Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rebound Running

Runners, has this ever happened to you? You have a bad run. It's frustrating and it fills you with self doubt. But a week goes by, you start feeling a little better, and it's time for your next long run. So you go out there and you do it. And this time, everything just feels right. Afterwards, you think you could go a few more miles and you just feel so... alive. I'm sure many runners go through the experience of rebounding after a bad run and feeling great on the next one. But not me. I feel like shit.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess I did complete 17 miles today, so my complaining may seem insincere. Tough. The point is that as my mileage increases, I'm feeling disproportionately worse. Around mile 14 I suddenly stopped running because I felt for sure that the contents of my stomach were about to be emptied on to the path. The scary thing is that I wasn't sure which end it was going to be coming out of. Fortunately I was able to settle things and move forward. This isn't the first time I've felt like that, but this was definitely the most severe. I have now accepted the fact that it's not a question of IF I will ever puke (or worse) during a run, but a matter of WHEN.

The odd thing is that when I got home I was too tired to eat. Not too tired to cook, but to eat. I put two Snickers in the freezer last night so they'd be wating for me. Didn't touch them. Had a bag of Ruffles in the cabinet; wasn't interested. I forced myself to nibble down a baloney sandwhich.

Fortunately, next week is a scheduled step-back in mileage so I "only" have to do a half-marathon. I spent a year dreading that distance and now I'm looking forward to it. How twisted is that?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

...or am I just happy to see you?

I've ruined 2 iPods.

I had an iPod Shuffle and one day it just stopped working completely. It turns out I short-circuited it or something by sweating too much and getting moisture inside. It's not a design flaw; the issue was the way I was wearing the iPod.

I bought one of those iPod armbands, but the problem - embarrasingly enough - is that my arms are too skinny and I have to wrap the strap around my arm twice to make it fit. Well, not quite... but it is true that the strap does not fit my arm very well so I can't use it. Instead, I basically just tucked the Shuffle down into the waistband of my shorts- an admittedly sweaty area.

The good people at the Apple Store gave me a free replacement iPod, and with this one I tried taping up the seams with scotch tape before each run, hoping it would make it waterproof. Unfortunately, it didn't help and I broke the 2nd Shuffle. I had to buy a new one (custom engraved, based on a suggestion from the Apple Store). This time, I'm trying a different approach. I took a rubber band and strapped a safety pin to the Shuffle and now I simply pin it to my waistband. It's not pretty, but then neither am I in my running shorts.

Yes, that's an iPod in my pocket.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Speed it up a little!

This marathon training makes me feel just like Lucy. Every piece of chocolate represents one mile I need to run; wrapping the chocolate means running the mile. At first, things were pretty managable; I had 3 chocolates (miles) here, 4 chocolates there... but then the chocolates started speeding up. A half dozen. Then a dozen. Then a bakers dozen. Then more. No matter how many chocolates I wrap, there are more and more coming at me. And yes, a few chocolates have dropped on the floor and I didn't wrap them.

Mmmmm... chocolate... Now I'm hungry.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Beyond the Wedgie

A couple other tri-blogs to check out...

First up is The Sea Monster by my Tri-Team-Mate "Weks". At our carb-loading dinner last year, he was voted "Newbie Most Likely to Complete an Ironman" so that has to count for something.

Also, Tri Geek Kahuna and Iron Wil have joined forces to put together a weekly Triathlon Podcast. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Toy

My Aunt passed away last year. She lived with my mother, and had been very sick for many years. Last week my mother called me up and asked if I wanted my Aunt's old heart rate monitor. I politely said "yes", but in the back of mind I was thinking "oh, silly naive mother... I'm training for a marathon. I can't use the same giant, antiquated monitor system that an old woman had."

As it turns out, my sedintary aunt was using a Polar A1 Heart Rate Monitor. Although this is considered their entry-level monitor, it's still pretty much state-of-the-art. It's very compact and lightweight, with the cool wireless signals between the chest strap and the watch receiver. I told myself I'd probably never like using a HRM, but now I can't wait to hit the road with it.

Thank you Aunt Peggy!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Running with the Night

My training schedule called for me to do a 15 mile run this weekend. Unfortunately, I decided to go skiing in Mammoth this weekend and like a moron figured "I'll just do my run on Monday". Dumb. My awe-inspiring boss is very tolerant about my training habits, but I wasn't about to take time off to take my stroll. So that meant either getting up at 4 a.m. (yeah, right) or doing it at night.

