Wednesday, December 26, 2007

1999

Back then I was running barely above 1000 miles per year. I dreamed of one day being able to accumulate running miles to match the year. Much more so when several runners made their pledge to run 2000 miles in 2000. Well folks, that day has finally come. Today I ran eight, giving me 2007 miles for the current year. It is not an achievement in itself, but rather it is one running milestone that I can say I have reached.

The interesting thing about today's workout is that I have been plagued with strained abductors (probably strained them in the CIM) and have been hesitant to start speed work knowing how tender those suckers are. In fact, last week I attempted to run six 400s on, six 400 off. The "on" sections were ran at barely half-mary pace... and I was struggling. At the time, I chalked it off to having lost some fitness since the 'thon. AND to the sore hip-flexors.

Obviously, that work out did not bode well for my already published intent of running sub 3:10 in Boston. The thought of just maintaining fitness, and thereby scratching Boston as a GOAL marathon, started sounding as the plan to follow. As luck would have it, today was another BEAUTIFUL day in southern Cal and my three-mile warm up was rather enjoyable. Somehow I knew my legs were ready to be tested... and to break the already committed Boston training cycle... or not. Eight repeats of 1/4-mile with 90-seconds rest seemed reasonable. I aimed for anything under 90 secs, hoping for 88s. I run these repeats on a marked paved bike trail. This trail is fairly flat and rather straight; and it is relatively fast.

The first four would have me running into a ~10 mph wind. I motored on for my first repeat. Boom. 82.1 secs!!! WTF? Too fast. I am NOT going to be able to complete the work out. Second repeat: 84.3, much better but still too fast. Next one: Boom. 82.1, AGAIN - WTF? Have I lost sense of pace? Now, you have to consider that I am running against the wind so taking the wind out, I am 'running' them around 81, or so I think. I force myself to slow down on the next one. 86.7. Wow, this one felt slow. I rest for the 90 secs and change directions. I will be having a tailwind this time. Boom. 80.8!!! Either I am in much better shape than I thought or my watch is playing tricks on me (It's the wind stupid!). This one, incidentally, felt tough the last one hundred meters or so. Sixth repeat, 84.7 and I feel much, much better. Seventh one, and consciously trying to control the pace, comes in in 82.9. Damn. I am dumbfounded. Or just dumb. Last one is clocked in exactly 82.9 secs, just like the previous repeat. Wow. The runner's high is HIGH! I averaged 83.3 s/quarter, which translates to 82.8 s/400... I cooled down with three easy.

Interestingly, before this calendar year, the most I had ever ran was 1537 miles... and that was last year :-). My most successful marathon (before CIM) was Boston last year with an average mileage of 42.1 (I had ran faster 'thons but they were gravity aided). For CIM, I averaged 49.3. It is clear that volume makes one faster... but to what extent? It is also clear not everyone "responds" the same. My question is: what can 60 miles per week do for me?

I think one of the things I did wrong prior to 2005 was that any running I did was HARD. If I did an easy run, I would always try to speed up as I went along; IOW, I would race against myself. And I would often find myself injured. Now I do NOT run more than three quality runs per week. The other runs would be considered "junk" runs. But those junk miles have been proven to aid the aerobic process in the cellular level. What's more, they have helped me avoid injury... and that my friends makes "junk" miles be worth GOLD.

Finally some interesting numbers from my last 'thon.

Splitsville: 7:31, 7:29, 7:17, 7:08, 7:20, 7:22, 7:22, 7:30, 7:28, 7:08, 7:09, 7:23, 7:14, 7:14, 7:32, 7:21, 7:17, 7:24, 7:10, 7:19, 7:23, 7:18, 7:15, 7:13, 7:13, 7:07, 1:25

I don't remember where I read it, but this guy liked to 'analyze' the race in chunks of five-miles because he claimed 'true' even efforts should not spit out even splits; on the contrary, they should have some variance; he was a statistician and I am sure could explain it better than me. Here they are: 36:45, 36:50, 36:32, 36:31, 36:22... One word comes to mind: Amazing. Amazing how close they are.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, Hannukka, festivus, or whatever holiday you celebrate. And may you have a happy and successful new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sideways

Right after the CIM, I went to Napa and Sonoma Counties. The drive, albeit short, was tiring. Got to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of Sunday's evening.

Next morning woke up quite sore and decided on three very, very easy.

After that I went wine tasting to three different wineries in Napa and one in Sonoma. Now, I am basically a beer kinda guy, but I do enjoy a glass of wine here and there. Surprisingly, my taste buds are leaning towards wine more and more.

A few years back I tried a rather inexpensive pinot noir by Castle Rock and really enjoyed it. I had forgotten all about it until I went to Florida early November. While there I saw it and bought a bottle. The flavors, even though from a different vintage, were all there, berries, prunes, caramel... AND I knew I had to get more of it, but how to get it back to Cal-ee-fornia... I figured I could find it here. BUT I was wrong, I could not find it anywhere.

So, being that Castle Rock is in Sonoma, I headed - with the help of my GPS - to the Castle Winery (as it was the only one that popped up on the system). But it was not the one I was looking for; it was a so-called boutique winery, meaning that they produced less than a 1000 cases, or so the guy said. I chatted with the fellow there and he stroke my ego by telling me that I seemed to know about wines, to what I responded: the only knowledge I have about wines, I learned in sideways - with a smile.

I then added how Miles hated Pinot Noir, and this fellow corrects me saying that it was Merlot. He then tells me that he read the book and that the movie left out a lot (as is often the case). He went on to explain that the reason Miles hated Merlot was that his ex-wife LOVED it. And I just went, AHHHH, that explains it (duh!). I enjoyed the conversation so much, I ended up buying a bottle of their syrah (which did not really taste like a syrah - it was too oaky)

And there it is... if you liked sideways and you wondered why Miles hated Merlot :-)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

2008 Agenda and Running Goals

I don't like to state goals too far in advance for fear of 'jinxing' them. In this case I will break with my protocol.

January 27 - Austin 3M Half - To break 1:30 and qualify for NYCM

February 3 - Superbowl 5K, Redondo Beach, CA - sub-19:15

March 16 - Rome Marathon - Training run, sub-3:30

** I found a terrific fare to Madrid (one week in Spain) and coming back from (one week in Italy) Rome in Lufthansa... $550!!!

April 21 - Boston Marathon - Sub-3:10

May 18 - Greenbay Marathon - Training Run, 3:30-3:35

September 6 - Marathon du Medoc - Fun run, sub 5:00 (two weeks in France, of which five days will be in paree`)

October 4 - St. George Marathon, Utah - Sub- 3:21 (subject to lottery acceptance)

November 2 - NYCM - sub-3:20 (having ran five NYCMs and not being able to break 3:40 makes this the GOAL!)

And... drum roll, I intend to ramp up mileage into the 60s.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Where is the Champagne?

I arrived at my hotel just before midnight on Friday. Slept for about six hours, showered and drove to the Expo where I was to fix a couple of discrepancies; mainly my name was misspelled and to register my own chip.

I collect my bib number and although I am not superstitious, I have a tendency to believe I will have a good race if the number rings true – I know, I am a running nerd. The number printed was 3443, a nice number as it is almost symmetrical and it has two fours (four is my ‘lucky’ number).

Coming into the expo I knew that the weather was going to be almost perfect, with the exception of a SSE wind of 13mph, with gusts up to 25mph…. Ouch! Knowing that the course ran SSW, it meant that we were going to have crosswinds, that –as some of you know- is not nearly as bad a headwind, but it would slow us down nonetheless. Being the insecure runner that I am, I wanted to back off my A goal – once again- and try to stay with the 3:15 pacer for the whole race rather than pick it up at ten as previously planned.

After we picked our bib numbers, Andres, his girlfriend (they had started their journey on Tuesday… from Madison, y’all, over 2000 miles of driving… Ouch!) and I headed to the Spaghetti Factory where we had a delicious lunch, which included – of course- a cold Sierra Nevada. There happens to be a Noah’s NY Bagels across the street from the restaurant and I bought a bagel for further carbo-loading. I am not sure if they have these bagels in your area, but they are GOOD; so good, I recommend you go out and buy a dozen as it will probably increase the price of the stock, which I happen to own thank you (just kidding).

The young lovebirds and I bid farewell right after lunch. Andres and I agreed to meet at the host hotel at 5:45 so that we could ride to the race together.

I drove back to my hotel and just kicked it for much of the afternoon. But I was antsy. I wanted to take a nap, but just couldn’t. So I decided to drive over to a local market and buy a gallon of spring water, two bananas, another bagel (and a muffin) from Noah’s and called it a day.

I drank half a gallon of water during the evening, as I wanted to be well hydrated in spite of the cooler weather expecting me. Water and Gatorade were alternated and I felt I was good to go. I was so well hydrated I ended up getting up THREE times… argh!

Having taken a couple of benadryls, I slept pretty well. The alarm went off at 4:30 and I quickly got up took care of John, and showered. My clothes were all lined up; I decided with a short sleeve neon lime Asics tech shirt (this shirt feels so smooth against the skin that you almost don’t feel it), black Adidas shorts, socks and shoes (supernova classic), black NB fleece gloves, and a black Nike cap.

I drove to downtown and parked close to the host hotel. I waited and waited for Andres and did not connect. It was close to 6:00 when John called me yet gain. Now, being a veteran marathoner sure helps, as I knew this was a good opportunity to take care of business rather than wait ‘till I got to the start.

