Wednesday, June 19, 2013

San Francisco Marathon-All Or Nothing

Either all or nothing. My motto for the day. Sunday I had worked out all the different angles and formulated numerous game plans on how the race should go. Started to run and I immediately threw all that away and just went for it. I pretty much knew it would end up to be a crash and burn but, you never know. Anything can happen...

I had barely any sleep in the three days leading up to the Marathon. I'm a victim of my crazy neighborhood and very loud party building along with my three dogs that were terrorized earlier in the week by a giant raccoon outside my window.

 Of course any thing that makes a move or sound is considered a raccoon now!
When I left to go run suddenly they were sleepy...

My training had been sporadic at best and pretty much nil in the last month. Of course the stupid ankle was still sore and I didn't expect it to make it through 26 miles without it talking back to me.
I got up at 3am had my yogurt, berries, banana and coffee. I love being within a short walk to the starting line. I got there expecting insane security but, really it was easy to walk right in to my wave 3 spot.
Dawn was just breaking and it was beautiful. Cerulean sky, barely any fog. Temperature was beautifully cool.

I had decided after much self debate to just go with my "Ultimate Direction AK" vest. I think it was a good choice. I like being self supported and saving time skipping the water breaks.

I decided just for the Hell of it to start with the 3:45 pace group. I figured they'd drop me after a mile. The 3rd wave was moving right along at around an 8:15 pace but, I felt good and very well knowing I'd pay for this later. The ankle was stiff but hoped it would loosen up after a bit.
By mile 4 I was running an 8:30 pace and beginning the climb to the bridge. I kept with the flow but was definitely feeling the burn.
courtesy SF Marathon

Coming off the bridge I was hitting around 8:33. With a little bump to 9 minutes going to the top of the Presidio. I just kept telling myself hang in there, this is the highest point in the race.

The unfortunate issue was that my ankle really began to get cranky and I was struggling to keep the pace. By the time I hit the park I had decelerated to a 10 minute pace. My brain started to work against me and I felt the onset of "crash and burn".
As we split off from the half marathon and headed down south through the park it got a bit lonely and people were just sailing by me and my legs were turning into lead. For the first time I had to walk and get my heart rate down a bit. My ankle was getting worse. 
I just fought my mind from going into that dark place. I knew I ran this all wrong. I was kicking myself now. Oh well. There was still a chance of a sub 4 but, I had my doubts.
Just before I headed up to Stow lake I had to stop and do a stretch. It felt so good I wanted to stay there forever.
Right then my friend "Keli Keleman" launched by and he looked great. That got me moving again and off I went.

Stow lake is my beast. Just like last year I had time to think about how awful I felt and I'm running this meandering circle around the lake. I was so grateful to start heading back towards the Haight.
At this point the 4:00 pace group came through and I hung on for dear life. I did pretty well for a mile even though my heart rate was way up in the red again.
At the top of the Haight my ankle was throbbing and I knew all my goals had disappeared down the road without me. Now it was just a struggle to get through this.
To get away from my cloud of disappointment and self loathing I tried to figure out a better avenue to get through this.
Ahh! just fucking enjoy it!
So first off I started to walk a block, run a block until I recovered a little bit. I started stopping to pat dogs along the route and said a few words to various characters along the way. At one point through the Mission I actually a stopped to help an old lady cross the street through the runners. The cops were laughing and everyone was cheering and I began to have fun.
Crossing third street I ran into my friend Daniel who had blown out his knee and was very disappointed about it. I walked awhile with him and offered whatever encouragement I could and began running again.

I would stop to take photos of the bands and actually did a mock Samba dance in front of a great Samba band. I swung my UD bottles around like big titties and everyone laughed.

When I hit AT&T park I forced my self to run it the rest of the way in and gave a couple of funny poses as I crossed the finish line.
I was never so glad to be done...

Afterwards I waited around for my friend Mary but, she had already blazed it and finished around 4:10. I finished with a miserable 4:30. Twenty minutes slower than last year.
Well I got a medal and finished the race. My ankle issues have really been disconcerting for me. I really love to run but I have to get beyond this stuff before I can improve. 
It's a few days off and on the bike for a little while. You know I think it's ludicrous for me thing I can seriously compete at my age. I need to just chill and enjoy the running and biking and stop driving myself crazy thinking I'm ever going to get a whole lot better at this point in my life.
I still have a shot for a Boston qualifying at Santa Rosa but, if it doesn't happen, it's not in the stars. I don't think I can afford to go back there anyway. I'm as poor as shit and the future doesn't look promising. I need to just live in the moment and enjoy what good things come my way.

I am thankful to still be alive, to run and ride, to have friends, dogs, a roof over my head, job and I just need to not worry about my extravagant goals that really are impractical in the long run.
Just want to give it everything I have and come out smiling. That in it's self is a tall order.

