awake, I was able to go back to sleep and when I finally got out of bed around 4:40 I felt rested. I'd set all my things out in the bathroom the night before, slowly and methodically got ready and headed down around 5:20, not realizing I'd forgotten something major.

Once down at the start area, I went to the bathroom, walked down to the start, snapped some pictures with my phone, realized I kind of felt the twinges of another bathroom trip and went back to the Honey Buckets (aka portapotties). I happened to glance down at the people in line in front of me and suddenly got a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Where's your timing chip?

I remembered ripping off the timing chip, jamming it into the side of my bag and there it still was. It was about 15 minutes before the race was supposed to start and there was no way Mrs. LB could have made it down in time.

See, this is too much for you to handle. See, you shouldn't even be here. You don't belong.

From out of nowhere, doubt crept in. The morning had been going incredibly smooth but now this was threatening to ruin my entire race experience. I tried to quash those thoughts and walked inside the Expo tent. Underneath a sign that said Solutions, there were people who I hoped had a solution to my problem.

I explained my situation to someone and she was quite helpful. She told me she needed my bib back, changed some things around on her computer and handed me a new bib. She said it would be five dollars but I didn't have any cash and told her Mrs. LB would be down later so she said we could come down later and pay, and I fully intended on doing that.

I headed back to the start line but now it was crowded. I'd originally been in the second wave but now was back in a crowd in the third wave. I didn't care at that point. I was happy I realized my chip was gone before I was about to cross the start line.

After that ordeal, I quickly refocused on the 26.2 miles before me. But I wasn't going to try and swallow the whole thing at once. I thought about getting to the first mile marker and trying to get my body warmed up. Almost instantly my legs felt good. I was out on PCH for a brisk morning run and my body cooperated.

Just don't run too fast.

My first mile was in around 9:30 and the second mile was a bit faster than that. I'd wanted to run ever mile in under 10 minutes but while this was under that, part of me worried it was too far under. But I kept my pace right around there and the miles came quickly. Since this had been my first marathon, memories of last year flooded into my head at almost every stop.

I remember our group heading into the park... there's the bathroom a few of them stopped at... Oh yeah, the fire station where Art greeted the firefighters...

This time, however, I was alone. I wore my pink Loper shirt but didn't see very many other Loper shirts out there. That's fine, though, I was prepared for running the race by myself.

I got out of the park and started heading towards PCH. At Mile 10, I was done with my first "third." Much like I did in San Francisco, I divided Surf City up into "thirds" - Miles 1-10, Miles 11-20 and Miles 21-26.2. I was done with my first third and was focusing on small steps.

Alright man, gotta GU at Mile 12. Let's get to Mile 12.

I'd taken GU at Mile 4, 8 and now 12 but decided to go until Mile 17 for the next GU. At Mile 13, I was doing well as I'd been running at nice, steady pace. I finished the first half at about 2 hours 3 minutes. I knew I wouldn't finish in 4:06 but thoughts of a speedy marathon were alive.

And then came Mile 15. And Mile 16. And Mile 17. My legs felt each mile more than they had the first 14 miles. My Mile 17 time was a little over 10 minutes. I wasn't too bummed out but I knew that I was going to have a rough final stretch.

Almost done with the second third.

After the Mile 16 marker, we finally got off PCH and headed on the beach trail. We weren't right on the sand but quite close to the water. I tried to look over at the water and tried to enjoy some of the scenery. I looked and saw waves crashing on the sand, and perhaps on another day would have felt like walking over, throwing a towel on the ground and relaxing near the waves, but this morning's task was much different and kept me from thinking about anything but what was in front of me.

When I finally crossed Mile 20 and finished with my second "third" I felt happy. I got a small boost of energy but I was stuck in third gear. I'd gotten a bounce in my step here and there but mostly I was just moving along, not quite running briskly as I had earlier.

As in my other marathons, Mrs. LB had called me during the race. However, my phone (which doubles as my music player) was not cooperating. At Mile 11, she called me for the first time, couldn't hear me and called me back. We chatted briefly. She tried me again just as I was getting to Mile 20 but couldn't hear me. She tried again a few minutes later and nothing. I thought that maybe taking the battery out of the phone and resetting the thing would help but didn't want to go to the trouble.

