Friday, July 30, 2010

Raul's Finite Playlist: July 2010

For my road trip to San Francisco last weekend, I put together a mostly mellow--some up-tempo songs found their way in--mix of music for the drive and also to get me relaxed for my run. Unlike most people who like fast-paced music to get them revved up to run, I like listening to soothing sounds before a run. I feel it helps me relax and keeps my heart rate from racing too fast. This mix has gotten a lot of play the last week. Some of the songs have worn out their welcome somewhat, but mostly I've been enjoying listening to this mix.

01 "Trouble" - Cat Stevens
02 "The Way I Am" - Bonnie "Prince" Billy
03 "Lover's Spit" - Broken Social Scene
04 "One of These Days" - Owen
05 "I Never Want to Go Home" - The Whigs
06 "Curs in the Weeds" - Horse Feathers
07 "October" - Broken Bells
08 "You! Me! Dancing!" - Los Campesinos
09 "You'll Go Far" - Jenn Grant
10 "The Man Who Would Speak True" - Blitzen Trapper
11 "I Know There's An Answer" - The Beach Boys
12 "That It Moves" - Greg Laswell
13 "Careless Love" - Camera Obscura
14 "Heartbeat Radio" - Sondre Lerche
15 "Wicked Blood" - Sea Wolf
16 "Sentimental Life" - Nik Freitas

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Race Report: 07.25.2010 San Francisco Marathon

Time: 4:03:52
Pace: 9:19/mile

Katie, Rob, and Me

Boy, that was a tough one. At least I had a great time hanging with the running crew and eating my heart out in San Francisco.

Going into the San Francisco Marathon this weekend, I had visions of kicking ass and setting a personal best. That went out the window by the halfway point when my legs started giving up on me, but I still hoped I would finish under four hours. By mile 18 I was just praying I wouldn't embarrass myself. Thankfully, I didn't. Even though by the end I felt like I was running slow enough to finish well over four hours, I managed to make it to the finish in 4:03:52. I guess it's some measure of success that I'm disappointed by a 4:03 marathon. It's a time I'm sure many other runners would be happy to have.

This marks my slowest marathon since the 2008 San Antonio Rock n' Roll Marathon where I ran slightly faster by a minute. Looking back at the results there, I think the same problem befell me in San Francisco--too many hills. It's not so much the big hills but the quantity of hills that was the factor. After entering Golden Gate Park at the halfway point, my legs started feeling weak. I fell behind Katie and Rob rather quickly, which bums me out. I wish I could have finished with them. At that point, though, I really had to run my own race. I was just going to slow them down, and I had to focus on getting through the next 13 miles somehow. I can't remember ever cramping in so many different places in my legs. The cramping never got severe where my legs locked up, but it did make moving my legs a struggle.

The frustrating thing about my legs letting me down was that I felt great otherwise. I wasn't out of breath and I felt like I had trained well enough to finish strong, but my legs though felt like calling it an early day. That it happened so early in the race also was frustrating because it affected me psychologically. I got annoyed with Golden Gate Park and what felt to me like endless loops. At one point I was sure I was running a loop I had already done. I also hated that I could hear where the half marathon was finishing, which I knew I would pass on the way out, but first I had to run a few loops within loops. I'm sure most of the other runners loved running through such a beautiful park, but I just couldn't wait to get out of there.

I recovered a little when I got onto Haight. I think I prefer running on city streets during a marathon over trees and nature. It's great during a training run, but I'm more entertained by city streets. In any event, I intended to forego as many walk breaks as I could and just plow ahead. I was doing well until about mile 22 when my stride turned into more of a shuffle. As evidenced by my pace, I slowed down from a 9:04/mile pace at the 20 mile mark to my final pace of 9:19/mile at the finish. That means I was probably running over 10 minutes per mile from mile 20 on. Not good.

All in all, I would rank San Francisco as the toughest course I have run. It definitely got the better of me, and for that reason I feel compelled to come back, if not next year then the following year. I intend to beat this course and post a time worth bragging about. To do so I'll have to take my training more seriously than I have in the last year.

One last thing about the race, the organizers really did a great job. Everything ran smoothly and I saw no major issues that I would correct. I'm not a fan of running those loops through Golden Gate Park, but I think others disagree with me. I also want to commend the organizers on neat little touches that help make this post-race period just as much fun. For one, the medal they give for the marathon can double as a coaster. Smart! I also love the video they provide on the website of everyone's finish. Although I'm mostly obscured by a tall runner in my video, I still got a laugh at seeing how quickly I transitioned from running to walking as soon as I crossed the finish line. I guess I'm serious about not running one more step at the finish.