The San Francisco Marathon is such an amazing experience and it's the race I'll do every year till I die.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bay Trail Runners Coastal Marin 50K

It's truly amazing how one can be completely miserable, in pain, performing way below ones capabilities yet have a great time and enjoying the moment while experiencing personnel transcendence and meeting some very cool humans who I had the good fortune to share a day of just being.

That thought just tumbled out of my head while I was sitting here trying to wrap my head around the thought of getting old, slow and a little worn out. With 60 long, hard years on this earth I need more and more reality checks to keep me from going off the deep end with my manic self.

It's very hard to keep my many passions afloat while watching the young fly by me and into the horizon as I slowly trudge forward sometimes stumbling and sometimes bitter. This is not just my running, biking but, in every way. The youthful thought process, energy and newness of life.
I sometimes think, we don't get old. We just get stale.

I live with regret that there are many opportunities and other things that I should have pursued when I was younger. The good thing is even though I'm late to the party, I am giving it a good try and still finding a lot of joy in those activities.

BayTrailrunners Coastal Marin 50K: (Link)

I got the opportunity through my good friend Mary who had just started running with "Bay Trail Runners" about this 50K run. Unfortunately I recently sprained my left ankle and still recovering. also the date of the run is very close to the San Francisco Marathon in June but, I just didn't want to miss this chance. Mary would be doing some running but mainly the object was to do some photo documentation. She asked me to assist and I jumped at the offer. If I was healthy I could probably run 32 miles. My plan was to do either 11, 18, or 26 miles depending on the way may ankle was holding up.

We met up by the Golden Gate Bridge where Robert Rhodes and his brother Eric would pilot a large van to cart everyone to the beginning of the run 33 miles to the north in the town of Olema. There were quite a few runners and Robert told me that he had to turn away a lot more so I was glad I signed up when I did.

It was a pleasant ride to the start with everyone excited about the day ahead. The weather was perfect. A little cool and a nice light tailwind from the north. Everyone gathered around for last minute instructions.
Ben would be marking trails and riding a mountain bike ahead of everyone.
We began the run and my ankle was immediately cranky. I thought it might be a long day. Mary was running ahead of the pack to take pictures. I did what I could but already I was falling off the back. Within 3 miles I was by myself with two slower runners behind me. They had recently done a big run and were in recovery pace.
I didn't mind being alone. I really had to run gingerly on the ankle. The trail was lumpy, lots of rough and off camber patches. I pushed away as much of the apprehension I was feeling about how much pain I'd be feeling soon and just tried to relax in my thoughts and enjoy moment. The scenery was quite stunning. Lot's of Cows. Cows always make me happy. They look like big puppies and just as friendly.

I met Robert on his way back to pull ribbon markers. I told him I'd go back to tell the runners behind me to pull them as they ran by them. I doubled back and it was quite a long way back. At this point when I turned back to run again I knew I'd be by myself for the day.
I was running very slow. 
After the five mile mark my left leg and foot were getting sore due to compensating for the right ankle.

One thing I experienced was that I always knew where I was and how far I had gone due to the fact I've ridden the past 30 years on just about every road in the North bay area on my bike. I could tell just by the terrain and foliage exactly where I was. Even with the pain I was enjoying myself and would periodically just stop, take pictures enjoy the sights and smells and mostly...the quiet! So peaceful.
At the 11 mile mark I met up with Eric manning the "Mothership". Chelsea was just finishing loading up her bottles and headed out. I talked with Eric, a couple of bikers, filled up my bottles and decided to go for 18 miles. I still had it in my head to make it to the 26 mile mark. That idea would change very fast.

I've always dreamed of running the single track trail that parallels Ridgecrest and the "Seven Sisters". As soon as I headed through to the trail I caught a stump with my toe and jarred my ankle and flipped head over feet. I was more concerned about someone seeing me than the pain. I jumped up quick and kept running. My ankle was searing by now and then I hit the single track which was horrible. The grass was thick and I had a hard time seeing the uneven trail beneath. Within the next 2 miles I  would roll my ankle again. Every time my foot hit the ground I would get a nice jolt of pain. It made me think of Scott Jurek running the Western States on a seriously sprained ankle and winning the 100 mile race. What I was experiencing was really nothing compared to that, so I sucked it up best I could and kept going. At one point I climbed my way up to Ridgecrest and tried running on the pavement but that was off camber and dangerous so I climbed back down to the trail while getting chased by angry bees and stuck by prickly bushes. 
I stopped more often to admire the crazy little lizards running around and stopping to look at me. They had such self-important little attitudes. I felt like in a way they were bigger than me. Humbled by a lizard. I wonder if they have comparatively complex, roller coaster lives like humans. Do they sometimes have to push through pain and darkness to find transcendence  Do they feel joy when they push beyond their limit...? Probably not but this lizard was getting a lot of human attention and appreciation and I wish I could communicate that to this little creature. I did see a snake slither across in front of me but couldn't tell what kind it was.
After a time I began to run into more hikers coming towards me and had to stop a few times to let them by. I passed a car that decades ago had been rolled down a cliff. An older couple was standing and admiring the huge lawn decoration. I jokingly ran up to them and inquired, 
"Are you two OK? I can't believe you survived that crash"!
They laughed and we chatted for awhile and I moved on.
I was looking at my gps and only had 3 more miles to go and I was going down fast. My hip flexors were giving out, my back was hurting from being tense but a part of me was enjoying the moment.

