Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Giveaway Winners!!

Thank you for bearing with me. End of school, beginning of summer, long weekend...

Anyway, I randomly selected two winners of my first-ever blog giveaway and they are...

Winner number one: The Jesse.

Winner number two: MegKays.

The Jesse gets her choice of the two shirts and then the rest of the items from the giveaway - sweaty band, wristbands, etc. If you want the Peanut Butter GU too, it's yours. MegKays gets the other shirt and the other cool stuff.

Anyway, please email me ---- buenodad (at) gmail (dot) com --- and let me know where I can send those items out to you.

I had a good turnout for this and really wish I had more cool stuff to give away. Thank you all for participating, and thanks to the San Francisco Marathon for providing me these awesome things to give away.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Giveaway Over

Greetings all. Wanted to put this up earlier but life got in the way. Anyway, my giveaway is over. Thank you to all who participated. I will select and announce the two winners here soon, hopefully by Thursday I will draw the winner. Thank you for your patience. There was some good participation and hopefully I was able to spread the word out about the San Francisco Marathon a bit more.

In the meantime, here's a song I've been jamming to of late. It's old but it's one of those rare finds, released on an EP, not on iTunes and thus hard to find. Heck, I didn't realize this song existed until not too long ago. Anyway, found it and love it. It's from my favorites, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three (okay maybe more) Things Thursday

Just a few quick hits for today...

- I signed up for the San Francisco Marathon! Okay, this was a little anticlimactic because I'm a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador after all so I was always going to be there, but still I had to register at some point and I finally got the green light to go ahead and do so. It's now officially official though - I will be running the full marathon once more, on July 29, and it will be my seventh marathon! I am absolutely excited about that.

- Here's my latest bit of writing for the San Francisco Marathon's Web site. I'm trying to write about motivation when I write for them so I chewed on this one for a bit. One question I get asked often is this: if a marathon is so difficult, so taxing and wipes me out, why do I keep running them? I got to thinking and came up with my latest post - The Ultimate Motivation.

- Also, please enter my giveaway if you have not done so already!

- I'm not sure what I put for the deadline but it's midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 :)

- I leave you with a song, one of the songs I'm really digging right now. I think it would go great in any playlist but that's just me. It's not that old although the group is no longer together.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

OC Marathon: More Fallout

More of my leftover thoughts on the OC Marathon. For the first part of this post, click here:

* Strong Organization: Of all the things that go into a race, the most important for me is the organization. Was the race well-organized? Did things run as efficiently and smoothly as they needed to have run? No matter how great the course is, if a race is poorly organized I will not want to run the race again. This race was supremely organized. Things ran as smooth as possible. There was one minor hiccup - the start was delayed by about 12 minutes - but that wasn't necessarily the race organizers' fault. The shuttles from the finish line to the start line ran just fine and all on time; the gear check was easy to find at the start (even though I didn't use it) and transported back to the finish in UPS trucks; mile markers were large and easy to spot; the course was well marked; water stations were plentiful on the course. I can't think of one area where the race was not well organized.

* OC Redux: I usually ask myself in these types of posts if I would run this race again. The simple answer here: yes. I want to run this race next year. I'm not sure if I'd run the full again or try for the half but one way or another I'm going to line up at Fashion Island on May 5, 2013.

* Musical Plan: When I ran LA, I did not listen to music for one second. That did not repeat itself in OC. I made two playlists - one was about three hours long and filled with some of my favorite running songs. The other one was about an hour and change and made up solely of Metallica songs (my top go-to group to run to). My plan was to hold off on music until I was at about Mile 12, the turnoff from where the half marathoners leave us and head for home. I got antsy though and threw on my headphones at Mile 11. At about Mile 20 or so, I switched from the first playlist to the second one. It worked great. The first playlist I just hit shuffle so it was a bit of a guessing game to see which song came on next. And when I needed to push through the last few miles, I had my A songs playing through my ears. The music could not have worked out better.

* What's Next: So what races are upcoming on my calendar? In June, I've got the Fontana Days half marathon, on June 2. I'm looking forward to this one. I'm calling my shot now, I will set a massive PR. I'm going to gun for a 1:45. So why the bravado? Am I suddenly fast? Well, no. This race is all downhill. Last year I was undertrained and I ran a 1:48. This year when I actually run it and am strong enough to run it, I know I can do better. So I'm going to set a massive PR that I won't actually count because this is a bit of a different course. But it will be fun to smash my old PR. After Fontana Days, I've got the big one - the San Francisco Marathon. I am already excited about this race of course, have been since I was accepted as an ambassador. This race I hope will be the highlight of my year. Those two races I will have on my mind as I run through the upcoming months.