The bus ride was inconsequential. When we got there, only with about 15 minutes to spare, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was unprepared for the distance; that I had not run long enough; that I had not run enough longish runs; that I pushed the faster workouts too much; man, do I have respect for the distance?

Enough nonsense. Lets get into the race details.

I line up close to the 3:15 pacer. We are packed; so packed that I felt I was inside a crowded elevator. And we are off. I just hope that my decision to use my own chip will not backfire on me as when I went to register it, the volunteer did not seem to have much of a clue as to what she was doing. If my chip was not registered correctly, it would mean I would not have an official chip time.

As the crowd was rather large I could not tell if my chip beeped. The pace feels right and I am just behind the 3:15… but he is ahead of the 3:10 guy, WTF? Soon after the 3:10 pacer passes us with his herd, but our guy stays right behind him… for close to FOUR miles! These four miles went by so quick I almost did not feel them, but I felt this guy was a bit aggressive with his pace. He was ahead a good 30 seconds at this time. The course was rolling, but was full of mild rolling hills. In fact, they were so mild it felt as though we were descending. At this point I knew it was going to be a good race. The opposite is true when you’re running a flat course and it feels as though you’re constantly climbing.

The advantage of running in a pack, particularly during windy conditions, is that the pack blocks the wind quite nicely.

I stayed about 15 meters behind the pack and the forecasted wind was not present or it was well blocked by the 3:15 group. In miles 7 and 8 I felt the pace slow down a bit, and next thing you know, I found myself close to the front of this pack. It was here that I decided to make my move. We had been averaging 7:21s, and I wanted to drop to 7:15s. I try passing them through the right but the pack is too tight. Then I see a curve coming up and start making my way to the left, trying to cut the tangent. But the pace leader had the same idea and before I could exit the pack, they had boxed me in gain. Bummer. I then started running on a heavily cambered portion of the road as runners tended to avoid it.

I finally exited right after mile marker (MM) 9, and the course has open space for the first time. I run the next two miles in just under 7:10. Now, winds don’t behave linearly; they shift direction from time to time, and sometimes they stop. During those two miles father wind (or is it mother wind) was kind to me that I can almost bet I had a mild tail wind. But then I started feeling a not too strong wind – this in itself would be enough to slow me down about 10 seconds per mile, but coupled with a couple of challenging rolling hills saw my pace drop into the 7:30s. I am okay with that though. It was either that, or sit back and relax behind the 3:15. I crossed the halfway point in 1:36:08. All I need to do to accomplish my A-goal is to run even splits. Easier said than done.

The second half is purported to be faster as it drops most of the course’s 300 feet in this half. I am feeling sporadic crosswinds and I’d like to draft off of someone, but that would mean running at his pace, or constantly shift positions, neither one appealed to me.

Right around 14 I notice a female runner who’s running strong and about my pace so I ask her if she wants to work together, shielding the wind one mile and tucking in for the next. She is not sure she can sustain the pace though. I insist and she gets behind me. Half a mile later the winds subside and I drop back right next to her. She innocently asks me if it is her turn to block the wind. I say no, there is no wind to block. We chat for while and find out she want to run sub-3:20. I tell her we’re on pace for 3:13, to which she responds with: ‘I better back off then; it’s too fast for me.’ I tell her that her body can do more than it thinks it can. I keep on blabbering and it must have gotten on her nerves as she pulled ahead at the next water station and I decided to skip it, so I ended up dropping her.

The course is pretty wide open now. I notice more yellow (relay) bibs than white ones.

I feel the wind from time to time and wish, again, I could draft off of someone, but the field is so sparse it not worth pursuing. I reach mile 20 in ___, and I am feeling tired but in control. My hip flexors have been tight for the last couple for miles and I hope they will loosen up. They don’t. I have a painful blister in my right small toe; I try to ignore it. 10K to go.

At this point it is more psychological, at least for me, than physical. I tell myself I can run 7:30 miles and I will be happy with the result. I pass MM 21 and it is now just over five miles. I am passing thousands, hundreds, okay – dozens of runners per mile and the adrenaline stays put. I reach 23 and the hip flexors are not protesting anymore. The pace now feels closer to half-mary pace. I am working; but this is what it’s all about, no? Hard work.

Mile 24 comes and goes. About 16 more minutes to go. I can keep this pace for that much longer. Mile 25, and contrary to those times when I struggle at the end, I am not looking at my watch every minute or so. One more mile and change. I can see the Capitol and I know I am close. The 26-mile banner is on my sight. I concentrate on form. I run this mile in 7:07!!! This almost makes me tear; I feel choked up with emotion. It looks as if I will meet my A goal. I run the last stretch passing a few more runners. As I make a couple of more turns I encourage the crowds to cheer louder. Damn it, I am going to get a PR! I hear my name; the choked-up feeling comes back with a vengeance. Whoever said macho-men can’t cry? :-)

I cross the finish in 3:11:32 by my watch; a one-minute PR. I hung out a couple of minutes and see Allyson come in 3:14 and change. She was full of emotion and I go over to congratulate her. I give her a hug. She takes it and returns it with sincerity; because we runners have that connection, we understand what it means to breaks PRs --- even if we’re total strangers.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

CIM - Update

A quick cliff-notes result for all my loyal readers (and I mean A.L.L. of you... well you know there are at least two or three :-)

My watch time: 3:11:32, negative splits (44 seconds), qualified for B*ston... :-D

This is definitely a FAST course... details to come later on.

QS

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sacramento - here I come...

Okay so I am less than five days away from a date with destiny. I know, I am a drama king, aren't I?

Training has been going well; too well, I'll say.

As for the trip up north, I was planning on driving, BUT forces of nature - not really - are making me fly. You see, a friend of mine was to help me with the driving, but she dropped out last week so I was to fend the I-5 by myself. Not that I am afraid of driving for just over five hours but I am running/racing a darn marathon for crying out loud. People have mercy on me, please ;-)

Being the engineer that I am (some people would call me a ding-ineer) I searched far and wide in the world wide web for a reasonable fare to the bay area. Now, gas alone would cost me roughly $50 each way, making it $100 roundtrip - as my basic math seems to be working fine - thank you! I found a SW fare for $98!!! I actually paid that much 20 years ago!!! Isn't life something???

The problem with not driving is that I am left w/o a car, so to speak. So the frugal person that I am, I went to priceline and bid for what else? an economy car for $12 a day, and lo and behold i got it. So I will be driving a Yugo to Sacramento at the ungodly hour of 11 PM... so it goes. Oh, and this is happening on Friday, BTW.

Wish me luck... as I will need it. I have done the training, but like anything else in life I believe that I could have worked harder... and so it goes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Florida IS as flat as a Pancake

It's been a few days since I last posted. Lemme 'splain: I was in warm and beautiful miami, fl. While there I had a couple of decent quality runs. [I ran in Boca Raton, Miami Beach, South Beach and other rather nice locales] The quality runs begged the question: what is my current potential time at CIM?

Back when, when I decided to run this 'thon, I envisioned running it in sub 3:10, but as I found out soon after, it is easier said than done. Shoot, I couldn't even run a couple of miles at the prescribed pace of 7:15, how could I expect to run 26 and change at THAT pace??? I was out of my mind. So I backed off the goal to a more doable sub 3:16.

Well folks, after this training cycle I am now in 3:10 shape, or racing calculators indicate so. I raced a half two weeks ago and my predicted time for the full is a NOT too shabby 3:08:XX... or a 7:12 pace. The training plan I am following, which it is worth noting - I often change, called for 13 miles at goal MP. I went at what felt MP pace and while I did struggle at the end I finished the run in 1:33:31, or just a hair under 7:12 pace. The struggle was due to the lack of rehydration during the long run. Simple.

Back to the question of what I plan on racing in less than 13 days... I just do not feel confident enough to aim at a sub 3:10. I have ran plenty of these suckers to be so wise as to know that I would be setting myself up for failure. BUT I think the sub 3:16 is a bit soft, so I have compromised with my wussy self and will aim for 3:12. Now, that will be my A goal. My B goal will be to break 3:16, and my C goal will be to break 3:20. The plan is to run the first 10 miles with the 3:15 pacer - from the elevation profile, those appear to be the hardest in the course. Then, depending on how well I feel, I will slowly pick it up to 7:15 pace and hold on, hopefully until I cross the finish line.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NYC was not to be, BUT...

Because I was so close to NYC I thought it would be nice to spend the weekend there. I was bumming a ride from a fellow soldier; I had previously changed my flight from Sat morning to Monday evening. The logistics were not simple as I was to ride the train on my way back from Penn Station to as close to the Philly airport as possible. I tried priceline hoping to land a decent price and no luck. So I decided to visit NYC another time and re-schedule my flight back to Sat (one nice thing of having a govt ticket - as you're allowed to make changes sans any fee).

As I was browsing the web at the USO, I went to the United site to input my frequent flier account and choose my seat. While there I decided to try to upgrade to first class using miles.

It was nice to fly first class. Breakfast was pretty good and I probably drank a bottle of wine... the result of not being allowed to drink while on CBS. Suffice it to say that the flight was quite pleasant.

At 10 AM I was back in lala land. My feet were itching to run but I felt nauseous, part of it was jetlag and part of it was all that drinking I did. The week had been low in volume (25), my last run having taken place on Wednesday, where running four of the seven miles at 7:30 pace felt fast, but obviously not so. This 'forced' taper had my legs feeling fresh. I knew about a local half and full taking place today, so I checked their website and saw no race day registration, so I drove there - registered for the half and my itchy feet would get to race after all.