At about a mile from the next stop I realized I had stopped running and I could not get moving again so I walked. I thought about the time when I'll be healed healthy and get an opportunity to come back and crush it. It is one beautifully scenic and challenging course.
I also knew there was no way I'd be getting a Marathon out of myself today. I was actually happy getting 18 miles out of my ankle.
I came up to pan toll and started limping down the stairs to the Mothership.
I was toast and sat I down on the asphalt and just let out a groan.
I didn't even have the energy to take pictures. I was pretty much useless to Mary. I wouldn't be any help. We had to wait a long, long time for the last two runners to come into the stop. It was decided we would drive to the Tennessee Valley stop and by pass the Highway 1 stop. 
When we got to Tennessee Valley everyone was waiting for us and needed water and snacks. At this point Mary grabbed her heavy camera equipment and headed out towards the bridge to run back with the pack. I don't know how she did it. She's slight and petite but like an ant she can carry 50 times her own weight and has endless energy. I was supposed to help her carry her equipment but I was a useless blob at this point. 

We hopped in the van and as I felt some remorse that I had let Mary down, I was really proud and impressed with her. she's quite an amazing woman. 
All these kids were quite impressive. Chelsea had completed her first Marathon distance and was demanding that we drop her in Mill Valley for brunch. She wasn't taking no for an answer.
Chelsea (photo courtesy Mary Bernsen)

We got back to the Bridge area parking and waited for everyone to show up. I wish I could remember all their names but, I'm old dammit!
I talked with Roberts brother Eric for long time. Great guy and huge help to everyone. It was a long day for him too.

Finally everyone started showing up after crossing the bridge.

Danielle and keli (photo courtesy Mary Bernsen)

Danielle was first and then the rest of the group followed along with Mary bringing up the rear and taking pictures.

We hung around and talked for awhile. Keli had brought a cooler with beers which was so great!

I'm looking forward to running again with this group and I'll make sure I'm in shape to somewhat keep up. The run was beautiful even through my pain. I have no regrets and can't wait to run again with these wonderful people and enjoy the great Bay Area trails. We are so lucky to live here.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bay To Breakers My Second Chance To Beat A Kenyan

I had a tough time today. After 3 weeks fighting with my second sprained ankle of the season decided yesterday, the Hell with it I'm just going to go for it and did it anyway. Ouch! I woke up too early and wasn't feeling great. My stomach was off and I just felt tired.
I think with all the frickin dogs we've had here over the week I probably got one too many puppy kisses.

Just getting to the race was quite an arduous task. Walking with three gabby girls (Gabby Gaga Sisters who I actually enjoy hanging with)...

 I wasn't making great time and finally said bye and started running for the start. I should have left earlier to find a spot in Coral A. When I got there the security was ridiculous. The way people were being funneled up to their start locations was simply ludicrous! It took me 15 minutes just to get one block. By then the count down began and people just started panicking and started jumping the fences to get into place. I ended up getting in coral B which really sucked. Sitting there pissed well getting pelted off the head with flying tortillas is not my idea of a great time. I had a minute to get situated and turned my Polar watch on but couldn't sync up to GPS. I used my Strava phone app and turned it on at the gun. I sat there for over a minute before the mob even began to move. It took me a minute just to get to the Start line.
>It was extremely difficult to get around the slow people who for some reason had signed up for Coral A. Every time I'd see a gap some Clydesdale would roll over into it and I found myself making better time going up the sidewalk. I should have just commandeered a Clydesdale and rode em through the crazy mob.
My ankle was painful and very stiff and I wasn't in a very happy mood. I don't know how I did a 7:18 mile for the first one. 
Finally by the turn on to 9th street things began to thin out somewhat but still it was a struggle to keep a line. By Hayes street I had been pushing a little hard and I figured no PR on this. I just wanted to survive it. I hit the top of the hill of course with my heart rate pinned. I looked at my heart rate zone at the end and I was in HR 5 for the whole damn race. That's pretty good for an old fart.
One note on the course. It didn't seem as fun and festive as last year. The crowds were pretty small. Hayes street seemed almost vacant.

