Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Up the cuts

Okay, after having about the 12th person tell me I look too skinny (several even used words such as "unhealthy" and "gaunt") I am kicking my weight gaining weight training into high gear. Lots of food all day with plenty of Cytogainer shakes. I was at 152 when I started training, ran the race at 140 and am currently at 148. My goal is 160. Not sure how long that'll take, but I can't have the wifey saying my skinniness is "not sexy" anymore. I agree with her btw. My biggest hurdle? Running. 5k and 10k's is one thing, but half marathon training puts my mileage for the week over 20 on average. This is gonna be tough.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Petit Verdot

Michael/David winery in Lodi has some of the best wines I've tasted that come from California. I know I know. Lodi? Huh? It's up by Stockton. They have a ton of wineries and I have yet to go to one that has been pretentious in any way. That's a huge plus. Anyway, Kristen and I opened up a bottle of their 2005 Petit Verdot. They call it "Inkblot". Amazing. Rich, fruit forward, but not dessert wine sweet, lots of vanilla and bing cherries, smooth finish, not a lot of tannin. The real bummer, which I just discovered, is that they no longer sell this wine and it's extremely hard to find a bottle anywhere. That's too bad. So, if you happen to see a bottle of this somewhere, GRAB IT! You won't regret it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving '09

Ran the Long Beach Turkey Trot on Thursday and scored a PR! 54:03 for a 10k. Okay, nothing great, but it's 23 seconds faster than my previous. Kristen thought I was going to break 50 minutes, but I didn't. However, I did think I would have knocked it down to at least something in the 53 minute area. She asked if I try hard enough. You know, right now my philosophy is that it's only worth it ("it" being running) as long as it's fun. If training becomes a chore (as it did during the buildup to the LB marathon) and I push really, really hard to the point where I'm miserable, then I'll lose interest. Well, sort of. I guess if getting a PR is the be all end all then that would make running annoying. So, in the end, I cut 23 seconds off my last 10k time and I enjoyed the run while always being in that "slightly uncomfortable" mode. When I PR'd my 5k time last February I remember running the race in a "really, really uncomfortable" mode and as a result I knocked about 4 minutes off my previous time. That's okay for a 5k, but 6.2 miles of that...well, not right now. Right now I'm content to gradually lower my times. It gradually gets easier to run better times without the training and the actual race being something to dread. Then again, maybe I'm just a slacker.

Our running club, AREC, has a new trail running training program going on right now that is preparing people for the Catalina Half and full Marathons coming up in the winter. You don't have to be running the race to participate in the training runs so it's a nice change of pace to hit the hills occasionally on Saturdays. I'm hoping the extra effort will pay off during my half marathon in Huntington Beach in February and Kristen's full marathon. And speaking of Kristen's marathon, we just found out that the 2010 Boston Marathon is already sold out so she won't be able to run it. Bummer, but I guess you have 2 years from the day you qualify to run it so she'll give it a shot in 2011.

Well, I'm off for my long run.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LB Marathon Pix

Some pictures from the Long Beach marathon.

MCRD Boot Camp Challenge

I almost forgot. On September 26th we ran the MCRD Boot Camp Challenge down in San Diego for the 3rd year in a row. As usual it was a blast. I even convinced a couple of my friends from work to run it with me. The BCC is a 5k course at the SD Marine Corps Recruit Depot that incorporates 3 different obstacles courses into the run and this year we definitely got dirty. Kristen ran a 21:09 and came in 2nd in her age category and 3rd overall. I ran a 27:38 and came in a place not worth mentioning. Anyway, afterwards they had beer. Cheers!

The Aftermath

Okay, I know EVERYBODY else has updated their sites or blogs or whatever in regards to the Long Beach Marathon so I guess I have to do the same. After all the buildup, I'm not happy with my performance. At all. I know I know, it's a big deal just to finish (and that's what everybody keeps telling me), but I've always been very competitive with myself and I expected more. My finish time was an abominable 6:03. Pathetic and embarrassing. I'll break the whole thing down.

The Monday before the race (Sunday) I woke up with a head cold. So, after 6 months of hard training, I have a week to fight this cold off and be ready to run. I didn't drink any wine, I ran a total of 2 miles the whole week and I took plenty of Cold-eze and Zicam and got plenty of rest. By race day I was feeling fine. Now, I'm not using the cold as an excuse, but I also can't be sure what effect it had on my performance as a whole. Either way, it's something that's going to nag at me for awhile.