Many moons ago, seven years to be more accurate, I bought what i think are the best flats ever made, or Adidas RATS. These shoes fit my feet like gloves. I like them so much I only wear them for shorter races. I wanted to race the half wearing them but I could not find them. I had to run in brand new flats. I was not too happy about it so I kept on looking. You see, I have more than 10 pairs of running shoes (new in their boxes) and had to go through each box. Finally i found them. Things were looking up. Now it was time to repair the damage I had caused by drinking all that wine. I began to aggressively hydrate. Being that I was in EST I felt sleepy but could not fall asleep with the anticipation of my upcoming race. I ended up sleeping about four hours... not too bad.

Jumped in the shower and got dressed. Drove for 40-45 minutes to Santa Clarita and made it with half an hour to spare. It was surprisingly chilly and did a two mile warm up with some accelerations thrown in. McMillian's calculator predicted me running the half in 1:29:28... hmmm, sounds doable. So that was the goal, to break 1:30. To make it easy on my foggy brain, I figured 6:50s would be a slam dunk to keep track.

I line up in front and, as in many races, I see people who should not be there, but I really don't care, I just want to run well. A woman sings the anthem and sings it rather well.

The director counts down and we're off. I start at what feels like tempo pace. I look at my garmin and it reads 6:24 pace. It's okay, my breathing is not labored so I keep the effort. A nice incline is just ahead of us and I climb it strongly, the legs are fresh indeed. First mile is 6:40, right on target.

The next mile is downhill and I expect a faster split, and sure enough - 6:35. I am pleased to be banking some seconds. A few runners pass me. They're better runners; that is just the way it is. I don't worry about it. I am here to race the clock, not them. Third mile seems to be downhill and the thought of having to run uphill in the latter miles does not appeal to me at all. I did glance at the elevation and it seemed fairly flat. Fourth mile seems to be downhill and I keep on banking time. We are now running on a paved bike trail. The course has several turns that force me to slow down and turn my feet in awkward angles. My right foot begins to hurt on the outside. My stomach is protesting; jetlag? I feel nauseous. Will I be able to keep what to this point has been a really good race? 33:19, hmm, too good to be true. I'll take it.

I am still feeling strong in spite of the stomach issues. I do not lose my placing. Next mile is right on target 6:50. Then I get all demoralized as the next split is 7:15, WTF? I try to increase the effort while paying close attention to my breathing. 6:57?? And I am getting really tired and I am already hurting. 7:05, and I am really, really disappointed. It's just not in the cards today - or is it? Then we exit the bike trail and hit the road for about 30 meters, the we enter the other side of the river where, to my delight, I see that we had been going up and now it is time to hit mild downhills. This split brings a smile to my tired face, 6:44 -(34:51 for the second five - 1:08:10 cumulative). I am hurting but I try to hit 6:50s.

At nine this man who I was about to pass stays with me. It's good to have company. We give each other strength. We're both struggling. He is 50 years old and his stride is short but quick. His goal is also to break 1:30. I point out that all we need to do to break 1:30 is run 7s for the remainder of the race. We hit the next mile in 6:50 and pass a struggling runner. We continue and my legs feel weak, 6:47 and I am so glad we're still on a mild decline. The next and final mile would have one of those underpasses and I lengthen my stride on the short decline, and climb 'strongly', the short incline. I drop my partner, he struggles through the incline. I want to pull him but I have to run my own race. There are two bridges with minor uphills, but at this stage they feel like mountains. When I crest the short hills my legs feel wobbly and my pace feels soooo slow, 6:52. I am still holding pace... hard to believe. I now know I will break 1:30. I enter the final stretch. I make one last turn. I see the finish mats. The announcer says my name and my hometown. I open my arms as a sign of triumph. My legs don't feel tired anymore. Each stride I take is taken with conviction, with confidence; my legs feel stronger than ever. I cross the finish and I pump my right fist a-la tiger woods. 1:29:25 chip time, 1:29:26 clock time.

How about that McMillian calculator? The predicted time was within three seconds!!!

The Final Turn

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lucy...

I am home!!!... Not really, I am in NJ... hoping to be able to go over to NYC to catch the NYCM over the weekend, then fly to lala land :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I left my soles in the Balkans

There were times that I felt the day would never come, that the day to part would never materialize. That day is approaching quite fast and I am glad it is. 15 months of not being in my turf is TOO long.

You all have made this experience bearable during the past several months. Reading your trials and tribulations, your ups and downs, I lived vicariously through you. I even got inspired to run more than I have ever ran (Thanks Salty).

It all started when I was searching for a discount code for the US Half Mary in San Francisco. I googled it and found Mike's Running-with-Lydiard's blog and I was hooked. I started reading the comments section and 'found' Sempre Libera whom I instantly liked for her incisive writing and for her natural and easy-flowing running form.

While following Sempre, Uptown Girl came up and I had to read all of her posts, and I mean ALL. It took me a while but I did it. Her blog was instrumental in 'cheering' me up when life got insipid and I was feeling down.

I believe next was Chelle and I was so impressed with her progress in the marathon. She had just broken three at Columbus the previous October. It was in the comments section where I found the Salty One and again, I HAD to read ALL of her previous posts as her blog was/is full of witty comments and hilarious observations. Salty, you should write a book one day :-)

Love2Run is a frequent contributor to Running with Lydiard and while looking at his race times, I was instantly envious of SO many that were BQs. Another Canadian, and very astute runner is Fran who makes running a marathon look easy.

There is also Lance, who is in Uptown Girl's links. While Lance tends to write a bit too much about his sexual escapades, his posts make for some entertaining reading. Now, don't get me wrong; I have enjoyed his running related posts; I feel Lance knows quite a bit about running and regularly gives good advice. If anything I think he trains too hard, way too hard.

Ahh, and then there is the Professor who once weighed over 300 lbs and recently was able to race a 5K in the 17:30s. He did not come up with that moniker, I gave it to him. The reason is simple... he teaches English at UofA (better known as 'Bama). His blogspot is actually called Tuscaloosa Runner. This guy, man - this guy knows a LOT about running.

Of course, this post could not exclude Emma who is as hilarious as a person can be. Sure it takes a while for me to read... ONE post y'all. She definitely takes the cake. She is not a runner now, but she may be a cheetah-in-hiding.

To all of you... thank you for bearing with my un-insightful (is that a word?) comments and/or for allowing me to come into your homes. If I ever insulted you because I made a tactless observation, it was because I tend to be too eager to help and I often forget that I am not the best suited to give advice and I apologize for that.

May we get to meet one day... oh and if you're ever in the Los Angeles area, post a comment and when you get there, I'll take you out and I'll buy you a good, tasty, cold ale :-) Or, we'll go for a run and then have that ale.

Respectfully,

Quinto Sol

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How to race the NYCM

I have been quite busy of late, and have not had much time to post. However, I ran (pun intended) into this post that I think some of you will enjoy.

new-york-city-marathon-course-strategy

Cheers!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

ATM- Camp Bondsteel

Well, I cannot blame it on the weather as it was near perfect for the distance. Although it did have me worried when I did my one-mile warm up and I was sweating. I cannot blame it on not knowing the course as I was one of three who surveyed the course. Sure, the course was full of rolling hills but I even did 8X0.335 hills on Friday. No, I cannot blame it on those hills; I felt that they would not hinder me, even when they were done less than 48 hours from race time; in fact, I felt they would help me.

As I started with my warm up, there was this Belgian female soldier running strides... and she was doing them really FAST. I knew she would have a good race. 15 minutes to the start. An American soldier sings the anthem and does a decent job. The start is delayed because we're waiting for a flyover of two blackhawk helicopters.

The organizer says: runners - on your marks, get set.. GO! And this Belgian literally bolts to the lead. I start conservatively and my breathing is already a bit labored. I drop the effort a bit after .3 miles or so. I am running comfortably. First mile in 6:16. You are thinking I started too fast. Not really, let me 'splain, the first mile is downhill. I knew I was going to give some time back in the next mile which had a nice hill. Sure enough, the second mile was 7:16. Am I running a dumb race? Maybe. I am comfortably in 20th place or so. This Italian soldier guns past me. I just keep a good effort. I catch up to an American soldier from Ohio. He is a fast runner but has a head cold and I drop him rather easily. Third mile in 6:50 (20:23) and I am pleased as I am feeling strong.

I catch up to a group of four runners who are having trouble with another hill and I move past them; one of them tries to stay with me but I know he will drop back as his breathing is too hard for the distance. I reach the end of the road and I slow down as I hit the hairpin turn and grab a cup of 'rade. This portion is pancake flat and I thrive on it. Mile 4, 6:20 (26:43). I look at my watch and I wonder when the implosion will happen. I decide to try to maintain the effort. I catch up to two young American soldiers. One of them beat me badly on the half-mary a few weeks ago. Today is not his day. As we run together for about a minute, two non-American soldiers move past us and they look really strong. I would not see them again until the finish. The Belgian female is about .3 miles ahead of me. Reeling her in does not seem possible; running with her are two American soldiers. Mile 5, 7:00 flat. I'll take anything 7 or under. I am feeling good, but I know the hard part is yet to come.