Have the terrorists won?...kind of sad what it's all come to. Way too much security but, yes we need it because too many people in this world suck and are willing to make everyone else in the world suffer. Well maybe I'll save the rant for another blog...just sad.

I kept trying to stay to the middle due to the camber on either side of the road was hurting my ankle. I did make two stops to grab water. I felt really de-hydrated.
I thought I would best my time of last year. I was getting some nice 6 something minute miles finally. I probably could have gone faster at this point but my ankle was getting pounded. At the end of the course this year they placed a weird left turn, a right and another right to the beach. Some idiot clipped me around the corner and threw me off kilter. 
As I came up to the timer I saw 1:00:00! WTH! That was a minute slower than last year? No way. When I shut off my GPS it read 8.3 miles? Supposed to be 7.4 That's a mile longer than last year. My Strava is pretty much right on. So I don't get it. I think the course change had something to do with it. In my book I'm thinking I actually did the race 5 minutes faster. Which would make sense when you compare last years miles with this year. If my ankle wasn't tweaked I'd probably have done better too. Oh well, excuses, excuses...
At my age and only running for a year and a half I'm a happy camper. I'd put the results link here but I can't seem to get back on the web site. I'll add them later but, I was in the top 150 in my age group out of close to 2000. It works for me. I'm getting there.
I tried to jog home but after 2 miles the pain was a little much and grabbed a cab.
I just had a huge glass of water with some Nuun and I'm actually feeling lot's better. I'm home with just my doggies and there all over me so I'm happy. Happy to be alive, able to run like them and life is good even through the short falls.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

OY VEY! What Has Become Of Me? People Of This Running Planet...Take Me To Your "Leader Board".

My big excuse(s) this past month for not blogging on a regular basis:

1. My bedroom computer hard drive died! I have so much crap- photos, music and important documents that I didn't back up. Now I have to pay to have it all extracted to an external hard disk. BTW, my external hard disk that I was backing up to, I lost the power cord on our last move and never was able to replace it. Being so smart as I am, I removed the casing and adapters and decided to just pop it in my computer as a secondary hard drive.
Technology has moved along since last did this stupid human trick.
Screwed again! "Man follows hard drive off cliff"!

2. Too many damn dogs on me. I can't move lately. It's very distracting with the wife in one ear and a whole yapping kennel in the other.

3. All this running! OY VEY! Hanson Brothers Marathon training is kicking my ass but, It's what I need for sure.

4. "Work"...

One thing I do like about this Marathon training is I feel like I'm doing it right this time. It's hard but, I actually feel like I'm doing less damage. 
When I started training last year I was just running too many long runs and just breaking myself down. The key is lot's of easy low aerobic runs that build up mitochondria to assist in the burning fat & glycogen together.

"I did not know that"!

At about mile 20 when your body tells your brain
"Fuck You! I'm out of Glycogen", the body starts burning fat and protein to get you through that last 6 miles.
So it comes down to really training for that 6 long, horrible, fire and brimstone, vomiting, seizure inducing miles to the finish.

In the mean time I'm training for the up coming "Bay to Breakers 12K in May. I'm looking to knock 5 minutes off of last years time. If I could do a sub 50 minute! That would be truly amazing.

I'm meeting some amazing people/athletes these last few months. Like I've mentioned it on past blogs. This running passion is so fresh and new, I had no idea of how huge the running community really is. I've been on "planet bike" for so long I guess I never saw it coming. Although I do miss "planet Bike", I still ride, just not as much. Everyone needs to switch up sometimes. I do really miss a lot of my bike friends. I'll get back there though. Just need a little vacation on the "running planet".

This picture captures the spirit of the running planet with one of it's leaders "Scott Jurek". I love this shot...

I love Strava. I wish everyone were required to start a membership before buying a pair of running shoes or a bike. Leader board challenges are so fun! Mini races on every street, trail, hill and valley. Just perfect for a competitive junky like me.
I realize how old I really am when I see the very few old farts up in the leader boards. I have a lot of solo spots. I need some competition so I'm starting to go for the Master ranks to see what I can do.
Check this out. If you scroll down to the 55-64 leader board you can see I'm the only one who's done this at my age?

So second week into my training and I'm a little bit tired but, that's to be expected on this training method.
My favorite part of the schedule is my Sunday long runs. Run easy in the fat burning zone and just enjoy the scenery.
This was from Sunday. Baker Beach in San Francisco.
I found two older Australian tourists willing to shoot a FaceBook wall portrait for me. After getting them up to speed with the technology of my Android phone meets Instagram. A few outtakes and we finally got it!

Running trails in San Francisco just keeps getting better and better. What a joy to live here. Aside from the other crap you have to deal with day to day, like the drug addicts, trash, high rent and so on...Still glad I moved here when I did.

