Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year in Running

I say this over and over again, but I have been terrible about updating this blog. I don't do resolutions, but if I did one of them would be to write more. There have been some developments in my running that will hopefully prompt me to do so. But right now let's take a look back at 2012, the year that was.

The big thing in 2012 was my 12 for '12 project: 12 races, one a month, half marathon or more. It was a success in that I was able to accomnplish the goal, but it was a failure in the sense that I thought that doing so many races would force me to train better and improve my times. Neither happened. I trained haphazardly and in some cases the races themselves were the training runs. As a result no personal bests were recorded. I was nowhere near my best. My fastest time was a 1:46 in Ventura in June, which was about 40 seconds faster than the Pasadena Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in February. The slowest half marathon was August's America's Finest City in San Diego. The culprit there was a hot day. I was burning up by mile 4. I managed to get in at 2:00 flat. My official chip time was 2:00:00, which is kind of cool. The rest of the races ranged from a 1:48 in the last race, December's Santa to the Sea Half Marathon to a 1:55 in May's Pasadena Half Marathon.

Here are the 12 for '12 races:

January: Rose Bowl Half Marathon - 1:52:16
February: Pasadena Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - 1:46:52
March: Los Angeles Marathon - 4:05:41
April: Hollywood Half Marathon - 1:51:57
May: Pasadena Half Marathon - 1:55:21
June: Ventura Beachfront Half Marathon - 1:46:11
July: San Francisco Half Marathon - 1:54:29
August: America's Finest City Half Marathon - 2:00:00
September: Montreal Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - 1:50:18
October: Long Beach Half Marathon - 1:53:55
November: Santa Clarita Half Marathon - 1:53:36
Decemebr: Santa to the Sea Half Marathon - 1:48:38

It turned out to be a very fun endeavor. I got to run my first international race in Montreal, ran in San Francisco again, and ran in several smaller races that turned out to be well-organized and extremely convenient. Ventura's post-race snacks inlcuded tuna wraps. Enough said.

While the races above are the official 12 for '12 races, I actually ran a couple of other races for one reason or another. In October I ran--well, mostly walked--the Los Angeles Rock n' Roll Half Marathon with a friend. I actually used another friend's bib so it wasn't officially my race. Since Audrey had not trained for this race, it actually took us 3 hours to complete the race. I can tell you that I was probably more sore from this race than any other just because of the amount of time I was on my feet. I also ran the Paramount Ranch Half Marathon in December, which made it my final race for the year. This was a trail race, part of my training for the Leona Divide 50 Mile Trail Race in April 2013. The time for this race was 2:15 which is my slowest half ever. Since it was on single track trails, it was difficult to pass people along the way. In addition to these half marathons, I once again took part in the LA Frontrunners Pride Run in June as part of the West Hollywood Pride festivities. I did the ultra again--both the 5K and 10K--but my times were nothing to brag about. No PR's but the times were respectable.

Now, looking to 2013, as I mentioned I am training for Leona Divide. This will be my first ultra marathon and I am once again training with Team in Training. I'm still a little apprehensive about the whole thing. Running 10 miles is hard enough but 50 just sounds crazy. I figure with training I should be able to accomplish this, but I've been a bit lazy so far. Much like my writing.

So, in 2013, expect to see a littl more writing from me but a lot of the subjects will probably be dominated by my ultra marathon training. It's a new thing and I'm excited.

That's it for now. I have other things to wrap in 2012, but for now this is about running. I'll see you all in 2013 with more pieces about my ultra marathon training.

Happy New Year!

Friday, July 06, 2012

I'm Back!

Didn't realize I was gone? Well, I was. I took a two-week jaunt to the Philippines to visit family and relax at the beautiful El Nido Resort. Fact of the matter is I relaxed way too much. I ran not one step during my stay. By the third day my legs were feeling like jelly. By the fourth I was going into heavy withdrawals. I wanted to run! Unfortunately there was no good place to run where my parents live. Not only is it hot and humid, but I'd be placing myself at risk trying to run by the side of a busy road. If not running wasn't bad enough, I barely did any walking either. I took my pedometer with me, but I stopped carrying it after a couple of days because it was depressing me how inactive I was. At my parents' house all I really did was wake up, eat, watch TV, eat, watch TV/nap, eat again, watch TV. Not the ideal set-up for me.