Monday, May 14, 2012

OC Marathon: Breaking Down My Best Race, Part I

Aside from the race recap itself and the pictures post, I wasn't able to blog about the rest of my OC Marathon experience. And while we're more than a week removed from it, I still wanted to get my thoughts out on what I think has been the best performance I've ever had in a race.

(oh and by the way have you entered my giveaway?)

* My Race: I've often read other bloggers write about feeling strong at the end of marathons and sometimes I'll read them say "I could have kept on running." Well, I finally had my such marathon. At the end of the race, I had enough gas to have kept on going. I could have run another mile or two for sure. Now, this wasn't my PR. I've had two marathons with faster times, each around 4:23. So this was four minutes slower than those, but the way I felt after this was almost night and day with the way I felt after those. I was walking around okay after OC as opposed to needing help to walk back to my car after the other two. My muscles responded during and after the race this time around.

* Credit Where It's Due: I think this race went so well because I was conservative at the start. I wasn't as fast in the early miles as I was in LA, but what I really think helped me was the bathroom break. I think that two-minute break gave my muscles the chance to regroup. It was after four miles and I didn't want to stop but I knew I had to or face problems down the line. I think that helped me get an extended breather and helped give me more energy as the race went on. Of course, having run a lot of miles this year also helped but had I just plowed on through like at LA, where we pretty much were at our marathon pace at Mile 2, I think I would have suffered in the last stretch.

* Negative Splits: I achieved one of my goals, which was to have a bone fide negative split. I think it's nice to have done that in a marathon. I had a horrid split the other way at Surf City 2011. I was at the half in about 2:03 and finished at 4:23, so I ran the second half in 2:20. Not this time. Had I simply doubled my half time, my finish time would have been 4:29:24.

10K - 1:05:07 (10:29 pace)
7.5 - 1:18:35 (10:29)
13.1 - 2:14:43 (10:17)
20 - 3:24:39 (10:14)
26.2 - 4:27:54 (10:14)

Between 7.5 and the half, the pace had dropped significantly. I ran those 5.6 miles in 56:08.
Between the half and 20, my pace dropped. I ran those 6.9 miles in 1:09:56, a 10:08 pace.
My pace stayed the same after Mile 20. Of course I would have liked to have finished with a faster pace than the 20-mile pace but so many times I've just been hanging on at the end. This time I really did feel like I ran right through instead of slogging or shuffling like I've done in the past.

* Spontaneous Finish: For the last several miles, I was practicing my pose (at least mentally). If you don't know what I'm talking about or why I do this, read some of my previous posts on the matter. They're awesome posts, I promise! Anyway, I was thinking of smiling of course but the poses I had with my hands and arms didn't work with a smile. Like, I had thought about two fists in front of me, like right in front of my chest, but that begs for a "GRRR!!!" expression, not a shit-eating grin. Believe me, I had that grin the last several miles. So when I finally saw the finish line, I started to pump my fist but I just became overly excited with everything (the race being over, how I felt, that I had done number six and I used to weigh... well you get the idea) that I was elated. In the end there was no wiping that smile off my face. So I just jumped.

It was not a high jump. I picture me leaping like a gazelle across a wide stream somewhere but I barely lifted me knee off the ground. Still, it was a jump and that I had enough energy to jump at the end of a marathon is fantastic. I don't know which one I like better, that one or my finish at the 2010 San Francisco Marathon.

If my hands weren't all the way cut off, that one would be better, but I love that finish line shot. But I love this newest one too. Guess I have to try and top them on July 29.

* Part II: I have a lot more to say so I'm going to save that for another post. I like to do these posts a bit longer than normal and get everything out so I remember the races and the experiences and everything that I might otherwise forget. I've trained so damn hard for all of my marathons and put so much into each of them that I might as well try and have vivid and crisp memories of them all, right?

Friday, May 11, 2012

My First-Ever Giveaway: San Francisco Style

Well, it took some time to finally carve out time but I present to you the first-ever Muddy Runner giveaway!


Okay, well, I don't expect a marching band and cheers from the raucous supporters but I do hope you enjoy this and do hope the word gets out. You probably don't because it could lower your chances of winning but we'll deal with that I suppose.