I separate from the two young Americans and keep a nice rhythm. Mile 6, 6:28 (40:11). At this point I am glad I have given it a good effort. If I implode, it will not be due to lack of effort... and I will have ran a nice tempo run. Mile 7 has a nice flat first half, and then the fun begins. I catch up to a struggling slender non-American runner and easily pass him. Then after a challenging hill, I make a turn into a steeper hill. This is where two of the Belgian soldiers pass me. I do not chase them for I know this hill saps my energy if I take it too strongly. Mile 7, 6:45 (46:56).

I am a bit surprised by the split. I am still running strong. I do the math, this was a good sign [that is, that I was able to do basic math], and the next three miles can be ran in 7:30s and I would still meet my goal. The two Belgians falter and I decide to move ahead. We turn into a fairly flat section that would last about .3 miles. I make a turn into the hill where I did my hill repeats. I crest the hill and my legs feel heavy. The Belgians pass me. I let them go but not too far ahead of me. Mile 8, 6:53 (53:49). Damn, I could have a minor blow-up and still meet my pre-race goal.

We run on a flat section for a short while, then we have this rather steep downhill where I try to take it easy as I know we have this curvy challenging hill. I am still running behind the Belgians. They choose to cut the tangent. I go the long way as I know it makes the grade more bearable to run. I crest the last tough hill and I ma just a few steps behind the Belgians. Mile 9, 6:59.

Knowing what was waiting for me was crucial in me making the decision to give it my all. I pass them and they do not respond. I make another turn into a nice downhill where I have happened to pick it up countless times. This is QuintoSol's neighborhood and gravity lengthens my stride. I see the two American runners that were unreachable a few miles back. I also see the female Belgian. It does NOT dawn on me that I will catch them. But I do. I pass a young talented American soldier and he just does not respond. I make one last turn and pass the female Belgian AND the other American soldier. She does not pick it up, BUT he does. It's a short hill and I yell at him to go for it, that he has the younger legs. We are running mano-a-mano, right next to each other. I am just waiting for him to pull ahead of me. But he doesn't. He is breathing really hard. So am I. We crest that last one hill and the road is now even. My legs turn over a bit quicker, as if someone else is doing it for me. I am in disbelief that I am still ahead of this young buck. I cross the line in 1:07:22 (6:34) by my watch... and 1:07:08 by the official results. I ended up beating him by 26/100 of a second. It cannot get any closer than that... AND he was in my age group.

I finished 11th OA out of 250 and 3rd in my AG... yeah, I am one happy dude. Not only did I meet my goal, but I PR'd by three seconds (I am using my watch time rather than the 'official time')... Oh, and if you're following along, MAJ S who handily beat me by over five minutes in the half-mary, came in eight places behind me and 80-something seconds slower... life is sweet.

...Bring it on, CIM!!! :-D

That's what 26/100 of a second looks like

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Left Foot

In my last tempo workout I noticed that my left foot got lazy and was not nearly as 'rigid' as my right foot. This would explain why it was sore after my last 19-miler. So I have been working on 'fixing' the lazy limb by concentrating on my stride as it lands.

Interestingly enough, in one of the photos taken of Kara Goucher dueling Paula Radcliffe, I observed that PR supinates her feet greatly. You may have seen her 'awkward' form when she races; if not, she bobs her head while she runs; she reminds me of a chicken pecking grains. It made me wonder how much faster she would be if she had a flaw-less form.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

ATM - Not to Be Confused with Automated Teller Machine

My last two weeks of training have gone quite well, in spite of a minor sprain. I ran 62 and 65 mile weeks. Both weeks had three quality runs, long run, tempo and speed-dork. The long runs were 17 and 19. In the 17-miler, I ran the last six a tad under MP and in the 19-miler I ran the last three 14 seconds faster than MP. Both times I ran them at what I 'felt' was MP effort. Maybe the fact that I was tired made my mind push the pace a bit more than MP because I have been known to slow down in the latter miles of a marathon race. Makes sense? I didn't think so. :-)

Additionally, my tempo runs have been in the 'right' range also. I have found myself holding back the effort as I tend to run them a bit hard. And from my opinion, this is good. Things are looking bright... bright, indeed.

Next Sunday I will have a big test as I will race the ATM (Army Ten-Miler), or its satellite version. I have alluded in the past as to how hilly the races held here are, but this time the organizers have gone out of their way to design a flat course. I was included in the 'surveying' of the course and while it is substantially flatter, it has some challenging rolling hills. However, my tempo runs are done on similar topography with the exception of one steep hill just before mile nine.

Taking the above into consideration, I will go out on a limb and state my goal loud and clear: sub 70 minutes. There, I said it. Watch me come back next week and spell out infinite excuses for not achieving my goal :-)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Broken Dream?

Last night, after 9 pm, I headed out for my scheduled eight-miler. This was to be a recovery run from the previous day's treshold run. I was holding back the effort and it was going really well, about 8:30 pace. Right after four miles, where the dirt road becomes a bit uneven due to rain-formed ditches and as I was turning a corner, all while thinking about what I had witnessed earlier in the day*, my right ankle rolled and I heard a loud pop, like the sound that bubble wrap makes when you pop the individual bubbles. Pain instantly shot through my nervous system and made me yell expletives left and right. I thought I had tore a tendon. I could barely put weight on the injured ankle.

I was going to head to the ER but recalled reading in The Purple Runner that it is better to jog it off to prevent significant swelling and further aggravation of the injury. So I attempted to jog, but was visibly favoring the right limb. After a couple of hundred meters, I was able to put full weight on the injured ankle without much discomfort. I was praying that it meant that the sprain was not a serious one. I was close to my barracks and made it there about five minutes later.

I iced the ankle and took an 800mg Motrin. This morning there was a third-sized golf ball lump on the outside of my foot, about one inch in front of the ankle.

My friend, the PT, gave me an ACE bandage and gave me directions on how to wrap my foot. Later on I attempted to run eight easy miles and luckily, the bandage held the foot in one piece and I ran sans pain. The dream remains intact and very much alive.

*What I was thinking right before the injury was how amazing it was to observe an orthopedic surgeon splint a broken humerus (in three pieces). What really impressed me was how calm he was while he cut the skin (nine inches), cut through the subcutaneuous tissue and carefully, very carefully cut along the flow of muscle fibers so as to avoid cutting through any vascular bundles and/or the radial and ulner nerves. He splinted the bone with two plates and 14 screws. The surgery took 2.5 hours.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tempo, Et Al


Tempo in Italian is simply time.

After my lackluster performance in the half-mary on September 2nd and my problems sustaining an 8:10 pace for a long run a week later, I was nonplussed.

Because of this it was easier for me to bag a couple of scheduled runs, including a three-mile tempo.

Lo and behold, I had a satisfying interval workout last Friday where I managed to run 5X1000 (or thereabouts---I used my Garmin and .62 increments) with 400 recoveries (.24 mile). The pace of the 1000s was at 5K perceived effort, which ended up being 6:18. The workout with recoveries averaged 6:57 pace, and I was one happy dude. This was very close to my mid-tempo pace.

Then on Sunday, I had even a better run. The plan was to run 14 miles at 8 min flat and pick up the effort to MP pace for the last three (7:25). As I stopped to drink water and my own version of electrolyte solution at the 11 mile mark, I decided to push the envelope and run the last six at MP. Not only was I able to hit my milestone but I actually surpassed it by running a 7:21 average, with the last mile being the fastest.

Fast forward to today, and I had the three-mile tempo I missed last week on the menu. I decided to ditch my lightweight trainers (288 miles) and my 1023 trainers (361 miles) in favor of my fairly new nike air max (61 miles) to do this workout. Like Spike Lee used to say: 'it's gotta be the shoes.' I don't know what it was, but this workout totally and unsuspectingly exceeded my expectations.

The irony is that I almost bagged today's run. Man it would have been a terrible mistake. I started with a nice w/u of three miles (24:45). I stopped to drink water and to stretch lightly. Then the fun began (the goal was 6:50-6:55): the first mile goes by in 6:37, and I think I am going too fast for my current fitness, that I did not gauge the effort correctly; I may bonk on the second one; but no, I timed it in 6:20 (downhill) with the third a challenging mildly uphill mile coming up. As soon as I crest the mild technical hill by the flight line I begin to doubt I will finish the three mile tempo and I consider slowing down. But I refuse to give up; I concentrate on turn over and the effort feels more like a 5K. Time has slowed down; I seem to have slowed down to 7 min pace. I remember a quote from a commercial way back then that went like this: si las cosas que valen la pena se hicieran facilmente, cualquiera las haria, or loosely translated: if worthy goals were done easily, anyone would do them*. I plod on and find myself working quite hard. Finish the third one in 6:36, woo hoo!!! I am in disbelief that I just completed a not so easy tempo run in 6:31 pace!!! To put things in perspective, I ran the same three-mile tempo run two weeks ago in 20:35, 62 seconds slower!! I cooled down with two in 15:02.

One thing that I noticed in those two runs was that my cool down was not as slow as one would think cool down miles should be. I found myself running them with ease at very close to MP. They felt almost TOO easy.

*I love ipods and I just ordered a fourth-generation RED nano (and my fourth one) with that quote engraved on the back.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Doubts

My goal race is quickly approaching. And, alas, my training program is quickly deteriorating. I have found cutting long runs short and not running tempo runs. The quality in my program is almost non-existent. Not only that, but I am having trouble finding the gumption to run 50 mile weeks. Obviously, it has me doubting I can achieve my goal come December 2, even when I already lowered it from sub 3:10 to sub 3:16. What can I say? - I am a published underachiever :-) Now, self doubt is one of them things that come up in my life quite often. To contradict myself, I think I may still get lucky and pull it off.