As the race gets under way I'm feeling great. Smile on my face, the energy is in the air and I'm having a good time. I'm running the pace I set for myself, 9:30/mile. By the half marathon point I am only about 3 minutes slower than where I thought I'd be so at this point I'm thinking "so far, so good". My plan was to stay anywhere between 9:30 to 9:45 up to the halfway point. From there on I figured I'd slowly let my pace fall to somewhere between 10 and 10:30 all the way to the end while also slowing to walk a minute every 10 minutes. However, somewhere near the 15 mile mark is where the wheels start to feel wobbly. They haven't come off the cart yet, but they've definitely lost a lug nut or two. My breathing is off, my stomach feels tight, sorta crampy. I'm starting to worry because I've run further than this and I wasn't expecting to feel this way just yet. I always knew the wall would creep up and I'd have to push through it, but this was too early. And it only got worse. At the 17 mile mark I pass by Kristen's parents, some friends and then my parents. I stop to chat with them for a few seconds (letting them pump me up) and then continue up the hill into the Cal State Long Beach campus. I reach the top of the campus and begin my turn back down the hill around the 18 mile mark and that's when I feel a searing pain in my right groin muscle. Boom. Now I'm hobbled. I stop to stretch, but no matter what I do the pain will just not go away. So after a couple of miles of jogging with a limp my left foot decides that it doesn't like the extra work and flares up. So now I'm going back and forth between pains. On the one hand, jogging hurts my left foot bad, but on the other hand, walking hurts my groin more. So, at mile 20 I'm presented with a pretty picture: 6.2 more miles of agony. Well, I'm not about to let 6 months of training go down the drain so I just kept going. What else could I do? The thing that is really pissing me off at this point too, is that at the 18 mile mark I was right about where I expected to be time wise. So even though my pace had slowed and I was feeling whipped, I was still moving along at a pace that would have had me come in at my goal time which was about 4:30. C'est la vie. I pushed on and finally finished the damn race. Oh well. I'm going to run a few half marathons and then I'll give the full a try again. I mean, it's not like I can live with that one time being my PR right?

My friend Billy, of LA Runner fame, was there to support the other runners because he had an injured foot and couldn't run it himself. I spotted him banging on his cowbell at one point and then near the 11 mile mark he found me while riding his bike. He took some pictures and shouted a few words of encouragement and that really helped. Thanks Billy! Now, onto a more uplifting story.

Kristen went out and owned Long Beach. After having fractured her foot in two places, she worked hard to let them heal and just like Seabiscuit, she came back stronger than ever. 26.2 miles later she put in an incredible performance and crossed the line with a 3:33 finish time and qualified for Boston. Not bad for her first marathon.

So there you go. That's a full lid. I'll follow this up with a post with some pictures from the run.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Big Day Part 2

It's Saturday night at 7:42pm and we're about to TRY to go to sleep and get ready for our first ever marathon. Kristen is feeling good and confident and is hoping she'll BQ at this race. Me, I'm just going to humbly run my race and hope for the best. It's gonna be fun and I'm really excited. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Six months of training and one week before the race I get a head cold! What the hell? Like any good runner I'm stressing about still running on the last few days leading up to the race to maintain fitness, but I know it would be stupid to put in a few miles right? Right? Maybe tomorrow? Ugh! Why? Should I run? It's not a bad cold. It first hit me Monday afternoon. It's Wednesday. Should I run a few tomorrow or wait? Damn.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Big Day

Well, the big day is almost upon us. Our first marathon is this Sunday, the Long Beach International. I'm excited and anxious. Anxious mainly to get it over with. But I mean that in a positive way. This being my first marathon I've taken the 6 months of training leading up to this day seriously. But jesus. 6 months. I'm bursting with the anticipation of putting an end to the training schedule that has had me obsessing over every foot step of every day of every week. I'm ready to rock. And luckily, so is Kristen. Her foot is healing and she's been pounding the pavement and she thinks she's ready to go. So do I.

We ran the MCRD Boot Camp Challenge in San Diego two weeks ago and had a blast as usual. And, as usual, even on an injured foot Kristen was second place in her age group and third place overall. Here she is just finishing one of the obstacle courses.

I was about 42nd in my age group. Oh well. At least I kicked this old man's ass. Barely.

