First Day Off Running in Two Months Today

Yes, today, Sunday, September 7, 2014, is the first day I've taken off from running since July 5, 2014. I've been running pretty much every day the entire summer, though my 50th birthday, the longest vacation since my teen years and other summer activities.

My running, however, has been nothing special, just daily 4 to 6 mile runs, mostly on trails, nothing too speedy, no races, speedwork. My fastest runs have been with the local youth cross country running club that my son participates in.

So today my quads are sore as hell. Why? Because yesterday I ran a local 5K cross country race mostly with a bunch of kids (and some adults) who have been training for the last 6 to 8 weeks. I, on the other hand, have not been in race training mode.

You can't fool your body, especially at age 50. Five years ago I could run a 5K on a moment's notice and feel fine the next day. Today I run a 5K and the next day my legs feel like I've run a marathon.

But it's a "good" feeling in that it is just soreness, not pain. No injuries. Just my muscles reminding me that if I want to run fast, I've got to train fast. A pretty basic concept. The soreness is a wake up call.

Getting back to the race, I don't even know my time. I had to bolt out of there to get to my other son's soccer game. The race was at 10am in 80+ degree heat, which is not my idea of fun. But I'm glad I did it and it gave me the excuse today to take a well-needed (and deserved) day off.

Looking forward to a fall/winter season of cool temperatures and rain. Perhaps wishful thinking here in drought-ridden Southern California, but I think we're about due for it.

What Have I Been Doing Since Running a Marathon Four Weeks Ago?

The Malibu Marathon was exactly four weeks ago and my training has not been focused on any particular goal. And that is a good thing, as I could use a physical and mental break.

Candy grabbing with the kids this holiday season. Darn you, WalMartI've been asked a number of times what my next race is. My answer: I dunno...yet. Gotta get my head back in the game, and that may not happen until the new year. Just too tired to think about it at this point. I was hoping for a more solid marathon performance (for me) that would propel me towards a Spring 2013 marathon. But since that didn't happen, I'm in "wait and see" mode.

The good news is that I feel I'm pretty much over all my nagging little injuries...calf strain that messed with my final marathon preparation...and nagging knees. Now I'm running just fine, but tired. Physically tired due to inadequate sleep. But I'm running and happy about that!

Here's what I've done running-wise since the marathon. Warning, this is quite uninteresting.

11/11: Ran marathon

11/12: Rest day

11/13: Walked 1.5 miles

11/14: Walk/jogged 2.5 miles

11/15: Ran 3.5 slow miles

11/16: Ran 4.5 slow miles

11/17: Ran 5.5 slow miles

11/18: Ran 6.5 slow miles

11/19: Ran 5.5 miles

11/20: Ran 6.5 miles

11/21: Ran 7 miles

11/22 (Thanksgiving): Ran 4 miles

11/23: Ran 5.5 miles

11/24: Ran 5 miles

11/25: Ran 5.5 miles

11/26: Ran 4.5 miles

11/27: Ran 4 miles

11/28: Ran 4.5 miles

11/29: Ran 3 miles

11/30: Ran 5 miles

12/1: Ran 8 miles

12/2: Ran 4 miles

12/3: Ran 2 miles

12/4: Ran 4.5 miles

12/5: Ran 5.5 miles

12/6: Ran 5.5 miles

12/7: Ran 5.5 miles

12/8: Ran 6 miles

12/9: Ran 8 miles

So after 3 days of no running, a total of 133 miles down the hatch since marathon day. This holding pattern will probably continue through December...

2012 Malibu Marathon Yesterday Was My 30th Marathon

It was "one of those days" for me yesterday as I completed my 30th marathon at Zuma Beach in Malibu. The best part of the day was crossing that finish line!

My official time was 3 hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds, or about 18 minutes short of where I wanted to be. But, as Mick Jagger would say, you can't always get what you want! But I tried hard enough to get what I needed...which in this case was simply a finisher's medal.

My strategy this race was to let everyone take off and battle it out, while maintaining a nice, easy 6:45 per mile pace.

I digress. I had set the alarm on my watch for 5:20 a.m. At 5:30 a.m. I awoke not to the sound of my watch alarm, but the sound of my wife flushing the toilet. Surprised, I looked at my watch and realized it said 5:30 a.m. DOH! Luckily there was plenty of time. (I guess I have my wife's overactive bladder to "thank" for getting me to the start of this race....shh, don't tell her I said that.)