Just a view of some of the trails in SF

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dragon Dogs, Pain Anguish and Exhilaration! Oakland Marathon

I think I've created a huge amount of pressure on myself too soon with my grand plans of completing a sub 4 hour Marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon 2014. Neither came to pass after running the Oakland Marathon. So now the self-flagellation over the past couple of days has been quite spectacular.

I've come to the realization that counting on a couple of days rest and a good nights sleep before a Marathon is a complete impossibility for me. There are too many variables in my life to develop any kind of logistical game plan of action on any given day. There's always a wrench that will be thrown with timely precision in my direction. 

Saturday was a day where I wanted to rest, go to the Oakland Marathon Expo to get my race packet eat a lot and go to bed early. Simple?...Nope! By 11:30 at night I was still trying to get myself organized and prepared for Sunday's race. Some how even with all the noise and goings on outside and in my building I dropped off to sleep around midnight. I woke up at 3:30 and my mind began racing. I gave up around 4 am and just got up put on coffee and put some yogurt and fruit together for breakfast. I got on the computer for a little while and checked my Facebook, email and re-read the race day logistics. As my sleepy dogs watched me in wonderment as I walked back in forth  getting dressed and double checking everything I needed I then kissed them each goodbye and headed out to warm up my leg muscles and walk down to the 4th street Marriot to grab a cab. Fortunately the cab driver was brilliant and got me over to Lake Merritt in Oakland in about 15 minutes! Still cost me $45. Oakland is hard to get to with out a car and Bart not running early in the morning.
I was actually the first runner there and with plenty of time on my hands I found a park bench and just started doing some yoga, stretch and breathing. At about 6 am things began to happen fast as people arrived. I checked my bag, chatted with some people I met and headed up to the start to find my 3:50 pace group. It was a nice surprise to see Sarah Lavender Smith waiting for her 3:40 group to assemble. I spoke to her a little but, didn't want to take up too much of her time. I knew she had a lot going on and needed to get prepared with her group. I did manage to get a quick shot with my camera.

As the countdown began the energy level was crazy. At ten seconds to go I set my Garmin sports-watch and realized It hadn't made a satellite connection. I hit the start and hoped for the best.
My pace group was being led by two experienced Ultra runners. I was a bit worried about the pace being too hot in the climbs and I was correct on my assumption. The first 4 miles were quite brisk and my heart rate was already up around 160 in the high aerobic territory. At this point just before the climbing began I made a stop at the water station, grabbed a GU pack (chocolate Uuggg)! Chocolate GU is the worst. Unfortunately I lost my pacers and I had to run even faster until I finally caught them going up a steep section. At this point my heart-rate was 180 and I knew I'd be suffering later on for this.
3:30 pacers - can't remember their names.
One issue I had been dealing with was that my allergies were a real problem this past week. I now was really feeling it. A bit of heaviness in my lungs. I also felt a little light headed at the start and at one point during the last part of the climb I actually felt like I was listing to the left and almost fell into my pacer a couple of times. I was praying I wasn't going to pass out before the top. Right before I got to the summit I checked out my heart rate...187! Pinned!
If you look at my heart rate throughout the race you can see that I'm in the anaerobic zone or bordering on it for most of the time.
By the way, my Garmin didn't sync up at the start and it missed the first mile.

As we finally started to descend I stopped again to get water and a GU. After that I just could not get back to my pace group.
"Houston...we have a problem". At this point my mind was like a meteor shower of negative thoughts pouring in. Half Marathons are where I'm best. I can max out my heart rate to that point but now I was trashed.
It's funny how I would get a surge of energy whenever I passed one of the many bands and DJ's. After a couple of blocks the music would be gone and I'd drift back into my stupor. I checked my splits and I was still doing pretty good. If I could just keep it under 9:00 minute miles I still had a chance.
...and then mile 17!
I started merging with the half marathoners and the 5k runners. It was difficult in my stupid state to negotiate around everyone and it slowed me down and made me use more energy than I had left.
I also had a couple of emotional episodes. I get like that when I go into my dark. I thought of my life experiences, people who I miss and the thought of not hitting my time in combination with some of the music I heard just shattered me. At one point my wind pipe just started closing up and the water works were beginning but, I would just fight it off and keep checking my splits which were now falling rapidly.
It weird how pushing yourself to the limit can become something that's so emotional and in what could be a spiritual event. Just naked to the Universe.

I also started to overheat which added to my misery. At one point I was starting to get into that spacey, dreamy zone and suddenly I heard some pretty cool techno music and looked over to see a giant steel dragon (GonKiRin-Burning man dragon) with orange eyes and fire coming out of it's nose. It looked just like my dog "Lady Gaga"! I thought about her and how she saved me from my massive depression back in 2009. She's so strong and intense but damaged in many ways yet we've brought her back to what she is now. A real fighter that had been an abandoned bait dog. It was an omen. That was it...everything just locked up and I stopped and let the rain come down. I lost a minute trying to compose myself but somehow I  felt more energized thinking about her and my other little dogs. I wanted to run like those bitches and howl as I crossed the finish line. I was on a mission. 