However, she gave me a mental blow later, one that I could hear in her voice she was quite sorry about.

"I hope you can hear me. We are having problems finding parking. We're probably not going to see you finish."

The thought of seeing them, seeing Mrs. LB and my lovely girls near the finish line was certainly a landmark I'd envisioned. They'd definitely give me a boost before seeing them and then another one as I charged past them. Now, that was gone.

You're really alone now.

As if it was some consolation, the song A-Punk by Vampire Weekend came on and it gave me a boost. The girls love that song and of course my thoughts went to them when I heard the first few notes.

I was at Mile 22 but the thought of having only four miles to go was not comforting. I tried instead to focus on getting to Mile 23.

You've only run these many miles twice before.

After Mile 23, I knew I wasn't going down any well-traveled roads. I'd only run that many times twice, in my previous two marathons. Mentally I think I was in better shape this time around. The course had been mostly flat and I felt it. Sure, I was feeling the effects of having run 23 miles but it wasn't the same as hobbling along San Francisco's 23rd mile after the brutal hills there.

Still, I felt my goal time slipping away. I wanted to run in under 4:20:00 but knew that was going to be a struggle. When I saw the 4:20 pace far ahead of me and getting smaller by the second, I felt my goal time flying away as well. But I focused on finishing, focused on trying to set a new PR and wanted to be done with the race.

Mile 24 came. My wall. I stopped and walked. More than a few steps. I didn't want to go again. 24 miles is a good run.

But it's not a marathon.

I get back to running. I found a spring in my step and was going at a pretty good clip. Mile 25 came and went and now I was almost back on PCH for the stretch run. I could see some landmarks and far off in the distance was the finish line. I was going pretty good, finishing strong and paying the price.


I'd been breathing audibly at this point. I can't figure out if it was breathing laced with grunts or grunts laced with breathing, but whatever it was, it was loud.


Oh no. That don't feel right.


I felt like I was breathing through a straw. I had visions of falling down so I stopped. I was almost to Mile 26 and I had to stop. I shook my head in frustration and grabbed my left side. All those supporters there cheering us on and here I am, stopped. I unsuccessfully tried to take a deep breath but the rest helped. It was brief, maybe 10 seconds, but when I got going I knew I could push through it.

Still feeling the shooting pain in my side, I got to the finish line. I made sure nobody was behind me...

I don't want anyone to ruin this finish line shot

... and I did a one-armed fist pump as blog buddy Kim had suggested. I liked the suggestion and as I crossed the finish I raised one arm in the air, smiled and wrapped up the Surf City Marathon. I'd crossed the finish line at 4:23:38, and while I didn't get under 4:20, I did set a new PR by about 15 minutes.

After some stumbling around and inhaling some water and bananas, I finally met up with the LB clan and I gave them all sweaty stinky hugs. And while they hadn't seen me before I crossed the finish line, they did celebrate with a three-time marathoner afterward.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Finished!! At about 4 hours 23 minutes. Had to wear bib no. 4285 and will explain why later. Time to rest and celebrate.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Surf City Marathoner No. 3117

Looks like I'll be number 3117 at the Surf City Marathon. Exciting! I'm heading to the Expo on Saturday and at that point I believe it will finally hit me. Well, actually I do believe that it's already hit me but this will make it seem real, that I am really going to do this.

I looked at the site and tried to figure out any place where you can get updates as I go along the course but I've had no luck. If you happen to find something and want to follow along, by all means. Otherwise, check back here (or on my Facebook page or Twitter page) shortly after 11 a.m. PT on Sunday morning because I'll let you all know one way or another what my time was and how I did in general.

Right now, I'm feeling the usual pre-race jitters. I'm not exactly second-guessing myself but I know that it will be painful and that's a bit unsettling. But I know that once I get to the start line that I'll be good to go.

Anyway, thank you for all your support throughout my training and in other races. It really does mean a lot and I know I'll draw on it Sunday multiple times. So thanks for reading and following along. I won't let you down on Sunday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I'm running a marathon on Sunday.