Wish my wife's bladder had gone off at 6 a.m. in hindsight. The marathon was supposed to start at 7 a.m., but one of the busses was late, so it didn't start until 7:35 a.m. - I hate when that happens.

After the excrutiatingly longest (yet very well done) rendition of the national anthem I've ever heard, the race FINALLY started. I didn't see the first 3 mile markers but I felt as was going easy enough. But when I reached mile 4 I discovered I was at a 6:30 pace. By miles 7 to 10 I was feeling dried out. Mile 5-ish there were boxes of water and a table off to the side of a road, but no people to hand them out. Not good. Kind of like seeing a mirage in the desert.

I guess maybe I didn't hydrate enough in the morning because I was completely parched by mile 7. Up ahead I saw a port-a-john and some people. All right, water, I thought. Nope, just some people cheering. Oh well, just wasn't my day. But thankfully a buddy of mine handed me some Gatorade later on.

My body just wasn't up for the sub-3 hour challenge yesterday. Biomechanically, my lower legs were not up to the task. My feet hurt and my calves ached, and I was getting that "twinge" in my left calf that forced me to walk home on a long run 2 weeks ago. I had to play it safe and run flat footed most of the last 8 miles of the race. With one pit stop and 5 or 6 walk breaks, I pushed through the finish line in 3:17. That still got me 22nd overall out of 658 finishers.

This was my 30th marathon and 2nd slowest ever. The only time I ran slower was in 2002 at the Sunburst Marathon in Indiana, where after taking a wrong turn with other runners, I backtracked, injured myself and walked to the finish in 3:30. That said, I still was really happy to finish yesterday. Just "one of those days" indeed!

There's no doubt in my mind that I could run a sub-3 marathon with my recent 1:24 half marathon time. Self diagnosis tells me that my body had not recovered from the half marathon (3 weeks ago) followed by the long run the weekend after.  And that was preceded by a 5K, 2 long runs, another 5K, 3 long runs and a 25K race, in reverse order. My calves were screaming for relief after the half marathon and I ignored them, choosing to "squeeze in" one last long run, where my strained calf made it clear that my body needed more recovery, not more mileage.

Enough about ME already! John Fedoroff of our own Thousand Oaks demolished the course record in 2 hours, 37 minutes! To my knowledge he's the only person that has run sub-2:40 on this course! John had planned to run the New York Marathon that was cancelled after Hurricane Sandy hit.  John previously ran a 2:34 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Only 6 runners managed to dip below 3 hours yesterday, telling of the challenging nature of the course. Benjamin Atkins of Westlake Village was 4th place overall in 2:53. Steve Smith of Newbury Park, top finisher in the 50+ age category, came in 10th overall in 3:07:56. Nice job!

And getting back to me again to finish this out...the good thing about this marathon for me, other than finishing, is that I'm only moderately sore today. That means quicker recovery and time to start pondering my next running adventure!

Three Days Until Yet Another Marathon

Hard to fathom that I am 3 days away from yet another marathon, my first marathon in nearly 2 years. It took 4 complete days off and a week of light running to get me here, but it appears the sharp pain in my left calf that ended my plans for a final 18 miler on October 28th is final gone.

The timing of that injury I guess was not such a bad thing. It literally forced me to take it easy, with 2 weeks remaining before a planned marathon. I guess having 5 17+ milers between September 2 and October 5, followed by a 5K on October 14 (as well as September 23) and half marathon on October 21, was reasonable training. I didn't exactly blow the doors off with my buildup, but I've set myself moderate expectations for this Sunday.

My goal is anything below 3 hours. If I average 6:50 pace for the entire race, I can do it. Given my middle-of-the-road training, I am DETERMINED this time not to go out too fast. The first 18 miles of the course are pretty flat/downhill. With fairly cool temperatures expected over the weekend, I'm hoping I can average about 6:45 pace up to mile 18. That would get me to mile 18 in 2:01:50. I could then target no slower than 7:00 pace over the final 8.2 miles to achieve my goal.