As for San Francisco itself, it's the first time that I actually saw what others love about the city. The previous times I've been there, I've found it a nice city but not worth falling in love with. That's probably due to the fact that I have mostly visited the touristy areas in downtown. Staying with Liza in the Mission District, though, I really enjoyed the relaxed feel of the neighborhood, which also had a bounty of great shops and such. I wished I could have walked through the area more, but with the marathon I really had to avoid being on my feet so much. I think I did too much walking as it was and might have played a part in how quickly my legs fatigued. I'm still not convinced that San Francisco is as great as others make it out to be, but I finally started seeing the reason why people think highly of it--and the reason can be found away from downtown. Next time I visit the city I will definitely spend more time exploring other neighborhoods of the city.

La Taqueria


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When It Don't Come Easy

I guess my body didn't really want to run tonight.

There are times when running is more of an effort, but most of the time I can just plow ahead and get over it. Soon enough I'm feeling fine or at least well enough to finish the run. Tonight wasn't one of those nights. I felt it in the very first step.

It wasn't that anything hurt. My legs felt fine. Instead it was as if my whole body was throwing a tantrum and was refusing to cooperate. It was sitting this run out and I was going to have to force myself to finish. I ran a more casual pace but even then I had to take some walk breaks just to gather myself and summon some saved up energy to finish. If it wasn't for the fact that the marathon is this weekend I probably would have sat tonight out, but instead I went for a late evening 6 mile run (10pm). I probably won't have an opportunity to run again until Thursday, so I felt like I needed to get a good long run in tonight. I hope that the issue is just that I'm tired from my run yesterday. More likely, though, is that it was just one of those nights. The body says no. I got through it, though, so that counts for something.

As I mentioned the race is this weekend and I'm excited. Not about the race so much but about being in San Francisco and sorta getting away for the weekend. It looks like all my meals are pretty much planned with some good eats. I guess it's a good thing I'll be burning 3,000 calories on Sunday.

Lastly, tonight I played trivia at Casey's all by my lonesome and I almost won! I came in second, beating out teams who had as many as six people. Had I been more confident and used the "Double or Nothing" option at least one more time, I probably would have won. Instead I played it a little conservatively in the first two rounds even though as it turned out I was right on all those answers. The host likes to draw attention to these things, so I had to suffer through looks--albeit impressed stares--as I claimed my second place prize. For the free drink round, each team had to send a member up (which meant I had to go up) and we played an elimination round where we each took turns naming universities and which division they were in (ex. UCLA/Pac-10). I surely thought I would lose this round--and I did--but I was surprised to find myself one of the last two. I was only confident about Pac 10 and Big 10 teams, so I decided that I would only name Pac 10 teams. Surprisingly it worked. Others were probably showing off and named teams from different divisions. I got eliminated because I repeated a school someone had already said. I didn't realize it had been said before. I doubt I would have won anyway since the other guy seemed to know the make-up of all the divisions. Still, I did better than I expected in that round, but it also marked the first time I have lost the Free Drink round.

More trivia on Wednesday as we play the third week of the tournament qualifying at Sardo's. It's not looking good for us, though. Competition at Sardo's is stiff and the winning teams have been scoring at least 120 points. For us to have any chance we would have to win the next two weeks. It's possible but unlikely.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

12 Miles

Tits. I have tits--and my knee aches.

Let's get the facts out of the way. I ran 12.2 miles in less than 2 hours. Since Rob and Katie couldn't run any way, I just stuck close to home and ran a slightly different course. From my house I ran to Olympic and headed west. I turned north on Fairfax and then headed back east on Sunset. Fairfax is all uphill. Rather than turn on La Brea, I continued on Sunset to Vine and took that back to Beverly, made a quick turn towards Larchmont and ran south to 3rd where I picked up my usual route on 4th Street back to my house.

It was a good run. Getting motivated to actually get up and put on my shoes was the toughest part, but the promise of food was enough to kick my ass into gear. When I woke up, though, I had a slight twinge above my right knee cap. It wasn't painful, but it was bothersome. I ran and it didn't bother me. When I got back, though, I noticed that the ache was back. Still, it didn't hurt badly. I went about my day and on Monday I didn't feel any thing.

Tuesday morning, though, I woke up and it was back. Aaargh! I ran on it tonight and again it didn't bother me, but afterwards I felt it more. It seemed to get worse after sitting around eating dinner in Thai Town. I walked trying not to put too much stress on the right leg. The ache lessened once I was moving, but it's still there. I just hope it's not the recurrence of my phantom knee pain--and I hope it doesn't affect my marathon, which is already next weekend!

As for my tits, I do have them. I've known for a while that I have them. When I run I check my reflection often to see how badly my chest and belly are heaving. I've noticed in some pictures the jelly-like consistency of my chest when the photographer catches me at just the right moment. I'd like to think that I just have overly developed pectoral muscles, but that isn't the case. Yes, there is muscle there but there is also fat, and the combination of the two makes for a chest that heaves like the sea during a hurricane.

