Thursday, December 28, 2006

Honorable Mentions

That time again. List time! Still working on the big list, but here are the honorable mentions, the ones that didn't make the final cut. A different day and a different mood and these albums may just have made the list. So rather than ignore them, here they are:

Honorable Mentions

Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

The Boy Least Likely To - The Best Party Ever

Solomon Burke - Nashville

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country

The Dears - Gang of Losers

Guillemots - Through the Windowpane

Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post-Christmas Post

Yet another Christmas gone by and another year is about to end. 2007 is just around the corner. It's around this time that I--like most folks--look back at the year that was and determine whether it was indeed a good year worth fondly remembering or one that is best left behind. I think it's a mix of both for me. We'll do more analyzing later in the week and I will post my picks for the best albums and movies of the year, too. I know that's something to get excited about.

The Christmas haul this year was quite good and useful. Not a clothes-dominated year this year. The one piece of clothing I got so far was a nifty Puma jacket I got from Marisela for our TNT Secret Santa gift exchange. I also got basketball shorts from my aunt, but as basketball shorts go, they're a bit too long. And I don't play basketball.

My parents gave me a comforter and a towel. I didn't really need a towel (I air dry), but the comforter will be useful. My brother and sister-in-law bought me running shoes. They're not the type I typically wear and they're a little tight on me, so I will exchange them for the Saucony I usually wear. My sister gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble, a U.S. road trip guide book, and a magazine subscription. I also got a quesadilla maker and an iPod sport carrying case from friends. Not too shabby! What is shabby is my belly. I ate so much the last few days.

Since this is a running blog I ought to talk about my training for the LA Marathon. It was going well up until I suffered an illness a week and a half ago that has slowed me down. I didn't run for over a week. I'm still getting over the chest congestion, but I'm able to run again. I ran six miles with FJ on Friday and I wheezed and coughed my way through that, but two days later I fared better running 12 miles with FJ and Coach Katie. I still had coughing fits, but I felt better and managed to finish comfortably. Tonight I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill easily. It was tougher trying to peel my ass off the sofa than it was to run it.

The next major landmark on the road to the marathon is the Pacific Shoreline Half Marathon in six weeks. I'm hoping I can PR again. It's a good course, but this year I'm hoping I won't have parking problems like I did the last time I ran it. That was such a big headache.

If I can lose 10 pounds before the marathon, that ought to help with my time. All that jiggling has got to be slowing me down.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Inaugural City of Angels Half Marathon Race Report

Time: 1:45:46 ***PERSONAL BEST***
Pace: 8:05/mile
Overall: 474 out of 3,648
Gender: 399 out of 1,839
Division: 73 out of 293

On Hyperion Bridge (Runner's High)

For its first race, I would say the organizers of the City of Angels Half Marathon did a spectacular job. Parking was easy, not a traffic jam in sight. The shuttles were quick and efficient, and everything ran very smoothly. The only glaring problem I could see was the lack of mile markers. Not every mile was identified, and even those that were, the signs were not readily visible. This was an issue for me since I was going to use the mile markers to determine when to take a walk break. It also made it difficult to pace myself. Since I wasn't sure where the miles were, I couldn't quite gauge what my pace was. Fortunately it all worked out for the best for me, but I hope they addres the issue next year. Other than that, the race was terrific and I look forward to doing it again.

In terms of a race report, this was my best experience running a half marathon thus far. I didn't run out of gas and managed to run a negative split for the first time. In fact, my pace was faster than my personal best in the 10K, meaning that now my best 10K time is the second half of the half marathon. Certainly the mostly downhill course helped, but there were a couple of tough hills thrown in, too. I also didn't get as much rest the days leading up to the race as I would have liked. Still, by the time I reached Silver Lake at around mile 7-8, I knew I was in for a good race. Being able to speed up in the final 5K made me feel even better. Considering I was only able to run up to 10 miles in training and have yet to train consistently, the results were welcome news.

The course was pretty well-designed, and it had the added virtue of cutting a path--through Griffith Park, Silver Lake, Echo Park, and downtown--that reflected the city's diverse personality. To run down the middle of Silver Lake Boulevard like I owned it was a treat only eclipsed later on when I ran through the 2nd Street tunnel.

I don't think I'll be running the 10K in Irvine later this month, but I will be running the Pacific Shoreline Half in February, so hopefully I can PR there. The goal will be closer to 1:40. For now, though, I'll relish the good run I had and the fun experience of running through my favorite LA neighborhoods.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Warning: This post discusses bodily functions!!!

Distance: 10 miles
Time: approx. 1:41

It has been a rough week for running--actually, I haven't run much this week. Out of laziness and a bloated post-Saturday dinner feeling, I skipped running the 5K at Puente Hills. I attended but stood on the sidelines. I made up for it with a good yoga session on Monday followed by a five mile run on the treadmill. Unfortunately I may have overdone the yoga because I strained my back. It didn't hurt to run but bending down resulted in sharp back pains. I skipped exercises and running for the next couple of days and the back began to feel better. The pain was still evident Thanksgiving morning, but that wasn't the reason I skipped out on another 5K. That was purely the result of wanting to sleep in and lack of motivation to put myself through the misery of a 5K. I'd feel guilty if not for the 10 miler with FJ the following morning. However, even though I didn't run the 5K, I still wound up with a sore hip later that evening. Is my body just falling apart? Is it the effects of turning 30?

Regardless of the hip I still ran with FJ. The hip was less bothersome while running, but that fact still didn't make for an easy run. We met up at 8AM. It was a very foggy morning and got thicker as I got closer to the Rose Bowl. Even with the fog, though, there were a lot of people at the Rose Bowl--walkers, runners, cyclists--trying to burn off the excessive calories they consumed at the dinner table.

I felt good during the first half of the run. Around mile 4 I was feeling confident that it would be a good run. The fog had burned off a little higher into the trails, so the visibility improved. However, a mile from our five mile mark and our turnaround point, my stomach began to rumble. It worried me, but I had a bowel movement, albeit a weak one, before the run, so I thought I'd manage to complete the run with no problems. The stomach settled a bit but from time to time it would rumble. A little after we reached the turnaround, my stomach rumbled again and I mentioned to FJ that my stomach was giving me problems but that I should make it back fine.

We made great progress. The run back after the turnaround is downhill and we usually make up a lot of time. The run may have gotten easier, but my stomach was getting queasier. Then, around mile 7, just above JPL, I had to stop running. My stomach was making it clear that it wanted to go sooner rather than later. I could have gone a little distance more but when the inevitable urge hits I may be stuck in the part of the trail we've dubbed "no man's land," a wide open area with no shade and certainly no secluded bushes to take care of business. I told FJ I needed a place to go, but my main concern was finding something to clean up with afterwards. I kept an eye out for discarded napkins but apparently no one litters any more. Fortunately there was a trash can down the hill and in it I found a Jack in the Box bag with plenty of unused napkins. I hid out in some bushes and did my business. It's the most uncomfortable feeling in the world.

This marked the second time I had to take care of business during a run. The first time was during my first season. I was running alone then, so no one knew any better. For a while after that I made a point to pack a tissue during my run, but I've let that practice go since I've had no use for it since then. I may have to start doing so again.