I have some blog catching up to do with some more stories about our alternative 20 mile days so stay tuned and keep running!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Skin and Bones

I know a lot of people would kill to have this "problem", but for a guy like me it's a little disconcerting. I've never been a big guy. The most I've ever weighed was 165 and that was right after college when all I ate was beer. Well, okay, beer, pizza, ramen and whatever else crap I could find. You know how it is. At that age your body can process plastic, but time catches up with you and you have to change your habits. I believe in healthy habits in moderation, but I was graced with a body type that didn't really "over"react to the food and drink that drive most people to the scale. Regardless, lifting weights eating enough to put on a little muscle has always been my goal. Let me get to my point.

When I started training 6 months ago for this marathon I weighed 152 pounds. As of September 14th I weigh 140 pounds! My uncle used to tease me and call me "bean pole". Shit. These days it's more like "pole". I'd like to have that bean back. I know, anybody reading this (does anybody read this?!) probably wants to punch me in the teeth. But seriously, EVERYBODY that knows me always pauses a moment when they first see me and I can read it in their eyes: Geez, did Mike become anorexic? NOOOOO!!!!!

Man, I can't wait for this marathon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

18 and counting...

We ran 18 miles last week on our long run and I have to say that I think I have things figured out. My pre-run prep is good and I know when to take gels to keep from bonking. It's been hit or miss, but I had those long 18 miles to see if I was on the right path (pun intended) and lo and behold me thinks I'm just about ready to cut this fat bastard open. After 18 I felt good and realized that going the full 26.2 is in my sights. It's not as daunting as I once thought and I can't wait to run the race. I also can't wait to get this thing over with.

Some people (I'm looking at you wifey, Billy and Danica) have no problem signing up for marathons (or more!) and just going out and pounding the pavement. The 6 months of training for this is starting to get a little old. I just want it to be over. I want my Friday nights back and my Saturday mornings. Soon enough.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

16 and counting...

Ran 16 miles today on the long run. I beat my dead leg syndrome, but another enemy reared it's ugly head today and I know a lot of you out there have been down this road. GI pain. 4 miles in I had a cramp in the lower left abdomen and it would not go away for most of the run. Painful. My legs felt great. I was running with 3 other people that I enjoy keeping pace with and everything was on the up and up except for my stomach. Damn. If it's not one thing it's another. I made a pit stop and caught up to the group. This left me a little winded, but it was a good thing. Sometimes during a run you need to drop the hammer to get the juice going again. About 6 miles of the run took us through a part of the actual marathon course so it was nice to be able to get an idea of what to expect come race day. But the gut pain took some of the fun out of the run. I made another pit stop and felt better for the remaining 5 or so miles, but this is definitely going to be the issue that I'll be grappling with for awhile. Oh, and a new pain in my right ankle that I've got going for me which is nice. Maybe if I could just replace my real legs with robot legs. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dead Legs

Argh. Dead legs again. I've been kinda dragging lately, but last Saturday was a 12 miler with the club and my legs were crap from the get go. That was a long, miserable 12 miles. So I went for my Monday run and again, no energy. Lethargic. I was pissed too. I probably looked like a crazy man on the path because I kept bitching out loud about my legs and I think I even threw my arms up in the air at one point because I was so frustrated. I hate this. I read online that there can be several reasons for dead legs: not enough sleep (very likely), not enough fruits and vegetables (very likely), not enough iron (possible if it's true that fruits and vegetables are necessary to aid in absorption of iron from other foods), more massages (possible, but definitely desirable), need new mattress (not likely), overtraining (possible, but not likely).

Anyway, I'm working on the fruit and vegetable thing and you all know how getting enough sleep can be hit or miss sometimes. I also supplement with a multivitamin so we'll see what happens in the future. The miles are adding up as we get closer to the marathon so I'm worried about this a little. Any advice out there?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Howdy stranger...

Been gone awhile, I know. Work and life sometimes get in the way of my blogging and blog reading! Anyway, the training for the Long Beach Marathon is going great! Kristen's foot is doing well so she has been out pounding the pavement no problem which definitely makes the training more fun. We run with the Long Beach "A Running Experience" club every Wednesday and Saturday and it's a blast. We ran 12 last Saturday, but went back down to 10 today. Next week is 14. The mileage is definitely adding up and it feels great. I initially thought I'd try to run the marathon at a pace of 10 minutes, but I think I may be able to pull of an average 9:30 based on how things are going. The only drag about 7am Saturday morning long runs is that it kinda kills our Friday night. But hey, it'll be worth it! Speaking of worth it...