You see, the course is advertised as being fast. The first 10 miles are rolling, and the remainder of the course is said to have a mild descent for a net drop in elevation of 300 feet. OTOH, I have ran Boston four times and that course is not a 'fast' course even though it drops 500 feet in elevation. The Newton hills are to blame, and although the hills are neither steep nor particularly difficult, it has been written that it's their location that makes them 'tough.' I remember the first time I ran it and somewhere around 16.5 and after mostly mild downhill running, I hit the first hill and my quads quickly protested. It would not be until my fourth try that I would succeed in running through them without walking breaks.

I know the Boston course. I don't know the CIM course and profiles shown on race websites do not always tell the whole story. Am I setting an excuse up for not coming in at the desired time? Most likely.

CIM Course Profile

My plan is to run the first 10 miles in 7:30-7:35 pace, then picking it up to 7:20 and if feeling strong running the last 6.2 in 45 minutes. I know completing long training runs will be crucial to me being able to run faster while fatigued. Now lets see if 'I' can get over my distaste of long solo runs and get with the program.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Emergency 51


A little bit of Balkans humor... If we ever meet, remind me about this picture and I'll tell you a funny story behind this picture.

BTW, any comments on the new and improved look of this site? :-)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

R&R Update

The Salty One suggests I went out too fast last week. And to be fair, the result backs up her assessment.

However, I felt the effort was 'right' on target. I felt I could sustain it for the duration of the race. What I failed to mention is that as I approached the first long and deceivingly tough hill, I backed off on the effort. I thought I could make it up on the downhills. The real problem was that I never regained any momentum I had during the first two miles. I even walked short sections of tougher hills, thinking - again- that I was saving precious energy I was going to need to finish strongly. Yes, I raced it poorly; but it was due more to indecision, or better yet, to the lack of better judgment than ability.

And if you're interested, the winner was a French soldier... in 1:22:XX... The highest US runner came in 14th.

This morning's long run had me gasping for air at the pedestrian 8:10 pace. I actually had to cut short the planned 17 to eight. It was ridiculous. I suspect it was the quick ramp up into the 50s. I ran zero miles four weeks ago, 46 the next, 30 the week before the race. If you do the math, I averaged 25 mpw in those three weeks. This week I ran 54... and I think it is my body's way of rebelling, or at the very least of telling me to not ramp up as quickly as I have. Regardless, it's too late. I will try to maintain the 50+ mile-weeks in the weeks to come.

Signing off... for now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

R&R Virginia Half-Mary

Trying to break 1:41

My goal for this half mary was not too liberal, sub 1:40. From looking at my training runs I felt I could run a FLAT half in the 1:31-1:32 range; because of the hills here I would have been more than happy to break 1:35.

It was just amazing the participation we had in this race. We had over 50 German runners, several dozen Spanish runners, and representation from Greek, Polish, Austrian and other soldiers from NATO. Knowing that the depth was stronger than our typical races in our Camp, I felt- rather I knew- I could break the top 50. I also wanted to take the monkey off my back from my lackluster showing at the DANCON a few months ago; after all running is MY event. Right? Right!

The weather was near perfect with some winds in the 10 MPH range. Somebody asks me what my age group is and I tell him; he says that I’ll probably win it. I smile. Then he says, oh but Major S is in that AG, he will probably win. I open my BIG mouth and say: I will beat him, but there are OTHER runners who may win it. [I have always beaten Major S in shorter distances, and I get better as the distance gets longer, so I reasoned beating him was a no-brainer. I guess I AM the one w/o a brain :-)]

A one mile warm up seems reasonable. I do some stretching and I am ready to go.

I start comfortably hard and the first two miles are relatively flat and I clock 7:08 and 6:56. Awesome, sub 1:35 may be in the cards today. Mile three includes a deceivingly hard climb and I slow down to 7:38, but in spite of the slow time I do not worry. The fourth mile comes in at 7:54 and Major S passes me. I envision reeling him in later in the race. I am confident; however, it was false confidence. The mile includes a nice descent and the split is a 7:29. Then I go through the meat of the hills and the first mile over 8 shows up on my Garmin, ouch.

I won’t go into the rest of the splits because it got ugly. A few more runners pass me and my ego gets bruised, really bruised; it’s becoming the norm. If I didn’t know better I would have walked the last 5K. I managed just under 8 mpm pace for the remainder of the race. Tried to pass one runner close to the end who passed me around 11 but the b*stard [smile] picked it up and actually extended his lead. I see the clock and it reads 1:40:46… I gun it hoping to cross before the zero becomes a one [see picture - which by the way, the grimace on my face was not from physical pain, but from disgust at my performance.] I muster a semblance of a kick, but not quite enough as I cross the finish and the timer yells 1:41 flat, a personal worst in the half-mary. And Major S kicked my arse handily, by over five minutes. My only consolation is that no female runner finished ahead of me :-)

Oh and I finished 49th overall... out of more than 250 runners. Ouch, says my ego. Bottom line, I had a nice two-mile tempo and 12 easy miles :-)

I have no excuses. I simply did not have course specific training [read: hills]; I cannot blame anyone but myself. I am too much of a wuss when it comes to hills, I have seriously become afraid of hills. And so it goes.

Lets see if I can redeem myself next month during our satellite Army 10-Miler.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Food


Some people have called me a snub when it comes to Mexican food... and they are correct in their assessment. It is quite hard for me to find a restaurant selling Mexican food that will meet my expectations. I should make it clear that the type of food I am referring to is that of the commoner, i.e. pozole, tacos dorados, enchiladas, menudo, gorditas and the like. I often end up inviting folks over to my place to try some 'real' 'authentic' Mexican food... yes, I can cook :-)

Spending two weeks in one of the most exciting regional cuisines Mexico has to offer such as GDL, makes me want to overeat, and overate I did. I must have gained at least three lbs; I blame most of the gain on the hand made tortillas and the cervezas that kept being open.

I should have gained more weight but fortunately my running picked up. I even did a 15-mile run with 11 of those at 7:25 pace, or my marathon goal pace. I was quite happy with that run as I was coming from a week of non-running and my fitness was iffy at best.

I then had to fly over to Germany. Once there I was able to run nine easy miles through interesting neighborhoods. One aspect that really stood out was how well most, if not all, 'hoods in this region are kept, manicured lawns, house paint in good repair, the absence of junk cars parked in the driveway... very little graffiti, and so on and so forth... simply nirvana like.

Today, back in the Balkans, I ran six easy miles to let the legs loose as tomorrow I am scheduled to run/race a half-mary on a difficult course. ...and back to life, back to reality.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Time flies


It's interesting how time flies. I had not realized it had been over three weeks since I last posted. It all began one day when I received an email from my brother who resides in Guadalajara, Mexico. He tells me that it is time I make amends with the one who provided the seed to create me. You see my father and I have not been in the best of terms for two decades now. Suffice it to say that he was not a good father... to me.

Lo and behold, my current employer went ahead and granted me a leave. So five days after receiving that ominous email I was on my way across the pond to good ol' GDL. The anxiety and what not had kept me from sleeping well for a few days. I did not even run for a whole week. I did try one day and all I managed was 1:17... no, not one hour and 17 minutes, but one minute and 17 seconds; after 77 seconds I stopped and turned around as I just did not feel like running.

Unfortunately there are very few places to run in GDL (the code for the airport in Guadalajara) so not much running opportunities there. I did get to run nine miles in the center of town; you see the powers-that-be close one main street (Juarez) and allow only bicyclists and runners (albeit I saw very few runners out there) to encourage locals to exercise.

Since my dad was released from the hospital just five days after I arrived, I was able to do more running, but nothing worth mentioning, just that I did run 46 miles last week and that I lost quite of bit of fitness in just one week.

As for the estranged relationship with my dad, it remains the same. It is a bit late for me to pretend that nothing happened. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no ill feelings towards him. I did once; for a long time. But I forgave him and went on with my life. However, I just cannot pretend to respect him, much less love him. So why come? I think I came more for my brother who has begged me to mend our relationship... and so it goes.

P.S. A huge congratulations to Lorena Ochoa who looks in good shape to capture her third straight tittle. Which makes me realize that as proud as I am to be an American, I cannot fully let go of the fact that I was born in GDL and often root for Mexico. Go figure.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Boulder or Sands?


I started pondering where I was going to live once my sabbatical is over. Now, if I am going to pay rent, why not own, right? As y'all know, it's not as simple as it seems to my ridiculously shallow mind [not true, I am neither ridiculous, nor shallow] I considered living in the big apple but my limited research told me that it was too expensive, that I could not afford to live there. On to the left coast you say... Los Angeles has always been good to me and its weather is unbeatable. But home prices are overpriced... not to mention the prices have peaked, and if I were to buy now I would be buying high... an obvious no-no.

Knowing that Texas has a great running community suggested I look to Austin as a potential alternative. After all, Lance Armstrong lives there. Who knows, I may even get to run with the guy. Right. Austin was looking really good when I happened to browse the NY Times real estate section where they profiled three properties for $100K in different parts of the country. And what did they have? They had one in Boulder, Colorado. That particular property was not where I would want to live so I followed the link to Colorado homes and looked through several other properties.