As for the rest of the run, my legs stiffened up during my ordeal, but we still finished in 1:41, which meant that we made up a lot of time even with the few minutes wasted. Next week I have the City of Angels Half and I'm trying to make sure my hip is in shape to run it. I'll take it easy this week but will try to get in some runs anyway.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Live from a marathon

The New York Times had one of its reporters report on the marathon course while he ran. I enjoyed listening to Grant Burningham's reports because I could relate to everything he says as he thrives off the crowd support then experiences the dreaded wall before the exhilaration of finishing. He finished in 4:30, a few minutes behind Oprah, whose marathon time has become the target of most first-time marathoners, as she was for mine. So if you've wondered what a runner sounds like while they're running in a marathon, listen to Burningham's report.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Wedding Announcement...not mine

I think I've mentioned before my habit of reading the wedding announcements in the Sunday New York Times. It's been a while since I've read one that I thought was sweet and romantic, but the one for Carley Wellman and Kevin McAbee in today's Times is just that. I need to find me a veterinarian.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A New Season

The new season started last weekend at Hahamonga Park. It wasn't the ideal location for a first practice, but the UCLA game forced us to be flexible. As an assistant coach this season I'm still figuring out what my role and responsibilities are. I probably won't run with the participants during practice, only in short bursts to see how they're doing. However, FJ and I are hoping to do our own runs either in the afternoon or on Sunday. I'm trying to build up quickly to longer miles because I frankly find the shorter distances a little boring right now. Arrogance!

My longest run since returning from Europe has been five miles. I ran a five miler with Club Run LA on Monday night and I was able to complete it in 43 minutes flat, including time spent at stop lights. I did about 4.5 miles this morning at the gym in 40 minutes. I'm still trying to lose weight. Flat stomach is the goal for Christmas.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Back Home

I've been back home almost a week now, and I still wish that I wasn't. I want to get back on the road and travel some more, but we have to be responsible and get back to grown up things.

It's taking me longer than I anticipated to go through the 1200 pictures I took in Europe, but I'm hoping to have the 150 or so best ones selected by the end of this week and posted on Flickr. For now, here are snapshots of the cities I visited.


Monday, September 25, 2006


I ought to not let September pass without mentioning that I have now turned 30. September 15, to be exact. So far, being 30 hasn't been half bad. I don't feel any different, nor do I think I look the way 30 ought to look. I may be in denial, but I only cringe when I see the number written out. Otherwise, it's never in my mind. But when the elliptical machine forces me to declare my age, then I have to do a double-take.

As for the festivities, the big party never materialized. I was planning on a party with Marisela, but something else came up that took the place of that. I celebrated early on the 10th of September by organizing a group outing to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert by Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Neko Case.

We enjoyed a picnic before the show then sat a million miles from the stage and hunkered down for some good music under the stars.

My actual birthday was a quiet affair. I had the day off and went for a massage. My family took me out to dinner the night before. Another birthday dinner took place on the 16th, Spanish food at La Luna Negra in Pasadena.

Instead of the big bash I considered for my 30th an idea came to me a couple of weeks ago to take a trip to Europe. Tomorrow I leave for Spain. I'm surprised at how quickly and how easily everything came together for the trip. Just two weeks ago the idea of going to Europe was just something tucked away in the back of my head. Now I'm packing my bags and heading off to a continent I've never visited and I'm doing so all by myself. I'm alternately excited and nervous, but more so the former.

I'd go on and on about the trip, but I'm too tired and the best parts of it have yet to happen. The plan for the trip is to eat, walk, and take lots of pictures. I also hope to keep a journal of my travels. But the main thing is enjoying myself. That shouldn't be too hard.

On Tuesday I will arrive in Madrid for a three night stay, followed by Bilbao for a couple of nights, then to Barcelona for three evenings. After Barcelona I take an overnight train to Paris for a four-night stop. I then make my way to London, look around for four days before flying back home.

I hope I make it back!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Will I ever run again?

Oh, the frustration!

I haven't run in a week all due to the fact that I have a shooting pain in my hip that sometimes radiates down my thigh. I first felt it a week and a half ago, but I ran on it twice--a 5.5 miler and a 9 miler--with little problems. I could feel something tight in the region but it didn't hobble me or slow me down. Last Monday I still felt it but decided to run with the Nike folks anyway. All was fine until the end of the run when it started to hurt. It didn't hurt before. I made it to the finish but began to hobble. I thought I may have pulled a groin muscle and took the rest of the week off. Now I'm beginning to think it's not a muscle problem. It only hurts when I step or stand on my right leg, a shooting pain that I can also feel down my thigh to my knee.

It's times like these that I realize how much an active lifestyle I have taken on in the last couple of years. Not being able to run or do other exercise activities has bummed me out. Before I was the guy who loved to just sit around and do nothing but watch TV and eat. While I still enjoy such moments, I can only bear doing nothing for a short period before I crave going out for a run. I'm hoping it will go away, but it doesn't seem like it will soon. I have an appointment on Thursday afternoon and hopefully the doc can figure out what to do. I've been tempted to run on it regardless of the problem, but I have to resist the urge or else I may wind up damaging myself for life.

Let's hope it's a quick recovery and I go back out for a run. It's sick that I miss running so much. Sick!

Monday, August 28, 2006

a long and busy week

I spent last weekend in San Diego to run the America's Finest City Half Marathon. I ran the race last year and managed to post a personal best, so I came in this year hoping to beat that time. Fortunately, I did, but only by about 40 seconds. My official chip time was 1:48:42. To top it all off I also beat Kiley for the first time in the two years I've known him. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday. Here's a link to my race pics.

This past week has been incredibly busy. Work from Monday to Wednesday, and I've been spending my days off on Thursday and Friday taking care of errands. I finally got a new phone and plan on Thursday and I took my car to for its 60,000 mile service on Friday. Susie kept me company at the mall while we killed time waiting for it to be finished.

I also saw three shows last week. Monday was another free show by Little Ones at Spaceland. Quite good. Thursday night was Oh No! Oh My! at the Echo. Closing their set with "A Walk in the Park," the band invited onstage an audience member inexplicably dressed as a gorilla.

The gorilla danced.

Friday night was the culmination. Liz and her sister were nice enough to wait in line three hours before the Wolf Parade show to get tickets and to ensure we got primo seats. We did. We sat in the front-center row of the balcony. Wolf Parade were on fire and showed a marked improvement from their January show when they seemed disorganized and unfocused. Friday night, the band was tight and energetic and, the biggest surprise, relaxed to the point that they seemed to be truly enjoying themselves.

Saturday night was a quick visit to a beer tasting party in Pasadena followed by birthday dinner and drinks with Liza.

Sunday was spent at home recuperating and watching the Emmys and dreading coming back to work tomorrow.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Tires

Things done this weekend:

-Watched Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with Astrid and Winston. Funny movie with really committed performances. Grade: B-

-Ran 8 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Not a bad run considering I didn't get home until 1:30 AM from the movie and didn't fall asleep until after 2. Four hours later I had to get up for the trek to the Rose Bowl. The run was uncomfortable and exhausting, but the weather, at least, was nice for once.

-Took my Mom, sister, niece and nephew to Griffith Park for my cousin's son's birthday. All I wanted to do the whole time I was there was to curl up somewhere and nap. I was so tired. As soon as I got home from the party, around 4:30, I took a nice two-hour nap.