So what the heck am I giving away? Considering I've never done one in the four years I've been blogging here, it's pretty awesome, right? Well, I think so.

I've got a good amount of stuff so I'm actually giving away two things. Bear with me until the end and you'll see how it works.

One item I'm giving away is this nice t-shirt:

That's a cool shirt, size medium.

Anyway, here's the second shirt. This one's a running shirt:

It's also a medium. I wish I had all sizes to give away but I work with what I got.

And on the back it says:

Just as a brief aside, I love that saying. The San Francisco Marathon is absolutely worth the hurt.

Alright, so what else is involved? How about some of this stuff?

So there are two Sweaty Bands with the San Francisco Marathon logo on them, a pair of San Francisco Marathon socks, sweatbands from - you guessed it - the San Francisco Marathon and a peanut butter GU.

Here's how it shakes down.

Winner #1: one shirt of their choice, one Sweaty Band, one pair of socks, two sweatbands, one packet of peanut butter GU.

Winner #2: one shirt (the one not chosen by Winner #1), one Sweaty Band, two sweatbands.

I would host another giveaway but why bother, may as well toss it all into the fray at once. Plus that raises your chances of winning, right?

Okay, so how do you enter this historic giveaway?

*pause for me to laugh at the word "historic"*

One entry for each of the following (and please leave a separate comment for each entry)

- Become a follower of this blog (or let me know that you follow already)
- Follow me on Twitter - @RunnerLuis (or let me know that you follow already)
- Tell me which of the San Francisco Marathon's races you'd love to (or will run) this year*
- Tweet about this giveaway (include link to this post, @RunnerLuis and @THESFMARATHON) and let me know you did so (max one entry)
- Post a link on Facebook to this giveaway and let me know you did so
- Post a link on your blog to this giveaway and let me know....
- Friend me on Daily Mile (or let me know that we're already DM buds)

Okay, I think that should do it. You have plenty of opportunities to win and you don't have to have a blog or Twitter account to enter.

Again, leave a separate comment for each of these entries.

If you have any questions please let me know. I've never done a giveaway so maybe I didn't explain something the right way.

Contest will end on Tuesday, May 21.... for no reason, just picked a random date. Want to give enough time to give some of this stuff away.

Alright, well thanks again for your patience and have at it.

* There are six total SF Marathon events: 1st Half Marathon, 2nd Half Marathon, Marathon, 52.4 Ultramarathon, 5K & Progressive Marathon, Munchkin Kids Run... the last of which is for kids so... unless you're a kid...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

OC Marathon Pictures!

My OC Marathon pictures are up! Can you believe it??

Before I get on with this, I do want to say that my giveaway will be up either Wednesday or Thursday so thanks for being patient.

Anyway, the OC Marathon pictures were posted on Monday which is an incredibly quick turnaround. That's by far the fastest I've seen them after a race. Usually it's around Thursday when they are posted.

Without further delay, here's what I looked like as I ran my sixth marathon.

Very early on; no headphones, not a lot of sweat... trying to stick to my plan

Halfway mark - 2:14:43 into the race

I'm a bit of a ham during races but this camera snuck up on me...

... so I posed and tried for a decent shot

Into the finish, I'd regained my composure here 

All smiles, I was definitely excited

Final pre-finish steps

Wasn't really thinking about celebration anymore, just wanted to punctuate my race

Leaping for joy!

Of course I had to show off my bling at the end of my absolutely memorable day

Monday, May 7, 2012

OC Marathon: Up For The Challenge

It seemed too sudden. I'd just run the LA marathon seven weeks ago, yet here I was awaiting the start of another marathon. It was a little after 5 a.m. on May 6 and I was all set for the OC Marathon. Physically, I was set. Mentally, I was staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

This is the OC Death March.

Scheduled to start at 5:30 a.m., we were delayed briefly but all that did was give me a few more minutes to try and re-group mentally. I knew what was before me. I had prepared for this as much as possible, having run 20 miles by myself not three weeks prior. Ultimately, I'd put faith in my plan and decided to follow it closely. My plan: run a 10:30ish pace for the first 4-5 miles, gradually pick it up and finish strong. Would that translate into a PR?

PR? Heck, I just don't want a PW!

I'd settled for a goal of a sub-4:30, a respectable finish within sight of my PR of 4:23:12 set in LA.