I thought that I was the only one that really noticed how bouncy my tits are, but during my run I finally got confirmation. I can't quote exactly what he said, but as I passed a stoned-looking guy on the sidewalk, I distinctly heard him say "titties" and I vaguely heard him say, "It looks like he's got titties." Again, the only word I heard clearly was "titties," but I am sure that he was referring to me. I have tits and other people notice! I wondered why runners often stare at me when I run by. Now I know that it must be my man tits that are catching their attention.

After hearing the guy's comment I kept cupping my tits to see how badly they were undulating as I run. They don't feel as if they're bouncing too much, but seeing my reflection clearly shows strong heaving. I really ought to strap these things down.

In any event, there's not much I can do. I've had tits for most of my life, and I doubt they'll go away soon or easily. I would have to lose that last 10-15 pounds I've been trying to shed for 10 years now. Of course it doesn't help that after running as much as I do, I stuff my mouth silly with food. On Sunday, post 12 miler i joined the family for lunch at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles where I gorged myself on Scoe's #1 - 2 big waffles and a quarter chicken. I could have finished the whole thing, but shame caused me to leave a quarter of my waffles on my plate.

Oh, tits. I guess we'll be together until the end of time.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Fourth of July Weekend

Katie, Rob and I completed our 20 miler tonight, and it went well--much better than the 18 miler, and it even went better than the 12 miler last week. We were shooting for a marathon pace during last week's run but missed it and finished with a pace over 9 minutes. Our pace for the 20 miler? 9:04. We ran faster for 20 miles than we did last week for 12.

While I usually run during the evening hours, it's rare for me to do a long run in the afternoon, let alone 20 miles. Due to Rob's holiday travels, though, Monday afternoon was the only time all three of us could run. We figured starting out later in the afternoon might be slightly cooler. Yeah, right. The run's beginning was slightly disheartening. While it wasn't excessively hot, it was still warm and kind of humid. I was sweating profusely in just the first three miles--wearing black was a bad idea. I finished my sports bottle full of Gatorade in the first three miles--a bottle I was planning to last me 10 miles. Quite an inauspicious start to a very long run. What shade there was, though, made a huge difference.

We ran 2 laps around the Rose Bowl to start and then headed north in our usual route. The heat was still troublesome, and while I thought I was maintaining a fast pace, I kept falling behind Rob and Katie. Realizing now that we were actually running fast, I understand why my "fast" pace just wasn't fast enough. We were planning to run as far up the forest trail as we could, but on the way up we encountered a sign saying the trail ahead was closed. That didn't stop us, though, and we kept running. We reached the wood bridge I excitedly proclaimed that we were halfway done. Then it happened. I once again rolled my ankle. I rolled my ankle twice during the 18 miler. This time I not only rolled my ankle but tripped and fell. I didn't roll my ankle badly nor was I hurt by my fall apart from a small scrape on a knee. While on the ground, though, I felt like I couldn't get up. Katie and Rob helped me up and brushed off the dirt on my back. As they were doing so, a forest ranger pulled up and told us the trail was closed in as nice a way as possible. Rather than risk a ticket, we turned around and headed south.

Thankfully, it started to cool down by this time, or at least the shaded regions got larger. While I felt better, I still kept lagging behind Katie and Rob. I think it was partly me holding back so I had something for the tough, late miles, but I also slowed down to avoid rolling my ankle again in the rocky terrain along the arroyo. I was as much as a minute behind the two of them. Eventually I caught up as we turned around near South Pasadena. I ran ahead thinking that they will catch up, and they did. In the end, though, I guess I saved up more energy or I just got a second wind, but I finished ahead of Rob and Katie ad the end. All in all it was a great run and it helped that it got cooler towards the end. Now we taper. Only 12 miles next week.

The 20 miler was a great way to cap a terrific and busy holiday weekend. A recap:

-Ran 8 miles to break in my new shoes prior to running with them for the 20 miler.
-Helped Chaps move into his new apartment.
-Went on a bike ride on the Whittier Greenway Trail, a 4.6 mile bike/pedestrian trail converted from an abandoned railroad right-of-way.
-Met up with Liza and Alice for dinner at Wurstkuche, which was then followed by drinks at Royal Clayton's, which was then followed by bread pudding AND chipotle fries at Pete's.

-Hamburgers with family in West Covina. While there I watched a "Deadliest Catch" marathon. Geez, gripping stuff that show.

-Slept until 11 am. It was great!
-Watched Toy Story 3. Yup, I choked up at the end. Terrific movie.
-Ran 20 miles (see above).
-Grocery shopping.
-Cooked steak and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner.

Thanks to the long weekend, though, I feel well-rested and mostly ready to face the next four days.