-Watched Vera Drake on DVD. I've had the DVD for weeks now, and Netflix just kept on charging me $19.99/month anyway. It's a terrific film that offers no easy answers. Now I can return it and start making a dent on my queue. I still have The Best of Youth to watch. Hopefully I can get to it soon. The thought of watching a six-hour film is just intimidating, though.

-Replaced the tires on my car. I had to wait for three hours while they did, so I headed to the mall and walked around. Bought some socks, looked at sunglasses for running, and had a nice cup of coffee. I thought of seeing The Descent but the showtime didn't work out.

-Watched Final Destination 3. I really like these movies. The gruesome deaths can be clever, but I felt like I was watching porn. I couldn't wait to get to the death scenes but grew impatient with the connecting scenes.

-Now it's 1:45 AM and I'm actually going to sleep relatively early. I'm going to go into work at noon tomorrow and will take a yoga class in the morning. After work I'll try to get in to the free Little Ones show at Spaceland.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just when I thought I was out...

Just when I thought I can take next year off from the Los Angeles Marathon to run a different race, the organizers go ahead and change the course forcing me to do the race again. The marathon route, I think, is terrific. Not only is it downhill, but it will also showcase more of the city. It will run through some of my favorite parts, from Hollywood to Los Feliz to Koreatown to Hancock Park, even to USC. I'm sure the hipsters who live in Los Feliz will be annoyed on marathon morning, but at least the new course doesn't trap anyone inside the course like it used to. I lived in an apartment in Koreatown for a few years and every marathon morning I couldn't go anywhere. The marathon route wrapped around my neighborhood so that I couldn't drive anywhere. At least I got to see the runners pass by.

So, it looks like I have plans in place for March 4, 2007.

Friday, July 28, 2006

tonight will be fine

I have listened to Teddy Thompson's rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Tonight Will Be Fine" five times already today. It was the highlight of Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man for me. I can't seem to get enough of Teddy. His album keeps popping up in my CD player, even more after seeing him play a marvelous solo acoustic set opening for Mason Jennings. He sounded just wonderful, and his guitar playing was unbelievable. Here comes the sixth playback.

It's been over a month since my last post, but I couldn't let July slip away without one. I've felt guilty about not updating, but I've just been lazy and work has become less conducive to blogging. They moved my workstation to a more general work area so I have less privacy. In fact, my computer screen is within viewing distance of the newly hired director, so surfing the net has become a covert activity of sorts.

There isn't much to report. I'm still working, but I'm trying to wind it down in the next couple of weeks and concentrate on the job search. I think I'm using the "too busy" excuse too often in regards to finding a new job, so once I stop working I can no longer use that excuse. So right now I'm just focusing on work and holding off for a couple of weeks to begin my job search in earnest. We'll see how it goes.

Running and working out has been my other preoccupation since finishing school. I'm trying to lose the last fifteen pounds I've been wanting to shed the last four years. I can't seem to do it. Right now I'm down to about 162-164, roughly 10 pounds from where I think I should be so I can have a flat stomach. A lot of it has to be eating correctly, something I don't do. I thought I'd reach my goal weight by the 4th of July. That holiday has come and gone and I still have a little ways to go. However, my running is going well. I don't have a specific race yet I'm training for, but I'm sure I'll be doing a marathon in the fall. Long Beach is an option, but I'm also considering the Auburn trail marathon or even Las Vegas. I think I can do Long Beach in October and still be fit enough to do Las Vegas in December.

The best part of my summer so far has been all the great shows I've seen. For a while it seemed like I was at the Echo every Friday seeing Cold War Kids/Tapes 'n Tapes, Band of Horses, the Submarines/Little Ones. All terrific shows. Cold War Kids/Tapes 'n Tapes are tops so far, but Teddy Thompson's set earlier this month was transcendent and Little Ones were a delight.

Here are a couple of pics:

Tapes 'n Tapes

Band of Horses

The Walkmen

Also, here's a pic from after the Mud Run:

Anyway, I'll try to be a better blogger from now on. I just need to make it a habit to post before bed instead of looking at porn. =)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I'm still alive

It seems like I'm beginning most posts now with the phrase "It's been a long time since..." The only excuse for it is that I'm getting lazy. There are things to post about but just getting myself to sit down and write is the hard part. I'm hoping to write something up about all the terrific shows I have been to in the last week--three within a week--Josh Ritter at the El Rey (I know the El Rey is redundant but that is its proper name), the Walkmen at the Glass House in Pomona (yay, SGV), and Cold War Kids/Tapes n Tapes at the Echo. All terrific and fun shows. I have a couple of pictures from the Walkmen show and quite a few from the Echo.

Here are a couple:

Cold War Kids getting an assist from the lead singer of Tapes n Tapes

Cold War Kids repaying the debt

If that wasn't enough I also have three more shows to check out in the next week. I won tickets today to Friday's Neko Case show at the Henry Fonda Theater (not my favorite venue) and I also have tickets for Be Your Own Pet this Sunday at the Glass House and Band of Horses at the Echo, again, next Friday. After that I plan on taking a wee bit of a break. I need to start looking for a job.

I also need to write about the Mud Run this past weekend. Hopefully I'll have pictures of that event to post soon.

Other than that I have just been working at my boring job.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

They are runners too!

I love it when I find out that my favorite artists also love doing things that I enjoy.

I was reading the July issue of Runner's World and got to the end and saw a picture of a good-looking bloke. It dawned on me that it was Josh Ritter, a terrific singer/songwriter, whose The Animal Years is one of my favorite albums of 2006. He ran the Phoenix Rock n' Roll Marathon in January and posted an impressive first marathon time of 3:32. Not only is he a great artist, he's also a great runner. I'm catching his show in LA this Friday, a show I've been eagerly awaiting for two months. His albums are highly recommended!

Then today while surfing the web for more information about Sufjan Stevens's upcoming album (Stevens is just about my favorite artist right now), I came across this tidbit from the Asthmatic Kitty website. Sufjan Stevens's brother, Marzuki, finished 20th in this year's Boston Marathon. His time was 2:20:11. How amazing is that! It qualified him for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Reading things like these inspire me to strive to be a better runner.

On another note, congratulations to all who completed this weekend's San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Saddleback Memorial Half Marathon

Location: Laguna Hills, CA
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:52:01

The Saddleback Memorial Half Marathon was a race I signed up for on a whim when it became clear that my haphazard training since L.A. would not allow me to run the San Diego RNR Marathon in a respectable manner. Audrey had been pushing me to run this with her, and when my schedule opened up I signed up for it without really worrying about training. I ran 13 miles last weekend with FJ, the longest I've run in weeks, and managed to keep up with FJ who has gotten himself in incredible shape for San Diego. However, I didn't have any juice left when I tried to outsprint him to the finish. He beat me by 10 yards.

Half marathon has become an "easy" race for me. It's not that I disrespect the difficulty of running a half marathon, but I feel like I'm more confident about my abilities and health that I have no qualms about 13.1 miles. 13.1 miles is now, for me, a manageable distance. I'm amazed that I can say that. 13.1 miles is a long way, but half marathons have become my favorite distance. I don't have to sprint all out, I can get into a groove, and I'm not broken down by the end of it. It's just about perfect.

I didn't PR yesterday, but it was good enough for me. The course had rolling hills and the temperature got very warm. There was little to no shade in the course and the hills were saved until the end. I feel like I could have pushed myself harder, but I wanted to run a comfortable race. That I was only 2.5 minutes off my best half marathon time in a difficult course was a good thing in my book. Still, I wish I had pushed myself a little harder--two seconds harder--so my time read 1:51:59 instead of 1:52:01.