As I approached Lake Merritt, I just kept telling myself,
"Just don't stop"!
I never really thought about how long around Lake Merritt is. I had it in my mind to be much smaller and as I started going around realized how far away the finish was. I checked my split and realized I'm not going to get my BQ. Once that thought popped into my head, it was game over!
Now I felt  like I had cinder blocks on my feet and I was getting agitated trying to get around runners and actually had someone almost run up my back. 
I stopped for 20 seconds just to stretch out my hamstrings and It was almost impossible to get moving again. Finally I reached the bottom of the hill going up to the finish. I couldn't see the finish gate and that really annoyed me for some reason. When I crossed the finish I couldn't even manage a smile. I felt like I was going to get sick and there were so many people right in front of me, I thought this is going to be a disaster!
I managed to hang on, grabbed a water and just went flat on my back in the grass. Every time I tried to get up all my muscles in my stomach and legs would cramp up.
After some time I got up to cash in my beer coupons as I started across the park I ran into Sarah again and I mumbled,
"I'm trashed"
Sarah responded
I repeated what I said and she laughed because she thought I said I was "so drunk"!
That was pretty funny but, in away I was ready to be that.
I should have taken more pictures but I just wasn't all with it. I hung out a while and chatted with some runners. Finally I just hobbled off to the BART station.

On the way home I thought about, even though I didn't attain my goals, it was just an amazing experience. This was my third Marathon and it gave me some fresh confidence. I think I'll get my Boston qualifying either in San Francisco or Santa Rosa. Just need to train a little harder but, I'm getting there. I've only been doing this running thing for just over a year now so I'm happy with how it all turned out.
The Oakland Running Festival is a fantastic event. I have a whole new perspective on the City of Oakland and the people who live there.
I would highly recommend to everyone, put this on your bucket list.
I'll be back next year to maybe shoot for a 3:40! Who knows.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Running With The Dogs

I haven't really been inspired to blog much lately. Sometimes I just get sick of myself and my thoughts and I don't feel like listening to the incessant yacking going on in my mind. I've actually been leading a very boring existence the last few weeks. Work, train, dogs, sleep and that's about it. I think I'm becoming a little anti-social. My dogs and the mutts I take care of are kind of spoiling me. No verbal sparring, no complex thought process's and less bullshit. Growl and simple.

With only 4 weeks to go till my first Marathon of 2014, I'm beginning to get nerved up about it. Having missed a solid month of buildup training I'm having to cram in the runs and biking. The last two days were a complete washout. I took Friday off to rest and catch up on some work I had gotten behind on. Today I just didn't have any ambition to even get out of bed. Tomorrow I'm planning on kicking my ass a bit and getting in a long tempo run.
I just finished the book "Hanson's Marathon Method" and I'm becoming a little overwhelmed with different Marathon training methods. It's time to just to settle into a training program that's consistent. Right now I seem to be all over the place. I'm using a lot of my training time on the bike rather than beating up my legs with running.
I have settled on my running shoe of choice. The Brooks Pure Connect. Due to the fact I have an injury from a long time ago. I actually tore my Achilles tendon and had two operations which left a lot of scarring. I had to modify the shoes by cutting away part of the heel to accommodate the scar.
They feel great now. LIGHT! minimal and fast!

The Oakland Marathon will probably be a tough one for me and I'm not completely confident about getting a qualifying time for Boston. There's a bit of altitude to deal with. I'm hopeful and will try as hard as I can to nail my 3:55 time. My fastest Marathon time is 4:04. I should be able to do it if I'm feeling good that day and I stay injury free for the next month.

Valentines Day was the anniversary of my oldest rescue dogs adoption. Since then I've adopted two more dogs and I'm quite sure I could easily turn into one of those crazy dog hoarders like you see on the A&E Channel. I have a thing for black dogs. I love that color and black dogs carry a stigma. Crazy cultural superstitions and black dogs don't look as beautiful on the internet adoptions sites as do other color dogs. Black dogs and cats are the least adopted, and have the highest rate of euthanasia.

It's become a passion over the past few years of photographing my dogs. I think I'm getting pretty good at getting the light right.
I love my dogs and I don't know how I got through most of my life with out them. They are my true friends.