Malibu Marathon Elevation ChartIf it doesn't work out, no big deal. I'll be happy enough to finish this one in one piece after what I've been through the last few years. I just need to run smart and not worry about others around me.

I ran this course 2 years ago on a hot day and after training that was severely impacted by colds and  bronchitis. My time that year was 3:05 but I was generally faster then, able to run a 5K in the 17:30 range. Now I'm running closer to 18:15 in the 5K.

I'm o.k. if I give it my best shot and can't get my time goal, but run a solid race. I'll be bummed out if I pull up lame with an injury. Crossing my fingers...

Long Hiatus But Soon to Come Back to the Running Scene

Well it has been a long time but I'm still here. As mentioned 5 weeks ago, I had another eye procedure and my surgeon gave me a thumbs down to running for 6 weeks post surgery. Well, I'm almost at that point now and am chomping at the bit to start running again.

One thing this extended hiatus has taught me is that my body does not turn into a blob after 5 weeks of no aerobic activity. I've gained a few pounds, but nothing a week or two of running won't take care of. Because I'm a bit obsessive/compulsive when training for a marathon, I tend to overtrain and as a result risk injury and illness. Now that I've seen what zero training has done, or not done, to me, I think I'll be apt to take more days off!

In the meantime, I've cancelled my Boston Marathon plans. I'm not one to run a full marathon with a base of zero miles. I guess I could train a few weeks before the race but I've opted to save my money and pick another marathon in the fall. I'm out $150. The Boston Marathon organizers are not flexible with injury situations and has a no-deferral. no-transfer policy.

Speaking of marathons, the L.A. Marathon (or I should say, the Honda LA Marathon as it is officially now called), is this Sunday. I know many people are running it. Amazing. after such a DRY winter, the weather report for this weekend is quite dreary (see weather advisory below).  An inch to 2 inches of rain this weekend and high temps in the low 50s!

Reminds me of my very first marathon, the 1994 LA Marathon, which was also run in the rain. I can't recall how much rain I encountered (seemed to not be too bad until I finished), but I can tell you that it didn't bother me that day. Good luck to all marathoners this Sunday!



Run Streak Ended by Massive Rain Storm, 40-50 MPH Winds and Flooding

At least I have a good excuse. My 3 month, 5 day, running streak came to a halt this past Sunday due to the massive rain storms that brought 40 to 50 mile winds and 5 inches of rain to the Conejo Valley.

My plan was to run 16 miles in 2 hours, but when I awoke up to torrential downpours I decided I'd wait it out. I waited and waited and the storm got worse. We have a large trampoline in the backyard and the howling winds blew it across the yard. I thought we would love some trees but they managed to stay planted to the ground (but hundreds of other trees around town weren't so lucky).

Then I discovered that the rain gutters in the back side of the house were clogged. So in rain pouring down as hard as 2 inches per hour, I was out in my jeans (I lack proper wet weather clothes...native Southern Californian that I am), soaked, on a ladder. I had attempted to band-aid the rain gutter issue by placing the green waste bin under the area where water was falling down. But it was full within 40 minutes and immovable.

And there were the drains in the backyard. The rain came down so hard that every leaf and piece of bark in the yard was inserting itself into the downspouts, clogging them up. So I spent over an hours in a 2nd pair of jeans clearing the drains and sweeping the water towards the front of the house.

After a trip to Home Depot and a Pinewood Derby appearance, I was beat. My body was sore in new places on Monday. And after seeing and reading about how many trees were downed, running outdoors on Sunday would have been a treacherous experience. Guess I could have run at the gym...but I hate treadmills.

So while my run streak has come to an end, I'm actually feeling pretty good. I think I needed that day off, with or without epic rainstorms.

Feeling Much Better Two Weeks Post-Tucson Marathon

The Malibu Marathon on Nov 14th gave out finisher towels. Came in handy for those of us cooling off in the ocean after the race!It took me exactly two weeks to feel fully recovered from the Tucson Marathon. Two weeks of holiday preparations, parties, eating, festivities and fun.

What wasn't fun was the sluggish feeling a had last week as I creeped my way through 4 to 6 mile runs each day, not particularly enjoying it. My problem was that I was in a perma-tired state because more than ever I was not getting enough sleep each night. Why am I not getting enough sleep? Kids are up later because they're out of school, Christmas came and went, busy, busy with the new toys and games, etc.