I got back on Tuesday, and I'm still adjusting to the time difference. The first night I fell asleep at 4am and slept straight through until 2pm. The next night was 3am. Last night was 2:30am, so I'm getting close to my usual bed time of 12:30ish.

I also went on my first run in two weeks yesterday, a nice, easy 4.5 mile run at an 8:30 pace. It wasn't as bad as I expected but I still got pretty winded, and this morning I'm feeling the ache in my legs. They've had too much rest. Thankfully the San Francisco Half Marathon isn't until the end of the month. I have some time to regain some fitness and hopefully shed some of the weight I put on.

I'm way behind on posting. I have yet to write up my June race, which turned out pretty well: a 1:46 at the Ventura Beachfront Half Marathon. It's a small race, 700 runners, but very well managed. I'll write more soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Race Report: 05.20.2012-Pasadena Half Marathon

Officially the time is 1:55. I stopped my watch when I had to take a potty break at mile 6. The stop was worth it because I felt a little better afterwards. It's not a great time, but it's respectable. One thing you 'll notice when you break down my splits is that I started running fast the last two miles. The downhill definitely helped in this section, but the presence of Sonia running with me for a couple of miles forced me to go faster than I probably would have had I been running by myself. I ran miles 11 and 12 at roughly a 7:30 pace. Other than that, nothing much to say about this race. The course is challenging, but I prefer the Rock N Roll course even if the two unavoidably share similar footprints. Pasadena is only so big. Had the RNR race had this race's finish, then that race would be perfect. Since this race I also ran the Pride Run last weekend. I once again opted for the ultra option and posted some respectable times. More to come later on this race. This weekend I'll be running my sixth 12 for '12 race. I'll be participating in the Ventura Beachfront Half Marathon. It looks like a smallish race. It runs by the beach. Hopefully there will be some June gloom to keep the temps down.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Race Report: 04.07.2012 Hollywood Half Marathon

Chip Time: 1:51:57 Avg. Pace: 8:33
I'd hate for anyone to think that I have already failed at my 12 for '12 challenge. I did run a race this month a couple of weeks ago, but due to things being busy--work, as usual, and moving to a new apartment--I haven't had the chance to write about my April race: the inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon. I really thought doing the 12 for '12 challenge would force me to train better and get faster. So far it hasn't happened. Leading up to this race I fell off the running wagon again, so this was another "just finish" race. With a giant hill at the end, I knew I wouldn't be setting any new personal bests, but I was hoping to finish at under 1:50. That didn't happen and that was due to a lack of trying. I was in solid shape for a sub 1:50 finish up until mile 9 or 10 when I just got tired and opted to walk more than I should have. Couple that with the uphill finish, what was a likely 1:47 finish became a 1:52. I'm not disappointed, though. I ran it, enjoyed running it and turned in a solid time.

There was really nothing noteworthy to write about. The start was fast as we ran down Cahuenga past the Hollywood Bowl, then the rest of the way until the turnaround in Silver Lake was mostly flat with some rolling hills. I kept up a good pace but my legs were just not feeling it to go any faster. I fatigued around mile 9 but I still hoped I could have a solid finish. Instead I walked a couple of times going up Cahuenga back to Universal City and took some pics along the way. With such a tough hill, I wasn't too surprised when my calves started cramping, but thankfully I was practically done when it started acting up. As for the race logistics, the course is fine. Its chief feature is that challenging hill on Cahuenga. I didn't enjoy running through City Walk as it was too narrow and had too many things I could trip over. Hopefully the race won't start in Universal City again. The expo was a pain to get to as it was at the Hilton up in Universal City. The line for parking was quite lengthy, so I decided to park down the hill and just walk up. It's tiring to do that, but I preferred that to waiting in a line of cars and pay $10 to park. The race start had the same problem, which I avoided by going Metro. The aid stations ran out of cups and there weren't enough volunteers. Other than that, it was an OK race. I doubt I'll do it again next year, but who knows? Next up is the Pasadena Half Marathon in May!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I just discovered how to set my Garmin to do intervals. I've had it for nine months and swore that it didn't do it. It just shows how impatient I am to read instruction manuals. Not only does it do time intervals, but you can set it for distance. Awesome!