When I'm out killing myself on my bike or running a million miles. I can push through the pain just knowing when I finish I can crawl into bed with my doggies find my peace and comfort.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Official Training Kickoff and Superbowl Kickoff Weekend

  Only a month late on starting my training season. The ankle is feeling tons better now, although still a bit stiff. I'm trying not to over do it and force myself through the pain which I had been doing and that! , really backfired.
I just wanted to get out and focus without any distractions on my game plan for this year. It's critical that I hit all my training goals and get my Boston Marathon qualifying time. I'm relying heavily on by bike this year for valuable cross training and getting my body used to cruising in the fat burning zone. Being conscience of staying injury free is on the top of the list hence utilizing the more forgiving long rides verses long runs.
I'm getting to the point of confusion over the bi-zillions of training plans out there. I now am just working on my own training plan, extrapolating from what I've learned over the past year. More short fast runs, weekly moderate tempo runs and endurance rides.

I have only 5 weeks of building time before the Oakland Marathon. Due to the ankle sprain in December. I'm not quite sure I'll have what it takes to hit my 3:55 BQ time but, I'm going to try my best. 

The ride today was perfect. Nice and cool, slightly overcast but, Sunny riding up over Ridgecrest and the "Seven Sisters". I love that ride up the backside of Tam. I ran into a couple of guys on the climbs that help on the pacing and distracted from the pain with some conversation. It kills me how fast some of these youngsters are on their bikes. I don't let it beat me down anymore. I just except it and I feel good that at my old age I'm still out there going for it. I've really had the great fortune in my life to have my health and the brains to use it. There was a time where I wasn't appreciative of it and let myself slack. I'm back on track now.

So in 2014 the Boston Marathon will be held the day after my 60th birthday. I'm looking forward to getting back there to visit with what's left of my family and some of the old friends that I'm sure will be impressed that this old fart can run 26.2 miles. I think a lot of my friends were surprised that I made it through high school alive. I was very reckless in my youth...Still am to some extent but, I've toned it down a bit.
Tomorrow I'm going out for an early run. Hoping to do a half-marathon at tempo. Afterwards it's the Superbowl with donuts, beer and pizza. I think Monday is going to be a very non-productive workday for many.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I need this!...
Boston Marathon
For the last month I've been wallowing in my horrible soul sucking "Doom and Gloom" mode since stupidly spraining my ankle just before Christmas.
It's been beating me down to the point of thinking I may have to seek some time of therapy...not physical but, mental! All my focus since my little pipe dream a year ago has been on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The thought of not being able to do this is totally unacceptable! 

I had gotten to the point that this week I was ready to just throw in the towel and give it all up. The pain has been horrible enough that it's forced me into a bad gait when I walk now. The more I fight it the worse it gets. Two weeks back I finally surrendered and told myself "No Running"!...for 2 weeks anyway.
I have been riding the bike and trying to keep up my aerobic activity along with lot's of core work, lifting which is definitely assisting me in gaining a shit load of upper body weight...Oh yeah, I've been eating like a pig. "Depression eating".
I did try a short run tonight. With interruptions and all it ended up around 4 miles. The longest since New Years, when I tried to run on a swollen ankle.

The first 2 miles were seriously painful but I just forced myself to think beyond the pain and just relax my posture, legs and think about getting past it all.  after awhile I actually did simmer down some and found my rhythm, although at a snails pace.

After I got finished, I actually did feel better. I don't know if the running forced some of the scarring to unbind but, It all seemed to loosen up. Three hours since the run and everything seems pretty good. Am I cured!?
I may try another short run tomorrow and then Saturday will be my long ride and Sunday a Superbowl run 7 to 8 miles if possible.
Last Monday I was able to pull off a brisk 20 + mile bike ride complete with some personal records and didn't seem to bother my ankle too much. Again the bike saves me.

Speaking of Superbowl,, I was disappointed that New England didn't win the big game against the Ravens. Growing up in New England it would have been a fun conflict for me and when San Francisco wins I could needle my family and friends from back there.

Just a short update but hoping to have more to put on here this weekend when I have some time. I now try not to blog when I'm in the deep negative so, the reason behind my sporadic blogging this month.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Biking, Running, Dogs - Time Down With Injury -thoughts-

Some of the benefits of riding my bike. I can actually carry my camera with me so I'm coming across some nice photo ops lately.
This was over the weekend and the surf was unusually high coming under the Golden Gate. A Surfers dream or, nightmare I guess.
 It's now coming up on three weeks of no running! I'm becoming obsessed with this issue, waking in the middle of the night with anxiety and losing sleep over it. Fortunately I can ride the bike with a little discomfort. It probably has been a good thing in a way because I'm spending a lot of time doing core work, reading about running science, training and letting the rest of my body (my back) heal from the beating it took all through 2012.

Realized recently I could easily become one of those crazy "A&E Channel" Dog Hoarders if it wasn't for Cathy disallowing any more mutts coming on board.
I happened to see this doggie on my bike ride Sunday and she looked so much like my Beyonce that it made me think..."I'd love two of those"!

My Beyonce
The one I wanted to steal...

