Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Raul is Running Again

Time for a reboot. After four months of silence I'm hoping to get back in the swing of blogging again. And so I announce that I have signed up for the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon and managed to get almost all my running buddies to register as well. The course will certainly be the most scenic yet and it might be easier too with a downhill finish, but still there are inclines in the middle of the course. They don't call it Beverly HILLS for nothing.

Training "officially" started with a 6 mile run this past Sunday. This Saturday I'll be walking 13.5 miles along Adams and Washington Boulevards as part of the Great L.A. Walk. Even with that scheduled I still plan to run 8 miles this Sunday. We'll see how I feel, though. If it's anything like last year's Walk then I'll be mighty sore.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon Splits

Who knows when I'll have a chance to post a full race report about the Inaugural Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon? The race turned out a little better than I expected as I posted my second best marathon time, beating my 2007 Los Angeles Marathon time by about a minute. My chip time was 3:53:24. I hadn't trained very well for this race, but I did get in a substantial amount of miles, including a 20 miler three weeks before the race. The quality of my workouts probably left a lot to be desired.

The pace looks to have been pretty even. I wish I had managed a negative split, but it looks like I slowed down slightly in the second half. It was a beautiful course but also a tough one. Rolling hills. All in all, though, it was quite a race. I'd definitely consider doing this again if only to have another opportunity to visit Seattle.

Friday, June 12, 2009

06.11.2009 - 10 Miles (Running to Father's Office)

Since I was unlikely to get a long run in this weekend, I opted to run 10 miles tonight. To reward myself for my effort, a pot of gold in the form of burger and fries was in store for me at the finish. I mapped out a 10 mile route that started from my front door and ended at Father's Office in Culver City. I took Wilshire to La Brea to Beverly to La Cienega to Third to Fairfax to Venice. It turned out to be an easy route since more than half of it was downhill. I didn't set my chrono, but by my estimate I ran it in about an hour and a half.

Father's Office was crowded but there was no line to get in. The Laker game was on, so it was quite loud, but the game soon ended and things calmed down. Kevin met me at the restaurant. We're both Father's Office virgins, so we didn't realize that the table situation there is every-person-for-him-and-herself. The place was packed, but there were some tables that could accommodate more people, so we just had to step out of our comfort zone and deign to share a table with strangers.

The burger was pretty good. It's a sweet-tasting, juicy burger. The meat flavor isn't quite there. When I eat a burger I want to taste meat, but this one had a more subtle flavor. I liked the bun they used, which looked more like a roll. Even better were the sweet potato fries. All in all quite rewarding after a good run.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

06.07.2009 - 21 Miles

What a difference a week makes. Last week's 18 miler was tough, but in comparison this weekend's 20 miler felt almost easy. I encountered no problems except for an annoying coughing jag in the early miles. By the time I got up to Devil's Gate Dam, though, it felt like I was just starting. I decided to run past Elmer for 10 minutes, which probably meant I went farther than a mile. Weather was great, too. I couldn't have asked for a better run. At the finish I felt like I could go a couple miles longer, but I didn't.

So far this week I've run twice, a 5.75 mile, door-to-door run, and a 5.5 mile run to the GLU meeting last night. Both weren't great runs. Last night was particularly troublesome with my coughing and the sidewalks really do a number on my shins. My legs are more sore now than they were after running 20.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

05.30.2009: 18.2 Miles

I met up with Rob to run 18 miles since we're both running Seattle. I had a bout of the cold a couple of days before, so I was worried about congestion and having not run all week. Still I forged ahead and the running actually seemed to improve my breathing. I still had a few coughing jags but nothing too bad.

The run, though, turned out to be a slog. Both Rob and I struggled. I started cramping with about two miles left but we still managed to finish in three hours. I can't blame the weather since it was perfect--overcast and cool. My lack of running and the illness probably didn't help, but I also didn't think they were major factors. It was just one of those days. I'm hoping the 20 miler will be better. The weather will be just like last weekend. I'm still trying to work out the phlegm and such that seems to take forever to clear but it shouldn't be a problem on Saturday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

05.16.2009 - 14+ Miles

It's amazing how quickly things deteriorate when you're running. One minute you're feeling great, thinking you can keep running forever, then the next you just want to fold up and die in a corner. Somewhere around the eleventh mile with Sonia my will to run quickly depleted. I still finished but I sure didn't like it.