Now back to our regularly scheduled silence.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Race Report: 03.18.2012 Los Angeles Marathon

Chip Time: 4:05:41
Avg. Pace: 9:22/mile

12 for '12 continues on with the L.A. Marathon this weekend. It wasn't the success I would have liked, but it also could have been worse. Around mile 17 I briefly entertained the thought that dropping out wouldn't be such a bad thing. Thankfully, I dismissed it. It would have been the first time I did not finish a race had I done so. There was really nothing wrong--no injuries, no bad weather. I can't blame it on lack of training either since I was probably just a little less prepared this year than last year, and having been a regular runner all these years, I should be able to do this. What it all boiled down to, I think, was that my legs just didn't feel like running yesterday. I think they would have preferred had I just stayed in bed. But 4:05:41 is nothing to sneeze at even if it is slower than the San Francisco Marathon from two years ago and that it marks the first time I've ran the L.A. Marathon slower than four hours since my second time in 2006. If 4:05 is a bad day in the office for me, then I'd take it.

It has been taking me much longer to warm up during a race lately, so my game plan this year was to start with the pace I want to finish with. I figured with an 8:30 pace I would finish under 3:45 and gain a new PR. I ran the first mile in 8:42 then lowered to an 8:07 and 8:13 the next two miles. I slowed down the next few miles, around 8:40, which would have been perfect. A little slower than the target pace but within striking distance. However, even this slower pace was feeling like a struggle. Unlike last year when I got into a groove around mile 8, all I experienced in mile 8 were legs that were beginning to feel like lead. I wasn't loosening up but rather the opposite was happening: I was stiffening up.

Running through Hollywood, even the flat areas, was taking a lot out of me, so imagine how I felt going up the Sunset Strip. I got a stitch in my abs (a front-stitch?) during this time, so I had to control my breathing, taking dee breaths to loosen up my abs. It finally worked, but my legs were still dead. Apart from the abs, I really had no problems breathing. It was just my legs. They just didn't feel like running. From mile 13-16 I was running a pace above 9 minutes. In mile 17 I broke 10 minutes and did so again the next mile (10:30). I got myself moving again in mile 19 with a 9:27 but that was shortlived. I walked a lot of mile 20 and resulted in my slowest mile. 12:08.

I had thought about just walking the last six miles and enjoying the view. Then I thought again that I would prefer that this race be over sooner rather than later. I told myself that if I jog the last six miles I would be done in about an hour, so suck it up. I did. I only walked a couple of times after that to take a Gu and some water. It wasn't a fast pace but at least I was moving. It wasn't the relatively easy last six miles of last year, though.

The result is definitely disappointing. It's slower than the San Francisco Marathon in 2010, and it's the first time I've run above four hours at the L.A. Marathon since my second one in 2006. But again, it could have been worse. Here's where experience pays off. Were this my first marathon I probably would have just wimped out and walked, but partly out of guilt and pride I sucked it up and finished in a respectable time.

Lessons? I'm a broken record: I need to train more. I need to be more disciplined about getting my miles in. Going from 13 miles to 20 miles probably isn't ideal. Missing close to three weeks of running is also not good. Let's see if I've learned my lesson now.

As for my next race, most likely it will be the Hollywood Half Marathon. I can't find another one that works in terms of proximity and appeal. Too bad I didn't decide to sign up sooner when it was cheaper.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Favorite Movies of 2011

The Academy gets their say on Sunday, but these are the real best films of 2011.