Running at the Rose Bowl around 6 or 7 at night is actually pretty nice. There are lots of families out there pushing babies in strollers, and lots of other joggers creating a great sense of "community". Because you're doing 3-mile laps, you can use your car as a home base for refueling. You can hydrate as much as you want, because there are public restrooms by the soccer field.

Unfortunately, by around 7:30 or so all those wonderful people creating that community were back home watching TV and I still had 3 laps to go. It suddenly became a cold, dark, desolate wasteland. And it seems that those ever-so-helpful restrooms get locked sometime after 7, as I found out the hard way. I scraped up my legs wandering through the dark bushes to make use of Nature's Facilities. And to top it all off, this meant I didn't have dinner until 9:30.

It was a slow run: a pace 3-minutes slower than my half-marathon time and I still was not doing well. Right now my foot is soaking in an ice bucket to control the swelling. This is not a good thing.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Been there

Click for larger image:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Face of a Champion?

OK, my goal for the Orange County Half Marathon was to get a good race photo. I'm going to give myself a "B" for this one. These are probably the best photos of me yet, but there is still lots of room for improvement. For starters, the huge knee braces make it look like I'm running on artificial legs. I may try using a smaller style of brace, but my vanity will only go so far- I have bad knees and they need lots of support. The first photo is probably the best, but unfortunately I'm looking right into the camera. Shot #2 is just too posed. You can tell I'm trying to look determined. I think shot #3 is right at the end and you can see the slight grimace in my face as I'm trying to keep my head up and mouth closed without collapsing on the pavement.

Biggest photo improvement: wearing the hat. Definite keeper.

And then here are pics of my two new buddies- Safety-pin-through-the-skin guy and Little 12-Year-Old Jimmy: (see race report for background)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Developing Story

It's several days after an event before the official race photographers have their digital images posted for all the runners. It's torture! I keep refreshing the pages every 15 minutes so I can see my photos, but they're not ready yet. Driving me crazy. I have high hopes for these photos because I was trying to get a good shot this time, but maybe I tried too hard. I do know that at one photo location I had just eaten a gel pack and I was wiping the goo off my teeth with tongue. That might not be one for the scrapbook.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Orange County Half Marathon

Screw you, Santa Clarita!

Regular visitors here know I have an unhealthy obsession with the fact I dropped out of my attempt to do the Santa Clarita 1/2 last year. Well, that monkey is off my back: I did the Orange County 1/2 today.

First some logistical comments: I was impressed. I got there around 6:50 for a 7:30 start, later than I wanted, and was able to park immediately, no waiting. There were plenty of Port-a-Potties; I was able to go through the line twice in 30 minutes. (Yes, that's what hapens to me on race days). There were plenty of water stops along the way. It only took me 5 minutes in line to get on the shuttle to take me back to the starting line (although the line seemed to be growing quickly.) One minor quibble: they had a live band playing at Mile 1. Very cool, but I don't need inspiration during the first mile. How about pushing them back another 10 or so?

From a technical standpoint, this was probably the best race I've ever done. Typically I will second-guess myself afterwards, thinking of ways I could have shaved 30 seconds off my time here and there: fewer/more water stops, better transitions during a tri, etc. But this time I don't think there is anything I could have done to significantly improve my time. Although there were a few rough spots, I mostly felt OK until the end where I felt ready to collapse at the finish the line. In other words, I don't feel like I left anything on the course. I'm very happy about that.

The few minutes after the race were a bit scary. All I wanted to do was sit down. I know that's the worse thing to do, but it didn't matter; I couldn't sit down if I tried. So I figured I'd just do some stretching. I couldn't. I tried squatting; nope. I tried just moving my feet apart; nope. There was this odd sense of paralysis where my legs just would not do my mind's bidding. The only thing they knew how to do was walk. There's probably some term for it involving "Muscle Memory" where after long periods of repetitive behavior, that's all the muscles can do. It was probably 4-5 minutes before I regained control. Creepy.

Here's something that blows my mind: I ran a half-marathon. I hung out at the finish line for a while, then took a shuttle bus back to my car. I drove 55 miles through L.A. traffic. The race started at 7:30, I was home around noon. Had I been doing the marathon, I STILL WOULD HAVE BEEN RUNNING! Man, those are LOOOOOONNNGGG runs.

There are always interesting people at races, and two in particular caught my eye. The first was a high school kid at the starting line. Like the thousands of other people there, he had his bib number pinned to his chest. Unlike the thousands of other people, he wasn't wearing a shirt. Yes, he had safety pins going through his skin. Dude... Seriously... Just gross.

