Monday, December 31, 2007

Cheap Jersey

I like my Tri Team jersey. I really do. It has the Disney name on it, so people at races love to cheer "Go Disney!" It is stylish, very comfortable, and - miracle of miracles - it actually fits me pretty well. Or at least it used to. Turns out, our team jerseys are very cheaply made and my jersey has shrunk.

The last time I wore my jersey was at the Rose Bowl half marathon last month. I was very busy in December; I had too many parties to go to, too much drinking to do... Thank goodness there was so much candy in the office to help me deal with all the holiday stress. I simply haven't had the time to do any exercise in over 3 weeks. I went out for a run today and discovered my jersey is a little tight around the stomach. So explain to me how it is possible that a jersey, sitting in a closet getting no exercise at all for almost a month, can just suddenly shrink? I know, it doesn't make any sense but it's true. It used to be loose around my stomach, now it's tighter.

I just hope that next year's jerseys are made out of higher-quality, non-shrinking material. I'm very upset about this; I think I'll find some leftover Christmas chocolates to make me feel better.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Left turn at Albuquerque

Last year while training with IronmAnnie, we typically met in Downey and rode the San Gabriel River Trail. This season, we've been meeting in Duarte and riding the trail to Downey. Duarte to Downey. Downey. Duarte. I always confused the two.

After several weeks of holiday breaks, we got together for a group ride on Saturday. I got an email saying to meet in Downey in Duarte. The email contained all the details about the ride including directions to the meeting place for the noobs. But I'm a veteran, so I didn't really look it over. I showed up in Duarte at 8:20. (Are you paying attention?)

Nobody was there. It was very cold, about 44 degrees, and I assumed the ride was cancelled. Sure enough, at 8:30 my phone rang. It was IronmAnnie: "Where are you?" "Um, I'm in Duarte. Where are you?" "Downey". Oops. I told her just to have the group go without me and I would meet up with them.

I drove down to Downey and was able to get on the bike path by 9:00. It was amazingly MUCH warmer - in the 60s when I started. I figured I would just ride down the bike path and catch up with the group when they were on the return group. I was surprised that I made it all the way down to the end of the trail in Long Beach without seeing them. Turns out, they stopped for coffee along the Pacific Coast Highway and our paths didn't cross.

I did see the group back at the parking lot, where Steve had a big box of Christmas Tree Peanut Butter Cups and other goodies for us. (Note to self: in the future, when Steve steps away do NOT take all of his candy and hide it in your trunk. Bad Move.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rose Bowl Half Marathon Race Report

This weekend was the inaugural Rose Bowl Half Marathon.

Rich and Stephanie live about 1/2 mile from the race start. (I'm doing Coeur d'Alene with Rich in June, and Stephanie is our travel coordinator.) They suggested I come to their place before the race. I was able to avoid the $10 parking fee, I got to play with puppies at their house, and we had a good downhill warmup jog to get to the race area. Zero stress. Great way to start off the day.

It was pretty cold in the early morning and I was very glad to be wearing the sweatshirt I took from the side of the road at last week's City of Angels Half. But by the time the race started, it was warming up a bit so I just tossed it by a tree and didn't run with it all. A group from my Tri-Team moved their Saturday bike ride to Pasadena to come cheer us on (which was awesome) and Robert was feeling a bit chilly so he wound up stealing the sweatshirt for himself. (more on that later.)

One of my race rules is that I only look at my stopwatch when I cross a mile-marker. I check at every mile to keep my pace, but I don't allow myself to over-obsess about it by looking down every 2 minutes. Because of the crowds, I often don't see the first mile marker in a race (which is fine) so I just look for mile 2, after people start spreading out a bit. After a bit of running, I was sure I had passed the 1 mile mark and was looking for mile 2. Then after a while longer, I was sure I must have gone more than 2 miles. This is a brand new race and I was convinced that they simply didn't bother to put up signs at each mile, which really concerned me because I wanted to be able to adjust my pace.

I heard a Masters Clydesdale come up behind me, literally saying "clomp clomp clomp." I joked to him "I guess we haven't even gone a mile yet, I have seen any mile markers." He said "you're not looking in the right place. We just passed Mile 3." I looked down at my watch: 31 minutes. My goal was to finish in under 2 hours, roughly a 9 minute pace, and I was doing 10-minute miles?! I freaked out a bit and started speeding up. I should have taken the time to ask Brad to define the phrase "just passed". Because 1 minute later, I passed the sign for Mile 4. I wasn't doing 10-minute-miles, I was doing 8.5s. Perfect. However, I knew going into the race that the second half of the race would be more difficult.

Around mile 7 we left the roads of Pasadena and hit some trails. It had rained the day before so the ground was wet, but it was fairly easy to avoid the puddles and the larger muddy spots. There was one short but nasty hill that took us out of a ravine. I was surprised to see Tri Team Bruce as a volunteer at the bottom, probably telling everybody that "no, there is no elevator." Tri Team Tammy was at the top of the hill at a water station. She happened to be holding two cups of Gatorade, but I called out for water. Another volunteer came over with water, but I was all, "um, I don't think so." You think I want to accept a drink from a total stranger? I made Tammy go back to the table so that SHE could be the one presenting me with the water. (Yes, I know it's a race but if you can't take 10 seconds to have some fun, what's the point?) Best race water I ever tasted.

At the water station around mile 9 I heard a guy calling out "water! gatorade! memnennen!" What was he saying? Eminem is there? They have enemas? I couldn't figure it out until I saw the table: M&M's!!!! They also had pretzel rods. I LOVE pretzels, and I LOVE eating them with M&Ms. If it was a hotter day they would have been great for resalting, but I was worried that if I grabbed a pretzel it would just bloat me or give me cramps so I didn't take one. The M&Ms were too tempting to resist and I took a few. Great aid station.