01 Weekend

02 A Separation

03 Drive

04 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

05 Hugo

06 Bridesmaids

07 Bill Cunningham New York

08 Moneyball

09 The Descendants

10 Warrior

Honorable Mention: War Horse, Take Shelter, The Tree of Life, Senna

Monday, February 20, 2012

Race Report: 02.19.2012 Inaugural Pasadena Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Chip Time: 1:46:52
Avg Pace: 8:10/mile

What a great inaugural race for the Pasadena Rock N Roll Half Marathon! As can be expected from Competitor Group, the race was well-organized, efficient, and a ton of fun. There were no traffic jams parking or leaving the Rose Bowl, there were plenty of port-a-potties, no long lines, plenty of water and Gatorade, and the race started right on time. To top it all off, the course was beautiful. I love Pasadena and the organizers did a great job laying out the course so that it displays the city at its best. From the Rose Bowl to Old Town to Cal Tech to Colorado Street Bridge, the city's sights were well-represented. I'm looking forward to running this again next year. Rob and I already signed up.

As for the running part of it, it turned out to be better than I feared. Having run only a couple of times in the last three weeks I knew a PR was not possible. A 1:50 race even seemed unlikely. However, I wound up running a respectable 1:46:52, and I could have been even faster had it not for the cramping that started in mile 10. By mile 12 cramps in both calves had me hobbling to the finish. I think the lack of running definitely contributed to the cramping. My legs were out of shape, but aerobically I was fine. I felt good, even. So while I'm glad I had a decent race even with the lack of training, I'm disappointed that it couldn't be better. I guess I'm just greedy.

I ran a consistent race. I started out too fast, though, because I was running in the first corral and tried to see if I could keep up with the others. I could not. The first mile clocked in at 7:28 and the second mile was 7:51. After that I slowed down a little and ran a steady 8 minute pace. At mile 8 I started slowing down a little, but I figured I'd make up some time towards the end. One good thing about being so famiilar with the race course is that I knew where I needed to save my energy and where I could make up some ground. Unfortunately my cramping kept me from making up that time in the end. Under 1:45 would have been great, marking my fastest half in over two years. But thinking about it all now, I'm just glad it wasn't the disaster I feared.

With a good race under my belt, I'm feeling a little more motivated moving on to the L.A. Marathon next month. I have a month left to train and i'm going to have to ratchet up my mileage quickly. I'll try to do 18 miles this weekend, possibly 20. If not this weekend, then a 20 miler the following weekend. Apart from the long runs, I also need to run more often during the week to get my legs back into shape. It won't do to cramp up 13 miles into a marathon. That would be a disaster!

Pics from the race are already up. There are probably more, but so far nothing that makes me look like an impressive runner. I never look great in my running pics. I always look like I'm trudging rather than sprinting.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Favorite Albums of 2011

Tomorrow night the Grammys will announce their picks for the best in music, but I'm going to beat them to the punch. These are the real best albums of the last year.

1. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

2. The Antlers - Burst Apart

3. Active Child - You Are All I See

4. The Black Keys - El Camino

5. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade

6. Bahamas - Pink Strat

7. Real Estate - Days

8. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

9. Feist - Metals

10. Washed Out - Within and Without

Honorable Mentions:
Gardens & Villa - Gardens & Villa; Portugal. The Man - In the Mountain, In the Cloud; Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island; Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes; Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Runner's Block

Is there such a thing as runner's block? If there is, mine also goes by the name "work." For the last three weeks I've been working long hours, including weekends. It will probably be another week or so of the same. As a result, my running has suffered. I've been managing to get in about two runs during the week, but this week it's unlikely I'll get in any. I didn't leave work until 10 tonight and yesterday. I'm guessing it will be the same tomorrow and Thursday. It is frustrating since the Pasadena Rock n' Roll Half is in a couple of weeks and the LA Marathon is in about a month.

I have managed to get in some long runs, though. Last weekend I ran a 16 miler and then on Sunday I ran over 11 miles while cheering/pacing Rob at the Surf City Marathon. Rob finished in 3:40, which is much faster than how I've been running my recent marathons. I've been hovering around 3:52 the last few times.