Next up for me is possibly a 10K in two weeks during Pride Weekend in West Hollywood. Otherwise it's the Mud Run in Camp Pendleton on June 17. I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sore Arms

The running program is still sputtering along, but now that I'm done with school (I graduated on Saturday), hopefully I can get into a regular schedule. Along with running, I'm going to implement a weight training program, which I pretty much abandoned when I started training for marathons. With work, school, and a social life to balance, I either ran or lifted weights. By that time I was tired of the same workout routine and running was a new activity to master. Not that I've completely mastered it, but I think I've got it pretty well down.

The bad thing about skipping out on weight training for the better part of a year and a half is that I have lost all the gains I had. My muscle mass has shrunk, I'm flabbier, and to make it worse, I'm heavier now than I was pre-marathon training. It's the eating that screwed me up. The lack of weight training was evident the last two nights when I barely managed to do four sets of any exercise using respectable manly weights. I am probably lifting at 30-35% of what I was doing before. My arms and shoulders are incredibly sore from curling 20 pound dumbells. Now I have to start over. Drats!

The goal is to--hopefully--lose 15 pounds by the Mud Run in the middle of June. I want to look respectable for the Marines. I figure losing the weight won't hurt my running either.

Another goal is to be a better blogger. I think I need to expand the scope of this blog a little bit more to more than document my training program. The only problem is whether I have a life to document. We shall see. Now that I have more free time I ought to be able to do more fun things.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Senioritis is hitting me hard. I have one paper to do, and once I finish it all that will be left will be for me to walk and pick up that piece of paper. However, I don't feel like doing it now. I have this weekend to finish it, but I'm exhausted and my brain is fried. I'll suck it up and get it done, but I won't like it.

I haven't been running much the last two weeks. I ran for the first time in two weeks last night, a six-miler. A cold sidelined me from my planned run with FJ last weekend, but hopefully I can sneak in a run with him on Sunday. Today I ran a quick 3 miles at the gym during lunch.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

40 Percent

That's the chance of me running San Diego now. I just haven't been able to train as well as I hoped, and with classes winding down and graduation a couple of weeks away, I doubt I'll get in some quality running time. I figure it's better to save my $90 registration and put it towards a race I can properly train for and hopefully PR. Something in the fall, perhaps.

With June clear of a marathon, I can now aim towards some half marathons at the end of May in Laguna Hills, CA. I really need to work on my speed training if I want to get under 9:00/mile. While I have Boston as a goal in the distant future, my more immediate target is to beat the time of one of my favorite singers, Josh Ritter. I posted something about Josh a few weeks ago and his fantastic album, The Animal Years. He ran the Phoenix RNR Marathon in January and managed a time of 3:34. So, now, beating Ritter's time is my main motivation.

On tap for this week is to get in a couple of short runs and a longer run on Sunday (16 miles?) with FJ.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the best intentions

I had grand designs on running like a madman this week, possibly up to 32 miles. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened. I haven't run once since the 13 miler on Saturday. I was hoping to run tonight, but I have some reading for class to do and to top it off I've been feeling like I'm coming down with something. I've been fighting it off with lots of water, Robek's smoothies with Immunibek, 2 oz. wheatgrass shots, and so far it hasn't gotten worse. I'll see how quickly I read tonight and how well I feel afterwards before I decide on the run.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

how's the go going?

The hardest thing about running is getting started. I just don't mean the physical act of taking the first step on a long run but also the idea of starting over again after you have finished. For a couple of weeks there I was basking in the glory of another marathon completed, but with the San Diego Marathon as a possible race, I had to start up again. I allowed my body to recover for a couple of weeks, but now I have to step it up if I'm going to be in shape for San Diego, and this time I won't be part of Team in Training. If I do San Diego, it will mark my first marathon outside of the TNT family. So far, I've found it hard to get motivated to wake up at 6:30AM on a Saturday morning to go for an extended run. Not only do I have to motivate myself to run, I also have to motivate myself to show up at the trails. I have made myself some promises for this year, not quite resolutions, but goals or points of action, and chief among them is to be more proactive about many, many things. One of them is being proactive about improving my speed and fitness. With school ending soon, I can't really blame that any more for taking focus away from my training.

With all of that said, I ventured out on my longest run since the marathon--13 miles. I've done regular four mile runs in the last couple of weeks and two six mile runs, but nothing topping double digits. My goal was to run a 9:00/mile pace, but by mile 5 I was already laboring at a pace that was slightly above 9:00/mile. I didn't expect to shave off any time for the next three miles because it was all uphill, climbing up to Angeles National Forest past the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Once I reach my turnaround point perhaps I could make up some time on the downhill. It was a pleasant day with some cloud cover. It helped that I was shaded for most of the uphill portion and the lovely view of the stream running along the trail helped distract me. Still, when I got up to the turnaround point with only five mile left, I was exhausted. I couldn't believe I ran twice this distance only a month ago.

On the way down, I ran into FJ, my running partner from last fall. We had been planning to run together in the future, but as it turned out yesterday, we just missed each other by about 10 minutes. He ran 14 miles. It would have been nice to run with someone because it does get lonely and taxing trying to motivate yourself to keep going. If FJ had been there, it would have helped a great deal.

I ran the remaining four miles after chatting with FJ at a sub 9:00/mile pace. I cancelled all walkbreaks but two and got to the finish line at 2:07. Shave off about five minutes I spent catching up with FJ and that makes for a time of about 2:02 for 13 miles. Not too bad for my first long run in four weeks.

Next Saturday the goal is to run 16 miles. Hopefully FJ will be free to do so on Saturday and we can catch up on music and reality TV while we run.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Josh Ritter

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If you're a Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen fan, pick up Josh Ritter's The Animal Years and thank me later. It may just be the best album of the year.

Friday, April 07, 2006

horse race

I've been watching what I eat the last couple of weeks, except for last night. I had dinner with a friend and gave in to my craving for a big, fat burger. I've been good for so many days that I think I earned one good/bad meal. I may have lost a couple of pounds since starting this "diet," and I would love to be at about 155 by marathon time in June.

Speaking of running, I'm running a 5K tomorrow at Santa Anita Park. The race finishes in the infield of the horse track and afterwards we get to stay in the park and watch the races. It's a tough finish since your feet sink into the dirt, but it's also exhilarating as you enter the park and feel the inner racehorse in you gallop to the finish. It has only been three weeks since the marathon, so I'll try not to push myself too much, but it's tough to do when I see others passing me. The competitive fire just starts burning and next thing I know I'm no longer running an "easy" 3.1 miles. After this week I'm going to amp up my running. The longest run I've done since the marathon was six miles last Sunday, which felt really good.

In other news, work really drains me even though I really don't do much. I'm getting burned out with school and work. School wraps up next month, so that will free up more time, but I'd prefer if work wrapped up. If not for the money I would have been long gone, focusing instead on school.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Back on the saddle

I'm taking my plan to run the San Diego Marathon seriously, so after taking a week and a half off from running, I started up again. I ran three miles on Wednesday and Thursday, taking it easy for now to prevent any injuries and allow my legs to recover from the marathon. San Diego is in two months, so I have to start getting some longer distances in once again. I'll start with six miles tomorrow, bump it up to 10 the following week, and perhaps a twenty miler 3-4 weeks before the marathon. Geez, there's not a lot of time. I think the main thing is to maintain my level of fitness while I recover, and in a couple of weeks I can start doing speed workouts again.