You might be aware of that if you've read this blog at all in the last few weeks. I think I've mentioned it once or twice. It doesn't seem so far-fetched now, that I'm running a marathon. Stupid? Possibly. Crazy? Some would say so, yes. But far-fetched? Not any more.

Although, there was a time when anything more than a few steps for me would have been out of the question. Aside from the fact that it was all but physically impossible for me to do any sort of running, I had zero desire to run. I remember being in Las Vegas the first weekend of December 2005 and some of the streets were blocked off because of a race. Not once did I think "Gee, maybe I should try a race" or anything to that effect.

While it was unfathomable to have running part of my life at one point, now it's unfathomable to not have running as part of my life.

The change in mentality did not happen in one day, one week or even one month. It did not happen because I went running once.

But it happened.

And that's what matters the most. It happened that I got turned on to running, that I found something I was good at (not speed here folks, just finishing runs), that I found something I could be proud of, something that was healthy and fit into my new lifestyle like a glove.

It happened.

I'm a different person now, mostly. I look a whole helluva lot different, that's for certain.

Before big events like Sunday's Surf City Marathon, I like to look back at the changes I've made to give me some confidence. I don't need reminding that I used to be big and that I lost all that weight. That's in the forefront of my mind. But having lost 120 pounds has given me a never-ending well of confidence, and trying to tap into that before a race, particularly a marathon, is not a bad idea.

Also, I hope that by putting it out there, by showing you what I went through and where I'm headed, that maybe the challenges you have in front of you, the ones you might think are impossible, maybe they're not mountains after all. Just have a little faith in yourself, put in some honest effort and you'll get to places you never thought possible.

It happens.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Surf City Marathon: Strategy

I can't believe I'm writing this post. I can't believe I have an actual marathon race strategy. Well, it's not all that detailed. I'm sure the elites have an actual strategy with specific goals but still. I need to have a strategy because I want to meet my time of 4:19:59 or better.

Thus, the need for strategy.

> Under-10s: I want to run every mile in under 10 minutes. Is this going to be difficult? I suspect the hardest miles to do this will be the first two and the last six. Why the first two? I don't want to start off too fast, and thus I might have problems keeping Miles 1 and 2 under 10 minutes. I might run them too slow - err on the side of caution, after all. I'm not going to panic if Mile 1 is in 10:12 or something but if it's at like 10:47, I'm not going to be too happy. Then again, I won't be happy if I come out with an 8:57 Mile 1 either.

> Bank The Time: I know my body. I know how it reacts to certain race conditions and situations. I'm not the kind of runner that can run three or four miles at 11-min per mile and then run the next three or four at 9-min per mile. My body doesn't work that way. If I start off too slow, my whole race will go too slow. Thus, part of the earlier goal is with this in mind. I don't want to start off too slow because I won't be able to kickstart my body on the fly. Ideally my first two miles would be at about 9:30. Ideally, I'd be at the 10K mark at about 58 minutes, and I'd be at 12 miles in about 1:57:00. If I can meet those two goals, I should really be feeling confident by the time I hit the half-marathon mark. I can then focus on getting to Mile 18 in under three hours and if that happens, I should have enough energy and confidence to guide me to the finish in under my goal time.

> GU If You Got 'em: I'm going to GU at Miles 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20. Last year I dropped a GU packet and had to GU at 8, 12, 16 and 20. I was very punctual. I'm going to stop, GU and go. I might throw in a couple other walk breaks somewhere in between there, possibly a couple after Mile 20, but definitely when I GU. That'll help push me through to the GU time.

> Focus! I have to keep my focus. Above all else, I must stay composed and focused. If I run a too-fast mile, be it Mile 3 or 14, I have to stay focused. If disaster strikes and I drop my GU packets or something, I have to keep my focus. I need to focus on the next mile marker. I have to get from one mile marker to the next in the best manner possible. I will have 26 little finish lines before I get to the final one. I can't think of the race as one gigantic 26.2-mile run because how can I possibly focus on anything with that sort of monster before me? But if I can just focus on the next mile, everything else will take care of itself.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Surf City Marathon: Last Year's Awesomeness

I remember Surf City 2010 like it was just yesterday. Okay, that might be a bit cliche but I remember a lot of the race in great detail.