In any event, I'm hoping this week will be the nadir of this work craziness and things will improve. Sitting behind a desk for 13+ hours can wear a guy out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Race Report: 01.22.2012 Rose Bowl Half Marathon

Time: 1:52:16
Pace: 8:35/mile

No PR was set this weekend, but I didn't really expect to. The Rose Bowl Half Marathon, while familiar territory for me since I run the course every weekend, isn't a race to PR in. The trails are too rocky and if you're as clumsy as me, you can risk spraining your ankle pretty badly. I had a small slip once, but I also almost got taken out a couple of times by other runners who lost their footing. There are also spots where you have to walk because it gets too crowded and there's very little space to maneuver. My goal was to run 1:50, but after not running for a week, I lowered my expectation to under two hours, so I'm happy with my 1:52.

I was a little surprised that I felt good most of the way. As usual the first five miles were the toughest. I was OK the first couple of miles but my legs started feeling fatigued early on. Then, just as quickly, I felt fine. I couldn't speed up too much around miles 7 through 9, but I started picking up the speed around mile 10 until the end. Overall, though, my pace was pretty consistent. The first mile was 9:05 then followed that with an 8:14 second mile. My slowest mile was a 9:55 for mile 8. That was due to the goat trail, which I mostly ran but had to walk because of traffic going up. This was the point where I also encountered the overall winner as he ran down the hill ever so quickly. I'm amazed by people who can run down that hill. I slip every time I try to move fast on it. My best miles were the last two, aided by a slight downhill to the finish. Mile 12 was a 7:34 and mile 13 was 7:31. That's a good way to finish, but unfortunately I did get passed right at the finish line by a woman who sprinted by me just as I was about to cross. Show off.

As for my next race, I had hopes that I may PR there, but the way my running has been going lately it's beginning to look unlikely. Work has been incredibly busy and I haven't been able to go out to run. This week isn't looking any better. Who knows though? I did OK on this race, so maybe I'll surprise myself with the next one.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Week in Running

What a terrible of week of running! The thing I feared would happen did happen as I didn't run once from Monday through Friday, unless you count the brief, two-minute attempt on a rickety treadmill at the gym. Monday I actually got dressed to run but just wasn't feeling it and came up with a terrible excuse not to do so. I told myself I'd get up early Tuesday but did not. Tuesday night wasn't an option since I was going to see "Fela!" at the Ahmanson. Wednesday night I attempted to run at the gym in Koreatown which has equipment that is at least 20 years old yet the gym is always packed. I managed to get on a treadmill fairly quickly but it was a treadmill that probably should be taken out back and put out of its misery. The tread was rubbing agains the machine and squeaked like crazy. I probably would have put up with it a little longer if not for the fact that the treadmill was stuck on an incline and would not go down. The treadmill was fit for a slow walk not a run. I just gave up. Rather than waiting for another, likely equally crappy, treadmill, I just went home. Thursday was another night on the town. FJ and I went to see a terrific concert by M83 at Club Nokia.

Thankfully I salvaged the week with two great long runs this weekend. Sonia, Rob, and I ran 13.1 miles on Saturday followed by a 10 miler the very next day. 23.1 miles in two days. It's a decrease from the 31 miles the previous week, but considering where I was I'd take it.

This week also isn't looking promising. Work is incredibly busy and I'm getting stressed. I'm hoping to get runs in to help alleviate the stress, but we'll see how productive I am. I'd like to at least get two or three runs before the half marathon on Sunday. I have no big expectations for that race since it's a difficult course, but I'd still like to finish under 2 hours, hopefully closer to 1:50.

So to recap, the goals for this week are two or three runs. I'm thinking I'll head to the gym in downtown to do some speedwork on the treadmill especially if work keeps me in the office until late (like tonight).

Happy running!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Last night I got home at 8pm and promised myself that I would go for a six mile run. I got dressed and put my watch on, when I noticed that it kept saying the memory was full. I thought the Garmins automatically deleted old records when space is needed. It even said so on the instruction manual. I had to have my watch or else it wouldn't count, right? I fiddled around with the watch until I finally figured out how to delete a few runs manually. This took but a few minutes but by the end of it, even though I was already dressed, I just didn't feel like running. In return I promised that I would run before work at 6:30am. I even upped the stakes by promising to donate $20 to a charity should I fail to do so.