I'm reading "Born To Run" for a second time. I first read it when I started running back in the beginning of 2012. Over this past year the information, stories and characters have become much more pertinent to where my head is now. I love the book and actually understand some of the controversy surrounding Christopher McDougall's portrayal of the characters, experiences and how many athletes felt unhappy with his recollections and characterizations of them.

Going back and researching some of the responses from the main players in past interviews gives it all a bit of a "Soap Opera" quality. I didn't even know who "Anne Trason" was last year. Now I realize how she probably is one of the most amazing athletes of our time. How did that one get away from me. Her accomplishments are truly astonishing.

Here is a link to a fantastic rare interview with Anne Trason by writer/runner Sara Lavender Smith.

Here is another great blog regarding the controversy with Anne "Sponsor The Fool Blog"

I've been living in the cycling world too long!

One of the other thoughts that woke me up in the middle of the night. "Barefoot Running"! There is a great argument for barefoot/minimalist running and how the shoe industry may have created more foot issues in regards to design than they ever could have imagined. It brings to mind the movie a saw many years ago "The Jerk"... Invention gone bad.

Two months into my experiment with running last year I developed serious IT Band issues. I made a trip back to Fleet Feet SF and got myself into a pair of 0 drop Brooks. The problem went away immediately.

Yesterday I started walking around in a pair of my old surf shoes and worked through the day in them. My ankle felt a lot better tonight and the pain was a lot less with the pressure on it. I think my running shoes were forcing my ankle into a pronation situation that was causing a lot of pain.

I'm thinking about getting a pair of the Vibram FiveFingers to start working with while my ankle heals. 

These may be my Marathon shoes, Brooks Pure Drift.

One thought here... I imagine any die hard runners out there that may happen to read my blog and their eyes just rolling reading this.

"Dude! Been there already"!
"You're a little late for the party".

That's true but, I get like that with runners who have just discovered cycling. Can't help being sarcastic with them sometimes. I think I'm alienating my Cycling friends too.

"Yep, He's gone to the darkside".
"Now we'll be running into him every day coming up the bike path the wrong way"!

In reality I think I'll always be half and half Bike/Run. I love my bike and it's a lot more forgiving on this ancient body.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm sitting here now madly editing photos, reading blogs for inspiration and trying hard not to give into that sad little pity party calling me on down to it's dark wild orgy of self doubt and mental ass kicking...Poor me...

I'm on the injured list with this damn sprained ankle that is getting worse. Now moving into my second week and I'm going crazy not being able to start out my well planned training strategy for 2013. I've forced myself today to do a minimum of tasks to try and rest my ankle after riding my bike, walking, working and running around with the dogs over the weekend and through the beginning of this week.

In a timely stroke of luck I happened to catch a new post from Bay Area athlete, writer Sara Lavender Smith in regards to a truly inspiring local athlete "Eldrith Gosney who is still running strong at age 71! I'm impressed with what this women has been through and the personal fortitude she digs up from within herself to keep moving forward and staying strong.
Here is the article in "The Runners Trip".

This led me to even more stories of athletes who have triumphed over adversity, muscled up and resolved to accomplish their goals no matter what. Another story  hit home in this post:

Thanks Sarah for these great inspiring articles and interviews!

My ankle issue seems minor in comparison!

I just need to be patient and utilize my down time intelligently so, here I sit dusting off the cobwebs in my brain with some photo editing, reading, plotting and planning. The one plus is I really hate the cold so, this is giving me an excuse for not doing anything outside.

Yesterday I painfully rode my bike up to San Bruno Mountain to watch and photograph the annual New Years day race. My friend and cyclist extraordinaire "Chris Phipps" took third. He usually wins everything pretty much. When I met up with him, his first words were,

"These kids are killing me"!

Yeah! welcome to the club! He has a great attitude and for him it's just the fun of riding competing that makes all the hard work worthwhile. By the way Chris is an astounding runner and comes from that world to begin with. He actually initialized my curiosity for running awhile back.

He's truly an inspiration and a real athlete with the right attitude.
More picts from SBM.

We were pummeled with doggy day care over the holidays. I had to break up a few small skirmishes on occasion but, all and all it went well. My "Lady Gaga" rules the roost and assisted me in keeping everyone in line...

She's really my true buddy even though she's got a lot of issues...

We have on particular dog who's a bit of a regular. She's getting on in years, losing her teeth (the ones she has left really hurt) and forgets who you are from time to time but, she's so damn cute.
She kind of looks like her owner...
NINJA or as I like to call her NIKKI MY NINJA...
I think she managed to bite everyone who came through the door during her week long stay!
Happy New Year...!

Sleeping Dogs...

So, I'm staying strong. Trying to stay inspired and hoping to heal soon. I'll just wait till there is "no pain" and then try to run. I'm a little worried. I was hoping to have a complete 16 weeks training before my next Marathon. We shall see what the future brings...

Thank you to all those who inspire me. That will be my thought through this new year. "Live the dream".