Being a wanna-be artist, [and I use this term very loosely, as I have very little, if any, talent] I have always been enamored of lofts; I just love the open space. Lo and behold I found what I would consider the perfect living space. It is a condo/loft with just under 1000 sf. and what's best, I can afford it ;-) It was built in 2004 so it is fairly new and is close to trails and what not. Everything I would ever want in a place to live. As soon as I get to see the rest of the property, which I am sure I will like, I will make an offer... and who knows, maybe by late next month, I will be owning it. Wish me luck as such transaction from overseas does not lend itself to be a painless effort.

On other news, I was saddened to learn that one of my favorite bloggers has decided to make her blog 'for invited readers only' and I am not one of the selected few. And so it goes.

Since I think of this blog as a 'running' blog I have to include how my training for CIM is going. My mileage has dropped to the low 40s the last three weeks but I intend on getting it back to the 50s beginning this week. Next week I will attempt to run three three quality efforts: speed-dork, tempo and the always necessary long run.

Happy blogging.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mount Duke


Last Sunday I was fortunate to hike the highest mountain in this region; we call it Mount Duke but the locals call it Ljuboten. It took us about 30 minutes to drive to where we were meeting the Polish Contingent, the sponsors of the hike. They then drove us in one of those large military trucks through rough terrain to where the hike actually started, Camp One :o) the ride took almost 30 minutes and it was quite bumpy and uncomfortable.

We did not start the hike until about 10:20, local time. The weather here has been quite hot. The past several days, the temperatures have hovered in the low 100s; it has been as hot as 110 F. So I was afraid it would be a sweaty mess. I also decided to wear the booney hat vs. the patrol cap. I seldom wear sunscreen because of my bronzed skin, but this time I decided to pour some on my neck, the area in my body that tends to get sunburned the most.

We started at approximately 6000' elevation. The length was not that bad, 4 Kms one way, 5 miles round trip with a net gain of about 2200' feet. Now, the hike was rather steep, but that was not what made the hike difficult. What made it difficult was the fact that there were no clear cut trails so we had to hike through boulders and rocks. In spite of my experience hiking [hiked Mt. Whitney twice, and half dome once --- if you have been in any of those two places, you know how well marked and cleared the trails are. Not here. I made the mistake of going vertical, and I found myself gasping for air. I had to stop a few times to recover. While it was hot, the strong breeze made it bearable. It got easier as I started zig-zagging, making my own switch backs and making it much more easier to climb. Even then, it took me 1:40 to reach the top, a whooping 30 mpm!!! How is that for slow hiking!

I spent 40 minutes at the apex, took a picture with the Polish flag and another one with the US flag.

It was time to climb down. I should be able to descend it much, much faster than ascending right? Yes, but it was not without cost. I was blistering, but not too badly. I wore my good boots this time :-) It was like climbing down through steep steps. I did make it down to Camp One in 50 minutes [20 mpm you all], but my quads felt trashed.

I waited for the rest of my group to descend. That time resting did me a lot of good. However, I did not stretch. Stupid is as stupid does. Two hours later we were all back where we had left our vans. There was this cafe right where we parked the vehicles and I ordered a machiato [similar to a cappuccino] and relaxed for an hour or so in the shade. We still needed to wait for one more guy.

The following day found me with sore quads. Not that sore though. Bagged the run.

On Tuesday, the quads were naturally tighter. Bagged the run.

On Wednesday I had had enough bags for one week and ran 10. I must have had a funny gait as I felt I was hopping rather than striding. It was painful but managed to run it sub 7:50. The next day the quads were less sore but still tight. The 10 miles were not as painful as the previous night [because it has been so hot, I end up running after 8 pm] but managed a decent pace even while including that hateful hill, 7:42 pace.

To say that I have been pleased with my last few runs is an understatement. I feel that the pace has been closer to my ability. I have ran several miles at my current MP goal, or 7:20ish and I have actually felt good doing it. Not like before, when those runs felt more like 5K efforts.

On an aside, I have always enjoyed reading John Grisham [probably because he's such an easy read], and I borrowed The Innocent Man from my roommate. Before I read this book I was totally pro-death penalty, but I am not so sure anymore. The book is non-fiction. The story makes you wonder how something like that can happen in the glorious U S of A, in small town America. I you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It will leave you thinking justice is neither blind, nor fair.

Carpe Viam... Seize the Road!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Beantown 2008

I haven't earned my ticket to Beantown and I already booked my flight and my hotel. It's never too early to plan you know. Me figures that if I do not BQ then I can always have a good time rooting for fellow bloggers. Besides I had some miles that needed to be spent lest they expire.

Hope to meet a few of you :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer of Malmo

I first ran across this concept as a member of the Dead Runners Society, whose motto is carpe viam, loosely translated as 'seize the road.' Then member Kevin Beck, and writer for Running Times, posted it to the list.

I since have 'googled' it and the credit for its creation is fuzzy at best. Regardless, the Summer of Malmo was created for High School runners. Naturally, it was designed to give them a strong base for their upcoming cross-country season. The program is very simple: to run as much, and as often as possible, with particular emphasis on doubles as they help increase the volume.

The program suggests to run only two quality runs in any given training week, 12X200s and a tempo run. It doesn't really go into specifics as to how fast the 200s are supposed to be done but I suspect them to be at 3K pace. It also fails to specify the length of the tempo run. While both of these quality runs are important to the program, the build up of volume is the real objective.

Now, I left High School many moons ago but I liked this idea. However, I never really tried it. My goal marathon is December 2, and my official training begins late this month, so I have been concentrating in mileage volume and decided to revisit the Summer of Malmo. The last eight weeks, I have averaged 52 miles per week. Not a lot, needless to say. But when my 'best' marathon program averaged 42 miles per week [which helped me run three marathons in a span of six weeks in 3:24, 3:17 and 3:22], and most of my 35 marathons were completed with training of 30 mpw or less, the 50+ weeks were expected to produce results.

Unfortunately I have failed to meet goals during my evaluation runs. Sadly my legs are slowing down. I still had hope that they had a few more PRs in them, but the horizon does not look too promising. Ah... the vicissitudes of an untalented runner :o)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rut is in the air

The last couple of weeks have been rather tough for me. It has been tough in the sense that I am having a hard time dealing with this sabbatical. It has been hard to adjust, even after so many months. If it weren’t because of ‘MY’ running, I would go insane. Literally.

Last week I was able to chain seven consecutive days of running. Now, that fact alone is not remarkable; what is remarkable is that I logged 70 miles. Yes. You read right, SEVENTY. The most I had run prior to this seven-day stretch was 55 miles. Not too bad, huh? What’s more important, I am injury free. Knock on wood. However, not everything is rosy. There is one side effect: I can’t seem to run fast. I seem to struggle to pick up the pace.

For example: Today I ran three miles in what felt MP at a snail pace of 23:01, or 7:40 mpm. Fortunately, the next three miles were clocked in 21:27, or 7:09 pace. That’s not too bad you say… It is bad when early last year I was able to run nine miles at 7:05 pace [mind you, in a flatter route] with the effort of today’s 7:40s. I’m sure that my lack of speed-dork has something to do with this slugfest; I’ll also blame the elevation, which is in the 1800s.

So what? It is time face the music. It is time to reassess my sub-3:10 goal. I feel that a sub-3:20 is more feasible. And a sub 3:15 should be a cinch if I continue to run the volume I am running. Throw in some quality work-outs and I am in business. Why set myself up for defeat when my recent training runs suggest I CANNOT sustain that 7:15 pace I want to race in the CIM? It is one thing to WANT to run 7:15s and another to be ABLE to maintain such pace.

Yes, I know. I am a certifiable WUSS.


Finally, here’s a picture of the MOAH. Now you know why I avoid it during my training runs and why I walked it all FOUR times during the Boston satellite marathon last April. Incidentally, all participants got a GENUINE 2007 Boston Marathon finisher’s medal; is that cool, or what? AND, we also got an official jacket [with the John Hancock signature and all]… from the year 2005, but it was brand new. Thanks to those folks from the BAA; those guys are awesome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Eternal City















Right next to Fountain of Trevi. I was having a hard time focusing on my pace and I was slowing down a bit too much. I would manage to pick it up a few kms later.








The home stretch. I just needed about a mile to go. I focused on finishing with a decent kick. My all black attire did not help me run nearly as fast as Kanoucchi; but, I can dream, right? :o)



















The Colosseum. What more can I say when such a historic icon is the background to one last pick up.

The end of another day at the office. I really like this picture as I am walking away from the finish as if I just completed a pleasurable stroll. Notice two or three finishers on the right are totally spent. I am by far the most relaxed of them all ;-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Volume Boost and REM

Its been four weeks since I started the mileage ramp up. So far, so good. I ran 48. 52, 51 and 47. Most so-called experts suggest increasing mileage for three weeks then running less on the fourth week. Repeat until reaching the desired volume. This cyclic progression seems to work for me. This week I hope to hit in the neighborhood of 60 miles. Stay tuned.

On another note, and before the volume boost, I had been feeling rather lethargic. After meals, my eyelids would weigh a ton and I had the extreme urge to fall asleep. I had never before experienced this, so being the hypochondriac that I am I started to dissect my symptoms looking for an answer. I read an article where it stated that long-distance runners tend to run low in iron because the constant pounding ‘squashes’ the iron out of red blood cells. Naturally, I thought I had found THE answer to my lackadaisical mood after eating.