I mean, it was my first marathon and all.

I am a bit worried that the experience from 2010 and what I will experience Sunday will sort of blend together. At some point down the line, I'm sure I'll wonder "Did that happen in 2010 or 2011?"

Anyway, before that happens, I wanted to list my five favorite things from my first marathon, to sort of reminisce and more importantly to make sure that I remember exactly what year these things took place.

5. On Your Mark, Get Set... Just being at the start line was magical. I remember not feeling nervous, surrounded by a bunch of other marathoners, surrounded my a lot of my Loper friends, getting ready for just another long Sunday run. The weather was great. My fears of a rainy marathon were put to sleep by the cloudless morning. I was happy and had a smile on my face at this point. I didn't quite know what I was getting into but I knew it was going to be special and memorable.

4. Volunteers At The Park: Part of the course took us through a park, and manning aid stations and helping runners stay on course were loads of volunteers, a lot of them middle-school age. For 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds to get up that early on a Sunday morning and cheer on the hordes of runners was really special for me, really gave me a boost and I'm guessing the others as well. I tried to thank as many as I could because I wanted them to know we appreciated their support.

3. Random Awesomeness: There were a lot of little snapshots that were pretty cool but one in particular... I was probably at about Mile 14 or so, I believe still on Pacific Coast Highway. One runner said something to me about... well, about my No. 1 item... anyway, once he passed me by (he was quite a bit faster, might have been running the half) he looked back and said "Soak it all in!" I did, brother. I did.

2. Support Crew: Not ashamed to admit it - I cried during the race.

Well, I take that back... I would have cried if my body would have allowed it, but since I was in so much agony, my body didn't want to divert any attention away for any sort of normal body function as my body was in emergency shutdown mode and thus tending to pain in my sides, feet, calves, back, arms and thighs. No room for tears.

However, when I was just about to hit Mile 26 I saw Mrs. LB and the girls. How can I not get a little emotional?

I was trying to keep my composure. Not doing a great job of it.

1. My Bib: Remember my bib? If you were around back in February 2010, I'm guessing the answer is yes.

This has been easily one of the best ideas I've ever had. I wanted to commemorate my weight loss and to show others what is impossible - as the bib says, NOTHING is impossible.

Wearing that on my back was an awesome experience. So many fellow runners, fellow marathoners, congratulated me on my achievement. It didn't quite lift my feet up off the ground for me but it really reminded me just how far I'd gone in such a relatively short period of time. From 300-pounder to marathoner in four years.

Proving My Worth

What a difference one year makes.

A year ago this time, I was getting ready to run my first marathon. In February 2009 I was (improperly) training for my first half-marathon. In February 2008 I'd never run more than three miles at once. In February 2007 I weighed 250 pounds and in February 2007 I weighed more than 300 pounds.

And now, February 2011 I'm getting ready to run my third marathon.

I'm excited about what I'll be doing on Sunday. Not all that excited about the pain I'll feel towards the end of the race and immediately afterward but it's a means to an end.

What end is that? Bragging rights? Pride? Ultimate confidence? All that and more.

Running is who I am, it's what I do, it's what defines me. It allows me to fit into my size 34 pants, it's what allows me to enjoy food and not worry that every bite I eat will add inches to my waistline, it's what allows me to feel good about myself and allows me to think "Hey, I don't look half bad."

I'm not quite sure where running will take me. I hope I still have the fire and the ability to run marathons in 5, 10, 20 years. I'm definitely laying the groundwork for such longevity but you never know... I could shatter my knee or some other gawdawful thing could happen to keep me from running.

Anyway, I'm a runner. I've earned the right to be called as much and I don't feel brash or arrogant or anything when I think that. On the other hand, I feel as if I need to constantly prove myself to maintain that status.

I'm a runner.

I'm a marathoner.

On Sunday, I'm going to prove it.