FJ and Yoshi joined us for the first six miles. We ran up the northside to JPL and back. We took a short pit stop back at Lot K to chat with Kiley and to say farewell to FJ. Sonia and I continued on and I felt great all the way to the end of the southside by the 110 freeway. Running along the golf course my legs began to feel tired, but that's a normal by-product of running. It also wasn't incredibly hot, so I figured we'd complete the run with little to no problems. As we headed back along the arroyo I began to feel sluggish. I could have used a Clif Shot then, but I didn't bring one with me. The walk breaks couldn't come soon enough. I hesitated whining about wanting to take a walk break since I was running with Sonia, who is one badass runner. Thankfully she brought up the topic as I was just mulling it in my head. She too was tired. All of a sudden it seemed as if the temperature skyrocketed and all the exhaustion I had been keeping at bay for the last 10 miles all came at once. We still maintained a good pace but I focused on my breathing, trying to control it by taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly and completely. It helped but the heat was still getting to me. I thought we could manage without another walk break, but when the watch beeped with about 3/4 of a mile left I gladly took one last walk break. I was feeling light-headed and I was just worried that if I didn't take the walk break I'd faint or shit myself. When we finished I was glad I didn't have to take another step. I was relieved.

Mainly I think when the haze burned off and we were exposed to the sun, our energy was sapped by the heat. I should have packed a Clif Shot and hydrated a little more. With about three weeks left before I taper, I need to do at least 16 miles this coming weekend, 18 the folllowing weekend, and then 20 on the first weekend of June. I also need to run more regularly during the week. Also, watch the eating.

Monday, May 11, 2009

05.11.2009 - 10.3 Miles

I let my inherent laziness have the best of me yesterday by opting to sleep in until 11 am instead of running. Feeling guilty, I punished myself today by getting up at 6am to go for a 10.3 mile run. The route map can be found here. I basically ran from my front door to Wilshire to La Cienega. I headed north on La Cienega and turned east on Beverly. La Cienega and Beverly marked the 5 mile mark. From there, I took the usual route back home by turning south on Larchmont, east on 4th, then back on Western to Oxford. I completed the route in about 1:32, which was faster than I expected. I wasn't feeling all that great in the beginning, nor did I feel all that great the rest of the run. It just goes to show you never know. I didn't take any scheduled walk breaks apart from stop lights, which were fewer than expected.

I'm not going to make a habit of running early on weekday mornings, but it's not a bad way to start the day.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

One Ragnar-ly 24 Hour Relay

Almost five years into my running "career," the thrill and excitement of a race has diminished. There really is nothing to match your first marathon in terms of joy and pain. Not to say that I don't enjoy running races now, but just that it no longer has the cachet it once had.

However, this past weekend I participated in a race that reminded me of the crazy entertainment value running can have. Ten brave souls from different orbits of my running circle participated in the first ever Ragnar Relay Los Angeles, a 178 mile relay from Santa Barbara to Dana Point. A great time was had by all. Not only that, but we also wound up doing well. Our team, Relay Relay Ridiculously Good Looking, finished 19th out of 105 teams and finished third in the "Open-Mixed" division. We crossed the finish line in 20 hours, 22 minutes.

Unfortunately the race wasn't exactly 178 miles. At the last minute seven legs had to be cancelled because of permit issues. It didn't affect my legs, but the runners in Van 1 had to reshuffle. It didn't detract from our enjoyment, though.

I was runner #7, the first runner in the second van. I actually had the ideal legs. My first two legs were the longest of the whole group until the last six legs. I ran 7.7 miles for the first and 7 miles for the second. Then for my last leg I ran a quick 2.8 miles along the Huntington Beach bike path. Basically I got to finish easy. Andy and Katie weren't so lucky. Andy had to run a hard 10.2 miles in Huntington Beach for his last leg and Katie had the unenviable task of running uphill for over 8 miles along the 133 highway leading to Laguna Beach in the middle of the day. They both rocked it, though.

As for me, I did better than I thought. I ran my legs fairly fast considering I hadn't jump started my training until three weeks before. I ran the first two legs at a surprising 8 minute pace. I thought I'd be lucky to run a 9 minute pace for both. The last leg was accomplished at a respectable 7:10/mile pace, which is comparable to my previous 5K paces--and this was done after having already run 14.7 miles in the last day and barely getting any sleep.

I had a terrific time riding down south, cheering friends on and checking out the gorgeous ocean views. We couldn't have asked for better weather too. I was on such a high the whole weekend. When I finally got home on Saturday night I crashed and slept for almost 12 hours. I'm already looking forward to doing this race in the future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Adventures in Metroland

Civic Center Metro Station ..., originally uploaded by Simon Shek.