I'm drinking a 2005 Earthquake (Michael David wineries, Lodi) Petite Syrah and it is fantastic. Berry, cassis and a hint of leather on the nose with plenty of vanilla and bing cherry on the palate. There's probably more in there, but right now that's what's hitting me. Fruit bomb, but in a good way. Michael David wineries, a lot of wines from Lodi in fact, tend to be very fruit forward, but they definitely know how to balance it. The tannins are soft which is okay (I like the tannin to be a little bigger), but if I have one complaint it's that the finish is short. I like wine that lingers a little. All in all, I'm giving it an 8 out of 10.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

7 miles and 65 degrees along the Long Beach shoreline this morning followed by BBQ, Zeppelin, booze and good friends. The Iranians and North Koreans have no idea what they're missing.

Happy 4th everyone. I'd say be safe, but what fun would that be?!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is that lead in your pants...?

I love running with the AREC (A Running Experience Club). Running with a group puts my mind in a "race" mode where I don't actually run a race pace, but I definitely run faster and harder than I do when I run by myself. And it helps tons because two times a week I force myself not to be lazy. Lately, though, my legs have been feeling really heavy and I don't know why. Whenever I feel slow I think about how I ate the day before and usually not enough food is the culprit. However, sometimes my legs just feel like they're full of lactic acid from the word go and, well, shit sucks. This is the thing that makes me nervous about running the marathon in October. Gonna have to zero in on the problem soon.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wrigley River Run 10k

Kristen was in New York this weekend so I ran the Long Beach Wrigley River 10k yesterday solo. Didn't do as well as I thought I should have. But I screwed myself. Through process of elimination I've come to the conclusion that my hip flexors and abductors and upper glutes are lagging behind the rest of my body in terms of strength and endurance.  I lift weights 3 days a week, but I don't like to do heavy lifting with my legs anymore. I used to do squats and lunges, etc., but then I'd be sore as hell for 3 days. That's okay if you sit at a desk all day, but I don't so it became a real problem at work. It also makes training hard doing tempo runs and speed work REALLY difficult. Regardless, I decided that I had to do a little lower body to strengthen the aforementioned muscles. Stupidly, I chose deadlifts. It is the best all around strengthening exercise, but it can tear you up bad. I even lifted what I considered light weights, but sure enough on Friday I was sooooore. I thought, "I'll be okay tomorrow for the run. This soreness will be gone by then. And even if there's a little residual soreness, I'll run it out." Wrong.

I woke up Saturday still hurting, cursing myself for not thinking ahead. Anyway, I ran the race, upper thighs bitching at me every single step of the way, and came in about 20 seconds slower than my last 10k back in February.  Argh. There were two sharp turns followed by short uphill climbs that may have added a few seconds overall, but I know I was my own worst enemy. Oh well. I'll be smarter next time I hope.

Meanwhile, Kristen was back running again, but now her ca-nkle is giving her a hard time, swollen and achy. I think she was subconsciously trying to protect the healing hairline fracture in her foot and altered her stride enough to cause her ankle to get tweaked. Danger-prone Daphne, that's my wife. Don't know how long this one is going to stop her. Arrrrgghghghghg.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Change of plans

So I lied. Instead of running the half in LB this October I changed my mind and signed up for the full marathon. Kristen was already going to do it so I thought it would be more fun if we both tackled our first marathon together. We joined A Running Experience club in LB and will start training with them for the race. I'm excited now and looking forward to the challenge. Run hard everyone!

Monday, May 25, 2009

LA Marathon

Nope. Didn't run it. Just watched it on TV. My friends Billy and Blair ran it though so big props to them for that accomplishment. No, I just sat in amazement at how fast the elites run. They actually RUN. I jog, apparently. Oh well. I ran a 10 miler yesterday so today it was just a recovery run and weight lifting. There's a 10k in Long Beach coming up in June that I'm going to run. And now it looks like I might, I just might run a half marathon in San Diego in August. That'll be my prep for the half marathon in Long Beach in October. Kristen is going to run the half in SD as well to prepare her for the marathon in LB. As usual, we'll squeeze in the Boot Camp Challenge in San Diego at the end of September. It's a great race. If anybody wants to join us let me know. It'll be a great weekend in SD.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ah Roma!

Kristen and I spent a week in Rome walking endless miles and indulging in copious amounts of pasta, pizza, wine, beer and gelato. It was an amazing trip that we'll never forget and since pictures say a thousand words, I'm going to post a bunch here. Enjoy!