On non-running related news, I went to see Rhett Miller play a show in Santa Ana. Wow, what a show. It was worth risking my life driving through a storm and the local freeways. Miller played in a venue called the Galaxy Theater, which is a dinner-theater-ish establishment. I've only seen one show there before, and it's an OK venue, but they really need to put in for repairs. There were leaks on the ceiling, including one that dripped right onto the stage. I feared electrocution for Rhett and his band. Thankfully the show went on without any fatalities and the band played a heck of a set. Miller played a lot of songs that were pretty evenly split between his solo albums and stuff from Old 97's, including a punked out version of "Barrier Reef."

I've been seeing a lot of shows lately. Last week was Josh Riter/Band of Horses, the week before that were Arctic Monkeys. Next week will be The Boy Least Likely To at the Spaceland. After that I don't have another one scheduled until Josh Ritter returns in June.

Oh, I almost forgot, I passed my comprehensive exams! It looks like I'll be graduating. The only thing left is to pass my classes, which should not be a problem. =)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

my L.A. Marathon story in pictures

I give up! =)

Laser-like focus.

Still happy and relaxed.

Brad and I.

Less happy and relaxed.

I think I can...

Ouch! It hurts!


Thumbs up for L.A. Marathon v.2

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Report

Four days after the marathon and the soreness has faded away. As glad as I am to be able to walk down the stairs without any pain, I miss the soreness because it was a reminder of what I had accomplished. Now that the pain is gone, it's just a memory, but it's one that also is beginning to dissipate. Right now I'm in a post-marathon funk, elated by the experience but a little out of place wondering what to do next. It's like an addiction, really. There's the anguish, then the high, followed by a craving for more. I can't think of a better thing to be addicted to.

As for a race report there really isn't much to report. While I thought, regardless of the final time, Nike was an easier run for me, fewer things happened to my body in this marathon than the previous two. Mostly that has to do with the fact that I've been running for over a year now. Also, I don't think I pushed myself enough early on. I held back a little bit. My goal was to finish the first half in under two hours and try to at least maintain the pace for the second half. I wound up running the first half in 2:04, the fastest first half I've done, but it meant that I had to run a 1:55 second half to finish under four hours. While that wasn't beyond the realm of possibility--my half marathon PR is 1:49--there was the fact that I had already run a half marathon that day. Still, I felt good after the first half and was ready to speed it up a bit. Again, I think I was too cautious because while I did speed up, I did it ever so slightly. In the back of my mind I worried that if I use too much energy at that point I was going to cramp up by mile 18 or, worse, hit the wall. I have to get over that fear of hitting the wall. While no one wants to hit the wall, part of running a marathon is hitting that wall yet finding a way to get around it. I didn't hit a wall on Sunday. All I felt was good old-fashioned fatigue and nothing more.

The fact that I allowed my training to lapse in the last few weeks hurt me on Sunday. My last run longer than 10 miles was over a month and a half before the race. By mile 15 I was beginning to feel tired, which should be normal, but it was a fatigue that didn't set in until mile 19 in San Francisco. What saved me was being smart about taking in fuel throughout the race. The oranges at the sideline were incredibly scrumptious. I'm sure they weren't, but when you're in the middle of the race, anything tastes great.

I didn't start badly cramping until mile 25 and the finish. My legs just started feeling like lead by mile 19 and I had to practically drag them for the last five miles. It may have been psychological but I just couldn't get myself to move faster. Thanks to Kate running with me from miles 22 to 25, I probably would have slowed down even more. Thanks to her she kept me at a sub 10 minute pace. When she left me at mile 25 I was in good shape. I had a cramp on my right quad, but I was still moving well. At about the 25.5 mile point, my calves cramped up. I can't understand why my calves cramp up together. One at a time, I can understand, but both inevitably cramp up within seconds of each other. It must be because once one cramps I wind up overcompensating on the other. It's ridiculous. I'd love to run a marathon without cramps in my calves. I doubt it will happen, but it's something to shoot for.

So, at 4:15, I have fifteen minutes or so to shave off to get to four hours. Looking back on Sunday, I don't think it was meant to be. I wasn't in the best shape, but I think I could have shaved a few more minutes by pushing myself a little harder. Well, when I put it that way, if I just pushed myself I could be sitting at four hours. I'm happy with my time and wasn't too disappointed that I missed the goal. I still set a personal best and erased the horrible memory of my first LA Marathon. Besides, this is not the end. There are more marathons to run, maybe a couple more this year alone, and I'm sure by this year, if I put in the work, I can break through that four hour mark. I'm not that far, really, I can see it. Fifteen minutes! Fifteen minutes!

This week I'm taking it easy. I haven't done any exercises and I'm getting very antsy. I did walk a lot last night in Hollywood prior to the Josh Ritter/Band of Horses/Earlimart show. I actually didn't make it through the Earlimart set because 1) I didn't care for their music; b) A 7+ foot giant (I'm not kidding) planted himself near the front of the stage and blocked my view along with many others, and c) My legs were aching after standing around for 2.5 hours.

So, what's next? San Diego is a possibility, and I'm trying to figure out which marathon to run in October. Portland, Chicago, and NYC are possibilities. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006



I'm still working on the race report, but I think you will get a sense of how the race went based on my split times, courtesy of my Timex IronMan watch, which appears to need a change in batteries. I forgot to hit the button on mile 25, so the time for miles 25 thru 26.2 are combined. Overall I was a good time keeper. My time per my watch was only off by four seconds, and I think that's due to not wanting to look stupid in the finish picture.

NOTE: I have no idea why the entry is leaving so much white space. It must be my HMTL formatting. I have no idea what I'm doing.

Monday, March 20, 2006



I didn't crack four hours, but it's still a PR! More details to come, but needless to say it was yet another wonderful, albeit painful experience.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Foot Update

It's 12:30PM on Saturday and my foot feels worse today. I'm kind of disheartened that I'll have to pull out tomorrow. I think the chances are good that I won't run unless my foot feels a lot better. I tried running on it right now and it hurt. Strangely, I'm not as frustrated as I expected. If it had been my first one and had put in all this time and effort I would be angry, but it's my third, so the significance of running it is less. I'm bummed that I might not get to try for the sub-4 hour time, but at the same time San Diego is less than three months away. I can train for that and go for it there.

I'm not going to make the call right now. I have a few hours to decide, and if I wake up tomorrow morning and the foot isn't considerably better then I won't run.

Friday, March 17, 2006

walking a little funny

I've developed a pain on my foot. I've had it before and went away after a few days. I thought it might be plantar fasciatis because it's worse in the morning and goes away as I walk around a bit. However, doesn't P.S. run down the middle of your foot from heel to toe? The pain is only on the ball of my foot. I still intend to run on Sunday, but I might be less comfortable than I'd like.

The good news is that the weather is cooperating. We have showers today and tomorrow, but Sunday ought to be cool and partly cloudy. I'm still not nervous. I feel like I ought to be, but maybe it's quickly becoming old hat. The plan is to run an easy first half in around two hours, hopefully just a bit under. I'll then pick up the pace from miles 13.1 through 20. I'll stop taking walk breaks after mile 20 and try to run a 10K pace for the remainder. Again, it's a plan. We'll see how well I stick to it on Sunday.

