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.