In fact, I'm still kind of in that mode as I write this at midnight.

But something "clicked" yesterday, or I now should say the day before yesterday, since the clock has now struck midnight on Wednesday.

Sunday was exactly 2 weeks post marathon and I ran my longest run since then, 8.5 miles in 64 minutes. A moderate pace that I felt o.k. with. But I still didn't feel GREAT.

The "click" happened on Monday morning, when, even though I was coming off of 5 hours of sleep, there was a spring back in my step. Don't know what prompted it, but I actually felt GOOD even though I was tired.

Same thing today. I only ran 45 minute but I felt like running for hours if I could have. The air was nice and cool outside but not TOO cold. My legs felt fresh. It was enjoyable. Something I haven't felt for awhile.

So now that we are approaching the new year, I will have to figure out what's next for me. My more serious runner friends already have their next marathon on the calendar and are planning to do a 20 miler this weekend. I'm not there yet. But I will be checking my favorite marathon website,, for upcoming 26.2 milers.

In other news, for the 2nd time in one month, I am about to lose another toenail. The middle nail on my right foot. This is a personal first for me. My first loss was on December 8th. For about 4 days now this nail has looked the hood of a car. It is hanging by a thread at this point but I'm not gonna force it so as to allow the newbie underneath sufficient coverage. There's one more nail on my right foot, the toe next to the big toe, that I predict will be gone in 3 months.

Lesson learned: MAKE SURE YOUR SHOES FIT. I was stupid. I went to Road Runner Sports in Newbury Park, short on time. The guy found me a shoe that I liked, but it felt a bit small. He didn't have a larger size. But I thought, why not, just buy thinner socks and it should be fine. The worker didn't try to dissuade me. Wish he had. I now have a pair of Saucony ProGrid Kinvaras size 10 1/2 that I wore 4 times. Anyone want them?

The Yin and Yang of Sunday's Long Run

Probably wasn't a great idea to do a long run this past Sunday morning. My right hip flexor (where the leg meets the groin) had been sore for a week. But I still ran an hour on Saturday morning.  Got home and took kid to soccer game. Meanwhile we had a birthday party at the house most of the afternoon. Mom flew into town Friday night and that kept me busy. Kids were amped up on sugar Saturday night.

I was moving around on my feet from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, the day before my planned 20 miler. And it was hot this weekend. But I was determined to get my long run in.

Plan was to leave at 6 a.m. and finish around 8:20 a.m. to beat the heat on Sunday. Problem body was so worn out from Saturday that I slept through the alarm and didn't get out the door until 7 a.m.

So in any case, I managed to run through my tiredness and "deal" with the hip flexor issue to slog through just under 19 miles in 2 hours, 17 minutes. It was not one of my prettier runs and was not one my most enjoyable runs. But I did it.

About 15 miles into the run, I felt on irritation in my throat, which I though was a particle or something. It didn't go away when I got home, and then I started sneezing. so after my mediocre run I'm treated to what I thought were allergies the rest of the day. It was warm and slightly windy out and it certainly felt like an allergic reaction.

Well the next comes the sneezing and runny nose. Yes, my first cold of the Fall. But I still ran 5 miles that morning to clear out my head. That night, though I don't like doing this, I took a Nyquil that knocked me out and dried me up. The next morning and day I was a zombie, parched mouth and lips, no energy, felt like I hit a brick wall.  But I still managed to run a SLOW 1.5 miles in the morning, once again, to "clear my head."

By Wednesday I felt about 60% and today, Thursday, I'm back to 90%. I still get the chest congestion but my morning runs help me unclog that with some massive coughing attacks.

And I visited the chiropractor today to work on my hip joint. I think I made some progress in attacking my hip flexor issue. Crossing my fingers...

So while I'm quite happy to have completed this long run, one of my final ones prior to the Malibu Marathon on November 14th, this was not one of my better weeks!

So why the Chicago Marathon medal you ask!? I was reminded of the Chicago Marathon this weekend because it was a spectacular finish in nearly 80 degree heat. Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru won his 2nd Chicago Marathon in a row in a time of 2:06:24...pedestrian compared to Haile Gebrselassie's 2:03:59 2 years ago in Berlin. I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2:42:47 exactly 15 years ago. That was my 5th marathon and a PR at the time (even with a 1 1/2 minute mid-race "pit stop).