The first day I took an iron supplement I ran a four-mile tempo run that averaged 6:56 mpm. Right where I felt I should be [actually I am lying, I think I should be in the 6:45 pace, but I rationalized the time difference to the hilly course I ran it]. Great, right? Not so fast ‘mi pequeño saltamontes’ [my little grasshopper]. I have been told that iron supplements, or mostly any supplement, take two-weeks to make a difference in the body. To make matters cloudier, I had another episode of drowsiness after an Italian meal full of starchy foods. So I went back to square one.

I pondered what I had done different since I left the states, more specifically since I arrived in Eastern Europe. It dawned on me that I have been taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements during that period, so I used my highly sought-after investigative skills [grin]. Apparently, one of the side effects of Glucosamine is drowsiness; also, it appears to affect the insulin levels. I think I have now found the culprit. But it is a double-edged sword. I want the purported benefits of the supplement without the drowsiness side-effect. What to do? I have been taking 1500 mg, so I have decided to only take 500 mg and see how my body reacts.

Carpe Viam… Seize the Road…

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sweet Sixteen

My running streak came to a halt when I spent a large part of the day riding a bus to the gulf of Kavala, Greece. I think the longest I have run continuously during any streak was six days. This time, the streak is a not-very-impressive 16, but a sweet sixteen nonetheless.

The hotel lies just steps from its private beach. A beach that under better weather conditions would be a dream. As it happened, the weather did change for the better the last two days there. Now, I have never been a fan of beach running, even when the sand is well packed. Alas, the highway fronting the hotel was WAY too busy and the cars just flew by. Not ideal. Definitely not ideal for an easy sixer.

I donned my retired classic response adidas and headed to the deserted beach. Deserted because it was cloudy and raining lightly. I start what I thought was running and slugged for a couple of minutes before checking my snail pace. It was a mind boggling 13:40ish pace. The sand is really lose and my feet sink almost to ankle level. My calves are protesting. I quickly readjust my goal of running six miles and hope to complete four. I reach the end of the beach and turn. As I am heading back to my starting point, I see a paved access road. I decide to follow it and thoughts of doing hill repeats are more appealing exponentially by the second. I ‘crest’ the access road and see that it changes into a dirt road that goes under the aforementioned highway. I follow it.

Now I am on the other side of the highway and the dirt road with its sexy curves is calling me. The only problem is that the road is ascending and my pace does not get faster than 10 mpm. Man am I slow or what? I question the sanity of setting a sub 3:10 marathon as a goal. I am having a hard time ‘running’ 10-minute miles for crying out loud. How am I going to sustain 7:15s… for 26.2 miles. Am I setting myself up for disaster? Maybe. So it goes.

I continue running in light rain and the views are rather beautiful. I run through some vineyards and my mind takes me back to the ONE marathon I want to run more than any other, and that is the marathon du Medoc. I actually was going to run it last year and did register, but had to cancel my plans due to my 'forced' sabbatical. So it goes.

I smell the salty ocean air, more like I gasp the saltiness, as I pass yet another vineyard. My infatuation with wine and olive oil would make a place like this a dream vacation home. The road is made up of fractured rock; it is no longer covered by lose sand like at the beginning of the trail. At one point, I can discern where the backhoe scraped though the weathered but still strong rock. I see a puddle that covers the width of the road and I sidestep it but manage to sink my right foot and it is now completely wet. On the way back I would sink my left foot for good measure. I am not worried about potential blisters for the obvious reason: it’s only a sixer.

I continue through more of the same and reach the end of the mountain road and turn right on another highway that appears to be less traveled. My Garmin ™ says 2.6 miles. I run on the lean shoulder against traffic for just over half a mile and I am rewarded with stunning views of a medium size village with mountains and the blue ocean in the background. I turn at, you guessed it, another vineyard.

I am now back on the mountain road and my legs are a bit more springy. They are moving with more ease. Yet, I am barely under 8 minute pace and doubts continue to linger in my mind about a sub 3:10. No matter. I am having the time of my life. The rain has stopped. But, I am doing the rain dance, or so it seems for I find myself skipping here and hopping there. This is to avoid a boulder, or a miniature creek, or a toad – or is it a frog?

The ocean is in clear view and memories of my runs in the Santa Monica Mountains come to mind. And I cry. Yes, you read right. I cry. But it is tears of joy. Slow ones. Pearly ones. I am having a climatic run and I am enjoying it one hundred percent. [I would say 110%, but I am not mathematically challenged :-P] I reach the bottom of the road and head toward the busy highway. I run for a short stretch on the shoulder while several vehicles zoom by me, including a couple of semis. No matter. I have just had one of the best running experiences of my life.

This run is only comparable only to those days when I would run as a child for the sake of getting to the other side of the street; for the sake of tagging a friend; for the sake of kicking a ball; hell, for the sake of running. Yes folks, that was running in its pure, unadulterated form. No Beantown dreams. No, just a smile on my then chubby face because somewhere, somehow I knew running was a gift. A gift only US can truly appreciate.

I finished my run in a less than stellar time. But, really… who cares? Life is good. So it goes.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

ChiCOWgo and Army 10 - 2004

In early June '04, my Command contacted me to see if I was interested in being part of a team that would participate in the Army 10 miler, because I was part of a team the previous year. In 2003 I happened to be the fastest runner in my team, not a good thing. I ran a 69:43, just a few seconds off my PR. This year, I told the COL organizing the running teams, I would shoot for a low 68, maybe even break it. I started training for this race about 12 weeks prior.

My training was going so well I even dreamed of running significantly faster than the low 68 I had ‘committed.’ I was running 24 miles per week, divided into three or four runs. Most of these runs were quality, which means they were either repeats, tempo or long. The core of this training was a four mile tempo. I progressively improved from an average of 6:53/mile to a 6:29/mile. However, soon after the 6:29 'peak,' my training would turn sour. The time I ran the tempo run in 6:29, my breathing, my form, my mind, were all one; everything was in sync. I should note that the last mile in these tempo runs was always difficult, but not during 'the' peak. BUT, one should peak in a RACE, and NOT in training as I did.

The week after my peak, I was barely able to average 6:51/mile… for ONLY three miles, mind you; I was so out of breath I could not complete the fourth mile. The next two weeks would see marginal improvements. My last tempo run was the week of the Chicago marathon. This time I was able to run the full four miles, and at 6:45 pace, with three miles of w/u and three miles of c/d for 10 miles.

Two days after this 10 miler, I had a very stiff back, painful really. I ran a couple of days later, and I was running lob-sided. Once my back warmed up I was able to run at a decent ‘tempo’ pace. I had hope after all. On Saturday October 11, the day before the Chicago Marathon, I ran a 5K; however, I believe it was not accurate, so I am not sure I should consider the 19:45 time a PR; my back hardly bothered me. The following day I lined up w/ some 33K runners from around the globe.

This was going to be my 26th marathon. Having ran slow times, for me, the last two ‘thons (4:43 and 4:12) I wanted to run around 3:30. I knew I had the speed, but I did not have the training. My longest run consisted of one 15 miler. So I approached this race as a training run for my upcoming 10 miler.

I started slow, 8:20s, for the first three miles. I settled into a comfortable 8 minute or so pace. The day before, I had tried this new energy drink, Monster, and I believe it was causing me to have stomach gurgling; I hoped I did not have to stop, or worse yet that I’d have an accident. Also, from time to time whenever I’d land a certain way, I’d feel pain on my lower back... sciatica, argh! Please don’t let it get bad enough where I’ll have to stop. Half marathon time 1:45:XX, right on target.

The lack of long runs would get me though. And at 14 I started feeling tired. BUT, I remembered reading that speeding up during a race often helped the feeling of fatigue. So I picked up the pace, 7:43, oops, a bit too fast. I slow it down a notch. I would run the next few miles in the 7:50s. At 25 I picked it up one more notch, 7:35. Mile 26, 7:21. Last 0.2 were ran in 83 seconds (my fastest 0.2 ever). Final time of 3:27:13, and second only to St. George where the course drops 2500 feet, and where I ran an obviously gravity-aided 3:14:28 [this was before I ran a 3:12 in St. George and a 3:17:56 in Boston].

I was quite pleased with this result, but I was afraid I had left too much in this race. I ran an easy three two days later. No injuries seemed to be present. Three days later I attempted speed-work; probably not a good idea, since I barely managed to run 4X400 @ 90 seconds with one minute recovery, and I did feel some pain in my quads and hamstrings. Did not attempt a tempo run until one week before the Army 10. Although, it wasn’t a tempo run, I had to take a break after 10 minutes, and another one five minutes later. I was getting worried I would not recover in time to run the 67:30 I believed I could run.

The day before race day, I ran an easy four. Let the chips fall where they may. No time for regrets or reflections.

Race day I woke up to rain on Sunday morning, more like a drizzle. I jogged the mile to the hotel where we were going to meet. My legs felt light and springy. Our group then walked a few blocks to the Pentagon. Luckily, the bag turn-in was on the way, but it was rather chaotic. Jogged to the start line for it was getting close to race time. As I was approaching the corrals, the National Anthem started playing. Stopped and took it all in. I made it to my corral just 15 minutes before. I jumped the concrete k-rail to try to run some strides. It was kind of crowded so my strides were 40 meters long. I did three of them. I was nervous but felt ready; as ready as I could be.