I took a two-hour lunch and picked up my bib. I would have liked to walk around a little more, but it's just as well. I need to get off my feet and get back to work. I did buy a hat for $8 just in case it rains and to block out the sun. Look for me. I'm #3175.

Friday, March 10, 2006

life gets in the way

I haven't posted in a while because life has been incredibly busy, well, mostly school has been taking up much of my time. It has been a flurry of reading, writing, and presentations for me, and it has cut in to my running time. I'm having doubts about being able to run a strong race next weekend because I've cut back on my running the last three weeks. I've done a couple of long runs (10 miles) on the weekends, but I'm lucky to get in another run during the week. I ran the wilderness trails in Claremont yesterday in a good time, but it wasn't fun. A lot of my doubts must be psychological, but I would love to be able to say that I'm heading into the race next weekend in top physical shape. Sadly, I'm not. I'm probably heavier than I was last year. I was hoping to shave off about ten pounds by marathon time, but I failed.

Regardless, I'll push for sub-4 hour time. I'm sure I've got it in me. It's just a matter of how much I want it. I did the math last night, and if I maintain a 9:00/mile pace, I'll be crossing the finish line at 3:55:48. That's good enough for me. This weekend is the last long run (8 miles). I'm doing the aid station, so if I want to run I'll need to get in early and do so. I have spring break next week, too, so perhaps I can get in one last good run on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. I'll book a massage on Thursday, and rest up for the marathon. As much as I'm nervous about it, I'm also quite excited.

Have fun!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I haven't ran much the last couple of weeks both because I've been burnt out physically and there's just too much work to do for school. I did get in a 10 miler (in the rain) this weekend, which I completed in 1:41 even though I had to slow down and check on runners who were experiencing weird aches and pains. The turn out was sort of pathetic this weekend. Partly the weather was to blame but also we've had some injuries the last few weeks. In any event, my run went well even if it took me a while to get warmed up.

Last night was supposed to be a speed workout, but when I got to the track I was feeling lazy and didn't feel like doing it. I did a two-mile warm up then stood around and talked to fellow teammates. By the time I decided to start running the others were already finishing up, so rather than do my Yassos, Jimmy persuaded me to run a fast mile with him. We did another mile warm-up since we had been standing around for too long. I was only planning to do a couple of easy 8 minute miles, but Jimmy asked me if I wanted to run one mile at a 5K pace, which would have been about 7:22 for me. Instead I said I wanted to try to beat my 5K pace. I was thinking more along the lines of 7 minutes, but instead Jimmy suggested I try to do a 6 minute mile with him. I've never tried to run as fast as I could. A few weeks ago I ran a mile with Coach Katie while she was doing repeats at a 6:52 pace. That's my fastest timed mile. 6 minutes just sounded preposterous. I imagined myself collapsing at the end, having to be carried out on a stretcher, IV's all over the place. Still, the challenge was there, so I accepted.

Right from the start, I knew I wouldn't be able to do 6 minutes. Jimmy was supposed to set the pace, but he was way off. By the first half lap we were off by five seconds. We tried to make it up along the way and actually maintained a six minute pace for the second lap. The first two laps were tolerable, and I actually surprised myself that I could hang with Jimmy.

By the start of the third lap, I could feel my breathing starting to labor. Halfway through the third lap I considered slowing down and letting Jimmy go on without me, but there was still some fight left in me. I dug in even though I felt like I was going to piss my pants. My legs were still moving really well and my form was holding up, but my footfalls were getting louder. I was stomping more than usual. I think the third lap was slower than the second. The fourth lap was just all desperation to finish. I told myself over and over again that it was just one more lap. I knew I had slowed down, but I didn't want to slow down even more. At the last turn, Jimmy announced, "Only 150 yards left!" I could have killed him. I hate hearing that in races no matter how close I am to the finish because regardless of how close it is, when you're feeling like someone has sucked the breath out of you, the distance seems insurmountable. 150 yards is a football field and a half! To be honest, I had enough energy in me to run faster but it was the mental block again of wanting to be comfortable. I was being worked and my body hated the feeling. I run to relax not to feel miserable. Running is supposed to be fun, right? So, more than anything, I had to overcome that mental block and force myself to put with the misery for another thirty seconds or so. I tried to speed up with fifty yards left, but I don't think I sped up all that much. When I crossed the trash cans (our finish line) Jimmy announced the time: 6:16! I seriously thought I had slowed down to a 6:30, so I was delighted with the time after I caught my breath. Jimmy, ever so positive, said that I only have to trim 4 seconds per lap to run a 6 minute mile. Some day, maybe, but for the night I was done.

So, that's another one for my record books. My fastest mile!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Half Marathon

Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:49:10 ***PERSONAL RECORD***
Location: Ventura, CA (Westpark Community Center)
Notes: I PR-ed, but I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. In fact, I only beat my previous best by about 18 seconds. Still, a PR is a PR.

My excuse? Well, it was hot, but I think, more than anything, it just wasn't a good day of running for me. My legs remained tight the whole way through and I felt a couple of twitches near my ITB that I worried about. I didn't let it slow me down and didn't factor into the race, though. I could have pushed myself even more, but I fell victim to psychology again and didn't kick it up a notch at the end. When the race was over my legs felt strong enough, but the doubts crept up at the end.

Still, the good news is that I kept a steady pace the whole way through. I don't think I ran a mile faster than 8 minutes and nothing slower than 9 minutes. Like clockwork I was hitting the mile markers at 8:30 or so. I'll have to check my watch to see what the lap times were, but from what I remember I was very consistent. I also ran a slightly faster second half. I didn't beat Kiley again, though. He finished about a minute ahead of me, but I thought I could have caught him. Again it's the push at the end. I'm weak! One of my goals is to beat him in a head to head race. He passed me with about 100 yards left at the Turkey Trot this year. Today we traded leads throughout the race until he passed me for good at about mile 9. I narrowed the gap several times, but I also got passed by a couple of runners with two miles left. I hate getting passed.

I think not having a good run today will serve me well. I have to remember that with the warm winter we've had this year in LA, I should be ready for yet another warm day come marathon time. I also sweated a lot more salt than usual. My shirt was caked with white streaks and my forehead and arms were covered with salty powder. I tasted it. =) I also have to take care of my legs. I should probably take the next couple of days off. There is bowling on Valentine's Day, so that's at least a bit of exercise.

On non-running news. Even with the early call for the half marathon (I had to get up at 3:45 AM to carpool with Gina, Audrey, and Kiley to Ventura), I still went to the Avalon last night to see Stars. Terrific show, but I missed the warm, meticulous orchestrations of the recordings. A lot of energy, and the band seemed very thankful and happy to be there. I wish they played "The Woods," though. The show actually started and finished earlier than expected. The band came on by 9:30 and wrapped up by 10:45. As a result, I wound up missing practically all of the Elected's opening set. From what I saw they sounded great. Their album is quite good and deserving of some notice even if they are getting slightly overshadowed by Jenny Lewis's solo album.

Before the show, I stopped by Amoeba Records and picked up CD's by Final Fantasy and the Unicorns.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The need for speed

I received my L.A. Marathon confirmation card over the weekend. I signed up so long ago, in October, that I couldn't remember if I did or not. Bib #3175. The marathon logo this year is also quite nice, if a bit feminine.