Delay was over, and off we went. I wasn't dreading the race at this point. I was all smiles now. This was, after all, something I could do. I never doubted myself in that I would finish. I felt deep down inside that I would finish. I was convinced of it. This marathon, I'd also decided thenight before, would be run in honor of a friend, Tasha, who has been hospitalized for nearly two weeks now for a mysterious ailment that threatened her life. She is a fellow Loper and we'd each just run LA not too long ago, and I wanted to draw inspiration from her battle.

That whole situation helped me gain some perspective. Shooting for a PR was not important to me this time around, and that seemed to help settle me once the race was finally underway.

I started slow and, outside of running for a solid mile at a sub-10 pace thanks to my friend and speedster Dean, I kept the pace there for the early stages. The course took us near the beach and my slow pace meant I could enjoy the scenery more and would be able to soak up the atmosphere.

Around Mile 3, I felt the urge to use the bathroom. Now, stopping for a bathroom break was something I'd never done before, not in any of my other five marathons or any of my eight half marathons. For a few moments, I contemplated pushing through it. However, I'd felt discomfort at the end of LA and I knew it was because I'd not used the bathroom when I'd needed to then, around Mile 22.

Now, I had no choice.

Shortly after crossing the Mile 4 marker, I spotted porta-potties and in line I got. About two minutes later, I was walking out of the porta-potty and felt much better. Once out on the course, I felt that I'd been destined to take that break, just to ensure that I would have been on track with my goal. Up ahead I saw who I thought were the 4:30 pacers so I figured that my plan was working. I got closer though and realized that they were the 4:40 pacers. Here I was, close to five miles and I was on pace for a 4:40 finish.

That's not necessarily a bad thing - my first marathon was 4:42:26. But I knew that I could challenge for a sub-4:30 and it was a bit of a sting. However, this was indeed part of my plan. Starting slow meant keeping such a pace early on and increasing it. All I needed was to figure out when to increase the pace.

Now's the time.

I asked for more from my legs and they gave me more. I did not want to sprint or anything but I was running at a faster clip here. It took me a mile or so but I got comfortable and settled into a good rhythm.

And there's the 4:30 pacers.

The skies were cloudy and hid the sun well, and I wasn't about to complain. I had opted for a sleeveless shirt despite the overcast mid-60s forecast. Not once did I regret my decision. It wasn't cold at all. The air was still, not cool and not warm, all in all ideal conditions for me to run.

We'd gone away from the beach and were headed through some scenic neighborhoods, with enthusiastic and energetic supporters along the course. We'd also been met by the half marathoners, at least the fast ones. A few at first raced by and then a trickle followed. Eventually, there was a steady stream of fast runners whizzing by me. I saw the 1:30, 1:40 and 1:45 pace groups.

That's the only way you'll get ahead of them, with a head start.

I'd taken GU at Mile 4 (just after the bathroom break) and Mile 9, each time giving myself ample enough notice and gave myself something to look forward to. The next big thing was music. I'd tried to hold off on my music until the course split off and left us marathoners to fend for ourselves. But at Mile 11, I decided to throw on some tunes. One mile later, the half marathoners went off to finish their own 13.1 quest.

And then things got boring. Industrial properties greeted us with the same verocity as a yawn. Crowd support had thinned out too.

Glad I got my tunes.

The only thing that hadn't changed was my pace. I'd kept it hovering around a 10-minute pace. While I wasn't glued staring at my Garmin, when I looked it was usually in the low 10s or the high 9s. This was good. I felt in a rhythm, felt solid at that pace and felt strong.

At the halfway mark I was at 2:14:43. I knew my goal time was within reach, but I also felt that I could go either way. I could stay strong, finish strong and get way under 4:30 or I could fade and be well over 4:30.

I kept my nose the grindstone.

The course eventually got better an livelier. I ran past and around the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center (one of the most prominent theaters in the county), through Segerstrom High School (which had a wealth of supporters cheering on the runners) and past the South Coast Plaza (a prominent mall in the area). The neighborhoods we ran past were also out in force, cheering us on, hadning out water and oranges and other goodies to runners.

The mile markers were flying by. Mile 15 came and went, Mile 19 was suddenly before me, I reached up and slapped the Mile 20 marker, I was excited at Mile 22 and celebrated the occasion by taking my fifth GU, an island-flavored Roctane that was rather quenching. Then at Mile 23... at Mile 23...