Training Without Any Goals in Mind

It has now been 7 weeks since I ran the Santa Barbara Marathon and I'm still in kind of limbo mode, still running, but without any particular goals.

Some friends are urging me to train for the L.A. Marathon, but that's only 7 weeks away and I don't have enough time to train sufficiently for that.

I had planned to run the 25th Anniversary Great Race of Agoura Hills' Cheseboro Half Marathon on March 27th, but I already have several other commitments that day.

When there's a race paid for and committed to and calendarized, I train harder. There are other races out there I could pick, but I think I'm procrastinating because a) deep down inside I'm feeling like I don't have the desire to train "hard" right now and b) I'm enjoying just getting out there and running without any particularly urgencies, goals and pressures.

We had a lot of rain the other week and somehow I managed to stay dry all but one day that week. I LOVE running in light rain and in between storms, when the air is clean and cool. 

The only thing I don't like about the rain is that it muddies up the trails that I usually run in. So I'm relegated to the roads when it rains. But I don't mind.

This time off from running hard and racing is good for my body and brain. But I'm still doing about 35 miles per week, so it's not like I'm completely slacking off.

And as I start to feel stronger and gradually build up the mileage, what I've been doing once or twice a week is "fartlek" (yes, I know, I reacted the same way when I first heard that term, and in fact still do). Fartlek is Swedish for "speed play" - a training system where fast burst of running are interspersed with slower running.

The beauty of fartlek, other than its cool name, is that you can do it anytime in any workout. What I like to do is run a long road with cross streets, running one block fast, one block slow, one block fast, one block slow, alternating to get a little speed workout in without the inconvenience of driving to the track.

By introducing a bit of this fartlek training into some of my everyday runs, I ease my way back into the mindset of training hard and picking a new race to conquer!

Eleven Days After the Santa Barbara Marathon

This is 32 year old Andrea McLarty of Santa Barbara, women's winner in 2:52 and 11th place overall! This gal is fit! Photo credit: Simon IbsenThe Santa Barbara Marathon was on Sunday, December 6th.  For the next 3 days, I didn't run.  I think this is a pretty good practice.  With 25 past marathons in the bag, one thing I do know is that your body needs to recover after the marathon.

Muscle soreness is the most blatant sign that my body is trying to recover.  My calves, quads and hamstrings were the most sore those first 3 recovery days.  In fact, I had to walk downstairs very carefully, holding the handrail, one step at a time the first 2 days.

My neck, shoulders, traps and arms were sore too.  Not as sore as my legs, but they were feeling the strain of running 26.2 miles (well, actually 29.2 for the entire day). What I should have done was schedule a massage. But work has been crazy busy and I simply didn't make the time.

Advil was my friend the first 2 days post-marathon.  I didn't take too much...just 2 tablets in the morning and 2 at night. 

Although I didn't run the first 3 days post-marathon, I did get off my butt and walk around as often as I could. The longer I sit in one place, the more painful it feels to get up.  Don't know why that's the case, but it is.

The other sign that I'm in recovery mode is how I feel. Grumpy, tired, yucky are a few words to describe my mood and body the entire week after the marathon.  Not to mention, I was constantly hungry.

My body deserved whatever it wanted the week after the marathon. I don't eat a lot of red meat but that thick juicy steak last Saturday sure tasted good!

But in the meantime, people left and right are getting sick. At the office, at school, friends...people are getting sore throats, the flu (I had lunch with a buddy last week who came down with the flu 2 days later that has lasted now a week), etc. 

I think it was Sunday, the 13th that I started to feel a scratch in my I immediately downed 2,000 mg of chewable Vitamin C tabs and got to bed early.  Your body is more susceptible to illness after a marathon...somehow I awoke on Monday feeling about 80%.  I'm still feeling a bit "on the edge" of getting sick but with some luck and sleep I'll get past this.

As far as running, I've been running 2 to 4 miles at an easy pace for the past 7 days.  I'm at the point now where I can start doing my "normal" base training of roughly 5 to 7 miles a day...when I get adequate sleep.  So on that note, I shall end this post and attempt to hit the sheets!