Last night I did 8 Yasso 800 repeats at a 7:04/mile pace. It felt easy last night. I was off at a couple of points because I lost concentration, but otherwise I was feeling great. Tonight I'll do an easy 3-4 miles at the gym, get some studying done, and probably watch the Grammys and "Project Runway." Tomorrow I'll do my first ever mile repeats. I'll ease into it and do 4 miles at a 7:52/mile pace (hopefully I'm not underestimating the difficulty). I think the speed workouts helped make for an easy 20 miles on Saturday. I'll take Friday and Saturday off, and I hope I don't oversleep for my early call for the Ventura Half Marathon. I have to get up at 3:45-4:00 AM to meet up with Gina so we can carpool and make it to Ventura by 6:30 AM. I have no plans on Friday night (as usual), so I should be able to get plenty of sleep that night. Kate and Katie ran the Pacific Shoreline Half on Sunday and finished in 1:37. I beat Coach Katie last time at the AFC Half Marathon, but she was jet-lagged and hadn't trained much, so I doubt that I can beat that 1:37. My immediate goal is under 1:45, perhaps closer to 1:40. I think that's within the realm of possibility, but as Jimmy and I discussed last night, I have a low tolerance for allowing my body to feel oxygen deprived. I really don't push myself enough in my races. I'll try to keep that in mind this weekend and push through the discomfort to see how well I can really do.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

02.04.2006: The Big 2-0!

Distance: 20 miles
Time: 3:27
Location: Rose Bowl
NOTES: This run had me anxious. Since I hadn't run 20 miles in practice before, I made it out to be a big deal. It was a make-or-break run in that it would either boost my confidence as the marathon nears or it will discourage me. Now that I've done it, I can honestly say that I'm pumped for the next six weeks of training.

The run couldn't have gone any better. There were some worries early on in the run when I developed some stomach issues. I normally don't eat cereal before a training run, settling instead for a banana and a cup of coffee, but I thought I needed something more substantial. Unfortunately we only had whole milk in the fridge that my niece and nephew drink, which I should not be drinking since I am now lactose intolerant. Still, I poured it in my cereal and tried to ingest as little of the milk as possible, but I probably still consumed too much because it went right through me. Rather than discuss my bowel movements any further, let's just say it made for some anxious moments early on.

Once that passed, the rest of the run went well. With the distance and the unseasonably warm weather, I would say it was my best run all season. The pace is slightly slower than the 10 minute pace I try to keep during the long training runs, but I think that had more to do with the detours and time spent waiting at the aid station for Gina. I would run ahead of Gina and wai for her at the aid station and she got cranky. Well, she always gets cranky during our runs, but yesterday was the first time she threatened me with bodily injury. I was surprised how fresh I felt all the way through. It wasn't until a half mile left in the run that my legs felt heavy.

So hooray for a good run. The miraculous thing is that I'm not at all sore. I got home, took a nap, and even went out for Preeti's birthday, no worse for the wear. In my first season my legs would burn after a long run. Now I have a runner'slegs, but I still don't have a runner's body. All in all, a very good day. I just hope it isn't the highlight of the season. With the marathon coming up, I have to work hard to finish under 4 hours.

Have fun!

Friday, February 03, 2006

20 Miles

Tomorrow will be my first 20 miler with TNT. This is my third season with the team, but every time we ran the 20 miler something came up, so tomorrow will be a momentous occasion. It really shouldn't be, I mean I've run 26.2 twice already, but those were different circumstances. Training runs can be tougher than the actual races because it requires a lot of motivation to keep going for miles and miles. At a race, the adrenaline is pumping and the will to finish is strong. I'm a competition-driven guy, so I do well under pressure. Perhaps I should look at tomorrow's run as a contest.

Leading up to tomorrow's run, we ran 10 miles last weekend and it turned out to be the best run I've had all season. I felt great. Maybe I'm getting into running again now that the marathon is nigh. I've also started doing an additional night of speed training. My Yasso 800 pace is at 3:36, and I'm going to do mile repeats at 7:52. That shouldn't be a problem...I hope.

Friday, January 27, 2006

VH1 Classics

Usually the TV's at work are tuned in to Fuse or MTV2, but on Fridays they put on VH1 Classics. They just played a block of videos that included Madonna's "Burning Up," Queen Latifah's "Ladies First," and now it's Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam's "Head to Toe." I love the 80's!

Monday, January 23, 2006

01.21.2006: 18 Miles

Distance: 18 miles
Time: 3 hours, 3 minutes
Location: Rose Bowl
Notes: It was a relatively good run. I was sore afterwards, that goes without saying, but compared to the last three long runs I've done this season, this was less trying. I never felt like quitting at all. In fact, if I hadn't taken that (necessary) bathroom break after mile 10 the run would have felt even better. My legs stiffened up during that respite and it took a while to get back into it. All in all, though, it was a terrific run.

Afterwards a few of us chipped in for a huge 28-inch pizza. That hit the spot. I may have burned a couple thousand calories during the run, but I'm sure I replenished all of that and then some throughout the day and at Liza's party. At this rate, I doubt I'll lose any weight before the marathon.

I ought to be reading right now, but again I'm struck by laziness. I got straight A's last semester, so I didn't learn my lesson about procrastinating. I decided to audit two classes this semester on top of the two classes I'm taking for a grade. The audit classes won't require written work from me, but I'm expected to do the reading, which is still substantial. It's the last semester, so I might as well put up with it.

I watched "Brokeback Mountain" today. I'm tired.

Monday, January 09, 2006

01.07.2006: 16 Miles

Distance: 16 miles
Time: 3 hours
Location: Rose Bowl
Notes: I've been sick the last few days, so the last time I ran was a five miler on Monday. I was still feeling a little under the weather on Saturday morning but decided to give it a try and call it short if I didn't feel well. I felt fine for the first two miles, then one of the participants fell and I helped walk her to the aid station, which took about 15 minutes. When I started running again after we dropped her off, I felt stiff but thought that would go away soon enough. It didn't. I felt stiff the rest of the way and added exhaustion soon after. Gina joined me about four miles in to the run and she was the reason I kept on going. I was kidding around with her by whining most of the way, but after a while I wasn't kidding around very much any more. I really was whining. I felt horrible pretty much the entire 16 miles, and I probably should have called it a short day, but Gina didn't want me to. So I ran and ran. Even on days where I have a bad run, I usually feel good at the finish. Not yesterday. I felt sick for a while after I finished running. All I wanted to do was sit and go to sleep. At least I got my 16 miles in, as painful and miserable as it was. This weekend is a step-back week, just an 8 miler, then we go back up to 18 miles in two weeks.

This whole season has felt like two steps forward, two steps back. When I was working on my papers in December, I took two weeks off running and it took two weeks to get back into feeling like my old self. Even at that, though, I have had three tough long runs (12, 14, and now 16 miles). I usually have one bad long run followed by a great one. Being sick this week robbed me of a few days of quality running just when I felt like I was getting back in the groove. I have two more months until L.A., and right now I doubt I can accomplish my goal of finishing under four hours. I'll have to work hard the next few weeks and stick to a regimen. I also need to get serious about nutrition and hopefully lose some weight.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Top 10 Albums of 2005

The top 10! In compiling my list, I only included albums that were released in the U.S. during the 2005 calendar year. This really only affected The Boy Least Likely To's album, which would have made the top 15 were it released domestically. I think it comes out officially in the U.S. early this year, so look for it in the 2006 list a year from now. Jenny Lewis's Rabbit Fur Coat probably would have made the list, too, but it's also a 2006 release that I heard late in 2005.

