Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting Ready for the Santa Clarita Half Marathon

I will be running the Santa Clarita Half Marathon on Sunday. This will be my 3rd HM that I have run and I will be making an attempt to break the 2 hour mark. Is it possible? I would like to think so, after all, I just need to run 9:16/miles, which is a pace I can run very easily. Last weekend I did 2 runs (6.2 miles and 5.25 miles) both run at a 9:00/mile pace. Felt good after both runs and feel that I will be able to sustain that pace for 13.1 miles. There is a slight incline at mile 1 and then again from mile 6-9, but mile 9-12 has a slight decline. I may have to slow up a bit going uphill and make it up on the downhill. I am going to start out carrying my own bottle of gatorade so I can bypass the first 3-4 water stops. I used that strategy in the Disneyland Half and it worked well by avoiding those early, overcrowded water stations.

This week I have kept the mileage to just over 3 miles per day and will make my last run on Friday morning. I will have a race report on Sunday or goal 1:59:59.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Walk Through The Valley Death

A few weeks ago there was an article in the paper about a guy who walked solo, 225 miles, through Death Valley, here in California. After reading the article, it peaked my interest and I wanted to hear more about this trip. Fortunately, Roger Homrich, the gentleman who made the trek, was going to be speaking about his journey, "A Walk Through The Valley Death", at my local REI store. Tuesday night, I found my way to the back of the store to find about 6 people sitting in front of a projector screen waiting for the talk to begin. Roger Homrich started on time and discussed his adventure from the planning stages, to the final steps he took and everything in between. He is a photographer by trade and had many beautiful photos. He discussed his route via maps and photos but the experience is what really came through. After about 90 minutes of his fascinating description of his journey, he did about 30 minutes of Q and A. There were about 15 people in the group by the end of the discussion and there were some really good questions.
Although this is not a trip that I would ever take, it was interesting to hear one man's account of being in one of the harshest climates in the United States, all alone for 15 days and hearing about what was probably one of the greatest adventures of his life.

Check out some of his photos here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Making up for Lost Time

With the poor air quality last week from the wildfires, I didn't get to run until Thursday night with my group. Even where we run in Griffith Park, the air was very dry although it didn't have a taste like it does near the house. The run felt good, ran at a pretty fast pace (which is what I do on Thursday nights) and had a good time socializing at the running store afterward.

Friday is always a scheduled rest day for me, so Saturday would be my first chance to run in the area around our house. I got up early and the temperature was around 65 degrees. I decided to take a drive up the hill to the area where I like to do my Saturday morning hill runs. When I got up there, it looked like the surface of the moon...everything was burnt and there was still the lingering smell of smoke. I went back home and headed out for 6 miles of easy running. I headed east, away from the burn area and I didn't really notice a smell of smoke except for one area and was through that rather quickly. Turned out I ran 6.3 miles in 56:12. That is a bit faster than my PR for a 10K I ran in April. I spent the rest of the day working in the yard and then off to some friends house for a really great dinner and some fabulous wine.

I wanted to do 10 miles on Sunday as that would be my last long run before the Santa Clarita Half Marathon on November 2. After talking with my neighbor on Saturday about a route he ran, I decided to give it a try. It was only a 2.5 mile out and back, but it had a long incline coming back. I grabbed my water belt and Ipod and headed off and was moving at a pretty good clip as I let gravity pull me along. Got to the turn around, had some water and started back. The last part of the incline was a bit steep and had to slow my pace a bit to keep my heart rate in zone 4. When I got to the top, I felt pretty good and headed east to tack on some more miles. I ran about 1.5 miles and turned around and headed back to the house. When I got back, I checked the garmin and found I ran 7.2 miles in 1:05:05. I was a bit disappointed in the mileage, but I felt good as the last 2 runs, I have been trying to keep at a HM pace (9:00/mile) so I can try to come in around 2 hours. This week I will try and get back on schedule this week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wildfires Hit Close to Home

Sunday morning I awoke to some thick, dark smoke coming from the East. After thinking for a while, I decided it would be best to skip my planned bike ride. I spent the rest of Sunday carbo loading (read drinking Newcastle) with my neighbor who also decided to skip his bike ride.

Fast forward to Monday @10am...I get a call from my daughter telling me she can see flames up in the hills above our house from her bedroom window. I went to the local Fox affiliates website and started streaming their live video to see what's going on. It turns out that a massive wildfire broke out up on the hills above Porter Ranch. It looked pretty bad and with the gusty Santa Ana winds, the fire was moving at a rapid pace. I continued to monitor the video as well as trying to get some work done. At one point, I saw some video of a couple of palm trees on fire in an area that I normally run. I watched a bit closer as that point is about 2 miles from our house, but the fire seemed to be moving down the hill. I talked to a couple of neighbors by phone and they assured me that everything seemed OK in our neighborhood, so I decided to stay at work. There was one moment where I started packing up and getting ready to head home after I saw a small spot fire break out in some trees about 3/4 mile from the house. Fortunately, LA City Fire were able to get to it right away and extinguish it. At 5 pm, I started my trek home. With all of the freeway closures, it took a bit more time taking surface streets, but it really wasn't that bad.

This morning, the fire seemed to move to the East and spread a thick smoke around the area. Once again, I decided it was in my best interest not to run. I went back to bed and then heard an abnormal noise coming from the laundry room...our water heater burst and was leaking water on the floor. Got the water turned off and cleaned up the water. Spent the morning getting it replaced and now everyone is happy they can take a shower.

The fire fighters made some progress in this area today and the smoke has dissipated, but the fire is now burning to the South and West. Hopefully the winds will die down on Wednesday and they will be able to get the upper hand. I am not planning on doing any running until Thursday evening when I run with my group. We run in Griffith Park, which is about 25 miles from the burn area and smoke doesn't seem to be a problem over there. We'll see about Saturday's long run in this area.

Here is a link to a recent run in the area.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Visit From a Movement Therapist

Last Thursday, our group had a special guest speaker who was a movement therapist from Kinetic Conditioning. He explained to us how the foot, knee and hip are all related to each other in running. He then went through a couple of stretching exercises with us on how to get the hips loosened up. He also went through a few strengthening exercises for the hips. After we were all loose...went went out for our 5 mile run. I use Thursday's as a tempo run as there are several faster people in the group and I try to keep pace with them. After the run we returned and Zac answered any and all questions we had about stretching. At the end of the evening, he gave away several free consultation visits.

On Saturday, I was invited to run with my neighbors half marathon training group. I took her up on the offer and we headed off for 6 miles running in the hills above our houses. I was really smokin', finished 6.1 miles in 54:56 with about 600 feet of elevation change. I wish I felt that good on all of my running days.

I went on a 10 mile bike ride on Sunday morning. I felt good at first, but then my legs started aching, probably too much workout for my legs last weekend. So far this week has been disappointing...Monday was an off day and now Tuesday, I am trying to figure out how to get 4 miles in and watch the debate. I'll figure something out.