This was my 5th half marathon. I only broke 2 hours the first time; I was slower in the next three. I've done the Nautica Malibu Triathlon 3 years in a row, and each year my times have been getting longer. This was kind of a mental barrier for me as I start my path to Ironman, because it seems like no matter how I've been training, I have not been getting any faster in my races. I really needed to break 2 hours at the Rose Bowl, just for that emotional confidence boost. My official finishing time: 1:54:06. I don't mind telling you, I'm thrilled. Brad came in right behind me at 1:54:44, placing him 6th in the Fat Old Man division. Rich and Stephanie ran the race together and they also slaughtered the 2-hour barrier; their times are 3/10 second apart. (They can debate who should have "won".)

After the race, Robert handed me the stolen sweatshirt. I sort of half-forgot that I was trying to get rid of the damn thing, but after I little while I was starting to get some chills so I was glad to have it back. I'll try to throw it away again at the NEXT race.

Oh, and to the runner in red who saved 50 feet of running by cutting through the Gamble House parking lot: I hope that made you feel like a Big Man.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Tomorrow is the Rose Bowl Half Marathon. Brad from my office is also running the race. I would say we are comparable runners; we'd both be very happy finishing under 2 hours.

This is my horoscope in the L.A. Times:

"Someone close feels driven to compete with you; rise above pettiness. Be supportive instead. You are not in a contest, and there's nothing to win when the other person loses."

What is Brad's problem?! Why is he turning this into some sort of a competition? The stars do not lie. I'm not very good at rising above pettiness, but the universe compels me: I hope Brad has a very good race tomorrow.

No matter how slow he is.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What a Croc of Sh... oe

Have you seen these Crocs shoes? They are the dumbest fashion fad of
the decade. I can understand people wearing them to beach, but people
wear them to the office. I see them in meetings. They are entirely
inappropriate. I think they are ridiculous.
I would not wear them with my socks
I would not wear them climbing rocks
I would not wear them hunting fox
I would not wear them on the docks
I would keep them in a box
I would not wear these shoes called Crocs!

As it turns out, Tri-Team Tim is a big Croc advocate and I tease him
about it. Yes, I am a Croc-mocker. But whether it was out of spite or
love, a few weeks ago Tim got me a pair of Crocs.

I have a half-marathon on Saturday and the top of my left foot has
been hurting for the past couple of days. It's not really a blister,
just some minor swelling, but all my regular shoes are a little
painful. So today I wore my Crocs to work. OMG do I have Happy Feet.
There is no rubbing, no pain, and I'm sure my foot will recover by the

I lift my pox upon the Crocs.

Monday, December 03, 2007

City of Angels Half Marathon Spectator Report

I had a bit of a disappointing Sunday morning, but ultimately it turned out OK. Yesterday was the City of Angels Half Marathon. This is the race that many of my friends were doing, but I broke ranks and am doing the Rose Bowl Half next weekend instead. I really do enjoy going out to watch races and the starting line was literally 2 miles from my home so of course I was there.

I had big plans for the race. I took some High School Musical 2 posters (which have an odd tri-connection) and added some words to them. My plan was to drive the course in the morning and hang a poster every 4 miles so that my friends could get that little extra boost along the course. The signs were extra large and they couldn't be hung just anywhere; I needed to find tall fences or walls to display them, so I knew it would be a challenge to find good locations. I got up extra early and drove out to around the mile 9-10 area. The problem is that the course map I had didn't have specific streets listed, and I couldn't find the course. I got there too early and workers were just starting to put out cones. When I did see cones, I couldn't tell if they were for the actual race course, or if they were just blocking traffic to prevent cars from turning on to the course. In some short sections where I DID know the course ran through, there were no good places to hang the signs.

After about a half hour of driving around lost and confused, I figured I'd just head back towards Griffith Park. The first 6 miles of the race were in the park, and I know the area well. I parked my car just outside the park, took my bike out of the trunk and started riding towards the course. Unfortunately, it was very cold and I forgot my gloves at home. And my helmet. It was a very strange feeling riding without a helmet, and I didn't like it at all.

I found a large metal sign around mile 3 advertising the special holiday lights display in the park. It was the perfect place for one of my signs, so I strapped it on. Looked great. Until the park ranger drove by and told me I couldn't cover up any park signs. I tried to explain to him that I was just trying to support the racers and that the sign would be gone in 2 hours, but he wasn't hearing any of that. I had to take it down. Instead of the signs being a surprise along the course, I just had to show them at the starting line.

I met up with Tri Team Tammy who was on her AWESOME 95-lb steel bike to watch the race. Right before the race started we rode about 2/10 of a mile down the course where I quickly hung up a sign. I hung up the wrong up. The sign said "What Time Is It?" "Time to pick up the pace!" Which would have looked great at Mile 10 but was pretty stupid after 2 minutes of running. Once the racers passed us we were able to cut over to Mile 4 where I did get to hang up one sign for them to see.

Tammy and I did some shopping along the road. There were TONS of abandoned sweatshirts from people stripping down after warming up a bit once they started running. I got a nice black hooded sweatshirt which I'll wear and abandon at my race next weekend.

Last year I rode my bike to the finish line to meet up with everybody, but I was just feeling so frustrated about the signs and I didn't like not having my helmet so after a final cheering stop (with Rene) around Mile 6, I just went home and back to bed.

Some of my tri-buds completed their very first half-marathons yesterday. Others had PRs. Overall, I guess you could say it was a pretty good day. As for my race next Saturday? Forty percent chance of rain.