10. The National: Alligator
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I can’t blame those who dislike the National because at times lead singer Matt Berninger does come off as a prick. There are a couple of songs on this album that play up Berninger’s pretentiousness, but more often than not, he and the band hit the mark, crafting some of the most gripping rock songs of the year. Think U2 without the grandiose social proselytizing. I can do without “Val Jester,” but there are songs in Alligator that are urgent and utilize Berninger’s distinct vocals to great effect. I’m thinking of “All the Wine” which seems to cheekily reference Berninger’s ego. They also showed Clap Your Hands Say Yeah what a couple of years experience can do when they outperformed them live and proved that they deserved the top billing. When Berninger screamed out “Mr. November” at the Troubadour, he turned an OK song into a brilliant rock and roll moment. Rock on!

Hear Ye: “Karen,” “Lit Up,” “All the Wine,” “Abel,” “City Middle”

09. Jens Lekman: Oh, You're So Silent Jens
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Still no proper album from Jens Lekman, and the one he was working on looks to have been scrapped. At least we got this collection of songs from the past couple of years, a veritable greatest-hits from Jens even if he has yet to have a hit here in the states. It’s not as effervescent as last year’s similar collection, “When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog,” but this collection contains two of Lekman’s best songs in “Black Cab” and “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill.” Like Lekman himself, the album is never less than charming. It possesses a wry pop sensibility that makes up for some of the undernourished songs in the album.

Hear Ye: “Maple Leaves,” “Black Cab,” “Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song,” “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill,” “The Wrong Hands”

08. Spoon: Gimme Fiction
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My complaint about Spoon is that some of their songs sound underdeveloped, but when the product is so hypnotic and absorbing, then you can overlook that. Case in point: “I Turn My Camera On” is my favorite track from the album, but it is essentially the same from start to finish. I was hooked from the beginning and the chants that come in early in the song only solidified its greatness, but once you’ve heard the first minute, you’ve heard the whole song. It doesn’t seem to even end properly. It just ends. So why can’t I stop listening to it and the other songs on this album? Because Britt Daniel is the devil? Who knows. Even Stephen King was hooked by the band, naming “I Summon You” as his favorite song of the year.

Hear Ye: “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” “I Turn My Camera On,” “My Mathematical Mind,” “Sister Jack,” “I Summon You”

07. Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary
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I had heard the name Wolf Parade thrown around, but I had no idea what the fuss was all about. Then I found an advanced copy of this album in the cafeteria at work and gave it a listen. I was hooked from the opening stomp of “You Are A Runner and I Am My Father’s Son,” and when I got to “I’ll Believe in Anything,” I had to repeat the song several times. A few months later, some of the other songs, namely “Modern World” and “We Built Another World,” have lost their luster, but the rest of the album still sounds fresh and vibrant. “I’ll Believe in Anything” is as great a song I’ve heard all year.

Hear Ye: “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son,” “Same Ghost Every Night,” “I’ll Believe in Anything,” “Dinner Bells,” “This Heart’s On Fire”

06. Broken Social Scene: Broken Social Scene
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THE live show of the year for me. How could it not be when there were upwards of 16 musicians on stage at one time? I can’t quite understand why praise for this album is so muted. What BSS aims for is the ecstasy of noise and they reach this several times in the album, beginning with “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day).” The album gets a little muddled at the end, but most of it is terrific, and its brilliant moments alone warrant its top 10 ranking.

Hear Ye: “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day),” “7/4 (Shoreline),” “Fire Eye’d Boy,” “Swimmers,” “It’s All Gonna Break”

05. The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
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The New Pornographers complete this string of Canadian bands. While not as deliriously joyful as their previous two albums, Twin Cinema proves that the New Pornographers hold the key to writing a great pop song. Just check out “Sing Me Spanish Techno” for proof. The album suffers from the lack of Neko Case-belted choruses, but all in all, it’s a damn terrific album. Carl (A.C.) Newman is hella hot, too, I think. Something about redheads.

Hear Ye: “Twin Cinema,” “The Bleeding Heart Show,” “These Are the Fables,” “Sing Me Spanish Techno,” “Streets of Fire”

04. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
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Yes, I bought the hype and I think they live up to it. They are not quite there as a live act, but the songs are remarkably well-crafted and make me giddy. I dare say there was no better block of tracks this year than the back-to-back-to-back sequence of “Details of the War,” “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth,” and “Is This Love?” That the other tracks are also awesome places them in my top 5. Here’s hoping they get even better and develop better stage presence. I’ll cop to it that I think Alec Ounsworth is hella hot, but I did not know that until I saw them live.

Hear Ye: “Over and Over Again (Lost & Found),” “Details of the War,” “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth,” “Is This Love?,” “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood”

03. Bright Eyes: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
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Conor Oberst’s simplest album was his best. This was compared by critics to Dylan’s best, and while I think Oberst can still be too precocious and too affected in his singing, the album is his most consistent. "Lifted" had its moments of transcendent greatness, but it was too long and self-absorbed. Harmonizing with the great Emmylou Harris seems to have put Oberst in his place and allowed the songs to shine. I doubted whether I should rank Bright Eyes this high, but this was an album I could listen to over and over again from start to finish, so I suppose it meant I liked it a lot Heck, even the annoying intro to “At the Bottom of Everything” grew on me.

Hear Ye: “At the Bottom of Everything,” “We Are Nowhere And It’s Now,” “First Day of My Life,” “Another Travelin’ Song,” “Land-Locked Blues”

02. Andrew Bird: The Mysterious Production of Eggs
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This album grew and grew with every listen. Bird's album is a marvelous, meticulously-crafted work that makes a symphony out of simple musical cues like whistling. Whistling! I have no idea what some of the songs mean, but what does it matter when these intricately-arranged songs have, to paraphrase “Fake Palindromes,” drilled a hole into my head. I credit this album, too, with improving my whistling skills. Bird is such an amazing whistler that I would probably buy an album of him just whistling. Listen to this album and try not to whistle along.

Hear Ye: “Sovay,” “Fake Palindromes,” “Masterfade,” “The Naming of Things,” “Tables and Chairs”

01. Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
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This was an easy choice since it was the album that I could not stop listening to all year. I kept returning to it and rediscovering musical cues and ideas that I didn’t hear the last time. I guess the hallmark of any great album is that it takes its time to grow on you, and while my first reaction to the album was positive, it wasn’t with the same awe and appreciation I have for it now. Songs I didn’t like before, after listening to them a few more times, have since revealed their beauty, and the ones I liked from the get-go I love even more now. Compared to Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lake State, Stevens’s previous “50 States” album, Stevens has grown as a songwriter. That album had some terrific songs, like the gorgeous “Romulus,” but the album mostly blends together for me. “Illinois,” though, is a work of grandeur that I’ll be listening to for years to come. So what if everyone else chose it as their number one album?

Hear Ye: “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” “Jacksonville,” “Casimir Pulaski Day,” “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts,” “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!”