The other Racer Of The Day was little Jimmmy Woods (no, not James Woods). Little Jimmy is 12 years old and was signed up to do the the 1/2 Marathon. Way to go Jimmy! The "special" thing about little Jimmy is that he is about 6'2, 170 lbs, and covered in hair. I was in line for the Port-a-Potties (round two) and little Jimmy was next to me. Just by looking at him you could tell he was a serious athlete and of course I hated him. Because I'm petty, I wanted to see his age so that in my mind I could think to myself "yeah, you're hardcore, but I'm ten years older than you". So I looked at his bib and that's where it said "Jimmy Woods - Age 12M". No freaking way. Either the real Jimmy got sick and his uncle was running in his place, or Los Angeles has one hell of a school milk program.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Eating my words

I may have to take back some of the things I said about race-packet-pick-up. Don't get me wrong: it was a pain having to drive down to Irvine this morning to get my bib and t-shrit. But after going through the Expo, and seeing everyone else running about, I'm actually starting to feel excited about the run. So maybe it's not such a bad thing after all.

Of course, it's always important to have some sort of goal for a race, so here's mine: For the 2006 Orange County Half Marathon, my goal is to get a good race photo. They always have official race photographers snapping photos throughout the race, and every time I look like a complete dork. Tomorrow I hope to change that. I bought a new hat at the expo so I won't look as bald as I usually do. And when I see the photographers, I'm going to hold my head up and look straight forward instead of staring down at my feet as in most of my photos. As for any expressions of pain or misery, well that's something I don't think I'll be able to control.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Has to be a better way

There is no same-day packet-pickup for the 1/2 marathon I'm doing Sunday. So I have to drive over 50 miles each way to get my stuff tomorrow. It will eat up about 3 hours of my day, and will cost over $10 in gas.

I think every event should have a "Mail My Packet" option. They could do it for $5, but I'd be willing to pay $10. For $10, I'd STILL be saving money. Basically, if you register earlier than 1 month before the event, for an extra fee all your race materials will be mailed to you. The organizers will make a lot more money, and participants will be thrilled not to spend 2 extra hours in their cars.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Half-Assed Marathon

I'm signed up to do the Orange County Half Marathon this weekend and ya know what? I just don't want to do it.

The first problem is that I don't like the way it's laid out; it's a one-way course, so you have to wait in line at the finish for a shuttle bus to take you back to your car at the start. That's just gonna suck.

Second, this will be the first time I have not practiced a race. I've never run 13 miles. With my first 5k, 10k, and even the triathlon I had always completed at a dress rehearsal at least once. I have no reason to believe I can't do the half-marathon, but I'm neurotic. I won't have a problem with stamina because in the worst-case scenario I can always walk the last mile, or 2 miles, or 5 miles. I AM worried about injuries (pulling a tendon, snapping a shin).

I think the biggest issue is that I'm just mentally tired. For the past 6 weeks or so I have spent every weekend stressing about Christmas shopping (I was still in the stores all 3 days of the extended New Years weekend) and travelling to London. I would love to have a weekend where I didn't have to worry about anything. But now I have to get up extra early Sunday morning to drive an hour to do a stupid run.

I suppose it all serves a greater good.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Gods must be angry

I need to get back in training after the holidays, but there's a problem. You're not going to believe this, but there is WATER FALLING FROM THE SKY! I kid you not. Living in Los Angeles, I'm used to running through earthquakes, wildfires, and riots... but water from the sky?! That's just wierd.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


So it's the new year and all that. I'm not really into resolutions, but these are "things I'd like to do in the new year":

1. Do a half-marathon. I'm supposed to do one next weekend, so this will hopefully get crossed off the list pretty quickly. I've never run that far before.

2. Do a marathon. I'm still shooting for the L.A. Marathon in March, but I am slightly behind in my training already because of the holidays.

3. Do an olympic triathlon. 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6 mile run (1.5k/40k/10k) I think this distance is going to be the sweet spot for triathlons. It's long enough to be challenging, but not so long that you have to train for months ahead of time. (that is, once you work up to doing the first one.)

4. Run a 22-minute 5K. I'm not a fast runner. My 5k pace is about the same as my 10k pace and even my 8 or 9-mile pace. I need to speed up on shorter runs.

5. Volunteer at an event. Volunteers are great; I figure it's time I start returning the favor.

6. Hit X% bodyfat. I have a number for X, I just don't want to share it. The point is I may be running more but I'm still pretty soft around the middle. And the edges.