Of course, I did not run this morning. My alarm went off, and I knew I would not get up.

This happens all too often. Even as I was negotiating with myself last night I knew I was just being lazy--it's too late to run, it's too cold, it's too dark, I'll do it tomorrow, my leg hurts. All excuses. The watch thing was an obvious excuse. I could have run without it as I did the other night and all the time before I bought the Garmin. Instead I used its malfunction as a reason to postpone and ultimately cancel my run

In any event, my only other likely window for running is tomorrow night. I could try and force myself to run in the morning, but weekday mornings are typically no-go's for me. So after a good start to the year last week, I'm taking a step back this week.

Anyone have any charities to suggest that would like my $20?

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Week in Running

It wasn't a bad start to the new year. I ran a total of 31.84 miles this first week including a couple of ten milers. Saturday's 10 miler was particularly good. It started off badly when I had to stop a mile and a half into the run due to a coughing fit. I couldn't seem to take a deep breath. This is a recurring problem for me. I feel like an old guy with a lot of phlegm for the first few miles during my morning runs. My pace was about 10:00 for the first four miles, but I brought that down with a fast second half, finishing at about a 9:15 pace. In fact, I clocked in my tenth mile in 7:45.

Last night's run, though, was shorter but I just felt sluggish through all of it. Still, I was glad I overcame my tendency for laziness and got the run in. I'm planning to run again tonight and I hope it's a lot better. I need to get this run in tonight because it's going to be a busy week. I'm sure work will be crazy but I also have a couple of fun events. I'm seeing "Fela" at the Ahmanson on Tuesday night and then on Thursday I'm seeing M83 with FJ. It's possible that I may not get another run in this week! Hopefully that won't be the case. The Rose Bowl Half Marathon is in a couple of weeks and I need to stay in shape since that won't be an easy one.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Announcing 12 for '12 and 2011 in Review

To motivate myself in 2012 to keep running I've decided to commit myself to running twelve races in 2012--12 for '12--catchy, huh? The rules are simple: one race (half marathon or greater) a month. Davey broached the idea one night and I think he's committed too. Right now I'm booked for the first three months. I have the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in a couple of weeks, the Inaugural Pasadena Rock N' Roll Half Marathon next month, and the L.A. Marathon in March. The rest of the year is still open, but I did apply for a spot in the New York City Marathon in November. I'll probably stick a lot of cheaper, local races since this could cost me a pretty penny if I tackle too many big, out-of-town races.

It's sort of an experiment, too, really. I know the idea is to run fewer races and train more, but lately I find myself lazy about running unless there's something I'm training for. Not to brag, but I think I've taken running half marathons and marathons for granted since I know I can do them. For the LA Marathon in 2011 I started training in January. It's turning out the same this year. At least if I commit myself to a race a month I will (hopefully) consistently run. Maybe it will mean I'll finally lose the weight I've been trying to lose for so long. Nutrition should really be a part of my training, but I love to eat too much. I'll tackle that some other time.

As for 2011, it was a slow year. As mentioned I ran the Los Angeles Marathon. It was a memorable one to be sure with the crazy weather. I still managed to run a respectable time of 3:53 but a new PR has eluded me once again. That's a continuing goal this year. 3:45! I also ran the Los Angeles Rock N' Roll Half Marathon this year with little to no training and it showed in my finish time of 1:50. I also ran another Ragnar Relay this year, and that was a blast. As much work as it is and as uncomfortable riding around a van for a day may be, these Ragnar races are just fun. I'm thinking I may take a break from relay races this year, but I'm not making any promises. If someone plans it all out and all I have to do is show up, then count me in.

To start off the year, here's a picture of me and some of my regular running gang who help inspire me to wake up early on Saturday/Sunday mornings. We ran the Rose Parade route early on Monday morning and--as usual--had a great time.