I've been riding Metro regularly for almost a year now. I moved to Koreatown in June and started taking Metro to work and other places then. In that time I've ridden all hours of the day--early, midday, night, late night--and nothing exciting happened. I'd hop in the train or bus and sit quietly until I got to my destination. Every ride had been uneventful, save for the smelly homeless person or the self-talker.

Then there was today.

Wednesday usually means trivia night, but tonight I skipped trivia and took Metro to Pasadena to have dinner at Houston's with the family. I squeezed myself into a Union Station-bound train and took a spot in the aisle towards one end of the car. No sooner had the train started towards Civic Center when I heard a familiar, retching sound followed by a splash. The space that quickly opened up in the crowded train and the gasps confirmed the disgusting event. A passenger had thrown up. It was easy to spot the culprit as he stood there alone, pale-faced by the door, wiping his mouth with his sleeves. As anyone who has thrown up can attest, you don't just vomit once. Sure enough, more vomit from the poor guy. Everywhere you looked was a disgusted face. Some passengers covered their nose and mouth with the books they were reading, and others declared that they were getting off.

I understand that being in close proximity to vomit isn't desirable, but do people really need to make the poor guy feel even worse? It's easy for me to act all high and mighty when I wasn't the one whose shoes got splattered with vomit juice, but I felt bad for the guy. I doubt he wanted to throw up in a crowded, shaky train. It just happened. When we finally made it to Union Station I asked the guy if he was OK. He just shook his head and ducked out of the train.

On the ride back home after dinner, I became fascinated by one of my fellow passengers. The guy was dressed like he had just come from a round of golf. He read the sports section with the aid of a pair of broken glasses, missing one of the temples, which he had to hold up to his eyes to use. What made it more interesting was that they were women's glasses. When he tilted his head I saw the glasses were embellished with florets at the corner.

I was studying the guy when something caught my eye in the car in front of us. A woman was pressing the emergency button over and over again. An African-American man moves towards her and a guy in a red soccer polo jumps in between them. The woman keeps frantically pressing the emergency call button and the two men appear to be struggling. The guy in the red keeps pushing the other guy away, away from the woman. It looked like they were grasping each other's hands and were engaged in a wrestling match. The guy gets away from the guy in the red and lunges towards the frightened woman, who backs towards the middle of the car. The guy in the red keeps pushing. As we're approaching Wilshire/Vermont the African-American passenger goes through the doors that lead to our car. I got scared. What was going to happen? The guy in the soccer polo follows him and yells something about a guy in a gray sweater and that the police had been called. When they made it to our car I noticed that the African-American guy had a cut on his forehead. When the doors opened at Wilshire/Vermont, the guy with the cut exits, followed by the guy in the soccer polo who continued to yell something about the police. I'm not sure if the guy got that cut during the altercation or if he had that when he boarded. He looked strung out, so it's possible that he wasn't completely there.

After a while I couldn't hear them. The doors closed and we headed towards Wilshire/Normandie.

Vomit and violence. Don't it make you want to go Metro?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Predictions

It's an hour until the show. I just wanted to get my predictions on the record.

Slumdog Millionaire, Christian Colson

Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle

Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy

WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon & Pete Docter

Sean Penn in Milk

Kate Winslet in The Reader

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

WALL-E, Andrew Stanton

Man on Wire, James Marsh & Simon Chinn

The Class, France

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Donald Graham Burt & Victor J. Zolfo

Slumdog Millionaire, Anthony Dod Mantle

The Duchess, Michael O’Connor

Slumdog Millionaire, Chris Dickens

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Greg Cannom

WALL-E, Thomas Newman

"Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman & Gulzar

Slumdog Millionaire, Glenn Freemantle & Tom Sayers

WALL-E, Tom Myers, Michael Semanick & Ben Burtt

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton & Craig Barron

“Presto”, Doug Sweetland

“The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306”, Adam Pertofsky & Margaret Hyde

“Manon on the Asphalt”, Elizabeth Marre & Olivier Pont

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

First Post of 2009

We're into the second month of 2009 and I'm finally posting my first entry for the year. And what finally prompted me to post?

KCRW--or rather the winners of the daily giveaways. For the most part I enjoy hearing the phone call between Matt Holzman and the winner, but lately I've found it aggravating. It seems like all the winners I've heard during this pledge drive are first time subscribers. They're giving for the first time and winning a laptop right off the bat! I've been giving for five years now and haven't won. What am I doing wrong? Now I know what Kate Winslet must feel like.

My membership won't expire until August, so I'm holding off until then to give. I better win something, Matt Holzman, or I'll stop renewing.