The race starts five minutes late. I take off with a bunch of runners wearing green bibs. First mile comes surprisingly fast and my watch reads 6:45, perfect. To this point the effort seems easy, too easy I think. I would miss the next mile marker. I press the split button and it reads 13:42, oops I slowed down. I now have to make up 12 seconds. In this two-mile stretch running continues to be smooth, with my breathing becoming labored during a couple of mild inclines (this would happen in ALL positive inclines). Right around this time I hear this guy playing the clarinet; he’s playing something patriotic and he’s keeping a good tune… while running. The next split reads 6:06 - don’t I wish! A tall and buff marine, carrying a rucksack, and a medium size flag, passes me [take that DANCON]. He is running strong and effortlessly; i guesstimate he is running 6:30s. I immediately HATE him.

The following split would confirm the fourth mile marker was misplaced, 7:30. So now I am 18 or 19 seconds off my target time. Time to pick it up. I start passing runners consistently. Mile 6, 6:44, good, I am feeling a bit tired but my breathing is okay. I miss the Mile 7 marker. Not a big deal. Miles 7 and 8, 13:28, or 6:44 pace, only 14 seconds behind. It’s now or never. I pick up the effort but this bridge has an incline that my legs are feeling. Even though the effort was more than the previous eight miles I only clock a 6:40. I feel strong during this last mile; I pass some roadkill… I make the turn into the underpass, the finish banner is visible. This guy and I go for it… we’re running neck and neck, we’re practically sprinting, yet my legs still feel strong. We cross the finish line together; I commend him for his efforts. My final chip time is 67:25.

I am quite happy; I met my goal. The cool weather certainly helped. My team did not figure in the awards, but there’s always next time, perhaps break 66 for me???. Or... break 3:10 in CIM come December 02, 2007? Which will it be? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Inspiration and Sundry

Today I was to run 9 miles easy. My plan was to run at 7 pm, roughly two hrs after supper. As I am about to exit my room, the sky is falling and I decide to bag the run. I then started reading a couple of posts from The Salty One and got to read her Boston Report and after reading it, I was left with no option but to get off my big butt and run the niner I had on the menu, for I was so inspired I felt I could tear the asphalt into gravel.

I left at 8:30pm and I ran them in just under 8 mpm pace. Not terribly fast. So what's the big deal you ask? Lemme 'splain. I ran 40 miles three weeks ago, 18 two weeks ago, and only 4 last week. My weeks are from Sunday-to-Saturday. So far I have ran 27 miles and with this renewed inspiration I should hit 48 this week. Not bad, huh? I know, I know. This a recipe for disaster, but after reading Salty's gut-wrenching report, that is the least I can do. Next week, my weekly volume should hover in the 50s.

Now for the sundry part. I have been considering going back to school for some time. Having worked in the Civil Engineering field was fine until I moved into the Project Management area. I like solving problems; no, let me re-phrase that: I LOVE solving problems. BUT, I guess being a PM for a Public Agency was not the ideal place for me to be. So I quit one year before I was to go on my 'forced' sabbatical with the Army.

The good thing about my job with the Army is that my office is in the Hospital and I get to interact with Doctors. I am sure you know where this is going. Once I get back to the States I will be going back to school, complete the necessary pre-reqs and apply to Med School. That's right I want to become an MD. A running MD at that.

And.... if I get injured from the rather quick ramp-up, my office is right next to the Physical Therapist, who happens to be my friend ;o)

Cheers!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

DANCON - May 13, 2007

The march Director announces that there are 30 nations participating and over 2000 Soldiers. DANCON stands for Danish Contingency and the march is obviously sponsored by the Danish. Funny thing is that he makes his final instructions in English. The march is set to start at 0830.

I had previously agreed to march/jog with SGT D, but this was before I knew how carrying 25 lbs of extra weight meant; this on top of the combat boots that tend to make my ankles roll.

The march begins and we have a couple of hundred Soldiers in front of us. We start jogging on the right flank. It’s difficult passing people. We march on. We hit the main road. It’s black top, thankfully. We try jogging again but my heartbeat goes haywire. The temps are in the high 80s, in the shade mind you. I realize the heat and the extra weight will cause havoc on me if I attempt to follow our plan. He is young and wants to take off. I tell him to go on; I expect to reel him back; I use the experience of having run 35 marathons. Ahh, but this march is an entirely different beast altogether.

So he takes off and I am left by myself as the only US Soldier in the near vicinity. I am surrounded by Italians, Germans, Swedish, French, and other nationals. Up ahead, two Italians are handing candy out to the local children. The road is a mild descent and I am clicking 9:10 klips. If I can hold this pace I will break 4 hours. A far cry from what the eventual winner will do, 2:17. That’s right, the winner averaged 8:45 mpm!!! Humbling to the nth degree.


I manage to keep a steady pace and not too many Soldiers pass me. At the 6 Km marker a fellow CPT catches up to me and chats for the next three Ks. We reach the first aid-station and I grab two water bottles (500 ml) and head down a mild descent. I lose the Captain. The road is unimproved and I already feel the blisters burning the bottom of my feet. The friction between my feet and the boot is increased three-fold.

Have you danced with the Devil lately?
Have you marched with the devil lately?
Have you marched with blisters lately?


Two female Soldiers pass me. It hurts my male ego, but I accept the fact that they’re the better Soldiers. I rationalize that they’re full time Soldiers and I am just a part-timer. I wonder how we would match each other in a marathon.

No worries. I march on. The road is in poor condition. It’s hard to have a good footing. Then we hit Km 13 and the start of the only significant ascent. And what an ascent it is. It is quite steep and the disrepair of the road makes it more difficult. It will be roughly 2.5 kilometers of constant climb. Several Soldiers choose to take breathers by the shade. I keep on marching hoping to get over the climb, the sooner, the better. I pass more Soldiers. My heartbeat is in the 170s. The climb is not for the faint of heart. My lungs scream, kind of like in a 5K race. My ipod provides me invaluable company. I wish I had pain-killers, to make the soul forget what the body is going through. I want to separate the two entities. [take that Decartes]

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name…

We're beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind




The views remind me of the Santa Monica Mountains. I get a little nostalgic. I reach the apex of the loop-course. The descent is awaiting me. I dread it because I know my blisters are getting worse by the minute. I wish I can use the pull of gravity to make up time lost in the climb. Several Soldiers pass me. It is quite humbling. The road seems to flatten. My ankles have rolled several times, but luckily none have resulted in sprains. At Km 17 my left ankle rolls once more, but this time I cannot keep my balance and I tumble to the ground. A Swedish and a German help me get up. They ask if I have been drinking water. It is apparent that they think I dropped due to heat stress. I tell them I am fine. And I am. I only bruised my hands and an already bruised ego.

I march on. 8.2 Klips to go. I keep repeating this mantra: pain is nothing [tm]. The music helps sooth the pain; it even seems to disappear. I pass another km marker. More Soldiers pass me. It's becoming the norm rather than the exception. We reach a village where black water is coming from practically every house; the foul odors are hard to bear. I breath in through my mouth. Children ask us for candy I surmise. I am not sure if they're speaking Albanian or Serbian.

I reach Km 21, and I know I am not too far from the finish. The road is even worse here. There are several puddles and I am forced to walk around them. I march on.

I am closing in on Km 24, and this female Soldier passes me. Damn. I am really losing steam, not that I had any. There is this made up bridge. After I cross it, there are only 1.2 kms to go. I decide to jog this last section. My feet are burning, my shoulders are sore. No matter. I go for it. No guts no glory. Pain is nothing, I remind my soul.

I pass the entrance to the Danish Camp. I can smell the finish. I make one turn. Another turn. Where the heck is the finish? Finally, there it is. I cross it with my watch saying 4:10, or 16 mpm pace. I am not done though; I still have to make way to the registration table where I will get my medal (military) and my certificate of completion. The end is so anticlimactic. No crowds to cheer you in. I then head to the medical tent where they will treat the dozen or so blisters. Ah, if I could only have a couple of brewskies. SGT D finished in 3:23, second US Soldier finisher and 47 minutes ahead of me. I sincerely congratulate him on a job well done. I head to our van to drop my backpack. I am so sore, and my feet are in so much pain it's hard to take a single step. My only consolation is that a fabulous Danish brunch is awaiting me.



Cheers.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Why do you run? & RAW format



Why do YOU run? Do you run for yourself? I'd like to say that I run to feel alive. Sounds poetic doesn't it? I can't say that I enjoy it when I am hammering that last mile in a 5K and my legs are hurting and my lungs are burning, but one must admit that pain is proof that one exists, that one lives.

I, I'm still alive
Hey I, but, I'm still alive
Hey I, boy, I'm still alive
Hey I, I, I, I'm still alive, yeah


While I do believe that is the reason I run, the REAL reason I run is to keep unnecessary calories away. After all, I love pastries and beer :-)

Interestingly, Reebok came out with the 'Run Easy' campaign, brought to my attention courtesy of Sempre Libera, and I must admit I made premature comments on her blog. Then I googled for more info and I ran into this article in USA Today and the campaign made more sense. Now, I am sure the creators never thought they would end up insulting serious/dedicated runners. I also had forgotten about ADIDAS (my shoe of choice) owning Reebok. What an irony. It's almost like Good vs. Evil. Day and Night.

On a totally different note, while following some links I ran (no pun intended) into this guy, Luis Montemayor, who includes a tutorial to convert RAW images into highly creative pictures. Being the amateur photographer, I found them quite easy to follow. Now, I can't wait 'til I get back to Los Angeles and experiment with my Nikon D50. I highly recommend it.

P.S. The photo shows two german beers. They're non-alcoholic because I am in detox and am not allowed to drink. Just kidding! :-) BUT, what is true is that I am not allowed to have alcoholic drinks :-(

Cheers!