Damn, we've got to be close to Mile 23 by now.

I glanced down at my Garmin. It read 23.14. So I'd missed a mile marker. That's fine. I felt no worse because of it. In fact, it invigorated me. I knew I had only three miles remaining and I felt like I had energy to burn. I had a bounce in my step, had a kick inside of me and knew I was going to reach my goal.

More importantly, I was together mentally. I did not feel like I had an eternity to complete, did not come to a sudden stop for no reason, did not second-guess my decision to run the race. On the contrary, I was beaming.

To see just how strong I was doing, all I had to do was to look at others around me. Some were walking, others were running slow and taking forced steps and shuffling ahead in the process. I passed up runners whom I'd seen very early on and then had gotten ahead of me. Very few runners passed me at this stage. Others were gassed while I was stepping on my gas.

Here we go. This is living!

At Mile 25, my song came on. Orion by Metallica is hands down my favorite running song and here it was now, streaming through my headphones, fueling my late surge. A wide smile eclipsed my face.

Mile 25 of a marathon, I feel strong and Orion is playing? Can life get any better?

I'd been strong which also meant I'd stayed composed. Often during marathons tears have welled in my eyes and my throat was gotten tight. This time, I was strong and happy, but the tears caught up to me at Mile 26. I'd seen the last mile marker, had seen the finish line around the corner and it hit me.

You're about finish your sixth marathon!!!

I wanted to scream with all of my lungs that I was about to finish a marathon once more, but simultaneously I felt like collapsing in a bed of tears. My face contorted by smiles and tears but my legs kept pushing. I saw the finish line and joy had won out. I'd finished my sixth marathon in 4:27:54, more than two minutes under my goal.

As I crossed the finish line, I was happy, ecstatic, thrilled, pumped, jazzed, excited and downright overjoyed at what I had done. I pumped my fist in the air, shouted "Yes!!" to no one in particular and collected my medal.

You nailed it!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What A Run!

I did it! I ran marathon number six! Finished OC Marathon in 4:27:54, a time I'm very happy with. I will have to come back and share the details with you soon! Thank you for your support!

OC Marathon today!

Well it's the big day. On my way out to the OC Marathon right now. I will update when I finish. I hope for a sub-4:30 today but will be happy with a finish of any time to be honest.

I am bib number 2487, got a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador shirt on, my lucky LB hat... I am ready!

See you soon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Things Thursday: OC Comin' At Me

1. Days Away Now: My sixth marathon is just a few days away. I'm alternating between excitement, anguish and disbelief. In some ways it does not feel like I'm already running another marathon. I suppose that's because all but one of my other 26.2 runs had quite a bit of buildup. Five months separated nos. 1 and 2, while seven months came in between 2 and 3. No. 4 came up quickly, nine weeks after its predecessor, and there was a full 11 months leading up to No. 5. And now - BAM! - seven weeks is what I've got in between marathons. Nothing I can do now to prepare physically except keep myself fresh and get myself properly carb-loaded. Mentally though I have to come in with the right attitude and mentality. I'm running this one for the medal and to prove to myself that I can do it so I think that may take some of the pressure off... well not really but if I tell myself that enough, perhaps it will.

2. Store: Have you visited my friend Willoughby's online store? Check it out here. She has some great and unique running attire for sale and if you use the code RunnerLuis you will get 10 percent off the entire order. Go local and support a small business instead of heading out to Sport Chalet or Sports Authority. Trust me, quality stuff.

3. Summer's Almost Here: Pretty soon, my summer will have arrived. The girls get out of school on May 24. After this week, they have two full weeks of school remaining, and then four days and that's all she wrote for the 2011-12 school year. I'm prepared for that but then again I'm not. I like my alone time and I will have none of it coming up, which is fine.. except for running. They can't exactly run an eight-miler with me. They have their bikes and they will be pacing me plenty but still, squeezing in runs will be a challenge. But I'm looking forward to not having to do the morning routine and just being lazy and getting away with it. Not every day of course but the whole get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, do hair, brush teeth, get lunch, prepare backpack, let's go thing is mind-numbing at this point. Routine, but it numbs the mind. So I'm trying to enjoy my last couple of weeks of relative solitude before the flood gates open. I'll definitely be getting in some nice long midweek runs before then. I don't care that I'll have just done a marathon, I need that time on the road before all hell breaks loose.